Open-mike nights

The world is a stage, hip-hop and spoken-word artists, so let your inner Hova speak his piece.

For aspiring Erykah Badus

Poets, hip-hop artists and R&B singers take the stage the second Saturday of each month at Bless Da Mic. Most events start off with film presentations about African culture and the origins of hip-hop. There's no competition here—just show off your talent as DJ Omar spins music ranging from rock to soca. Sign up before the show. Afrikan Poetry Theatre, 176-03 Jamaica Ave at 176th St, Jamaica, Queens (347-256-4844, $10.

For poets at heart

Hip-hop meets poetry at Words at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, on the third Saturday of every month. Forget competition: Supportive crowds make noise if they dig what they hear. "The audience feels like an accurate reflection of the diversity of the city," says the caf's executive director, Daniel Gallant. On November 4, the open jam session All That! will feature band accompaniment. Nuyorican Poets Cafe, 236 E 3rd St between Aves B and C (212-505-8183, $12.

For serious MCs

Every Sunday for the past nine years, hip-hop artists—from wanna-bes to veteran MCs—rock the mike at End of the Weak. Check out the huddled masses exchanging verses outside before the doors open, and keep an eye out for hip-hop celebs like Ice-T and Melle Mel, both past attendees. Arrive early to sign up. The Pyramid Club, 101 Ave A between 6th and 7th Sts (212-228-4888, Sun 8:30pm, $10.

For lyricist loungers

At Sin Sin's Freestyle Mondays Open Mic, a four-piece band decides what beat to play—from original rhythms to the familiar sounds of A Tribe Called Quest and Jay-Z—while wordsmiths take turns on the mike. "Creatively, it's a lot more advantageous for the MC, and the people love it," says host Ill Spokkin. "It forms a great sense of community." At the Off the Head Game Show Battle on November 2, a spinning wheel will determine which topics the 16 competitors must rhyme about, for a prize of $100 and a bottle of top-shelf vodka. Sin Sin & Leopard Lounge, 248 E 5th St at Second Ave ( Mon 11:30pm, sign-up 10:30pm. Freestyle Mondays: free; Off the Head Game Show Battle: $5 entry, $5 participation fee.