You can also meet some comic book creators and get your books signed by an artist of a writer.
Here are some of the lovely ladies that are welcome here at Silent Cacophony any time.
I have loved Claire Danes ever since I first saw her on the excellent TV series “My So-Called Life”
The Gummi Bears is an animated television program that I used to watch when I was a kid. I believe that it started back in the mid 1980s.
I used to love this show.
I remember that of all the cartoons I used to watch, this was one that my dad would actually go out of his way to watch with me. I know he didn’t really care to watch any of my other programs but this one we enjoyed together.
Last week I found out that this series had been released on DVD. The public library had the box set containing all of the episodes from the first three seasons. Of course, I had to borrow it. I wanted to see if the show still held up after all these years. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it still does.
The story is really well done. The characters are likable and I found that I really got back into the series.
My class had been really well-behaved for the past few weeks so I rewarded them by showing a few episodes of the show on Friday. My students loved it.
I wish this show was still on the air. But you can find it on DVD and I also found it on YouTube.
Here is the premiere episode, in three parts.
I’ve been extremely busy this month with work, Script Frenzy, an AQ course that I have been taking online, and other personal obligations. So today, I reworked an earlier post from a few years back. It’s a really good one that you can use to help your students make good choices in life. I hope you find it helpful.
Three summers ago, I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It is an inspiring book and I have taken one of his ideas and made it fit for the classroom.
Tolle tells us that all of our problems in life are simply situations. How we react to these situations is what causes the drama and pain in our lives. He goes on to tell us that there are three things we can do in every situation. The three things are; we can accept the situation, we can fight to change it, or we can run away.
I presented this model to my class to help them make wise and safe choices. I demonstrated it with a personal example. I related to them a time when I was outside doing a duty at recess time. I had to deal with a situation where a student swore at me.
1) I could accept this and let her swear at me. I don’t need to let words bother me. Who cares if she’s swearing at me?
2) I could take her into the office and make sure that she sees the principal for her actions.
3) I could walk away and just ignore her.
Of course, before you make any decision, you should think about it, weigh the pros and cons, and then act. Once again, three things.
1) Accept it – If I let her swear at me. She will think it is okay to show disrespect. Other students might see this and begin to show disrespectful behaviour to me as well. I don’t deserve to be treated this way at school and probably shouldn’t put up with this behaviour.
2) Change it – I can take her into the office so she realizes how serious this is. The principal will make it clear that she needs to be respectful and not swear at school.
3) Walk away – If I walk away, I am actually giving her permission to swear at me. Maybe she will realize it was wrong, maybe she won’t. It could keep happening.
So now I have weighed my options and can safely chose to go with number 2. It is the best decision. Of course this model is overly simple. I could have changed it several different ways. I teach my students that the best decision is a fair and respectful decision to both parties. Taking her to the office is fair, respectful, and safe. Once again, three important things.
We should all be able to remember the Power of 3.
3 things to do in any situation (Accept it, Change it, Walk away.)
3 ways to make a decision (Think about it, weigh the pros and cons, and then act.)
3 ways to know if you made the right choice (Is it fair, respectful, and safe?)
I might be overly simplifying Tolle’s message but I really think this works. It is a great model for making decisions. It is easy to remember. It helps us to realize both sides and make a fair, respectful and safe choice.
Don’t forget to check out all the other great Teaching Tip posts. The Table of Contents Page has them listed by order of appearance and by theme for easy surfing. Enjoy!
I’m gonna write today. It’s week 3 of Script Frenzy. Week 2 was a bust. I need to be productive this week or I’m not going to get it done.
Well, that fills you in on my creative process this week.
I thought that I might have actually been able to complete the one-hundred pages this weekend but I hit a little snag.
I went to the Script Frenzy website and tried to validate my page count. In order to do this, the file had to be saved as a PDF document. I had been writing the screenplay using a free program called Celtx and had been relying on the page numbering function. According to that program, I had written 69 pages but when I converted the file to PDF, my page count shrunk to 58 pages.
I was now further away from the goal of 100 pages than I had thought. I’m glad that I had tried to validate my page count before I thought I was done. It felt like I was going to have to rush the story to finish it in time any way. Now I know that I have enough pages left to tell it properly.
I did a fair amount of writing this weekend and caught back up. I am now at a validated 69 pages and have another 31 to write in this last week of the challenge.
I have a good block of time in which I will be able to write tomorrow so I will get this done. Have no fear. And thanks for the support!
Go to the post Script Frenzy: Mission Completed.
Brother Ali; “Nah, I love that one. That song means a lot to me.”
Chase: “Alright, we’re gonna drop that one and we’ll be back to talk some more with Brother Ali. This is Chase March. Gamma Krush is gonna spin that track. We’ll be right back.”
Chase: “That’s a nice song right there. I’m a writer and I like how that song deals with the writing process. It says, ‘I see all this from the desk I write this rhymes from. My pen starts to scribble on its own, my mind’s numb.’ So your pen is scribbling on its own?”
Brother Ali: “It’s funny because I actually wrote that song in my head. I didn’t actually write that song down. That’s me and Ant’s first song we ever made together. We made that song in maybe 15 minutes. And that’s how we started our work together and he’s produced everything I’ve ever done since then.”
Chase: “That’s amazing how lyrics and ideas can just seemingly come out of the blue, like out of nowhere. It’s amazing where that comes from. It’s pretty interesting that you can write in your head too because I’m a writer but I can’t do that. I know Jay-Z says he can do that.”
Brother Ali: “Jay-Z does that. And at the time I was doing that, that was 2001 and 2002 when I was doing those songs and that wasn’t a popular thing yet. It was rumoured that Biggie used to do that. I think a lot of people have written songs in their head. Now it’s become a style of writing hip-hop lyrics. But what most people do, what L’il Wayne does, what my friend Freeway does, is that they go in, they hear the music, they get a couple lines, they walk in the recording booth, they record those lines, they stop, they think of a couple more lines, and they record those. So you’re still writing, you’re just not actually writing it down on the paper. But when you’d normally think of a passage and write it down, you think of a passage and you say it and passage by passage you piece a song together.
What Jay-Z does and I never been there to see iot but I’ve known people who’ve been there to see it. 9th Wonder, Just Blaze, and Kanye has said that this man will literally hear a piece of music that he likes, walk around the studio mumbling to himself for an hour, and then get in there and say this song to music that he’s never heard before, first take and it’s done. That’s a genius.
When I was writing songs in my head, I was writing little passages at a time, I was writing a song a week. It took me a week to write a song like that and I could only do it when I was inspired to do it. So for Jay-Z to do some of the best written songs in the history of rap, so consistently with such a high output over such a long period of time and keep the quality that high, there’s a definite argument to be made that he’s the best.”
Chase: “Definitely, just in the terms of album output alone, he’s one of the tops. There are people like LL Cool J who has put out 13 albums but they weren’t all good, ya know. I kind of veered away from Jay-Z for a couple of years when he was getting a little more commercial there, in my opinion and I didn’t really want to hear that but going back and looking at it now, I can appreciate his whole body of work.”
Brother Ali: “And body of work is a good term to use for him. Everybody was struggling after Biggie and 2Pac died to put the pieces of the rap world back together and trying to figure out how to resolve the meeting place between being the respected rapper and being commercially successful. Very few people found a good way to figure that out. What Jay-Z did was that he made, all of one album, he would specifically make songs that were for the radio, or for the club setting and among that type of music, they’re still the top songs of their time. But also on that same album, he would give you masterpieces as well. The greatest example of that is a song like ‘Big Pimpin’ is on the same album as ‘So Ghetto,’ and ‘When it’s Hot it’s Hot,’ ya know masterpieces, that by anybody’s standards are some of the greatest rapping that’s ever happened in the history of the artform. There are those on every single one of his albums. That’s a way that he found to reconcile that problem or obstacle where a lot of people just failed miserably.
