Worcester has a deep history of Hip Hop as well as a flourishing future. With Joyner Lucas being one of the biggest names in Hip Hop, Worcester keeps showing up on the radar as a bright green blip. Stanton Capitol Recordings is a big local act that has turned into a movement with their continued community outreach (and their undying musical talents). With their big year in 2021 full of releases from the group as a whole, I can only imagine what is in store for 2022. They have already kicked off a show with Akrobatik and released a few singles.
With Stanton Capitol Recordings being a seed that has sprouted from the Worcester Hip Hop community; it is only fitting that we tell the story about how this large city embraced Hip Hop with a little history lesson.
Worcester Hip Hop History:
In 1979, a former New York native Francisco Torres moved to Worcester while bringing a new tape of the Cold Crush Brothers and he shared it with his cousin, Willie Martinez. It may have seemed like a normal interaction between two reuniting family members, but this may indeed be the pinnacle moment that ignited the development of Worcester's link to the ever-expanding Hip Hop culture.
Torres had quite a bit of knowledge when it came to the Hip Hop Community forming in New York but this was Willie's first encounter with it. As soon as the sound hit his ears and entered into his ear canal, he knew this was something he wanted to be apart of for the rest of his life. They soon after took up the stage names as Willie D. and Mr. Sweet becoming Worcester's first known rappers. They wrote rhymes to Cold Crush Brothers beats and performed at parties that Torres says, "We basically turned Worcester on to Hip Hop."
Shaun Benson, who currently performs as DJ Sun, said that once "Rapper's Delight" hit the airwaves in 1979, so many more people took to Hip Hop and fell in love with it and wanted to be a part of this new genre of urban music. Young people already took to Soul and Funk music and Hip Hop was just an extension of those genres, so it was easy for the younger generation to take to the liking of Hip Hop.
DJ Sun furthered the party atmosphere that was already flourishing and is accredited with furthering the culture by being the first DJ to add cuts and scratches to the mixes of the two turntables. With all this going down in the community, Hip Hop grew and spread like a wildfire. New artists were coming out of the wood work like; the Furior Three, DJ Chris Davis who performed as Kool Chriss, The Destination Crew, and the W.E.C. Connection.
Worcester is linked to New York City by the immigrants from Jamacia and Peurto Rico who left New York to settle in Worcester. These families still had family that stayed in New York City so there was a constant cultural pipeline that flowed between them. In the 80s, no matter where you were in the city, there was always music playing, breaking, rapping, singing, and beatboxing going on. There was always a block party going on.
An artist by the name of Kaz Supernova explains how Worcester was left in an experimental state due to being isolated because the bigger city, Boston was the one getting all the attention. But since the beginning, Worcester didn't change really, they stuck to the New York style versus the Boston one. And being isolated, it led to a lot of difference in each artists sound. No one sounded the same and everyone embraced their own brand of creativity. Where neighborhood gang related rifts existed, Hip Hop created a unity that brought these people together to do music.
It slowly grew to a generational birthright, older generations would light the flame of interest into their youthful generations and they too took on what became a tradition of making Hip Hop music (with help from a migrated member in K'Nen who is from Philly originally).
Interview of SCR - Part One - Danny Fantom:
TPT: How did you all get together? What was the defining moment when y'all knew that you were all onto something great?
Danny Fantom: So Jafet and I had connected initially and he introduced me to K maybe a year or so after we started hanging out. At first, we were just shooting basketball and smoking blunts before we ever really started talking or intending to make music together. I would say after the beats and barbecue set was when I knew that we had real chemistry on stage and that we could really take this thing as far as we pleased having K part of the mix just added to the arsenal so to speak, but it wasn't until much later after we had all initially met that we formed SCR.
TPT: Where was "Stanton Capitol Presents: Volume 1" recorded? What was the deciding factor for you guys to choose that studio over others?
DF: We recorded Volume 1 at Surefire Studios with the master engineer Brady. S/O to him. I believe Jafet had a couple solo sessions over there for some stuff he was working on and after sitting in and listening to the end product we all came to an agreement that it was just a fruitful and conducive environment to what we were doing full of professionalism and expertise that he offered was second to none.
TPT: How do you guys come together and formulate the ideas for each song? Explain to the readers the process and how you guys developed your process and what makes it unique to your musical process versus doing your solo thing?
