Tropidelic: An Infectious Reggae, Rock and Hip-Hop Hybrid
photo credit: Michael Freas
Tropidelic’s Matthew Roads isn’t using his business degree to navigate the music industry, but he and his bandmates do stick to the educated philosophy of “work smarter, not harder.”
“We have a team in place. We’ve got a label. We’ve got a manager, a PR person, a tour manager,” acknowledges a tired Roads, who performed at Cali Roots Festival a day earlier, then immediately flew home to spend time with his three-week-old son. “Relying on the team is a big part of it—let people do what they’re assigned to do and we do what we’re supposed to do. Before we had to prove ourselves. It’s nice to be able to take a step back, take it in and then make smart decisions based on what we’ve accomplished and what our goals are.”
Formed in 2008 at campus events and house parties around Kent State University, the Cleveland-based act has methodically made a name for themselves, thanks to their infectious hybrid of reggae, rock and hip-hop sounds. “I got into this music from the Sublime type acts and 311—stuff like that,” he adds. “Those acts are considered outside of the realm of what most people consider reggae. We’re trying to balance what we’re comfortable with and what we think our audience will like.”
In order to maintain their busy concert schedule, the musicians imaginatively converted a onetime shuttle bus into a traveling living space to avoid hotel costs and use their Planet Fitness memberships for workouts and showers. The band’s momentum continued despite the live-music industry grinding to a halt during the worldwide pandemic.
“During COVID, we stayed extraordinarily busy, compared to most.” The sextet played livestreams, drive-ins and private parties, hosted its fifth independently produced music festival, put out two releases— including Live at Sugarshack Sessions, which featured a funky acoustic take on Anderson .Paak’s “Come Down”—and recorded their seventh full-length album, All the Colors. Slated for release in August, the set sharpens the band’s chill, sun-drenched sound and includes guest spots by 311’s Nick Hexum and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s Krayzie Bone.
In 2022, Tropidelic’s strong work ethic, onstage party vibe and overall melodic sensibilities have already helped the ensemble nab a mix of key headlining dates, support spots for Michael Franti and 311 and bookings at eight music festivals. “It seems like the stars aligned for us—there are a lot of opportunities in place for us to succeed and grow,” Roads says. “Everything’s led to where we’re at now.”