Thursday, August 20, 2009

IAME "I Am My Enemy"

Upon my arrival to PDX I almost instantly heard talk about the massive Sandpeople collective. I’d heard the name throughout my time in Seattle, but was never confronted with there music like I was once I relocated to their stomping grounds (thanks in large part to my room mate). While the crew as a whole can be heard on their impressive EP Long Story, Short from earlier this summer original member IAME dropped his sophomore full length in July and has steadily been on a mission since to spread the word about his music, his crew and our town.

“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,” says IAME. While the music may not be what first comes to mind when one thinks about Oregon, the almost five year long journey he and his people have been on seems to be making head way as they continue to make moves across the country.

“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.”

And take notice we should. With the industry in a state of disarray Sandpeople are unified like the Wu Tang army pushing forward there own brand of hard cutting beats and pure emceeing. No gimmicks here, no hipster parties either. Instead IAME delivers I Am My Enemy, a concise fourteen tracks entirely produced by Sapient – not sure what’s inspired this trend (Blu & Exile, maybe?) but I’m glad it’s continuing.

While Rock music may be what captures the hearts and ears of the Portland masses, should they get a taste of this album they might just be shocked to learn that their town can produce quality Hip Hop too.

Filled with loud drums, ominous tones and sounds, this album has served as the soundtrack to my introduction to Bridgetown. And I find it fitting. While certainly not a mash up of Rock meets Rap, the energy captured on these songs will get any crowd ready to mosh and the scratches throughout the album are so clean it’s as if the DJ is the guitar player taking his show stealing solo performance.

Lyrically you will be addressed by a serious voice that wants you to hear him. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist since then [Noise Complaints, his debut] and just gotten a better sense of who I am as an artist.”

“No Cure” sees him address all the detractors and anyone who thinks they want to test IAME. Over a great piano riff and an incredibly spooky and subtle vocal sample he demonstrates that raw bravado any emcee needs to succeed but also addresses the hard facts about making it in this business – you have to work, never slacking on your grind.

Slacking is another problem emcees can fall victim too and while IAME isn’t the second coming he sounds good on Sapient’s production and takes time to address matters of importance to him. From his relationship with his grandparents and his upbringing (“Cancer Song”) to his move into the city and departure from the suburbs (“Unlikely Candidate) IAME is a thought provoking emcee which is an admirable quality in today’s mindless entertainment industry.

“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 their 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 [sic] 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.”

The drunk kid may be the one with the iTunes hit, but with his skills and dedication coupled with the grinding work ethic IAME will be the one with the long lasting career. From writing at an early age to now starting to dive into beat making, he continues to diversify and grow into the artist he wants to be on his own terms.

“You can’t really get by on being average.”

Bonus Throwback Video "The Abyss"

And if you are interested in reading the full Q&A it will be up Sunday for y'all! Many thanks to IAME for taking some time to chop it up with me outside Someday Clothing.

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