Sophomore Ademir Monteiro sat in his closet and looked through The Emerson Hip-Hop Society’s Google Drive folder to choose a beat. Once chosen, he grabbed his phone and his lyric-filled notebook, took a deep breath, and rapped his verse for The Hip-Hop Society’s summer mixtape.
The Hip-Hop Society released a ten song hip-hop and rap mixtape titled Society Summer over the course of summer 2019 starting June 23 to Aug. 25. The Hip-Hop Society released a new track on SoundCloud every week on Sunday.
“The reason why we wanted to do something was to keep ourselves out there—keep ourselves visible,” Monteiro said. “We didn’t want to go away for the summer and come back in the fall. We wanted to keep doing stuff, keep the name out there, [and] keep the name going.”
Junior John Talbot, a producer for Society Summer, said every week, a rapper from The Hip-Hop Society would look in the Google Drive beat folder and select a beat they liked. Next, the rapper would record their voice over the beat and send a recording of their rap and beat to the producer to mix. The producer would combine the rapper’s audio and beat to create a track to release the following Sunday.
Talbot said the Google Drive beat folder comprised beats chosen or produced by members of the organization. Members who created beats are known as producers, Talbot said.
Six rappers and two producers worked on Society Summer, according to Monteiro and Talbot. The rappers included seniors Owen Elphick and Trevor Kelly, juniors Dani Jean-Baptiste and Devin Davis-Lorton, and sophomores Monteiro and MJ Smith.
Monteiro said he found the process of making the mixtape stressful and time consuming because of limited communication over the summer. Those working on the mixtape mostly communicated through Slack, Monteiro said.
“[The mixtape] is one of those things that you do that you don’t realize how hard it would be,” Talbot said. “I was working two jobs and living on my own for the first time, so trying to coordinate with people to produce [and] mix stuff was really challenging.”
Monteiro said creating a mixtape began as a collaborative idea between the members of The Hip-Hop Society. The name of the mixtape came from its release date—summertime.
“It’s a mixtape in the truest form because it’s a collection of songs under one name,” Monteiro said.
To promote the mixtape’s release, Monteiro said The Hip-Hop Society used various social media platforms.
Talbot produced four songs on Society Summer including “Show Off,” “Don’t Make Me Laugh,” “Beautiful Day,” and “Only Human.”
“Only Human” is Society Summer’s most played song with 147 plays on SoundCloud. Featuring Jean-Baptiste and Elphick, “Only Human” addresses ideas of vulnerability, sensitivity, and Elphick’s senior semester at Emerson.
“‘Only Human’ was about me [rapping] about fears and insecurities of my future,” Elphick said. “Stuff that has been [happening] to me over the summer in terms of like my life progressing, my personal life at home, and my tenure at Emerson.”
Last March, The Hip-Hop Society released an 11-track album called Chapter One: Enter the Society on Apple Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud, making Society Summer The Hip-Hop Society’s second original music release project.
Mixtapes contain free beats while albums contain either original beats or artists’ beats for a price. When using other artists’ beats, a rapper must have permission and may have to pay royalty fees, depending on the streaming service, Talbot said.
“In the hip-hop world, specifically, mixtapes are albums that are released for free, so that the artists can use samples without having to pay royalties on them and get the samples cleared by whoever has the copyright on those samples,” Elphick said.
Elphick said The Hip-Hop Society released the mixtape exclusively on SoundCloud to avoid paying royalties. By using SoundCloud as the streaming service, The Hip-Hop Society did not make any revenue off the mixtape compared to their album, which made around $20, Monteiro said.
Elphick said The Hip-Hop Society is in the planning stages of their next album, which they expect to release spring 2020.
“My hope for the album is that it’s going to be even better than the last one,” Elphick said. “That’s always your goal. I think it’s going to be even more polished [and] have even more songs.”