Monday, December 21, 2009

Once Again!!! TML Radio on the Comeback

You thought we slipped up didn't ya? Never, B.A. Baracus and I are back once again with the jams and slow burners for your ear hole! Download this shit here and be sure to drop some comments to let us know if you are getting with what we got goin on over here!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

TML Radio Returns!

So after much delay it is my pleasure to reintroduce you to TML Radio. As you may remember this was a tradition begun towards the end of last year. Gone are the "hot" new tracks from 2db, instead it is myself and partner in crime B.A. Baracus coming together again like we used to do in college. We are dropping whatever we feel like and talking that shit. If you like what you hear drop us a line and let us know what you think!

TML Radio Vol. 2 Issue 1

Thursday, December 10, 2009

November Heatrocks

Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oh shit! It took me far to long to get up in here with November's heatrocks. Y'all didn't really think I'd drop October on ya and split? Yeah, I feel you. But I didn't I'm right here! November was great and in getting settled back in Seattle I also got to catch up on music both locally and nationally.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm getting heavy into some electronic tunes. Towards the beginning of the month I was listening to this comp Aquatic Lab Sessions and the track “Right Here” from Flash just struck me. Reminding me of Burial and why I got into dubstep to begin with this song is haunting. The vocals will stick with you and the beat is hypnotic. Great stuff!

Yesterday I took the time to give BK-One's album Radio Do Canibal a spin and it rocks. Another great release from RSE this year. What else is new right? It's great to see them getting some recognition from bigger artists (thanks Jake) and while this album is mostly the indy artists you would expect a couple surprises remain. B Ali teams with Scarface for, as you would imagine, a stellar track Black Thought also makes a great appearance (when doesn't he?). But the track I have here is a little folk tune stuck in the middle of a thorough Hip Hop album. Aby Wolf sings a great song over some chopped up guitar and mellow drums. Something tells me BK put to use all those records he has dug up while on tour.

In high school my friend Faith was about the most eclectic girl in school. Listening to J Pop and who knows what else, she exposed me to some stuff I don't listen to anymore and some stuff I do. I recently got a mixtape of hers and it's as to be expected filled with random selections. But this song by Rasputina with it's use of static like guitars and the womans vocals just kept me coming back.

Everyone has been quick to deem the new Clipse album trash, I haven't given it a spin yet but I'm not gonna jump to any conclusions. The lead of single with Cam is HOT! The former Dip leader never disappoints with a guest verse and the Thornton brothers are in usual form.

Macklemore has made his triumphant return to music, teaming with Ryan Lewis for the Vs. project. Taking a number of modern rock songs and sampling them into whole new arrangements, it's an awesome demonstration of sampling as art – here's hoping they don't get caught. “Otherside” addresses drug use in our lives and of course gives Mack a chance to talk about his own issues with syrup and other substances. It's a great song. Powerful and moving. Far to often in rap drug use is praised almost to the point of abuse and it's a bold move to take the opposite stance. Everyone is behind Mack in the town and he has picked up right where he was at the peak of The Language of My World.

One day I'm gonna get that Dam Funk interview up here, but until then I hope you have heard Toeachizown. I would recommend getting each EP separately as you get five additional tracks that aren't on the double disc CD edition. Kon of Kon & Amir decided to grab one of Mr. Funk's beats and lace the Biggie A Capella from “Goin Back to Cali” over it which is genius and sounds like it was meant to be. If anyone has a good copy of the A Capella and would like to shoot it my way I'll post a better version of this as this is a radio rip.

Blu is one of the most promising new emcees to emerge in the recent years. On his collaborative album with Mainframe they tacked a hidden track on at the end that samples a certain prominent voice. I've given many of these songs very high praise, let's just say you should take the time to listen to this one.

Sometimes that early 90s grimey rap just sounds good and sometimes a couple kids from NY make some new music that sounds retro. Bang Em Smurf & Domination dropped an album on Koch after falling out with 50 and the Unit. The album is pretty much whatever but everything about “I'll Be Around” is perfect.

Blockhead has always produced some of the best tracks Aesop Rock ever rapped on and his own solo work is equally impressive. If you haven't smoked some blunts and watched the Music By Cavelight visuals you are missing out. Here he remixes Regina Spektor in his usual spooky style. Her voice fits well with that and this track makes you wonder what they might do if they got in the lab together?

Another victim of the Wax Poetics Brazil issue, I had to go back and give Arthur Verocai's album another spin. It's a cool album that is worth a google blog search for if you are at all interested in Brazilian music from the 70s. This song of course is what 9th flipped for Luda and Common. Enjoy!

By now Felt has sort of lost it's luster to me. Now that it seems to be just another avenue for them to market the brand rather than a couple friends making a record it seems different. Does that mean I'm mad at them for selling out? I guess that's what it sounds like. So be it. Slug and Murs are great dudes and the music is cool, just old. Worth a couple spins and a shrug of the shoulders. But “Bass for Your Trunk” is the contradiction and proof that anyone can exist in an industry where singles rule the game.

I've kept a Michael Jackson Motown retrospective on my computer for quite some time now. Partially for Steph and partially for my own good. Having heard songs intermittently and only dug up a couple of records it has proven a good education. I love old soul songs that just vamp out and give you that instrumental stew we call the FUNK. “I Am Love Pts. 1 & 2” does just that and gives the rest of the 5 more shine than many of the hits.

You all probably remember my Slaughterhouse review, well that didn't make me any less excited for the Royce album. I've thought about writing a review for Street Hop but I just can't do it. The first song turns me off for some reason and I never get excited again. I can't seem to really make it past this song right here. Primo production with Phonte on the hook and Royce spitting. If only Tay had decided to dust off the rhyme book and give us just one sixteen!

Of course by now Fly Lo's epic woozy take on Wayne's own epically hazy “I Feel Like Dying” has made the rounds but fuck it, this song is nasty!

Cunnin came to town just before Thanksgiving and in planning to go to the show I decided to give the newest album a spin or two. I did that and was out of the show before they spit one bar. Sorry. Did catch Grieves and it was good to see him rock back in the town. Congrats on the RSE deal, and good luck – I hope it works out for you. This song off Strange Journey Vol. 2 is a Kentucky meets Seattle jam with Grieves, Macklemore and Geo riding over a Kno beat and Decon doing his thing.

I've recently become acquainted with the Fader music blog and it's on point! This track is the one I never thought I'd find. Nicki Minaj rocking over some Chase & Status banger, according to Fader it was a Rhianna reference track, but it's way harder dubstep than she even gets close to on that rated G of an album. Yeah I listened to it and it's terrible. Not sure what made me think it wouldn't be but don't say I don't try something at least once. End of rant, check this Nicki track – unless you want to be able to say you've never heard her wreck a beat.

This post should have been up before Go! Machine – long story about a computer with no battery – but instead you have already (hopefully?) seen my thoughts on the event and also you hopefully (?) grabbed the mixes from P Smoov & DJ Swervewon. If so than you heard this Grynch/Smoov collaboration and know what magic it is. If you somehow missed it and want to hear the busiest rapper in Seattle rock over the busiest and best producer in Town get hip to “Your On.”

The SOTA boys took some time out last week to chop it up with me and hopefully I'll have those words up here soon. But until then get to their bandcamp page and get familiar. They have a lot of work that shows some great progression and of course the Hank Moody EP is there which is the finest collection of three tracks released in 2009. If you need convincing peep “My Shine” from it. Get Californicated ya'll!

