Firestarter: Interview with Filthy Rich of Street Light Poets

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filthy-slp

The Firestarter :: October 14, 2002
Interview Conducted by: ENAGEE

How did the Street Light Poets form?
Street Light began as a loosely knit collective of 305 artists back in 96. It was the brainchild of Jiggs and included Infinit, Bonafide, Dagman, Nick Fury, Legacy, Elohim, J-Pure, Wasi, the Marxmen (Gold, Filthy, & Sugar Jay), Showdown, Rhassi Bubu, & Hi Fi. In the early years, we got our name by battling in the streets or performing at open mics(Faatlands). Over time, as the members matured and learned the business side of the music, SLP the group was born.

Some might now know this, but SLP have been in the Miami scene for years now, so what’s it been like to see the scene develop?
It’s been interesting to say the least. There were a lot fewer mc’s, producers, dj’s, etc back in the day and the only way to make connections was to be out in the streets. Now, with the internet, the communication and networking possibilities have grown exponentially. There is almost 2 scenes right now, the older veterans, who most of are releasing music and trying to make careers with the music, and the younger cats who are making a name for themselves @ all the battles and events going down. That’s also a big change in the scene, the number of events.

Speaking of which, what’s the one thing you’d like to see change?
I don’t want nothing about the scene really change. There will always be people hating on each other and there will always be those that actually build and work towards a common goal. It’s useless to hope for complete unity. Rappers have inflated egos, even local ones.

Is this the first SLP album, or is it just the first time that the group has taken it to this level?
Streets On Fire is the first official release. It’s been literally 4 years in the making. It took us such a long time because we literally started from scratch with Gold’s purchase of an mpc. While he grew as a producer, we developed and found our niche as artists. The last step was the construction of our studio, Fort Knocks. It has given us the ability to record professional music 24/7/365 and also to make a little money on the side by having people come to our place to record. We all have appeared on other projects though.

Have you ever been frustrated by the lack of attention from major labels because of where you’re from?
Not really. The more we do our music independently, the more we learn about the game, the more leverage we will have when we finally sit down @ the bargaining table with someone. Miami, is still unproven on a major scale. We are still in the paying dues stage, but I’m confident that in a year 305 will be a nationwide thing.

Ok, but are there any major labels giving you attention right now?
There are a few, but we’re not jumping at any deal. It has to be the right money, creative control, publishing, and a timely release of our music for us to sign with someone. It doesn’t make too much sense to sign to a label only to have to sit on the shelf for 5 years when we are making money independently and releasing the music we have total control over.

SLP has had radio airplay, which is rare for most underground artists. What makes you guys different from all the other emcees around?
We’re more than mc’s; we’re business men who understand that it takes more than a good verse to get somewhere. Also, we’ve established
many connects over the years and built a good rapport with dj’s, producers, & people in the music industry in general. We make sure that we handle the business side as well as the creative side of the music.

Streets on Fire has sold nearly 1,000 copies, what do you think it is that has made people interested in the group’s music?
The packaging is a big part of it. When people see it, the 1st impression they have is “this looks real” and they are more likely to buy something that is well presented. Besides that, our street name has moved a lot of those units. Many people have been waiting for us to release it and they’re still waiting for JP’s solo. Our salesmanship has also made a big impact. We spend hours upon hours on the streets doing whatever it takes to sell these albums, whether it’s doing an impromptu performance of a track for a potential buyer or battling people for $10 on South Beach. The biggest thing is the music though; it speaks for itself. When we can give someone a cd and tell them “take it and listen to it, if you don’t like it bring it back, and if you do bring $10 back” and not have 1 single return we know we’re on the right track.

When you see local artists like Trick Daddy, Jin making moves on the national scale, does it make you push harder to get to the same level?
Yeah, it serves as more inspiration. It’s rewarding too, it is good to see people reppin’ 305 on such a big scale. Many people don’t know, but Jin was going to be a Dirty Work artist right before his move to NY. Luckily for him, his situation forced the move and we didn’t ink the deal. Regardless, we’re 100% behind him and other artists who are on the grind trying to push the 305 movement to the top.

If you could place only one SLP song in the hip-hop time capsule, what would it be?
It would probably be something that the public hasn’t heard. Either something from our early days like “Are You Sure” or some of the new stuff we’ve recorded since the release of Streets On Fire.

What advice would you give to up and coming artist from South Florida about making it in this industry?
Go to school, get a well paying job to support your hobby. Actually, make a game plan. Decide what you want to do with your music and what market you are trying to reach and go from there. Do the open mics, the battles, the freestyle sessions in public places, the rap game on the radio, & mix tapes to get yourself some exposure. Also, invest in it. Get equipment; buy beats, whatever you need to get some music recorded. Once you have some product, give it away or try to sell it to make your money back. The key thing is exposure though. You want people from Tallahassee to Key West to hear you. Be humble and make connections. All that ego shit will get a lot of doors shut in your face. Finally, remember that you are making music for the public, not just for yourself. Make sure that your stuff SOUNDS good, regardless if you’re talking about smoking weed all day or about the meaning of life. Objectively listen to your music, and if you can’t, find someone who will so you can get some feedback on your music. Not just your boys telling you whatever you make is fire. The road to success is long and will require many personal sacrifices. If you’re not prepared to make them…..go to college or do something else with your life. Finally…make sure you have good hooks.

What is next for SLP? Who are you planning to work with musically and what are some upcoming SLP sponsored projects?
Next will be the re-release of Streets On Fire on a statewide, hopefully national level. It will be re-mastered and will include 4 to 5 new tracks, 2 of which were produced by Miami super producer Tony Galvin of Black Mob Music Group (produced “Shut Up” & “Ballin Boyz”). J-Pure & Wasi will also be releasing solo projects in the 1st quarter of 2003, as well as a Filthy/Gold collabo album and a Jiggs solo album in the works and slated for 2nd quarter 2003. The next SLP album should be ready for 3rd or 4th quarter in 2003, and it will be readily available in stores. We’ve also recorded songs with Pumpkinhead and Skam, and are working on a compilation album of sorts that features some 305 all stars, as well as some lesser known talent in the 305 Besides that, we’re doing alot of cameos on 305 projects as well as intros for radio dj’s and exclusives for mix tapes to the keep street buzz going; basically just grindin’ it out in order to take it to the next level. (J-Pure will be appearing on the Flavor remix by platinum artist Craig David, produced by Tony Galvin)

Anything else you wanna say to the people?
Support the 305 movement and buy Streets On Fire. If you already bought one, buy one for a friend, and tell them to buy one and give it to one of their friends, etc, etc….

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