good portion of record store in the city tend to sell everything they
can, leaving little room for single genre selling. But one downtown
shop is doing all it can for a specific scene.
Uprok Records has been supporting the local hip-hop and rap scene in Utah for well over a decade, providing it with all the best local and national acts that can be found. On top of which giving DJ's, breakdancers and Graff artists a place to find their gear and showcase their talent. And in turn being a focal point for not just the fans but the artists themselves in the state. I got a chance to take some pictures of the place and chat to owner Chase Jensen about the shop, its events, thoughts on the scene, and some other questions that came to mind.
Gavin: Hey Chase, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Chase: I'm just another kid that is tryin to do what he loves as a living. Screw gettin a real job..
Gavin: For those who don't know, what is Uprok Records?
Chase: It's Utahs only hip-hop shop. Meaning we are the only folks in the state promoting actual hip-hop, not just the hip-hop image. It has gone thru a few hands and names, but it essentially is the same place it was fifteen years ago. I bought it off the old owners (big up Kool Kel & Dustin) two years ago.
Gavin: Not a lot of places in Utah cater to the hip-hop scene. Did you know you'd have a niche in that community, or was it more of a risk to focus on just that genre?
Chase: I have been pushing hip-hop in the community for a while before the shop came my way. I think thats why I was offered the opportunity. It is a risk focusing on just that genre in Salt Lake, but that's what it needs. I would think about changing it for the world.
Gavin: How did the opportunity come up for you to take over?
Chase: The old owners just were ready to pass the torch. That's kinda how its always been with the shop, they approached me about it and I went with it.
Gavin: What was the transition like to take ownership, and what was it like first running the store?
Chase: It was quick. One day they were here, the next I was. It was different actually being in charge over here but I got into the groove quick. Its just a good time. Not many folks get to work in an environment that they like to be in anyway. I'm one of the lucky few.
Gavin: The store carries a nice collection of vinyl. Was that done mainly for DJ's or more for nostalgia?
Chase: Originally it was done for DJ's, but now they are all playing Serato or CDJ's. So I think I'm keeping it around because im a pureist. Serato is good for some things but vinyl will always be essential for the real heads.
Gavin: Speaking of DJ's, do you have anything equipment wise for people looking to spin?
Chase: We carry needles, record bags, slipmats, and of course records. We will sell used turntables when they are brought in, but that doesn't happen all the time.
Gavin: What made you decide to devote part of the store to clothing?
Chase: Everyone needs clothes, we have access to certain clothes that you cant find anywhere else in Utah. Also Ghettoslider Clothing has just moved into the shop so we can now do custom gear.
Gavin: How did the did the idea come about to hold monthly battle events? And how have the worked out so far?
Chase: I think the B-Boys around here just wanted something regular to meet up and get down. It wasn't my idea, and they have been going on since long before I owned the shop. They always do really well, we do them generally the last Saturday of the month.
Gavin: Because of those events you've taken a bit of a place in the dance community. What are your thoughts on dancers in Utah?
Chase: I don't know any dancers besides the B-Boys and a couple others. Sancing in general doesn't interest me that much, but when they can do crazy stuff, thats when it catches my attention.
Gavin: You also play a big part in the Graff scene. Did it seem like natural match, or was it something that eventually started taking part in?
Chase: Graff is what got me into hip-hop, and really, any hip-hop head that says they don't like Graff, needs to think of a different hobby. Hip-hop started with Graff, do the homework. I don't think I'll ever call anything "hip-hop" with some Graff element.
Gavin: Does it feel like it's becoming more embraced as an artform in Utah?
Chase: Kind of. I feel like its more exploited than embraced. Everyone just thinks "it looks cool" but don't really care what it says, or what kind of time and effort people put into it.
Gavin: Going state-wide, what's your opinion on the local hip-hop scene, both good and bad?
Chase: The good is there's a ton of kids makin' the music, lots of groups are comin' up and making themselves known. The bad is most those kids don't know anything else about hip-hop except U92. You try to talk about Breakin', they say dancing sucks. Try to talk about Graff and they bust some little gang BS. They don't know the essence, just what they see on TV and hear on the radio.
Gavin: Same question, but instead on the entire music scene in Utah.
Chase: Its separated. If you aren't in it, you wont get treated the same. Seldom do people step out of their boundaries. Rock kids don't show to hip-hop shows unless their friends are bartending or the ones throwin' the show. You know who you are!
Gavin: Who would you say are the best local acts going right now?
Chase: I'm down to give shouts, but usually the people I shout end up using it to push themselves into the spotlight without any return respect for the shop. So I choose not to answer these questions anymore.
Gavin: Is there anything you think could be done to make it bigger or better?
Chase: Everyone needs to get off their high horse and work together as a community. They say they are, but its not happening.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on local labels, and do you think they help or hinder the artists on them?
Chase: Depends on the attitude of the label people and the artists themselves. Unfortunately, nobody is gonna go nationwide on a Salt Lake label. You might get distribution, but nobody will hear about you unless you try to expand beyond Salt Lake.
Gavin: Do you wish there were more shows, or even stations, like the Friday Night Fallout, or do think things are fine the way they are at the moment?
Chase: Of course I wish there was more. It would help biz a lot, but besides that, it would educate people on what this is really about. But much respect to KRCL for havin' that show, it helps the cause.
Gavin: What can we expect from Uprok the coming year?
Chase: Expect the unexpected! We are gonna try to bring back "Doin' It At The Park", its a monthly jam in Liberty Park that the city shut down due to "loud music", but I think it was the graff. Also have a couple other things in the works.
Gavin: Finally, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Chase: Every Monday at The W Lounge, every Thursday at The Hotel, Uprok on Nov 1st - Ninth Cloud, and Uprok on Nov 7th - 1865. Both $5. Check our MySpace for updates, shows, store specials, general info.