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Monday, March 18,2013

Unity and diversity

The members of the BLAT! Pack work together to achieve their musical and artistic ambitions

by Rich Tupica

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Wednesday, Feb. 8 — Being involved in a local music scene can provoke competitive behavior. But working together seems to work best for the BLAT! Pack.

The Lansing-based hip-hop collective, which formed in 2008, is best known for releases from local rappers P.H.I.L.T.H.Y and JYoung the General. But the group is bigger than that: It’s a multi-faceted collective of MCs, R&B vocalists, producers, DJs, artists, radio personalities and writers, such as William E. Ketchum III, who also manages the group.

On Friday the BLAT! Pack hosts a showcase at Mac’s Bar, featuring many of its members, including P.H.I.L.T.H.Y., JYoung The General, Red Pill, Chell and Yellokake, as well as music by DJ Carmine and an instrumental beat showcase by Hir-O and Kuroioto.

“At a very basic level we’re a collective of independent artists that work together and try to pool all of our efforts to help advance each other’s careers,” said P.H.I.L.T.H.Y, a.k.a. James Gardin. “Aside from that we’re all best friends, we’re like a family. We support each other.”

Gardin, who’s known for positive and inspiring tones in his lyrics, is currently working on two upcoming releases: “A Little Light For You” EP and “The Living Daylights” LP, both produced by Kuroioto. Local hip-hop heads will be able to hear some of the new tracks at Mac’s.

“This showcase is going to be moving really quickly,” Gardin said. “We’re hoping people show up on time because it’s going to start on time. There’s so much we want to get accomplished with this show that everything has to run on schedule. It’s going to be a really exciting show. A lot of people’s sets are going to be very active, very high-energy.”

Red Pill (a.k.a. Chris Orrick), 24, has been a BLAT! Pack rapper for over two years. He said working together with other locals has been beneficial in more than one way.

“BLAT! is an acronym for Bring Local Artists Together,” he said. “To me, that’s what it’s always been about. We’re all friends and (we) hang out outside of music, but being a collective is a mutual benefit to everybody. We can use our connections to find out-of-town shows, local shows and locate other musicians to link up with.”

While each member may be a part of the same collective, Orrick said each has his or her own panache and most work with a variety of producers. “Everybody does their own thing,” Orrick explained.

“JYoung is known for being more socially conscious, especially within the black community. P.H.I.L.T.H.Y. is fairly Christian-driven, and I’m kind of the blue-collar white guy. I think, overall, it all has a pretty Midwestern, soulful hip-hop feel. I think that’s what connects us.”

BLAT! Pack Showcase
10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10
Mac’s Bar
2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
18 and over
$5
www.blatpack.com

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