It was January 2015 and TOPE had just released his breakthrough project BROKE BOY SYNDROME detailing surviving a childhood with two drug-addicted parents, losing his mother to that same addiction at 19, not speaking or seeing his father since 17, and trying to avoid surviving the traps of his own newfound rap success. With social media co-signs from R&B legends, Erykah Badu and Cody Chestnutt, plus a dedicated hometown following in Portland, many thought TOPE might be next to blow from the region. After releasing BBS, featuring a long sought after collab with underground hip hop legend Blu, TOPE found himself on XXL, The Source, 2Dopeboyz, Okayplayer, and more with rave reviews of the young producer/rapper's new project. And then, without much warning, TOPE decided after almost 10 years of climbing the ranks through the Portland scene he would pack up his bags and move to the Bay Area, eventually landing in Oakland, California.
Quickly after his move TOPE found himself touring the West Coast with another underground hip hop legend, this time, Gift Of Gab of Blackalicious. With his bags still packed in Oakland and recording equipment in storage, TOPE quickly traded in his comfortable spot towards the top of the food chain in NW Hip Hop for a life on the road as an underground touring act. Back off tour and in Oakland, TOPE found himself lending production to another Portland legend Cool Nutz as he collaborated with Detroit's own Slum Village, as well as taking a trip out to Atlanta to perform at A3C Festival and licensing music from his BROKE BOY SYNDROME album to Oxygen's "The Bad Girl's Club."
In June 2016, TOPE announced his first solo tour, The 3AM Tour - a 22 city journey covering 8 states in less than a month. Along with the tour, TOPE also announced his follow up project 3AM IN OAKLAND to be exclusively produced by Stewart Villain and released after the tour. After a rocky 3 weeks on the road and a number of disagreements with management, TOPE found himself stranded in Portland in the 5 remaining dates on his tour canceled and no motivation to finish his project after.
Life was moving fast for TOPE after a failed tour and things not exactly working out in The Bay like he had planned, TOPE once again packed up his life belongings and moved even further South to LA. Still reeling from a failed tour, the pressure of a follow-up album, and two major moves in less than a year, stress and depression started to catch up with TOPE. After missing an official A3C event in Atlanta and letting the summer of 2016 go without releasing his project, TOPE knew he needed to make a change or possibly step away from music for good. After abruptly breaking up with his girlfriend, TOPE threw all his belongings in a trash bag, rented a U-Haul and once again headed back to the Bay Area, this time landing in Alameda, CA.
At the start of 2017, TOPE was feeling refreshed. A new start on the year, with a plan to release music once a month until the release his 3AM album, all of this until the unthinkable happened. While performing in San Francisco at Brick N Mortar in January of 2017, someone went backstage and stole TOPE's entire merch box containing his laptop and several personal valuable items. With no backup in sight, TOPE lost over 6 years of music and memories including the flies, songs, and ideas for his soon to be released album. TOPE was crushed. At a time in his life when he was strongly considering stepping away from music to pursue a different career path, TOPE almost felt as God was telling him music wasn't the way. Defeated, TOPE had to start completely from ground zero with no way to make music for over a month and every trace of his album gone for good.
To quote Big Sean's hit "If you're a real one you know how to bounce back."
Quietly TOPE did just that, hitting the studio to recreate and resurrect some of the memorable songs from his 3AM IN OAKLAND project. Instead of a full-length project, TOPE decided to shorten things up and focus on the songs that truly mattered to him. In an effort to make sure he would actually release the project and also as a way of turning his attention 100% to a brand new self-produced project, TOPE finally decided on a new EP, SOME THINGS GOTTA CHANGE.
7-tracks deep Oakland via Portland producer and rapper TOPE offers up his new soulful and introspective EP just in the time for the end of summer. SOME THINGS GOTTA CHANGE blends a mixture of light-hearted party jams with personal and emotional revelations, that every TOPE project has been known for. Produced by Portland's Stewart Villain with additions from Farnell Newton, Zach Striar, and TOPE himself STGC also features the vocal stylings of Oakland's own Cash Campain and Atlanta-based songstress Erikka J. With lead off summer singles like "Glo'd Up," "The Man," and How I Know" TOPE give listeners an update on how life in California has been treating him. While exploring the ups and downs of his relationships and moves on "Trying To Forget," "Better Place," and "Thank You" TOPE even takes time out to address the recent increase in police brutality on "Let Us Pray."
