Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mic Check With A-Drego - Blueprint Live

  "Everyone has their calling and maybe this is what the fuck I'm supposed to be doing... I cant pump the breaks or change directions now." ~ Blueprint

“Lets stash that Crown pint in the camera bag and then we can dip inside.” I say to the homie and cameraman for the night, Ill Theory.  With his blue fitted slightly cocked left and a Newport dangling out his lips, he replies “Hold on, I gotta drain this snake and finish this square first.” I sit back in the ride and double check all my equipment. All things go. For the full story Shoot the J. 

It's a cold walk from the parking spot to Schubas Tavern on Southport Ave, luckly its also just a short one. We each take a swig off the Crown pint then we chase it back with a second.  By the time we get to the door the liquid courage had already started to take its effect.  

“”  I say to the door man in a nonchalant way. “The movement”  Ill Theory adds. The doorman smerks and points us through the double doors leading to the concert hall. We walk through and almost as if by fate we run directly into the man we came to see perform, the Rhymesayers veteran Blueprint. 


"I remember My mom heard me playin some N.W.A and all hell broke loose, radio smashed to bits...the whole tape got thrown out."   ~ Blueprint

“What up Print?!” I shout  as Blueprint is walking through the crowd. Almost as if surprised that someone recognized him he smiles and replies “What up?”  “We are here to interview you. Are you gonna have time?” Distracted but always polite he looks up at the stage then back at me and says “Yeah sure, but I’m running late, they're calling me up right now so lets talk about it after the show." Cool I nod and he begins to walk towards the stage. In true renegade fashion we follow him up to the the side of stage where we post up and get the best seats in the house.

He starts the set with a few tracks of 1988 “Cmon say it loud! Look what we handed down!”  We all sing along. Now  the crowd is getting super hype from front to back.  “Chicago yall are rockin tonight.” And  now Print is getting super hype as well.  

Prints switches up the vibe when he lets the mike hang over his shoulders and he steps behind the laptop. “Okay Ima do my super fast disco track for yall, Ima bring this shit back before anyone else does.” 

 "There are things im doin on stage now that a year ago I never would have tried." ~ Blueprint

He continues to rock the stage with new material until the show reaches its climax with the song “So Alive.” This is when Blueprint did some brand new shit I had never seen before. He is officially the first Hip Hop artist I have ever seen strap on a Keytar and rock a song. It was pretty damn brave and flawless. Hats off...

We caught up with print backstage and this is what he had to say.

How’s the tour going up till now?

Its goin great 10 days left and we are starting to hit the stride. Just chillin smooth. The new material is goin great. 

You played Iowa City last night correct?


How did that go?


Did you get a chance to disc golf?

No! Cause it was cold, There’s no trees in the entire fuckin state! The wind is like WWWOOOOOACH! I got out the car like FUCK its cold. I stepped out and we had just got there. I was like Yo we’re not doin shit! I’m stayin inside all day! It was 35 degrees but it was a brutal 35 cause the wind just accelerates and doesn’t stop. 

So tell me when you play disc golf what disc do you usually use?

Man I’m a novice at disc golf I just get invited to do that shit when I’m on tour. I just get out there and get busy with whatever they give me. If they kept score I’d probably the worst. 

What kind of throw do you use?

I’m all about throwing it like its not a Frisbee. I roll it, an overhand roller.  That’s me. 

Word, word. So let’s talk about your musical influences as you where coming up… What was the radio in Columbus Ohio like for you when you were a kid?

Oh it was incredible. I think it was Z 103 or some shit like that. And all I would do is, my mom got me this boom box this little one speaker boom box not the official joints. All I’d do is just tape the radio and tape the shows. Hip hop every Friday and Saturday 10 to 2. And radio was also a big part of my family life. I grew up with gospel music cause my mom was an ill gospel singer. So you wake up with Shirley Cesar and the Winnins in the mornings and that’s what was playin in the house every day. So Hip Hop I had to sneak in with Hip Hop ya know.  I remember My mom heard me playin some N.W.A and all hell broke loose, radio smashed to bits the whole tape got thrown out. So I was listening to other stuff too.

