Word & Image 

Kelli Lemon: General Manager at Mama J’s, Radio DJ, Host and Promoter.

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Scott Elmquist

"My turning point in loving Richmond was working at VCU and trying to keep students on campus. We started homecoming and the first fashion shows. I was involved with the very first show at Siegel Center: Ludacris. The Siegel Center moved. When he said, “Move! Get out the way,” the bleachers moved.

"I used to be a liaison for Tim Lampe when he was director of Siegel Center. He told me if the artist wants over $50,000 you basically priced yourself out. Richmond is only paying a certain amount of money to come to shows. If we can’t pack this venue at a $35 ticket, you might as well not do the show.

"Some people’s mind-set, and it’s an old mind-set, when they hear hip-hop they don’t get that it’s not dangerous. Some of my average listeners on Kiss-FM, the “Saturday Night House Party,” are 50 years old. They have grandkids now. Not every person that likes hip-hop is gangsta rap or packing a gun, pants low. That’s just not the mentality anymore. Everybody right now is hip-hop. If you were born within the last 20 years, you’re hip-hop. It’s integrated into everything you do.

"Some of the early hip-hop artists from New York came through Willie’s record shop. This was their first introduction to the South. They would try to break here before they figured out whether they could keep going down.

"There’s no real venue for hip-hop in Richmond and that’s a problem. … How do you think it makes me feel as a girl who went to U.Va., has a master’s from VCU — I wanna see a good show, but when I go to a show [there’s heavy police presence] and I have a whistle being blown at me, “Move it along!” The good thing is our community is starting to police themselves, to get rid of that one bad apple.

"Today some [hip-hop] artists are scared because Richmond is such a walk-up town. Lot of artists want to see their sales peaking the night before the show. Lot of Richmonders wait until the night of the show to get a ticket.

"My crew is the Supa Friendz, I hang with Lonnie B, Skillz, Danja, I call myself Super Woman because I wanna be with the Supa Friendz. … What we been doing is trying to figure out how to bring that old-school hip-hop back. …Lonnie created these series of parties called the Art of Noise. It’s an old-school party where you don’t hear anything on the radio. Two DJs, a host — they mix all kinds of music in. The crowd goes wild because it’s nothing you hear normally. We take ourselves back to when we went to a gym jam, or were stuffed in Ivory’s and could hear good music. We’ve started these RVA pop-up parties at different restaurants — Monday through Thursday, hosting a happy hour that plays old-school hip-hop. We’re also in the works for an online show called “’90s Girl Radio.”

Lemon’s radio show, “Saturday Night House Party,” airs Saturdays from 7-10 p.m. on 99.3/105.7 Kiss-FM and “Sunday School” on iPower92.1 airs Sundays from 7-10 p.m. (with DJ Lonnie B).

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