Grab the .zip file here and leave some comments, if you think I'm crazy about some of these selections let me know it! I've already got several selections primed for this month's collection so be prepared – it's getting heavy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thoughts, Post Go! Machine

I returned to Seattle 54 days ago. Just in time to see probably my favorite rapper of all time grace the stage of Key Arena. I sat at the top of the stadium that once housed the Sonics and was awed. Four days ago I experienced the same feeling standing in the crowd at the Crocodile for the first night of Go! Machine, an event that's been described as Seattle's (Hip Hop) Woodstock.

We all knew it was coming. Radjaw and the rest of the OFS crew put in the work they have a reputation for and threw a great couple of shows. My return to Seattle was inspired by the fact Jigga was coming, but my staying was wholly connected to the music happening here. When I heard Pomz say this summer “Who get's to say they were in Seattle when Grunge was blowing up?”, we both new that those in Seattle circa 2009 are the lucky few who will get to say they were part of something new, something different, something inspiring once again found within the artist community here.
Get it here!
Hip Hop has a long history in the town. From “Baby Got Back” to Helladope, Tribal and The Language of My World the music has been marinating and maturing for years. From the moment I first moved here the talk was “will this be the year?” Gone are the questions. 2009 Seattle artists don't care. We aren't waiting for anyone to validate us. We're taking our goals, hopes and dreams. If you can't get with it then stand to the side.

And that's the beautiful thing: No one is standing to the side. The petty “beefs” and stylistic differences that exist between artists are being tossed aside in exchange for stellar collaborations and musical magic. Hearing Jake and Vita unify with the Sport N Life fam, hearing (and seeing – Go! Machine night 1 highlight minus the feedback) Fences rock with the Champagne gang, or Grynch getting called to the Neumos stage by Warren G – all of these events and more have brought me tremendous joy since coming home.

This return has been a bittersweet struggle as I continue to look for work and hope for something, anything to keep me here in the town. My own personal drama's are eased by the love that is in the scene. Knowing that a set from Fresh will abate all worries for at least a few minutes gets me by. The quarter of my iTunes that is Seattle music, guaranteeing a NW tune is never far from play in shuffle, makes me smile. Being able to tell friends that “Yes, Seattle has Hip Hop – and it's fucking dope!”.

Scrunch Yo Face!
These and a million more things prove to me that I'm doing the right thing being here. Music has always been my life, my savior, my friend and sole companion. Never once have I lived somewhere that what I loved so much was also coming from the same soil I call home. It's a special feeling that gives me hope. Hope for this writing shit. Hope for the music still to be made. Hope for a music industry that has been ravaged. Hope for a future I saw once before.

Mad Rad's Go! Machine might just be a time traveling device - they didn't lie, they are traveling from the future and giving the people something for the dark times. If you still aren't on board just step to the side. Otherwise, I hope you have recovered well enough from the weekend cause the OFS camp is giving the town an encore tonight, performing for the first time at Showbox Sodo to a sold out crowd. What's a Kid Cudi?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Twitter Goodies from Dam Funk!

If you haven't been up on Stones Throw's latest phenom then get familiar! Toeachizown is killing the game right now and you need it in your life.

Honestly i'm still learning about this style they call boogie but it's freaking great! So full of life and unlike much of my musical preferences it's happy. He is the founder of a night called Funkmosphere in LA, if I ever get back I'm going in an instant. Check out this "commercial" he has released for the night!

And if you aren't one of his followers on twitter than you missed out on his free goodies (and you should probably fix that following problem) in preparation for tonight's event. I'm so pleased with these jams. They show both where he has been, where he is and where he is going to take his music in the future. Dig IT!

Get Californicated

Seattle Hip Hop is staying decked in banging free music and the latest batch of jams you can get your dirty hands on comes courtesy of the SOTA boys. The State of the Artist crew (Parker, Thad & Nate) are on their grind hard these days getting in the lab with a who's who of the town, just stay tuned!

Right now I'm here to talk about this quick little EP they have delivered. Fresh off a trip to sunny CA, specifically LA, SOTA has The 'Hank Moody' EP available now! At only three tracks and less than 10 minutes worth of music I guarantee you that this will be time well spent. Filled with a laid back Cali kinda vibe but still just slightly tinted towards the Northwest's overcast demeanor these tracks will have you nodding your head to 'em and pressing repeat.

The 'Hank Moody' EP works as a perfect bookend to their Shapeshifters mixtape from the summer and shows the growth that has been a continual trend for the SOTA crew. If you are unfamiliar take some time to check the back catalog (Just look to the right on the BandCamp page). Or, better yet come out TONIGHT and catch them LIVE at the Capitol Club for Jet Set (Monday, 11/30) rocking with DJ's 100Proof & Swervewon.

You know you want some dollar Ranier's to assist you in your quest for PLC fame.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monthly Heatrocks: Ocotober 2009

“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music”
-Sergei Rachmaninov
It what has to feel like typical fashion by now, I vanished from these parts of the Internet once again. As usual there is no telling when and where I'll strike again but one thing I hope to continue in the coming months will be collections of tracks that were in my ear for the last month. October was crazy for me as I quite my jobs and left Oregon to once again return to Seattle – I just can't stay away!

Between the move, not having a place of my own and the general craziness that is life on party mountain I wasn't surrounded with as much time to devour new music as per usual. I did have 10 cuts catch my attention and I hope they might catch yours as well.

Anyone around me lately knows that I've become fascinated by all things electronic music. While mainly focused in the dubstep sub genre, house, glitch, electro and an assortment of other sounds have been blowing my mind. B. Rich (I know nothing? Any info would be much appriciated) drops this synthed out funky banger “Ain't Here To Party” featuring a decent performance by Whiskey Pete on the raps this track will raise the energy where ever it's played, just be sure you are ready for a party.

Brother Ali delivered a STELLAR LP in Us (If you haven't heard it don't waste time, get this before you fall asleep) and while any track could really be selected from the album “House Keys” was the one I chose. Ant's laid back production is the perfect canvas for Ali to get soft spoken on and tell a tale about theft and friends.

Exile has been making noise for years now, on multiple fronts. With the release of this year's Radio, his solo debut, and countless shows filled with MPC theatrics I was inspired to go back and check out his debut compilation from a few years back, Dirty Science. “Maintain” captured my mood as I packed and left OR – Blu is at his every man best describing the bitter struggle we all go through just to get by, maintain if you will.

Hudson Mohawke has been the subject to much blog hype recently with his full length Warp debut, Butter, hitting shelves a couple weeks ago. While that album is certainly worth your time, if you want to hear Hud Mo doing more straight forward but still futuristic Hip Hop type shit look for his Hudson Heaters Vol. 1 collection from '06. “Star of a Story” was the first cut by him I heard and still the best. It captures all the best parts of Butter without getting lost in the experimentation.

Coming back to Seattle 8 months later doesn't seem like things should be all that different, and in reality little has really changed, but the music being made and released has been taken to another level. This forward progression has been made possible due to a number of factors the biggest of which I think is love. Everyone is working together, listening to each other, and getting inspired to push the boundaries.

Kublakai has never been one of the most adventurous artists in the town but he says himself that he has lots of ideas and multiple albums created in his head already. The Let Go has provided him one outlet for these ideas and a Free EP with Slouch behind the boards is another. A more personal project than he has ever released Lights for the Dark Nights was a surprise for me. Gone are the childish jokes, silly voices and overall comedic approach to songs and in place are some serious lyrics for you to really chew on. “Appreciation” sees Kubi grab Sol for a tribute to their region of birth and the place we all call home. Northwest stand up and be heard!

If you have frequented this site over the duration of my time here you have probably heard me declare my overall love for Wax Poetics magazine. One of my favorite things about the magazine is that with every issue you are given at least a few new names to check out and music to dig up. With their recent Brazil issue shedding light on a country responsible for some of the greatest music made it was only a matter of time before those groups they wrote about and others found their way into my iTunes, and hopefully my crates soon! Os Mutantes are the ones of the moment and this slow, melancholic tune had me from the first moment I heard it. “Dia 36” is beautiful. Anyone place that sample? I swear I've heard it used somewhere.

