Interview med Blueprint – knokleren fra Columbus, Ohio

For et par måneder siden besøgte hele Rhymesayers-crewet Europa med blandt andet et stop på Store Vega til en imponerende 5-timers koncert. Holdet bestod af prominente folk som Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Evidence, Grieves og Blueprint. Undertegnede fik et interview stablet på benene med sidstnævnte, som nu er blevet en realitet. Enmands-hæren fra Columbus har en bog på vej og fortæller om sin meget personlige blog…

Efter noget e-mail korrespondance lykkedes det mig at få hul igennem til Columbus, Ohio hvor rapper og producer Blueprint residerer. Manden der blandt andet er kendt for at være den ene halvdel af gruppen Soul Position sammen med RJD2 droppede sit andet solo-album sidste år. Interviewet er gengivet uoversat herunder. God læselyst.

How did you become hooked on hiphop? Is there any good story to that?

My first real involvement with hiphop came when I was in college. I had some friends who had shows on the college radio station and I ended up getting one myself. Working at the radio station exposed me to the stations’ huge catalog of music that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard. Lots of old rock, soul, and jazz. I began DJ’ing house parties, formal events, weddings, and anything else I could to make extra money in college on the weekends. I borrowed the stations Technics 1200-turntables in the summers and practiced constantly when I wasn’t in school. Through learning about DJ’ing I got curious about how beats were made and started building a crate of records that I wanted to sample one day. My friends and I started freestyling around then, but we never had any beats to rap over, so I saved up and bought an Ensoniq EPS 16 and started making beats.

What was your first thoughts about what your own contributions to the rap-scene should be? (apart from wanting to ‘get a name’) – what was your first ambitions with your own songs?

First and foremost, I think I’ve always been concerned with truth. Being an artist that projects honesty through his music. That’s probably the only theme that’s consistent across all the music I’ve ever done. I never wanted to be a part of the group of rappers that sell people a materialistic lifestyle that isn’t healthy or real.

You rap with a lot more sincerity than most rappers out there I think, how has that affected you the most? Have you had any bad experiences with being so open and straightforward in your songs ? (e.g. mad ex-girlfriends or some shit like that ?)
I think my honesty is the result of me originally using hiphop as a tool to escape from my job and vent frustration, or to say things that I couldn’t say anywhere else. I’ve never regretted anything I’ve said in a song because for all the real shit I say in my songs, there’s like 10 things I can’t say! If I could say all the shit I really wanted to say I would never have any friends, girlfriends, and probably very few fans. I think there’s a fine line between being honest and being intentionally hurtful. I try to never be hurtful.
How was the overall reception of your ‘1988’-album looking back – did you receive any criticism for not “looking forward”? Or was the people understanding it as a homage to that year and sound?
Overall, I’m happy with the reception of ‘1988’. When it first came out I wasn’t sure what the reception was going to be because it was being judged up against all the Soul Position-material that proceeded it, which set the bar pretty high. But now that the dust has settled, it seems to be an album with a lot of staying power. I usually get a better response in live settings to ‘1988’ than the Soul Position stuff nowadays. There were definitely critics of the record when it came out, but I just ignored all that stuff as usual.

On your song ‘Dream Big’ from your ‘The Who EP’ you talk about coming up as an artist, and suddenly realizing you actually have fulfilled some of your dreams. What kind of dreams do you have at the point where you are now? Are dreams still part of your fuel – what keeps you going?

Definitely. Dreams are the only thing I have that motivate me to wake up everyday. My dreams now are to still be the best, but in alternate ways. Like, writing this book, ‘The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture’, was a big dream. Writing any kind of book is a dream for a lot of people, so getting that done feels surreal to me. It kicked my ass but I can say that I did it, which is not something everybody can say. 
I’ve got other dreams in relation to video production and film, but right now I’m just concerned with taking small steps and getting better every day. But film and writing would be where most of my new dreams are focused. Music for me is more about natural progression now. I’ve got a place that I think I will continue to move towards, but it’s not necessarily a dream now because I know I can do it. The music things are more of a goal than a dream now.

I think one of the most unique things about your style is the way you tell stories, like e.g. on the track ‘Keys’ (‘Things Go Better with Rj and Al’), ‘Inner City Native Son’ (‘1988’) or ‘The Jerry Spring Episode’ (‘8 Million Stories’) just to name a few. What rappers have inspired you the most in this direction? Or are you more inspired from other media (TV, books, etc.) when it comes story telling?

