The focus of this edition of our Local Talent Spotlight series is Hip Hop artist Eark. His initial offering was a Mixtape entitled Eark Over Everything released last year. With titles like “I’m So Kerby” the kid isn’t bashful about his gang ties. He was born into the life, but his pedigree doesn’t have to determine his trajectory.
I’ve noticed his renewed focus on the music business and I think he’s starting to see the possibilities.
503tv: For those that may not be familiar with you or your “Eark Gang” movement can you give us a little introduction?
Eark: I’m from Portland Oregon Kerby street to be exact. Eark Gang ain’t no gang we more like ah family, day ones only #EG Everlasting greatness.
503tv: Looks like you’ve joined Mikey Vegaz & Fliboi Moe as the third artist on Pyrex Media. How has working with them helped you as an artist?
Eark: It’s been great working with Mikey Vegas, we dropped a video like 6 months ago called “Murder Me” and we got a song with Nef Tha Pharaoh if you haven’t heard it check it out on YouTube. For me and Moe we just dropped ah video called “Out the Bitch” ft Messowe. It was shot by Conner Limbocker aka Filthiest Productions. You will hear features from Mikey Vegas and Moe on Eark Over Everything Pt2.
503tv: You’ve dropped one mixtape, Eark Over Everything and it’s getting some good reviews. What was your inspiration for the mixtape and how does it feel to know the world now has access to your art?
Eark: I dropped ma very first video last year Called “10 Brands” and it’s doing stupid numbers right now it’s at like 64k. Check it out if you haven’t already but seeing that let me know I had it and I see everybody on every social media slapping ma shit. Makes me wanna keep coming with it an that’s what Ima do.
503tv: You are young with a lot of potential but also, admittedly very active in the streets. How far would you like to take this music thing?
Eark: I’m tryna take it as far as it can go not too many people could be able to speak for that section but I know I do .The streets is always gone be there I’m on this music but Ima always be me when it come to any situation!!!!
503tv: Name a Portland artist that you’ve never worked with but would like to collab with and why?
Eark: I ain’t really looking for nobody in the town to do ah song with I’m just really tryna perfect ma craft right now!!!
So there you have it. Another young brotha full of potential. Be sure to support his music and rock out with him on social media. Shot out to his pops Big Eark. Because of him, my older cousins and uncles I was able to maneuver in these streets with no problems. By maneuver.. I mean go to class and play sports 🙂 #EarkGang
In March of 2014 we brought you a message from Alan Bell who at the time was an inmate at Columbia River Correctional Institution. We were working on a documentary on recidivism and the impact it has on the families of those locked away and the community as a whole. The project is a work in progress but here’s a short clip where we combined Alan’s previous interview with one of his lady Becca recorded prior to his release.
I am truly excited to bring our readers this man’s first interview since his return to the Rose City. I first encountered Libretto in Matt Dishman Community Center’s weight room. He was one of those brothas that you might get a head nod from, or possibly a fist bump, but certainly not someone you would walk up to between sets to engage in chit chat. Not to say he was or isn’t approachable, he just went about his work with such focus and intensity that you knew interrupting his flow for trivial conversation was prohibited. It felt like you really had to have something profound to discuss with this man, which in hind site makes sense considering the content of his rhymes.
I wasn't surpised at all to learn that he was a skilled and accomplished emcee. If he employed the same focus to his craft as he did his workouts this man was a problem! I imagined him in a dark room with only the faint glow from the bulb of a shade-less lamp filling notebook after notebook with precision bars.
After a long hiatus, I, like many others were left wondering if we’d heard the last of the Slum Funk Beast. Fortunately for us all he blessed us with this interview to separate the man from the myth and continue his journey to legendary.
503tv: For those that may not be familiar with you can you give them a short introduction?
Libretto: Indeed… my name is Libretto aka Bretto or Kokanut Brown… ha ha. I am a Portland, Oregon transplant originally from Watts, California… I landed here in the late 90’s.
1/5th of the Hip-Hop Super Group the mighthy Misfit Massive. Which includes myself, Rev. Shines, Wolveryne, Sly Da brown Hornet and the Lifesavas.