Sol has impressed me since I heard his debut The Ride right as I was leaving the town 8 months ago. Go figure that as I come back he is right there at the top of the new music I'm checking for. His Dear Friends Vol. 1 EP hit the Internet and should be getting regular burn form anyone who burns on the regular. “Music Crazy” is the jam for anyone who lives for music.

Another familiar name around these parts is Flying Lotus. He and his Brainfeeder crew are killing it in in LA. The Motherfucking Gaslamp Killer was just up here for decibel fest and I hope to see Ras G make the trip up before too long – he has to know about what we have for his backwoods! “Funny (How Love Can Be...)” just came on shuffle one day and was exactly what I wanted to hear. When music captures your mood it sticks with you in a whole different manner and that's what this song did for me. If you aren't hip, you've been warned. Ras G and the Afrikan Space Program are the modern day Arkestra or mothership – are you ready to take an interstellar voyage into sound?

G Mane & DJ Burn One released this mixtape entitled Smoke Some Kill which I never could listen to all the way through, yet this track #9 was just waiting to be snagged by some unsuspecting ears. Sounding straight out of Herbie Hancock's keyboard circa Sunlight this synthesized funky jam needs to be heard!

One of the groups responsible for much of the hype surrounding music out of the Northwest right now is They Live. Gatsby and Bless One crafted another one of the stellar FreeP's to reach the masses this year (which was actually one long track released in '08 on Bless' blog). “My Weed” with its looping, trance inducing back drop and the triumphant horns is one of my favorite songs from a Seattle rap crew ever.

If you think you might dig some of this grab the folder here and tell your friends!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jay-Z & Raekwon... My Thoughts

In the early to mid 90’s Hip Hop fans would have been ecstatic to be treated to new Jay-Z and Raekwon albums in the same month, let alone the same week. Today it generated a moderate amount of media attention and a whole lot of internet attention. Bloggers love the superstars and the legends. While Jay-Z may be a bit of both he showed the superstar side of himself a bit more than the legendary skills he took the thrown with. Raekwon on the other hand has never been one for big numbers or mainstream appeal. He has however always repped for the Wu Tang and maintained a loyal following – all of whom should be saluting the man right about now for delivering a suburb follow up album to an album that it could easily be said should have been left alone.

What makes Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part 2 succeed is exactly where Blueprint 3 fails. While Raekwon didn’t go back to RZA entirely, he has the abbot doing what he does best – fitting the appropriate pieces where they should be. Getting Dilla to sound like vintage ’93 “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin to Fuck Wit” on the stunning “House of Flying Daggers” which also sees fellow W representers Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah and Method Man or Moss painting the perfect backdrop for Beanie Sigel to talk about the harsh reality of being a parent behind bars, the sound here is from the gutter. It’s the sound of despair. It’s the sound of the ghetto. Add the chilling narratives from Raekwon and company to tell the story and you have one haunting picture painted.

Jay-Z on the other hand says he is setting a trend, like the first Blueprint did. But what we get sounds more like Jay-Z following the trends he has normally been the leader of. Sure the Blueprint 3 is listenable. “Empire State of Mind” will be getting burn well into next year. But is this really what 2009 should be hearing from Jay-Z? Kingdom Come made more sense than this. His flow is still in tact, his lyrics are hit or miss but he never sounds comfortable. And why should he, this isn’t his lane. Let Kanye do ‘Ye and you do you. If 808s & Heartbreaks would have seen Mr. West rapping, I contend this is the album we would have been given.

The original Blueprint was heartfelt, from Jigga’s soul. Stories of his innocence being lost and triumphs claimed. Here it’s stories of grandeur and luxury without a shred of personality. This is the rich Shawn Carter doing what he has to do to keep the checks coming in and the masses (and bosses) happy. Where’s the passion Jay?

Raekwon has that hunger. He is frothing at the mouth to get heard. If you’ve been lucky enough to catch him solo or with the Clan over the last few years you have probably heard his rants towards the new generation and on the death of Hip Hop. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part 2 is the soundtrack of history. It’s nostalgia for the reminiscent heads. It’s Hip Hop that will never be forgotten but may be on a path for under exposure.

Blueprint 3 has given Jay his 11th number one album and will certainly get him another platinum plaque. It’s going to provide him a sold out tour (I bought my ticket the day they went on sale) and probably a couple more number one hits. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Part 2 debuted at number 5, not bad for Rae, and will probably struggle to go gold. He won’t see much of an increase of attendance at his shows and he won’t be getting any hits from this album. I guess that has always been the difference between these two. Raekwon’s art has always come first while, for Jay-Z, money has always been first.

If you never saw the ridiculous commercial made to hype this album, check it out over at Too Much Language!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sapient "Make Morphine: The Remixes"

For a crew with the rep Sandpeople have amassed over the years on their grind it seems crazy to think they are giving music away for free. Shouldn’t they be on some major indy by now? Truth is told in this day and age you can probably do just as good on your own – if you are willing to put in the work. Apparently they have been going so hard that they have too much music and decided to give away three albums for free over the next three months.

The first was given away on the first of this month (as the next two will be in the following two months) and is Sapient’s Make Morphine. Filled with a different producer for each track tackling an original from Sapient’s self produced Make More, it is a somewhat scattershot collection with a to be expected wide variety of styles. Some work well with Sapient’s own steez and some leave you craving the original.

While not completely in a new order, some songs are in new places but “Here” is still the opener and I would say DJ FlipFlop did his thing! Placing some building and ominous string stabs under Sapient’s opening verse that is oh so serious - the tone is set from the start. This isn’t for any toys, strictly some Hip Hop heads. If you love your beats knocking, your lyrics sharp and honest this is what you need in your life.

The guest verses were limited here but of course Sape had to get a couple of the crew on the mic. He and Ethic team up and let everyone know about what their little group is. Cheddy laces this remix with more electro tinged production giving their lyrics an added punch.

Elsewhere we see Rev. Shines produce a stellar remix of the single from the original album. “My Grind is Tech,” over the lush samples and dusty drums Shines dug up, feels perfect for Sapient to let people know all about his work ethic. If you are trying to get ahead in your field you will feel the honesty in this track and the Shines beat will keep your head nodding in agreement.

A trifecta of Oldominion beat makers get on here to mixed results. Smoke delivers an off kilter and lackluster remix of “The Way It Is.” Why couldn’t you just let that breakdown at two minutes be it? Mr. Hill does his thing on “Invested” to much better results utilizing a great sample and lacing great drums that compliment Sape’s flow perfectly. But why the fade out? There is almost two minutes more of the song on Make More.

Pale Soul is the third and final Oldominion associated producer and he had the honor to tackle what has to be one of the most personal songs Sapient has ever produced. Over what feels like some live drum playing, a subtle bass line and some great synths in the hook adding a great melody to Sapient’s sung chorus we are allowed to hear a love letter to his wife. The honesty and obvious love he has for her is a rare moment in rap and is something more artists should taking a chance with.

While preparing to review this collection of remixes I went back and heard Make More for the first time as well. At this point I’m probably more familiar with this collection of remixes and I’m not mad about that. Many of these remixes are great! A few aren’t so good and then you got the original’s to fall back on. When you play them next to each other it’s a different story. They really are two different albums; one produced by the creator of the rhymes and one with beats crafted to the words. They will both give you different insight into the artist that is Sapient.

Get it for FREE HERE!!!!!!

