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The Daily Tar Heel

Septemberfest unites NC rap

For Felony Fame, it started on the school bus.

Riding to school with his headphones on and writing lyrics with a pen and paper, he taught himself to rap. But even after signing to national label Diplomat Records, he approaches his music with the same simplicity.

“I didn’t know what music was, but my passion was so strong. I didn’t know how to record anything, but I just knew I wanted to record a song,” said Felony Fame, the stage name of Cliff Powell. “I use the same format to write songs to this day.”

The Pembroke native will headline Septemberfest Friday at Jack Sprat, which will feature four rappers from different parts of the state.

Diplomat Records, founded by Harlem rappers Cam’ron and Jim Jones, added Felony Fame to the label about two years ago.

Powell was exposed to a different kind of performance when he had a small role in “Before I Self Destruct,” starring 50 Cent. The experience prompted his current project: making his own movie.

“It’s really hard for me to be on top of everything with me filming,” Powell said. “It’s so hard to concentrate on everything … it’s just one big growing process for me as an artist.”

Powell’s mother was a big part of why he pursued music, but her deployment in Iraq has kept her from seeing him perform recently. She’s just returned this week, and will be at Septemberfest.

“I’m definitely blessed to have her a part of everything I’m doing,” Powell said. “I’m excited to just perform in front of her and show her everything I’ve been working on while she’s been away.”

This will be the first time Powell will perform with the other artists, Marc Law, Lil Bob and Jacobi.
Duplin County native Marc Law won the award for best male hip-hop artist in the 2011 Carolina Music Awards.

“You have a lot of strong lyricists that come from here,” Law said. “Carolina is a melting pot for hip-hop.”

DJ Clint Easthood, who is DJing the event, said the different styles of regional rap are part of why he has two Durham performers, Lil Bob and Jacobi, open for two eastern North Carolina artists. He’s been DJing in the Triangle for the last eight months.

“I’ve seen a lot of the same hip-hop artists perform on a regular basis,” He said. “I’m just bringing in the other elements of rap that’s present in North Carolina.”

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