Beta Bar offers hip hop buffet

On Mondays at the Beta Bar do not expect to hear the latest from Ludacris, P. Diddy or Murder Inc.

Expect the best old and new in underground hip-hop and a little Dilated Peoples and Dead Prez.

Hip-hop is hard to find, said John “Nature Rama” Harris, the master of ceremonies for Emancipation Mondays at the Beta Bar, formerly the Cow Haus.

“Hip-hop however should not be confused with rap music,” he said.

“There is a big difference between rap and hip hop,” said Seth Turnoff, an owner of the Beta Bar. “Rap is commercial hip-hop. Rap is the stuff you see on MTV. It’s entertainment.”

“Hip hop is what Emancipation Mondays are all about. It started at the Cow Haus about two years ago,” said Dan “Dirty Digets” Chaves, who has been a regular since Emancipation Mondays started, and is now a DJ at the Beta Bar.

New managers Turnoff and Brian Giblet decided to change the name from Cow Haus to Beta Bar for a fresh start.

But they decided to keep some old practices. Hip-hop night on Mondays is one.

It is the only place in town that plays purely hip-hop music with live disc jockeys. The live venue is their niche.

“There are nightclubs that sometimes act as a live music venue,” Turnoff said. “We are a live music venue that sometimes acts as a nightclub. It sounds cliché, but you got to give the people what they want.”

An average of 85 people come out every Monday night, to dance to hip hop, listen to the freestyle rap battles, hear the live DJ and see the break dancers, also known as b-boys.

Joniece Wescott, 21, a promoter for Under the Basement Productions, is pleased with the weekly turnouts. “It’s all about the love for real hip-hop music,” said the senior music education student from Philadelphia. “Emancipation Mondays have one of the most diverse crowds because people from all walks of life can appreciate the art of real hip-hop music.”

On any given Monday there is a mixture of students from Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University.

For many attendees, break dancing is a form of expressing love for hip hop. Others come to express their love for hip hop in the form of raps.

Harris’ only rule is don’t hog the microphone. The freestyle portion of Emancipation Mondays includes anyone with something to say – maybe a rap in Italian or a performance by the only regular female rapper, Renee Royster, 20, a junior animal science student from Salisbury, Md.

For those who are looking for a laid back vibe and want to enjoy hip-hop, Mondays at the Beta Bar are the place to be.

Though many things about Mondays at the Beta Bar have not changed, the price of admission has. Entrants over 21 get in free. Admission is $2 for men under 21. Doors open at 10 p.m. and close at 2 a.m.