Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Since his teens, people have called Leron McAdoo “Mr. Miscellaneous.” It’s the third of his AKAs (after Ron Mc, the name by which folks in the hip-hop community know him), but surely the most fitting.
At 6 p.m. Thursday at the Riverdale 10 movie theater, McAdoo will unveil the “Supa Tight” project, a combination feature film, comic book and soundtrack. Here’s what will be listed next to his name when the credits roll: lead actor, director, film producer, screenwriter, MC, music producer, beat maker, vocalist, illustrator and surely at least a half dozen other titles.
When asked to run down a checklist of his roles in “Supa Tight,” McAdoo breathes an audible sigh with each “yes.”
“If I ever do this again,” he says, “I’ll learn to delegate better.”
McAdoo’s ambitious project revolves around “Sly, the hip-hop superhero,” a character he created for a self-published comic book of the same name he first put out 15 years ago. The same year, he and his brother Charlie (better known as Lil Mack, AKA — because everyone needs three AKAs — the Arkansas Razormack) founded Backyard Enterprises, a local record label, publishing house and art studio.
Last year, McAdoo included a comic book with his hip-hop album “Backyardonline.com.” He says that inspired him to consider further packaging his art together with his music to present himself “more holistically.” Reviving “Sly,” which enjoyed a seven-issue run, was natural — McAdoo says he’s always felt most comfortable making art — and for the last 18 years, he’s released a CD every year, so recording the soundtrack came automatically. He decided to make a film, to add to the package for the anniversaries, simply because it was something he hadn’t done before.
Backyard has long held innovation up as its guiding principle. McAdoo says that starting in 1994, he and his brother were among the first local hip-hop artists to put on shows in places like Vino’s and Juanita’s. Over the years, they’ve created a local hip-hop awards program, organized spoken-word readings, published poetry and memoirs, filmed a documentary on the Ninth Street corridor, hosted a TV show on the public access channel and hosted a radio show, “Brothers in the Backyard,” on KABF community radio.
In the mid-’90s, McAdoo used his cachet in the community to win a contest to fill a DJ spot on Power 92, Arkansas’s largest hip-hop station. Since then, he’s hosted the “Wreck Shop” from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. on Saturdays.
All of the above projects come in service of McAdoo’s love and belief in hip-hop, which he’s quick to distinguish from rap. “Rap is a genre. Hip-hop is a culture; it’s much more.” McAdoo, who’ll only say that he “possibly could be” in his mid-30s, grew up with hip-hop as the “window into the world.” He says rapping introduced him to writing, graffiti to art, break-dancing to dance and DJing to music.
Since earning his art degree at UAPB, his day job has been as an art teacher, a position he says enables him to educate his “demographic” about hip-hop. At night, over most of the last year, he’s labored on “Supa Tight.”
The soundtrack, his 18th release, came first and easiest, McAdoo says. Related to the film only in spirit, the album finds the rapper channeling Public Enemy, in sound and content. Like Chuck D, Mc often raps in a deep, slightly muted holler, largely about pro-black consciousness and social and political issues. Even with songs like “Kill the President” — a song that Mc explains on a promo sheet with “the government ain’t got time for hood problems” — the album is almost as wholesome as it is provocative. “Ghetto dreams can flourish with open eyes,” a line from the opening track, “Bare Witness,” typifies the album’s message and tone.