The hip-hop world is a less than sensible place - lots of times, you're even required to clarify when bad means bad and when bad means good - so once a week we're going to get with a rapper and ask them to explain things. Have something you always wanted to ask a rapper? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note:Tosin is not a rapper, but he is a staple in the underground rap scene in the Southern U. S. He founded The Screw Shop, has worked with everyone from The Boxx to Chamillionaire, and has sponsored/released about a million mixtapes and DVDs. We first met him in person in Austin several months ago at a car show. He was, as they say, "gone off that lean" and thought it humorous to pose for serious pictures while wearing a foam hand that made the shape of the Westside "W." We liked him immediately. This Week's
Rapper Rap-Related Hustler: Tosin the Dot Com Don This Week's Subject(s): Clichéd sayings that aren't really cliched Ask A Rap-Related Hustler: How about we start with you letting everyone know exactly what it is that you do within the rap world. Tosin: I'm just a fan of music and specifically Southern music. Like most adults my age, I grew up around music, from my parents playing records all day to my older brother break dancing and rapping. I grew up on Screw music and once I left to go to college I really didn't have a connection to what was going on back in Texas since the Internet wasn't what it is today. I started to make my own connections and built a fan site for DJ Screw, Screw music and Texas Rap music in general.
As more people were able to get on the Internet and became comfortable ordering online, I started to move in to retail with an online store selling CDs from the likes of Beltway 8, Freestyle Kings, DSR, SLAB and more. With the popularity of the site, I was able to do promotions for major and indie labels, both online and street promotions. Other artists, labels and radio stations commissioned me to develop an online presence for them. I've done sites for Wreckshop Records, Jam Down/Reliant Ent, 97.9 FM The Boxx, Agonylife, Botany Boys, Beat Box Records, Paul Wall, Grit Boys, Guerilla Maab, Trae, Mddl Fngz & Bun B, Tow Down, Showtyme, Point Blank and so many more. Once I built those relationships I was able to release my own brand of mixtapes, compilations and DVDs. That just moved in to print design such as album covers, flyers, van wraps, etc. It all comes from a base to promote artists and make fans aware of past, current and future projects.
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AAR-RH: You know what we've always wondered about? Why is it that just about every Houston rapper ever has used some form of the "Don't Mess With Texas" phrase as the title to either a song or a tape? We mean, several of your tapes have some pretty clever names (Hangin' Wit Mr. Koopa is an all-time favorite), but even you've done that. Why? T: I think Lil Keke set the trend with his debut album, and most of today's rappers grew up listening to him in some form and are influenced in some manner. But Texans have a lot of pride, and the "Don't Mess With Texas" ad campaign against litter is very strong and can be used in different forms. Everyone in Texas knows the ads, and we feel that any other state can't or shouldn't mess with us. I mean, what other state was their own country and had their own president?
AAR-RH: Can we get you to sign our petition we're making that will attempt to stop Texas rappers from using that phrase anymore? This could be a watershed moment for rapper creativity. Maybe The Screw Shop could be its official sponsor. T: Why should we stop it? It's our battle cry, just like "Great State of Texas" or the horn sign for "Hook 'em Horns" or the "H" for Houston. It's in our DNA as Texans to represent as big as our state is. AAR-RH: Maybe we can work together and also eliminate a few others from the rapper lexicon. "Swag" is another that needs to go. As do all variations of "candy paint dripping" and "I'ma come down." Any others you can think of that need to go?
T: I agree with the word "Swag." It's hard for me to even check out a song with that word in the title. We need a petition baring new rappers from using the words "Lil," "Big" or "Young" in their names or having names similar to already established rappers' names. AAR-RH: Among rappers, who would you say is the most guilty of over-using already cliched terms? If you don't feel comfortable answering that, then perhaps you could tell us who isn't guilty, and we'll just assume anyone that you don't list is an offender. Okay, go. T: Guilty? I'd say the main cats that hit big in 2005 but they had to overuse it to expose our slang and culture to the masses. Once anything gets popular it's gonna get overused, and that's the case with a lot of slang. Can you really have too much candy paint dripping? Too much lean in ya cup? Can ya 4's poke too much in Texas? I think not. Order any of Tosin's myriad tapes at www.thescrewshop.com, follow him on Twitter at @dotcomdon and see him online at www.myspace.com/thescrewshop.com.