Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Atmosphere Concert

Normally when you anticipate something so much you're destined to get let down. Not in this case! I bought my tickets about 2 months ago and have been awaiting this day ever since and by far this was the best concert I've ever seen! So check out this video I took from the show, "God Loves Ugly". Also check out other Atmosphere videos I took from the show on my Youtube account: http://www.youtube.com/user/railroadhiphop

Monday, September 22, 2008

Q & A With Tonedeff

If your vocab is as minuscule as mine, here are some definitions to help you out as you read this post.

Poignant (poi-gnant): being to the point. Function: adjective

Catharsis (ca-thar-sis): a release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit. Function: noun

With having that helpful tool which some of you may need, I feel confident starting the interview portion of this post.

I read somewhere that you can spit 13.5 syllables per second.
Were you born with this gift?
iCON the Mic King told me that it was weird that I didn't speak spanish (although being Cuban/Colombian), because how easily words seemed to roll off my tongue. I dunno, I guess it just kinda comes naturally to me. Hopefully, it sticks around, so that I can do cool "Grandpa" tricks at my future retirement home.

The track you did with KRS-One "Clear 'Em Out" is rumored to be directed at Nelly. Anything you want to add to this assumption?
I think that assumption was pretty much answered in full the day it came out - hence the huge amount of media coverage and the record war that song started. (For those of you who missed it - google it).

I didn't realize we were making a diss record at the time, and I'm not 100% sure KRS did either...but had I know, I actually woulda wrote something far more poignant to the situation.

What has working with CunninLynguists done for your career and vise versa?
Well, they're my favorite rap group to begin with, and I believe both of them (Deacon & Kno) are incredibly talented musicians. We're all on the same QN5 team, so we help eachother out however we can - whether it's shopping beats, setting up tours, designing covers, trading verses, etc.

Granted, they have 4 amazing albums and 2 mixtapes out, and they have a much larger fanbase than I do...so it's definitely a blessing to be able to appear with them on songs and tag along with them on the road. Those dudes are like family to me.

What's your take on skit songs and what do you think it adds/subtracts to or from the cd as a whole?

I think when Skits work...they work. And when they don't - it's instant skip material. Muffuckas been doing skits since De La Soul is dead...and like anything in Hip Hop, it got kinda outta hand for a while. But I think it's settled into the Hip Hop landscape enough that people kind of expect them to see other sides of their favorite artists besides what's being presented on the songs.

Like, I didn't have any skits on Archetype, cause I didn't believe they fit on the record, but Extended Famm's "Happy Fuck You Songs" had a bunch...and I STILL crack up from the skits on that record. Good comedy is as timeless as good music, so if you can find the balance...you're good to go and I don't see a problem with it.

You passed up on some deals with a handful of major record companies to pursue a college degree. How did you come to that decision?
Basically, I was 16/17 years old and I could already feel the machine trying to change me. Not to mention, I was supposed to be working with an ex-manager who I didn't see eye to eye with regarding my career. They basically wanted to turn me into The Fresh Prince Part 2 and have other people produce my music. I only make music because I get to MAKE the music I rhyme over - so this was pretty much the deal killer for me.

Industry people have never known what to do with me, cause I'm Latino and rap in English and I don't really make music that people in Junior High get into. Since I was able to realize this early on, I pretty much could give a fuck about what anyone expects from me or wants me to do. I'm a musician first and foremost and I go wherever the Muse takes me. So, at the end of the day, I figured a college degree in design would suit my future better than gambling it on rap. I'm glad I did too...cause there's about 50 people that can live off rap alone in the states...and I'm certainly not one of em.

In your opinion who do you think are the top 5 producers of all time?

Well, 'Producer' for me isn't just someone who "makes beats". Also, I try to take in all the music I can, from all different genres. I generally respect folks who can flip musical styles and develop the sound of multiple artists differently, so that the artist's record is the best recorded version of that particular artist possible.

So, with that said, all time, all genres, no order - Sir George Martin, Dr. Dre, Jon Brion, Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin...with an honorable mention to Timbaland. 6th Man!

At the age of 16 you were on the Arsenio Hall show and ended up winning the grand prize of the shows national talent search. Can you describe this experience?
I go into the whole thing in depth on the song "morethanthis" from Underscore. Without paraphrasing it too much...I think the most valuable thing that I gained from that whole experience was seeing how the people around me reacted to a little exposure. People really lose their fucking minds and weird shit happens. I really don't like what fame does to people - even at that limited scale. I didn't change at all though...so that's definitely good piece of mind for me.

Can you explain your verse on the CunninLynguists track "Love 'Aint"? Were you going through any particular heartbreak at the time or was this verse based purely on past experiences?
That verse definitely came out of a rough patch in a relationship. Those are very REAL words and experiences in there. I think the verse is pretty self-explanatory as a whole, but do know that I wrote it as catharsis.

