Haastattelussa Stockton-räppäri Brainwash.
- What’s up, Brainwash? How are you today?
What up, JP? I’m good, man. Just another day of running non-stop on this hamster wheel. How are you doing, my friend?
- I’m good, bro! Ok, let’s start with some basic questions. Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure. I’m a recording artist, producer, musician, filmmaker, writer, studio engineer, mixer & master, graphic designer & all around multi-dimensional media artist and owner of an independent record label, movie production, publishing & graphic arts company called Sykadelik Entertainment and recording studio called The InstruMental Ward which I’ve been operating since 1989, although from then until 1998 it was called X-A-Q Shunn Muzick and in ’98 I renamed it Sykadelik – which is my Brainwash / “Batman” professional life. Then I also own/operate some other businesses in my personal, “Bruce Wayne” life as well. I’ve been around and worked with some of the biggest names in music, movies, sports, you name it – some on a strictly professional level and some who I consider genuine friends, but I always make sure that I remain humble and approachable always – I never let any accomplishments, accolades or experiences inflate my head. I think it’s important to always stay grounded in whatever you do.
My musical origins trace back to Elementary School when I played the drums in the school band in 5th & 6th grade then continued that in Middle School as well. I started really doing music myself as a rapper/producer in 1989 as part of a group in my hometown called Stockton 187 then the following year I branched out to do my own thing as a solo artist. So in total, I’ve been active since ’89, so 31 years ago – although I did take a couple years off at the end of the last Millennia when I had to “go away to camp” for a bit, and then in 2007 I hung it up for what I thought then would be for good and stayed absent from the game for a decade, before getting back into the shit in 2017 – as I began to work on my first new music in 10 years really – 21 of those 50 songs became my 2018 album “Amygdala” and another handful of them followed that up as the underground accompaniment release “Purgatory” later on that year as well. So, in that little-over 3 decades in this game, I’ve done over 2000 songs in all – many of them becoming my 39 music releases. In total, I’ve done 54 overall projects in that time.
I grew up in Stockton, California – which is about 45 minutes south of Sacramento and a little over an hour north of Oakland. I was born in Virginia and lived in Florida for a brief time in my childhood but moved to Stockton in the 80’s and subsequently grew up there. Then in 2004, I moved to Vegas and called that home until 2007 when I relocated again, this time to Arizona, and I’ve been here since. As I mentioned, I’ve had my hands in a lot of different creative projects over the years – but the main one that really cemented my legacy in the beginning is the one I always found my way back to, no matter what direction my career has taken me over the years, has been music. I’ve ventured out into a few different genres over time but the one I’ve always excelled most at and achieved the most success with throughout my life has been what I’ve always labeled Sykadelik Music – an unique spin on the hip hop genre obviously – but kinda in my own little sub-genre that never really fit neatly and nicely in any other box, so I took to calling it Sykadelik Music and that’s pretty much what’s always been “home” to me as an artist.
- What inspired you to start rapping?
