Almost a decade ago, a group of likeminded students at UALR pooled their resources and started throwing massive hip-hop shows. Put off by the commercial movement of rap, the group, which called itself Under the Ground, aimed to return the culture to its roots, with emphasis on touchstones like MC battling and turntablism. Lately, UTG has been inactive, though its alums are ubiquitous in the scene — g-force, Dirtbag and 607 chief among them. So it's fitting that a new group of young hip-hop traditionalists is emerging to carry the flame. Blockade is a group of teenagers who formed during “Hip Hop School,” an after school hip-hop education program directed by TJ Deeter with guidance provided by a number of UTGers. Though fresh-faced, the six young rappers in Blockade come just as hard as anyone on the local scene, and they feature the acrobatic dancing team the Yung Stars. They'll perform along with the 4X4 crew, an enterprising collective of six rappers, a dance troupe and a DJ. All in their early 20s, the 4X4 has its hand in everything. They perform frequently. They've put out two volumes of the excellent local compilation “Radio Ain't Ready,” and they host a web/public access TV show called “Rocktown Lockdown.” They'll be filming the concert, which will also include a performance by 607, who is both an early member of UTG and an instructor in Hip Hop School. Plus, up-and-coming dancers and MCs will battle it out for $50 in prize money.‘KEELY AND DU'
Never afraid to tackle controversial material, the Weekend Theater presents Jane Martin's Pulitzer-nominated drama centered on the abortion debate. Keely, who works two jobs to take care of her invalid father, is raped by her alcoholic, estranged husband. In terror of hurting her child — because she knows it will be a part of him, too — she seeks an abortion. But outside of a clinic, a religious pro-life group kidnaps her and plans to hold her until she gives birth. In confinement, Du, a grandmotherly former nurse, is Keely's constant companion and caretaker. A love-hate relationship between the women emerges, with, as the Weekend Theater describes it, “each tiptoeing toward mutual empathy.” Ralph Hyman, the theater's artistic director, directs the play.