Y-Roc, what’s goin’ on? Really feeling your Livin’ Proof ‘13 EP. I have to be honest, I’m also feeling a little old right now, considering the instrumentals you’re using were dope when I was your age, before you were born. It hurts to even say that, but it’s nice to know, they still sound dope all these years later. You were inspired to rhyme over Group Home’s album after hearing something on Hot 97, right? Tell me about that.
Well I usually listen to the Hot 97 morning show when I have to get up early for school and what not, but this one day I over-slept so I missed it. Later to find out that they were doing a special DJ Premier mix on his birthday. So they ended up putting it online after the show, so I went to check it out. I was listening and then Peter Rosenberg said that if there were any artist who would rhyme over DJ Premier’s beats from that first album and was able to kill it then they would be out of here. So that’s where the idea sparked and I decided to do it. It’s really me over some of my favorite DJ Premier instrumentals because, to be honest, I’ve never really listened to Group Home like that.
I understand you draw a lot of inspiration from your father’s record collection. Who are some of your favorite artists from back then?
Yeah, that’s where I get a lot of inspiration from, music-wise. There are so many styles in the collection that I have a love for a lot of different types of music. On a hip hop tip, Jay-Z, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, WU-Tang just to name some. I also love jazz, and I found it from records by John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Also, there’s a lot of good R&B there like R. Kelly and of course MJ.
I noticed that even your flow is reminiscent to some things Jay-Z did on hisReasonable Doubt record as well as Big L, when you speed up to go double-time then slow the flow back down. Sounds like you really study the whole style from back then. What do you connect with the most from that era of Hip-Hop?
The music was all around me when I was a baby so I guess that’s where I picked a lot of it up. I connect with the soul in the music. The sense of caring for the artistry in a song. As far as flow and style, I really do study the music and see why the greats are labeled the greats and what can I bring to the table. Also, Jay-Z is my favorite of all time and biggest inspiration/idol so albums like RD inspired me to actually start making music, so its sick you brought up that feeling you got. That’s tight.
Do you have any favorite artists who are out right now?
Oh yeah, for sure. I love a lot of stuff from now. Guys like Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Odd Future, Chance The Rapper, Vince Staples, Jay Electronica, and plenty more from other genres but that’s all I can think of right now off the top. And of course Kanye’s new stuff. I just like a lot of the new movements coming out from all over.
I’m curious to know, you being so young, but yet so familiar with both classic and modern Hip-Hop, how do you feel the two sounds compare to each other (old vs new)? When you listen to you father’s stuff and then turn on the radio, does either sound or feel better to you than the other, or is it all Hip-Hop, just different styles?
Well, most of the stuff that plays on the radio doesn’t really appeal to me. When I think of “new artist” I think of the ones I named above. So if we’re talking new artist like the ones I named above then I feel its all good music, no matter the era it’s made in. But, if were talking hit-radio-wise, everyone wants to rap over the same trap beat and it’s kind of watered down now and no sense of artistry.
Is the full-length Resurrection Of The Livin’ Proof already out? You sending it to Hot 97, I hope? Where can people listen or buy your music?
Actually, I was going to do a full-length mixtape, but I decided to make it into an EP (Livin Proof ’13 EP) because I saw it fit just to do some than the whole thing. I’m trying to get the EP into Hot 97’s hands, I think the morning show would enjoy it. Anyone out there, help me try and get it to them!! Haha. You can find my music always at yroc.bandcamp.com . Also, my twitter which is twitter.com/thekidyroc . Download Livin’ Proof ’13 EP now!
Lastly, what are your hopes for your career as an emcee? Any future projects lined up, like rhyming over Nas’ Illmatic or Mobb Deep’s The Infamous (hint, hint, those are also some dope albums for you to rhyme over)?
For now, just trying to push the new music and gravitate a solid fan base. My next project will probably be more beats from producers I plan on working with, but I’ll probably do some songs over classics like the ones you named. And I also have my long term goals I want to accomplish…Grammys, #1 albums, be up there with the legends at the end of it all…But one step at a time of course.
Y-Roc, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. I wish you much success.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it a lot.
Malkovich, first things first, props to you on the release of your latest album Great Expectations. Love the whole sound of it, speaking of which, I’d like to start right there. I understand you worked with ten different producers, yet the record has a nice consistency to it. Tell me about that process. Is it more inspiring to work with so many talented people, rather than just one production team? What are the advantages or pitfalls of that?
I’m constantly looking for beats. I search through as many Twitter followers’ Soundcloud pages as I can. My favorite thing to do is go to a producer friend’s house and have him sit me in front of his computer so I can browse through all his stuff, because 9 times out of 10 I end up liking some obscure beat he’d forgotten about better than the 10 brand new ones he just came up with. All the producers on Great Expectations are either friends, or friends of friends. The only producer I had no connection to – Becoming Phill – is now my roommate. I’m told I’m picky about beats, and I guess it’s true. I have a lot of friends who will rap over almost anything. Maybe they’re more open-minded than me. I only make songs out of beats that I cannot stop thinking about. If I have to play it over and over and can’t get it out of my head, then it’s on. Otherwise, it’s not happening. Working with a bunch of producers gets confusing in terms of getting the right files, and getting each song mixed to each producer’s liking and still satisfying me. Logistically it can be a pain. But you end up with a unique record. Not to say that working consistently with one producer can’t be great, because it can, and I have a couple of those records coming up. But those are the exception for me. By default I’m a scavenger. I like the leftovers, the odds and ends, the sounds people forgot about.
You have a line on “What I know” that says, “You know when a greasy-haired bastard like me gets a shot at it, everything’s ass-backwards. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, and this couldn’t happen any day but today.” Do you feel Hip-Hop is wide open right now, in terms of acceptance of all races, or do we still have a long upward hill in front of us?
It’s wide open. There’s no kind of person who can’t get a piece of this game right now. The gay rapper is on his way too, I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up this year. There’s already a bunch of them, you can see them on Twitter. They’re just not famous. But the out-the-closet gay rap superstar is coming. Soon.
I’ve been hearing for a while now about the distinction between Rap and Hip-Hop, where people really criticize the Pop influences that have seeped into much of today’s “Hip-Hop” (obviously not yours). Is there a difference, or is it just a matter of style?
I think people are just talking about the connotations each phrase conjures. For me, “hip-hop” makes me think of Sugar Hill Gang, breaking, graffiti, the roots of the culture. “Rap” makes me think of a more street version of all that, and I think most people feel the same way. I think it’s the most tired, pointless debate in a culture full of tired, pointless debates. Hip-hop, or rap, or whatever you wanna call it, has always had a pop side. And if hip-hop/rap didn’t continue to absorb popular sounds it wouldn’t have survived this far. Hip-hop/rap heads are the most knowledgeable overall music fans on the planet, because hip-hop/rap samples everything. Yet the genre also expands to mindless pop, and I think that’s vital to its existence. I don’t feel any more affinity to the average underground rapper than I do to the pop rappers. Neither of them do what I do. Nobody does what I do.
I noticed you’re giving away the album (as well as your previous ones) as a free download on your site (http://malkovichmusic.bandcamp.com/album/great-expectations). Very very generous, by the way. I’m seeing a lot more of this, on both the indie and major fronts. Is the idea of making money by selling music long gone now for the independent artist?
The idea is, you get the fans first, then you charge them. I have fans, but business rules tell us that only ten or twenty percent of them are gonna fork out cash for my music. The new fans I could gain by giving the music away who I could charge later down the line mean more to me than the small amount of money I would make selling this album. Besides, when I go on tour the album will no longer be free physically or digitally. It’s all about timing.
I’d like to talk a little bit about your video “Lies.” I love the idea of people getting rid of their baggage at the end of it. Powerful metaphor. And the first line, “The weight of the world weighing on my brain in pain,” sets up the theme quite nicely. What was the inspiration behind the song and vid?
I had just thrown away all my belongings and given up my L.A. apartment and I had moved to NYC in winter off the heels of my first Great Depression. I was fucked up and lonely and broke and a relative stranger in a new city with lots of alone time on my hands. And it’s not too long before you start to see yourself for what you are, and life for what it is. Of course, life is only what you are. If you have problems with the world, you have problems with yourself. Not to say the world is perfect; the world is a fucked-up place. But your world doesn’t have to be, and if it is that says more about you then it does about the world. We’re all way more unique than we allow ourselves to be. The idea of marriage works for a handful of people. Religion. Political ideology. Desires. These things might have worked for the people who created them. But we are all living according to institutions and ideals that we deep down don’t believe in and they’re killing us. And we drink and get high to make it through but every now and then the lie gets too close and a song like “Lies” pops out. The paradox – and the part of the song I think most people don’t understand – is that one person’s lie is another person’s faith. As a non-religious person, the one thing I wish I had more of in my life is faith, the blind belief that things are going to turn out in my favor. Because I can see that faith has a funny way of coming true. It’s a lie until it comes true. The video is extremely literal for me, because that’s the same bag I stuffed everything I couldn’t bear to throw away into and left town with. I finally did throw away that bag and everything in it, two months ago in a hostel room in Kuala Lumpur.
Last question. Who’s the dude on the cover?
My grandfather. Next to my mother, he’s my only hero. You can learn more about his story and the story of my family at
Well, once again Malkovich, thank you for taking the time out to chat. Great Expections is now available for free download at the link provided above. I encourage everyone to check it out, as well as the lies video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qpurhTYwMw&list=PL1EABC6B368E5A512 . Dope stuff.
London-born, New York-based Louise Aubrie is now on her second release entitled Time Honoured Alibi. For both this album and her 2010 debut, Fingers Crossed, she worked with producer Boz Boorer, whose best known for his work with Morrissey and is considered one of the pioneers of the British Rockabilly movement.
The sound of this new EP is similar to the first. Fans of Morrissey and The Smiths will feel right at home with Louise Aubrie’s nice blend of edgy post-punk rock mixed with just the right amount of Pop to smooth things over.
The record opens up with a short and sweet little tune called, “Where Are You.” Right off the bat, my first impression is that Aubrie excels in writing hooks that are catchy as hell and stick in your head for much longer than the song lasts. “Lovestruck” is both edgier and funkier, with this offbeat bass riff during the verses that give the song an unexpected reggae vibe. The chorus brings it back home to Rock, providing plenty of dynamics. “Circuit” and “Gold” are the ballads of the album, the latter being one of my favorites on here.
I really don’t have any bones to pick here. Louis Aubrie has a style and sound that grows on you. Her passionate vocals are straightforward, flowing effortlessly on each and every track. The record is musically and sonically consistent in every sense of the word. It showcases depth, talent, and artistry. Very nice to listen to, indeed.
Indiana-based singer/songwriter Jeff Cannon has released his latest full-length solo effort 13 Questions, a thematic album dealing with various social issues and wrapped in all of his Classic Rock sensibilities. Currently a college journalism lecturer, Cannon has also been both a street musician and band member of The Kids. Cannon defines his 13 questions (or issues, rather) as: Isolation, Otherness, Regret, Institution, Revolution, Indifference, Reception, Dialogue, Presence, Union, Identity, Courage, and Urgency.
Ten of these songs are original, the other three are covers, including the title track which is originally a song by Seatrain. He features his fourteen-year-old daughter Emma on one of the other two covers, “You belong to me,” which as far as I could tell was first performed by The Duprees, but also covered by a host of others, including Bob Dylan. And the last cover is a John Lennon song, “Grow Old With Me.” This is one of my favorites on the album. A real soft and sweet acoustic number, with a nice guitar solo.
One of the main things I like about this record is how if one wasn’t already familiar with the covers, there would be no way to tell they weren’t written by Cannon, as his own writing and musical style blend perfectly from where his inspiration streams from. I also love the sonic quality. It’s gritty and warm. It actually feels like Classic Rock, which in my opinion, is a good thing in today’s market.
Out of all the original tracks, “The Busker” is my favorite. It’s acoustic with just a hint of orchestral accompaniment, and has the most singer/songwriter vibe to it. “Courage To Be Kind” is a bluesy ballad that opens up with some much-appreciated harmonica that’s sprinkled here and there throughout the song. “Hypnotized and Occupied” says it all in the title. Right from the first verse we hear these lyrics, “now we’re down, we’re outside, we’re the last thing on their minds, that’s how they love you: hypnotized and occupied.” It’s apparent he’s speaking to our times today, but with the fervor of a 60’s hippie.
In the end, 13 Questions is a collection of socially-conscious-heavy songs aimed at challenging anyone who hears–or better yet listens. I don’t think Cannon is trying to be moralistic or “high and mighty” here. I think he genuinely has taken a long hard look at the things that plague our society and decided to do what he can. In regards to real and tangible social change, Cannon also sees something that many people these days don’t: hope. So be willing to swim in deep waters when playing this album, and I promise you’ll come out on the other side safe and sound, possibly enlightened, and most importantly, entertained.