Concice Records

It’s high time that RVANews shines our “highly influential” press spotlight on a team of music lovers that are fast becoming dear to our hearts.

Concice Records markets and sells Hip Hop records, promotes Hip Hop parties and generally dedicates itself to the continued edification of the Richmond community in regards to all things hip hop. This was apparent to me and my MySpace bulletin board before I had a chance to sit down with founder and co-conspirators Geoff Stanley and Swerve 36. However, after a brief and thoroughly enlightening chat, I’ll tell you that these dudes’ love for the genre is deep and wide. They are leading lights in Richmond’s burgeoning independent Hip Hop community, they aren’t going anywhere, and it’s high time that RVANews shines our “highly influential” press spotlight on a team of music lovers that are fast becoming dear to our hearts.

Concise Records arrived in 2005 when Geoff, fresh out of college with a real job and money to burn/invest, decided to start up a label to put behind local rapper Swordplay’s debut EP. Apparently the label side of the biz had always beckoned Geoffrey, and he cites early hard-core and punk rock labels Dischord and Victory as organizational influences (and even suggests a connection between disillusioned rock, punk, and hardcore kids and the fruition of the mid-00’s Richmond hip hop scene). Quickly overwhelmed Geoff, a lifetime Richmond resident and Meadowbrook High School alum, recruited help from Swerve, a long time Richmond DJ, rapper, and producer. Aiming to provide some infrastructure to the hip hop community, Concice has released records and organized parties and promotions for the past 3 years. (I am adding “parties” and “promotions” to my list of genre-specific concert names that include “shows” and “gigs”)

Becoming a leading voice in a long line of Richmond hip hop entrepreneurs suits these folks nicely. Although Swerve admits that it’s “tough to keep it going sometime, it feels like you’re pushing a bike up a hill,” Concice is doing much more than “keeping it going.” Keenly aware of Richmond’s growing ability to straddle the Mason-Dixon line, the folks at Concice consider Richmond’s regional voice as “the perfect center between NYC and the South.” They cite Virginia’s uniquely blended aesthetic for the rush of success that folks (i.e. Missy Elliot, Timbaland, and Pharell) from the Beach have had. In fact, their belief in Richmond’s homegrown talent has kept them from pursuing any artists from outside the 804 at all. They release what they insist is “artist-focused music;” they always make an effort to work with folks who are up and running on their own (as opposed to developing their own superstars) and do little meddling with their artists’ aesthetic sensibilities. Their current artist roster includes local Richmonders Swerve, Micsource, Divine Profitz, and Murk One, and upcoming releases for the team include records by Grown Folks as well as a long awaited new work from the aforementioned Divine Profitz. All this record releasing business falls into the gaps of the two to three parties a month that they promote.

I asked Geoff if there were any issues with a white bro starting a label that releases music that is historically as well as currently largely African-American in a city with a history of racial divide. In short, the answer was “No,” but tucked inside the reply was the hopeful reality that Concice shows are multicultural events that truly celebrate hip hop as an art. Although, both Swerve and Geoff pointed to venue’s preconceptions still being a problem, the reality is that the Concice story has been one of few racial boundaries is absolutely fantastic to hear and speaks to the emphasis these guys continually put on the music.

Battling illegal downloading, a marketwide downturn in hip hop’s sales and what Geoff calls “the coming apocalypse” (the ever-present financial crisis that he called “the apocalypse” six times) is no joke for a small local label. After a back and forth about the realities of their financial situation, Geoff, as articulate an interviewee as RVANews has come across, had this bit to say — which seems to sum up, in some sort of backwards way, the honesty, integrity, and genuine love of music that is Concice Records…

…”maybe we’ll at least be able to do enough to where they don’t have to quit making music BECAUSE of their day jobs.”

You can find a few fantastic cuts from a variety of Concise Records artists on the Eight Track.

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Matthew E. White

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