Minnesota-based rapper Andrew Sims, emcee name SIMS, was filled with anxiety during the second week in November, and it had nothing to do with the presidential election results.
While staying with friend and producer Paper Tiger on their tour, nearly $19,000 worth of equipment was stolen from the van he and Chicago hip-hop duo Air Credits had parked overnight in Brooklyn. With the next gig quickly approaching, SIMS swallowed his pride and created a GoFundMe page to solicit his fraternity of fans for funds so they could continue. He found himself at the mercy of the community he had built over 15 years as a member of the Midwest hip-hop collective Doomtree.
It was a search for
“No one else was going to help us,” Sims recalls.
Since Doomtree’s formation, each member has released their own material. SIMS’ latest solo album is More Than Ever, a collection of intoxicating tracks that he wrote to recapture the excitement he felt as a 13-year-old when searching for the music featured in the skateboarding videos he watched. He would head to his local record store after watching skater Donny Barley on videos like Eastern Exposure 3: Underachievers and return with the Archers Of Loaf record he heard.
“[Skateboarding] was counterculture,” describes SIMS. “It had the best music and the coolest-looking people. There was something that was inherently badass about it to me.”
Working with a number of collaborators, including fellow Doomtree members Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger, SIMS constructed an eclectic album filled with entrancing synths, unrelenting drum and bass, and lyrics that reflect the artist’s search for authenticity and eloquence. There is nary a sample to be heard, which is a point of creative pride for the rapper.
“I get older, and things get less exciting and dangerous,” SIMS states. “I was trying to recapture what it was like for me [at that age].”
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Hip-hop allows the person behind the microphone to brag about strengths and work out insecurities, and can also serve as a platform for issues of race and injustice. SIMS
“There are people in any art form that are amazing and some who are questionable, both in personal characteristics and the art they put out,” SIMS explains diplomatically. “I feel like for me to say one way or the other about hip-hop would be hypocritical about art in general.
“When I was in college taking creative writing classes, I read the poet Ezra Pound. He’s an amazing poet who wrote some of the most eloquent and beautiful poetry you can find, but he’s a huge anti-Semite. Does that mean I don’t read him or learn what he contributed to the art form? That is up to me to decide. For me to say that Ezra Pound is a questionable guy does not mean poetry is bad as a genre. I can’t ever speak for hip-hop or the people in it.”
Back in Brooklyn, SIMS’ anxiety gave way to relief and humility. Twenty hours after he created the GoFundMe page, they exceeded their goal, assuring SIMS he has the support he needs to pursue his passion. All that community-building paid off, to the tune of $19,000 in donations.