Over the next 12 days, Swell of Metermaids will tell the stories of each of the songs on their new LP, leading up to the release date of December 12.
Pre-order package deals: http://tinyurl.com/WeBroughtKnives
Here is my breakdown of the first song on our new record, We Brought Knives. It’s called “The Legend of Mal Hombre”. I really like it.
11 days to go y’all.
The intro music you hear as the album begins was recorded live in Ecuador by M. Stine’s sister in law, walking down some alley in some town. A passing marching band, which as I listen to the record more becomes creepier and creepier. She emailed it to Matty during a beat-making session. We all just loved it, and wanted to use it somewhere on the record. So now it is the first sound you hear. I don’t know why, but I love it. It sets the tone for the record.
Sentence and I did the bulk of the writing for We Brought Knives in one night at my parents’ house while they were away. Two subs from Jersey Mike’s (delicious). Sun chips (delicious). Cigarettes and some whiskey. Basically the same formula for every record. We wrote from like 6PM to maybe 3 or 4AM? I think we got seven or eight of the songs done in that one sitting.
While we wrote this song, trading lines back and forth on Sentence’s laptop, whoever wasn’t writing would be working on a different song.
I don’t want to give the impression that the record was haphazardly put together; the opposite is true. Before we sat down to write anything we talked for months about what the songs would be about. I was just a big fan of the idea of taking our poured over outlines and actually writing the shit in a blur of unbridled creativity. Which is why it was also important to go someplace where we wouldn’t be distracted.
The song is inspired by a story I heard third hand about an interaction between two rappers that we all know and love. Somtimes an image is an image. Sometimes emulating a manufactured image can be pretty goddamned dangerous.
Mal Hombre that hardbody. Walk softly. Talk shit and carry a big stick. Get lifted when the spliff’s lit. Got his veins all filled with black coffee. Drug through the dirt with the mud on his shirt and his nerves all – don’t you dare slackjaw me. Fights at the bar. Spiders in a jar. Sits with a long list of bad hobbies. Like back off me. Do you want to die, kid? Got them bourbon heavy eyelids. Four door Chevy. White rims. They like him. It’s like this. Live fast, die pretty in a side ditch. Don’t care about tomorrow. Steal beg and borrow. Still they ain’t never gonna find prints.
We heard whispers coming from the bigger kids. They combed their hair just like his. They dropped their baseball cards and packed their daddy’s switchblades on some fight shit. Intrigued by the way the police had a thing when see him their hand went to the nightstick. Instinct. Every king on the scene has a dream of a million little sidekicks. I knew as sure as shit I’d meet him. So I kept my blade sharp. My peoples ran the blocks so heads knew they shouldn’t be playing in the dark. Got the name with the spraypaint drip. Got stomped if you talked to the narcs. Told them they can’t maintain shit. Everybody knew better not to start.
The same drugs as him. Hold up. The same slugs as him. Sho ’nuff. The same bitches on my dick. You damn right I fucked your friend girl. So what? Nothing’s gonna stop what we started. No one’s going to try and step up. Worked hard for the spot. Dog recognize the fox. We’re both trying to find the next hunt. Get smacked up. Slapped up. Knifed up. Shot up. On some BYOB shit, baby boy. You can think about it kind of like a pot luck. Think about your outline chalked up. Didn’t think about getting locked up. Locked in a battle. Lost in the saddle. Never thought the door was gonna lock. Fuck.
Smile in the wrong place, hombre. You’re rocking a long face with the tooth missing. Jewels missing. Shoes missing. Bust the knuckles out. Sunk them in a stool pigeon. You’re screaming like a bitch, son. Who’ll listen? No cops now. No lockdown. Kind of like romantic pop now. Check how the moon will make the tool glisten. Few screws missing. Couple bolts loose. Getting aggravated at you, daddy. Don’t move. No white lights. Just blackouts. Got a game I like to play. It’s got no rules.