Do you remember the first hip hop album you purchased?

Purchased… I don’t know if I remember that but I remember the first one my cousin gave me. My cousin was a DJ so he used to give me tapes. He was like 8 or 9 years older than me. The first album I think he gave me was By All Means Necessary by BDP or maybe that first Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh prince. The first album I bought, though, was that Lionel Riche album the one with “Dancing on the ceiling.” (We all bust out laughing.) I was like mom I want that Lionel Richie album! She was like alright. That “You Are” joint was my shit.

Alright well lets fast forward to right now the present. You’re working on a new project that’s changed your life. We’re talking about Adventures In Counter Culture and there’s a track on that called Keep Bouncing.  Could you tell us a little bit about that track.

It’s  a song I wrote its just a song about like drinking… really I wrote it cause I was like, I mean I don’t drink anymore but I was drinking and I was out a lot and I had these weird ass thoughts that would pop in my mind.  Ya know shit that you wouldn’t tell normal people, like; I probably wouldn’t kick it with yall if I was sober.  All that shit you think that you never say. Know what I’m sayin? So I was like I’ma write that shit down when I get home.  And anytime one of those thoughts would pop in my head I’d save it on my phone. And as I got time I’d write it all down and it turned into a song.  So its really summarizing a stream of consciousness on a drunkin night. 

How about that beat cause the beat (Keep Bouncing) Is one of those beats that just stays with you.  Ya know after you hear the track the beat keeps playing in my head. So how did that come about.

I was just experimenting with the beat. I think I just got this program called Batteries by Native Instruments which is really dope. 

All right, lets talk about what’s getting heavy rotation in your eardrums right now. 

Damn I been going back and listening to old stuff. Like today on the drive hear i was listening to the first Joy Division. I saw this documentary about six months ago and I was drawn to it cause I saw that the same dude that directed the Radio Head documentary directed this one.  I watch the Radio Head doc all the time I’m a big Radio Head fan.  So that lead me to check out Joy Division. I been going back and discovering a lot of music that I didn’t get a chance to listen to when it first came out, especially early punk and early electronic.  I feel it would do me better than listening to new punk or new electronic.  I’m still kinda rediscovering Daft Punk and Kraftwerk. So I don’t really want to go and have to listen to Justice to understand Electronic music because I can go back to those other groups (Kraftwerk, Daft Punk) and understand what he and other artists are doing.  So that’s what I been doing, going back to the beginnings of genres listening to shit like the Ramones and other early punk.

So If we take it back to the beginning of the punk era and look at bands that actually where in the black community like Fishbone. Where you into that?

Not really no. My introduction to punk is very recent. I’ve had very little history in terms of knowledge of punk. I’ve always understood it as “oh I fuck with this band and you should fuck with this band too” like for example the Sexpistols. I would here the names and I’d make a note of it. Even as a record collector I’ve had some of the records but really never took the time to sit down and recognize it as a genre and finding the historical content.

"I just wanna eat breath and sleep music." ~Blueprint

 Lets fast forward to more recent times. If you were to pick three artists that really influence you in the hip hop genre who would it be?

Well as a producer I’d say Kanye I like how epic and ambitious he is. Whether you like Kanye or hate Kanye you can never say he half assed his way through an album on the production or lyrics. He is always trying to do some big epic classic shit. I think more artists would be better served to at least connect with that part of what he does as opposed to criticizing what he does. As far as older producers go I’d have to say maybe Bomb Squad just because they were masters of records.  They were doing beats before the technology existed to make it easy.  Now you can pitch up a sample with one click of a button on Appleton. Bomb squad was doing that manually a long time ago before that technology existed because they were so knowledgeable of their record collections. 

If you were to name a few lyricists that influenced you whether they are current or in the past who would it be?

