Collaboration is king it would seem with hip-hop acts Little Stranger and Damn Skippy. The artists have entwined for a while now but this year is a different beast altogether: They’ve come together on everything from a just-out single and video to a California tour and brand new record label. Plus, there’s plenty that each act is, separately, up to as of late.
Out last week: “Pool Party or Die”
Last week, emcee Damn Skippy (Alex Veazey, also a videographer who runs CHOP MEDIA) dropped a new video with his right-hand man, DJ FL!P, featuring friends and two-time City Paper Music Awards’ Hip-Hop Artist of the Year (2016 and 2017), Little Stranger. The single is “Pool Party or Die,” and the video, complete with a dance party ensemble, was shot inside an empty swimming pool.
So what came first, the pool or the song? “I was helping a buddy of mine that owns a pool cleaning company — shout out to Rex at Charleston Pool Cleaners — when one of his customers decided she was done with her pool and asked us to drain it. I immediately asked if I could film a music video in it with no idea of how or why. She said yes and the rest is hip-hop history,” Veazey says. “I told the guys [Little Stranger/DJ FL!P] we had a dope location to film, and we had the song done within a week.”
DJ FL!P produced and added all the cuts and scratches to “Pool Party or Die,” off upcoming release The Ollie EP, which drops in April. The Ollie EP is the first of three EPs Damn Skippy and DJ FL!P will debut this year: The Shove It EP and The Kickflip EP will follow later on in 2018.
“We came up with this idea based on progression,” Veazey explains. “The ollie, shove it, and kickflip are the first three tricks you learn on a skateboard. So naturally, as a new duo, we’ve decided to release three EPs the first year and progress together as a crew to find our sound and lock it in for next year when we will be releasing a full-length album.”
Tiny Rhino Records
Damn Skippy and DJ FL!P are also the first artists to be signed onto new record label, Tiny Rhino Records, launched this year by Little Stranger (John and Kevin Shields — and no, they’re not related). “We actually almost named the band Tiny Rhino, but since we went with Little Stranger, we’ve always held on to Tiny Rhino as our pseudo-record label,” guitarist/emcee/vocalist John Shields says. “Once we started working closely with our boy Damn Skippy, we realized that we made a great team — we make like-minded music with a focus on hip-hop, and we all have a hand in the creative process, from photos to videos to music production.”
Shields continues, “So we very cordially invited Damn Skippy and DJ Flip to join the Tiny Rhino team, along with our boy Stephen Pond a.k.a. SP tha Ghost as honorary emcee. Having a posse on the same grind as you helps everyone involved. So for now we’re a bunch of hungry dogs having a blast doing what we love, and doing it together.”
Out today: “Sing it High”
Though the label’s roster of artists is expected to expand, for now Little Stranger is focused on their own new EP, Styles & Dynamics, which goes live this spring. The duo drops the record’s first single, “Sing it High,” today, along with a music video (see above) they filmed while touring in Vermont last year. “It was three degrees outside, and we had about four hours of free time to make a video,” Shields says. “We found a beautiful piece of land with an abandoned school bus on it and got to work.”
As for the song itself, well, that was a bit of a happy accident that went down in Philadelphia, where the duo is from and often return to on tour. “At the time, Kev and I were playing with a full band, before touring as a duo full-time,” John says. “Our guitar player had some issues with his gear, so while he tried to fix it we had to fill some dead space, and ultimately the chorus and chords for ‘Sing it High’ just happened on the spot. We knew we had something good!”
“Sing it High” was recorded in Charleston both at Shields’ home studio and James Island’s Fairweather Studio with engineer Omar Colon, keyboardist Ross Bogan, and bassist Alex Kellner before finalizing the track at Shorefire Studio in New Jersey, where it received the horn treatment and additional female vocals.
Little Stranger and Damn Skippy are also fresh off their first California tour — which is where Little Stranger’s new booking agency is located — and will join forces again on Fri. March 16 at the Pour House along with Miami hip-hop group !Mayday! and DJ FL!P. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here. Whether or not there’ll be another impromptu “pool” party in winter, complete with really tanned, bare bottoms and an on-duty lifeguard (“that’s the pool popo”) remains to be seen.
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