In the “new” musical landscape, viral views, likes and clicks all too often define an artist’s popularity and visibility. It’s easier and also harder than ever to get your music out to the world. But we often forget a crucially important tenet as a result; the local community. Sure, it’s easy in larger cities to reach more people at a show, but in smaller scenes like our own, if you can’t get the local community to gas you up, it can feel like you’re putting in double the work for half the results.
Martyr Thompson understands this better than most. For nearly a decade and running, this Pueblo-bred lyricist and musician has churned out consistently adept and challenging hip hop music, rife with whip smart wit, an iron tongue and undeniable heart. He’s got the potential and the work ethic, but how do you get the people behind you?
PULP: How long have you been an emcee for?
Martyr Thompson: I’m twenty seven now. I started when I was eleven, so like sixteen years.
That’s so young! Who did you look up to at such a young age?
I watched How High in the fifth grade and then heard soundtrack to it. Straight up; It was just like man this is cool; Redman and Method Man were in this movie acting and now they wrote a whole album for it too. I had a friend that I was close with and was like “Let’s try it out”. So I just kind of started writing really profane raps. They were so bad. My fifth grade found them in my desk and called my parents! (laughs)
Do you feel like you took it seriously right away?
No, definitely not; not until I was probably seventeen. But up until that point, I would have cousins and other family members that would be like “yo freestyle something” when I was younger. So I got to sharpen those skills a bit; but it wasn’t until like I was probably older and I rapped at Central’s rally for the Bell Game. That was the first time I thought “I could do this. this is something I want to pursue”; not just like a pastime, but make something out of it, because I just got a lot of props from people that had heard it.
How’s the hip hop scene right now? Do you like being Pueblo based?
Yeah, to a certain extent. I love it here; a lot of talented people. Still though, I feel like Pueblo and myself included could do a lot better when it comes to putting different hip hop events together. It seems like it’s more of a show right now and less of a community thing; I feel like that’s the kind of the responsibility I feel hip hop has as an art form and as a culture is to be a voice within its community. That’s my hope for it is this to become something more than just shows at local bars. Grow something together and try to change the narrative that all hip hop heads are just drug dealers and bangers.
Do you feel like it’s the responsibility of the artists to try to change the narrative?
I think so. A lot of us here in the scene, and I say this as a general statement, know people that have a negative perception that hip hop is just drugs and violence. This is how some people look at it, because most of the content that being produced is content that talks about those things. It’s not it’s not bad to rap about smoking weed or drinking, but if if you don’t realize that those things actually affect people’s lives and you just settle for making content because it’s popular and profitable rather than being impactful and influential, we all suffer.
But we can change the narrative. Yeah, some of us do smoke weed, some of us do drink and some of us are hustlers; But some of us are fathers, too. We care about the children. Some of us smoke weed because we have stress and anxiety, you know?
What would you like to see more of here in Pueblo?
I would love to see a of rebuilding of the hip hop community. Not just rappers and producers, but bringing the elements back into a and making it more accessible to the youth. Building up of younger MC’s. I feel like it’s important of whatever culture you’re involved and you have to be pretty invested in it if you want what you say matter. To put out the best content you can and have it say something important.
Do you feel like it’s more rewarding that way?
It definitely is. It’s way more rewarding that way. I want it to be more of an experience with the people that are fans of the music and are fans of what I’m doing; have it feel a little bit more personal, so that when I do interact with them that it’s on a different level and deeper.
So you want it to be more than just entertainment?
Yeah, definitely. Way more than entertainment. We can do so much more to actually get the community involved and make them feel like they’re part of something rather than just a spectator.