Id say in his prime O.C. Right when his first album came out. There was a year where everyone was like this guy is the next guy!  And he sounded so amazing So that really influenced me.  I’d say there is also about 4 or 5 songs on the first Black Moon album that are just like damn, That’s how rap is supposed to sound so that album definitely changed my perspective too. 

What about Ohio legends M.O.O.D? Did they really have any influence in your music?

Actually na, I didn’t move to Cinncinatti till 96 and while I was there they only had one show the entire time. Then they broke up in like 98, so uh they really didn’t influence me that much. They were cool dudes me and Red Grooves are cool. He lives out in San Diego now but we chill every time he comes out to play a show… Shout out to Red Grooves.  There was more shit that influenced me in the Columbus tapes, like the Megahertz tapes. Or early shit that Copywrite and the Brothers Grimm. They were doing some crazy shit! Sneaking in to battles… they were young fuckin teenagers sneaking into battles and killing everybody.  They where influences on me just cause I was like if I can get the respect level that these dudes have I’ll be successful. So my influences from my formative years were all local hip hop. That was my mentality about doin it I always just wanted to be a part of that. I remember seeing dude with an MPC for the first time and I was like DAMN! WTF is that? I need to be a big boy like him.  That shit influenced me and inspired me heavily.

 "I want to maximize my potential as an artists." ~ Blueprint

So you remember your early years. You remember your first show? Where you nervous?

Hell yeah I was nervous. It was a talent show. We probably only did 2 or 3 songs. I think we only got second place. It was okay, it was cool we lost to someone who sang a song which is expected. Then our first real show after college was a show in this weird ass concert hall in Columbus. We were all dressed alike and super sharp. We all dressed the same  green shirts cause it was my crew Greenhouse.

So you guys had the name Greenhouse Effect before the greenhouse effect became popularized by Al Gore.

Yeah, we had it in 95’ or 96’ we just opened up a fuckin dictionary and it was right there. We were like that sounds dope… so that’s how we got the name. 

Let’s move on to your projects. You have your solo project going on. Do you have any other projects planned for Soul Position or Green house?

I made a decision about 6 months ago that I wanted to dedicate the next couple years to strictly pursuing the solo path because I’ve been putting out records 8 or 9 years and I’m still only on my sophomore album. When I realized that I was like yo man I’m doing this without anything extra after. I’m putting everything into Adventures because I don’t want to sit back and think: “What if I would have put out a couple more solo albums?” What if I would have just pushed that more? The issue I have is that I put out 1988 and then less than one year later I put out Soul Position.  So I only did one or two tours with 1988 and then RJ only did the SP tour for one or two months. I was like what now? I could try and promote Soul Position alone or I could try to promote 1988 but the momentum is kinda lost. So this time I don’t want to commit to any other projects until I’ve put 110 percent to this (my music) until I’ve went out there for a year or two. And not just touring but just musically I feel like this record has taught me do music a lot better. I feel like I’ve tapped into something that may take me waaay further even if I just stay a little more commited. I wanna do it. I wanna be a guy that this comes out and two weeks later just keeps putting shit out.  This summer I just wanna fuckin stay in a lab nonstop and just do music for just 3 or 4 months straight without touring. I just wanna eat breath and sleep music. 

Dilla status.

Yeah man! Cause that’s what I did the last half of Adventures that’s what it was, it became my life. There was nothing else other than waking up writing music doing music there was nothing else.  That’s when I got the best results but I was having fun. I didn’t have the pressure, it was what I was gonna do every day.  That’s when I started to feel like this is what I’m here for. Im starting to feel like this is what im here for. Its to follow this path. Everyone has their calling and maybe this is what the fuck im supposed to be doing and I cant pump the breaks or change directions now because I feel like I'm starting to here and see things that I never thought I was ever able to do. If I stop that now I’ll never know and always regret it. Where as I know some of the potential of some of the collaborative things but what I’ve learned from doin this record is that I didn’t know how I could do some of this shit myself. There are things im doin on stage now that a year ago I never would have tried and in the studio as well, so I wanna just keep pushing that, and I want to maximize my potential as an artists.

By Alex Dreyer