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In One Ear: Notes From the Local Music Scene

Matt Gromala, Reporter

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For the first time, I’m leaving the realm of rock and diving straight into a genre I’m not nearly enough of an expert on, but am more than willing to learn more about: rap and hip hop.

For the last 15 years or so, I haven’t found much of that style of music appealing, although my brother raised me on the classics – Tupac, Biggie, the NWA, Wu Tang and the artist formerly known as Slim Shady, to name a few.

I feel like there was a fundamental shift in the way artists created music and crafted its meanings. Rappers used to rap about issues, not the Rolex on their arm. Biggie was unapologetic about his past, and now many seem to relish materialism and its impact.

That leads me to the musician profile.

Spotlight: Skit/Filthy Rich

Although he uses the names Skit and Filthy Rich as an artist, the Pittston resident’s legal name is Richard Roeber. He’s been a fan of the rap and hip-hop genre’s since he was a child, when his brother turned him on to music. Since then he’s been working hard at his craft, hoping to one day make it big.

He has almost too many influences to name, he said, ut the biggest ones read like a who’s who of the genre.

In addition to the ones I mentioned in my lead (nice to see he appreciates the giants who paved the road modern rappers), he is always finding new artists who influence his writing and performance.

“Even today I still find artists who have a huge influence on me,” Roeber said.

I’ll even admit that I have recently found myself gaining respect for the work ethic of the artists who carefully craft their raps. The quality work really should be held up with free-verse poets.

“My style is my own style. I formed through years of practice and dedication. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

Though the scene itself is not small by any means, it still doesn’t afford more opportunities to perform than the area’s rock scene does.

Roeber said there are not many venues that allow local rappers and hip-hop artists to perform. And the ones that do are not all that well-known.

“There’s a handful of them, and you have to be in it to really know where they’re held,” he said.

The ones he knows about span the Big 3 cities in this part of NEPA: The Otherside in Wilkes-Barre, The Irish Wolf in Scranton, and Diane’s Deli in Pittston – interesting venue, but when metal bands hold shows in Dunkin Donuts’ parking lots, not much surprises me anymore.

Roeber mainly produces his own music, as booking time at official studios in the area can often be cost-prohibitive, and with the advance of tech, it is getting easier to create good quality recordings at home.

On the rare occasions he isn’t recording, Roeber goes to his friend Wig’s house. Wig Marsola is also a local rapper who has gained some notoriety in the scene. I’m sure you’ll see a profile of Wig before the end of the spring semester.

Roeber does not agree with my observation about the changed direction of the music, but he agrees that there has been a noticeable shift.

“Hip-hop today is so different than what it used to be. I feel like the music is so out of everybody’s comfort zone as far as old school hip-hop is. It’s really cool to hear new artists and see how the world is changing.”

Roeber is always dropping new material on his Soundcloub page, which you can find at www.soundcloud.com/skit-filthy-rich .

Upcoming Shows:

I mentioned last time that Ale Mary’s in Scranton is bringing in ex-Misfits singer Michale Graves for a show in December. The acoustic show is going to be on Dec. 3, and it will be a 21 and over event. Price at the door is $10.

I’ll report much more in the coming months on shows at Ale Mary’s, as the venue is working to bring bigger shows to the area, which will be a tremendous help to the local bands that can open for these acts.

On Thursday Dec. 1, pop-punk band is playing The Leonard Theater in Scranton. This will the second in a string of shows at a venue that I feel has a lot of potential. Their first concert in a long while was Trapt this month. Local band E57 will be the opener.

 

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In One Ear: Notes From the Local Music Scene