Grab the mic
A new independent record label produces songs from the streets—and raises the bar(s) for Sacramento’s music scene
If you manage to get your hands on an early copy of this paper (or find this scribble online), then you may still have a chance to attend one of the coolest events in Sacramento this year.
On September 12, Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub is hosting a triple-barreled coming-out party—for a new record label, for said label’s first album and for the artists who turned their experiences surviving the streets into some of the realest music you’re likely to hear.
The label, Creation District Records, only seemingly blinked into existence, but reflects eight months of breakneck hustle by Grace Loescher, a force of DIY mojo. The indie label spun out of Loescher’s work at The Creation District, an art studio for young people experiencing homelessness. Along with artist Hobo Johnson, Loescher and a small team spent months setting up mini-recording studios wherever they can find marginalized young people—shelters, sidewalks, vans, etc.—and helped them turn their notebook confessionals into mixed-and-mastered recordings.
I’m not sure how to describe the six tracks I sampled except to say they’re haunting in their raw honesty. They’re like neo-hip-hop vignettes, told through simple, moody hooks and plainspoken poetry. Consider these bars from J KCHARMZ’ “What They Call You?”: “Little boy at school / He considered a fool / ‘Cuz he stealing food / He is so confused / ‘Cuz he hungry / But they think that shit is funny.”
The kid’s story gets harder from there, but the song doesn’t beg for sympathy. It’s told with such thick-skinned humanity that you just feel, well, more human having heard it. That’s headphone rap of the highest order. And a reminder that picking up the mic can be even bolder than dropping it.