|Label:||Rare Unlimited Music|
|Next Project:||Attack of the Blogs (Pt. 2)|
|Twitter:||AC on Twitter|
In the online promotion game, there are innovators and there are innovators. Back in ‘08, when most emcees were busy dropping mixtapes, series, mixtape series and series mixtapes, “I Got Head In The DJ Booth” up-and-comer AC came up with something entirely new: the first ever mixtape scavenger hunt. Leaking 20 all-original freestyles to hip-hop blogs and sites across the ‘net, the Staten Island rapper challenged listeners everywhere to collect ‘em all, promising fabulous prizes to those who managed to assemble the full tracklist.
Seeing the tremendous fan response to last year’s Attack of the Blogs mixtape/contest, AC began preparations for a sequel that would be exponentially bigger, better, and more rewarding than its predecessor. Hosted by DJ Clinton Sparks Attack of the Blogs Part 2, is coming this Friday, the 29th. This time around, listeners who visit all 20 participating sites (including DJBooth.net!) and collect each exclusive freestyle will be eligible to win a whopping $1,000 gift certificate to online streetwear retailer Karmaloop.com, or one of 19 other exciting prizes (check out parts one and two of AC’s “Get Familiar with AotB” PSA series for more details).
In an exclusive interview with our own DJ “Z,” AC steps into the Booth to discuss the difficulty Staten Island rappers face in escaping the Wu-Tang‘s sizable shadow, what major labels don’t understand about the importance of blog-based promotion, and his post-AotB2 musical plans.
Listen to the Interview
AC Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy, “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Staten Island native whose “New Soul” is just what the doctor of the rap game ordered. Gearing up for Attack of the Blogs Part 2 this Friday, May 29th, please welcome Booth regular, Mr. First-Letter-Third-Letter, AC! How you doin’, my friend?
AC: Yeah! What’s up, baby, what’s up, Z? How’s everything?
DJ Booth: Everything is great. Thank you for joinin’ me inside the Booth, my friend.
AC: No problem, anytime.
DJ Booth: Last our readers heard from you, you were busy getting’ “Head In the DJ Booth.” So, have things been good since?
AC: Oooh! You know, I had to come with a special freestyle for DJBooth.net, I had to come with something that mentioned the site in the title, and put it in the hook, [over] that Swizzy beat. I wanted to do something original. I got a little hate for it but it’s good, man, I liked it.
DJ Booth: I don’t even care what anybody else says, you’ve got fans over here; don’t listen to all the haters.
AC: Yeah, what do you need? You need another emcee goin’ up there, talking about what they’re doin’ in the streets? No, you need something original, you need something including the site’s name. It’s a promo tool, so that’s what we’re here for.
DJ Booth: Exactly. Before we get into the main reason why we had you jump inside the Booth for this interview today, let’s give our listeners and our readers a little history lesson on AC. On a scale of one to 10—we’re talking 10 being the greatest childhood ever imaginable and 1 being just a crappy-ass childhood—how would you rate your upbringing, and how it made you arrive at this point right now?
AC: Oh, I had a great childhood, I can’t even complain. We grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, it’s about 20 minutes from where I live in Staten Island right now. The neighborhood wasn’t the best—I’m not gonna sit here and say that I haven’t experienced certain things. There’s parts of Brooklyn that aren’t that good, and Sunset Park is not the greatest neighborhood. Starting high school, I moved up to Staten, and my folks wanted to give me and my brother a better life and move kinda to the burbs a little bit. I don’t know if you can call where we moved to the burbs… [My childhood] was definitely better, it wasn’t as bad as a lot of other people’s and I definitely can’t complain, but I’ve been through some struggles and I’ve seen a few things, lost a few people. But I’ve got to say, it was a good childhood.
DJ Booth: Okay, so ‘10?’
AC: We’re gonna say 10, just because I’m not a complainer, but it’s probably about an 8 or a 7.
DJ Booth: Other than the Wu-Tang Clan, nobody even mentions “Staten Island” and “hip-hop luminary” in the same sentence. So, why in your opinion do you feel it’s been so difficult for the borough you call home to produce top-level talent?
AC: You know what it is? It’s ‘cause the Wu, they paved the way for a lot of artists, don’t get me wrong—comin’ up with all the music, the way it changed and everything, people still have the stigma of Staten Island like it’s that gritty, break-everything-in-the-hotel-room, break-everything-in-the-studio, put-the-gun-to-the-DJ’s-head, “Play my record!” mentality, when there’s a lot of us out of there that broke out of that. I’m not saying that every Wu member did that, but we kinda got a bad rap around that time. I’m proud of that, just because people look at Staten Island, they look at us like the crazy cousin with a tic. Like, there’s only four boroughs—people go onstage and they shout-out the four boroughs, but there’s five, there’s the fifth. Shout-out to the Wu, shout-out to everybody, and there’s people out here, too, that’s grindin’ and we’re doin’ music too, and I’m here to change that, know what I mean?
