Kevlaar 7: To me there’s a constant stress; like a fog in the air…that’s the whole state of Michigan really, though. This was an industrial state where there used to be so many factory jobs, you could quit one and land a new job the next day and not give a fuck. Most of those smaller factories branched off of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, so when they go down, ALL of them go down. The housing market is FUCKED UP, the crime is high, unemployment is in the top 2 in the nation, etc, etc, et-muthafucking-cetera…
Bronze Nazareth: Yeah Michigan is sunk right now. A lot of people who’ve lost their job, can’t find a job, and standing in unemployment lines, then the unemployment runs out, and what’s left? Getting by however you can right? But Detroit, which is primarily an African American city, is one of those cities forgotten by politicians. It has remained racially segregated, and most people who get educated and find good work do so outside of the city, therefore abandoning it. Lack of revenue and corruption have led to crises in government, and the transit system, and half of the schools here have shutdown since 2005. Don’t get me wrong, many Detroit activists have been working endlessly on these issues locally, but these problems see little state assistance and funding compared to other regions. Coincidence? Unlikely if you ask me. Just look at other cities, where there’s a good number of African Americans and minorities– Flint, Newark, Baltimore, Gary, Memphis, these places usually round out the poorest cities as well. This is a high interest issue to me, and a lot of people want to say “get over slavery” but Black folks are owed for centuries of unpaid slave labor that built the roots of America’s economy, as well as we are owed money for years and years of being discriminated against on issues such as wage and employment matters endured since the 13th amendment. Detroit (and many other areas of the USA) still suffers from the the inheritance of slavery and its remnants.
Do you plan to continue to live there for the future?
Kevlaar 7: I will always have a home here, but I really want to move somewhere nice and quiet where I don’t have to worry about my babies and how they will handle certain things in this environment…
Bronze Nazareth: Me, I love it here. I don’t so much love the state and the economy here. But I think as long as you raise your children right and keep them out of the warzone, I’ll be alright here. I won’t leave willingly, if I leave I’ll be forced out by economic pressures.
That area has definitely been an extremely fertile ground for talented hip hop musicians. I'm hearing everybody rave about the new album "Gas Mask" by The Left and it's produced by a very skilled Detroit producer named Apollo Brown. I've seen "Black Day in July" mentioned along with his name before, how are you guys connected with Apollo Brown?
Kevlaar 7: Yeah there’s some ill talent sprouting from this place…That Gasmask joint is dope. You remember Cheehf? That’s Apollo Brown…well, shit, I’ll let Bronze build on that…
Bronze Nazareth: Detroit is Motown! This is the new era of Motown, the hip hop era. Soul was it back then, hip hop is the urban outlet now. As far as Apollo Brown, I taught him how to make beats, chop samples, pull out the basslines, etc. I gave him his very first program to make beats with, gave him the cool edit program he still uses to make beats with. I’m pretty sure he made the Gas Mask album with that program. He was once one of the Wisemen, back in the beginnings of Black Day and Wisemen Approaching but some ill things happened and we fell out. We’ve been reconnecting as of late, so look for some records in the future from us. He’s doing his thing and I wish that brother the best of luck. Oh, he did that Waters of Nazareth joint from back before The Great Migration too.
[Bronze Nazareth - Waters of Nazareth (produced by Cheehf/Apollo Brown)]
Have you worked with him on any recent material and when might we hear that?
Kevlaar 7: Yeah I just talked to him a couple weeks ago, and I’m gonna slide through there and check some of his joints and see what I can snatch up.
Bronze Nazareth: Yeah we’ll get down, sooner or later on some new shit.
What do you think of the current state of hip hop?
Kevlaar 7: I think the creativity and artistry is making a very strong come back. It’s been real watered down and exploited to the fullest by the biggest companies for about the past 6 or 7 years. Hip hop is EVERYWHERE. But the purity is making a hell of a comeback, for real.
