Having both talent and self-confidence can be a very dangerous combination. It can lead to people misunderstanding certain motivations. It can make people hate to love you, as well as inspire people to love to hate you. Hip-Hop music is of course FULL of these types of personalities because rap itself is such a polarizing art based on what it was born out of: The battle.
Raze, seems to be one of those artists that is entrenched in war; battling not only his real life musical foes track by track, but also himself and the very culture that he lives within.
Very soon his new solo album will be released, following the success he’s had as a member of the House of M and the fact that his previous solo has never really left my personal rotation, it was time to ask him some questions about music and life.
Let’s start with the new. You are working at a fevered pitch to finish your newest solo effort Living In Technicolor which is a follow up to your 2008 release Dreaming In Greyscale. Going from grey to color between the two projects is an interesting metaphor. Can you explain what’s taken place to lead to that color?
Well, DiG was essentially the “album I waited my entire life to make”. So it was much like a flashback scene of a movie. There were some major changes to my life that happened as well. I left my old crew, whom I spent the entirety of my career with, and joined the House of M (which was the best move I’ve prolly EVER made professionally), I got married, had another son…CRAZY. So my life NOW, in the present is not only quite different, but very vivid.
What are we going to hear when we hear Living In Technicolor?
Juvenile-Maturity. LOL…this album is a TRIP. Contrary to the somewhat heavy feel of DiG, I wanted this album to be the polar opposite. The side of me most people DO get to see. The goofball. The cynical, slick-talkin, cocky/arrogant drunkard, life of the party dude that can do the splits and NOT spill his Vodka/Gin concoction. There’s a couple tracks that will ‘feel’ familiar. And those will be easter egg like moments for those that heard DiG. But primarily, I opened up the production from 98% me, to only about 25% me. For me as an artist to grow, I needed to let go of my control issues, and let others take the reins to a degree. So the SOUND of the album is quite possibly the most dynamic thing I’ve ever been a part of. I wanted to touch on lots of different subjects and have pieces of many different types of Hip Hop so I’ve gotten music from Lou Tang, D’Matikk, Trellmatic, Jihad Barakus, my homie Sosa Da Gr8, Eddie Nygma & lastly myself. Lyrically, I credit The M with my growth. We all got a healthy unspoken competitive bug which drives all of us. And I’ll be DAMN if my album ain’t gonna be the best outta the 0-’10 lot…LOL
As a member of the House of M, a group that was looked upon as being an entity that would honestly never complete an album. When you were brought into the M, did you become that glue that helped everything stick together for the purpose of delivering an album or was it just finally time?
I can’t front, YES. I am the glue. (lmmbao!!)
Nah, I’m trippin. I feel it’s BOTH to varying degrees. Honestly, The Alternate Reality of… album was going to happen whether I was in the group or not. It’s just a matter of what type of album it would’ve been. I think I was just the final ingredient to complete the mad scientist’s brew. It was crazy. The circumstances I had left my old crew under…the way certain people left The M before I got here…the public misconception of WHY I joined/was recruited by The M…I could go on and on. I wasn’t the glue, I was the much needed 6 degree temperature change to create the perfect storm.
The House of M’s lineup has changed and shifted a few times since it came about. Is the lineup that you have right now the final lineup or are you planning on including any new individuals in the group?
The doors on the House of M are never shut. We care too much for the community to be closed off like some may perceive us to be. We’re not “seeking out” members, because as other members have left, we have gotten stronger…dare I say BETTER. The previous questions of loyalty/drive/etc have been replaced by diamond hard certainty of who’s roles are what and who’s truly DOWN. With that said, we’ve got some recruits in mind tho…The Mutant Academy is definitely getting the scholarships lined up.
Dreaming In Greyscale came about at an interesting time in your career. The group/crew you were with before the M was splintering and you yourself were on the way out. Your style was growing and changing. When you look back at that album and listen to it, what do you hear?
Wow…umm, mistakes? LOL. I can’t lie. That album is my baby. It just is. But I hear so many things technically that I would do so differently. BUT, at the core is the music and with that, I hear an artist that finally found himself. It was the first time in my career I didn’t cater to anyone but MYSELF. I made the music I wanted to make and spit how & about what I wanted. And it felt AWESOME. That’s primarily what caused the break (with the old crew). No offense to those brothers because I still wish them the best, but I could only do so much for and with them under those circumstances.
