featured interview

Thaione Davis The Michelangelo of hip-hop 'Creator got a masterplan, I know I'm involved', Chicago's Thaione Davis raps on the fantastic 'Airplane', from his top-notch release 'Situation Renaissance' (a certified classic). Along with the I.T. collabo with Infinito2017 and the instrumental album 'April January' on his sleeve, Thaione has yet proven to be a talented musician. Ain't no stopping this ambitious producer first/then rapper, because he's 'in it for the long, yo!'

Wassup Thaione? Please introduce yourself to the people who might not know you...

Yeah yeah! I go by the name Thaione Davis, born and raised on the South side of Chicago, emcee, producer, deejay, etc. All city type you know what I?m saying?

What albums have you released?

Hmmmn...Officially?? ?Progress (pro 2.6)? on Hong Kong Recordings/Groove Attack, ?Situation Renaissance (1917 edition)? on Birthwrite Records, ?Situation Revisited (1964)? on Jericho Lounge Music, I.T. (Infinito & Thaione) , ?Low Income Housing? on Domination Recordings, ?April January? (original soundtrack) also on Domination Recordings, ?Elephant Beach? (Thaione Davis & En Sayne), ?Escape? on Ish Records/Groove Attack (actually this drops in may 2006).

What projects are you workin on right now?

Right now I?m in the process of ?Composure (The Fall From Grace)? on Ev Productions. So there?s always something cracking in the lab. I just turned in another instrumental project to Domination Recordings so stay tuned for details on that!

So there?s actually a whole lot of things poppin at the same time?

Actually, I am an extreme multi-tasker (not by choice!!!) but I can?t just sit and focus on one project at a time because I might get all type crazy ideas on the daily, of course they all don?t follow suit, so basically all those ideas spawn a bunch of projects. Like I mentioned before I?m in the process of a new vocal album on Ev Productions called ?Composure (The Fall From Grace)?, I had to disappear for a little while (my living conditions were not the most efficient let?s just say) and in the midst of that I still managed to capture that emotion musically (feels good to be back, but to all those out there you can loose all this shit just as easily as you got it.) But yeah, ?Composure? is basically a series of moods lasting from about 10 pm to 5 am in the morning. It?s the shit that goes on after dark, in the shadows, the pressure, decisions the consequence. Production for the project includes Kenny Keys, 5ifth Element, Arizona Jackson, Memo (from the Molemen), and myself picking up the back end.

?Elephant Beach? will issue on Ish Records, a Swiss label. How did you hook up with them?

Real stress free-like. I was working at this distribution company in Chicago and the head of the Ish label was in there. I was familiar with the name because Offwhyte did a 12? with them not too long ago. Essentially we just chopped it up for a minute, dude was familiar with my material a little something and we both are passionate about production so common ground was already established. En Sayne Whorter had just put out his ?Somewhere in Ydobon? and I told him I was really feeling the joints on there. It was an instrumental composition and the usage of breaks were done in a manner that wasn?t typically common so I was definitely with it. I never sample breaks (drums) so I was really impressed how En Sayne did it on this record so much. So I jacked one of the tracks ?Asian Soup? and freaked it a little some like, you can find my vocal version on the ?Situation Revisited (1964)? re-worked under the name ?The Movement?. After En Sayne heard it we started talking about doing an EP, maybe like 6 songs, from that day till now we wound up completing a 15 track album so it all works out.

When is it being released?

It should hit your area code may 2006 on double vinyl and CD.

Is there any philosophy behind ?Elephant Beach??

Of course, every piece of musical guise I embrace has a philosophy. I?m trying to leave a tangible legacy for my time after my last breath ya dig? I want folks to look back and be able to pick up my music and comprehend the emotion behind the vibe. My whole style is like conversation for your peoples. I am nowhere near the dopest emcee and I understand that but what I do have is conviction and you can hear it in the beats/rhymes. My goal is not to be #1, shit, I can be ranked #78,976 on the list of dopeness, that doesn?t matter to me...it?s all about growth and consistency. Now for ?Elephant Beach?, it?s basically a snapshot into the reality of what I see and experience daily on the Southside of Chicago. It?s a screenplay, many characters (more of a concept album, without being cheesy), it?s about pain, struggle and strife. Every land is a beach, every man is an elephant.

With that release, do you hope on a following in Europe?

Of course. I would hope to gather a following on all 7 continents, a multitude of countries, languages, and culture. To be able to transcend those boundaries is the main aim.

Have you performed in Europe already?

