As many venues began cancelling hip hop acts after last summers shooting, Nick Cialdella, promoter at RT Bookings, kept going strong, creating events like Hip Hop Hooray that allowed local artists to be heard. We met up with Cialdella to talk about the music scene, and his own rap career, and working on both sides of the local music industry.
How did you get involved with RT booking?
I have been rapping since I was nine. I recorded here and there when I was younger. I got a real opportunity February 2011 to record a mixtape. When I first put it out there was no one there to listen to it.
That got me brainstorming how to get more people to listen to me. I decided I wanted to throw a monthly show. I booked a show called Hip Hop Hooray with Nicky Will, from InJeanious at the Blue Room.
A year and a half later I am still booking Hip Hop Hurray. We have jumped from venue to venue. Started off in the Blue Room, then I started running the Hip Hop shows at Water Street. The local shows were gaining popularity until the shooting at the Bug Jar last Summer.
The owner at Water Street got real nervous about booking local hip hop shows and eventually shut them down. That’s when I started booking national shows, the owner would let me book national acts and put on local artists as openers.
When I wasn’t able to do just local shows at Water Street I moved Hip Hop Hurray to Dubland Underground. I started hosting shows there with DJ Key-YO! and working with younger locals who weren’t as established. It has been really successful and has turned into a showcase of new or younger artists that haven’t been able to play anywhere else.
My main goal is to have a good influence on this area. I originally went to school as a teacher, I have always wanted to help this city. I might not make it nationally, I may not even make it regionally, but I will be able to make a difference in this community.
Is it hard finding a balance between being an artist and being a promoter?
The problem with booking shows all of the time is that I haven’t had anytime to make new music. That is my focus this year, to move back to being an artist and not just being a promoter.
I am working on a project now but it is slow moving. Every time I start to work on my own project I get a phone call telling me about the next new show I have to book. I want to drop another EP this year. If I don’t I will be pissed at myself, in this city you should be putting something out every six months.
Is it tough working both sides of the music industry being both a rapper and promoter?
Yea. At first I didn’t perform in a show that I was throwing. I just recently started opening for acts that I have booked myself. My whole life went from being about music to being about time slots and ticket sales.
When you are trying to manage six local guys and a national act during a show you are running around all night. I didn’t have time to think about performing, now that I am more experienced with running shows I have more time to sit back and perform a set.
You can still see the difference in my performances; I perform better when it isn’t a show I book myself. I performed at a Brown Bag All Stars show, which Tim Tones ran, and gave my best performance I have given in six months. Just because I didn’t have to get off stage and chase down the next act.
What do you think about the cities music scene?
When it comes down to it, there is a lot of talent here, but there is also a lot of bullshit. In the city there are probably a thousand rappers, and everyone thinks they are the best. There are only maybe a handful of strong teams and strong solo artists.
What it comes down to is the people with the most talent maybe don’t work as hard or have a bad attitude, and there are those who have a great attitude and work ethic but not the talent.
But there is a really good group of artists who do work hard and are talented, and are starting to develop a large fan base and work together, that is key. If we work together there will be rappers that make it out of this city but the scene as a whole has to work together.