Should Denton’s New Freebase Hip-Hop Festival Change Its Name?

Shoose McGee is one of the artists performing Saturday at Denton's Freebase Festival, which does not condone drug use, it says.
Shoose McGee is one of the artists performing Saturday at Denton's Freebase Festival, which does not condone drug use, it says.
Roderick Pullum
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The inaugural Freebase Festival will take place Saturday at Backyard On Bell in Denton. Doors will open at 11 a.m., and performances will run until midnight. Over 20 artists are appearing on the bill, including Cameron McCloud from Cure for Paranoia — who'll be debuting new solo material — Jahn Dough, B. Anderson, William $, Coach Tev, Shoose McGee, Sincerely Esco and Devy Stonez.

Das Glue Entertainment and its owner, Chris Rucker, are the producers behind Freebase Festival, an ambitious venture, to say the least. The festival has its sights on growing into a local version of JMBLYA, but the name of the festival itself could hinder the ability to attract the partnerships needed to bring the event to that scale. For those who don't know, freebase is a smoke-able version of cocaine, similar to crack. The press release for the event indicated that the event does not condone or advocate for the use of drugs, specifically powder cocaine or crack.

Rucker was fully aware of the challenges he could face by keeping the name. "I really wanted to target something towards the youth that was enticing, rebellious and a little controversial," he says. "I definitely feel like JMBLYA is the mainstream version of what I want to create with Freebase."

Friends and other advisers brought up the idea of adjusting the name Freebase festival to "Free Bass" or "Freebass," Rucker says, admitting that he stuck to his original vision partly because of his own stubbornness. Now he sees that a simple name change could've benefited the project.

"I think as far as being able to get sponsorships, it might be something we look into," he says. "Honestly, me not changing the spelling was just pride at that point. I think I could let go of the pride. Everyone did tell me that sounds a little too druggy, and I was just like, man, I'm gonna run with it."

Rucker says he has plans to put on other events throughout the year under the Freebase brand, so for the purposes of expanding, he's considering changing the name.

Rucker says his aim was for fans to look at the music itself as an escape or high, something of a positive and worthwhile addiction. Playing once again on the chemical theme, the festival's flyer placed each performing artist into their own block on the periodic table, similar to the artwork used for Breaking Bad. Rucker says he did it because he chose quality talent for the lineup, who align and mix well, just like elements and chemicals, while maintaining unique properties.

Each artist was given the same amount of stage time. Rucker says he was adamant about making sure the sets were structured that way. "It's about the unsung hero because I think everybody in DFW that's tapped in is listening to Devvy Stonez, B. Anderson, Coach Tev and Pat Ron," he says. "But you might not know about Ebo, Tarik or William $, Jordan Dante, etc.

"These people are going to go just as hard as everyone else. It's important to know that everyone has 20 minutes. It doesn't matter if it's at 1:45 p.m. or if you're at midnight. It's about showing everyone the same respect. We didn't have slots for one or two songs where there's no intimacy with the crowd."

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