By Guadalupe Olgine Jr.
- strong and barely controllable emotion.
- “a man of impetuous passion.”
noun: hip hop; modifier noun: hip-hop; noun: hiphop; modifier noun: hiphop
- a style of popular music of US black and Hispanic origin, featuring rap with an electronic backing.
If both of those nouns fornicated they would produce what most would call an unlikely spawn, in the form of a tall white man continually clad in hockey jerseys. Grand Rapids knows him. Eastown knows him. Hip-hop knows him, or rather, should I say, he knows Hip-Hop.
His name is Sean P, stage name SLPXRT, formerly SuPort, and his feet are rooted in this rap shit. Over 10 years deep in the game, he’s come a long way since his “Red Tape” days, which paved the way for underground GR Hip-Hop. 2011’s “Rocket Science” and the following “923 Sessions” with Dante Cope would once be considered his crescendo. He’s got relatable lyrics and steady flow over nostalgic boom-bap, which always wins over the die-hard Hip-Hop heads.
Fast forward. It’s 2018, and he’s been working this entire time.
One of SP’s crown jewels resides not on wax, but rather throughout a great performance and party. A decade deep into his annual
4/20 Celebrations, he continually brings the heat each and every year with a myriad of Artists from all around Michigan and beyond, for a celebration of music, people, and life. Who’s the best promoter without actually being a promoter? Dy-lan, Dy-lan, Dy-lan, Dy-lan, SLPXRT.
Besides his stunning 10th 4/20 Anniversary show, which is harder to orchestrate than one may think, SP is also releasing his new album ‘ready2try’ on the same night. See him in the street and he lives up to his moniker as “The Friendly Pedestrian.” On his newest cut however, he exposes his human side as well with sharp, witty lines and a perpetual “fuck you, I DO this” aura throughout. Life ain’t all roses and daffodils, and as friendly as he his, SLPXRT looks more in his comfort zone of rap more than ever. As they say in Mexican Cock-Fights, Cluck, or be Clucked at.
Back to the matter a hand, however. 10th. Annual. 4/20 show. In my best Yeezy voice *ahem* You know what this is…. It’s a celebration, bitches!
Jr: So I talked to last year about your 9th annual 420 show which, was almost a last minute project that meant the world to you that you could keep it going. Does this TENTH anniversary show mean even more to you?
SP: “Absolutely. The event itself has always been somewhat of a work in progress, and each year it’s really comforting as a artist myself to see who’s willing to show up and show out for us, all in the name of throwing a fun party.”
You’ve always said even way back when, you brought this as a showcase for artists to promote themselves, and bring dope music to people who may have not have heard it. That’s very admirable. Is the mission still the same? And also, do you find it easier to find artists to play these shows, now that you are, essentially, established in this format? Compared to when you first started booking these events.
“Overall, I’d have to say the mission’s still the same. And finding performers to come rock is easier than it’s ever has been in the underserved community of dope artists that reside within West Michigan and beyond. What’s a little more tricky is finding the appropriate venue to fit the lineups inside a bubbling music scene, within the ever changing landscape of GR nightlife. And I dont think it’s been an easier for me because of my previous history, as the relationships with these venues constantly need tending to, and it doesn’t necessarily always go your way as the road winds. I do have to say this year is working out in my favor, no doubt.”
Last year, when I talked to you, you had lamented how some years it has been truly difficult to find a venue and some years, it has happened last minute through connections, and even a bit of luck. This is your 4th 4/20 show at Billy’s in 10 years. As most people who know you know, Eastown aka The Bricks has always been your home turf. Was this Billy’s show by design or circumstance, or both?
“I would have to say circumstance, although there was a bit of wishful thinking involved.”
You have an insane line up of Michigan artists from all over the state with an array of unique styles, including but not limited to, D.R.E.E.M. Ent. and Thick As Thieves out of Saginaw, GR’s own and Wu-Tang affiliate Bronze Nazareth, WuZee, Tekh Togo, The SEVENth, and the legendary DJ Psycho out of Flint and Detroit Techno Militia, including more. Sounds like a great party indeed. How hard is it to assemble different people, from all over the place, and get them under one building for a night to rock out? I consider you an artist first, but your promoter game isn’t too shabby, I must say.
“When you have a decent track record of putting together shows for the right reasons (i.e. the music itself, instead of making a fast buck), getting people together is the easy part. Making sure they feel like they’ve been done justly is a bit more of a balancing act, all of which comes with time. The majority of the aforementioned artists are all people with whom I have some sort of history with in one form or fashion, so it’s just a matter of seeing who’s down, if they’re available, and whether or not I can accommodate their needs appropriately.”
A lot of people show up for the party, but don’t really know how much work goes on behind the scenes to put it on. You’ve seemed to take a good grasp on getting shit done. I hope you can enjoy yourself because besides being the 10th anniversary, it is also your record release party for your new album ready2ry. Did you time that on purpose? Seems like innate strategizing to me. You’re also under a new moniker SLPXRT, can you explain that as well?
“I actually intended to release ‘ready2try’ approximately 9 months prior, but due to some hiccups on the post production side of things, it wasn’t really ready until now. As the April 20 gig began to fall in place, releasing my project at the same time was sorta like the icing on the cake. As far as changing the spelling of my name from Suport to SLPXRT, that’s something I’ve been planning for a while now, waiting until I had a nice piece of work like ‘ready2try’ to help the transition along. Both of the spellings derived from my initials, with the new spelling to help save me from getting lost in internet search engines for the rest of eternity. Something tells me SLPXRT will work out better for me in that regards, even if it takes a little explaining to get people caught up to speed.”