A lot pf people that are considered to be Jay-Z’s rivals and I’m not going to say names but if you think about who his perceived rivals have been, were a hot googly mess trying to figure that out. Whereas Jay-Z did it perfectly in my mind. He had commercially successful songs on the same album as masterpieces and they all blend cohesively and it’s all him. He’s probably the greatest.”
Chase: “I wish Biggie were still alive because I wonder if Biggie would’ve been able to do the same thing.”
Brother Ali: “That’s a great question and I think that’s something that we never consider. And when Jay-Z says. ‘If I’m not better than B.I.G. I’m the closest one,’ who knows what really would have come. He didn’t have the opportunity to show us what he would have done on album 9.”
Chase: “Yeah, it’s a shame. The only other rapper I can think of that’s had a consistent career and had a great body of work other than Jay-Z, in that longevity I mean, is Ice Cube. And I find that his name never comes up in these discussions.”
Brother Ali: “Oh, he’s one of my favourites. He really did have a long and high output of amazing work both in his music, in his group NWA, also in the people he ghostwrote for. There definitely was a ten-year period where he was considered Top 5 emcee wise. I think since then, he’s diversified what he’s done so much that he’s in movies.”
Gamma Krush: “He’s admitted to having good days and bad days and his bad days would be when he was focusing on his movies.”
Brother Ali: “I think he’s just expanded what he does. His focus isn’t on music as much anymore. But he can’t help but make something great on everything he does. He still has his moments of greatest.”
Chase: “Yeah, I like Cube. Man, this has been aweome. It’s been really cool to be able to sit down with you. I’d been looking forward to this for so long.”
Brother Ali: “This is my favouite interview I’ve done in over a month, since Europe. The first comfortable conversation I’ve had since Europe.”
Chase: “Yeah, that’s what I like to do with my interviews. We’ve got a quite a lot of them up on chasemarch.com.”
Brother Ali: “That’s what’s up.”
Chase: “If you go there and click on ‘Artist Interviews’ and what I like to do is actually transcribe the podcasts so people can read it.”
Brother Ali: “That’s really cool.”
Chase: ‘It makes it more searchable too. So it’s more of an event our interviews here for DOPEfm. So, I think we should play another track. I kind of what to play the one that has Phonte from Little Brother.”
Gamma Krush: “Here I am”
Chase: “Yeah from BK-One.”
Brother Ali: “Let’s do it.”
Chase: “Okay, this is ‘Here I am’ from BK-One. Gamma Krush spin that track and we’ll be right back.”
Brother Ali: “Here I am is me, Phonte, and The Grouch. Me and Slug have a song on that album, and me and Scarface have a song on that album too.”
Gamma Krush: “Dope album by the way.”
Bk-One: “Thanks man, I appreciate it.”
That’s all for today folks. This interview aired this past weekend on CFMU 93.3 fm in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. TONIGHT overnight you can hear even more as we continue to talk to Brother Ali and his DJ BK-One. You can listen live starting at 12:00 a.m. Saturday Nights / Sunday Mornings from the station’s website.
Please download this interview, pass it along to your friends and spread the word. Brother Ali is an amazing artist and a super-cool dude. It was an honour to meet him and to hang out with him backstage before the concert. I have been a big fan for sometime now and I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to speak to some of my heroes in hip-hop.
I loved this interview and I especially loved when Brother Ali commented that it was his favourite interview in a long time as well. It lets me know that we’re doing something right here at DOPEfm and at chasemarch.com. I hope you’ve been enjoying this as much as I have. Thanks for tuning it.
Music Playlist at MixPod.com
Missed Part 1 or Part 2? Go back and read them. And don’t forget to download the podcast for free. The podcast contains the entire hour’s interview and you only need to download that once to hear it. I only break the transcripts up into separate parts because they are a little too long to put it all into one blog post.
Without further ado, here is Part 3 of the interview transcript.
Chase: “I’ve noticed that you’ve been popping up on quite a few records here and there. You’ve been getting guest appearances and things like that, so is there anybody you haven’t worked with yet that you’d really like the opportunity to?”
Brother Ali: “There’s three of them and I’ll give it to you in order of how bad I want to do it. I want to work with ?uestlove more than anything in the world cause I think that we would make something that’s never been made before in any kind of music but especially in rap. We would make something truly incredible. He’s very busy and he’s got things much better to do with his time but in my heart of hearts, that is what I’d like.
I’d like to do something with Cat Stevens, his name is Yusuf Islam now. I think that would be really beautiful. And Johnny Winter.”
Chase: “I’m not familiar with Johnny Winter.”
Brother Ali: “Johnny Winter is an albino guy from down south, from Texas who studied the blues and fell in love with the blues and became one of the great blues guitarists and singers. And he was from a generation younger than the guys considered the golden age guys like Son House and Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters, but they actually embraced him. And he ended up producing some of Muddy Waters later albums and touring together and things like that. He’s still out here performing and he’s really incredible. Me and him just have so much in common. I really don’t ever have to make anything with him, I just want to meet him, talk with him, and learn from him.”
Chase: “Very cool. Have you ever ghostwritten?”
Brother Ali: “Yes. I ghostwrote a song called ‘Original Prankster’ for my son who was six years old at the time and its on me and BK-One’s mix CD called ‘Off the Record.’ And if you look in the Internet, there’s a battle MTV filmed an aired where my son Faheem is battling my bog brother Slug from Atmosphere and legend has it that I might have had something to do with the verses he says against my friend Slug.”
Chase: “That’s awesome.”
Brother Ali: “But I would really like to do it. There’s been times where I’ve though about asking Slug to write something for me. I would do something that he wrote for me. But one of the things I like about rap and hip-hop is that the writing is an integral part of it. So it not’s just to say how well can you say this rhyme but the mind that wrote that, along with the voice that’s saying it, and that persona and all that. It’s a very special powerful thing that we have within hip-hop. And you can communicate more within hip-hop. maybe, is some ways, than you can with any other genre of music.”
Chase: “Yeah, I think so too. We can almost say a lot more than different genres because pop radio, they seem to be love songs most of the time, maybe country music because they can tell different kinds of stories. But I think hip-hop does have more latitude there when it comes to content.”
Brother Ali: “Well, when it comes to hip-hop, it’s a music based on incorporating other genres of music. So musically, every type of music is in hip-hop. Country is in hip-hop, blues are in hip-hop, jazz is in hip-hop, funk is in hip-hop, soul, latin music, African music, ya know, everything is in hip-hop musically.
If you write out the lyrics to a hip-hop song it’s three pages long, whereas the average pop song can be written on one napkin. Now there’s a case to be made on the other end too that when words are gone like in jazz music. Within jazz music, the way that the horn sounds or the choices that are made there communicate on a more profound plane. So you can make the case either way. But when you’re just talking about lyricism and verbally communicating, no other type of music beats hip-hop.”
Chase: “I think so too. One of the interesting discussions I’ve had on my blog, and I have like a hundred comments on this post, is that rap is not music. I wrote that post in response to a discussion I had with a fellow teacher who told me that rap music is an oxymoronic term because rap isn’t music. I’d like to hear what you have to say on this topic.”
Brother Ali: “Every great form of music started off with people who didn’t really relate to it and didn’t understand it, saying that it wasn’t music. Every great form of music. They said, jazz wasn’t music and jazz is actually the most innovative and creative music ever in the history of the world. They said that blues wasn’t music. They said that rock and roll wasn’t music.
