If you’ve ever wondered how to tap into Austin’s rap and hip-hop scene, wonder no more! Meet Confucius Jones and Aaron “Fresh” Knight, hosts of the #1 hip-hop show in Austin on KUTX. These two live and breathe hip-hop, so we caught up with them about their journey to radio thus far and what The Breaks has meant for the genre in Austin. Plus, we got a little peek at what they have in store for all of us at the 2022 Summer Jam happening at the end of August, presented by KUTX & KAZI and hosted by — you guessed it — The Breaks!
We are Confucius & Fresh
I’m sure some are wondering how two Black guys hailing from East of I-35 ended up being two prominent voices in Austin music in the last five years. When you’re coming from a heavily marginalized area, sometimes it’s hard to see your full potential, that is, until you decide to throw all the marginalization to the wayside and just go for yours.
That’s what we did. Whether it be through music management, blogging, podcasting, radio, etc., we bet on ourselves despite whomever may have something to say. To give you a little more about ourselves and our journey…
We ran a small music label here in Austin, 1987 Music Group. Well, Confucius ran it, and Fresh helped. Fresh also was running his own music blog at the time, Fresh Prince of the ATX (hence the name “Fresh”). From there, we took a break from music and jumped into the world of podcasting with Those Damn Comic Book Guys. That became a success, with us touring across Texas to various comic book conventions, speaking on panels — one time including speaking at Wizard World Comic Con — and the podcast even landing on two top podcast lists, one in Austin Monthly and the other on TimeOut.
From the podcast we thought the natural progression was to be on radio, so we set out to do just that — be on radio. With us coming from being immersed in Austin Rap/HipHop beforehand from DJing, blogging, and running a label, we thought, why not have a show that represents that? We reached out to literally every radio station in town and only heard from two. Initially, we went to KAZI 88.7 out of a sense of obligation, being two young Black men from Austin, but things didn’t work out. And then… you guessed it… KUTX came knocking, so we rightfully answered.
We met with KUTX for about a month or a little less, pitching the show, talking with them about the Austin Rap scene, doing the My KUTX guest DJ spot, etc., hoping it would lead to a spot on-air, even after being told by KUTX Program Director, Matt Reilly, that there was no room in the budget for a new show. But low and behold, someone quit, and we were in there, baby! On January 7, 2017, we began what is now “The Breaks.”
The Breaks is set to be the voice for Austin Rap/HipHop. While we aren’t the first rap show in the city, we do feel like what we do with giving our opinions, takes, and highlighting the local scene was highly needed at this particular point in time. We haven’t had a rap show on radio that also did shows highlighting just the homegrown talent. From our official SXSW show, SXSBreaks, to our Valentine’s Day show Love Lockdown, and Summer Jam (which we’ll get to in a bit), we do our best to show Austin that Rap/HipHop is alive and very much pushing forward in the live music capital. While The Breaks isn’t guest-driven, we do have guests we feel should be heard, but The Breaks is more about the personalities and highlights of the Austin Rap/HipHop scene.
Let’s double back a bit. Earlier we spoke about the shows/events we put on that showcase and highlight the immense talent within Austin and its surrounding areas. One being Summer Jam, which is probably the biggest event The Breaks does. Starting out as an idea (as so many things do) with us wanting to do a show that was all local to prove that local acts can sell (since some venues swear that’s why they don’t book or do all local shows), we tried early on once we landed at KUTX but hit a wall.
So enter artist managers Eric Radford and Wane, who were and still are managing top talent here in Austin. They joined us in working on getting this dream show of ours off the ground. Low and behold, they were pretty good at it. Long story short, we got it down and in 2018 the first annual Summer Jam took place at Barracuda (what is now Creek and Cave). The event was such a success with the likes of Deezie Brown, The Teeta, J Soulja, Mélat, and Jake Lloyd hitting the stage.
2018 was such a success that we came back in 2019 and did it all over again. 2020 was peak COVID-19 pandemic season, so we went virtual. With the continuous help of Wane and Eric, we had a Summer Jam stream and, for the first time in public radio, had an event air on public television (at least that’s what was told to us). 2021, we took off due to COVID, but this year, we are back to let everyone know we haven’t abandoned Summer Jam and we are coming bigger than before. We sincerely see Summer Jam as the premier event for Austin HipHop with the platform provided. It gives chances for some people to see Rap in Austin who otherwise wouldn’t have paid attention before.
We feel like Summer Jam has helped bridge a gap between two very different sides of the city, and erased all the excuses that were given before as to why HipHop in Austin doesn’t work — “no one wants to see just locals,” “local shows don’t make money,” “the locals don’t have bases that want to see them,” etc. The Breaks has proven all that to be wrong while, not single handedly, we have played a significant part in that in this time, at least. Summer Jam is the time to show all the naysayers that Rap/HipHop is the number one genre in the world for a reason, and that Austin should get with the times and stop being in this 1980s time warp where people think Rap is a fad. It’s here to stay and be upfront, and Summer Jam shows that.
If you want to see for yourself, you have your chance this summer on Saturday, August 27, 2022 at the Long Center, to see great performances from Moody Bank$, Tribe Mafia, Anastasia, and Geto Gala.
At the Long Center, we’ve always got a new partnership or something cool we know you’ll want to check out! Find and follow us @longcenter on your social media platform of choice, and we’ll see you real soon.