Wortonics: The Definition of Wortown Hip-Hop
by linnea - October 27, 2008 10:57am
“What is Wortown? Wortown is Worcester’s Hip Hop music scene. What is Wortonics? Wortonics is a term that embodies the true sound, culture, and knowledge of Wortown Hip-Hop.”
These four sentences just scratch the surface of the who, what, where, when, and how of Wortown Hip-Hop. The often misunderstood, but always innovative Hip-Hop scene in Worcester can be hard for the uninitiated to wrap their heads around.
Ten years ago the Worcester Phoneix asked, “Where the hell is Worcester’s rap scene and why is it held so far underground of the mainstream?”
Have things changed?
The Phoenix also predicted the Hip-Hop scene in Worcester was “poised to break into the mainstream.”
That was nine years ago.
So where is the Wortown Hip-Hop scene? Or maybe the better question is, where can I get my hands on some of the recordings?
Drawing a blank?
Lucky for us the pioneers of the scene have joined forces to bring their archives to the rest of us. Wortonics: The Definition of Wortown Hip-Hop will debut on Myspace this Friday, making local Hip-Hop recordings dating back to 1984 available to the masses.
Wortown veteran Kaz (a.k.a. K. Superior) has been working tirelessly to locate and archive Wortown tracks from the past 25 years. “Although the vast majority is in the hands of veteran producers like Kaz , DJ Shame, DJ Evad, and G-Luc, some tracks required a bit more effort to locate,” he explained. “Others required re-mastering and/or restoration. Much of the music has been lifted from records, multi-track cassettes, and reels and put into digital format so everyone can listen.”
The project was originally set up as a two-disc CD compilation, but has since grown to encompass so much more. “There was way too much interesting music being left on the cutting room floor,“ says Kaz. “ By sharing it via the internet nothing has to be left out.”
Not only will the music be available online, Kaz is also working on collecting video clips, newspaper articles, and interviews of and about Wortown artists.
“I always felt that local Hip-Hop has never been given its due here,” Kaz explained. “Over the past few years or so it seems the press has come down with a case of amnesia. Now we need to uncover in order to recover.”
Kaz is concerned that Wortown’s history is both misunderstood and quickly being forgotten. “A lot of our accomplishments have been recorded by the press, but for some reason they seem be as disposable as the paper that they’re printed on,” he explained.
Kaz believes that the local press doesn’t always do it’s homework when it comes to Hip-hop. But he also sites a lack of communication on the part of the Wortown community. “Local Hip-Hop collectively has done a poor job presenting itself to the press,” he said. “The folks who actually care to present themselves to a paper are few and far between. We owe it to ourselves to see to it that these things are recorded. But the press at least has to meet us half way.”
While Wortonics: The Definition of Hip-Hop has been a project close to his heart for about a year and a half now, he points out that it’s been 25 years in the making.
As for what listeners can expect, “Expect to hear the first sounds,” he said. “Original demos and studio recordings from Wortown’s foundation artists. It’s gonna focus on the foundation for a while. But it will also offer premieres from new artists as well.”
“We’re not trying to say Old Skool is king,” Kaz explained. “We’re saying that our roots and our foundation are important, just like the future. I think that Old Skool or Tru Skool era artists have a lot of wisdom to offer the New Skool. We should all be connected.”
All of the music will be available for free downolad, and Kaz has hopes for more visibility in the future. “I would love to see Wortown invade Green Street in spring 09 to celebrate 25 years of Wortown Hip-Hop,” he said. “All of us. Even mash up with the rock bands. That would be great.”
For the project Kaz collaborated with some of the greats of the Wortown Hip-Hop scene including DJ Shame, G-Luc, DJ Evad, Tone Capone (Night People), Robert Anderson and Keith Mohammad from W.E.C. Productions, the Incredible Hulk (WCUW), Arablak, Kqauz, and many others.
As for the future, Kaz says it best:
Well, My aim it to put us back on our own map. To acquaint our past with our present and move into the future with a better understanding of Wortown. I’m going to oversee this project till I feel that we’re up to speed. Then I’d like to hand it over to someone who is genuinely concerned and responsible in regards to the integrity of this project. Perhaps it becomes its own website, perhaps CD comps, perhaps a video documentary. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.
I feel really privileged that people have trusted me with their music. I don’t consider myself an activist. I don’t like to blog, and I don’t really want to be the host of anything. I’m not looking for any acknowledgment other than for what I have done musically. This was just one of those situations when you have to ask yourself ‘If not me… then who?’ Obviously somebody else was not coming along to help. So here we are. This Project is dedicated to Wortown Hip-Hop, past, present and future.
Be sure to check out Wortonics: The Definition of Wortown Hip Hop on Myspace and check back frequently for more music and updates.
Not enough for the Hip-Hop fans out there? Check back over the coming weeks for some informative one-on-one interviews with some of the pioneers of Wortown Hip-Hop.