Well, I’ve always had a way with words. I was writing short stories and eventually full length novels, poetry & even movie scripts and what not when I was very, very young. Most kids were still learning to read when I was writing stories. I was that kid who grew up in poverty, didn’t have shit & had a difficult time making friends so I’d just stay in my own little world and relied on my imagination to occupy my mind and solve my boredom. I didn’t have toys or anything and I was an only child so I spent the bulk of my free time writing and reading because I really had nothing else to do and from that was born a love for it. I was kinda “gifted with a curse” of being an exceptionally smart kid – so I’d learn the school curriculum being taught at such a quick pace that I’d end up skipping ahead on schoolwork to fulfill a thirst to learn and to keep from becoming bored out of my mind in class. I mean, I’d have the entire year’s schoolwork completed in just a month or two so I often found myself so bored out of my mind with class that I’d act out and get into some mischief. They had to keep advancing me into more challenging classes to keep me from going crazy in school because I just picked up on things, adapted and learned very fast and eventually, the schools didn’t know what to do with me. So I found myself with a lot more free time than most kids and being young but placed in classes with older students – that proved to be a problem for me to fit in, and then when I was around kids my own age – I had nothing in common with them at all – so I had a tough time making friends and finding groups to fit in with, so I typically stayed to myself and explored these imaginative worlds I’d create with writing – and that was much more exciting and fulfilling to me than the real world was anyway. At nights, my Mom always had to work – most of the time at 2 or 3 jobs to try to make a better life for us, but being so poor – we couldn’t really afford child care, so I’d wind up having to come to work with her and she’d be bartending or whatever and she’d just stick me in a booth in the bar with a pad of paper and some pens and tell me to stay there. So I had to entertain myself somehow. As I mentioned, I didn’t have toys or anything really, so it was just a pad of paper and some pens that my Mom would take out of the boss’s office or give to me from her own stash once she eventually later became one of the bosses, and those were my toys. I’d have to sit there and entertain myself, so I’d just start writing stories. So I always had a fondness for writing, as far back as I can remember. Musically, later on in life – I eventually got a walkman and I’d be sitting in those booths in the bar with the headphones on and writing stories and eventually that writing just took on a rhythmic style to it and just kinda became lyrics. In addition to that, being in the bars that my Mom would work in – there was usually some 80’s rock cover band and I’d just watch the drummer intently, playing along with the music by banging on the table as I sit there. Eventually I caught the attention of the band and they’d bring me up there and let me play drums with them, and the bar goers got a kick out of that – this little 8 or 9 year old kid playing “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan and nailing the performance. LOL. I couldn’t sing for shit but I was a badass on the drums. When I discovered hip hop, I just really found a love in that genre of music that was unlike any other for me. Being a drummer, I was always focused on the drum patterns in music the most and hip hop just had that percussive rhythm to it that I was really into. Since I was already writing poetry – it was just a natural progression for that to evolve into rap lyrics. Of course, I wrote to other artists’s instrumentals at first, probably like most young rappers did in their early days of it back then and then that turned into a passion for it that I really started chasing as a dream in the 80’s as something I really wanted to do with my life so I began to figure out creative ways to make my own music with very limited amounts of “equipment”, which was in no way, shape or form designed to do what my ingenuity allowed me to rig the shit up in a way where I could put my own music together and by 12 years old I was recording original songs. They weren’t any good. LOL. They were terrible, but they were mine and nobody else I knew was doing that or would even know how to do that. So I was proud of it. I started making these underground tapes and dubbing copies of them and bringing them to school. Damn near every rapper from my era has their “selling tapes out of the trunk” story. I eventually did that too but my origin story was me selling tapes on the school bus and at school really, although the bulk of the “money” made was in trade – it was like a tape for 3 lunch tickets or something. LOL. I was hustling even then. And even though the music sucked, it was something original that I created that couldn’t exist without me so I was proud of it and the kids at school dug it just because of that alone. And hearing someone represent Stockton on a song wasn’t common at all, there really weren’t any other rappers putting it down for the 209 back then. I mean, there were a couple who came along and may have even been doing it around the same time that I started doing it, I’m not sure – I just hadn’t heard of anyone else at that time. It wasn’t until like ’91 or ’92 that I first heard other rappers making songs from and about Stockton.
- What is the first album you ever owned? How did you acquire it?
