February 25, 2010

...paper beats rock...

what's up, everyone! let me start by apologizing to the 5 returning readers who have probably taken me off their google reader for rappers who update much more frequently than i -- and probably post better material.

i promise my hiatus from this has been for good reason. i've been feverishly working on a few projects to keep music in your ipods and in your cars. one of these projects, ...paper cuts... came out this week and i hope y'all go out and get it when it lands in your local "mom & pop" record store, or right now digitally on itunes. you can also get the hard copy via mail over at www.beatrockmusic.com.

speaking of beatrock music, i'd like to take the opportunity to thank my new label for the tremendous support they've given me with this release and the great passion they've put behind pushing the new ep. in my entire career as an emcee i've been very fortunate to have the ability to put out my own music and still garner some minor success as an artist, but being at the mercy of bootleggers, the speed of the blog-world and the general wear and tear the independent route has had on me and my team at fourelevenmedia/community kitchen recordings, we felt the need to lock into a label to aid us in our releases from here on. i've tried the major independent route, the private investor path and even explored possible corporate deals -- but, being over at beatrock music has given me more freedom to be an artist and really feel like i am a part of the business that is pushing my music, so i'm thankful to be here. be sure to give the site a visit and stay tuned for more music from the label.

...paper cuts... took me a solid 4 months to complete and i must say, i'm very happy with the result. here's a little breakdown of the ep, song for song:

1. paper thin (with chace infinite of self scientific): anon, the producer and someone i consider my younger brother, gave me this beat right before we went in on the last album, ...exact change... and i instantly knew that i needed to do something with it. at the time it didn't feel right on ...exact change... so i just held on to it. i found the opportunity to revisit, write and record to it with this project.

i met chace through my homeboy, nick diamond of diamond supply company and we checked in with each other on and off about working on stuff. after visiting him in new york city over at prohibit nyc, we built a little bit more about a possible collaboration and the rest is, as they say, history. i sent chace the instrumental and a reference with my verse and he proceeded to show me why he's one of the most respected emcee's in los angeles' underground scene. look out for a new self scientific (chace and dj khalil) album this year -- you won't be disappointed.

2. slow down (with prometheus brown): during my trip up to seattle for the ...exact change... tour, i paid a visit to a recording studio where ra scion (of common market), thig of the physics, fatal lucciano, geo (prometheus brown of blue scholars) and a producer named mtk were having a session for an upcoming project. after watching them record, mtk slid a beat cd into the computer and played us back to back gems -- no lie. i would've taken every beat if i had the budget! mtk is responsible for lacing some pretty well known artists and after listening to this beat cd, i knew why! the beat for slow down was the last beat he played for us. i remember looking around the room and wondering who was going to jump at it first... like the last piece of corn on a dinner table. i mustered up the nerve to say, "yo, mtk, i'll take that one, g!"

i didn't touch the beat for a good month or two. i knew i wanted a feature on there and i knew i wanted some type of double-time rap over it. of course, in my mental rolodex, i went through my list of obvious choices: do d.a.t from oakland, mikah 9 of freestyle fellowship, sevenes or los angeles or olmeca... then it dawned on me. everyone's going to see that one coming... who do i know can kill it, but would blindside folks with a feature on the record?

prometheus brown is one of the most well-rounded emcee's in the game -- hands down. but, in my honest opinion, he don't get to stretch those legs out too many times -- please correct me if i'm wrong! we hear the geologic/prometheus brown on blue scholars records - the brother who becomes another instrument over a sabzi beat and who poetically completes songs (not just dropping verses over a beat) - and some don't realize that this brother really comes from an emcee background of just ripping (see the battle footage from brainstorm). after hearing him go stupid on new people from the oof! ep, i had to let him lace this track. i, along with many of you twitter heads who responded with their favorite joint off the ep all agree that slow down is one of the killers on the ep. this is me patting myself on the back for choosing pro-brown to feature on this. video drops later this week.

