The demise of touring during the last 12 months has left most musicians in tight spots — furloughed, hemorrhaging cash and counting on digital streaming to achieve audiences.
Not Denver’s Trev Wealthy, who already had scaled down earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapper and songwriter burst out of the gate in 2016 by signing to the legendary Money Cash Data (Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne), and adopted it up by contributing to the tune “Elevate” on 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” soundtrack (as Trevor Wealthy, with DJ Khalil, Denzel Curry, YBN Cordae and Swayvay).
The soundtrack for the Oscar-winning, animated movie was nominated for a Grammy and featured heavy-hitters corresponding to Minaj, Wayne and Publish Malone. However even with that enhance, Wealthy’s solo profession stalled. He continued to crank out lyrically dense, heavy-hitting albums whereas writing songs for different artists. He gathered accolades for his forceful, private lyrics and commanding stage presence.
However none of that translated to cash or fame. He stepped again, feeling like he had blown his probability.
“That is an trade the place it’s actually all on you as a solo artist,” stated Wealthy, 31, over the telephone from Aurora’s Vibrant Future Media final week. “There’s nobody and nothing you’ll be able to blame.”
That might not be fully true, given the shadowy dimensions of an trade designed to complement labels and short-change musicians, however Wealthy has taken it to coronary heart. Nobody is answerable for his happiness however him, he stated. And one night time, an alluring concept materialized throughout a psychedelic mushroom journey.
“I work with a whole lot of artists, and the most important factor they hope for is fan interplay,” Wealthy stated. “However you must be proactive about it. I used to be going out and speaking to streaming companies about working with my new album. After which I had this concept.”
For his new album “Out the Darkish,” which was released April 5, the hip-hop artist turned followers into label reps, entrepreneurs, PR minions and retail wholesalers. With a view to “unlock” songs from the album, they wanted to examine digital packing containers: purchase $2,000 in merchandise; rack up 150,000 views for a single video on YouTube; promote 100 album “pre-saves” (preorders); and make 5 items of fan artwork.
The fealty, he figured, would justify the album’s existence earlier than it was totally launched. If it failed, it will be part of the mud pile of music-world digital experiments.
“I used to be extremely shocked we pulled it off,” Wealthy stated. “The response was so dope, seeing that folks needed to be a part of one thing bigger.”
“The best way he rolled out this album was extremely artistic and distinctive,” stated Tim Gelt, a hip-hop supervisor and publicist with Taglife21 PR who’s been serving to Wealthy promote the brand new album. “The sensation amongst individuals within the native hip-hop scenes is that that is Trev’s greatest work thus far.”
Some media retailers, such as All Hip Hop, described it as “gamifying” Wealthy’s fan base, given the digital duties, targets and endgame outcomes. However for Wealthy, it went a step past pre-selling the album, or attempting to inflate streaming numbers to affix all-important editorial playlists of Spotify or Apple Music.
“That is actually the microwave age in music, bro,” Wealthy stated. “Even should you bought one thing legendary, you must do extra than simply put it out and hope individuals will hear.”
Wealthy rode out the pandemic by staying busy. Along with writing and recording “Out the Darkish,” he’s continued penning songs for different artists — having moved away from dwell, solo reveals in recent times — and doubling down on no matter his intestine tells him. He began bi-weekly remedy classes and located his religious middle, he stated.
“Out the Darkish” is promoting higher and charting greater than any of his earlier albums, Wealthy and his publicist stated, and the surfeit of movies accompanying it doesn’t damage. A YouTube seek for Wealthy’s identify pulls up greater than a dozen modern, arresting, typically surprisingly humorous music movies directed by a mixture of Wealthy’s cohorts. Most movies for the brand new album arrived because of his collaboration with previous buddy Leland Schmidt.
Filmed round Denver towards George Floyd murals, below overpasses, on rain-slicked metropolis streets, and in entrance of iconic buildings and sculptures (corresponding to “Dancers,” the 60-foot-tall “dancing aliens” outdoors Denver Performing Arts Advanced), the movies make the argument that Denver’s hip-hop scene has been woefully underestimated.
“What number of stitches mend a damaged coronary heart?” he raps on “Constructed,” produced by Denver’s Mic Coats. “All these open wounds changed into scars. They’d me (messed) up once they dealt my playing cards. However I performed ’em, like I performed my half. And life is tough, however I’m constructed … I’m constructed for this.”
“It’s a reintroduction and a rejuvenation of who I’ve been,” he stated of the movies, which embrace the masterful, melodic “Gandhi Shxt,” arguably probably the greatest movies ever to return out Denver. It finds a black-and-white Wealthy confronting three heads protruding of the cracked Colorado soil (all him) as a battered TV performs pictures of the Ku Klux Klan and dashboard video of police stops. At occasions, white hoods with ragged eye-holes and police-officer caps seem on Wealthy’s copied-and-pasted heads.
“It’s the Fortune 500, however luckily, all that fortune and fame turned simply fortune for me,” he raps. “See, I traded my fame in for my portion of peace. Can’t put no horse on a leash, so why ya’ll Porches be leased? (Individuals) starve in that lure simply to go company and feast.”
“Individuals on this trade who’re utilizing $30,000 and $40,000 music-video budgets aren’t making movies nearly as good as ours,” Wealthy boasted — and he’s proper. “Most simply wish to present how wealthy they’re of their movies. I’m targeted on creating artwork, and dealing on my inside peace.”