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Cas Haley talks La Si Dah, America’s Got Talent and Syria (go figure)

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It’s a rare occasion that you get a fresh sound in popular music now.  With all the corporate produced giants of the industry, you hardly see someone who is making music from the soul and for the soul. Cas Haley is going against that trend in the most wonderful of ways.

He hails from northwest Texas, but don’t let that fool you.  His reggae rock sound with a little ska seasoning on top is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.  His new album La Si Dah just makes the whole day a bit more breezy.

The title is a definite indication of this stripped down, laid back, comforting body of music. I had the chance to chat with Cas via cell phone as he was on his way from Nashville to Atlanta last week. He had some very heart felt and interesting things to say about his music, his life and we even got into a little politics.

Examiner: I really like your music man. It reminds me a lot of Sublime.  You have your own sound, I just mean you have a great sound too. You have really honest lyrics. Do you write alone? Do you have a team?

Oh thank you.  I love Sublime and what they did. They had a lot of influence on me. So I take that as a compliment.

I write mostly on my own. Sometimes one of the guys in the band will bring something, but I write pretty much all of it.  I try to be as honest as possible and not make [expletive deleted] up. (he laughs)

Examiner: Yeah.  I can really feel your words when you sing.  You put so much soul into the inflection and everything.

I really like Motown and the music they made had a lot of soul and I always wanted to do that too. I learned from that music that when tapping into an emotion while writing the song, you can always tap back into that place again.  That invisible emotion will always be there.

Examiner: So, is ‘Wait For Me’ about someone specific then?

Yeah.  It’s about my wife, being on the road and wanting to be back home. I have a 7 year old son and a 3 year old daughter so it’s hard being on the road a lot.

Examiner: How much of the year do you spend on the road?

I spend about half of the year on the road.  I try to balance it that way anyway.  That way I don’t spend too much time away, but I can still pursue my career.  I’m lucky enough to have a wife who encourages me to pursue my dreams.

Examiner: I read that you’re from Paris, Texas. How did you get into Reggae with all the other musical influences down there?

Yeah.  I’m from northwest Texas. Growing up, my parents were musicians and they were into all styles of music so they encouraged me to explore music.  Then in the early nineties, skater culture came along and I fell in love with bands like NoFX, Sublime, Rancid, Operation Ivy

They made Reggae and Ska cool and relevant. All music is good, but I just fell in love with Reggae and so that’s where I started.

Examiner: Did you have a favorite moment while making this particular project? Does any experience stand out?

Well, I was booked for a studio and I was having a conflict with the engineer. He wouldn’t engineer it the way we wanted and so I wanted to move on.  I really wanted to record live all in one room and these newer engineers want to use the technology and a lot of times they don’t know how to do that.

So my manager got us set up at another studio and everything went smoothly after that.  Up until that point, there were a lot of headaches.  I guess that’s not a favorite moment, but that really was a turning point in the making of this album and everything went really well after we made that switch.

Examiner: I have to ask about America’s Got Talent. What was it like before the show, being on the show and what’s it been like since?

Being on the show taught me a lot. It was like going to school because it gave me a different perspective on avenues in the industry. It’s funny because I wasn’t even going to do it at first. I just kind of did it by chance.

Examiner: Tell me more about that. How did you get on the show.

Well, it was really because of a friend. I had agreed to tryout with a friend, but I didn’t really want to do it.  Then one morning he called me and guilted me into going because I said I was going to and so I had to, to keep my word to my friend, but I didn’t really think I would do it.  Then I got to the point of being the runner up. I really grew as a person.  It affected me and my family in a really positive way.  It was a really good experience.

Examiner: So I always like to ask musicians about politics and world issues when they arise.  I want to ask you what you think about Syria? Or you can pick the debt ceiling or anything else in the news about politics if you don’t want to talk about that.

[sighs] I just don’t want people to die.  I think we need to take a peaceful approach.  I don’t consider myself a Democrat or a Republican. I agree with parts of both.  I’m not against getting involved in a diplomatic way but we should do something besides bombing.  Bombing might lead to more extremism and other things we don’t want.  As long as we do this in a peaceful way, I’m for the United States getting involved.