Also see TOPE live on the west coast next month:
9/3 Los Angeles, CA - Bananas Reunion Show
9/11 Eugene, OR - Wow Hall with Blu & Exile
9/12 Portland, OR - Mississippi Studio with Blu & Exile
9/13 San Francisco, CA - Brick N Mortar with Knowmads
9/15 San Jose, CA - With Kung Foo Grip
Oakland/Portland artist TOPE returns with a fresh new music video, "HOW I KNOW" produced by Zach Striar and filmed by Faizon Films. TOPE takes us down to Venice Beach to give visuals for his "summertime in Cali" themed single. It's been an interesting year for TOPE filled plenty on ups and down, including having his laptop and new album stolen at a show back in January and moving back to The Bay after briefly relocating to LA.
Recharged fully, TOPE is back to his old self on "HOW I KNOW" effortlessly riding the production and reaffirming his confidence in himself and his music. Paying his respect, TOPE samples a classic Dom Kennedy interview with LA's finest Big Boy, talking about what it takes to make it industry and the rewards of staying independent. With a new EP on the way in August, TOPE has been back in the studio working on another full-length project and an official follow-up to his breakout project BROKE BOY SYNDROME. For now, enjoy the sounds and visuals from TOPE on "HOW I KNOW" and look for his new EP dropping in August.
Recently TOPE announced the opportunity to join some of Underground Hip Hop's finest for a three-week tour in Europe. Kicking off in Paris, France TOPE and team are scheduled to reach 9 countries and play 17 shows in 3 weeks of travel. After headlining his largest tour to date last summer, this would be TOPE's first trip overseas and huge opportunity to expand his fanbase in new markets. With a new project on deck this summer, TOPE has called upon his fans, friends, and family to make this European Tour possible - launching a GoFundMe campaign to cover costs. After crunching some numbers $4,000 is the goal TOPE has announced to cover for travel, lodging, and more. Within a week of the EuroTope GoFundMe account being announced, supporters raised over $1,000 on the way to 4K and sending TOPE to Europe. After releasing over 10+ projects for free for his fans, this is the first time TOPE has gone the crowdfunding route. All donations come with a free download of TOPE's single appropriately titled THANK YOU and will be a huge step to making this tour possible. Headliner and full support announcement coming soon!
Recently I was approached with an amazing opportunity to tour Europe this summer for three weeks with some well-known Underground Hip-Hop acts. I can't fully announce everyone involved until we finalize all the details but I can say that there are 17 dates booked across 9 different countries. After talking it over with some close friends and peers I've decided to go for it! Not only has touring Europe always been a dream, but a personal goal of mine has always been playing a show in Paris and lo and behold our first date is scheduled for Paris, France - with 3 more shows following in France.
As some of you know 2017 marks the 10th year of me releasing music independently(sheesh I'm old), starting out in 2007 with the Living Proof - Roots To Branches album with my close friend Jim. Since 2007 I released 15 independent hip-hop projects, including all my solo work plus the TxE and Living Proof albums. Most of those projects I released for FREE.99 and paid for by working a full-time job while I was in Portland. In that time I've beentruly, truly blessed with a small but loyal fanbase who have purchased my music and merchandise, come out to shows and just generally supported me and pushed me to the point where I'm at today - so thank you to ALL you guys!
In order for me to make this European run possible we've calculated my total costs right around $3,ooo. This includes my travel to and within Europe, plus shared rooms, food, and costs towards promo while on tour. For me this trip would not only be any experience of a lifetime, seeing all these countries for the first time, but also a huge opportunity to expand my fan base overseas and even possibly return in the future with these booking connections.
Long story short - I'm humbly asking my fans and supporters to help me make this happen. There have probably been a million times I wanted to do a GoFundMe to help put out an album or shoot a video but I hesitated because I always wanted to be able to support my own dreams and I knew one day the right opportunity might come where I actually do need the help and I think this is it!
Everyone who donates will receive and instant download of my new single appropriately titled - THANK YOU.
Below are the dates we have booked so far with the potential to add more. Headliner + Full Support info coming as soon possible!
TOPE European Tour '17
*Headliner + Support TBA*
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Catch Portland-born, Oakland reppin' artist, TOPE performing live this Tuesday, June 6th at Complex Oakland (420 14th Street) as a featured performer for Coast 2 Coast Live hosted by Cool Nutz and DJ Fatboy - 8PM, All Ages!
