Athens, Ohio, a rural college town in Southeast, Ohio overrun with beer guzzling liberal arts students may not seem like the ideal breading grounds for a hip-hop trio…or maybe it is. Athens’ Grey Market, a crew named after the trade of a commodity through distribution channels which, while legal, are unofficial, unauthorized, or unintended by the original manufacturer, emerged from their Appalachian habitat in January 2012 and are already making a significant impact on Ohio’s hip hop underground. The trio, consisting of COMP-B, Dialogue , and Wes (Dub) Hunter, take as many cues from old school hip-hop as they do from influences as broad as Atmosphere and Dilated Peoples.
Ghettoblaster caught up with the group’s DJ, COMP-B, as they prepared their forthcoming self-titled, self-released LP for its September 27 release date, and for an appearance at the second annual Cyclops Festival in Yellow Springs on September 15 (with homeys Dysfunktional Family). This is what he told us about the group’s origins, the Ohio hip-hop scene, and their forthcoming record…
How long have you guys been together and how did you meet?
We have been a group since January of this year, Dialogue and I played in a jazz band together and when that fizzled out we started a hip hop group. Wes and Dialogue had been long time friends so he joined in and we recorded the Out of Nowhere EP the first weekend we hung out.
How did you come to the name Grey Market?
Stumbled on the term in some reading and thought it fit our style of making and putting out our music.
For those who haven’t heard you, how would you describe your sound and mission?
My beats are heavily sample based and the lyrics are honest and relate to everybody because we just talk about everyday life. As far as our mission, to keep the raw hip hop sound alive and stand united against “swaged” out radio rap.
What is the hip hop scene in Ohio like? What is it about Ohio that lends itself to expression through hip hop?
I don’t know what it is about Ohio that breeds good hip hop, except Machine Gun Kelly. Ohio has been the home of some of the scenes heavy hitters, J raws, Mood, RJD2, Mhz, I could go on all day. As far as the scene it’s still here and it’s not going anywhere as long as we have anything to do with it.
You guys recently completed your first album, recording and releasing it yourselves? What drove the decision to do this in-house and release it on your own?
Today’s technology makes it really easy to do it all yourself, we are trying to build this from the ground up. Let’s be honest..it’s not like we are the sound that a major label is looking for and we are proud of that. So if you don’t make moves yourself, nobody is gonna do it for ya. I make beats, DJ, and I am a recording engineer, Wes is good at online networking, and Dialogue is great at talking with venues and booking shows, so we try to use each other’s strengths to get the job done.
Who is The Dysfunktional Family and what is their relationship to Grey Market?
They are our partners in the war on swag. Shortly after we formed Grey Market we looked on the web for other groups in Athens and we came across Dysfunk. We contacted them and partnered on organizing a monthly hip hop night at the Union bar in Athens. We have been working together ever since.
Have you performed at a festival outdoors before? Are there challenges to performing outdoors that you’re anxious about?
We have played a lot of outdoor fests. We enjoy them, but nothing is better than rocking a packed small venue. Outdoor is often less intimate
How did you become involved in the Cyclops Festival?
I dropped a few copies of the EP off at Urban Handmade. Shortly thereafter, I got a email from Justin Galvin wanting to know more about us. I grew up in the Yellow Springs area, but never knew Justin until then. So he hooked us up with a show in the fest. Urban Handmade is great and the Galvin family are good folks who care about good music.
Have you performed in Dayton before?
Never in Dayton, but in Yellow Springs a few times. Looking to play in Dayton soon.
What does Grey Market have planned for the rest of 2012 and early 2013?
We will release the album the 27th of September and hope to have another EP by the first year anniversary of starting the group. We are trying to play as many shows as possible to get our music out there in mean time.
The album will be available here on the 27th: http://thegreymarket.bandcamp.com/.