Examiner: Finally, what would you like to say to your fans in St. Louis and beyond?

I’m excited about coming back to St. Louis! It’s my favorite town in the Midwest and has been for years.

 

Make sure you come out to Old Rock House on October 11, 2013 and see Cas rock along with the Pinstripes.  Doors open at 7. Show at 8. Go here for tickets.

Grandmothers of Invention are Back!

I got a chance to interview Chris Garcia and Don Preston last year for their show at the Old Rock House.  The guys are back at Blueberry this Thursday.  Check it out!

The GrandMothers Of Invention Featuring Legendary Zappa Alumni
Don Preston & Napoleon Murphy Brock To Embark On ‘One Size Fits All And More’ US Tour

Los Angeles, CA – Having just completed a month long European tour of performances in the CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA, AUSTRIA, GERMANY, HOLLAND, SWITZERLAND, the GrandMothers Of Invention, featuring legendary Frank Zappa Alumni Napoleon Murphy Brock and special guest artist Don Preston, once again will tour America. This time around the ensemble will be performing the ONE SIZE FITS ALL album in its entirety, along with other MOI/FRANK ZAPPA favorites from BONGO FURY, OVERNITE SENSATION, ROXY & ELSEWHERE, UNCLE MEAT and WERE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY!

Says Napoleon, “If you liked last year’s tours of us performing the entire ‘Roxy & Elsewhere’ album, you will really have fun this tour, because we are doing ‘One Size Fits All’ in its entirety! (Which includes both German and English versions of “Sofa”) The difference between the GrandMothers Of Invention performing last year’s ‘Roxy’, and this year’s ‘One Size Fits All’, is that the original lead singer for both albums is the same lead singer performing these songs live on stage. This is NOT a tribute band! The GrandMothers Of Invention is the ONLY band currently playing the music of Frank Zappa with two of the original members of the Mothers Of Invention. Come on down and sing along if you know the words!”

Says Don, “This tour will be quite an adventure as we will be performing the entire ‘One Size Fits All’ CD. ‘Inca Roads’ is one of Zappa’s best efforts in music writing along with the other songs on that CD, and the band is ready. This band is the tightest ever! Of course that includes the songs that Napoleon recorded with Zappa like ‘Andy’, ‘Florentine Pogan’ and ‘Sofa #2′. Of course I will have some surprises that are just too weird to reveal here.”

The GrandMothers of Invention are the only Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention alumni who have been consistently performing the music of the maestro since 2003. From the classic ‘Freak Out’, ‘Absolutely Free’, ‘We’re Only In It For The Money’, ‘Uncle Meat’, and ‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’ and ‘Weasels Ripped My Flesh’, to ‘Apostrophe’, ‘The Grand Wazoo’, ‘Overnite Sensation’, ‘Roxy & Elsewhere’, ‘Bongo Fury’ and ‘One Size Fits All’ – they have performed on a very long list of classic Frank Zappa & the Mother’s of Invention’s albums, movies and other projects.

Says the press: “Rare are the musicians who can even play Zappa’s music, let alone make it live and breathe. So Thank the Lord for the GrandMothers of Invention.”…“With two different Zappa eras represented, the GrandMothers have a wide palette of material to choose from.”…“They served up vintage psychedelia – rock songs with surreal lyrics, jazz-like harmonies and melodic complexity, with flashes of wacky satire.”…“Amazing virtuoso musicians, fun and funny.”

The GrandMothers Of Invention are:

NAPOLEON MURPHY BROCK
(Mothers of Invention/Frank Zappa alumni from 1974 thru 1984),
on vocals, tenor saxophone, flute, suavenicity, and dancing(!)