Limited tickets available email: ITSTOPE@gmail.com
While in Portland TOPE was featured on DJ Klyph's Klyph Notes podcast for an in-depth interview speaking on new music and recapping the last two years since TOPE's move from Portland to California. This episode of Klyph Notes is TOPE's most personal and open interview to date. Check out a preview of the podcast and download the full episode on iTunes + Subscribe to Klyph Notes as well: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tope/id917116791?i=1000384099705&mt=2
The career of Portland rapper Tope lies somewhere between the pre-streaming-era giants like Cool Nutz and Sandpeople and the current New Portland ascension of Aminé and the Last Artful, Dodgr. Those who followed Tope's music saw him rise from a local diamond in the rough to an artist being written about in national publications like The Source, all through DIY hustle. Part of what made Tope such an engaging presence was that his relentless drive was his muse. His songs inspired you to work smarter, party harder and not let where you came from limit the places you can go.
And then, he left.
In 2015, a few months after the release of his album BrokeBoySyndrome, Tope announced he was leaving Portland for the Bay Area. With him returning to play the monthly Mic Check party, we caught up with the MC born Anthony Anderson to ask him about watching the Portland scene evolve from afar, staying motivated and why he feels like late-period Michael Corleone. BLAKE HICKMAN.
WW: What brought you to the Bay Area? What opportunities were available there that weren't on the table in Portland?
Tope: For the most part, my opportunities have gotten a little bit smaller because it's such a larger market, with a lot more competition and money as compared to Portland. The Bay Area is the sixth-largest media market in the U.S.; Portland is 24th, I believe. So it's a pretty big jump. I would say the biggest difference is that everyone, and I mean everyone raps here. If you don't rap now, you probably did at one point.
What keeps you motivated as you continue building your career?
To be honest, I've been trying to find that motivation. I think for the first time since I was a teenager, I thought about doing something else for the majority of last year. Sometimes I feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III with music. Like, I want to leave, but I really love this shit; it's in my blood. I had my laptop stolen, with all the music I had made in the last four years, at a show recently and couldn't make music for like a month, which might not sound like anything to some people, but I was going crazy. That kind of refreshed things for me again.
Looking back on it, what Portland artists had the most impact on yourcoming up?
I could do this all day. Proz and Conz was my Wu-Tang growing up. I remember the first time hearing Cool Nutz at Lents Park. Seeing Lifesavas open for De La Soul and bumping Spirit In Stone all summer with my homie Daniel. Buying Sandpeople's first CD from Gold. Being so excited that Sleep watched me rap when I was 19. Liv Warfield singing at my mom's funeral. Tony Ozier and original Dookie Jam, Farnell Newton, Dennis Dove, too many people. That's a lot of names for New Portland to Google.
What has it been like to watch the rise of artists like Aminé and Dodgr from afar?
It's been really, really dope. I remember Luck One and I having a conversation back in the day about him maybe being the one from Portland that could really pop, at a time when a lot people were talking about him and I. I knew it was real when I was living in L.A., and I was walking out to my car and people were driving by playing the song [Aminé's "Caroline"]. I know it's cool to hate on the popular guy, but I'm happy for Aminé. And he has a way nicer Benz than mine, so I have to give him props [laughs].
I think my guy Noah Porter was the first to show Dodgr, and her rise has also been awesome to see, in a completely different way. She's connected with so many Portland people that knew that they liked hip-hop but didn't necessarily see an artist that they could connect with in the local scene. She's going to be really big, like on Ellen big. Shout out to TYuS and Cassow, too. Portland has some stars.
What can we expect from your next full length?
You can expect 90-100 percent of the production to be handled by Stewart Villain. There's a lot of different sounds on this album, definitely some personal songs as usual, some radio sounding songs, songs on police brutality. It's hard for me to really define my music lately; it has a little bit of everything, I feel like. It definitely tells a story.
Watch some behind the scenes footage from the making of TOPE's new single THE MAN featuring Cash Campain and DJ Flip Flop, produced by Stewart Villain. Filmed and edited by ArtRapxWhiteT in Hayward, CA at The Storage.
After some recent setbacks, TOPE has been back to work on his new album with Stewart Villain dropping two recent singles, THANK YOU and THE MAN. Both songs very different from each other, but displaying TOPE's recent range of emotion and ability to open up and get personal while at the same time flex with some barsssss. Also catch TOPE with upcoming appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle!
Stream THE MAN and THANK YOU below, plus watch TOPE - THE MAN (Behind The Scenes) below:
Sooooo, we had a change of plans about the originally scheduled premiere for this song, but who needs a Complex owned media site when you have your own fancy, shiny squarespace site..amiright?!?
