Friday tribute pays homage to ‘Edutainment’ hip-hop show
By Steve Wildsmith (email@example.com)
Hip-hop is more than rhymes — it’s a lifestyle that goes beyond style and flash, and those fans who rely on mainstream commercial radio for their fix are missing out.
That’s the message of the East Tennessee hip-hop community, and the reason that community is coming together on Friday night, April 15, to pay tribute to a college radio show that celebrates hip-hop and everything associated with — “The Edutainment Hip-Hop Show,” which airs from 9 p.m. to midnight every Saturday night on WUTK-FM, 90.3 The Rock.
Friday’s show will honor the show’s hosts both current and past, and given their efforts to keep the local scene in the spotlight as well as showcasing a myriad of music beyond what charts on Billboard, it’s a well-deserved tribute, according to WUTK-FM General Manager and Program Director Benny Smith.
“When we first started this show out, the lifestyle of hip-hop was just as important as the music,” Smith said. “It was about the culture, the art, the politics, the news and the entertainment aspect. That’s where the name came from — these guys were entertaining you with great music and educating you about hip-hop, and therein lies the difference between commercial hip-hop radio and college radio. It’s not just about the music with us.”
The show was founded in 2005 by Jason “Ratchet” Carpenter and Jonathan “DJ Wigs” Ives; by October of that year, current host Di-Ke “Drop Knowledge” Nwachukwu was brought on board, and the show continued to grow as the local hip-hop scene did as well. It became a symbiotic relationship between the two, according to local artist Kobe “Mr. Kobayashi” Kane, who said his exposure to new hip-hop helped to broaden and expand his personal style.
“They play local music, they play underground artists you never hear, they play mainstream artists you won’t hear on other radio stations,” Kane said. “They play music with a message, some fun stuff, some commercial stuff — and it all gives you a well-rounded idea of what hip-hop is.”
Hip-hop in East Tennessee may not get the attention of its rock ‘n’ roll peers, Smith added, but it’s always been a vibrant one — and the “Edutainment” show is invaluable in showcasing its brilliance, diversity and creativity. It’s also a direct descendent of a show that started in 1989, “Club 90,” hosted by former UT quarterback Sterling Henton.
Back then, it was known primarily as rap; Smith chuckles at the memory of a local promoter telling him the station played too much of it. Now, it dominates mainstream charts, but “Edutainment” aims to go beyond the shallow depths of what most people perceive as hip-hop, which made it important to connect with local artists, he added.
“It was a show that was accepted and pretty much got the stamp of approval put upon it by the local hip-hop community, and that was important to us from the beginning,” Smith said. “The new guys have taken it to another level — they’ve just grown this thing, and it’s great. Sure, the music is at the middle of it, but it’s about the culture and the hip-hop lifestyle, all in three hours on a Saturday night.”