York hip hop artist Dave Amigo searches for Central Pa. sound
If you go
Who: Dave Amigo
What: "Dave Amigo: The EP"
Where to find it: Visit NAMTHC.com
Dave Friend considers himself the average York kid with a passion for hip hop.
He remembers doing rap battles in school when he was 8 years old. And when he was 16, his mom got him his first microphone, which led to him passing out his first CDs in the halls of West York High School.
Flash forward four years, and Friend, who goes by the stage name Dave Amigo, is celebrating the release of his first self-titled EP May 7. He produced, recorded, mixed and mastered the EP by himself.
"(This EP) is an introduction to myself and my sound," Friend said. "The goal is to familiarize the world or even just the city with what I'm doing, with my sound and who I am."
So, who is Dave Amigo?
He might consider himself the average 20-year-old, but his hip hop music is largely influenced by the culture shock and built-up anger he experienced as a biracial child moving from York City to the suburbs in middle school.
"When you move to an all-white school, jokes get thrown around, and you can't say (anything)," he said. "I pretty much found out who I was during that time period in my life."
His latest single, "Ebony and Ivory," focuses on his feelings about racial differentiation. While he's not the first biracial hip hop artist to produce music, Friend said he believes he's one of the only artists who is talking about what it means to be biracial and the struggle of figuring out where you fit in.
"What's my race?" he says in the song. "I don't know. A zebra at a lion show ... Tell me I'm too light ya know, but fittin' in with white, I don't."
But don't think every song on Friend's seven-track EP is serious in subject matter. "The Chant," for example, is a feel-good song about how everybody wants to make money, he said. The song, which was released as a single in December, has been picked up by national hip hop magazines and blogs, including The Source, Ashley Outrageous and Hip Hop Since 1987.
Friend has performed at New Grounds Roasting Company in York and has done several shows in Harrisburg and Lancaster in the last few years. But, this is the first time that he feels like he's seriously pursuing a music career.
He teamed up with NAMTHC (Namaste The Company), a local clothing and music brand, to present his nostalgic '90s sound, which he describes as a mix of soul, electronic bass and '90s hip hop.
Friend is one of four hip hop artists that are currently working with NAMTHC for photography, videography and graphic design. The brand plans to release four more EPs this summer, including a second one from Dave Amigo.
As the hip hop presence in York grows, Friend said he recognizes the need to do something different to get noticed.
So, he combines local slang and hometown references in his lyrics with beats that remind him of home to produce a "Central Pennsylvania sound."
"I want to emulate exactly what Central Pennsylvania is," he said. "A lot of people out here on the local scene revert to what their favorite rapper would sound like. But you have to stand out if you want to succeed."
Stay tuned for Dave Amigo's second EP to be released in August. Fans can follow the photo campaign for this project at NAMTHC.com or ProjectKeithStoned.tumblr.com .
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