Joined: 30 Jun 2002
|a semi-turbulant interview with Meanstreet Magazine 12/05/03
First of all, I am very curious as to why someone who appears to write with emotional directness seems to favor communicating with the benefit of distance -- a large sampling of references to interviews on the Net I
can find use email or IM methods...and there's forums to discuss, as well...is the "virtual" world a more direct route to you?
"I don't believe that verbal communication is more direct than typed communication. Quite the contrary. Quite honestly, I usually don't enjoy verbal conversations. I DO enjoy the opportunity to speak when I feel the need to, but if I have an option I choose to stay quiet and place my thoughts down in written form."
How straightedge are you? How does that get reconciled with claims of "most likely I've been there and done that"?
"I am not very straight edge at all. I am very sick of that topic being brought up, but I did it to myself. Also, by many people's definition, I am not hiphop. Here we are playing with words that mean different things to different people. By the strictest sense of these particular words, I am not straight edge nor am I hiphop. And, yes, most likely, I have been there. And I have done that."
THIS WAS BASED ON OBSERVATIONS OF LYRICS INVOLVING FUGAZI/MINOR THREAT AND THINGS YOU HAVE SAID IN THE PAST. SORRY TO BRING UP A SORE SUBJECT. BUT THE SUBJECT OF HOW WORDSí LACK CONCRETE MEANING AND ARE MANIPULATED BY PERSPECTIVE IS AN INTERESTING ONE. MAINLY THE REASON IíM TRYING TO DETERMINE YOUR PERSPECTIVE. AND YOUR QUOTIENT OF BEEN THERE/DONE THAT...
"Like i said, i did it to myself. I don't blame you for bringing it up."
Do you consider more upfront beats better for strings of observations
than threaded narratives? What aspects of your flow do you feel Joe Beats production best bolsters, and how do you adapt to a new pattern?
"I don't know what up-front beats are. Joe's Beats make me fight a tide in a way that accentuates my aggression and humor. I adapt by accepting to form myself to any mold that I like the shape of. It's easy."
J-school teaches of structure, paring down elements for a lowest common
denominator (least that's what mine tried to do). balancing honesty,
relieving the burden on interpretation...
Art is conflict, a striving for translation, and yet a quest to leave
certain facts veiled for the sake of interpretation based on
unquantifiable perspective(s)...what's being lost, and yet what's a
How to reconcile chronicling and conceptuality...re/creating...
Would you rather have people believe something or question it? They both
result in actions, though widely differing...
"I don't know what J-School is, but you just said a bunch of things as if they are universally accepted. I don't agree. I'd rather have people question everything they believe. And then continue that pattern until they die completely and utterly unsure of themselves."
J-SCHOOL = JOURNALISM SCHOOL. AND NO STATEMENTS WERE MEANT AS CONCRETE/UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED. AGAIN, I DONíT LIKE EMAIL INTERVIEWS. MORE APPROPRIATE WOULD HAVE BEEN ĎART CAN BE SEEN AS CONFLICT, I FEEL...í ETC. THE COMMENT I WAS ATTEMPTING TO MAKE WAS THAT IT DOESNíT SEEM WEíRE TAUGHT TO QUESTION ANYMORE. RATHER, PEOPLE TRY TO TEACH ANSWERS. IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO TEACH SOMEONE TO LOVE OR RESPECT ART?
"You can't teach anyone to love anything. That's impossible. You have to show them why it can be loved and/or should be respected."
Which word is more powerful: think or feel...
"My man...I'm sorry. Something about the questions you have chosen to ask me really rubs me the wrong way. Because...I get the impression that you think these are good questions. REVEALING questions. When in reality, you might as well be asking me what my favorite color is. Did you know that most geniuses pick green? Yeah, man. That makes me want to pick green too. But we live in a culture of bests and worsts. We want a winner and a loser. I don't think I could FEEL a damn thing if I didn't have the ability to THINK about it. Now that I went through the process of wording my opinion of your actual question and then giving you an appropriate answer you have the opportunity to front like you actually got what you wanted. As if that was your goal. Don't be an opportunist"
WELL IN A WAY I DID GET WHAT I WANTED, DIDNíT I. I WANTED A REACTION, WHICH IS VERY HARD TO ILLICIT IN EMAIL INTERVIEWS. AND YOU GAVE ME A LEGITIMATE ANSWER TO BOOT. SO HOW WOULD I BE AN OPPORTUNIST BY USING THIS EXCHANGE? THESE ARENíT PARTICULARLY ďGOOD QUESTIONSĒ IN THE SENSE I THINK YOUíRE INSINUATING. I DONíT HAVE AN ANSWER IN MIND, OR A SET OF PARAMETERS OF A PERSON I WOULD ATTRIBUTE DEPENDING ON YOUR ANSWER> THE QUESTIONíS PURPOSE TO IS TO MAKE YOU QUESTION. AND YOU DID. YOU WONDER WHY I ASK THESE QUESTIONS. YOU DONíT LIKE THEM. THEREFORE YOU ARE SPEAKING ABOUT IT. THEYíRE JUST RANDOM THOUGHTS. IíVE NEVER SAT DOWN WITH YOU FACE TO FACE, SO I DONíT KNOW YOU. IíM TRYING TO GET A SENSE OF YOU. WHAT DO YOU THINK I SHOULD KNOW TO GET THAT SENSE? DOES YOUR FAVORITE COLOR PLAY A FACTOR? IF SO, PLEASE INCLUDE IT. ITíS MY JOB TO DRAW A PICTURE IN INK, I JUST NEED TO KNOW THE SHADES OF GREY TO INCLUDE. I DIDNíT COME WITH MANY SPECIFICS IN MIND. I READ YOU AS SOMEONE WHO WOULD ENJOY GOING ON TANGENTS.
