By Luke FoxFirst it was producer Marco Polo, now it's MC Promise. New York-based Duck Down Records - the thriving independent hip-hop label that has released projects from KRS-One, Black Moon, Sean Price and B-Real - has signed its second Toronto talent.
After hearing Promise's songs on MySpace, Duck Down marketing director NoHa was impressed with the rapper's positive material and ability to score collaborations with Slum Village, Royce da 5'9" and Montell Jordan, despite being an independent artist. So the label paid for Promise to drive down to New York, and according to Promise, "the vibe was so nice, it was like family."
While an official album won't see shelves until 2010, Promise continues to perform with the label's roster, or at least that is when he's not logging time in his home studio. In a recent interview with Exclaim!, Promise estimates that he's recorded "easily 20,000 songs." No joke.
"Nobody has more songs than me. Nobody," Promise asserts. "If you make cakes, I'm sure at some point in your life you can say, 'I've made thousands cakes.' I make songs every day. People are eating, sleeping, getting married, going to work, and I'm making songs. That's all I do. I wake up, brush my teeth - sometimes I make songs before I brush my teeth."
Promise's Duck Down debut will likely be a mixture of his back catalogue and fresh material, the rapper tells us. He also says he's eager to collaborate with Duck Down's arsenal of producers such as 9th Wonder, Marco Polo and Illmind. In fact, before the ink dried on his new contract, Promise began assembling a "Duck Down Presents Promise" mixtape, on which he spits over the label's classic beats.
Through ipromisemusic.com and constant self-promotion, Promise says he believes his hard work will pay off. Without posters, video or radio play, he's sold 6,000 copies of his first self-made CD alone.
"When I hear of these Toronto artists signing with Virgin or MCA and only moving 5,000 off of six videos, I'm like, 'You guys aren't working.' You gotta do what Kardi's doing now. He signed to Akon['s label, Konvict], but he's working his tail off," Promise says. "Not everybody can get that big fast track like Drake and be able to take it at your own pace."