Our second artist celebrating with us for the AFL Anniversary Showcase is a good friend and incredibly talented rapper, In Divine Providence. Like every great hip hop act, he also goes by Walt D. His record Darkside/Lightside was a force to be reckoned with and took us two episodes to explore.
I had the pleasure of joining him in the studio for a few sessions, and thought it prudent to use my fly-on-the-wall status to get some dirt on exactly what goes into the branding and marketing of a new artist in the hip hop community, one which has seen tough times in Toronto. Pay-to-play and the constant stream of unsolicited mixtapes being handed out without context have plagued the industry, and many live music venues simply fill more seats when their house band is playing mostly covers their audience can sing along to. Walt has high hopes for what rap can do to affect change, be it on a social, political or personal level:
“I wanna contribute to hip hop and I want to be part of a group that throws shows up that help build that scene. We need to come together as a group, not brag about our ability to make money and rap about what we are. I want to be part of what that change is.”
When it comes to marketing, the bravado of a secondary persona is key in bridging the gap. IDP is the embodiment of the animal inside, brazenly spouting explicit and often disturbing truths, while Walt D is his more subdued, pragmatic and positive beacon of hope. The label rep was quick to endorse this duality, and offered some words of wisdom on how and when to utilize both:
“If you can’t do your hook and then go like this <holds a mic out to an imaginary crowd> so they know it, then you can’t give them anything else new until you get there. Then you can say hey, guys do you mind if I try a few new ones for you? And they will love it.”
So now we have our homework: Darkside/Lightside. I’d star with this. Learn the hooks, and sing along with us June 30th!