February 9, 2005

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Pit stop for hip-hop
Nashua sees a growing interest in rap and hip-hop
By Richie Victorino  rvictorino@hippopress.com

Hip-hop is popping up all over Nashua.

In the past couple of months, two members of Wu-Tang Clan have made appearances at two different Nashua clubs. A local collaborative hip-hop team, U-N Entertainment?, have set up shop at Cinco’s. Hip-hop is attracting all walks of life, from high-school students to 20-something business women.

Nashua’s proximity to Massachusetts (and specifically Lowell and Lawrence) has helped turn the Gate City into a baby Brooklyn, according to Billy Fee of Nashua-based One Love.

“There’s more ethnicity and diversity,” Fee said. “People from Massachusetts are moving to Nashua, and they’re bringing hip-hop with them.”

DJ Dax, of U-N Entertainment, said hip-hop is winning fans all over.

“It’s beginning to dominate the nightlife,” Dax said. “Five years ago you would have heard dance music in the clubs in Miami, New York and London. But dance is on the decline.”

The reason for this domination, according to Dax, is clever marketing and MTV.

“Hip-hop used to be geared toward urban youth,” he said. “But it’s not just urban anymore. It’s the middle-class families.”

Shows like Cribs on MTV glamorize the hip-hop life. There’s more bling-bling in Ludacris’ house than there is square footage. He has more cars than he does fingers. And kids respond to this.

Hip-hop without the violence
While it’s certainly good that diversity rears its head in Nashua’s music scene, there is a concern with the emergence of hip-hop: violence.

Violence has always been associated with hip-hop, like it or not. The murder of four young men in a make-shift studio in Dorchester, Mass., recently hasn’t helped the image. The goal is to keep hip-hop alive in

Nashua without breeding violence.

Dax has a simple solution for this issue.

“We can avoid all that with more positive music being made,” Dax said.

But that’s tough when many hip-hop artists come with a load of negative baggage. Hip-hop songs often talk about selling or doing drugs, living with abusive parents or imposing some type of violence on someone else.

Even Nashua has its ugly parts, according to the high-school duo HNF.

“There are drugs, gangs,” said Eddie Molina of HNF.

“Rap is a way to release. You can rap about anything,” said HNF’s Cristopher Richiez. “You can let go of your anger and struggles. You can make that beautiful; something people would want to listen to.”

But HNF isn’t interested in pretending they are people they aren’t.

“In my songs, I’d rather talk about things I’ll do or been through, not ‘I’m gonna kill someone,’” Richiez said.

Even though music is an art form, most local musicians admit they have a social responsibility to uphold to.

Dax raps about negative aspects of his life. He gets angry. But he does it in good taste.

“I believe it’s all in how it’s presented,” Dax said. “Stories can have negative aspects in a book, sure. It’s all in the end morale that you’re trying to convey.”

Dax said many hip-hop artists do rap in an intelligent, respectful way, but are misunderstood.

“Tupac was often misconstrued,” Dax said. “People would think he was talking about being a gangsta. But he was saying those places are bad, they need to be changed. Violence in a song is not to glorify it, but to serve as a lesson.”

Even the high-school kids admit that music can warp the mind.

“When you live in bad neighborhoods to begin with, that type of music might not affect you,” Richiez said. “But if you’re living in other places, nicer places, it does affect you, and how you think.”

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