BPos "Stay Alive" from the new album The Upside (One League)With so much popular hip-hop these days veering toward the more negative, mean mugging, and macho posturing end of the rap spectrum, it is refreshing to encounter an alternately positive crew like the San Francisco hip-hop trio BPos, whose name literally stands for "Be Positive" and whose attitude follows suit. Their mantra is, "To be positive is not to miss the facts and see the downside -- not being blind to it, but to work toward a brighter side."
In support of their just released debut album, The Upside (One League), this Bay Area group, comprised of Goodword, D-Wiz, and DJ Johnny Venetti, are performing both tonight (Thursday, June 10th) at Element Lounge in San Francisco and tomorrow for free at 6pm at Amoeba Music Berkeley.
Earlier today I caught up with emcee Goodword of the crew to ask him if he felt that BPos was a kind of reaction to aforementioned negativity so dominant in hip-hop these days? "It's more a reaction to all the negativity in the world," he replied. "It started as a way to keep us, as individuals, grounded and focused on a goal. You know, speaking for myself, every time I see the name it reminds me of what we set out to accomplish and that acts as a guideline for me in my life outside of hip-hop. It's like no matter how much negative shit is going on around me in my everyday life, BPos reminds me that there is always something positive to take from every situation."
Following years of honing their individual skills on the local underground hip-hop scene, it seems like BPos' members are finally about to garner the level of respect that they truly deserve and have rightly earned. "Venetti has been DJ'ing at least three nights a week at various clubs around the city for over ten years, but he never really had anything substantial to show for all his years of work. D-Wiz has been making beats for little underground projects here and there and rhyming in the 'Sco since the early 90's," shared Goodward.
He continued, "[And] I put out three solo records over the past ten years and have toured nationally six or seven times. But for all the years of work we all have put in, dues paid and what not, not one of us really has anything to show for it but some fond memories." Goodward admitted that the temptation to become disenchanted and cynical towards music and the music business was inviting, but that as a trio, united by their love of hip-hop, they have made a steadfast point of remaining positive. "We all saw this group as an opportunity to not only make great music, but to also keep our heads in the right place."
D-Wiz made most the beats on the sixteen track The Upside, which also, Goodward said, "had some beat contributions from Bump Analog, Steven Radison, and Big Shawn. Venetti did all the cuts. My forte is coming up with hooks. But we definitely wanted to get a couple features on the record so it wouldn't get too monotonous." Album contributors (both from their "immediate fam") include the emcee Khafre, who guests on the track "My Chick" and Gedeon, who cameos on the title track, "The Upside (Come With Me)."
Coming up in the competitive hip-hop environment that is the Bay Area has helped BPos work harder, said Goodword. "Hip-hop fans put you through the ringer out here. You really gotta prove your worth. If you wanna come up out here, it's gonna take time and your gonna have to earn your stripes." And one thing that the discerning Bay Area hip-hop connoisseur appreciates is when a group like BPos keeps the genre close to its roots by including the DJ. "With us, DJ Venetti is like Mase or Chief XL. If he ain't there, BPos ain't really there. And at the live show, you can tell that we put in mad work to make sure that we are giving the fans what they paid good money for. I think more artists need to realize the importance of the DJ. It's a key component of the culture of hip hop. A good DJ's presence is always felt at a live show."
So what can people expect from BPos tonight at Element and tomorrow at Amoeba Berkeley? "Any time you come to see BPos, you are gonna leave with a sense of fulfilled accomplishment. Because what you set out to do is see a good hip-hop show," responded Goodword. "And at Amoeba Berkeley tomorrow we are gonna give you that feeling for free. All you gotta do is show up."
Goodword of BPos' Top Five Bay Area HIp-Hop Joints:
1) Souls of Mischief "93 Til Infinity" single
2. The Luniz "I Got 5 on it (ft. Mike Marshall)" single
3) The Hieroglyphics 3rd Eye Vision album
4) Too $hort Cocktails album
5) Pep Love "Pacific Heights" single