We sat down with Bij Lincs, AZAR and MALAKAI, members of Philly hip-hop trio Ground Up, to learn a little more about the group’s rising success. Most importantly, their 2013 debut at A3C, the biggest hip-hop festival in the US. Ground Up has opened up for renowned artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, Asher Roth, Rick Ross, Chiddy Bang, The Nappy Roots, Meek Millz, Gucci Mane, and Chris Webby. They recently released a track with rapper G-Eazy, and are prepping for their first full-length album release in fall 2014. Read on and find out what the group’s experience was like, and find out how you could play the 2014 A3C Circuit Tour.
AZAR: All of us have loved music for as long as we can remember. MALAKAI and I met back in 2008 at Temple University orientation. We connected over music and poetry and realized we could do something together. Bij was out in California at the time, and he had been making and sending us beats. We started making music in our basement, and six months later actually got out and started playing shows.
Bij: We really got our start through the support of our friends. They were our first supporters and our biggest fans. We spread our music through the Internet and word-of-mouth, and throughout it all we kept our friends really involved.
2. When did you realize you were starting to blow up outside of just your Philly fanbase?
MALAKAI: After we got our initial start, we kept working hard and were always trying to improve. We booked our first tour up and down the East Coast in 2010, and managed the whole thing ourselves. Not every show was a sellout, but it gave us confidence to know that people were enjoying our music to the point where they would buy tickets to see us play.
AZAR: That was probably the first time we realized that people outside of Philly were into our music. As we kept getting bigger and getting more shows, we brought on two managers to help us out. Our managers are two of our best friends. It’s been amazing to be able to involve them in this and build this life with them.
AZAR: We played A3C Hip Hop Festival last year after we were selected to perform through a ReverbNation opportunity. The experience was awesome. It was our first time in Atlanta, and we had heard nothing but great things about the city, their music scene and the festival.
Bij: We were able to meet so many other artists that were staying in the same hotel as us. It was a really eye-opening experience.
4. What was the experience like? Any standout moments for you?
MALAKAI: There were some very surreal moments, like seeing Talib Kweli walking through the lobby of our hotel. Some other big artists we were able to meet were King Louie and DJ Premiere. We actually got to shake his hand!
Bij: The festival and tour overall were great. We were able to play all over the country and were treated with professionalism and courtesy by A3C and their partners. We were able to bring some friends along to the shows, and we had tons of Philly fans in the crowd so we were feeling the love. We take a lot of pride in our live shows and always try to bring the energy to our fans. We had a great time!
5. What advice do you have for other artists trying to make it big?
AZAR: Artists should always keep moving and keep working towards something. Keep your creativity alive and don’t get discouraged. Don’t stop, no matter what. Being in this game can be discouraging and make you question things and question your choices. Keep your head down, work hard and ignore the naysayers.
Bij: Get your friends involved and make them a part of your music and a part of the experience. It makes it more fun for you and for them. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you. We have been using ReverbNation since we started, and we stay up-to-date on all the opportunities we can apply to. It’s a very useful tool and resource and a great way to show off your musical resume and the things you’ve accomplished.
MALAKAI: I know how grateful we all are to be here. None of us take this for granted, and we really never could have expected our music to take us this far. Stay grateful and keep going.