Since time can remember there’s been the hustle inspired calls of “yo, man, check out my music”. Many see it as a hassle, but that’s the spirit The Daily Note was built on. TDN is a platform for many creatives to get their creations out to an audience. Their main tool is a Hip-Hop blog site in which local and mainstream music is posted. TDN also has a podcast, called #TheNoteCast, in which brand owners Cøøg and Louie converse with dope people ranging from artists to business owners to community figures and more. TDN will be presenting DJ Beáto, Nino Green, Cam Bells, Hil Holla and Khary at Foo Fest 2017!
INTERVIEW WITH LOUIE & CØØG (TDN401 PROPRIETORS)
(Interview conducted and written by Connor Sullivan)
Q: How did TDN401 develop from its modest beginnings as a tumblr blog into what it is today?
Louie: We really believed in what we were doing as a tumblr, and then one day decided to just make it into a website. And just kept pushing from there.
Cøøg: It was just a tumblr for the homies, a place where we posted our friends’ music and not much else. It started to get a weird following when other people began thinking it was a cool idea. And then I was like, “Yo, I should really put my head to this.” So in my senior year of high school and Louie’s freshman year of college at Valencia [College] in Orlando, we took a leap of faith and paid for the website. And it’s been growing since.
Q: When did it start becoming inclusive of music by people you didn’t know personally?
Cøøg: 2013. One of our first articles was on the XXL Freshman joint that had Bronson and all of them. In high school, I was just that kid that had and knew all the music. Like I probably have the most organized iTunes you’ll see in your life. I was always sending people music and putting music on people’s iPods or e-mailing them. All the homies were like, “Yo, Coog, you’re always sending me the new music, why can’t I go to your website and get some? Seeing your friends music on there is fine and everything, but why can’t I get that new Drake on there?” It was a farfetched idea at first, but then I brought it to Louie’s attention and we got started on it.
Louie: Yeah, I figured, “We have all this music, so why don’t we talk about it?” So we did.
Cøøg: We were early to a lot of artists, so thought we should just make the transition from just talking about our local friends to everyone. And it makes our local homies look better too. Like you’ll see Nino Green on the same page as Drake.
Louie: And they sound really good next to each other, so it’s just like, “Oh shit.”
Q: What finds of yours have since blown up?
Cøøg: Lots of good finds. The Daily Note has a very good umbrella of super talented people. Nino Green, Michael Aristotle, Lunchbagg, and Finding Novyon are just a few of our most impressive finds.
Louie: Finding Novyon is this dude from Minnesota that’s on tour right now. He’s signed to So Cold Records, and opened for Big Sean and a bunch of other really dope people.
Cøøg: Louie called Jazz Cartier early. We even found Chance very early on. We never met him or anything, but just blogged him.
Louie: We were on SZA early too.
Cøøg: As of right now though, I think my favorite find is Khary, who’s on Foo Fest with us. He’s verified on Twitter and everything — he’s just gonna go on to do really great things. This dude Luna garnered this huge cult following playing video games on Twitch. He’s a super big fan of Khary and his fan number skyrocketed after Luna started using Cari’s songs in his videos. It’s cool, because Khary is this super awkward kid who probably won’t talk to you. But on the internet, people think he’s just the greatest thing ever. This year, my biggest find has definitely been Beáto. He’s not a rapper, but he’s our DJ. He’s only 18, and has already killed every club here. We met at some random show at AS220 in the Black Box. Seven months later, we’re headed to Atlanta together to go DJ.
Louie: I’m very excited to see where Nino Green goes. That’s big bro.
Cøøg: Our mutual favorite has got to be Michael Aristotle. There’s this hip-hop collective in Atlanta called East Chain, and they’re just so cool and creative. Everybody in the collective can produce, everybody can rap real well, and some of them can even sing. They’re all so talented, but remain really nice people.
Q: What function are you guys hoping to serve in 2017’s Foo Fest?
Louie: We’re gonna bring hip-hop to Foo Fest and really represent for the culture we stand for. We’re playing from 1pm to 2pm as the first act, so we’re going to start things off with a bang.