The Fat Boys debut album, self titled, 1984. My Mom got it for me on vinyl. We didn’t have much when I was growing up but we did have a little record player in the house that my Mom would always play music on. I kinda grew up listening to music that my Mom would play. A lot of Motown, John Lennon, Elton John, Gloria Estefan – that type of thing the most. But she got me that Fat Boys record after I heard it. A buddy had the cassette tape and had a boombox and I remember hearing that and falling in love with the genre right away. So I begged my Mom for the record and she got it for me and I played the shit out of it. LOL. After that it was Run DMC. I tried to self-teach scratching records and wound up fucking up the record needle and the records too, I remember my Mom was pissed. But I was hooked on rap from those days forward. In the 2nd half of the 80’s, I eventually discovered the L.A. rap scene and was really into shit like The World Class Wreckin’ Cru (Dr. Dre’s first group) and Uncle Jam’s Army and Mixmaster Spade & Toddy Tee and later on Dazzie Dee, Fila Fresh Crew, Egyptian Lover, NWA and from The Bay – cats like Too $hort and eventually Spice-1 and Mac Dre. But really it was the L.A. music scene that caught my attention the most and really made me want to step up my game to really pursue a career in that field. Growing up in Stockton – most of the people I knew and later on most of the local rappers – all tended to connect with artists from The Bay Area and Sacramento the most. A lot of Stockton rap music is heavily influenced by artists from those places. And there were some that I definitely dug the music of as well, but it was really the L.A. rap scene that I most closely identified with and connected with. And I think a lot of that is what really made me so different from a lot of Stockton rappers that were doing their thing too – as the bulk of them are so clearly majorly influenced the most by the styles that came out of Sac and The Bay Area, where as I most closely connected to and associated with the SoCal artists – the cats from Compton, South Central, Long Beach and even sideways over to Texas too. So my energy was more geared towards that type of shit for some reason. It’s just the type of shit that I dug the most and it played a major part of influencing me as an artist.
- What did you start doing first, producing or rapping? How did you get started?
The very first thing I did was try to be a breakdancer but I was terrible at it. We had a little crew in the apartment complex and would battle other apartment complexes. LOL. Sounds dumb as fuck now but back then that was the shit. I wasn’t good though, I was fuckin’ terrible. So I started trying to rap while the other kids who were better at breakin’ than I was, would dance. I wasn’t good at rapping yet either but in our little crew, I was the best by far. You couldn’t tell me shit. When I met the dude who would become my mentor, 8-Ball (later known as The Black Rhino), it was only then that I really got schooled and realized just how much I didn’t know. And realized just how terrible I really was when I was listening to the shit he and his partner at the time, D-Cal, were doing – and their shit was so far ahead, by light years, from anything I was doing or anything that anyone else from Stockton was doing. Ball took me under his wing and it kinda made some people upset. This was 1993, and I had already made and put out like 4 underground tapes by then – the one that I mentioned earlier with Stockton 187 in 1989 – that was my first release, and then 2 solo tapes in 1990 (Welcome 2 Stockton), Poltergeist (1992) and then one with another crew I ran with in 1993, SMC, called Stockton Mafia Click. I was just starting work on my next underground tape Death Around the Corner (1994) when I met Ball and D-Cal – they were working on their debut album, “Point Blank Game”. They were called Da Bomb Threat at first, then changed their name to Black Rhino (the group). But I just remember them playing their shit and it was just so dope. Nobody in Stockton was doing shit like they were doing – it was some next level, professional sounding shit that was killing everything else local at the time. Ball saw something in me – a raw talent buried underneath a total lack of skill and felt like there was something he could work with there. He recognized my wide vocabulary and the way I’d put verses together in strong descriptive ways to tell a story like an author of fiction novels would and he felt like there was something there he could mold and take on as a project I guess. I was real young. When we met, I wasn’t even 16 yet, I didn’t even have a driver’s license. I didn’t have shit. LOL. I had a long way to go to become a dope artist, but he took me under his wing and started teaching me the mechanics of writing and I was kinda in awe of this dude’s talent and skill set. I learned production, mixing, engineering, etc – mainly by just watching his every move at first and trying to pick up on what I could that way, and asking questions. Ball was a firm believer in paying dues though, so he wasn’t going to just give me game. I had to earn it and learn it the hard way, he didn’t just lay it all out for me. I kinda resented that at first but in hindsight I appreciate it immensely. I had loved music my whole life, as I mentioned earlier – playing drums and rigging this fucked up karaoke machine and this cheap mall keyboard and what not to create my own music, so I had already been doing production myself on those underground tapes – but it was nothing compared to doing it for real, on real equipment, in a real studio and making real songs – like the type of shit Ball was doing musically and production wise. Rap wise, my shit was dope in our little circle but when I got around Ball and D-Cal, I realized that these dudes were playing NFL and I was still in Pop Warner.
