Posts tagged ‘MC’

Lyrical sunshine: Synopse dropping FLavours

What did you think when Pete Rock said he was the dopest producer on the mic? Probably that it’s not that easy to do both things well in your very own, unique style. Fast forward nearly 20 years and imagine yourself in sunny Florida. It’s the home of rhyme and beat afficionado Synopse who hijacked underground radio as a member of the Paradox Unit, a collective of MCs, DJs / producers. The posse consists of TzariZM, Nemo aka IMAKEMADBEATS, J Freedome, Midaz The Beast, Rugged, Relz One, Intelx, Ponce, Phantom Shino, and Vis Major who formed Doxside Music. If you’re a fan of that gritty boom bap, it’s pure listening pleasure and the group also make pretty funny videos…

What’s up Synopse, can you introduce yourself? where are you from?

Yes, wha gwan. Shout out to Beat Bugalow for the interview. The name is Synopse, formally known as Synopsis, so you might find songs floating around of mine with that name also. I’m a Hiphop MC and Producer. I use the term MC loosely because I don’t really consider myself one, but for the sake of describing what I do on the mic I’ll use that term.  I know a lot of people who MC for real, and will eat other MCs food, but me? I just like to make music. I live in Orlando Florida, but I was born and raised in Toronto Canada. I’ve lived in both cities for the same amount of years, so they are both home to me.

What’s one of your first memories of listening to music the first time in your life?

When I think back to my earliest memories of listening to music a few genres come to mind. My parents are from Guyana so Soca, Calypso and Reggae were on heavy rotation in my house, but I’m also an 80s baby, so I remember listening to Michael Jackson and in fact recording myself singer Michael Jackson songs on tape haha. I also got my first record collection from an aunt when I was 5. It was an early rock n roll collection of songs from the 50s and 60s. And of course my older brother was a b-boy, so that’s how I was introduced to Hiphop. The music was really diverse.

The video for ‘More Fiya’ is pretty funny – where was it shot and who were the people who got bashed by your crew? Did anyone get harmed in the making of the video?

Thanks, our goal when we came up with the concept was to not take ourselves too serious and I’m glad it came out that way. We shot that in downtown Orlando.  It’s actually just one guy getting bashed in the entire video, his name is SoyIsReal, he’s one of the directors as well. Funny thing is, when we originally came up with the concept, our intent was not for it to be him because he was a director, but he was so perfect for it that it morphed into him playing all the parts as part of the satire. Soy actually got hurt 3 times while shooting haha. His hip when falling off the bike, the back of his head when getting pushed into the wall, and his back when getting pushed on the steps.

You make beats and are an MC as well – what do you think it takes to be skilled at both? do both skills enhance each other?

There has been discussions amongst me and my peoples about this very topic. I’m not sure if there is something specific that is required to be skilled at both, but I’ll admit, at least in my case, that making beats has taken away from my skills as an MC.  If I was just writing all the time I could focus a lot more on that skill. But since I make the beat, come up with the concept for the song, and then write the lyrics, I focus more on what the song will sound like, and not necessarily how dope the verse will be. But you better believe, I’ll never drop a wack verse.

The micro album ahead of your upcoming longplayer is called ‘More Fiya’ – because of the title, is it a nod to Rastafari and Jamaican culture? What can you say about the new album?

Although I was born in Toronto Canada, I’m from a Caribbean background, so More Fiya is definitely a nod to that part of my roots, not necessarily Rastafarism or Jamaica, since I’m not a Rasta or Jamaican.  I’m saying I’m bringing more fiya on any competition. X:144 and I came up with that concept together. As far as the album, I’m anxious to release it to see what the reaction will be.  I think there is a void in Hiphop for mature music. I’m a grown man, with grown man life issues. My thought process is not the same as a 16 year old, so I’m hoping to help fill that void with my album.

Tell us about Doxside Music – who’s involved, what’s it all about?

Doxside Music has existed for a number of years, but previously in a non- official form. The label is based on a crew that was started by several artists including IMAKEMADBEATS, TzariZM, Midaz the Beast amongst others. We decided to take destiny in our own hands and form the corporation to handle the releasing of our music, but not limited to our music.

How do you work when making a beat – do you go down the traditional route of chopping samples from vinyl and build your tracks from there? What’s your view on sampling mp3s? Do you work with live instruments?

I have about 2,000 records, so yes sampling vinyl has been a big part of my beat making history, but in recent years I’ve opened up to sampling mp3s. Some may say that’s blasphemy, but let’s face it, this is the digital age, and a dope sample is a dope sample. I haven’t done a lot of live instrument sampling, if I have It’s been me on the trumpet. But I would like to do more of that, surround myself with players. There’s really no substitute for a real instrument, which is why I continue to sample so heavily.

What are some of your most-played records when you’re listening to music in your own time back at home?

