WHILE THERE ARE MANY examples of acts who cultivate a fanbase locally and then translate that momentum beyond their immediate geography, it's rare to witness the reverse scenario. Not to suggest that Animal Farm—emcees Gen.Erik, Hanif Wondir, Fury, Serge Severe, and DJ Wels—are completely ignored in Portland. However, considering that the local hiphop outfit has recently been blessed with radio play from DJ Premier, DJ Eclipse, and the BBC, as well as positive co-signs from the likes of URB, Nah Right, and pretty much every rap blog worth paying attention to, it's safe to say that their hometown has some catching up to do.
Of course, international success doesn't happen overnight. In addition to creating the soulful production and emceeing as Gen.Erik, Animal Farm's Erik Abel pulls extra duty as manager of the group. "It has been a slow grind. Really slow," he explains. "After years of doing whatever shows we were offered and handling all of our own booking, PR, marketing, etc., we are finally receiving some national and international attention. It feels great. I personally quit my job about two months ago and have been working night and day to get our music heard, and it's been amazing to get some validation that I haven't been wasting my time all these years."
Though it's been three years since their debut release, it's apparent that Animal Farm has a quality-over-quantity mentality, which is made evident in their latest record Culture Shock. Taken as a whole, a thematic manifesto emerges in the album, one that celebrates the DIY spirit and laughs at the weasels that go pop. Guest spots from independent hiphop legends Talib Kweli, Rob Swift, and Abstract Rude further hammer this point home.
"Unlike an artist tied to a record deal with a major label, we are able to explore all sides of our personalities in our music," Abel says. "We could make a song about the military industrial complex one day and a track about douchebags at the club the next. I think a lot of creativity has been lost in the current music assembly-line business model."