Bronze Nazareth: I think this sales decrease we see is slightly bullshit. Commercially it’s harder to see your product out there, partly due to digital purchasing, and due to artists being able to upload and sell their own shit. It doesn’t take particular skill to call yourself a rapper nowadays, and home studios have turned the regular joe into a rapper so it’s completely oversaturated and buying may be more spread out so you have to build and concentrate on your fanbase nowadays. Hip Hop is still troubled.
The underground (for lack of a better word) scene seems to be thriving talent-wise lately, I feel like there are more and more PURE hip hop emcees and producers springing up, folks like Tragic Allies, the whole I.W.G. crew (especially A Man Called Relik), Noble Scity, that group I mentioned earlier The Left, and many, many more. That naturally gritty, grimy hip-hop-at-its-peak sound seems to be coming back, do you see yourselves as a spearhead to this reemergence?
Kevlaar 7: No doubt, we been doing this our whole careers, making music that we wanted to hear and that ain’t never changed, and it never will. It’s ill to be looked at as one of the leaders in that resurgence and at the same time connecting and building good relationships with all those you just mentioned, word.
Bronze Nazareth: Obviously this is our arena. We went through the bling era, the hipster movement, etc, now it’s back to quality hip hop because people are living real life and not these gimmicks. There is a need to relate, and hear a bit of yourself in music now, the majority of people aren’t popping bottles and making it rain, and splurging everywhere they go with 8 cars and a mansion. I think that, though people like to party and imagine a better life, more so people want to know that artists are seeing what they see, feeling how they feel and going through regular life too. Also, the underground is more and more independent, so creative control is back to an all time high. Not as many artists are being asked to give hits, because they control their own sound. It’s definitely a time for us.
What do you foresee or hope to see in the future of hip hop? With so many true emcees (like yourselves and the ones mentioned in the previous question) coming up but almost all of the record company dollars going to more commercial, watered-down "American Idol"-type acts, do you think a big change or revolution in the hip hop industry is on the horizon?
Kevlaar 7: That revolution is here already…you’re witnessing it. It’s only going to grow.
Bronze Nazareth: Yes of course, it’s getting to a point that even the distribution companies are going to be obsolete, with artists uploading their own music. I see stores where people go in and hit a download station, and fill up their iPod, CDs are more than halfway out the door, and for artists who have built a name, the only obstacle is marketing and promotion. He who can grind the hardest, wins.
Do you guys approach your music as a therapeutic medium? By that I mean, if you weren't making any money from it, would you still be doing the same thing you're doing now?
Kevlaar 7: Most definitely. I been writing for too long, that shit is therapeutic to me mentally, as well as banging out beats. Ain’t too much money in this shit anyway, and that’s why A LOT of these fly-by-night so called emcees or “artists” don’t last too long. The shit’s got to be in your blood.
Bronze Nazareth: I’d definitely continue. It was therapy when I began, an outlet. So I just don’t know how to live without that release. This is why a lot of our music is life based.
Do you agree with this statement?: Most if not all of the greatest modern writers and poets of the past 15-20 years have been hip hop emcees.
Kevlaar 7: Got to agree with that. Who could it be? I would say Dr. Cornell West and Michael Eric Dyson, but they will tell you it’s been hip hop emcees as well…
Bronze Nazareth: I can agree to a degree. Writing in depth is a whole different monster than albums or verses, but there are definitely some great writers in hip hop as well as many in literature.
Do you think hip hop can or will be a major force for positive global change and unity as we move into the future? (Like Erykah Badu says, "It's bigger than religion, it's bigger than the government")
Kevlaar 7: It’s going to have to be. At the least, a major force within us as likeminded people and thinkers. Unity is the key though, just like with anything. The government has ulterior motives and plans that don’t even include us as common men and women. Religion can make moves as far as global change also within themselves and their own religion, but I’m not sure if different religions can work together because of all the wars and disagreements that have been going on and which will result from an attempt like that. KP [Killah Priest] was right man, religion divides. Straight up. Maybe if there was a real attempt to truly understand one another, in religion and just as a people in general, we may start moving toward what we need as a human race to survive and thrive together.
