With a short, three-song showing, EmJay's final number was the clincher. The backing track was produced by Scott Storch of Snoop Dogg and Beyoncé fame. Called "Don't Stop," it's all trunk-bumping funk, upbeat, aggressive, but more nuanced than your typical Dirty South engine roar. And totally ready for radio. The beat trailed off, and EmJay thanked the meager crowd.
Off-stage and eager for a critique, EmJay told me he was finishing his last year of high school and still working two jobs at the Broward Mall. But hip-hop is his life. "I'm serious about it, 100 percent," he said. "But I'm gonna go to college and get a degree too." Humble, driven, and clearly in love with the music, this is the kind of personality that will make a mark on local hip-hop.
That's part of the problem -- and part of the beauty -- of chasing hip-hop. In its finest form, it's often found where you least expect it. It's all about staying in the race.