Cøøg: We want to start with a lot of energy and have that energy carry through the whole thing. It’s gonna be a good show. We’re gonna bring in four artists that represent not only what the Daily Note is, but what Rhode Island hip-hop is. We’re just trying to bring very good and very genuine hip-hop. We’re going to bring the dopest shit we have — just one straight hour-long block of hip-hop. We’re incorporating Bad Taste as well, who is gonna bring some really awesome merch that’ll include stuff like vintage clothes. It’s all gonna be some one night only shit. We’re gonna bring the good vibes. We might even sell some Foo Fest hats.
Q: So The Daily Note merch is sort of aesthetically in-line with Bad Taste’s wares?
Cøøg: Yeah. I make stuff I wanna wear, and it just happens to sell. A lot of our stuff is very simplistic. Like it’ll just be hoodies and hats with The Daily Note logo. But our new merch that we’re gonna drop is like those big hip-hop tees that Master P used to wear. It’s just so hip-hop. That vintage look is super in. Our merch definitely represents who we are — awesome, cozy kids.
Q: Do you think good hip-hop is underrepresented on the Foo Fest bill?
Cøøg: I wouldn’t say that. AS220 does a really good job at diversifying things and including rap acts, hip-hop acts, and alternative joints.
Louie: They really do do a good job at incorporating all sorts of sounds in the same span of time.
Cøøg: Hip-hop’s everywhere at Foo Fest, just like rock is everywhere, just like pop is everywhere.
Q: What’s TDN401’s relationship with Atlanta like?
Cøøg: I went to high school in Atlanta from my freshman year up until October of my senior year. I met a lot of great people out there though. I started The Daily Note out there to represent Rhode Island from Atlanta. One of the things I’m proudest of is bridging the gap between Atlanta and Rhode Island. We’ve had a lot of Atlanta rappers go to Rhode Island to perform, and tomorrow, we’re having Rhode Island rappers go to Atlanta to perform. It’s one weird bridge between the 401 and the 404.
Q: Is there any scene you’re partial to?
Cøøg: I’m a lot more involved with the Rhode Island scene since I live and work in Providence. But I’m also definitely heavy into the Atlanta scene as well. I rub elbows with a lot of the bloggers and curators out there down there. They’re all the homies. Out here I represent Atlanta hard. And when I go to Atlanta, I represent Rhode Island hard. I don’t pick or choose one.
Q: What were some of your guys’ formative experiences listening to hip-hop?
Louie: I started hip-hop real late. Probably ‘07, ‘08. Wayne was big, and Kanye & Lupe were blowing up. I was in eighth grade and decided to stop listening to what my mom listened to, which was mainly R&B. I woke up in the mornings before school and watched Vh1 and MTV music video countdowns. I saw Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” and just began gravitating towards Kanye. Late Registration, Graduation, and branched out from there. Kanye and Lupe definitely shaped my listening ear, and they’re pretty much why I write now. I couldn’t get enough of it after I first heard it, and here we are.
Cøøg: I got into hip-hop via my brother. Before that, I was a rock fan. I was already listening to radio hip-hop in the car, but my first real experiences with it were with 50 Cent. I heard “In Da Club” and my brother’s copy of the 8 Mile soundtrack, which 50 is on, and just thought, “Wow, he’s great.” When Get Rich Or Die Trying came out, my mom bought me the edited version. But my older brother had the dirty version, and I listened to that album all the way through so many times. The same month, Jay Z’s Black Album dropped, so I was starting my hip-hop fandom with two of the best things out. I was a huge G-Unit fan. But what really shaped how I listen to music is when I transitioned from G-Unit to the stuff Kanye was doing on Late Registration. I got into Common, I got into Lupe. So I go from listening to super thugged out stuff about guns at seven years old and then move onto the really conscious stuff by Kanye, Common, and Lupe. My mom always says I’m the perfect example of a kid that can listen to music, but not be influenced by it. I just like the music.
Louie: People be worried about it like, “There’s all this violence, all this swearing. My kid can’t listen to this!”
Cøøg: In high school, the mixtape era started heavy, so I got into Big Sean and J Cole. Big Sean is definitely an artist that shaped my character. I started talking differently and dressing differently after listening to him. I didn’t start listening to 90s shit and the old school joints until I was older and in high school. I didn’t listen to my first Wu-Tang album until junior year of high school. And that was only because my teacher wanted me to listen to it. Though I was already listening to Nas because he’s my favorite rapper ever.
