In a small space (close to 9th and 9th) in Salt Lake City sits Bad Apples headquarters and home of Penalty Box Records. The group consists of MC Sir Louis Wildamiss and producer/MC Mike Booth. When I joined up with Booth at his studio, he was deep in deliberation regarding track listing and order for the latest Bad Apples release, How Ya Like Dem Apples, Part 1. It's an album rooted in traditional rap/hip hop staples evoking a good time and showcasing some very decent local talent, like Pace Won, Ben Grim, Verse1 and many others.
The Bad Apples represent more of a collective, something akin to San Francisco's Quannum Records collaborative where MCs and DJs guest and star in similar hip hop projects. Penalty Box Records has that same West Coast collaborative energy rushing through all of its artists and projects. Penalty Box is the brainchild of Mike Booth, Las Vegas native and former graff writer, who punishes in the box with headknockin' beats and handles promotions for the outfit.
"We did the first album and we didn't think it was going to do anything, but it created a buzz here and elsewhere," Booth said. "And the next album is about capturing our live show." Songs that have been Bad Apple's fan favorites, here and elsewhere are being slated for the LP as of this writing and are set for the Oct. 10. Localized, at the latest, for a release date. Don't doubt the reach of the steadily growing Apples fanbase, either. Booth broadcasts a global weekly radio program from SLCC to garner support, is active on social networking sites and has this philosophy on the group's upcoming tour: "All you need to hit is Salt Lake, Idaho, Colorado, Portland then Seattle, then you have your region." From there, he plans to conquer the rest of the US one juicy bite at a time.
Such an effort would have been impossible years ago, in terms of making a huge impact in other markets, but technology friendly Penalty Box loves the new music distribution model. "It gives everyone a chance. We're playing on a level field," Mike says. Unfortunately and fortunately, "It's still all money based. You have to have huge dollars to play with the big boys," Mike says. "But I can hit as many people as Universal, it just may take five years to do it."
If you're not schooled on the local hip hop, you're not alone. Here's your primer. Mike can list, quite easily, a number of local artists he respects: "You've got The Knoitalls, Mindstate, Adverse, Brisk, Hades, all these cats that we're working with. When you stack it up versus other places like Boston, pound for pound we've got better MCs here."
Mike is interested in other artists in Salt Lake, more than just those on his label, and showcases them in the radio program. He sometimes feels like playing some old Ice-T or some Too Short among the local acts he plays. They'd love to get some more listener support as well. "Hopefully we'll get enough listeners to get some calls and generate an audience," says Hades, another Penalty Box artist who happened to be kicking it, Support local artists and get insight into some more obscure hip hop at http://weekendrapup.mypodcast.com. I scoped a recent podcast of the program and found Knoitalls' MC Facts kicking it with Booth in the studio, Small Lake City at it again.
"We need enough people to recognize everywhere else that their is a lot of great talent here that seems untapped," Booth said. That would be where the local fan base would come in [that's you]. See if the Penalty Box hype is real this October at Localized.
On Friday, October 10th the Bad Apples, Knoitalls and Kinnetick will all be at the Urban Lounge and so should you. Don't forget the date on this one (its happened to the best of us, but this is not one to miss). Cover is $5 and please don't bring your kid sister, this is a private club. See you in October.