Rap Royalty 

The Kings of the Iron Mic series keeps Cleveland hip-hop thriving.

There's a reason the centerpiece of George Goins's living room is a pair of turntables, rather than a TV. As one of the founders of the hip-hop promotions company Nappyhead Inc., Goins (better known as Poohmanchew) seeks no distractions from his muse. He's lined his walls with hip-hop handbills, which outnumber the lone personal memento -- a picture of his child as an infant -- by a margin of about 15 to 1. He whips out a photo album filled with every flier from every show he's done. As the pages are turned, Goins grins on like a proud papa, as if we're looking at snapshots of his baby.

And in a way, we are. The fliers are mostly for Kings of the Iron Mic, Goins's stellar hip-hop series that's celebrating its third anniversary Sunday, May 26, at the Grog Shop. Since its inception, Kings (held four times a year) has breathed new life into the Cleveland hip-hop underground by providing a positive, steady outlet for some of the town's most progressive rhymers.

"Hip-hop in Cleveland was homeless," Goins says of the scene prior to the launch of Kings. "We gave MCs a home to come and do their thing. There was nothing like this going on when we started doing this, and it got other promoters to start doing more of the same."