Courtesy of www.myspace.com/mcproteus
In the world of hip-hop, sometimes the
price tag on a pimped-out Escalade or a pair of custom Skytops is as
important as a clever internal rhyme or a chorus hook. And in a genre
where bling reigns supreme, the most unlikely rapper would be one
that’s doing it for free. But that’s precisely how Proteus
(a.k.a. Aaron Campbell
) is making his mark: as the self-proclaimed world’s first open-source MC.
Of course, Campbell is working on the outer edges of hip-hop — far from the temptations of slick production and Auto-Tune trendiness
. His raps are intended for sub-subgenres like underground IDM
and modern breakcore
But despite working some relatively obscure genres, there appears to be
a wealth of artists eager to take him up on his open-source offer. In
the three years he’s been making his stuff available, he’s accumulated
over 300 songs worth of collaborations.
After Campbell ended
his successful stint as the DJ behind local dance night Altered Beats,
he wanted to start making the kind of music he was spinning. With the
help of a team of cyber-junkies — most of whom started coming to his
shows to find out just who was this Proteus character playing their
flavour of glitchy dance tunes — the Altered Beats website
was assembled for Campbell to begin uploading raps that he recorded.
Basically, he just posts .ftp files of vocal tracks to be downloaded by
anyone interested in pairing them with their own productions. In return
for using his voice, he asks only that people send him a copy of the
finished product so he can post them on the site
a method of collaboration, this open-source approach is essentially the
polar opposite of hip-hop’s high-profile duets, which often demand the
diplomatic talents of publicists, managers and lawyers more than any
actual musical ability. And when it comes to intellectual property
rights and illegal downloading paranoia, Proteus is sort of like the
. Plus, I can think of at least one post-modern musical entity
who would do well to get acquainted with Campbell’s licence-free output.
any budding MCs concerned with sloughing off their prime material
without monetary compensation, keep in mind that his sharing service
has landed Proteus on tracks created by artists throughout the world.
Some of his notable online collaborators even include Rotterdam’s FFF
from Oregon, Berlin’s LFO Demon
and Montreal’s Blackjwell
I asked Campbell if anyone was using his work in any kind of commercial
venture, like in commercials, he said he wasn’t aware of any. “I would
be surprised,” he added, saying that he considers the music to be too
weird to be the soundtrack for any kind of money-making enterprise.
After all, it’s not like Campbell is rushing to turn the collaborations
into a product for his own profit. For now, the project remains the
kind of venture that would make Milo Hoffman