Aint nuthing to talk about pay me,
N_gga we go 'head and spark it out early,
When I'm gunning for your head,
I'm riding, you dying my gun go
Opium Black & Sam Scarfo - Bang (you can hear it here. You're late, you'll have to scroll down and search a little)
Riding in a nondescript two-seater at 11 am on a Saturday morning and it feels wrong to be outside right now. I mean, here I am barely five hours after I crept into my domicile for a hot meal and warm bed covers....chilling outside the theater, about 900 people inside getting the best of a Stepshow and we're waiting for them to come outside. It's no time to hunker down and wish for more slouch minutes, we need to be ready for them. Baaang.... that song gets me for real.... can I hear that one mo 'gain before we hop out the whip?
Something's wrong in the Northeast, it's April and the weather hasn't broken yet. This frigid nonsense makes the job harder. Taping up posters to walls and light poles with trembly and numb fingers. Oh well. Get those 5'X5' cd inserts in hand, make sure the grab bag has at least thirty cds in it. It's 11:30, let's revist what the rest of the team has done. Walk up to Don-Don and his homie finishing off a pungent dutch. It's looking good. Those posters are unmistakable up and down the street and in the parking lot. The City's going to hate us. When this crowd gets outside there's one thing they're going to see:
DJ Kurupt & Opium Black. Black Plague. In Stores Now.
12:15, the early birds start trickling out of the building Don-Don, his buddy and myself position ourselves by the main entrance. Every walking stiff gets handed a cd insert and an obligitory appeal is sounded for them to support the brand new mixtape 'in the streets now'. The cuties get a free cd if the sound excited enough, and the real dudes if they with it. The hobnobbing in the home city is usually easy. The dimes light up "Oh Opium! I met him before!" or "I've heard him on the radio!" or "I saw him on stage last summer! Where y'all at tonight?" And based on the misinformation served you might be copping some really utilizable digits from a pretty thang.
It's looking good. Don and his mans seem like they could handle what's left. I'm off with my my right hand man to handle some other work. We're heading towards the genesis of the whole movement.
An area of roughly 12 city blocks by 12 blocks. The reason why this city is a perennial feature on the top 25 most violent cities list in the The States. A wasteland of old colonial style two or three family houses and tri-level apartment blocks mixed in with corner stores and run-down shopping areas. Mostly of Black - with a heavy west indian bent - and Latino makeup. Streetcorner drug sales, late night gunfights, crazy parties in hole-in-the-wall joints and drug fiends walking up and down the main strips in broad daylight. Zombies trying to come back from the undead, if only for a while. That's jsut a small part of it. Many are just trying to get ahead and live good.
I get dropped off at the end of a busy thoroughfare, what we call The Ave, with a stack of posters and scotch tape. My partner is off to put cds in the stores. 45 minutes later I'm all the way up into the heart of the shopping area on the strip, putting up posters in and outside barber shops, hair salons, clothing stores food marts, convenience stores and liqour spots. Placement is key, trying to prominently position the posters for maximum reach both in and out of the premises. Not all stores are with it though. Some represent ah yard, them no want no Yankee nonsense dat. And some are christian. No hiphop grafitti on their walls.
An hour an a half later, slighty cold all over, my fingers definitely feeling frozen and abused, I'm back in the whip again feeling like it's a job well done. Son, gimme track seven again,
They gon put the chalk around you,
N_ggas is scared to walk around you,
When I'm gunning for your head,
I'm riding, you dying my gun go
We circle the strip again double checking the work. Then it's off to another area, Killa Hill to bombard the stores in that area with posters and drop some cds in the music stores and bootleggers that do business in the area. An hour later with a little more cash in the pocket we head to the 'hood to pay dues. Don-don sounds off bouyantly over the nextel walkie-talkie saying he managed to off half his stash of discs outside the stepshow venue. Lovely. We pull up to the hood and my partner is immediately met with cat calls and hollerations as dudes on the corner spy on one of their own respected bretheren outside.
"Aay Opium what it is kicko, where my joint at?"
"Whooo, That intro is bananas, had n_ggas dummin last night."
This shit just dropped last night? I just went by The Ave I seen the poster in the bodega. That shit looking sick. Who did that? That shit look crazy, for real."
"Eey Inf, man I want beats man, and stop bullshittin me, I want them type joints you gave Black n_gga. What the f_ck dog...you hiding that crack from n_ggas huh..."
As warm handslaps and hugs go around, dudes stay wary of the two black and white police squad cars that pulled up at the end of the block effectively curtailing, for who it may concern, some drug sales for a little while. The fiends are put on alert and told to hold tight and wait for the situation to change. Meanwhile the word is spreading. The intersection is getting piled up as o.g's gone legal and street kingpins on the low bring their maximas, beemas and suvs out to the corner. The street mainstays are also outside. Early saturday afternoon in April starts to look like July. The traffic into the liqour store on the corner starts to thicken and the fifths of Hennesey start flowing. The doors on the vehicles stay open and each vehicle is booming some type of track off the brand new mixtape we've slaved over for a few months.
Seeing this reaction in thie neck of the woods is a good sign. Later on in the month there are mixshow meetings at radio stations, meetings with influental hiphop website execs and a few A&Rs at the club performances we have inked for the rest of the month, and they all need to be impressed. And there are out of town trips planned to promote where the people wont be as easily excited, but once they hear the crack we're serving they must show some respect and buy the mixtape or come to a show. And the gatekeepers must offer us some opportunities. We want in.
Creating buzz for an artist is such a tall order especially for independent bugdet goons like we. But this month alone has justified many of the things we've been through. Riding out to the Apple, seeing the artist chilling on the set of a new Kel Spencer video, or just getting love from a big-time dj at a big time club at some big time album release party, or when an allhiphop.com heavyweight puts his word on it that we can expect a serious look on that heavy traffic site...some work is getting done. They're starting to know about dude....
The grind continues.