The defining force in our post-millenium lives, the internet, continues to present challenges to the music business for everything from how music is best sold and distributed to how fan bases are built.
It’s a given that the fragmentation of information streams and the sheer amount of them makes it extremely difficult to connect fans and audiences; new music seekers often find themselves sifting through a lot of shit online before finding a hidden gem or two. Social media continues to be the trickiest internet landscape to navigate. How are you supposed to reach a mass audience in this type of environment?
I’m From Cleveland is a collective of hip-hop lovers, artists, and super smart guys who are quickly establishing themselves as the go-to authority on the latest and greatest emerging talent locally. They are the Cleveland hip-hop scene’s solution to the struggle of sifting through all the shit.
“I’m From Cleveland is a media outlet,” expalins IFC Co-founder John Stursa. “We use our websites and social media followings to promote what’s going on, primarily in the hip-hop scene, but other genres as well—just people making good music in general.”
Artists submit their work via song, video, or mixtape. The submissions are reviewed by the IFC team, who then decide what content to post to the web by judging its talent level and quality. The best submissions are posted on their website and social media channels with the potential to reach their thousands of followers. This creates a singular hub that saves Cleveland hip-hop enthusiasts from wasting time clicking through a lot of generally bad music.
I’m From Cleveland continues to grow in its scope and services. “We’re trying to start with more original content,” Stursa says. “We’re going out and interviewing artists, recapping events, and we want to throw our own music showcases and do artist development. I’d really like to be a one-stop shop where artists know they can come to us for anything and be like, ‘Hey, I’m dropping this mixtape in a month. What can I do to start getting people ready for it? Who’s hands should I be getting my music into?’ We want to be there for artists helping them through every step, whether it’s creating content, promoting their content, and then getting it heard by the right people.”
Good Kids, Mad City: Names in Cleveland’s Rap Scene You Better Know
Courtesy of I’m From Cleveland, here’s a short list of local artists already on the way to finding nationwide appeal:
- Ezri – He’s best known as an actor, having starred in the 2015 indie film, The Land, and appearing in several episodes of the TV series, Empire. He was signed to rap icon Nas’ label, Mass Appeal, and has released an EP, Be Right Back. Check out the title track, a coming-of-age song you might find tugging at your heartstrings.
- MalcUpNext – Fourteen-year-old Malcolm White caught the ear of Big Boi after his cover of Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” went viral. He’s since been signed to Big Boi’s label, Camp Purple, and is receiving mentoring from the boss to bring him up through the business.
- Earl St. Clair – Def Jam Recordings made sure to swoop up St. Clair, whose Ray Charles-esque vocals and jazzy jams could spur a whole new/old movement in the R&B genre. He spent his younger years in Cleveland producing for the likes of MGK and Rick Ross before launching his own career as a musician.
- Michael Conor – If Harry Styles were American and could rap, he would be Michael Conor. The Shaker Heights native won ABC’s Boy Band TV singing competition. His original music—see the video for “Shine”—shows Conor to be introspective and articulate.
Q Money – His song “Work” exploded last year as part of a social media dance challenge. He’s since been signed and continues releasing music on his way up the hip-hop ranks.