SP: There’s definitely still a Myspace page (chuckles). I hooked up with Nixon, who’s a great hip-hop engineer from GR and we made a tape called “Dummy Smacks”, and that was the introduction to “Poor Sports” w/ Sprite, Rello and him, that’s when we realized we actually have something we can work on. At that time mixtapes were super popular for people to jack beats and rap over them, the mixtape DJ game was real heavy at that time, so we just kinda did the same thing, so what I did was took 11 or 12 jacked instrumentals that I thought were clever or unique and then I wrote tracks to them, and then I asked several people to contribute original tracks to it, Raw Dog, Eastown J, my dude Mellow from California, La Famiglia, Rick Chyme… they all contributed solo tracks, meshing with these 12 other joints that I had, and we just jumbled it together and made “The Red Tape”.
By Guadalupe Olgine Jr.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Grand Rapids own, Sean Powell, aka SuPort isn’t smoking marijuana at this given moment, rather, he just took a seat in his basement, a music lab, of sorts, and can finally unwind after a long day. Besides working his job, and still recording music on the side, he’s been busy crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s for a show fast approaching; his show. It’s something he’s taken great pride in over the years, and an ironic testament to his selfless character, as the show isn’t even about him. It’s about everyone else. A 4/20 celebration, in it’s astounding 9th annual year, is easy to be labeled a success on that merit alone. However, while SuPort is appreciative of the, well, support, he’s never satisfied. While he may appear as just the tall, lanky, white kid on the Bricks, he has the work ethic of 1,000 illegal immigrants, and a passion for hip-hop rivaled by none. Surrounded by dozens of past 4/20 show fliers plastering his basement walls and crates of classic cassette tapes and CD’s, we got to chopping it up on GR music, sobriety, hockey, and what makes this show so special to him. Pour up some tea and roll ’em if you got ’em.
SF: We’ve heard chatters about an underground project that got you off the ground called “The Red Tape”, which can’t be found online, can you touch on that?
SF: So in 2007 or so is when you started taking music seriously, but for myself, your crown jewel is 2011’s Rocket Science. It feels like it came out yesterday, but definitely has that ‘timeless’ sound on it, the old-school hip-hop which can transcend generations.
SP: I can’t believe it’s been 6 years, it has that boom-bap sound to it, but that’s something we wanted to put on vinyl, and that lasts forever. We definitely aimed for longevity. After hearing our earlier projects like The Red Tape and Full of Shit, which was my first solo effort, my writing was getting stronger as well as production. I was working with Sir Manley and he was investing more into it. I could take more risks because I knew somebody would bring it to life.
SF: A lot of GR musicians fuck with Manley on the boards. Why do you think he’s so respected in the game?
SP: He’s got fantastic taste, and ability to discern between the right and wrong moves. All his projects just sound so good. It takes alot of meticulous times to get to that place and he clearly has an ear for it.
SF: A couple of my favorite tracks of yours are “Game Changers” and “Rick Snyder off “The 923 Sessions,” which was titled off your old address on Wealthy St. You don’t stay in Eastown anymore but do you have any favorite memories in particular about your time on the Bricks?
SP: Every moment of it. Because, when you live with other people that are mutually minded, that understand what making music is about, it’s just unique. People (I live with) now are like “what the fuck” because they don’t understand the grind and hustle of making music. I miss Eastown with all my heart but about 923 specifically, I miss the sense of community. Like, even if we weren’t, like, me, (Dante) Cope, Trav (Waylaa), even if we weren’t all working on the same thing, we all had the same mission, and that was comforting.
SF: Have you seen that house now? They renovated the fuck out of it.
SP: Yeah they turned it all into one house again, it’s beautiful. Fun fact about 923 (Wealthy) is, they condemned it before they even stepped inside. that’s how fucked up that house was. But it’s not what you have, it’s what you do with it.
SF: We recently ran into each other at the Jay and Silent Bob show at 20 Monroe live. A lot of it was talking about how Jay was basically blowing dicks for needles but now he’s clean they’re working together again. You recently became sober from alcohol and cigarettes, congratulations. Has that been difficult in a scene that correlates with bars and clubs?
SP: Two weeks into I had to be a a show, and everybody is passing me drinks, double fisting, like “let’s get fucked up!”. That put me to the test, but also put me over the hump. You re-train yourself how to be around certain types of people. In the restaurant industry and entertainment industry you’re always surrounded by drugs and alcohol, but after that night I knew I could do it. It’s nice focusing on music better, and watching your own back better, you can’t do that hammered.
SF: One of my favorite rappers growing up, Royce Da’ 5’9″ recently became sober after making a career out of drunken freestyles, turned around and released the best album of his career, in Layers.
SP: That’s a great example. I’ve seen him in his fucked-up state, attitude extra swaggy, abrasive, rude. Then you see him in his sober state and there’s like this clarity, this calm.. like monk state (chuckles), and it’s tremendous to see the difference. Originally I felt like (sobriety) was stifling my writing, because I was so used to sitting down writing with a bottle, blunts, pack of cigarettes, because when you’re drunk you take more chances, you just say shit and you don’t give a fuck about consequences. After time though you become yourself again though and can loosen up without (vices).
