Appalshop News

Hip Hop in Appalachia

3 weeks ago

Hello from WMMT, our community radio station! We have a few updates we’d love to share with you as we begin this new year.

News from the June Appal Recordings Front 

Thanks to generous funding from the Appal Seed grant project, Professors Ted Olson and William Turner, along with Executive Producer J.K. Turner, are gearing up to release No Options: Hip Hop in Appalachia on June Appal Recordings next month. WMMT has been coordinating with them since summer 2022 to bring together some of our region's finest hip hop artists, including geonovah from Big Stone Gap, Virginia; Sista Zock from Knoxville, Tennessee; and Gardenn and Monstalung from West Virginia, among many others. The lineup is impressive, and sound engineer Will Cassell has mastered every track to perfection on what we hope will be a valuable contribution to the exploration and artistry of American (and specifically Appalachian) Hip Hop. 

Executive Producer J.K. Turner writes, "While the emergence of hip-hop in Appalachia has been a transformative cultural phenomenon, it has been challenging. The genre has faced resistance from some quarters, who may view it as incompatible with the traditional values of the region. However, artists and enthusiasts have worked tirelessly to bridge these perceived gaps, highlighting the universality of human experiences and the power of music to transcend boundaries." 

We are thrilled at June Appal to be taking part in bridging these perceived gaps and showing the world that music here in the mountains is alive, well, and far more varied than one might be led to believe. We're also thrilled to reveal the cover of the album, designed by Lexington-based Bryce Oquaye. Oquaye is an illustrator and animator releasing work as the brand MADHUNDREDS. 

Be on the lookout during February for the compilation release and a handful of album release events! 

Revisiting the Origins of Our Label 

In early 2022, June Appal Recordings released a very special album from Ohio-based Matthew Stallard. HOBE is a direct appreciation of our region's traditions, named for Stallard's grandfather, Hobart, who regularly entertained folklorists and musicologists like Jean Ritchie, Marynell Young, Annadeene Fraley, Guthrie Meade, and Mark Wilson in the 1960s and 70s. 

As Stallard notes, "This album is for me an extension of my grandfather's front porch. It represents a fraction of the music and songs that he taught me and instilled in me from my early childhood. It is a piece of him that I am able to carry with me that no one can take away from me. It was a gift that I had the privilege to be with him and to hear him for 26 years. I still hear his ‘voice’ every time I play this music, and I hope that he will speak to you too."

Stallard recently came to teach some fiddle music to our Letcher County Pick & Bow youth on a beautiful Fall day. 

Check HOBE out today on June Appal’s Bandcamp:

And be on the lookout for more news from the label in 2024!  

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