Ball and I started working on some tracks here and there and eventually, he had me in a real studio doing real songs for a real album – what would eventually become my 1996 debut studio album, “Skitsofrenic”. We really started fucking around with ideas and concepts for that record in 1994 as far as the building blocks went and we recorded some demo versions of some of the ideas we had for songs, using some little cheap 4 track equipment we eventually obtained and then by 1995 we were in a real studio knocking that album out and then in 1996 I had released it independently and it really blew up and did very well for me. From then on, it was just on. I had come a very long way in just a couple years – picking up on the shit Ball was teaching very quickly, reminiscent of the way I picked up things taught to me in school so quickly. So it was really meeting Ball that completely altered my trajectory as an artist. That album really opened a ton of doors and led me down a path in my career that allowed me to reach heights I hadn’t even considered possible before. As time progressed, D-Cal and I eventually fell out and lost contact from 1997 until Ball’s funeral in 2012 – we hadn’t seen one another that entire time, unfortunately. I regret that. But Ball and I stayed close pretty much the entire time, and even when we kinda lost touch for a minute here & there as our lives eventually took us on different paths – we always connected back up after a bit and it was like no time had passed at all when we did, we just kinda picked back up where we left off. But he was really a person who played a very significant, major part in my development as an artist and in my personal life as well as I continued to grow up. Eventually, D-Cal quit pursuing a rap career I guess and when he did that, Ball (who had long since changed his name from 8-Ball to Crazy-8, shortly after we met actually) – he once again changed it and kinda assumed the name “Black Rhino” as his own and became “The Black Rhino”. But to me he was always 8-Ball, or Ball for short. I owe a lot of credit to Ball. Had I not met him when I did, I may have still eventually found myself as an artist – who knows? But I know that he played a very major, significant role in the development of Brainwash the artist, as I would eventually become known as.
- Who have you produced for? Who would you like to produce for?
I’ve always been heavy in the production aspect but mostly for my own projects – whether my own or for other artists on my label. The vast bulk of my music, I’ve done the production for myself. Of course, I always tried to include a Ball-produced track or two on my releases whenever possible. But the majority of my songs has been produced by myself. I produced the tracks that I did with MC Eiht, Prodeje of South Central Cartel, RBX, Nutt-So of The Outlawz and Domino from my “Amygdala” album. And most recently, I produced some shit for my new album that’s coming soon featuring Prod again and Dazzie Dee of Da Lench Mob too on a hilarious intro track that will kick off the new album. In addition, I produced a joint for RBX that is coming out on his new shit real soon that is super dope. It was gonna be on my new album originally but he loved the beat so much, he wanted it bad for his shit and I couldn’t say no to that. He’s one of the coolest, most humble and down to Earth, solid cats I’ve ever met in this game. So it was a no-brainer. I’ve been fortunate to have met some really awesome cats – Prod and Dazzie being 2 more. Just incredibly talented and really cool cats that I’m beyond grateful and humbled to have gotten to do work with and gotten to know as friends too, which is really cool. These are cats that I grew up admiring as artists from afar and then getting to work with them and chop it up with them has been epic as far as I’m concerned. Really cool. Lyrically, I appeared as a guest artist on Nutt-So’s last album and then I did a guest verse for Phonkey Dee’s last single featuring Imaan Faith, which was a cool party track and radio friendly type song that was fun to do. I’m working on some new tracks for my new album and hope to get a couple more cats on there that I was gonna work with on “Amygdala” but for whatever reason, that fell through. So I’m real excited about those opportunities too. I tend to keep my circle pretty small – I’m really not the dude who hangs out with a lot of people and affiliates with a whole lot of people outside of my own camp usually so I reserve the bulk of my artistic contributions to artists’s projects who I really dig and admire. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else, mind you. There are some artists I’d absolutely love to get down with in the studio, that list is actually pretty long. Damn near endless. But a lot of the cats who I love the most as artists aren’t even active in music anymore unfortunately. There are some though and a few of them I’ve got on this list of cats I may already have something cooking on the stove with right now actually, and I’m gonna keep that under wraps for the time being. I’m always down to explore new opportunities though and I’ll check out anyone’s shit who expresses interest in working with me. It’s just that, if I’m gonna do tracks for an artist outside my camp – it just has to be someone who has something meaningful and soulful to bring to the table. I can’t work with people who just spit a bunch of empty shit on wax and call it a song. The dudes who rap just to rap but don’t put anything meaningful out there – no real concepts to songs and just rap to rap and never have anything soulful to say – that shit isn’t for me.If it doesn’t connect to me on a deeper level, I just have a hard time finding interest in it. And the vast majority of the rap I hear today just doesn’t have that type of energy to it and I can’t feel it at all. And if that’s the case then it’s just not something I can get with. I’m in a place with my life and my career where I don’t have to do it to pay my bills and make ends meet. I’ve paid my dues, earned my stripes, made my mark and am in a place financially in my life where I do my art only if I want to and when I want to, so I can afford to be a little more picky these days than I maybe used to be.
- Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
Man, there have been a gazillion inspirations over the years. In the 80s, as I was saying – The Fat Boys and Run DMC were really my first major inspirations and then the SoCal rap scene is what really touched base and made me kick my shit into high gear. As that scene progressed and the shit just got doper and doper, it really fueled me to wanna do the same. Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” album and prior to that, The D.O.C.’s “No One Can Do It Better”. Ice Cube’s “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” and “Death Certificate”, NWA’s “Efil4zaggin”, Da Lench Mob’s “Guerillas In The Mist”, Eiht’s “We Come Strapped”. 2pac’s “Me Against the World” & “All Eyez On Me”. Spice-1’s “187 He Wrote” and “AmeriKKKa’s Nightmare”. Snoop’s “Doggystyle”. South Central Cartel’s “N Gatz We Truss”. Havoc & Prodeje’s “Kickin’ Game”. RBX’s “X Files”. Dazzie Dee’s “Where’s My Receipt?”. And then Bay Area wise, Mac Dre’s “Young Black Brotha”, Mac Mall’s “Illegal Business” and from Sacramento – X-Raided’s “Psycho Active”. These are the records, the certified classics, that really got me pumped. Black Rhino’s “Point Blank Game” and “Paper Route”. That was the type of shit that really got me inspired and kept me inspired. And those are just a small handful of the rappers who really influenced and inspired me in the beginning and continued to as time went on. These days, some of these cats are still doing incredible work and some of them are branching out beyond that and doing some other shit like cinematography and filmmaking and what not. Some are doing video game design and shit. It’s a beautiful thing to watch these cats chase their dreams and branch out into other avenues too and getting to witness them develop other artistic and creative aspirations and conquer different angles to it all and enjoying the journey too – that’s the type of shit that I feed off of. It gets me pumped to see someone creative who I respect really putting themselves into their art and making something unique that didn’t exist prior. It might just be me watching my wife do her creative hobbies maybe – she’s heavy into scrapbooking and card making especially and she’s amazing at making greeting cards. I mean, I see something like that – that isn’t even music related – and it really inspires me to wanna get active with my own creativity and go do something artistic myself again. Seeing my Mom do these amazing paintings that she does – it’s really cool. That’s what gets me hyped and motivated the most – other artists being creative.
- Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?
