Locked and labeled

Local label Interlock celebrates its latest release

Megan Kadrmas

While Interlock Records is the newest label on the local hip-hop scene, their heavy-hitting line-up of local talent has worked together for years.

The family of artists, originally including Kanser, Heuirspecs, Twisted Linguistics and Oddjobs, united in 1997 but lacked the business representation necessary for success in the music industry.

It took Chris Cloud, a recent University graduate, and Mike Campbell, a former University student, to make their family a legitimate legal force.

Cloud and Campbell became friends through DECA, a high school marketing club in North St. Paul, and bonded over their love for hip-hop.

They went from being the kids in the crowd watching acts like I.L.I.C.I.T. and Kanser perform on stage, to being an integral part of the artists’ lives.

“Call It What You Want” CD Release Party, featuring Traditional Methods, Kanser, Twisted Linguistics, I.L.I.C.I.T. and Carnage
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Foundation Nightclub
TICKETS: $7 advance / $9 door, purchase tickets at Mindstate Distribution (www.mindstatedistribution.com) in Dinkytown or Fifth Element (www.fifthelementonline.com) in Uptown

“In 2003, at Loring Pasta Bar, I saw Kanser at their CD Release party. Now, thinking that I own the label that they’re on, it’s crazy,” Cloud said.

When Cloud and Campbell first decided to start a record label, they sketched out a rough timeline of their goals. The time line included a release date for their first album within three months and a goal to “keep the guerrilla, underground thing alive,” Cloud said.

The two researched the needs of the hip-hop scene through interviewing local artists, Rhymesayers representatives and others hip to the local beat, Cloud said.

While conducting these informal interviews, Cloud and Campbell found themselves talking with Zach from Kanser multiple times. They realized that there is a large underground rap scene in the Twin Cities but they have no one to handle the business side for them.

It has been about a year since that timeline was made. Interlock is celebrating the release of “Call It What You Want,” its first album, this week.

The last year has been a learning experience for the two, according to Campbell.

“What we might lack in work experience, we make up for in young hustle and ability to network,” Campbell said.

“Call It What You Want” is not only a good sampler of what forces Interlock already has behind its name, it’s a good sampler of what talent is thriving in the Twin Cities at the moment.

The album shows a range of talents, from the soulful humming of Sarah White (of Black Blondie and Traditional Methods fame) on “Clap Your Hand,” to the timeless flow of Unicus from Kanser and Slim from G.O.B. on “Mo Fire.”

Interlock is trying to keep the communal, familial feel of the group alive through references to Minnesota roots on the album, through their easily accessible shows and personal responses to MySpace messages.

Interlock proves local hip-hop doesn’t have to be an elitist, intimidating scene. Cloud and Campbell show that being real and relatable might just be the key to success.