When the hashtag #Indie500 started to appear in the tweets of 9th Wonder,
Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli and members of their teams over the 4th of July
holiday, the hip-hop community began to see signs of a second coming-together.
There was little explanation, but the hint being given was a major one, these underground
rap powerhouses were intent on creating a movement.
The squad, the renegades and the place for us and those like us (Jamla Records,
W.A.R. Media, and Javotti Media, respectively) have made a decided effort to combine
their immense talents, rosters, and resources to create Indie 500, a collective led by 9th,
Monch, and Kweli with intentions not only to carry on the tradition of unity set forth by
Native Tongues, but to also re-establish the importance of mindfulness in both music
and business. Sensing the potential for a major sea-change in the world of hip-hop,
Okayplayer took the presence of all three joint chiefs as a chance to get the exclusive,
detailing the Indie 500 manifesto in their own words.
It’s not uncommon these days to hear or read complaints about “radio rap,” commercialism
in hip-hop and the lack of depth in the music industry at large. And the common response
is that if you want to see a change, support the artists hustling to make it happen. To
borrow from the metaphor established with the name Indie 500: You can’t expect them
to stay in the race if no one’s fueling their engines.
9th Wonder on the Music:
“Indie 500 is a kind of continuation of the Native Tongues sound all the way to the Rawkus
sound. Badu, Jill Scott, Slum Village, anywhere that has that texture of sound that feels good
with good lyrics, Indie 500 is a continuation of that and a new generation. We’re trying to
continue on the tradition of classic, what they like to call ‘traditional’ hip-hop. Grass roots,
deep-rooted hip-hop music.
Pharoahe Monch on the Business:
“We looked at each other and we were like, we should do business together and music
together. Not just on the rap side, but on the touring side, the business side and sharing
of information. It’s empowering, it’s beautiful, and it’s important for that to be known. To
inspire younger generations to not only rap, but to start companies and corporations.”
Talib Kweli on the Essence:
“It’s everybody that we’re down with, anybody that has an independent mind state or
spirit is Indie 500. It’s important for us, as artists,that we value the art, and we raise the
value of art. So we state that we’re independent, that we’re black owned, we’re stating
that we have value and you need to pay attention to us.