It has now been a year since this hip-hop column debuted. I have enjoyed every minute of my experience documenting hip-hop in the Triangle area, but I am not the first to do so. In the mid 2000s when the future of print magazines and newspapers first became uncertain, blogs began to flourish. When Google acquired and redesigned blogger.com—one of the earliest dedicated publishing tools—the easy-to-navigate and pre-made template format allowed room for anyone to write about anything, and to share those ideas with a public-facing audience.
Highpoint native Nancia Odom, a registered nurse by trade who now leads teams in support of clinical software, launched Nancioishiphop.com in 2008. The blog made her one of the first people to document hip-hop in North Carolina, and the site is still active.
Over the years, Odom covered music across both Carolinas, often interviewing artists she admired from nearby Southern regions. Some of her most notable accomplishments include interviewing 9th Wonder, an early career J. Cole, King Mez, and SkyBlew. It is important that I—that we—give Nancia her flowers and recognize her work as an integral component of North Carolina’s hip-hop ecosystem. Recently, I sat down to speak with her about mid-2000’s hip-hop in the Carolinas, and what’s next for the blog.
INDY Week: When did you first fall in love with hip-hop?
ODOM: I found my first paid job when I was nine years old playing the piano for my church. I played three instruments growing up: the piano, French horn, and walking French horn. When I got paid, I would go to the record store and buy music that I saw on Yo MTV Raps, and Rap City. It was watching Rap City that really made me fall in love with hip-hop.
What inspired you to begin blogging?
During the height of the blog era, I was following bigger blogs like 2DopeBoyz, and I was also following a lot of regional hip-hop blogs. There was a blog down in Texas I was following, one based out of Miami that covered a lot of Florida hip-hop. I was following one out of Philly and Detroit. And then it dawned on me and I was like, ‘Who is covering Carolina hip-hop?’
I don’t think there’s ever truly an original idea. So there probably was someone already covering Carolina hip-hop, I just didn’t know. I was already going to all of the shows in the area. So I decided to start blogging about the shows that I go to and the artists and people I meet. And that’s how I started. I started on Blogspot like a lot of people did. Eventually I became intentional about my branding, created a Twitter account, and purchased a domain from Godaddy.com.
Can you talk a little bit about the format of your blog and your approach to conducting interviews?
I was putting a lot of time into the blog, you know, not only was I going to shows in North Carolina and South Carolina, but I was also going to Atlanta for festivals. I was even going to shows in Richmond and different places in Virginia—basically anywhere that I could drive to.
I did a few video interviews when artists would come to town. I remember doing a video interview with Big Sean not too long after he signed with Kanye. I also interviewed a lot of 9th Wonder’s artists. He was very supportive of what I was doing.
[The] majority of the interviews I did were mostly over the phone or radio-type interviews. I was running my own show on UNC’s college radio station, so I would play a lot of my interviews on air. If I saw an artist in person at a show, because I kept material on me, I had an audio recorder that I would carry with me, I would say ‘Can I just talk to you for a few minutes?’ and would just record it in the moment. I did a lot of walking up to people and just telling them who I was and what I did. If they didn’t have time to interview, I would ask if we could meet at a later time.
How did you fund traveling across the south to attend hip-hop shows?
I started selling T-shirts as a way to get money to help me fund driving places. There was a store in Greensboro that carried my shirts. So that was another way to earn revenue. And then if people in the community had music-related events I would inquire about having a table or they would offer me a table to sell my shirts. That was another way for me to meet people, too.
Can you share your favorite memory during your time blogging?
From 2009-2012 I had a weekly podcast with Randy Roper, who is based out of Atlanta. We were podcasting before “podcasting” was a thing. Our podcast was called “Where is Hip-Hop” and we recorded 96 episodes. Randy was the music editor of Ozone Magazine, and together we became known as the ‘Siskel & Ebert of hip-hop.’ Weekly we discussed all things happening in the culture.
I was able to share with him upcoming Carolina artists during that time and he shared with me what was happening in the music industry. Some of our later episodes are still available on YouTube. At this same time, I also had a hip-hop and technology podcast with Shadeed Eleazer who is based in the DMV area. We covered all things tech and hip-hop.
What is in store for Nancioishiphop.com?
I do want to go back to it but, not in the same way, because what “blogging” is now is not what it was back then. For now, I plan to keep the website active as an archive of Carolina hip-hop from 2008-2017.
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