Monday, February 13, 2012
Openmic: I'm from Nashville, Tennessee. I've been here my whole life. My family is from Chicago, but I've been here since I was 2 years old.
CONCRETE: Where did you go to high school?
Openmic: Pearl Cohn.
CONCRETE: What brought your family to Nashville?
Openmic: They came here to work. My dad is a musician. He came down here to follow some opportunities. We had nobody here. My whole family is back in Chicago.
CONCRETE: What kind of music does your dad do?
Openmic: He's a jazz musician.
CONCRETE: Your music has a lot of jazz influence. How did growing up with a father who was a professional jazz musician shape you musically?
Openmic: I didn't grow up on hip-hop. We didn't have hip-hop in my house. It was mostly jazz and gospel. There was not a lot of r&b, not a lot of soul music even. Maybe a little if it was classic like Stevie Wonder or Michael Jackson. It was mostly jazz in the house. So when I first started rapping I had to figure out a way to adapt hip-hop to the music I was already hearing. I didn't have beats. I started rapping when I was 13. I just started freestyling over top of stuff that wasn't really meant to be rapped on. It's a major influence now cause I still do the same thing.
CONCRETE: Did your parents ban hip-hop from the house?
Openmic: Well we were young. We couldn't watch certain TV shows and stuff, basic kids' restrictions. It wasn't so much they were anti- hip-hop. Definitely a Christian based household, major religious background. It was more like, 'you're too young to listen to this right now.' Hip-hop had a more negative stigma then to my parents than it does now.
CONCRETE: You started rapping at age 13. When did you start recording your music?
Openmic: I started recording when I was 17. That was in the closet of my sister's close friend's apartment. (laughs) We just started cranking out songs. I started sounding like Rocafella, like Jay-Z or Cam'ron. Those were my biggest influences at the time. But people just respected the fact that I could go of the top of my head. When I started writing things down I didn't know how to do that. So I just adapted it to other people I heard before. But my freestyle is where I really got my own sound from.
Openmic: Everything man. In high school I almost got suspended for rapping in the cafeteria. (laughs) The principle came up to our table and was like, "If y'all say one more rap I'm kicking y'all out." When I was 13 I started rapping on the back of the MTA bus. I want to say it was the 3 West End bus. I started rapping there going home and to school. It was battles, kind of. But I was younger than everybody else. So if I said the slightest, half-way decent thing it was way ahead cause I was so young. But then I started getting good at it, and I started battling at school. But it didn't last long because people didn't want to battle me cause it would have been an automatic loss. (laughs) I didn't really stick with it either. That's not my strong suit at all. Nashville's not really a battle rap city. There's really no route for that. (We would) battle, cyphers, making up songs. When we had a substitute teacher, we weren't trying to hear what they trying to say, so we'd sit in the back of the class and rap. Just stuff like that all the way through school.
CONCRETE: What recorded, completed projects have you done to this point?
Openmic: The first one that we actually did and really tried to create a tape with was A Different World. I put that out Freshman year of college, I'm a senior now. After that we put out For The Rebels which was 2011. We just released Molotov last November, and it's done real well. Three under belt now. The fourth is on the way.
FOR THE REBELS MIXTAPE HERE.
CONCRETE: How do you describe your style?
Openmic: It's consciously fresh. If I had to use a term, consciously fresh. It's self inspired. Do you ever talk to yourself when no one is around. Sometimes you even catch yourself talking out loud. My music is the rhythmic form of that. A lot of the things I touch on are just random streams of thought that connect to create an overall feeling rather than something more strategic. It's not the more common place that you find in rap like, four bar - four bar - four bar format. It can go super out-of-space and then come super down-to-earth. Consciously fresh, approaching music with something to say, having a story to tell, an emotion to relay, or just going through a situation and getting those emotions out. At the same time you have your mass appeal music. You may have a catchy punch line, catchy hooks, things that many people can relate to at the same time. I like fashion a lot too, so your going to hear a lot about fashion and the way I dress.
Openmic: Now people are starting to get it. With songs that I do like that, you either get it or you don't. Then maybe two years from now you'll get it or may not. It's an acquired taste so to speak. People have been getting more lately, cause I've been doing it so much. People are now saying, "He's dope. He's a new type of thing, another level." They'll really listen and really start to hear it. We did a song just for the internet called "Run and Hide" and it's probably one of my most abstract paintings musically. It's done better than any individual song we've put out on the internet. People are like, "Wow. This is one of the most amazing verses we've heard especially from an underground artist." I think people are really starting to gravitate towards it inside Nashville and outside as well. It's a blessing.
