The Strange Music infection started and will forever live on the streets. The dedicated members of the Strange Music Street Team make sure that no matter where you are, the Snake and Bat is right around the corner.
One of our finest Street Team Leaders goes by the name of Brandon Porter. Through his chance and serendipitous run in with the Strange Music Street Team, he has turned Little Rock, Arkansas from a “Who’s Tech N9ne?” town into a Tech N9ne town. We talked to the father and Little Rock Street Team leader to find out what motivates him to put in all the hard work he does day in and day out.
His answers will not only prove to be inspiring for other Street Teamers all across the nation, but to anyone with a passion and a dream.
Tell me how you became a street teamer, when did that happen and how did you stumble on that opportunity?
I was working at the mall here in Little Rock and one day when I was walking out I went out to my car and there was a pile of Strange Music Infection Samplers on my car. I had a big Strange Music logo already on the back of my car. I had already been involved with Strange before I was officially on the team I guess you could say. A good buddy of mine from the group 870 Underground, Tobe, introduced me to Tech between Absolute Power and Everready. We used to have to go to Tulsa to catch shows. That’s where we met Prozak and Paul Wall. The energy there at Cain’s Ballroom was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I wanted that in Little Rock. By that time I was already involved in booking shows for 870 and learning promotions from basically an EDM godfather and through him I met a promoter named Blake that was a fan of Tech himself, so we had been working with each other trying to get Tech here and ended up booking him for the K.O.D. tour back in ’09. Anyway, I got involved with that show and helping promote it. I went out to my car one day and I had all of the Infection CDs and I had some fliers sitting on my car and I was like “Wow, where did all this stuff come from? This is awesome!” I never did know for about a week and about a week later this guy came in my store while I was working, by the name of Jed Nichols, you might know him. He was over at the market in Springfield and he came in and we ended up talking and we put two and two together and he realized that I was the guy with the car that had the Strange Music logo on the back and I realized he was the guy with the Strange Music promo. So it was right before this K.O.D. Tour came through.
The K.O.D. Tour was successful. It was the first time that Tech had been here since I think 2002 but there was barely even a market here. Jed had brought promo down here and created a market down here, but he was watching over this market and the Springfield market at the same time. After the success of the K.O.D. show he gave me promo and the next thing I know Strange Music called me and asked me to lead up the Arkansas market. That’s where the opportunity came through between Jed Nichols and a good buddy of mine that was a big promoter here in Little Rock named Blake Sandifer. If it wasn’t for those two people I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have.
I love how it started with The Infection. Just that word kind of sums up the story of how Strange Music has spread. Tell me about the progression of the market in Little Rock, Arkansas and how it turned form kind of a market into a much bigger market and how it’s grown over time.
Well at first I remember a long time ago when I was introduced to Tech by a good buddy of mine Tobe, I heard the sounds coming through the speakers. I have a big respect for music. I went to college on a saxophone scholarship. I can read and write music, but hip hop has been a love and a passion of mine for a long time. I heard this on the radio and I couldn’t believe that it was so hidden and nobody knew about it. Around that time that was the overall attitude with people. People would be talking about their favorite artist and this that and the other and I’d be like “Well that guy doesn’t have anything on Tech N9ne,” and they’d be like “Tech who?” Sometimes people would just laugh it off because it was independent artist and he built his whole empire with no radio play.
Everybody knows how Tech has been slept on for years. I’m lucky to be one of those that was shown the secret, I guess you could say, before the unveiling of when he blew up. The attitude of people overall back then is that they didn’t know who he was. Very few hip hop nerds knew who he was here around this area, but then it didn’t take long before people started listening and talking about the music.
We hit the streets hard here in Little Rock. I put up so many posters downtown for the K.O.D. Tour that I thought I was going to be in trouble. We really hit the streets hard for that K.O.D. Tour and it was a great success here in Little Rock and the market started to grow then. It went from nobody knowing who Tech was and obviously now everybody knows who he is.