3. correctly done (with thurzday of u-n-i): chris london is my homeboy from way back. he used to manage another los angeles great, trek life and together they made some serious moves in the l.a. underground scene in the earlier part of the last decade. fast forward to about two years ago -- a group from inglewood starts to pop up in publications, websites and in between shows on mtv... thurzday and y-o, the duo better known as u-n-i. like a usain bolt out the blocks, these brothers took off. they had a unique sound and an undeniable appeal that put them leaps ahead of their peers on the emerging los angeles hip hop scene, dubbed the new west. now, fast forward a little bit more (trust me, i'm going to link all these) to a stop in los angeles for the common market tobacco road tour in 2008. on the bill at the now shut down knitting factory on hollywood boulevard were common market, bambu and u-n-i. now, i'll be honest, i don't watch the opening acts - not because i'm an asshole, but because i'm usually in the green room preparing myself for my set. well, this particular room that the show was in didn't have a green room, so i was forced to sit at the bar and go over my lyrics to myself... i didn't get to go over shit. instead, i was nodding my head to the duo who threw down on stage and had me whispering to myself, "damn, i gotsta' step it up tonight!" come to find out, these inglewood residents were managed by chris london! i was in! i knew that i would be working with them soon enough.

as their buzz grew around their debut album release, a love supreme, they decided to get with mick boogie and drop a mixtape to keep the fans happy and really solidify their stake in the game as true contenders in the new west's rise to notoriety. i got a text message from mr. london, i end up in the studio with thurz and y-o and the rest, as they say, is history. i laced two songs on the mixtape and a new friendship/alliance was built.

super, super-fast forward to an email from darnell of digital martyrs about 6 months ago. i got my hands on the beat for correctly done via email and this email single-handedly pushed me to do this ep. so, if you run into the digital martyrs up in the bay, and you're a fan of ...paper cuts... give them a hug and thank them for kick starting the project. immediately after getting this, i shot it over to thurzday with a reference, waited for about two weeks and i had the verses i needed to start the song's completion. unfortunately, because of the distance of y-o's residence, i couldn't get him on there (but no worries, a remix is coming soon). for the hook, the original plan was to get rob roy to rock it, but let's just say it didn't work out. i did the hook myself and the end result is one of my favorite songs in my entire catalog. that's how it's done, yeeeeah?!

4. rather seen (with malcolm & martin): i've been really fortunate in this rap game -- straight up. i did the wake up show back in 2004, and at the risk of sounding kanye-ish, i killed that shit! me and homeboys used to drive around l.a., 8 deep in a sky blue 1983 toyota tercel hatchback, looking for girls to yell to from the car... during these adolescent escapades, we would turn the radio to 92.3 the beat (it used to be a real hip hop station back in the day - trust) and wait for the wake up show to come on. all of us aspiring rappers, we would pretend sway, carmelita and tech were interviewing us, and we would answer as such. when dj revolution would do his mixes, we would freestyle over the songs, pretending we were in the studio with them -- going in. so, when i got that opportunity to do my homeboys proud and rip the wake up show, i did... the one solid relationship i built coming out of there (me and carmelita were really good friends outside of the radio show) was my working relationship with the world famous dj revolution. rev is one of the best turntablists in the world and his beats are worthy of top tier comparison - no lie! rev and i started to work together on some songs - a couple ended up on ...i scream bars for the children... and one in particular, sound check, ended up pissing some industry folks off. this was to be our niche. sound check was a 3-minute long verse just dogging mainstream artists who we felt deserved it. ouch. check dj phatrick's blog for an archive of it.

anyway, to save you some time, let me shorten this up... rev was also working with two emcee's he had met on the wake up show named, styliztik jones and kbimean, who he link with to create the super group, malcolm & martin. everytime i got into the studio with rev, he would play me their music... i was floored. they were unlike any "conscious" rap group i'd ever heard before, because they actually made music and could really, really rap! the work was amazing. i ended up doing a feature on their debut album (which isn't out yet) on a song that highlighted the black and brown conflict that has plagued los angeles for too long -- the song is crack!

nick james is responsible for the ...exact change... hits spare change and the single, crooks and rooks. he's also the producer who laced the majority of my homeboy ise lyfe's latest, prince cometh. the brother goes in on the beats! this particular beat was a remix to nas' ether. he was good enough to let me rock it and i couldn't have picked a better feature for this one! malcolm & martin sent it back to me and i knew we had the ep's sleeper hit! the biggest challenge to this song was trying to find the right sounds for the hook. i wanted a robot-like voice to do half and i think fatgums did a good job of making that come to fruition. here's a funny fact - i actually tried doing the hook wearing the optimus prime mask with the voice-changer to give it that sound. fail.

