Saturday, October 15, 2011
Cloudy October Q&A
*UPDATE 12AM OCTOBER 18 - STREAM THE RECORD FREE HERE*
Dear Funky Lord Finesse, I got some questions for you, is that cool?
Ha. You caught the Lord Finesse reference, nice.
Let's start off by taking it back to the basics. What was your introduction to hip-hop? I think you're slightly younger than me, so I assume you didn't come up in the RUN DMC/Fat Boys cassette era like I did. I could be wrong though. What was your personal intro to this music and art form?
I love your style, that is a great assumption. I do the same thing when hip-hoppers are 3 to 4 years younger than me. Not only is it great from that angle but also because you are accurate. I was alive when that shit was going on and I was listening to those cats, but didn't have the cassingles or full albums. But I was more so into what my father was listening to. Which of course was my introduction to hip-hop. Listening to Above the Law, DJ Jazzy Jeff and that one guy, LL Cool J and a few others. My oldest and fondest memories are of Bonita Applebum and Me Myself and I being played on Rap City. Never knew I would be fully immersed 17+ years later but at the time I did really enjoy seeing those brothers killing it on television. Run D and Markie Dee came after those cats on my radar. I'm not a nostalgic cat, don't want hip hop to return to that but damn, those were good times. Innovation by way of being ones self, who would of thought? ill.
How did this new album The Metal Jerk come together? In technological terms regarding your recording techniques, your lyrical and thematic inspirations, as well as how you made the connect with Fieldwerk Recordings.
I made the Fieldwerk connect mainly because of Anthony Sanchez from Runaway Productions and Zavala from Dark Time Sunshine. Sanchez let me loose last year and gave me many opportunities to show out-of-towners what I can do. Dark Time was often in town because of their hard work ethic along with Sanchez. Zavala really dug my work and my brand and how I treated people so he told Crushcon7 from Fieldwerk about me. Crushcon7 is the Cobra Commander of Fieldwerk so once he and I started talking over the phone regularly, we bonded and started making plans. I am the only rapper on the label and I love the novelty of that. Like if they end up sticking around for decades, cats will look back and say that dude was the first rapper on that label. Or maybe first and last rapper if my shit flops. Cheesy sounding I bet, but it feels good to think about it with such plurality.
The idea to do The Metal Jerk was in my head really early because my debut is like a 17 minute record. I not only need(ed) more songs to have when I am doing long sets but also I still had a lot of left over samples and ideas since my debut that I didnt use. The Metal Jerks theme and concepts have been slightly evolving for many months. It's more of an album that is a proclamation of where I am creatively in the present moment, than it is a cohesive theme venture. That would be a cool band name 'Cohesive Theme Venture'. The Metal Jerk is full of flaws, just like its father, and I prefer it to be a reflection of such. My voice cracks a lot in the recordings, if one listens close to other music and then mine they will easily hear that I am still learning how to rhyme and make beats. As far as recording techniques, I am pretty regular there so far. I use the punch-function way too much in my opinion. Really every song went like this: Get high, write a verse. Sober up, finish those verses the next day. That rhyme sucks on that beat but works good on that other beat. Get high and record it. Listen to myself while high, I sound like a pussy, question my position in hip-hop, sober up the next day, record again, nail it sober, sober up and repeat. I still sound like a pussy, but a really wet one that people can maybe enjoy.
There's been a lot of talk about your mysterious nature. I've always thought you were trying to pull a fast one on me by insisting that your name is Genkai Yokomura. I had always doubted that was your birth name, and thought that was you getting your Sun Ra on with the local press.To quote my man Casey Jarman, "My God. Where did this man come from?....I feel like I don't know this guy at all." How do you respond to this?
Yeah, I get all sorts of reactions when people see my real i.d. My ideals and education are constantly evolving because of the time I spend investigating things and communicating with people who also do the same. In short, the way I dress and speak and make choices, even names, is subject to change, probably until I die. Most black folks that encounter my actual name know or have an idea very quickly, about why I changed my name. This is very telling of the separate nature of black and white life here in America. When Paten Locke, a black musician friend of mine, found out I changed my birth name. Without hesitation, he started joking with me about the reasons why I would change my birth name. The spill went something like ' Yoko what? damn, i know some fucked up shit must of happened for you to go through the trouble of changing your name. But, I feel you my brother, you been reading and you know that slave name had to go'. I smiled at him and said something that had a tone of agreement and pride. Any name I choose, including 'Cloudy October', was designed to give me opportunities to express something that many people I respect, feel is important. To make the invisible, visible.
Hip hop as a culture has always been very concerned with geography, whether it be the South Bronx versus Queens in the early years or West Coast versus East Coast in the 1990's or the rise of the Dirty South at the beginning of the new millennium. Yet your music seems to transcend these dichotomies. What would you attribute that to?