Openmic: I had an internship with 10 Deep. It was crazy. I was out there for an internship, but I was out there for rap as well. I've been in Nashville my whole life. Just being in New York is crazy. Being out there, the whole energy, the way there's no trees and grass unless you go to a park or something. (laughs) It's like a micro-chip. It took my game to a whole other level. It's how the grind works. Everybody in New York is busy. People just walk faster in New York. So that experience within itself was great. Being at 10 Deep really advanced me on an artistic level even though I was there for marketing reasons not design. I don't do fashion design yet. But being out there just gave me so much inspiration. Being able to talk to the owner over lunch. Eating a grilled cheese sandwich and this man is the owner of 10 Deep. Seeing his sketches and ideas and the other designers as well, Kareem and all of them. There designs were really dope. I saw them when they were on little scraps of paper and now I'm wearing them. Just to see that kind of thing happen gives me so much inspiration. It's like seeing a dream come to reality. More than anything I just took away the whole culture of New York and that element of creating what you see in your mind.
CONCRETE: On your project Molotov you worked with Ducko McFli. How did you guys link to put that project together?
Openmic: This wasn't supposed to be. Molotov, originally from that relationship wasn't supposed Molotov. It wasn't supposed to be Mic and Ducko. It was supposed to be me looking for some beats. (laughs) Ducko wouldn't e-mail me any beats. He was like, "Just come to the house. Come to the house." So I was like, "Aight." I was basically being stubborn like, "No you're going to e-mail me beats." And he's say, "Come to the house." That goes on for a minute, and I'm like, "OK we'll get up eventually." Finally I go to his house and listen some beats, and I'm like, "Whoa." It was some of the most off-the-wall beats. Ducko is extremely talented. At that moment he gave me a CD with 8 beats on it. I took those beats home for maybe two days or so, and I had songs ready to go for like 6 of them. I came back to lay them down and did all 6 in like an hour or two. He was like, "Yo, we should do a whole tape." And I was feeling so good about the music at that point I was like "Let's do it." At that moment once we finished the last song, it was like, "OK let's start making some more beats. Let's go ahead and knock it out." Cause I was only going to be there for so many more days. I was fixing to go out of town. The same session I brought him what I had back for those songs, the verses back, that was the day we decided, 'Yeah we're going to do tape.'
LINK TO MOLOTOV HERE.
CONCRETE: What's the overall feel of Molotov?
Openmic: It's all explosive. Molotov went places I couldn't go on For the Rebels musically. It's because I wasn't in the situation where I was working with any producers at all. For the Rebels has 2 beats from people that I actually know. Everything else I found, random songs. I set it up like this if For the Rebels was the protest so to speak. You have the voice speaking up like, 'Yo we're tired of this.' Molotov is, 'We're taking it past the protest. They're not listening, so we're going to throw a molotov cocktail and blow up the building.'
CONCRETE: Are you working on the next project?
Openmic: Yeah. We're working on For the Rebels 2. For the Rebels 2 is like Molotov is the winning of the war or rebellion. For the Rebels 2 is once you burn down the White House the establishment or system, you start to rebuild it. How do you rebuild it without putting those same things that we hated so much in the beginning, without the ideas growing back when you rebuild the building. It's kind of like from the inside out. We started from the outside. We tore down the inside. Now we're rebuilding the inside. We're trying to make sure we don't become the same thing we hated in the first place.
CONCRETE: You use a lot of rebellion themes in your music, titles, artwork. What's the underlying message behind it? It seems to coincide with whole Occupy protests.
Openmic: I still don't know how I feel about the whole occupy movement as a whole. I feel like it's necessary. I feel like the voice is relevant. I feel like the people need to speak up and say some things. But some of their approaches and the actions behind it I can't really get behind. I feel like it's definitely necessary. But my music has nothing to do with that. And honestly, I know about politics to a certain extent, but I'm not a politician. I don't want to be a Senator. I'm not claiming to be the new voice of the people. I'm not Lupe Fiasco. The only time you can do something that's actually different is when you're completely yourself. The rebellion is about non conformity more than anything. It's about you can be a rebel and look like anybody else. You can be a rebel and have some of the same ideas as other people. But at the end of the day you know within you, deep down, who you are at the core of your existence who you are and you follow that to a fault regardless of what anybody says. No matter what if you know within you for a fact that this is who I am and you embrace that, that's what the rebellion really is. Somewhere when you go from deep down to the surface sometimes we lose what that is. It's a lot of self reflection, being consistent with who you are. Who you are as a man or a woman. That's what my message is.
