DEEP THOUGHTS WITH J SCRILLA
This past Saturday I was invited to speak and/or moderate a panel at the #MadeInTheDMV music conference. First of all, shout out to @Melisakim and her #WillRap4Food organization for booking me. I’ve seen Angela Byrd’s conferences grow as the years have gone on and I remember when Byrd was coming to Inner Loop’s events and meeting a lot of the scene before she turned her own vision into a reality. So salute to Byrd aka @iGotit4Free for following her dreams and a BIG SALUTE for a well put together conference. The conference was, I believe, made possible by a third young lady named Natasha Brown, owner of the PR firm ThinkBrownINK, whom I’ve also had the pleasure of knowing for quite some time, too.
So three women brainstormed, opened their respective black books and meticulously reached out to everyone they knew from the area to come thru and drop knowledge on the music industry. Not all were DMV born and raised, though, Rob Markman, from MTV’s Rap Fix and Sway In The Morning (and many, many other outlets) was the thunderbolt that first got this panel popping and talked about. When Byrd announced that Mr. Markman would be speaking at the event it seemed like a domino effect of personalities eagerly signed on. There were some snags along the way as there are with any big event. The “Crabs in the Barrel” mindset that has seemingly plagued the scene since I can recall was partially stirred up, as some sounded off and took some shots for not being included and/or the event not catering to certain people from the area. I saw a @MadInTheDMV page was created on twitter, and since removed, which was actually slightly comical. Though, I will say that I didn’t see the usual malarky that came with such a big event (although, I have been slightly removed from the social scene that I was entrenched in up until a couple years ago.)
Lets digress a moment, shall we…
I was intrigued from the get-go to get my weight up at this event because I have been teetering on the edge of insanity lately as I’ve watched my latest project, “Silk Road” go nearly double wood on the blogs. Now, when I say the release flopped I am speaking from the perch of my penthouse suite blog apartment that I was obviously unknowingly cast from where the squad and I came to expect a certain amount of organic support over the years. In this apartment we used to release music and it always ended up on hundreds of sites ranging from 2dopeboyz to nahright to djbooth and way beyond (what up bangbros.com.) My squad and I had a good view from this apartment and we were able to invite others in this place and help them release music and it even had a turn up room with a stocked bar and some groupies. Well, I quickly realized that a new landlord had occupied the building and I was told to GET THEE FUCK OUT. Inner Loop was no longer welcomed to the well of the internet’s premiere publications. Well, I picked up my things and I quietly moved out to the bottom floor and consulted with my industry friends to help me find a new home in the blogoshere for a beat album about the darkweb aka “Silk Road.”
Now, on to my point. I came to the event to reintroduce myself in some ways.
I am DJ J-Scrilla. J-Scrilla. 1/2 of Guns N Butter. Scrilla Ventura. NOT DJ SCRILLA. I am the guy who has a similar DJ name to a great deceased legend. (Side note : I’ve amateurishly, professionally and unprofessionally used this alias since 2003 and in no way shape or form was my name bitten from a legend. Thanks for your time.)
I came into this game as a mixtape DJ under the alias DJ Hi-C, I rocked most of the venues in VA/DC plus many in the country and some more internationally. I threw the first ever “live beat battle” called “Battle Of The Box” in 2001. I’ve produced and deejayed for legends and got my foot in the game thanks in part to guys like Team Demo, Agallah, William Cooper, Bloodsport and Tragedy Khadafi. I had partners in this game that I’ve split with due to us not agreeing ethically or morally. I’ve actually fought people that argued with me that our area had no talent and that I was “a stupid motherfucker for messing with “local” artists when I could have been shopping my beats and taking my talents elsewhere.” I literally, ruined relationships over this. I’ve been putting local artists on mixtapes since 1998 and I started putting them on distributed albums in 2002 (“Pressure Points”.) My label, Inner Loop, started in 2006 (with K-Beta and Overok) and we quickly wedged our way to the top of our local scene by the time 2008 had rolled around as we were throwing major events, putting out scores of music and signing producers and artists to legit contracts. We were deemed the People’s Label of the DMV scene for not shorting the artist and fans with microwaved music and well put together and organized events (what up Overok.) Even the acclaimed local, hip-hop and music writer Marcus Moore, humbly, called Inner Loop the “Stones Throw” of the DMV in 2010.