http://www.napoleonmbrock.com/

DON PRESTON
(Mothers of Invention/
Frank Zappa alumni from 1967 thru 1969,
1970, 1971, and 1974
on keyboard synthesizers, electronics, IPOD, magic tricks(!),
and vocals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Preston

https://www.facebook.com/don.preston.54540

Also featuring
CHRISTOPHER GARCIA
on drums, percussion, marimba, and vocals

http://christophergarciamusic.weebly.com/

DAVE JOHNSEN
electric bass, vocals

https://www.facebook.com/davejohnsenbass?fref=ts

http://davejohnsen.com/

MAX KUTNER
electric guitar, vocals

http://www.maxkutner.com/index.html

Waking a Sleepy Kitty – St. Louis Rock at its best

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Sleepy Kitty, although they’re only 5 years deep in the Saint Louis music scene has been making quite a bit of noise on the local landscape. As a twosome from Chicago, Paige Brubeck (lead vocals, guitar, keys) and Evan Sult (drums, guitar, background vocals) are more powerful than some of the big bands we’re used to seeing on a regular basis.  With solid themes and song concepts, their new album is steadily bringing indie rock and roll back to the fore.

Projection Room, according to Paige and Evan is a collection of songs inspired by films, and music in films, they’ve seen over the past couple of years. They revealed that fact and much more in an interview I did with them last week, leading up to their album release show at the Pageant this Friday.

Examiner: So what is this album about?  What kind of stories or themes are you including?

Paige: Well, we have been watching A LOT of movies over the past couple of years and these songs are inspired by those movies and the music in those movies.  Some songs narrate characters from the films.  Others like ‘What are you Gonna Do When You Find Bigfoot’ are just about these films that were fascinating.  I mean, I’m not really into Bigfoot myself, but these people were so engulfed by this idea that [bigfoot] is out there, that we were compelled to write a song about it.

Evan: Yeah.  St. Louis has all these great little places to see films and some really good film festivals and we were watching all these films and writing music and we kept noticing that the themes from the films kept popping up in our lyrics and the feel of the songs.  So we just decided to go with it and Projection Room embodies that period of watching all these movies and that surrounding our thoughts in making the music.

Examiner: So, ‘Batman: The Ride‘, is that about the movie or something else?

Paige: That one’s not really about a movie, so much as a vivid memory I have of going to ride the Batman ride at Six Flags for the first time as a teenager.  It’s not just me either! A lot of adults I talk to that are my age, had this same experience with the marketing of that ride around junior high [I admit I remember the campaign too].  I remember seeing the commercials and being so excited! Then I get to the park and I end up waiting an hour and a half to ride the ride and it was one of the best rides I remember as a kid.  Totally worth it!

I called Evan one day about it because it was on my mind and before the conversation was over we were already writing music for it and everything. We actually played that song for the first time at a comic book store.  We’re both comic book fans and we played at Star Clipper in the Loop for a comic book release.  We just called and asked if we could play, and the people there were like, ‘well, we’ve never had a rock band play at an event before but why not?’ and so we played and we debuted Batman: The Ride there.

Examiner: Do you have any favorite songs coming off of the new album?

Evan: Batman: The Ride is a Saint Louis favorite, so we love playing that one.  At the Pageant show, we’re releasing a song called Hold Yr Ground which is about our experience living on Cherokee Street and our thoughts on that part of St. Louis.

Paige: I really like playing ‘Don’t You Start’ because I get to loop my own voice in real time on stage. I don’t get to do that with many other songs.  Then there’s ‘All I Do is Dream’ which comes from ‘Singing in the Rain‘.  Any time I can mix what I love about rock and roll with what Fred Astaire did or Gene Kelly I will.  I love both of those things, so I want to combine them as much as possible!

Examiner: Evan – you run Eleven magazine don’t you? How do you balance your duties with Eleven and still have time for everything Sleepy Kitty?

Evan: Yes! I’m editor-in-chief actually. Well, we moved here five years ago from Chicago and we had both Sleepy Kitty and Sleepy Kitty arts going at the same time which is screen printing and other media. I was also doing some writing of my own.  I have a lot of experience in producing print media and I’ve always liked having lots of things I’m juggling so when the position at Eleven opened up a couple of years ago, I jumped on it. Before we would just rant to our friends and fans about the music we were listening to and everything else we were into. Now I have a real outlet to rant about those same things, to a much wider audience [chuckles]

Examiner: What about you Paige? What other endeavors do you have going currently?

