Louisville rappers are making power moves in 2008. Often (read: always) left unmentioned in most publications both on a local and national level, Louisville’s hip-hop scene continues to grow, and the powers-that-be are finally taking notice.
Enter rapper Fonz, née LaFon Brown, and his staggering tale of half a decade of DIY releases — the power of selling out of the trunk of your car.
Rapping has been a hobby since middle school, he says, but he has been taking it seriously for more than four years. His three mixtape albums, Putting My Pen To The Pad Vol. I-III, he says, have sold nearly 19,000 copies, almost entirely hand-to-hand and at shows. Numbers like these are unheard of, especially in a market of limited local airplay and few hip-hop-friendly venues. Fonz takes his success in stride, knowing that this is the beginning of his career.
Life as an unsigned rapper can be difficult in a genre addicted to braggadocio, swagger and the finest accoutrements. It’s easy to fall into bad decisions, both of personal and business matters, and even easier to “fake jacks” — that common hip-hop pitfall of telling tall tales. Fonz, again, is unswayed by these problems.
For one, he’s hardly starving. “I’ve been eating just off of my CDs,” he says.
Bad business? His website prominently displays his favorite book as Donald S. Passman’s “Everything You Need to Know About the Music Business,” a book I lived out of for years.
Personal problems? He sees himself as a source of inspiration to young people. “Around the way where I’m at, man, people don’t really have (anybody) to look up to. I’d rather have people look up to me while I’ve got their attention.”
Fonz thinks Louisville’s hip-hop scene can rise above the days of disunity and jealousy. “A lot of people can be intimidated by other people’s talent,” he says. “It’s one thing to feel like, ‘OK, I have the spotlight. I don’t want to turn that light on nobody else, take it away from me.’”
To avoid these issues, he travels around the country to partake and parlay with other communities and hip-hop groups, keeping his eyes on national recognition and a major-label contract.
Fonz celebrates the release of his newest mixtape, Tha Block Addiction, Thursday with a music-video shoot/birthday party at Petrus. Let his words be your official invitation: “Anybody who wants to come down and be a part, come on!”
Fonz CD Release
Thursday, Sept. 18
116 E. Main St.
$5; 9 p.m.