DJ Booth: How important is it to not only make it, but to make it and have people realize that you’re representing Staten Island?
AC: I could’ve easily repped Brooklyn because I lived there for 15 years or whatever. It’s important for me in the sense that, I want people to know that I came from a place where it’s hard to make it. But you go out on the stage [in New York] and it’s not really that important to people that you’re from Staten Island. So I shout it out, I shout my borough out, I shout out New York, but I shout New York just as much as I shout Staten Island.
DJ Booth: Well, as we mentioned in the open, this Friday [you’ve got] big things happening: you’re kickin’ off Attack of the Blogs Part 2. For those not familiar, AC, enlighten our audience on the history behind this creative promotional tool.
AC: Check it out: Attack of the Blogs is hip-hop’s first scavenger hunt. I was workin’ on the album Best Served Cold, which I’ve still got to finish—I want it to come out sometime before the end of the year, hopefully, in an ideal world. You know, in this game you have to be consistent and keep droppin’ music, so I came up with a creative way to drop a mixtape without actually droppin’ a full online blend like everybody else does, with a cover and whatnot. I came up with this thing, like, “Let’s do 20 different freestyles, and let’s [post] them to 20 different blogs and let people collect them, and we’ll get a sponsor and we’ll give them a prize for doin’ so.” It did wonders for me; we did that, and we had a bunch—a sh*tload, for lack of a better term—of entries for the first one. Basically, I wanted to make Part 2 even bigger, and hence Attack of the Blogs Part 2. DJBooth is part of that—don’t forget, folks!
DJ Booth: Absolutely. Unlike many artists who drop music on a variety of sites and blogs, who just unleash, like you mentioned, the traditional mixtape, Attack of the Blogs Part 2 is both a contest and an opportunity to release new music. There’s rules and prizes involved, so what does someone have to do in order to win? Let’s reveal some more info here.
AC: What you have to do is, May 29th, a few days from now, you’ve gotta collect all 20 original songs from all of the 20 blogs that are gonna post each song. When [you’ve done] that, you take a screenshot and you send it to attackoftheblogs[at]gmail.com. The winner will win a $1,000 gift certificate to Karmaloop.com, the biggest online streetwear store. It’s crazy, dude—I’m helpin’ people out of this recession that we’re in!
DJ Booth: What’s amazing is, you’re bringing everybody back to their childhood, when they collected baseball cards or action figures. Plus the prize element takes us all back to the holiday season, so you’re really makin’ everybody feel real good—their childhood, and the holiday season; that’s a double winner!
AC: Yeah! And, Z, you know as well as I do, we’re on the Internet anyway. I’m on these blogs all day, I’m promotin’ my music. I’m out, I’m doin’ interviews, I’m doin’ shows, too, but it’s Internet-based now, so you’re on there anyways. You know, $1,000 on Karmaloop, they run sales all the time and you can get a whole bunch of stuff. We’ve got second prize, third prize, all the way to 20 prizes.
DJ Booth: And you know what? For everybody who is not fortunate enough to win, you know what they get? Brand new music from AC. I think that’s a nice runner-up prize.
AC: Thank you, you know what I mean?
DJ Booth: In PSA video number one that you released, you suggested that people get their children and their grandmothers involved. Are there any stipulations on who can win? I mean, if you’re seven years old or 92, can you still be a winner?
AC: You can still win! The tape is listener-friendly; I’ve got stories on there, I’ve got real, real good music. Everybody should listen to it. There are some curses, parental advisory—everybody that’s over the age of 13 can play along, I would say. Yo, Z: Attack of the Blogs is R.L. Stein meets Dan Brown meets the realest sh*t I ever wrote meets that game Crossfire with the metal marbles! I’m so sincere and so serious this time around.
DJ Booth: [laughs] Okay. I like the thought you put into this; this is not random whatsoever! You mentioned a second ago how everything is Internet-based now. I couldn’t agree with you more. All four major record labels seemingly have long resisted adapting to new media, and have wrongly fought websites and blogs who have posted their artists’ content, or, as they like to call it, ‘intellectual property.’ As an artist like yourself—you’re not signed to a major, and you have a very clear understanding of the importance that new media plays in both educating and promoting new talent like yourself—what are your thoughts on this matter and how what you’re doing right now can really be the wave of the future?