I’ve always taken pride in my lyrical content – incorporating a lot of double meaning riddles and metaphors and similes and analogies throughout the songs. I put a lot of astrophysical and science based, quantum mechanical references and what not into my songs. A lot of the shit I sneak in there kinda goes over people’s heads though. But I still enjoy encrypting a lot of hidden shit into my lyrics that many people never even realize is in there. Some people get it, I’ve had people break down my lyrical content and search my songs for this type of thing and some of ’em actually find most of the hidden shit in there. It’s fun to do and it’s a challenge. When you have damn near 2000 songs in your archives like I do, at some point you gotta try to do something elaborate in order to keep things exciting. At some point, you end up feeling like you’ve done a song about damn near every single topic you can possibly write about and you gotta find new ways to challenge yourself artistically. When it becomes too boring, then the passion is gone and then the art sucks. If I feel the shit getting to that point, I’ll just hang it up for good. I’d rather do that than try to force some shit on the people and end up releasing some garbage. I don’t ever want it to ever turn into that. But yeah, man – the amount of songs I’ve done out of the 2000+ I’ve got archived which don’t have some kind of hidden shit encrypted in there somewhere, I can probably count on 2 hands. There’s a hilarious intro to my new album that I kinda touched on earlier, that has Prod talking about just that – me calling him at 3:30am all drunk, talking about ideas I had for some songs that fans can count how many letters are in each word of each verse in a particular song and entering those numbers into a special calculator on my website that spits out a decoded phrase and shit. LOL. You gotta hear it, it’s pretty hysterical. But yeah man, I love to hide a lot of shit in my songs – both to challenge myself and to see who picks up on it. Ball used to find all the riddles in there – all the hidden shit. He’d call me at 3:30am telling me he figured out some of the riddles encrypted in the verses and that shit would get him pumped. Imagine doing something that inspires your mentor – there aren’t a whole lot of feelings better than that.
- What inspired your album Skitsofrenic? Can you tell us about the process of putting it together?
Man, that was the first one that really popped. As I was saying before, the bones of that record really started to manifest itself in like 1994. The concept of that album was originally formatted for cassette tape, being that side 1 was called the Sewaside (suicide) and side 2 was called the Hamaside (homicide) – side 1 having 7 songs of a crazy, horror-movie type style in the lyrical and musical content. And side 2 had more of the traditional reality rap type shit. Which is why the cover had me in front of the dead bodies everywhere, but in 1 hand I had this giant knife and in the other I had the Mac 11. Since the album was sold the most on CD over cassette – a lot of that concept was lost since there wasn’t a side 1 and side 2. But nevertheless, the album was received very well. The early concepts of the record began as a result of Ball hearing some horror movie type tracks I did on my 1992 underground tape Poltergeist. And he loved that shit so much he called me and told me I needed to do an album like that and he immediately started working on some tracks that kinda built off that style, he produced like 5 or 6 of the songs on side 1 that incorporated some of the sounds from The Omen, Children of the Corn, Halloween and other horror movies like that – turning them into rap beats and I just ran with the lyrical content being along those lines and it was super dope. And then on side 2, we did a lot of the more traditional gangsta rap type shit and it turned out to be a certified classic album that did extremely well. It went global and opened a ton of doors for me – got me into movies and on soundtracks, it just took off and wound up leading me down a path that I didn’t have access to beforehand. So I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that the success of that album afforded me. I had so much fun making that record too – it was before any successes really brought a lot of the drama and bullshit that tends to happen when young people go from virtually unknown to known on a widespread level relatively quickly. We had a lot of fun making that album and if I could rewind time back to any particular era to re-experience it again, it’d be that timeframe. It was just a lot of fun to explore the music but without the business part of the music business getting in the way and complicating things. I eventually put out a 15 Year Anniversary re-release of that album in 2011 and then a 20 Year Anniversary Collector’s Edition re-release with a bonus track and modified artwork in 2016. Hard to believe we’re coming up on 25 years since I dropped that record. Unreal to me. The fans constantly hit me up about that record. Although there have been many I’ve done since then that have far surpassed that one – it remains the favorite of mine by a lot of diehard Brainwash fans who have been rocking with me since the beginning. It’ll always have a special place in my heart. I may have to do a 25 Year Anniversary edition. I’ve got a ton of unreleased tracks from that era, from those recording sessions, that are on ADAT still. I just gotta get into a studio that has ADAT machines and get those tracks off those tapes. I might have to make that happen before 2021 and put them on a 25 Year Anniversary Collector’s Edition for the album. I haven’t even heard those other songs since 1995, 1996 too.
- Tell us a little about your upcoming album Acetylene, what can we expect?
