Imagine being a rap artist and having the privilege to contact your inspirations and all-time hip-hop heroes for a show in your hometown. Hats off to the Internet and networks like MySpace for allowing independent artists to wander the pastures of music in search of building international connections with each other.
Sean Smith, aka Drama S.T., is taking full advantage of online resources. Drama is bringing some of his favorite artists to Albuquerque for the first time on the Southwest Starving Artists Tour. The lineup for this year’s tour includes Himself and Anacron of the California hip-hop group The Netherworlds (minus Living Legend’s Murs); L.A.’s Kruse; and Mykrfiendx from the Arizona-based Soul Collectables. Drama will also perform with Albuquerque producer Diles, but he says he’s just as excited to host hip-hop legends as he is to share a stage with them in his hometown.
You might not be familiar with Himself and Anacron, or their group The Netherworlds for that matter. The two formed The Netherworlds with Murs (Living Legends) back in 1995 and dropped only one album, which was noted in URB magazine as having “NWA disposition with updated lyricism and electrified beats to back.” It’s been a long time since The Netherworlds have recorded any new material due to the pursuit of solo careers and other projects. Regardless, Himself and Anacron are anxious to venture through the Southwest to make new fans and meet old ones.
Drama and Mykrfiendx have been chopping it up together for the past couple years. Drama originally sought to bring Mykrfiendx out for a couple weeks to work on an album but decided to book a couple shows in between. Mykrfiendx is originally part of the Arizona hip-hop group Avenue of The Arts, which opened for national acts such as Living Legends and Dead Prez. Beyond Arizona and Albuquerque, Mykrfiendx and Drama haven’t established a reputation but are constantly working to reach out to more listeners. “I’m trying my hardest to bridge the gap between us and Phoenix,” says Drama. “Every other scene seems to be popping off except the Southwest; there’s no more time to waste.”
Booking acts like Himself and Anacron was a thrill. “Me and Drama grew up listening to these cats, and it’s very humbling to be able to reach out to them, work some show dates out and share a few stages with them,” says Mykrfiendx. “Rather than having to go through 50 different people, we can directly contact artists via e-mail, which is a blessing and a huge time saver.”
The truth behind the Southwest Starving Artists Tour is that every artist on the bill is “starving” and in dire need of getting on the road again. Drama originally contacted Himself for one show in Albuquerque. He later got in touch with Anacron, who contacted Kruse and from there spun off ideas to turn this into a tour that would wrap up in Austin, Texas. The tour is scheduled to kick off for Himself in Portland, Ore., and wind up in Sioux City, Iowa.
What really sets the tour apart is the hard independent work these artists went through to line up shows. "We’re working this whole thing by ourselves, no booking agents, tour buses, nothing,” says Drama. Comparing this tour to a larger function such as Paid Dues, these artists are working with a beer budget. No press releases, no large street teams. Just elbow grease and good, old-fashioned DIY.