How do you determine personalities are compatible enough for
"I share my music with people who can carry their end of the deal without increasing my own burden."
What are the values of pseudonyms and alter egos, especially when
material is meant to be highly personal? What identities are foils for
"Pseudonyms help the audience identify the work of someone who entertains them for a living. Alter egos allow for the categorization of traits that belong to seperate personalities but come from the same person."
SO YOU FEEL IT ALLOWS FOR MORE DIRECT YET QUANTIFIED COMMUNICATION OF YOUR FEELINGS, OR IT ALLOWS FOR A DEVILíS ADVOCATE JUXTAPOSITION OF THE EXTREMES THAT EXIST WITHIN US BUT RARLELY WIN OUT?
"Neither, it gives people some indication of what angle you are coming from."
Is there anything in life that's not selfish?
Is it the beat or the melody that best determines the mood the verses
"There is no correct answer to that. Both supply a mood. One can ruin the other."
Jesus on an anchor -- is he sunken or buoyant? Which do you hope and
"He's nailed down. Nothing about religion or anchors is buoyant."
How important are visuals to predetermining a mood, because it's the
first thing someone has to judge besides name recognition.
"I don't put much emphasis on visuals. Not yet anyway. It's not something I care to consider yet, it all seems so incidental to what I do."
How does one establish loyalty in a post-TRL world, while at the same
time avoiding a backpack-shaped pigeonhole?
"One can establish loyalty by offering sincerity and quality. With that must come product that the audience enjoys so much that they want or need more. Loyalty is a very special thing, and extremely rare in our fast food world. I'll never know for sure if I have attained loyalty from anyone, but many people have expressed as much to me."
What's Rhode Island look like/smell like/feel like? Feel anything about
your surroundings, from general weather patterns to the room in which
you write/record vocals...
"Rhode Island is quaint and diverse as far as cultural and geographical landscape goes. The best parts of it smells like either salt water or decomposing leaves. Joe and I recorded all of HOPE at a studio that at a terminal on the water, which wasn't very hiphop BUT was very Rhode Island. It feels like a black and white photo sometimes. It is necessary for me to return to after my worldly travels."
What is/was the battle scene's status when you most felt it and most
felt for it? Do you worry MCs are learning flows the way rock guitars
need to start with Stairway to Heaven or is that just part of the
"I most felt the battle scene in 98/99. It certainly wasn't a pop culture phenomenon quite yet, but the underground scene was boiling over and emcees with well honed skills were going at each other's necks. They did it for the fight and not the fame. It felt less contrived. Emcees will always emulate the flow of their favorite artist when they fist start out. The problem here is they shouldn't be presenting their material if they are that new to the game. And they certainly shouldn't be battling."
What did you hope to do with this album?
"I hoped to make a hiphop album that I was proud of, while responding to all the critics of Personal Journals who seemed unaware of my roots."
How do you hope people will profit from this album?
"I hope people identify with it or feel moved by it. That's all an artist can ever hope for with anything they create."
What hip-hop that influenced you do you hope people (re)discover...
"Public Enemy is one of the main groups that needs to always be researched and appreciated by anyone who missed that boat. They were the peak. I could list 100 other groups and artists but I won't. I just find it appalling that the new waves of hiphop listeners don't respect the artists who OWN this hiphop shit. I see it time and time again. It drives me up the wall."
What non-hip-hop/nontraditional hip-hop that influenced you do you hope
"Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Lennon. They are the non-hiphop trinity for me."
What do you hope to do next?
"I hope to create a socially relevant album that I can be proud of on multiple levels. I already did Personal Journals and HOPE, now I need to discover the virgin landscape of my soul and exploit it to hell."
Based on immediate first response: My favorite beats are "That Ain't
Right" and "Spaceman," and my favorite verses "Mainstream" and
"Tolerance Level." I say this just to throw it out there, as you may be
curious what people react to most strongly. If those preferences illicit
a comment, please feel free to include it here...
"Joe and I were talking about this yesterday. We are surprised that people keep naming Mainstream as a song that sticks out, because that subject matter is so run of the mill and typical of the underground. But we aren't going to complain. We obviously enjoy the song a lot or else it wouldn't have made it on the album. Good call on Spaceman, that is a very well developed beat."
How did you hook up with Lex? With much DIY experience, the pros and
"The owner of Lex, Tom, approached us about 2 years ago requesting a Non-Prophets album. Lex wasn't even in existence yet, but it was about to happen. I told him that we would submit an album to him when we were finished and if he liked it AS IS then we could work something out. That's exactly how it happened. Of course I could have put it out myself, but I certainly don't have the time, energy or resources to give it the attention it deserves. I was interested in seeing how Lex would handle it."
From a DIY perspective, the climate on the industry...
"Business is bubbling, but the over saturation leaves the bottom feeders (85% of our population) tearing each other down in an effort to pull themselves up. It's a sad frenzy."
How did you hook up with Danger Mouse -- I know Brian from when he lived
in Georgia, and he's a cool cat in my opinion...
"I hooked up with Danger Mouse via Lex. We met up in London. He definitely is a cool cat."
Fri Dec 05, 2003 7:02 pm
Joined: 19 Jul 2002
What an asshole.
Wed Dec 10, 2003 2:59 pm
Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Location: Queens, NYC
So what was this, an e-amil passed back and forth? This interview was weak, it's clear that the interviewer was looking for certain answers which is never a good idea--and especially is not a good idea with Sage.
Wed Dec 10, 2003 3:10 pm
Joined: 06 Nov 2002
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Dude takes himself waaay too seriously.
Thu Dec 11, 2003 4:43 am
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