Martini Rox: BLAQSMURPH’s hustle pays offWritten by Martini Rox | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There are artists too young to call legends just yet, but their accomplishments and impact in the music industry have them poised to accept the title when it comes. And for Toledo native BLAQSMURPH, it will come.
He was musically trained in the church as a child playing the keyboards. By the age of 12, the protege began to play for his Grammy-award winning pastor Rance Allen of New Bethel Bountiful Blessings Ministries. His talent was also recognized by Toledo gospel great Chris Byrd. BLAQSMURPH started playing in his shows and it was Byrd who gave him his first drum machine, jump-starting his career as a producer.
He expanded his talent to include drum, bass and lead guitar; it wasn’t long before he was traveling back and forth between Toledo and Detroit. This put him in a position to network with the right people in a bigger city known for its musical talent and accessibility to major opportunities in music.
BLAQSMURPH’s hustle paid off and he has since worked with national acts as a producer and as musical director of tours for artists like Raheem DeVaughn. He is touring with Grammy-nominated artist B.O.B. and he has production credits on some of the biggest acts in the industry. Before I get to that, let me back up to how Toledo knows BLAQSMURPH.
In 2000, BLAQSMURPH founded Positive Movement, aka PoS MoV, a music group of über-talented young artists who would blow your mind when you heard them sing, play their instruments, produce or do all of the above.
In 2003, PoS MoV’s first artist to gain attention was a 14-year-old girl with a golden voice named Keyaira. The song “Nintendo” hit the airwaves and received regular rotation on The Juice FM 107.3 after winning DJ J Roc and DJ Kaj Boogie’s “Battle of the Beats.” His layered sounds often contain live instruments and arrangements that have a modern soul appeal peppered with a signature gospel influence.
BLAQSMURPH’S career as a professional musician in multiple genres will soon include scoring music for film and television. Still in his 20s, he has managed to accomplish what many veterans have not and feels like he’s just getting started. During our conversation, he provided insights and words of wisdom for musicians I thought I’d share with you.
Martini Rox: What has been the most memorable moment in your musical journey?
BLAQSMURPH: Ron Fair (Geffen Records) called me. I had just left my mom’s house and he called me and was like, “Is this Smurph?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “This is Ron Fair,” so I pulled over at Baskin-Robbins, and he started asking me what I wanted to do. I had just finished a record that was supposed to be for the Pussycat Dolls. I did the string arrangements and I produced it and they had cut it. He is a real string guy; he recut the strings that I played with a live orchestra. He was like, “The work on here is amazing!”
The track would later appear on the reality TV group Girlicious’ album alongside music by well-known Hip-Hop producers Jazze Pha, Ester Dean and Danjahandz.
Rox: Technology has changed how artists interact. Do you think it spoils them?
BLAQSMURPH: It does because you forget that you can actually go see people. You go download software for free, go sit in your bedroom, get yourself a microphone, record yourself a song, upload it on the Internet, send it out and email it to a couple people, Facebook, Myspace and you haven’t even left your house yet. I spent years doing that, I didn’t really start moving stuff until I went and looked people in the face.
Rox: What pitfalls should artists coming from Toledo avoid while waiting for their phone call from top industry execs?
BLAQSMURPH: The main thing that gets people messed up is, they are looking for the guy with the most diamonds. You never know who you’re talking to.
As we continue on …