I guarantee that whoever said that, whatever music they think they love, ‘cause you don’t say something like that unless you have a disconnect with what music is. But whatever music they think they love, the most authentic form of it was called ‘not music’”
Chase: “That’s cool, ‘cause I don’t think we actually think about that. Like Elvis and The Beatles and jazz and people are still saying that the Beatles are amazing but when they came out they were controversial and people were-”
Brother Ali: “And if you look at what music The Beatles were emulating, what music Elvis was emulating and in some cases stealing-”
Gamma Krush: “Black soul music and blues”
Brother Ali: “All those guys were really inspired by blues and the artists themselves revered the blues and were so inspired by it, the great ones were. And then you got guys that were just stealing it and living it up and really loving the fact that you could steal black music and just redo it based on the fact that you’re white was why people would love it and support it and call you great. But you had great people like Elvis and like The Beatles in particular and they were just inspired by it and wanted to add to it. They just wanted to participate in it.
But, yeah, The Beatles were called not music. People definitely were not respecting people like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and Son House and Alvin Wolf and the people that they were inspired by. So you can’t spend a lot of time worrying about people that don’t understand what you’re doing.”
Chase: “Yeah, I think one of the major misunderstandings of it is that people say there is no melody to rap. But I argue that flow is kind of melody. I mean, rappers aren’t monotone. Your voice is still going up and down.”
Brother Ali: “Well, there’s a variety and you can say that some hip-hop doesn’t have much musical value. In particular a lot of underground hip-hop doesn’t have much musical value in my mind. I think that Ludacris has a lot more musical value than a half a dozen underground superstars that I can name. But these are people that don’t understand what they’re hearing and all you can do is wish that their lives would be enriched by this beautiful thing, but what are you gonna do. I’m sure they get joy out of a lot of things that I would have difficulty finding joy in.”
Chase: “So you’re touring like crazy and I always like to ask this question to people who are on long tours, ‘What are you reading right now? Did you bring a book with you?’”
Brother Ali: “Ya know, it’s tough for me to read on tour. It’s tough for me to read in general because I’m legally blind. So I read really slow. My eyes move really slow but my brain is really fast so my brain gets really frustrated with me eyes when I try to sit down and read something. And when I’m on the road, it’s damn near impossible. But I do books on tape and I listen to speeches and I listen to talk show kind of things like Tavis Smiley, Bill Maher, National Public Radio, things like that.
But tour is the time where I get to actually sit and digest music. There’s a difference between listening to music for the surface value of it and then trying to live with something and completely digest what somebody is saying. Erykah Badu put a brand new album out and because I’m away from my family, I get to actually sit down and really digest it. She’s a true artist. You have to think about things you wouldn’t normally thing about when you listen to other music. You think about ‘why did the snare drum all of a sudden change sounds right there?’ and ‘what does that mean?’ and ‘why did she do it that way,’ and what’s she trying to communicate to me with that?’ That’s what I do on tour that I don’t get to do normally.
Chase: “Interesting. The other interesting thing is on your ‘Truth is Here’ EP, I forget what song it is, it might be the first one where you say ‘If I wake up in a bed that’s mine, I’m disoriented.’ It’s like ‘I’m more used to be on the road than I am being at home.’”
Brother Ali: “There are years of our lives where that really is true. That’s something that I say on a new song that I just made too, ‘Wake up in your own bed and don’t know where you are.’ I don’t think people who haven’t experienced that can really comprehend what a sacrifice that is, to have your own space but to not be at home there. To wake up and to say, ‘Well, why isn’t this a hotel?’
I’m married and I’m very faithful to my wife so I wake up sometimes at home and I will freak out. Like, why is there a woman in bed with me? I’ve woke up in my bed, with my wife, and said, ‘Oh my God, what did I do?’ and go into the bathroom and say, ‘Oh man, I have these same things in my bathroom,’ ya know what I mean, and be awake for five minutes before I realize, ‘It’s okay, you’re at your house.’ If you haven’t experiences that, I don’t think you can really appreciate how unnerving that is. That’s very true.”
Chase: “That’s something for the fans to really think about because I’m always saying this on the air as often as I can, if there’s an artist that you respect that’s coming to town, go to their concerts. You probably make more money in concerts than you do in album sales.”
Brother Ali: “Well, yeah because people don’t buy the album. If people bought the album, that situation would be remedied right away. But downloading is what it is. Matter of fact, on brotherali.com, one of the very first posts I made on there, I did a ten-minute little conversation on video about downloading. Really what it comes down to is not to say, ‘Well, you owe us money’ because the reality if that we would like you to get the real experience. We would like this music, if it means something to you, to really be part of your life in a significant way. So when you buy the music and you own it, and we’re seeing a resurgence in vinyl sales because I think people are dissatisfied and unfulfilled with having an MP3 that lives on your phone or lives in a computer or something. And actually want to own something that you can hold, that you have a collection that lives in your home.”
Chase: “That’s exactly true, because I was just speaking to a DJ/producer Lucy’Lo from Toronto here and he said the same thing. He’s like, ‘What do you own when you own an MP3? It’s this invisible thing that you can’t do anything with other than listen to. It’s really just on your computer and what happens if your computer dies? It’s gone right.”
Brother Ali: “I had a computer stolen from me and I lost a lot of really important treasures that I thought I owned. I had a lot of old recordings, bootleg home recordings from my heroes on hip-hop, live shows, Treacherous 3 live from 1982.”
Chase: “Oh wow!”
Brother Ali: “and my computer got stolen and that stuff is just gone. Hopefully I get it again but who knows?”
Chase: “Oh man, that’s a shame.”
Gamma Krush: “Was it stolen out of your home?”
Brother Ali: “Nah, stolen at a show. That same song that you referenced, ‘Somebody made away with my ___ ___ computer.’ Yeah, somebody stole my computer out of a club in San Francisco. I had demos for everything that I had ever done, the homemade demos that me and Ant made, all of it just gone.”
Chase: “That’s a shame. I know a lot of people would like to get a hold of your first tape and I think you’ve said that there’s no way you’re gonna get that anymore.”
Brother Ali: “Initially I was concerned with, I didn’t want people to buy ‘The Undisputed Truth’ or buy ‘Us’ or buy ‘Shadows on the Sun,’ and say, ‘Oh I like this guy’s music, let me go buy his other stuff.’ Because I’m comfortable with the fact that if you spend the $9 or $12 or whatever it is to buy my music, I feel confident about what you get in return.
‘Rites of Passage’ was a demo tape. That’s when I was local, I was thinking very local. I was writing as a local rapper. And as a local tape in the year 2000 when it came out, it was damn good. Ya know what I mean, I made it all myself, it’s all my own vision, all my own work, and for what it was, I felt good about it. But people not understanding that, I don’t want them to buy that thinking that they’re gonna get something on the level of ‘Shadows on the Sun’ or ‘Undisputed Truth’ or ‘Us’ and they end up with something very different. That was my initial concern. Now I just like the fact that I have something that’s hard to find. So I’m just gonna leave it like that.
There was 1000 tapes that we made in 2000 at that was it. I didn’t even have one for a long time. My DJ BK-One gave me one because he had a few of them. And when ‘The Champion’ EP came out we made 1000 CD copies for people who bought that EP. So there are 1000 tapes, 1000 CDs. If you look around on eBay sometimes people sell them. If you look around on whatever illegal download program you use, people have it.”
Chase: “Yeah, it’s so easy to find stuff these days.”
Brother Ali: “Or if you do something extremely nice for me, I might send you a zip file of it. I’ve done that too. I’ve sent people a zip file of it that do something above and beyond.”
