Local hip-hop healthy with a few hiccups
Some artists still looking for airplay
There has never been a better time for local hip-hop, but some artists are still questioning the level of support shown bywhatwassupposedtobethecity’surban radio station.
Cadence Weapon’s video for Black Hand is getting major airplay on MuchMusic. His debut, Breaking Kayfabe, is nominated for the Polaris Music Prize, a$20,000awardforCanada’smostcreative album, which will be handed out Sept. 18.
ReddNation’snewalbum, NoworNever, is already up for an Aboriginal Peoples Choice Award and the fivesome’s video, Fabulous, is on its way to Much. Darkson Tribe recently performed at ESPN’s Asian X Games in Malaysia and recorded a single with former Oiler Georges Laraque.
Totopitalloff,TuffHousebossOrville Green recently launched his label’s studio headquarters, website and talent agency on Whyte Avenue. He employs a stable of four artists, two DJs and four producers,includingDanielJones,who uses a Sony PlayStation to create his tracks.“DJtomake3Tuffhousebeatsper Day,”readsoneof12in-houserulesposted on the door to Green’s boardroom.
Noneofthosebeatsaregettingplayed onTheBounce91.7FM,whichswitched fromapop,dance,R&Bandhip-hopformat to more of a Top 40 hits playlist last December.
SoGreenisoptingforadifferentroute — he’sgoingtoadvertisehisTuffHouse studio on the station in the coming months.
The commercials will feature short snippetsoftracksproducedbyhisartists and DJs.
“It’s frustrating, but it’s all about the money,” says Green.
TheBouncestillplaysafairamountof urban acts — including R&B singer NeYo,BlackEyedPeas,rapperChamillionaire— and sponsors an annual talent search.
ThelasttwowinnerswereR&Bacts— KreeSha, who has signed to Virgin Records, and Shilo, a 16-year-old who subsequently recorded a single, Alright, with two up ’n’ coming Vancouver producers.
But with the demise of 96X, The BouncenowspinsrockactssuchasNickelback, Panic! At The Disco, making it tougher forlocalhip-hopartiststofindtheirway on to 91.7 FM’s playlist.
While the station’s general manager James Stuart thinks Edmonton’s scene is healthier than ever, he must juggle a diversity of interests.
“The role of The Bounce is fairly simple,” he says.
“We try to support local acts as much as we can while still keeping the station competitive in the local radio market,” he says.
“We view ourselves as community leaders and we are doing all we can to help. Some will say that we aren’t doingenough.But…wehavetostaycompetitive in a very tough market. We are probablymorelocalthananyofourmain competitors. In some cases the product isjustsimplynotgoodenoughyet—and sometimes people have a hard time accepting that.”
Stuart says the station has supported a variety of local acts — Cadence Weapon,Darkson TribeandrapperKonflict — and not only with airplay. Behind-the-scenes help is equally as crucial, though not always widely publicized.
“For Cadence, we gave significant airplay to Oliver Square,” says Stuart. “We also flew him to Toronto for a performance at Canadian MusicWeek.
“WithDarkson,ithasbeenairplayand promotionalpushesfortheirlocalshows. We also have written support letters to the government in their bid to get supportfromvariousfinancialgrants.With Konflict, he has received huge airplay withtheOilersongshemadeforus.Ipersonally have also made sure his material is in the hands of the national record companyVPsbecauseIbelievesostrongly in his talent.”
ReddNation’sproducer,DarrenBrule, understands The Bounce is a business buthe’sstillfrustratedbythelackofsupport.
He says one of the Bounce’s DJs, Kwame,didaskforacopyofthegroup’s new album, but hasn’t heard a peep since.
“He said he’d try to get it played,” says Brule,whoalsorunsReddRoccRecords.
“Thenagain,businesscomesintoplay where the program director makes the decisionofwhatairs.I’mgoingtodoanother mail out and send another copy, maybe they’ll get the hint.”
Orville Green, who has released more than three discs under his TuffHouse label, won’t let the lack of airplay stand inhisway.“Havealittlefaithandyouwill go far,” is one of themottos painted on the walls of his WhyteAvenue studios.
“If they don’t help, when I do get to my destiny — where I know I’m supposedtobe—I’mgoingtobuyitoutand fire everyone from top to bottom,” he smiles.
“I’ve gone frommy mom’s couch to this.Twoyearsfromnow,we’regoingto climbevenmore.We’vegotafewplans, you’ll see.”
Inthemeantime,Greencouldsendhis tracks to Matrix.FM, a hip-hop Internet radiostationlaunchedbyCalgary’sBeatMatrix Crew inAugust.
One of the group’s members, rapper and radio DJ Getti, says submissions by Alberta acts are welcome. But just like a traditionalradioexecutive,hecan’tguarantee airplay. “I know for myself that anything new I produce which is good will first get showcased on that station, depending on how it’s received others may want to send in demos as well,” he tells the Calgary Herald.
“We’renotgoingplayjustanything,it’s got to be up to par with the other music onthestation—but,wewouldtakepeople’s tapes seriously, listen to them and consider them.”