I hate to admit it, but I actually don’t listen to a lot of new music. A lot of times Midaz, TzariZM or IMAKEMADBEATS have to put me on to what’s going on. Like Roc Marciano. I remember him from the flip mode days, but if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t know how dope his album is. I listen to a lot of old music, it’s cliché but they just don’t make music like they use to. So 80’s and 90’s Hiphop. 60’s and 70’s funk, 50’s and 60’s rock and almost any era of reggae you’ll hear blasting out my house windows.

Do you have anyone MC or producer in mind who you’d like to collaborate with?

If I could pick one MC I’d like to work with right now, it would be Elzhi. When I hear him spit it’s like his brain works on a different level. As far as producers, unfortunately he passed. I would have loved to be on a Dilla track.

What’s the musical talent like in your city? Who’s got fire?

I wish people knew how much talent existed in Orlando FL. Because Orlando is home to Disney World and is deep in the south, the really talented people here go unnoticed until they leave and start making noise elsewhere. A few examples are Solillaquists of Sound, MADD ILLZ and the whole Grind Time movement, X:144 and of course Doxside artists like IMAKEMADBEATS, TzariZM and Midaz. My favorite group from Orlando right now is Grey Matter who have an album coming out later this year on Domination Recordings.

Any last words you want to get off your chest?

Once again I’d like to give a shout to Beat Bugalow for the interview. I have another video we are about to shoot later this month. Keep an ear out for my album ‘The Magic Box’ that will be on Doxside Music Group \ Domination Recordings. And peace to all my brothers at Doxside. IMAKEMADBEATS, Ponce De Beyond, J Freedome, TzariZM, Midaz the Beast, R.U.G.G.E.D, Butta Verses. And peace to the other Dox crew members, Relz Uno, Intelx, Phantom Shino and Aahmean Supreme.


June 11, 2010 at 20:31 Leave a comment

Walkin’ & talkin’ with J-Live MC

This is an interview I did in 2003 when J-Live came to England as part of the ‘True School Academics’ tour with 7L and Esoteric. I know it’s a while ago, but it was part of a university radio show I was doing at the time and I’ve not shared it since. We did the interview just before the gig, as a walk ‘n talk on the way to the centre of Manchester. It’s about J-Live getting more exposure after the bootleg version of ‘The Best Part’ came out, about jazz and about the album ‘All of the Above’, which dropped at the time.

You can hear the full interview on mixcloud.

November 22, 2009 at 19:24 Leave a comment

‘Men is hungry out here’: out to lunch with Tranqill

Here comes another interview from London, catching up with one of the city’s hardest-working MCs / producers. Location: a little park near Brixton’s  ‘The Fridge’. It’s an autumn afternoon, a few hobos are milling around the trash-filled pond in the park. The sun is shining. Later on we grab a bite to eat,  one of Tranqill’s friends joins us (Ten Mill from the Morpheus Soul Show).

If you read the interview, you’ll see that this man doesn’t mince his words. Tranqill’s  very pragmatic, he’s very busy and you can tell he’s dead serious about getting somewhere with his music. There’s talk about why life is hectic  in London, the beef between different area codes…influential producers such as Pete Rock and Count Bass D. Another question that crops up, and we still need an answer to: why have some South London record shops been turned into nail parlours…

Pictures by Oddisee


(Shouts from across the park) You can hear the people that I roll with out here – crack heads (laughter). We’ve been profiled by the local crack heads, it’s like ‘The Wire’ out here…

Q: What’s happening with your new album, how far done is it and what’s it sound like?

A: The album has got my own production on it, some tracks with Oddisee and I’m doing some stuff with this girl called Renae, who’s a soul singer. I’m just trying to get my stuff out there and just want to bring out that raw hip hop shit. I’m not eclectic, I ain’t trying to go into your brain or anything like that. I just want to give you that raw boom bap shit, that’ll make you spin out and say ‘What the hell is that?’ Obviously there’s MCs out here that have raw talent and I’m not even trying to say that I’m the best out here. I’m just saying that I’m coming out with something that most people ain’t coming out with at this precise moment. There’s a lot of funny music out there that makes me wonder ‘What happened to your drums, what happened to that raw shit?’ That’s what we came or and that’s what I understand hip hop to be – I know that it changes but keep the element as it is.

Q: What made you become an MC and also produce your own music?

A: I started making music when I was about 12 years old, making beats with my boy back in the day at college. We would get two tapes and then put the vocals on one tape, rewind it, then over-dub it. Stuff like that. We used the headphones in the microphone socket – the same old shit that everyone does to get their stuff out there. Then suddenly you see people doing their thing and you see that some people are actually making money out of this. So then I started to get more serious.

