Dante Cope boasts many talents--photographer, hip hop artist, multi-instrumentalist, founder of a musicians' co-op...the list goes on. But he learned early on that no one can do it alone. It takes a lot of help, a lot of sharing, collaboration and mutual scratching of backs for a local artist to survive. And he's been doing nothing but creating music and helping others create music ever since he joined the hip hop scene in Grand Rapids.
Cope moved to Grand Rapids from Jackson to go to GVSU. His mother was a piano teacher, and he also plays keyboard, saxophone, woodwinds and guitar. After leaving college to become a musician, he started out by playing shows at the Division Avenue Arts Collective (DAAC). He raps and sings, and his musical style is quite eclectic, much like his inspirations. He lists the Beatles, Dante Smith, Norman Connors, Lonnie Lynn and Steveland Morris as his influences on his Soundclick page. Some of his accomplishments include opening for Dead Prez, co-hosting Beat Suite, a monthly, live music event featuring local producers, and most recently, winning a Jammie for best jazz album of the year.
In 2009, Cope recognized a need to create accessible business resources for local musicians. It's no longer enough for a musician to produce great music, they must also be able to market themselves well and generate a lot of exposure in order to survive. So Cope started Couture Tape Co-Operative (CTC), a kind of union for local artists. It's a space online where artists (musical and visual) and DJs can chat, share ideas and experiences, post new works and find help on current projects. Sometimes it's a musician who needs a graphic artist for help on new album art, or a filmmaker who needs someone to produce a score on a new film. It's a way to promote team effort and collaboration among artists and nurtures a more friendly, open environment in the music world. Not many other artistic communities have this, especially as the entertainment industry becomes more and more competitive.
Although it serves to help artists grow and promote themselves, the main goal of CTC is not a self-focused one. It exists to increase the amount of high quality music in Grand Rapids and beyond. And based on the number of new artists popping up each month, I'd say it's doing a good job.