Hudson Valley alumni drop their first hip-hop record

Richard Decker
Staff Writer

Photo by Thomas Marra | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Pictured from left to right: Former Hudsonian Editor-in-Chief, Zach Hitt and former Managing Editor, Themba “Mr. Everyday” Knowles.

What started as a chance encounter between a continuing education student and a freshman at Hudson Valley quickly turned into a lifelong friendship, and now, a major album release.

Themba Knowles, better known as Mr. Every Day, and Zach Hitt are two Hudson Valley Community College and Hudsonian alumni, who after only five short years are prepared to release their debut album, Plug Me In. Vol. 1.

The pair became close-knit shortly after Hitt joined the the Hudsonian, and tried to track down the man he thought to be the advisor for the paper so he could throw his name in for an editorial position at an interest meeting.

The “man in the suit,” however, was not the advisor he suspected, but Mr. Every Day, the current managing editor. Unbeknownst to either Hitt or Knowles, this encounter would lead to five years of collaboration, new beginnings and the release of their first record.

Hitt came to Hudson Valley out of high school and was unsure of where to start. “I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do other than business and communication, but I knew Hudson Valley would have a bunch of great connections,” he said. One of those first connections he made was with Every Day.

The story of Plug Me In. Vol. 1 began with Knowles, a.k.a. Mr. Every Day, and his aspiration to follow in the footsteps of his legendary godfather, the American soul and jazz poet, musician and author Gil Scott-Heron.

Scott-Heron’s spoken word performances influenced music genres such as hip hop and neo soul and is widely recognized as one of the first rappers and MC’s.

Every Day was able to experience the creation of hip-hop as it unfolded, even touring with his godfather and Stevie Wonder. During his formative years, Knowles would develop as a break-dancer, singer and rapper.

He went on tour with Public Enemy and A Tribe Called Quest, and later joined two rap groups, Poetic Justice & AZUR. This led him to a deal with California-based record label, Qwest Records. However, the deal fell through, leaving Knowles to pursue other options.

Almost a decade later, Mr. Every Day began to recognize the rut he was falling into. As the industry was evolving, the significance of a formal education became apparent.

“I started to hit a ceiling of respect…the entertainment business is always evolving, and I got to a point where all of my connections began losing their [chances at] positions without a proper education,” said Knowles. This is what brought him to Hudson Valley, where he met Hitt.

Following graduation, Knowles and Hitt remained friends and have been working on their album ever since. Mr. Every Day moved on to become Founder and CEO of Past-Life Entertainment Group and eventually signed Hitt for Plug Me In. Vol. 1.

The album is a combination of mainly hip-hop and rap, with rock and other musical influences seeping through in tracks like “Eye Matter.”

“I don’t think anybody can do what I do. Most of the guys from my era aren’t making music anymore and the ones that are have morphed into a behind-the-scenes position,” said Knowles.
Plug Me In. Vol. 1 features several different artists. Knowles describes the album as “a tour-de-force, a culmination of the greatest individual aspect of every one of us, the pinnacle. When you put your soul into something like this, only good can come out of it and that’s exposed through the music.” Plug Me In. Vol. 1 tells an emotionally-charged story that will leave listeners thinking.

“I want to find one person who needs their life to be changed, maybe they don’t even know it, but I want them to hear this album, and I want it to make them think more than it has made me think,” said Hitt. “I hope it leaves a deep impact on the world. If there’s one person whose life is changed by this album, that’s the biggest thing that matters.”

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