You’ve heard about the urban legend involving Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wizard of Oz,” right? How if you start “Dark Side” at the same time you press play on “Oz,” the movie and film sync up in an eerily appropriate manner?
While Pink Floyd themselves deny any connection whatsoever, Northampton, Mass.-based hip-hop group The Problemaddicts used the two sources to make one sick mix tape. “The Dark Side of the Oz,” released last year by the five-man hip hop crew, is one the group’s multiple releases over the past few years. Their latest mix, graced with a title we sadly aren’t allowed to print in these pages, came out just a few months ago.
They’re touring New England this week and next to promote it, with a stop at Soma36 in Orono on Friday, Feb. 26. Rapper Vorheez, one of the founding members of the Problemaddicts, stressed to me that it’s a real, old school mix tape, as is “Dark Side of the Oz.”
“A lot of hip-hop mixes today, it’s just different songs interspersed with, like, gunshots and people shouting and explosions and stuff,” he said. “It doesn’t flow at all. We definitely wanted to make all the music work with each other. You can play it front to back, and it drops into one another. It’s pretty seamless.”
The Problemaddicts don’t really fit into one particular genre of hip-hop. In some ways, they’re very old school, with a big crew and a love of traditional things such as mix tapes. In another way, they’re kind of an indie hip-hop group, seeing as they produce, distribute and promote their own music and are committed to their hometown scene. And in another way, they’re just a bunch of guys that grew up loving hip-hop.
“We were all friends, and we all knew each other from being in the scene in western Mass., and we all grew up going to shows,” said Vorheez. “I think a lot of kids all kind of connected about hip-hop, when they were younger. But we all listened to other stuff too, and I think you can hear that in the music we make.”
With their diverse samples and innate knowledge of music of all kinds — from soul and jazz to classic rock like, yes, Pink Floyd — Vorheez, Tone, Force, Black Buddha and 1ne Man Sound have been playing to devoted hip hop heads and live music fans in general since 2005.
“We have such great fans. It’s definitely a little variety pack of people,” said Vorheez. “We get a diverse crowd at our shows. We host an open mike at a local bar, too, and we get a real diverse crowd there, too. I think people are a lot more open minded than you’d normally think.”
It’s less and less common to see people strictly confined to one genre, in terms of taste. Indie rockers dig electronic music; hip-hop heads like classic rock; and jam band kids will listen to anything. If there’s one thing up-and-coming acts such as the Problemaddicts have going for them, it’s that contemporary ears are attuned to a lot more things nowadays.
The group is getting ready to release a new all-original album this spring, and plan to hit the festival circuit hard this summer. Having already shared the stage with the likes of Ghostface Killah, Dead Prez, Blackalicious and Brother Ali, and having had a top 10 CMJ hip-hop album for several months, the Problemaddicts have established a name for themselves in New England. While they certainly wouldn’t turn down a record contract, Vorheez said that doing it themselves and staying true to their ideals has worked out for them so far.
“It’s not about us making money. It’s about us making good music,” he said. “I’m not gonna say we wouldn’t let someone give us money to make an album. But we’ve been doing it ourselves, and so far, so good.”
The Problemaddicts will play with rappers Big Pooh and Termanology, starting at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at Soma36 in Orono. The show is 21+ and tickets are $15 at Bull Moose Music. The show is presented by local hip-hop label Flophouse Records, and O.A.C.E. and rapper Colby Stillz also will perform. Calibur and Deadeye will DJ, and VIP tickets are provided by E*mmaculate Designs. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/theproblemaddicts or www.therealflophouserecords.com.