Local artist and promoter Anthony Parsons, also known as "AP Tha Don," is releasing a new collaborative album exclusively showcasing Williamsport-based talent. "Affiliated: Backed by HeSo Records" was released April 2 and features Parsons as well as fellow artists SHeaven (pronounced "seven") Kacy, Mr. Stroehmann, and PA (Poetic Assassin).
The "HeSo" in HeSo records comes from the combination of local and fellow hip-hop promotion agency Hoffa Entertainment and Parsons' Smoked Out Entertainment.
Parsons exudes loyalty to his hometown and stresses both the importance of what he calls "independent media." He founded Smoked Out Entertainment in 1998 to support and promote artists from Central Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. The agency handles everything: recording, editing, album design, packaging and promotion.
Local artist and promoter Anthony Parsons, also known as “AP Tha Don,” is releasing a new collaborative album exclusively showcasing Williamsport-based talent. “Affiliated: Backed by HeSo Records” was released April 2 and features Parsons as well as fellow artists SHeaven (pronounced “seven”) Kacy, Mr. Stroehmann and PA (Poetic Assassin).
"The only thing we don't do is the mastering," Parsons said.
For that, Parsons and company outsource to JL Studios, just north of Wilkes-Barre.
Williamsport-native and Pennsylvania College of Technology graduate Jamie Howlett designed the album cover. Howlett was responsible for the album art on Smoked Out Entertainment's last release, "Pennsylvania's Finest." This time around, his aim was to create a design that emphasizes his and Parsons' loyalty to the area. The setting of the photograph should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has been in Williamsport more than briefly: the intersection of Market Street, Rural Avenue and Hepburn Street at the top of Brandon Park - or, as it's known in "townie" parlance: "Confusion Corner."
"We're not trying to confuse anybody," Parsons said, "this is where we're from."
In fact, Parsons went on to explain that it ties into the name of the album.
"When people hear the name 'Affiliated,' they're automatically going to associate it with gang affiliation; and that's not it at all." If anything, Parsons seems to be after disambiguation.
He said it's a sense of community that inspired the name.
Parsons feels that the sense of community isn't always reciprocated by local venues, places that could play a vital role in promoting and raising awareness about local talent. He believes that bars and stages that focus so heavily on rock 'n' roll and blues bands should take a minor financial risk and support other forms of local talent - forms like rap and hip-hop. He feels that with the right promotion, it could be very lucrative. To Parsons, it's obvious that the interest is there; now it's simply a matter of getting the financial backing and the support of local venues and media to really help the area's rap and hip-hop scene come out of basements and bedrooms and step into the spotlight.
As the Hip Hop-Program Director for local community radio station WXPI, Parsons feels a responsibility to expose the area to some hardworking and talented local artists. But that exposure, he said, just isn't enough. Parsons provides the station's programming on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
"Why when we sign a new artist does he have to go State College, Philadelphia and New Jersey just to perform?" Parsons asked. "There's talent everywhere ... but he should at least be able to perform in his hometown. DJs play hip-hop, clubs play hip-hop, but when real local artists come to perform, it's a different story," he said.
Always looking forward, Parsons is trying to bolster relationships between Smoked Out Entertainment and Lock Haven University, Lycoming College and the Guardian Newspaper.
"There are a lot of angles you've got to cover," he said. "88.5 [WXPI's FM frequency] comes through crystal-clear in Lock Haven, so we have a lot of support from the community and the school there."
"Affiliated: Backed by HeSo Records" was released April 2. For more information about Parsons, visit www.reverbnation.com/apthadon.
There are currently plans to make "Affiliated" available on iTunes soon.