Posts tagged ‘house’

Entering the Jericho Lounge > Thaione Davis interview

What’s up Thaione, what have you been up to lately? Can you please introduce yourself?

First off I would like to say thank you for reaching out all the way across the pond and taking notice of Chicago.  As far an introduction, I go by Thaione Davis…producer, MC, DJ, b-boy aficionado born and raised on the southside of Chicago.

I would say that I have proactively been in the quote unquote game for 10 years now and have had the privilege to perform and travel many places across the globe and experience many things.  I keep a very low profile, however I am constantly creating and growing…learning new techniques and studying as much as I can.

What’s been on your mind recently, any particular topic that you’ve written lyrics about?

Well recently (as in this morning) I was chewing on the thought how much lack of identity and individuality I see everyday.  I specifically remember when it was the norm to be yourself and cut your own path, but all I seem to notice is a bunch of sheep aimlessly following somebody who aimlessly following someone else.  The shit is crazy!

This is on all levels not only within music and the culture (hip hop).  I just notice a lot of trends and things like that which I personally couldn’t see myself conforming to.  From the tight pants craze, to the infatuation with all these gadgets and dependency on the technology.  It’s to the point that people can’t sit down and have an extended conversation face to face anymore…but can text or message you all day no problem.

It’s just physically and mentally a lotta cats don’t have any identity…it’s just an uninspiring feeling that’s all. To answer your question about subject matter, my  topics typically fall in what I call a basic category.

By that I mean they seem to always include:  life, love, liberty, change, music, freedom, people, places, things, rhythm, and culture.  I may  take from those 11 points of interest and always find a way to expand on each.  I feel as if each of these points are areas that we all deal with everyday in our personal lives to some degree. These are pretty much focal points for me that continually revolve and evolve and as I continue to grow my take on each may evolve as well.

A lot of your songs and the beats you rhyme over are quite laid-back and soulful. Which producers have you worked with?

Even though I’ve produced most of my catalog, I have more fun rhyming on other people’s beats.  Probably because I know the process and what was entailed when I produce, with other producers it’s just a beat that needs rhymes….I don’t know the back story or process they used.

I’ve dealt with a bunch of independent cats over the years.  Some of my favorites include the likes of Kenny Keys, Rashid Hadee, the OPUS, J.Sayne, Maker, Melatone, just to name a few.  I have a lotta respect for folks that put quality in their craft.  I am very meticulous so understand that every second of an album I put together is crafted on purpose…including the what you call ”mistakes”.

From coloring of the sound to the arrangements and transitions, all those things are thought out and placed on purpose.  And sometimes, as with many things, what we consider “mistakes” are included because they not only add to the feel of the record, but enforce the humility and authenticity of what I’m trying to convey.

What’s Chicago like in terms of it’s music and culture? One example, of course, is that house music started there. I’ve never been, but from what I gather it’s a pretty multi-faceted city. Is that true, what’s growing up in the Southside been like for you personally?

Chicago is very multi-faceted, yet very segregated.  If you know the true meaning and the strength behind that word “segregated” then that embodies the pulse of the city. Yeah house music is from here, and if you listen very closely to the producers here, there’s sometimes an undertone of those elements present.  It may be very subtle and un-noticable but that driving house force and rhythm is there you just gotta know where to look.

Growing up on the soutside is basically the whole big city growing up in a place called ANY HOOD, USA.  Major difference gangbanging.  I know LA and California have they share…but to this day in Chicago (specifically southside and Westside, where the majority is black folks) you can still get shot and killed at any moment, that’s the reality of it.  I mean you literally can get shot walking from your front porch to your car parked in front.

Word to the wise when in Chicago, if you visiting keep in motion…stand in one spot too long and the wrong people may take notice.  Attitudes like that coupled with the segregation I mentioned before only create an atmosphere of non-trust and internalized conflict…everybody deals with it, but not too many speak on it.  I was born and raised in Princeton Park Homes on the southside, right off 95th street…so I’ve seen and participated in my own fair share of bullshit.

I remember my boy got shot 17 times while playing basketball on the opposite side of the tracks, he was only 14.  Things like this stick with you and are always reflective in my movements as a man, a father, and an artist.  To put it simple, Chicago will prepare you for whatever the world has to offer….it will definitely thicken up your skin.

