It’s taken a year to arrange, record and release, but “Classic City Wax: Vol. 1,” the first of many planned vinyl compilations to spotlight the Athens hip-hop community, will see the light of day on Feb. 22.
Featuring 12 tracks from 12 prominent local artists in the hip-hop community, including Kxng Blanco, Lingua Franca, Motorhead 2X and Squallé, the album was produced and funded on a local level. The Athens Cultural Affairs Commission awarded one of its three 2019 Arts in Community grants to help fund the city’s first hip-hop vinyl compilation.
Exactly 250 copies of the vinyl were pressed by Kindercore Vinyl and mixed and mastered by sound engineer Jesse Mangum from The Glow Recording Studio. The album’s artwork was created by local graphic designer Larry Choskey and features a hodgepodge of artists who lent tracks to the compilation.
The album will come out on Feb. 22 with an album release show at Caledonia Lounge. The show will feature 15-minute sets from 11 artists featured on the album and a “grand finale cypher” with all performers. The featured artists will also receive their first copies of the final version of the album at the release show, according to a press release.
Montu Miller, executive producer of the album and co-host of the release show, said collaboration with local music businesses was tricky when it came to navigating multiple “moving parts.” He considers these partnerships an important catalyst to the growth of the hip-hop scene in Athens.
Miller said focusing on the business aspect of the music scene is crucial to continuing this growth and making sure that the music is “getting in the right hands.”
Miller said arranging the first vinyl compilation album of hip-hop artists in the city was a “quintessential Athens project” and hopes the album will showcase how serious the hip-hop community is.
“It’s what I call a pot of gumbo,” Miller said. “It’s got all these different ingredients from all over Athens, and we’re putting it all together.”
Jeffery Blakely, an artist featured on the album under the stage name Kxng Blanco, said promoting the Athens hip-hop scene has been done before, but doesn’t know if it’s been done on such a big scale.
After solidifying his place as a rapper and earning the title of “King of the Youth” in the Athens hip-hop scene, being featured on the album made Blanco, 20, realize how much he has grown as a rapper along with the hip-hop scene.
Miller said he has already started to plan for a “Classic City Wax: Vol. 2” and hopes the project will result in an annual compilation. Miller said he already has a good idea of artists he wants to feature in the second volume, especially since he was unable to feature all the artists he wanted to on the first.
Once he is able to solidify the list for the second volume, Miller hopes to preview that list by this summer.
While he is excited to debut the work of all the artists featured, Miller said he was especially excited for Blanco’s music on the album, especially since he has been in the hip-hop scene since he was 16 years old.
Blanco chose to include his single he released this past summer, titled “Woah!” featuring MackMallyMann on “Classic City Wax: Vol. 1.” The single was originally from his sophomore album “Skee Yee!”
Blanco said he decided to include a song he had already released on “Classic City Wax: Vol. 1” because of the memorable audience reaction to the song during his shows. Blanco said he hopes the people who heard the song at his shows will get the same feeling when they hear the studio version of his single on the album.
Miller also approached Davonta Appleby, better known by his stage name Motorhead 2x, to contribute a track to “Classic City Wax: Vol. 1.” Appleby produced a new track titled “On Ya Beat,” for the album.
Miller was in the studio with Appleby during the making of “On Ya Beat” and after the song “came to him,” Appleby said the choice to include the track on the album was a “joint decision” between him and Miller.
Other 2019 recipients who also received the grant included LatinxFest and the Athens Rising: Panel Series. This was the sixth year of the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission awarding the Arts in Community Grant.