Matt Bar
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Matt Bar

Band Hip Hop Singer/Songwriter


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


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Rough Draft - 2003. Folk
Lying In Chalk - 2006. Folk-Rap


Feeling a bit camera shy


The question most often posed to Matt Bar when people hear he has opened for OutKast and claims Bob Dylan as his primary musical influence is, “How did you come up with that?” From his circumstance (white middle-America) and time (1979) of birth, Rap and Folk seem an unlikely pair. However, as Matt and his peers started to explore the expressive opportunities available, the urban themes and techniques of Hip-Hop were seeping into broader American culture and Folk emerged for him as a valuable and similar form of communication. From Matt’s initial revelations that Hip-Hop was the most relevant of contemporary pop genres and that folk was an obvious cultural predecessor to Hip-Hop has come a musician whose influences have expanded to include “Lil’ Wayne, Nas, Eliot Smith, Radiohead, Poets of all kind, Donovan and Phil Ochs,” among many others.
Matt publicly debuted as a musician while attending Washington University in Saint Louis. He built momentum by signing a demo deal with the independent record label Produce Records as a folk singer. His father’s health problems became more severe, however, and Matt returned to his hometown (Iowa City, IA) to help his family with this. Matt’s last gig in Saint Louis was opening for OutKast—an honor he received for winning the “Battle of the Bands” (with no band). Bar’s initial experience in the Iowa City music scene was primarily as a singer-songwriter. This early phase of Matt's career culminated with a performance at West High School which (with no one else on the bill) drew over 600 people.
As his sensibilities evolved, Matt enlisted the help of a local Hip-Hop outfit called “Renaissance” to help with a folk-rap number. Folk-rap was increasingly becoming Matt’s preferred form of expression. In addition to helping with the initial song, Renaissance contributed greatly to a “profound turn” in Matt’s musical journey when he was able to join the group as a rap artist. By often performing with MC’s and DJ’s from Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, this not only allowed Bar to hone his rapping skills but also immersed him in the culture of Hip-Hop. “I was often the only white guy on the stage with five black guys—and I don’t dance,” Bar recalls with a laugh. “When you’re the white guy, you’d better be able to spit; otherwise, it’s going to be embarrassing. That put pressure on me to make sure to get better.” Over the next two years, under the tutelage of his band-mates, Matt began to refine his voice as a rap artist. It was then that Matt and Hip-Hop producer James Mims applied for and received a Grant from the Iowa Arts Council to cut a “folk-rap” album. The album, entitled Lying in Chalk (a reference to the crime scene technique), combines both the styles and sensibilities of traditional folk and modern Hip-Hop into a truly new sound. In the only published review in the short time since it’s release, Jim Musser of the Iowa City Press-Citizen says “startlingly original and brilliantly realized. At once cerebral, spiritual and earthy, Lying in Chalk is a triumphant, front-to-back gem.”
In addition to Lying in Chalk and Matt’s previous release, a folk album titled Rough Draft (2003), Matt plans the release of a mix-tape rap album (October 2006) and a singer-songwriter album (November 2006). Audio file from both of these upcoming albums are available at Matt hopes the release of these albums will “validate and define” his status as a folk-rapper. “Both rap and folk are a part of me. I’ve performed as a singer-songwriter and I’ve performed as a rapper. I’m not some hippie with a guitar who can put rhymes together. There’s integrity in both sides of the folk-rap equation, independently, and that’s the key.”
Outside of his music career, Matt takes his life as seriously as his folk-rap. He will attend the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City this fall, as well as teach Hebrew School. He hopes to meet and work with other musicians in and around New York and make his mark on the music scene while seeking representation from record labels.