It should come to no surprise that the internet has served as a bridge for many aspiring artists to break through their career. However, there’s more to “making it” than just putting your content online. It still takes a lot of work, skill, and a little finesse. Skylar Allen, a Hip Hop Artist from a small town called Sandwich, New Hampshire, focuses on quality production and collaboration as part of his technique to becoming a successful artist.
Still a high school senior, Skylar Allen has dedicated his life to music. “I learned how to play the drums when I was a little kid, and that experience taught me the basics of musicianship like composition, tempo, etc” said Skylar. He started writing raps at about age 13 and began learning how to record and engineer sounds from his friend Noah. Mostly all of Skylar’s songs and vocals are self-edited, mixed, and engineered. There is a lot to be commended for an artist who takes pride in the learning process of writing lyrics, finding the right beat, filming and editing music videos, and collaborating with other talented personnel (especially while other millennials might just want the quick “come up” but are not willing to put in the time and work into their craft).
Skylar’s hometown of Sandwich, New Hampshire has a population of less than 2000 people. Despite its size, the rapper expressed that he’s been able to generate some local support; but he definitely seeks growth in bigger cities when he goes to college. He has a lot of experience performing on stage as a drummer and rapper in his band, and won the “Crowd’s Favorite” at one of his town’s recent talent shows. He also competed in Team Backpack’s 2015 Mission Underground Live Cypher Draft in Los Angeles, and even recorded a collab track with two other artists he met at the event. The track “Thirst Trap” went on to gain nearly 7000 plays on Soundcloud and was featured on Team Backpack’s website and Soundcloud playlist.
From talking one-on-one with Skylar, I see nothing but true potential and humility from this young man, especially with his openness to building and creating projects with other artists. “When I meet a new artist that wants to collab, I don’t care about their social media popularity or how big their fanreach is. If we can create something great in a professional manner, then we can totally do it. It’s all about chemistry” said Skylar. Personally, I think Skylar Allen is definitely an artist to watch for and I look forward to seeing his movement grow in the near future.
Acid Droppin' N.M.C (White Center, WA)
The use of psychedelic drugs and their unique effects on the human psyche has been popularly debated. Some of the world’s most innovative icons have been said to have taken LSD, and even credit their “acid trip” to their success. The list includes people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ray Charles, and Eminem. Hip Hop’s “Acid Rapper,” Chance, made huge buzz off of his “Acid Rap” mixtape; which shares a lot of his creative experiences while on LSD. Similarly, a young man from Seattle, known as Acid Droppin’ N.M.C, openly uses LSD as a way to deal with personal challenges and expand his lyricism. While I personally don’t promote illegal drug use, I can’t deny that Acid Droppin’ N.M.C. is a talented and driven young man whose nonconforming ideals has allowed him to create a growing buzz in the underground Hip Hop scene, holding a cosign from one of the biggest underground Hip Hop platforms- Team Backpack.
Acid (for short), might look like your typical northwestern white boy, but his music shows that there is more than meets the eye. From a small town in southern Seattle called “White Center,” Nicholas Micah Chambers (which is what the acronym in his moniker stand for) was born to teenage parents in the early 90s. Naturally, he was exposed to old school Hip Hop like Notorious B.I.G even as a toddler. By age 9, he was writing his own raps and kept doing it throughout the rest of his schooling. His family experienced a devastating loss due to the death of his brother. During that dark period of life, Acid was numb and depressed; so along with some friends, he tried LSD for the first time. “One drop of LSD turned me into a compassionate, understanding, peace-loving human being. To be honest, I don’t think I could have changed without it. Of course, LSD has a shock value when mentioned in conversation, but I can’t discredit the profound effect it had on me,” said Acid.
A bit of a rebellious misfit, “Ive always been kind of a bad boy, always challenging authority and quick to be mischievous,” said Acid. But, music provided him an outlet to share his frustrations or to simply forget them. Although he still occasionally takes LSD, his mindset has grown and matured. He is the cofounder of Troublesome Entertainment, a small Hip Hop collective of him, two of his brothers, and their friends. Together, they create songs and set up gigs in local studios. Most notably, Acid seemingly became an overnight quest when Team Backpack shared a video of some dope “white rapper kid” free styling at their 2015 Mission Underground event in Los Angeles. The clip has since earned more than 10,000 views on social media, and Acid’s track “High Tolerance” was shared by Team Backpack’s SoundCloud account.