I’m going to be honest: I’m not the MCs MC kind of cat. I’m not the guy you’re going to see doing the battles. I’m a street dude and I’m trying to make dough, that’s it. I’ll dress smart if I need to. But the music ain’t about the dough, the dough is already there – this is just about what I love doing. There’s thousands of us, millions of us out here and we’re just not getting the light that we need to shine. I’m rooting for them, all the dudes that never got nothing and have to travel to get theirs

Q: How are you finding juggling your music with work and being a dad as well? Are you planning to go on tour?

A: I’ve got mortgages to pay and kids etc, so it’s not as easy for me to uproot and go somewhere. I’m living real life so I’ve got to make dough for certain things, put that aside and probably later this year I’m going to try do some shows around DC and spread some love. I’ve got a whole lot of family out there anyway, so it’s cool to connect. I need to come out of this town, get the hell out of dodge.

Q: What sort of UK music inspired you, anything in particular?

A: That’s a good question. I’m going to get hated on when I say this. There’s a lot of raw talent in England that’s on a different level. The grime scene and everything is cool, but that’s not something that I can say influenced me. I don’t follow the grime scene or the house scene – it’s just not me, because I’m a hip hop head.

When you come to my house you’re hearing Diamond D, you’re hearing the UN, you’ll hear Capone and Noreaga and all the stuff from that type of time, of course times have changed now. Then you have people like Little Brother, Count Bass D, the Dillas but there’s nothing like that anymore.

Everyone is biting off Dilla, let’s be real here. If someone says to me: ‘Who do you like in the UK?’, I find that hard to answer because my ears are not tuned there. Don’t get me twisted, there’s some great stuff.  Who’s that dude? GR 32 there’’s Craze, Dig, Mitchell Brothers all them cats – but if you want to know my preference: they ain’t like Pete Rock, they’re ain’t no Count Bass D. Those are the people I look up to. In that sense, there’s no one I could say has influenced me but they’ve definitely got talent and they’re working hard.

Q: What about people like Roots Manuva, producers and MCs from that generation?

A: Roots is crazy and I like him to death – if you call yourself a UK MC you kind of making yourself sound shit. You look at Roots Manuva and you see an MC, not a UK MC right? So you’re putting him in the same realms as other MCs who’ve produced and spit lyrics. If I get put down in a category as a UK MC I’m cussing and pissed off.

I’m a rap artist and I’m making music – I’m not trying to do UK rap, just rap. I guarantee there are enough people that are doing UK stuff but that’s cool for them – but I’m trying to be broader and go out there to see what’s happening around the world. You can stay doing your Channel U or whatever, that’s cool for you. But me, I’m trying to go a bit bigger than that.

I had a talk a while ago and someone said: ‘What ends are you reppin’?’ ‘I said: fuck that. If I die today, is anyone going to be putting flags out for me? No. The only people that will put flags out for me are mum and my dad and my people. So fuck the area code, I ain’t repping no area, I’m repping hip hop. Point blank. That’s all it is. Fuck the area code, fuck the colour, fuck the tie – fuck all that shit. Just that raw shit is what I’m repping for – excuse my French… (laughter)

Q: What other types of music do you like, do you listen to Jazz or anything like that?

A: Hell yea, I’m a jazz wham. Herbie Hancock and all that music I love. I love my soul, old school stuff from the 60s and 70s where you get the two steps rolling, that’s my shit. Forget even about sampling it, that’s what I like listening to. The Marvin Gayes, the James Browns the Curtis Mayfields. I’m into that stuff. I’m also into jazz, reggae and I’m not even talking about dancehall, but about roots reggae and dubs.

Even certain house songs I’m into. Flying Lotus I like – music has become very manufactured and the way they make music has changed. When I’m going to a club I want to dance with a girl and I want to listen to some of the hardest bugged-out shit I can find. It so happens that that kind of music isn’t out there anymore so I go back to Wu Tang or Illegal, remember them from back in the day? I don’t care if it’s old.

Some of my people have said ‘You need to free your mind from that.’ But that’s the stuff I like, it’s what I relate to and it’s what I want to giddy up on. I’m just trying to put out that kind of music. A bit different, maybe with a little English slant to it but it’s still the same type of shit. So on a music front, my eyes and ears are open to all sorts, there’s no limit. Even Go-go music or Salsa, German Jazz, Polish Jazz, Japanese music. Whatever.

Q: London is a great city for music, especially for record shops. How did you grow up with that and what do you think about everything going digital?

A: Well, a whole lot of my people were on sounds back in the day. Obvioulsy we went to carnival. Rampage and all of that. We used to listen to drum‘n’bass, MC Det and that’s what we used to vibe to. In terms of record shops, sales have started slowing down – Red’s Records down the road just closed down and it’s turned into a nail parlour, there’s a lot of nail parlours around here. Maybe that’s what we need to do, start selling records in nail parlours. Everything is changing now and going digital, but when you come to my house you’ll see a whole lot of vinyls.

