Like most musicians, Ground Up is trying to rise to the top. The thing that makes this group special is how they want to get there.
The Philadelphia-based hip-hop trio is composed of two MC's, one DJ and an outfit of people that are helping the group grow in popularity. Instead of seeking out managers or finding the first label that would sign them, the group is doing its best to expand using only the resources they grew up with: their friends and family.
"When people ask us who our biggest inspirations are, we don’t often mention any artists that we look up to," DJ and producer Bij Lincs said. "I know that most of us will say our friends; they bring so much to the table and really know how to get us motivated. They are involved with the process as much as we are, and they really know how to help us facilitate our ideas fast and efficiently."
The presence of their friends in the music can't always be heard, but most of the time it can be seen. A quick look at some of Ground Up's music videos will reveal a large group of their friends that seem to be ever-present.
Measuring success for the group comes in a variety of ways. While being featured on popular sites like DatPiff, Good Music All Day and ReverbNation is something to be proud of, what sticks in their memory are nights like when they became the first independent hip-hop group to sell out the legendary Theater of Living Arts in Philadelphia.
The group has remained mostly a local sensation, but their success has brought in fan mail and sent out merchandise as far as Australia and Zimbabwe.
Dubbed the "The Only Movement in Motion," Ground Up came together when Al Azar and Malcolm "Malakai" McDowell met at Temple University. They swapped some projects they'd been working on, recorded their first song and things took off from there.
Recently, the trio dropped a clothing line called MDCCXI, an allusion to their old house at 1711 Montgomery Ave., where they held their first concert.
"MDCCXI Cloth was our attempt at stepping away from what’s commonly expected from most “band” merchandise," Azar said. "By placing emphasis on the attention to detail and design of each piece, we hope to connect with an even broader audience [through our clothes] than we’ve already reached through our music."
As for what's to come for this dynamic group, you can keep your ears out for "Mega," Ground Up's next music project, which they hope to release in the coming months.
"The project is still in the works and taking shape day by day," Azar said. "Hopefully, "Mega" will serve as a bit of inspiration for the individuals who could perhaps change the world most in the future; the creative youth."