Chase: “That’s cool.”
Brother Ali has to be one of the coolest people I have ever met. We had an amazing discussion last week before his concert in Toronto. This is Part 2 of that interview. You can download it for free from the DOPEfm page or read along with it here. If you missed Part 1 of the transcript, you can go back and read it here.
Chase: “How do you go about the songwriting process? Do you work with certain producers? Do you write to the beat?”
Chase: “Alright that was ‘Good Lord.’ Nice, nice track there. Brother Ali. I want to touch on some of the lyrics in there. You’ve got some really positive lyrics in there. One of them is ‘How ya gonna hate me for being what God made me?’ and in a lot of your songs, you talk about your spirituality and I know that’s really important to you. But one of the things that really struck me in this one too is talking about differences because some people might be scared of Brother Ali and Islam or things like that ‘cause we don’t understand it. Some people don’t understand other languages and there’s kind of fear around there.
But one of your lyrics, it just echoed with me, ‘What language do you laugh in?’ That brings it all together right there, doesn’t it? Pretty much every laugh is the same. There’s no language of laughter. And then you go further in there and you say, ‘What language are the tears when they’re falling from your eyes?’”
Brother Ali: “And it’s interesting, I actually said that wrong in the studio. The way I wrote it is, “What language do you laugh in?’ and then it was supposed to say, ‘What religion are the tears when they’re falling from your eyes?’ That’s what I meant to say but I just got in the studio and said it wrong and Ant doesn’t really listen to my lyrics so he didn’t catch it, ya know what I mean? He listens to the mood of what I’m saying.
That song is addressing both sides of an issue. I have a lot of Muslims that criticize me for either making music at all or for how real and raw I am in my music. Like I mentioned earlier, I have songs where I need to show you that I’m not just all around a great, nice person; that I’m also a jerk. I want you to be able to believe every part of it. So there are Muslims who say, ‘I like these songs, but I don’t like those songs,’ or some people don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be making hip-hop music at all.
And then on the other side, like I said, there are people who rebel so hard against any type of institutional anything, ya know what I mean? They hate institutions and they hate power. They don’t want to hear anything about any religion because in their mind that represents somebody trying to tell them what to do.
I’m kind of in between both of those sides. And what I’m saying to both of them, is that in its purist form, these things are really the same. Music, spirituality, these are all the human beings inner-most core, what we call in spirituality the soul or the energy that lives inside us trying to connect with the energy that’s in other people and in the world. It’s all really this music, prayer, meditation, ya know, celebrating. All of these things all come from the same place within us.
The thing that makes a person want to come to a concert and clap and experience this feeling with everybody else is the same thing that makes my uncle go to church on Sunday. It’s the same thing that makes me go to the mosque on Friday. It’s all the same thing of wanting to connect with something bigger and positive outside of ourselves.”
Chase: “Yeah, and I think that’s what the creative process is about ideally as well. I think everyone needs an avenue to be able to create.”
Brother Ali: “I agree.”
Chase: “And you said, ‘Let a painter, paint or a poet describe it’ so you’re even talking about that in the song we just heard too. I think everybody needs some kind of outlet, whether we’re producing segments for the radio here or blogging or whatever you do.”
Brother Ali: “Well. yeah. There are garbage collectors who express themselves through what they do. There are people who, in what we think, would be a very mundane job who take a certain pride in what they’re doing and it says something about who they are as a man, or as a woman, or as a person. There are people who express themselves in the way they raise their children, people who express themselves in the way they do everything. I agree with you 100%.”
Chase: “Definitely. Another lyric in that song, ‘I’m so beautifully human and I’m proud of it.’ I just like the positivity there. It just brings everything together.”
Brother Ali: “I think that’s the main reason why people like me or like my music. I think that I’m pretty good at rapping. The music I make is pretty good but maybe not necessarily better than anybody else. I think what people get from me in particular is that they see how different I am but how comfortable I am. Ya know what I mean, that I’m so comfortable that it makes them comfortable. You can be around somebody who’s so nervous that they make you nervous. But I think people register that I’m so comfortable and enthusiastic about just being who I am, that it makes them feel that way. I think people come away feeling better about themselves or the challenges they face and what’s unique about them.”
Last week, I was honoured to meet one of my heroes in hip-hop, Brother Ali. We sat down before his show in Toronto and had a nice conversation for over an hour. He then took to the stage and rocked the house. It was an amazing night!
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did. You can download it for free from the DOPEfm page or stream it with the player below. I have also transcribed it here for you.
Chase: “Alright everybody this is Chase March and I am very excited because tonight is the Brother Ali concert. I’ve been a fan of this dude for a long time and it’s awesome to be sitting beside him right now. How ya doing Brother Ali?”
Brother Ali: “I’m doing great man, happy to be in Toronto.”
Chase: “Nice! So, you’ve been touring a lot lately. You were just in the U.K. weren’t ya?”
Brother Ali: “I just did a month in Europe. Prior to that, I did two months in the U.S. Now I’m doing another two months in Canada and the spots in the U.S. that I didn’t get at in the last tour. Then I go home for a couple weeks and go right back to Europe again. Get done with that, then we go to Australia and then come back for a couple weeks again and then we do the U.S. again and start all over.”
Chase: “Wow! That must be really tough because even from your lyrics we can see that you’ve got a new baby girl, it says on the new record. So how’s that being away from your family? Are you able to bring them with you sometimes?”
Brother Ali: “I don’t bring them with me that often. I just had a show in Hawaii. We just had one show but I took my wife and children to Hawaii and we stayed there for a week and just had some good, quality time together. It’s difficult, man. Everything in life is a balance. You have to do everything in balance.
So I’m having to balance between the two main things in my life that I love, that I wish I could dedicate a hundred percent of my time to but I just realistically can’t. I would love to give all my time to my music and just completely jump in head first, ya know what I mean? Like people like Kayne and ?uestlove and guys like that, they live their music 24 hours a day, that’s all they do. I would love to do that.
I would also love to be a stay-at-home dad, ya know what I mean. But the truth is that I can’t do either one of those. So I have to balance them. And when I’m home, I’m able to spend a lot of time with my kids and with my family. I either work while my kids are at school and then see them in the morning and at night, or I work all night when they’re in bed and see them in the morning and at night. But when I’m at home, all of their free time is me.
Chase: “That’s awesome. So when you’re at home, you’re at home and just get to spend time there, that’s great.”
Brother Ali: “Also when I’m at home I have to make new music ‘cause otherwise new albums would never come, ya know? So either while they’re in bed or at school, that’s when I get my work done.”
Chase: “Nice! Last summer, the album for me was the ‘Truth is Here’ E.P. I had that on blast the entire summer. And then when I saw your video for ‘Us,’ I thought it was a teaser for the album and that was an amazing song. That song almost brings tears to my eyes because it is so powerful and the video is pretty amazing how you’re working with a choir and live instruments. I really like the message of it too. The artwork for ‘Us’ is amazing as well.”
Brother Ali: “Yeah, the credit for that goes to Siddiq who runs Rhymesayers. I switched it on him at the last minute. The name of the album was gonna be ‘Street Preacher.’ I turned the album in, it was done, and we’d done a couple of photo shoots for the ‘Street Preacher’ title. He actually came to me and said, ‘Do you think there’s something not quite right about this album?’ I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not the music. I know it’s not the music.’ He said, ‘Do you think it might be the title?’ I said, ‘Yeah, definitely.” I changed the title to ‘Us’ and he came up with the idea to do silhouettes and he passed it on to an artists by the name of Keith Washington, who actually pulled it all together and he did a great job.”
