Tag Archives: Fareign Renaissance
This was my first Q&A ever. Rarely do you do an interview with a person you greatly respect right out of the gate, but I had that honor in interviewing Dynamics Plus from the hip-hop group The Lenzmen. Considered the “Dr.Dre of underground hip-hop”, Dynamics Plus has released classic album after classic album and continues to put his stamp in history with each release. Here’s the Q&A:
You’ve done a lot of risky choices in your career in the eyes of hip-hop audiences and have succeeded each time. Why do you feel there are such limitations that even “experimental artists” will have on their music?
I think I’m only successful because I am driven by my own definition of success. I pride myself on being creative, different and highly lyrical. As long as people say that I hit the mark, I’m good on all other accounts. Obviously, I face all the same limitations of resources and exposure that all artists do. I take an extra hit for being so left field, but I’m not really an animal that enjoys running in a herd.
I try not to limit my musical directions by what I think will sell or sell well. I can’t use mainstream media outlets like the radio or video channels to help decide what I should do next. That will always keep me in the box of experimental risk-takers. I’m fine with that since I only need enough exposure and $ales to justify putting out another record. I will always make music, but packaging an entire project and pressing it up takes a level of focus and commitment that still has to make sense and cents at the end of the day.
“What was the process in creating this album like as opposed to your previous albums??”
Battlestrux: Captain of a Starship kind of grew out of nowhere. After Chaos Legion I and II, I felt like I had done enough stories for a while. I was ready to dive back into freestyle joints, but every so often I would finish another starship story and soon realized I had half an album done without really trying. So I decided to stay the course and finish off the album.
Fortress of Solitude was pieced together very deliberately. 3 story joints, 3 freestyles, 3 songs etc…I picked songs from my raw-catalogue and rendered them. That’s where the “Interactive Construction Module” idea came from. I built songs like I was a scientist carrying out sonic experiments. Chaos Legion was basically a huge story arc and I wrote and recorded the songs in order. I basically lived out that adventure inside my studio.
Starship was simply a matter of me saying “What happens next?” I wasn’t even sure what was going to happen at the end. The mission is to investigate some kind of anomaly that’s destroying ships in a gravity well. That’s it. I kept the plot real simple, but buried all the extra meanings so you can only get caught up in the layers if you choose to. Chaos required a keen level of perception to really get it all. So far, the feedback has been that Starship is much easier to follow and I think that’s because of the linear nature …in the order of the songs. There aren’t any diversions or side quests to get lost in.
Character Voicing has been a big deal on a bunch of my story albums. Starship had a lot of different characters coming in and out and there are whole sections left to the ad-libbing characters to fill in. This definitely added to the challenge of pulling off an album with a huge cast of supporting personalities. In Chaos, I used the story to flesh out the personalities. In Starship, it’s all down to the ad-libs and what they choose to say that gives you the idea of how these characters would interact in different scenarios.
“Thoughts on the digital game”
It’s a double-edged sword. It’s much more cost effective to release music as MP3s than any kind of physical media. But the hitch is that it’s also much easier to obtain your music illegally and share it without any consideration. I see tons of Lenzmen songs as free downloads all over the net. People are even uploading scans of the physical CD like “Here, print this and make your own CD cover”. The peeps behind it are trying to spread the word and share our stuff, so where do I draw the line? I only hope someone gets an experience and likes it so much, they decide to support us on a future project and buy the music. One can hope, can’t one?
The best part about digital distribution and sales is the tracking of sales through sites like iTunes and Amazon. I get to see exactly what songs are people’s favorites from any album. The songs that I consider the singles always do well, but every so often I get surprised by something I really made just for me being appreciated and selling as well.
Thoughts on the relevant artist/groups of the 90’s still being dominant forces in the game …Nas, Jay-Z, Wu Tang..?
I see the parallel in sports, mostly boxing. There isn’t a new crop of cats coming up with enough raw skill to push the veterans out the door. So it’s a situation where the old heads are schooling the new generation at every turn. If you build yourself on ‘hitz’ then it’s always possible to run out of big hit records and fade. The foundation for a long career is based on skill and the ability to adapt to the changing landscape. Skills diminish much more slowly and for many of veterans, the bar was so high, it’s going to take a long time to degrade down to the level where most of the newer cats are coming in at. And that’s only because the new generation of artists and athletes are built up by endorsements and hype as opposed to their raw talent and skill.
“What is your favorite song on this new record??? Why??”
Um…that’s a tough one. Maybe “Space Kraken Awaken”. It’s a self-contained story that really sets up the rest of the album. I like the traditional arrangement with a hook and bridge- something I usually try to avoid with story joints. I feel like a traditional format reminds you it’s a song and not a narrative, but in this case it works.
Musically, it’s really out there and spacey without all the lazer zaps and filter sweeps. I feel the story captures some really special moments- like the engine room scene and the switch up to the bridge in the final moments. I feel like I’m right there when I hear this one. Yeah, it’s one of my favorites, for sure.
“What is your favorite Lenzmen album???”
One that hasn’t been made yet. We have so much more experimenting to do.
“What is the possibility right now of another Lenzmen album??””
Right now? All the Lenzmen are still active, so it’s really a matter of time. Pretty good -if we can figure out how to pull it together while we are all so far from each other.
“Where do you see the future for The Dynamics Plus Universe?? Upcoming projects???”
Centri has another full length album to follow up his Article 15 debut. Docktor Strange has his first solo album coming and Earthadox is building his studio and making music. So really, everyone has albums coming and I think after we get those out, it’ll be time to reconnect the continents. I’d like to finish off a bunch of planned releases. Doctor Atomics is certainly in my future and there are a good number of Story-based Universes that need to be fleshed out.
More albums, more music, more abstract sci-fi hip hop!
Hey, thanks for this interview Feenom.
I’ve had to be real patient. It all didnt happen right away. Even in the midst of the whole gallery art world I thought this was the greatest thing in the world, but there was more.
Known for pioneering a more abstract style of graffiti writing, Futura played a major role in the NYCs graffiti scene of the 70s. As the popularity of graffiti art flared in the 70’s and 80’s, Futura’s work was shown alongside artists such as Basquiat and Keith Haring. As his style developed, he began designing, and has collaborated with numerous artists and companies, including The Clash, Supreme, and A Bathing Ape. Get an inside look at his workspace and his love for b movies, video games and, apparently, all things Sony in the interview from “The Run Up,” courtesy of Walrus TV.