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    Allen Poe is a veteran hip-hop artist by night and a 9-5-office worker, husband and father to two young daughters by day. To say this man is busy would be an understatement, but music is worth it to him. Says Poe, “I coach my daughter’s softball team and in my spare time that I have I shoot and edit videos for local artists, write and record music, perform at shows, and write for music blogs like Everydejavu.com and Thewordisbond.com.” 

    A Western Kentucky graduate, Allen Poe was deployed to Iraq with the Army from 2006-2007. He is fluent in Arabic and planned to live in Egypt with his wife and pursue his MBA, but life had other plans for him. “Music is my outlet and my ‘stand-in dream’ for missing out on Egypt and my Arabic studies,” he said.

    In 2011, Allen realized his passion for music and began to take it more seriously. “I began rhyming with friends around '96, just playing around and have been rapping on and off with varying degrees of seriousness since then.”
     

    Louisville.com: What inspires you to make music?  

    Allen Poe: As cliché as it sounds, I'm inspired by the people around me and my experiences. I think that really is true for me though. I've settled into 'adulthood' now and music let's me take the day-to-day monotony of going through the motions and allows me to put some color to it. I rap about relationships a lot. While I'm fine with storytelling and some embellishing that comes with good stories, I don't want to rap what I don't live. Instead, I try to rap about what we all live and feel, so you hopefully hear a lot about emotions and relationships that we all experience [in my music].

    Louisville.com: So you are from Frankfort, but live in Versailles…how does the Louisville music scene inspire your music?

    Allen Poe: I have lived in Versailles for five years now. Kentucky is a non-traditional hip-hop state, so if you are going to rap here it's an uphill battle from the jump to gain attention and fans. You dig yourself into a deeper hole as an artist if your exposure is limited to small towns like where I'm from. There just isn't any viable scene there. Louisville has a lot of unity and lot of talented artists. I wanted to be a part of the hip-hop community and I am so fortunate they have taken me in.

    Hip-hop can be very competitive and closed to outsiders, but being persistent and respectful to the artists and the scene helped me have a part. I know I'm a guest and I try to help build the house I've been so kindly allowed to inhabit. I always try to show gratitude and support where I can. It's just a thing where you take the love you were shown and pay it back with interest. 

    Louisville.com: What do you think about the Louisville music scene and where do you fit in?

    Allen Poe: I'm no historian by any means and I can only speak on the hip-hop scene, but Louisville has had a strong hip-hop scene for decades.  I remember Deuce Leader and Crash making noise at Scribble Jam in Cincinnati. Father Jah has been a staple of KY hip-hop for years and I hung out a lot with Casanova during college at WKU who went on to work with Rico Love in Florida after making some noise in Louisville with DJ E-Feezy.

    I was roommates with Renzo Charlez, who had some spots on WHAS a year or two ago highlighting his music. I actually lost a battle at WKU in the finals to Watts of Code Red and I won another battle at WKU against Jaureal. So, I have this history with Louisville's hip-hop community that predates the current scene, even though I'm just now beginning to have a more notable presence there. Again, it's all about respect and appreciation. I feel like an adopted MC to Louisville's scene and it's 10 times more important for me to be aware of the scene and respectful of its founders and the ones carrying the torch now. I think currently there's a crazy amount of unity and support among the artists. There are so many things happening that are total community efforts and it's really strengthening the presence of hip hop in the city, a genre once relegated to just the club or whatever, is now on the news, at the big festivals, at the waterfront with an orchestra, helping raise awareness for autism... you name it and some hip hop artist has probably touched it.

    Lousville.com: Describe working with Jalin Roze on "Sundazed." What led you all to the decision to collaborate?

    Allen Poe: First, I am a fan of Jalin's. I had reached out to him prior to "Sundazed" to work together and he would politely decline. I respected that he would even respond and I respected that he was up front. I was a little tentative to keep reaching out because I didn't want to be 'that guy’. But I had just got this really smooth beat together and when I heard it, in my mind I heard Jalin on it; I felt it was perfect for him. So I emailed him with my verse already laid and let him know the concept. He wrote back quickly and said he loved it and was down to do a verse. I was thrilled! The song turned out great and that was kind of the starting point for our relationship. Now we hit each other up to talk music and ideas occasionally.

    Louisville.com: Describe your collaboration with Deejay Element, "Still Eatin."

    Allen Poe: So, Element is a DJ for a crew in NYC with some buzz called "The Brown Bag Allstars" Element also produces and back in 2011 he had worked with me on a song from my debut release "Ubuntu." I reached back out to him late in 2013 to see what he thought about working on an EP. He was down and sent me over several beats to choose from. I picked 5 I liked and ran with them. Element's homie and fellow BBAS member J57 (co-host of Rap Is Outta Control on Sirius radio's Hip Hop Nation, produced a track on Method Man's new album & more dope stuff) said he would A&R the project and pitched it to NYC indie hip-hop label Soulspazm. They liked it and decided they would release it on their label and digitally distribute it. That was my first experience working with a label and really was a proud moment for me.

    Louisville.com: Who are your favorite artists?

    Allen Poe: It changes a lot, but lately it's been Open Mike Eagle, Vince Staples, Your Old Droog and Skyscraper Stereo. Homeboy Sandman is at the rap apex right now IMO… his words, delivery and substance is unmatched at the moment.  


    Louisville.com: Where do you see Allen Poe in five years?

    Allen Poe: Since I started taking myself seriously as a rapper in 2011 I've reached new heights every year. Some years have been baby steps, but every year I keep seeing that I haven't plateaued yet. This year I was featured on The Wake Up show with Sway and Tech, dropped a project on Soulspazm and I sold out my first order of CDs ever. While I don't have to have milestones like that to have had a productive year, they serve as good road markers to see whether I'm heading in the right direction. So I'm not so much concerned with where I'll be in 5 years. Instead, in 5 years I will want to have seen that I am not still functioning as an artist on the same level as a I am now. I don't see any reason why that won't be the case if I keep working hard and stay passionate about my art.
     

    Louisville.com: If you could be an opening performer for anyone, who would it be?

    Allen Poe: 1200 at one of his orchestra concerts or Cunninlynguist whenever they come back home. That would be so dope. 
     

    Louisville.com: I remember talking to you during the time your second EP "How Gardens Grow" released. Tell me more about creating that EP.

    Allen Poe: HGG was a personal record. It was loosely conceptual in that I tried to paint the picture of a man coming of age, but told through his relationships with women. I say loosely conceptual because you'll hear tracks that have nothing to do with relationships at all, but if you spend some time with it you'll hear that angle is the mainstay that binds it together. So the man starts out unsure how to approach a girl he likes, next he's spending summers with her building memories, next he hits rocky patches where he has to self reflect on his own imperfections and her imperfections. By the end there are some songs that kind of summarize the realizations he discovered through his process of loving and being loved. I think you get to hear the coming of age of a man who starts out dreaming for himself and ends up reflecting about the interconnectedness of us all.

    Allen Poe will be at hosting an album release party for "Still Eatin", his album with Deejay Element, on Friday, October 16, from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. at Spinelli's downtown. There will be performances by local artists Big & Tall, Eons D, Shadowpact, Fredd C and Real Tha Poet and djing by Louisville's own Jalin Roze.

     

     

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    About Alexis Messmer

    2015 University of Louisville graduate. All things social media, marketing, writing, sneakers, photography, music, and a whole lot of coffee.

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