Chase: “Yeah, I’m actually a teacher and I do this thing where I have the students respond to an image and I put that album cover up once because I wanted them to talk about the team work and they way it looks like the silhouettes are working together with triangles to build the word ‘Us’ in the middle of the air. It was interesting some of the response I got from that, they were able to pick that up. The I showed them your ‘Us’ video and we played it over and over again that one morning in my Grade 3 class. They were feeling that.”
Brother Ali: “That’s really, really cool.”
Chase: “One of my favourite tracks on this album is ‘Fresh Air’ and I’d like to drop that track right now and come back and talk to you some more.”
Brother Ali: “Let’s do it.”
Chase: “Alright so this is ‘Fresh Air’ from Brother Ali off his excellent album ‘Us.” If you don’t have that, go get it. I ran to the store when this album came out and I haven’t done that in a long time. I needed that because the album is awesome, the art work is really good, and this is my favourite track of it. This is Chase March, we’ll be right back.”
Chase: “Alright that was ‘Fresh Air’ from Brother Ali and we’re sitting with Brother Ali. How’s it going?”
Brother Ali: “It’s going great man.”
Chase: “I love the positivity in that song, ya know? Not often do you hear rappers saying how much they love their life. Usually it’s I love my car, or I love my women, but you’re talking about how you love your life.”
Brother Ali; “Well, I think they’re all parts of the same thing. What I’m saying is something really similar to what other rappers are saying, ya know, the symbols are different. For some people, their car is a symbol of them loving what they’ve achieved in their life, ya know what I mean. For me, it’s more about my family and things like that.
You know, you get one groups that comes from the desert, another groups that comes from the rainforest, the priorities are different because of what’s available to them. So people that come from the projects or the slum and they’re not supposed to ever be able to achieve a certain level of material success, which also translates to a certain level of freedom. That car is then a symbol of the obstacles they overcame. It’s not the actual car, it’s what it represents.
My situation is a little different than a Lil’ Wayne or a Jay-Z. I have the opportunity to speak about it a little differently, ya know what I mean? There’s a different way that you need to conduct yourself also when you come from that environment. You can’t be free and open and just jovial and happy because someone will rob you, literally. You need to put out an image where you’re celebrating but you also need to remind people that you’re not to be played around with. So it really has a lot more to do with the different circumstances we come from.
But I think a song like ‘Fresh Air’ isn’t that much different from some of the stuff the Kanye West does or Jay-Z or T.I. Ya know, it’s a really similar sentiment that you work hard to achieve these things that you want for yourself and you overcome your obstacles that are in your way, and then when you’re able to do that trough your hard work and diligence and patience, then you celebrate it.”
Chase: “Yeah, it’s a really positive message in all your lyrics and I can understand why a fan called you a ‘Street Preacher’ and why that was the working title of your album for a long time but the truth is, you don’t really preach.”
Brother Ali: “Not in sense that people understand the word now. The true sense of preaching means that you’re so touched and inspired and appreciative by some truth or some message that’s helped you, that you want to share it with the world. That’s what true preaching is. Preaching has come to take on a negative connotation because now we have so many examples of preachers who are hypocrites or preachers that are doing it for selfish reasons. Now that’s what preaching has come to be known as, and it’s unfortunate. True preaching is what I was talking about.”
Chase: “Nice, because some rappers want to be all positive and they come off as ‘too preachy’ and some people say, ‘I don’t wanna listen to him, ‘he’s too preachy.’”
Brother Ali: “True love and true sharing is selfless, ya know what I mean? What you gain from it is seeing other people benefit, that’s it. You don’t need somebody to say. ‘Look at, look at, look at him.’ The message doesn’t come with this idea that ‘never forget that I’m the one that gave you this, ya know what I mean? Unfortunately, people get it confused.
I’m not saying I’m 100% pure myself. But that’s why I make songs also that are about the negative side of me. That’s what I do to keep myself honest. Songs like “Bad motherf*cker Part 2.” Every one of my albums has them; “Talking my sh*t,” “Pedigree,” Champion has the first ‘Bad motherf*cker.’ Shadows on the Sun album has songs like ‘Bitchslap.’ all of my projects have one song where I’m honest about that part of myself so that I’m being completely real.”
Well, that ends Part 1 of the Brother Ali interview. Please come back tomorrow to read Part 2 of the transcript or go and download the podcast right now to listen to the rest of it. Thanks for tuning in. See you tomorrow!
Music Playlist at MixPod.com
I was planning on writing a piece today about using podcasts in the classroom when I came across this excellent blog post that took the idea in a different direction.
I will share my ideas about crafting Radio Dramas here in an upcoming addition of Teaching Tip Tuesdays. I just wanted to point you to this resource today for a couple of reasons. Number one is that I have been extremely busy this month with work, a course I’ve been taking to upgrade my teaching credentials, the radio show, Script Frenzy, and a few other personal obligations. By sharing this short post, I will have time to get a few more of those assignments and tasks done on time. The second reason I’m sharing this is because I wish I’d thought of it first. It’s a good idea.
So please head on over to Sean Banville’s Blog at http://seanbanville.com/2010/04/19/jigsaw-listening/ and tell him that Chase sent you.
Sean outlines a strategy know as Jigsaw Listening. I had never heard of it prior to reading his blog post yesterday. I’d known of the Jigsaw Strategy but I’d only ever seen it applied to reading.
I’ve been taking part in Script Frenzy this month. The challenge is to write a 100 page screenplay in the 30 days we have in April.
Here are the messages I posted on Twitter about the second week of this challenge.
I’m not gonna get much writing done this weekend. But there are a lot of days left in April. I’ll get the 100 pgs done for#scriptfrenzy
#scriptfrenzy slow period. Too busy with music this weekend to write anything. Current page count 35, 65 pages to go. I’ll get it done though.
Super-long, crazy day. I didn’t get the chance to write anything for #scriptfrenzy but I had the sleepless notion last night to change the love interest character’s name from Angie to Autumn. It fits so much better.
I’m tired. It’s been a long day. I probably should write my script but I worked all day, did homework tonight and am wiped. Maybe tomorrow.
#scriptfrenzy page count for today – 0. That’s right zero. This 2nd week of the frenzy hasn’t been good for me. I’ve been too busy to write.
#scriptfrenzy Week 2 pg count-0. Too busy with work, homework, & doing radio interviews. Next weekend I plan to write like crazy to catch up
As you can see, Week 2 was almost a complete bust. I only had the chance to write 4 pages. I did come up with the great idea of changing a name of one of the characters though. I haven’t got to the pay-off of that name yet in my story but it will be significant.
Life has been really busy lately. I’ve been taking an online class to upgrade my teaching credentials. I have been producing a lot of segments for the radio. Work has been busy too. On top of all that, I have had a few personal things that have required my attention. All of this has tapped the time I thought I’d have the time to write this month.
I managed to find the time to write last night and I am hoping that this coming weekend will allow me to catch up as well. I will finish this challenge and on time. That’s my goal and I’m going to do my best to reach it.
Go to the Week 3 Update.
This performance closed out this year’s Juno Awards last night. It’s a really inspiring performance that I just had to share with all of you.
The Junos are the Canadian equivalent to the Grammy Awards. Hip-hop was well represented last night. Not only did K’naan close out the show by performing his hit song “Waving Flag” but he also invited the other musicians at the event to come on stage and sing it with him. The crowd joined in as well and so did I from my couch. I’m sure everyone at home was signing along too. It was really cool.
K’naan also took home Songwriter of the Year. That is amazing. A hip-hop artist got Songwriter of the year. That is huge! He also won Artist of the Year.
