California-based record label Funk Volume held the Los Angeles premier of its documentary, Independent Living: The Funk Volume Documentary, last night (November 3) at the downtown independent theatre. The film follows the company on its 2012 national tour, where the roster performed in 44 cities in 50 days. Independent Living also details the imprint’s founding in 2008, as well as revealing how and why each artist signed with Funk Volume.

Following the screening, Funk Volume CEO, Damien Ritter moderated a question and answer session with label co-founder, Hopsin, and artists Dizzy WrightSwizZz, and DJ Hoppa. Jarren Benton was not in attendance.

When asked to explain the benefits of signing to an independent label instead of a major label, Hopsin said “major labels will try to morph you into what they want you to be,” while independents provide more freedom.

“When they see Trinidad James come out with his little BS music,” Hopsin continued, “they’re gonna be like, ‘You need to do stuff like that. You need to rap about Molly because that’s what’s in.’ They want you to rap about what’s in so they can make their quick money off you. Then once they make their quick money, they’re gonna kick you to the curb if you’re not doing what they want you to do. When you’re independent, you can do whatever you want.”

“I’m not gonna tell an artist don’t sign to a major because the majors work for some artists,” Ritter added. “Artists you know and see all the time, they’re probably doing well. I mean there’s probably a lot more artists that are signed to that same label that you probably never heard of that are really struggling, and that’s a problem. But being an independent is a lot more flexible.

“There’s no middlemen,” he continued. “For everything we do, whether it’s touring, for everything we do we just question the process and if that person can’t answer that question, you just kick them out. We just do what we want.” 

Referring to the recent XXL issue featuring “TDE with Kendrick Lamar & Black Hippy” on its cover, Hopsin and Dizzy Wright shared how they feel about the media’s tendency to promote one artist out of a group.

“You can’t really avoid that,” Dizzy Wright said. “That’s on the media, man. Everybody on TDE has a fan base and I’m sure they didn’t want it say that. I’m sure Kendrick didn’t want that to be like that. You can’t really avoid that. That’s the media. We are Funk Volume, but we are separate artists, but we hold each other down. So hopefully when they talk about Funk Volume, they talk about us as a whole.”

Hopsin added that while both he and Dizzy Wright have a buzz, they’re not “Hopsin & Dizzy.”

“I didn’t specifically want Funk Volume to be a label where you see me and I’m just in the front all the time and being Michael Jackson of the group,” he said. “The way I envisioned it was everyone is their own individual artist. There’s no front man in Funk Volume.”

Hopsin and Damien Ritter founded Funk Volume in 2008. In 2012, the imprint signed Dizzy Wright and Jarren Benton. Hopsin’s next LP, Knock Madness, is scheduled for a November 26.

“What I want to do is inspire kids to work harder,” Ritter said. “So I use Funk Volume and once kids think it’s cool, we inject some positivity into them and get them to work harder or get them to think about other people. You just can’t say it like that or they won’t think it’s cool. We do a lot of positive things.”

Independent Living: The Funk Volume Documentary is available for stream or for purchase. View the trailer below.

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