By Sara Avalos
Graveyard Studios will play host to a hip-hop/R&B competition for the first time in Iowa City, at Gabe’s, 330 E. Washington St., on June 21.
Josh Graves, the founder and owner of Graveyard, started the competition in Davenport, where the studio is located, in hopes of exposing unseen talent in Iowa. Graves does everything from mixing music to photography and even videography.
“This is more than just a competition, it’s a chance to unwind in a not super-aggressive atmosphere where artist can show their talent,” he said.
He welcomes any artists who wish compete, he said. This year, there are 12 artists signed up to compete, and there are three open spots still left.
Graves said he is excited to hold Proving Grounds in Iowa City this year.
“There are more young, college students in Iowa City, and they are more open to hip-hop, and they are more culturally aware,” he said.
One of the acts performing will be Lex Salger, from hip-hop duo Ckinz and Lex. The two are from Vinton, Iowa, and have played music together for a year and a half. The Gabe’s appearance will be their first time to competing in Proving Grounds.
Ckinz and Lex have been going to Graveyard Studios for about four months now. Salger said he was very excited to see all the other artist to perform, and they would like to see all the artists from Iowa come together.
“I want to send one message to everyone,” he said. “I want to form a unity with everyone in the state and come together. We should push each other to become better.”
Another artist at the Proving Grounds will be Young Cityy, originally from Washington but now living in Davenport. He has known Graves and has been going to Graveyard Studios for two years.
Young Cityy, who also competed in Proving Grounds last year, said Graves has helped him with some of his videos and music.
“Josh wants to do a lot for Iowa artists, and he really tries to help them,” Young Cityy said. “He has good work ethic, and the music he produces is very good quality.”
He looks forward to the Proving Ground competition. He performed at Gabe’s last week for the first time, which was also his first time in Iowa City.
“There was a lot of energy in Iowa City, and I really vibed with everyone there,” Young Cityy said. “I got to shake a lot of hands after my performance, and I really enjoyed it.”
There will be judges to determine the winner at the end of the night. The first-place prize includes two hours of studio time, two hours of photography, and an interview with “The Playground” radio show.
Graves encourages everyone in Iowa City to come out on June 21 and support local artists. He believes that having this competition in Iowa City will expose the artist to the public and really help them succeed.