Local hip hop artist Cullen Patrick Wade said that the City has historically been a somewhat hostile environment for underground
genres, despite its widely-perceived creative and music-friendly image. He told me this environment largely
stems from the lack of small, accessible venues in town, which are vital to fostering the kind of music
"Charlottesville has a reputation for a vibrant, thriving music scene, and it's funny when people come here expecting that,
and when they're playing in one of the more underground genres, you only have like two places to play
here," Wade said. "They're a little disappointed when they find out how limited we are in terms of small
For some Charlottesville musicians, The Ante Room represented more than just a venue — it gave them the opportunity to be
heard. Hip hop artist Quin Booker cherished his opportunity to play The Ante Room, saying it helped him
elevate his career and allowed him to share his words with the community.
"It's actually the only spot in town that really lets people perform, hip hop wise … really the main one that gave rap artists
and hip hop artists a place to own, a place to speak," Booker said.
Reagan Eadie, a Charlottesville hip hop and R&B artist, said that though there aren't many venues that cater to hip hop,
there is still a large scene thriving under the surface. She thinks that there is more to be done to
make this community more cohesive, and that supporting other hip hop artists is crucial to developing
the scene further.
"I think showing up to your fellow artist's show is important," Eadie said. "That's part of what makes Charlottesville special
... to be there for people that you don't even necessarily know but the fact that you're trying to do
kind of the same thing is important."
Wade professed a similar desire to promote solidarity within the hip hop community — something he thinks can be achieved
if there were more spaces like The Ante Room for artists to come together and perform.
"One of the big things we're trying to do with that is foster some scene unity," Wade said. "There's a lot of people doing
different things … we don't really have a space — a physical space … or anything like that in which we
can all collaborate."
As the hip hop scene has grown in Charlottesville over the last several years, a few venues that have refrained from featuring
the genre in the past have slowly begun to lift what Wade calls "the unofficial hip hop embargo." Wade
hopes that even with The Ante Room's closing, hip hop will continue to gain momentum and move in the
The small venue owners I spoke with emphasized their commitment to foster hip hop in new and creative ways, conscious of
the effect that The Ante Room's absence will have on the community. Roberts said that he's looking to
book even more hip hop shows at Magnolia in the future, and Bush told me how he's been trying to incorporate
more unconventional genres at The Garage, even though their location and lack of license have restricted
the types of acts they could book in the past.
"We've been limited to folk bands because they're quieter, but we've been reaching out in the past couple of months to some
hip-hop artists," Bush said. "We just want to branch out. I think an ideal situation would be to pair
bluegrass with hip-hop, or a folk band with a rapper, and to have very different sounds together in one
night I think is very unique. I don't think a lot of venues do that. We're not like a lot of venues already,
so we might as well have fun diversifying our lineup."
There doesn't seem to be a definitive solution to the issue of accessibility for artists of underground genres. However,
some believe that venues will start to take them seriously if they continue to prove that hip hop is
just as legitimate and profitable as any other scene in Charlottesville's music landscape. They want
to demonstrate to venue owners that hip hop is a force to be reckoned with.
"Artists have gotta do our jobs to let the people know that we're serious, and that we ain't on no BS," Booker said. "We
can help them make money as well as they can help us gain fans. Like a hundred people listen to us and
you only have a max of 25 people at your bar — you do the math."