Old shoes. If I want a new pair, monfrere, then I’m making you a code blue. I’m like: hold this. You’re like: oh shit. I’m like: shut up, bitch. You’re like: don’t shoot. I’m an artist and I only paint with flatlines. Only color in except where it’s green. I’m a bad guy. I’m a beast. I’m a thug. I’m a scanner. I’m a chud. Live forever because I can’t die.
I finally met the old legend down at Johnny B’s. Mal Hombre. Big Papi. I told him let’s shoot a bag out back. His eyes met mine. He said yo, not me. But your the jefe de jefe’s. Mean motherfucker. Bone crusher. Undisputed baddest. Not one of these fancy other suckers could say a thing to ever touch your status. I told him I wrote my story in blood. My blade is your blade, daddy. I’m you’re student. He said life ain’t a movie. If you can’t figure that out -
That’s on you, stupid.
2. House On Fire
House on Fire started as a different song – one Sentence and I wrote in our frenzied night of writing. Different beat too. When we were finished with it, though, it wasn’t clicking. So we did something that Metermaids has basically never done:
We trashed it and started all over.
Pretty fitting when I think about the emotion behind the song. A lot of life has happened between the release of Rooftop Shake and We Brought Knives. A lot of life is continuing right now. Shit that is fundamentally changing Sentence and I as people, and the relationships around us. As someone who hates chage, I like exactlynone of it. But I know it’s necessary. I GUESS.
I’ve never had an issue, per se, with abusing any kind of substance. My adult life has been about work and reward. And that has helped me keep a good balance. Kids don’t hurt in keeping a man in check. But I know that I am capable of heavy, destructive addiction. I become addicted to basically everything I touch. I once, while working as a dog walker, ate a bodega out of its entire supply of Pop Tarts in like a week. WHY WOULD SOMEONE EVER DO THAT. I find things I like and I compulsively engage with them over, and over, and over. Even at work now I will sometimes realize that I’ve listened to the same song fifty times in a row. Weird shit, too, like this.
My issue has always been, when drinking or doing drugs, I binge. I have no desire to be a social drinker, or to smoke a little weed with friends, etc. Same goes for some of the heavier shit I dabbled in during my younger years. I like to get fuuuuuuuuucked uuuuuuup. Still do. Now, I just rarely let myself. It’s a rare treat. I have to wake up in the morning and get kids changed out of their pajamas. I have to go to the park and play. So there’s a cost associated. If I’m going to go hard, I have to be willing to pay the price. It’s basically never worth it. Spend a day with a three year old while nursing a fantastic hangover. Do it. I dare you.
In a fuuuuuucked uuuuuuup state a while back, I started wondering why I had this compulsion. Here is the conclusion I came to: I have always been an emotional person. I’m a Cancer son. It’s in the blood. Or the moon, or whatever. I’m sentimental. I get really attached to things. My body becomes like how my apartment is. Nothing ever gets thrown out. Everything that has even the slightest significance finds its way into a closet somehwere, tucked in a drawer, lost in winter jacket pockets. It builds up. And builds up. And I can feel it in my bones. My body doesn’t feel good most days. It’s changed my behavior as I’ve gotten older and naturally have less energy. I feel sick when I have to leave my apartment to attend a social function. A part of me feels like I don’t have the excess energy to spare. I feel weighed down. My linen closet probably feels the same way.
The release from truly getting fucked up is like a temporary, warm, beautiful house fire. Burn it all, start from zero. I know it’s not actually that. But that’s how it feels to me. Fucking amazing. As amazing as a house on fire.
Sentence’s verse is so much better than mine, IMHO. His line about witnessing his grandfather’s passing sent a chill up my spine when he recorded it in the studio.
