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Keeping it underground
Little Rock’s SmoothThaDude collects wholesome hip-hop with a message and gives it national exposure on his radio show.
Turk is fresh out of prison; he welcomes the questions. “Eight years, eight months and 16 days — this ain’t nothing, man,” the New Orleans-based rapper and member of hip-hop group Hot Boys (along with Lil Wayne, Juvenile and B.G.) says of his time served for a shootout with police officers in Memphis in 2004. Keep the questions coming. It’s all good, he says. And so SmoothThaDude, co-host of the online radio show bearing his name, clicks on another caller and the questions continue. “Hey, Turk ...”
Turk is in New Orleans; so is The SmoothThaDude Show’s co-host, CChopz. But SmoothThaDude, born as Kristopher Washington, is in the bedroom studio of Little Rock hip-hop artist and producer Kwestion, just north of Asher Avenue. Such is the magic of SmoothThaDude’s BlogTalkRadio station. Each Wednesday night at 10 p.m., SmoothThaDude, born, raised and still residing in southwest Little Rock and a 2001 Hall High School graduate, goes live with his two-hour online radio show, interviewing guests from Memphis rapper Project Pat to MTV’s The Challenge star and Arkansas native Brandon Drake Nelson, and playing underground hip-hop from Brooklyn to Atlanta to Memphis to New Orleans to elsewhere.
This particular Wednesday night is a pretty big deal. Besides Turk in the first hour, SmoothThaDude has scheduled in his second hour a phone interview with Greg Hill of The Delfonics.
A Twitter machine, with some 14,200 followers and more than 13,400 people he’s following, SmoothThaDude is continuously trolling for new music. Blast emails. Facebook messaging. He sends out tweets to his followers asking for new music, and then he “feels to the music and listens to the music because it does have to relate to me and my show,” he says. “Everyone who messes with me sends me music. The ones I like get on. ... I keep it street, but at the same time I like good, wholesome, tasteful music with a message. That’s what I’m trying to drive as the main goal, the mission statement of The SmoothThaDude Show.” Or, as he says later, “The show is about displaying underground talent on a nationwide level.”
SmoothThaDude and New Orleans-resident CChopz started the Internet radio show in December 2011. Now the show reaches sometimes up to 3,000 listeners a week. The BlogTalkRadio format is simple. The entire operation is web-based. About a dozen minutes before 10 p.m., SmoothThaDude logs into his BlogTalkRadio account for which he pays $39 a month. He can go live with The SmoothThaDude Show pretty much anywhere. All he needs is Internet access, a computer and a phone. This week at Kwestion’s house, SmoothThaDude juggles some music around, making sure he has Turk’s new “Zip It” featuring Lil Wayne (sample line? “I’m fly like a zipper/But that ain’t the point”) ready before going live.
Once live, callers call in with a specially supplied number or listen through The SmoothThaDude Show’s Internet link. With his iPhone in one hand serving as his microphone and how he connects with callers, SmoothThaDude uses his right hand as a manager of his social media sites. (His name is his brand. Search “SmoothThaDude,” and his BlogTalkRadio station, YouTube and Twitter all pop up in the top four searches.) Throughout the show, SmoothThaDude is constantly tweeting his followers and searching for new listeners, adding new music during songs and managing his callers and guests. He juggles it all while sipping Coca-Cola out of a McDonald’s cup.
Beyond presenting underground talent nationwide (local hip-hop artists such as the LabRatz are played between calls and interviews along with underground artists around the country), SmoothThaDude conducts a clinic in social media. He jumps from Twitter to Facebook back to Twitter to Gmail while taking calls, chatting with CChopz and playing music.
People can listen to the show through their phones without popping up on SmoothThaDude’s online switchboard. But press 1, and SmoothThaDude can see your number and put you live on the Internet air.
He answers one call from a female caller. “I love when ladies call in. What song you want, boo?” She requests her song, and as it plays, SmoothThaDude offers an aside on why he does what he does. “I’m gonna give the people what they want to hear. We let the music speak. It’s Internet radio, and it’s the future. We taking it to the next level.”
Kwestion is one local artist taking advantage of a new avenue for his music. “[The SmoothThaDude Show] is one of the best platforms I’ve had,” he says. “You can go to a local radio station and beg and plead, ‘Play my record. Play my record,’ or I can go to SmoothThaDude and he’ll play my record and send it to other people who play my record. I got people emailing me, tweeting me and texting me now saying they heard my song. It’s a really big venture that’s needed for any independent artist.”
Later in the show, after Turk departs following 30 minutes of answering questions and chatting, Hill calls in. “It’s a pleasure to be on here,” he says. “You got me up a little late, but it’s all good.” SmoothThaDude asks Hill about hip-hop artists sampling Delfonics’ tracks, such as The Notorious B.I.G. sampling “Hey Love!” in his song “Playa Hater” on Life After Death. Hill says he enjoys having artists recreate the music and “take it to the next level. That’s what the music is all about.” But if you use it, take care of the person properly, he says. Biggie did.
And so goes The SmoothThaDude Show, taking radio to the next level.
HEAR THE MUSIC
Hear The SmoothThaDude Show live each Wednesday at 10 p.m. at www.blogtalkradio.com/smooththadude. SmoothThaDude shows are also archived on the BlogTalkRadio site. Visit SmoothThaDude on Twitter @smooththadude.