Who: Sweatshop Union w/Emotionz
When: Sunday, July 13, 10 p.m.
Tickets: $12 presale
The members of Sweatshop Union aren’t your run-of-the-mill,
amateur hip hop performers. Kyprios, Marmalade, Itchy Ron, Metty, Mos Eisley,
Dusty Melo and Conscience are seasoned MCs with some serious substance to their
The union came together in 2000, out of the groups Dirty
Circus, Creative Minds (now known as Pigeonhole), and Innocent Bystanders.
Kyprios was the lone solo MC. The artists decided to form a collective mainly
for practical reasons — aside from the fact that they were a group of MCs
who liked the same music and happened to be friends, they needed to pool their
resources to put out a compilation album.
“It was a little bit more expensive and more difficult to put
out records than it is today, with the advent of everybody having a home
studio,” Kyprios explained. “…It was just a more sound and solid way of
ensuring you at least got a record out and it didn’t take forever.”
The group’s self-titled debut album reached Mad Child, one of
the members of Swollen Members, and he ended up releasing it on his own label,
Underworld. Soon after, Sweatshop was signed with Battle Axe Records, who
re-released their debut album and followed up with their next three full-length
Their lyrics are heavier than your average mainstream hip hop
group, with music touching on everything from racism and poverty to the war in
But Kyprios stresses that they aren’t trying to push a personal
“It’s kind of a blues mentality with hip hop beats — it’s
like the shit we don’t have and the things that we’d like to see different,” he
Rather, they’re simply trying to encourage listeners to think
critically, rather than the same old “hip hop hypocrisy.”
Sweatshop Union and its basically at a time when everyone was rocking Nikes and
dunks and at the same time trying to be socially and politically conscious, and
its like, ‘well, dude, where did your shoes get made?’” Kyprios explained.
You would think putting seven strong musical personalities
together in the same room could end badly. But almost eight years later, the
collective is still going strong. They’re touring regularly, and they’re just
getting ready to drop their fourth CD,
, in early August.