sabato 31 maggio 2008

Melodious Monk Interview

Melodious Monk è un “MC/producer/DJ” (per usare la definizione cara a Madlib), ma non solo. Il musicista di Brooklyn, oltre ad essere un artista a tutto tondo, è uno dei continuatori della classica tradizione newyorkese, a base di beats pesanti e rime affilate. Le sue produzioni stanno iniziando a circolare (vedi l’interessante progetto Mighty Joseph), e sicuramente il suo profilo artistico sarà elevato dall’uscita di Dueces Wild del “compare” Vast Aire, per il quale Melodious Monk ha prodotto 5 tracce.
Lo abbiamo sentito per voi. Melodious Monk è uno da seguire, non dite che non ve lo avevamo detto.
Ovviamente, come sempre, intervista strictly in English

Bonus: Melodious Monk - A Serial Killer (prod. Melodious Monk) – CANTEEN OF THE DERANGED EXCLUSIVE!


Hi Melodious, do you want to introduce yourself to our readers?

Yes, my name is Melodious Monk. I’m a producer, lyricist, vocalist, visual artist, and engineer that found a home in Brooklyn NY, 192 Sands Street to be exact LOL!
And I’m a Monkey – (Just Kidding)

What about this fascination with monkeys?

The monkey is an intelligent animal; the monkey was the first to enter space.
My definition of a “Monkey” would be an animalistic intelligence beyond the norm.
This is what the “Monkey” possesses so it’s interesting to me.

There seems to be an aura of mystery around your persona, and this is particularly striking in an era in which hip hop seems to be all about swagger and “ballin’”. Why did you choose such a “low profile”?

Well in today’s era I believe that there are a lot of performers.
Only thing that’s missing are the true artist. What happened to the art form?
All that I see nowadays is the show, the attitude, the presence.
What if the majority of the world was blind? There wouldn’t be a need for videos. There would be no stage. The entertainment would have to come from emotion.
We would all have to paint pictures visually through sound, expressions, and tones.
I want to be known as an artist not a performer. When I create music I try to see what I hear if I can’t illustrate a scene through music I believe that I haven’t done a good job as an artist. I’d rather be Davinci than Van Gogh, Van Gogh cut of a piece of his ear for attention. Davinci was an artist often felt but rarely seen so I stay on the “Low”.

Where does your name come from?

Melodious Monk is a character I created.
Think of your favorite actor. An actor has to become a character and bring that character to life; they make you believe that the character is real.
Melodious Monk is just that, it’s my character.
Other than that I’ve always loved the name Thelonious Monk “the jazz musician”, but my name came from the word “Melody”: I play various instruments and I love anything that has a striking melody. Everything I create begins with the melody first so therefore I called myself Melodious. Monk is simple, its slang for “Monkey”. On the Guns album I explain it on the track Ghost in a shell. I hope y’all get that album, its personal.
Guns is out now, all major internet stores, come to my myspace page and get it!

How did you get involved in rap and producing in particular?

Rap was and still is an art form that I always wanted to master. It’s a greater form of poetry, it’s a greater way to speak to the world through an urban code, it’s a language.
I started rapping when I first heard Slick Rick! Ever sense then I’ve been speaking the language.

As far as production, that’s a long story so I’ll try to cut it short.
My brother Yesmar is a musician he played and still to this day plays various instruments. He inspired me, when I was younger he use to leave a lot of his instruments around and I learned to play them.
When I was in high school I use to rhyme with Vast Aire, Vordul Mega, Karniege, and Massive Jugganott we use to go to Vordul’s crib and take audio tapes and loop them to create beats on his tape player. Yo! It was hilarious every track had the sound of the tape record button being clicked on each bar!
In 1999 I got tired of going to different studios so I saved up some loot and purchased my own. When I finally got the MPC 2000 XL then I really started producing.

Your sound is deeply rooted in the classic New York boom bap. How did you develop your style?

I listened to Leaders of the New School, Black Moon, Black Sheep, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang. When C.R.E.A.M. came out I was buggin!
Now what’s deep about this is the fact that all of the artist I just mentioned had production that consisted of “Break Beats”.
A Break Beat is the original foundation for hip hop. All of the hottest songs that came out in the classic era of hip hop were based around a drummer’s “Break Beat”.
That’s how my style developed, I started to study deeper than what a particular producer did, I started to study the source. I studied jazz, I studied there timing, and soon I begin to understand the formula. Recording live and playing instruments has a lot to do with it also, though it may sound like I sample I don’t often. I may sample a voice and that’s it, but any sound you hear on a track that I’ve produced was played by me. One of my secrets that I’m not afraid to share is that I sample my own compositions.