Paige: I still work on Sleepy Kitty arts, I fill in at Eleven magazine and I was a vocal instructor at Camp Jam, a kid’s rock and roll camp.  Through Sleepy Kitty arts I’ve done a lot of album artwork for other local artists as well as some posters.  Not as many posters, but I still make them.

Examiner: very cool.  So why did you move here from Chicago? Was is mainly economical? Were there other reasons?

Paige: We did come to St. Louis for mainly economic reasons, but we stayed for much more than that.  In Chicago we were living in a neighborhood of artists that had passed its peak for it to be a good time to be an artist in that area.  Also, with Sleepy Kitty arts – screen printing, art space and studio space all in one place, we were growing out of our apartment. When we moved to St. Louis we could see that it was a great time to be doing art and music here. 

Evan: We saw a lot of people putting in hard work, finding buildings and opening art galleries or other kinds of venues and just making it work.  So we found a building to work on, really put in some elbow grease and went to work ourselves.

Paige: One of the main reasons St. Louis works for us is because it is a city.  I prefer the city life.  I grew up in a rural area outside of St. Louis, but I’ve always been in love with city life.

Evan: I grew up in the northwest and moved to Seattle in 1991 right as it was exploding. In Seattle during the alternative rock period, we had dozens of bands that were ready to make a leap to the next level, that got to develop in private.  I see the same thing happening in St. Louis right now.  There’s such a rich music scene here! The musicians know, but the citizens don’t.  Not really.  There’s just a lot of really good bands here that haven’t been disturbed by the mainstream scene like you might see in L.A., New York or Atlanta. 

Examiner: Speaking of really good bands… Are there any that you really like or would suggest that people listen to?  Besides yourselves of course.

Evan: We really like Middle Class Fashion.  They’re on Tower Groove Records and we just split a 7-inch vinyl with them.  They’re really good, and they’re also well known in St. Louis. Also Boreal Hills.  They’re a force.  They’re a two piece band like us and their energy on stage is amazing! Oh.  Budchasers!  If you haven’t had a chance to go see them, do it.

Examiner: Since you’ve both seen much more robust music scenes before, what would you say that St. Louis needs to take that next step, for the artists to become mainstream? Do we need more labels? Anything with infrastructure?

Evan: One thing we need here is more labels based in the city.  You can see how many there are at Label Day this year on Labor Day weekend. We’re on Euclid Records and then there’s Tower Groove records and some others.  Middle Class Fashion is on Tower Groove. Being on Euclid Records is really cool because they’ve been operating as a record store for so long and now they have a label to support more of the music scene.

Paige: St. Louis needs better public transit which is what makes Chicago and New York so much better.  For example, when we were up in Manhattan for a while, around load in time – like 4 in the evening – you could see bands hopping out of cabs, buses and every other form of public transport you can think of with their equipment, guitar cases and all.  St. Louis needs more of this, because it makes it easier for bands to get around without having to buy or rent a van.  Also, since alcohol is related to clubs, not having to worry about driving is a big plus for people who want to come to shows too.  The city needs a more pedestrian focus.

Evan: What’s good is that clubs are bringing in good bands for St. Louis bands to play with. St. Louis bands are finding out that they need to go to other cities and represent for St. Louis well.  They need to go to places like Nashville, Memphis, New York, Chicago, etc.  Then the dots or threads will start to connect and get people excited about the scene.  That’s just the way it works.  St. Louis bands are starting to do a better job at that.  Whenever we go out of town we make sure people know that we’re from St. Louis so they can understand that their really is a good music scene here.

Examiner: I always ask if there’s anything you want the fans to know or you want to say to the fans before we sign off.  What would you want to tell your fans?

Evan: Definitely. I would say come to the Pageant show next Friday [8.23.2013].  We’re playing with three of our favorite bands – all with new tricks.

Paige: Yeah.  At the show, our new CD single will be released so you can pick it up too.

[We exchange pleasantries and hang up the phone.]

Next time I’ll remember to ask Paige is she has any relation to the late great Dave Brubeck.

