Rap trio inspired by HalloweenWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
October is a special time of year for Adrian rap trio 10/31, its name a reference to Halloween. The group is made up of Adrian natives Abel Cooper, Heath Hemphill and Andrew Morgan, who wear masks during performances and go by the stage names Kaos, ZigZag and Durrty Dru, respectively.
“Halloween night of 2003 is when we really decided that we’re 100 percent serious that this is what we want to do,” Cooper said. “Our original name was ‘Sadiztik Asazzenz.’ Our very first show was supposed to be at the Powwow in Adrian. My dad is the president of the Len Nah Weh Native American Organization (LNAO). When I told him what are name was, he told me straight to my face, ‘I’m not promoting that.’ Apparently society wasn’t accepting of the name. Halloween was a really big influence. That’s where the masks and everything come from. On Halloween you can be somebody that you are not.”
Cooper is active with the LNAO, helping mostly with security. Since the band changed its name, Cooper’s father has allowed it to play several events at the reservation.
“He’s really supportive of the music, especially with the Native side of it,” Cooper said. “If you look at Native history, that’s how they used to communicate was through song. They’d tell all the stories of their life and the land through song. He loves the fact that I’m doing music and getting out there.”
The band will soon be getting out there more after signing a distribution deal with Division X Records in Detroit to make their debut album, “Basement Games,” available on download sites such as iTunes and Amazon.
10/31 might have never formed if Cooper hadn’t decided to return to high school after dropping out his senior year.
“I realized it was a bad decision,” Cooper said. “I decided to go back to school. When we first met before I dropped out, these guys were still in middle school. When I decided to go back, they had started high school. We became friends.”
It took the group some trial and error before realizing their calling was in rap music.
“When we first started doing music, we tried out a couple metal bands and nothing seemed to pan out,” Henthill said. “Me and Drew were always good with words. Ever since we met Able, he’s been doing this on smaller degrees. None of us really got serious about it until we all moved in together in 2003. We started messing around with beats, and here we are today.”
The group’s sound combines a wide array of musical styles.
“There’s not exactly one distinct style,” Morgan said. “I’m not saying we break boundaries or anything, but we don’t stick to just one style.”
“We’ve got stuff that sounds like nowadays underground, and we’ve got other stuff that could be related to the ‘50s Doo-wop-type harmonizing,” Henthill said. “It’s a wide spectrum.”
Cooper listens to everything from R&B to country music, and his interest in rap developed at a young age.
“I remember a verse from Bushwick Bill one time where he referenced the movie ‘Psycho’ in one of his lines,” Cooper said. “I was 12 years old in a juvenile institution. That’s when I wrote my first verse that went along with that. It was horrible. That’s how I got started with writing, but my whole life people have always told me I was good with my words.”
Underground rappers like Bushwick Bill had a significant impact in shaping Cooper’s writing style.
“A lot of my influence came from underground rap,” Cooper said. “I really liked ICP when I was a kid. It was fun for me. It was something that was different and crazy. I used to get in a lot of trouble for listening to it, but I couldn’t give it up.”
Like ICP, the band enjoys having fun with its lyrics, which is most notable in the song “Feel Free.”
“‘Feel Free’ is probably our most popular song,” Cooper said. “The beat around it is more clubby like a mainstream song, but the lyrics are far from mainstream. We really got tired of hearing everybody talk about the money, the cars and everything like that when we know that it’s fake. We know they don’t have money and cars like that. We decided to make fun of that a little bit with our own club banger talking about how we’re broke. We don’t have the beautiful girls. I like fat girls.”
10/31 is performing Oct. 28 at Headliners in the Sixx Digits Halloween Blowout featuring Lil Wyte. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door and are available at Culture Clash Records, Ramalama Records and all Ticketmaster locations. Headliners is located at 4500 N. Detroit Ave.
“Our shows are really energetic,” Cooper said. “I tend to lose some clothes at every show. I’m almost 400 pounds. You’re not used to seeing this big of a guy completely shirtless and bouncing around, jumping around in circles and standing on top of things. It’s something different that people aren’t expecting to see. We love the shock value of it.”
Cooper is also organizing a benefit concert for Jan. 7 at Headliners to raise money for Dawn Lerma and her children who lost their father Matthew Davis on Oct. 15 in a head-on collision on I-75. The group is accepting donations at WePay.com/Donate/193910.
“I am collecting donations for this family as they have touched a very special place in my heart,” Cooper said. “We recently performed in Toledo, and this family was in the front row. As we got off the stage, we felt a tugging at the bottom of our shirts, and to our amazement it was this little 9-year-old boy who only wanted to shake our hand and get us to autograph his shirt. It doesn’t seem like much, but believe me, me and the group still talk about it because to us, it made us feel like the biggest superstars in the world, even though we’re just a local act. We are raising funds to help pay for any bills they may incur during this tragic time including funeral costs and medical bills.”