The Future of Midwest Hip Hop

Ask Jeremy Willis why he is never on tour with Black Clover Records (BCR). He’ll tell you it’s because the entire empire would collapse if he went on the road. Willis, as he goes by, may be joking, but it’s the truth. He is co-founder and all around wizard of Black Clover who, along with Mac Lethal have created an independent hip-hop force to be reckoned with: Black Clover Records (

Currently consisting of Mac Lethal, Grieves, and Soulcrate Music, Black Clover is the Kansas City, MO based label that has had taken fan appreciation to a new level. A quick google search will take you to the Mac Lethal wiki page, or his extensive fan interview on his message board That being said, Willis is always kind enough to answer questions that I’ve had on my mind for years.

Willis’ involvement with Black Clover started at day one. “Mac had done his own thing for a long time, and I had as well, then we came together.” Willis’ own thing included being the head of the guerilla marketing department for Suburban Noize Records and running the Datura Label composed of Approach, Deep Thinkers, and DJ Sku. “The dudes on Datura were all cool with Mac.” Those mutual friends would lead to the creation of BCR.

BCR as it stands today is a perfect match up. Willis claims the label got wind of Grieves and Soulcrate because “we are fucking brilliant” but after further pressing he revealed the true stories. Grieves contacted the label himself. Having had some nice buzz on Myspace, Mac took him on the Atmosphere tour as a hype man to road test him. At that time the label had just lost a former member, Joe Good, to retirement. Willis stated it ended up being good timing.

Soulcrate was another story. Willis knew of the brothers, Attention Def (A Def) and Dirt Dee along with DJ/Producer Absolute, for about five years prior to their signing. It was meant to be—“everyone knew that Sioux Falls was ran by Soulcrate.” Following the road testing method, Soulcrate was brought out on 5 dates of Mac’s Rotten Apple Pie Tour. They passed.

Naturally the next question came down to the future growth of BCR and the artists they take on. Will the label look exclusively to the Midwest? Will it continue to be inclusive of the coasts (Grieves being a Chicago transplant formerly of Seattle, currently in San Diego, and soon to be in NYC)? The plan Willis laid out was simple: look in communities where they are already building strong followings. As it stands Grieves is holding down the West Coast while Mac and Soulcrate have the Midwest under control while Minnesota, Colorado and California remain priorities.

“Ten years from now ... I don’t know, this is a family more than a label. From the artists we work to with to the fans that make it possible. As far as the roster, it would be great to have 10-12 artists/bands. More importantly,” Willis continued, “we want to build a community.”

Come to a Black Clover show and you’ll experience just that—a community.

Posted 5 years, 4 months ago by Bill Rohla | Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | View Bill Rohla's profile.

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