[Interview] Mike Campbell Talks Stophouse Music Group, Local Music and Prof Outdoors 5

St Paul and Minneapolis have many landmarks for all your musical wants, and amongst the giants like Atmosphere and Prince is the home of local record label Stophouse Music Group, that has proven to be in the same league as its predecessor’s. At the headquarters is where we had the privilege of sitting down with Mike Campell, Co-Founder, and Manager to Prof. With ‘The Biggest Show in the History of Prof’ just around the corner, we met up with Mike to talk about the inception of this festival.

UHH: We can start off by telling the fans who you are and who you represent.

Mike Campbell: My name is Mike Campbell and I am one of the founders and general manager of Minneapolis based [record label]. It’s more of an artist management company now, but it’s called Stophouse Music Group. We have a couple of artists we work with on a consistent basis, mainly Prof and Cashinova, but we also support others local artists like St Paul Slim, 84 Caprice, Demitry Killstorm. Anybody that’s doing good music we will show them some love if we can.

UHH: And that’s dope to see you guys working with so many staples of the community. St Paul Slim has been doing it for years, long before I moved over here. Prof too, I don’t think people realize just how long Prof has been doing this because of his more recent success.

MC: The first release we had with both St Paul Slim and Prof was called Recession Music, that was released in May of 2009. We are coming up on 10 years since they released that together and Prof had already had a fanbase before releasing that. [St Paul Slim] had that group Guardians of Balance with Mastermind and they had an audience before he went into the Marines.

I don’t know if I am in the minority here, but I love origin stories. Whether it be finding out Post Malone made a ridiculous video in high school wearing short shorts and singing love songs or how Barry Allen became the Flash, and while hearing the artists backstory was incredible, the real reason for this sit down was a different origin story.

UHH: It is always cool seeing artists like them expand and grow their brand, but the real reason we are here is to talk about this upcoming festival that you guys are putting on. Where was the idea born for Prof Outdoors?

MC: It’s kinda funny because initially, it came from a misbooking with Atmosphere. They had this date booked the first year we did it. It was on the 7th of September which is Slug’s birthday. He was going to throw like a big show/birthday party outdoor thing but decided he didn’t want the date anymore so we ended up taking it from those guys.

Like Soundset before it, Prof Outdoors was never intended to be a large festival but instead took a little luck, a little ingenuity and a drive to be something memorable. Starting at The Cabooze as a fill-in and knowing that Prof had a large enough following to sell out the main room, Mike saw a chance for something bigger and took it. Even when everything falls into place, it doesn’t mean everything will go as smoothly as he would further explain.

MC: As we were locking in the Cabooze we were actually on our way to a big outdoor festival in Sioux Falls where Prof actually hurt his back on stage. He cut his performance in half and was in really rough shape. We were only six weeks away from our show and literally after we confirm Prof Outdoors one he has this gigantic injury. We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to pull off this big festival but the first one turned out great. We had Run the Jewels first and foremost. We had Soulcrate Music from Sioux Falls. We had Evidence, so it was a really great lineup. I don’t think you could do much better than that. We ended up selling out the show and weren’t exactly sure we would but it felt great and we thought let’s just make this an annual thing. Everyone will know that the big end of summer party is Prof Outdoors.

I think Minneapolis is spoiled. I definitely am and it’s because my summer starts with Soundset, continues with X-Games and Warped Tour and ends with Prof Outdoors and that’s just the summer, with other festivals like Northern Invasion and Summer Set only a half hour out of town and Snowta NYE continuing success, the twin cities are home to some of the best festivals in the nation and Prof Outdoors in no exception. One of the reasons that Prof Outdoors stands out to me, aside from it being the first show I ever did photography for, is that it is a festival for performers. If you aren’t a top-tier performer there isn’t room for you on this festival and it’s one of the things that initially drew myself and Mike into Prof. While Prof is a talented artist, it was definitely his live show that put him as a favorite for myself. Having boasted artists like Run the Jewels, Hopsin, and Shredders in the past, I couldn’t wait to get into this year’s lineup.

UHH: And getting into this year, do you want to talk a little about who you have on the bill and what’s planned?

MC: You know, this year I am super excited. We have always wanted to go bigger and bigger with everyone we have had on the lineup. We have had some challenges getting everything put together this year but we are really happy with where we ended up. We obviously have Prof headlining and he has all sorts of stunts planned and really cool stage production coming in. The last ESPN show at First Ave, man I don’t think I’ve had that much fun at a Prof show since like the first time we played First Avenue. Then from the Bay Area, we have Lil B, The Base God. We have gotten some interesting reactions from him because I know he isn’t as well known in the underground community, but he is huge within the mainstream and twitter rap fans.