Father knows best… Or at least Father Figures seem to

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Remember when jazz was just for old people? Wait. It wasn’t?  So you’re saying jazz was the hip thing to be listening to?  But that was ages ago! well, now it just may becoming cool again. Enter, Father Figures.

Father Figures make jazz look cool and they’ve added some delightful ingredients that aren’t usually there.  Brooklyn based, Father Figures plays jazz grooves – sometimes slow and sometimes upbeat, but always with a style that is unique and all their own. They call their style ‘zombie jazz’, but there is a lot of life in these tunes.  In songs like ‘Piranha Plant’, there is a good amount of hip hop and rock influence that finds its way to the surface of the pool of watery jazz riffs from the saxophone and back beat of the drums.

Some of their music jars you out of your comfort zone for music in general. The other band that comes to mind that pushed the limits to the breaking point are the Mothers of Invention (Frank Zappa). Using dissonance and affected meter, these guys are breaking the rules of popular music.  In songs like ‘Steamship Authority‘, Father Figures begin with a completely dissonant piano riff, then snap you out of the horror scene forming in your mind with adept saxophone playing, seeming to mimic an angry Steamship agent.

Then, on a song like ‘This is the Way We Mean‘, the band gives you a hip hop style back beat with jazzy tones from the keys and saxophone – almost willing you to groove along. In ‘Bad, Bad Birds‘ (from the EP of the same name), it almost sounds like you’re going to get a totally rock and roll song.  Slowly, keys and other elements are added in to bring back those jazz roots, ending in an ethereal stretch of a Rhodes-like piano and distorted electric guitar playing, backed by what sounds like an amplitude modulator.

Doomed to Fall‘ brings more of the jazz feel to the audience, but still has some funk seasoning on it.  (mmm… tasty)

The double F crew slows it down on ‘Murmur‘ to bring us home.

Check out the Bad Birds EP, the new single Piranha Plant and then go back and listen to the self-titled debut project, all on bandcamp.

St. Louisans have a chance to join the Father Figures for a live show, tonight and tomorrow at Foam Coffee and Beer on Cherokee Street at the corner of Jefferson and Cherokee.

Aaah! Real Monsters tore up the St. Louis battle of the bands

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Remember the cartoon Aaah!!! Real Monsters?  It was a kid’s show displaying the other side of what it’s like to be a teenage monster – the insecurities, the attempts to try and fit in with the other monsters in your peer group.  It was kind of cheesy, but the point was that even things kids think are scary have scary things happening in their lives too.

The punk band carrying the same name (spelled Aaah!RealMonsters) is far from cheesy, but still has just as much of an impact.

Lead man Tom Watkins let’s the audiences know that the band is here to have fun and we should all participate – from the first words he utters.  Backing him up are Matt Moore (bass/vocals), Nick Dawes (lead guitar), Ryan Martin (vocals/guitar) and Keith Bowman (drums) who are having just as much fun as Watkins on stage.  I’m not sure if they do this every show, but the “That 70’s show” theme intro gets everyone engaged right away. We were all singing along and bobbing our heads in that traditional rock and roll style, jarring and precise along with the beat.

In the darkness of Cicero’s back room, Watkins unceremoniously introduced the band before leaping 4 feet in the air and landing on the first hit of ‘Jealousy‘.  The energy of these guys on stage is contagious.  It wasn’t long before the punk rhythms flowing from four guitars, a bass guitar and drums began to spill off the stage and infect the crowd.  The symptoms began with uncontrollable drifting toward the stage, which soon escalated into chronic head banging and by the middle of the ‘You’ll Get What’s Coming‘, a gaggle of ‘bros’ had formed a wildly undulating mosh pit in front of center stage. At some point during the sing-along portion of the You’ll Get What’s Coming, the crowd became hooked.

The mosh pit waxed and waned during ‘In No Time‘, ‘Trademark‘ and ‘Recovery Tea‘, pausing only to pass shots to the guys on stage and allow Matt Moore (bass) to down a dose of the nectar of the gods (beer). At one point Moore was passed a shot of what looked like some very strong liquor and he took it with ease. When asked if he wanted the girl’s beer who handed him the shot, to chase it, he simply replied “I chase with high fives” and proceeded to high five a few of the front row lookers on.