It would have been nice to see Shad, D-sisive, and Classified get some shine as well since I was really bumping their music this past year, but what can you do?
Overall the awards represented hip-hop quite nicely so I’m not mad at all.
Odario and I continue our chat just before Grand Analog takes to the stage opening up for Shad at Call the Office in London, Ontario. If you’ve missed Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3, you can go back and read them or you can go and download the whole show to listen to it now.
Without further ado, here is the conclusion of the interview.
Chase: “How does the music side of Grand Analog come together?”
Odario: “We all contribute in different ways. I basically start with an idea. I go in with DJ Catalyst and we work with drum patterns and samples. Warren, the bass player, he’ll come in and lend his ear. Damon, a guitar player, he’ll come in and lend his ear if we feel the track needs a guitar. My brother, DJ Ofield, he also makes his own beats as well. If something fits with the idea of the album, we’ll use that as well. It’s very open concept and I like it that way because we all have different things to throw into the pot.”
Chase: “Excellent. I want to talk about another one of your songs ‘Not Enough Mondays.’ That song made me laugh. There’s a nice lyric there talking about how you can’t put off to tomorrow what you should do today, right? Because if you wait till Monday, ya know, Monday comes and goes and then you wait till next Monday. So, it’s a nice kind of humour out into that song. Once again, though, it’s kind of serious too about addictions and things like that.”
Odario: “Yeah, sometimes I play that at frosh parties. They rap along but at the same time they’re like, ‘Ah, man. I really don’t want to talk about this right now.’”
Chase: “Yeah, I’ll stop drinking on Monday, how many frosh, college kids will say that? ‘Maybe I’ll stop drinking on Monday but I’ll pick it up again on Friday or maybe Wednesday after class goes bad.’ But, yeah, it’s a funny song and it’s got a nice message to it, if you take that in. So why don’t we drop that track right now and come back and talk a little bit more.”
Odario: “Not Enough Mondays”
Chase: “By Grand Analog. This is Chase March, we’ll be right back.”
Chase: “Nice, nice track right there. ‘Not Enough Mondays.’ There’s some good lyrics in there if you dissect them, and once again, I’m a lyrical dude, so let’s do that. Not really a rhyme but you say ‘being healthy’s much too pricey.’ It is, isn’t it?”
Odario: “Dude, say you want a fruit smoothie, frozen yogurt, non-fat, those things are like six bucks out there. Ya know, you want to have some sushi or something, you’re looking at spending $30 on a meal just to fill yourself up. Or you can go to McDonalds and drop like $3 and get full on that. And you know, the organic things in the supermarket, if you get the regular one on the stand it’s one price but the organic one is a lot more expensive. Being healthy can be pricey if you don’t be careful.”
Chase: “Yeah, I think it’s a problem in society as a whole. It’s interesting that we can address that but I don’t know what we can really do about it other than just saying, ‘Yeah, go buy an apple.’”
Odario: “But the organic apple will be way more expensive than the regular apple. Guaranteed. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
Chase: “Yeah, but I guess, any apple is better than a chocolate bar.”
Odario: “But there you go, chocolate bar is damn cheap.”
Chase: “Crazy, eh? This is too deep. Good thing it’s an overnight show. We can get deep, put ya to sleep. But I guess there’s never enough Monday’s. So if you’ve got ‘those evils vices and sacrifice, got me running for my life, go quit.’ Wise words from Grand Analog.
Well, this has been a pleasure. I’m glad we finally got to hook up and do this. So, I think we’ll play one more track to get out of here. I never asked you, what’s your favourite song that you’ve done.”
Odario: “In the words of Q-tip, ‘I haven’t wrote it yet.’”
Chase: “Beautiful! Very beautiful!”
Odario: “That’s always his way of getting out of that question. And I’d love to know what Q-tip’s favourite is, but I think he’s being sincere. I’ve seen him say that in many interviews. The first thing in the interview when they ask what’s your favourite songs and he says it like it’s rehearsed, ‘I haven’t wrote it yet. I haven’t wrote it yet.’ I’m glad you asked me that ‘cause I’ve always wanted to try that, ‘I haven’t wrote it yet.’”
Chase: “That’s awesome. Ya know, two years ago I would’ve said that was totally false for Q-tip because, I hate to say it because I’m a Tribe fan, but I really thought he was done. But The Renaissance blew my mind. His first solo album I wasn’t feeling much, like, ‘What’d you do Tip?’ but The Renaissance is wicked. That just goes to show you that you can have some mis-steps in the game and still come out with a classic album. That was a shame that he didn’t get the Grammy.”
Odario: “Oh, I know.”
Chase: “Like all the ones in there, I was like, ‘That’s gotta be his.’”
Odario: “Eminem won that. Eminem’s got a collection of Grammies now. I think Q-tip could’ve got his first Grammy.”
Chase: “Yeah, he should’ve got that one. We’re in agreement there. Gamma Krush is too, he’s in the back, right? He’s a big Tirbe fan. So, let’s play another song. This is ‘Magnifico’ by Grand Analog. Chase March on the interview tip. Daddy J is gonna spin that track for us and we’ll be right back on DOPEfm.”
Chase: “All right that was ‘Magnifico’ by Grand Analog. ‘It’s just discipline assemble a plan, release your heart, release your hand from twisted situations.’ I like that. You can actually release yourself from twisted situations.”
Odario: “People don’t necessarily realize that. It can be such a mental block. Like you get yourself in a bit of a twist and you think, ‘Life’s over now.” Not necessarily. Sometimes you need a mental push, let alone a physical push. That song was pretty much written for a few friends of mine who always catch themselves in a rut. You know, they’re always kind of slouched in front of the TV and pretty down on themselves about some things that happen in their lives. They don’t realize that things can happen in everyone’s life. So ‘get out your head, Jump up, get out your bed, and get out there and live your life and release yourself from those twisted situations out there.’”
Chase: “People can feel stuck sometimes but they have to remember that they have a lot of power. Like you said in one of your lyrics a little bit earlier that we touched on, ‘be the author not the actor.’ So you can actually change and you can get out of those situations. That is awesome!
Well, I’m really looking forward to the show tonight. I’m looking forward to everything. You guys, I know, are gonna rock it. I’ve been wanting to see Shad for a while now. So this is going to be a good night. And even better that I got to talk to you both. I’ve got two interviews done and hopefully everyone is listening to DOPEfm and subscribing to the podcast.
Odario: “Hey man, it’s called DOPEfm, that should be enough to be listening to it, that’s for sure. If you’re interested and you’re liking what you’re hearing, just go to GrandAnalog.com or myspace/grandanalog or even follow us on Twitter.”
Chase: “Yes, I following you on Twitter. I love Twitter. Twitter’s awesome. I’m on Twitter too peoples.”
Odario: “Yup you better chase Chase on Twitter. Don’t follow him, chase him on Twitter people.”
Chase: “Yeah! All right, thanks a lot. This has been a great interview. Thanks a lot for your time and for stopping by.”
Odario: “Thanks to thoseDOPEfm cats. Out!”
Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we both did. Don’t forget to go download the podcast so you can hear all the songs we played here on the blog and a few more as well. Enjoy
This is Part 3 of the interview I did with Grand Analog on location at Call the Office in London, Ontario. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2 you can go back and read the transcripts or you can download the podcast for free right now and hear the entire show.
Chase: “I’m lucky enough to be sitting with one of the members of Grand Analog right now. While the others are busy working, we’re sitting here talking.”
Odario: “I didn’t get any text message yet saying ‘Where are you?’ so we’re in good hands.”
Chase: “I really like one of your lyrics that says ‘I bring the passion back in one freestyle. This ain’t no accident, just a brain child of another movement, whole other lifestyle.’ Nice! So do you freestyle?”
