Hear Chicago's hip-hop past with a sold-out 1995 compilation, Talent Fest - Chicago Reader (2023)

Hear Chicago's hip-hop past with a sold-out 1995 compilation, Talent Fest - Chicago Reader (1)Hear Chicago's hip-hop past with a sold-out 1995 compilation, Talent Fest - Chicago Reader (2)
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A few weeks agoplayboybecame the last national outlet to cover Chicago hip-hop with adeep story, although like the recent "documents" ofworld starynoisythe feature mainly focuses on the drilling scene. Thankfully, writer Ethan Brown takes a moment to point out that this town's rap scene isn't just Chief Keef and his circle:

But 2013 proved just how deep Chicago's hip-hop bank is. In January of that year, Justin Bieber, of all people, sported a black baseball cap emblazoned with the Treated Crew, a band of rappers, producers and designers led by veteran DJ Million Dollar Mano of Kanye West. The hug came despite the fact that Chicago offers, as Mano told me, “the biggest uphill battle any eccentric black man has. We have to jump and run after chances, because here we don't have them”.

This quote from Mano reminded me of how difficult it was for many local MCs and producers to get much, if any, attention. It also reminded me of the protagonist of aYtasha L. Womack Reader features at the 2002 Rap Spot, "When it comes to hip-hop, Chicago is not respected." The opening paragraph of Womack's story mentions how the local scene was neglected throughout the 1990s: To anyone living outside of Chicago, it might have seemed like there wasn't much of a rap presence here. Of course there was, anda 1996 story by Peter Margasakcovers some of the notable local agitators, mentioning a 1995 compilation calledtalent festival.talent festivalit has since sold out (you can get a copy on Discogs for $100), but, eager to hear the compilation and learn about it, I reached out to the man who released it, Scot Kellogg.

Currently, Kellogg is responsible foryour own real estate company in Michigan, but he still remembers nights spent at the Elbo Room hanging out with local rappers, and he recently took the time to talk about his experience playingtalent festivaltogether and became involved in the local rap scene in the mid-90s. He also distributed a few copies oftalent festivaland gave theReaderpermission to stream the hard-to-find build. You can listen to it below, though the Soundcloud playlist is a bit broken as we can't stream D2 Tha S's contribution ("Dissin' These Fools") due to past copyright issues; I've included a YouTube clip of the track between a Soundcloud pairtalent festivalplaylists and the music has been placed in the order it appears in the compilation. D 2 Tha S is one of many crucial but overlooked groups in Chicago hip-hop history: Legendary producer Traxster has since become one of Chicago's greatest beatmakers, and the late Trevor "Kay-Tone" Caston is as well. the upload guydrill rapper lil erva— and “Dissin’ These Fools” is one of the best songs on thetalent festival🇧🇷 Listen to the full compilation below, and read my interview with Kellogg.

Leor Galil: How did you get hooked on the Chicago hip-hop scene?

Scottish Kellogg:I just dove in. I started going to the Elbo Room hip-hop night on Mondays, I'm pretty sure they don't do that anymore. But Jesse De La Pena used to host hip-hop nights there. It went really well. S.P.O. SinceEraserand Dirty used to set it up and let people freestyle at the end of the night. That's when I saw Juice, but I was starting to ask throughout the scene, "Who do you know? Who do I need to know? I'm thinking about doing this compilation."

Where did you get the idea for the compilation? Was it specifically from going to the Monday night shows at the Elbo Room?

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I don't remember exactly, except that I really loved hip-hop. When I went there, I said, "This is one of the only big cities that isn't really represented in hip-hop." I think at that time common sense was beginning to get a national buzz, or,common sense back then🇧🇷 There really wasn't much to do in Chicago. So I thought, "Wow, there's so much great music here that people need to hear." So that's where the idea came from.

What brought you to Chicago in the first place?

I went there to go to school. I started at DePaul and finished at Columbia College. And my brother lived there, that's the real reason I came to Chicago.

How long after you were in town and went to school? How long later did you dive into the scene and start hanging out at The Elbo Room?

About a year after getting used to Chicago; I actually went to Columbia University and got into the music business program there and started an internship at A&M Records in O'Hare, it used to be. So I had a passion for the music business and that led to me starting my own business and wanting to bring all these hip-hop artists together because they had so much to offer.

With that in mind, how did you approach the acts that ended intalent festival🇧🇷 How did you know who you wanted there? What was the process of putting it all together?

It's graceful. I didn't really understand the culture, the scene, nothing. I really liked hip-hop music. I knew everything from the 80s, early 90s and I bought everything. But when I got there, I didn't understand how freestyle it was. So I would just listen every Monday night. Then there was an open mic night at Clique during the week, I started to attend. Just ask people. If I heard someone I really liked, I would go after them after several drinks and say, "Wow, that was great." And ask a bunch of questions: who do they like, what's going on. Basically being curious.

Do you feel like you've gained a better sense of culture and community?

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Yes, I really did. I really came to appreciate the art form even more. I think it took me a long time to digest what was going on in the whole scene and understand it, because I think the whole time trying to understand it I was nervous. We were partying, it was kind of hard for me to hug.

Why is this?

Part of it was probably my own insecurity; being a white kid trying to understand hip-hop music, which was predominantly black music and being the only white kid in the club at the time. You know, where do I belong, how am I a part of it?

How did you see your role change when organizingtalent festival?