Damn sun, you're killing it on the questions, thank you. That is definitely due to the fact that I have grown up on both coasts and over seas and I am from the South. When you travel as a kid, its very difficult to have geographical issues in that way.You have to let go emotionally and start over. I have really never had a name or a home. My dad was in the Navy so we moved every three years. Also because I was raised to be myself, I never really needed to rep anything but whatever I felt like at the time. Even if often times it was something mad corny. Add my studies and its a rap, i mean, a wrap. I have a song called 'Name Yourself' on The Metal Jerk. Not my best song by far but for what it is conceptually, it's a small jewel. A line that says "I am not this skin or this place" is absolute. Skin color is a mutation if i remember correctly and where I am at the moment is just a place. Many people are willing to fight and possibly die over negative words about the neighborhoods they grew up in or a fucking sports team. This is a rare form of localized jingoism or something. I understand why but I also value others emotions too much to ever want to cause someone harm over any opinion. I hear songs often and it seems that rappers for several reasons, are having identity crisis or more so have bought into this 'this is what hip hop has to be like' type shit. Even as a teen I never used phrases like 'Keep it Real'. These were and are like thought-stoppers. Rubber stamp answers to complex issues. To the point where 'thought-stopper' and 'Rubber-stamp' also become useless and only regain life by breathing specificity into them.
How engaged are you with the current state of hip hop? Either on a local level of Portland rappers or on a national level. Luck One tweeted today, "More often than not, I'm disgusted with the either snobby or uncultured palette of hip hop listeners." Does that resonate with you at all? What's your take on either rap snobs or those with an uncultured palette?
Luck-One has a fantastic mind. Glad you brought him up. He is one of the only rappers in all of the Northwest - besides Remember Alwayz, that I can relate to. Not because we share the same mutations, but because these cats have been oppressed in the ways that I have and they are also as study-driven as myself. People ought to just talk to those dudes more, they will blow ye mind. What Luck says does indeed resonate with me. I get disgusted, bored, and many great laughs about the local scene and the national scene and the global scene. This has nothing to do with me thinking I am dope. This has to do with me knowing that I do wack shit all the time but I try not to release it hahah. Where as, to most cats, all they have is material that people find it hard to care for. There is a lot dishonesty going on in song and also going on between listeners and artists. I been talking to audience members locally for years, before I starting putting out music and after. They are bored out of their fucking minds they tell me. They sound like sad wives who havent been fucked well in so long. Slowly, people are starting to change dishonest habits it seems. I also expect things to be the way they are now though. Look at our school systems, look at everyones motives all over the world. Avarice as a prerequisite? Why would they care to actually hone a skill with diligence? I often meet rappers who have only been rhyming for a year or two and have done no research about racism or hip-hop. Racism is the father of hip-hop in so many ways. To not have an inkling of how this phenomenon works can be detrimental to ones skills set. Not necessary to be successful of course, but these men seem to need all the help they can get judging by what the citizens around here tell me. But of course this could be seen as snobby to some so for that I say fuck Cloudy October.
Lastly, you recently messaged to me that, "It's pretty telling about many current issues that the press has been ignoring, voluntarily and involuntarily." Let's get to the bottom of this then, please elucidate what you were alluding to. And also feel free to drop any knowledge you feel you've never been asked about before that you would like to share with your fans.
Thanks for asking yo. Never seen 'elucidate' before, is that anything like elimidate?.....hold on while i look that up.......................Oh shit!!!!! I love elucidating!!!!!!! I would start dating again if I could elucidate more. Mainly most people and the media alike, never connect the dots to complex issues. For many reasons there is little incentive to do so. Too risky. Often times media and individuals may mention someone having a problem and an oppressive system being a part of the problem. To consistently connect each inviduals problems with systemic oppression would be really difficult. Whites are mostly not addressing their racial experiences because they have been taught that they don't have one. This is one of five myths that keeps racism alive and well. The Myth of White Racelessness. Being that whites still run and own most of everything well, you see what happens. Cool thing is though - because of the internet and the fact that people are constantly evolving along with the issues, people of all colors are waking the fuck up. Articles are easier to share with people with the net, and even easier on facebook. That large issue and the things I mention about the local scene are equally ignored and also linked. To speak about the music scene here without speaking about the policies that effect the demographics could prove to be inaccuate.
I would like to tell the few fans I have that my song 'Vagabondage' was made from a voicemail message that I saved for three years. That is all. Oh wait, and also, I wrote one of the best 'I Saw You's' ever in The Merc about Cindy from the back pages too. Bonkers. Whatever happened to the back pages? Ya'll got scared?
All right homie. Thank you so much for taking the time to set the record straight for our readers! Looking forward to the album dropping. LINK HERE
Are you kidding me? Man I am so grateful. I hope you dig the album after many listens. See you around Feigh, thanks again yo.
Nah man, thank you for doing what you do. Appreciate your thoughtful responses homie. Soon.....