I say that to say this…
I am older now (dirty thirties) and post-Inner Loop Records and I came to the event with open arms and an open ear. Not only because I wanted to reconnect with the new movers and shakers in the blog and DJ world, but because I am taking on a new role as an artist manager and I wanted to learn more about my job and plug in with the folks who can help me take my group, Dark Wave, to manifest their dreams. I recently started a new company with Meliiisa Kim, very iiintentiiionally called Maniiifest and we, as a company, have been slowly building to really unload on the music world in 2015. So, I came to the event not only as a moderator on the DEAL OR NO DEAL panel but also because as many of the attendees came… I wanted resources. I wanted to meet people. I wanted to find admin people, promoters, editors, producers, bloggers, entertainment lawyers, etc.
The DMV has always lacked an industry. We have to go outside the area to get our connects to the music world. The DMV has never been a cohesive industry but rather a convenient label so outsiders could easily identify us and so that our area musicians (many whom spend the better parts of their day working government jobs in DC, living in Maryland and messing with the beautiful women in Virginia,) who tend to move around within the area a lot, could just have an acronym for the region. This region was initially Southern Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia. It’s since expanded even further depending on who you talk to (which is an editorial for another day.) Generally speaking of course, people in DC hate the term, while people in Va. and Md. generally like the term because if you tell an outsider you are from Montgomery County or Woodbridge then you will have to explain that you actually reside in one place but travel five to 30 minutes to go “handle” your music somewhere else – The District Of Columbia. The outsider may say, “Why don’t you just say you are from DC then?” Maybe somebody from DC can elaborate more on that in the comments but basically, the old DC was nothing like Va or even Md. DC was an inner city filled with mostly African-American folks who did not like Virginia, mostly due to the police force and although Maryland had the cool side of the family tree, because their cousin got off the streets and went to school in Maryland to possibly get a better or safer education in a mixed race school system they couldn’t claim DC like the ones who never left. Since the DMV has emerged, housing has doubled and wealthy folks, whites, gays, preppies, hipsters and the all the other gentrification particles have shot across the border. Much has changed since the term began being applied to the area and I don’t know that it’s quite as shunned by today’s up and comers but you can look at the hate Wale got (who, allegedly, spent time in Maryland) for claiming DC status back in the day as proof.
When I was told by Melisa what the whole event was about, I initially told her that I did not envy her for her graciousness on this one. Dealing with all of the egos and personalities to make an event like this happen is no easy task. But, the task was well done. Kudos. It was cool to see most of the players show up. There were some notable people missing from the conference that were supposed to be there but overall the people sharing were very profound and knowledgable. Kudos to Quinelle Holder of Hiphopsince1987.com who spoke very exact on the blog’s infamous deep, dark “pay to post” game and actually made some quality points in favor of it (though his site is not an official “pay to play” blog.) I will note I have been against paying for a site or magazine appearance. You pay your publicist to make things happen and the publications should eventually be beating down your door as you grow. If your publicist cannot get you publicity then you need to find a new one. I basically feel that when blogs accept money for submissions, ultimately, they are sacrificing their brand to put an artist up that wouldn’t normally be on the site. With that said, sure if an artist is waving money around and it’s not a big reach to post, but if you are putting up Janky Squirrel and the Bando Brains for $25 your brand risks being watered down. Blogs should be making money off of ad revenue, clicks and opportunities stemming from their influence. With that said, I am not a content blogger who needs to keep their lights on and I cannot argue about how you get your bread. If these people pay you then there is obviously some market out there to capitalize on. The main problem I have with sites charging is that if they fly a false flag and act like they are but they ain’t. We can dive into that topic another day though.