I don't know what changed so much. I think people were trying to understand me as much as I was trying to understand them. “Why is this guy so motivated to release this album? Who is he? What's going on?" Really, it was amazing that so many good artists were ready to say, "Yeah, let's do this. Here's one of my songs. Turn it off." It was really interesting back then compared to today: everyone's music is online, they release it before it comes out, all that. Back then people didn't like to distribute their demos because they thought someone would steal their music, your beat, your sample. So it was really hard to get people to give you stuff. Surprisingly, the top artists were more willing to give me their music to release than some of the smaller artists who were more protective of it.

Why do you think this is?

I'm not sure. Perhaps the best artists, the ones who were going to do it or wanted more exposure, were more confident that they could do something special and do it again, so they don't steal the show, the beat that they are. trying to make a career out of it. I am not sure.

How long did it take you to basically compile the 12 songs that appear on thetalent festival?

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It took me probably at least a year. Lots of ups and downs, and I was learning how to start a business. There were a lot of ups and downs besides getting these artists who are artists, not all of them business oriented. I want files, I want the DATs they put in back then, to get the final product, so we went and mixed it up. But it took longer than I would have liked, and many of them didn't even submit their biographies or information about themselves; thus, the back of the album, like Rubberroom, based on how they spell their name, is misspelled. Just a few other things that happened along the way, because I finally said, "We've got the song, let's get started."

And finally you hung up. How many copies did you print and what was the process for getting that out there? How did people respond?

The people responded well. We received a very good report in theChicago Tribune.billboardHe wrote something about the Chicago scene, which was very much based on our compilation. So the response was good, but at that point I was almost exhausted. We had an album release party at the Elbo Room, Fat Joe was in town. He came in, did some freestyling, we distributed albums, promoted. We played on some local radio stations.

We did some promotions, but the problem is that I didn't follow up to a certain point. We distributed the album to all popular stores: south zone, west zone. [Street Promoter] J-Bird gave me an exclusive list, which he swore he could never tell anyone because he spent so much time doing it, of these little moms and dads who sell candy bars, pop and have records for sale. So I went to all of them and there were probably 100 little record stores, 50 to 100, that I went to, I gave records on consignment, I wrote on a little receipt how many I gave away, but most never came back. one. There was a distribution in the west zone, which was part of my internship at the university, to go to work, I think its name isGeorge [Daniels of George's Music Room], and he can sell his music through his one-stop shop. All these people come to him, so we did that too. But I liked 2,500 CDs, 1,000 tapes and 300 Get Off My Production and the Figure 12-inchers that we released initially.

And you mentioned that you were quite exhausted after the end of creation.talent festival🇧🇷 When you started Beathole Records, did you expect to do anything after that?

He had his eye on being in the music business. A lot of the reason I was burnt out was that I wasn't good at bringing other people in to help, being around, being part of the street team to promote it. I was just going out there and trying to make it all happen myself; I later learned that it was a mistake there instead of bringing in other entities and relinquishing some control. But a lot of what happened in the recording industry since I interned at A&M Records was a real peak for them. I was leaving Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler, there was a lot going on, but I realized how tainted the business was and I would deal with adding a record to a radio station, it wasn't the best music when I started to learn a little more behind the scene. It became a business. I had a business mindset, but what really attracted me was the love of music.

After realizing this, what did you decide to do in terms of your own career and your own aspirations?

Well, I did some social work and was doing some social work at the end of that part time. But I really wasn't sure. That kind of guided me, I got into punk music at that time. I like the angst of it, you know, back at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago, and still embracing the hip-hop scene, but I didn't know how to become a part of those scenes. I stayed a little away. Finally, one day several years later, I had lived in Chicago for five years, and I woke up and said, “You know what? I'm ready for something new." I went back to Grand Rapids, Michigan where I thought I would own a bar, but then through many different channels I got into real estate, which I do now.


How long have you been working in real estate?

Well, I went to a bartending, er, school in Chicago where they taught you how to make drinks like you were going to work on a cruise ship. You know, all these fruit drinks, and I went back to Grand Rapids, thinking they were really going to love this. I got hired at some kind of dive called Joey's Lounge, and I was there for like three weeks before I got fired. The guy basically told me I had to get breast augmentation or speed up. I was like, "Wow." I was devastated. I got fired from a shitty bar job.

I returned to this bar drunk one night, feeling really bad about myself. The guy who trained me said, "Why do you want to work here?" I was like, "Ohhh." That was a life lesson. So I left there and I thought about it, and my dad was a builder, I grew up building houses, he said, "Do you want to start building houses?" I did, but I really didn't like it. I hated working for him as a kid. But anyway, I gained my passion: I enjoyed working with people, helping them find a home, and that led me to become a Realtor and now a Realtor.

Is it a very different way of life than starting your own label and working in the hip-hop scene? Before I approach you, have you heard from people abouttalent festival🇧🇷 Have you heard from anyone about this in recent years?

I listen to people from time to time. You know, I go to shows, I buy albums. But occasionally I hear this group that was [from] Grand Rapids, they were on Profile Records when I moved there. They were called Euro-K, and when the album came out they were called Realist. I still see them regularly. But hey, no, it's pretty sporadic. I look at people from time to time.

I will broadcast this on the website. I will post these questions and answers almost in full. How many copies of the CD do you still have? Do you have tapes or something? Do you have any goals or aspirations to relaunch it at some point?

You know, I really don't know. As I said, the realist, local here in Grand Rapids, one of the guys said, "People keep asking him about his album." He had 100 CDs that I just gave him. I said, “You know, if you can sell them, good for you. Go promote the group, do what you can with it.” He probably only has a handful of Figure and Get Off My Production 12-inches and maybe 50 CDs. I don't even know if I have any tape left or not. I probably have some. Not a lot, but a little.

no more galilwrite abouthip hopevery Wednesday.

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