Miss a show? Watch Recent Sessions of The Movement.
Growing up in Philly, it was inevitable that you were exposed to Hip-Hop. For those who were drawn to it, the love affair began and the culture grew. Since 1973, Hip-Hop grew from B-Boys, Beat Boxing and DJs to an art form relatable to everyone. The 1990s gave way to a generation of people who could appreciate Hip-Hop as an art form rather just a commercial entity because artists from NWA and Snoop to A Tribe Called Quest and Nas could co-exist. There wasn't one sound and people could hear different artists on local radio stations.
Coors Light and Power 99 would like to introduce The Movement, to give the mic to 13 local emcees and introduce the collective of real Hip-Hop artists that exists in the city. The Underground Summer Series, featuring 13 local artist performances, live in our performance studio, will take place over the 13 weeks of summer.
How did growing up in Camden influence your music?
I started out a graffiti head, so being young, going to school, taking art classes and stuff like that and learning how to draw… that's really how I started getting into the art form. Graffiti was the first thing that grabbed my attention, and when I knew that there was a soundtrack that went to this type of art form, I just started to try to find it everywhere I could. From recording Lady B's show… you know… I grew up listening to Power 99 and all that. Sunday I would be glued to the radio just trying to record whatever came on. They were playing Hip-Hop. Power 99 had a real big impact on how I grabbed Hip-Hop and how I fell in love with Hip-Hop. It was initially graffiti and then it branched off. I tried to breakdance but that was one of the areas that I was flawed. I couldn't really breakdance like that. I just stuck to what I was good at… the graffiti and from there… the music. I tried to DJ first, and I couldn't really do that, and then I started writing rhymes. In high school, I would practice at home… and then in the cafeteria I would rhyme and cats were like 'you're kind of nice' and then I just started doing it more and more… and next thing I knew, I was tearing people's heads off.
What do you think is missing from the Hip-Hop you hear on the radio?
The internet plays a big part in it. Why would people tune into the radio when they can just YouTube it or stream it or download the mp3… it's (music) everywhere. Satellite radio has stations that cater to different age groups… you have an XM station for damn near everything. I can tune into an XM channel and listen to all the stuff I grew up on. I haven't lost anything, but Hip-Hop is a youthful genre of music. We listened growing up, but that was what artists were making at the time, and Hip-Hop is one of the only genres that has an age limit. You have to be a certain age to really be relevant. Some people have surpassed the age, like Jay Z or Ghostface, who are still rocking and are still relevant, but once you reach a certain age limit no one wants to hear you. It's sad but it's true. Our type of Hip-Hop will end of having a channel and all they'll play is old school Hip-Hop. We used to record off of the radio just so we could have music to bang for the week and now it's like all the same songs all the time and who wants to listen to that when you can just plug in your iPod or whatever.
What are some important collaborations that you've done?
I worked with a group out of Baltimore called Dirt Platoon. I've worked with Jaguar Wright. I did her latest single. Peedi Crakk… I've worked with a lot of people out of Philly… Ethel Cee, Hezekiah. I can't even say what my imprint on Hip-Hop is or even like my favorite joint because I love making music and to hear the outcome of it. That's what I yearn for. It's Hip-Hop music. A lot of beats that I've done or given people… I don't even seek anything out of it. All I ask is just let me hear it when you're finished. I want to hear the finished product so I can have some new music for myself. I get the satisfaction out of that and I still feel like I haven't done my best work. I just want people to understand like 'he really did it because he loved it. He was true to it and gave it 100 percent and never asked for anything in return for it.' It's cool to get paid. I've done shows and tours where I've gotten paid but at the end of the day sometimes the free shows are the livest. But I guess (some of the things I've done) with Beat Society, Illmind, Kanye West before people knew who Kanye West was… I was on stage with these cats, 88 Keys.
What comes first, emceeing or producing?
I write my illest rhymes when I'm crazy stressed out. When I'm happy or relaxed, I make my best beats. So I try to find a fine line in between the two so I can be efficient at both parts. The funny thing is I can't write rhymes to my beats so I have to write to another instrumental or to no beat at all. I'll be thinking so much about the beat that I'm not thinking about the rhymes.
