N.J. promoters bring the diversity of the playlist to local clubs

N.J. promoters bring the diversity of the playlist to local clubs

Diversity, to borrow a line from Mark Twain, is like the weather: Everybody talks about it, but few do anything about it.

Enter Sound in Color, a trio of New Jersey promoters whose mission is to bring together rap, rock, folk, funk and what-have-you on bills around the state.

Derrick Braxton, Lateef Dameer, and Emilio Guarino started booking shows as Sound in Color a little over a year ago, with a fairly simple idea: Put artists working in hip-hop, electronics and other underrepresented genres on the same stages as the guitar-driven rock bands who have long dominated New Jersey’s underground. And it’s working.

Last week, Sound in Color promoted a successful show at Jersey City’s FM Bar that included hip-hop group Genii Collective, acoustic folk-rockers Cold Weather Company, R&B songstress Naja Young, and the female-fronted “gloom pop” quartet Sad Lips.

On Tuesday, March 5, Sound in Color will be at the Pet Shop in Jersey City presenting a bill heavy on hip-hop and electronica: Jersey City-based rapper PeteyxKraze; Newark’s The Izm; producer/DJs Sir Thelonius and, on tour from California, Killgxxd.

“Sound in Color really is just a way of showcasing local talent,” Braxton explained. “There is a pretty drastic lack of representation for electronic artists, so we started with that, and low-fi hip-hop artists. And then it grew into different artists and different genres. And now it’s just all over the place. There’s a lot of notoriety that can go with being a New York City artist or even a Philly artist, but there have been a lot of great New Jersey artists who have affected the whole world, and we’re here to help people achieve that.”

Dameer actually started Sound in Color, and Braxton was one of the hip-hop performers asked to perform.

“Lateef came to me and said, ‘Listen, man, I really like what you’re doing, I’d like to bring you in and actually have you work with us in order to book these artists,'” Braxton said. “So it’s been going on for about a year and a half now. After we started, Lateef and I hooked up with Emilio, who I feel really blessed to have around.”

The three partners come from completely different backgrounds.

“Emilio is a classically trained musician, while I have more of a jazz background,” Braxton said. Dameer is a producer in hip-hop.

“They know a lot of people, I know a lot of people,” Braxton said. “Lateef is originally from the Bronx and has roots in the hip-hop community, whereas I know a lot of people in the house show scene. And Emilio studied music at Mason Gross (School of the Arts). So it’s just a really diverse grouping of musical artists who are all on the same page. That seldom happens.”

For Braxton, the reasons hip-hop artists and rock bands rarely share the same stages go to the very roots of how we listen to music.

“Some of the separation of different genres happened because of format,” he said. “Back when everyone listened to CDs, you couldn’t listen to different genres at the same time unless they were on some kind of compilation. Now, with Spotify and other streaming services, you can play all kinds of music next to each other.”

The playlist has replaced the album, and Sound in Color represents that evolution coming to clubs.

“We’re making a concerted effort that we mix the bills up, and I’m also heavily involved with the state’s basement show scenes,” Braxton said. “I’m one of the older guys who shows up at all these basement shows, which have a huge punk rock representation. There’s not too many other genres, so what I’ve been doing is going to these basement shows and spinning DJ sets in order to mix the bills. And now some new artists and different artists have been coming to the forefront because of that.”

Braxton grew up in New Brunswick and got his first taste of music at the city’s fabled basement shows.

“So one thing I’m really working toward is trying to make sure the things we do are open to all ages,” he said. “That’s really important to me. And it can’t just be these secret basement shows, it has to be above ground venues as well.”

To that end, Sound in Color will help coordinate New Brunswick’s Hub City Music Festival in April, which will utilize legal venues throughout the city. The group is also hoping to reach out to other venues in Hudson County, Montclair and other local scenes.

“A friend of mine just opened an indoor skate park in Trenton, and we’re going to be booking some shows there,” Braxton said. “And we would love to hear from anyone who’d like to work with us.”

Braxton’s own career deserves a mention, too. Under the name DRKBXT, he’s produced tracks for stars like Lupe Fiasco and Raekwon, and he currently has an album close to release.

“I make tracks every day,” he said. “I produce ever day. And I deejay as much as I can, anywhere I can. It’s not about the money for me. I’ve had a fair amount of success working with a bunch of artists in the past, and now I just want to help as many local artists as I can carry the torch forward.”

He concluded:

“Music brings people together. The things that people think separate us are simply not true.”

If you go …

Sound in Color presents The Izm, Sir Thelonius, Killgxxd, and PeteyxKraze at the Pet Shop, 193 Newark Ave., Jersey City, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 5. Admission is free.

Published at Wed, 27 Feb 2019 20:16:27 +0000