Hip-hop musician performs at the Sandbar in Vail Friday
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado Derek Turner was once in the indie hip-hop group Atmosphere (under the alias Spawn) but that was more than a decade ago. And maybe Atmosphere has gone on to find mainstream success with the recent release of their fifth full-length studio album, “When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold,” without him; but that’s OK with Turner. Now 39, he has performed under the name Rek the Heavyweight since leaving Atmosphere, and is quite pleased to remain in hip-hop’s underground, where he feels he belongs. But that doesn’t stop promoters from plastering words like “Formerly of Atmosphere” on posters for his upcoming shows ” like the one slated for the Sandbar tonight in Vail.
Unsettled by the turn hip-hop has taken toward promoting materialism and sexism, Rek opts to rhyme about social and political issues that have deeper meaning if the listener is willing to think for a bit. Before eating dinner in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minn., Rek took a few minutes over the phone to tell us about his split from Atmosphere, his new work and the current state of popular hip-hip.
Rek the Heavyweight: Oh man, I was like 14 or 15 years old. It was like the best time ever. When hip-hop came in it was the best thing that could ever happen because I had lost my pops and basically I was starting to mess up in school and stuff like that … I became an emcee more or less ” when I got serious about it was ’87, ’89.
RTH: With me, I’m not the diamonds and bling kind of guy. I’m more or less the ‘What can you tell me? What can you teach me? Or how can I relate to somebody’ (kind of guy). I like to hear stories, I like to hear positive. And it sounds cliche, but nobody downgrading women, because women are queens, and if it wasn’t for women, we wouldn’t be here, you know what I’m saying. I’m just not into that.
RTH: Since I started. The first rhyme I wrote … basically had to do with Regeanomics. I was already talking about that. I mean, I’m 39 years old now. This generation now, all they’re seeing is the fast money, the fast cars, the women, and that’s what they push for and that’s what they think hip-hop is. You listen to these radio stations and they say they play hip-hop. That’s not hip-hop, man. Hip-hop is like Grandmaster Flash and Melly Mel … Run-D.M.C. when they came out, Kurtis Blow, Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane. All these cats … for the most part they weren’t out there talking about this whole diamonds and bling thing and bitches and hoes, they were more talking about America.
RTH: These generations now, they just don’t get it. It’s not about music anymore. It’s a hustle to them. To me, it’s about the music, it’s about getting that message across. I’d still do it if I didn’t make money.
RTH: From the time I was five years old I played piano. My dad, he would play one part and he’d teach me a part to play and then I’d play that when I was supposed to play it. I developed an ear at a very early age … I grew up around so much music, anyone from Harry Belafonte to Tony Bennett to Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Earth Wind and Fire. You know, I grew up in that time when there were people actually playing instruments instead of electronic music and after that I used my ear and my knowledge of things that I’ve heard and started making tracks.
RTH: Oh no, no, no. I’m perfectly fine with that because that’s my history. I started that group.
RTH: I still got love for them cats and I wish them the best. I don’t wish bad on nobody. And in another sense, it still spreads my name out there.
High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or email@example.com.
What: Rek the Heavyweight with opening act UmConscious and host DJ Magic Cyclops.
When: Friday at 8 p.m.
Where: Sandbar in Vail.
More information: Call 970-476-4314 or visit http://www.sandbarvail.com.
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