Three local hip-hop acts will ignite the Grove Studios livestream stage Saturday.
Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper will spark electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves for a Grove Sessions livestream audience. Rod Wallace, Grove Studios educational programs coordinator and Zero Noize Podcast host, will oversee the show’s festivities.
“We want to bring a full Approachable Minorities experience to all who come and watch the stream. Since last year we have been working hard to bring new material for our fans, and we are excited to share that with everyone,” said TJ Greggs, aka MC Lewy Seifer of Approachable Minorities.
“We plan to play some new songs for the Grove Sessions set to give a small glimpse of our new album that we will be releasing over the next year. We continue to practice and work on our craft regularly so that we may bring the best performance for any event that we are a part of.”
Along with his Approachable Minorities partners – MC Druzi Baby, aka Drew Denton, and DJ OnDemand, aka Marcus McKinney – Greggs relishes rejoining Tru Klassick for another live show and teaming up with Soundproof’s Mark Cooper for the first time.
“Tru Klassick always brings superior lyrical diversity and captures the true essence of hip-hop. We have worked and performed with Tru Klassick on many different occasions, and it is always a great time to watch his talent at work. We have not yet had the chance to perform with Mark Cooper, but we are excited to have the chance to share the stage with him,” said Greggs along with his bandmates.
Outside of performing, Approachable Minorities continue to write, record and release new material. The Ypsilanti party rap and conscious hip-hop trio recently contributed and produced tracks for last summer’s community-based hip-hop album, Formula 734, along with Louis Picasso, Sam Watson, Beretta Shells, Konphlict, King Ogundipe, Tru Klassick, Jamall Bufford and Wallace.
One of the project’s most compelling tracks includes Approachable Minorities’ thoughtful, percussive “See Me Dead,” which was inspired by last summer’s Black Lives Matter marches.
Together, they reflect, “Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my skin/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my hair/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause I’m Black/Why they wanna see me dead/See another brother take two to the head.”
“We were on vacation in Florida when the protests initially began. We had to drive back through the country seeing alerts about the curfews and were worried about our safety while being in the south during these times. We spoke with Rod Wallace, Jamall Bufford and Louis Picasso on our way back, and they explained the situation in Detroit to us,” said Greggs, who formed Approachable Minorities with Denton and McKinney in 2016.
“We had friends down on the front lines being tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets, and it was horrible to see the videos of the events. When we got back home, we immediately went into the studio and began writing.”
Approachable Minorities plans to shoot a new video for “See Me Dead” on Juneteenth after having to postpone an earlier date due to rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan.
“The Formula 734 album was a great experience working with many artists we have known, meeting young Black men who were interested in making music and creating a whole documentary. As much as we want to film the video, we have to take precautions to make sure everyone is safe and give more time for people to get vaccinated,” said Greggs along with Denton and McKinney.
Approachable Minorities also recently dropped a new single, “Roaches Out My Ashtray,” in collaboration with King Ogundipe. The track is available for download when fans sign up for the trio’s email list via their website.
“Let’s just say it’s about having a bad day needing weed to get by and only having roaches. We each drew from times when were down bad and really poured into that song. We initially decided on King Ogundipe (Eye O’ Mighty) after working alongside him on the Formula 734 album. His lyricism and rhyme schemes are definitely something to be admired,” Greggs said.
For Detroit nerdcore nostalgic rapper Mark Cooper, Saturday’s Grove Sessions livestream show doubles as a two-album release party. In March, he dropped his latest album, Success and Failure, via Bandcamp, while Test Drive, the third album in Cooper’s Player One series, arrived last July.
“I plan to make the show a memorable one with the type of music I’m known to bring to the table: nerdcore hip-hop. The show will serve as a double album release party because I wasn’t able to do a proper release in July like I wanted to due to COVID,” Cooper said.
“Success and Failure was completed last month, so since the projects tie together, I figured it made sense to do a performance with them both. I keep them fresh by always enjoying the music I perform – it’s contagious that way.”
In addition to being a professional milestone, the livestream show serves as Cooper’s first performance in conjunction with Grove Studios. He’ll bring an energetic live set where timeless beats meet futuristic electronic soundscapes while sharing the stage with Tru Klassick and Approachable Minorities.
“I know both artists have great music, and that’s exciting in itself. They will both bring great hip-hop vibes that everyone is ready for,” Cooper said.
“Grove Studios provides a great opportunity for all local artists who strive for an avenue to create and perform their art in a space that welcomes it. Success and Failure was fully recorded by myself at Grove, so I’m living proof of the opportunity.”
With seven introspective, hypnotic tracks, Success and Failure eloquently chronicles Cooper’s internal struggles with mental health while addressing his personal quest for growth and peace. It’s truly a cathartic listen for listeners looking to heal after acknowledging and accepting a traumatic past.
“Success and Failure was inspired by finally talking about the trauma and fears I’ve had since a youth. It’s therapeutic because it was a clear outlet for me to talk about depression musically,” Cooper said.
Cooper poignantly reflects on that difficult, life-changing journey on “9, 18, 27,” which highlights the internal and social challenges he faced at different ages throughout his life.
Emotive piano surrounds him as he reveals, “So you finally made it to the end/Yeah, I guess I did/OK now let’s cut to chase/Right now I got three people that know you very well here right now/You at age nine, you at age 18 and you at age 27/They’re all here for a reason/They’re looking for answers to explain the past/They’ve been waiting a long time/It’s time to lay them to rest.”
“It helps chronicle my success as a meter stick in the sand to measure from where I was to where I am now. I want listeners to understand that talking about mental illness and emotions is important, and it needs to happen more,” said Cooper, who’s also part of Soundproof with Crimson Alchemist, Blizzard The Mad Scientist and DJ Fluff313.
As another success, Cooper released Test Drive on vinyl in March, and it’s currently available at local record, anime and comic book stores, including Dearborn Music, Otaku Detroit and The 37th Shield Library, as well as Cooper’s website.
“It focuses on a part in the story where I’m on a journey to ‘Geralds Field’ to finally escape the video game I’m trapped in called ‘Nerdcore.’ It’s a story where I bring everyone along to experience being part of a video game with characters and a storyline. The vinyl experience follows the ‘80s aesthetic and feel of the album,” Cooper said.
Viewers can purchase $10 tickets for Saturday’s livestream show via Grove Studios’ website and Facebook page. Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, in March 2020. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.
7 p.m. | Saturday, April 24