I personally come from a bad environment physically, but there was also love and community around…so you get submersed in a canvas of contradictions meanwhile trying to paint your own portrait and express yourself as best you can.

I absolutely love Chicago, and hate it equally at the same time.  I despise the mindstate, yet embrace the approach.  A truly beautiful city, but very complicated in nature.  I don’t want to come off as something I’m not, just merely a reflection of the times and people and places I’ve been.

Tell us about hip hop in Chicago, probably the most widely-known MC from your home city is Common, have you ever had the chance to hook up with him to make music?

Chicago hip hop is dangerous.  It’s a ticking time bomb with an infinite fuse line.  There’s so so much talent here…so much fucking talent here…raw un-nurtured talent, but with nowhere to go.  We are definitely purveyors of the crabs in a barrel syndrome.

Some have been fortunate to break the mold, but many have not.  We have a lot of pride and confidence and at the same time can’t nobody tell us nothing.  A talent pool with no guidance.

We don’t have any “industry” here in Chicago so outlets are minimum…politics are plenty.  We got so many styles that you often see fools hating so hard because you not on what they on…instead of borrowing that whole, “this thing is big enough for everybody to get a piece”, we often stifle each other and don’t wanna see nobody come up….meanwhile watching other cites here support they own (to a degree) and start shining.  We the 3rd largest city in the US, but on the flip side we got the number 1 murder rate…ain’t that a bitch.

From day one I approached this thing with a global outlook so I have been fortunate enough to navigate through the cracks a bit more…I’ve always thought “beyond the block”.  That don’t make me no different from my peoples out here though because everybody ain’t trying to hear that…going against your comfort zone is sometimes a demon in its self.  Im forever rooted though…still charge the same price for beats I always have…still helping cats as best I can…still hooking fools up based of the strength.  I wanna see my shine as much as the next man, but I wanna see us respected first and foremost….

naw I ain’t never had the chance to hook up with Common to make no music…that’s not something I even think about.  Com certainly got his stripes and rep the city but the access ain’t there for nothing like that to be happening….at least anytime soon.

Any other people that you’d like to work with from the US or overseas?

That list often grows and shrinks accordingly.  Sometimes you respect what someone is doing then you finally link up with them and they are complete assholes and it’s a major turn-off….or vice versa.  Bottom line I prefer to work with cats I can deal with as a man (or a woman)…meaning I have to respect you as that individual first I don’t care how cold you are.  I didn’t get into this to chase dollars you feel me…

My whole goal at the end of the day is to enforce and reinforce my legacy, plain and simple.  When you look back on my catalog I want you to take from it that I was always “consistent”.  Integrity is more important than association for me.  I do have a global outlook so I am open to work with anyone, but I ain’t got time for no emotional ass muthafuckers.

You were involved in a radio show on CTA Radio a few years back – how do you feel about much of the radio politics these days?

Yeah I founded CTA Radio about 10 years along with my man Kevin Maxey and Pugslee Atomz…those were some really good times and we were definitely a part of some priceless moments on WHPK.

Politics!!?!?!  Man you have to understand I come from Chicago, Illinois, USA.  This is probably one of the most politically inclined regions on the map…not to mention The President of the United States is from there….shit he used to stay 2 blocks from me!

But seriously Chicago movers and shakers all have to play the politics game.  This is the home of gangbanging and Al Capone, so gangsterism remains in full bloom…you have to always be prepared out here because somebody always waiting to cut your throat.  With that being said there is a horrible sense of unity and camaraderie and yes that also is reflected on the radio.  We have college radio and mainstream radio and both mediums fall victim to the politricks!  I remember the “pay to play” era where you paying for airplay…then the whole “dope by association” so if you were associated with so and so they’ll show you some love.  One thing at CTA Radio and WHPK in general, we played Chicago shit.

My credo was “if you from the crib, we gone play your shit…period”.  Now mind you we did play a lotta weak shit, but sometimes all cats need is that little chance of opportunity.  It often helped cats get better because the critiques were very curt, you’d get dissed on the spot, fools might call up and be yelling in the phone “cut that weak shit off!”