So, bringing the local players here to the R.I.S.E. Center and building on how to eventually compete with Atlanta, New York, LA, San Fran, Houston, Chicago, Philly, etc. is a great thing. There was so much good advice and people were eager to share their experiences and knowledge. I used to be very anti-industry. I was only pro-Art and wanted to always sock it to the man. As I’ve gotten older and hopefully wiser I have realized that to succeed as an artist, producer, manager, label owner, blogger, writer, photographer and whatever else then you need to embrace “industry,” because at the most basic level a well-oiled industry is a meat packing plant for dollar bills. I like to rub my dollar bills on my art these days. I can live like an artist no problem on a beach somewhere when I’m bald and fat but not in the DMV where everyday the developers price someone into moving to the far reaching suburbs.
So to sum up the event quickly (sorry not sorry for the tangents,) there were a ton of wide-eyed artists taking notes and asking questions and really there to learn and be educated. Folks had business cards, stickers, and other promo. I would think the next event will have more actual vendors as I only saw a handful and I’m thinking some folks missed out on some sales and market reach opportunities. The main room had good sound but the second room didn’t have a sound system hooked up so it was a bit harder to hear everything during some of the quieter moments of those panels. I’d like to see more workshop classes too kinda like when Inner Loop did the Chop It Up 3 Producer Conference in 2007. I could see businesses like the Beat Refinery DJ School really benefiting from that platform. All in all it seemed like a smooth event.
With that said…
A few days ago, I had to check myself. I thought about using today to rant on how Inner Loop was booked to do the beat showcase with my brothers Casito and Grussle (we are Inner Loop Beats collectively) and have my artists Dark Wave and some more we produce for on stage with me at the #MadeInTheDMV show. We were sent an email saying that we were booked for 15 minutes and we had this time slot and we could do our thing. We started to prepare and some people called off of work and blah blah blah. I got a blindsided DM that said there’d been some unexpected changes and I got mad. I, admittedly, sometimes need to not take things so personally. What good would it have done to shake the limb of a strong tree we, as a city, have all built? Nothing. It was Byrd’s vision. WillRap4Food’s vision. Not mine. Not yours. Things happen in the 11th hour all the time. So I fell back and used the platform for what it was intended to be and really enjoyed it. I met people, I was educated and I have vowed to stay positive in what can sometimes be a dark industry that has many peaks and valleys. Not everyone is going to mess with your shit. Sometimes in this industry plans change at a moment’s notice. I know this.
Now, back to what I learned about our last record push. While talking with people AT THE EVENT about “Silk Road”, I learned that the lack of big blog presence was due to it not being a bad project (many loved it), but because it’s different and it is very left of center topically. I learned actually, at the event, that many of these blogs we want exposure on are backed by corporations and to have a project like “Silk Road” in the mix could have been frowned on and some just couldn’t take the time to really grasp the meaning and all of the intricacies or figure out how to incorporate it in their stream of news that would make sense. Also, they need those clicks to make their editors happy or they lose their job thanks to them promoting an unheard of album that brought only a handful of clicks to their site. Lesson learned. That’s what you get for doing an album that’s unprecedented though I suppose. (Sips tea and takes a selfie.) At the same time I am climbing this mountain back up to help a new generation of artists, a Virginia rap duo named Dark Wave in particular, Maniiifest more pet projects with my musical friends and a new perspective on things.
Inshallah. DMV going up.
