Check out some more pictures from this Team Heartbreak photo shoot here
Fresh off the debut of his latest album “Smoking Joints”, Beautiful Lobotomy got a chance to sit down with Anonymouz to speak about the Netherlands, automatic writing, and garden gnomes.
Anonymouz: The album is a fun, smoked-out, concept project called Smoking Joints. It started out as a side-project, a challenge and a game to keep my wits sharp, and turned out to be a revolution in style for me. It’s actually named after the producers of the album -Smoking Joints- a beatmaking trio from out of the Netherlands. The original title of the album, however, was “Freedom of Style”; and it was called this because of the method i used to create it. The way i put this one down is different than any way Ive done it before, and it was inspired by a style of writing from the 50s used by members of the Beatnik movement called “automatic writing”. In this style, the artist does not think about what he or she says but writes quickly with the first thing that pops into his head and erasing nothing, so as to expose one’s innermost thoughts and ideas; the byproduct of which frees and reveals one’s natural style. The result for me is a style that’s very poetic, free-flowing, yet mad dark in it’s tone; the sounds are organic, yet fuckin filthy. I burned mad trees in the process, and granted the name of the producers, chronic helped mold the final concept. 14 tracks, each represents a joint; and all interwoven into a fat smoke session. The beats are hip-hop, not that radio shit, and not to be confused with old school either; the shit is Real School. You can hear Azrael, Sythe, Risskant, Copasetic, Nicky Scarfo, P-Butta and Kaboom killin ‘em on there with me too.
The video i can speak years about. I feel i got something pretty original with this. The video’s got three parts: each part is one verse taken from different songs off the album, and each is accompanied by it’s own video. The three parts, much like the album, are woven together by a continuous plot, so to make one long story. All parts of the video were shot and worked on at the same time with the intention of releasing them all as one video. In the end however, we decided to release parts 2 and 3 as one, so there’s 2 videos now: Part I – FREEDOM OF STYLE, and, Part II - NO.1 / CRUISIN ON MIGHWAY. Both were a huge undertaking, and could not have been done without crazy help from the homies both as actors and hands on set, and of course a good amount of paper. Freedom of Style is the intro to the album and sets a mysterious mood with a dark poem over piano sampled from Bartok. NO.1 is a darker track, a lash out at the state of hiphop as i see it, and a lash out at how it affects my city. Cruisin on Mighway is a fun summer track: im feelin good, in the zone, walking down the street, cruisin on my feet, on my way to whatever it is i gotta do, or nothing, just doin my thing, nothing’s fuckin with me or my mood, nothing can burst my bubble, i just feel great. The video moves from one setting to another by going through different doors. As I do, I enter each new world with it’s new music and setting. it’s a trip, like Alice in Wonderland kinda, and that’s the point: it sums up the whole album very well as one fat trip. i’m stoked on it, there so much more to describe but i dont wanna give it all away, it’s really something to see.
Beautiful-Lobotomy: Seeing that Smoking Joints are out of the Netherlands and you have toured over seas before, are there any plans to head back to promote this album at all? or will they be the ones who are strictly promoting it over there?
Anonymouz: Millions of reasons why I will always go back to the Netherlands. Nederland is like a second home to me. It was like that much before I met my lady there. The hip-hop is so alive there it’s crazy, you can feel the energy. Walk into outdoor malls after closure and there’s breakers everywhere. They got hip-hop schools for DJjing, street painting, beat making and production, and rap workshops always going on in heavy attendance. This of course puts in plain view the fact that the Dutch government highly prioritizes and supports the Arts, and that it is through this support that such programs are possible. Still, it is also the fact that the people want it, and it’s hype among the youth, that the movement there is as large as it is. Most importantly, the right people are doing the schooling and teaching so it’s being moved correctly for the most part. One of the mandatory courses for graduation from producing school is “Hip-Hop Music History”, in the graf school it was like “Street Art History”. The guys running the scene are old school veterans and the vibe is ill and fresh kinda like was in the 90s, though advanced. Imagine if instead of hip-hop being pimped out of the golden era, it continued being driven by soul, truth and aspirations to excellence, as it is for a lot of undergrounders, and then built upon through expressions of skill and artistic competition. The result is something that has a hint of old school in it, granted that dudes are baptized in tradition, and yet is far from old school. In fact the shit is new school; to go even a step further with it, the shit is Real School. I saw a crew of 5-year-olds break battle some older crew of full grown dudes, real heads in the city, and it was a dope ass battle, both sides were throwing down but the kids were just murdering it, air flares and on some shit I’ve never seen that only they could do cause they were so small, my jaw was on the floor. DJs that run the scene and support real shit, doesnt matter if you got 1 view on youtube or a billion, they judge the art open-mindedly. A real sober culture, real people. I lived there for 8 months and released an album with my homey, Risskant, called, klassiek, a bilingual, cultural collaboration in English and Dutch, the first of it’s kind. We’ve recorded a whole second joint, “The A&W Album,” that’s all ready to go. I got a lot of good homeys over there and colleagues, a lot of which I’m still working with right now. Gotta see my boy Haico of Ill Skill Squad too, he used to take troubled kids off the street, rent out a gym at his expense and his crew wud teach the kids to break dance for free. The trainlines are caked with beautiful assassinations. My Dutch is getting quite a bit better so I’m able to pick up the poetry in the lyrics too, it’s inspiring and I see hope for the future. I could give you more reasons.
