In Harrisburg, out of the ashes of tragedy, a local rapper finds triumph | Anwar Curtis

Harrisburg rapper CB, real name Christian Black, performs at Club XL in Harrisburg, on 9/21/19 (Photo by Anwar Curtis)

CB knows all about beating the odds.

Anwar Curtis (Capital-Star file photo)

Ever since he was a child, the Harrisburg emcee — whose real name is Christian Black — has been dedicated to just one thing: Making a plan and sticking with it. Last weekend, Black proved to himself, his family, and his hometown that, no matter the hand life deals you, you never fold.

And you never give up.

This summer, Black sent out a cryptic message on social media: 9.21.19. His followers wanted to know why it was significant. They didn’t have to wait long. Shortly afterward, the rapper Trina announced she’d be performing at Club XL in Harrisburg on that date.

In a single gesture, Black found a way to get his music career back on track, by bringing Trina to the ‘Burg and creating a space for all in attendance to enjoy themselves on this very night.

I’ve been following Black’s work since 2013, and watched as he’s not only released musical project after musical project, but also hooked up with such high-profile artists as DJ Troomp, and brought others, such as Pittsburgh-based rapper Jimmy Wopo, to central Pennsylvania.

Life was going well for Black, until he received a life-changing call early on the morning of June 16, 2018. That’s when he learned that his grandmother, Jacqueline Black, sacrificed her life to save her great-grandchildren during a house fire in Harrisburg. For Black, a cancer survivor, it was a body blow.

In response, Black did the same thing after he beat the lymphoma that inflicted him during his junior year of high school, he doubled-down on life, and vowed to pursue his dreams. He promised to continue open doors for himself and other local emcees. And last week’s live set by Trina at Club XL was one of those moments.

Last Saturday night’s show was definitely one for the history books. The lineup Black orchestrated that special night was phenomenal.

He extended an invitation to Mazon and KaeNi_Officxal and both of their performances almost made it hard for both Black and Trina to keep up.

But of course, Black wasn’t going to let anyone outperform him and Trina, well she never gets outperformed rather on record or on stage.

Growing up, KaeNi_Officxal would listen to Trina daily, so “opening up for Trina is a humbling experience. I’m excited to get the crowd hyped up.” she said.

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Other emcees who were not even on the bill even showed up for CB. Daisy Maize who has performed with Kaeni_Offixcal before shared her thoughts on the importance of emcee’s supporting each other.

“As far as me being an artist and expecting support from the people I care about, I have to make sure every single time when I’m able that I’m here doing the same exact thing” she said shared.

This concert was not only a learning experience but also a teachable moment for everyone involved. Harrisburg’s own Rob the Plug Podcast was there capturing the moments on audio leading up to showtime.

You had Dj Abeanoo, Big Mike the Hypeman, and Dj Showtyme, who kept the crowd vibrant in between performances. The crowd was excited and everyone was safe. And as my good friend Corey Scales kept saying, the ground definitely shook for this one.

Too often, rap music and local rap shows get a bad rep because at times they can get a tad bit out of control just like a Rock or an EPMD show.

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I think with this one it was all about the positive energy that was put into it that kept those negative vibes away.

Keep pushing, CB because the best is yet to come and your angel is definitely ecstatic about the door that you are about to open next.

Capital-Star Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis, of Harrisburg, tells the stories of Pennsylvania’s capital city, and its people. His work appears biweekly. Readers may email him at [email protected].

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