Aeon Audio was established by Brash(Chris Rapple) in 2009. We function as a landscape for hip-hop artists grow from, as well as a community to help strengthen each other’s talents. We believe that the independent artist is the future of the music industry, and also that Connecticut is going to become the epicenter of that future focus.
Mr. Incredible: Alright, for those who may not know you, can you give us a quick background on yourself?
Chris Rapple: My real name is Chris Rapple, but people in hip-hop know me as Brash. It’s not a self proclamation, I got it organically and it stuck. I have put out music using that moniker since 2005, and since then, I was involved with a now defunct indie label, and got to open up for some pretty heavy hitters like Method Man and J5. After that little deal fell through, I took a hard look at the industry, and in 2008, decided I didn’t want to be on someone else’s record label. So I started Aeon Audio, my own imprint, just to get records out to people. The whole thing has been an uphill battle… I’ve only done 1 official album, that being my own, Mind Flex, in 2011. Besides that release, which is currently for sale at ughh.com and itunes, I have put out three promotional mixtapes; Crooked Mindz 860 Mixtape (which I mixed and mastered), INF’s Pipedreams (which I had a hand in mixing, though the brunt of it was his,) and my own Mind Warp. While Crooked Mindz has been prepping their Domestic Terrorists album, I’ve been networking; I’ve established a media company that runs cthiphop.net, and have grown my own career by associating with Penalty Box Inc, Logic’s record label. I’ll be dropping another promotional mixtape in a joint effort with them sometime in the next month – ish. I also battle in the CT battle league iBattle, and have a decent record.
Mr. Incredible: Whoa, talk about a full plate. How hard was it to make the switch from artist to label head?
Chris Rapple: It’s not bad – basically I’m being driven a lot by faith. The reason that I’m working with these artists (INF, Blak Philly, Crooked Mindz), is because I believe in what they’re doing. Things aren’t moving as fast as I’d like them too, but that’s OK. I’m a family man working in an oversaturated market. The internet is the key I guess… but as far as being hard, it’s just been a lot of extra work. I come home from my day job, which I just got laid off from… well, I came home a lot from my day job, fed my kid, hung out with my wife for about 5 or 10 minutes and then it was all music music music. I’m still doing what I can to promote the brand, and Aeon Audio isn’t exactly where I want it to be YET… but I don’t want success overnight. I don’t want anything handed to me. I want this to be hard. So, yea, it hasn’t been easy.The hardest part is finding the balance between being an artist and an artistic director.
Mr. Incredible: Do you ever find yourself putting your own artist pressure on other artists?
Chris Rapple: Nah, I let them do what they want when they want. I’m not in this for the paper, I want the success. It’s more than just money. I don’t hound anyone to get anything done, they’ll either do it or they won’t… but I’m not in a do or die position. This is supposed to be fun! Like I said, it’s taking a little longer for things to come together than I would’ve wanted, but I’m not going to annoy anyone for a “hit single” or impose some sort of deadline. My music is making money, and I’m a sole proprieter right now.
Mr. Incredible: When you created Aeon Audio…what was the vision that you had in mind?
Chris Rapple: I wanted to put out music. I wanted to build something that people could appreciate and enjoy. Nothing really more to it than that.
Mr. Incredible: Was their a label model that you based yours on or is it more fly by the seat of your pants?
Chris Rapple: The business model is: give people as much free shit as you can. Build something WITH them. Every release has to go with a mixtape. Don’t want to buy our music? Well take a free promotional thing. Then come see a show. Or maybe that will entice you to support us in some other way, like telling a friend. Take a free something, tell a friend, maybe buy something later. As long as you’re listening, we’re winning. This all of course is what happens when you’re dealing with “real people” versus the spoiled unartistic people who do music full-time and make millions. We have day jobs that we work. Well, I HAD a day job that I worked. Yea!
Mr. Incredible: Do you feel that being the everyday man will connect you close to fans of legitimate hip hop?
Chris Rapple: What people are thinking is a total mystery to me at all times. What I can say is that, after being really young and stupid, and learning the lesson the hard way; I tell the truth about myself at all times. Even if it makes someone uncomfortable or think less of me. I’m a fat slob that farts a lot. So being myself unabashedly hasn’t exactly made people stick around. A lot of people have turned there back on me over the years. But I have this affinity for being uncomfortable. I like being miserable, and suffering for my art seems important somehow. Even if other artists aren’t on my wave-length. As far as fans, I don’t know what they’re thinking. This climate is fucked up. The writers are listening to dub step now… as far as connecting with the fans, I just try to let them know who I am. I know I’m supposed to do shit like “BUY MY CD OMFG” and treat everything I do like I’m blasting jizz all over your mother’s fat tits, but that’s not me. I don’t want to do anything unauthentic and I want to be true to the art. If people connect to that I don’t know. I do know that they steal my music a lot.
Mr. Incredible: Then you must be doing something right. Or something at least worth stealing.
Chris Rapple: I guess.
Mr. Incredible: Ha, so…has running your own label change your views as an artist?