What are you trying to bring to the table in terms of sound?

I’m an artist; I want to pant pictures with sound, when the track plays I want you to already know what the song is about. The sound I’m trying to create is called illustrative sound. We are all artist, instruments are our utensils, and an idea is the canvas.
It’s on us to make a masterpiece.

The NY hip hop movement seems to have lost some shine, and somebody says it’s because NY rappers (and producers) copy the Southern trends. What do you think about it? Is New York ever coming back?

I agree, many NY rappers (and producers) have become followers and they lack creativity and artistry. Producers as well as lyricist are focused on that “American Dream”: the MONEY! They will copy anything that can bring them that fast money.
I’m not knocking that hustle but that’s the problem.
I believe that culture has to be preserved.
Example: I’ve gone to a Caribbean restaurant and the chef is not Caribbean.
It’s nothing wrong with that but when I taste the food it’s going to be missing something.
Here’s the point, if you’re from the South I expect to hear southern trends, make that southern country fried stake.
If you’re from NY why can’t you keep cooking up that NY quarter pound beefy burger? The only way for NY to come back is if the chef’s stop trying to cook what they weren’t raised on.

You hooked up with Vast Aire and, among other things; you produced some cuts for both the Mighty Joseph and the Dueces Wild albums. How did you get in contact with him?

Me and Vast have a lot in common and he was always like a brother to me. We use to have a group in high school called “The Ecriptical Druids” it consisted of Vast Aire, Vordul Mega, Tyson Jones, Massive Jugganot and me. We were some weird dudes LOL! But we were all artist. We went to Washington Irving High School.
Karniege is also another close friend of mine, we all went to the same school. Vast and Vordul were the first to get there feet wet in the industry of music as Cannibal Ox and fortunately I was able to run back into Vast in 2003 when he was recording tracks with Karniege.
To be honest Vast Aire is one of the reasons Melodious Monk exists.
No matter what someone says about him he always looks out for the best interest of everyone he knows, by him having faith in my music it was able to be heard.
Vast has always been in my life off and on since high school.

Did you feel any pressure in working with someone with such a distinct style and sound?

No, working with Vast is fun. Vast is unique, every track that I created for him I studied… I would sit there and say ok he’s going to flow on it like this and what amazes me is how he will always surprise you with the unexpected. There’s no pressure, it’s all science. Me and Vast search for artistic sounds, concepts, and try to keep it as real and gritty as possible.
Straight New York Hip Hop. Dueces Wild is amazing: it drops June 24th 2008!
Listen to that album and study it, it’s a complicated card game to play.

Frankly, I think the last couple of years have been quite bad in terms of what hip hop has produced (I think hip hop is too commercial now), but recently I have seen that things might change. New cats have surfaced with skills and charisma. People like yourself, but also Joell Ortiz, Jay Electronica, Elzhi and Wale (at different ends of the spectrum) seem to have that spark that hip hop needs. What do you think?

Yeah Joell Ortiz, Jay Electronica, ELZHI is amazing! Wale, and wait Blu & Exile (Did you hear that album Below The Heavens? BANGIN!!!!)
They are bringing the force back into hip hop!

I agree with you, I also think that Hip Hop is way too commercial now.
It’s just like what I said earlier. There are a lot of performers. Don’t get me wrong, performing is a talent, when I say performers I’m referring to individuals that focus on material things rather then there material. Material things always loose value as time progresses but good material can build something that is priceless.

Is there any hope for hip hop?

Yes! I believe that there is still hope. When struggles in life occur you start to hear the voice of pain respond. The voice of pain is the strongest, the outcry is heavy.
Look at the gas prices, watch, some dude’s car is going to run out of gas in the middle of nowhere and he’s going to come back with one of the greatest albums in history! LOL!

What does the future hold for Melodious Monk?

Melodious Monk is a different type of character; I hope the story can keep going.
It relies on the listeners, if you keep searching for Melodious Monk he will always exist.
If you stop, sadly he may disappear, so keep searching so that Melodious Monk can keep creating.