New music out today entitled, "THE MAN" After dropping some personal, emo singles lol (MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE, BETTER PLACE, and THANK YOU) I had to get back on my shit and drop a banger + something I can do at my live shows. Thank you to bro Stewart Villain for consistently supplying me with heat for almost 6 years now, sheesh. Shout out to DJ Flip Flop for lacing some cuts on this song, mixing and mastering the whole thing, and putting up with me with I tracked down sessions and files my from various random studio trips down here. Also, shout out to Niyah Nelson for connecting me with the super super talented singer Cash Campain who really helping me bring this song together and smooth everything out.
This is actually the ONLY SURVIVING SONG from my stolen laptop last month, that I had mixed and mastered for the most part, so I hope you guys enjoy. (An update on my project with Stewart Villain, the album is definitely starting to take shape as I've record about 12 songs, with 6 of them in the maybe folder so far) One specific memory of this song is doing this for the first time in New Mexico on tour this summer at soundcheck and the entire venue getting out of their seat because they thought the show was starting right then and there lol. If you live in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle come out to a show and hear THE MAN live this month!
(& If you made this far, hit share for me because I'm not popping and I need all the help I can get lol)
more info on THE MAN
Oakland (via Portland) artist TOPE returns with new music entitled "The Man" produced by Stewart Villain, featuring vocals from Cash Campain and cuts by DJ Flip Flop. It's been a crazy few months for TOPE as he moved from The Bay to LA and back, and recently had his laptop and entire new album stolen at a show in San Francisco. Bouncing back the only way he knows how, TOPE connects with long time collaborators Stewart Villain and DJ Flip Flop as well as new comer Cash Campain for the soulful and boastful new anthem, "The Man." After getting personal with his last single THANK YOU, TOPE gets back to the bars on his latest release, with Cash Campain smoothing things out. Catch TOPE live this month with shows in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle + be sure to add your favorite TOPE joints to your Spotify playlist and spread the love.
After months of missing each other’s schedule, I finally got a chance to catch up with rising star and emcee, TOPE. If you didn’t already know, TOPE is dope and has been featured on W.Coast.K numerous times. Like HERE and HERE. If his music were wack (which it’s not), his work ethic would still put him on top. His professionalism and lack of ego in an ego driven industry is what stands out and sets him up for success.
Catch his exclusive W.Coast.K interview below to find his thoughts on the importance of building genuine relationships in the industry, how he knew he was meant to be a musician and the answer to the all too important question, “Kendrick or J.Cole.”
P.S. Don’t be a stranger when it comes to reaching out to TOPE, as you can find his contact info at the end of the interview
Read the full interview below:
Catch TOPE opening for Seattle's own Ryan Caraveo and HBK's Dave Steezy + special guests Thursday, January 12th at Brick + Mortar.
Tickets available HERE
And then the following night catch TOPE and Ryan Cararveo in LA with special guests, Friday, January 13th at The Mint.
Tickets available HERE.
Fresh off of "THANK YOU" his first release in over a year, TOPE teams up with Sofar Sounds to release "Rocky Live in San Francisco." A month after moving to LA, TOPE returned to SF to for an intimate, private show in the Presidio neighborhood. Performing classics from his discography as well as previewing his new single "The Man," TOPE jokes with the crowd and loosens up the audience with his stripped down performance of Rocky from the 2014 album, BROKEBOYSYNDROME.
Watch Rocky Live in San Francisco below and look out for more music dropping in 2017 from TOPE.
Where do I even begin?
First off, if you're reading this I JUST WANT TO SAY THANK YOU for taking the time.
It's been a minute since I've released some new music and I can't lie, I've been nervous. I don't know how to exactly describe my feelings with my own music lately, but I know that I've been in my head a lot. With my last album, #BBS, I was very focused on the theme and what I wanted that album to say. Even if I didn't dig deep enough into my own story or if the concepts went over people's head, I still accomplished a lot of goals I set out for myself with that project. From there I felt some pressure to deliver, to keep up my momentum, and I started thinking too much, or maybe I didn't think enough in the past. I also really started to get affected heavily by everything happening in the U.S. recently with Police Brutality, Black Lives Matter, and an increased sense of racism in the air. Like how can I be out here yelling "party and bullshit" when some real shit is happening every day, and I have an outlet to say something as rapper, and a white one at that.
