Tuesday, 27 May 2014 22:37

Shneal Helps Grow the Kzoo Hip Hop Scene

Written by  Jayson Bussa
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Also featuring Bill Joe Skillz, Drama AKA Treason (Album release), Prime Suspects, Sick Daze and more
Papa Pete's, Kalamazoo
June 27; 8:30 p.m.
$10; 18+
papapete.net, (269) 388-2196

Shneal isn't just a rapper in the local Kalamazoo hip-hop scene — he's also an ambassador for the genre.

The 24-year-old artist puts arguably as much sweat into growing the scene as he does his personal endeavors, and it has paid him back with an already fruitful résumé.

The latest on his résumé is Shneal's sixth album, The Prequel. The album dropped in mid-May, but Shneal will put it on display at June 27's official album release party held at Papa Pete's in Kalamazoo.

"All of the projects tell a continuous story and, although The Prequel references many new things in my life, it also refers to many things in the previous projects and prior," Shneal said. "When combined with the other five albums, it acts as somewhat of a framed narrative. It is a very diverse project that touches on everything from political issues, personal loss, triumph, heartbreak and much more."

Shneal will be joined by plenty of company for the big night, headlined by Ohio-based rapper Bill Joe Skillz, who is signed to Spit/Spat Records based out of Muskegon. In fact, Shneal won't be the only artist to celebrate a new release, as local hip-hop brethren, Drama AKA Treason, commemorates the release of his double-disc album, Rebel Muzik.

Shneal and Drama have combined to form Konspiracy Rekords, a vanity label to release their own music on, but one that comes with big plans.

"Right now, it's just me and Drama, but as we grow, I think we'll get into producing albums for other artists, too," Shneal said. "A lot of people already have their own deal going."

For his latest album, Shneal tapped Kalamazoo locals Synergy Productions to produce one half of the record while he handled the other. Shneal admits the maturation of his sound shows through on The Prequel, where he more effectively chops his flow and even dabbles with a little singing.

"I was actually pretty pleased with the half that I produced," said Shneal, who leaned on DX The Flex in Battle Creek to master the album. "I'm still learning, but I was definitely able to do exactly what I was feeling."

Shneal isn't absorbed in his own projects, though. He hustles to push hip-hop shows in the Kalamazoo area to further the scene, especially those put on by friend and artist J Cutlass.

Shneal is one of the more active members along with guys like Drama, Skitzo and a newer crop of artists like Sick Daze, Prime Suspects and Mickey Tao, who will all be in action on June 27.

"There is just a lot of love in Kalamazoo," Shneal said. "I've been entrenched in the Kalamazoo scene for a while now and I don't feel like it ever went away."


Music News

The Intersection is bringing all the action inside its walls to the great outdoors on June 27 for a Rock The Lot concert featuring Battle Creek/Kalamazoo native Frankie Ballard. The national country artist, famous for tunes like "Helluva Life," will take to the Intersection's makeshift outdoor stage. Tickets for the first 100 people are $11.93. Everyone else pays $16.93 in advance.

Kalamazoo loves it some Greensky Bluegrass, and it shows. The homegrown act will be taking the stage at Bell's Eccentric Cafe for three nights — June 5, 6 and 7. The June 6 and 7 performances were already sold out in mid-May. The band is preparing to release its latest album on Sept. 9 titled If Sorrows Swim.

Speaking of Kalamazoo, one of its very own is releasing an album on June 14. Treading Bleu will celebrate its latest release with a show at Shakespeare's Pub, also featuring the Overly Polite Tornadoes (members of glowfriends) and Dave Johnson.

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