When roc & roll and hip-hop intertwine | The living
November 17 marked 29 years that the punk rock-rap band Midwest Avengers have made music professionally, mostly performances and shows.
John Harrington, one of the band’s co-founding members, said by the 1990s he and the other original members went to many house parties, beatboxing, breakdancing and raping. They chose the name Midwest Avengers because they represent the Midwest and come with a vengeance. He said that at the time, St. Louis didn’t get much attention, especially nationally, for its hip-hop, as it was years before Nelly appeared on the scene and don’t put the city on the map. Since then, they have toured, performed concerts and released new music.
One wonders why the group chose to combine the punk rock and hip-hop genres, Harrington said the move was very intentional and reminded of Harrington’s upbringing.
While living in University City and attending his school district, he said he was exposed to diversity, hence his love for skateboarding and hardcore heavy metal music. His appreciation for everything rock-related has always been there, and so has his love for hip-hop.
âI’ve always stayed connected and rooted in hip-hop because it’s my culture. That’s what I grew up on, “he said.” My cousins ââalways had mixtapes or the latest albums coming out. “
The group was once just a rap group of around 30 members on stage. Harrington said they aspire to be the âSt. Louis Wu-Tang,â but it didn’t go as planned. He said the band’s sound suffered from mixed chords and technical malfunctions due to CD skipping.
He said no one took the work behind the band really seriously. He also said that everyone is afraid of having fun rather than getting a recording deal and trying to be famous. That all changed until one day Harrington said the band needed to step up their game, which came to pay for studio sessions and properly structure the songs together.
At that point he said he saw who was serious about the craft and who was not as different members started to give up as they were now investing money for better results.
He said local musician Andrew Franklin suggested creating a live band that combined funk, metal, punk, hip-hop and rock. Harrington said this happened before the genre became popular with music from Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.
âWe even coined a term to call it ‘head banger’ hip-hop because white boys back then listened to metal, and we called them headbangers,â he said. “Our music is that and hip-hop, so we mixed it up, and that’s what we call our style of music.”
Midwest Avengers maintained moderate success locally, but Harrington said they always received more love in big cities like Los Angeles and New York. A lot of it comes from the fact that they never wanted to generalize because they always wanted to be authentic about their personality and their style of music.
âThe Midwest Avengers have been around forever. We never really succeeded with this kind of international and national recording contract because we never wanted one, âhe said. âBefore everyone was independent, we were independent in the 1990s. We were selling 1,000 tapes in the trunk for $ 5 each. We were making a lot of money. We thought at least we were putting in five, six, seven, a hundred dollars and after fees we made $ 4,500. “
He said finding a deal was never in their plan, but they did achieve a radio hit in 2000 on 105.7 The Point. The song attracted a lot of record companies calling the Harrington home. He said it was a great feeling to have, but he didn’t want what came with it, which meant a lot of changes had to happen.
“They wanted to change us completely, change our style, get rid of some limbs, that other people write for us and dress us differently, but we weren’t there because that’s not what we do,” did he declare. âWe are talking about real life and what is happening here on the streets of Saint-Louis. We can’t be here rapping about something we aren’t experiencing.
He also said he was serious about loyalty since some of the members were people he grew up with and met while trying to tap into the local scene.
He said the group is proud of its diversity and accepts and includes people from all walks of life and backgrounds. For the first time in nearly 29 years of history, the group includes a woman, Kourtney “KourtwitaKay”, a singer and vocal arranger who grew up singing in church.
“It’s good to have a woman’s point of view since we haven’t had it for almost 30 years because he hasn’t presented himself as he did with her,” said he declared.
It is also the first time that the group is made up of 100% people of color. The original six members had three white and three black members. Now the group is one-third Latino with two Hispanic / Native American members and four black members.
“It’s an exciting time to see where this will take us,” he said.
Music for Midwest Avengers is available on all digital streaming platforms.