Why I’m “Retiring” From The Missoula Hip Hop Game [OPINION]
It’s been on my mind for about a year now. I think it’s time to step away from the whole “game” and re-evaulate my role in this tumultuous music genre that seems to be eating whatever scene we have left alive.
I’m out of the Hip Hop community. There, whew… I said it. (Cheers from the underground erupt!!)
The whole thing is messed up right now. It’s all become too dark and self destructive and I want very little to do with it. It’s sad to see an old friend go but perhaps I’m getting out just in time. Just how exactly did this tall dorky white boy get so deeply entrenched in the Missoula Hip Hop scene anyway? Its actually an interesting story…
The truth is, I was one of the first people in the state of Montana to bring Hip Hop to local FM corporate radio. These were during the somewhat innocent and fun days. Days when Fat Joe and Lil Jon were dominating every facet of media, Ashanti and Ciara were the big “it” girls at the time and MTV actually played Hip Hop videos during prime time. The music was shocking at first, but the catchy hooks and danceable music was just fun enough to push Wild 107.5 and the Wild Boys to the most listened to night show in the city. We held down the clubs, places like Hammer Jacks and Club Cabo were in a crazy bidding war to have the likes of DJ Bionic, Money Mike and DJ Chunkiye host their events. And I was kind of the glue that kept it all together. I discovered good performers and brought it to the forefront. To this day, I’ve always been about finding good local talent and giving them a chance to shine.
What happened? Why did it all go away? Simple, really. The message we were sending came under serious scrutiny and then…the recession hit. I blame the terrible economy from cannibalizing Rhythmic radio across the nation. Not just Missoula. Advertisers feared the clientele. Radio stations world wide shifted from gangster rap to dance music. They claimed that while the lyrics of Hip Hop promoted bling, money, and living large the fact is, we as a community really were not. We looked like a million bucks with flashy rings and chains, but our credit was garbage, we couldn’t hold down a reputable job because we were constantly partying and no one was benefiting from our crazy lifestyle because we were spending our money on drugs and late night Finnegans. Truth is, this city feared us. And I watched it all go down from behind the scenes, heck, sometimes I even defended it. No one else really knew the truth because I didn’t want to ruin the “fun” for everyone. What’s sad is some of you still don’t even notice the problems and are still holding onto whats left..
Yet I stuck with it. Pressing forward because I loved the beat. I loved watching you dance. That’s truly the only reason I was in this game since the beginning. I loved, and still love making a floor move. The smiles and energy are what feeds me week after week. Fact is, before Hip Hop overtook the charts I was one of the original techno ravers. Rockin’ JNCO Jeans and backpacks with glow sticks in my hands, I broke into warehouses and held massive all night raves for thousands of people nearly ten years before you met me (SHAMELESS PLUG: catch up on that chapter in my life by reading my published novel in stores everywhere). Yet just like the Hip Hop scene now, the old school rave scene died because that generation also abused themselves. Ego and drugs tore the scene apart the exact same way I see it happening to this generation. History repeats itself.
I began to consider backing away from Hip Hop shows about a year ago when that death at The Elks club rocked the foundation of our already shaky scene. Again, the city fired back blaming the music. And yet someone dies at a Caras Park music event a month later and not a single mention of who was performing on stage that day. Then it was the vibe I started to feel at these Hip Hop shows. People looked mad. Few looked like they were there for the right reasons (the music), it felt as if people were going into these events with always something to prove and with little to no respect for the venue, the promoters, or the patrons. It’s often phoney, rarely genuine and fueled by drama and sometimes violence.
I began publicly speaking the truth, again and again. I started to distance myself slowly by hiding and unfriending drama on my Facebook wall. Some of this stuff people were spouting was so hate filled and self serving and some of the status updates were downright grotesque and demonic. Then I stopped attending the shows. Finally I took all the contacts out of my phone and stopped returning calls. I wanted out.
What am I “retiring” from exactly? What am I going to distance myself from? Simple, I don’t want to represent “underground” Hip Hop events, nor attend them. You can have it. I don’t want to go on any lunch dates with promoters attempting to bolster this scene because it’s not my bag anymore. I simply no longer want to be involved in affairs that deal with intentionally negative influence. I thought I could be a role model for some of these lost people, but perhaps I can’t help them all. Will I still DJ Hip Hop music? Yes. Again, its all about the beats and not the beef (memo to make that a bumper sticker). Will I still host the Homegrown Show, rock The Elbow Room and follow through with my Griz/Cat DJ battle promise? Yes, although that will be my first and final battle. Plus, I’ll also support Hip Hop shows that have a positive message or attempt to raise awareness towards a good cause. Same rationale applies. Beats, not Beef (dang, I like the sound of that).
I have a very clear plan on what I want to do next…I’ve given it much prayer and you may have already noticed the change with my recent actions. I want to help the Missoula community overall with fundraising efforts and awareness programs. From Texting Kills, to helping cancer victims like Cashy Hyde, to XSports For Vets, Walk to End Alzheimers, Toys For Tots, my local church, and so on. I’ve really made an effort to bring a voice to the ones that need it the most. After all, this city needs this kind of help more than it needs it’s people bringing Missoula’s level of respect down by hosting these often unruly gatherings. Right now, this town could use all the help it can get as we continue to move towards very uncertain times. Missoula, from now on you can have my airwaves and my music for whatever will benefit you, not harm you.
And don’t worry, listeners.. I will still host my radio show and play out at events! As for Zoo FM, we will always play the hottest national and local music, no matter what genre hits the charts. This is not about the radio station or the companies that employ me. This is about my choice to bow out gracefully from a certain small circle of people, do it with much pride and walk away with whatever good memories I still cherish.
All that said, I’ll click “publish” on this blog and know full well that a huge weight will be lifted off of myself, and the handful of 10 or 20 people in Montana that “hate” will light up a ceremonial blunt to celebrate. Still, this feels good. It’s been a long time coming and if I were to do it all over again, I most certainly would. But now is not the time for me to extend any more energy to a community that has gone to a level of negativity that I can no longer defend. Thank you for your time and support with this not-too-difficult decision.