THE YEAR THAT WAS IN RVA HIP HOP….

AN INTERVIEW WITH CHEATS OF THE CHEATS MOVEMENT BLOG

Words by Roger Tyler (RT) and Marc Cheatham (CHEATS)

ALL PHOTOS BY CHEATS (WITH THAT CHEATS MOVEMENT LOGO)

2012 appeared to be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Richmond area hip hop scene.  While Street Art made unprecedented moves in our city’s mainstream with the G40 Street Art Festival and RVA Street Art Festival, RVA hip hop struggled to grab widespread public attention, while also dealing with the tragic loss of one of its own, super-producer Kleph Dollaz. “This year hasn’t had the media hype I expected following a groundbreaking 2011 but overall it has been a solid year for a lot of Richmond area hip hop artist,” said Marc Cheatham AKA Cheats of the ever-expanding Cheats Movement Blog. I sat down with Cheats in his living room, in a quiet neighborhood on the West End of Henrico, to discuss his new mixtape project with RVA Mag, the influence of his blog, and his views on the year that was in RVA hip hop.

Cheats just recently completed his first RVA focused hip hop mixtape titled, “RVA HOT SAUCE THE MIXTAPE, Vol. 1.” It features 11 songs from Richmond-area hip hop artists such as, Artik Phreeze, Noah-O, Michael Millions, Ms. Proper, Suburban District, Black Liquid and  more, it also has Cheats’ own voice on the intro, interlude, and outro yelling, his blog’s catch phrase, “We See It.”

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Day 1-23Black Liquid, Ms. Proper, Suburban District, and Artik Phreeze are all on the HOT SAUCE mixtape.

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In just over a year of covering the Richmond’s hip hop scene, Cheats has become one of its most trusted writers, bloggers, and photographers. You know you’re in the right spot if you see the short guy with a backwards cap and camera strapped around his neck. Or just look at your Facebook newsfeed the day after he covers a live event – photos with the Cheats Movement Logo are everywhere. This year it even stretched to the mainstream – North Carolina rapper Phonte (who Cheats interviewed for RVA Mag) used a Cheats Movement concert photo for his twitter profile photo. And while his blog highlights RVA’s diversity – RVA hip hop has embraced his blog as one of its go to sites for reports on the best local shows in town.

Full Slides-12 Phonte (Little Brother & Foreign Exchange) used this photo as his twitter profile pic following the Happily Natural Day/Tuesday Verses Concert

Being a hip hop artist myself, attempting to interview Cheats is a challenge because before you know it – he’s asking the questions and I’m giving the answers but we had a fun and free-flowing discussion and below are some of the highlights: 

ON THE RVA HOT SAUCE MIXTAPE (Cheats in his own words):

“This is just my opinion but the mixtape represents what I see as the best elements of RVA hip hop. I say that knowing full well that I don’t cover every live show or listen to every album or mixtape (though I promise to listen to every song or mixtape that is sent to me directly via email or Facebook). I don’t know it all and that’s why this is just Volume 1, there will be a Volume 2 and probably 3, until I feel like I’ve captured the culture.”

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ON HOW THE IDEA FOR THE MIXTAPE STARTED (Cheats in his own words):

“RVA Magazine’s owner Tony Harris told me that he was doing a series of mixtapes with different bloggers and asked me about doing a mixtape collaboration between The Cheats Movement Blog and RVA Mag. I have a lot of respect for Tony and RVA Mag so working on a mixtape seemed natural. I never felt that I was in the position to do a Hip Hop 101 introduction article because I haven’t seen all the hip hop RVA has to offer but the way RVA Mag presented the opportunity – it gave me the opportunity to highlight what I have seen and highlight who I go out and cover regularly.”

ON HOW THE ARTIST AND TRACKS WERE SELECTED (Cheats in his own words):  

“Most of the tracks on the mixtape are not new tracks but a compilation of songs that have been in my rotation throughout 2012. I picked 11 songs for volume 1 and reached out to everyone to see if it was cool that I use their work. Black Liquid, Sleaze, Michael Millions, Doe The Paperboy, Ms. Proper, Arktik Phreeze, Chance Fischer, Suburban District, Drano, Noah-O, are all on the tape. The late Kleph Dollaz has an influence on the tape through Noah-O and Chance Fischer. Though I didn’t know Kleph personally, you can’t cover RVA hip hop and not be aware of the difficulty the community is still going through with the losses of Kleph and another friend of mine Mr. Mason Jones.