You are a producer and an engineer that is very vocal about song quality from a sonic perspective, almost reveling in the title of being a “sound snob”. Here is your chance to publicly explain to everybody why they should regard Dreamscale Multimedia as a top notch studio.
Thanx for the “SS” tag. I gotta use that more often…LOL. DreamScale is a production house/team founded in the belief that music should have FEELING . Sure, you will get a technically & sonically professional sound from us, but when you get a track mixed at DreamScale, it’s gonna make the listener FEEL the emotion you’re trying to invoke. Some songs need to feel intimate, some breezy and care free, others feel aggressive and dirty. The catch is letting go of textbook approaches so we can get digital music to feel like analog music, without having to sacrifice quality.
As a polarizing person in the Milwaukee Hip-Hop scene, you have those who absolutely love you and those who absolutely hate you. As you’ve grown into who you are today, how do you feel about the love and the hate?
What can I say? I LOVE the love…LOL. The hate has it’s place in my heart too. I feed off of it. And to be honest, I feel I’ve earned both. I don’t really think people necessarily hate “me” as much as what I represent. I don’t believe in sugar coating, not at all. One thing that’s missing from our city’s coverage of urban music is true, honesty critique. So many artists are blinded by positive reviews from friends/family, not to mention if the media DOES review something, apparently they only review projects in a positive light. Without feedback on what an artist may need to improve on, cats basically rest on laurels. Now, I’m not the “all seeing eye” of what’s hot & what’s not, but I’m a grown ass man with opinions. Some good, some not so good. And I feel it’s mine, as well as everyone else’s to put them out there. Because, let’s be real, when artists start getting negative feedback from outside of the city, it’s gonna be a rude awakening if they really have bought into the thought that they are “That Dude”. Yeah, not so much…
What are the differences between Raze and Marquis?
Marquis is the one that cares. He’s kind hearted. He’s a giver. He’s the guy that is more interested in WHY something occurred than the fact that it DID. Marquis is the guy that watches Natl GeographicHD & SCIchannel. The tough loving father and passionate lover….but…
Raze most often doesn’t give a shit. He’s the party hopping CREEP with sharp lyrics on the tongue and twat on the brain. He’s Marquis’ “Iron Man” suit, so to speak. To get to know Marquis, you gotta get Raze’s ok to pass the gate. But it’s so worth it…
Actually, I think I’m bipolar. LOL
Is there is a new House of M album being plotted out? What can you tell us about this project?
At the end of the day, what do you want from the music that you’re doing?
I want to leave a legacy. I just wanna be remembered and respected as a contributor to this amazing thing we’re all building here in Milwaukee and beyond. I hope that one day I’ll have the honor of being mentioned with the likes of Stricklin, Rusty P’s & Black Elephant as a pioneer of this Brew City hip hop shit.
Plus some money. I got kids and them shits ain’t cheap. LOL
Does Milwaukee have any chance of being the next Minneapolis or St. Louis?
Absolutely. Whether we realize it or not, the only thing stopping us is US. The bickering, not competing, but bickering needs to stop. Agree to disagree and keep it moving. Or better yet, learn from each other. Sure we’re all competitors by nature, but that don’t mean we gotta walk around with sticks up our asses being “anti” each other either. We need to stop searching to other regions for our sound and embrace OUR sounds. Milwaukee, has started awakening ears all over, we just need to do better for ourselves FIRST. Then the world is OURS.
Any shout outs?
The House of Mutants, everybody who’s name I’ve already said, my wife, my ex’s that leave drunken voice mails, my fans of the past & future, Elle Razberry, Patrice Downey, Bobby Drake, Frankie Flowers, SPEAK easy, The Army of Midgets, Twizzlers, all the thick chicks rockin BSP’s at UWM, Sony Playstation 3, people that don’t lockdown their WiFi, R.I.P. Pizza Man, my homegirl Jackie from Canada, Beanpie, The MadBloggers, Malicious, UniFi Records, Rehorst Vodka, PBR, KHB, The Covert Empire, Luster’s S-curl activator, Xen, the Monarchs Semi Pro football team, Grown Man Collective, Ms. Cream, and lastly, everyone that embraces individuality.
Here’s a new track from the upcomming Living In Technicolor featuring Frankie Flowers and Elle called “Everywhere”.