On a quiet September night, I decided to ditch the Beach and trek downtown to attend Evertūrnt 2.0, a rap event that took over Rain Dogs, a well-known bar in Riverside. Apply Pressure International, an upcoming, Orlando-based artist management group, hosted the event featuring a hefty stack list of Florida rap artists, with no entry fee. With that money still in pocket, I ordered a beer and headed to the back of the venue. There, I met up with Eddy Braveaux, a local producer and high school friend that is represented by Apply Pressure. After catching up, he introduced me to Alex Cohen, head honcho at Apply Pressure and the man behind the event. We spoke briefly before my beer emptied, at which point I headed back up to the front of the bar to help regain my glass’ position.
Within seconds, a heavy altercation broke out near the entrance. Those involved took down two merchandise tables, before pin-balling to the other side of the bar, and then toward the back. Before dodging the mob, I was able to capture a shot of the fight on my film camera. Once the bouncer had guided the groups involved outside, the bartenders announced that the event was officially over. In the process of closing out my tab, Alex flew by in a state of bewilderment. “What happened?!” I best explained what I had observed. In disbelief, he continued on outside to make sure things had diffused.
The next day, I woke up stoked to be back at the beach, but bummed to have not been able to see some of Florida’s best upcoming rappers take the stage that past night. After a few text messages between Alex and myself, we coordinated a sit-down interview at Bold Bean in Jax Beach. Around noon, Alex arrived, alongside his brother, Peter, their visual guy, Brad, Jacksonville rap artist, DoLA, and Jacksonville producer, Eddy Braveaux. After ordering coffee and a light breakfast, we got into it …
VOID: Rain Dogs, last night?
AP: Rain Dogs, last night.
VOID: Had you been to that venue before?
AP: I have been there a few times to kind of check the venue out and shit, but this was our first time doing an event there.
VOID: With Everturnt 2.0, were those all artists under Apply Pressure International?
AP: A couple of the guys are managed by some other people in Jacksonville. One of the artists in Miami that we do a lot of events with, we put him on our shows throughout the state. He came up, he was actually the only guy that went on.
VOID: That was Nik SB right?
AP: Yeah, did you like his performance?
VOID: Yeah, I did. I looked into his website last night… what was his album?
VOID: Reparations, yeah. Listened to that… it was sick.
AP: He’s pretty talented.
VOID: What’s the origin of Apply Pressure?
AP: Apply Pressure was born out of a previous company that we were working with called Grey Matter Enterprises. That was what we were throwing events under at the time. We’ve been throwing events for four and a half years in Florida. Then, I met Frost, who is a huge part of Apply Pressure, and a founder of it as well. We started working together, and he became the first artist that I managed. Him and this other guy that we no longer work with, we were sitting on the couch one day watching basketball and when you play defense, they’re always yelling “you’ve got to apply pressure” and “press ‘em.” What we’re doing is applying pressure into the different industries and raising the bar.
VOID: The fight that broke out… was that beef that led up to the event? Or something that happened on point?
AP: Basically, two people were fighting over a female. It’s not my business to put out that whole situation… but people tried to jump somebody. They could have handled it more maturely, outside or with words. Unfortunately, you cant always control who comes to your shows.
VOID: I’ve seen your website, it’s got your roster on there. I see Frost and DoLA, but do you have more people with you?
AP: It’s not official yet, but KAKAROT ROI – who was also scheduled to perform. We’re finalizing things with them. We let all this stuff happen organically – not forcing anyone to make a decision right now. “sign here on the dotted line”. That seems to be the best way to go about it. DoLA is the only rapper we currently have. We’ve got plenty of artist submissions, but DoLA is the only one that stuck out so far.
VOID: How did you guys connect?
AP: We met last year, for the first time at Art Basil in Miami. I was introduced to DoLA over a year ago. They came down from Jacksonville to talk about everything because we had been kicking things up a notch with the management side of things… people with the right frame of mind get led to this kind of stuff.
VOID: That sounds like it ties into the organic feel of AP INTL… it’s genuine.
