Party-energy harmony: Hip-hop metal fusion crew Approachable Minorities merges perspectives

. April 30, 2018.
(L-R) Lewy Seifer, OGspunkySmith, and DJ OnDemand comprise the Ypsi-based hip-hop trio.

This Ypsi trio forges two kinds of harmonies: first is their friendship and collaborative chemistry; the second happens with the audience at their shows. In fact, we could probably call their appearances parties.  If you’ll be catching them at the Blind Pig later this month, for what will be structured as a typical “show” or “concert,” Approachable Minorities manifests a party-energy for every performance.

Making the melting pot bounce

Lyricists Drew Denton (aka OGspunkysmith) and TJ Greggs (aka Lewy Seifer) trade raps over the mixes of Marcus McKinney (aka DJ OnDemand); they’ve known each other for almost 10 years,  the group’s first iteration (La Merda) came about in 2014. Their respective musical experiences blend the worlds of modern metal, EDM, dubstep and hip-hop, making for an eclectic composite of sensibilities captured on their debut album, 2016’s Afro-American.

“The beautiful thing about growing up being multiracial in Ypsi,” says Denton, “is that (this city)’s a melting pot. It’s like a real small family; you have people from all different walks of life. What we pride ourselves on with our shows is that just because we have people from the metal scene, people from the rap scene, we like to throw multi-genre shows and get everyone in the same building at the same time so they realize that, at the end of the day, everyone’s just trying to have a good time! That’s always the vibe behind (our shows). I mean, we wouldn’t exist as people if
different races weren’t able to get along…”

Almost like therapy

They’re each sensitive to the recent strife which has been stirred up across our society, exacerbating divisions and even reigniting racial tension just from metastasizing social media feeds. “But if we can accomplish anything,” Denton says, then, at the very least, Approachable Minorities can “just get people out of their house for a night and have them be around people they’d otherwise be uncomfortable around and realize we’re all pretty similar.”

“The energy’s amazing,” adds Greggs. “I would never have expected people stopping me and asking me for a CD after a show, after actually coming from where (Denton and I) started out—which was recording from between two chairs under a blanket. I mean, I grew up in poverty and it was hard for me to accept how to be happy with what I had. But now, to be able to put myself out there and watch people enjoying themselves off what I’m doing, or having a song connect with someone who can relate to it? That’s almost like therapy.”

Embracing community

“I keep things fresh every time for people who see us multiple times,” says McKinney, who came to DJing through Ypsi’s metal scene. “I change up the instrumental tracks each time, and it’s made (the band) that much more energetic for live shows.”

The energy and subject matter of their raps/production ricochet between social commentary and celebratory escapism—for this trio, it doesn’t have to be one or the other—it’s about making music that merges perspectives, not just their own, but their audience’s as well.

Their spreading harmony extends to other contemporary artists as well, an embrace best demonstrated through their live event coordinating enterprise: Northern Threat Entertainment. They’ve also established close camaraderie with Keep It G Records, and expressed admiration for artists like DaG, Dayz, Black Alfalfa and (Keep It G’s) Dye Low. Denton expresses pride for the Ypsi hip-hop scene: “I’m seeing a lot of people working together.” 

$7 adv / $10 day-of-show | 9pm Thurs., May 31
Includes performances by Keep It G, Lunacy @ The Blind Pig,
208 S. First St., Ann Arbor. 734- 996-8555, blindpigmusic.com

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