What’s crackin’ people. I had a great weekend doing shows for the people of NYC, Philly and RIchmond. Thanks to all those of you who came out (especially those of you who read this blog and told me so at the shows. I love that.). I got Shows in Portland, Seattle and SF next weekend. More info HERE.
Anyway, two weeks in a row…STILL NOT SICK. Trying to set a record up in here.
So, as you probably know, this is that thing where I answer questions sent into me by my readers. I can always use more. If you have an itch that needs scratching in the form of a question, send it my way. Either leave it int he comment section below or email it to me at email@example.com
What do you think is behind the “white rap voice”? Do you think it’s just guys who don’t speak with any sort of street in their voices who all of a sudden find rap and decide to try it? Obviously the essence of it is over-pronunciation of all syllables and a general higher voice/whine, but why do you think this happens so much and with such consistency?
I think the “White voice” is deeper than that. I think that, while it’s a mixture of the things you listed (Over pronunciation and lack of street authenticity) what REALLY makes a white voice white is the whininess. A successful rap voice usually requires presence, command and something about it that sounds cool (the kids call it swagger). Think of dudes like Big Daddy Kane or Rakim. Chuck D. Even a dude with a lisp can sound cool if his voice happens to hit those buttons in your brain. Also, part of rappers sounding good is effortlessness. Whenever I hear someone trying really hard, it’s obvious. A lot of white dudes don’t have any of those qualities and , on top of that, sound like they’re struggling just to stay on beat. The same could be said about someone like Kweli. His voice is fairly weak and his flow has never sounded natural to me. So, if you’re feeling like I’m picking on just white guys, rest easy cracker. It does go both ways. But let’s not fool ourselves, it’s called “white voice” for a reason.
I think a large portion of white guys are just predisposed to having voices that don’t sound good in the context of rapping. We may be better suited for singing over quietly strummed guitars. Take a dude like John Darnielle from the Mountain goats. He’s got a serious white voice but he finds a way to use it in music so it sounds cool.
But, really, when it’s all said and done, it’s all genetics and DNA. Whites be white, yo.
This is kinda off topic but it’s tour related. So you are going to play a festival called “Lightning in a Bottle” in Temecula California in July. That’s the closest you have come to San Diego (about 30 min) that you have come in a long time. This is definitely one of those hippie rave type festivals that you mention you get billed on from time to time. Don’t get me wrong. I definitely don’t blame you for playing when and where you can and for having an eclectic fan base. I would be down to wade through the sea of tie die & glow sticks to see your live show in a minute but, this being a pretty large festival, even a day pass is almost $200. Now, I dig your music and have been a fan for a while but that’s pretty steep especially considering I can almost guarantee that your performance would be the only thing I would be in to.(Except maybe scoring some shrooms or some Molly! Hehe)Seriously though I can’t think of anyone I’d pay $200 to see except like a Doom/Aesop/Wu-Tang/Billy Woods/90′s ATCQ fantasy line up thing. Has anyone ever mentioned this to you before? OR do some harcore Blockhead fans( that aren’t of the Patchouli wearing-fuzzy pant-rocking variety) really shell out over a hundo to come see the god? I imagine playing these types of shows are good for you. Getting paid, getting exposed to new fans, and the rest but do you ever resent it? Do you wish you could be maybe opening up on a tour with a rapper you know? I just ask mostly because youve said that these shows really aren’t your thing as far as a scene goes. Or does it not matter and a show is a show?
I can’t say I spend much time thinking about it. As far as festivals go, I’ve gotten to the point where I just suck it up and do them and end up having a good time. The thing is, while that’s not my scene, the people are generally very nice and the promoters are accommodating (except this one TIME.
While i’m sure there is a decent proportion of my fan base that is in the same boat as you, there are also others who love to go to festivals and relate my music much less to rap than someone who’s been listening to me since the early 2000’s. What I’m saying is, I do have a decent sized burner/electronic festival type following. While this surprises me as I think of my music as very much rooted in hip hop, I’m not about to be a dick about it and try and pick and choose fans. Everyone is welcome.
As for the hip hop festival idea, I don’t think it would work. My set , at the end of the day, plays better to people who are trying to dance or bug out. Hip hop crowds that stand and stare, while occasionally pumping a fist are not who I wanna play for. That may be more my personal scene (though, going to rap shows in 2013 is a fucking nightmare for me) but my fan base is something totally different, in general.
Did you ever bump into Eyedea or meet him? He’s an incredibly dope freestyler and I know he’s done some sessions/tracks with Aesop, Illogic, and that whole crew. Ever been present for a Rhymesayers freestyle?
I chilled with Eyedea around 2000. He and slug came to NYC for the Rock steady rap festival and we hung out and recorded some songs together. This is one of them:
The original version of “Bent Life” featured slug and Eyedea is another we did
Here’s a pic of him at my old crib kicking a rhyme to my inflatable doll/beer cozy
I think after that weekend, I saw him maybe once or twice again but he was a really good dude and one of the craziest freestylers I’ve ever witnessed. RIP
I know you’ve talked about not wanting to grow older and dying while you’re still young (young in the relative sense that you’re not some mentally/physically deteriorating mess with all sorts of old people problems). What do you think is the sweet spot age-wise for death? Don’t you think that you’re always going to have that self-preservation where in the moment, you won’t want to die?
I think it depends on a lot of factors. Do i have a family that needs me? Am I bored? Do i have plans for the future? In my mind, how long I’d want to live is directly related to how functional I am. If I’m ever at the point where I can’t wipe my own ass ever again, put me in a wheelchair and roll my ass off a bridge. Once that’s gone, so if your soul. But, seeing as that could happen tomorrow or in 50 years, I really can’t call it. I basically only want to live if I’m relatively physically functional. I don’t need to be doing wind sprints when I’m 70 but I’d like to be able to walk up some stairs if I need to. I’d like to not be the age that, if I trip, I might paralyze myself.
I often thought that I’d rather live a full life that ends the age of 40 than live a lame life to the ago of 80 but, as I’m nearing in on 40, I dunno if I agree with that anymore. I think a happy medium works for me. I have no interest in being an old, decrepit burden on anyone. So, if I live till 60 in generally good health and die mid-orgasm or something, I’m fine with that. Much better that than dying of starvation, half cocked off a toilet seat with a half wiped asshole cause my back gave out and I live alone.
do you say pop or soda? i think saying soda is weird, like calling kids children or cars automobiles. i hear some people in the south call all soda pop “coke” which seems ignorant as fuck. anyway pop or soda?
Pop is some midwest shit. I hear someone call soda “Pop” and , much like the words “hella” or “wicked”, I basically know where they’re from. Me and everyone I’ve ever met on the east coast call it “soda”.
The funny thing about your reasoning about why it’s weird to you that people would call it “soda” is that you’re saying that the full name of it is supposed to be “Soda pop”. Perhaps that might have been the case in the era of “Happy days” but who on this planet has called anything a “soda pop” in the last 30 years? It’s “soda” because that’s what it is…literally. Carbonation and flavored water. While “Pop” has a nice ring to it, it also sounds like something only a child should say. us grown folks though? Soda, bro. All day, every day.
Oh, side note…I wanna give a special shout out to a kid that came to my show in Richmond. He was the first through the door and walked right up to me and asked me to sign something for him. I agreed and he pulled out this:
(That’s what it looked like after I signed it)
But, yeah…Wow. In case you’re confused, that’s a pic of my that I posted on my instagram (@blockheadnyc) a few months ago for a #throwbackthursday. I was 15 in that pic…Killing it. This dude wins the grand prize for life. Props to you , guy. That made my night.