It is no secret the hip-hop music scene at UW-Eau Claire is miles behind universities in the Twin Cities area, but two local artists are trying to close the gap.
Senior Paul Hetke and junior Darrell Hill are two Blugold students, who are working to expose their fellow classmates to the art of hip-hop music by releasing their own musical projects.
Hill, who goes by Dug Hill, said there are people here that are trying to promote hip-hop but he would like to see a bigger push.
“I know a lot of the music acts we bring in is alternative, which is cool because I listen to all types of music,” Hill said. “But I feel like we can mix it up and get some hip-hop acts here.”
The void is apparent and Hetke and Hill want to fill it.
Hill has been working on his first mixtape titled “The Yellow” and Hetke is one of the producers of the project. Hill posted a single from “The Yellow” on his musician page on Facebook as well as his SoundCloud account. The song is titled Meditations.
The recording and production of Hill’s music takes place in Hetke’s Eau Claire home and the two get together once or twice a week to make music. Hetke said he was a fan of Hill’s music as soon as he heard it and he wanted to work with the new artist.
“I thought if we actually collaborate, I have the quality and he has the lyrics,” Hetke said. “This could be something special,”Hetke said every time Hill raps he notices the impressive flow of the St. Paul Minnesota native and his lyrics keep him connected to the music.
The team of Hill and Hetke was founded only a couple of months ago when Hetke approached Hill. He said he heard one of Hill’s freestyles on the Internet after his girlfriend told him to check out Hill’s music.
“It wasn’t the best sound, might have been a bad mic, but I knew what he was going for,” Hetke said.
Prior to connecting with Hetke, Hill said he had to travel to St. Paul whenever he wanted to record his music. The 90-mile drive to the Twin Cities quickly became a weekly trip for Hill; making music become a passion.
Hill started rapping during his sophomore year and his friend, junior Mike Cayo, encouraged him. Hill said he trekked with friends to Cayo’s room to freestyle.
“He would rap and just the intricacies of his rhymes and his play on words off the top of his head made it seem like he had a photographic memory,” Cayo said.
Hill would come back to the room each weekend with a verse or a song and from there Cayo said Hill started to find his voice. The combination of Hill’s voice and intelligence is what sets him apart from other rappers trying to get noticed, Cayo said.
His style reminds Hetke of a mix between Chance the Rapper, J.Cole and a touch of Mac Miller, he said. Hill is able to pull from the unique styles of these rappers, fuse them and create his own kind of voice.
“I think his voice is unique on the microphone,” Hetke said. “There are not a lot of voices out there like his.”
Hill said he has always enjoyed English and he tries to be as witty as possible in his lyrics by pulling from the knowledge he has gained in the classroom.
Hill said he finds his inspiration from his passion for learning.
Hetke draws his inspiration from the people who encourage him to make music. He said he has had his fair share of haters, but he is in music for
the people who have supported him since day one.
Like Hill, Hetke is also an artist. His debut album, titled “Coda,” was released this week. As an artist and a producer, Hetke is working double time to fill the hip-hop void in Eau Claire.
He said people have been buying his music and it is great seeing people support his work. Hetke understands the craft behind creating music and he said producing one song takes an average of three to four hours.
“To actually get it right so it’s not clipping and it’s not distorting in the headphones when listening to it takes time,” Hetke said “People won’t take you seriously unless it’s clean.”
Hetke and Hill’s music must sound clean because people are taking them seriously as both of their Facebook musician pages have almost 800 likes between them.
Hill said he and Hetke make a good team because the two are both still developing as artists.
“I don’t know if he has a set style yet, which is sweet cause nor do I and that leaves it open,” Hill said. “It’s too early to put myself in a box.”
Hill wants to make different types of music with unique sounds and rhymes and he said the open-minded style of Hetke allows him to do that.
Cayo has watched Hill’s music improve since working with Hetke and he said getting more hip-hop performers to Eau Claire would give Hill the best opportunity to get noticed.
“If he can get the right people to hear his music then as far as he wants to go he will go,” Cayo said.
Kid Ink was the first bigtime rapper to come to campus, and Cayo said he believes getting Kid Ink has opened a lot of doors for hip-hop here.
Hetke said he is eager to keep spreading hip-hop among the campus. Though the audience isn’t wide yet, the movement is in motion.
“Hip-hop is growing,” Hetke said. “We are trying to do something big and there are people here trying to push.”