POSTED ON APRIL 6, 2011:
Hip-hop the hard way
Independent rapper Had Enough launches his sophomore effort, plus reflections from SXSW
What do you do when you get frustrated with your band situation, but haven't lost your love for music?
Some performers close shop and give it up while others jump ship and start a new band. Still others find a way to refocus and find a new outlet. The third option is the one that Brandon Young followed with the formation of his rap project, Had Enough, roughly three years ago.
Young's music career started nearly 10 years ago with stints in various rock and metal acts. During that time, he took part in a few hip-hop projects with his friends for fun.
"In October of 2008, I got tired of being in a band," Young said. "I wanted to go solo and had a passion for hip-hop, but I wanted to it my own way."
Following that instinct, Young built a home studio and started work on his own project as Had Enough, working with outside producers for instrumental arrangements and beats and collaborating with outside artists from the area. His debut release, No American Dream Left, was released in early 2010, followed by three mixtapes that can be downloaded online.
After a busy year, Young still had the time to complete his sophomore disc, Death to Prima Donnas, which will be debuted this weekend. Punching in with 19 tracks, the disc is an extension of Young's first album and includes collaborations with other Tulsa rappers like X-Cal, Gadzooks, Trauma Man, Timm Tayshun, Slick, Maston and Dead Peppers.
To say the album is groundbreaking would be deceiving, but the release is a good example of what can be accomplished on an indie level for those with a strong work ethic. Young has put together a solid collection of tracks and is quickly building his catalogue. At the same time, Young also founded his own production company, Dead Market Entertainment, and started booking and promoting shows to not only help build his own audience, but also help with distribution and promotion for other local artists he has worked with.
Lyrically, Death to Prima Donnas can be rough-hewn and abrasive, generally coming off as a Middle America derivative of gansta or thug rap.
"This album tells the story of my experience in the music scene for the past 10 years dealing with scumbags who have a 'rock star' mentality," Young said, "but this album also has a personal theme to it telling the story of the struggles I've gone through trying to make my dreams a reality."
You've got to give props to this kid for breaking out and doing his own thing. It's no secret that Tulsa isn't a strong market for local hip-hop on a large scale, but Young has taken things in his own hands by not only creating his own entity, but also booking shows, promoting them and helping other artists along as he goes.
There's no end in sight, either, as Young already has a pair of collaborative projects (Transmitted Plague with Dizzle and Paradise Lost with RonRon) under development for 2011. Add in a third Had Enough disc, tentatively titled Nothing to Prove, which is currently planned for early 2012 release.
Young said his the next album will be more musically diverse, incorporating more rock elements into the mix. Personally, I'll be interested to hear how he incorporates his rock background, especially if he starts relating more realistic and personal experiences instead of indulging in type of over-the-top misogyny and violence that that characterizes tracks like "Sick in the Head" and "On the Loose." Nevertheless, Young knows what is niche is and sticks to his guns as Had Enough.
You can purchase Death to Prima Donnas in its download version online at hadenough918.bandcamp.com or get your hard copy in person at the Had Enough CD release party at Reverb this Saturday night, April 9. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door and the show starts at 7pm.
Had Enough will headline and close out the night, which will include performances by Dead Peppers, Simple Stephen, Alan Doyle, Timm Tayshun, SWN, Jazz J, C3, Unstable Americans, RonRon and Negra Rosa -- a full night of Tulsa's growing, underground rap scene.
Looking back at SXSW
Unfortunately a nearly week-long and sleepless blur in Austin, Texas, followed by a week of baseball and a sinus infection kept me from properly recapping my experience at SXSW. On the bright side, our guest correspondent, Cliff Cravello did a bang-up job of summarizing his experience.
I know we're a few weeks out now, but I do have a few parting thoughts, especially when looking back and gaining a little perspective. What did I draw form a week immersed in music? I'll summarize it with a few highlights.
The band you won't be able to escape in 2011: If SXSW is any indication, the next huge "it" band will be TV on the Radio. The label is giving these guys the full-court press to make sure the band blows up. I'll make the call now: Nine Types of Light will be one of the three biggest rock albums of the year, if only by hype (the other two will be the impending releases by Foo Fighters and My Morning Jacket). TVotR's new CD doesn't come out for another couple of weeks, but the band played no less than five shows in as many days, most of geared at major media (Spin magazine's day party and the MTVu awards).
I couldn't pass the band up, both because of the buzz and because I know that it was on the Dfest wish list, but scheduling never worked. Since the band has never played Tulsa, I had to see what the fuss was about and my verdict is still out. TVotR is a solid live band, but didn't knock me over. By the end of the year, however, I'll bet you won't be able to escape them.