My debut release was a 12″ single on BSI/One Drop Recordings in 2001-2002, entitled “Dirty Thangs B/W “Alma-Mater”. My debut LP “Ill-oet….The Last Element” was released in 2004 on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak Records, I was the first Hip-Hop artist to sign to the label as an artist.
The 12″ single “Volume” was released prior to Ill-oet in 2003 and was featured on Tony Hawks “Thug Underground 2” skateboard video game.
503tv: You left the scene in the midst of creating great music. Would you care to explain your absence?
Libretto: Absolutely…. After completing the recording of my unreleased sophomore lp “Captain Crook….Snatchin’ Crumbs and All.” I was in the Bronx, NYC visiting some family and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, got jammed up by the New York Pricks and Dicks aka NYPD and was booked on Armed Robbery charges…. after a week on the infamous Rikers Isle. I was released on bail, came back to Portland due to my court dates being months apart…putting the finishing touches on my LP not knowing the outcome of my future with this case.
On Nov.5th 2010 I flew back to the Bronx to go to court and the FBI picked up the case and detained me. Wanting me to cooperate with them so they can rail road my first cousin, on “Master Mind” charges they wanted to compile to get him 25 to a Life sentence, I declined and took a plea deal for 61 months. I served 4.5 years in Federal Prison and just got released on May 5th of 2015.
See #Free Libretto Documentary for more details.
503tv: Any thoughts on the current state of the Portland Hip Hop scence?
Libretto: The scene is very vibrant, lots of new artist and talent. I think the creative capabilities in the town are numerous, but tapping in to that source of energy to create a sound is key for the the city of Roses.
503tv: What are you currently working on that the fans can look forward to?
Libretto: I have currently just finished recording a project for Liquid Beat Records entitled “Gangsta Jazz 2:The Album” We are in the process of mixing it down and gettin it ready for release on audio cassette and free digital download.
After that, the loooong awaited release of my sophomore album “Captain Crook….” is prepared for release on Th3ory Hazit’s WetWork label.
With a new remix and video of the already released 12″ single “Ride to Dat” Feat. Guilty Simpson along with “Good For Me” Feat. Vursatyl of the Lifesavas.
503tv: At this point in your career what if anything do you feel you have yet to accomplish?
Libretto: Ummmm, hmmmm I would say a world tour, a series of videos…ha ha. At this point in my career I still havent shot a video yet. ha ha…. which is crazy! Other than that, just moving at least 100,000 plus units independently and making the a dent in the mainstream with pure, uncut, raw Hip-Hop Rap music. We got seeds to water beloved, and the corporate music world is supposed to be out for the money, but there is a responsibility to the children as well. We gotta put big budgets behind good music, not just “hot” music with no moral.
>>There you have it. Thanks again to Libretto for blessing us with his time. I for one am juiced that he’s back on the scene and look forward to his new content. Take a listen to his Stay FocusedEP below and be sure to like his Facebook Fanpage and stay connected.
Sekoynia Wright moved to Portland in the summer of 2009. She moved here to try something new and on her own. She learned about KBOO Community Radio from a fellow KBOO volunteer family member and have been volunteering at the radio station since 2010. Overall….She’s been in community radio since 2007. The radio show she has on KBOO is called EarToTheStreets of Portland and it airs every first and third Thursdays every month (every other week basically)….starting at 7:00pm.
Sekoynia and I sat down in the KBOO studios on this sunny Sunday afternoon and had a great conversation. Her energy was easy going yet passionate, speaking to her was like talking to an old friend. I’d like to thank her for the opportunity to share 503tv with her listeners and I look forward to collaborating in the future.
We’re happy to have had the chance to interview the Guyana-born Champagne Duane. Raised in Florida, he relocated to Portland to pursue his artistic gifts. Prior to the release of his album I thought this would be a great time to introduce him to our viewers.
503tv: For those that may not be familiar with you can you tell them a little about you?
Duane: Well, I’m a Portland transplant originally from Florida. Shoutout to Dade County! I moved out here 9 years ago for the footwear industry to fulfill one dream of becoming a shoe designer. I’ve worked for several brands and designed for a number of athletes, namely Dwyane Wade. I got back into music about 3 years ago. It started off as just entertainment, but I started feeling the growth, and it made me feel like I should keep going.
