MP3 Strong Arm Family - In Arms Reach
SAF Records presents its first Compilation "In Arm Reach" everything is within Arms reach, This is just a lil taste of the flavors to come
12 MP3 Songs
HIP HOP/RAP: Hip Hop, HIP HOP/RAP: Rap
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Group''s bond is strong
Hip-hop artists in Strong Arm Family push toward success
By JAIME NORTH
Rasool "Soonami" Mason
Tone "Capone" Robinson
Matt "Mic Murder" Miller
JaJuan "Trigga" Wesley
Ryan "Big PhASE" Statum
Daniel "Unlimited" King
Cardell "Long Boy Slim" Walker
Strong Arm Family
Clyde Strong (chairman/CEO)
When Clyde Strong first noticed the increased negativity that developed on the streets of Chambersburg in the mid 1990s, he wanted to make a positive difference and reverse that trend.
Clyde opened the doors of his home to the streets and allowed people to vent their life''s frustrations in the form of musical expression.
The result of Strong''s open-door outlet for youth aggression created a network of untapped and unnoticed local talent that eventually turned into the Strong Arm Family, a local hip-hop group.
"I''m originally from a small town outside of Los Angeles that had the same situation going on," Strong said of his hometown, Pomona, Calif. "Those dirt roads eventually turned into killing fields, and I saw the same thing happening here."
Strong bought a keyboard and drum machine and after his invitations began rolling through the streets, the rest is what he calls history.
Five guys -- with no previous connection with each other -- have come a long way in four years to form a closely knit group that is very passionate about their music.
"When we watch music videos on television, we honestly feel that our music is just as good, if not better," said Ryan "PhASE" Statum, 20. "We''re very confident. We just need a chance to be heard. If given the right opportunity, we won''t disappoint."
Strong Arm Family has a substantial list of public performances that range from Chambersburg''s Capitol Theatre, a few Hagerstown, Md., clubs, spots on York television and shows in the Harrisburg area. Facing the obvious hurdle of limited funds, the group has persistently moved toward releasing their fourth album.
"With each record, we''ve gotten better -- we haven''t produced our best work yet," said Matt "Mic Murder" Miller, 21. "We know our best stuff has yet to come out, and we''re very exited about that."
Frustrations of the core members derive from the fact they must devote a good portion of their time to promotion and production, which they say takes time away from their focus on recording and writing.
But they have effectively pulled together their individual strengths for the benefit of the final product. Behind their familial bond, the group balances the egos and intentions from their individual contributions into a well-received flow of beats, lyrics and performances.
"I play around and mess with the beats until I like it," said Daniel "Boone" King, 22. "Originality is key. I try to incorporate all my influences into my own brand of beats to come up with the final flow."
King said his main influences are hip-hop producers such as Dr. Dre (who works with artists such as Eminem), Timbaland (who works with artists such as Missy and Justin Timberlake) and his desire to learn more.
"I''ve taken a couple of piano lessons so I can try and understand music better. I want to be able to read music so I can put it all into a more constructive form."
The group says the floor is open to each of them to write, lay down tracks and produce -- which results in a good all-around product.
"I can hear just about any new song on the radio or television and there will be something that sparks me," Statum said of his writing sessions. "Other times I get ideas from just writing. I was good at writing in high school and I enjoy writing poetry. When I get into a creative mood, everything just comes out."
Flexibility in dealing with work schedules, family issues and time to get together has given the group an important quality of resilience needed in tackling the music industry.
"It can be rough," said Rasool "Soonami" Mason, 25. "But in order to get what you want, you have to put forth the effort."
According to the artists, they all view the hard work as a gift, not a hassle.
"They''ve given me a privilege to participate in creating music," said Miller, who moved to Chambersburg from New York about two years ago. "When I arrived, they already had the equipment and a good start in what we''re now doing. The all-around love they''ve given me has given me the opportunity to do what I truly love -- that is making my music. Where I''m at right now is all credited to them giving me a chance."
Mason also views his participation in Strong Arm Family as a privilege.
"The versatility is what I like best," said Mason, who moved to Chambersburg from Harrisburg. "Everybody has a different look on their music and uses a different approach into getting it out. A lot of musicians are out there trying to sound like someone else -- that''s not the case here. We have a very original sound."
Mason, who recorded a solo album in 2000, performs an array of responsibilities for the group that ranges from engineering, writing, producing and promoting.
"I do a little bit of everything," Mason said. "I don''t believe in luck. To really succeed you really have to work hard at it."
Mason, who credits Russell Simmons, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Tupac Shakur and Aerosmith as influences, believes the passion behind Strong Arm Family''s desire for success will eventually open the doors that are currently closed to them.
"The main thing that concerns me is the level of support in this area," Mason said. "There are a lot of nonbelievers out there who don''t think it''s possible to make it from here. I want to show them that you don''t have to be from a big city to make it."