The Quest is a venue located in downtown Minneapolis. It is typically the host of larger shows of all genres. There is a parking ramp directly across the street so you don’t have to walk far. Once inside the only security checks are a metal detector and an ID check. This is especially nice, as nobody likes to be felt up by a burly bouncer. Inside the venue is really cool. I would say it resembles a large castle dungeon of some sort. There are bars on both sides of the stage and a large amount of room in between. At The Quest there is also an upstairs that provides a different view of the show. The only thing that I dislike about the Quest is their contract with the artists. They require the performers to sign a contract that only allows them to perform at The Quest. This is a huge disadvantage when trying to set up a show and invite artists, and because of that many local artists don’t perform at The Quest.
Have you ever wondered how the large radio stations determine which songs get played and which don't? There are huge stars that will always have their new singles played, but what about everyone else? Just like in any other industry, money talks. It is well known that radio stations take payoffs from promoters to play their singles. The fees per “spin” are paid to program directors (or whoever controls the station’s programming) in cash or money orders. The promoter will ask the person at the station how many CDs they need. Obviously, the station would only need one CD to play the song, but in this case a CD is a one hundred dollar fee. The money can also be transferred through a promotion company (called a quarterback) to make it more difficult to follow the cash trail. A person taking payments can make up to $300,000 in untaxed income. This is extremely unethical and keeps independent music from having an opportunity to be on the radio. This illegal behavior allows big labels to easily promote their new artists to the public and continue to be a dominant force in the music industry.
RSE (Rhymesayers Entertainment) Radio is a weekly program that airs on Saturday nights. According to their website the show is composed of the "best in new and old school hip hop". The host and DJ is Saddiq from the Rhymesayers crew. He does a superb job of picking songs as well as mixing them together. The show also has on air guests on occasion and when they are running the pledge drive they usually have a freestyle show. This special edition has local emcees in studio freestyle rapping. The show is on KFAI Saturday night from 9-11, but the latest two shows are available in realplayer format on the KFAI archive site.
Hieroglyphics is a hip hop crew from California that has been active since the nineties. The group consists of Del the Funkee Homosapien, Domino, Pep Love, Casual, Tajai, Opio, and A-Plus. The crew had been friends since high school and formed a group when Del got a record deal with the help of his cousin Ice Cube. The group released their first album in 1998, which was entitled “Third Eye Vision”. They became a huge success in California and eventually became well known around the country. Nearly every member of the crew has released their own albums. After leaving their previous labels the crew formed Hieroglyphics Imperium Records, which has signed additional artists since its formation. The crew has recently been on tour for their new album “Full Circle” and is releasing a dvd of the tour.
“Capture the cultured pearls, jewels, and gems
It's a treasure hunt to stimulate your medulla stem
The furthest reaches are within your clutches
Concrete covered countries to the most birded regions
Virgin territories, those exposed to man made woes
They know them Hieros” – Hieroglyphics “Soweto”
Naming your band or group is a very strange thing. It's funny to look at different genres of music and the names that they pick. For many it’s about marketing, and so the majority of the groups in a genre have similar names. Sometimes it’s just the artist's actual name or nickname. Does it make a difference? Will people buy a record or like an artist better because of the name? I'd say that it has a huge influence on the public's perspective, and will help sell a record. Let’s take a look at some names:
Heavy Metal Group names usually have something very aggressive as their name this marketing fits perfectly with the genre.
(Alice in Chains, System of a Down, Cannibal Corpse)
What I find really amusing is that so many of them are only one word and are often monosyllabic. I could make up hundreds of potentially successful names!
(Metallica, Megadeth, Slipknot, Slayer, Poison, Orgy, Korn, Tool)
Country music most often uses their actual names or a stage name. I assume this is because they are really trying to sell the person here, which is true of the radio-pop music as well.
(Country: Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw)
(Pop: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake)
Mainstream rap music is most often a “cool” nickname of some kind, sometimes derived from the artists’ name. They also use misspellings of words.
(Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Lil’ Jon, Nas, C Murder, Notorious BIG)
Underground rap music is relatively similar to mainstream in their naming, however many are slightly more clever (strange?) variations on names or words. These names usually don’t sound too tough.
