While Archie Bang was in high school, a professor noticed his Rap skills and felt he should be involved in the industry. She got the teenage emcee an internship with Rawkus Records, a record label founded in 1997, which helped catapult the careers of many emcees, including Mos Def (now known as Yasiin Bey), Talib Kweli and Pharoahe Monch.
Bang, who says he was an intern at the imprint in the late 1990s and early 2000s, spent his days packaging various projects, as he references on the recent "Fortified Live" selection. "I stacked these records, CDs and cassettes," he raps on the track. "Just an intern then. Soaking up game."
That game included information about what "actually goes into an independent record label," he says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX.
"I never really remember working too much," he says. "But I remember being schooled and drilled on the processes of the releases. 'Okay, this is what we’re releasing this month and this is what’s coinciding with this release as far as letting it be a listening party or an album release party.'"
Archie Bang learned various lessons from this experience, he says.
"The first thing that I picked up and I never forgot, that I took with me, that I carry with me to this day, is that this is a business," Bang says. "Rawkus had one of the nicest rosters at the time, but what I thought, my genuine impression at the time, was 'You’re nice and that’s all it takes. I’m nice. My rhymes are ill and then that’s all it takes for me to be a Rap star.' I learned going through that whole process that it takes a lot into making an artist and that it’s primarily a business. This is what you need to know in order to be successful in this music industry."
Bang learned this when he tried to rap to someone at the label.
"I was totally convinced that these rhymes were so hot that I was going to get my deal," Bang says. "So I called him and I kicked these rhymes for him over the phone and you know, he, I guess, based on the fact that I was his intern and everything, he actually sat through and listened to these rhymes. At the end of it, he was just like, ‘Okay. It’s cool. Are you done?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ He’s like ‘Okay. I’ll see you Monday.' That was the end of the conversation and I was just like, ‘Shit.’ I was stumped. And then, as I went back, he was just like, ‘It’s a whole lot more than just that, just the whole rhyming.' At that point, I hadn’t even recorded a verse in a studio. All I was doing was just the whole writing and reciting. These were things that I had to learn.
"It was an eye opener," he adds. "It was a lesson learned. It was just like, 'Okay.' It motivated me to go back and rhyme and write and to learn the things that I needed to learn to get to the point that I am now. I took it all in."