Carroll County teens are invited to experience the beats and rhythms of hip-hop Friday as several artists come together to raise funds for a Westminster nonprofit.
Doors will open at 7 p.m. for “The County Invasion” show at the Carroll County Agriculture Center, at 706 Agricultural Center Drive in Westminster. Area hip-hop and rap artists such as North Carroll High School alumnus Da Kid Emm; Howard County’s JayMoney Hackett, who helped plan the event; Ridge Long; and Goup Jefe are scheduled to perform.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit Rise Up Community Center, a diversion program for the Carroll County Department of Juvenile Services, according to program director Angel Hill. She said these children are often involved in volunteer work so they can learn about accountability and empathy. The program is like a “second chance” for children who would otherwise be detained or put on probation, according to Hill.
The young people involved in Rise Up have been promoting the event and will help sell concessions, raffle tickets, and entry tickets at the show. Tickets cost $10 at the door, or can be bought in advance by contacting one of the artists.
“They’re so excited,” Hill said. “We just want kids to come out. There’s not a whole lot to do in Carroll County, especially for teenagers.”
One of the youth mentors at Rise Up is also the owner of Wisdom Court Entertainment, which is putting on the event.
Billy Dee Williams, also known by his stage name “Billy Lyve," is motivated to offer a drug-free, alcohol-free, safe space for young people to party and hear good music. The Westminster resident is a booking agent and promoter in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas. He’ll also be one of the artists performing Friday.
“I know almost every single kid in Westminster that’s back and forth getting in trouble," Williams said. “Through music, through my son, through sports, I’ve built a relationship with all of these kids and their family.”
Williams’ son Skyler attends Winters Mill High School and performs as “Kruddy Lyve.”
For Williams, Wisdom Court Entertainment is not only a business promoting artists, but also a way to reach the youth in the community. They’ve hosted Easter egg hunts and sock hops for younger children in the Westminster area, according to Williams. Now, they hope to reach teens through music.
“There’s nothing for them that they can really relate to, so through hip-hop music we decided to come back to the area and do something for the teenagers," he said.
Michael Yeboah, known on stage as Da Kid Emm, also believes in giving back to his community.
“When Billy told me that [the concert] was for the kids at the Rise Up Community Center I was instantly for it,” Yeboah said. “Kids these days don’t have enough positive role models in the hip-hop community. Everything is centered around selling drugs, especially on the radio.”
Last month, Yeboah connected with Baltimore youth through Mentoring Mentors, a program that pairs African American adults with youth to create a support system, according to the organization’s website.
“Being an artist from here I hope to assist in any way I can to help show our youth a more positive outlook on hip-hop, and in life,” Yeboah said. “I love talking and interacting with kids and if I can help make a change for the better I’m all for it.”
Williams recalled his younger days when he was getting into trouble and was kicked out of school. He previously lived in Reisterstown and Sykesville.
“I was one of them kids," he said. “There’s so much drugs, crimes ... There’s nothing cool for the high school kids.”
Through Wisdom Court Entertainment and his work with Rise Up, Williams said, he’s reached the young people who might be “written off as bad kids” by others.
“All the kids that Carroll County writes off are the kids that help us," Williams said.
At the event, the youth of Rise Up will be the ones setting up chairs and tables, and helping run the event, Williams said.
Proceeds from the event, which will benefit youth activities at Rise Up, are “huge for us," Hill said. "We’re minimally funded through a grant, so any help we can get financially is humongous for us. Every dollar goes directly to the kids.”
Williams said they hope to put on concerts every three months in Carroll County if they can raise enough money — including a show planned for 7 p.m. on May 29, also at the Ag Center. They plan to do the same for Howard and Baltimore counties, too.
Williams hopes the community will come out and support Wisdom Court Entertainment and Rise Up.
“Companies like ours, we just need a little more backing, and we’ll show you what we can do with it,” he said.