If you weren't in the city last week, you missed out on the insane CMJ Music Marathon that took over Manhattan, and parts of Brooklyn. Of the many sets that we got a chance to catch, MTV Hive's CMJ Showcase—featuring Big K.R.I.T., Killer Mike, LE1F, Mr. MFN eXquire, and Flatbush Zombies—was definitely one to be remembered.
VIBE got a chance to talk with Big K.R.I.T, Killer Mike, and the eclectic trio that is Flatbush Zombies in between sets to discuss CMJ week, it's importance to new artists in the game, and what they can bring to the platform of hip hop & music in general.
"I feel like [CMJ Week] is great, man. It’s definitely an organic vibe. It’s one of those situations where artists get the opportunity to share the stage and be around other artist that they normally wouldn’t get a chance to. Great music and shit comes out like that. So for me to be a part of [the showcase], it’s just love man. This ain’t my first time in New York, but it’s always good to come up here and see everybody so vibrant about what’s new and what’s next.
It definitely seems like artists now have more of a sense of independence and movement. I think that’s what was really missing at some point. [New artists] shouldn’t be so dependent on the label, and actually be willing to go out there, get it on your own, and make moves to kind of meet the label halfway. I think that’s what’s actually going on right now.
"Whether it’s CMJ, A3C in Atlanta, or SXSW, what I have found is that anytime a collective of artists get to be in one place at one time, special things happen. It really just brings the artist down to the level of the ecstatic fans that wanted to be artist themselves. [CMJ showcases] give opportunities for fans, supporters, bloggers, and writers to interact with the people they helped elevate, so I love it. What I compare it to is a musical family reunion and I really enjoy it.
Well I’m a 9-year veteran that’s a new artist, because it took me six of those nine years to form who I am. For me, what it’s done is put me right in the face of the people who believed when no one else was. When I get on stage, I’m trying to leave everything I have on stage.
My advice for any new artist is whatever your performance is, make it theatre on stage—give them all you got. I’m looking at a gay hip-hop act right now put on a hell of a show [Editors Note: At the time of this interview, self-identified gay rapper LE1F was on stage putting his all into his live set]. The beats are dope, the lyrics are goddamn dope and infectious, and they are putting on theatre. You’re supposed to give people a show. When my big ass leaves the stage, they’ll say he gave a show [Laughs]. That’s all I would advise any new artist to do—give people the best show you possibly can."
Erick Arc Elliott: "CMJ festival is important. It comes in a good time of the year with summertime slowing down and shit. It still gives people a reason to go outside and look at good hip-hop music. Actually, CMJ is a festival not only for hip-hop, for New York in general."
Meechy Darko: "It also blends different artists together and shit. You get a nice bill. I see shit with Killer Mike, GZA, eXquire, and K.R.I.T., so it’s a nice little mixture. As an added bonus, it’s in New York—and it’s beautiful right now—so CMJ is holding down our people in New York City. We’re actually getting love for a fucking change. That’s what I really give a fuck about—fuck all the other bullshit. I’m going to be honest with you, this shit is in my city and we are getting love, so it’s beautiful."
Yo, the only advice I got for new artists is to be yourself. That’s what we do and that’s what all the greats have done. If you’re yourself, you’ll get far."
Erick Arc Elliott: "Regardless of any compromising business proposition, fuck all that shit. It’s about being yourself, expressing yourself, and never compromising who you are."
Meechy Darko: "Niggas are always going to laugh at you, niggas are always going to hate on you, and niggas are always going to feel every single feeling they can feel about you. It's nothing you can do about it. Do what the fuck you gotta do, and that’s about it."