Odario: “Not as much as I used to. That’s what happens when your band turns into a full-time job and you’re also on the management. Ya know when I was just doing this as a hobby, it was fun because you could just kick back with your friends and just shoot the gab. But I will not lie, it gets really busy and you gotta keep the business going. One minute you’re working on a show in Halifax and then next minute you have to get the show set up for London and then you forget that you’ve got a show in Vancouver. I don’t have that much time to sit back and just freestyle and have fun and goof around these days, but I’m not complaining.”
Chase: “It’s probably a part of the writing process though.”
Odario: “Now the writing process is a whole other thing because you have to shut down everything else so you can write and be creative. You can’t come out of a meeting or prepare a tour and then just go sit down and start writing. The human brain is just not built to do that. Your material won’t be as good as it can be.”
Chase: “So you have to be in a zone when you’re writing then.”
Odario: “Yeah. I like to write on the highway, to be honest. The beats that we make we get on the highway. If the next town is four hours than I’ve got four hours to just freestyle and write stuff. I remember everything I write in my brain. I’m luckily capable of doing that.”
Chase: “That’s amazing ‘cause I use a little tape recorder sometimes and I think I’m going to get in trouble with that one day because I come up with a rhyme and I got that in my hand and this new hands-free law while you’re driving. Uh-oh, I can’t dictate a rhyme to myself or a story idea or something that I’m working on writing.”
Odario: “Nope, you can’t do the hand movements either.”
Chase: “So, I hope you’re not driving while you’re writing. One of the other guys is driving.”
Odario: “It all depends because when they’re sleeping is when I like to write the best.”
Chase: “I also heard that Ludacris said in one of his interviews that he writes a lot when he’s driving. And your car is like your own little world so it’s like how you can get in that zone. I totally identify with that.”
Odario: “It’s like your own little recording booth actually without the recording equipment of course. It’s like a little booth where you can practise your lyrics in.”
Chase: “Of course, the irony of this is that we’re recording this interview in the car. Yeah, we got to the venue a little bit late and it’s really loud in there. This is a little more radio friendly, live on location in Odario’s car.
So, the song we just played, you have a lyric in there, I’m not going to pretend you wrote it so I’m just gonna say it without crediting it right now.
‘Can’t hear nothing but the music, I’m slipping.’
Now I hope people out there caught that.”
Odario: “You know what? I put those things in there just to see what comes back. That one hasn’t come back yet. It’s very interesting.”
Odario: “I don’t know, Maybe it’s just a younger audience that’s listening.”
Chase: “I wish this were live so we could say, ‘Phone in now if you know who that artist is,’ and give away something. Props to EPMD by the way, if you didn’t know it was them.”
Odario: “That was a fantastic album.”
Chase: “Definitely. Even their latest one is good. It didn’t seem to get as much play or notice.”
Odario: “That was-”
Chase: “We Mean Business”
Odario: “They kept the whole ‘business’ thing going, that’s classic, just classic.”
Chase: “I think it’s awesome because you can look at rappers making sequels to their albums like Raekwon’s ‘Only Built for Cuban Links II’ and ‘Blueprint III’ and I thought at first that it was crazy. Why are people making sequels? You can’t capture the same album. And I thought about it, EPMD, every album has been a sequel. Every single album! When they broke up, ‘We’re Outta Business,’ when they got back together ‘We’re Back in Business.’ It’s pretty cool.”
Odario: “There’s no other artist that has managed to do that in their entire career. It’s fantastic.”
Chase: “Even when PMD went solo he kept the business part. Sermon didn’t but PMD did.”
Odario: “He did, didn’t he? What did he call it? Do you remember?”
Chase: “He had one called ‘Shade Business,’ which I think might have been a little bit of a diss at his ex-partner there. So many people were rooting for them to come back together.”
Odario: “I’m glad that they did. They’re perfect together, not apart.”
Chase: “It’s unfortunate these days but there are a lot of disposable groups that you just don’t hold that passion for. If you realistically look back at it, Erick Sermon isn’t that great of a rapper. His rhymes are kind of simple. But I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the time we group up but they’re-”
Odario: “Batman and Robin, just like Pete Rock and CL Smooth, they need each other. Gangstarr, they need each other. Separate it’s just not the same. It’s not as exciting.”
Chase: “Definitely. I think there’s a movement now with different one-off combination albums like Marco Polo and Torae. I think that’s great, bringing that producer and rapper back like Gangstarr. I think we need some more of that, give it some more direction in the game these days.”
Odario: “Illmatic is obviously the best idea of this but getting numerous producers to contribute to your album. That turned into a trend within itself but I think it’s very cool if you’ve got that one producer who’ll make all beats for you and create an album with you, I think that’s awesome.”
That ends the awesomeness for today folks. Please come back tomorrow for the final installment of this transcript, and don’t forget to download the podcast for free from DOPEfm. We bring you the best in underground hip-hop each and every week on 93.3 CFMU in Hamilton, Ontario. If you can’t listen live, subscribe to the podcast. It’s free and easy. This way, the great mix sets, interviews, and Know Your History segments will come right to you. What’s better than that?
This is Part 2 of the interview I did with Grand Analog on location at Call the Office in London, Ontario. If you missed Part 1 you can read it here. You can also download the podcast of this interview for free from DOPEfm. I hope you enjoy it!
Chase: “That was ‘I Play My Kazoo’ by Grand Analog. Nice song. I like the funkiness of that, it’s kind of cool. Do you play a kazoo?”
Odario: “I bring my kazoo everywhere I go and what’s cool is at some of our shows you’ll find people bringing their kazoos as well. Ya know what’s funny? Just recently our bass player was on the computer Googling different things and he found a kazoo company that put us on their website basically saying, ‘See there’s still people out there playing kazoos.’”
Chase: “That’s hilarious. But I think the whole point of the song here is just to do what you do and have fun with it, right?”
Odario: “Exactly, whether you’re saving lives or playing the kazoo. Just do what you do.”
Chase: “I like the one lyric where you say, ‘Be the author, not the actor of your chapter too,’ because there’s a whole thing right now about story and how you use story, how you create your own story, and how everything is story. I’ve been doing a bit of research of that lately so I kind of focused in on that lyric.”
Odario: “It’s funny because I always wanted to use a kazoo in a track. I thought it would be a comedic thing but as I was writing, it turned into quite a serious message in there. Not serious, in the way that it’s dark, but just there is a message behind it and I’m glad the way it turned out. It’s definitely about being yourself. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing ‘cause all I can do right now is play the kazoo.”
Chase: “I don’t know if people are familiar but you’re originally from Winnipeg, Peg City, and I remember a long time ago watching Much Music and there was pretty much only one group from Peg City and that was you. So, you kind of put the town on the map there. There’s more of a scene now up there, isn’t there?”
Odario: “There is. Unfortunately, the days of Much Music are pretty much changed. That heavy rotation life is pretty much gone. That’s why you don’t really hear or see that much from Swollen Members anymore, for example, or Choclair. We used to get to see them every day on Much Music. Those days are pretty much gone. It’s a viral age now.
I think what’s happening is that, especially in a genre like hip-hop, you have to go out and dig again. Things aren’t going to be force-fed. You gotta go out and really dig for things. Having said that, it’s not as regional anymore. I think people are just digging for whatever they find. There aren’t really those movements anymore like the way we had a movement out in Winnipeg and there was a movement out in Halifax or in Vancouver. There was always something going on in Toronto. Now, we’re all spread out all over the place. We’re almost homeless. We have no home. We’re just trying to do our work and make our art and hopefully someone will catch onto it.”
