Grinding. It is the unspoken part of being an up and coming hip hop artist. Print up full color posters and coordinate in-store visits. Make sure the CDs are in stores and drop by the local radio for some drops. 2007 means you have to keep in mind podcasts, and never forget myspace. Potluck have been working hard to become well-known musicians, but this week the Humboldt hip hop stars will get a chance to show off when they open for Snoop Dogg at the Muni in Eureka.
Potluck are out to make a living at hip hop. They have a deep understanding of the game because they got to watch some underground kings make their moves. Kansas City’s Tech N9ne was the first independent ruler to give a nod to 1Ton and Underrated when he tapped the Humboldt rappers to open for him on a national tour.
“Tech was the first one to give a chance – sheerly based on ability, not even ticket sales. Most acts put together a national tour on who can sell the most tickets. Tech took us to spots where there wasn’t one person who knew about Potluck. He helped us to get a lot of fans” explains emcee 1Ton.
The relationship continues today – Underrated and 1Ton talked during a rare break of their 41 date tour with Tech N9ne – their fourth such collaboration. “After 13 shows nine have sold out” says 1Ton.
During a quick break in the action, Tech N9ne takes the show to Alaska, and Potluck are headed home for a day off and the show with Snoop Dogg. Snoop at the Muni is big news for Eureka, but the chance to share the stage with major label rap stars is nothing new for 1Ton and Underrated.
“We opened for Lloyd Banks, Too $hort, E-40,” says 1Ton. “We’ve done a lot of shows with a lot of major label acts but I can tell my grandma and she’ll know who Snoop is.”
Back in the day you could find Potluck at house parties and clubs all over the county, especially NOFX’s El Jefe’s nightclub where they met during a DJ tryout. Underrated was a local DJ who graduated from Arcata High and went to Humboldt State, 1Ton came from San Diego with deep crates. After finding musical synergy, the pair created Potluck and started performing.
It all started with Humboldt County High a homegrown album that they created, marketed and sold by themselves. And sold. And sold. 1Ton breaks down the beginning of the group:
“When we started making music, we didn’t think about it as a career. All those times we DJed . . . we’d get paid, we knew if you were good enough for people to come into the club, you had to get paid, but we never approached it like a business. For the first CD [Humboldt County High] we got a thousand copies made because we were tired of making copies for friends. We wanted to sell a hundred. Next thing you knew, it was getting played on the radio. Number one requested for two months on the local stations. We sold ten thousand copies and that was the first time we thought we might have something.”
For the weed-savvy youth of Humboldt County, Potluck created anthems that really did speak to the experiences – simultaneously expressing their disaffection and having a great time. They released “Tha Lost Koast Kollective” a compilation that showcased the band mixing it up with underground artists from Redway to Red Hook. A year later they relased “Harvest Time,” another weed drenched album with contributions from E-40 and the now familiar collaborator Tech N9ne.
Regional musical champions, it could be argued that the band outgrew their options in Humboldt County. 1Ton is quick to point out how excited the band is to perform in their own back yard. “Given how our schedule’s been and our need to take care of business, we have had limited shows in Humboldt. To get a chance to come back and do a show as big as Snoop Dogg is cool. To be able to thank all your fans, all the people supported us. . . . it’s great.”
These relentless musicians are pushing hard to get to the next level. They’ve released their fourth major album “Straight Outta Humboldt” on the Kottonmouth King’s label Suburban Noize and graduated to some big time distribution. 2006 found the duo performing more than 150 shows in support of their album and new label.
After their tour finished with Tech N9ne, Potluck plans to return to the studio to work on a “supergroup” of ganja-loving musicians. Dubbed the Kannibis Kartel, the project consists of the Kottonmouth Kings, Potluck and Cypress Hill rhyming about their favorite substance. Potluck promises that the record will be released early in 2008.
Tonight’s Snoop Dogg show only has two acts on the bill – one a global superstar whose impact on popular culture will be felt for generations – the other a hungry pair of hard touring musicians, Humboldt’s finest. Many will go to hear Snoop Dogg, but expect Potluck to shine on the stage and give everything they’ve got to this hometo