AC: I would say, labels, you’ve got to stop fighting the bloggers, the website owners, and you’ve gotta play along. You’ve gotta, play along, no pun intended—Attack of the Blogs Part 2, May 29th—but you have to be a part of it, you have to get down with the program. We’re no longer pressing up wax, we’re no longer pressing up vinyl—trust me, we’ve spent money on wax, I’ve been on Canal Street pushin’ mixtapes, I know! I had a change of the times, too, I wasn’t happy about it. But I say, labels, if you need a little tip, you should hire DJ Z and AC—we’ll come down, we give tutorials, we’ll go on PowerPoint and we’ll show you the importance of your intellectual media being leaked to the blogs! [laughs]
DJ Booth: Exactly: in a responsible and professional manner!
AC: Seriously, if it’s done right. I’m an artist, too; if I spend six months workin’ on an album, I don’t want everybody takin’ it off these torrent sites. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a happy medium, but, like you said, we can involve everybody in it and use it as a promo tool. Look at Em: he just basically gave the whole album away for free, Kanye did it—and these guys, they’re not gonna hurt in sales, so… It’s been proven in the movie industry, with the leaks: people wanna see the creative process, they wanna see the whole thing from beginning to end. It’s not gonna hurt you if the music is quality.
DJ Booth: I was just gonna say: if it’s good, that changes everything. If it’s bad, then I can understand why everybody’s b*tching and moaning.
AC: Then you’ve got no business doin’ an album anyway!
DJ Booth: Exactly—then you should just be [grateful] that people care enough to download, for free, your bad music.
DJ Booth: AC, the promotional flyer for this series features your likeness on the cover of a comic book, which is drawn to mirror the look of the famous villain, Dr. Octopus. In the Marvel comics, Doc Ock was from New York and possessed genius-level intellect, so is this strategic planning or accurate randomness?
AC: Yo, the fine people at Orisue, they threw the idea at me. Yes, we’re taking over New York, [it’s] genius marketing, and the arms signify too many things and not enough hands to do it. There’s a lot of hidden meanings in everything I do.
DJ Booth: I thought maybe I was the only person looking too far into the cover.
AC: Ha! No, that’s the best, though: when you look at something and you’re like, “I wonder if he meant this?” I be givin’ artists too much credit sometimes—like, they’ll say something and I’ll be like, “Maybe he meant this by that, when really he probably didn’t know what the hell he was talkin’ about.
DJ Booth: Exactly. AC, hosting Attack of the Blogs Part 2 is Clinton Sparks, whose famous tagline is, of course, “Get familiar!” So, for hip-hop listeners who’d like to get more familiar with AC, will this all-out, in-your-face event really do the trick?
AC: Yes! Clinton Sparks, baby! I can’t be more grateful to Clinton for jumpin’ on this. He heard the idea and he was definitely with it, and shout-out to Karmaloop.com, [they] made it happen.
DJ Booth: Obviously, once people involve themselves with this campaign, they’re gonna want to know, “What can I get from AC next?” So, once this campaign is over, what have you got for ‘em?
AC: You know, Attack of the Blogs Part 2 is May 29th; after that, we’re goin’ in to finish up the album. The album’s called Best Served Cold, playin’ on “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” [and] the name AC, and kinda showin’ people that didn’t believe in me, people that didn’t think [I would ever] amount to nothin’, and kinda playin’ off that idea. We’re lookin’ to drop that, like I said, hopefully for the holiday season, I dunno. I’m still workin’ on tracks, I wanna do a lot of crossover records. You know, I love the ukelele—how do you feel about the ukelele, DJ Z?
DJ Booth: [laughs] You’re always working, the gears are always grinding, and, of course, you’ve got a lot of great music on tap for everybody to enjoy.
AC: Thank you.
DJ Booth: You’re welcome. One of the 20 songs, at DJBooth.net on Friday, May the 29th. AC, give everybody information on where they can find out more about you.
AC: You can check me out on Twitter @acondemand, YouTube is the same thing, youtube.com/acondemand, acondemand.com, and my blog is rareunlimited.com—there’s gonna be an original song on my blog—and also tapemastersinc.net.
DJ Booth: We’re obviously excited to be a part of Attack of the Blogs Part 2, and, last question: is there gonna be a Part 3?
AC: Part 3, Part 3! Part 3 might not be a collecting thing; it’s gonna be something different, but there’s definitely gonna be a Part 3. And then I think after Part 3 I’m gonna be done with the series, so collect ‘em while you can. And yo, Z, I gotta let them know: Never lend your friend a book on suicide; you may never get it back, you know what I mean?
DJ Booth: Worthy advice, my friend, worthy advice. As always, take care, and we will be in touch.
AC: Peace, Z!