Rappin’ Alaska Style: Fairbanks Rapper Alaska Redd Showcases Interior in Music
At left, Josh Silva, also known as rapper Alaska Redd, poses in his studio Thursday afternoon, June 14, 2012. Silva is the founder of Red Dot Studios. Eric Engman/News-Miner
FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks rapper known as Alaska Redd has been crafting beats and rhythms in the Interior for more than 15 years.
Redd bought his first drum machine and synthesizer when this kind of equipment was hard to find. He operated and later downsized a recording studio and he is now in the midst of something he’s never done before, a statewide tour.
On stage Redd, 34, whose real name is Josh Silva, wears his long red hair in braids, has a long goatee and wears an Alaska-shaped medallion around his neck with the 907 area code on it. He performs songs with beats designed to get audiences moving and lyrics filled with wordplay, profanity and Interior references
Silva lives with his wife, two teenage sons, two elementary-school-aged stepsons and dog at a house with a recording studio in the University West neighborhood. At an interview in the studio last week Silva wore a T-shirt from his On My Grizzly Tour, but not the 907 medallion or the braids. He laughs easily and speaks remarkably slowly for someone who knows how to spit out dozens of lyrics in a few seconds.
“This is what I’m about,” he said. “Spreading Alaskan hip-hop and Alaskan music. It’s a music I want to bring to the rest of the world”
He’s busy with new projects to accomplish this goal. There’s the tour, his next album — tentatively titled “Snow Suits and Bunny Boots” — and his first music video, which just came out.
The video, which is on YouTube, is to Silva’s song “Lyrical Stick Up” with fellow Fairbanks rapper Rio (Jamario Hewins). Fairbanks residents will recognize all kinds of local landmarks in the video. It starts with a closeup of the plaque on the Golden Heart Plaza fountain and goes on to feature Silva and Hewins strutting their stuff at Fairbanks locations including the Midnight Mine bar, the outside of the Yukon Quest cabin and at the downtown parking garage.
The song is about Silva and Rio showing off their rapping skills and challenging other rappers. But while he likes to trash talk in his songs, as a promoter and organizer Silva is all about giving credit to fellow hip-hop artists and growing the popularity of Alaska hip-hop. Silva has recorded six albums under his name, but for the past two years he’s been more involved making a series of eight mixed tapes — albums that feature a combination of local artists and out-of state talent.
Alaska hip-hop has a lot of potential because people in the Lower 48 are curious about the the 49th state, he said. Silva has gotten lyrics about 50 below weather and the midnight sun into his songs. He’s has been meaning to get in a line about Alaska’s previous governor.