ANTI-POP CONSORTIUM with Slit Slot at the Comfort Zone (480 Spadina), Saturday (December 1), 8 pm. $12 advance. 416-975-0909.
from the moment new york street poets Priest, Beans and Sayyid dropped their first abstract rhyme over an angular rhythm, Anti-Pop Consortium have been on a mission to upset the hiphop status quo. So far, they've failed. Despite recording and releasing some of the genre's most adventurous music during their four-year run, the group have had a negligible impact on the hiphop scene at large.
Of course, they're not entirely to blame that their excellent Tragic Epilogue (Ark75) was widely slept on and that their faces aren't routinely on the cover of The Source and XXL. Promotion is part of a label's job. So maybe licensing their Tragic Epilogue debut to an indie start-up like Ark 75 -- a label with no proven track record for breaking non-traditional hiphop acts -- wasn't such a brilliant move after all.
You'd think they'd have learned from their mistakes and sought out a label better connected with the hiphop community they need to reach with their follow-up. Evidently not. Their experimental new seven-track disc, The Ends Against The Middle, has just been released by UK-based electronica clearing house Warp, better known for bleepy Aphex Twin indulgences than for hiphop.
Yet instead of being concerned about how Warp plans to get their music into the racks of neighbourhood hiphop shops in Brooklyn and the Bronx -- where Polygon Window CDs have never gone before -- the Anti-Pop posse sound thrilled to be the subjects of a trial-and-error experiment in urban marketing.
"Warp is a really forward-thinking label," explains Beans from New York. "Most of the artists involved are trying to expand their genres like we're trying to expand ours, so it made sense. Our being on Warp isn't really much of a stretch.
"They took a chance, thinking they could do something with our record, so why not?"
Well, as the Arsonists discovered when their As The World Burns debut for Matador tanked, there's a huge difference between a roomful of go-getters "thinking they could do something" and a seasoned team of hiphop-savvy professionals with the knowledge of what it takes to sell hiphop in North America and the machinery in place to get the job done.
When was the last time you saw Plaid on the cover of Vibe or an Autechre video on BET? Exactly.
"If we're a non-traditional hiphop group, I don't see why we should go through traditional channels to get our stuff across."
Good point. But how does Anti-Pop propose to get its music to the people who count?
"You do that by making great music and putting it out there," states Beans with a naivete that's as charming as it is confounding.
In an ideal world, the best music would be the most popular, but, sadly, that just isn't the way things work in real life.
The real concern for Anti-Pop Consortium should be, who will know their recordings are available, and will they be interested in listening?
"The people who want to hear our music are receiving it, and they appreciate what we do."