Hepcats: Fifth Element and COVID-related closure: Thoughts from Twin Cities Rapper and Producer ACKronem
As we continue our interviews with local hip hop artists in light of closures of Fifth Element and other music venues, we reached out to local MC and producer ACKronem to hear how he was responding to the closures and the COVID-19 crisis. As with the previous article, we corresponded with ACKronem via email, and asked him about how the hip-hop community is responding to the changes, as well as what the potential next steps would be. We reviewed ACKronem’s latest album, Live Fast Die Never, last summer; at the time he had been working on his next album and had shifted much of his focus to production. Here’s how ACKronem responded to our questions:
Hepcats: We were all pretty shocked to hear about Fifth Element closing, how do you feel this will influence the local Hip Hop scene going forward?
ACKronem: The Fifth Element closing was really heartbreaking. The open mic there was where I met a lot of my good friends and somewhat where I started my career. Not to mention a great store in general. Used to buy paint, record needles and records there all the time back in the day.
I think over time new spots will open up. However in my opinion this will all be fairly devastating to the local music scene. A lot of our regular outlets for live shows have closed.
HC: Fifth Element was an integral part of the local music community. Do you know of any local rappers or producers who have plans to create new venues or festivals once we are able to return to normal?
AC: I know a few people who have plans in motion to start new venues or communal spaces for artists. I think in reality it all comes down to money and profit margins. Unfortunately I think it’s going to be a while before service industry type establishments are able to be fully operational and profitable.
There’s a lot that goes into something like that and I wish those folks the best and offer my help in any way I can.
HC: The live show and concert industry has been one of the most directly affected by COVID-19. How do you see the Twin Cities concert industry reemerging overall, (and possibly changing) after the pandemic?
AC: I read something that presumed it would be over a year until it’s safe for large public gatherings. With that in mind I think most shows will be recorded and posted on social media or be live streamed. It’s hard to say how this will play out.
Once we are able to gather safely again we then have the issue of venues. So many have closed that it will be a whole different live scene. Pretty interested to see how this all turns out.
HC: As having a profitable career as a musician has become more and more about touring, how do you think local rappers will be able to move forward without live shows?
AC: I think moving forward artists will have to rethink the business aspect of their career. In my opinion every artist should have their own website or at least an online merch store and have a lot of products to sell besides music.
Social media has been a key factor in artists’ success but it was absolutely still possible to avoid socials and still have a thriving music career. I don’t believe it is very possible to be a successful musician without a strong social media presence anymore. At least it will be much more difficult.
HC: Has your approach to making music changed, due to the recent stay-at-home orders?
AC: When the stay at home order went into effect I was already on week 2 of quarantine. It was stressing me out and I wasn’t happy with what I was creating and realized I needed a break. I’ve been making beats still and sold a good handful. Did a few verses for some friends but beyond that I’ve been trying to take a break to focus on my kids and fixing up my house.
I’m feeling refreshed lately and am very excited to get back to work!!
All in all I am very interested to see how this all affects the scene and what avenues artists find success in. Wish everyone the best️♥️
You can find ACKronem’s most recent album, Live Fast Die Never, on bandcamp or spotify athttps://ackronem.bandcamp.com/music
You can follow ACKronem’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ackronem/