Traverse City Record-Eagle

Arts & Entertainment

February 28, 2014

Traverse City native flexes hip-hop rhyme

TRAVERSE CITY — No, you can’t get street cred in the hip-hop world if you come from Traverse City. So Blake Selby doesn’t try.

“You will never hear me talk about selling drugs or killing people,” Selby said. “Gangsta rap isn’t my game. I’m not going to be the next 50 Cent.”

But Selby, 23, has plenty of stories to tell, stories that reveal something “deeper” about him as a person and the meaningful roles people play in his life. Selby is launching his first full-length album “Ammunition” alongside a Midwestern tour, including a stop at Traverse City’s Union Street Station on April 26.

“It’s not just something you can dance to,” Selby said. “I keep it as real as I can.”

One song, “Stewardess,” explains what its like to be a rapper at your high-flying best — and nose-diving worst, he said.

“When you’re a musician at your high time, everyone wants to be around you — girls — everyone. But as soon as you come off that high, everyone jumps ship,” Selby said. “You find out — money is the motive.”

Selby enjoyed some early fame — he sold 1,000 five-song EPs and did several solo shows in East Lansing, where he attended Michigan State University. He started his own record label — Northern Hype — and did some work with the well-known Chicago rapper “Twista.” Then one of his shows flopped, he got mixed up in drugs and “hit a low.”

“It was pretty disheartening,” Sebly said. “I almost quit. Then I fought through it, and some of those people who had left at the low point came back to share the high.”

Now, Selby is on his way with a new record, tour and five new music videos. Sebly’s concert with Twista sold out the Michigan Theatre last year in Jackson. He performed with Eminem’s band D12 in Lansing this November and recently recorded a song with metal band “3 Years Hollow.”

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