featured interview

Iomas Marad Going head with his own style Southside Chicago must be one of the biggest breeding spots of dope hip-hop. Ever since Common Sense (it's hard to not name him and Chicago in one breath) put the place on the rap map, heads all around the world are keeping their eyes on 'the Go'. Those heads have more than likely picked up Iomos Marad's 'Deep Rooted', a most promising underground debut by this All Natural (it's hard to not name underground and All Natural in one breath) affiliate. After a time-out (it's hard to not name Chicago and a basketball term in one breath), I-O is back with an EP called 'Go Head' that re-introduces him to the world.

First of all, the name 'Iomos Marad', can you please explain the meaning behind it?

Iomos Marad is actually an acronym that stands for ?I'm On My Own Style? and Marad is from the 99 attributes of Allah or God that means ?different, set apart, not like anyone else?. And I believe that name describes me and what I do to a tee.

It's been a while since 'Deep Rooted' what have you done in the meanwhile?

Well, since ?Deep Rooted? I have been really in the process of just making myself more of a complete person. In more than one way. I have been reborn and now I am approaching my life and music in a more barbaric way than before. Now, when I say ?barbaric? I don't mean in a savage way but I mean I'm approaching my life and music (which is a huge part of my life) in a more aggressive way than before. I'm in school right now, about to complete my degree in teaching. I teach abstinence in grade and high schools, I really love where I am right now in my life.

So euhm... you don?t work as a law clerk anymore?

Nah...I got fired because I asked for a raise after 7 years of service and no benefits.

There's a full album coming soon after this, right? So why did you decide to release an EP in the meanwhile?

Well, me and Tone (Tone B Nimble, of All Natural (Inc), ed.) decided that an EP was the right thing to do right now because I decided to step away from doing music after ?Deep Rooted?. I wanted to get other aspects of my life in order before starting back doing music. So hopefully this EP will build my name back to where it was when ?Deep Rooted? came out.

'Go Head', should we make any nasty associations with the album title?

(laughing) Nah, ?Go Head? doesn't have any nasty or sexual associations to it. My brotha Qhazi (who was actually the executive producer for this EP) and me talked a lot about the direction of this EP. We both thought that the title should be ?Go Head? because in Chicago (not Shy-town), people who listen to the purest form of music under the umbrella of hip-hop is called ?a head? and people who actually live and rotate in Chicago call Chicago ?the GO?. So since I live in Chicago and I'm from Chicago plus I love the purest form of music under the umbrella of hip-hop, we called the EP ?Go Head?. It also means that no matter what you want in life you can ?Go Head? and get it for yourself. So ?Go Head? is like a command...you know like ?Go Head and get it because it's here to be got?!

Did you know that Yuani used the same sample on 'If Ever' as JJ Brown recently did on a song of his collabo with Louis Logic?

Wow, you know I didn't know that. But with us, meaning Yuani and the other brothers and sisters that's connected to our camp, we do two things: 1) We juggle life and the responsibilities that come with it and 2) Music. Music is the one thing that we all have in common and it helps us to deal with those responsibilities in our lives. So we don't really have time to check with what others are doing we just create, create, create and if we used the same sample or samples that others use we wouldn't know. It's been a time when All Natural used a sample that Madlib used and we didn't know it until we heard like ?Wow, that's crazy, they used the same demo that we did.?

Yuani produced 5 out of 9 tracks on the EP, how did you hook up with him?

It?s a day I will never forget. First of all this brotha is one of the most talented producers that I always love having the privilege to work with, but anyway, at the time that I met Yuani he used to always come around Tone B's crib, we never really talked to one another until one day, I was really frustrated with my life and music and how I felt like I was gettin jerked. I was staying in Hyde Park which is an area on the Southside of Chicago and Yuani was staying in that area as well. So I was walking around one day, just clearing my head so I ran into him on his way to get something to eat from this veggie spot, we talked for a second, and then I decided to go with him to the spot to get something to eat. So when we got there we was talking and building and the next thing you know, I was in his van listening to some beats. I was like ?Yo, who did those...Joe??, he was like (real modest like) ?Oh those?...That?s me?. I was like ?Man, those are crazy...you gotta let me get some of those? and the rest is history. I really believe in God's divine order for people?s lives and I believe for a fact that it was divine order for me to get to know Yuani. He has touched my life in more ways than he will ever imagine. He has a lot of knowledge and wisdom about a lot of things parallel to life.

Were you down with Family Tree earlier than All Natural?

Nah...it was only when I got down with All Natural, that's when they asked me to be a part of Family Tree.

So how and when did you hook up with Capital D of All Nat?

How I hooked up with D is another one of those divine order things. What happened was; I met Mr. Greenweedz first. When I was employed at the law firm, I used to go to this College in downtown Chicago called Columbia, you know one of those real artsy type of schools where all the emcees and turntablists used to hang out at on my lunch break. So there I met Green and we used to always talk and build about life and music but we never heard each other?s stuff before. What made it so crazy is everybody was telling us apart from each other how cold or good at rhyming we both were. So long story short, we (Greenweedz and I) were both put on a show that my cousin Leon Rogers--one of the illest comedians in the world- just so happened to be hosting. When Green was performing he brought Cap with him to back him up on stage. So after they performed I went on a couple acts after them. Green (without even hearing or seeing me rock before) told Cap D that I was an ill MC and that he should really check me out. So after I rocked, Cap D was like ?Man...you are crazy with it, I want to link up with you after I get back from overseas?. So after he told me that, I thought like ?Yeah whatever...he gonna get back to the States and forget all about me.? But when he got back, he hit me right away and asked me to come to his crib to record some joints. So the next day, right after work, I went to his house and we did the song ?Deep Rooted?. That was a day I?ll never forget either because us doing that song together is what actually propelled my career doing music to another level. So Cap, if your reading this, thanks and ?salaam? brother.

What's the strength of All Natural and how do you contribute to that strength?

In my opinion the biggest strength of All Natural the group and being an artist on All Natural Inc. is that we don't compromise our music for noboby not even mainstream. We have a sound that I think everybody gravitates to because 1) It is positive 2) It stays with the tradition or the blueprint that hip-hop established back in the day and 3) Each artist on the label touches all genres of people and we break a lot of barriers that people would expect us to break.

How do you look back at the 'Deep Rooted' album now, and in which way(s) is the new EP a friction/evolution of your previous effort?

In my opinion, as I look back on the ?Deep Rooted? album, it was a really dark time in my life, I was thinking about suicide a lot, people was stabbing me in the back before and after the project dropped, so I felt a lot like Anakin Skywalker felt about the Darkside. I really didn't trust people and I was depressed. But with ?Go Head?, I am a brand new person and can only give God and Isa Al Messih Yeshua Ha Moshiach all the credit for taken all of my insecurities and turning them into strengths. Today, I'm always smiling, always writing new songs and just feel good that Isa Al Messih isn't walking for me but I'm walking with him. I am a more complete person no matter what comes my way.

I read that about ?Deep Rooted?; 'that album is considered a classic of the Chicago hip-hop scene, predating the global explosion of Kanye West, Twista, Lupe Fiasco and others', agree?

I wouldn?t say myself ?Deep Rooted? was a classic, but a lot of people have hit my Myspace page and told me how that album changed their lives or touched them in a way no other album has. When you?re an independent artist you find it hard to believe that your music is touching people from Belgium to Germany to Africa to Brazil to Switzerland and parts of the Un-United States that you have or not have been to. So based on what I?ve heard I guess you can call ?Deep Rooted? a classic album.

In the early Deep Rooted days you just started producin', how has learning making beats and comprehending the production side of things influenced your approach to rhymin?

When you?re constantly around people or you interact directly or indirectly with producers like 5th Element to Yuani to Twilite Tone to Dug Infinite to K-Kruz to Siz to No I.D. to Andy C to Kenny Keys to Thai One to Tony Baines to S.C.. to Tall Black Guy to Cap D to the Molemen to even listening to the greats like J-Dilla, to Paul C, to Pete Rock, to Primo, to Large Professor, to Diamond D and the whole DITC crew, to Ali Shaheed Muhammed, to Q-Tip, to Prince Paul, to the RZA, to Howie Tee, to ?uest Love to Dr. Dre etc. just to name a few, you can?t help but want to get involved with producing or creating beats. You?re right in saying that I had just started out making beats but I been playing the drums since I was 11. On the album ?Deep Rooted? I helped out on ?I Stand Alone?, ?Another Late Night? and ?Straight Out Chicago?, but I was definitely watching and trying to understand how to create beats and music to make me a better all-around artist.

Who's your favorite drummer?

Man, I have a lot of favorite drummers. So I?ll just say: first of all to the amazing drummers who backed up Billie Holiday, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Byrd, Dizzie and all them, Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks, who played for the the Godfather of soul James Brown and let me say that concept of having to drummers on stage at the same time is bananas. Phil Collins, because my peoples call me the black Phil Collins because I play the drums and rhyme at the same time, Steward Copeland - one of the illest drummers of our time. He made police what they are. Animal from the Muppet Show - what more can I say about this dude? Hands down the greatest!

Any chance of you becoming the Questlove of All Natural?

People call me that already even though I know I don?t have half the skills as he does but it is good to be compared to him and it is good for me so that I can aim for that type of skill. Because believe it or not I?m constantly getting better at being a drummer!

You appeared on Thaione Davis' EP, it's still a mystery that so few people picked up that album (?Situation Renaissance?)...

First of all let me say that Thaione Davis is not just an artist, he is a son, a husband, a father, a provider, a producer, a record collector, an artist and the leader of his household so he just doesn?t concentrate on music like I know he would like to. Thaione is the complete package because he not only can rock with any emcee but he also creates beats that?s on what he on and not what other cats is on. Thaione is a very innovative dude especially when it comes to his approach to doing music. He is the only brotha that I know personally in Chicago that has a label deal overseas and he goes over there quite often. It?s amazing to me that other people didn?t gravitate to his latest work or the other works of art that he has released. I guess it?s safe to say that he is ahead of his time. The collaboration with Thaione and me has always been there because he helped me and continues to help me building my record collection. Thai used to work for Dr. Wax in Hyde Park and he would tell me how many copies of ?Deep Rooted? would walk out of the store. So when Thai asked me to do a song with him, I was like it was long overdue so I said let?s make it happen and thus came the birth of ?Keys Of Life?.

How would you match your work as a teacher with your lyricism? Do you get inspiration from it?

It is very easy to match what I do to lyricism. When teaching abstinence to 7th graders up to 12th graders, I try to encourage them not to engage in sexual activity until they are old enough to handle the consequences or that come with that action or most importantly until they get married. I always get inspired to write being around young people because they are so honest. They don?t put up fronts and they tell you how they feel. Me being in the position that I?m in, I have to be careful with the words that I say because I?m trying to kill the negative stereotypes that come with rappers that they see on television. I always have time left in my day to do the lyricist thing because sometimes I might breathe something in front of my class to give myself some extra points with the kids because you know everybody whants to be an emcee.

Do you think you could ever live fully of MC'ing?

Me and my peoples that I do music with always talk about ways that we can make a living off of the music that we create and we always come up with the same answer: ?poli-tricks and geographics?. What we mean by this is: if any of the artist that?s on or associated with All Natural Inc. or other labels that?s in Chicago was anywhere besides Chicago, we would be making a living off of our music. And being that we?re all from Chicago and we don?t feel like we should have to leave Chicago to make a living off of our music.

If a critic was writing a review, and he would compare you to another MC, which MC would you like that to be?

Critics have already compared me to Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common but if I was to compare myself to another MC it would be Posdnuous (de la soul), KRS-one, Akbar, J-Live and Asheru. These are the MC?s that I admire, I try to stick to their formula or style of lyricism.

What are some of the latest books you've read?

?The Bible?, I always got my face in this book because this is the blueprint for life, ?The Barbarian Way? by - I forget the author?s name-, ?Velvet Elvis? by Rob Bell, I hate the title but the information that?s in this book is timeless, ?Light in the Face of Jihad? by Ravi Zacharius. If you haven?t read any of his books then you need to get with em! ?The Spiritual Man? by Watchman Nee, this book is so thick that it?s going to take me some time to finish, I got other books on deck that I haven?t read yet but check back with me cause I?m always reading.

What was the first rap record you bought?

The first rap record that I bought was actually a tape that I borrowed from my cousin and he had to threaten to beat me up to give it back to him, it was ?Straight Out the Jungle? by the Jungle Brothers. Man, I studied that tape by listening to it over and over and over and over again, until it broke and I had to buy my cousin a new one and I bought me one. That album and ?By Any Means Necessary? by KRS-one (BDP, ed.) got me started in rhyming.

What were the last rap records you?ve bought?

Jeru the Damaja?s ?The Sun Rises in the East? and Kev Brown?s ?Do What I Do?. Now the rap records that I?m looking for is everything that Dilla has ever did. I?m gon have it all, watch!

How do you remember Dilla?

I remember when I was watching ?106 & Park?, which is rare for me because I don?t really like that show, and Pharell was on there. AJ and Free asked him ?Who are some of the other producers that you like or feel?? and Pharell told them ?Jay Dee?. AJ and Free (or Dumb & Dumber - just joking) said ?Oh...Jermaine Dupri?? and Pharell said, ?Nah...Jay Dee from Detroit...I?m talking about J Dilla...Ya?ll never heard of J Dilla?? and Dumb & - nah, just playing - AJ & Free was like ?Nah, we ain?t never heard of him before? so Pharell was like ?Well, ya?ll need to get up on him...he the truth.? There is no other way to describe Dilla but as ?the truth?. Truth with the beats, truth with the rhymes, truth with his voice...man everything. Dilla will be missed forever.

Please comment on the following:

KRS One

A lot of people think that Kris is the most contradicting MC ever but I don?t see him as that. I see Kris as an artist who knows how to adapt to a contradicting society and still is able to balance that contradiction with knowledge. So obviously Kris had to change due to the circumstances that he had to cross in his past life and even in his present life as well.

Akbar

I?ve seen this brotha battle four dudes at this spot called the Bop Shop back in the day and he murdered them so effortlessly without one curse word. So here am I, this young MC, just starting out in the same cipha with Akbar and I was so nervous that I was fumbling over my words a little bit and didn?t have no vocal control -I can?t believe I?m telling you this- but for some reason Akbar never fronted on me but told me to keep writing and keep developing my skills if this was something that I really wanted to do. When I look back on what he said to me, I just have to say look at me now. Akbar is the true connection to what the Bronx was and is. He is the closest thing that other MC?s from Chicago can get to a Rakim and KRS-One, hands down.

J-Live

You know how you meet different legends in the game and they let you down because they?re jerks or act like they better than you or something. Well J-Live is nothing like that. This brother is so genuine and so humble, it was refreshing to see. I remember when Tone B. brought J to Chicago, I actually had the chance to build with him before, during and after the show was over and when he got on stage he shouted my name over the phone like 3 or 4 times and it was love all the way around. I look up to J-Live as a teacher because that?s what I want to do and I look up to him as an MC because he has so much style and flavor and he never seems rushed on stage. But what really takes the cake is when I saw him beat-juggle and rhyme at the same time. I never seen anybody do that, and the record didn?t skip one time! Amazing.

Wild Hundreds

The Wild Hundreds or ?the Hunnits? as it?s known in ?the Go? is a place where it can be cool or dangerous in the same breath but in the same breath that?s where I?m from and that?s what I represent in thought through poems.

Q-Tip

This is the first brother that I pattern my rhymes after. I always looked up to Q-Tip when I first heard him on the Jungle Brothers album and as far as the direction that he wanted to take his music to and the direction that he had for A Tribe Called Quest, along with Phife, Ali & Dilla.

Dug Infinite

I always looked up to Dug because he has always been the one that offers lessons in life and in music. Dug is always that brother who owned a lot of things but didn?t want people to know what he was on. He never bragged about what he had or what he was about to do. I got endless amounts of love and respect for Dug. He has taught me a lot in such a short time that I?ve know him and he is still teaching me, even though he?s in San Francisco. I remember Dug told me that he would teach me how to make beats as soon as I got an MP and when I got my MP, he gave me his old zip disks with drums on them. That?s just an example of how Dug is. He?s infinite...

What's next for Iomos?

Well, the next project that I have on my plate is with K-Kruz, Cap D and myself. Then after that is the full length album that?s coming in ?07 called ?Monumental?, and the next project after that is mixtapes with DJ Monkey and 5th Element. And then after that, I?m just trying to do projects after projects with various artist like Verbal Kent, Kenny Keys, Thaione, Yuani and others. So just be looking out because you won?t know when it?s coming, but it?s coming!

Shout-outs?

To all the listeners all over the world who has heard of me or listened to any of my music and loved, supported and respected it keep listening. To my family who I do music with, stay focused and let?s get it because it?s here to be got! God?s blessings be upon everybody seen and unseen.
Peace!
Go Head!

 

POSTED 10|01|2006
conducted by cpf

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