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Chi Chi Thalken

Chi Chi Thalken is the founder of the independent hip hop blog Scratched Vinyl. He currently resides in
Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Chi Chi Thalken, "Come and Take It: How Austin Mic Exchange Galvanized the Hip Hop Scene in the Live Music Capital" In 2012, community radio deejay Miss Manners and local emcee Protextor teamed up to start a weekly open mic night called Austin Mic Exchange, which took place every Wednesday night at the Spiderhouse Ballroom, just north of campus.  Over the course of the next five years, artists not only learned how to build their skills on stage, they also learned about the music and the industry and how to network, whether it be skills in the studio or putting shows or tours together.  The title of “Live Music Capital of the World” was officially adopted by the city of Austin in 1991, but that “live music” largely meant rock, blues, and country, with little room for anything else.  For decades, hip hop struggled to gain recognition within the musical landscape of Central Texas.  On top of everything else, AMX gave a chance for the local media to finally see that hip hop in Austin was not just a blip on the radar – there was viable talent in the city, it just needed space to be nurtured and developed, like anything else.  Multiple artists who cut their teeth at AMX became nationally touring independent acts.  AMX officially called it quits in 2017, but the spirit has lived on and shown how a simple social and musical gathering space can move the needle in an already crowded music scene and make space for other genres. By conducting extensive interviews of those involved and doing additional research, I will take a look at the history of Austin Mic Exchange, its context within Austin, its legacy since closing, and how it fits alongside other hip hop open mics elsewhere.