When Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa appeared on MTV Jams, counting down videos in front of Shadyside's Time Bomb store, it affirmed the esteemed role owner Brian Brick has played in the local hip-hop scene for well over a decade -- a role he continues in two upcoming events.
At its current Highland Avenue location for nine years, Time Bomb has become a destination for hip-hop fans. On Aug. 13, the day that the latest Allderdice phenom Mac Miller held a CD-signing at Time Bomb (selling 115 copies of his debut, Kids), two dozen Wiz Khalifa merch items also flew off the shelves. "Kids came with parents from Erie, Uniontown and Jeanette," Brick recalls.
Now, local battle emcee Real Deal, a.k.a. Trevor Weller, has chosen Time Bomb as the site for the first area Grind Time event, the nation's largest emcee competition. Grind Time takes place 8-11 p.m. Sat., Aug. 28, and is all-ages, with a "no cameras" rule.
According to Weller, who has himself competed twice at the legendary Scribble Jam in Cincinnati, Grind Time originated with Florida's Drect and Mad Illz, and grew into a league with divisions in the U.S., Canada and England. "Once I got involved in it, I wanted to bring it to Pittsburgh," Weller says.
Pittsburgh is on the divisional border, according to Weller, welcoming emcees from the "DMV" (DC/MD/VA) as well as "cats from Ohio and Detroit." The event consists of nine battles of three rounds each, with possible overtime. "The more you win, the more you go on to climb in status." Adds Brick, "You get exposure, get to travel and meet people." Judges' opinions and crowd participation both count. "In the past, we've had a lot of battles. Time Bomb is a safe meeting place for kids from different schools to get together."
A similar spirit will be evident on Sat., Sept. 11, when Time Bomb hosts its second annual Street Art exhibit, curated by portrait artist Arlo and featuring canvases, prints and even airbrushed denim jackets from the likes of Chris Savido, Evan Sanders and Todd Porter (of punkers The Cheats). Brick regards offering his fellow wall-bombers a chance to display in an urban boutique -- alongside fresh mixtapes from up-and-coming rappers such as Ghosty, Beedie and Jonny Quest -- as a method of boosting the local economy.
"I remember doing artwork illegally to express a point," he says. "Now I make income off it as a business. There's not a whole lot of jobs out there, but there's a lot of talent."
For more information, visit www.timebombshop.com or call 412-661-2233.