Yeah, I?ve been out there a couple of times, the vibe is right. The culture is strong, well at least from what I noticed, I?m sure there?s a flipside as well, but I will say cats out there seem to embrace the cultural and artistic aspect of the music more so then cats out in the States. That?s just my general observation.

You mentioned earlier you from the Southside of Chicago...How would you compare the South Side to the rest of the Chicago hip-hop scene?

Imagine getting slapped in the face 900 times straight by Shaquille O?Neal, yeah, feels a little like that. When I say that, I mean it?s the ?get your shit together?- motivation. We honestly do not give two fucks about the rest of the scene. The city of Chicago is so segregated and that emotion is mirrored in the different sides of town, so that whole crabs-in-a-barrel-syndrome is definitely true to the Southside and Chicago in particular. Our competition level is so high, our hate level is so extreme, our passion is so strong. Imagine being the 3rd largest city in the states, home of many, many prominent musicians from blues to jazz to soul. Home to Quincy Jones, Ramsey Lewis, Chaka Khan, Mercury records, just to name a few. Imagine all of that and being overlooked for so long by the masses. There are no outlets in the Windy for local cats, period. The only way to blow is leave the city. Sure you can stay there but your music has to be floating somewhere else, as compared to the rest of the city all parts are pretty much like that, the main difference is it?s mostly black folk on the south side and the west side. So you do the math?

You worked with Infinito on the I.T. album, you also produce on his last album on Domination Rec, how did you meet him?

I met the infamous Infinito 2017 at my house a while back. Pugslee Atoms and Cosmo Galactus brought him through one day for a session. I didn?t know he was coming. As a matter of fact, I didn?t know who he was, but they co-signed for him and I let him in. I was high as hell that moment and Lovelace comes in the basement with this fucking video camera all in my face and I?m steaming...so to make a long story short when we first met I wasn?t fucking with Lovelace, Mr. Infinito 2017. Years passed and we started connecting more and more and to this day I will say that?s the realest mutha---- I know, bar none. That?s my man. I have grown a lot because of Infinito both musically and business wise. Also as a man, he?s like my older brother in a sense. Anytime he needs a track from me it?s official! Any day of the week. So of course you?ll see my with production credits on every project he puts out. Ya?ll stay tuned for I.T. (Infinito & Thaione)?s ?Scorpio Virgo?, the 2nd instalment of ?Low Income Housing?.

How do you work together...just jump in the studio and do your thing, you make the beat and then he writes rhymes to it...?

Both. The magic happens with anyone when you are together for the process. We did the ?Low Income Housing? album on the fly. I did 2 weeks worth of beats, he then wrote to them and that was that. No filler. But we were together in Memphis for the whole sessions and that was honestly my most enjoyable recording session to date.

Tell us more about Modill, how did you connect with them?

Well, that started off as just doing one song. K-Kruz and Racecar wanted me to get down on a song with them for the album. Since we all recorded at the same studio it was nothing. The first joint we did was ?Get It Together? and we did that on the fly. The chemistry was good and from there we talked about me joining the group for the duration. During the process of recording the album, we did a bunch of songs. But then I had some serious drama in my life so I had to disappear from everything, Modill included. I?m sure it was a salty cloud in the air but I had to get my life on track. Shit was crazy, but it?s all love! I wish the album much success. Kruz is stupid on the beats and Racecar got crazy stories for ya?ll! Listen between the lines!

Do you enjoy makin an instrumental album more than an album with an MC? What's the big difference for you?

I actually prefer making the music more so than being vocal. I don?t like to talk much. I actually don?t like rapping much for that matter. I can write, but I don?t think I am a rapper in the sense you would assume. I?m more of a lyricist. My rhymes is just my way of talking to you. I guess it subsidizes me not talking much. I never really liked the way I sounded on the mic, so you can imagine I don?t listen to any of my recorded material. Strictly the beats, the beats, the beats. At the end of the day it?s all about the music for me. I?d quit rapping in a heartbeat. The big difference is I love rocking shows, but I hate ?just rapping?. I know it sounds crazy, I probably will rap for a long time, cause I always got beats that assume lyrics. But at the same time I?m playing more live instruments now and I hope to be consumed by that. It?s a hard balance to emcee, DJ, produce and just deal with life on the regular. So, in short, I?m just not as passionate about rapping as producing.

Which artists do you wanna work with in the future? Why?

There are so many. From so many different genres, ranging from Nas to the Gza, to Pharoahe Monch, to Eska, to Bugz in the Attic, to Sly & Robbie! Man, I don?t want to name anymore. It?ll take all day. There are so many artist I respect and admire, if the vibe is right then so be it. To answer why? Shit why not? Like I said I?m about the legacy, so when I?m gone you will know that I existed?

