Producer/Emcees are becoming more prevalent in Hip-Hop. Legendary producers Large Professor and Lord Finesse have proven their effectiveness both behind the boards and on the mic. Dr. Dre, Ced G, and Pete Rock have paved the way for modern day artists such as Kanye West and our featured artist, The BORNCrisis, who perform songwriter, performer and production duties. Recently we had a chance to talk to Crisis about being a producer/emcee, his upcoming projects and the future of Hip-Hop.
So where are you from?
BC: Originally from the West Indies, Trinidad to be specific.
You’re from the West Indies; however, you wouldn’t be able to tell that just by listening to your music. You rhyme as if you were born and bred in the U.S. Is there any reason for the absence of your native accent in your music?
BC: (Smiles) Man I listen to cats spit in their native non American accent and it always sounds odd to me almost all of the time. I think if the people mostly hearing my music were from back home it would be different. It’s like that show on HBO, The Wire. That dude who plays detective McNulty is British. They could have worked it somehow to where dude spoke with his native accent but it wouldn’t have come off the same to the American viewer, see what I’m sayin? On top of that I just want people to understand the lyrics too.
How’d you get the name BORNCrisis?
BC: I used to go by the name J beats (Jamal Beats) but I thought it was too generic. Seen alota cats with that name on the internet too. So I was like “what name would most describe me?” You know? Seem like the way things have always gone for me is good things from drama you know, thus the name BORNcrisis (Born of crisis).
How long have you been in the game??
BC: Been makin beats for a few years, about 7 or 8. Started out on the MTV music generator. I know some cats will know what I’m talkin about. Recently started takin the lyricism thing seriously in the last 2 years.
You are travelling down the road that legendary artists such as Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Large Professor and Dr. Dre have paved; the road of the producer/emcee. You provide an ill blend of sample based music infused with your own keys, horns and strings. How do you maintain your focus on lyricism while creating bangas from behind the boards?
BC: Man that’s a good question. Know thyself! That’s where my head is at. It’s all good doin what’s “hot” and all that but if you not really feelin what you doin, what’s the point, you know? A lotta times I feed off the beat and it may not always be mine. Then sometimes one of those life events come along that motivate you to write. As far as the beats, they just come from somewhere; I guess inspiration from something outside myself is the best way I could think to describe it. I might hear a part of a song and picture it as a sample and it comes together. Also I’m not one of those cats who have 700 beats on the internet and the majority of them so-so compared to a few. I only complete a beat if I’m really feelin it. Then I put it on the net.
Trust me, I know what you mean by cats having a zillion beats online and only 5-10 that are worth a listen. It’s good to hear someone who is concerned with quality instead of quantity. So how easy was that transition, from producer to emcee that is?
BC: It wasn’t easy for me. I mean I always used to rap the lyrics of a fav song since way back like everybody else but recording especially made me realize how much goes into it. How focused you need to be, how you need to control your breathing and not only stay on point with the beat but have your voice flow along like another instrument. All this while enunciating properly.
What album(s) inspired you to become an emcee? A producer?
BC: Actually it wasn’t an album that inspired me to emcee; it was this dude a few years back called Angry Mofo. He basically convinced me to try and I did. It wasn’t that pretty in the beginning but that was where it began. To be brutally honest, I never liked the sound of my voice recorded. I guess back then I didn’t think I had that gritty battle rap type flow, but now it’s like cool that I have a different sound than other dudes. The most influential album for me is ATCQ Low end theory but I think more than an album there’s one dude who made me wanna make beats. Rza
People have the tendency to categorize emcees based upon their skills in lyricism. The content of your songs may urge someone to put you in the same category as Common or Mos Def. How does your music differ from that of your fellow emcees?
BC: I would take it as a compliment if I was put in that category. I think one thing I try to do though is write in a way that somebody listening doesn’t have to be a CIA code breaker to get what I’m sayin although it might not be totally straight forward either. Dudes can keep it simple and interesting at the same time, you know?
Consciousness in present day Hip-Hop seems to be non-existent. However, you use the voice of Hip-Hop as the vehicle that transports your message to the masses. Your song “None of Us Are Free” holds true to that statement. What was your motivation to create that song?
