Area Codes: 256 – Huntsville, AL
Like any great music scene, Huntsville has been percolating for some time now. Through acts like PRGz and the production duo Block Beataz, Huntsville became a pin on the rap landscape with its stylistically Southern, but immensely colorful, music. Eventually, Huntsville bristled toward “breakout” status on the backs of groups like G-Side, whose last two LPs The ONE … Cohesive and iSLAND have made passionate supporters of many influential critics and provoked a recent writeup in Spin.
“I was a street team member in like, ’95, ’96 for my cousin’s label, so whatever that entailed. Passing out flyers, hanging up posters,” says Codie Gopher, a scene fixture, promoter, and manager for several groups in the area, including G-Side, and who has also been prominently involved in just about every incarnation of the Huntsville scene. “I was working message boards, seeing what was out there, comparing it to what we were doing and making connections on the Internet in the early 2000s.”
Though Gopher had seen Slow Motion Soundz grow increasingly larger in the early 2000s, it wasn’t until Gopher spent time in the military that he realized Huntsville’s appeal was broader than what he had thought. “Went to Iraq, took the music over there. Went to Korea, took the music over there. While I was overseas, I was paying attention to what was going on in the city,” Gopher says. “I was like, OK, and then we introduced them to more stuff. I got out the army at like, ’06, and when I got back I was like we got something going on here Huntsville.”
“For them to like the music, it just opened my eyes up,” Gopher says. “We’re on to something.”
And since 2008, Hunstville’s music has gotten the attention of the wider alternative press, garnering a long feature in The Fader and a Diplo cosign on Paper Route Gangstaz’ 2008 mixtape Fear And Loathing In Huntsvegas. And, since then, it’s become a vital hotbed for rap’s rapidly-shifting new era.
“The city used to have a population of 14,000, and now close to half a million,” Gopher says, commenting on the influx of transplants and other people excited about Huntsville. “The influx, just come in here, and get some new blood in here. It’s a very educated city, one of the best engineering schools in the south is here. You got four colleges here that are rich in history. You got some pretty rough neighborhoods but when you put that all together, I think that’s what makes the city what it is. It’s not just a black and white city, it’s still got a huge gradient, that gradient is trying to move forward to find an identity for itself.”
Huntsville has a great site chronicling its nightlife, so if you want a good, updated digest, head to Chasing Concrete.
- Amendment XXI
- Classic Wheels
- G’s Country Kitchen
- The Green Room
- Sam and Greg’s Pizzeria
- Voodoo Lounge
NOTABLE SHOPS/VIBE ZONES
Cole Boyz – “Marching 2 Zion” (Produced by Block Beataz)
G-Side – “Came Up (Feat. S.L.A.S.H.)”
G-Side – “Recognize” (Related: When I asked Codie if he was rooting for the Tide on Monday, I have never felt so stupid about a question I had asked. “C’mon, man,” he said.)
Jackie Chain – “Parked Outside (Feat. Bun B & Big K.R.I.T.)
Mic Strange – “Goin’ Hard”
PRGz (Paper Route Gangstaz) – “Anutha Night”
The S.L.O. – “Purple Onion”
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Photo credit to Roberto Isreal.