Bronze Nazareth: Yes, I think so. Imagine a Jay Z / Roc Nation led album denouncing police brutality studying cases such as DJ Henry or a West Coast album with artists such as the Game and Ice Cube and Nipsey Hussle album concentrating on Oscar Grant and similar political agendas. Will it happen? Who knows but we do know that some of society’s most powerful voices are hip hop artists. Imagine Lil Wayne – throwing a serious movement such as a March reminiscent of MLK’s efforts? In no way am I putting him above or equal to Martin but as far as a voice if used in the right way – he’s got the people’s ears right now. These big time artists have shown a capacity to change parts of society.
What do you think of this society's appreciation or lack thereof for true art?
Kevlaar 7: I’m always disappointed in that; it’s a lack of understanding that the lack of appreciation for this art is born out of. I had this woman hit me on Facebook about a month ago that I went to high school with, and basically she said “damn I can’t believe you’re some type of big ‘thug’ rapper now”…I had to laugh at that because she obviously hadn’t listened to our material, or has grossly misunderstood it. The only other way I could discern how she came up with that label of me was how I dress and carry myself in the pictures, or videos I have on Facebook. I would say there is a huge misunderstanding of the art of hip hop by these naïve, conservative, traditionalists. Much like their misunderstanding of Islam, for example. You have to do the knowledge on everything yourself so you can form an educated opinion or point of view, so you ain’t just talking shit out of the side of your neck, with ignorant points of view, sounding like a straight asshole.
Bronze Nazareth: I hate this lack of appreciation, because it’s something that can be fixed. I’ve sat with many people who were commercial music junkies. I like to ‘convert’ them. I like to help them look at what is so important about true art, point things out, highlight the thought that goes into this art. I can usually get them hooked on the true shit. But it takes time and effort to do this, and you can’t possibly reach everyone. So being that there is more people who casually listen, there isn’t many who will sit and really listen to the details, or they will hear what you are saying but not put any thought into it. At times it seems pointless to craft this poetry because it’s just overlooked. It’s like training for four years for the Olympics, only to have the judges disregard your efforts. Very disheartening.
What is your favorite art or artist outside of music?
Kevlaar 7: I would have to say mine is the art of acting. Denzel is THAT dude, yo. Gotta go with my man Don Cheadle too.
Bronze Nazareth: I like photography and visual arts, like album covers, still photos. A beautiful picture can take your mind in so many directions. It’s like freezing life.
Did you see the movie "Inception"? If so, what did you think? Would you ever write a song with that much complexity and elaborate structure?
Kevlaar 7: Hell yeah, yo that movie is sick. I watched it twice now and I gotta still watch it a few more times to catch everything. That’s my type of movie. If I wrote something with that much complexity I would have to look into making the song a movie. That shit is ridiculous.
Bronze Nazareth: No, still haven’t seen it.
Bronze, when I was first seeing your name on the internet about 7 years ago you had this lime green website with crazy animation and all kinds of amazing beats--what happened to that place? And will we ever hear those beats?
Bronze Nazareth: Well the designer Jordi for Jor-On retired that site. He was doing it out of love and decided he had to hang it up for that one. As far as those beats, they may be heard or not. I have a lot of beats just sitting here, no one has used and many of those particular beats haven’t been chosen. As we go along they may surface. I’m not really a fan of releasing instrumentals due to all the jacking and biting these days so maybe I’ll splash some verses on those and throw them out. People always ask me about those beats.
[Here's one of my favorites of those old beats, called "Taming the Iron."]
Years ago there was anticipation about an album called "Two Champions of Shaolin" where you and Moongod Allah were gonna go back and forth, what ever happened to that? Will we ever hear your half?
Bronze Nazareth: Moon addressed this a few times, he had some personal setbacks and wasn’t able to finish his side of things, so when I turned my half in, it ended there. It’s definitely a serious mix, I still have my half, but it’s a bit outdated with the kung fu sample laden parts when we laced in there, so I’ll keep it in the vaults for now.
Kevlaar, I know the world's been anticipating your upcoming first solo album, Die Ageless, ever since we heard the impressive sampler for it last summer. What's the status on that, how is it sounding, who is producing?
