Sept. 28 2016 11:22 AM

Jahshua Smith & the Race Card opens Nappy Roots show

Wednesday, Oct. 5 @ The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. 18+, 8 p.m. $17/$15 adv.

Michigan hip-hop artist Jahshua Smith, fresh off the release of his new record, “The Fourth Wall,” opens for Southern rap group Nappy Roots Wednesday at the Loft.

“I’m usually in between Detroit and Lansing, especially since I joined Ozay Moore's All of the Above Hip Hop Academy,” Smith said. “I spend a lot of time at REO Town Recording, working with the kids and on new projects.”

Smith said the new record is centered on him “breaking through the fourth wall” and connecting with listeners.

“The concept for ‘The Fourth Wall’ follows the storyline from the first album, ‘The Final Season,’ where I'm the head talent of a fictional TV show,” he said. “It’s me trying to decide what's real and what’s part of the show. It also serves as a metaphor for learning more about myself and starting to take full control of my creative process.”

The album, recorded over a span of two years, touches on current social issues. “Black Diamonds,” which he started writing in 2008, addresses the commercialization of black culture.

“I took the concept of diamonds, a jewel that loses its value once it's commodified and sold for profit,” Smith explained. “I used it to tell the story of how — despite being in a society that often fetishizes our creativity and culture — we get told very often, through the actions of certain systems, that we lack worth.”

Since his debut in 2006, Smith said he’s become more comfortable in the studio and is rapping at “a much more relaxed pace.” He also chooses his shows more carefully.

“I usually do about a dozen a year,” he said. “The key is to make them count. I played 10 shows in 2015 and made more than I did any other year in the business.”

The Joe Hill Road Show at the Ten Pound Fiddle

Friday, Sept. 30 @ MSU Community Music School, 4930 S. Hagadorn Road, East Lansing, 7:30 p.m.

$18 /$15 members/$5 students.

The Joe Hill Roadshow stops Friday at the Ten Pound Fiddle. The national concert tour celebrates the music and legacy of early 20th century labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill, who was executed in 1915 following a controversial trial. Hill was convicted of the murder of a former police officer and his son, despite a lack of evidence and Hill’s claim of innocence. The string of concerts commemorates the 100th anniversary of his death by firing squad. Performing at the Fiddle show are Magpie (Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino), Charlie King and George Mann – all longtime labor activists and protest song writers. The concert includes Hill’s best known songs, including “The Preacher and the Slave,” “Casey Jones, the Union Scab” and “There is Power in a Union,” along with select readings from Hill’s letters and writings on the trial.