"The rap scene has started to get like karaoke," says Richard Gendron. "We did that for a while, but we were limited because we had to write our lyrics to these [prerecorded] beats." With partner Mike Miller, Gendron are the rap duo Waste of Wits.
Now, the pair is part of the six-man fusion group called Known by Nothing. The band merges jazz, folk, metal, and punk with hip-hop. The two rappers and DJ are backed by three musicians who handle drums, keyboards, accordion, bass, steel drums, lap steel guitar, trumpet, and sax. However, being in a different sort of rap group presents other limitations.
"Most clubs that do have a stage big enough for a band don't like the stigma associated with hip-hop," says drummer Lee Williams. Gendron says his band got a gig next week because his sister, MC Plain Jane, invited the band to open for her.
Miller acknowledges that his band is stereotyped: "Just because we have MCs doesn't mean we are gangster rappers. Just because we have an accordion doesn't mean we play polka. We play so many types of music, it would be impossible for someone to try and pigeonhole us in a scene."
Known by Nothing will give out free copies of their eight-song CD when they play at the Honey Bee Hive on March 2.