For a hip-hop artist who’s often center stage, Mike Xavier has no problem stepping down if it means helping another artist step up. That’s the premise behind the handpicked lineup of Hip-Hop & Poetry Night, Xavier’s curated show set to return to Brooklyn Bowl, for the first time in a year, on July 30.
“It’s a great feeling giving other talented performers an opportunity like this to share their art with a bigger crowd,” says Xavier, who first launched the show at the Bunkhouse Saloon in 2019. “I remember when I first started performing at open mics around the city. I couldn’t wait to get on the stage at venues like the Bunkhouse and Brooklyn Bowl. I’m glad that I’m in a position to help them do so.”
Xavier has worked hard over the years to get to that position. The emcee’s trajectory is nothing short of inspirational, when you consider his journey from homelessness to sharing a bill with The Weeknd, Travis Scott and Lizzo at Life Is Beautiful 2018. Xavier has released five studio projects, written an inspirational quote book and opened for hip-hop trailblazers Mobb Deep and Tech N9ne. In other words, Xavier has the connections to help open doors for his fellow artists.
Coming to Hip-Hop & Poetry Night means coming to a fully curated experience. The lineup features a mixture of local and visiting acts, all scouted and chosen by Xavier. “The vibe and energy at these shows is incredible. … I’ve received so much positive feedback after every show, with people expressing how certain performances connected with them.” Some people even cry, he says, thanking him after the show for organizing such a therapeutic evening.
You never know what or who you might get at Hip-Hop & Poetry Night—and that’s by design.“I never mention who’s actually performing, because I want people to gravitate toward that theme of hip-hop and poetry. They love those two things, and that’s why they’re coming,” he explains. “I’m really trying to build this brand around the experience of what the event is going to be, as opposed to who’s going to be performing.”
That approach has served Hip-Hop & Poetry Night well. Since June 2019, the show has expanded from Las Vegas to LA, San Diego and San Francisco. Word spread. Tickets sold out. Then the pandemic struck. Xavier says that while the shutdown hurt the event, it also helped him discover new ambitions, like starting his own music festival to give unknown artists even more exposure.
“You get people who are like, ‘Why do you do what you do? If you’re a performer, why not just have it as your show? Why are you having other people perform?’ Some people look at it kind of funny,” he says, “but my thing is, there’s enough room for everybody.”
Xavier doesn’t seem concerned with what other people think. He’s too busy working on another goal: leaving his mark. “I want to do as much as possible,” he says. “Life is short.” Whether it’s through making music or leveraging his influence to help others, that impact is certainly being felt.
MIKE XAVIER PRESENTS: HIP-HOP & POETRY NIGHT July 30. 7 p.m., $15-$30. Brooklyn Bowl, 702-862-2695, brooklynbowl.com.
Click HERE to subscribe for free to the Weekly Fix, the digital edition of Las Vegas Weekly! Stay up to date with the latest on Las Vegas concerts, shows, restaurants, bars and more, sent directly to your inbox!