Massimo Lepore, also known as Fortunato, is part of the newly formed New Brunswick Hip Hop Association. The NBHHA had their first live event at Klub Khrome last Friday. The Toronto-born rapper said the group would never have formed in his hometown.
“It’s very saturated in Toronto. There’s thousands and thousands of rappers, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Everybody’s really only concerned about their own success,” said the 37 year old. “So there’s really not a great sense of community. Whereas in New Brunswick, there’s the New Brunswick Hip Hop Association.”
The NBHHA is a network of hip-hop artists in New Brunswick. Lepore is hoping to pass on some of his experience to the younger rappers.
“Personally, I’m just trying to bring some of my own knowledge from my experience to the artists out there. If they have questions, I can help them with that. I’d give them guidance on that. Different opportunities that they can use for funding, “ said Lepore.
Lepore has been rapping professionally since 2007, but has been making beats and rapping with friends since high school. He formed the rap group Angerville with Conscience Thought in 2007. Three of their songs debuted on Much Music. The success they reached was even harder to sustain because they didn’t know much about the business side of hip-hop.
“It takes more than just bars to make a career in this,” said Lepore.
Eventually Angerville spilt up, and Lepore says he has grown and learned a lot as a solo artist. He learned, most importantly, that it takes a level of professionalism to be successful in the rap industry.
“When you’re at your show, you’re in your business suit.”
Lepore says some young artists show up just to party and get smashed. He admits it is part of the learning curve, but hopes they learn early that the aftershow is a prime time to network.
“There’s been situations where I’ve driven three hours just to realize my set wasn’t on my memory stick or the CD I had didn’t burn properly. I basically had no material to perform, so I ended up driving six hours to a show I didn’t even get to perform at.”
He says those experiences help you grow as an artist. Lapore wants to eventually mentor young rappers, but he admits there are still things he can learn himself.
“Eight years into my career I’m still doing things for the first time.”
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