The band you have to track down: On Friday night, I got off the beaten path to catch the final show from a collective that was quietly building an army of followers: GAYNGS. The show at Lustre Pearl was more backyard party than concert and the guests of honor made it a celebration for everyone. With members of Bon Iver, Megafaun, Rhymesayer, Solid Gold and more, this collective performed like a boys club hanging out on the patio and we were allowed to take part. Eleven people on stage, a DJ, drums, two keyboards, two bass, a sax and three guitars provided sonic overload with a night full of white boys playing R&B for shits and giggles.
Perhaps the night's high point was Har-Mar Superstar singing a stop-you-in-your-tracks version of "Father Figure." Odd but true. If you're at a festival and GAYNGS is in the bill, do yourself a favor and reschedule everything around the group.
Best bet to cause a stir: She may not be the next big thing, but if you want to know who will be bubbling under the surface of the mainstream, keep your ears peeled for Nicole Atkins and the Black Sea. This girl is making all the right moves and the right people are paying attention, from Paste magazine to Rolling Stone. Her reputation currently revolves around her alt-country leanings, but when she sheds the twang and lets a soulful growl come out, she's REALLY impressive.
Brandon Young’s music career started nearly 10 years ago with stints in various rock and metal acts. During that time, he took part in a few hip-hop projects with his friends for fun. Following that instinct, Young built a home studio and started work on his own project as Had Enough.
Guilty Pleasure: Every year I let myself indulge in someone just want to see regardless of how cool they are or aren't. This year, I set my sights on Aaron Gillespie's (former Underoath) latest project, The Almost. Not only did I catch the Sunday night showcase, but I also double-dipped, stumbling in on the Alternative Press/Vans party, just as the band hit the stage. If he wasn't that good, I wouldn't have gone back for more at Midnight, but it was worth a second round.
All in all, it was a whirlwind week with more highlights than I can count, but there are a few I can't let slip away: Meiko at St David's; sharing a drink with Cody Canada and Seth James of The Departed; crashing an industry party with Gooding; finding myself standing six feet from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), but not wanting to interrupt his conversation; finally finding The Onion (pizzeria -- which had moved) and stumbling on the most amazing dance party of the year with Marijuana Deathsquads (look them up).
When I look back, there's one moment that summarizes everything that SXSW is about. Saturday evening, I found myself standing behind The Continental Club discussing music, family and life with Malford Milligan (formerly of Storyville) and being introduced to his friends, including guitarist Steve James. That's something that could only happen in Austin.
Overall, it's enough to already start looking forward to SXSW 2012. It's also reason to look forward to Norman Music Festival and checking out the best of Oklahoma's talent at the end of the month. We'll be sure to give it a look in a few weeks.
After a busy few weeks, it seems like we'd hit a slow period and get a chance to catch our breath, but that's not the case. Instead, there are enough cool shows coming through to hopefully energize you for another week as we hold out for summer weather to finally arrive and the festival season to kick off in full.
Thursday, April 7 -- Brandon Rhyder brings his hybrid of Texas country and red-dirt to Midnight Rodeo and Ben Kilgore sets up for his residency on the rooftop stage at Ivey. The real highlight of the night, however, is Oil Boom coming back to town for a show at The Colony in support of its new disc, Black Waxy. Classic rock, blues and a little soul combine for a great night of groove.
Friday, April 8 -- Say what you want, but everyone else falls into the shadows when the Followill clan finally returns to Oklahoma for a show at BOK Center. Kings of Leon is arguably the most popular band with Oklahoma ties in all of rock 'n' roll right now. It's only appropriate that they should headline the arena. Opener Band of Horses helps retain a shred of indie credibility as well. And if you arrive early, you can catch RadioRadio on the outdoor plaza stage.
That's not the only show, though. Out at The Joint (Hard Rock Casino), Heart is in concert, but it's a sold out show. If you didn't get your tickets, you can always catch them when they come back through with Def Leppard in July. Locally, you can check out Dave & the Haters at Hunt Club or Sam Silva & the Good at Mercury Lounge.
Saturday, April 9 -- If you're in an indie mood, stop in at Soundpony for Brother Bear with Mike Dee and Sur'ron. If you're into more of a dance and modern rock vibe, Jeff Scheel makes a rare appearance at Majestic with RadioRadio and DJ Demko rounding out the night. And if you're in the mood to relax with some great local pop, Admiral Twin plays a more laid back show at Il Bacio.
Sunday, April 10 -- Snorlaxx is back at Soundpony for special show with Mike Dee (again) and Roundhouse Dance. The big show of the night is right down the sidewalk, however, as Cage the Elephant headlines Cain's Ballroom with Sleeper Agent and Biffy Clyro opening.
Monday, April 11 -- A Day to Remember headlines Brady Theater for its biggest show in Tulsa to date. Bring Me the Horizon is the main support with openers We Came As Romans and Pierce the Veil.
Tuesday, April 12 -- Japanese indie-pop buzz band Peelander-Z headlines The Marquee (hot off a SXSW showcase and in advance of a Norman Music Fest appearance) with Anamanguchi and Rude Amps opening to round out the week's highlights.
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