By JC Rocker, contributing editor Missyllaneous
In December 2013 I was recommended to enter The Bar Exam, a hip hop competition started by Savage Fam Productions and held at Atlanta’s Apache Cafe. I was in the early stages of developing my own stage presence so I signed up for the open mic portion which took place prior to the main event. That’s when I met the charismatic enigma Mike Sick, giving me the instructions and welcoming me with open arms. As I performed, and with Sick hyping the audience from the side, I felt the energy of the crowd. I didn’t just perform; I had the best experience of my life. Since that day, I’ve made my presence known at the Bar Exam from the stage to spectating; throughout the years witnessing its growth. Now with its 4th birthday approaching this Friday, January 27, 2017 [go ahead and pull out your calendars], it is only right that I tell y’all why you should attend this monthly gift to the artists and event that embodies the Hip Hop culture.
Just like Savage Fam CEO Mike Sick’s beard, The Bar Exam has grown into Atlanta’s top showcases. Up and coming artists register to rock the crowd, get critiques from industry professionals serving as judges, and a shot at the ultimate prize which includes: studio time , press kits, and performing at the next Bar Exam. The rule is simple: PASS THE BAR OR PASS THE MIC!
I caught up with Mike Sick and chopped it up about the upcoming milestone. When asked how the concept of the Bar Exam came to be, he simply said, “I wanted to put the artists first and deliver a high quality show.”
Four years is a great achievement, how did he maintain the consistency? He replied, “I stuck to my guns because the goal is about affecting lives and creating an experience.”
Sick considers himself a visioneer [one who engineers a vision] and doesn’t see himself as a promoter, but a provider. He explains that he brings necessities to the table that will give artists a place to nurture their talent and network. As a dope MC himself, he uses his prolific lyricism as a means not get his foot in the door, but to have his own building where he can open the doors.
How does this half man/half amazing keep all of this up? Simple. “Keep it movin’,” Sick says. The Bar Exam and other projects of his stay successful because, “I stay in my own lane and have a strong team made up by good people.” That mindset is the reason why The Bar Exam is not only in Atlanta, but has expanded to new territories such as St. Louis, Nashville, Tampa, Jacksonville, Chattnooga and Houston.
As a former competitor, I know all of the contestants are anxious to show the crowd what they possess as The Bar Exam approaches. As you are reading this, they are getting their business cards and mixtapes/albums ready to pass out, promoting heavily on their social media, and rehearsing their performances [at least I hope they are!]. Sick’s advice to first time performers is, “Be up for the challenge and set the bar. We will keep it 100 with you to help you grow. You will gain experience and get a chance to network. Also come with an open mind.”
The 4th anniversary of The Bar Exam will include ATL Giant and V-103’s own Greg Street and Ant Marshall the Lyricist [the legend responsible for Lyricist Lounge and Rhyme Sketch] as judges; with these two OGs at the judges table, these artists MUST bring it. Performances will include December’s winner Ashtin Martin, Matt Citron, Shred TVT, and many more artists competing for the Bar Exam crown!
I am proud of where the Bar Exam is and where it’s going to go. These artists give everything they got to make their mark and maybe meet the right people that can help them go where they need to go. No matter who wins the prize [not to be cheesy because that is the goal, so play to win], everybody will achieve what The Bar Exam strives to provide: Experience.
On January 27th make your way to Apache Café on 3rd and Spring Street and check out the illest show to date! Showtime starts at 9:30 but you will want to get there early. Doors open at 9 pm and admission starts at $10. Reserve a table in advance if you can because it will be packed.
You’re welcome in advance!