With the up-and-coming popularity of hip-hop in the Williamsport area, there are a lot of hardworking individuals who are behind the scenes, according to Stephen Morse, aka C-Kwal.
Producers don't often get the recognition they deserve, but they are an important part of the creative process just as much as the artists themselves, the producer-performer said.
Morse started performing in the Williamsport area with Anthony Parsons, and together they formed Smoked Out Entertainment, which was featured in the Nightlife Showcase two weeks ago.
C-Kwal is a rapper and producer who’s trying to make more people aware of hip-hop. He performs for Smoked Out Entertainment Saturdays at Club Escape, 14 S. Front St., Milton.
"It started out as a hobby, but I just love music," he said. "Being able to express myself, it's like a journal. I feel better after I write a song. Sometimes, I touch people's lives. I like when people can relate to my music. I've been in a lot of trouble in my life, but now with being more positive, I want to help people, so they don't have to go as far as I did. It only gets worse if you don't go down the right path," Morse said.
Growing up, Morse was influenced by Eminem, Scott Storch and Tupac.
"I grew up listening to them; I identified with them as artists, especially the style, the sound and the beat," he said.
Although Morse is still into the performer part of hip-hop, he currently is producing in the area, working with Philadelphia-based artists Frank Flippen and Sadik.
Morse values the importance of producing. He knows that without CDs, an artist is not likely to be remembered.
"You need the CDs to promote yourself," Morse said. "You can do a show, have a really great performance, but after, if you don't have CDs to sell, the audience isn't going to remember you.
"I like producing better, I like doing the inside work, the sound quality," he said. "I can take something really good and make it even better. My clarity with the music makes it the best in the area. The sound quality is all there. The rappers will be there, but you have to stand out as a producer as well."
Morse said he mostly works with hip-hop artists, but is not limited to it.
"I'm willing to work with anyone," he said. "Most of the artists I work with, I've known for a while, but I'm still willing to branch out."
Morse and Parsons previously worked on "Pennsylvania's Finest, Volume 1," which promoted hip-hop artists in the Central Pennsylvania area. "That project was a lot of underground music. We pushed that album on the streets," Morse said.
Morse and Parsons are working on "Pennsylvania's Finest, Volume 2."
"Even though we do our own thing, we still collaborate. This second album will be a continuation of the first one," Morse said.
Morse also is working on a mixtape titled, "Top of the Globe," which will be premiere May 1 and will feature 15 tracks. The mixtape will include several artists from the area.
"It has all local artists," he said. "I'm helping artists who don't have the opportunities. They are talented, but they just don't have the resources."
Along with producing, Morse also is performing, trying to get hip-hop more exposure in this area. He is part of Smoked Out Entertainment's stable of artists who will be performing on Saturday nights at Club Escape, 14 S. Front Street, Milton.
"The advantage is that Club Escape is supporting the local hip-hop - they are letting us do what we want and what we need to," Morse said.
Understanding the frustrations of being rising artists without support, Morse promotes himself at every chance.
"There are a lot of good artists - the problem is that there is no support," he said. "Even people who have known me for a long time might not help me; it's hard to be a hip-hop artist in this area. If you aren't helping yourself, there's not a lot of people that are going to either."
For more information about C-Kwal, search for him on Facebook and ReverbNation.