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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Building a Better Scene
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Throughout the years Connecticut has been the birthplace and home to an innumerable amount of talented emcees and DJs. All kinds of excuses have been as to why the state’s scene hasn’t become bigger than it currently is. People have said we’re too close to New York City and Boston and that there isn’t room in the area for another unique scene. People have mused that there just isn’t a big enough fan base in Connecticut. People have said there isn’t enough talent in the state. I’m here to tell you all those people who have said all those things are all wrong. There’s plenty of room for Connecticut to have a scene, the state has the talent and it has the fan base.

There are four main factors that go into the building of a scene. Those factors are actually four decidedly different groups of people – artists who live in the state, artists who are from the state but have moved, fans, and event space owners, and we need a few very small things from each group to really make our scene thrive.

Artists are obviously the lifeblood of any scene. Connecticut has plenty of talented emcees whose skills are worthy of packing just about any venue. What our local artists need to start doing more of, however, is supporting all the other CT artists out there. In just the past couple weeks I’ve seen major artist turnouts at multiple shows in NYC, counting no less than 15 artists in one crowd who were totally unaffiliated with the acts on stage other than simply being fellow artists in the scene. They were there to show support because they knew the bigger the turnout the better it was for everyone in the scene. They also realized one of the golden rules of being an artist, if you expect people to come to your show, you need to show up at theirs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at shows in Connecticut and the only other artists in the crowd were people from the performer’s crew, and sometimes even they didn’t all show up! Artists need to support artists. It’s really not that difficult and it can lead to some new friendships and possibly collaborations.

Moving from the artists who are in the state to the artists who are from the state, but have since moved elsewhere, there’s one thing our local heroes who have left us can do to really help the scene, they can remind everyone that they’re from Connecticut. Every scene wants national recognition, but if the artists who are from here stop repping the state altogether once they move we’ll never grow past being a local phenomenon. It really saddens me when I see people I know, people who grew up in this state all the way from learning how to walk through learning how to drive, move away and then claim their new residence as their hometown. Every once in a while I like to remind them that they’re Connecticut artists. If they were to say it more often themselves I think the hip-hop community would be surprised to see how many great artists have come from this state, which would suddenly make the phrase “I’m from Connecticut” a badge of honor.

Fans are also an obvious necessity if our state’s scene is going to grow, and we do have plenty of hip-hop heads in Connecticut. We have a slight problem, however, when it comes to those fans, they don’t go out enough. I know a ton of people who love hip-hop, but very few of them go out to local shows on a regular basis. This needs to change, most notably because if venues feel that hip-hop acts can’t draw they won’t schedule any more hip-hop acts and without the venues we really can’t have a scene (they come next in this equation). Every famous rapper who has ever made an impact nationally was once a local artist trying to get on, wanting to be heard by his community. By going to a show you could end up catching the next big thing before anyone else, and even if the artist is only OK, as long as you go with the goal of enjoying yourself, you’ll probably still have a good time.

Finally, for CT’s hip-hop scene to really come alive we need more event space owners to be on board. I know, I know, I just said fans don’t come out enough, so why should event spaces care, right? Well, because you don’t need as many hip-hop fans to show up to have a profitable night as you do rock fans. I spoke with a club owner in another area not known for hip-hop (Jackson Hole, WY) and he noted hip-hop audiences were actually his best crowds in terms of making money for the bar. He told me hip-hop crowds are a mixed drink and shot crowd and that the bar always makes a bundle whenever a rap act comes to town. Obviously nothing happens overnight, but if event spaces start having monthly hip-hop events and give them time to grow (that part’s really important), everyone will win. I’m not saying they have to give up a Friday or a Saturday, but what about a Thursday, or a Tuesday, or a night they traditionally don’t do well on? Bar and club owners need to think of our hip-hop scene like that famous quote from Field of Dreams – “If you build it, they will come,” and once they come, they will drink.

Artists supporting artists, artists who’ve moved repping the state, fans going out to shows, and venues taking the time to let something build – it really doesn’t sound too complicated, does it? Can you do your part to help our scene grow?

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:48 AM  
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