Watch the first installment of ‘The Press’ HERE
Alaska’s hip-hop community has always struggled to “flourish”, if you will. There are a lot of contributing factors, opinions and even more guesswork as to why this has been an uphill battle for acceptance. To this day, I still catch some biased expressions whenever I talk about our Hip-Hop community. The usual stigma attached to anything young people enjoy may have something to do with this.
The constant association with gang life doesn’t help. Alaska, as progressive as I would like it to be, continues to carry that “Big State, Small Town” mentality. For years, entertainers and DJs have struggled to find a place to house the formation of a movement. If there is nowhere that people can go to see us, then how can they know who we are?
As we often see in everyday life, money can tend to control the narrative. There have been a few rappers thrown in everyone’s face over the years. You’ve read articles about people advertised as the “Alaska 2pac”. It’s ironic that you find a very different opinion when you start talking to everyday Alaskans. There is a commercial side to this that allows for paid placement. I can tell you from being an opener for national bands like Yelawolf and Juicy J. that behind closed doors it’s a gambling game.
These local artists are not called and invited as often as they receive a prize for the slot machine. It’s easy to put the same side up for everyone when you have the money. We have certainly had people trying to control the perception of public opinion with advertising placements. Even still, people know when an artist’s growth has been organic and when it has been paid for.
It was a pain in the ass, honestly, trying to get us to be taken seriously. I see the tide turning with the national successes of artists like Duckman, but we are still a long way off. Despite the issues, those of us here are really there for one reason at the end of it all: love.
We don’t get rich, but that shouldn’t discourage growth. There is it for a little money, then there are people like Sule Spain.
You won’t have to stumble around our realm for long before you run into the guy. Knowledge of its existence has practically become proof of whether you are really in the circle, or just a tourist for it all.
“What brought me to Alaska? Hurricane Katrina, first of all… ”he admits with a coarse atonality. “Second, I had the opportunity to make music with a few local artists in Alaska; Hell Iroc, Omega Mannish, Da Jula from Wolfpack… artists from Def Lab… (like) Ron the Don. I bonded with (the artists) Zula SunDullah (AKA Wesley Brewington), and Hastings Karim (AKA Accent) and Mista Mista Realistic. We founded (our group) Firemuzik… the rest is legendary.
This guy is the Brown Encyclopedia of Alaskan Emcees / Producers / DJ’s, past and present. An achievement attested by its multidimensional involvement in the community. From the star artist to the producer / sound engineer, to filming / editing of videos, to the graphic design of a project, old boy has covered all the basics, and has done so consistently for almost a decade. ‘a decade.
“My focus is on providing a service to (both) artists and consumers in every aspect of entertainment possible,” he shares with confidence. “I’ll bring in a cameraman, a rapper or a stripper, depending on the gig!” I’m currently involved in music production, video production, event management, and artist management… and I’m still creating my own content in the meantime.
Recently I was approached with a question that kind of upset my perception. I was asked where someone would go who just moved here to experience the scene.
What bothered me was the lack of response I could really give. Certainly, we have associations like the annual AK Hip Hop & R’n’B Awards, which make efforts to strengthen the community as a whole. Realistically though, there isn’t exactly a place you can go that isn’t full of personal preference. People will be people, and really, until there is a sort of independent database; this is the problem we face time and time again.
So I called Sule, handled it, we set up a meeting with my editor, and we got started.
Our main goal here is to create an unbiased database made up of all of the animators and producers active in the state. We decided that it was up to the community to decide who is who and what is what. How do we do that? We provide the place to go to meet people in the field. From there, they can examine the works of these artists and form an opinion from that point. It really is just a step to help solidify our existence, while giving our people an easy place to get information about our work.
The only requirement is to actively make music, the rest is for people to decide.
“We want to use The Press as a platform to get more attention from our Alaskan artists… “I will cover the trips of as many of them as possible.