AP: It’s a feeling that you can’t put into a bottle.
VOID: Do you have a characteristic or quality that you value the most in an artist?
AP: There’s too many carbon copy rappers, and you can apply that to all genres of music. You’ve got to be hungry as an artists. You can’t get to comfortable. The second you get too comfortable – you’re losing, so we’re always trying to move forward. No one is putting out the type of content that we’re putting out right now. In our tier, we’re all confident that we’re leading the pack on this new wave of Florida artists, for sure.
VOID: You guys are from New York, now you’re in Florida. Have you been in Orlando the whole time?
AP: I went to grade school in South Florida – Naples. I moved to Orlando right after I graduated high school. There, I met Brad – he’s on the visual side of things. He filmed the first concert I ever booked – which was Currensy and Big Krit and Smoke DZA. We’ve been working together since then.
VOID: Those are big names… how’d that come about?
AP: I don’t even remember when the lightbulb went off. I’ve always been self-enterprising. I used to flip sneakers on ebay for a living. Before that it was pokemon cards. Shit like that. The show thing came about and at the time we were really into Currensy. Big Krit was nobody at the time. He had a 20 min set and was like the third or fourth person performing. Smoke DZA is from Harlem and he was barely out there at that time. We through the event at a rachet college club, had like 700 people show up. It was the biggest show to date that we’ve thrown.
VOID: Did he have a song called Kentucky fried chicken?
AP: Country shit, haha. We were listening to that on the way over here. Right before he did that show, he got booed of stage at the Highlight Ballroom in NYC, which is a dope ass venue. He played that country shit song and people were like “get the fuck off stage.” Now he’s selling out NYC every time, which shows what sticking to your shit and working with the right people will do.
VOID: Do you feel like the scene in NYC is moving at a different pace in hip-hop?
AP: You’ve got CA, NY, TX, ATL, FL. Those are the big hubs of the hip-hop scene. All of them, to this day, have their traditional sounds and flows. California – DJ Mustard beats. Houston – UGK, Pimp C shit, NY – Nas and Jay Z… all those regions remain constant. Atlanta is really where the heartbeat is right now. Shit’s just moved up a notch up there.
VOID: How do you feel about Young Thug?
AP: You know what? Young Thug is going to be here for a while. He’s not going anywhere…. He’s a little weird at times but he’s got bars, man.
VOID: He’s an individual in the full sense of the word.
AP: Exactly. He’s wearing pink bunny rabbit slippers to the club. The ad lib king. Migos, too.
VOID: What’s up with bLEACH?
DoLA: It’s pretty much a satire on conforming to the radio. It’s really artistic in a sense because I want it to be very visual. So I’m going to be working with Brad and this dude Malcom that has been doing photography with me for a while. With the music – we’re trying to take it in a completely different direction than the project I just released “Night Vision.”
VOID: I heard you were bleaching your hair?
DoLA: Yeah, it’s a whole thing. Changing contacts, too.
VOID: Is it all you, or will you be featuring others?
DoLA: There’ll be a couple collaborations. Not sure if it will be anyone too notable. I’m just trying to keep it in the circle, local.
VOID: What would you be doing if you weren’t running AP?
AP: I got to think about that for a second, man… I’d be working for myself somehow. When I was younger, I was a bag boy at Publix, a busser, did all that kind of shit. You realized you can work your way up a corporate food chain, or you can find a lane and do what you love… that’s a lot more fulfilling. Everyone here is in that same boat, whether it be from a business standpoint or creative standpoint. So, I’d be working for myself. Pokemon card days…
DoLA: I sold some pokemon cards in like fourth grade. This kid’s mom worked at Bank of America so I got paid in like silver dollars. My mom was like “nah, you gotta take that shit back.”
Apply International International – http://www.applypressureintl.com/
DoLA – https://soundcloud.com/writtenbydola
Eddy Braveaux – https://soundcloud.com/eddybraveaux
FrostTheWaveGod – https://soundcloud.com/frostthewavegod