Author: Brian Capitao

Episode 48: MindBender Supreme

MindBender Photo.jpg

So we missed an episode last week but that’s because we wanted to bless y’all with the 2-hour epic interview we had with Toronto rap legend and cult personality, MindBender Supreme.

We covered a lot of ground. We spoke to MindBender at length about several subjects; The moral standards of battle rap, his pornstar career, about writing for NOW and XXL magazine, the future of technology and sex work; the history of homophobia in Jamaica, the state of Journalism today and the revisionist history of the Straight Outta Compton and All Eyez on Me biopics. MindBender loves you and so do we. So for your aural pleasure – here is the interview of the year.

This week’s episode was made possible thanks to:

– Vinyl Me, Please

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– FreshBooks

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Artist Spotlight: Tamera Russell

Tamera Russell aka TRuss embraces Dijah Payne in a moment of pride.

 Photo Credit: Brian Capitao

It was a diverse crowd as many ladies (and men) of color came through to celebrate the triumphant release of Root Canal.

A lot has been said about ladies tearing down one another, so it’s beautiful to see when ladies can come together to support each other. And that was the scene at the Root Canal listening party located in the SideStreet Bar on Dundas St W.  It seemed to highlight the burgeoning and untapped talent currently going on in the city; as a diverse group of people came out to show their love to Tamera Russell, also known as TRuss, who just put out her Root Canal  project as part of a recent trilogy of albums.

The night began with reunions as Dijah Payne came out and showed her support and rocked the stage; after delivering a heartfelt speech on what TRuss means to the local scene. Payne, who graduated that same day,  explained that she felt TRuss was partially responsible for the current Toronto sound. Perhaps, more interestingly, was not what was said but implied; in that her music seemed to help heal the wounds felt by people of color in the city, as of late.

Surrounded by music and close friends, TRuss, introduced each track. She wrote and produced all the songs herself, she tells a captive audience.

As the music played; people bobbed their heads to the beat and danced as they took in the music.

“It’s all family!” screamed the DJ as he urged people to come closer.

The bar quickly filled up. People not only came from all over the city but even as far and unsuspecting as Winnipeg as told by an audience member.

The place packed with love and support shows a promising future for female emcees. Toronto’s moment in the sun has largely been male-dominated with the likes of Tory Lanez, Jazz Cartier, and Drake. However, the Ladies of Toronto are proving that they have what it takes and it is only a matter of time before one of them graces the international stage.

TRuss’ Root Canal is available for listening on SoundCloud.

The Independent Shuffle

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Source: Google Images

There’s a big kerfuffle these days regarding artists and their independence. With the likes of Russ (an artist who blew up thanks to SoundCloud), being a recent outspoken critic of the perception of “independent” artists who are really backed by major labels through their distribution deals or Action Bronson who appeared in the news recently decrying his album being in major label limbo.

In an era where artists can reach their fans directly, is there still any benefit to signing on a major label? I’m still inclined to say, yes. While an artist can get preliminary exposure through mixtapes via independent means, I am dubious that they would still have the same flourishing career and had the same opportunities present themselves.

Firstly, indie labels come and go with few exceptions. Not everyone can be Stones Throw Records. And even big indie labels perish – r.i.p. Def Jux. Secondly, true indie artists can grind for close to 10 years before making an impact. So while I can sympathize with Action Bronson being frustrated with having a project ready only to be lagged by things outside of his control – he really shouldn’t complain after having his face plastered all over VICE.* VICE records is a division of Atlantic records.

The success of Odd Future while meteoric is an anomaly. Not everyone gets to be an indie darling and move on to great commercial success. As not every indie label is created equally, so must the business of performing being filled with pitfalls. Indie labels simply don’t have the same resources to compete with say, the Interscope machine.  While artists can breakout via new technology, they would be wise to hang onto something with footing. Technology is simply too volatile to be relied upon. Vine is no longer with us, and YouTube is too precarious. So the question becomes, where would the artists who broke there go now?

There is no easy answer. So what do Indie labels offer? Well, they offer a path to develop a loyal fanbase. There may be fewer people buying an indie artist’s album but they’re buying merch and more often. A smart indie label would be wise to capitalize on that. The success of ICP and Psychopathic records cultivated loyal fanbases and did precisely that.

It’s worth noting that indie labels fail artists as well – they just don’t get the same flak for it. While people can be up in arms about the shadiness of the recording industry’s business practices, many artists simply do not have the luxury to reach so many people without backing. New technology has helped artists gain support but can’t be continuously relied on. Smart indie labels find ways in which artists can develop cult followings and build. Either way, artists need to be prepared to cut their losses or be left in the wind.