As far as story-telling goes, Slick Rick is the greatest story-teller of all time to me. Nas is probably second, but it’s not even close. My understanding and appreciation of story and imagery came from my love of comic books growing up. I never read many non-fiction books growing up, but I was heavy into comics and characters. When I approach hiphop-stories I try to make sure that they’ve got a message, but that they’re also visual. I definitely got that from comic books.

Being myself both a rapper and a beat maker, I would like to hear you tell a little about the process of how you make your songs. Do you make the beats first, and then write out from that idea, or vice versa? Or is the order of lyrics and music not structured like that? Do you like to work from a “scheme” or is that a big no-no?
Most of the songs I write start with the music. I look at music as the most important piece of any song, so for me, an artist shouldn’t be able to use the rhyme from one song on a completely different beat. Each beat is as unique as a fingerprint and has a mood to it that has to be captured and complimented by the songwriter. Because of that, I think that the goal isn’t to write good songs, the goal is to write the best song possible to that beat. Look at it not as an attempt to say a bunch of shit you already wanted to say, but look at it as writing something that truly compliments the beat in every way. When it’s done that way, every song sounds different.
With music, I start everything with the piano or the melody. I’m at the point where I wont even program any drums unless I know the melody is strong enough to justify the time. Sometimes artists start with the drums but the melody falls apart and the song falls flat. I prefer to start with the melody because if you’ve got a good melody, you can’t go wrong no matter how you decide to hook the beat up.

You have appeared live here in Denmark and generally in Europe a lot throughout the years. Do you notice any big differences between the crowds at your shows in Europe compared to the ones in US? Or is that just something you don’t give too much thought ?

There’s a huge difference. In the states we draw bigger crowds, but the energy of the crowds isn’t always great. In Europe, the crowds are smaller, but they feel bigger because of the energy the people have. They move more and they have a better time. You rarely see people get so drunk at a show in Europe that they ruin the show for everybody around them. Plus, people in Europe tend to police themselves at shows. In the states, security is always a problem at hiphop shows. They treat the kids like shit sometimes and it makes things more difficult for everybody.

As far as I can understand you have always been representing Columbus, OH. What are your thoughts about the hiphop-community in your city? Do you have problems with young talents and artists leaving the city to go chase their “Hollywood dreams” and such in the bigger cities of the US (NY, LA, Chicago)? Or would you not regard that as being an issue?

We actually don’t have many problems with kids in Columbus moving to bigger cities. To tell the truth, our problem is the opposite. Some talented kids find that they can make a name in Columbus without doing a lot of work, but then never take steps towards becoming recognized everywhere else. They get discouraged when they find out that they can’t be successful everywhere by doing the same half-assed shit they can get away with here. It can be a real wake-up call to some artists. There are other hiphop artists from my city who have followings but very few are national or international because they haven’t switched up their mentality yet. Once they realize they have to bust their ass twice as hard to get out of Columbus they will be successful. If you can’t be successful in Columbus then there’s no way you’re going to move to New York and be successful.

Finally I would like to tell the readers of RapSpot.dk about your blog. A lot of readers may be unaware that you write a lot of personal stuff on your homepage printmatic.net, so can you tell them a little more about why they should go check that out?

Definitely. I started my website Printmatic about two and a half years ago as an outlet to write and talk about things that I couldn’t really talk about in my music. Really human things that I think anybody can relate to. As far as I know I’m the only artist that’s taken that approach to their website. Most artists post tourdates and just tell you to buy their album. I’ve taken the opposite approach where my blog is as personal as my music is, but a little more in-depth. I try to write about things that everybody can understand, whether you’re an artist or not. I think it also helps people understand me more. If they haven’t checked it out yet, I would definitely ask the readers to check out printmatic.net. Things have really picked up for the site in the last year or so and I’m proud of what it’s become. I just added a forum a few weeks ago that’s going pretty strong as well.

And the last question: Where should we look out for ‘print in the year 2012?

Right now I’m just promoting ‘The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture’ book, but I’d like to put out a short EP this year, and then hopefully a full-length album by the beginning of next year.

Jeg takker Blueprint for at have givet sig tid til interviewet og kan kun anbefale folk at slå et slag forbi hans side printmatic.net, hvor han kommer med rigtig mange gode råd til strugglende artister og i det hele taget bare dropper nogle interessante livsbetragtninger. Herunder kan du se hans seneste musikvideo til nummeret ‘Go hard or go home’.

Skrevet af Julaw 09.04.2012 arkiveret under Interviews |