Did you start of as a part of the Gargantuans or as a part of The Nuthouse?
I started off with The Nuthouse which was basically me, Dave Ghetto and my man Jason Archie. We were doing that back in like 97. Me and Dave have been holding the torch because Jason grew up and realized Hip-Hop wasn't really his thing anymore. Me and Dave have been doing it for the longest. The Gargantuan thing is something that I wanted to do as far as grabbing the monsters in the area and doing a super group. My initial idea was to bridge or bring together all the people from Camden that I think are underrated or under-heard. I teamed up with Baby Blak, The Journalist, Aul Purpis and Jay Ski to do the Gargantuan thing and it was just to show some type of unity in underground Hip-Hop.
Camden High and Rising is a play on 3 Feet High and Rising, right?
Me and Dave met in Camden high school and that's where we honed our skills. That's where we met and that's where we got our start… Camden High. Everybody in Camden knows that Camden High was the hot spot… so it was like being from Camden High and rising beyond that and then it was also a tribute to De La Soul. I linked up with Set Free one day when I was doing an in-store … and prior to that me and Dave had done a freestyle video and posted it on YouTube and he caught wind of it and he was like 'what's going on with you guys doing some Nuthouse stuff'… because we hadn't done any Nuthouse stuff… it took Free to spark that idea in us to make us want to go back to the lab and do some Nuthouse music. So Set Free got into contact with Prince Paul and he got the green light for us to recreate some De La Soul songs. So we did a bunch of them and selected the best ones. It was easy for us to go in there and pay homage to them. I tried to get the cadence perfect, every syllable is the same… we just flipped the word out. We weren't trying to get anything out of it. We were just trying to pay homage and let people know that Nuthouse was re-united.
Do you want to talk about The Sophomore Jinx?
I would make some beats, listen to them… come up with some concepts. I had maybe like 18 or 19 joints that were done but they weren't mixed yet. I had put it together with interludes, intros, outros just by default so when I'm riding around I had something to listen to and not get bored. I had the album done and I gave a copy to Dave. He let Semp Rok hear it and he fell in love with the song Panzie. He wanted to sign a deal off of that song alone. For the most part, I just wanted The Sophomore Jinx to be straight Boom-Bap from front to back. I wasn't even going to put that song on there but at the last minute we put it on there. He decided to put it out on SoFlo Entertainment.
What city do you think has the illest Hip-Hop vibe?
Philly. When Philly was thriving in Hip-Hop, I couldn't believe that right across the bridge, the scene was so crazy. I'm in Camden and everyone in Camden can rap… and across the bridge I find a whole scene where the type of music that we made is embraced.
Growing up in Camden, New Jersey, Fel Sweetenberg's mother had the Soul music on in the house every morning while he got ready for school. He first fell in love with graffiti art before realizing he could put a soundtrack to it. He started writing and would practice for an audience in the cafeteria at Camden High. Sweetenberg started producing and emceeing and around 1997 became 1/3 of The Nuthouse, a Hip-Hop group, along with Dave Ghetto and Jason Archie. Goodvibe Recordings quickly put out a Nuthouse EP entitled Deez Nuts which featured cameos by El da Sensai (Artifacts), Planet (Outerspace) and Diamond Back (Deadly Snakes). Fel was also featured on the Dave Ghetto Love Life 12″ and LP (Counterflow Recordings), and the Embodiment of Instrumentation LP by Scratch from The Roots (Rope-A-Dope/Atlantic Records). In 2010, The Nuthouse reunited to put out Camden High and Rising, a tribute to De La Soul, which was hosted by Prince Paul, the producer of De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising.
Fel appeared with Slum Village and Bahamadia on the 2000 Goodvibe tour, and has also rocked crowds with Aceyalone and Jean Grae. Fel was a featured producer at Beat Society events in D.C. and Philadelphia, sharing the stage with Little Brother, Kanye West, 88 Keys, Bahamadia and many others.
While away from Nuthouse, Sweetenberg is also a member of The Gargantuans, a collective of underground artists including Baby Blak, Aul Purpis, The Journalist and Jay Ski. His second studio LP, The Sophomore Jinx, dropped in 2010 on Break Bread Projects.