DF: So it was almost like a workshop environment when it came to the songwriting whether it was someone individually coming to the group and saying hey, I have a concept for this song or this is what this beat makes me feel. It was really a organic vibe and because Gianno, K., and Jafet were living together; it made it really easy to work on music when everyone was home or even if it was just a couple of us there. It was almost like instead of sitting down to watch a sports game or play a video game, we would sit down and play some beats or work on a concept we had already started.
TPT: How did you guys get that digital billboard up in Time Square, New York? That must've been a cool moment seeing that up there; that's pretty major.
DF: The billboard was part of a promotional run that we had brokered through Domingo and his marketing company, Media Famous. It was definitely a surreal moment and I'm glad that we were able to make the trip down there and soak up the experience as a unit.
TPT: How did you guys come about selecting the producers of the beats for this project? Was it all people you already knew, or did you guys search them out through beat diving on social media outlets, how did it come together?
DF: So the beats were almost entirely produced by K, with some contributions from 8bza, Big ES, and DNA beats (I could be missing someone or misspeaking so don't quote me on the second part lol). The idea was and still is to mostly produce and put out content that comes from in-house so any outside sources that we utilize are because we know and f*** with them on a certain level.
TPT: How do you guys go about promoting your group? Does one of you guys spearhead your campaigns on getting the word out or do you all help with the process? I guess too, what roles do you guys play from behind the scenes, like singularly? Do you guys have a manager even?
DF: So most of the promotion is just through word of mouth and in day-to-day life. Anyone that knows me either slightly or in a major way knows that I've been doing music for almost half my life at this point so being a part of a group allows me to put my fan base onto the rest of the group. The only marketing campaign that we ever utilized again was through Domingo and his outlet Media Famous. We currently don't have a manager but at this point in the game, I think we are all pretty capable at handling the business side of what we are doing. As far as roles, we all kind of wear a bunch of hats all three of us are pretty good with graphic design and general fashion as well as having connections to promoters, shows, collaboration, and creative direction etc.
TPT: How do you guys go about getting your shows? What is the setlist like (when you perform together), is it all songs from "Volume One" or do you guys throw in solo songs? Do you guys just play your more popular songs or the songs you like best or do you just mix it up?
DF: So as far as shows, it's really just a matter of keeping our eyes and ears open to the opportunities around us and having connections with people who put together solid shows and getting the alley-oop from them when they know it's a vibe that we can help contribute to. As far as the setlist, whether we are together or separate, we just try to captivate the vibe of the night and put together a set that will resonate with the crowd. Most of the time. We will do group joints as well as solo joints mixed in.
TPT: What's the hardest thing about keeping the unity together and staying on the same page? How do you guys go about keeping the communication lines always open with each other? Do you guys hang out a lot outside of the music?
DF: I think the hardest thing about staying on the same page is just that we are all grown men and we have separate lives to tend to so a lot of the time it's not always easy to meet up or have a creative session together, but that's where technology comes into play where we can always at least text each other and we all generally speak every day. So the communication line is always open. I would say we see each other at least once a week for the most part.
TPT: As a group, what are your ambitions when it comes to music? How far do you want to take it? Like do you have any ambition to seek out a record label and if so, would it be a major or like a Loud Records (Wu-Tang style) total control type a deal? What would they have to offer you for you to accept?
DF: I can't really speak for the ambitions of the group aside from knowing that we all want to tour. I think it's safe to say that a US as well as a European tour are both things that we have on our minds constantly when we're creating music and when we are together. As far as connecting with a label or anything like that, I believe it would just have to make sense for all of us. But right now, what makes the most sense is remaining independent and being able to control our destiny that way. For me, they would have to make us an offer that we couldn't refuse to be honest. And again for me, I would want full control of my catalog and NO restrictions because at the end of the day we are artists and we're not just another cog that's meant to fit into a machine.
TPT: Are there a lot of shows coming up now that the Covid closures are over or are you guys just taking it slow and concentrating on the next phase of projects, which hopefully includes a volume two? What is your main focus moving forward with your new projects and shows?
DF: We have a few shows coming up but more or less we are taking things as they come as well as working on our own individual projects and Volume 2. Very excited to put out another project like Volume 1 because I believe that album specifically is a monumental body of work. I think our main focus right now is to push through and get Volume 2 done now that we have all released a bunch of solo music before, during and after Volume 1.
Well, that was fun, thanks very much to Danny Fantom for taking the time out to do this interview. We all look forward to Vol. 2 and all the solo projects that will be surfacing in the future. Part 2 of the interview will be coming out soon, featuring K'Nen's point of view...peace out!
Reference for Worchester Hip Hop History: