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Blueprint The Year Of Print Take it from us: Blueprint's 'Adventures in Counter-Culture' wil rejoice and excite you. The record is one of the most versatile rap efforts you've heard in a while. 6 years ago the Ohio emcee/producer proved to be a perfect student of hip-hop music with his debut album '1988'. Now, after years of studying music in general, and a few excellent rap translations of rock, reworking Radiohead and The Who catalogues, Blueprint might've made his magnum opus...

How long have you been working on this album?

I started the record in 2006 and finished it completely in 2010. I did take a couple of breaks in there where I didn't work on it and needed some time away from it, but overall I'd say it took me about 3 or 4 years to finish it.

Did you have a clear vision on how this album should sound like from the beginning?

I didn't have a clear vision sonically from the beginning but my goal was to make something that summarized all of my influences in one album and did it in a way that was still cohesive and progressive. The vision was the easy part, the hard part was figuring out how I was going to do it musically.

Is this your magnum opus?

I think it might be my magnum opus, but I think time will tell. I fully believe that I have a lot more great music inside of me and that going through this process just opened me up to a whole new way of thinking. It's definitely a record that showcases everything that I've ever experienced musically.

Your music has an existentialistic touch, plus ‘I isolate the main part where the spirit is’, you rap…has being a choir boy influenced you as a musician more than you think?

I never really think about it when I'm writing but it just comes out when I'm in there working on music. Growing up in church definitely effected my connection with music and how I use it to express my ideas. I think music has the ability to touch people in a way that nothing else can, so when I'm creating music I'm just trying to articulate the feeling I'm experiencing through creating it.

Is there any convention to which rap musicians should stick to?

Yeah man, definitely learn the basics and fundamentals. Study the originators, not the derivative shit and copycats, because if you understand the source and origin of the music then nothing will surprise you about its progress and you'll understand exactly where shit needs to go. Hell, if you don't know the history of an artform you don't even know when people are being original or not. People can steal ideas directly from somebody and you wouldn't know because you haven't done your homework. Once you master the fundamentals, then you can get fresh with it. Rap is kinda like grafitti in that way; you have to master basic lettering and styles by studying the writers before you before you can just hop out there and create some next level or super original shit.

Your debut album '1988' proves that you did your homework...

'1988' was me showing that I was a master of the fundamentals and rules of hip-hop, so I couldn't do anything progressive until I had that out my system. If you wanna learn about hip-hop, study what hip-hop was doing in its first 10 years. Learn about the masters. If you wanna learn about electronic music, you better be studying some Kraftwerk or Daft Punk because those are the pioneers of that artform, and pretty much everything that's happened to the artform since then was built on the foundation that they created. So yeah, hip-hop dudes need to learn the fundamentals first, master the rules, then you can break the rules. Almost on some Matrix type of shit, where you can't bend the spoon until you know that there is no spoon, but if you haven't learned the rules of the Matrix then it's just a fucking spoon to you.

Are rappers afraid to sing on their records? Was it difficult for you to start singing on your record?

I don't think fear has anything to do with singing really. I think some people just have the chops and some don't. I wouldn't suggest any rapper just bust out and start singing on their records unless they know what they're doing. I had a long history in R&B and in church from a very young age, recording demos and singing in quartets and choirs, so I understand the mechanics of it, even if I'm not the best at it. If it wasn't for that history I never would've tried it. It was as natural as rapping to me, but I kept it off my records on some 'keep it real'-shit, but then you get tired of that and feel like you're not truly being the artist you can be and let the hangups go.

Would you make a switch from rapper to singer, or make a complete album with singing, like Aloe Blacc or Kanye West on ‘808 and Heartbreaks’?

At this point I dont think I would make an album all singing, because I still have so much to say that can only be said rapping. There's a lot less words when you sing so I feel like I can't be as detailed as I would like to be. I love the process of writing a rap too, so I'm in no rush to stop rapping. At the same time, I'm just kind of going where the music takes me right now, so if the music takes me there then I'll go. But right now I'm in no rush to stop rapping.

‘I’mma tear rap down, then rebuilt it with total disregard if the pieces even fit’…what other artists have rebuilt rap in the past you think?

I think groups like A Tribe Called Quest have done it. They came along when rap was really dense and layered and put out a really minimalistic record, with really patter-based rhyming. Public Enemy and Outkast have done it. Even Kanye has done it. There's not a lot of artists who have totally shattered was expected from rap, but the ones that did it, really did it well.

You didn’t draw inspiration from Ohio in a year…but from rock, you also hear a lot of influences from electronic music, was that more of an inspiration source for you than hip-hop? Is Radiohead or The Who a bigger inspiration than say Wu-Tang, Nas or Dilla?

Right now Radiohead and Dilla are probably two of my biggest influences, but Radiohead keeps me guessing. I wish Dilla was still around because he reinvented himself many times, much more than the average hip-hop producer could pull off.

You released two EP's with samples from The Who and Radiohead, who’s next? Jimi?

I'm not sure, I think the next one I'm gonna keep the band a complete secret until the day it drops then just drop it on people like BAM!

There’s a bunch of posters in the studio you work in…but of one artist there’s two…MF Doom…is he an example/ influence? Whose studio is it? Illogic’s, yours?

That's my studio, in my basement. I was a huge fan of Dooms earlier work, 'Operation Doomsday' and 'Madvillain', and as an emcee he's still the man.

You tour a lot right? How important is that for you?

On average I toured about 2-3 months a year, but this year is gonna be much busier since the new albums out. I would like to be touring 4-6 months this year. I don't really wanna be home at all if possible. I'd rather be out on the road playing in front of the people who support me and allow me to do this for a living.

The Who is banned from all Holiday Inn hotels in the US because of, in part, driving a car into a swimming pool (from the first floor!)…do you have any ‘rock n roll’ stories from touring?

I've never been a wild dude in hotels or anything like that. When I used to drink I would have wild stories but mostly involving drunk ass conversations or girls, but never anything destructive. Plus I couldn't really divulge anything to crazy here for fear of incriminating myself or other people!

You’re quite accessible over the Internet, you have a well-updated website, you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Bandcamp…how important is that for an artist? Could an artist afford not being on the internet, doing social networking for instance?

I think all of it is very important. Some artists can afford to not be on the Internet, but those are mostly artists that existed long before the Internet. Like, the Rolling Stones or Public Enemy don't really need Facebook pages or Twitter accounts. When they play, the venue puts up a big ass sign, their fans know about it, and the shit sells out. For other artists like myself, my fans are used to getting information from me in a different way, so it's important that I exist in those ways. I also think that it's important to have a direct rapport with your fans because otherwise you're not gonna know what they're responding to or not responding to. Some artists are just guessing; in the studio, on stage, everywhere, when they don't even need to. Why guess what people are gonna like when you can just ask them? They're right there. It's no different for me than how I conduct myself at a show. I'm never hiding backstage or at the hotel - I'm in the venue, at the merch table, talking to the people, kicking it.

What’s next for Blueprint? Can we expect something completely different from you next time?

I've got some ideas in my head about the next album right now, and I wanna start working on some demos this summer when I'm not touring. I don't plan on taking 6 years in between albums anymore, and if I have anything to do with it I'll be putting out another album next year that's hopefully even better than 'Adventures in Counter-Culture'. I'm not sure about how it's gonna sound, but I just wanna make it better and continue to improve on everything I've learned about music in my life.

Peace.

 

POSTED 04|15|2011
conducted by cpf

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