(Del the Funkee Homosapien, Slug, Eyedea, Brother Ali, MF Doom, Pep Love, Aesop Rock, Cunninglynguists, I Self Devine)
This should help you create your own perfectly marketable name! Let’s see I think I’ll go with …
"At some point, won't Minnesotans come to believe that giving money to MPR is a little like making a charitable contribution to the New York Yankees or Wal-Mart?" -Doug Grow, Star Tribune
My last post was about Minnesota Public Radio’s new station 89.3 The Current. I have a very positive opinion about the station, however many people are threatened by it. MPR (91.1) is primarily a news and informational station that is funded through taxes and donations. This is actually a huge company and one of the best public radio stations in the country. Many people feel that they are too powerful and their new acquisition just makes them even more frightening of an entity. I agree with this argument in part. It is tough for other local stations to exist because of the funds that MPR can pool. KFAI is a station that will be hurt by the newcomer. Both stations are targeting a similar station and provide some content that crosses over. I don’t feel that they are some huge monster that we should fear. If they offer a better service they deserve to have more listeners. In cases of service companies it is most often the people’s choice that becomes the largest entity, whether or not you agree with the majority is your personal opinion. I feel this is true in most cases, up until you have a company taking advantage of people to continue their dominance. If you provide content that is quality, healthy, and entertaining people will be attracted to it. The news can take information that is shocking and enticing to people and get viewers, but the job of the news is to take what is important and worthwhile and make it interesting. This way of thinking fits into many different aspects of life including music. Why take the immediate gratification when you can have much more?
PS: I hope you've been enlightened =)
Recently, Minnesota Public Radio purchased a radio station from St. Olaf College. This station has become 89.3 The Current (why they have to name radio stations with some goofy name like the current, the point, the score, the fan, and the patriot I have no idea; it bothers me). This is a station I can actually tolerate listening to. They play lots of local music in a wide variety of genres, including hip hop. The best thing about the station is that you don't have to listen to the same songs over and over (in fact Iï¿½ve rarely heard the same song twice). The station plays local hip hop group Atmosphere and Heiruspecs as well as other underground hip hop (Sage Francis and Gift of Gab). Although the majority of the music isnï¿½t hip hop, if you want something fresh and new on the radio Iï¿½d recommend tuning in 89.3.
Until a few months ago, I hadn’t been to a concert at The Triple Rock. I was missing out. The Triple Rock Social Club is a small bar that has been around as long as I can remember. It is near the West Bank University Campus on Cedar Ave. I used to go over there on occasion, as some of my friends were big fans of the five dollar burger and beer special they offered. What was just a small bar, has now become a venue for music as they have purchased and renovated the building next door to it. The place is pretty small, has a lowered main floor, and an elevated back area with a bar. The quality of the sound isn’t bad; however there are definitely some spots that sound better than others. Another complaint I have with most venues is they could turn down the volume just a bit (loud and distorted doesn’t work for me). I have been to two shows there (Gift of Gab and Mr. Lif) and I would certainly recommend checking it out.
Atmosphere is currently the largest underground hip-hop group in Minnesota. The group, which originally performed as Urban Atmosphere, was formed from the Rhymesayers Collective. At the earliest shows, Sean Daley (aka Slug) deejayed while Derek Turner (Spawn) emceed. This changed as Slug was encouraged to emcee and Anthony Davis (Ant) joined the group as the producer. Atmosphere was featured on various releases of the "Headshots" tape series before releasing their first album in 1998 entitled "Overcast!". The first album had six major contributors, however today Atmosphere consists of just two: Slug emceeing and Ant producing.
Since their first release, Atmosphere has released three more official albums, four limited release "Sad Clown Bad Dub" tour cds, and a live tour dvd in the "Sad Clown" series. Their newest cd, "Seven's Travels" is being distributed by Epitaph Records (a larger distrobution company than Rhymesayers) and it debuted at number 87 on the Billboard Charts. The group is planning to release a new cd this summer.
Rhymesayers Entertainment is a local Minneapolis label that has distributed records across the globe. The Rhyme Sayers Collective was formed by Brent Sayers (aka Saddiq), Sean Daley (aka Slug), and Derek Turner (aka Spawn). The trio came together as a live performance group called Headshots with interests in rapping, deejaying and graffiti writing. The crew, which grew over the years, became known for participating in local emcee battles. These battles drew on the artists' creative ability and skills with fast paced wordplay. During the 90's the group released seven Headshots cassettes that featured both recorded and live performances. The Rhymesayers Collective eventually turned into a record label under the supervision of Brent Sayers, the company's CEO. Known today as Rhymesayers Entertainment, the company owns a record store in Uptown called the Fifth Element and hosts a variety of artists from Minnesota and beyond on it's record label.
Hip-hop and rap are often viewed two names for the same thing, however their methods differ greatly. When Hip-hop started as an art form, it was a way for a culture to identify itself. This involved much more than just emceeing (rapping). There are four elements to the style: emceeing, breakdancing, graffiti writing and deejaying. The rapping style grew and took on different genres. The writing style of the original emcee was similar to any poet, any topic was acceptable. As records began generating large sums of money, the gangster rap style emerged as the most lucritive. This is where the difference between the term rap became widely known among the general public. The gangster rappers were often not involved in the hip-hop movement. This is what the average person does not understand, and concequently gives many a negative opinion of the music style.