POSTED ON JANUARY 11, 2012:
Keeping the Faith
Algebra goes to Camp with his peers while local acts come together to help others again this weekend
Although local rapper Algebra may not have won a third consecutive ABoT award for best Hip Hop/Rap artist in 2011, chance are he was too busy to worry about it. Monthly single releases via the Bandcamp website speckled Algebra's summer and fall with a series of Church Camp releases, which came in scenes: The Bus Ride, The Cabin, The Bonfire and The Invitation.
Each mini-EP arrived as a pair of songs, essentially a single with a B-side, as Algebra toyed with a new concept in releasing music and building a larger release in the process. This Thursday night, Jan. 12, he compiles the eight songs that were released between June 25 and Sept. 24, 2011 with the Church Camp EP and a release party and showcase at Soundpony.
When asked about the monthly releases, which quietly dotted the landscape last year, Algebra (also known as Dan Hahn) shared that "I don't like to go long periods of time -- like two years -- without putting anything out. In Tulsa, it's hard to stay relevant in any genre, much less Hip Hop, and you can't stay quiet for very long, so I decided to try to put out at least one song a month to keep things fresh."
Although Algebra is a hip hop artist, his ties to the indie rock scene keep him cross-pollinated in both audiences and he takes his cues from both genres. Hahn admits to being a big fan of Smashing Pumpkins and adapted the idea of putting songs out monthly from Billy Corgan -- an approach that he has adopted for quite some time.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that although Algebra's songs initially appear to be a series of single releases, they all tie together into one larger entity. Yes, the eight songs tie together to form the larger Church Camp EP, which releases this week, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. When discussing the release in a lager scope, Algebra revealed that for each two songs that were released, he also held back one additional track from each session which will appear later this summer with the full length Church Camp EP, which will include 24 songs in total.
When asked about the title and how it relates to the release as a whole, Hahn revealed that "The title articulates my journey through the spiritual realm and trying to figure out who God is to me and how that manifests itself in my daily life with my relationships with people and my contributions to people, hip hop and the local scene in general."
Although Algebra started out a solo project, he has gradually incorporated more artists with each release and Church Camp is no different. With the four releases that are compiled for the EP, Algebra collaborated with a cross-section of local peers, from Red Alert's Christy Hanewinkle on "The Black Hawk Boys (Lots to Do)" and John Moreland on "Closer" to Pade and 1st Verse on "May 21st" and Dr. Freeman on "Watch Me".
Perhaps the major highlight of this current batch of songs, however, is "It's None of Your Business", which incorporates an unscripted rant from St. Gregory (Greg Hulett of Guardant) and a feature appearance by Steph Simon from The District.
When explaining Simon's involvement, Hahn shared that "I went to one of his shows and within three songs, I knew I wanted to do something with him. He's just an undeniable talent."
Indeed, it's the combination of Simon's smooth and quick witted flow and how it offsets Gregory's rough-hewn rant while set against an old school beat that makes everything come together so well. When combined with the driving hook of "Bagels and Coffee", The Invitation may be the most engaging of the four scenes which have been revealed so far.
More promising, however, is the fact that each song pairing that was released proved to be more fluid and engaging. If everything continues to build in the same manner, the larger Church Camp EP could be the summer release most worth anticipating.
As for now, Algebra is offering a larger teaser with the Church Camp EP this Thursday night and a show that includes opening sets by Jabee (Oklahoma City's most prominent hip hop artist) and Meech, the artist who won the 2011 ABoT Hip Hop artist of the year award. Algebra will then take the mic for a brief hit and run set that will highlight the EP and likely take a sample or two from his back catalog.
This is Algebra's first solo performance since October (he has moved more toward the background with the larger Oilhouse collective shows, allowing Seran, Mike D and Dr. Freeman to take the spotlight) and merely a glimpse of what he has in store for 2012. As always, it's a free show at Soundpony, but you'll want to arrive early as he'll be offering up free copies of the EP to the first 50 in attendance.
Stepping Up & Reaching Out
Once again, Tulsa's local musicians are stepping up to help out friends and family in need and when they do so, it's worth noting. This Sunday night, Jan. 15, five artists come together at Blue Dome Diner in a cross-section of styles to honor the memory of a friend and help others in need.
Roughly a year ago Clayton Fraser lost his battle with cancer, but his memory remains. This Sunday night, "Fraserfest" not only honors his memory as a great husband, father and friend, but also serves to raise money to benefit two more friends, Cynthia Fairchild and Christine Babcock, who continue to fight their battle with cancer.
Doors at the Blue Dome Diner will open at 5pm and music will kick off shortly thereafter with The Big O Show, followed by Faithbook (featuring Jay Howell, who is helping organize the event), Future Depression Sound, Hiphopotamus and Panda Resistance. Suggested donation is $5 at the door, with all proceeds going directly to the Fairchild and Babcock families to help with medical expenses.
Music will continue until roughly midnight, so arrive early and plan on staying late for this all-ages, family friendly fundraiser.
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