Cleveland's hottest hip-hop producers aren't content with being known as Cleveland's hottest hip-hop producers. Or producers. The Kickdrums have expanded from a production team to a musical force on their debut album, the rock record Detached ... At Ease.
"We really wanted to push ourselves creatively and musically," says Alex "Fitty" Fitts, who made a name as part of Spittin Image, Scene readers' Rap Group of the Year for 2005. "We're continuing to link up with major hip-hop artists and place beats. We're just diversifying a little and keeping it fresh."
As producers, the Kickdrums (Fitts and Matt "Tilla" Pentilla) have provided beats for 50 Cent, Ray Cash and Young Joc. Fitts wrote, performed and sang most of the tracks on Detached. Pentilla served as a traditional rock producer, shaping songs and providing some beats.
Promise Hero guitarist Daniel Weiss, brother of Spittin Image MC Verbal, contributed drums on five tracks.
The thoroughly engaging Detached is a total departure, though it takes some cues from hip-hop when it comes to composition and promotion.
Musically, half the cuts are top-shelf, danceable indie rock with beats you can't ignore. "Love Is a Drug" is built on a Roxy Music hook. Songs like "Superficial Socialite" are more straightforward alternative fare, but no less catchy.
The producers-musicians are releasing the album independently via iTunes and music blogs.
Former Cleveland cohort Mick Boogie is among the DJs who are assembling mixtapes based on Detached tracks and original Kickdrums music. Various downloadable mixes will feature DJ Drama associate Willie the Kid, MC Marky, new tracks from Idiot Savant (the Drums' project with Verbal) and remixes of rock favorites.
"You don't need a major [label] to move albums, if you're concentrating on a national-worldwide level," says Fitts. "Building a brand is everything in the music biz today. To do that, you have to gain a loyal following and have a strong catalog of music."
Idiot Savant will be the house band at Promise Hero's CD-release show at 6 p.m. Friday, October 24, at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd.). Tickets: $10. Take a listen at myspace.com/thekickdrums.
¥ Parma's Haunted Yard attraction (5900 Rousseau Dr.) is celebrating its 20th year by adding a second week. The benefit for Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America will run Friday to Sunday, October 17-19. The PG-13 spookfest spans three wooded yards, with actors from local metal bands Eternal Legacy, Cellbound, Lick the Blade, Wretch, and Manimals, as well as work by local horror designer Gary Ulmer and Auburn Records president/WJCU radio host Bill Peters. Visit www.LegacyMetal.com for more information. ¥ On Sunday, October 26, Cleveland will host two benefit shows for Joshua Miktarian, the Barium guitarist and Strongsville police officer who was killed on duty July 13. Proceeds benefit the Joshua Miktaian Foundation, which was established for his survivors.
Country artist Mark Wills will headline a show at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave.) with Cleveland's Burning Vegas, Akron's Chris Mitchell, and the Cleveland Firefighter Pipe Band. The show starts at 6 p.m.; tickets range from $25-$75.
Venomin James will headline a hard-and-heavy show at the Jigsaw (5324 State Rd., Parma). It starts at 8 p.m. Tickets: $7.