Hard-working Lancaster duo is putting Central PA on the hip-hop map
It was two in the morning. Dougie Kent – one-half of Lancaster hip-hop duo Jbre x Dougie Kent – was tired, covered in grease and smelling like a deep-fryer. Luckily, he had a good reason to smell. He’d been whipping up cheesesteaks for one of the biggest names in the rap industry – Flesh-N-Bone of the group Bone Thugz-N-Harmony.
“That one’s a crazy story,” says Kent with a laugh. “Jbre actually met one of Flesh-N-Bone’s cousins at Foot Locker, and he told Jbre about the show. Jbre had to work, so I talked my boss at The Steak Out into letting me go to the show. I met someone involved with the band, one thing led to another and here I was at two in the morning making cheesesteaks for Flesh-N-Bone and showing him some of our music.”
Flesh-N-Bone eventually saw both the raw talent and unwavering ambition the two had and decided to help them out by rapping on one of their tracks, “Ridin’.”
It’s this type of determination and innovation that has allowed the unlikely duo not only to help grow the Central PA hip-hop scene, but also to break out and expand across the U.S.
Jbre (real name: Jeremy Lyerson-Breland) is built like a linebacker and looks like a typical college student wearing a T-shirt and gym shorts. He sits with his hands clasped and speaks softly as he talks about the collaboration with Flesh-N-Bone. Jbre was raised on old school rap – 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G. and N.W.A. Born in Indiana, he eventually moved to Lancaster when he was 15.
Dougie Kent (real name: Doug Fellenbaum) looks similar to Adam Levine – clean cut, neatly dressed and grinning. He greets me with a high-five and slides in next to Jbre at Prince Street Cafe. He’s enthusiastic – hands moving and eyes lighting up as he talks about the duo coming together on the campus of Millersville University.
“I was actually in a band at the time, and I’d been talking to Jbre about working with him on his clothing line,” Kent says. “We eventually got to talking about music, and we were showing each other some of the stuff we were working on. We just clicked. I’m a lot more of a talker, but I think that’s why we mesh together so well.”
Both agree those opposite personalities are what make the duo mesh so well musically.
Jbre is currently in his last semester at Millersville, pursuing a marketing degree. “To me, this is kind of like my internship,” he says. “I’m using a lot of principles I’m learning in class and applying them towards our music career.”
Kent, on the other hand, has been taking classes at HACC when he has the time. He takes a hands-on approach to his music career, looking to other local groups for guidance and working to promote the duo as much as he can.
“Music has always made sense to me,” says Kent. “I’ve been around the Lancaster music scene, and I’ve seen how a band like August Burns Red can put a whole city on the map. That’s what I want us to do. I want us to represent the city of Lancaster on the rap and hip-hop scene.”
The duo keeps grinding this summer by spreading their music across the country. Some of their upcoming shows include the Virtuoso Fest in Hollywood, featuring dozens of up-and-coming DJs, rappers and hip-hop artists. “That offer just came from persistence. We just kept pushing our music out there, and someone in California got a whiff of our music and liked what they heard,” says Kent. Another show features an opening slot for Chanel West Coast – known for her role on the shows Ridiculousness and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory.
“We’re really excited for people to hear our music live for the first time,” Kent says. “Our biggest priority is to get the crowd excited. If you’re still standing still at the end of the show, we’ve done our job wrong.”
Jbre x Dougie Kent plan to cap off an eventful summer this month at the inaugural Lancaster Summer Jam. The event showcases local DJs, hip-hop artists and indie bands, with Jbre x Dougie Kent closing things out. “It’s really a way for local acts to work together to present an awesome show,” says Kent. “It’s going to be a great way to end our summer, and we’re really excited for it.”
Jbre and Kent hope to grow the Lancaster hip-hop scene much like the local metal and rock scene has grown over the years. “Being in a metal band before, I was really able to see how prominent the metal and hard-rock scene was around Central PA,” says Kent. “Jeremy Weiss over at C.I. Records really opened my eyes up to what it was possible to do as a musician – to get a whole genre of music to grow locally.”
When it comes to the future, Jbre and Kent look at major acts like Drake and Wiz Khalifa as guides to success. “Those are two guys we really would like to follow – not just their music, but the way they market themselves and continue to stay relevant,” says Jbre. “That’s one of our biggest goals – to continue to stay relevant.”
Jbre X Dougie Kent play the Lancaster Summer Jam 2014 at Tellus360 (24 E. King St., Lancaster) on Friday, July 8. 6pm. $10 adv./$15 door. All ages/21+. Click here for tickets.