One of rap's most enduring and appealing archetypes is the hustler. Whether it's a guy who sold drugs for years, then went legit and decided to rap -- or the idea of someone like Too Short, in his early years, selling tapes out of his trunk. There's something compelling about them. Maybe it's that they're hard to ignore; a certain breed easy to root for. But you pull for those guys. You want them to win.
My friend and tag-team rap partner in Parker & the Numberman, Parker Edison considers himself a hustler -- more in line with Too Short than Tony Montana. But even though he raps, directs music videos and lectures at universities, that persona is who he identifies with most.
It's simply what he's best at, he reveals: "I'm a hustler, which translates into promotions and marketing ... I write pretty good rap records but I find really good ways to promote and market them to people."
Last year he launched the Message in a Bottle campaign, a movement in support of his album, "The Couch Tapes" [listen/buy it here]. Instead of selling CDs or gifting download codes at shows, he gave away postcards. An inexpensive way to hand out merch and an easy outlet for promoting his record. Part do-it-yourself PR, part grassroots funding.
He worked "The Couch Tapes" and its Message in a Bottle push the same way any hustler would: He hit the pavement and decided to grind it out racking up a ton of frequent flyer miles as he moved back and forth between Southern California and the Pacific Northwest. Slowly, he built a buzz up the coast as he partnered with All Money Management in Oregon, and Seattle's Polite Society in Washington.
As a "Couch Tapes" companion piece, he released "Banana Clip," a DVD named after his lead single "Apefood" [watch it here]. It's a lo-res peek into the world of San Diego rap. It includes interviews with local artists, roundtable Q&A's, and a hodgepodge of music videos all stuffed with scenes of tour footage. Hoping it serves as a time capsule, it's Edison doing his best to document the city's hip hop scene and -- ever the hustler -- it's also a way for him to continue to promote his own project.
After submitting "Banana Clip" to last year's San Diego Fall Film Festival, he's gearing up for 2015 and another round of screenings. He says he has a couple of new videos he's working on and wants to release another single from "The Couch Tapes" but his most immediate plans? More marketing and promotion.