Fire Starter: Irv Da Phenom
Essential Info: You get back what you put out. It's a concept that Kansas City, Missouri, rapper Irv Da Phenom understands well. That's why the up-and-coming rapper isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Now, on his latest album, Who the F--- Is Irv Da Phenom?, the Midwest MC looks to really define himself.
"I'm just a young man from Wyandotte County, Kansas City, a hard worker [who] was gifted to do music," Irv told Mixtape Daily in answer to the very question that his album title poses. "I'm just trying to provide my point of view through music and move people with it."
The self-proclaimed Phenom first got into music while singing in the church where his father was a deacon. As a child he wasn't allowed to listen to rap music, but eventually, by the age of 13, he found hip-hop influences in Eminem, Busta Rhymes and his hometown hero Tech N9ne. Turns out that Irv would meet Tech as a teenager during a studio session and then years later end up touring with the Strange Music juggernaut.
"As years went on, he seen me doing my thing around the town, rapping. And then I pop up at his shows," he said of his relationship with Tecca Nina. "It just eventually grew and grew. I was blessed to be able to go out on tour with him. He heard my music one day and was like, 'Man you're supposed to be making music with us,' and that's how we ended up linking up."
Irv didn't ink with Tech's Strange Music but started his own independent label, Def Metal Gospel, through which he released his underground albums. If a rapper who flies a flag that draws inspiration from metal and gospel music sounds different to you, that's cool, because that's the way Irv intended it. "It's already a Lil Wayne, it's already a Young Jeezy, it's already a Rick Ross, so why would I worry about fitting in to what they are?" Irv explained, instead choosing to be himself. "I just do what I know — somebody out there is just like me."
While on the road with Tech, Irv did pick up some great touring habits. For one, he learned the importance of a quality stage show. Standing center-stage and rapping just won't cut it. Secondly, he saw the worth in going directly to his fans. Irv has more than 11,000 Twitter followers and a respectable digital presence, but he is best when he is face-to-face with his fans, selling physical CDs at meet-and-greets before his shows. "It's real important to actually go reach the fans, go touch 'em and let them see you out and about," he said.
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