For the past three years, vitaminwater and The Fader's Uncapped concert series has been creating one-of-a-kind musical moments in intimate settings, from Frank Ocean and Bon Iver playing a New York City synagogue in 2012 to Solange performing at a laundromat in 2013.
For its latest incarnation, Uncapped will bring vitaminwater's 2014 advertising tagline "Hydrate Your Hustle" to life, teaming with artists who got to their current status with a hustle of their own. The first installment will take place in New York City on Aug. 19 and feature performances from Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P's side project) and Jeremih. Additional dates and performers will be announced for forthcoming show in Atlanta, Philadelphia and a return to New York.
The program's theme takes on personal meanings for all parties involved. For Fader president and publisher Andy Cohn, it's a personification of Fader's 15-year path from small indie magazine to an influential multimedia brand, as well as the artists who've been profiled over the years. "The artist-selection process was about not having one-hit wonders or manufactured bands, but artists who've put in their time, toured their ass off and haven't compromised their integrity from an artist standpoint," Cohn says.
"Run The Jewels came together really organically from this producer-rapper relationship, " Cohn continued, "who never quote-unquote sold out despite multiple opportunities. They had a free mixtape last year that ended up on every rap critic's top 10 list, and a new album coming this fall Relentless, and we didn't pay them to call it that. Jeremih as well, as a kid growing up in Chicago, he's taking keyboard lessons, voice lessons, plugging away, he's being featured on songs and having runaway hits as part of other artists' success. And he put out a mixtape of eight songs not on his album almost two months before it comes out."
Jeremih, a native of Chicago's South Side, credits his years at Columbia College for setting him on his current path, having met producer Mick Schultz and recording his breakout hit "Birthday Sex" while in school. Jeremih is currently climbing up the upper reaches of the Hot 100 with his Snap!-referencing, DJ Mustard-produced hit "Don't Tell ‘Em," co-produced with Schultz.
Says Jeremih of breaking so quickly after "Birthday Sex," "It was like being dumped in an ocean full of sharks. I was basically unsure what was going on – I knew what I thought I had made, but I didn't know the impact it would have on the world or the people around me. Even the impact of how that one song would change my entire life, and got me to where i am now. Now I'm still just a baby shark in an ocean full of big sharks, and growing up, and still being here."
For his Uncapped debut, Jeremih teases, "I'll be playing a lot of new music I've never released. I can also count on my hand how many times I've performed with a live band in my whole career, so this will be another thing to add on to it," he says. "Expect it to be much bigger than it was before, expect a lot of excitement, spontaneous actions, special guests, surprise guests, an overall good time. As long as I'm having a good time up there, everyone else in the room will be too."
Exclusive content, including interviews and behind-the-scenes footage will be available on vitaminwater's YouTube channel as well as TheFader.com. Ryan Robertson, vitaminwater's senior brand manager, is hoping this year's program strikes an even bigger chord with the Coca-Cola brand's 18-to-24-year-old millennial target, even as it illustrates the company's own hydrated hustle.
"Just like vitaminwater and our beginnings as a startup in Queens, how we hustled to become the brand we are today, we know we have consumers out there who hustle to achieve their dreams," Robertson says. "We've also been working with Kevin Hart as the embodiment of the hustle, going from a shoe salesman to playing the small-club circuit to the Kevin Hart that everybody knows today. We wanted a concert series that shows how hard work can pay off."