I also download and buy things on the web, but whether I like your sound decides whether I buy your vinyl. A  lot of people think downloading has killed music, but I don’t think so. If your shit is shit then that’s a problem. People will download it anyway, but if your shit is great people will buy it.

I’m buying your stuff on vinyl if it’s really hot and it’ll come into a nice clean cellophane package. A lot of people don’t see life how I do but I say: if it’s rife you cop it, if its shit you download it. It’s that simple.

Q: What about your approach to production, how would you describe your sound? Have you got a philosophy when it comes to making music?

A: I like real drum sounds and I want everything to sound real – I come from the days of sampling from MPCs, but obviously times have changed now. It’s changed from MPCs and reel-to-reel tapes to software like Reason and stuff like that. It’s having an effect on what the music sounds like, which is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.

People need to remember where they come from but at the same time change with the times that we’re in. For me, I ain’t going to lie to you, I keep it rugged and raw. I take my samples from my records, chop that shit up and I’ll flip that tune to make it sound crotty as hell. When it sounds crotty and reminds me of something, I’ll get into a vibe and will start spitting on it. That’s how it works. Soon coming to a neighbourhood near you!

Q: What can you tell people about London?

A: London is gully. It’s not similar to any place that you’ve been to around the world. It’s not slumified like some places in Africa or anything like that, but it’s gully. At certain times you could be walking around and the next minute lose your life. It’s that simple. But at the same time, we’ve got nice things. We’ve got health care, you can get your teeth sorted out for free, NHS is beautiful bruv. You can even go and get dough for free, if you go on the dole (laughter) It’s there! But at the same time, if you check the wrong dude, things will happen. The weather is crap and it’s nothing like Miami where you get beautiful women and palm trees and things like that. It rains all the time, but that’s just how it is.

Q: Does that inspire people to get creative you think?

A: I guess it does, the shitty weather comes with my music, you can hear that straight away. Don’t expect no blingbling, no girls. The weather is shitty and we’re all trying to get dough, I’ll be honest with you. I call people grim-faced Gremlins, this is what we have out here. Everyone is trying to make the better for themselves and the weather ain’t making things better. It’s a kind of crabs-in-a bucket mentality. Women don’t walk around in their bikinis or low tops, they’ve got their hoods zipped up and walk around with their pants hanging down. It’s not nice…there’s a certain attitude there (laughter). The pound is strong and if you know how to make money, you’re laughing but if you don’t, you’re not. Simple as that.

It does inspire creativity and if you know how to shift and blend it, it’s all good. I also  think there’s a certain climate right now, there’s a recession in the economy. Men are hungry out here. That’s what’s coming through in my music.

Q: Any collaborations that you would like to do, have you got any artists in mind?

A: There’s one cat out there that I would love to work with, producer 14 KT from the US. His music is inspirational. Kev Brown is tight, Pete Rock for me, there’s no one above. He’s still knocking out them hits. His new album is not as good, not like Soul Survivor.

Q: What’s it like working and making music at the same time?

A: It’s shit (laughter). For me it’s the 9 ‘til 5 grind at the moment and I don’t want my kids to be seeing me at home doing nothing. I’m trying to show them the right way at the end of the day. My kids need to know that you wake up every morning put on your shoes and get that extra dough. If you’re just hustling on the streets, you’re going to get caught sooner or later and you need to figure out how to make that dough come through the bank. You need to be smart about your stuff. I’m always in and out – I’m one of those cats who’ll have an event happen, I’ll go home and write about it. I’m one of them life time rappers, I’m not one of the people who want every rhyme to sound perfect.

Q: What do you write about?

A: Anything. What my people have been through, what my girl has been through, what I’ve been through. Anything I might have seen or heard. In certain times you can’t put everything down on paper and it won’t be as descriptive as you want it to be.

Q: What music are you listening to at the moment? Is there anything on constant rotation at your place at the moment?

A: At the moment, I’m listening to that UN album, and a lot of old school stuff, Kice of Course I like, Raekwon…but my boy Chris from the Morpheus Soul Show has got me to listen to some new stuff.

Q: What about Danger Mouse, what do you think of him?

A: He’s too clinical for me, he’s got crazy shit but it’s a bit too polished. It’s got to be  raw, it doesn’t have to be mixed even. Jay-Z’s first album is one of my favourites. I had this debate with my people about who’s got the best debut album.  Jay-Z for me was that up-and-coming hustler who was getting dough, very smart too. He was big-pimping and he still is. And I also really like Common’s ‘Like Water for Chocolate’. Common lyrically was inspirational, before his new wave of stuff. I wish he could come back, but he’s doing movies now. But the best album for me would be if Jay-Z did an album with Madlib and Pete Rock. Imagine if that came out…


October 21, 2009 at 15:08 1 comment

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