The short answer is Fuck ya I’m comin back. Assuming the Mayans are wrong and crazy shit doesnt go down in December, I’m going early new year to promote the Smoking Joints project as well as my album with Risskant. Smoking Joints are some ill dudes and will be doing their thing to promote the project themselves over in Holland in the meantime. My lil bro Risskant, the 8th brother of Ill-Legit, is always moving ill-legit, both directly, or even just through his diligence and busyness as an Artist. And there’s still a lot we’re able to do through the internet of course. Mad love I got for my people there.
Beautiful-Lobotomy: How exactly did you stumble upon “automatic writing”? And how and why was that an appeal even before you decided to turn this from a side project to a full album?
Anonymouz: I first heard about automatic writing a while ago just reading some shit in a magazine and i thought it was all cool, but I saw the results as kind of all over the place and not producing coherent thoughts so I took it as a piece of history and moved on. Then I met my homey Azrael, who wud write tracks by closing his eyes and thinkin for about an hour, then hitting the mic and producing brilliant work. This opened my eyes to a new way of doing things and reminded me of what I read. I used to be a mad perfectionist and if i wasn’t freestyling off top, then shit would have to be perfect, some things weren’t allowable. But granted that we are MCs trained in improvisation, I figured that, as Azzy’s done with his stuff, I ought to be able to take this shit to the next level in my own way. My idea was to pick up where the Beatnik poets had left off, but to stray from randomness in my speech and focus on producing just open soul feelings and secrets, capture crazy trains of thought.
So now I got this new way of doing; a way in between, one that’s fun, and a process through which a natural style is freed. Things are more freeflowing and jazzier, it’s cool. And it was actually with this project – Smoking Joints – that I tried it for the first time. Le Cock Sportif (one of the members of Smoking Joints) sent me the beat for “Redemption” when my girl was gettin ready in the bathroom and I had the track put down before she got out. I loved it. bang bang. killed the track, sent it back, he sent me another one, bang bang, I sent it back, and so forth. Soon we had half the album done.
Beautiful-Lobotomy: Working with people in other parts of the country or in other country’s all together seems pretty common these days, maybe making the emcee less involved in certain aspects as the beat comes together. Has being part of the beat making process something you have ever enjoyed?
Anonymouz: I’ve definitely been a part of the beat making process. I’ve only once made a beat start to finish on my own and that was nearing 10 years ago, but I’ve worked on lots of beats. On the Smoking Joints album I did the bass on most tracks, sampled a buddy playing live, and played his sound out on the keyboard. I studied piano and guitar for a while and it revealed to me I got a good musical sense. But the thing is, I get crazy beats in my head all the time, sick beats, but everytime in the past I’ve tried to put a beat down, it’s always evolved into something so different then what I had in my head, that I lost the interest of going to the machine when I had an idea to create. I also started to paint and breakdance but I stopped quick, and focussed all my efforts on MCing, any time I didnt spend improving was lost time. I’m ninja about my craft. Plus why would I need to make beats when I got Sythe and Scarfo? But I do work with Sythe sometimes, putting bass on his shit, or giving him suggestions as to what might work. He’s a G-knee-us but seems to trust my musical sense i guess so he lets me backseat drive the studio at times. But that technical shit is his shit, I just direct at times. I’m an MC, that’s my thing. Giving the best contribution I can requires that I fully invest myself in that. The most involved you’ll hear me on a beat is on the Ill-Legit crew project we’ve completed and are preparing to launch, I had a lot to do with the arrangement there.
Beautiful-Lobotomy: What are your thoughts on garden gnomes?
Anonymouz: Gnomes of the garden variety. I don’t trust them. Any type of gnome is suspect in a conspiracy to take over the world.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of Smoking Joints! For that and more shit, check us out at www.ill-legitimate.com. Also check Ill-Legitimate on Facebook. On twitter @ILLLegitimate.
Look out for the Ill-Legitimate album! 12-12-12! Here to save us just in time before the end of the world!
Konica Silver Hexar AF
Kodak 400 Tri-X