CONCRETE: What are some of the good things that Molotov has done since you dropped that?
Openmic: People are saying that Molotov is better than For the Rebels. We've been sitting on Molotv for so long that I'm tired of it. Well I can't say I'm tired of hearing it, but it's not new anymore to me. It's not likea new CD that you pop in. We've been had this. But people out here are like, "Yo! This is dope." It's already done more numbers and downloads and views and stuff in one week than For the Rebels did in 5 months. So I'm like, 'Wow. People are really feeling this music.' So it's real positive. More blogs are picking it up, more websites. It's getting more attention around the country rather than just inside Nashville. We're just fortunate.Me and Ducko are going to be doing more work. (laughs) People like it, and we like it, so we're going to keep doing it. I look forward to it.
Openmic: I work really hard. I study music. I study everything from lyricism to time changes to the iconography of like A Tribe Called Quest and what Wu-Tang did for the culture, everything. I really feel like a lot of people in hip-hop period, underground, commercial, whatever, aren't doing the types of things that I'm doing with the people around me. It's not just me. From the videos to the graphic design to the pictures we put out, I don't think people are really in tune with it. Once we find the middle ground the level of exposure is going to be really crazy. Plus, I want to be one of the greatest rappers that ever lived. I'm just going to keep working extremely hard. I encourage everyone that's in the Nashville underground culture we have that's exploding right now to continue to go extremely hard. Cause being in New York, these guys ain't no better than us. I could have brought 3 artists from Nashville with me to New York and just murdered every show that I went to. So everybody man keep going. Keep going crazy (laughs).
Posted by thoughts manifested at 6:50 AM
Monday, February 6, 2012
Crisis: The college tour we started back on October 1, 2011. We actually kicked off September 24 in New York at the RockSmith Flagship Store. We partnered with RockSmith Clothing based out of New York. They was trying to really get into the college market with their clothing line. It was only right for us to merge together and go on tour. What we did was hit up a bunch of schools that we had connections with and promoters from different areas and put together the Shut Up and Listen Tour with me, Zac Boog and Dee Goodz. We did a combination of step shows, after parties for home comings. We hit the most of the schools during their home comings. We went to MTSU, Lane College, UT Martin, TSU, Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, UT Knoxville, UT Chattanooga and a few other schools. Basically what we did was I went in on the turntables and did my thing, Zac Boog did his hosting and comedy thing and Dee Goodz performed 1 or 2 songs with what he had going on. The whole purpose of it was to get our brands out in these other markets and do something different. Cause you can hang out in Nashville all day, but if you ain't really getting out then you're really not doing anything for the city. A lot of people get kind of complacent. I caught myself doing the same thing. I kind of got bothered by that. That's why we jumped out on a limb and did the tour.
CONCRETE: Which colleges did you get the best turnout?
Crisis: I would say UT Knoxville. There was about 2,500 people. It wasn't even a club. It was big ol' sports complex they did it at. It was with the Alphas down there. It was the pre-party for their homecoming. They really brought them out. It was about 2,500 people that came out and rocked with us. It was a real good look. We got video footage. We've been releasing recap videos for each spot on the tour. It's been a good look each day.
CONCRETE: You've been doing radio with 101.1 The Beat also. How did you get on with those guys?
Crisis: I hit Dolewite and Scooby up about an internship back in 2008. I ended up getting on as an intern. A week later I ended up getting hired as a part timer. Then 3 months after that I started training for the Steve Harvey Morning Show to fill in for Jones. A month later Pam (Pamela Aniese) was like, "I want to have you on Sunday nights." In way less than a year I was on the air. I got my own show, Sundays from 8-12. It's working out good, cause I don't have to be in Nashville until Sunday. I'm not limited. That's my overall objective is to get out of the market. Really just establish the show's brand, the DJ Crisis brand, the Fly Major brand everywhere we go. That's the sole purpose of what I'm trying to do. The radio helps me be anchored in the city. I still have a voice in the city while I'm moving around outside the city.
Crisis: We're planning more unique events than the norm. At the end of the day people in Nashville want different stuff, so they can feel it's something progressive in the city. If you hit the with the same old stuff over and over, which has been happening, people get board. They want to go outside of Nashville for entertainment. Really Nashville has enough stuff here for people to be in the city and enjoy themselves like they would anywhere else.What we're trying to provide this go round in 2012 is that new vibe from musical acts to something of everything. We have Fridays over at the new SoBro Nightclub, formerly The Place. Even with me as a DJ, I'm trying to get more in touch with the community. I'm just trying to help the city get back to where it was before I got here. When I got here I was hearing stories about how Nashville was. That makes me more anxious to get it back to where it was. I fell like I'm as responsible as anybody else from Nashville.