5. the queen is dead: "one of these things is not like the other... one of these things does not belong..." this one came out of left field, huh? this is the one song i knew did not fit on the ep. the content didn't fit. sonically it belongs on ...exact change... to me, it honestly doesn't belong on this ep -- but, it wouldn't be the same ep without it. i've been wanting to do a song on this topic for a very long time. i have people in my personal life that this song addresses and many peers of mine in the "conscious" hip hop community who need to keep this joint on repeat in the whip. i really started hammering the nails in when a very close friend of mine decided to cheat on his wife. it really struck something in me. i've made mistakes as a youth (especially in the matters of the heart vs. lust) and i know many of my friends have done the same -- but we've hopefully learned from them. this brother did not and he is much, much older, and someone i considered much, much wiser. he failed to live the life i was hoping to use as a guideline.

i played this song for kiwi when i first recorded it and he made a great comment about it. he said, "that's dope, but i wish it came from a woman's perspective." word. i agreed and still agree. but, this is not a song for women. this is a song really geared towards the brothers... especially the ones who hide behind the blanket of "revolution" and "progressive thought." this is the challenge. rocky rivera has a song called, macktivist on her mixtape, married to the hustle that addresses this topic. its a dialogue that needs to continue among us men, because as men of color we carry a giant burden. a burden that makes us feel as though we are at the bottom of the hill, trying to fight so many conditioned ideas and practices, that we dismiss our male privilege. we forget that women of color deal with those same issues with the added bonus of gender oppression. so, this is a song that hopefully sparks a little dialog -- again, more so among the brothers.

oakland rapper mystic hit me up and wanted to make sure that i clarify and not think that it was okay for me, a man, to take the title of "queen" away from a woman. word. ironically, the young woman who's featured on the hook is queen herstory, an up and coming emcee from carson. i think she's actually doing a response track over the same beat for her upcoming ep, broken crowns.

6. sondalo: 6fingers for the win... again. 6 is going to be name that hip hop heads will place alongside the jake one's and alchemist's soon enough. i've been working with 6fingers since ...exact change... and to watch him build as an artist is a privilege for me. on kiwi's upcoming album, 6 has a beat that is guaranteed to fuck your face up when you hear it. on a sidenote, we're working on a 5-song ep for the diamond supply company.

the song is pretty self explanatory. the workers, the students, the youth, the organizers... soldiers. marching, mobilizing and rallying in great numbers against an oppressive system. enough said. what i would like to address is a line in the song:

"from the teachings of lenin, mao, marx and trotsky..." i know my comrades will hear that and say, "trotsky?! what the shit?!" listen, i am not a trotsky'ite. i know the history. i know the problems that this man stirred and the principles he broke. the mistakes made by the players in past uprisings are ones we can and should learn from. all their writings, their mistakes and their conflicts should all be taken into account in order see to it that we do not repeat these and that in our protracted struggle, we are precise and educated in our climb to victory. no, i am not a trotsky'ite. any questions.

7. old man raps: another digital martyrs gem. this was originally the beat for a song dealing with the topic touched on in the queen is dead, but i hit the brakes on that quick. i started writing this song with no real concept to begin with. i just started to write. the further into the song i got, the more it seemed as though i were speaking from the perspective of the old guy on the block, telling you about his glory days in the hood. here i am. i'm old... (old)er, and i've had the honor of growing up with hip hop. being able to watch hip hop mature into what it is today. i've watched the world around me grow up and it isn't something i want to hide from. this is me celebrating my "old man" status. deal with it, kids.

on this song i also bring up some old demons. the deaths of some of my friends. the shooting of a very close childhood friend, ralph. the addiction that put a bear-hug on more than a few of my friends. the wonder and disaster of growing up in los angeles.

oh, and yes, only one more full-length album. the album is dead. the art of creating a solid, cohesive body of work is no longer appreciated. music is so accessible and so easily digested that taking myself away from my family for months at a time to attempt to create something that will just get lost among the ocean of "mixtape" songs and "freestyle" joints is not worth it to me anymore. i'll still make songs here and there and continue to do shows every so often, but to start, create, manufacture, finish and then market a whole new album is beyond me. i want to be with my son more and more, and be on the road less and less. beside that, i want young fans to hunt for new artists and discover new talent that actually speaks to and from the perspective of the youth. so, after a few choice collaborations (sabzi, keelay & zaire, 6fingers, nick james, steez, mystic, etc.), i'm going to get in the lab with the brother i started with asi friedman and put a period at the end of my work as bambu. but until then...

