Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in a semi-regular series that will look at local music venues and musicians in Idaho Falls and eastern Idaho.
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It’s “all love” in the Idaho Falls’ hip-hop scene.
Jonte Smith , who goes by the stage name “Buckett,” said the growing scene is one that’s inclusive, competitive and racially and ethnically diverse.
It doesn’t matter what your background is. As long as your lyrics are genuine, and flow effortlessly, you too can join in.
“We’re trying to respect the culture,” said Tanner Waid, a member of Genuine Percussion. Waid, 28, grew up in Idaho Falls and was introduced to the genre when he turned 18. He said ’90s hip-hop — like A Tribe Called Quest and Nas’ classic album “Illmatic” — inspire him.
“Hip-hop is street art and you have to appreciate that,” Waid said. “Hip-hop is one of those things where once it comes on you just instantly start tapping your foot. ... I really enjoy telling a story and explaining life.”
Waid said good hip-hop stems from creating lyrics that reflect an issue in your environment. He said his biological father was afflicted by drug use — a common topic local hip-hop artists rap about.
Tanner Muller, the other rapper of the three-man hip-hop crew which also includes drummer David Boswell, said he also uses the genre as an emotional outlet — a bond that connects him and Waid despite the two having different rapping styles.
After growing up in Nampa, Muller bounced around from Texas to Oklahoma to San Diego before settling in Idaho Falls about six years ago. He said the genre has given him space to openly talk about living in a single-parent home and dealing with his brother’s death.
“It’s always been for the love of music,” Muller, 31, said. “I’ve done a song about getting clean. I’ve done a song about my brother passing away. (My brother’s death) has helped me evolve as an artist and with really expressing my emotions.”
Hip-hop, while growing on a national scale and with predominant roots across urban and southeast pockets of America, is still finding a strong, consistent footing in the contemporary Idaho Falls music scene.
The R&B/hip-hop genre represented 24.5 percent of all music consumption in the U.S. in 2017, according to Billboard.
But at a Thursday performance at The Gem, Genuine Percussion played eight songs in front of a small crowd. They opened for Carnage the Executioner, one of the few, small touring rap acts that have begun performing in eastern Idaho. Others acts making stops here include Shwayze and Afroman (who will play at The Gem Thursday).
Genuine Percussion is energetic — rapping over fast-paced, boom-clap sounds about coming-of-age and having a positive mindset — and is trying to get a name for itself in an area more traditionally known for punk rock and metal.
“It is growing,” Smith said. “Everyone brings their own fan base and style to the table. Your music has to reflect your lifestyle. It has to reflect your situation.”
Smith, originally from Chicago, started performing live shows when he moved to Idaho Falls 11 years ago. He describes himself as a “philosophical” rapper and is influenced by artists such as J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Logic.
“There’s been a lot of shows since I’ve been here,” Smith said. “I’ve been to Pocatello, Twin Falls, Salt Lake, Rupert, St. Anthony. ... It’s crazy to find real hip-hop in Idaho. There’s so many artists here that are really dope. A lot of people are afraid of competition but, for me, it’s important to show love.”
Dale Sirratt, a local disc jockey who goes by the stage name ”DJ Dale,” said the genre is growing — slowly but surely — in the region.
Sirratt joked that “probably two people” listened to hip-hop when he graduated from Shelley High School in 1991.
Now, DJ-ing about once a month, droves of people come to his shows. He doesn’t make a profit of his shows, Sirratt said, but hip-hop is not about making money.
It’s about loving a culture created by inner-city African American people during the late 1970s that incorporates a wide spectrum of acts including dance, MC-ing, DJ-ing, beat-boxing and even fashion.
“It is blowing up due to more people coming to town,” Sirratt said. “A lot of people want to see a good show. And a lot of these guys are good.”