A few months ago, as part of our Indie Rap Series, we asked Bigg Jus to share with us his diagnosis about the independent rap wave of the late 90's, a wave where he played a critical part, with Company Flow. Two opinions being better than just one, we also asked another member of this movement's emblematic trio, Mr. Len, to deliver his own version of this key phase of hip-hop's history.
"I am one of the few remaining advocates and proponents of progressive hip-hop today". Thus says Ceschi Ramos, in our last interview with him. And he is perfectly right. Through the Fake Four label, he manages with his brother David, and through his multiple activities (and when not hampered by some legal problems...), the rapper is the one making the most today to maintain alive the indie rap scene, as it appeared in the 90's. It was logical, then, that he shares with us his vision about this subgenre, as part of our indie rap series.
Talking about the late 90's rap underground is not an option, if no member of this scene's emblematic trio is involved. Bigg Jus, indeed, was a central part of the indie rap wave, first as a rapper in Company Flow, then as the boss of Subverse, and, from these times through Machines That Make Civilization Fun, an album he released in 2012, as a radical artist. As part of our indie rap series, he is sharing his view about a movement he largely contributed to build.
Joe DelCarpini, a.k.a. Joe Beats, is a beatmaker from Rhode Island. He used to be the other half of Sage Francis' Non-Prophets, and pursued a solo career in parallel. Later he became part of another duo, with Blak from One Drop, before leaving the rap game. As part of our "Indie Rap Series", he is sharing his view about the underground rap scene of the late 90's / early 00's, through a full article of his own, pointing out the limits and side effects of the "indie" label.
Now located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but of Australian origin, Stephen Eric Bryden, a.k.a. Sankofa, started his career by the second half of the 1990's, as a member of the Society of NIMH, along with Spon, JON?DOE and Kashal-Tee. He released some strong records, like the White Collar Criminals's Invest Mentality, and his first solo album, Obese America (2002). Since then, he kept on releasing solid records, including the recent Just Might Be (2013). As part of our indie rap series, he accepted to talk about his past and background, and to share his views about the late 90's underground hip-hop scene or the rap music of today.
Alright, so let's start from the beginning. First time I heard about you was on Sole's forum. It was around 2005 i think. You were proposing to send a free demo to anyone that was sending you a pm. It was the Kind Of Blues mix-cd I think, that I latter submitted to Hiphopcore. I gotta say I was receiving a couple of demos from young producers because of the reviews I had in HHC and WCI and I wasn't expecting much. But this thing was special, right from the beginning. It was raw and very original, from the music to the art… You didn't try to sound like anyone else. You already had this blend of blues and beats going on… You were still living in Baltimore at the time, maybe to your parents' house? How life was back then and what did you want to put in your art? What were your influences?
I gotta say life was pretty strange. I just moved in with my childhood buddy who had a tendency to get black out drunk and woop ass so needless to say I felt safe from intruders but I had also just come off a crazy experience with almost going deaf and my ears were completely fucked up for a year to the point I couldn't really listen to music and up until recently I felt the effects. This past year was the first time I could use headphones and talk on a phone without pain. So coming out of that experience I wanted to venture into my own terrain so for Kind of Blue I stayed up for 72 hours drinking psilocybin tea and collaging with 4 turntables, MPC and whatever electronics I had. Came up with an idea to make collages and give ppl their own unique copy for free. It was my way of introducing myself and establishing the criteria to really push myself to the limits and experiment in the truest sense of the word. The adventurous side of art is what keeps me going...
Twenty years, no less. For twenty years, Buck 65 has released music, including twelve since Vertex and the beginning of some international recognition. Twenty years of hip-hop, but also twenty years of adventures in other genres like rock, folk or electronica. Twenty years of major releases and side project for fans only. Twenty years, and the ideal time for us to organize this long interview and to review together this rich career.
Four years after their excellent Rapstars EP, Lexicon’s brothers Nick and Gid Black, supported by the guitar and bass players Erich Schneider and Alex Pauley, finally released an album which fulfilled all of their promises. This made a great opportunity to meet them and know a bit more about the reason for the evolution of the group toward such a rock / rap recipe, and to share some insights about what happened to hip-hop over the last few years.
Dälek is not a newcomer. The group has sent us its impressive rap discharges for nearly 10 years. But as 2007 seems to be a busy year with the releases of the excellent Abandoned Language and the Deadverse Massive Vol 1 compilation, it was time for us to disclose this interview we recorded with the MC in March.
Radioinactive isn’t your average rapper. It’s been a while since we became interested in the unstoppable rap of this unusual MC who reinvented his music formula record after record. From the first recordings of Log Cabin to the recent Soundtrack to a Book, his catchiest album so far, it’s been a long way. But so far, we never had the opportunity to meet him. This is now something we've achieved.
It was difficult to catch Busdriver this day. But finally we did it. I interviewed him with the help of a German journalist after his concert on the last day of the Nördik Impakt festival in Caen, Normandy. Busdriver was a bit tired after a whole week of shows in France, but he was kind enough to answer each of our questions.
"Astronautalis is definitely a rapper who sings the occasional chorus, as opposed to a singer who dabbles in rap". This is the much relevant way the Floridian guy is introduced in a review from the All Music Guide. This difference may seem subtle, but it is capital. This is the key explanation of the personal music our Floridian guy makes. In this interview, Andy Bothwell tells us how the white battle MC he is has become the author of one of this year’s best albums.
Dan The Automator is Gorillaz, Deltron 3030, Dr Octagon and many other things. He is a music star, then. He is a very busy man. When someone tells you he is available for an interview, obviously, this does not mean he’ll share a whole afternoon with you. And you finally end up with answers that are even shorter than the related questions. And you don’t learn anything new. Anyway, let’s publish it. That’s Dan The Automator after all.
Hue is already our favourite hip hop label for the year 2006. There, in Japan, on the other side of the world, some people have decided to propose us a kind of best-of of Canadian and Belgian rap. Shin Ohsaki is the manager of Hue. We asked him to introduce himself, to tell us the story of his label and to conceal some of his next projects.
For most of us, Arizona’s hip hop scene is still to be discovered. This year, our entry point to all the exciting and promising artists from Phoenix and its neighbourhood was Avenue of the Arts’ rapper and producer Courdek through his excellent Synchronicity record. A first contact has been the opportunity for us to discover a bit more about his past, musical tastes, projects and fellows rappers from the AOTA crew.
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