Since then, even after The K.O.D. Tour we’ve had two sellout shows, two sellout tours. Seeing the Street Team grow is a good reflection of how Strange Music has grown, because when I first started out in the Street Team it was kind of just a basic thing. They’d send you a promo and you’d go put it in the ideal spots. Now it’s this very professional, forward-looking opportunity. The Street Team is an organization that only brings people in that have passion for the music and truly hear the music. They don’t just listen to the music. It attracts these people all across the country to engage the Street Team on a level that I’m sure is better than their day jobs sometimes. When people truly hear and experience the music it just grows in itself.
With Strange Music it’s not just any old seed that you started to grow. We all know how beautiful of an organization Strange Music is and having that seed be such a fruitful seed that was planted back then, I’m just lucky that I noticed it and that I was able to be involved with it. That’s really the whole reason that Strange has come as far as it has is because you have a product that’s a wonderful product and it’s something that gives back to the people.
It’s definitely a lot easier to push something that you believe in that hard.
It definitely is. Since we’ve helped the Street Team become more organized the structure of Strange Music as an organization itself has just gotten to be the par of the industry, even though they’re not even a part of the industry. It’s really beautiful to see how far Strange Music has come – the Street Team, from them alone. Today we have an application, a simple crew app to where we’re able to geolocate track and organize the promotional materials on a level and there’s an accountability and nobody ever gets the short end of the stick. Everybody that contributes, it’s in plain black and white how much you contribute to this overall thing.
Everybody knows that the music has been so successful, but even on the inside of it, the little bit that I’m able to see, it’s such an awesome thing to be a part of and to see it grow so much in such a short amount of time.
Now there’s a lot of people in the industry looking at Strange Music, not as an underdog anymore but as a sort of blueprint to succeed in the music business in this era. How does it feel to be a part of something like that?
It’s a very humbling opportunity and at the same time I’m very grateful for the opportunity and I hope to keep it focused. It seems that one day I woke up and Strange Music was where I always believed it to be in my heart. So it’s almost like I didn’t even really notice it blow up even though I’ve seen Strange Music blowing up and Tech blowing up and everybody that’s come along like Wrek, Rittz and Stevie. During this whole process I’ve stayed busy focusing on promoting the music that I believe in. It’s almost like I woke up one day and realized “This is where we are. We’ve landed.”
It’s very humbling and it’s very inspirational. I’ve had several jobs since I’ve been helping out and doing work for Strange and the one constant the whole time was happiness for the belief I had in Strange Music and the confidence I had in Strange Music. That gives back to me and it’s very inspiring to me to focus in my own personal life, to not give up on things that I love and don’t give up on things that I believe in. I’ve literally seen it grow and that gives back an inspiration to me that’s worth more than all the money in the world.
What are some of the key points about Tech N9ne and Strange Music that foster that belief?
At the end of the day, Strange Music, Travis and Tech, they understand the two most important things to what we’re trying to do here. Everything that we’re all involved with and we’re trying to accomplish and believe in and work so hard towards comes back to two things: the music and the people. Without either one of those, nothing would be. It’s about the music and it’s about the people.
Strange listens to their fans. They understand what their fans wants. Just like a sports team, I guess you could say, that they have an awesome player and everybody’s buying. It’s the same thing in every walk of life: it’s about skills, positivity and making a great experience for the people through music.
I read a quote one time, it said something like, “Water is to the body like music is to the soul.” Everybody needs to take a music bath every once in awhile and one thing Strange has done with me, it might sound odd, it might be a little bit of cloud gazing, but with almost every release that Strange Music has had, has almost mirrored milestones in my own life. I remember when Stevie Stone’s album came out Rollin’ Stone and we had the track “My Remedy”. When I was doing Satellite installations I had to be away from my child for the first time since he was born for a whole week without hardly any notice and that song was there and I could really relate to it. Knowing that someone else is going through similar things that you’re going through and can feel you on a level, obviously it’s something gives back to you and can inspire you.
We’re all this together and that reflects in the music. There’s a lot of things in Tech’s music. I had gone through some dark times in my life right before K.O.D. I had some health problems around that time. Strange Music has just always spoke to me and I’ve always connected to it. It’s always given back to me and inspired me so it’s always my spine so I’m very passionate about it. So any way that I can help spread the kind of message that people can relate to and can help better other people’s lives I’ll do because that’s the reason I’m involved, it helped better my life and helped me get out of tough situations in my own mind.