Bonus "My Grind is Tech (Original)" Video

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday Spin: Dave Matthews Band "Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King"

In honor of the Dave Matthews Band long standing tradition to play at the Gorge this weekend, and given the fact that I was supposed to be there but work got in the way, I thought it only right to feature their latest album in this weeks installment of Saturday Spin.

While it seems like being a fan of the DMB crew went out of fashion with the 90s they have always delivered pop rock for their loyal following and made a name off stellar live shows as anyone who has seen them at the Gorge, or anywhere else, can attest. At this point in time they don’t have anything left to prove and deliver an impressive album filled with the sounds you know and love.

While the band has always played an integral roll in the live dynamic of the band, here on Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King it seems like they have upped their involvement in studio recordings as well. Featuring a fuller sound, that is composed of multiple tracks of guitars, drums, horns and other more subtle elements this album will have you nodding along and grooving unlike anything I’ve heard from them in the past.

Of course the guitar licks are the main draw next to Dave’s distinct voice and clever lyrics, but the heavy dose of brass instruments gives it a more upbeat and jam band like vibe. Far from the pop sensibilities they became known for earlier in the decade, they sound raw and alive here just enjoying the act of creating music as a group of like minded musicians with no one to please but themselves.

The aptly titled “Time Bomb” features a very mellow intro with a brief saxophone solo before fading out into Dave’s first verse. As the song progresses it builds up to an explosion of sound that wouldn’t be out of place on any hard rock album – I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a mosh pit forming this weekend.

Of course it’s not a complete 180 for the band and anyone who has been a fan, new or old, will find enjoyment on this release. They touch on those sounds that made them famous, while at the same time letting them evolve more naturally than they had in the years past. Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King may not lessen the supposed “played out” stigma attached to the Dave Matthews Band, but it will give all of us DMB fans more of what we had been hoping for.

Bonus Video!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Q & A With P Smoov

Last month my roommate, our friend Ryan and I made the decision to cruise into Seattle for an evening of debauchery courtesy of a pair of shows. We only made it to one them – I guess that tells you how quickly the antics began. The show we did catch was Fresh Espresso (You might remember a little review I ran a few weeks back?) and they killed it like they seem to be doing with ease these days.

After the set I got a chance to chop it up with one half of Fresh, P Smoov, via a ride home. Here is our ensuing conversation.

TML: Have you played at the Crocodile before?
P Smoov: Last week at this exact time. Well not this exact time but last week Mad Rad played with Head Like A Kite and Dyme Def and it was a ton of fun. It's actually my favorite Seattle club right now.

TML: Are you happy with the response to the album?
P SMOOV: I'm very, very happy. It's a good thing and I hope that the tunes live up to the expectations, live up to the praise. I really hope, just keep on burning. It's been a month since we've dropped the record and we've sold a thousand discs right now and that is a beautiful fucking thing to us. I just want it to keep going, keep getting huger, more out for stardom.

TML: What does Out For Stardom mean for you?
P SMOOV: Out For Stardom. It's like when you wake up in the morning your eyes shoot open and you are thinking about one fucking thing. You're thinking about out for stardom. You're thinking about what do I need to do, what are the seven steps that I need to fucking take this day to make myself bigger than I was when I woke up this morning. Like do I need to hang up 1000 posters, do I need to make a hot beat, do I need to call up Rik, meet up with Buffalo. It's just you are gonna take every single day and make one more step towards stardom and never stop working until you are there. That's what it means to me, cause we are hella serious about our craft right now.

TML: What's something new you've heard recently that has excited you?
P SMOOV: Musically in the town... I was fucking geeked to hear the Physics record. Maannn! High Society, from an Audio Engineer's stand point. I cut that on, that shit was so crisp and sonically open. Just clean. I don't know what they are doing over there but they got the sound right.

TML: You went to Full Sail for that education right? How was that for you?
P SMOOV: It was cool. What I liked about it was that it was not a school that taught you how to make good mixes; it was not a school that taught you how to make hot beats. It was a school that was like ‘yo this is what a compressor is, this is what this knob does, this is what a fader is, this is what an EQ is.’ It taught you the whole signal flow. It did not tell you how to mix right or well, it just taught you what every fucking knob on every fucking piece of gear does. They teach you all the rules so that if you want to break them you can break ‘em, if you wanna stick to ‘em, you just gotta figure out which ones to break and which ones to stick to. They did not try to force any ideas down my throat they just taught me what shit did and that is what I needed to know.

TML: You and Rik are both from Michigan, what do you think it is about Seattle that has made it the place to be for y'all?

P SMOOV: I think it's circumstantial. I think that two different people can move to the exact same block and one of them will hate it and one of them will love it. The day that I moved to Seattle I met Rik Rude. The third day I met Grieves and Type. Then I just kept meeting more and more people. Every day was a new adventure. I started a studio with the help of Grieves, Type and Kublakai right at first and just having a studio in Seattle I got to meet a lot of very interesting and very creative people that fed my highly energetic, creative soul. I like it here man. You walk around the streets and you can just get fed. You go home and your brain is bursting from taking like a 5 block walk. When I lived in Orlando I walked by a Best Buy, then a Target, a Fred Myer and then a used car dealership. When I walk around here I'm walking by some crazy ass shit so I like it. I feel like I'm very nourished by this community. But I want to get the fuck out of here at the same time.

TML: Where do you wanna go next?
P SMOOV: Everywhere, the whole world.

TML: You guys have any tour plans?

P SMOOV: We got some plans, nothing I can divulge yet. But we got some exciting plans going down.

TML: What's the status of the distribution for the album, where can people find it?
P SMOOV: On iTunes. The current status is that iTunes is taking their fucking sweet time on the digital certification process. If you would like to download it you can get it at, which is wack cause nobody goes to fucking But besides that buy it from a local indie record shop. Support the local music industry. Go out to Easy Street, purchase a record, meet the clerk, listen to some vinyl, look at the posters, go have an experience! Get the artwork, flip through the pages. I like it better that way anyway and I'm kinda glad iTunes is not cracking right now because whenever I tell somebody to go buy my record they be like 'oh I’ll get it on iTunes' and they'll forget about it the next day. Go to these shops and cop my shit and join me in my fun times.

TML: When the album dropped and it was selling out of stores, what did that do for your mind state?
P SMOOV: It felt good. Every artist that drops their record thinks their shit is gonna sell out. If you are gonna get up the balls to drop it you might as well think it's gonna sell out. So I was like ‘hell yeah of course we sold out, my shits hot!’ Like you want to be cocky, but at the same time you are like I'm so happy it's selling out right now. We were geeking. Rik was hitting me every day with the figures, he's like 'we made it on the Mayor's list!' He was searching us online and shit. It was hella funny. And it's still going, that's the best part, it wasn't a little first week buzz, it's still selling out every week and we have to find a car, like I did tonight, and drive over to these spots and drop off more discs and that is fucking cool.

TML: Are you listening to dubstep, follow that at all?
P SMOOV: My dude Darwin, he's the DJ for Mad Rad, and he keeps me posted on that. Man I'm such a slacker when it comes to listening to any music period. I just go to work, do shows and then go home and if I have a free second I'm gonna try to make a beat not try to sit down and listen to a record. And that's sad, that's how you kinda loose perspective.

TML: Your tracks sound like they got a hint of that sound.
Smoov: Really?

TML: I've been listening to a lot of dubstep and flying lotus/brainfeeder crew out of LA, if you know any of that?
P SMOOV: Hell yeah! Flying Lotus is my dude, I listen to a ton of that shit. He is like Dilla from the year 3020. It's just so over compressed, got this great swing, dusty.

