From The Scene: North Country RappersPosted: Updated:
A new group of artists, relentless in their promotion and laser-focused on getting their share of the spotlight, are adding their sound to traditional styles of music.
7 News anchor Jeff Nelson looks at the north country's hip-hop scene.
Years ago, north country hip-hop was an invisible force.
Rappers and producers penning rhymes and producing beats out of home studios, with few avenues to bring their art to listeners.
But then, around 2014, something happened. Hip-hop started coming together to -- as they put it -- holdown upstate.
This is a story "From the Scene."
"You don't have to be from the Bronx or Brooklyn or wherever," rapper "Fyne Print" Williams said. "You can be from no man's land and still let 'em know hip-hop exists here and it's strong."
It's freestyle Sunday at Club 9 in Watertown.
No microphones. No agenda. It's simply for the love of music.
"Somebody's always gonna spit a verse," Williams said. "Mykel, he'll rap all day for you."
That's Mykel "Quince" Myrick. Freestyle Sundays are just part of his larger mission to make hip-hop a north country mainstay.
"Because I noticed there was an underlying current of hip-hop that did exist in Watertown.
Quince came to the area in 2012 and soon after started booking his group onto local shows.
But back then, he noticed a trend.
"We were getting stuck with rock acts, so I just wanted to change the crowd a little bit, you know what I mean? Try and start a hip-hop scene, because I didn't see one."
So Quince assembled a collective of rappers, producers and artists under the banner Holdown Upstate.
"Holdown Upstate is a massive movement, gaining momentum ever day," Jonathan Huntsman said.
Huntsman is known as Ill Theory, owner of Public Knowledge Records, a little studio where the rules are simple: work hard, work often and do it yourself.
"We don't need a record deal, we've got everything covered," he said.
"We can record it, we can come in and kick back and forth ideas, things like that," Quince said.
Now, this small collective is on a roll, constantly releasing new music, throwing live shows and cranking out music videos.
It's rare to find musicians so motivated, relentless in promotion and passion.
And little by little, north country hip-hop is strengthening its foothold.
"Everything's gotta be positive or else it stops, or else you're going backwards," Quince said. "Just trust in the process, trust in the work and that hard work pays off.
You can watch and read the next "From the Scene" journal entry on Thursday. It will air on 7 News This Evening at 6 p.m. and again Friday morning.
Find out more about the artists (Some music may contain explicit material):