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LitFest artists

Artists performing at The Varsity Center as part of LitFest are, from left to right: Stormy English, Courtlin Jabrae, T. White and Lil Cactus.

PROVIDED

CARBONDALE — A hip-hop show is set to light up Carbondale for graduation weekend.

LitFest, a coproduction of Autopsy Streetwear Boutique and The Varsity Center, will happen at 10 p.m. Friday, May 11, at The Varsity Center in downtown Carbondale.

This show will feature local and regional artists with a tens of thousands of online followers and a hip-hop pedigree Southern Illinois may not be aware it possesses.

Headliner Courtlin Jabrae, now a Grammy-nominated songwriter who is signed with EntertainmentOne Records, started his music career at Carbondale Middle School.

“First time I previewed a song to people was seventh grade in the auditorium at CMS,” Jabrae recalls. “I had a record deal freshman year of high school.”

That record deal, with Universal Records, was part of the viral success of “Crank that Batman,” a song performed by Jabrae’s group at the time, Pop it Off Boyz.

The past several years have been a grind for Jabrae, who is preparing to release a new single, "Gold Rings."

“Entertainment One. That’s Snoop Dogg, The Game, Waka Flocka,” Jabrae explains as he describes his efforts. “They’ve got me working on a lot of artists from the 90’s that my mom thinks is super-hot.”

At age 26, Jabrae says he feels like he is in that sweet spot between an established generation of hip-hop legends and a new generation transforming the industry.

As for LitFest, Jabrae says he's excited to play his first all-ages show in his hometown of Carbondale.

“My little brother and his friends get to come.”

T. White, another Carbondale artist who grew up with Jabrae, says he’s ready to build a scene in Southern Illinois.

“I started wanting to get involved when Drake got onto the scene,” White said, “Now I want to build this scene and put my brand on it.”

White has been putting his brand on the scene he hopes to be party to building. His recent single, “Michael Jackson,” has been downloaded 20,000 times.

For Metro East artists Chapo Banz, LitFest is a first.

Banz has never performed in a concert setting, but has amassed a significant online following. Banz is verified on Twitter with over 69,000 followers and has an audience of over 44,000 followers on Instagram.

Tokyo, Banz’s preview track for his upcoming EP, "Tokyo Love," received editorial praise from HotNewHipHop.com, calling the track “a perfect song to blast in the whip with the windows down.”

Stormy English, an artist from Murphysboro, Illinois, is releasing brand new music during LitFest ahead of his EP release this summer.

“It means the world to me from the bottom of my heart,” English said. “I’m excited to release music the night of the show. Every song is brand new. I’m ready to go crazy and show what I do.”

Lil Cactus, an artist from Herrin, Illinois, is returning to The Varsity Center for LitFest after selling out his first show at The Varsity Center with Miami-based artist Bizzy Crook.

In preparation for LitFest at The Varsity Center Lil Cactus had a fresh tattoo tattooed on his arm, the “Varsity” sign tower from the façade of The Varsity Center.

For more ticket information visit LitFest618.eventbrite.com.

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