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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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Dear CT Hip-Hop, We Need to Talk
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CT hip-hop, we’ve been good friends for a long time now. I’ve covered you for this site, had a column all about you for three years with the Fairfield Weekly, and have tried my best to get you featured in mainstream places as often as humanly possible. We’ve had some great times together, but we need to talk.

One thing I’ve constantly heard over the years is how much “unity” is needed to make the CT hip-hop scene relevant. While that’s true, what we have are a lot of artists who talk a good game, but don’t back it up. Unity begins with the artists, and I don’t see very much of an effort being made. What I see are a lot of individuals who are willing to put their team on, and very few people who support other artists’ shows (there are exceptions, but very few). In fact, over the past year I’ve seen artists in the very small southwestern CT hip-hop scene have shows on the same night literally within miles of each other. That’s not unity, that’s a first class way to make sure you never get out of CT.

When shows are booked on the same night like that it shows the lines of communication within the scene are nonexistent. I don’t care if the person on the other stage is someone you don’t like, their audience can, and should, be your audience, as well. When you break up an already limited fan base and make them choose you have lost in advance.

I’m not here just to bring these issues to light, though, I have a few ideas on how we can solve them.

* Coordinate your shows so when they’re on the same weekend they’re on different nights, and have some sort of special offer for fans who attend both shows (obviously that reward would be given at the second show). It could be something as simple as a mix-CD that features a song or two from each of the artists performing. Not only would that inspire people to come, it would give them something that would cause them to continue to think about you past that particular weekend. With your music in their hand, they’re far more likely to remember you, and become a fan. This is an easy way to expand each artist’s fan base.

* Throw more benefit shows. D_Cyphernauts have done a great job of throwing an annual benefit for the Danny Holt Foundation, but these type of events don’t have to only come around once a year. We had a huge hurricane demolish parts of CT. A benefit show, or series of shows, would not only draw fans, it would be an act of community that shows we really are a community. Yes, I realize that the artists wouldn’t get the door, but they’d still have the opportunity to sell merch, and, even better, get some great press for what they’re doing (that helps build up your fan base, too, especially when the press is about the good you’re doing, not just an album you’re releasing). As an added bonus, known artists have been known to be charitable, and might end up wanting to get involved. At that point you’ll suddenly find yourself networking with a headliner who already thinks you’re on the right path (or else they wouldn’t have volunteered their time). Raise a thousand bucks for charity, network with a headliner, possibly sell some merch... this is an all-win, no-lose, situation.

* Start showing up at other artists’ shows. One of the ways New York City standouts like Homeboy Sandman and Tah Phrum Duh Bush have gone about creating such loyal fan bases has been by always being in the crowd. This has led to an entire community showing up at their shows, and once people see them perform, and witness their talent, buzz is created. If you’re not attending anyone else’s shows, why should they care about yours? Yes, life can be difficult, and responsibilities can rear their ugly head, but if you’re an artist this should be considered one of your responsibilities. I understand CT is a lot tougher to get around than New York City, so pick an area, make it your own. Whether you want to build your fan base in Bridgeport, or encompass a greater area and make trips to New Haven, it’s all up to you. The point is, I shouldn’t only see you at your own shows, and yes, I notice when that’s the case.

Those are just a few ideas I have regarding how we can have real unity in CT’s hip-hop scene, and build, and grow, from it. However, as I stated before, it’s up to the artists involved to open up the lines of communication and get the ball rolling. Some decent brainstorming amongst artists on other ideas regarding unity would be helpful, too.

An artistic community needs to be a community, not just a collection of people doing their own thing.

PS - I only yell because I care.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
  • At 8:27 PM, Blogger Adam Szantyr said…

    Adam I think you hit the nail on the head right there… I feel that you and I have quite a similar view on the rap scene, there definitely needs to be some sort of unity whether big or small action scratch that there needs to be a big unity! I feel that there are like huge lines between these rappers these barriers that these guys won't step over for each other so they do shows in Bridgeport and Danbury and over here and a lot of them i will say you're right, on the same night all these people that scream unity are performing separate shows splitting up the fan base and further causing greater competition and making it more difficult for any artist to ever get out of Connecticut or get Connecticut recognized

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