UHH: Yeah he has a massive Twitter presence and is super funny there.

MC: And I am so excited to see his set. He hasn’t played the twin cities since I believe 2012. He hasn’t been here in a long time and I know a lot of festival promoters have been tryin to book him through the years and no one has been able to get him so I just wanna shout out to First Avenue and shout out to Sonia who does all the booking there cause she definitely pulled a big one. And then Montana of 300.

UHH: He is another one that I am really excited to see. I haven’t seen him before but I have heard he is a very live show and crazy talented emcee.

MC: I haven’t seen him live but especially since we’ve booked him I’ve been listening to his stuff on repeat and he just has bars and bars and bars. It’s cool to see someone get such big traction on YouTube. He has videos with 20 or 30 million views and it’s not dumbed down mumble rap type shit, he is actually spitting lyrics.

UHH: It’s interesting with him because a lot of people want to see what a conscious rapper can do on these trap style beats but when they do they are ‘selling out’, but with him, he authentically sounds like he belongs on these beats but while still bringing a conscious element.

MC: He is pretty fuckin street too.

While Lil B and Montana of 300 are massive gets and enough to bring anyone out to the Cabooze Outdoor Plaza, one thing I have loved about the Minneapolis music scene is the love shown to local artists that are killing it. In the past artists like Why Khaliq, Dwynell Roland and J Plaza have blessed the stage and this year’s local lineup was nothing to bat an eye at either.

UHH: And the national acts aren’t the only ones that will be drawing a crowd. The first year I went local artists Dwynell Roland, Why Khaliq and J Plaza performed so let’s talk a little about the local artists performing this year as it is one of the things I love about this festival is its willingness to.

MC: Yeah and I’m glad you brought it up cause that year was just so stacked. Holy Crap, to have those guys as your local openers… they are huge acts. This year we are excited to have Stophouse’s own Cashinova on the bill as one of the bigger locals. We have a new song and video dropping for him as well next week called Ever Since. I am super excited about it. I think people with fuck with it. We are really lucky and I feel fortunate to have gotten in touch with him when we did and discover him before somebody else did.

Similarly to Prof and Slim, Cashinova is no new face to those that follow the local scene. Having seen him pop up at shows with J Plaza, I had been familiar with the name since moving here and was very excited to see the news of him signing locally with Stophouse and continuing to grow here in the cities and nationally with Prof. His rise locally also caught the ear of Rhymesayers headlining act Atmosphere as he is one of the few features on their upcoming album ‘Mi Vida Loco.’ Sean has been consistent in showing love to local artists that have shown a work ethic and drive for creating art.

MC: Sean has been great about that. He could get gigantic rap features or big indie features from all sorts of collabs but he has been doing a really good job, especially lately it seems, of feature folks like deM atlaS or Prof or Grieves.

UHH: I’ve noticed a weird dynamic of people that want to come for the head of Rhymesayers and say ‘Soundset is BS cause they just want these major acts to make money’ but they are also putting on artists like Lioness and FreeWifi.

MC: If anyone says that they don’t have any idea what they are talking about.

What Rhymesayers doesn’t do is fuck with everyone, because they can’t. 37,000 people aren’t coming out to a local festival, so they will, of course, put on artists when they can and do favors for those who have helped them and then bring in artists that have large fanbases who also intrigue them. This model has made the festival not just financially successful but one of the largest and talked about hip-hop festivals in the nation. Not only have I seen personally some of the artists who they have reached out to just to talk about tour life or how to handle fame, but I have also seen Soundset include hip-hop artists of all walks on a national and local level.

UHH: So getting back into Prof Outdoors.

MC: Yeah, Cashinova. We have Cashi and the homie Mac Irv. He dropped two new videos this summer. Go check out his page and all his social media and stuff like that and his live show too. To see where he was to now like he was great when I first saw him and is only continuing to progress every time. From year one to two, two to three, and this tour I saw him get better from start to finish. […] he came on the west coast Pookie baby tour and will be out with us on the East Coast Tour after Prof Outdoors as well.

UHH: And then to bring Dwynell Roland too. He was one of the first dudes I met when I first moved out here and just one of the most genuine dudes I’ve met and then add to that his live show that is just so action-packed.