503tv: You came onto my radar when one of your supporters submitted your “Worst” remix video featuring Elin Skei. That post got hundreds of hits on day one, many of which from overseas. Any idea why it’s such a hit internationally?
Duane: Part of that may have to do with the following in Europe I picked up due to TF-1’s involvement in Vegas Baby 2. TF-1 is France’s largest TV station. Elin’s also got international ties as well. She and I have an EP coming out Friday the 13th before Valentine’s Day.
503tv: You’re dropping your first full project this year. Tell us a little about it and why we should be checking for it?
Duane: My album is called ‘A Toast’ and it’s basically a salute to the sounds that inspired me growing up. Anyone who grew up in the 90s is a huge fan of some really classic hip-hop. So as a fan, I wanted to tribute and contribute to the music that shaped me. My influences are pretty clear. I’ve also got some exciting features on the project from amazing local talent like Jonny Cool, Jarrod Lawson and Saeeda Wright to some more known artists like Big Pooh and Talib Kweli- who sits comfortably in my top 5. But ‘A Toast’ is going to have something everyone can relate to. I think it really shows my versatility. Be prepared to move though.
503tv: If you could collab with any NW artist who would it be and why?
Duane: Sir Mix-a-Lot. I like big butts too… On a serious note, there’s lots of talent in Portland I rock with. I’m ready to work with anyone out here. Let em all know.
503tv: Where would you like to see your music career in five years time?
Duane: In general, I just want to get to a point where I’m consistent, evolving, and still inspired. Specifically, tons of radio play obviously, international shows and collaborations with some of my heroes. I’d like to have created my own brand of hip hop, where I can always make what works for me and not rely on what the current trend is.
Blossom is someone that has come onto my radar fairly recently with the release of her single “Jah Bless” Produced by SHK THT. That first impression left me wanting to hear more and that wish was granted with the release of her EP Eclectic Garden. I wanted to catch up with Blossom in the midst of such positive momentum and introduce her to our readers.
503tv: For those that don’t know, who is Blossom?
Blossom:I am a neo-soul- jazz influenced r&b singer song-writer! Whoo! Say that 3 times fast. I was the lead player in a steel band orchestra with my family for years. I used to be a ballet/jazz dancer – started back up singing for money and was in a girl group for a year in LA until the city tried to steal my soul. Moved back home and started over.
503tv: I understand you’re from Trinidad. How does that influence your music? How the hell did you end up in Oregon?
Blossom: My dad moved up here when I was a baby for work. He played in a steel drum band with my aunt and uncles as the drummer and met my step-mom at Saturday market. Cute right. They came for me when I was 5 – on Easter actually- and I’ve been living here on again off again ever since.
503tv: What can fans look forward to from you in the near future?
Blossom: So much music! It never stops. While working on my EP I met with a lot of musicians that were interested in making moves and we started working long before my EP was done . Id rather be working on a million things at once. I work better under pressure. I know what I want to say and how I wanna say it. I need people to know i’m a girl of action striving to be a woman of product. I will be making silent mistakes and showing you the lessons I’ve learned through my songs. The only fear I have is living with regret- I just won’t do it.
I feel like people weren’t expecting it- in all the right ways. It was different enough for them to respect what I was doing. People that listened to the whole project are like “ahhhh ok I get it” it’s pretty much a musical. Shout out to my big brothers Stewart Villian, Neil Von Tally and SHK THT for the beats. Ya’ll rock.
503tv: Any words of encouragement for the many starving artists of the Northwest and beyond?
Blossom: Well since I’m still starving id say “SHARE WITH EACH-OTHER” I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere with my project if it was for the help and generosity of other starving artist. You scratch my back I scratch yours. This city is small – we should have each others backs way more then we do. Why you wanna leave the city or take your talents outside the city when you can do the same shit in your city. Be a part of making your city be that place. I’m tryna do it big out here. Portland is dope as shit , ya’ll just gonna wait for someone else to realize that? Stop fucking with these venues that don’t give a fuck about your music and sound quality.
#SUPPORTTHEUNDERGROUND . Musicians in General should stop being worried about their music being played and people hearin it and more worried about putting on a quality show that’s worth hearing. I got very lucky to be working with Creatives that are about perfecting their craft and concerned about the message they are putting out there.
Thank you for giving us your time Blossom, we look forward to watching you leave your mark on the music scene world wide but especially here in the City of Roses.
