By Roberto Alejandro

Baltimore is a city of hidden gems, and its Hip-hop community is no different. With his annual “Class of . . .” series, Mic Ruckazz, CEO of Spallden Nterprize, is looking to create greater visibility for some of Baltimore’s underground Hip-hop artists.

Since 2013, Mic has been selecting a group of predominantly Baltimore artists to present to a wider audience through his record label, Spallden Nterprize. This annual “Class of . . .” effort was inspired by the BET Hip Hop Awards Cyphers and XXL Freshman Class, explained Mic in an interview with StayUp.News.

“I know, a lot of times, a lot of talented artists here probably wouldn’t make it that far (BET and XXL), so what I did was, I did it my way, and I said, ‘I’m going to display the talent here in Baltimore,'” said Mic.

For the Class of 2016, Mic has, for the first time, put together a mixtape featuring all of the class members, accompanied by a DVD. He is also planning a concert for October. In this way, Spallden Nterprize’s “Class of . . .” effort, is something of a combination of the aforementioned BET and XXL projects.

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Though some might expect such an effort from an independent label to mostly feature its own, signed artists, Mic sees his “Class of…” series as a city-wide effort, and its roster reflects that. Mic was a performer before he started his own label (the first of which was Skull Mountain Entertainment, founded and operated from 1998-2000), and he looks to support artists not only through efforts like “Class of…,” but with events like the Rap Royalty Cyphers (an annual, all-women’s Hip-hop cypher), and other collaborations.

“My projects are always free to get on (for the artists), I don’t charge anybody to do [any] of my projects,” said Mic.

Running a label in Baltimore can be difficult, with operating budgets presenting a particular challenge for many independent labels. Despite that, however, Mic says Hip-hop in Baltimore is growing, and he is optimistic about its future—so long as artists continue to develop the Baltimore sound rather than chase trends.

“You have really great lyricists here, and then, once again . . . you have people that just want to mimic what they think they should be because it’s being played on the radio, and they don’t have to do that,” said Mic.

The “Class of 2016” mixtape will be released on Aug. 12, and those interested in obtaining a copy can visit Record and Tape Traders, in Towson, or reach out to Mic directly on social media.

You can see the first of two videos produced for the Class of 2016 mixtape below:



This story was originally published by OnBckgrnd.com, on Aug. 3, 2016.