Chris Rapple: It’s given me the opportunity to understand that every artist is fighting resistance. There’s a thousand reasons not to do something. You should be at war with those reasons. Yea, you’re baby is crying, and your wife is yelling, and the phone won’t stop ringing… but you gotta get past those things to get to the goal. I’ve seen a lot of people get in their own way a lot. But I’ve also gotten to surround myself with a bunch of creative people with good ideas, so in a way I get to feed off of them. It’s been an interesting ride. With PBX, who I have a tight association with, it’s like being on a label. Logic is calling shots over there. I’m a member of his camp in that regard. But my two cents mean a lot more now in situations because I know how to deal with distributors, and registering songs, and making sure that your budget is met, etc. Well, I hope anyway. I don’t mean to put words in anyone’s mouth.
Mr. Incredible: How did you go about choosing the artists you signed to the label?
Chris Rapple: They’re people who are talented that I believe in that I just happened to meet over the years. I met Crooked Mindz when I opened up for U-God in 06. I’ve seen them grow and change a lot… and I’m just down to help them. INF to Blak Philly are like my brothers. They’re friends, so my obligation to them is pretty serious. I look at their careers like I would my own. But again, I don’t force anyone to do anything, ever. INF is actually a free agent, but anytime he wants to put out a record with me, he knows he has the option to.
Mr. Incredible: I remember earlier you were in contact with Heddshots. what happened with them?
Chris Rapple: Heddshotts are the fam in Boston. They’re amazing people doing their thing. The association came from INF. I like what they do a lot and want success for them, too.
Mr. Incredible: You seem to have a very close knit crew. How has that helped you in that hard struggle you are on?
Chris Rapple: It’s more than just music. I can vent my personal problems with those guys. That’s why this has been working out so well. They’re more than just some numbers or however other labels might look at them. They’re real people that I believe in. We can rely and fall back on each other.
Mr. Incredible: Now you mention that you had projects for Crooked Mindz and INF. Do you also have something in the works for Blak Philly?
Chris Rapple: When Blak wants to do something, he’ll let me know. But as of right now he hasn’t really expressed what he wants to do release wise.
Mr. Incredible: Do you plan on adding any more members to your label’s roster, say like a Joey Batts?
Chris Rapple: Joey was involved, but he moved on with another label. No big, he’s doing what he wants and I’m happy for him. I still look up to him a lot and know that he’ll be successful at whatever he does. He released a few things on his own with the Aeon Audio name on it, so we had our wires crossed or something, but Joey is on the right path and I respect him for it. So what I was planning with Joey I moved on from. It’s all love though.
Mr. Incredible: That’s how things are sometimes. But at least you two are still on good terms. That’s alot better then alot of other label and artist relationships.
Chris Rapple: Yea. I just want success for everyone. That’s the way I look at things. Even with those I’ve had words with, beef… I just think, generally, those are people that have lost their way. They don’t want to make enemies with people. Even if they think they do. If I think negatively of someone, that doesn’t mean I hate them. When I see someone who is supposed to be in my corner go south, I’m always disappointed, but there’s no hate. That’s not Joey of course, I’m just saying in general. People can change. I’m just disappointed when people claim that they’re something that they’re not, that’s all.
Mr. Incredible: So do you have any big shows lined up for the whole Aeon Audio crew?
Chris Rapple: No, right now I’m trying to get www.cthiphop.net to where I want it go. I’m trying to help Logic build his brand too. So shows are on pause while I do some other creative things, for awhile anyway.
Mr. Incredible: Can you tell us a little about cthiphop.net
Chris Rapple: It exploded. I made it a year ago, right before my son was born. Since then it’s gotten A LOT of views. It was my attempt to find something social to share shit… and it’s getting to the point where, well, close anyway, that if you’re name isn’t on there in some way shape or form… you aren’t really doing anything in CT Hip-Hop. Me and Doc and Kiddinz, we’re becoming an authority as far as shit goes. To some extent anyway.
Mr. Incredible: What have you been doing to keep the views up on the site, especially with the amount of other sites that are popping up now involving the CT Music scene?
Chris Rapple: Nothing special, I just picked a good name. People respond to good branding. I’m attempting to represent them unbiasedly… so there are a lot of visits.
Mr. Incredible: Do you plan on sponsoring any events this year under the cthiphop banner?
Chris Rapple: Yes, currently I’m working with Full Blast… they’re important to CT’s movement. Duece Bug, in my opinion, is an undiscovered major talent. He’s different. There’s just something about him. That’s why I hooked him up with a free beat last year… I saw his talent and understood his image, and I wanted to help that get out there more. And now my name is attached to his with a producer credit, which is going to be good for me in the long run. As far as the blog goes, I’m down to promote and help him and his team promote whatever they need. Check out Kick Rrawks!
Mr. Incredible: Well thank you for taking time out to answer a few questions for the readers. Before we end is there anything that you would like the fan to know about?
Chris Rapple: I’m new to everyone still, and will be for a long time. I’m not any better than anyone else. If you have a creative ambition, act on it immediately. That’s all. Thanks for the interview.
For more info on Aeon Audio:
Or you can hit Brash up on his twtter at https://twitter.com/brashhiphop/
And while you are at it, check out http://www.cthiphop.net/