The tempo never slowed even during the low mood created by Watkins’ introductions of ‘Good Riddance‘ and Nick Dawes’  introduction to ‘Colorado‘ – a song about the complex feelings he had about his house burning down and leaving Colorado to form their band in St. Louis.  After the last song, ‘Seconds Away‘, the crowd was chanting ‘One more song!’ Unfortunately, the Monsters’ time was up, as this was a battle of the bands – presented by Gorilla Music – and other bands needed their due time.  If you missed the show, check the Gorilla website to find out when and where the next one will be and then go listen to all the bands music. Punk love!

Obie Trice talks Zombies, Indie labels, his mother and more…

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This week I got the honor of interviewing one of the illest emcees from the D (Detroit for the uninitiated), Obie Trice, and he had some interesting things to say about his new label, what he might be doing if he wasn’t rapping and who he likes in the industry currently, besides himself of course (I mean, he does have a new album coming out soon, who wouldn’t listen to their own stuff more than anyone else while they’re cutting a record?). I caught up with him as he was winding up his tour with Coast2Coast Entertainment in St. Louis.

This is what came of our conversation:

So, (I’ve seen from wikipedia) that you’ve been rapping since you were a teenager.  Is there anything else you might be doing if you weren’t in music?

[Obie chuckles] Read on wikipedia, right… You know, I’ve always been interested in dead bodies.  I spend a lot of time contemplating death and that whole transition from life to death you know?  Even from a young age… So probably mortuary science.  I thought I might study that when I was real young, like 9 or 10. But yeah, that transition fascinates me.  I’m very into zombies, zombie movies and things like that.  I saw death a lot in my life, so its on my mind a lot.  I probably think about it [the transition] about 2 to 3 times a month.

Right on.  That’s really interesting [we trade stories about the old TV shows Outer Limits and The Twilight zone re: death and transition]. Now that you’ve got your indie label, after having been an artist – do you like having your own label versus being on one?

Well, we’re just starting.  But as an artist, Interscope always did all the meeting stuff for me.  I didn’t have to go meet with people, like… [networking?] Yeah.  Networking with other execs is so different from when I was an artist and that stuff was taken care of.  Now, when I meet with people they might have their own little box that they want to keep a certain way and if I don’t fit into that, then I face a lot of road blocks.

Do you find that you run into more resistance or that most people just want to work?

Most people just want to work with you, but you still have those folks that won’t because they want to control everything that their artists or their label does. I really try to connect with folks on the radio like the Futures and the people that have stuff on the radio right now so that if I have them do a hook or a verse for one of my artists, we can use that [cache] to give my artists… [to make them relevant?] Yeah.  So they can be relevant.

How do you feel about the current state of Hip Hop?  Some people say it died, or it’s underground and things like that.  How do you feel personally?

I like it.  It’s always changing and I just want to be a part of that change.

Speaking of change, do you leverage the internet for your own label?

Oh yeah!  We definitely use the internet to its full potential. [Obie laughs] We try to use every resource possible to get the music out there. There is definitely a big change in the industry and you can see it happening.  My DJ was talking today about something Jay-Z said, when he was talking about Magna Carta, Holy Grail. He was talking about how it got leaked.  I mean, when it was about to come out, I went on YouTube to see if I could find more on it a few days before the release and even I found it.  The whole thing was just on there in a playlist [Obie says this while motioning, his hand bent at a right angle, moving from his sunglass-shaded eyes to his chest]

From top to bottom, the whole thing was there.  I know Jay was trying to keep it under wraps and get his sales, you know, with the thing with Samsung – because the day after it was released I tried to go back and listen some more to get a better feel and it was gone… on some Frank Sinatra type [expletive deleted].  It was crazy.  Like some straight up mob [expletive deleted]

I mean, even when I’ve released something, it’s been leaked weeks before.  Because you send your music to all these blogs and journalists, and you don’t know if they gave it to their teenager or somebody else and they just put your [expletive deleted] up on the internet. But what Jay was saying is that now, with the internet and everything, it kind of robs part of the excitement of a release, because of the leaks. Its not like when the industry was selling vinyl and even CDs and nobody could get that except the label or the artist.

