What's Up With

... Young Hot

By Dirty South Joe
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 23, 2007

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Philly's underground battle-rap DVD scene is a simultaneously inspiring and exasperating collection of some of the city's finest poets relentlessly battling over crumbs from the music industry. There's a strong DIY attitude in the presentation and delivery, but the financial rewards are rarely enjoyed by the rappers as much as by the folks behind the cameras.

Omar "Young Hot" Richmond of West Philly is well aware of the limitations of street fame. His business savvy, relentless drive and self-assured, down-to-earth nature make his raps stand out among the gun-driven verbal onslaughts that characterize most of his peers' material. "Life ain't one dimensional," Richmond, 19, says. "When I do a DVD or a hardcore rap, it's probably because something happened the day I wrote it, and I was mad. If I'm happy and outside partying, I'm just gonna write about what's happening."

Not satisfied by fame on the block and conscious of pigeonholing himself as just another freestyle battle rapper, Richmond's focus has shifted toward perfecting the finer points of his craft. After earning a good part of his rep in performances featured on the I'm Not a Rapper DVD series, he's continued feeding the streets countless mixtapes and YouTube and DVD appearances.

His songs cover the full range of experiences that encompass what it's like to be young, black and gifted. "Everybody sees the DVDs and thinks that's all we're doing, but if you actually get to know most of these people, you'll know where their heads are. A bunch of 'em know they're not going anywhere if they don't learn how to write songs. But most of 'em really don't care about songwriting. They think they're gonna get on just saying the best hardcore rap on the DVD, and somebody's gonna see it and pick 'em up.

"It's common sense, everybody's not gonna get signed," Richmond continues. "I wanna be one of those bols that does so much and has so much work out there that I have to be noticed. I just wanna make my mark, signed or not."

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