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Black Violin smashes Stereotypes

For musicians Wilner "Wil B" Baptiste and Kevin "Key Marcus" Sylvester, breaking stereotypes has been a part of their fiber since they became aware of who they were, and what they could become, Baptiste said.

That's why it seemed natural to the classical-hip-hop fusion duo to name their new effort, which dropped on Sept. 18, "Sterotypes", Baptiste said. The name also came from the title track, which was the last one on which they worked for the album.

"The last song we worked on, it really clicked," Baptiste said of the album's concept.

The song, with its sweeping string arpeggios and vigorous hip-hop beats, contains a spoken passage from Sylvester. The passage says in part, "Just because I'm six-foot-two, 260 pounds, doesn't mean you're supposed to be afraid of me ... Although I wish that it didn't exist, I'm kind of glad for it because now it gives me like a goal, it give me something to debunk."

Baptiste, who plays the viola, and violinist Sylvester, along with a DJ and a drummer, will appear at the Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center on Nov. 6.

"It's just a lot of fun," Baptiste said of their live shows. "Just have a good time, leave all that stress at home."

He likens the musical mix to "a big pot of gumbo," with classical and hip-hop as the main ingredients, and garnishes of jazz and bluegrass thrown in for good measure.

Baptiste said the blend of classical music and hip-hop might be foreign to some, but with a quick listen, the duo has won over even the most hardcore classical enthusiasts.

"Everyone loves the violin; I've never heard anyone say, "I hate the sound of that thing,'" he said. "Classical musicians love and appreciate what we do ... with us, we were just always thinking outside the box ... if you think about hip-hop, that's what it is, it's constantly just stretching the envelope."

And although they have collaborated with the likes of P. Diddy, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin and The Eagles in their 10 years of existence, Baptiste said there's one artist that tops their wish list: Stevie Wonder.

"I mean, 'nuff said," Baptiste said. "Stevie Wonder is an absolute legend in the music business."

Baptiste also mentioned singer Lauren Hill, rapper Kendrick Lamar and another duo, The Black Keys, as other artists on Black Violin's collaboration wish-list.

Baptiste said he hopes listeners come away with Black Violin's message, which is equally as important -- and intertwined -- with its music.

"Take whatever your passion is, and take it to new heights," he said. "The violin has been around for 400 years and we're finding new ways to re-invent it. We encourage the world to do the same, about whatever they're passionate about. Be who you are and love who you are."

If you go:

Who: Black Violin, a Florida-based duo that fuses classical music with hip-hop.

When: 7:30 p.m.Nov. 6, 

Where: The Strand Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.

Tickets: $26, $32 and $40. Click here to buy tickets.

For more information: Go to Black Violin's website.