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The best kept secret in music


"Dodging a Bad Rap"

Staff Writer
April 21, 2004
Crtv Dstrctn returns to hip-hop’s underground roots.

The hip-hop underground surfaces here on April 24.
Local “crew” Crtv Dstrctn, who perform and present local rappers in a show at Woodward Middle School, are working hard to keep it real.
Members of the crew are islanders Shane Knode (Malamute) and Amen Miller (S.L., Stay Live, So Loud, Savage Lyrics), with Suquamish brothers Kyle Forrester (Direct) and Ira Forrester (C.U., The Collected Unconscious), friends who joined forces a year ago to make music.
Their name, shorthand for Creative Destruction, represents cycles of regeneration and change, the crew say.
‘We’re very ‘DIY,’ do it yourself,” Knode said. “Underground hip-hop, instead of wanting to sell out to huge corporations and work with the sponsors and whatever, they prefer to go DIY. They prefer to own everything from top to bottom.”
“When Nelly’s on MTV, (he does) what MTV says,” Knode adds, referring to the St. Louis rap group. “You think (he) can argue with those producers? When they say you need to do this beach party thing and you need to dance, it’s like blackface. It doesn’t matter what color you are, it’s corporate blackface.”
The do-it-yourself slogan animates the spirit of the underground hip-hop culture that Crtv Dstrctn represents. It’s also a response to an attempted hostile takeover by rap music.
Hip-hop is an earlier form, developed in the 1970s and early 1980s in inner cities and encompasses break dancing, graffiti, DJing – cuttin’ and scratching records – and emceeing, or rapping.
The spirit of hip-hop was positive, Knode says, until hip-hop evolved into popular rap, which features what Knode calls “a lot of exaggerated life-style-ism,” that includes glorifying drug culture, violence and misogyny.
Popular rappers are now trying to get out from under the bad reputation they have earned, Knode says, by “reaching back and grabbing hip-hop,” – a move that has pressured some hip-hop artists to take evasive action by going underground.
In the DIY world of underground hip-hop, groups perform and also bring other acts together.
With Crtv Dstrctn close to completing an album, the crew decided it was time to get some exposure by bringing some acts to Bainbridge.
“There’s no other choice,” Knode said. “This is how everyone operates. If everyone’s DIY, there are no handouts.”
Groups turn to the Internet to disseminate music and get exposure. One of the barometers to gauge an artist’s popularity is the ease of finding and downloading their music online, Kyle Forrester points out.
For the April 24 show, Crtv Dstrctn has assembled Seattle’s Blue Scholars, Shadow Guardians from Olympia, and Cloc, who is islander Chris Neal.
The finale will be a free-style emcee battle, with the DJ putting on a random beat for an open mic.
Crtv Dstrctn is a small business, competing with other teams in a music market where crews may vary from two members to 18.
“That’s the whole crew thing,” Knode said. “That’s why we come together and why we look for more members; that’s more resources for us to work with and more chances to make a name for our crew – thus a name for each of us as artists.”
While the music has roots in the inner city, race is not an issue these days, the members of Crtv Dstrctn say – especially not in the underground hip-hop where, without the medium of TV, image matters less than the music.
Each member of Crtv Dstrctn creates his own beats, then adds his own lyrics.
There are storyteller rappers and word-play rappers that might generate lyrics with stream-of consciousness.
Crtv Dstrctn sometimes uses word association, batting words around in the car on a road trip.
The car is a good place to write, they say, because the music is most often heard in a vehicle.
Their Suquamish studio holds about $8,000 worth of equipment that includes speakers, keyboards, digital drums, and the turntables Kyle Forrester calls “the center of hip-hop, where everything started.”
Crtv Dstrctn’s turntables – a powerful version of the old record player – are built to the industry standard, with a start-to-speed time of less than a second, giving the music the signature “scratch.” Lyle manipulates the turntables, scratching the extra-sturdy records of orchestrated sound.
Software creates a visual equivalent on the computer monitor for each band member’s voice and each instrument. The sound scrolls across the screen on parallel tracks that resemble transcribed music married to the printout from a seismograph, a flowchart that allows the crew to mix the sound.
“You can really look at your collage by the color coding and see where things start and stop,” Knode said.
By the time a song’s complete, 32 tracks have been laid down.
Once the lyrics are synched with the beat, the process of refining the sound begins.
“You want to listen to it from across the room,” Kyle said. “You want to listen to it on nice car speakers, you want to listen to it on your monitor, you want to listen to it in headphones, you want to listen to it on a PA and try to get the best middle ground.”
With four Puget Sound shows on the calendar, the group leaves April 22 for Portland, their first engagement out of Puget Sound – another step up.
In their ideal career, they say, they’d be happy selling 20,000 units per release, with each member earning about $1,500 to $3,000 per show.
“This isn’t about anything more than that,” Knode said. “You have to be a hardworking person.
“There’s no free ride. Everything comes at a cost.”
* * * * *
Hip-hop crews from around Puget Sound bring the beat to Bainbridge 6:30 p.m. April 24 at Woodward Middle School in a show produced by Kitsap crew Crtv Dstrctn. An open-mic emcee battle closes the event. Admission is $5. Information: 229-8510.
- The Bainbridge Review


CRTV DSTRCTN is circulating 3 song Demo's as a crew as well as solo artists. They are currently working hard to bring a series of EP's to the surface.


Feeling a bit camera shy


CRTV DSTRCTN is a Northwest hip hop act. With the exception of "SL", who spent his youth in Los Angeles, all members come from a distinctly NW perspective. Members have lived rurally in Oregon, Washington AND Alaska. Having emerged from the woods in thier teen years - members have lived all over Seattle, Olympia and the greater Puegot Sound.

CRTV DSTRCTN is composed of 4 wildly different characters.

The afformentioned "SL" "Sentence Legend", "Stay Live", Savage Lyrics" (and so on) - SL is a wildly animate emcee with absurdist metaphors and an odd charismatic flow.

ETC-Malamute is a deep concious lyricist that brings big pictures of the "personality amidst society" to gritty beats with a poets cadence.

Direkt is an emcee & DJ with a vast appreciation for the old school. He shows it with simple flows, enunciation and pride. He is an excellent scratch DJ and the producer of most of the CRTV DSTRCTN signature beats.

The Collected Unconcious is the youngest cornerstone of the group and brings swift moody flows covering topics from the perspective of a loner in the crowd. He is quiet and complex. His rhyming reflects it.

Each member works hard to represent themselves in thier solo endeavors but when they come together as CRTV DSTRCTN they shine with an unequivocal energy and live show that astounds every crowd they preform before. They are not to be missed in the live setting.