If there is one thing Greensboro has, it is an abundance of talented local artists. One of the hottest spots in town to catch a local act is The Artist Bloc, located on West Gate City Boulevard.
The Artist Bloc, or TAB for short, is a visual and performing arts coffee house and bar. Hosting a wide array of weekly events which range from open mics to body painting, TAB plays a large role in the Greensboro arts community and gives local artists a place to organize as well as showcase their talent. TAB has somewhat birthed a renaissance in Greensboro with acts such as the band LHC and singer Jessica Marie, with both of these acts networking and collaborating through TAB.
With the weekly open night called “Why Not Wednesdays,” artist Benji Eza had a lot to say about the local buzz for art and music.
A junior and Arts Administration major at UNCG, Eza is a rapper, producer, singer and overall connoisseur of music. Utilizing the platform established by TAB and other events such as one called “Tacos and Tequila,” Benji Eza has goals to spread his music while also improving his own brand. Combining rap and a light touch of soul, Eza’s sound can best be described as a colorful and almost surreal take on real-life issues and experiences.
“I feel like I’m destined to leave a large impact on the music industry,” says Eza, “Right now, North Carolina is becoming the next music mecca in America, and I feel like I’m where I am for a reason.” Growing up surrounded by music, Eza first indulged in the art of rhyming at age 14. Eza says he grew up in a musical household, with his mother playing artists such as Michael Jackson.
The first taste of hip-hop Eza dabbled in was J-Pop, or Japanese Hip-Hop. Eza says he was also attracted to anime theme songs. Eventually, Eza started to release music for free on Soundcloud and started networking with other artists when he arrived on UNCG’s campus.
Eza has started a collective of local artists called Sidewalk Chalk in an effort to organize artists he frequently collaborates with as well as his close friends. Consisting of Eza, Trevor J, Lord and Victor, Sidewalk Chalk was formed in 2016 though they’ve just recently started making moves as a group.
Operating out of “The Flamingo House,” Eza hopes to establish Sidewalk Chalk as a legitimate presence in Greensboro and even hopes to go as far as to create an LLC from it. “The Flamingo House” is wherever Eza brings his recording equipment, making anywhere with a power outlet a creative climate for Sidewalk Chalk.
Within the next year, Eza is aiming to release a full solo project as well as a fully realized group effort with Sidewalk Chalk. “Sidewalk Chalk represents my upbringing, using chalk on the concrete with my siblings as a child to create something from nothing,” says Eza. He is currently on the long path to stardom and is working hard to put the Triad area on the map as well as help craft North Carolina into the next music mecca he envisions it to be.
TAB is the perfect venue for rising artists and certainly has become the capital of the local arts community, with artists like those in Sidewalk Chalk utilizing the venue to spread their music. A hole in the wall venue with a large reputation, TAB is certainly one of the most exciting things to happen to the local arts community in recent years.