Kevlaar 7: Yo, I’m creeping up on the finish line with sniper’s precision on that joint. It’s 94% done. Only a few things left to do, and it’s sounding exactly how I want it to sound. As far as producers of course I got Bronze, myself; also Woodenchainz, J $crilla blessed me, and my man from Albuquerque, Central Intelligence. I’m letting a new track off the leash in a few weeks…
The sampler for the upcoming Die Ageless LP:
How about this new EP you have coming out soon, what can we expect to hear on there?
Kevlaar 7: Word, it’s titled “Who got the Camera?” and you will hear nothing but militant, against the mainstream grain, revolutionary material, and strong political statements. I’m bringing together producers and emcees from all over the world, plus me and Bronze and we’ll see how the public is feeling that…It ain’t on no type of commercial shit, only real life.
Will it be a digital-only release, or a CD available in stores?
Kevlaar 7: It will be a digital release, maybe physical later on, but digital is really the path to take nowadays, most of these fans nowadays ain’t purchasing the physical.
Bronze, your next project has been my most anticipated album for years now. Tell me about School for the Blindman and when we might hear it.
Bronze Nazareth: Next 5-6 months it’s guaranteed to be out here. I had to wait for some features, and wait out a situation so it could be released the right way, I’m on track, it’s done except for one song. Got some heavy features, the ones people wanted to hear on Migration are now on the joint and it’s that Bronze fire….look out for Bronzeman 2. Classic street poetry theatre.
You guys both did one of the best beats on Hell Razah's new album, and Bronze we've heard an incredible beat of yours on Vinnie Paz' last album and you did a lot of work on the 60 Second Assassin record, what other production contributions do you guys have coming up soon?
Bronze Nazareth: I did bout 80 percent of Timbo King’s album ["From Babylon to Timbuktu"], joints on Kevlaar’s album, me and Phillie started on “Welcome To The Detroit Zoo”, Salute’s solo “Diggstown” has a lot of my work on it, Illah Dayz’ solo “The Illahstrator”, as well as June Mega’s “Ultimate Proportions” all of which will definitely see 2011 release dates. Let it be known that I intend to release these joints for sure in 2011 with no label or distributor red tape, no politricks, I take care of business and if it were up to me, no pushbacks and BS would stop me. However, I’m in position to handle the rest on my own agenda, which means I finally have control and can call the shots. I’m also in the works on something big, with a bona fide gold and platinum proven legend, I won’t say who yet, because it’s in the legal stages and could still fall through so I don’t want to put anything out there yet.
Will you be touring soon or doing any in-store appearances to promote the new album that's just dropped, Children of a Lesser God?
I know you have many fans overseas, any plans to do a tour in Europe soon?
Kevlaar 7: Yeah, shout out to all our fans and fam from all over Europe, man they support us heavy there, it’s crazy. We have several shows pending out in Europe, and hopefully we can get some tours cracked off there too…just holler at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to bring Bronze, me or any number of the Wisemen out to your zone, and he will get it done!
I know you guys are tight with Cilvaringz [European Wu-Tang affiliate], have you worked with him at all recently?
Kevlaar 7: Yeah, hell yeah good brother right there man…me and him have passed some joints back and forth over the years, hopefully we can get something rolling soon though.
Bronze Nazareth: Yeah I did some work with him recently. It will surface soon. That’s my good friend though always.
What artists would you still really like to collaborate with? (Personally, I've been wanting to hear you guys alongside Cormega for a while.)
Kevlaar 7: Jay Electronica, Joell Ortiz, Mos Def..there’s A LOT man. The Horseshoe gang…of course Andre 3 stacks and Nas…someday…
Bronze Nazareth: Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu, Cee Lo Green, Goodie Mob, Joell Ortiz, Slaughterhouse, Andre 3000 as well, Jay Elec, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, I could go on and on….
Kevlaar 7: Ya’ll will be hearing A LOT more from us and the whole Wisemen crew through the rest of this year and ALL YEAR next year so get ready to fill up a whole iPod with our shit…word.
Bronze Nazareth: This will be the year for us as far as releases. No more waiting for these releases. We have heat stored up and ready to blast, fuck the politics this year we’re done with the holdups!