BC: OBAMA! Man I heard that Solomon Burke joint a few days before Obama got elected and it was one of those things where I was moved man. Then election night Obama got elected and I was in shock probably like most black people. The lyrics just poured out. Without a doubt the best thing I’ve written and the best delivery imho.
President Obama’s landmark victory was undoubtedly a huge inspiration for Hip-Hop. How do you think this historical event will affect the lyricism of your peers?
BC: I think Hip-Hop in general is sort of a reflection of how the Hip-Hop community thinks in general. I think people in the community will have to re-evaluate how they view the world and themselves. This will work its way into the music I believe.
How would you describe the current state of Hip-Hop?
BC: Transition man. The fact that people are talking about the state of Hip-Hop is a great thing. Things go in cycles and I think we will start to see more thought provoking type artist, especially with the material success and recognition of artists like Common. Personally I believe Hip-Hop shouldn’t only appeal to a certain demographic. I want different types of people to see my lyrics and be affected in some way. I think that’s why I’m a fan of Bob Marley. His music had that effect on people probably more than any artist I can think of, especially considering where he came and the humble background he came from.
When can your fans expect a full length album from you?
BC: Man…..I had a project in the works with my boy Abklectik from the UK. He does strictly production. It got put on hold because I didn’t want to put somethin out there just because it’s been about time for me to do something like that. I felt it was more important to put out somethin really good when I was good and ready. I’m sorta my worse critic, which is a blessing and a curse. Also music is not the only thing going on right now but it will be in the near future.
I feel you. There‘s so many musical acts out there that have oversaturated the airwaves which often results with the artists losing their potential for a long music career. What are you doing to preserve your longevity in today’s Hip-Hop?
BC: I think creativity is the key. Once you have that creative spark, I think you’re more than halfway there. I stay amazed at artists who have a great album or even worse, are one hit wonders and then fall off. I guess I don’t see how that’s humanly possible. If you had the ability to make one song or a group of songs that had such a strong effect on people, how could the rest of your music be wack? Seems to me if you are a really creative individual, that’s impossible. I dunno…
Will you be the sole producer for your album or are there any other producers that you’re working with?
BC: No. Me and Abklectik got that chemistry so I will definitely want him involved and I’m feelin this other producer [called] You Know.
What artist(s) are you working with on your album?
BC: Probably 1lla Funk and Bo Jeezy. I know other cats but those two I had the smoothest collaboration with. None of that havin to wonder where dudes head is at when you send them music for a collabo.
What crews are you affiliated with?
BC: Right now I guess affiliated with Mic Specialists, Abklectik. Cool with You Know too. I know other artists on MySpace but these are the dudes I have a productive workin relationship with.
What projects are you currently working on?
BC: Workin on beats perfecting my sound as usual and workin on track produced by You Know.
What’s next for BORNCrisis?
BC: Just making music and getting better at it. Right now I’m focused on making the best music I can and whatever comes as a result, so be it. I’m not seeking anything out currently but that may change. But I’m not as caught up as I used to be in building a rep as a good beat maker etc. It’s just about the music now which is working for me. My ambition right now is totally rooted in perfecting my sound for lack of better words.
How can other artists and your fans get at you?
What advice do you have for your fellow underground artists who are trying to break into the music business?
BC: That’s a hard question for me cause of how I feel about fame and exposure etc. Those things don’t really hold alota weight for me these days. I would say look at artist who are good at what they do and last in their profession. Their motivation is not fame and fortune. It’s the luv of performing and contributing to their craft. If only to be on TV is where your head is at, you headed down the wrong path. If you would not spend much time making music if there was no money in it, this might not be for you. Also take people’s advice, positive or negative, with a grain of salt. If you yourself feelin what you doin, then do you! Hopefully you are not in denial….
If you could describe your music in one word, what would that word be?
BC: I can’t. I would say I try to tap into something we all have but don’t always acknowledge. Whatever it is responsible for that feeling you have when you see or hear anything that makes you say “damn, that’s some deep ish.”