Acid and his Troublesome partners plan to drop a number of mix tapes within the next year and plan to audition and participate in Mission Underground 2016, which will be held in New York this June. Like most independent artists, Acid is still growing his fan base and works to fund his dreams. However, he has upgraded to his own home studio, which acts as a hub for creativity and a central spot for the rest of his Troublesome partners to record and discuss music. Acid’s personal favorite track of his own is off his latest mixtape High Tolerance. “Who I’m Supposed 2Be” is the mixtape’s final track, and shares the Hip Hop artist’s perspective on his lifestyle and aspirations for his community. Acid stated, “Instead of putting a hook, I added a clip from the movie “The World’s End,” because the scene’s quote fueled my inspiration to continue harnessing my creativity and drive to be successful in Hip Hop.”
Be sure to check out Acid Droppin’ N.M.C. on all of his social media outlets and music via Soundcloud and YouTube.
Aloha and Happy New Years from Hawaii and Rap's Favorite Lumpia!
I know that a lot of my viewers are artists so I salute you for your diligence to the Hip Hop craft and aspirations for 2016. This will be a reflective blog post as I reminisce on my musical journey in 2015 and look ahead to the rest of this year.
2015 was by far the most eye-opening years for me as an artist. At the beginning of 2015, I realized that if I wanted to be taken seriously, it had to start with me. I've been droppin tracks since 2010 but never really had any good mixing or aesthetic editing for them. On top of that, I never tried anything competitively in the Hip Hop arena aside from local open mics and performances in my city. Then I came across the online auditions for Team Backpack's Mission Underground Los Angeles 2015 event, and I knew I had to try it. I wrote my verse, did a video with my videographer home girl, sent in my submission, and the rest is history. In March, I got the word that I was accepted to compete in the live auditions and immediately set up a crowdsourcing campaign to fly my girl and I to LA. Reaching my fundraising goal in less than 2 months was honestly an accomplishment on its own. It was the first time I received any funding for my music and it was awesome to see how many true supporters I have. The buzz from my campaign and the entire MULA experience landed me my first on-air radio and TV interviews, bigger gigs in the Honolulu area, and a stream of music connections that continue to strengthen.
Secondly, vlogging was a big part of my life in 2015. It got exhausting to continuously shoot from my iPhone 5 but I think the quality and consistency was sufficient. I think if I do decide to vlog this year, it will be more organized and shot on a real camera. It was nice to share what it's like to live in Honolulu on a daily basis and for yall to see some of the back-end things that independent artists have to do like drop off merch to the post office and paying out of pocket and all that. Overall I believe vlogging was a rewarding experience.
Lastly, yall really dig the "Friday Feature" and "Track Tuesday" blogs I created on this website and that is definitely going to expand this year. Not to mention the fact that I have my own website now, which is really cool because I can make it whatever I want. Blogging is something I've always wanted to do and it is humbling to see that artists and their fans like to see what I'm writing. The artists I've covered have also expressed their gratitude for what I write about them and many also say that their impressed at how "academic" I can make Hip Hop sound (because it really should be taught in schools). Lol. I do have to say that I will start charging and/or taking minimal donations for my collaborative music projects and especially for my blogs this year. More info to come on that in the next few weeks though. Trust me, if I could do this for free I would, but like many of you I have bills to pay and skills that I can make some profit from.
Overall, I have so much to be thankful for. 2015 was filled with challenges- my car broke down so now I'm a public commuter, my girl and I had to get our wisdom teeth pulled out unexpectedly, and school was really a challenge this past Fall semester. However, I'm proud to say that I passed all of my classes included Calculus and Accounting, which are major courses as a business student. I'm glad that as a Marketing major, I'm able to use my academic and professional skills in my music plans and executions, along with being able to share my challenges and successes to my fellow professors and classmates because I use Marketing in music so prevalently. I'm more than thankful for the small but loyal following I have and I hope to grow my music network bigger and more strategically this year. Nothing would be possible without the grace of God, the support from my family and friends, and all of you. Peep my newest track above, got plenty more to come. Mahalo and Aloha.
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.