Onward and upward is the theme in Seattle's hip-hop community these days. Every week it seems like some major announcement is happening and today is no different. I just got off the phone with DJ B-Mello and he confirmed what's been flying around the twittersphere all morning. Not only is B-Mello leaving his long-time post on KEXP's Streetsounds, a hip-hop show that he's been a part of since KEXP's beginning, but he's taking over the role of national consultant with Death Row Records.
The news is a touch surprising initially. But when you think about how strongly B-Mello has been tied in to West Coast hip-hop for almost the past two decades it makes sense. Also, the new CEO of Death Row Entertainment and owner of that label's catalog, Lara Lavi, actually lived in Seattle for many years so there is a local connection. And thus B-Mello's involvement with the label is understandable. He knows radio, he knows producers, and says he plans to use that to his advantage to help get Death Row on a national level again.
"Basically, I'll be promoting everything that's going on with the label to the DJs, to the clubs, the promoters etc. My role is really to promote everything. The new Death Row, their take on things is real good and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Of course, it's a bittersweet feeling as he's leaving a show and a radio station that he's been deeply associated with for awhile.
"I feel sad because I've been with KEXP since 2000. I've been there as long as the station has been in existence. It's like leaving an old friend. To me, in this market, it was a good outlet to try to break some records and try different things that I couldn't do at KUBE."
For now, B-Mello says he definitely plans to stay involved with KUBE 93 where he's hosted the Mixtape at 8 for the past several years. As for his surprising replacement on Streetsounds, it's Larry Mizell Jr. of hip-hop group Cancer Rising/Nite Owls/They Live! who also writes a weekly column for The Stranger. Despite not having much of any real radio experience, KEXP hired him for the show and he made his debut on the air yesterday. He says he's looking forward to learning the ropes of radio.
"I've been a fan of that show for years. It's huge shoes to fill. I feel like its another opportunity to be of service to the town and my community and good music and that's what I'm about."
Mizell says you can expect plenty of changes to develop over his first few months on the job. For starters, he wants the show to have less talk and more music. Anyone that listened to Streetsounds knows it was heavy on artists just dropping by the studio which resulted in a lot of talking. Mizell plans to change that a bit and have more in-studio performances instead.
"I want to explore more local music that's fresh. If it's brand new music and good, I want to get it out there. For me, this is a chance to play really good music that I'd want to hear on the radio. It's like a dream come true."