Wilbur’s Weight Gain: An Inside Look at Pig Food Records, Albany’s Hottest Hip-Hop Label
By Julian Alban
Facial hair, tattoos, and rap music. If you’re a fan of any or all of these things, then local hip-hop powerhouse Pig Food Records might be for you. Consisting of artists such as Alaska, elsphinx, Benn Grim, and others, Pig Food has been synonymous with the Capital District’s hip-hop scene since its formation in 2011. Co-founders Dan and Mitch, who rap under the names Dezmatic and Dood Computer respectively, make up one of Pig Food’s most popular artists, rap group Giant Gorilla Dog Thing.
When asked about his primary musical influences, Mitch, without skipping a beat, motioned to Dan and replied “this dude, that’s easy.” Given Dan’s impressive resume in Albany’s hip-hop scene, which includes opening up for Atmosphere at the Scribble Jam music festival (an experience which he describes as “when Wayne and Garth met Alice Cooper”), it is easy to understand Mitch’s admiration. The two of them first formed Giant Gorilla Dog Thing in 2010 when Mitch was given a CD of instrumentals from producer and frequent collaborator, Absolute. He then proceeded to enlist the help of Dan, who was his roommate at the time, to record a track. Upon its completion, the duo saw potential for more and decided to proceed as a group.
It wasn’t until the following year that Mitch and Dan decided to take their craft to the next level and form a label. This bold decision was a result of the two realizing that they had a very similar vision as to how to market, release and perform their music. Due to their extensive work with each other, as well as other local artists, forming the label was a logical step to take since both Mitch and Dan were “on the same page” in regards to their future musical output. A post on the Pig Food website from February of 2015 summarizes their philosophy by stating the label’s goal to “avoid releasing anything disposable at all costs.”
As opposed to its thriving DIY/rock community, which was featured in a Noisey article on the upstate New York music scene, Albany’s hip-hop scene is considerably more under the radar. Mitch and Dan attest this to the lack of venues for local artists to perform, noting that the availability of suitable live venues is “constantly changing.”
After the closing of Bogie’s last May and the Lark Tavern’s change in ownership following a devastating fire, Mitch observed that “everything just moves around a little bit so now it’s a matter of figuring out where the new spots are.”
Despite the current drought of local hip-hop shows in the area, the Pig Food crew has had no problem keeping busy, with Dan having dropped his newest solo, Dezmatic single “The Best Revenge” on May 1st. In addition to “The Best Revenge,” Dan plans on releasing additional singles on “the first of every month until we’re all done.” He described the origin of these tracks by saying he was “working on a solo record but really sporadically, over the course of the last 5 years, maybe longer, and they’ve just never came together as one piece and they were not the most fleshed out but were still songs I was psyched on.”
In addition to Dan’s new singles the label is also looking to release its annual collaboration with Seasons Skate Shop, which comes in the form of a customized skateboard deck with Pig Food inspired artwork. This collaboration also includes a posse cut from the entire Pig Food roster accompanied with a music video. Previous examples include 2013’s “Beef Patty Freaks” in which Giant Gorilla Dog Thing, elsphinx, Benn Grim, Grizzly Grimace, Alaska and Dizzo performed at a local farm surrounded by pigs in a hysterical display of hip-hop braggadocio.
In addition to a June show in Bristol, Connecticut, Giant Gorilla Dog Thing are also looking forward to the Beat*Shot Music Festival taking place from July 7-10, which Dan and Mitch both describe as an essential event for local hip-hop. Although the current quantity of live venues for Capital District hip-hop artists to perform at is not as high as it could be, Dan and Mitch know the scene well enough to offer advice on how to get involved.
“Albany’s a place where you have to do more digging to find stuff than in other cities,” they said. “You need to do a little research and a little bit of legwork to find the good stuff but it’s there to be found.”