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On April 29 in Durham, North Carolina, at the American Tobacco Campus, Beats n Bars will host a curated day of art, trivia, dancing, and fashion show.

Dedicated to cultivating the founding elements of Hip-Hop culture, since 2015 Beats n Bars has provided a platform for national artists and built stronger community through the influence of urban culture and music.

In a one-of-a-kind space where learning and entertainment blend seamlessly, festival goers can learn new ways to display and celebrate urban culture in a space unlike any other.

Photo Courtesy: Beats n Bars

Fresh from attending a Cape Town wedding, Beats n Bars founder Crystal Taylor spoke with The Black Wall Street Times about her recent exploration and what’s in store on April 29.

As an admittedly nervous traveler on her first flight abroad, Taylor reflectively mentions her now-lived experience was well worth any prior anxiety. “What you want is on the other side of what you don’t want to do,” affirmed Taylor.

“We get there and I see Nelson Mandela everywhere. And I immediately feel like ‘oh, this is Blackness.'”

Taylor said contrary to the normalized hustle and bustle demands of everyday American life, in Cape Town, “it was love all over the place—like respect, love, consideration ‘my brother’, ‘my sister.’ You saw Black people handling their business. Their customer service is exceptional, not like here where Americans [in general] are very selfish. It wasn’t like that there, they have gratitude for things.”

Photo Courtesy: Crystal Taylor

“I feel bad for us over here, we were literally taken from our homeland. And we have been indoctrinated to be ‘Americanized’ which involves drinking the Kool-Aid and stereotypes rooted in racism, but there’s a whole continent which proves none of that to be the case. If they’ve [Black Americans] never been, they’re not going to feel the sense of that’s where their real home is.”

Photo Courtesy: Crystal Taylor

“I have a whole continent of people that love me, because I look like them and they will help me and they will support me,” says Taylor. “And I don’t have to fight for that. I don’t have to prove that to anyone over there.” But here, it’s a dog eat dog world because they made it that way.”

From Holiness to Wholeness, Taylor feels led to do “phenomenal, legendary work”

Having spent her childhood years inside of a Holiness Church in small town Clinton, North Carolina, alongside her sister, Tiffany, founder of Taylor’d Taste, both left Clinton (current population: 8,037) after graduating high school.

Soon after enrolling at in-state HBCU, North Carolina Central University, Crystal met other like-minded Black people and formed bonds that continues to flourish today.

She remembers going to a beat battle featuring the legendary producer Ninth Wonder in nearby Raleigh many years ago; Crystal credits that experience on Hillsborough St. for what is now Beats n Bars.

YouTube video

Beats n Bars just keeps getting better and better

Then-brainchild now-CEO, Taylor has been invested in her vision since day one.

“I just kept on it having events and then people started to hit me up about it or their music. Guys would be like, ‘hey, are you the girl that’s doing the beat battles?’ They would send me their music and I was like, ‘Wow, this is good music—why isn’t it on the radio?'”

Photo Courtesy: Beats n Bars

Beats n Bars curates a diverse mix of performances from some of the best artists in music locally and nationally.

The lineup represents a variety of styles and showcases and the dynamic range of urban music culture. The festival showcases are both a recognition of artists making their mark and a celebration of the contributions from established trailblazers. 

Crystal Taylor shows up on 10 and not 9

As if Beats n Bars weren’t enough to keep the proud mother busy, she’s also working with the African American Music Trail of NC, championing Durham’s Black Farmer’s Market, planning Black August In The Park, running creative agency The Underground Collective along with non-profit Get Happy.

From Clinton to Bull City to Cape Town, Taylor is adamant her goals have been and will remain people-focused. “I want to grow my agency to be the agency that people look for because I know people who look like me that are amazing at what they do. I want to put them on for the good of our community,” says Taylor.

To learn more about Beats n Bars, follow their Instagram and check out their website.

Free and VIP tickets for Beats n Bars 2023 can be purchased here.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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