CONCRETE: You're have a mix tape series Shut Up and Listen. What's the history behind that and what's the latest news with that ongoing project?
Crisis: Shut Up and Listen was actually an idea that came into my head back in high school. That's how I got my DJ name Crisis, by just selling mixtapes in high school. Then I got to TSU. It was always in the back of my head to do, but it took like a year and a half to actually just go ahead and do it. I felt that I was ready to do it. It started off with just one volume. I had a bunch of songs that people liked. It was a response bigger than what I thought it would be. I always said I just wanted to do a mixtape, that's it. But the response that it got kind of made me have to go ahead and start a series. From volume 2 to volume three, then I linked up with DJ Drama one of my longtime inspirations. Now he's one of my biggest mentors and one of my good friends. It took time me doing mixtapes and staying consistent and working so hard to get to that point. So it went from working with DJ Drama to Drumma Boy. I did one with him. Now I'm working on a tape with Buck, Live Loyal Die Rich. That's going to be my first artist (tape) that I actually collaborate on with a Shut Up and Listen. From there I plan to work with other artists. Just big names that I can help with my brand and merge it with brand and make something real big. That's what I did with the mixtape series.
CONCRETE: When is the Live Loyal Die Rich mixtape dropping?
Crisis: We're saying December 25, 2011, but it's probably dropping the top of the year. We got all the songs done, but knowing him he's still recording stuff. He keeps on finding stuff. He called me one day like, "Man I got another song for the tape." And he'll send it to me. So that's how that's been working out. It really ain't no rush to it. I'm still working doing my thing while he's working. Whenever we get it all together that's when we'll put it out.
YOUNG BUCK & DRUMMA BOY - SHUT UP & LISTEN EXCLUSIVE
CONCRETE: Do you still do tour dates with Young Buck?
Crisis: Well he's got C-Dub who's been going some dates. I've been in school still. So from school, to outside gigs, to the tour I just did it kind of hindered me from going on the road with Buck the way I used to. But we still have the same working relationship we did. If he has a show he really needs me to do, I'll make the proper sacrifices to make it happen for him. That's just the kind of relationship me and him got. Anything he needs I'm there for him and vice-versa.
CONCRETE: Are you the tour DJ for any artists besides Buck?
Crisis: Actually before I was Buck's DJ I was Starlito's DJ. We did the Tenn-A-Keyan Mixtape. I put my little cousin DJ Crucial on. Now he's Starlito's road DJ now. I think that my situation, by me having so much other stuff going on has been a blessing for others. Because I was able to be like, "OK Star needs a DJ, you should rock with (Crucial)." The fact that I brought him up as a DJ, Star is able to trust him cause he trusts me. They've been doing shows for the past three months together. It's been going real good.
THE TENN-A-KEYAN MIXTAPE HERE.
CONCRETE: When you get done with school, do you plan to get back on the road with some artists?
Crisis: When I get done with school I want to do more moving around period. Still be stationed in Nashville, but during the week I want to be in Atlanta, cause that's where I'm from. I got plenty of ties and connects down there. Just working, I want to work seven days a week not just on the weekends. I've been so many places this past year it's opened my eyes to so many opportunities outside the city that could help the city eventually. I can help just by being in New York or at the BET Awards just knowing so many people. I always wondered what that phrase "it ain't what you know it's who you know" meant. Now I'm realizing most of the opportunities I've been getting has been of the basis of relationships. That's the important part about it is just building those solid relationships to get to that next level. That's what I really want to do when school is out. Still do what I do for the city, but at the same time get outside of the city. Tony Neal of Core DJs, I was in Miami in May (2011) for the Core DJ retreat, and he told me, out of his mouth, and it still sticks with me to this day, "You can't put on for your city if you're always in your city." And I say that day-in-and-day-out to myself. It really makes a lot of sense, because until someone gets back out there and sheds light on a national level for Nashville, Nashville won't get the attention that they deserve. When Buck was in his prime, back when G-Unit first got on and he was screaming Cashville on BET and Mtv and stuff like that really shined light onto Cashville. Nashville needs that next person to do that. I feel like me being in the position I am, I feel obligated to do that. I feel like it's on my shoulders and I really just got to get out here and do it.
CONCRETE: When are you set to finish school?
Crisis: May 2012.
Crisis: To my knowledge yeah. You got Sense and Drama. And you know (Don) Cannon and Drama still do stuff together.