Man, “Acetylene” is pure heat. I started working on it in 2019 but when the Covid shit hit in 2020, a lot of things kinda got put on the back burner for various reasons, so 2020 hasn’t been nearly as productive as I originally intended it to be. So I’ve got a little catching up to do on that. It was supposed to be out by September but it’s looking like December is more realistic. But maybe not ’til the early part of 2021 even. I don’t want to rush it. It’ll be my 40th music release and my 55th overall project release and is the conclusion of this particular album trilogy I started with 2006’s “Amnesia” (one of my best works to date) and continued with 2018’s “Amygdala” (another one of my best works to date) and will wrap up with this 2020/2021 “Acetylene”. Really dope shit. It’s gonna have a total of 24 songs on it – an intro, 3 interludes, 3 “skits” and then 17 new super dope songs. I’ve got some really big name legendary individuals on this project and some cats from my own circle and camp too. It’s already shaping up to be my best work to date, no doubt. I’m very excited about this one. There’s some production by Sean “Barney Rubble” Thomas on it – from the Death Row camp. He played the keys on 2pac’s “California Love”, for example, among many other classic joints. A lot of super dope music and vocals. I can’t wait until fans check this out. There’s a skit featuring The Roastmaster General Jeff Ross and one featuring Hassan Johnson who played Wee-Bey in The Wire, and he plays Wee-Bey again on the skit. It’s dope. The intro’s got Prodeje & Dazzie Dee on it, and a few others too. There’s a track with Nutt-So and I. Might end up being 2 of those when all is said and finished. Another one with Prodeje and I. There’s two with Ball and I for sure and possibly a third. There’s gonna be one with RBX and MoeZMD on it. MoeZ did a lot of production for 2pac and has worked with Morris Day & The Time, Prince, The Outlawz, John Cougar Mellencamp, scores of others. He’s one of the music industry’s most slept on producers and musicians, in my opinion, who doesn’t get a lot of the credit he deserves. But we’ve been talking about working together for a minute, it just didn’t happen for “Amygdala” but it’s gonna happen for this record – I gotta make sure of that. Another cat I was supposed to get down with on “Amygdala” that didn’t end up happening but hopefully will for this album is the homie Brutual Sinatra, maybe better known by some as Chip or Da Konvicted Felon. He was an original member of the NWA Posse and the group CPO – going back to pre-NWA days with MC Ren. He’s been a really cool dude who I’ve chopped it up with many times and he was actually supposed to do a verse on “Amygdala” but it didn’t end up panning out for whatever reason. But we’ve discussed doing something for this record, so I’m excited about that. There’s a really dope track featuring Pam Harris & Mad-Cel that’s on this new album, that I’m really pumped up about too. It’s just gonna be a really dope album. Just talking about it has me wanting to get busy back in the lab right now and go finish this shit up.
- How are you promoting yourself these days?
The music industry has changed a lot compared to the way we used to do things when I was coming up. As I mentioned before, I took a decade off from 2007-2017 and even before that, the game had changed a ton vs. how it was in the 90’s. But especially now. When I got active again in this game really in 2018, I really noticed how different things were from a music business standpoint. I mean, I was hip to the changes beforehand but it wasn’t until I had that (“Amygdala”) album done and really set out to push it that I realized just how significantly different the industry had become. Obviously record stores haven’t been a thing in a long time and magazines, etc – are all online now instead of being physical items you can hold in your hands. I feel like we kinda lost something in the process though. I’m still a physical copy type of dude. I gotta have the CDs whenever possible, I’d rather have a physical unit in my hands than just have an MP3 file on my computer. It’s not the same. It’s incredible how technology has completely changed the dynamic of everything really. Thankfully, I’ve had a very large “cult following” type of fan base who has supported me for decades in this game and who constantly and frequently interact with me and have purchased all my releases over the years, most of them through my website, sykadelik459.com. It was the fans, who call themselves The BRAINiacs, who first convinced me to get back into the studio and do some new music – they’d been hounding me to do that for for quite a while. So a lot of what I do is marketed directly to the fans – it always has been. The fan club was active in the 90’s, of course that was all done through P.O. Boxes and snail mail back then. But these days it’s via the website. And of course social media has been a major tool for that as well, Facebook mostly. The music’s available on the website, as I mentioned, and you can get it at any of the online sources too, like Amazon and Apple Music and it’s available for streaming on the services like Spotify and what not as well too. Signing up at my site as a BRAINiac though, that’s how you get access to special price breaks and exclusive content that isn’t available to just anyone, anywhere else. I encourage everyone to do that.
