MILTON - Founded in 1998, Smoked Out Entertainment was started by Anthony Parsons, a former resident of Williamsport. With a love for hip-hop, Smoked Out Entertainment - aka S.O.E. - supports artists from Central Pennsylvania and surrounding areas, giving the artists the opportunity to have a voice.
Parsons, also known as "AP tha Don," is on a mission to make the area aware of the community of hip-hop artists and showcase their talent.
"Music is a billion-dollar industry," he said. "If a city is backing rock 'n' roll music or country, why can't they back hip-hop too?"
Parsons and S.O.E. are part of a tight-knit network of hip-hop of recording artists, including S-Kwal Productions, Hoffa Entertainment, Dy Hard Entertainment and Get Fresh Records, all part of the Central Pennsylvania scene.
"They've all had a big part in the growth of hip-hop music in this area," Parsons said.
The musician and promoter is loyal to his roots, staying local with his music.
"I support the community and foundation that supported me first," he said. "I want to be able to take an artist that has just started and make them marketable. Maybe they started singing or rapping in their basement and they come to me and say they want to make a CD. I do that for them, from start to finish. And in the end, we hope they get a record deal," Parsons said. "Everything is done ourselves. We want to make sure it gets done right."
And Smoked Out Entertainment really does do everything, from the recording, to the editing, packaging and promoting.
Parsons said that even though the majority of the artists that the group works with perform hip-hop, they are not limited to hip-hop.
"I'll help anybody that wants it," he said. "Although this business takes money to make it, it's not about the money. It's about making people happy."
Sheaven (pronounced "Seven") Kacy, an artist originally from Philadelphia, is proud to now be part of the area hip-hop community.
"People rap about their life experiences and the scene in Philadelphia was full of negativity," Kacy said. "I knew I had to get out of there, out of the negativity."
Kacy moved to Central Pennsylvania and finished school.
"I value Williamsport and the Central Pennsylvania area," he said. "We're not just rappers here. We are part of a community."
Kacy is one of the pop artists with Smoked Out Entertainment. One of his songs, "Skinny Jeans," is a mainstream-sounding song and Kacy knows that it could be picked up by a major record label.
Kacy also commented on Parsons marketing ability.
"Although he's an artist, people also notice that he's a businessman," he said.
As artists, Kacy and Parsons said they draw from life experiences for their music.
"I take my own experiences, things I've seen other people go through, anything I can connect emotionally with and use that for inspiration," Kacy said.
At any given moment, Kacy knows he can pull out his phone and contact other artists for a performance or just to talk.
"We're not just artists - we're friends too. We are all in constant contact with each other, even though we're scattered around," he said.
Parsons is promoting the local artists in a big way. With signing a 25-week entertainment deal with Club Escape, 14 S. Front St., Smoked Out Entertainment will be featuring an array of artists each week on Saturday nights.
"Every Saturday will be different artists, and some of the same ones too. I'll be opening the show and closing it. People can come out for a good time," Parsons said. "Club Escape was one of the only clubs in the area that would support local artists. We are hoping through these 25 weeks of performances that someone will get signed, maybe get a distribution deal."
"I like to interact with the crowd," Kacy said. "The other week I was performing and it was a girl's birthday and I pointed her out of the crowd. It's up to the artists to make the crowd enjoy the show."
Parsons also is in the process of building partnerships with surrounding schools, including Lock Haven University, Mansfield University, Penn College, Lycoming College and Bucknell University. He also promotes artists on WXPI 88.5 with a hip-hop radio show at 11 p.m.
S.O.E. also has a contract with FYE as well, which allows the company to sell its CDs in local stores.
Find more about Smoked Out Entertainment and its music on Facebook, ReverbNation and Myspace. Also check out the performances of local hip-hop artists at Club Escape.