I understand that.

But all that said, I do like a lot of the new artists, the K.R.I.T.s [referring to Big K.R.I.T.], J.Cole, Drake, the Futures [referring to Atlanta artist Future] or even a French Montana.  And who else… [Obie tilts his head back thinking, the white stitched “L.A.” on his royal blue Dodgers cap facing the ornate ceiling of the Mayfair hotel business center, resting the MLB sign back of the leather accent chair]

Kendrick Lamar?

Yeah! Kendrick.  I got mad love for Kendrick.  But yeah, I really like, like Future – for his marketability

[I admit, that I’m not really into Future, but I understand that everyone’s not a lyricist and in the club, you may not want to listen to every word a lyricist says]

But Future, and like French Montana.  I really like them.  Especially Future’s style.  It’s just so marketable.  Not to say that I don’t like the lyricists either. But those are the guys that are on the radio that I like.

Is there anyone underground that you listen to?

Patience, I like him.  He spells his name with an 8 [P8tience]. He’s good.  And then I have my production team, No Speakers as well as this producer I worked with on my last mixtape, Drey Skonie.  They have a really good sound. Other than that, I’ve been listening to my own music a lot.

I know most musicians don’t just listen to their own genre.  What other kinds of music are you listening to? What’s on your iPhone or in your CD player, if you still have those?

Oldies really.  [Obie takes out his iPhone 5 and check the music app] Gap Band.  I was listening to Naked Eyes earlier.  Naked Eyes – Always Something There to Remind Me. Darryl Hall and John Oates. But I’ve been listening to my own music mostly.  You know, it’s been 10 years since Cheers, I want to release The Hangover.  My new album, The Hangover in this tenth year, sort of like that all coming together… what’s the word? [the culmination?] Yeah.  The culmination of all that. 

I kind of took a break after the thing with Aftermath.  I was kinda hurt by that, although we worked it all out.  But I was a little hurt and between that and me getting shot.  And just a few months earlier, Proof had got shot and he died.  But I got shot and after the thing with Aftermath, I just took a break from music.  I wish I wouldn’t have because the Rap game is a field where you can’t really take breaks.  But I had to take a break.  And now I’m back and I’m lucky that Interscope had gotten the Obie Trice brand out there.  They paid a lot of money to get out the Obie Trice brand, so I was very lucky to have that and so now people still know me, but I’m still coming from behind.

Yeah.  I was telling someone (my friend Marc), that I was going to interview you today and he mentioned ‘The Setup‘ and how that’s still a great song.

Yeah.  That one.  That one, I was just in the studio with Dre and he told me to go in.  He was just playing the beat and he told me to go in. So I wrote and he liked it and we just made it that night.  It was [amazing].

So what kind of story are you telling with this album?

[Obie looks at a guy with about 50 blue, helium-filled balloons walk past the stained glass hotel windows and hesitates… chuckling] The Hangover is just fun music.  I’m not really telling a story.  I have some songs about church and other social stuff, but it’s mostly just about having a good time.

As a person, do you think about politics and other social issues, or…?

Yeah, I think about politics, especially in Detroit. You know, we have Kwame Kilpatrick who just went to jail and another friend of mine that was accused of touching a little boy and he just up and left office.  He was just accused, he wasn’t even arrested or anything, he just left [laughs] I have some songs about political stuff, but mostly I just want people to have fun with my music.

Getting away from the music for a second, and speaking of social issues, what do you think of Detroit declaring bankruptcy and how does that effect your business, being based there?

Well, first of all… there’s never really been any industry in Detroit. So it’s always going to be… It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.  There’s so much that has to happen. [Obie pauses] We’re lost as a people…  I went back to my old neighborhood.  It looks like a third world country. I was trying to buy my mother’s house after she died.  Well, I was going to buy my old house, my mother’s house… but I have two older brothers and they told me not to, but I was driving through the neighborhood for this other interview.  I was riding through my old neighborhood for something else and I had to end it.  I just… I wasn’t in a place where I wanted to keep going.  It looks like a third world country! That was hard to see, because my moms… When she was alive.  She died from Cancer in 2011.  July thirteenth 2011. I’ll never forget that.  [I express my condolences] But anyway, we were just driving through and even my mom’s house was in bad shape.  They [referring to the other people in the neighborhood] just been through there and stripped it.  Tore down the awning and took all the copper, the copper piping.  And when my mom was living there, she used to take such good care of it. It’s bad there man.  I mean, that’s how I got shot and Proof got killed.  It’s this do or die attitude these guys have.