On the major stations you never used to hear to much Chicago artists, but things have changed a bit…the only problem is that if it don’t fit in they trendy category then they not gonna spin your music.

At CTA Radio if you were from the crib, you rapped, and had your shit recorded….we were gonna play your joint.  When I was a shorty there was a hell of a lot more balance, just by the variety of music you could hear on one single station….funny how things fall apart.

What’s it like in the US, does independent music get much airplay? If not, what do you make of online radio?

Independent music from what I see gets plenty of play….maybe not on air, but I hear a lot of independent music everyday.

The good shit is out there, but sometimes you gotta go below the surface to find it….you gotta still dig.  Online radio and blogs and things like that definitely level the playing field, but at the same time its like “too much power to the people”.

It makes things very very saturated so competition level is higher (so it seems) but in reality there’s compromise because cats just throwing shit out there to keep they name and shelf life up.

Overall the majors have had the rug pulled from beneath their feet because there are a lot of independent artists making moves in a grander scale than they would on a major.  The tides have shifted.

Have you always been a full-time MC and producer, what was the worst job you ever had?

To tell you the truth, I have never liked being an MC.  As crazy as it sounds I never liked rhyming.  I’m a producer first and foremost.  Not too many people know this, but I kinda accidentally got into rapping on the mic.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love rocking shows, but I never wanted to rap.  My first record when I got signed in Germany, has limited vocal tracks and the instrumentals included on the album as well.  The reason being I didn’t have any more raps at the time.  I mean sure I had rhyme books like everybody else, but I didn’t have anymore constructed songs formulated.

That’s the reason why “Progress (pro 2.6)” is an instrumental / vocal record.  Looking back on that, it sorta foreshadowed the point where we are at today as far as being a producer / MC.  I never thought I was that good on the mic (because in Chicago we have so so many great MC’s it’s ridiculous)

I didn’t think I stood up against these cats out here who just seem to be naturally gifted and wordplay.  My ability to rhyme is all based on hard work, diligence, patience, and respect for my craft.  I acknowledged my flaws and worked very hard over the years to develop and get better.  I hope that going through my catalog you can see the growth not only as an mc but also as a producer and musician.

That is what I offer to the people, a sense of genuine humility not to be judged but reflected. This is not a job to me, it’s a contribution to my legacy and the fact that I existed.

A job….the worst job I ever had is irrelevant.  Work is just work, it ain’t shit.  It doesn’t define me as a man, nor my beliefs or values.  With this music I have developed a craft and it will serve as a testament of my existence, and stance during a particular time on this particular place. My goal was never intent on being “number 1” or the greatest, or any accolades like that.  I say I’m ranked number 9,046 when it comes to this.  I stay in my own lane, and do my own thing….I don’t have to answer to anyone.  I’m not your typical MC and I’m not in competition.

I respect it and appreciate it more as I have gotten older.

Which records and artists have left a big impression on you?

There’s too many records and artists to specifically run down the line, but I will say this…probably the biggest impression is the possibility of what it could be.

When I say that I’m referring to the process of recording a record, or producing it, or writing lyrics to it…the process of creating a vibe, a moment, a movement.  The genuine offering and snapshot of yourself captured and documented…like creating a mini time capsule and presenting it for the world to be discovered over and over again all across the globe.  That for me is the best impression and inspiration…because everyone that I could ever mention, they documented their process and put it out there for me and others to find…now I (we) are doing the same thing.  Genuinely offering ourselves, inspiring others as we have been inspired.  That’s what I mean when I say I’m out to leave a strong legacy behind.

What have you got planned for the next 12 months, are you releasing new music?

Plenty. I plan to continue enjoying this…Definitely keep clocking some serious hours in the lab.  Keeping the production reel spinning (I’ve been doing 100 beats with a few cats).  That’s basically where we produce 100 beats in 4 months.  Since last summer I’m on my 3rd batch so it’s been really fun. Touring is a revolving door so of course that’s on the menu.  I got a couple of projects in the pocket that will surface soon.  Looking for different avenues to release the different vibes you know.  Since everything is so saturated right now, I’m taking my time releasing material…