Chase: “You’ve moved down south now, the warmer climates down here. Is there more of a focus on the business aspect of the career here? Is that the reason for the move?”
Odario: “I just wanted to be that much closer to wine country, that’s what’s going on. Ya know what? I moved to Toronto to continue to pursue my acting. I went to the University of Winnipeg for theatre. The only thing that was available in Winnipeg theatre was rolls for Irish. There was a lot of Irish plays going on that year, I don’t know why. It was such a coincidence at that time. So I said, ‘I better get to Toronto where they’ll be more work for me.’ Yeah, I got there and then Grand Analog pretty much got itself going and I haven’t had much chance to act since, which was a surprise but a very good surprise at the same time.
Chase: “Wow, that’s interesting. I didn’t know that. Of course, we could segue now into rappers and actors. How come so many rappers end up acting?”
Odario: “They just feel that they don’t want to be 45 and rapping. So they’re trying to find a new outlet, that’s my take on it. But Jay-Z, who’s 40 now, I think he’s got 5 more years in him.”
Chase: ‘He’s still hot. It’s amazing because I thought he was done years ago when he retired. I though he was going out on a high note. I thought that was a great way to end your career. And then he comes back and he’s still on top of the game and murdering it.”
Odario: “Still on top of the game. And those guys that are about to push 50 like Run-DMC, and you got the mid 40’s guys like KRS-One, if they really wanted to they could keep it going just as hot. Krs-One, I think, just put out an album.”
Chase: “Yeah and he’s got a nice track on the A&E album. Masta Ace and Edo G. He’s got a guest appearance on there. I was just listening to it on the way down here. It’s nice.”
Odario: “You know, what that really is, is that we’re the first to witness this genre of music age, like get older and not just be that kind of knucklehead early twenties mentality. We’re gonna see a fresh genre turn 40 and turn 50 and still have something to say and put out material. I think it’s fascinating.”
Chase: “ Me too. Hip-hop is almost packaged like it’s disposable. It’s like you gotta just listen to what’s new and hot and yesterday’s is crap. There’s always something new they’re trying to push on us. But it’s not like that and it’s nice to see that growth. I think I first noticed in with Common. When he came out with ‘Be,’ I thought, ‘Woah, this is mature hip-hop.’ That was the first time I’d ever put that label on anything hip-hop. I was like, ‘This is hip-hop for me. This is hip-hop for people in their 30’s,’ and it rang true. It’s amazing how we can talk about so many things in this genre of music and grow and develop and it’s not just all, like you said, the knucklehead stuff.”
Odario: “Yeah, and I find that fascinating. When I was a knucklehead, when I was 16-17 in high school, hip-hop was my outlet and my way to challenge my anger and all that. But now that I’m a grown ass man, I don’t have any anger to channel out. But I still love my hip-hop so it’s great to see that there’s all sorts of hip-hop that we can embrace. And there’s so knucklehead stuff out there for the 16-17 year-olds still and there dad’s cam listen to hip-hop too.”
Chase: “Yeah, that’s amazing. I was actually talking with Shad about this a little bit earlier and it’s nice, not only are you opening for him down here, but I was listening to your album down here and I was like, ‘Oh, Shad’s on your album. Nice.’ So, Shad’s popping up everywhere these days but he’s on one of your tracks and I’d like to drop that right now.”
Odario: “I think that’s a great idea.”
Chase: “It’s a nice track. It’s called ‘Electric City’ so let’s drop that and come back and talk some more with Grand Analog. this is Chase March on the interview tip. Daddy J spin that track for us.”
This ends Part 2 of our interview. Please come back tomorrow to read Part 3, and don’t forget to download the podcast for free. Subscribe to DOPEfm when you do, so you can get the best in underground hip-hop each and every week with great mix sets and artist interviews sent right to your iTunes. Thanks!
Last month, I had the honour of interviewing Canadian hip-hop group, Grand Analog. I have transcribed the interview for my blog but you can catch the whole thing as a podcast at the DOPEfm page. We had a lot of fun on the radio and I hope you will check it out.
Chase: “All right, that was take it slow by Grand Analog. Nice song there.”
Odario: “Thank you.”
Chase: “So how do you go about writing these songs? What’s your process?”
Odario: “Ya know, I need to hear some kind of groove to know what the theme’s gonna be. For example, ‘Take it Slow,” that you just heard, we had a groove going. It didn’t sound like that at the time, obviously, because that’s a well-polished track, I must say.”
Odario: “But when it was a really rough idea, I still needed to play around with that before I knew what it was about. And getting that idea, I was clearly thinking about chilling back, taking it slow, thinking about girls that I used to like but I don’t anymore. And the idea came around, so yeah, I have to say that’s definitely the process. I gotta hear the groove first.”
Chase: “I guess a lot of emcees work that way, they take the track and they build from that and it inspires them.”
Odario: “But some songwriters they like to sit with lyrics and then create music around it. I know for sure that I can’t do that. I’ve got a couple friends on their pianos and guitars and they have a lyric in their head and their idea is to create song around that lyric. I don’t think I’ve ever tried that.”
Chase: “Interesting. You’re a self-proclaimed beat junkie, right?”
Odario: “That’s right?”
Chase: “Last time I talked to you, you were at a record store. I think you were digging through something.”
Odario: “Do you remember the name of that record store.”
Chase: “Yeah, Grooves.”
Odario: “That’s right.”
Chase: “So we’re in London right now at Call the Office. You’re going on shortly and I’m looking forward to the show. So do you sample and do your own-”
Odario: “In this day and age you just don’t want to get sued. You don’t want to get that summons letter in the mail because you’ve used someone’s piece of music. So, ya know, hip-hop has turned into a genre that had to create on its own, even though a lot of authentic hip-hop cats think that sampling is, or was, the most important part of hip-hop.
But now you need to find new means. Ya know, there’s a lot of electronic elements in there. Of course, Grand Analog itself has live instrumentation but we do sample a little bit. You just have to be creative with the sampling now. You can’t just take four bars of someone’s music and call it a day. You’ve gotta really do interesting things with it. So that’s where I do like to challenge myself and the guys. We find cool little pieces of jazz, or funk, or dub, and really recreate it into our own thing. So we’re still following the rules of hip-hop without getting ourselves in jail.”
Chase: “Nice. I think the sample police really need to stop because it’s crazy. If you take it to visual arts, I mean, you could be inspired by somebody and create something similar to another artist as long as you don’t copy your whole painting, an artist isn’t going to say, ‘Hey that’s my hill!’ So if you take a bass or a flute and you chop it and do something interesting with it, that’s new. And I think the people that are going to say, ‘You stole that,” they need to kind of stop. ‘Cause hip-hop, we are creating something new from something old just like how every other art form, basically. That’s my take on it anyway.”
Odario: “I agree. I think sampling is an art form within itself. There’s so many unearthed old pieces of vinyl out there and if you can, sort of, bring it back to the forefront and do something cool with it, I think that’s awesome.”
This ends Part 1 of our interview.
I hope you come back tomorrow for Part 2. We play some more tracks and focus on some of the lyrics. We talk about a lot of different things, and share some good laughter. This interview was so fun to do. Go and download the podcast for free and consider subscribing to the show’s podcast as we bring you the best in underground hip-hop each and every week with great mix sets and artist interviews. Thanks!
What is love?
I thought I’d figured it out.
It was burning strong
but now it’s been snuffed out
and with it
my creativity all but evaporated.
I couldn’t concentrate on anything.
My thoughts just ran and ran.
They almost ran away with me.
I’m not sure how they stopped
but I’m glad they turned around
and now creativity can abound.