Can you talk about your current and future projects?

1st: I’m currently working on Dueces Wild with Vast Aire.
Dueces Wild
is a mysterious card game that I’m still learning how to play.
Vast Aire lays down the rules very clever but you have to really dig deep into all of the lyrics to understand. When you hear the album, don’t take a line that sounds simple as surface, its way deeper than you can imagine. It’s sort of like the game of “Spades” someone might play it and say, oh this is easy I have an Ace of hearts I’m going to win this book, but they didn’t read there hand, because there opponent is cutting hearts. It’s deep. I produced five tracks on that album: T.V. Land, Take 2, Back2Basics, Graveyard Shift, and The Man Without Fear.
The album drops June 24th 2008 show your support and pick that up the first day people.

2nd: I’m working on the new Melodious Monk album title The Forbidden Drug.
This album is intense… Musically, and lyrically, it focuses on the art of story telling but the main subject is “The Forbidden Drug”: similar to my first Japanese import release Guns this album has a deeper meaning to the title.
I'm going to give you a sample of what that album is going to taste like, listen to the track A Serial Killer: here’s a ruff advance copy exclusive for you.

There is much more music in the workings!

When will you be coming to Italy to play?

I’m going to try with all my might to get there ASAP, I love Italy.
Italy is the definition of BEAUTY! Italy is truly outstanding.
It would be an honor to play.

Any last words for your fans?

Thank you for the support; I’m a fan of each and every one of you.
Stick around don’t go anywhere this is just the beginning.
Feel free to stop by my myspace page anytime ( and drop me a line or two.
On June 24 2008 go and get Vast Aire’s new album Dueces Wild.
Be on the look out for The Forbidden Drug.
Have a safe 2008, and I will see you all soon.

17 commenti:

reiser ha detto...

Il tizio non lo conosco e, a parte il nome, un ascolto proverò a darglielo. Solo una nota a parte: perchè i cosiddetti artisti devono SEMPRE spararne una grossa? Limitare il flow di stronzate allo standard post aperitivo li renderebbe meno credibili? Mi riferisco ovviamente alla sublime perla "The monkey is an intelligent animal; the monkey was the first to enter space", una cosa che posta in questa sequenza fa sembrare Illa Ghee e la sua strampalata teoria che il mondo sia dominato dai Windsor (cfr. intervista su rapreviews) una chicca prodotta dal gotha dell'intellighenzia mitteleuropea

Grande Antonio però per tirar fuori soggetti così bizzarri, personalmente quando sento un certo jive talkin ho la corda della uberstronzata che vibra e che mi fa venir voglia di sentire se la stramberia ha un corrispettivo musicale di pari interesse

reiser ha detto...

Ah, dimenticavo... il disco di Blu & Exile è soporifero. Exile come produttore per me vale ben poco, eccetto So(ul) Amazing. E quello di Blu e dell'altro sotto il nome di C.R.A.C.C. è una trishteria e basta.

Antonio ha detto...

Vabbe', diamo anche il beneficio del fatto che non e' che gli intervistati avranno tutta la voglia del mondo di rispondere. Melodious Monk ha un nome bizzarro, e tanto basta.
Pero' resta impresso, dai...
Per me Melodious e' molto bravo come produttore, e se la cava anche come rapper.
Parentesi: leggiti le interviste a Necro e Agallah su questo blog, e la frase sulla scimmia ti sembrera' MOLTO meno strampalata. Rappers e produttori, da Talib Kweli in giu', quando parlano sembrano degli idioti (RZA compreso). Due eccezioni: GZA e Killer Mike (due!).

Parentesi due: concordo su Blu e Exile. per me Blu e' soporifero come rapper. C.R.A.C.C.? Non esiste, e' una tua invenzione. Neghero' sempre che Ta'raach abbia fatto una merdata simile.

Parentesi tre: sei d'accordo con me che fra hipsters e "post-tribe" rappers (categorie che spesso si intersecano) ci sono pochi esempi di gente che vale? A volte la situazione e' piu' triste che nel caso dei rappers mainstream...
Anzi no, ma ci siamo vicini.

Fammi sapere di Melodious Monk, ok?

Marty aka Marty Mcfly ha detto...

Bel lavoro!


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