Artist of the day: Nick Major
Inspired by the breakdancers he saw as a teen growing up in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Nick Yantsios has been part of the Tampa Bay hip-hop scene for over 20 years.
From his early days dancing and emceeing in Port Richey to years working with and befriending Tampa’s legendary DJs to promoting current shows, the man known to the hip-hop community as Nick Major believes that hip-hop is more than music, it’s a culture and a way of life.
“Where I grew up was where it was created,” Yantsios said. “When I came down to Florida, this was unheard of. There were a few people that knew about it, but there wasn’t a scene.”
Yantsios started making a name for himself in the late 1980s as part of the hip-hop group The Dedicated Brothers, volunteering his time at WMNF-88.5 to work on Wax Attack, the station’s first hip-hop show. During his time with Wax Attack, Yantsios worked with and befriended host Kenny Waters, a.k.a. Kenny K, widely recognized as the first DJ to put hip-hop on the air in Tampa. After Waters died from liver cancer in 1993, Yantsios, graffiti artist Ruel Desouza, DJ Sean O’Hara (DJ Terra), and emcee Chris Nelson (TRD Fraze) started an organization called Power Moves to carry on Waters’ influence and unify the Tampa hip-hop community.
“We had a good run,” Desouza said about Power Moves. “It was a cult following the way people talked about it. People really wanted someone to take the lead.”
Under the banner of Power Moves, Yantsios and others organized shows and networked with national acts and record labels. Their weekly gatherings at McFarlane Park bringing together Tampa’s hip-hop scene is still prominent in the memories of Tampa’s current influential hip-hop personalities.
“They were trying to push Kenny’s movement forward to unify the community,” said Tampa’s DJ Sandman. “They brought everyone together, everyone that had a love for the culture. They tried to push it forward and keep it in the community. They brought together all the artists and all the deejays.”
After Power Moves dissolved in the late 1990s, Yantsios found himself managing various acts such as DJ Domination, COI (Conflict of Interest), Seven PM and Mello Bondz.
In 2008, Yantsios left the music business and promoted professional wrestling, another longtime interest. Although his company held weekly shows and recruited the best wrestling talent in Florida, All-Stars Wrestling folded in April 2011. After selling what was left of the company to another promoter, Yantsios decided to return to hip-hop.
“I learned that money is hard to come by in professional wrestling,” Yantsios said. “Just because you love something doesn’t mean you can hit a home run. I love baseball too, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to play for the Rays.”
Since returning to the hip-hop scene, Yantsios has reunited his Power Moves associates, co-sponsored a break dancing show/toy drive, and lent his support to a hip-hop show that raised money to fight hunger. He has spent his time recently planning and promoting “Unity Jam” a Jan. 26 show that will showcase some of Tampa’s early hip-hop performers, as well as new artists like Jinx and Laws.
“It’s about getting everyone together and working with them,” Yantsios said. “This is Unity Jam, the first big one coming back. This is the best we got now and we are just going to get better.”
Unity Jam will be held at 10 p.m. Thursday at Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. Laws, Jinx, Mason Caine, Rook Da Rukus, DJ Terra, J’Nelle and others are expected to perform. 10 p.m. $5. Click here for details.
-- Michael Lortz, tbt*