It seems to do that for a lot of people. We were told that you just got out of a bout with cancer. Did the music help you with what you had to go through?
Yeah, it was definitely some of the hardest stuff that you can really deal with. Before that I was never really afraid of death, but when you’re dealing with something as serious as that then you’re really taking into consideration what happens to your child. When I became a father I became scared of everything, so that was the most frightening thing in the world to me, thinking about the possibility of me not being there for my daughter.
There’s an attitude, an inspiration and a focus when there’s no other option but “Get the job done,” that’s in Strange Music and a lot of Tech’s music. You know he’s had his ups and downs. He’s had his bouts with his mother being sick and everything. I can relate to that. You can hear that in its music and those tones. Being able to relate to that, it’s something that helps keep me focused. It gets me up and going every day. Your “Midwest Choppers” soundtrack, that gets me up, that gets me ready to go. ¡MAYDAY! the “Last One Standing”. You’ve got Rittz that came with his Life and Times album. I could pop that in and just hearing his motivation and the way that the lyricism and how these guys are such great poets yet they can become musical instruments at the same time with this poetry. It’s a beautiful thing that without it I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today and I’m thankful to have that there. It’s something that’s a motivating factor. Just being able to put your headphones on and take that music bath and release the world for a second. It goes back to the same reason that I got involved with helping promote music to begin with. There’s nothing that can replace that moment at a show on a Monday, Friday, Sunday night – whatever it is. Like this last show we had, we had 600 people, a sell out crowd in the venue and I could look around and see every one of these people so happy, so engaged in this. I know that not one of those people is focused on their bullshit during their day life. They’re not worried about their financial struggles, their struggles at home, their struggles at work, and in that moment they’re free. They really are. They’re able to create a memory, something that nobody can take away. What they are taking away is that burden if just for that little moment. At a concert, in a CD player, MP3 player, whatever it is, I think that escape is just as good for everybody else as it is just me. I think it motivates a lot of people.
Looking into the future, what are you the most excited about this year as it pertains to Strange Music?
I’m definitely looking forward to the Strangeulation album and the other releases coming up. Strangeulation being the first album of 2o14 recorded under the Strangeland Studios is a highlight. The CES Cru tour – I’m so happy to see those guys and as a gifted as they are, I’m really happy to see those guys make it the way that they are. I’m excited about a possible Rittz tour this year. Those are three of the biggest things that I’m excited about this year. Obviously I’m also looking forward to the unannounced album releases this year because when you look for that inspiration as a fan like I am, when you look for that inspiration and you’re involved with Strange Music – we just came off a year when we had 13 releases. Between every CD you bump that CD and you listen to that music until the next album drops. It’s always forward. It goes up you know? I’m always looking forward to that next thing, that next bit of poetry in music.
You’ve seen this thing grow from then until now? Where do you think Strange Music is going ot go in the future?
I see a big change in the way that the music industry is coming down. Right now in the music industry it seems like they’ll sell Nickelback until Nickelback stops selling. Not to knock Nickelback, I’m not saying that, but I’m saying it’s almost like the liquidation of assets. They play something until it’s played out. People are getting tired of that. People are smarter than that. People are not looking for these dumb lyrics. It doesn’t matter how awesome the beat is. If your poetry doesn’t have a message there’s no use to it. I don’t see that as surviving very long with how smart people are these days.
I see Strange Music growing. We already see it as the epitome of how real music should be spread and how it should it be artist-centric – putting the artists first and letting them truly be artists, not making them carbon copies. It’s already spread as an infection. It’ already been a Hostile Takeover. It’s just going to blow up further because Strange Music has proved that they’re doing something right and everybody’s paying attention. You have mainstream artists that are going independent because of what Tech has done. If that’s not a testament to what’s going on then I don’t know what else is because the game has had its script for awhile now, but Strange Music is here to change the game and I think they already have.
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