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Aaron ‘Fresh’ Knight’s Journey Pioneering Austin’s Hip Hop Scene

Learn how hip hop radio show, TV and podcast host Aaron “Fresh” Knight is expanding the music genre into the capital city

In a city known as the “live music capital of the world,” hip hop and rap have historically been missing from that moniker. In 2017, Aaron “Fresh” Knight and Confucious Jones set out to change that by highlighting the genre on their weekly radio show “The Breaks” on KUTX. After several successful years as a podcast and radio host, this year Knight set out solo on his latest creation “New Fresh City” on Austin Music Television. With dedication as his compass, love for hip hop as his fuel and the unwavering support of the local music community, he soared to new heights in a year that turned his dreams into reality. 

Knight’s fascination with hip hop began long before becoming a public figure, but it was during his college years at Prairie View A&M University, where studied political science, that his love transformed into a resolute mission. In those times, the pulse of hip hop was felt through music blogs instrumental in introducing the world to new talents. Knight couldn’t help but notice in Austin there was a gaping void. This realization stirred something within him, igniting a fervor to champion the city’s unsung talent through “Fresh Prince of the ATX,” a music blog that ran from December 2008 to January 2014. 

Aaron Knight (photo by Brittany Dawn Short)

“The Breaks” emerges as a hub for Austin’s hip hop scene

Knight’s determination to support Austin’s hip hop community only intensified as he unveiled “The Breaks” on KUTX in 2017 with partner Jones, who he met serendipitously after Jones, then repping an artist Knight was covering on his blog, called up the college student and yelled at him for promoting a song that wasn’t supposed to be live quite yet.  

“There were a lot of curse words,” Knight laughs. “But, he reached back out and was like, ‘I like what you’re doing. You seem to have your finger on the pulse here in the city.’ He asked for some PR help for his label, and a friendship blossomed.” 

“The Breaks” metamorphosed into a hub for hip hop aficionados and a springboard for local neophytes searching for new music. Through “The Breaks,” Knight and Jones orchestrated captivating live events like “The Breaks Live,” annual SXSBreaks concert series and Summer Jam, allowing local artists to flaunt their skills in front of audiences and carve a niche for themselves in the Austin music tapestry. Beyond music, Knight’s unyielding commitment to shedding light on pertinent social and political issues during interviews and discussions turned “The Breaks” into an arena for insightful conversations within hip hop culture. 

Aaron “Fresh” Knight
Aaron Knight (photo by Brittany Dawn Short)

Showcasing artists’ music videos on “New Fresh City”

This year, Knight broadened his horizons to embrace television with the launch of “New Fresh City.” The show is an odyssey through Austin’s hip hop and rap landscapes, offering viewers a front-row seat to the city’s soul-stirring music scene by showcasing the almost-forgotten art medium of music videos. “New Fresh City” airs on Austin Music Television Sundays at 10 p.m. 

“It’s my best rendition of “Yo! MTV Raps,’” Knight says. “Nobody’s playing music videos anymore, and it’s a lot of work to search out music videos. So, it’s another platform to help artists. Sometimes people have great songs and nobody knows that they shot a video because it’s just not circulating as many places, but now there’s a platform that will play your videos.” 

Knight’s dual roles as the charismatic co-host of “The Breaks’’ and the creative force behind “New Fresh City” have solidified his position as an influential trailblazer in Austin’s hip hop universe. His unwavering commitment and contributions to hip hop culture haven’t escaped the spotlight. Knight has amassed a bevy of awards and nominations for his unwavering dedication with two consecutive nominations for Best Music Radio Program at the Austin Music Awards, features in publications like the Austin Chronicle, Austin Monthly, and being named “Blacks in Public Media You Should Know,” just to name a few. In 2020, Knight was a recipient of the Capitol View Arts, “Growing the Tradition” award for his continued work in the Austin music community. 

Aaron Knight (photo by Brittany Dawn Short)

Keeping the momentum of rap in Austin’s music scene

As the rhythms of hip hop continue to evolve and captivate Austin, Knight remains firmly committed to providing a stage for artists and nurturing a sense of community within the genre. With his heart entrenched in the beats of hip hop, he is primed to take his extraordinary momentum into the future, ensuring that the hip hop culture in Austin thrives and marches to a resounding beat. 

“Everybody maneuvers as if it’s the 1980s and rap is just a fad that is going to go away, but the reality is that it’s the No. 1 genre in the world,” Knight says. “Sometimes people don’t look at it as an art form and give it this weird stigma that rap has been fighting through the last 50 years. It’s here to stay, and I think the more people embrace rap, the better the Austin music scene will be.”