In the music industry’s eyes, Chicago hip-hop had a disappointing 2006. Its highest profile albums, Rhymefest’s Blue Collar and Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, didn’t meet expectations. Even the indies had a rough time: Psalm One’s solid The Death Of Frequent Flyer for Rhymesayers didn’t really catch on. Yet from a different point of view, Chicago hip-hop had one of its best years ever: Those albums didn’t move enough units to be commercial hits, but they easily succeeded artistically—in the independent world, that goes a long way. One of those notable indie releases was Issues by Coppershot, a local hip-hop duo featuring MC LongShot and producer/beat-maker Copperpot (a.k.a. Dan Kuypers). Copperpot runs EV Records, which released Chapter 7, a Copperpot solo album, and others by Modill, Treologic, and Earmint. A new Copperpot disc drops this spring, but this month, EV Records is releasing a compilation called Everything, featuring Diverse, Thaione Davis, Psalm One, One Be Lo, and others. Before its release, Copperpot talked to The A.V. Club about race, cliques, and Miami’s breasts.
Copperpot: That’s the reason I got into it when I was a kid—it’s what everybody was listening to. In my neighborhood growing up, there wasn’t a racial divide in hip-hop. But I think that, with the advent of the technology to make beats in your home and record in your home, it brought a lot more people who are affluent—and that’s typically white people—into the game. I guess the divide has kind of crumbled a little bit.
AVC: You said in an old interview the Chicago hip-hop scene is really cliquey. Why is that?
CP: I can’t really put my finger on it, but I do believe that. I try and stay cool with as many people as I can, and not get in the personal stuff with all the people that I’m doing business with in the community. I don’t know what’s going on. I know it’s not like that in other places, not that I see. If you ever go to a hip-hop show in Chicago, you’ll see a lot of people standing around with their arms across their chests, thinking with little thought bubbles coming out of their heads saying, “I can do that better.”
AVC: Do you think living on the far North Side makes it tougher for you in Chicago?
CP: I don’t know. I would say no—it’s probably easier to live on the North Side than the South Side. [Laughs.] As far as the industry is concerned, I just do what I do. Where I’m from, it’s a mailing address. I want to move to Miami. It’s warm all the time, and there’s boobies all over the place. [Laughs.]
AVC: You’d have to bring it with the big bass down there.
CP: Oh, I’ll bring it. I’ve got mad style. [Laughs.]
AVC: You’ve stopped DJing locally. Do you still get stage fright?
CP: I do. I hate delaying. I’m a proponent of prescription drugs for self-medication. If I take maybe a Valium or a Xanax or something then I’ll be pretty cool until people really start staring and gawking, and then I get really nervous, and my heart starts beating really fast, and my stomach hurts, and I feel sleepy. [Laughs.] I was the kid who never showed up in English class when we had to recite 10 lines of Shakespeare. Never. I’m in the nurse, I’m at home, I’m in my locker, wherever, I’m not in the classroom.
AVC: So what do you do when you get nervous?
CP: I just put my head down and listen to the music. I put on a song from The Cure that makes me feel good—“Close To Me”—and then I’ll feel a little bit better. And then people are like “Wait, a minute, I thought this was a hip-hop night.”
AVC: Have you ever had a major screw-up?
CP: Oh yeah. I was in the Metro DJing a KRS-One show. I put the new record on, and then got distracted on then took the needle off the new record, like, rennnhhh—1,200 people just staring.
AVC: What’d you do?
CP: I just dropped the needle on the record, and luckily it was on beat. I pulled it off. Some of my friends knew I fucked up, but then other people didn’t really catch it.
AVC: KRS-One didn’t stare at you with hatred?
CP: No, but he did snap on another DJ that night—scary. He’s a perfectionist; everything’s gotta be real smooth. We’ve done a lot of work together at this point, so we have an amicable relationship. I’ve seen his wrath. He’s a big, powerful man, and I’m not. I’m a small, ineffectual man. I don’t want to be crushed.