Kobe Kane / Press

“There are currently not enough opportunities or outlets for artists to grow and excel in Knoxville. However, I believe that even with this adversity, history tells us that the movement will never cease. Hip-hop originally gained its popularity in the late-’70s, and it was largely ignored until artists began demanding acknowledgement and attention though their music. With the talent and determination of some of Knoxville’s artists, I suspect that recognition will be coming soon. Who am I? I am Mr. Kobayashi… I am hip-hop.”

"I think the beauty in the 'King of the Mic' contest is that it's a 'song battle,'" says Mr. Kobayashi. "Artists are on a level playing field as they put their own original songs to the test. The contest is unique in the fact that the rules are geared toward making artists give true performances."

“I thought there were only a handful of performers that were good, like Fluid Enginereerz and Area-51, but I learned that there was much more talent in Knoxville than I realized," he said. "That pushed me to get better and work harder on my music, and when I started to get better, I wanted to motivate others, too. I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunities we have, to get the people I respect and appreciate -- who wouldn't be able to perform otherwise -- and find them a place to perform.”