Also on CunninLynguists track "The Gates" you talk about interracial relationships and racism. How have these things affected you?
Well, "The Gates" is a fictitional story about a fictitional character who has a conversation with St. Peter at the gates of heaven. Interracial relationships in his story were a complicated thing that this character manifested his uncertainty and lack of strength of in very evil ways.

As a Latino, I've definitely had my share of fucked up experiences dealing with ignorant folks who can't tolerate seeing me with a white woman, etc. It's just the world we live in today. It sucks...but I live NYC, so those attitudes aren't as prevalent as they might be in other parts of the world.

out Tonedeff on his myspace and his QN5 blog!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Living Legends Concert

At this point I've realized that I'm being consumed by this blog! Not so much as in putting in a whole lot of time and effort, because I should definitely have done more of both by now, but yesterday at the show I found myself taking pictures and videos for the sole intention of being able to put them up on this blog. I guess I probably would have done so anyways, but I'm definitely excited to be able to share this with the readers of my blog (hopefully I'm not the only one)! So here's a video of "Purple Kush" and some pictures that I took from the show at the Catalyst.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pacific Division: Paper Video

Killing time, waiting for some interview questions to be answered by a couple of awesome underground rappers. Ssssh, it's a secret! So check out this video by Pac Div. One of my favorite songs of theirs. They even use the word "tofu" in this song and being from a health conscious family I can definitely appreciate that.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Army of the Pharaohs: Ritual of Battle

Formed by Jedi Mind Tricks' Vinni Paz, Army of the Pharaohs, aka AOTP, is an underground super group. Ritual Of Battle is the second album released by AOTP. This 16 song album is not one to put on if you're trying to sit back and relax. On the second verse of the song "Black Christmas", Doap Nixon starts off with the line "I made a promise that I never get high, I 'aint scared of death, I'm scared to live wantin' to die." This line is guaranteed to give you the chills. Doap Nixon finishes the verse by saying "We all 'bout to put this game in a frenzy, and the chain's slight frost like the air in a Benzy." Demoz raps on the chilling chorus "I can feel a breeze through the leaves when D's passin' me by, you can breathe you can bleed but please wrap me a nine, on black Christmas, I need a Gun with bullets on black Christmas, black Christmas." Demoz also spits on the fourth verse with lines like "I once heard the art of war is don't start a war, so I don't think you wanna ride like a carnivore, I mean carnivore excuse my French I'm on the floor, the bruisin' wet got me feelin' like I took a Hallucinet, blue is bent, L-Y who the truest yet, blew the inf, brain fragments flyin' through the fence, stupid is as stupid does, I 'aint stupid cuz, I rap like a motha fuckin' animal my blueish blood." Overall this song is a must hear for the simple fact of the lyrical content. The beat is a little slow in my opinion but check out a guy by the name of Thomax out of Norway who does a remix with a different beat to this song. The song "Gun Ballad" produced by Ill Bill, comes hard with the same intense lyrics but with a better constructed beat. In the song's second verse Demoz shoots a line over to Nas perhaps by saying "If hip hop is dead, call me ghost in the flesh, I'm close to the best." Vinnie Paz ends the third verse with the line "This ain't the type of place you can survive God, God don't live inside me, I live inside God." By far the track "Seven" has to be my favorite. Laced with lines and verses that, when you first hear them, you have to rewind to make sure you heard right. The song goes on over 6 minutes and is probably the best 6 minute song I've ever heard! Flawless the whole way through. If I was to highlight all the interesting and witty lines in this song I'd be better off just posting the lyrics to the whole song. But I will point out some of my favorites. On the track's fourth verse, Reef The Lost Cauze, hits you with the thought, "did he just say that?", with the line, "There's hell to pay, but the devil don't take checks, I tried to send a message to God, his phone don't take text." For the track's fifth verse steps in Doap Nixon, who's line makes me laugh every time, "Hand to hand till your hands ache, I drunk so much syrup dawg I stop eatin' pancakes." Demoz controls the track's sixth verse with the line that in my opinion says he could care less about doing anything or saying goodbye to anyone for the last time, " Nigga, if I had 24 hours to live, fuck 24 hours, gimme 24 seconds, Vin I'm drivin off a bridge." Celph Titled goes to work on the seventh verse with ill lines like, "I'm Jesus in the flesh so this is mutha fuckin' Christian rap, y'all just Christmas wrap, must be the secret Santa, my reindeer aim near, pierce you with the antlers" and also this eerie line "And a year before your kid's 10th birthday came, you didn't have to wait for candles on the cake to see the nine flame." Possibly AOTP's finest work! I'll end this review with the final song and its first verse, which pretty much sums up underground rap vs. mainstream rap, rap when it first started and rap nowadays. Doap Nixon starts the song off with the line, "The first time I heard rap I was so gased, 'cause back then, you could make an album with no cash, cut now a days everybody is so cool, you got niggas dropping out of school to learn pro tools." Although a bit violent with their lyrics at times, overall this is a must get cd for any hip-hop head and any JMT fan.