MC: Despite him being such a horrible person and bad guy his live show is too good so we had to book him… no, he is such a good guy. He is one of those people that when you are out and about and bump into him at a show and are just genuinely glad to see him and want to give him a hug.

Dwynell being one of the kindest people is a prime example of what having a supporting cast of larger artists can do. From Sean to P.O.S. and others he has always had people around him that have helped and guided him in his artistic way and just his life in general. Large artists taking others under their wing helps the younger generation deal with the pressures of becoming a bigger artist. In a recent interview, UHH talked to Tech n9ne about his words for artists that come on tour with him for the first time and artists like Kendrick have mentioned him as someone to look up to about touring. Strange Music isn’t just a skilled touring label either as Mike would bring up.

MC: At Stophouse we have definitely pulled some of our best ideas and practices from Strange and Rhymesayers.

UHH: It’s really dope to see that because you don’t want to copy their model but taking some things that have worked and making them your own, especially from guys who have paved the way for Indie Labels lets you know that you can do it.

MC: Right, you can’t use their model completely because it’s not a one size fits all thing. The way Rhymesayers didn’t was different from the way that Strange did it. I think with Stophouse we pulled a couple things from each but also realized we were in a completely different marketplace.

UHH: Yeah, and with that, you can see that your festival differs from Soundset in a couple different ways, the more intimate setting of a 4000 person outdoor plaza vs the State Fair Grounds. Getting back to the festival, you have had acts like RTJ and Sa Roc and big names but is there anyone that you would like to see that is on your bucket list.

MC: That’s a really good question. I think if you ask Prof this question it might be different than if you ask me. I would love to work with Ludacris. I think him and Prof on a bill together would be really fun, especially like a smaller bill vs like a Soundset. I guess just really anybody that has a really good energy and a really good live show. We’re not too picky. If you can bring a live show that people feel like they got their money’s worth, that’s where we are at. That’s whats been great about Prof Outdoors. Run the Jewels, great live show. Mystikal. That dude was fucking pullin James Brown moves and shit, that was incredible.

The live show is something very underrated but very important in recent years especially. Having covered hundreds of artists in the last couple years I have noticed that even if I don’t really enjoy the artist if they have control of the crowd and make the show enjoyable I leave wanting more and will go listen to their music to be reminded of that live show. Seeing the bland stand around performance by 21 Savage vs high jump, dancehall event that is deM atlaS really can swing an opinion on an artist. Granted deM doesn’t have to do much besides performing for me to really enjoy it.

UHH: Tyler the Creator at Soundset was really cool to see live but for me, I think him at Prof Outdoors would be incredible because while seeing someone at a massive festival is really dope, seeing them at a more intimate stage can allow more interaction. Hopsin launched himself off stage with a fan. Soundset you aren’t really jumping off stage and walking 20 feet to the barrier to jump in the crowd.

MC: I think for those artists to headline a show at the First Ave or Cabooze or Myth, even Prof headlining, vs both of them together kind of boosts up the show. I’ve seen Hopsin before but it was so fun to see him at Prof Outdoors because it felt a little more elevated than his other Minneapolis shows. Prof Outdoors for Prof is different than a Prof show at First Avenue. Everything is a little bit bigger, production a little better and because there is a national act alongside him you see him bump up his game.

UHH: It’s dope to see that the competitive nature is there in live shows too because I have seen it on tracks where like Em jumped on the Tech n9ne track and knew he had to be the best chopper he could because he was on a track with a legend. The last thing is just to tell everyone about this years festival, when is it? Where do we get tickets? All that jazz.

MC: Yeah I just wanted to say thank you again for catching up. Prof Outdoors 5 is on Saturday, September 8th. We have that awesome lineup of Prof, Lil B, Montana of 300, Cashinova, Mac Irv and Gaines FM. We have Jimmy 2Times who is a super old homie of ours. He came up with us as a part of the crew Get Hyphy and Prof use to do stuff with them. He is one of the Go95.3 DJs which is a good fit since they are a main sponsor. Mr. Peter Parker hosting which is great he brings a crazy energy between sets.

I can’t say enough about this festival. Ticket prices just $25 bucks for a slew of local and national talent headlined by the one and only King Gampo, Pookie Baby, Kaiser Von Powderhorn, aka Prof. This show has sold out in the past and is likely to do so again so do not wait because I guarantee you will be kicking yourself if you miss this show.

Connect with Stophouse Music Group