The Rusty Ps don’t talk much about scoring a major record deal these days. “We gave up those pipe dreams long ago,” says Adam Haupt, who raps with the group under the nom de plume Phantom Channel. “Once you actually start dealing with the music industry, you see how crazy it is. So we’re not making music to try to blow up anymore; we’re making music just for the love of making it.”
But Haupt admits the band once had lofty dreams of breakthrough success. “When you put your first real album out and it gets picked up for distribution by the first label you send it to, that gets your hopes up,” Haupt says. In 2000, during a time of high interest in independent hip-hop—but before inexpensive software enabled every laptop owner to cut their own rap records—the Rusty Ps released “Tread Water,” a 12-inch featuring some fortunate friends the band made while touring: The Pharcyde’s Imani and Minneapolis’ then-burgeoning Atmosphere. The single had reach far beyond just the merch table. Thanks to the emergence of Napster and file sharing, any college student hunting down Pharcyde and Atmosphere rarities discovered the Rusty Ps.