21 August 2011
The Rhyme Perspective: ILLUS
First and foremost how long have you been rhyming?
All my life. I’ve been writing poetry since childhood. However I didn’t start putting together HipHop songs until about 1987. I’m an old man.
Describe the hiphop scene in Connecticut.
It’s incredibly diverse. We have super talented artists of all styles and sub-genres, something for everyone. I don’t think there’s one sound you can associate with CT, however I think CT artists come with a lot of passion and authenticity you don’t find a lot of these days. We have a lot of hard working underground artists that are creating some great music as well as organizing positive events and everyone that I know personally through the scene is supportive of one another.
In 2010, you released an album called Feel Good Music. How was it received by the fans and the media?
Everyone that has listened to Feel Good Music has loved it. Unfortunately not enough people have heard it. It was pretty much ignored by major media and slept on by most blogs. However those that did give it a chance were very supportive of it and I really appreciate that. I highly recommend it.
Chuck D praised the album as one of the best albums of 2010. Describe the feelings associated with the praise that you received from Chuck D?
Amazing. There really isn’t any better feeling than that. Chuck is one of my heroes and I have been a fan since Yo Bum Rush the Show dropped. So to get praise like that, to even be blessed to have him listen to it, is awesome.
Your biography states that you are a teacher and an accomplished illustrator. What artists have you worked with in the past in regards to artwork?
I’m the illustrator and co-writer of the official Public Enemy comic book series along with Chuck D. I’ve also illustrated and designed album art for Freddie Foxxx aka Bumpy Knuckles. I’ve done work for his solo projects as well as his collaborations with Statik Selektah (Lyrical Workout), his album with KRS (Royalty Check) and I just finished his new album with DJ Premier (The Kolexion). I’m also the illustrator for the recent J-Live albums - Undivided Attention and S.P.T.A. I’ve done t-shirt designs for Ill Bill and worked with artists like Apathy, Erin Barra, C Rayz Walz, J.J. Brown and more. That’s just my music industry work. Most of my illustration work is done in the publishing world of children’s books and comic books where I have hundreds of published works.
In 2011, you released an album called For Adam. What was the central theme for the project?
The central theme was overcoming adversity, both external and internal and persevering through dark times to find your own light. For Adam is about dealing with pain and finding the positive, even in the darkest moments of life.
Who is featured on the project?
Freddie Foxxx, Gift of Gab, Eternia, Homeboy Sandman, Craig G, Wordsworth, Reef the Lost Cauze, Bloc McCloud, Erin Barra, Paul Dateh and the entire project is produced by J.J. Brown.
How does For Adam differ from Feel Good Music?
For Adam is much darker and mature. Feel Good Music was a very positive album and was my celebration of life after a very dark period in life. I was literally feeling good for the first time in years and wanted to make an album that reflected that happiness. For Adam confronts some of that darkness from the past and kicks it in the face but still (hopefully) has a positive vibe to it and inspires others to deal with their own darkness.
One of my favorite songs from the project is called "FREE" and it features Homeboy Sandman and J.J. Brown. The message is very uplifting and the video is executed flawlessly. With that being said, what was the inspiration for the video and the song?
Thank you, I really appreciate that. The inspiration for the song was just life in general and how we often feel trapped. I think everyone has felt that way at one time or another and in these constant changing times it is a universal message with so much global strife. J.J. blessed me with the track and the song took a life of its own. I wanted to make something that was empowering but also fun. Adding Homeboy Sandman to the mix was a bonus because he epitomizes intelligent/fun HipHop. The video is my first time experimenting with animation. I’m an illustrator so I had to work with an animator to bring all of the images to life that I created. We had limited to no resources and very little time to execute the project. But we wanted to create something that was both fun and whimsical while still capturing the importance of the words and message of the song.
Describe your writing process to the masses?
It varies from song to song. Some songs write themselves in minutes and others take days and weeks. When working with J.J. I always have a song concept before hand, an emotion, thought or idea I want to execute, an emotion I want to connect with people. Once I get the beat I sometimes connect with it right away and the words flow and other times I may have to really sit with it and figure it out. I try and keep my songs short so you really have to learn to edit yourself and make every word count. I try and write songs with purpose, not just random lyrics, so there is a lot of editing and refining as I go.
What are you currently working on right now?
I have a new album I am working on called Family First. Each song is actually produced by an emcee or singer who is also featured on the track. For example- Ill Bill produced the title track, "Family First" and he is also featured on it. The album will also feature Apathy, Blueprint, J-Live, Freddie Foxxx, Erin Barra, Regenerated Headpiece and more. This will be a limited edition album and will be packaged with a triple vinyl lp collection that also includes my previous two albums. You can only get it from Kickstarter. So make sure to make a pledge to support it, which is basically just a pre-order.
I’m also working on a new graphic novel and a lot of artwork for other musicians. You can stay up to date with my work by subscribing to my blog where you can also win original art and download free music - HERE.
What are some of your interests outside of hiphop?
Art - drawing, painting, writing. Gardening and farming - I actually have a decent size garden and I try and encourage people to learn how to grow their own food. The only way you can truly say you are an independent artist is if you can completely survive on your own, no money, no technology, no handouts.
How can the masses get in contact with you?
They can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can buy physical cds at American Mule.com
Stay in touch with what I am working on at My Official Website
Any final thoughts?
I just want to say thank you for taking the time to interview me and allowing me to connect with your audience. I really appreciate all of the love and support.