Exclusive: With Where The Streets Have No Name, getting six-figure downloads, the duo is on the album sponsorship frontier.
Producer/deejays K-Salaam & Beatnick [click to read] have pioneered plenty of new sounds in Hip Hop. While their Toronto brother Drake revolutionized radio play without having a record contract, this duo is also breaking new ground with their business strategies in making free albums and mixtapes. "Our strategy has been different lately. Being in the position of producers and deejays is one thing, but having to think of creative ways to make money at a time when things are changing drastically is also an art in of itself," K-Salaam told HipHopDX late last week. Beatnick added, "There's different vehicles in how we can make a career out of this. Really, what we did is like 10 different things at once, and seeing what popped. This [Where Streets Have No Name] project was just one of many things. We've been working on this for a while."
Released July 28, Where The Streets Have No Name is the duo's latest available. Streamable on HipHopDX [click to listen] and available for download at iMeem.com [click here], the project, boasting over a dozen respected emcee contributors has download numbers reportedly in the six figure range.
"We put out a Common remix album [S.T.O.R.Y.][click to listen]. That actually gave us more exposure than the actual album we put out. The label that we worked with, was kind of a road block," noted K-Salaam of VP Music Group. "We can do what we wanted. We didn't [need] a label. No, we weren't selling it. We realized that by putting it out there, we can at least get our names out there. From that exposure, a lot of people reached out to us for ringtones, commercials, informercials, soundtracks and of course artists."
Through that approach, prospective supporters approached the duo. "As we were leaking some of the songs out, a bunch of different people reached out about sponsorship. I got emails, cold calls and otherwise. Me and Beatnick put our heads together and now we have a couple of companies that want to re-release the album and put international artists on it, and actually physically distribute it."
With sponsors ranging from the more traditional companies in the technology sector to new frontiers, such as real estate companies, K-Salaam deduced, "The one thing about the recession man, is people like us, who are younger in the sense of being in the Hip Hop community, these corporations that are losing a lot of money are willing to [work with us]. We've got the younger demographics; we're 'cool,' we're 'hip.'"
Despite whatever means may help the duo finance their operation, good music and conventional approaches to music-making are what has drawn in investors and fans alike. "Musically, I think that lately that the album is missing. It's a really important thing for music," said K. "If you have people buying single songs here or there, yes, they're only spending a dollar, but if you're trying to make a difference in art [it doesn't work]. That's something that influenced me." He continued, "That's a talent that comes naturally. Beatnick comes from a Jazz background, all these different instruments. I come from a deejay background of putting sets and mixtapes together. That's something that just to comes to us. It's disappointing that you don't see more of that. A lot of people diss Kanye West, but I like the fact that he puts out albums." "We're trying to bring that back. We did that with our first two albums."
Jokingly asked if the mixtape was inspired by the U2 song of the same name, K-Salaam clarified, "The streets represent the music. Hip Hop music - and music in general, comes from the people. When people talk about 'this is for the streets, this is for the people out there, the people working the nine-to-five's, [that's the streets]. The streets represent the people, and the people represent the music. With Where The Streets Have No Name, we're just letting people know that you can't label our music. As of right now, we're working with Rock groups. We've been working with Reggae artists. We're signing R&B artists to a label right now. You can't put us into a category. Also, it kind of worked out that all songs were on a street-survival theme. It kind of worked on accident."
Beatnick added that the title came from a common theme in the verses. "The feeling in the music brought that out with a lot of the artists. A lot of the stuff we make has that timeless feeling. So these artists know they can't just be talking about lollipops; there has to be some actual subject matter. Something with ideas behind it." He pointed out, "On the Bun B/Talib Kweli song ['Don't Die'], they're both talking about the recession. They're both talking about 'Yo, we're pretending that we're ballers, but we're not. We just get enough money to make it look like we are, and then we keep it movin'.' Talib's verse was the same, [quoting] 'Deep in the recession, people reaching for their weapons.' Even Lil Wayne's verse was real!"
Where The Streets Have No Name is available for download now.