CONCRETE: Do you have any aspirations to be in the APHILLYiates crew with DJ Drama or to start your own crew of DJs?
Crisis: Coming up as DJ that was one of my goals was to become an APHILLYiate, but now I would still love to be a part of that and what he has going on. But I know the type of person Drama is, he would probably want me to find my lane and work in that lane. He told me, out of his mouth it's really just about being original with what you do instead of just following. I'd love to be a part of what he has going on and help expand his brand on the collegiate end and to those who support me and just getting it out there. I'm also part of another DJ coalition in Atlanta, some friends that went to school with me back in high school, The Arsonists DJs. Two of my cousins are part of that DJ coalition. It's just good to be a part of a family that loves the same things that you love. Back to the Drama thing, I would still love to be a part of what he's got going on, cause that was always one of my goals and dreams, working side-by-side with him.
CONCRETE: You have a lot of family members that DJ. Who are they?
Crisis: DJ Crucial, DJ Dark Knight, DJ Jazzy T, she's not my cousin, but we went to high school together then she moved to Memphis and then to TSU so we still had that connection. It's more so a brother sister kind of thing. She was just like, "I want to be a DJ." So when she got here her freshman year I started showing her the stuff. Now she's out here rocking clubs just as much as I am. I feel that I've been a blessing to others. That's what I'm here for really. If you can't share your talents or help bless someone else then you ain't really doing what you're supposed to be doing. My upbringing makes me do that. It's more family oriented from my manager Pat to everybody that's around me. Zach Boog, TheLowKey.com is a blog site a partner of mine Lorenzo. Solo Altitude clothing which is the shirt I got on right now. He's a guy that's in Fly Major. Everybody is starting to come into their own with what they're doing. I feel if I can help them then I go about it anyway I can. Everything's working out and it's good to see eevrybody that started with me coming out into their niche, their lane. And everything is coming back together piece by piece. It's a good thing.
CONCRETE: What are your main goals for 2012?
Crisis: Really just getting Nashville back to where it needs to be. That's my immediate goal point-blank period. I notice different DJs or promoters or people period they might graduate from school or get to a certain level and they just want out of the situation. Because it's difficult to get it to where it needs to be. But everywhere was difficult. I remember growing up in Atlanta I knew it was hard for Outkast and DJ Greg Street, everybody that was in Atlanta that was instrumental in getting to where it is today. They all had to put in that groundwork. I feel as if nobody else want to do it I have to do it. I think that I set enough trends for the city for DJs, that I know if I start really getting the city back involved everybody else is going to want to join back. It's really just based on everyone getting on the same page. That's the problem right now. You've got to get the artists from the radio, to the DJs, to the promoters, the clubs, everybody has got to be on the same page for Nashville to get to where it can be. I don't feel my work is done until I make that happen. I know it's going to happen. There's so much potential in the city. When I graduate I want to go and move around in the city a lot more as far as artist wise. Me and Open Mic have a project coming up. Me and Buck got a project coming up. I'm about to be instrumental in Star's situation. It's time to get Star on a more National basis with his music. Dude has so much talent. He just hasn't really had the outlets to these bigger markets. I feel as a DJ I have more leverage to kind of get them there as opposed to just being an artist trying to do it themselves. I'm working with D-Goodz on his situation. He's out grinding and working. That's what it starts at. It starts with the music and the whole hip-hop culture in Nashville. It's creating a voice for Nashville. I think it's here, but without someone to actually bring it out it ain't going to happen. You're going to have frustrated people that don't want to go out. That's what it is right now. They thinking that it's over with when it's really not. I've been taking notes and studying the whole situation.
CONCRETE: Any last words or shout-outs?
Crisis: Shout-out to everybody man. Shout-out to my team. Everybody that's involved, everybody that helped me. That's one thing I learned. Without having the right people around you then you're not going to get where you need to be. People around you are going to push you and bring out the best in what you got going on. Fly Major to the Shut Up and Listen team to LowKey.com to Solo Altitude to RockSmith, everybody that helped me get my dreams out and what I wanted to do. I'm supportive of what they got going on. I feel as if I'm indebted to them. From like Elite Clothing, words can't express enough how much Ramadan has been instrumental from advice to free gear. I can't remember the last time I really bought anything from there. Anything he needs from me like DJing a turkey drive to DJing a birthday, anything he's got going on, anytime, I'm not going to charge him. It's more of a brother type of situation. That's my brother. Ramadan has done so much. He's bent over backwards for me, and I feel I have to do the same for him. I feel like everyone is supporting me and I want to support back.
Posted by thoughts manifested at 8:42 AM