A couple weekends ago, CMJ had the pleasure of attending the A3C music festival in Atlanta, GA. The three-day event that centers around emerging hip-hop talent was a great way for artists to show off their skills and network with their comrades. CMJ caught up with two artists who are bringing their talents from the Peach State to the Big Apple for this week’s Marathon: Nikki Lynette and Statik Selektah.
How does A3C compare to CMJ? What are the differences and similarities?
Nikki Lynette: A3C is hardcore hip-hop, and I’m really not accustomed to doing anything that is hardcore hip-hop because I am not that, but everyone I’ve met has been super cool. It’s a different culture; hip-hop in Chicago is different from hip-hop in Atlanta and New York. Whereas, CMJ brings various cultures together and various musical genres together, which is dope.
Statik Selektah: CMJ is kind of a different part of the industry. A3C is more of a place where newer artists can start. I think CMJ is for more established independent artists—and CMJ is more organized [laughs].
Is this your first time actually being on the lineup for CMJ?
NL: I’ve performed at CMJ in the past, but I have not been on the official lineup. I’ve been on a couple unofficial, nobody really knows about it, hole-in-the-wall New York type of things.
SS: I’ve been doing CMJ for 10 years. I was on a radio station called WPEA, which is a high school radio station, but it was considered college radio, so I got to report for CMJ even back then. This is my first year doing it with my Duck Down Records though.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
NL: I’m excited for the whole experience—the press, the shows, getting to see other artists and network with other artists. This is really the first year that I’m starting to get into these festivals, so I’m really grateful. You have to understand I’ve been working so hard to get the recognition, so to be a part of all of this is crazy.
SS: I’m doing a live mix tape. I’m really looking forward to that. Always good to see Talib Kweli and the whole Duck Down fam. I’m actually going to miss a few days because I’ll be in Chicago doing my album listening party out there. So I won’t even get a chance to see all the artists I want to.
Nikki, your sound is described as punk with infusions of hip-hop. What can the audience expect from a live Nikki Lynette show?
NL: My shows are nuts. I perform with background singers who also dance. They are professional dancers, so I have to bring it. My shows are energetic; they are very theatrical. People get bored by shows that aren’t shows, when people just stand there and recite their songs. My shows are the opposite.
How important do you think it is for artists to make the effort to try and get on festival lineups like CMJ and A3C?
NL: People can see your stuff on the Internet and not care. They can see that your post is on these sites, but if they don’t know you, they don’t care. They are not going to play it. But when you go to these festivals you get the opportunity to get face time with these people. It’s a good opportunity to network with other artists and meet press in person as opposed to just sending them stuff.
SS: These festivals are everything. You gotta network nowadays. Just getting on a blog isn’t good enough—you have to do shows and try to get your records played and attend these panels.
If you had to describe your music, your artist persona in a few words, what would sum it up?
NL: Bad ass. That’s it. Just like that. [laughs]
SS: The album name says it all. I control populations. Population Control.
Nikki Lynette performs tonight, October 18, at S.O.B’s as part of the @NYCTalentAgent and Vinestreet Music showcase. Statik Selektah plays Saturday, October 22, at Music Hall Of Williamsburg as part of the Duck Down Vs. Blacksmith showcase.