Hustling Dope, The Hip-Hop Kind Pt. 2
Click HERE for pt.1 so that you can catch up.
Words by Gangstarr Girl
Creature and Marvo migrate during the day, like H The Great. However, they mainly stay in the West Village.
As if instantly on cue, Aerz Nights, an A&R rep for up-and-comer, Skyzoo, appeared in front of the group. He heard what Creature said and was ironically coming from 14th Street, where he almost had an altercation with one of the “Neanderthals.”
“It’s funny because I see them messing with people all the time, but they don’t usually be messing with me like that,” said Aerz. “But today I was really about to hurt dude.”
Aerz says the “Neanderthal” who got out of line with him tried to force him to buy a CD by demanding so in a hostile tone of voice. He also flexed as if he were going to push or throw a punch. An altercation did not ensue, but for the most part, what Creature describes as being an artistpreneur is more refined and respectable. Marvo, who has been a full-time artistpreneur for a little over a year, says that he originally did not respect people who are doing what he’s doing today.
“Before I started doing this, I used to come to Fat Beats and walk past the Virgin Mega Store, and I used to be embarrassed for the dudes that was doing this,” Marvo says. “I would look down on the dudes that were doing this but now, I can say that this is the best job I ever had.”
An Irish man, intrigued by the young artists, interrupts the conversation.
He is tall and pink, with wild, ear-length brunette hair. He wore khaki corduroy’s and a navy blue blazer. His smile was coupled with a boozy jovial demeanor, making him seem like quite the character.
“Check it out,” Creature says as he displays his album, “Never Say Die.”
The Irish man playfully reads the title aloud as if it were a Hooked on Phonics commercial, his accent making the situation more comical.
“You Irish?” Creature asks.
“Yes, from Dublin.”
“I was in Dublin last year,” Creature replies. “I performed at The Crawdaddy.”
The Irish man perked up more ─ “The Crawdaddy,” he wailed with a hint of familiarity. “How about those Irish girls, ay?”
The group of men let out a pregnant laugh.
“How much do I owe you?”
“And don’t forget about mine,” chimed in Marvo.
“So that’s $20. That’s a lot of money,” the Irish man joked as he reached into his pocket and obligingly pulled out a $20 bill.
Marvo and Creature have simultaneously made a sale. The Irish man tells everyone goodbye and continues about his New York business.
“You can do this anywhere, but the good thing about doing it in New York is that your music gets all over the world, like Luxembourg,” Marvo said. “Basically, it’s like one of those skills you can take anywhere you want to go, but people e-mailed me from Luxenbourg and I’m not even sure where Luxenbourg is. I’ve gotten the West Congo in Africa, a place you would not normally be able to get your music to, or even signed, established artists maybe don’t have their records selling there. But you reach people all over the globe because they got your music, because you’re in New York pushing it all over.”
“Out-of-towners want to take home something authentic,” Creature added. “We represent a soil and a certain aesthetic that New York is now becoming accustomed to, and they want to bring some of that authenticity home. And why not bring one of us? Take our product home.”
C-Rayz Walz, a popular fixture on the New York Hip-Hop scene for years (originally of the Stronghold crew), renowned for his freestyle and battle rap abilities (he’s battled and beat the top battle rap emcees in the world), stops by and greets Creature and Marvo. He lingers for a little while, chatting with the artistpreneurs, and then he enters Fat Beats.
“You see how you just meet people out here?” Creature asked rhetorically. “Not only do you make your own hours, you meet people constantly, and you’re in control of your destiny. You don’t have to sit home broke. We meet people that people say they wish they could meet.”
And they’ve met quite a few people. Marvo was a performer in a summer River to River festival in New York City while Creature has been featured in The Village Voice, on Starz Network, MTV2, and he has gotten gigs.
“The best part about it is that we’re living off of our music,” said Marvo as Creature cosigned. “You think that you’re gonna make it as a superstar being on MTV or you’re gonna to be a starving artist, but there’s a lot of room between the two ends of the spectrum. There are people who are living comfortably off of their music and you might not know who they are but they have great followings. They stay on the road, their merchandise sells out. It’s real important. If you can keep ownership of your publishing and your merchandising and all that as an artist, you don’t have to have super platinum numbers to be successful.”
H The Great, Creature and Marvo all say they reap the benefits of being self-made and self-employed. Something else they have in common is the freedom in their schedules, which can vary depending upon how good their sales were from the previous day. They make their own hours and they say it’s not hard dealing with the 14th Street “Neanderthals.”
And police aren’t an issue either. They initially approach the artists, thinking bootleg CDs are being sold, but once they discover it’s the artists’ personal music, and witness the professional manner in which the young men handle themselves, the issue is resolved.
Their biggest nuisance can come in the form of a New York City snow storm or winter chill, and while H The Great travels to southern states including Virginia and North Carolina, Creature and Marvo remain in New York during cold spells.
“When the weather is bad, we do the same thing you do when you go to work ─ dress warm,” Marvo laughed.
As the politicking continues, another visitor appears in front of the group.
TO BE CONTINUED…