Claremont Hip-Hop Artists Stress the Positive
Arundell "Dell" Robertson, Robert "Chiv" Chivers, and Jeremy "Lockdown" Herrell, all from Claremont, pose at the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, Vt., on March 25, 2014. Valley News - Sarah Priestap Purchase photo reprints »
J eremy Herrell, Robert Chivers and Arundell Robinson are the men behind the Claremont hip-hop trio Team Dilligaf, which has been shaking up the local music scene on Saturday nights at Club 188 in Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction.
This Saturday, Team Dilligaf will be wrapping up a successful 12-week gig with a blow-out jam with reggae artist Mad Bwoy, Cause and Effect, and DJ LSJ. This is Dilligaf’s last performance at the club for a while — they’re taking a break to write some new music — and it’s focused on helping raise money for a week-long trip they’ll be making in mid-May to Uganda, where they plan to perform fundraisers for a charity assisting children in and around Kampala, the capital.
As fathers of young children themselves, Herrell, Chivers and Robinson, interviewed at Tupelo, are very conscious of wanting, said Robinson, “to change the world for the better.”
“To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done,” Robinson said.
Apart from their interest in helping children, they plan to keep performing throughout the Upper Valley, New England and the Midwest, where Herrell grew up. Their mission, they say, is to use the popularity of hip-hop to reach people, but especially children and young adults who might find themselves in a tough situation, to let them know there are paths to take other than violence and drugs.
The trio is well aware that not everybody loves the infatuation of some hip-hop artists with glorifying violence and demeaning women. “Gangsta rap is easy to do,” said Robinson. “The real talent is how you can put a song together without using swear words” or derogatory terms for women. “Dr. Seuss is probably the best rapper there was.”
“We figured out a way to make music that hits everyone,” Herrell said.
This isn’t the easiest area to live in if you’re a hip-hop musician or producer, they said. There’s a lack of venues and the demographic skews older, not younger. But they’re managing to carve out a niche. The club nights are “catching on and drawing a variety of artists,” said Tupelo owner Mike Davidson. And having a hip-hop group perform regularly is “just one more genre of music. They’ve done a nice job for us.”
The potential for changing someone’s life for the better is what keeps Team Dilligaf going.
“All it takes is one word to motivate the next person,” Chivers said.
“We’re trying to prevent somebody from self-sabotaging themselves,” Herrell said. Even if you think you might not like hip-hop, he said, “Give it a chance to come see something you’re not used to, and something you think you might not like, and I’ll guarantee you, they’ll come away with a different attitude.”
Nicola Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.