In an article today put together over at Nuvo, DJ Kyle Long asked four different artists from Indiana to come up with a question for Atmosphere’s Slug. You can read the entire interview here at Nuvo, but I’ve quoted my favorite question and response below, which was asked by Diop. Atmosphere will be here on November 20th, which we shared along with a bunch of other upcoming Indianapolis events earlier today.
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The last question comes from Diopostle who dropped his superb debut album Driving on Faith earlier this year. Diopostle asks: “What are a few critical steps to building a sustainable and independent local music scene in a city where the market doesn’t currently exist?”
Slug: That’s a good question, and if I had that magic answer I’d write a book and get rich. For us it was accidental. We didn’t know what we were doing. Truthfully the steps we took in the ’90s probably wouldn’t even work today because the landscape has evolved. When we were building Rhymesayers there was no Internet. It was all about showing up with a stack of fliers and tapes to give away or sell. The things we did back then are obsolete now.
But the main thing I try to tell people is to always be honest with everybody, especially yourself. If you have to lie to get where you’re going, then you’re hustling people. And hustling people works, but it’s temporary. All hustles are temporary. If you want something that’s sustainable it has to be honest and true. I’ve always tried to be as honest as possible in my music and outside my music. I look at it like this, if you don’t want my truth, if you don’t want my honesty, then you probably don’t want me. If you can’t respect me for being myself then we don’t need to work together. I don’t want colleagues or even fans that can’t accept me for who I am. I ain’t here to trick nobody.
I also think you need to stay community-minded. The funny thing about mixing art with commerce is that it becomes very insular. It makes it hard to stay communal. I think that’s the thing that most people bang their heads against when they’re trying to establish a scene. There’s a short list of people in hip-hop history that have been able to keep it communal as opposed to keeping it focused on self. I would point to Afrika Bambaataa, or Proof out of Detroit. Proof was known for creating a space where people could come and freestyle or just kick it. And it wasn’t about Proof it was about the community. Luckily I was working with a few people who were really good at staying community minded, and I think that’s why we were able to get where we got in Minneapolis.
There’s a dude there in Indianapolis named Rusty from the Mudkids (Last IV, Birdmen of Alcatraz) who everybody there knows. That means there already is a community in Indianapolis. Every time I talk to him or see him I can see that he is a leader. I don’t live there, so I have no idea if he’s regarded as a leader by the younger kids. But if not they should really look to this guy because he’s got a lot of history,
inspiration, and charisma. Those are the types of things that create a leader. So Indianapolis has the leaders, you’ve got the soldiers, and you’ve got the people with talent. That’s all it takes to spark interest from people outside the scene to look in and make it a larger scene. The energy is infectious. This hip-hop shit is contagious. It just requires people to not be so insular, and to put their ego in the backseat.