SF: People can usually catch you in a hockey jersey, or NHL cap. If you had to choose one, would it be hockey, or rap?
SP: I actually wanted to be in the NHL when I was a kid. I played around the clock, year round. Then I started smoking weed and my mom said “I’m not paying for this shit if you’re gonna act up!” So I got sent to a school that didn’t have a hockey team. The day I stopped playing hockey is the day I started rapping, actually. It broke my heart I couldn’t play but I always loved rap. It was always a big “Fuck You” to the system.
SF: I’d wax you on some NHL 95 with the Red Wings. What do you think of the new arena?
SP: If it was Genesis I’d get you! I’m saddened they didn’t make the playoff streak this year, but it’s still an amazing organization. The new arena is taking flack, I’ve heard Detroiters like “we’re just pushing $5 pizzas on the world now when half this inner city is obese”, and I understand that, but Little Ceasars has sponsored youth hockey programs for so long, since I was a kid. So it just seemed natural for me.
SF: So this 4/20 bash, is now in it’s 9th year in a row, incredible run. I read a statement from you in 2010 and the mantra was “to give showcase to artists that have bigger shows but want to support the local vibe as much as possible, everyone must bring their A-game, and serve as a positive representation of hip-hop. Is that mission statement still true to this day?
SP: Initially, most of my roots in the industry are hip-hop based, but I’ve always tried to have to Rock, or EDM, we’ve tried to keep it diverse as possible. I look at these posters behind you, and there’s like a dozen names on each one, honestly, it’s become quite a chore to find a venue, artists, ect, for each one, it’s not easy. Each time I’ve gotten better at organizing these things, but personally I’d rather not be in that position. I’d prefer to be involved as an artist, and not be involved with any of the business shit. But it’s definitely taught me about different venues, shows, and what parameters they want to work with, and be respectful.
SF: This year you have DJ Pyscho, Bootstrap Boys, Flexidecibal, DJ Ill One, and you hosting, and performing?
SP: Yeah I’m performing. It’s a smaller line-up this year, but if you sit there all night and get a new act every 10 minutes, it’s as not as fun as you might think it is, it’s a pain in the ass, so this year it’s like “fuck it, I’d rather just throw a party that people can have fun at”, and if anybody knows DJ Psycho, he’s guarantee’d to throw a party, he’s amazing. I’ve been fuckin’ listening to that dude since he was DJ’ing for Funkalenium at Billy’s and that was like ’05.
SF: Definitely one of my favorite DJ’s, The Detroit Techno Militia always brings it. One of the illest vinyl DJ’s, still cracks me up how he still DJ’s in his socks!
SP: I almost did flyer with just a picture of socks! But basically I looked at all these fliers behind you and said “who have I not brought here?” I wanted a good party, so with the Bootstrap Boys, Fleixidecibal out of Muskegon which is an 8-piece soul and funk band… I think just to get the country, rap, and dance music melding under one roof will be an epic time. I also have alot of cats coming to rock on my set, you know, the usual suspects.
SF: Were there any years of these 4/20 bashes that stood out in your head above others?
SP: It has landed on some weird days. It was Easter Sunday one year, that was a tough one that almost didn’t happen. But my homey Foster (Autopilot) from The Drunken Retort was like “naww, you gotta throw this party!” and linked up an event space and made it happen. One year, it fell on a Monday, so we held it at Billy’s for Bassbin. That was a great success as well. Next year I’m looking to have a resident venue, and I’d like it to look more like a “Jammies”. My thing is it always be on actual 4/20, which, after 9 years?? You can’t just stop at 9!
SF: How long do you see yourself doing this for? Is it something you want to be remembered for?
SP: If something crazy happened to me, I would hope somebody in my circle, or anybody period helps me carry on the tradition. We don’t do this for the usual teenage stoner shit. The real reason we started 4/20 is (venues) wouldn’t give us New Years Eve, or the night before Thanksgiving, Halloween, The 4th of July. So we basically had to come up with our own holiday. That being said, it doesn’t hurt weed has been decriminalized in GR. So is this something I want to be remembered by? Sure. That wasn’t my intention, but we gon’ keep this going forever.
SF: I’ve been to a majority of your past shows, I can attest they were always a good time.
SP: There’s been no real failures throughout the years with the 4/20 Bash, I just wish the community can be more open to hip-hop. Some venues at times, stifled us, like if you go to Chicago, you see venues are open to different things, and GR knows that, but they’re still scared to implement it.
SF: West Michigan is a weird place man, I’m not saying that negatively, it’s just different out here.
SP: Home of the Flouride, man, so everybody’s a little bit wacky.
You can catch SuPort throwing back some Yerba Mate, hosting his 9th annual 4/20 Bash at the Pyramid Scheme, with performances by The Bootstrap Boys, Flexadecibel, DJ Ill One, and DJ Psycho along with some other special guests.
The Pyramid Scheme
68 Commerce SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
$7 Advance, $10 Door.