If There’s A Hip-Hop Scene In Alaska, You Have No Excuses

from left to right: Aaron, Elliott, Manner, Soapy Smiff, Organik, Phonetic, and Adamn

Excuse Guys are the worst. These dudes “would be” chasing their dreams if they just knew the right people, or didn’t have to work so much, or lived in a better place. Instead, they walk around miserable, pissed-off that life didn’t deal them a better hand.


With the Internet and affordable technology, you no longer need to be rich or connected, or live in Los Angeles to make a movie or be in Nashville to record a country song or be in New York City to perform comedy. And if you want to be involved in a scene of like-minded people, start your own! More than likely, there are other people around you who like the same thing; they’re just waiting around for someone to take the first step.

For example, would you have guessed there is a passionate hip-hop scene in southeast Alaska? It’s not just the land of ice and snow and dogsleds and whale-blubber lamps. There are talented rappers there like Manner and Phonetic, who in 2010 started Word 2 The Wize — a nonprofit organization that produces battle events and hip-hop shows around Southeast Alaska, Anchorage and all the way down to Wyoming.

How many rappers are there in your Southeast Alaska scene?

Phonetic: I’d say 25 serious ones.

What advice do you have for others who want to start a scene where they live?

Phonetic: When I started out, I was all about promoting myself. After 12 years of doing that, I wanted to give back to the scene that supported me for so long. But it’s been great for me personally as well. It feels like you’re sacrificing, but the best way to promote yourself is to promote others.

Manner: I’d say be original. Don’t copy. Show what you have to offer where you are from and be proud of it.

Phonetic: It was necessary for us. Because it’s so expensive to travel up here, most touring artists don’t come through. I was all self-taught and literally put on the first-time hip-hop show in the area in 2002.

What are some of the biggest problems you have trying to all work together?

Manner: We deal with the same crap as any scene does. Egos. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone thinks theirs is the best. It comes with the territory.

Phonetic: If you study business, you learn that success in any business is managing people. Once anyone experiences our live events and meets the other battlers, rappers, videographers and artists — they realize how great a collaborative environment it is.

What advantages do you have in your scene, rather than being in a larger scene like Atlanta or New york City?

Manner: We give everyone a chance. If you are a rapper in New York, two-thirds of your audience are also rappers who are out for the same thing. It makes it very easy to be more judgmental.

What are the worst misconceptions people have about hip-hop in Alaska?

Manner: We hear things like, “Are your shows in a igloo?” “Do you have cable or Internet or a computer?” “Do you have electricity.” Man, we could go on and on.

Do you have spinners on your dogsleds?
Manner: [laughs] Yes, there are spinners on our dogsleds.

Get Manner’s new album here and Phonetic’s albums here.

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Ryan McKee (@TheRyanMcKee) is the editor of Guy Code Blog.