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Mason JonesThe RVA community is still struggling with the loss of Kleph Dollaz and Mr. Mason Jones ( in color)

ON WHO MADE AN IMPACT ON THE RVA HIP HOP SCENE IN 2012 (Cheats in his own words):

“This is tricky because I’m going to leave people out but understanding that I can’t name everyone (I can’t name everyone) I will say, Suburban District as a group should be proud of the year they’ve had and individually, Octavion Xcellence. Tim Porter, and Fair, should be proud of what they did as solo artist as well. They headlined Epic Fest, released “Beer for Breakfast”, killed features and mixtapes, and performed at SXSW, it was a huge year for the Smooth Dirty Camp. Doe The Paperboy killed it this year and not just with his music,  DoeNation 2 was released in 2012, he was everywhere, making an impact with his live performances, his videos are great (S/O Soul Live Media) and his merch game is crazy. My JPS brothers Sleaze and Drano should be really happy with the feedback on their albums – both, “Heavenly Devilish” by Sleaze and “City of God” by Drano are being slept on by RVA — come on now! WE SEE IT! They are both great albums. I think Big League and their crew should be real proud of what they did…I don’t know them well but T-Mac and Bravo, that whole crew, put in some major work. RT, I know you really like what Memph 10, So!lla, and Ms. Proper did this year, I agree. And Black Liquid’s album, “The Black Experience” was his best studio album to date, not to mention opening for a ton of big acts including DMX. I could go on and on but I won’t.

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It’s hard to think of a camp that had a better year than Smooth Dirty…Suburban District (Octavion X, Tim Porter, and Fair) were everywhere…. Kleos and Phreeze – the entire camp did it big in 2012.

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Doe The Paperboy had a huge year and not just in music, videos and merch game is crazy.

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Just Plain Sounds and a great year but still underrated…Sleaze (pictured with James Dangle and Ohbliv) and Drano had great records this year.

Cheats and I sat down and talked the year in review – here is what we came up with – before the hate starts – this is just a list of what we came up with – we know we left some folks out….tell us who – make us notice.  

Favorite shows of 2012:

  • Epic Fest (2-Day Event) at The Kingdom presented by SlapDash
  • Phonte (From Little Brother) Happily Natural Day/Tuesday Verses at The Canal Club
  • The Klubhouse Krew Presents: The Kleph Dollaz! Music Charity Show at Canal Club

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Epic Fest brought a great crowd to Kingdom for 2 night -despite the weather trouble – one of the best events of the year.

Must listen to Album(s) Of 2012:

  • Sleaze- Heavenly Devilish
  • Suburban District- Beer For Breakfast
  • Black Liquid – The Black Experience

Black Liquid

The Black Experience by Black Liquid is his best album to date.

Artist we are checking for in 2013:

  • Chi Chi The Kidd
  • Chance Fischer
  • Bravo (The Big League)
  • Dr. Millionaire
  • Yung Yankee

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Chance Fischer is one to watch in 2013

Must See Videos:

  • -Bravo- “Harlot”
  • -Doe The PaperBoy- “If I Had It”
  • -Young Rell- “Letter to God”

DoeThePaperBoy: If I had It from Robert Roby on Vimeo.

Videographers on top of the RVA game:

  • Aura HD and Imagery (Jay Aura)
  • Soul Live Media (Robert Roby)
  • No Name No Brain (Arya “Pat” Rossman)

Best RVA Blog covering local hip hop:

This article was written by Cheats and RT. If you disagree – don’t hate – email me and tell me why: TheCheatsMovement@gmail.com

FMFVISlides-24RT is a hip hop contributor to RVA MAG and a hip hop artist. Check his work and see him with The New Juice Crew and UCubed. Click here for RT’s DatPiff profile.

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