2014-10-03 / Community

For local rappers it’s about ‘Proper Placement’

By Jason Glynn
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – There’s a new album that just hit the streets of South Portland, from a genre that may surprise: hip-hop. Proper Placement is a recently released CD from South Portland natives MC Ghost/ Ryan Augustus/ Ryan Doughty and producer Jay Humble/ Jay Asdrourian. The CD is a collection of refreshingly new beats with 1990s hip-hop sound.

Listeners should not be afraid, this is not the lewd and brash rap one would expect from the squalid suburbs of Brooklyn; this is Maine rap, with far more storytelling than slamming.

“We try to make the music relatable,” Augustus said. And as such, my personal favorite track on the album is “North Easter,” which features an iconic underground Boston rapper: Esoteric.

The song’s inspiration was the February 2013 Nor’easter, also known as Winter Storm Nemo, or the Blizzard of 2013 – a storm of epic proportions that dumped a record 31.9 inches on Portland. The track starts with a monologue from a local weather station. The chorus: “Short cold days, eating warm dinners, frozen Northeast, real long winters,” is something most all listeners can relate to. “Cold and unpleasant, that’s an understatement, but, MCs like us seek shelter in the basement,” the song continues.

However, despite some lyrics in that song, they both love Maine winters.

“It’s perfect, we get the benefit of seeing the best of every season (in Maine),” Augustus said.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’re from here,” Humble added.

With a background in rap battles – and lyrical influences from Rakim and KRS-One – Augustus has taken a different approach with this album.

“Jay (Humble) gave me the tools I needed and free rein on the lyrics side so I could focus on making the songs relatable,” Augustus said.

“Our music isn’t about money, guns, or hos … most songs have a concept,” Humble added.

The concepts are wide ranging and surely relatable. The album includes “Deep Roots,” which is a giant metaphor of plant life and growth compared to humans; and “Death,” a song about the death of a young mother and unique because Augustus tried to write it from the aspect of a woman. Augustus’ girlfriend even did backup vocals for the track.

After one and a half years in the making, the album’s release has been a success thus far, with copies going across the nation. But for these guys, it’s not about going platinum, it’s about passion.

“If one person listens to it and is inspired to go out there, and do this, or get into the scene, that’s my measure of success,” Augustus said.

Indeed, it is already inspiring others. Humble said he went from being relatively unknown – producing tracks over the last 10 years that have been collecting dust – to now being sought out by other regional artists who previously ignored him.

The album is in fact a culmination of a collaboration between various local artists. From the beats produced by Humble, to the lyrics from Augustus, to the album’s artwork – by a father and two-son team (AJ, Pat, and Richard Jones), this is truly a masterpiece that showcases some hidden talent in South Portland.

Augustus, 28, is a customer service department supervisor by day, and MC Ghost by evening. He’s had over 60 tracks released prior to this solo album. After performing in elementary school and recording since 14 – even opening for artists Snoop Dog and Naughty By Nature – it makes sense that he’s become prolific around the region.

Humble, 31, works in the medical device industry by day and mixes beats by night. Humble heard about Augustus’ talents on a South Portland High School bus, but didn’t connect with him until 10 years later.

Humble said he is working on a couple other albums right now, and Augustus said he is working on improving his live set, because “the scene and dynamics have changed a lot.” However, they both anticipate linking back up to produce another album, possibly an extended production.

To pick up the album, stop by a local Bull Moose or Momentum Barber shop in Portland.

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