[As I take the exit Smoov starts talking about their video shoot]

I saw some crazy shit today. We were shooting this video, and these dudes were just like they had the best camera, there was a lighting crew; a makeup crew, there was catering. Shit is crazy. The video steez is crazy right now.

TML: You are shooting at Chapel right?
Smoov: Yeah.

TML: When you are in the lab making a beat whether it's for a rapper, or for Mad Rad, or Fresh Espresso, do you look at it differently or is it just you start making something and someone will hear it and want it?
Smoov: I definitely used to. Sometimes I know a beat is for Mad Rad. Most of the time I don't know a beat is for Fresh Espresso. Rik just comes through and blesses shit, whatever he is feeling rapping on that day. When I make a Mad Rad beat, I'm like this is a Mad Rad beat right here. But Rik will pretty much rap on anything, like a commercial will come on TV and he'll start freestyling and you'll be like dog you just killed that shit.

TML: Is Fresh Espresso something we will be seeing continue in the future?
Smoov: It's not a one off. It's a legitimate experience and it's going to keep going. Cause I mean it's two sides to the same coin. It's like, I love love love dance music and when I lay down that Mad Rad shit all I'm thinking about is like dancing bodies and just making people think differently. At the same time I just love that neck cracking swing that Hip Hop gives you, that little stutter step that makes you wanna break your fucking neck.

TML: What was the first music you were hearing?
Smoov: The first bands I can remember super geeking out over was Radiohead, 7th grad just loving some Radiohead. LCD Soundsystem lately has just been making me crazy. Daft Punk, MGMT. The first shit though, my second cousin bought me my first rap cassette it was Coolio. [Laughs] That shit is so not legit. She was like ‘It was the first rap cassette I'd ever heard.’ That shit was Gangsta's Paradise. Motherfucking Coolio! And I played that cassette out, I knew every word to that whole Coolio tape. She was like ‘Peter you are gonna like this shit, it's called Rap music’ I was like ‘OK!’

TML: What do you think Seattle is missing right now?
Smoov: I don't think that Seattle music is missing anything, I think that Seattle fans need to catch up now cause they've been so used to having such horrible shit to listen to and now they just need to understand that if you go out to a show tonight at any of these clubs you are gonna dance your ass off and you are gonna have your mind blown. We are not that 5 years ago hip hop generation. We are not that ‘I'm hella emotional, put my hoody on and talk about some gloom.’ We want to smile at y'all, we want to dance, have sex with your younger sister. [Laughs] We are fun loving people.

TML: What should people take from you as an artist, when they see you as member of Mad Rad and also Fresh Espresso?
Smoov: In my opinion I think it adds validity to both groups. Having this one experience here and having it be very definite and driven experience and then having this totally opposite and very definite and very focused experience over here it makes you understand that experience a little bit better. When Fresh came out they were like 'I kinda get what he is going for on the Mad Rad shit' the same vice versa like 'oh and he is doing that Mad Rad shit too? That fucking crazy ass hipster fag shit, he's doing that shit? That coke head shit!' Fuck y'all, go to hell. [Screaming in the mic] Go to hell 206 Proof.

TML: What's next?
Smoov: What's next? Jupiter man. We want to own that shit. Trying to take out some real estate, gonna own the whole planet and just throw big parties.

TML: What is your favorite Hip Hop album of all time?
Smoov: I have a really, really good time listening to Donuts by J Dilla. Driving down the street, working, fucking my girl, cleaning up the house, I can just put Donuts on and have a good time. That doesn't mean it's my favorite Hip Hop album, it's just one that I'm gonna thoroughly enjoy in almost any environment. J Dilla's Donuts.

TML: What is your favorite drink?
Smoov: Whiskey and diet coke. I think I'm addicted to the fake sugar in diet coke. I can't stand regular coke, but you give me a diet coke I’m like this is candy.

[I inform him of the flask filled with Whiskey and coke in the door… What do you think happens?]

TML: Can you talk about getting into the lab with Sermon? Are we gonna hear the collaboration?
Smoov: He came to a Fresh Espresso show at Chop Suey. It was a really good night because we got to meet Erick, it was the first time I'd met Jake One, and I'm a big fan of his as well. They both came and said they enjoyed the show thoroughly and Erick was like 'come through, I like your style, I think you are fucking popping right now.' So I came through the lab, we put something together – it's a pretty fun song.

TML: Is there a P Smoov solo album in the works?

Smoov: There is Don't Sleep which is the production album. I have several solo cuts, but it's a heavily feature oriented album.

TML: When can we look for that?
Smoov: Either nine months from now or eighteen months from now because Out For Stardom is dropping every nine months. Not from now but from when Fresh came out, which was about a month ago.

TML: What's the other project?
Smoov: The new Mad Rad. Seven cuts in, maybe going on eight or nine, haven't counted recently.

TML: How's it fare next to White Gold?
Smoov: Oh man, in my opinion out of everything I've done, I know that the general population might disagree, but I don't think they actually will, it's the best shit I've ever done. The new Mad Rad is craziness.

And with that Smoov disappeared into Glitzerland to catch some Zzz’s before getting up early to continue the movie shoot. Out For Stardom indeed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Curren$y & Wiz Khalifa "How Fly" Review

Two of Hip Hop’s best kept secrets found each other, seemingly through a thick haze of weed smoke – stoners do tend to unite. While Curren$y did enjoy a brief moment of semi fame rolling with Lil' Wayne, he left for potentially greener pastures (addressed splendidly on “S.D.L”) and has been steadily on his grind with the Fly Society behind him. Wiz Khalifa on the other hand has been making a name for himself on both the blog scene and the tour circuit, although he hasn’t made it out to the North West yet. His hustle never did seem appreciated by Warner Brothers who saw a star years ago when they signed him, but sit on the shelf he did until finally gaining his freedom just over 2 weeks ago.

Independent is the way to roll and these two obviously share more in common than a fetish for the greenery, fresh kicks, and designer labels. The album gives you much of what you would expect and some of what you might not have. The beats are rocking almost all the way through, some however leave much to be desired as the drums just aren’t has heavy as these two need.

Wiz carries himself well. He is confident in his voice and flow and knows the lane he is aiming to fill. Riding these beats you have to ask yourself what WB was thinking with letting dude sit. Their loss as it can only mean we get to hear him more. Curren$y on the other hand has that laid back southern swagger, obviously, but don’t be quick to lump him entirely into that category as you will be at times convinced you are hearing a kid straight off a Harlem corner.

With these two together there isn’t much room for serious talk and this makes it that much better when they do take a time out to address something important. The title sums up what they are going for with this project. How fly are you? These two are flying. But unlike so many hipsters who can’t talk to you if you aren’t with what they define as “cool,” these two don’t seem cocky. They are about their own thing and aren’t interested in the trendy, twice had ideas most put on display.

Of course fly has two meanings. The other topic that commands the majority of their lyrical attention is their love for the sticky green plant. While Cypress Hill, Meth & Red and a few others had the early to mid 90s on lock with songs about getting high that sub genre of Rap has largely disappeared. You can always give shouts to Ev and Alc, of course Red & Meth are still on it, Devin too, but the new class has yet to entirely embrace the idea. Wiz & Curren$y are.

Something else these two have going for them is an energy that is invigorating. This isn’t the conscious raising rap we need more of, but it’s delivered with just as much seriousness and intensity. Through the mic they jump out at you screaming ‘LISTEN TO ME!’ Add to this beats that will certainly keep your head nodding, some clever punch lines and more depth than they are given credit for and you have this release. So roll up if that’s what you do, throw on your crispiest pair and get fly.

Download it here.