Taking time to reflect on the last 9 years of releasing music, I just know moving forward I want my music to mean something. Even if I never reach the heights of success I once hoped for, I just want to make good music, music that people can resonate with and feel in their soul. Since I moved I've been taking a lot of time to figure out what I want my next step to be, musically and personally. When I decided to leave Portland for The Bay I didn't have a plan and that hindered my progression. I stopped releasing music, I detached myself from my former life, and just took a breath. The first year away from home I learned a lot about myself, tried to force myself to mature and deal with some of my own personal issues - most of them regarding my selfishness and how that affects the relationships in my life. Everything changed when I moved and I don't think I was ready for that.
To be honest I don't know when I wrote this song but I know it's something I've been feeling for a long time. The words "for all the times you doubted me, you know you brought the best out of me" seems like it's been a theme in my life, and probably for a lot of other people as well. With music, I always felt like I had to prove myself - to my city, to my family, to pretty much anyone that ever listened to my music or came out to a show. Even when I had success, I wanted more, I wanted to prove I could do it. I always wanted to prove my doubters wrong, prove I didn't need anybody, and I could win myself. I tried to use all the people that ever doubted me in life as my motivation, almost to the point where I started listening to the doubt and found myself fighting all my battles alone. I'm pretty stubborn I guess. I feel like this frame of mind can work, but only for so long until it becomes unhealthy, it's a fine line. For me THANK YOU speaks on a personal relationship in my life, our ups and downs, and wanting to prove my partner wrong whenever she said I wouldn't do this or do that. But it's not only this one relationship, it represents a lot of people in my life. Sometimes you really have to thank those people, or issues, that put you through hard times, because it makes you stronger in the end. Even if you can't see it at first, it's our adversities that shape as people, and lord knows I've see a couple of those in my life. For me this song is therapy, a reflection of the hard times that pushed me to get where I'm at today. And I still have so much more to work, so much more to accomplish but this is just a pause and a recognition, dedicated to anyone that has ever helped you in life, good or bad. THANK YOU wasn't really meant to be a single or anything but I just felt like the time was right with a lot of things that aren't going on in my life right now.
Hopefully you guys can relate.
Thank you to Stewart Villain for keeping me laced with beats, being an extremely talented artist, and good friend over the last few years. Shout out to Farnell Newton for being an inspiration, mentor, and overall a positive figure in general in the music community. (Farnell is my secret weapon man, I love hearing those horns on my songs!) Thank you to Erikka J for being such a professional and knocking out her parts super quickly and dealing with all my requests lol. Also shout out to DJ Flip Flop for mixing and Dyllyn Greenwood and the photo.
Hope you guys enjoy, sorry for the rant!
Portland's Mic Capes recently released his critically acclaimed album Concrete Dreams featuring the TOPE produced, Erykah Badu sampled "O.G.K." A big shout out to the people at Ambrosia For Heads for showing love!
Shout out to Blu for featuring TOPE's Let It Go featuring Rob Milton, Stewart Villain, and Farnell Newton and his newest compilation album Soul Amazing 6!
TOPE and Swa Playmaker hook up again for Only One, the third single off of their collaborative NO TITLE EP dropping this summer. Swa flexes his storytelling skills on this heartbreak tale of losing an ex-love to the game. With FLIGHTS and FIRST LOVE already available this TOPE x SWA EP is looking serious.
TOPE heads back to the Northwest on the 3AM Tour stopping in Bellingham, Washington on Friday, June 17th. Halee Hastad of Bellingham's What's Up Magazine recently sat down with TOPE to speak on his tour and upcoming album for another in depth interview featured in the June issue.
Making changes can be hard sometimes. There can be a lot on the line when one quits their job, moves from one place to another, decides to live with or without something. We all know how terrifying it is to face ourselves and know we are in need of something new, different, altered.
But these changes are necessary because they lead to personal growth. The ability to identify what one needs or doesn’t need is central to advancing our understanding of the lives we live.
And change, is just what TOPE, Portland-born, Oakland-based rapper, has done for himself.
Portland is approximately 630 miles north of Oakland. These miles were travelled by TOPE more than a year ago, as he left his life in Portland behind, heading to California to pursue furthering his already extensive Northwest rapping career.
Read the full interview HERE
TOPE recently produced an entire EP for Miami artist Swa Playmaker, available this summer. After releasing the first single Flights, Swa and TOPE team up again for "First Love." Be on the lookout for more music and the official video for Flights dropping soon for Swa Playmaker.