- Someone is making a film of your life, who will play you?
Great question. It’s funny you ask this because I’ve done a lot of screenwriting in my past and I’m currently working on my life story, in novel format, which I would love to eventually convert to a script and have it made into a movie. It’d definitely be entertaining, that’s for sure. Not a single page of the book or an individual frame of the movie would be boring. As far as playing me, man I don’t even know. That’d be a tough role to cast. I don’t even know, man. I think that’d be a tall order, as my personality is definitely an unique one so I don’t know who’d be able to capture that exactly right. I think everyone likes to think of themselves being played by some Hollywood leading man type actor, so I guess Leonardo DiCaprio. LOL. But it’d more likely be Paul Giamatti or something instead. LOL. You know who? Damian Lewis. He’s got the Irish look, even though he’s British. He’d probably play a great Brainwash. I mean, I don’t know if he can rap. LOL. He’d have to learn though if not, I can’t stand when movies overdub the performance parts because the actor can’t sing or whatever. Jamie Foxx was hella tight for what he did in Ray. Shit, and Dewey Cox. That motherfucker can really sing and he’s funny as shit. I loved that movie. But, man, Damian Lewis – he was great in Homeland and Band of Brothers and he’s incredible in Billions as well. I love that show. So, I’mma go with Damian Lewis. I think Brody can handle the role. He might have to gain a little weight though. Like how the actors go all “method” and lose weight for roles sometimes. I heard Christian Bale went on a strictly 1 can of tuna fish and an apple for like a year to lose all that weight to do “The Machinist”. And then he bulked up for “Batman Begins”. Shit was crazy. So Damian Lewis is gonna have to go on a strict diet of a handle of Jameson and several bowls of pasta in order to get in the right shape for his role as Brainwash. LOL.
- What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?
You know what bro, 99% of the music out these days – I just can’t get into. I listen to a wide variety of musical genres and artists – a really broad spectrum. I think a lot of people would trip out if they saw the playlists on my phone. Rap wise though, it’s really the 90’s “Golden Age” of rap – like the Death Row and Ruthless shit – which is my favorite, by far. That’s the shit I keep on heavy rotation. The shit out today, I don’t know bro – I just can’t feel most of it really unless it’s some shit made by cats from my era who are still making new music, then I’ll probably check it out and might even dig some of it, as long as it’s got some soul to it. If not and if it doesn’t connect to me on any meaningful level then I usually can’t get into it or get behind it. One dude I’ve really been digging lately though is this British rapper named Casisdead. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this cat? He’s got a big underground following in the UK but a lot of people I’ve spoken to about him here in the US haven’t heard of him, which is tragic because he’s really dope and unique with his shit. He’s got a different style and it’s kinda refreshing. I think he first came out like 15 years ago but I only got hip to him myself a few years ago. But I would say of all the new shit out today, I’ve been digging his shit the most. He’s got a couple really dope tracks that I find myself playing repeatedly often – Pat Earrings, Drugs Don’t Work and All Hallows are three that come to mind that I like a lot. So to revise an earlier asked question, an example of an artist I’d love to produce some shit for would be Casisdead.
- Any last words?
I appreciate the interview and the interest in my music, man. It’s been a minute since I’ve given an interview. I didn’t do a whole lot of public interaction with my 2018 “Amygdala” album. Prior to that, I did some press after 2006’s “Amnesia” and 2005’s “Current Events” but the bulk of that sort of thing I haven’t done since the 90’s when I went really heavy with it, from ’96 to ’99 mainly. So I appreciate the opportunity to get my feet wet with it again and hope some of your readers who maybe haven’t heard my music before get a chance to check it out as a result.
- Thank you for your time!
Anytime, bro. Thank you!
J-P / Fileerausveitsi
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