We hear the term "bout that life," thrown around a lot in the hip-hop world.
However, what if the term "'bout that life" was applied to education and promoting intelligence as opposed to activities that can be a detriment to a young person's life? What kind of effect could that have on culture? More importantly, could that type of life become one that is promoted in pop culture?
Fuze The MC thinks it can, and that is what he is bringing to the professor's desk with his new album Lance Is A Genius. The album has arrangements and production you might find on a soulful jazz album, but is infused masterfully with deep bass notes and melodies that takes you into a zone of introspective hip-hop.
The title is certainly a bold statement, but don't go thinking Fuze The MC is on some sort of ego trip. While you will definitely find genius behind his lyrics, the title is a testament to believing in yourself. Perhaps, if you insert your name in place of "Lance," you too will find yourself achieving a higher level of self and will go out and accomplish your dreams.
Trust us. After absorbing these PhD-level lyrics, "Netflix and chill," won't mean just that any longer. It might actually mean you're going to watch a bunch of TED Talks together and then have an intelligent conversation about where our society is headed... and then you can get to that, eventually. 'Cuz what is that without a little bit of a deeper foundation, first.
Jason Pollak: Talk about the inspiration behind the album. When did the process start?
Fuze The MC: The process began really in about January. I was contemplating getting my footing back into the artistic side of the music industry and I started fishing for beats from my long time collaborator and friend Patrick Jones.
He sent a few and I started collecting scoping out the project's themes and messages and then just started writing. I already had a few songs in my head from over the last few years and a couple beats I just always wanted to get on so it was a big transition.
How did you come up with the title for the project? Is there more to it than meets than eye?
Originally the the album title was something else. I was just naming my folder "Lance Is A Genius" to kind of pump my self up for the album and give myself a little pep talk going into it, but eventually I started looking deeper into the intricacies of what it means to be intelligent in hip-hop and in relationships and I noticed that I'd started to incorporate those themes in my music.
In hip-hop for artists at least it's kind of seen as a bit of a character flaw to be intelligent or smart. I just wanted to embrace that and claim it in hopes it will strike the imagination of someone else to embrace and develop their intelligence.
On the relationship side I noticed that intelligence can sometimes be a hinderance and a lot of the music talks about the situations and adversity that comes from that I also had been doing my rubik's cube live on stage during one of my songs so it added to the novelty of that. Then one day a friend of mine saw me going into my folder and saw the title and he was super ecstatic over the title.
That kind of cemented it for me. Then there's the subtlety of when someone reviews the project at very least they have to write the words "Lance Is A Genius" making it a win regardless.
What was the creation and production process behind the album? The music is really something special and different.
It was slow... very slow. I really didn't want to force this project out. I took my time with it and aged all the beats to make sure they still stuck with me they way they originally did when I first played them, then I just went walking.
I walked around different cities that I traveled to and wrote lyrics in my head (the jigga approach). I found it often gave me new inspiration and a deeper look into my own emotions where they connect with the beats on the flow.
I was at Zoo Labs for most of the writing and I recorded on these little portable beat labs. Moving them to different areas and spaces in the compound not only gave them different sonics but a separate swag and emotion to them. I also enlisted the help of some extremely talented young ladies who'll you'll hear all across the record.
A lot of nights we just stayed up listening to music and reflecting on how it made us feel until concepts or melodies came up.
How do you feel your lyrical content is different from the more mainstream type of rap out there? What inspires your lyrics and why do you think it's so important to touch upon these subjects?
I just talk about whatever the beat tells me to talk about. I truly believe rap is more of a vessel sport.
While you may be the driver, a lot of it is just getting the car up to tip top shape (i.e. your lyrical ability) and reacting to the twists and turns the music gives you. I think it's important to be genuine in rap, because it helps people connect with it on a deeper more than "flash in the pan" level.
I also fell in love with hip-hop because of the lyrics and have always yearned to share my story in the most creative way.
We don't hear too much socially conscious rap anymore. Do you think we are getting back to a point where this type of music can appeal to a pop-culture driven type of audience?
I think it can, but I think a lot of music financiers stray away from it because it's very easy to offend someone when you're talking about loaded content. Ironically enough, talking about the prison industrial complex will piss off a lot more people than talking about pouring champagne on models and driving nice cars.
I also believe it's because of a lot of music is listened to for voyeurism and escapism. Dave Chapelle said it best: "I'm trying to escape from my problems not take on yours."
I think conscious music can appeal to pop culture (as evidence by the success of J .cole and Kendrick Lamar), but it's just got to be disguised well enough in the music that people don't get turned off from it too fast.
Talk about your tour and how that came together with Blackalicious.
The tour has been amazing traveling all across the globe from Hawaii to Vancouver to here in the bay. Just reaching all those audiences and connecting with all those people is a huge blessing that I'm extremely grateful for.
It came about while I was playing music in my studio Zoo Labs in west Oakland. Xavier (Chief Xcel) of Blackalicious was there, working in studio C and I just asked him if he'd come listen to the music.
He listened for probably an hour (almost the whole tape before telling me he had to run). Then a few hours later Ron called me to the studio and X told me he loved them music so much he'd like to invite me out to Hawaii.
The rest is history!