COPYWRITE at the Richmond (129 Peter), Saturday (May 14). $15. 416-204-9660. Rating: NNNNN
In hiphop, the subject of mommas is very sensitive. So I'm careful not to pry too much into Copywrite's family business when I catch the Columbus, Ohio-based battle-rap kingpin on his way from his mom's crib on Mother's Day.
Knowing Mr. Write, I realize that a wrongly posed question could have me on the business end of an ice-cold one-liner my grandkids could be feeling decades from now.
Deadly but hilarious zingers like his suggestion that rappers send their demos to Bob Saget ("Hell, you might even win 50 grand - go for it!") and countless other, much nastier lines from his 02 debut disc, The High Exhaulted, as well as older work with fellow Ohioan RJD2 as part of the MHz crew have placed him squarely in the ranks of vintage Canibus and Eminem.
His album, and Copywrite's continuous work on mixtapes (his most recent, Cruise Control Vol. 1, has moved 10,000 units in Canada in two months, he points out) have caught the ear of Jay-Z's handlers and a number of other music biz big cheeses.
Currently, Copywrite is transitioning from relative obscurity to mainstream renown. As a step, tomorrow he's in the studio finishing some new material for DJ Sickamore to mix and yell over. Sickamore, one of big-name producer Just Blaze's A&Rs, has done tapes for Snoop Dogg, Jigga and Making The Band outcast Dylan. The tape will be a good way to generate hype for the album he's saving his studio gems for while the industry fights over him.
Other indie rappers might scoff at the idea of seeking a major deal, but Copywrite says his plan to get big label backing is just common sense.
"I think if there's an artist who isn't interested in getting signed, then there's something wrong with him," he tells me over his cell. "If you don't want the most people who can appreciate your art to appreciate your art, then I don't know why you're doin' it."
Fine, but obviously those artists are wary of being pressured by suits to become the cheesy rappers they've been mocking for years. What makes Copywrite different?
"A lot of people get it immediately misconstrued. When somebody seeks a major-label deal, they confuse that with the idea that somebody wants them to conform, and somebody wants to water down their style and what got them their original fan base," he says.
"That's not what I wanna do. I look at getting that major deal and conforming as two different things. I'm not looking for a shitty deal. I'm looking for a deal where I have the majority of the creative control, you know? Everybody's gotta play by the rules and walk that tightrope, but I'm trying to put out music from the heart and soul, man. I'm not trying to kiss ass with a pen."