And if you missed their hilarious promotional videos check em out here!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Spin: The KLF "The White Room"

As I learn more about music from the electronic realm it amazes me how little minute details will factor into something being classified as a whole new genre. From what I can learn The KLF were innovators of something dubbed “Stadium House” - house music for stadiums? Listening to The White Room, I can see why although I can imagine stadiums being packed to rock out to this.

The album opens with some interesting vocals over subtle back ground music before flashing into an incredibly up beat house banger with a barely capable emcee riding it. His flow is staggered and feels like everything flowing should not be. While his rhymes aren't bad, nor are they great, his inability to gel with the music is a problem.

“Make it Rain” features none of the lame rapping and a better assortment of drums, synths and back ground vocals – the song feels like it could be perfect for a rainy day and music that conveys feeling like that shouldn't be denied. When they slow it down and let the music relax you can find grooves and sometimes instruments that are attention capturing.

From here we are taken through seven more tracks that fall somewhere in between. The rapper does return periodically for mixed results. While never lacking the total connection to the beat again he still feels out of place over these hyped up massive tracks. Filled with electronic drums, simplistic early 90s synth sounds and some creative use of voice manipulation – I'm unsure if they are using the vocorder or voice box, although I think it's the former.

They deliver huge break downs only to bang you in the head again utilizing string sections to some times cool results. The female vocalists employed here add much more to the tracks they are present on, but this could be as much personal preference as I generally tend to enjoy music from the electronic genres that feature ladies laying it down. Maybe their vocal range is just more fiting? Anyone know a great male singer who gets down on some electronic tunes?

The White Room isn't a bad album, but it is certainly dated. It was intended to have a companion disc, The Black Room, that was going to be darker and more ominous – that would be something I'm interested in hearing. As for this album, it's been an experience to hear it and today it shall be filed away. There are elements here that show some great expertise in programing and perhaps even what it took to rock a crowd almost 20 years ago.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Q & A with Othello

In a dark parking spot behind Rotture on the final day of the PDX Pop Fest 2009 I climbed into Othello's (of Lightheaded) whip to chop it up with him about the town, Hip Hop and music. A laid back dude, he had a lot to say and was a great conversationalist. After seeing him rock a set the night before at The Someday Lounge, I knew the Lightheaded reunion that was about to take place on stage (above picture is from there set) was gonna be something special. They rocked it right and had the crowd going crazy - which I can't say I saw much of the rest of that night. Allow me to introduce to you Othello.

Q: Where are the three members of Lightheaded living at the moment?
A: I'm living in Beaverton. Braille is living in Beaverton, actually right next door [Braille has since announced he will be moving to San Marcos, CA towards the end of the year]. We share the same wall. We got these town house type spots in Beaverton. We ended up moving into the same neighborhood at the same time. Ohmega is up in Seattle. Right when I moved back here from Michigan, he moved about a month before up there. Yup, Braille and I next door neighbors and Ohmega up there.

Q: Has that made progress happen on the Lo-Fi Heights project?
A: Yes and no. Not as much as it needs to be coming to an end and being wrapped up cause we've been working on it for the last three years. It's been difficult because I was in Michigan and the way Lightheaded operates it just takes all of us to be in the same place. We've made a lot of progress but it hasn't been consistent or consecutive, just here and there. It'll get done, slowly but surely.

Q: Are you guys all working on solo projects then?
A: Yeah. Ohmega is working on a project with Regan Fykes called M64. Braille just finished a record with Symbolic One of Strange Fruit Project, he put that out a few months ago – Cloud Nineteen, and he is working on a new record – Audibly Enhanced Dreams. It's really sweet, kind of eclectic record. Very theme driven. I just finished a record with DJ Vajra out of Denver, Colorado and got a few other projects I'm working on. If I were to go through the list it'd be no wonder why Lightheaded isn't getting done. I don't want to put myself on blast. [laughs]

Q: Given all of the different locations you guys have lived and toured too, what is it you have seen elsewhere that the Portland scene needs to step forward and keep on growing?
A: To be honest, I think that is a question for a lot of other places. Portland is already really healthy. Really the people that make up the scene here share a common goal and that is to see the city to succeed. I remember a few years ago when Lifesavas first got put on and they were making all this noise and all of a sudden there was a lot of attention. Then Boom Bap Project got picked up by Rhymesayers and then people started paying attention to the Northwest like there are some good artists out there Hip Hop wise. Cool Nutz has been playing over here for a long time and there are a few cats that are really starting to make a name for themselves. I think that Portland sets a good standard for a lot of scenes because there is a lot of camaraderie here and people kind of network and keep up together, where as a lot of scenes there are really really good artists but the community might be so spread out that nobody really networks the way they should. Portland really does set a good example of a city that is healthy as far as people always hate on their own place like oh such and such needs to do this, or this venue needs to do this more but really in comparison to a lot of scenes Portland is pretty healthy.

Q: What is the relationship with Tres Records? Was it beneficial and are you guys still working with them?
A: Yeah it was very beneficial. Any opportunity we seize as a whole and as individuals we see as lucrative to one degree or another whether it be getting us in front of a new audience or expanding what we already have and that is pretty much what Tres was able to offer and they believed in what we did. A bunch of great guys, Thes One is kind of the godfather of it and they were passing through Portland, him and J-Live and they heard our set – we opened up and Thes was like 'Yo we should talk.' I'm like yeah let's talk. Some boys of mine are starting this label up called Tres, they're putting out 12 inches and they are looking for artists. And the story goes, they ended up picking us up and putting out Wrong Way and we are working on Lo-Fi Heights now.

Q: The Northwest and Oregon especially aren't really centers of attention for the media, for the rest of the country, how does that influence the art that comes from the town?
A: I've been in and out for the last five to six years. For me coming back it's definitely changed and I know there is a lot more focus being put on Portland. Like last night at the gig with Tony Ozier there was like four or five people in there from Michigan, two of which I knew back in Michigan who were just visiting on a trip like 'I want to come check it out, this place is amazing – Utopia man! It's like you ride a mountain bike up the street, then come to the Hip Hop shop and then go to your local coffee stand. It has a lot to offer!' I think it's one of the country’s best kept secrets. Even though Nike is from here and Intel does there thing here, it's so up in the far Northwest it just kind of remains untapped but slowly but surely it's becoming a really hip city and people are coming from all over the world to live here and I think it's only a matter of time before it starts getting a whole lot of shine. But it's like you know when you take somebody who is attention hungry and you give them attention and they just feed off of it and sometimes they just become beasts. If I look at Portland like being a person, it doesn't seem like Portland is really attention hungry. It’s like that person who is cool, calm, collect, is confident in what it's able to do. I got my thing together, I have a lot to offer, I work hard and you know if you want to feature me, or talk about me, or take pictures of me that's cool but I'm not going to let it go to my head. I think that is kind of where Portland is, there is a lot of level headed people here.

Q: You just moved out from Michigan, given how the Detroit scene is thriving right now did you make some connections in that town while living there?
A: Yeah. Everybody from One Be Lo, we became really good friends. Black Milk, Buff1, The whole AML crew, Now On, there's a lot of people. Ran into Guilty a few times. Octane & Illite. There are a lot of talented individuals, the thing about Detroit, I don't want to say it's like crabs in a bucket – it's not that. It’s just that there are a lot of people doing it. It is a hot bed for talent and motivation, not in the sense of mountains and trees and these beautiful things to look at, but hardships and struggle and factories and blue collar working and getting by and that struggle produces what I would say is some of the best music that has ever been. It really changed the world from Stevie Wonder, to Grand Funk Railroad, Simon & Garfunkel, and Dilla, Diana Ross and you think about it and it's so much stuff. It's an interesting place, it's inspiring to me in different ways cause you see people take that struggle and make something amazing out of it.