I’ll keep it all. Let the bittersweet dissolve on my tongue. Burn the house to ash. Save it all in my lungs. Smash it all to pieces. The pretty things. The grimy bits. Swirl it all around. Gather round to see what’s inside of it. I’ll keep high school, for real. All of it. I’ll keep the Wu Tang. The camoflage and goggle shit. I’ll keep my first records. First raps. Wack beats. Makeshift Gods. Voicebox records and rap beef. Putting guts on the street. Sneaking over fences trying to duck the police. The day we watched Grandpa’s last breath – I’ll keep it. Little James with his hand on his heart like the pledge of allegiance. I’ll keep the painful times. The ones that made me toughen up. The times I fixed it all. The times I clearly fucked it up. The painkillers. The black eyes and broken teeth. Sometimes you just dive in. That’s how you know it’s deep.
Let it go. Like a house on fire.
You can take all of the 7th grade and most of the 5th. The taste of white wine on the last one’s lips. The look on her face and the cuts on her wrist. Every song I made before I knew to fuck with the mix. My grandmother’s stroke and dials tuned to the AM. Basic Lights and whatever keeps me awake at night. Taking flights without medicine. Fuck it. Foie gras and venison. Flourescent lights. Every time I made my sister cry. Every night I ever spent with dirty clothes on the floor. Sleeping in unmade beds. Losing friends in the blink of an eye. Pat on the back like a kiss goodbye. My middle school record collection. Pictures in the winter. Broken bones in the summertime. Bee stings and splinters. Credits after movies. Feeling like I’ll never make it. Opiates and therapy, pretty much the same shit. Hold the river choked like you’re hydroelectric. But yo, you can take it. Trust me you can take it.
Let it go. Like a house on fire.
3. I’m Alive So Everything I Own Is My Lucky Everything [featuring Sage Francis & Prolyphic | cuts by Buddy Peace]
Songwriting 101, kids – the longer the song title, the doper the song. Case in point.
This was the final song recorded for We Brought Knives. It was originally intended to be a bonus cut for the physical release, but when we heard the final mix we agreed it was too dope to not be a full fledged family member. I’m also not going to write out the lyrics, because our homey Hugo is working on one of those dope lyric-videos that I’ve always wanted. WORK FASTER, HUGO! When we release that video I’ll update this post. Boom.
The idea for the song was inspired by the last few dates on the Copper Gone tour, where we had the blessing of accompanying Sage, Dolan, Lord Grunge, Madge, Irena, and Prolyphic for shows in Philly, Portland, and Providence.
I was inspired during this mini-run, again, by the Strange Famous records aesthetic. Nobdy’s trying to do anything gimmicky. Nobody’s going for the cheap PR grab. To quote Dolan: “They don’t want to grind out on the road like I do. They just stay home and hope to go viral“. SFR is made up of people who record and perform really, really well. Nobody is going to be a blog darling. Nobody is ever going to excite these finicky Brooklyn kids who rely on Mishka to tell them who is hot. But you could take the line-up of those Copper Gone shows and put it up against any other group of hip hop artists – if SFR isn’t blowing them away, we’re at least holding our own. Dead ass.
It’s working man’s hip hop (shouts to Prolyphic). And I couldn’t think of a higher compliment. Do your job, and do it well. Don’t make a big deal out of it. This is what my momma and poppa taught me. This is why SFR is the label we fought so hard to be a part of. After an incredible Providence show to close out Sage’s tour, the whole crew met up at iHop for a 2AM family brunch. It was fucking amaaaaaaaazing. Another memory to get tucked away and recalled when I’m trying to remember how good life can be sometimes.
To that end, we reached out to Sage, Prolyphic, and Dolan to jump on the song. Only Dolan wasn’t able to – but he’s in the middle of writing two records I believe, so it was understandable. I’ll hold out hopes for a Redux. The magnamous Buddy Peace laid the cuts down, and voilah: another entry into my “favorite collaborations we’ve ever been a part of” list. I CANNOT WAIT TO PERFORM THIS LIVE SOME DAY. WITH BUDDY PEACE. SOMEONE BUY HIM A TICKET.
I’ll summarize by quoting Prolyphic’s closing line from the song: “Did three shows in a row, but I’m back in time at 9:00 on Monday”.