Share it Please
[Q]: First off, congratulations with your new single 'Man Made Things'. I am digging it a lot! What's the story behind the song?
[A]: Thanks man I appreciate that. Basically the idea behind the track is just taking a good look at all of the things that are a part of our daily lives as Americans that are really doing humanity more harm than good. There are countless things on a daily basis that are numbing our intellects and killing us, and nobody in the mainstream media seems to really talk about it. Whether it's the government, the food we ingest, the products we are sold or the drugs we are told will help us.
Take the drug industry for example. Pharmaceutical companies have their agendas, and although it's been said before, I believe it rings true that when it comes to disease and illness the real money is in the treatment and not the cure. From 1996 to 2007, the number of Americans on anti-depressants doubled from 27 million to about 50 million and in that time the number of Americans who actually sought psychiatric help plummeted. I feel that now more than ever, our consumer based culture is actually encouraging people to take the easy way out of problems. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that there are some people out there who have legitimate chemical imbalances and other mental issues, and my sympathy goes out to them, but for the most part I just think Americans have been sold on the idea that a pill will and can make everything better in their lives.
It's important to remember that every major corporation has an agenda, and seldom do these companies put the well being of Americans before their profit margins. I mean, this is only one issue. Their are so many other issues plaguing American society on a regular basis. The government is still in the Middle East because of oil, yet they claim it's because of American freedom and liberty.
On top of that, we are desensitized to violence and destruction because of certain video games and big screen Hollywood contributions, so when we see that 22 American soldiers died in Afghanistan over the weekend, we don't even view it the way we should. It's totally unnatural. It actually really disgusts me how much this country wastes and takes for granted. And I realize that I'm a part of it too, but that's what the track, and the album is about. Standing up and saying, "Ive had enough of this. I need to say something." and questioning the "reality" that we're force fed every day. I recruited 4 MCs on this track who I knew felt the same as me in Slaine, trademarc, Vinnie Paz and Sabac Red, and they each conveyed the message in their own way.
[Q]: Sorry but I have to know... What's the meaning behind your name and the band's name 'East Coast Avengers'?
[A]: HAHA Yeah that's an interesting story. So for people who don't know, the group East Coast Avengers is comprised of MC Esoteric, the trademarc and myself on the beats and cuts. The three of us decided to form a group in 2008, and we actually had about half of our debut album finished before we decided on the name East Coast Avengers.
The name is actually an homage to Marvel Comic's 'West Coast Avengers' which was a series that came out in 1984, and since the three of us are children of the '80's we finally decided on the name after about 2 months of racking our brains for one. Some of the names we rejected were pretty funny and have become the subject of inside jokes between the three of us. But yeah, growing up the three of us were all into Marvel, and one day Esoteric just texted trademarc and I a bunch of ideas in an attempt to land on something we could run with, and right when we saw "East Coast Avengers" it was like a light went on.
[Q]: The previous East Coast Avengers' album was 'socially aware'. In what way has the new political situation changed your view on music?
[A]: Well the most glaring thing is that Dubya and his puppeteers are no longer in office, although the effects of his 8 years of corruption are still affecting us to this day. As proud as I am of Americans for electing it's first black president, I'm just as disappointed in them for not really following up and doing the work to really see past the novelty of his being elected. Everyone thought that when Barack took office, things would just change overnight.
The truth is, it'll take much longer than a 4 year, or even 8 year term in office for this country to really change in any significant way. I remember when Obama tried to pass his health care bill through, and everyone was terrified and calling him a socialist. At least 95% of those people wouldn't know what Socialism looked like if they ran it over with their car, yet middle America demonized him for trying to "change" the country. It's funny to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the biggest Obama fan in the country either. I think all politicians are scum bags. Republican, democrat, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, it's all part of the same system. Pick a side people pick a side! The reality is, Americans are scared of change. I wanna know why.
[Q]: You and trademarc are working with rapper/actor/WWE Heavyweight John Cena. How did you guys get in contact and even in talk to record an album together?
[A]: Well trademarc and I met through Esoteric, and John is Marc's cousin. They've worked on music together in the past before I knew Marc. This project we are recording now is some really intense material. Marc was institutionalized when he was younger, and was diagnosed with bi-polar 2 disorder with manic tendencies. His experience was such a life changing event, that years later he has decided to dedicate and entire album to his experiences. The album ranges from family issues, to addiction to pills and alcohol, to relationships and hospitalizations.
I'm honored that he came to me to provide the musical back drop because these events shaped Marc into the man he is today. He's a brilliant lyricist, a poet and a friend. John involvement will be mostly from his own perspective, as he was present in Marc's life during those trying times.
[Q]: On this new album you have a lot of guest rappers. Any plans for an album/song with a pop/rock/etc... artist? If so, what can we expect?
[A]: Ummmm, no plans at the moment. I'm about 3/4 finished with an EP that I'm recording a producing with my good friend and MC Nabo Rawk (formerly of Porn Theater Ushers) entitled "Lords of the Synth." I've known Nabo for over 10 years now, and we're collaborating on a project that contains beats made from the Moog synthesizer. The analogue Moog synth has always amazed me. It's one of the coolest instruments ever created in my opinion. I've sampled many Moog records from the 1960's and '70's so it wasn't a stretch for me to make 8 or 9 beats that were mainly constructed from sounds from the Moog. I think people will really like this project.