Q: Is there mutual artistic relationships across genres in the Portland music scene or is it kind of like the Hip Hop guys are doing their thing, the rockers are doing their thing, etc?
A: You see people collaborate ever now and then. Here's the thing about it, I think the live musicians – I don't think there'll be a lot of hybrid records between, like, Vursatyl is doing a record with Viva Voce, but they'll collab on songs, or like Ohmega Watts does some stuff with Viva Voce and there's some people that are kind of like avant-garde like it's just music, it's not necessarily Hip Hop it's just some music and they will collaborate with different artists. You see that especially with some of these musicians they be playing in a rock band, then a funk band, then a Latin band and they kind of get around all over the place so it's especially true within the music community as far as musicians go, like actually playing the instruments. When it comes to Hip Hop it's here and there. There's collaborations but not like oh did you hear these guys got together with these guys and they gonna do a record – I ain't hearing much of that. But I definitely know there is a mutual respect there.

Q: What is your favorite Hip Hop record of all time?
A: Oh man that change’s all the time.

Q: At this moment in time.

A: At this moment. The other day, I have to admit, I played Common's One Day it Will All Make Sense and I was just thoroughly impressed, again! I had the tape when I was younger and I used to bust it in my walkman on the bus. Somebody had it on their iPod and I was like man I need to listen to this again. I was just like man! Common was just seriously spitting, the songs, the beats. So I would say right now this week Common's One Day It'll All Make Sense - probably one of my favorite records.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Slaughterhouse "Slaughterhouse"

After all the hype, video blogs and constant internet chatter Slaughterhouse united for an official album. What began as what looked like drunken chatter in the lab between Joe Budden, Royce Da 5’ 9” and Joell Ortiz turned into a number of scathing tracks (“Move On,” “Fight Club,” etc.) and talk of a super group album. But like so many previous talks of collaborative albums dropping I’m unsure how serious people took them. Earlier this month all the doubters were silenced as the four headed monster came through to deliver the official self titled album.

While the hype placed fairly large expectations on this release, if there were ever four emcees who could live up to them it is these guys. Prior to the album dropping they all took time to assure the masses that the album would be surprising and demonstrate different sides from the team. Not entirely clear on what this meant, the album pretty much delivers exactly what it is we have come to expect from these guys – four of the truest emcee’s in the game boding bars. No surprises here.

Backed by a mix of known and unknown beat makers the record plays front to back with little let up of energy. If you are only vaguely familiar with how Crooked, Royce, Budden and Ortiz carry it, you are in for a treat. If you have followed any one of their careers in depth you are in for an introduction to three other like minded rappers who embody what it means to practice this art.

Hip Hop in its current state has artists trying all kinds of new things and pushing the boundaries of what it is that defines the music. You won’t find any of that here, instead be prepared to travel back in time to an era when all that mattered was if you could land a quotable in The Source. It’s not ground breaking or genre changing. It’s just rhyming at its purest.

This isn’t a bad thing but it dates the material from the jump. We’ve heard it all before. These guys have a skill at taking it too the mic more ferocious than anyone in the game. While this could prove to be a problem for anyone foolish enough to attempt a beef with them, it’s far from what warrants repeat listens.

You might rock this album from time to time; you might even give it regular play from now until the New Year. But few cuts here contain much beyond the braggadocios “I’m better than everyone” swag which does little for my mind as I scroll through my iTunes looking for what I want to put on.

(Let's hear more like this?)

When they do break out of this mold you will be given a thoughtful song like “Pray (It’s A Shame)” about the struggles they have faced. While slightly gripping, it still falls victim to the heard it before syndrome. Recycled ideas are tired. No matter how clever your bars are, if the sentiments of your past peers are all you can deliver you should hang up the mic or plan on pleasing a niche market that isn’t ready to move on.

Slaughterhouse isn’t bad, it’s boring. These four hold immense talent yet chose to do what they’ve been doing which could be why they aren’t much further ahead of where they were as solo artists prior to the formation of the group. Sure they have probably all expanded their individual fan bases, however minimally, and they have a unified team to work with behind the scenes which for all of them has proven a down fall in the past. For four as talented individuals to not be aiming for the greatness that comes with transcendence of the past is a disappointment.

But there is always round 2.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

IAME: The Questions & The Answers

So I dropped off a little article meets review (of his new album I Am My Enemy which you need to peep if you haven't) on IAME Thursday night and now, as promised here is the full Q&A transcript. I hope you enjoyed the article and gain some insight into one of Portland's up and comers.

Q: Can you introduce yourself and give a quick history lesson of the Sandpeople?
A: My name is IAME. Basically as Sandpeople go, it was crew that started about 2004-2005. It was originally me, Moby and Simple we had a group called Red Shield and that was like the first project that I was ever involved in seriously outside of just messing around – the first album that I put out. Shortly after that period we started working with more artists within the region and decided to do a bigger crew effort and so we did this album.

This album was the very beginning stages of the group, it wasn’t like we became this group and then made an album – the group was still getting defined when we made the first album. There were some people on that first album that haven’t been able to commit to being in a group. But we’ve also gotten some new members like this dude Only1 who was a younger cat in the group. Then we got Illmaculate who was pretty well known for the battles, he became a part of the crew after the second album.

I did a solo album in 2005 and was getting a lot of production work from a couple cats in Oldominion like smoke and Zebulon dak. They lived in a house with Sleep and Syndel and we were just kicking it a bunch and there was a real good connection between all of us. Once I started getting more established a couple more cats in Oldominon took notice and it was a just a natural thing that I join with that group too.

Q: What was your progression from the first album to this tighter packaged second album?
A: This album took a lot of planning. I started working on music right away after Noise Complaints. I still don’t really stop, I’m working on new music right now but when you are trying to sell an album it takes away from the time you can spend in the studio. A lot has changed since the first album. My first album was something I really wanted to get out there. I made the album with the money it took to press it. There was no campaign, I just got it pressed and started trying to get on as many shows as I could. It was a very basic approach that most starting off musicians do.

There was a lot I was trying to accomplish with that album, I feel like it has some strong work. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist since then and just gotten a better sense of who I am as an artist since then. After Noise Complaints I was working on new stuff just trying to work in a general direction of doing a new album and I would keep coming up with new ideas for what that album would be called. Eventually I started doing some songs over some Sap beats that I had and it had a certain feel that some of the other beats from other artist were missing so it made more sense to lump all the Sap beats together – he’s a fucking incredible producer.

I was able to craft this idea that I was gonna use these beats and I had him produce some more for me. Then I came up with the idea of I Am My Enemy. That was kinda how the album concept came about – it was just sort of a lot of planning for making a new album and trying to come up with something and then it just came to me.

Q: You mentioned being part of Oldominon and right now the Seattle scene is flourishing. Is the Portland scene taking some cues from that or is it trying to do it’s own thing?
A: There has been a strong connection, in terms of just the Northwest as a whole. We are so close together, like Seattle to Portland, it’s hard to not be intertwined. I know that Portland has a real dope scene and I know that Seattle has a real dope scene. It’s not exactly like if you have a strong Seattle fan base you’ll have a strong Portland following and vice versa. There are a lot of dope artists in both cities and the kind of place that you can go and see familiar faces. There are always talented artists around, but there is also a lot of saturation in both cities. Both cities do have large Hip Hop scenes and Portland in general even has a bigger music scene, rock scene, outside of the Hip Hop scene.

[Onry Ozzborn interjects “Fuck IAME” – also asks for load in time for the show]

That was just one of my fans!