8. smog city's own (with diz gibran): this was the last beat picked for this project. again, digital martyrs on the track! this is another "los angeles" song. sorry. the biggest challenge with this song was trying to lock a hook down. i had my sister come into the studio and try some singing, but that didn't work out as well as i hoped -- mainly because my writing for the hook was kind of lazy. in the original first draft mix of the song, darnell of digital martyrs put in a vocal sample of a weatherman speaking about the weather in los angeles. dj phatrick and fatgums suggested we expand on that and do it for all the hooks. so, i looked for a different period pieces to sample. the first is an old news segment feature about a man who was buying "smog points" from refineries and selling them to people who wanted to save the enviornment by ridding the refineries of these "smog points." look it up, because it's going to take me forever to explain. the second is from the los angeles uprising/rebellion/"riots" in 1992. the third is from the northridge earthquake back in 1994 (i think)... and the last one is the original weather sample that darnell put in there.

i don't even really remember how i met diz gibran, but i knew he was tied into the budding street fashion scene in los angeles. i knew he rapped too, but wasn't sure if he was trying to make it a career or if he just did it because he could... well, that was answered when the blogs started really dropping his name heavy. after hearing the leaks over the blogs, how could you not enjoy listening to this dude. his flow is unique, yet reminiscent of classic golden era hip hop. he released his street album, soon you'll understand, produced entirely by new york producer munshine and put out through the power clothing brand that is crooks and castles. it's a free album, so download it and enjoy -- trust! i threw the track to diz via email and he knocked it out for me quicker than most and really stuck to the theme of the song (which is hard to get guest rappers to do -- i was fortunate to have every feature on the ep do this). killed it. diz can go and he's a really down to earth brother that i hope finds his success in whichever one of his many ventures he decides to roll with. get hip.

that's my breakdown for now. i might expand on some of these thoughts, so stay tuned. please go pick up ...paper cuts... at your local independent record store or online at either itunes or beatrockmusic.com.

if you're in los angeles this weekend, you don't want to miss the los angeles release party. i will be doing new songs and retiring a bunch of old songs. try and make it out!

if you find yourself in san diego this sunday, the 619 release party is happening in north park. stay classy, san diego!


konstrue10 said...

This is a great album man.. Good job.
I think this album is worth passing down to the next generation and the next and the next until infinity.
I'm sure your next and last LP will blow my mind away too.

Nicole said...

One of the homies put me up on you so i went to check out your show on Sat at SIPA, and I must say that I was very very very impressed. Keep up the good work man!

R O A D S said...


You never disappoint me in any show that you do and that I've been present in! I purposely came down to LA just to see the show! (Don't worry - I didn't pay for the ticket..hoped on a buddy pass!)

There are so many, many, many words that I can say in yours and Phatty's set! But then again, I don't want to take up too much of your time either. All and all, it was totally worth coming down, checking out the show, being surprised by Kiwi's appearance and being able to meet a few folks.

I've been bumpin ...paper cuts... the whole way up to SEATTLE and around the town! I don't have an actual favorite track because they're ALL my favorites!!!!

So I say to you, Bam. I solute you for everything that you do; for your family, for your friends, for your community, for your youth, and for our country. Thank you for dropping hits after hits of TRUE HIP HOP! You inspire A LOT OF FOLKS (including me)!

We ride together until we're free!



lealex said...

I just got home from work and this was in the mail. Been listening to it all night. Another great album!

Corey B. said...

Just found your stuff online. Really powerful. Actually scared me a little cause it's so real... and I'm such a suburban-grown WASP (but, hey - you can't change where you're from, right?)

Keep building rhymes, I'll keep building houses and hopefully our paths will cross one day. I'd love to see you in Chi-town if you ever come around.


Blogger said...

Sprinter - Function One (160BPM)