Nabo has performed a few of the tracks as a sneak peak and we've gotten great responses so far. That project is scheduled for completion in March and will drop sometime near the beginning of summer 2011.
[Q]: Nowadays you are see-ing a lot more 'classic' hiphop-duo's (DJ + rapper) coming out. How do these duo's compare to the old-school ones? Any pro's and cons?
[A]: I think the movement of that formula is a really good thing as long as the MC and DJ has chemistry. That's the most important ingredient in any artist relationship. Take Gangstarr for instance; the thing that made Guru and DJ Premier so great was their chemistry. When you went to see a Gangstarr show, you just knew it was gonna be great. Rest in peace to Guru. Hip Hop lost a general when he passed.
As far as the newer cats compared to the old school, I think for the most part they are doing a good job of upholding tradition and moving the crowd with music, skill and energy. I actually have been known to walk out of rap shows if they suck. So many times I've seen cats on stage who just play someone else's beat, spit a rhyme that sounds unrehearsed, fail to engage the crowd and rarely even acknowledge that they have a DJ behind them. I'd like to see the DJ make a come back.
Way back, before corporate America got their greasy hands on the rap industry, the MC was ONLY really there to hype the DJ. When "Rapper's Delight" came out, everyone all of a sudden wanted to rap and be in the forefront. Don't get it twisted, I love rappers, I just wish more of them would acknowledge that the DJ is the backbone of Hip Hop. That way rappers would be forced to include the DJ in the performance aspect more.
[Q]: Any plans for a tour? What can your listeners and fans expect from your tour?
[A]: We actually have no plans to tour at all. I'll get back to you on this one.
[Q]: What is your main goal to reach as an artist?
[A]: As a musician, I think I'd just like to continue to learn, to be inspired and to inspire others to make the music they want to make rather than trying to please a certain crowd. Hip Hop has been a big part of my life for about 18 years, so if I can do something to enhance the culture I will. It's important that whatever type of music I make, I'm always pushing myself forward and challenging myself. The day that I become sick of what I do, is the day that I should stop doing it because I know that the audience will hear that in the music.
As an American, I just want to convince people to think for themselves. So many people in this country dub themselves a republican or a democrat, and that immediately tells them and everyone around them what they believe in and where they stand on issues. Personally, I'm all over the place on virtually every social and political issue. There's no name for the political party I consider myself a part of. I'm an American. That being said, I'd like to see more MCs show their awareness instead of letting the streets tell them what to rhyme about. I'm waiting and hoping it'll be uncool to be ignorant sometime soon again.
[Q]: When creating a track, do you have a set theme and pre-written lyrics, or do you start with an idea or the music first?
[A]: Naw usually I come with the beat first, and then I'll let the MC take the beat and write what they will on their own time. In rare cases, someone will come to me and say "I need a beat that sounds like this" or sometimes an MC will come to me and give me an a capella that they wrote to someone else's beat, andI I will go and remix it. That's always fun because more often than not I can come with something that fits the vibe of the lyrics better than they had expected.
[Q]: Why is it important to question authority and challenge 'America's idea of Patriotism'?
[A]: I think in order for an American to really be patriotic, questioning authority is essential. Thomas Jefferson said "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears its people, there is liberty."
There are so many choices that are made for us nowadays. We are given the illusion of choice, but for the most part I think Americans are really afraid to have the freedom of choice that we deserve. Paper or plastic? Stairs or escalator? Left or right? Those aren't real choices. If we the people aren't in some way letting our leaders know that we are watching them and holding them accountable, they will get the idea that they somehow above society and can therefore do what want regardless of consequence. Questioning authority is one of the greatest things you can do for your country.
[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?
[A]: My typical day usually consists of getting up at around anywhere from 8 AM to 11 AM with my girlfriend. We usually have a big cup of coffee and then I check my emails and read up on a few news sites, twitter, ESPN and my fantasy basketball team hahahhaha. At that point I shower and get dressed, and then I either head into my home studio for some work or we head out to do errands. I'm always hitting up flea markets, record stores and good will stores hunting for rare vinyl. I'm a groove hound. I think that digging crates is a lost art form that really should be present in any Hip Hop producer or DJ's arsenal.
I'm usually up really late because that's when I'm most creative. Mos Def once said that the night is a time of change, and I've been a night owl since I was an infant. Other than that, life comes at me one day at a time, and there's always something new to take care of. I'm close with my Pops, and all my friends and fellow artists. I don't have kids yet, but maybe someday. I'm still young. We'll see.
[Q]: Final words?
[A]: I just wanna thank everyone who's shown me love and continued to support real Hip Hop and dope music. I do what I do for me, but I also do it for you. I hope yall love bangin' this album as much as I did making it.
Also, thanks to all the artists who contributed to Avengers Airwaves, and to Brick Records for believing in me and this record. And also, make sure you stay tuned for "Lords of the Synth," trademarc's solo album, and a solo album from my fellow Avenger Esoteric. Peace!