Richmond, VA artists DARK WAVE dropped their debut project to the world last week called “Dark Elegance” via www.hotnewhiphop.com, djbooth.net, AshleyOutrageous.com and livemixtapes.com just to name a few. The album is also available on itunes and we hope the bonus cut “Tell The Truth” will have you supporting with the greenbacks. STREAM BELOW and FOLLOW ON SOUNDCLOUD
ALSO PEEP THE VIDEO FOR “CITY ON LOCK”
FOR ALL BUSINESS INQUIRIES AND BOOKINGS CONTACT: @scrillaventura
Silk Road is finally available for the masses. DMV production team Inner Loop (J Scrilla, Casito and Grussle) has crafted an 18 track genre-bending album inspired by the internet’s most infamous drug trafficking portal. The album is a mixture of original songs and instrumentals that will take you on a journey through the world wide web’s digital black market. Silk Road features Rob Regal (fka Lyriciss), Kingpen Slim, K-Beta, G-Two, Sketch McGuiney, Rahiem Supreme and more.
Stream Inner Loop’s “Silk Road” now: https://soundcloud.com/innerloopbeats/sets/silk-road
Buy Silk Road on iTunes now: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/silk-road/id931536793
VIDEO: Inner Loop – Sugarcrisp feat. Wais P & Joie 13 Inner Loop Sugarcrisp featuring Wais P and Joie 13 (Official Music Video)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Silk Road 2.0 Has Been Seized! Album Still On the Way
FBI Can’t Stop the Release of the Silk Road Album
Silk Road 2.0 has been shut down by the FBI and its alleged operator Blake “Defcon” Benthall has been arrested. The illegal online marketplace launched in November of 2013 after the collapse of the original Silk Road. By September 2014, Silk Road 2.0 acquired approximately 150,000 users and generated roughly $8 million per month. Mass Appeal reports: “This Thursday, the FBI shut down the online market, and have arrested 26-year-old Blake Benthall, aka “Defcon,” on charges relating to running the service.”
The Washington Post reports “Regardless of how many of these sites the FBI has seized today, it’s a near certainty that dozens more will spring up to take their place tomorrow.” Rumors of a Silk 3.0 have begun to circulate.
Despite the bad news of Silk Road 2.0’s demise, DMV based production team Inner Loop still plans to move forward with the release of their Hip Hop/EDM Silk Road soundtrack. Producers J Scrilla, Grussle and Castio began work on the album approximately around the same time as Silk Road 2.0’s launch. The project features 18 original songs inspired by the illegal activities of the DarkNet’s most infamous website. FBI intimidation will not prevent the distribution of Silk Road. Preorders are available now via iTunes.
Preorder Silk Road on iTunes now: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/silk-road/id931536793
PREODER THE ALBUM HERE AND GET 2 EXCLUSIVE TRACKS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE!
Send us a pic of your preorder to firstname.lastname@example.org before November 1 and we will send you a free inner loop grinder and sticker pack (worth $15.00)!!!
Newest release off of the upcoming “Silk Road” project, this one is entitled “S.I.L.K.” and was shot and edited by Matt Sugwara.
SiLK ROAD drops October 31
SILK ROAD, the new album from Inner Loop drops October 31, 2014 everywhere. This is the first single “Sugarcrisp” ft. Wais P & Joie 13. Follow @innerloopbeats on #soundcloud #instagram and #twitter to qualify for exclusive merchandise prizes including limited edition Silk Road skateboards, grinders, shirts, stickers and more.
Produced by: Scrilla Ventura aka DJ J-Scrilla
Directed by Jonathan Thorpe http://www.jthorpephoto.com
Makeup by Jessie Campbell http://www.jcampbellmua.com
Follow Bo on twitter! @bojankans
Follow Jonathan on twitter! @jthorpephoto
Follow Scrilla on twitter! @scrillaventura
The MotorMouth EP: Act II is set to drop October 14th, 2014. Pre-order link listed below. To here some of Bo’s previous work check out “The Motormouth EP” & “Dumb Looks Are Still Free” on iTunes.
Pre-Order Link: http://bit.ly/BoJankansTheMotormouthE…
Virginia native Bo Jankans joins forces with DJ J-Scrilla, Reef the Lost Cauze and Kane Mayfield for “Level Up” the first single from his upcoming project The Motormouth EP: Act II.