“That’s Mook bruh!” was my guy Dre’s response when I asked who that was gassing in his car stereo. That day we slapped Mook’s mixtape on repeat and I became a fan of the spitter. Here we are a few years removed from that car ride and I wanted to check in to see what’s been good with Mook lately.
503tv: For those that aren’t familiar with you can you give us a little background on you and your rap career?
Mook: Well i’m most def not new to the music industry I’ve been around in the shadows on the underground scene. In 2003 I featured on a record produced by Missy Elliot signed with Jamma records owned by Joe Jackson. In 2004 I ventured out on my own working with crush records then signed to odds records in 2007 writing & producing the group album Dem Boyz . Now I started my own entertainment company called Cash Over Everything. working with Bmaja engineering on my current projects coming out.
503tv: Looks like you’ll be heating up the winter with a mixtape dropping December 14th followed by your album in January. What can fans expect from your new projects?
Mook: My fans can expect nothin but the best out of me & real feel good music that’s going to impact our region.
503tv: From your social media activity you seem to be supportive of most music coming out of Portland but is there anyone in particular that you’re especially feeling?
Mook: Well the artists I been really working wit most is Bj the Voice aka Struggle, illmaculate, Don Kapone, Myke Bogan, Vinnie Dewayne, T Dot Tyme, Non-Stop, Lex Luger produced a track and plenty of more hot artists.
503tv: If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive who would it be?
Mook: If I could work with anyone rite now I would say is Bosko & e40.
503tv: Aside from your projects dropping soon, what can we expect from you going forward?
Mook: Aside from my mix tape & album dropping I have an upcoming clothing line called cash over everything coming real soon And I also am sponsoring my son line its an non profit organization called Prince Geavano in honor of heart disease & awareness so there is much to see coming from Mookaveli so be on the lookout!
We’d like to thank Mook for his time, I’m juiced for his upcoming mixtape and album and you can bet we’ll be posting that fire on 503tv The Blog.
If you’re a reader of our blog then there is a good chance that you’re familiar with Ray “Lightning Jr” Lampkin also known as our Hood Super Hero. Ray’s story is somewhat cliché when it comes to the black community. Super talented kid from the hood excels at sport, gets complacent, loses drive, falls in with bad crowd yada yada, we know how that story ends. Fortunately for Ray and the city of Portland his story is still being written. He got his life together, got in shape and is currently undefeated as a pro. One of my proudest moments was watching my guy do work on ESPN.
The champ relocated to Florida by way of Arizona to conduct his training with some of the best in the sport. I’m excited to say he’ll be headed home to fight for the Jr Welterweight NW Title on November 7th at Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville Oregon. He’ll be the main event for “Fight Night.” The 503tv crew, our friends and family will be in attendance and we want to invite our readers to join us. I caught up with the man during a break from his training to ask a few questions.
503tv: How has your training camp been?
Ray: Training Has been great.. working out really hard and training alongside World Class fighters.. Working with a New Staff of coaches Coach Gil Gastelum outta Tucson Arizona, Coach Herman out of Miami Florida with his world class boxing program
503tv: I know you love the City of Roses, has taking your show on the road been tough?
Ray: Traveling the world has been kinda difficult being away from family, my kids i’ve been in states where i have no family members. .. its times i be lonely and question my decision to leave home.. But its a sacrifice that i have to make to get where i need to be and to be able to provide for my kids later in life…
503tv: You’re headed back home to fight for a title in front of your family and friends. What type of things are going through your head?
Ray: Coming back home for a fight is great for my family and friends to see me in action before i take a long journey on the road for my career and at the same time me personally its kinda nerve racking with the possibility of losing or getting caught with a lucky punch… But at the same time it ignites me to work hard and train like i never have in my life..
Here we have this young man in one of the most masculine sports and yet he is still confident enough to be open about his doubts and fears. Kinda hard not to like this guy right? Ray you are more prepared physically and mentally than you have ever been! I know you want to put this dude to sleep in front of your people but don’t take too many unnecessary risks. Go out there and execute your game plan and you will be victorious!
[Editor’s note: I made a conscience decision not to mention Ray’s pedigree because he has earned his own respect in the boxing world. However, it helps to know that he was born for this!]