I feel that. The timing happened to all work out, and SLPXRT is definitely more attention grabbing, visually. You treat each 4/20 show like your baby. Does this one feel even extra special, knowing you are 10 years strong AND you are releasing your brand new album the same night?
“It really does. I haven’t had much time to really reflect on it, but now that you mention it, I have to marvel at the fact that it’s my 10th consecutive year doing this, knowing at the same time that I’m currently writing, recording, performing, networking at levels far beyond where I was 10 years ago. I have moments where it genuinely feels like the hard work is paying off. And to my audience, the progress is a night and day difference from the beginning. To me that’s extra special fer sho.”
That’s a beautiful thing, as you’ve been a stable in GR hip-hop since your Red Tape and Rocket Science days, the latter aforementioned an underground classic. This album was solely produced by Newstalgia. One producer. 10 tracks. Was that justified by just viable chemistry? Or did you have other ideas? It’s very reminiscent of something akin to Nas’ Illmatic, short and to the point, or the more recent Prhyme albums with Royce and DJ Premier working in conjunction. How did this come to fruition?
“Well, I’ve been stockpiling material for many years now, whether it be for specific projects or for the love of the process. Throughout that time I’ve built relationships with several producers, amassing a trove of material. I’ve been working with Newstagia for a while now, but the majority of ‘ready2try’ was written within the past 2 years, along with like 30 others over his production. I just decided pick 10 of them, to not only test the waters and let people know I’m far from finished, but also to build some excitement for the 2 other SLPXRT & Newstalgia installments we look forward to following up with, that’ll have all the features, scratches, bells and whistles n stuff like that. And these are just my projects with Newstalgia. But his production is so clean that for me, trying to achieve ultimate efficiency with getting a polished product out, it was the natural choice. At the same time, I also wanted a project I could hit the road with, without having to get the whole band together for the experience. We have those songs too, and can apply those to our set lists whenever we feel appropriate, but sometimes as an emcee I want to be able to do my thing without exception and without relying on anybody else. Long story short, I’ve been strategizing my next few moves for a long time, and this is just another phase in the plan. Grateful as fuck to be able to work with producers of Newstalgia’s caliber.”
As far as cohesion wise, ready2try is on point. You’ve always been a positive person, in life and through lyrics, uplifting. On this album though we hear some shit talking. We can see you’re a human and it’s not all sunshine and daffodils. You are more outspoken, more human, and have a sharper flow and delivery. Do you attribute that to growth as an artist? Life situations, practice, or all of the above?
“I’d say a lot of both. The lines between being an artist and living as a human being on planet earth are beginning to disappear. Not that I’m trying to be some character in my music really, but my writing ability is allowing me to be more myself in a sense. The two voices are becoming one, you could say, they’re finally learning to cooperate hah!”
Are you a gemini? Welcome to the struggle of my life, hah!
“I’m a Cancer actually but I feel you.”
Ahh, intuitive and sentimental. Shows through your music. Anyways, you have a line in your new album, “respect the old school/ forget the most views, let your show prove/ skip trying to be famous” — Does that mindset affect who you invite to be a part of your annual 4/20 shows? I feel that lines are also blurred between people who do it for the love, and people trying to be famous/popular. A very thin, blurred line. The audience can usually tell the difference though. What do you think?
“I mean, at the end of the day, I can’t really tell other artists what they should do it for, and I can’t really trip on what people do and do not connect with from the audience. I may say lines like that for listeners who might care about my opinion on these types of things, but I mostly say those things for me. As a reminder to myself. Little mantras and affirmations for myself.”
Good point. Your album is much anticipated hearing it in advance it definitely continues carrying the torch in conceptualizing boom bap for the 2010s decade of GR hip-hop. With that being said. Ain’t no party like a Eastown party unless the Brickstreet Hooligans (Sprites, Rello, Eastown J, yourself) are involved. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen you all on stage. Do you guys have any surprises for us on the 420 show?
“At this point in the game, I hope nobody is surprised to see us going off at an occasion like this. It should be noted that Sprite has a long anticipated project on the way, with a producer by the name of 1980Seks, that is crazy with all the usual suspects in tow. We are all very excited for that as well.”
I heard your Bricks To Glory collab with him with 19080Seks. That project sounds great from what you say and what I’ve heard. His solo is much overdue. The GR Jadakiss IMO lol. Back to the 4/20 show though. People are profusely excited about this one in particular. What can you promise in your 10th annual 420 show and how long do you want to continue this celebration? You’ve cemented yourself, you can’t end it now, right? Or is this your swan song? 10 is a strong number.
“Well, I can’t tell you what the future holds exactly. What I will say is, is that if the title of my project is any indicator of where my head is at currently, then I anticipate all of this being a genesis of sorts for SLPXRT, and somewhat of a 2nd childhood for me.We just getting started. Life can be fragile though,, so I take it one day at a time.”
The 10th Annual 4/20 show is at Billy’s Lounge on the Bricks.
1437 Wealthy St SE Grand Rapids, MI 49506
$10 cover after 8 PM