Hip-hop artist Andrew Moore feels so connected to his native Elgin that he made his newest album an all-local music and art project.
The musicians, artists, videographers, recording and shooting locations, T-shirts, stickers and release party are 100 percent Elgin, with only the CD printing done elsewhere.
"One of the goals I put on paper with this project is, specifically, to be able to go out of town and say, 'I am from Elgin,' and people know where that is," the 27-year-old said.
Moore's album "Shop Local" features 11 songs with vocals and lyrics mostly by him, along with artists such as Angrous and Kasz, both members of the group Watch City, which Moore also belongs to. Visual artists created pieces to go with each track.
The album will be released online May 25 and for the first two weeks, the CD will be sold only at Rediscover Records in Elgin. The CD's 16-page booklet features artwork, whose originals will be in a silent auction at the May 26 release party at Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin.
Moore, a 2008 graduate of Elgin High School, lived in town all his life except for a year in Chicago after his debut album "White Men Can't Rap" in 2013. He moved back when his girlfriend, Sonia, now his wife, became pregnant with their now 3-year-old daughter, Mia.
That's when he started figuring out how to make a living as a local music artist.
"I read a book called 'Making a living in your local music market' (by Dick Weissman) and I took a lot of that stuff to heart," he said. "Before my daughter, I wanted different things. I was fine traveling all the time, being on the road. That changed."
He also credits Tanner Melvin and Erin Rehberg, co-founders of Side Street Studio Arts, who "kind of put it in my head there was a way to do this," he said.
So now, he does what he loves in many ways.
He performs music -- he's booked gigs in Nashville and possibly Atlanta this summer -- works as an assistant in the Studio 270 digital media lab at Gail Borden Public Library, and teaches after-school and summer music and media classes at Side Street Studio Arts in downtown Elgin. He has an associate degree from Elgin Community College, from which he's about to earn a music production certificate.
It's not easy to juggle all that, and living with his wife's family is a tremendous help, he said.
The idea for "Shop Local" came when Moore was at a crossroads in late 2015, deciding whether he wanted to keep going solo or collaborate with people he knew. The project took shape when he found out about a $1,000 individual artist grant from Elgin's cultural arts commission.
"The grant is to stimulate commerce downtown, collaboration between other artists and create opportunity here," he said. "I pretty much looked at their criteria for the grant and used it as a checklist."
Moore is an example for kids who want to make it as musicians, commission chairman Joe Vassallo said.
"Most of the times (grant recipients) are looking to put up some kind of show in town," Vassallo said. "What's different about this is that it's still accessible to everybody, which is important."
Moore said he simply realized there are ways to live out his dream other than all-out, star-studded success.
"I have to be open to adapt," he said. "I have to be very multifaceted."