You're called the Renaissance Man. Ge-Ology is also called the Renaissance Man by the way. What's the definition of a renaissance man?

A student of the study, well, at least in my eyes, a disciple of the arts.

You started as a break-dancer...when did you begin to produce?

Somewhere in the mid-90?s like 94?- 95?. I didn?t get proficient until about 99?. That?s when I started studying music theory, composition and arrangement.

How has your production style evolved?

Tremendously, as it does so on the daily. As a person you evolve every day, so it is only natural that my shit switches up every time the sun falls.

What's your production equipment?

It?s all that what you just said. The equipment is irrelevant, really! Like Madlib says you can make dope shit on anything, it doesn?t matter what you use. Although I do have my favorites.

Such as?

I?ve always loved the mpc2000.

What do you wanna buy yourself in the future?

I like Akai products, just for the sake of having one, maybe a mpc3000 in the future. We?ll see!

What instruments do you play?

Percussion, trumpet, although I suck...for now, kalimba, steel drums, a barrage of ethic instruments, whatever I can get my hands on, keys.

Do you consider yourself a musician or a producer?

I would say that I started off as a producer and slowly graduated into a musician.

You're always flippin the samples in such a way that you can't recognise the original or the sample even disappears...have you used a sample that's been used many times before, but flipped it in such a way that it became impossible to detect?

Yeah that?s the fun part. I used that one note from George Benson (ya?ll go dig and find the record, ladies), you know that guitar lick that No ID sampled for Common?s ?I Used To Love H.E.R.?. I was always fascinated by that one little lick and I took it chopped it (granted it?s like .695 of a second in time), reversed it, stretched it and you can hear the outcome on the vinyl version of ?April January (season 1)?, the track is called ?Initation?. I may put it on a CD release soon enough.

You're using different samples from different kinds of music...Do you have a particular genre of music that you like to sample in particular?

Nope. Just world shit. I mean I?m trying to transcend the trend. So basically you may not feel it but I?m sure there?s some one out there, some other culture, some other language that can gravitate to it. That?s what it?s about. I make shit for the people. Regardless if it?s my peoples or not!

What was the first record you bought?

Fresh 3 Mc?s , ?Fresh, Fresh, Fresh?.

You're a jazz fan too...what have you learnt from that kind of music?

Discipline, arrangement and space.

Who are your fav jazz artists?

Again too many to name...here?s a few: Dexter Gordon, Ahmad Jamal, Herbie Hancock, Cal Tjader, Chico Hamilton and so many more...so many more!

You're also into reggae, which artists?

Same as with the rest...mostly Roots n Culture, I?m not a big dancehall head, mostly roots...

Sly & Robbie were in Chicago last November. Did you see them?

Yeah I seen em. To see them do live dub was breathtaking. I mean to watch them do live dub efx on the drums without any efx gear was like what the f---!#@ and then that bass. Soon as the first note was plucked on the bass the whole building literally rumbled, literally. Respect!

Are you a record collector?

Yeah I got some records. I?m not a fanatic beat junkie, but I do have a healthy amount of records. I don?t talk about them much, cause who cares? That?s not what it?s about.

Do you find a lot of stuff in Chicago and do you go diggin outside Chi Town?

I buy records everywhere I go....to me every city is a great digging city!

What do you do before you buy a record, listen to it thoroughly in the shop, listen to it quickly or just have a look at the cover, the credits?

When I?m digging for production I dig according to instruments...yeah, I dig based on what kind of instruments are on there, then in turn I may learn more about the particular musician. But usually I look for non-typical instruments, like for instance I?ll pass up saxophones for an oboe any day of the week. You know just some other shit, kettle drums, tympanis and all that. I never listen to records in the shop. I don?t own a portable and even if I did I wouldn?t use it in the stores.

Do you often listen to hip-hop albums anymore? Instrumentals or with vocals?

Both...no preference, not as much hip-hop as I did back in the day. But since I still do my radio show, I keep up with all the latest cracks in the wall.

What producers had a big influence on you?

JayDee! Back in the early 90?s I came across some of that 1st Down shit with Phat Kat and all that, you know, we all mid-west heads out here. Then the way he treated Pharcyde with drum sequencing I couldn?t conceive at the time. I will say that he inspired as well as motivated me to take my craft more serious. RIP.

Let?s leave it with that. Any shout outs?



POSTED 03|01|2006
conducted by cpf

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