Portland has this big Rock scene and stuff and it makes it interesting to do Hip Hop here because it’s not as embraced as well as the Rock music and stuff. I think there is a big population out here that are into a lot of stuff and open minded about stuff but the words local and Hip Hop don’t really register as anything. But then you go out and artists that are able to gain some success outside of the city of Portland, then they kinda gain more popularity within there own city. Like Sandpeople and Oldominon have gotten out as much as we can, touring and stuff and just trying to spread the name in other states and other countries. I think that there are people in Portland & Seattle that are constantly taking notice, it just keeps growing and growing. I think as city Portland embraces the Rock a little bit more, stands behind those artists a little bit more. It’s got some advantages and disadvantages. I think part of the reason why there is a lot of good Hip Hop and music in general is because it’s not a LA or New York. I mean Portland isn’t even a Seattle. There isn’t a lot of industry so to make our music stand out and get noticed we have to be really competitive and really make something that takes notice. You can’t really get by on being average.

Q: You talk about getting written about on blogs, I’ve seen you guys on 2dopeboyz. Are you guys wholeheartedly embracing the blogs as kinda like the new radio or is it just something you are tolerating?
A: Despite the fact that it’s a new word and a new social medium the overall concept is nothing new. There is nothing new to people reviewing art and forming opinions about it. I don’t look at it as anything different than that. Doing music and putting it out there means that you have to embrace that kind of shit, you don’t have to agree with everything people say about you. You have to put you shit out there and it’s for people to decide if they like it and if they want to write about it. If that’s something that upsetted someone then you’d be like well why did you even put your music out there in the first place. The interent in general, spreading music the way it does and other forms of media I think that word can travel fast but at the same time you are just a small fish in an extremely large ocean. There is so much shit going on, how do you stand out. To really get noticed you have to spend a lot of money on promotion, publicity and all that shit. So when you are a small independent artist hopefully you can do good enough and get enough feedback from people that somebody starts writing something that makes other people want to listen to it and just take people over one by one.

Q: You talk about coming from the suburbs and moving into the city, were you making music before coming into the city or was it once you got into the town that you really started getting into making your art?
A: I’ve been making music pretty much my whole life – making music is just writing. I have some musical background, but it’s really just as a beginner in everything. I’m just now getting better as a producer and putting out some songs that I’ve actually made the beats for. That’s something I’ve been working on for a long time.

I wrote music for probably four or five years before I was putting shit out. The first CD I put out was that Red Shield shit and that was when I was 19. When I was in High School, 13-17, I was listening to a lot of Hip Hop and writing a lot of Hip Hop but still becoming my own person. I think once I was kinda old enough and had actually gone through some life experiences, I had some actual things to say by the time I was 18-19 and between 17-19 I was just trying to get into the cities Hip Hop scene whatever way I could. I started going to Hip Hop shows when I was younger than that but around 17 was when I actually wanted to try and go out to parties where people were actually rapping at and to get down like that and at first it was just kinda a fun thing to do and a way to express myself, but for me it wasn’t like ‘oh I’m just this loud mouthed dude who wants to be in the middle of the shit.’ Cause some people are like that, just the kind of people that would never rap a day in there life but they are drunk and see a cipher and want to go rap. For me I had been writing my music and it was something I keep to myself. I became more serious about it and it was more about trying to get it out there in front of people. Ever since then, I got a little taste of it, I’ve just been grinding.

Q: Have you seen a large growth from when you first started in Portland to the artists that are active today?
A: Hip Hop wise and even just music in general. Portland seems to be pretty crackin right now. There has always been stuff coming out of Portland that was tight and I think that right now there is just a lot of good stuff in the city.

Q: Are you familiar with Glass Candy?
A: I’ve heard the name.

Q: They are from here, I just started hearing them.
A: Yeah that’s the thing, there is a lot of good stuff out of Portland.

Q: You mentioned making beats, are you sampling and digging?
A: I don’t do much diggin because I just try to get records that seem interesting to me. There’s styles that I’m interested in pursuing and I kinda know where to go to find that those records. It is something I plan to get more and more into as I get older. I would like to be the person who listens to the record before I buy them or just buy a ton of fucking records and just listen to them all the time. I have to balance it with writing, putting out albums for group projects so it gets put on the back burner at times. I wouldn’t say I’m solely a sample based artist. I try to use samples, but I try to use original stuff to. I want all my stuff to have a real sorta grimey sound to it.

Q: I grew up on the southern Oregon coast and was always into Hip Hop, but it was pretty late that I started to discover that there was Hip Hop coming from the area. At what point did you make that discovery? Who were those artists?
A: Oldominon was one of the first and Lifesavas too. There are cats that are holding it down in Portland and in the Northwest in general and there are a lot of people who have gotten popularity as of late. But I would say some of the most well known Hip Hop still comes from Oldominon, Lifesavas, Cool Nutz and Sandpeople as of late. When I was first starting to get into underground Hip Hop I got into some stuff from LA and the Bay Area and a lot of east coast Hip Hop. Some of the first Hip Hop concerts that I went to were more underground East coast artists like the Roots or something like that. I would see cats out hustling, promoting there stuff and one of those guys was Owl One (from the Sandpeople) and he was in this group called The Chosen and they were a live band. They were real dope. That was one of the first Portland Hip Hop things that I was bumping.

Q: Do you approach your writing for a Sandpeople record differently than for your solo projects?
A: Not really. I think that I try to accomplish a lot with the solo stuff that I wouldn’t get to do with a group project because you kinda just have to play your part. If you are doing group shit you can kinda organize and be like lets do this and that and get other people to rally behind your idea. But with a solo record you can do whatever you want. I kinda just try to do all the things that would seem a little too over controlling – I got this this idea, this idea, this idea. When you are working in groups, some things pan out and some things don’t so you just keep a little list in your head and start forming ideas of stuff you are gonna do on your own that you can only really do on your own. As far as the actual writing style I try to be as well rounded no matter what I’m working on.

Q: Whats in your tape deck or iPod that you are listening to right now?
A: Sleep’s new record is pretty fucking dope and Sapient’s newest record. Obviously they are both in my crew. I’m not just saying it because I have to, they are both really dope fucking records. I like that new Blaq Poet album.

Q: Primo beats?
A: Yeah for real you can’t go wrong with that, it’s always been some of my favorite shit. I’m trying to think of anything else new I’ve been bumping.

Q: Anything outside of Hip Hop?
A: No, not really. I do listen to stuff and try to absorb it but I don’t pay attention as a fan because I feel like I’m way to busy making music and other life shit. Listening to Hip Hop stuff I do like, there is not like a ton of stuff outside of Hip Hop I can say oh I’m feeling this. It’s not to say there isn’t tight shit out there that I wouldn’t feel, I just can’t think of any.

Q: What’s your favorite Hip Hop album?
A: That’s a good question, I really can’t even say at this point. I don’t know. I really don’t know. There is a lot of good music and things that have been influential in my life at different times, like Mos Def’s first album

Q: Black On Both Sides? You checked The Ecstatic?
A: No I’m sleeping.

Q: He is just continually doing new shit.
A: Outkast has been some of my favorite Hip Hop shit. Aquemini is a great record. Old Organized Konfusion, Phaorhe MOnch is one of my favorite artists. It’s hard for me to say whats my favorite album because if I like an artist and I like what they are doing at the time and I listen to the album and I like most of it its my favorite for awhile and I listen to it and then move on to the next thing. There isn’t any particular album I hold and cherish. There’s just a lot of good fucking artist and good songs.

Q: What’s your favorite drink?
A: [laughs] As of the last half of the year it’s been Jameson. Before that, I get down on the liquor and usually regret it. I was always into beer. I love fucking beer, a good fucking beer. I got introduced to Jameson and was like where the fuck have you been all my life? It’s one of my major vices at this point.

Again many thanks to IAME for taking some time from his sound check to chop it up with me! Shouts to Someday Clothing too!