Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dart Adams presents Please Listen To My Demo © EPMD (Revisited)

I've mentioned it quite a few times but back in the days I used to be an emcee. I was actually kinda nice with it and I used to regularly win impromptu freestyle battles at several train stations all over the Boston Metro area (Orange, Green and Red Lines) and Downtown Crossing between the years of 1989-1996. I was like a Hip Hop monk, constantly studying and listening to different styles to try to perfect one of my very own. During my formative years, I often began to sound a bit too much like my influences leading me to try to come up with an unfuckwittable style that would make me go down in emcee history. I filled up notebook after notebook with rhymes.

My younger brother, Buctayla was in a group that was really huge in Boston between 1993-1995 called Relentless. They had several songs on the radio, did shows all over and they even opened for the Wu Tang Clan when they did that infamous Strand Theater show in Boston back when they first came out and brought a busload of thugs with them from Staten Island. Labels didn't want to sign them because they wrote their own rhymes (and knew what publishing was), produced their own beats (and knew what the going rates for production/budgets were) and they wouldn't go for having the A&R's tell them to go for a different look or sound. They weren't receptive to having a choreographer, ghostwriters or sign a recording deal where they got jerked.

Relentless was a rareity, they were young teenagers that grew up around the industry and read every trade magazine, knew liner notes by heart and knew who to talk to, how to network and they knew their way around a studio. They had 5 or 6 self produced singles that they did the pre production and finishing in professional studios themselves. They got themselves on the radio and managers went looking for THEM, not the other way around. These cats were doing shows all around New England based on their own music and drive. I've never seen a unsigned group with NO physical product have a signing at record stores before but they did it. They designed their own gear for God's sake! They got with management and were pitched to many labels, they went to New York a lot and had a lot of meetings. No deals were forthcoming.

After several labels courted them and then passed for different reasons over the years, Relentless eventually broke up and some members went solo. In 1996, Buctayla and Nasarok formed a new group called the Realm Organization (Relentless Everlasting Analyzing Life's Meaning) and I came back from college at Morgan State and decided to stop bullshitting and try to "get signed". We pooled all of our collective resources and formed an indie label called Xtensive Nterprises Recordings (so as not to be sued by Hasbro or Sunbow Productions) and recorded our own tracks. Buctayla and Cardi both did production and we cranked out hella 4 track and professional studio recordings between the years of 1996-1999 (Perry from CyberSounds Studios remembers us!)

After I got my "severance" pay from Tower Records, we upgraded our studio setup again and Buctayla had bought a DAT machine, a Tascam 8 track recorder and a brand new sequencer. We had that sweet setup for a while and were planning to release some indie 12"s under our own XNR Inc. label before the vote against rent control and gentrification ran us out of our home of 24 years in 1999. Another big blow came when I was going to submit my solo demo to DJ Bruno of Biscuithead Records and ask his advance about trying to lobby for a Fat Beats store in Boston when he broke down the financial situation with Biscuithead Records and why Fat Beats had to close one of their recent expanded locations. No deal and a dead dream of having my own store.

After we evicted from our home @ 487 Mass. Ave where our original studio was, we bounced around for a while before finally settling in to the home we have know. Our crew splintered and several of them moved to other spots and our boy DYS got locked up. I was busy working 100 hours every two weeks at Tower Records. I also missed it by working my ass off at Hip Zepi USA, a dilapidated theater, Newbury Comics, CD Spins and overnights cleaning oven hoods and other wild shit for under the table money.

By 2002, it was just myself, Buctayla and Cardi left in Boston. I retired from trying to be an emcee back in 2006. I missed my chances back when I actually could've got on and when the indie/Backpack Era was kicking. I remembered all of those cats that my peoples did shows with that complained about being screwed by their labels...all the ones we were hoping to get deals with or showed us any interest. When all of the Rawkus artists sued for non payment of royalties in 2000, I was like "Fuck!". I had to keep my day/night jobs. I NEED to stay paid!

After 9/11 happened I knew that my career would never really jump off the way I'd hoped. Our boy KT was in Vibe and Stress as well as the Blaze Battle and he was getting money as a ghost writer. I did the ghostwriter thing for a while in Boston but I got bored with writing ignorant shit for dudes that didn't know there was only one "z" in the word "Uzi". Whenever I spit some shit that I thought was ill, it went over people's heads. Whenever I spit some shit that sounded like the mixtape bullshit that pervaded the market that's when people loved it. I was completely confused as an emcee between the years of 2002-2006. I had NO idea what the fuck was going on. I was so fed up with the game and hoping people "got" me or "caught" the obscure references in my rhymes. I was on some real "John L." shit (see Purple Rain if you don't get it) for a while.

I sent out my tracks to several DJ's and compilations and I kept getting responses like "Damn, this is dope!" You can spit!" "Unfortunately, it doesn't fit the format of our compilation". I got sick of being told "You got some rhymes, son!" which is "niggaspeak" for "You can rap your ass off but unfortunately you make that backpacker shit that I don't listen to!." I played myself and recorded some tracks that I normally wouldn't in hopes of getting placement on mixtapes or spins on podcasts and underground radio. I still wince @ some of those tracks cuz I really knew that wasn't me (though I did kill 'em).

I got so sick of being that dude that was posting up his tracks on different Hip Hop message boards (and reupping them constantly when no one commented) that I realized that I was part of the problem with Hip Hop myself. I quit posting up my songs everywhere and immediately retired from emceeing. The second I stopped trying to critique everyone because I was "better" than them things began to get better for me. I started writing on different message boards and bridging gaps between people rather than trying to convince them to listen to my new freestyle.

Here are a couple of Divshare uploads I made up from some of my old ass original 1999 Biscuithead demo tape that I was gonna submit to DJ Bruno before I got the bad news from him about the store and label ("Forever Real"& "Doom Generation '99"*) and some of my favorite tracks produced by my brother from 2002 ("Terror Rise", "Spit Fire" & "Spit Fire Rmx") before I was working overnight and as a manager at a local CVS wondering why I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing with my life (namely writing). One day my brother and I will go through the old 4 tracks and DAT's and release all the back catalog of demos from 1993-2006. Maybe this summer, I'll digitize all the old VHS footage as well. If they don't show up, then use Safari or go to my MySpace page where I've uploaded 'em, too.

*The reason 2007 is mentioned in the song is because we were doing an EP called "2007: The Rapture" as in in 2007 it would be the 10th anniversary of Xtensive Nterprises Recordings Inc. and we'd do our 10 year re-up/best of album on some Wu shit. The EP was never finished and it was scrapped in favor of the unreleased Realm Organization "Life Analysis" LP. One day...(what up, Nasarok?)



Lukas Kaiser said...

Great post. Even though I'm a Jewish dude from Wisconsin, I had a similar trajectory... I gave up rapping after about four years though. I wince at all my old demo shit though... at least you could actually spit!

HolyManSound said...

Peace Dart.

Tracks are clean as hell and take me to that era. Sucks how the industry changed and all of the real heads are now online taste makers, maybe there is a silver lining after all. (Respect Due)

You should come to our Open Mic at Project HIP-HOP and spread some your mic skills to the young people from Madison/Orchard/Ruggles developments. Next one is May 1st from 6-8pm. It would be an honor for us. look us up online, we are down Dudley. 2181 Washington St.