DAWGS OF WAR: "Boston is like boot camp for hip-hop," says Leedz. "It's tough to succeed here, but it's a great training ground."
It won't be long before the Discovery Channel asks Boston rap promoter Edu Leedz to let the Dirty Jobs crew follow him around. At this point, the Discovery crew have already filmed everyone who shovels turds and fingers chickens — it's time they profiled someone who deals with some real shit for a living.
In his five years of throwing parties around Boston — and, as of late, in New York, New Hampshire, and LA — Leedz has faced the gantlet. In addition to the usual no-shows, scuffles, and garbage turnouts that all promoters deal with, he's got the extra aggravations that come with hip-hop. The list of hasty demands and confrontations he's endured is endless, from being forced to cancel a Black History Month show (to stave off protest threats from the New Black Panther Party) to being shown the door at half a dozen venues because his crowd likes to decorate bathroom stalls.
"I lost $3000 on the first big party that I tried to do," Leedz says of his Royce da 5'9" abortion back in 2004. "I overestimated; it's pretty easy to get a little too excited when you've been a fan for so long."
Leedz finally pocketed some change with an Inspectah Deck and Masta Killa show at the Middle East in 2005. Wu-Tang came to the rescue; if that gig had bombed, he says, he would have been broke and out of business. Still, though he's since learned to turn a profit by enlisting local openers who bring friends and sling tickets, it's never smooth sailing. In the past year, despite his having packed both spots on numerous occasions, both Great Scott and McGann's Pub in North Station have given boom-bap the heave-ho.
"Some places just aren't built for hip-hop," he says. "They would rather pretend that there's more violence and underage drinking at rap shows than at other kinds of shows. To be honest, though, while I wish more club owners were willing to make money with me, small-minded people don't even bother me anymore."
Despite the treatment he's received from clubs — and also from his critics, who argue that Leedz exploits artists — the New Hampshire transplant is determined to stay in Beantown. His new Mass Movementz compilation, which pairs local track stars with underground cats from across the country, is the product of his belief that the likes of Slaine, Black Madeen, Rite Hook, and Amadeus can rap rings around the best of them. "If you listen to the tracks, you'll hear some of the Boston artists outshine the national artists. Boston is like boot camp for hip-hop. It's tough to succeed here, but it's a great training ground."
It's no wonder Leedz has so many adversaries: he walks and talks as if he were the only show in town — which is pretty much the case. His motto is "I paid the cost to be the boss," and his message to those who bitch is simple: save a couple grand, find a club willing to embrace hip-hop, book yourself, and then you won't have to play by his rules.
"To do this you have to hustle non-stop. People see me at the show and think I have the life, but this isn't just a giant party. There's a lot of satisfaction in doing what I love, but I work my ass off, and until recently I could barely pay my rent. Trust me — this is a thankless blue-collar job if there ever was one."
MASS MOVEMENTZ release party featuring SPECIAL TEAMZ, REEF THE LOST CAUZE, DRE ROBINSON, THE GREATER GOOD, RITE HOOK, BLAK MADEEN, RHETORIC, STUCAT, SKINNY CAVALLO, RAY DIAMONDS | February 19 at 9 pm | $12-$15 | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com