An UpLeft state of mind
“It feels like we’ve built something from nothing and are moving it in the right direction,” says Ryan “Rizz” Adams, sitting at the producer’s seat in his makeshift garage studio.
The same could be said about the recording space. A few old mattresses lean against wall framing, and a microphone stands under a kid’s Spider-Man blanket. The mike runs to Adams’ computer, and on the wall is a whiteboard scribbled with projects listed under several names: Suzie (Homewrecker), S Dot, Zethro, Ya Boy B, Rizz, D.Smoke and Bidniss.
Welcome to UpLeft Rekords, Adams’ independent hip hop label.
UpLeft will hold its first food drive on Saturday from 8 to 11 p.m. at Third Street Pizza. The night will double as the official record release party for D.Smoke’s mixtape, “Very Bad Things.”
Adams started doing charity shows a couple months ago. His first was a school supplies drive, which produced three big bins of donations. Last month, the label hosted a fundraiser for the McMinnville High School basketball program.
UpLeft’s name refers to the Pacific Northwest’s position on a U.S. map, though Adams said he likes a connecting phrase recently posted on the label’s Facebook page: “Sometimes up is all you have left.”
Adams has been writing and performing for about a decade. But it’s just been in the last year or two that he has taken it seriously and pushed for a local hip hop scene.
He said it’s humbling to be at the helm of the charity shows, bringing together businesses, individuals and music for a good cause. Admission to Saturday’s show is two cans or boxes of food, to be donated to St. Vincent de Paul.
The show will feature special guest YG Mook, an artist from Compton, Calif., and now with New West Entertainment out of Portland. UpLeft recently began working with New West to connect with more venues, artists and producers in the region.
Adams said the idea of hip hop charity shows is spreading. It’s a great way to promote the scene in small towns where local hip hop is still trying to get off the ground.
“It’s incredible how much talent is out there going unnoticed,” Adams said.
He said he has produced about 200 songs in the last year and a half. Sometimes the tracks flow clean and quick, taking little over an hour to complete, while others take eight or more hours. All the members of UpLeft possess their own styles and sounds, Adams said.
“I’ve never seen anyone write as many songs as you guys do,” said label artist Zeth “Zethro” Hyland.
“There’s someone in here pretty much every day,” Adams responded.
Adams currently works on the grounds crew at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course in Newberg. The time he spends in his garage studio makes it a second full-time job. He said he usually charges a flat rate of $20 a song for his space and production work.
For his efforts, Adams would like his recording studio to eventually provide a living wage for him and his kids.
But, he said, “If that doesn’t happen, and I can still accomplish what I do now, I won’t be disappointed.”
If you have suggestions or tips regarding local music, email Ossie at email@example.com or call 503-687-1269.