The Bay Area has an incredible wealth of hip-hop talent, but out of the hundreds of artists from the Bay that release music each year only a handful manage to make a major impact on a national level. One artist that, over the past few years, has built quite a rep in his native Bay Area, but now looks set to take over the rest of the country (and beyond) is Richmond rapper/producer Erk Tha Jerk, whose official debut album, Nerd's Eye View, drops today on Red Planet/SMC.
I recently caught up with the artist to talk about his career to date and the new album. We met in New York, a "completely different" experience for him compared to being back in the Bay, where walking down the street everyone knows who he is, thanks in large part to the fact that KMEL radio has helped make him a high profile star. For several weeks last year his song "Right Here" was the Bay Area's leading urban radio station's most played (and requested) track on their playlist. He fully understands and accepts that to duplicate that kind of success outside the Bay in places like New York, where, so far, he has not gotten major airplay it's a matter of "starting all over with ground work. You've got to humble yourself and get back out there on the grind and start all over again," he laughed.
Based on his track record, Erk Tha Jerk should have no problem taking over the rest of the country since he is both an incredibly gifted artist (producer, rapper, singer, writer, video director, etc) and a talented, hard-working business mind. Unlike so many artists, Erk knows how to focus on his music and work hard on getting it out into the right channels. "I've been making music and producing and doing features for the past five years," he noted. He has worked with numerous other Bay artists including Richie Rich, Balance, San Quinn, Big Rich, & Too $hort. He connected with the Godfather of Bay Area rap when he shared offices in the same building as $hort down by Jack London Square. There they literally crossed paths and that accidental meeting led to Erk producing the "Red Bull & Vodka" single for Too $hort's & Dwayne Wiggins' Town Bizness project. In return, $hort did a cameo on Erk Tha Jerk's 2009 track "Plane In The Air." "And now when I go to Atlanta I call up $hort and say, 'Yo, what's going on?' It's great. He's like a mentor to me," beamed Erk Tha Jerk.