If you ever attend a show by the legendary hardcore rap group Wu-Tang Clan, you probably won't expect to see a Summit rapper as one of the opening acts. But that’s just what Kerron Venable was last night, sharing his love for hip-hop music in front of a capacity crowd at the Starland Ballroom in Sayerville.
Venable, who performs under the alias Venn Grimm, grew up in Summit and went to in the early 90s. Today, he's a coach for Summit's youth football league. Venable brought his Hilltopper spirit and the support of about 30 former high school friends to the Starland for a set that got the crowd roaring.
"If we didn't have the friends and network we have, we couldn't pull this off," said his high school friend and manager Lori Golden. Using her marketing and business background Golden has been pushing Venable's career from small club dates in New York to larger venues here in New Jersey. This is only his second local concert.
Friends came from far and wide to support, such as Lauren Durnin who moved from Summit to Brewster, NY but came down for the show and helped sell CDs.
Another friend, Z.F. Taylor, who performed a song with Venable, called this a Hilltopper reunion. "There are a lot of hometown supporters here tonight, most of us go back to grade school," said Taylor. Taylor lives in Ohio now, but has been friends with Venable since they went on ranger trips in their youth. "This is my 'family', so I had to be here," he said.
On stage, when he’s Venn Grimm, Venable drills into lengthy raps about hip-hop culture and his passion for NJ's rap history. Perhaps some don't know rapper and actor Ice T's connection to the Hill City. Summit's rap roots goes back farther than Venn Grimm.
Venable was on a natural high after his performance. "I feel good," he said. "The crowd was really into it, which made it easier." His stack of CD's sold briskly for $5 a pop on a table near the club entrance.
As his friend Taylor said, the local support meant a lot, if not only to change the minds of anyone quietly doubting Veneble’s musical ability. “I’m sure after the show, they’ll believe he’s the real deal,” he said.