February 25, 2010 at 07:58 3 comments

The Lowdown on Lisbon: Supafly Records

If you’ve ever been to Lisbon, you might have already come across this shop. It’s in a cobbled side street in the Bairro Alto, worth checking if you’re on the look out for some quality wax. But here we go: the owner, Chico Fly, explains it all and gives the lowdown on what music is big in Lisbon right now…


Please introduce yourself: how long have you been in Bairro Alto and who opened the shop? name is Chico, the record store first opened in July 2003, but I’ve been involved in record stores since ’97. The store is purley vinyl based – we don’t touch CDs. And we specialise in black / urban music.  Rap, funk, Dubstep, headz, beats, scratch tools, drum and bass. Having lived in London most of my life, I obviously have a strong UK flavour in my musical taste, and so constantly try to show my customers new styles, wheter it be dubstep, grime, funky House…

What are some of your best-selling records at the moment, any recommendations?

Dubstep is strong for us right now, drum ‘n bass has died over the past year but the same people are moving to dubstep.

Artists? Anything by Joker is flying out of the shop, the whole Bristol sound, Pinch, Guido etc.. A lot of the UK Funky House stuff is doing good: Roska, Donaeo, Crazy Cousins. Also the “mash-ups” always do good, anything on labels like GoodGroove, Bomb Strikes.

…and your all-time favourites, any old school classics (any style of music)?

Gwen McRae . “All this love I’m giving”, Run-DMC. “Peter Piper”, Shut Up & Dance . “20Pounds to get in”,  Bob James . “Nautilus”,  Lenny De Ice . “we are i.e”

What musicians are big in Lisboa at the moment, any home-grown talent that people should look out for?

Lisbon is booming with talent!!! in all styles of music, so let me give you a lil rundown: we start obviously with Buraka Sound System. These kids with their fusion on Africa vibes over the crazy dubstep/electronica/dancehall kinda mash-ups have been running the world over the past couple of years. Releasing material with M.I.A, Diplo, Kano, and remixing for everyone and their mum. Check out the Fabric CD from december. BIG BIG

Hip Hop, we have “SamThe Kid”, first real underground Hip Hop artist to break to the festival/concert scene. Top producer, top rapper, for me the best complete hip hop artist to ever come from these shores. Dubstep:  check out “OctaPush”, 2 kids who won the RedBull Music Academy in Portugal last year. They have already released an EP on Steak House records, and have a new track featured on the new SoulJazz compilation “Steppas delight”

Mash-Ups, check out my bro, “DedyDread” has already released 2 tracks on UK labels. The first on J-Star, the 2nd ( just released) on WACK records . Just nice reggae style mashups perfect for the sun. I could go on for days, I really believe that Lisbon is boiling right now with talent, and I believe that the hardest thing has been done, which is for 1 artist to open the door, now watch the others start to appear.

What’s your view on digital downloads and the so-called death of vinyl?

Well, as a vinyl store I am obviously not the biggest fan of MP3, as a DJ I understand that Serrato makes your life much easier. I think the situation becomes a problem in countries like Portugal more than Germany or the UK. Here the whole clubbing, DJing cultures are still quite new, so we don’t have so many DJs who have a large musical culture. So if we don’t start with culture, then the computer/MP3 cannot help us. What happens here is that kids who have Serrato or play Mp3 make music fashion and not culture, this then makes music recyclable. It’s too easy to download DJ Premier’s top 10 of the week, and then delete the files and download 10 new tracks the next week. When you dig for the tracks, and when you pay for the tracks it makes your love just a bit more special.

Again I could go on for days about this subject, but I will shut up now.

I know there are always good gigs and DJs at Paradise Garage, any other venues and nights that are worth checking out?

Well, I think Bairro Alto, is the best area to hang out. There are so many bars in the area that you always find something you like. Also the drinks are much cheaper than in the clubs. Clubs, check out LUX Club, nº1 club in Lisbon, also varied international and nactional DJs. “ LX Factory” is a new spot which has been open for about a year. This is actually a road full of warehouses which have been transformed into clubs and bars etc.. and Music Box, for live bands

Any last words?

Anyone who comes to Lisbon come should check us at the shop, we are opened Tuesday-Saturday 13-21hrs. Address: Rua do Norte, 54 . Bairro Alto. Lisbon. God bless the vinyl DJ, Peace and Love to All.


January 28, 2010 at 11:12 1 comment

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