That’s Durm, not Durham, Hip Hop Summit

Aug. 14, 2014 @ 10:35 AM

The Triangle has always had a hip-hop scene, but Durham hasn’t reached the national level beyond Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder and Little Brother. The Durm Hip Hop Summit is working to change that. It will be held at four locations Saturday in downtown Durham.

Three years ago, the annual summit grew out of a conversation with hip-hop artist Professor Toon’s fellow performer The Real Laww and a friend who did the booking for Casbah back when it was a music venue. They talked about the lack of large hip-hop festivals in the area, and how maybe they should be the ones to do it.
“Right around that time me and Laww started gaining buzz with our own music,” Professor Toon said. He was pessimistic because festivals take money, but Laww convinced him. Now it’s “something I love to do anyway. My day job now is marketing,” he said.
Professor Toon, who prefers to go by his stage name, was born in Baltimore and moved to Durham by high school – attending Durham School of the Arts -- and has been here ever since. He and Laww perform together frequently, but for the summit, it’ll just be Toon. Other performers include national acts Alex Wiley out of Chicago, and Lord of the Fly out of Wisconsin. The rest are Durham or Triangle acts, he said. The lineup includes Cesar Comanche, Woven Hatchets, Cosmoe, No9to5, Cayenne the Lion King, Bigg Brad, C.Shreve the Professor, Billionaire Black, Los and Nige Hood. It begins with break dancers at 3 p.m. Saturday at American Underground, and the last performance, at 1 a.m., is the final round of a producer/emcee battle. Other venues are Mercury Studios, Motorco Music Hall and Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits. The Durm Hip Hop Summit is hosted by Brian Dawson of K97.5 radio station, Chase Dawson and KAZE.
Toon said he’s sitting on the edge of his seat to see Alex Wiley, who he hasn’t seen perform live before, and it’s been awhile since he’s seen Lord of the Fly live. Cosmoe sold out his previous show at Cat’s Cradle, Toon said.
“I’m going to go crazy if I don’t see at least one beat battle,” Toon said.
It’s hard being an organizer and performer, he said. Between work and school, Laww doesn’t have time to perform this year.
“I’m at work full-time and my other full-time is being a dad or making music,” said Toon, who has a 2-year-old daughter. “Laww’s also a father.”
Toon chose his name because he used to say the word ‘profess’ a lot, so Professor Toon just fit.
Now, for the ‘Durm’ of the Durm Hip Hop Summit. It’s spelled the way most people pronounce the name of the Bull City.
“The Durm thing’s got a really cool story. I’m a big basketball fan and at the Duke game Dick Vitale would say Doo-erm,” Toon said. Plus, Runaway Clothes has a T-shirt with the word “Durm,” and Toon and Laww helped run the company’s T-shirts sales for a time.
Toon is glad that there is going to be a Hip-Hop Institute, led by 9th Wonder, at N.C. Central University in Durham.
“Anytime there’s an opportunity to add hip-hop to education, and not have that negative image, I think is dope,” said Toon, who has led summer camps and done beat-making labs. “Especially now as a parent, I want my kid to learn about it in school. A lot of people still don’t know enough about hip-hop. There’s opportunity for people to be educated about it,” he said.


WHAT: Durm Hip Hop Summit

WHEN: Saturday
WHERE: Four locations:
Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits
106 W. Parrish St., Durham
Motorco Music Hall
723 Rigsbee Ave., Durham
American Underground
201 W. Main St., Durham
Mercury Studios
401 W. Geer St., Durham
TICKETS: $25 general admission; $30 VIP bands. Order online at


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