Francis Thompson admits he’s been a “closet hip hop head” for years.
“I started writing when I was fairly young, like 13 or 14, but never really did anything, just kept it in my notebook, stashed away in a closet.”
He remembers going to parties where friends would sit in a circle, throw on an instrumental beat and start free-styling rhymes.
“I never had the confidence to go and do it, but I’d always be sitting there rhyming away in my head.”
Thompson finally released his first song publicly last spring. This weekend, he plans to come out of the hip hop closet big time.
He and his writing partner, Michael Irish, will perform as Full Disclosure Rap Crew (FDRC) this Saturday, as part of the three-night ROCtober event at Epic Pizza on Lewes Boulevard, starting on Thursday October 2.
“That’s the day. We’re a little nervous, but we’re ready.”
The two friends began writing together this summer, when Irish returned to Whitehorse after two years in Australia.
“We’ve both progressed, I would say. We’ve got five songs of our own now, and we’re just plugging away at the dream.”
The 21-year-old describes himself as a “pretty nervous guy” when it comes to talking, “but when you can just put a pen to a pad and create something that people can relate to, it’s an unreal feeling,” he says.
“It’s story-telling. If you listen to a lot of rap music that’s out there now, it’s about money and women, fame, and whatever else. But for us underground hip-hop heads, it’s finding a connection with somebody else’s story.”
Thompson now has eight or nine solo pieces in his repertoire. One is “The Ballad of Johnny Trouble”, a story he made up about a 17-year-old growing up in Prohibition-era New York City.
Irish, who also writes solo, is working on an album-length project called The Dark Horse – “kind of like the dark side of Whitehorse, our home city,” Thompson says.
“I find more in my voice and how I use my vocals as an instrument, but he’s a great story-teller. He’s a picture-painter with his words. He can cut to the dark side of stuff,” Thompson says of Irish.
Down the road, the two plan to produce a mixtape of the songs they’ve written together, to get the FDRC name out.
“We’re thinking we’re going to call it DVDs and Duct Tape,” Thompson laughs.
“We don’t have a professional studio to record our songs in, so we have our microphones like stacked on milk crates, sitting on top of DVDs, with duct tape holding our home-made pop filter over it.”
While FDRC has performed a few times at Whitewater Wednesday jams, Saturday’s gig will be the duo’s debut in a bigger concert setting.
ROCtober is the brainchild of restaurant owner Josh Paton. It starts on Thursday, October 2 with a roster of youth performers, including metal band WARMOTH and singer-songwriter Emma Blair.
“Some of these kids are 13 years old, aging up to 18 or whatever,” Paton explains.
“Lots of them are not old enough to play in a bar yet, so it may be a few years before there’s other venues than this one where they can actually get a gig,” he adds.
“We’re the only all-ages venue in Whitehorse where you can sit down and have a meal with the family and watch a show, or have youth performers,” Paton says.
The mini-music festival is the second Paton has staged this year. An earlier event, called FebFest, featured 14 local bands performing over a three-night span.
This time, he’s expecting “about a dozen” acts, appealing to various musical tastes.
Although the final lineup wasn’t confirmed at the time of writing, Friday’s offerings will include The Garlic Munchers (with Paton on drums), Ukes of Hazard, Speed Control, and Fishead Stew.
So far, Saturday’s offerings include an unnamed new band that is holding a contest to select its moniker, as well as FDRC and the night’s headliner, DJKJ.
Paton will also be passing the hat to raise funds to help Speed Control replace instruments and gear that were recently stolen.
All shows are free and begin at 7:00 p.m. Thursday’s youth showcase will run until 10 p.m. Friday’s music will go until 1:00 a.m. Saturday, and the final night of ROCtober will end at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.