Albany hip-hop stalwart Sev Statik has seen his share of major label deals.
In the mid-’90s, his hip-hop collective Tunnel Rats signed a 13-record distribution deal with EMI Music, with one of those 13 being Statik’s first solo album “Speak Life.” In the 2000s, Statik’s other collective, Deepspace5, signed with Gotee Records, also distributed by EMI. Statik’s last project with major label distribution was a track featured on a compilation released in 2006 through Rawkus Records, distributed by Sony.
“I don’t know if I put it to the side, but the business changed when the Internet came into place,” Statik said. “Digital downloads became a super tool for all artists to do what they do. Groups like Radiohead, one of my favorite bands, embraced digital downloading; Ani DiFranco, all these people who work with the majors on certain levels, realized that this Internet thing is a great tool.”
The Source Unsigned Hype, with host Sev Statik
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10
WHERE: Red Square, 388 Broadway, Albany
HOW MUCH: $10
MORE INFO: 465-0444, www.redsquarealbany.com
Since then, Statik has gone the independent route, working with local label Sub-Bombin Records and also self-releasing his own music online through his website, www.sevstatik.com, and his Bandamp page, all for free.
“For me, personally, I could care less about being on the covers of magazines and all this other stuff, like tours,” Statik continued. “I have other business ventures I do on my own. I want to share my music as much as possible, and with the music being free, I get to push it out to everybody, without any bottom line.”
After over two decades in music, Statik is interested in giving the local hip-hop scene exposure and support, too. To that end, he will be hosting a competition for hip-hop magazine The Source, at Red Square Saturday night, alongside DJ Trumastr. Local independent MCs will battle at the event for one of three feature spots in The Source’s “Unsigned Hype” issue. Most of the performers will be pre-determined, but attendees will also be able to network at the event, and can drop off demos and other promotional material.
Statik was approached to host the competition by Lamel Hubbard of S&L Productions, who is promoting the event locally. The two have collaborated on shows together in the past, and Statik is looking forward to spotlighting young, up-and-coming rappers.
“The Source magazine is a legendary hip-hop magazine, kind of like the first true hip-hop magazine, and we’ve had a lot of artists be featured in that magazine,” Statik said. “I’m obviously excited to be a part of it; there’s a lot of talent to be featured. We don’t live in the bigger cities like New York City, Atlanta or Los Angeles, where acts like this get the big push — here it’s smaller venues, so the scene doesn’t get accentuated like it should from the outside.”
Back when Statik was starting out in the ’90s, the hip-hop scene in the Capital Region was still forming out of the already-established hardcore and punk scenes. Statik, alongside other MCs including Shyste, JB!! and Dezmatic, played some of the earliest hip-hop shows in the area at venues such as QE2, Bogie’s and Valentine’s.
“A lot of the guys who were on these same bills respected hip-hop already, and the guys in the hip-hop scene were already fans of the hardcore scene,” Statik said. “We grew up with the only scene in Albany being the hardcore punk scene, and we already had respect for the artists doing it — art is art, love is love. There wasn’t always a venue for hip-hop, but we still had to take any bill we could — we booked shows at home, of all spots.”
Today, that scene is thriving at venues such as Bogie’s and Red Square. Statik cited newcomers such as Mic Lanny, Iron Bar Collective, Giant Gorilla Dog Thing and Animal Cracker, who contributed to Statik’s latest EP, “Sophy,” for helping to keep the community alive.
“Nowadays it’s worth something to say you’re from the 518, because of the value of the small businesses and independent artists here who created a whole new texture to the music,” Statik said. “It goes all the way to Glens Falls, all the way back to — of course to Albany. There’s a scene that’s being built that people respect.”
Statik is continuing to push ahead with new projects as well. “Sophy” is a prelude to a full album, “Son of a Widow,” produced by PJ Katz and due out next year. He’s also continuing work with his rap/rock/blues hybrid, Goldtooth, which formed two years ago and features drummer Dan Beck, guitarist and keyboardist Matt Ferguson and bassist Sean Fortune.
“We just do good hip-hop, but it’s different though,” Statik said. “It kind of takes the edge off of what people think hip-hop is.”