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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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Bisco Smith - Building a Legacy
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

If you’ve ever been in the men’s room at Skybox in Fairfield there’s a chance you may have noticed the Bisc1 sticker displayed prominently on one of the walls. It’s been there for years. Bisc1 now goes by Bisco Smith, but the fact that his old sticker still hangs proudly all these years later is a visual display of the impact he’s had on his former stomping grounds.

Bisco, now a Brooklynite, was a Fairfielder for seven years, graduating from Fairfield High in 1998. Normally, an artist who’s been gone for twelve years gets replaced in the local consciousness over time, especially in the case of hip-hop, where fans have notoriously short attention spans, but not Bisco. His sticker still being up is just one indication that he’s still remembered here, another happened during a recent trip home. “I was eating lunch with my father at Chef’s Table,” Bisco remembers, “it was my father, my sister, and I. We were finishing a conversation out front and these kids came up to me and this one kid was like ‘yo, you Bisc1?’ This dude was like 14. He was like me that young. It was cool. He was like ‘yo, I like what you do.’ He then gave me a pound and kept it moving.”

The exchange wasn’t a long one, but it was one Bisco won’t soon forget. “It was cool on some like, the kids in Fairfield, where I grew up, who are doing the same shit I was doin, like skateboarding and graffiti and all that, are somehow in tune to what I’m doing now.”

What he’s doing now can be heard on his latest album The Broadcast. Fans of Bisco’s previous two releases, When Electric Night Falls and The Basics EP, will be familiar with the mood of the album, which Bisco says “has a dark element.” He adds there’s a reason his work is peppered with that feeling, saying “I’ve never been into comedy. I’m more into the seriousness of life. I don’t think it’s a depression thing, it’s just more my view of it all.”

Seriousness has paid off in a serious way for Bisco when it comes to both his music and his want to help mold the artists of the future. In 2005 he sat down with fellow emcee Tah Phrum Duh Bush, and educator Rosaleen Knoepfel, and the three of them developed Knoepfel’s still-running after school program, Urban Art Beat. The program has a team of emcees who volunteer their time after school to mentor inner city youth and give them guidance with something they’re interested in - the music of hip-hop. Bisco’s inspiration has proved to be very motivating as Tah remembers, “one time he said something that will never leave me; ‘This is important work for the future of our planet. These kids are the diamonds and we are the miners.’ I'm not sure if I've ever seen him as passionate about anything other than his music.”

A huge hit, Urban Art Beat is now in its fourth year of operation and continues to expand. It’s an expansion Knoepfel says has been due in large part to Bisco’s work. “He holds down the original school site as the lead mentor, builds curriculum, runs meetings, recruits new artists. He's always pushing us forward.”

Bisco has taken his mentoring and teaching a step further this year; he’s now teaching art in the public school system in east New York. “Two days a week I go in and teach two periods of art, and I write the curriculum, so I get to give kids music and art while I make my own. I make a living off art and I feel like there’s something dope about being able to full 360 deliver it back. It feeds me and I get to feed that energy to someone else.”

Over the next few months Bisco will be feeding that energy to a lot more people as he’ll be performing at South By Southwest in March and touring Europe in April. When he returns to the US he wants to do a big show in Connecticut. “I want to book Acoustic Cafe,” he says, “I want to do something in Bridgeport where I can get everyone I know that’s still out there. I just sent the email to Acoustic Cafe to try to lock something for late June. I’m definitely trying to do some nice, classy, real good presentation of the music for Connecticut.”

If that show happens the night may end with another fan putting another sticker up in another bathroom. This time around, however, the bathroom would be at the Acoustic Cafe and the sticker would be a Bisco Smith one, potentially making it possible to track the artistic growth of one of the most prominent emcees to come from the state in a truly original, and most unusual, way.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:35 AM  
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