It’s a good thing she’s not here to see it I guess.

Maybe she did. 

Yeah.  Maybe she does.  That’s crazy.

[Obie gives a knowing look through his Ray-Bans]

Does your mother’s passing ever effect your music or come out in your music?

Well yeah. I mean, I have this new song called “Sky High” with Drey Skonie that touches on that. Then on this mixtape I had, Watch the Chrome.  That was a play on Jay-Z and KanYe West’s Watch the Throne.  But I had a song on there called New Day, and I rapped about my mom on there. So yeah, that does come up a little bit.

Well, I think that’s a good place to end.  Is there anything you want to tell your fans before we sign off?

Yeah. Go get the latest album, Bottom’s Up on iTunes. Dre [referring to Dr. Dre] did the intro track on Bottom’s Up… Get the Watch the Chrome mixtape on DatPiff.  You can get the new single “Bang” off of new album, The Hangover on iTunes. Also, hit me on the SM [social media].  Twitter: @RealObieTrice, IG [Instagram] same thing @RealObieTrice and FB – just look up Obie Trice.  It’s the one with the baby picture and maybe with the sunglasses.

O.K. Good talking to you man.

You too. You’re coming to the show right?

Of course!

[We walk down the hall and part ways]

Tef Poe takes a look at the music industry from the other side of the mirror.

 

 

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When you look in the mirror and see your reflection, do you like what you see?

The music industry rarely shines a light on the real inner workings of entertainment.  On top of that, most entertainers, let alone hip hop emcees won’t turn the mirror on the the industry itself and make them take a look.  Tef Poe is not one of those emcees.  He recently wrote in the Riverfront Times about his experience.

In his latest video from the Hero Killer EP, “Rap F*cked Up“, produced by Average Jo, Tef shows the images we see in music videos everyday, with a couple twists.  There are some unidentifiable men in suits at the party amongst Tef and his entourage – observing, sliding faders on mixing boards, stuffing money in suitcases and handing out illicit drugs and assault weapons. You also see images of demonic and religious symbols such as the arc of the covenant and others flashing over the beat as Tef is recording his verse in the vocal booth. The next act in the video though, is what makes it intriguing…

When the chorus begins, you see Tef and one of the masked men performing a ritual with Tef holding a skull next to a circle of candles around a bible and other items you might expect to see for a ritual done to boost sales of hip hop records.  This is right about the time when images of Notorious B.I.G. flash in between scenes of the Foot Klan on stage and the ritual being performed.  Tef seems to be linking his desire to be as big as the late great Notorious, with having to go through some sort of transition to idol worship of another kind – all this in order to achieve the greatness of those who came before him.

In the final act, as Tef is shooting a video with a typical ‘bad b*tch’, the scene ends and Tef approaches the young lady, possibly to get her number or ask her out and she vehemently rejects him.  Mind you, this is right after she was all smiles and hands-on with Tef in front of the camera.  As Tef tries to retaliate for her pushing him away, the masked men come and escort him away.  Add this to the party scene from the beginning of the video where the masked men are now removing the guns, drugs, women and money and leaving Tef and his male companions to wake up to little of what they had the night before, but symbols of Illuminati influence, such as the skull, still very much present.  In the final scene, Tef vomits in the bathroom after he awakens and as soon as he gains composure, one of the men returns and hands him a noose.  Underneath the noose is a pyramid with the all seeing eye of Ra tattooed on the mans hand.  You can imagine what happens next.

Notice there was no mention of the lyrics here which, if you’re paying attention to the song, are the best part of this reflection of the industry.  Rather than telling you though, take a look.

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