Above: Schenectady rapper Chris Cool Peeples will perform Friday. Photo: Tyree Sutton
Local artist, sound engineer and booking agent Brian Chiappinelli, co-founder of the label Almost Never Dead, has organized a lineup of local hip hop acts to perform at The Low Beat in Albany July 25.
This will be the first show organized by Almost Never Dead in several months.
“I plan for there to be a lot more,” Chiappinelli says. “I’m also going to be doing a lot with Bad Mothers and other stuff for myself and other artists.”
More curated than a traditional hip hop showcase, Almost Never Dead’s “Best Damn Rap Show” features locally established artists such as Chris Cool Peeples and OHZHE, who has recently started to work with Chiappinelli in his studio, as well as new, up-and-coming artists like the seven-member rap collective Untouched.
“We just expanded our Distrokid to a label Distrokid so we could add other artists to it,” he says, referring to a central uploading site allowing artists to distribute their music across streaming sites such as iTunes, Google Play, Tidal and Spotify.
Chiappinelli says the label plans to work with and release music from many more local artists in the area. Friday’s show will be a good reintroduction of the label and the talents they work with.
“I’ve worked with them in different capacities, I know their reputation and I know their talent. They can perform well. These are people who really want to share their music and are helpful in promoting the show.”
Encouraging the artists to promote both themselves and the event plays a big part in making the show a reality. Chiappinelli offers more of an incentive for artists to make a face to face connection with their audience by selling their own portion of tickets. Through Almost Never Dead shows, artists make commission on their tickets, splitting overall sales 50/50 with Chiappinelli, who has to book the venue and sound engineer.
“It’s good because you establish your value as an artist,” he says. “You make sure people know what to pay you. Venue owners and bar owners look at a show as: Are you going to bring people out to spend money in my bar? Will I make money because this artist is here? Should I be giving them money to make money? It’s an investment for them, they’re expecting a crowd. There’s also the side of, you’re there and you’re working, you’ve been working on the set for a long time and you should get paid for it. Adding promo work to what you do isn’t necessarily what you want as an artist but it gives you a chance to make money and self-promote. You build a steady following of people who will come out to see you and venues will eventually just know that you bring people out. It’s direct support.”
In addition to rap acts that include Rhakim Ali and Mic Lanny, the eclectic Best Damn Rap Show will include beatmaker Soo Do Koo, R&B singer Clare Promise and Brooklyn artist Sunny Picasso, who is performing on the Almost Never Dead bill through an exchange program of sorts.
Picasso is on the independent label Roundtable Records in Brooklyn, throwing curated and highly organized shows every month at the Star Bar and Gold Sounds that sell out more often than not.
“We’re doing a show swap with some of the artists I work with,” Chiappinelli explains. “That’s more of what I’m trying to do with the collective—move groups around and develop relationships with people in different areas. All of [the Roundtable] shows in the city are sold out. A small move like that gets my group of people a sold out show in the city. A little back and forth is good.”
Catch Almost Never Dead’s notable lineup of lyricists and beat makers play The Low Beat in Albany on Friday, July 25. $10.