How Rapper Aliso Black Plans to Hustle His Way to Paid Dues
|Aliso Black has paid some serious dues. The soles of his Chucks tell the tale.|
Aliso Black doesn't like to talk about the dues he's paid to his local hip-hop scene. He'd rather just show you the worn-out soles of his white, high-top Chucks, the armpit stains under his sweatshirt, or a car trunk full of mixtapes and show fliers. Then of course there's the swath of Google entries that that pop up when you type his name and the phrase "OC Underground Hip-hop" in the search bar. Sure, playing countless shows and setting major hip-hop events like Sound Asylum earn him respect on the local backpack rap circuit. But lately, the MC born Aaron Williams is starving to show scores of discriminating hip-hop heads outside OC just how much he's sacrificed in the rap game by running a grassroots campaign for a slot at next year's Paid Dues Festival. As far as he's concerned, his entire career as a local underground artist is emblematic of what the annual concert is all about.
"I represent, the hungry cats on the come up who haven't got a lot of shine, I represent the underdog, the guy who's putting the work in, he's just not getting noticed," he says. "I don't know anyone who works at Paid Dues, my cousin doesn't own a record label. I don't have any special avenues for music, I never have."
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It's going to be a long five months until the celebrated indie rap tour comes around in April of 2013, but in the last several weeks, Aliso's strategy of gaining sponsorships from local businesses, filming and posting every show he plays and having his fans tweet the hell out of rapper Murs (a frequent headliner and major force behind the fest) is actually starting to work. Recently, he struck a deal hip-hop clothing store CGS in the Santa Ana, who are offering 10% off purchases for anyone who comes in and mentions Aliso Black and tweets or posts a request on Facebook to see him on the bill. He's now a regular guest on programs like Internet station B-Side Radio, pitching his potential and spitting a few sample bars for prospective supporters. He's planned out a schedule of pep rally shows and community benefit gigs to keep his hype going as he plots his next move to get noticed.
Though he's the first rapper from OC to do something like this (that we know of) he definitely isn't the first MC to run a Paid Dues campaign. In 2011, San Bernardino rapper Noa James inspired him after he successfully ran his own campaign that earned him a slot on the festival. For Aliso, whose stack of mixtapes and music videos have been piling up over the last five years, a campaign like this was just the kick in the ass he needs to create more demand for his flows.
"I felt like I needed to do something to push the envelope for me as an artist, he says. "When things become to easy and comfortable I know I need to step it up."