Louie: One thing that shaped my relationship to music was joining the band my senior year of high school in Florida. I was so bad at percussion at first and couldn’t even hold the sticks, but soon cracked down and won those “Most Improved” awards or whatever. Joining the band taught me that music is more than just words and a beat. There’s a reason music theory is the hardest class in college and has the highest dropout rates; music is just incredible and so sonically different from anything. I started playing these jazz tunes and listening to jazz tunes. It made me appreciate hip-hop even more, since I realized these producers and rappers work so hard to make some sort of sonic shape.
Q: We’re sitting in Bad Taste, which is decked out with a GameCube, complete with controllers and games. Do you guys game yourselves?
Cøøg: I wouldn’t say we game. But I grew up as a kid that stayed in the house to play video games and listen to music. I still don’t really leave the house unless I have to.
Louie: I leave it even less.
Cøøg: Yeah, we live together, and he like never leaves. But when I first started working here at Bad Taste, I started talking with my boss about things we could add to make it cooler here. And then I realized I had a GameCube, probably my favorite system ever along with the PS2, at my dad’s house. So I went and got that and just started buying mad games. Fun fact: I have an Amazon addiction. It’s really bad. I’d just buy 30 games in one go. I figured if I put my GameCube at Bad Taste, I’d play it more. And I’d be able to play with customers and stuff.
Louie: And once we got the hang of doing events, we were like, “Alright, what can we add to this to make it cooler?”
Cøøg: So at our Psychic Readings events we’ll have Smash tournaments and everything. We have an event at Biergarten too on Wednesdays where we do video game tournaments as well. I think something in hip-hop that’s not embraced enough is how nerdy we really are. Like all of us new school rappers are total nerds. You’ll listen to these rappers and hear like Street Fighter and Tekken and Dragon Ball references.
Louie: From the most thugged out rappers too. Maxo Kream, Cousin Stizz, Danny Brown.
Cøøg: In hip-hop, things that coincide with what we are are anime and video games and all that shit. So we need to incorporate that. Like how dope is it that we can listen to all this hardcore rap and play Double Dash? ‘Cuz that’s what I did growing up, and I’ve only found more people into that stuff as I’ve gotten older. We play GameCube and listen to DMX and that’s just life.
Q: And you guys both live here in Providence?
Cøøg: Yeah, we’re Providence kids. And I’m never leaving Providence unless it’s like a really big move. Like the LA or New York move.
Q: What’s the group’s relationship with AS220 like?
Louie: We love AS220 man. They’ve embraced us as much as we’ve embraced them. Just very mutual. We brought this great energy to them and they’ve just given it right back. They’ve given us so much liberty, opportunity, and creative space.
Cøøg: We reached out to them a while ago, but prior to that we were going to events like the Thursday poetry nights. A lot of our friends work in the print shop, a lot of our friends work in the restaurant — a lot of our friends are just AS220 kids. One of our first events here was a poetry night where we could just kick it. It didn’t give off that super competitive vibe and it did incredibly well. So then Jacob met with us and I just gave him a bunch of ideas and it was love at first sight. He made us curators, and now we do as much as we can with them. We’ve had beat showcases and we’ve had artist showcases — it’s dope. AS220 has an incredible dynamic, taking inner city youth kids and kids of all color and teaching them how to screenprint and record. It’s dope. I wish when I was in middle or high school, I had such a place.
Louie: As a kid, I had this program called Youth In Action that taught me leadership skills. Shout out to Youth in Action. But AS220 is different because these kids are doing all this creative shit that was just in our heads at sixteen.
Cøøg: There’re like these fifteen-year old kids with their own clothing brands. Kids doing art shows across the city. I look to these younger dudes for inspiration. They’re smart as fuck, and just grasp life with this creative attitude.
Q: What spots in Providence do you love?
Cøøg: AS220. The Met, which is where I went to high school. I love being in the Arcade — I’m always here for inspiration. I’m at the RISD Museum really often. Like I’ll lie to my friends and say I’m at home, when I’m really at the RISD Museum. I like the student art exhibits there and love meeting kids from Texas and Europe, and wondering how the hell they got to Rhode Island.
Louie: One of my favorites is Waterplace Park downtown. It’s just a great little spot where you can sit and reflect.