(This article has been updated to correct the producer of James Gardin's upcoming album. The producer is known as Young Heat.)
Lansing-based hip-hop artist James Gardin is trying to fill a void in Lansing. And it’s not the first time he’s taken a stab at it. In 2008, Gardin and a friend began a monthly hip-hop show, Soul’d Out, at the now-defunct 621 bar in downtown Lansing. After a year, they called it quits.
“In Lansing, there weren’t a lot of shows that highlighted poetry, R&B and hip hop,” Gardin said. “Eight years later, there still aren’t.”
So Gardin decided to revive the series, presenting Soul’d Out I at the Robin Theatre in June.
The second installment arrives at the REO Town theater Wednesday. The evening features three performers, Gardin, Miles Young and Allena Hudgins, as well as an open mic.
“We’re encouraging people to show up and bring whatever they have,” said Gardin, adding that acts for the open mic are not determined in advance. “I’ll be surprised as much as the audience will be.”
Gardin’s history in Lansing’s hip-hop scene stretches back over a decade. Originally known as P.H.I.L.T.H.Y., Gardin is a founding member of local hip-hop collective Blat! Pack. He is working on a new EP produced by Young Heat, a local producer originally from Jackson.
“There’s a lot more singing on this record, as opposed to a straightforward hip-hop album,” said Gardin. “Lately, that’s the direction I’m going in.”
Gardin expects the album to drop early next year.
Fellow performer Miles Young also hopes to release an album next year. Like Gardin, Young’s relationship with hip hop goes back to his youth. His earliest memory is playing his grandmother’s small piano as a child. As he got older, his musical tastes solidified.
“Hip hop started taking off right when I was very impressionable,” he said. “That was my generation’s means of communication, so I felt the need to learn how to rap. In the seventh or eighth grade I started making my own beats and rapping to them.”
Young formed some of his earliest ties to the hip-hop community in an unexpected way: managing the hat store Lids at the Lansing Mall.
“Most hip-hop people used to wear hats,” he explained. “I met a good deal of people.” Ave., Lansing. In addition to his music, Young manages his own photography business, MilesYoung Media. He says that his two careers are equally important to him.
“To be able to express yourself visually and musically, that’s what’s important,” he said.
Eight years ago, Young participated in the original Soul’d Out series, and he is excited to support the revival. Soul’d Out II is open to all ages, and Gardin encourages attendees to “bring your dancing shoes.”
Soul'd Out II
8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2
The Robin Theatre
1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing