Antonio Richardson has been instrumental in putting together the “WeRThe229” multimedia tour, which will stop at Club Zodiac in Cairo tonight. (Staff photo: Carlton Fletcher)
ALBANY — Antonio Richardson, the marketing and management director for the WeRThe229 2014 Tour, offers a simple enough explanation for the genesis of the multimedia tour.
“It became a thing of how many times can you do Club Chill and the Sandtrap?” Richardson, the principal of Albany-based BlackAlbanyGA.com and Richardson & Associates, said.
So Richardson and other like-minded entrepreneurs with Street Dreams Music Group, Maineline Entertainment and GA-Entertainment.com put together WeRThe229, featuring hot local rappers Young Lino, Spade Phlame and SwishaMan Slim and showcasing local models and artists in the cities on the growing tour’s stops.
“There were a couple of reasons for the tour,” Richardson, who has been a part of the local entertainment scene for the past seven years, said. “It provides an opportunity to expose and discover fresh new talent and it has produced a synergy among local artists.
There’s a vibe, something in the air, in and around Albany, and we want to expose it to a wider audience.”
The collaboration of local hip-hop artists SwishaMan Slim, Spade Phlame and Young Lino began with a planned one-off performance at the U.S. 19 Dragway in southeast Dougherty County on May 25.
“The talent level at that show was superb,” Richardson said. “Everyone kind of looked around after the show and said, ‘We’ve got to keep this going.’”
So the trio of young stars put together a “WeRThe229” tour mixtape and started distributing it in the region. Suddenly, the 229 tour was the hottest thing around. The showcase kicked off last week at Fort Valley’s Club Enferno 305 and will continue tonight at Club Zodiac in Cairo.
“We’re just now getting into the booking,” Richardson said. “Interest has grown by word of mouth and social media to the point that we’re looking at expanding beyond the region.”
The 229 tour has a second stop scheduled at Club Zodiac on Aug. 2, an Aug. 15 show at Ace of Spades in Cordele and an Aug. 23 stop at Whiskey River in Macon. Contracts are pending for shows in Albany, Americus, Columbus, Cuthbert, Dawson, Valdosta and Dothan, Ala.
Models and fashion designers are featured during one segment of the three-pronged WeRThe229 Tour stops, while an open-mic artist showcase is the emphasis of the second. After the unsigned talent clears the stage, Young Lino, Phlame and SwishaMan Slim take over the after-party.
“A lot of local groups in the music business are part of the tour: Platinum Sound, World South Entertainment, Bread Chaser Entertainment, Maineline Entertainment, Street Dreams Music Group and BlackAlbanyGA,” Richardson said. “Plus, Urban South Entertainment out of Dallas is advising us and will get involved directly if we expand out of this region.
“They’ve been doing these kinds of shows out west, in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, for years, so we’re getting great advice from the folks at Urban South.”
Albany’s Spade Phlame and Calhoun County’s SwishaMan Slim have generated a large local following through their musical output, and Albany’s Young Lino has quickly moved into the slot reserved for the next big thing. In his first year on the scene, Lino (nee Tavarius West)
independently released three mixtapes and was named the 2014 Best Male Hip-Hop Artist at the recent Cumulus/V 101.7 Southwest Georgia Radio Music Conference and Awards Show.
Copies of the trio’s well-received mixtape (see review) are available throughout Albany and at Richardson’s office in the Shackleford Shopping Center.
“BET founder Bob Johnson said to have success with what you’re doing, you must do three things: fill a void, provide a service and help people,” Richardson, a Clark Atlanta University graduate, said. “We’re trying to do those three things with the WeRThe229 tour. I think it will be a success because Albany and this region need what we’re doing.”