Harvest Blaque—the Roanoke hip-hop artist also known as Bryan Hancock—has a show Saturday night from 8 to 11 at The Bazaar of Roanoke record shop. The bill features Equally Opposite from Charlottesville, as well as Knuckleheadz (Grandmaster Jax & Ol’ Dirty Dada) who will “open the evening with a short but memorable set,” according to Blaque.
The artist, who blends multiple genres, including rock, country and blues, to form his original hip-hop sound that he terms “soul hop,” also emcees a regular Poetry Slam at 16 West Marketplace. Blaque recently sat down with Blue Ridge Rocks to discuss his approach to music and his career.
Tell me a little about how you first got started in music?
I have to give my dad the credit. He played a lot of great band records. I remember growing up as a kid and listening to his music and wanting to express myself through music. My parents divorced when I was five and my aunt told me to keep a journal of my feelings. I would record shows and do lip sync battles and write my own verses. I always wanted to rap and do music one way or another.
How has that involvement evolved?
Recently I’ve been working on an album called the Care Package. It’s a collaborative effort with Mike Kazee. He also helped me with my first tape, “Stress is a Weapon.” I’ve also been working with Another Roaddide Attraction on a song, “Waiting on Sunshine.” It’s about not losing your humanity and empathy for people even with everything going on around us. We can become outraged, but it’s important to find joy in each other and uplift each other.
Where do you get your creative inspiration?
Most creative inspiration comes from real life experiences. I want to give people something bigger than myself. There are only so many times songs can talk about getting drunk and wet bedsheets. Too many rappers talk about how much money they have, what about what they owe?
I want to be a creative innovator. I want to talk about growth. I want to talk about my mom and the things we’ve been through as a family and evolving as a man. Where I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, how we can get better. That’s the music I’m making right now. I want to get to something bigger than myself. I want to be healed from what I’m doing now, rather than torturing my soul.
As a self-described hip-hop artist, what does hip-hop mean to you?
Johnny Cash is hip-hop to me because he told a lot of truth when it was inconvenient to hear. I grew up on Tribe Called Quest, De La Sol, Arrested Development, I could go all day. 90s grunge is hip-hop because those voices are inconvenient. You can tell it’s hip-hop when it has something legitimate to say and when it comes from a place of friction and frustration. That’s what has set the tone for my music and why I do the things I do now.
What are the Poetry Slam events that you put on at 16 West Market Place?
Soul Sessions has been a beautiful project. It’s a place that harbors creativity among the common man’s voice. We hear so many different stories and they create a diverse atmosphere of voices. It’s a platform for people to share their stories and speak their truths. We do it every other Wednesday. It’s open mic, 12 slots and 12 different readers. The content has to be original and no longer than five minutes. You see a mix of spoken, singing and acoustic performers, someone even plays bongos. You never know what you’re going to get, but by the end of the night, there’s a lot of joy. It’s almost like therapy.
Check out some of Blaque’s unique soul hop online at SoundCloud.