Plex Long:
“I’m not really much of a competitive emcee, usually I treat rap like track and run against the clock by focusing on measuring myself against my last verse instead of against other rappers.  But coming off my experience on “Better Left Unsaid”,where I felt completely overshadowed by 4 other Divine Suns, I knew I had something to prove to the crew.  I noticed that Dan had dropped a beat and concept for a song called “Scarlet Letter”, at this point in the process we were just posting beats and concepts in our private Facebook group and Suns were randomly jumping on songs, 1st 3-4 rappers to write and record a hot verse made it on the song.  I had never read the Scarlet Letter book, but I understood the basic concept of the story and after I heard the dope beat Dan dropped for it (which was right in my comfortable tempo range) I knew I had to get on the record.  Dan decided to add a twist to the recording process for this one, he said “on this one let’s not share our verses or ideas with each other until the song is complete”, that gave me even more incentive to get my shine on!  The concept was about how us rappers get branded negatively and stereotyped just because we rap.  Like the girl in the Scarlet Letter book, we are expected to walk around branded in shame because of our choice to emcee.  I approached my verse by naming many of the typical stereotypes given to rappers, then pointing out the areas in my personal life that contradict those sterotypes.  I concluded my verse by claiming to still accept that “Scarlet Letter”, despite the fact I don’t fit the stereotypes, because I love the art and will ride for the culture regardless.  I went to Anon’s crib to drop my verse and I could tell his reaction to this was different than previous verses he had heard from me.  I knew my verse was long, but I didn’t ever count the bars, I just kept rapping until my thought was complete.  After all verses were turned in and complete, I was awarded the anchor last verse spot on the song, which is typically an honor in our crew that suggests you had the best verse on the song.  I played the song for my producer Charlie P and he said it was the best verse he had ever heard from me, which is saying a lot, because we have been working together since 2005 and he has been involved in all 5 of my solo albums over that time period.  Knowing that traditionally Anon and Dan, who are both on Scarlet Letter, were considered the best emcees in the collective gave me an increased sense of unfamiliar accomplishment to be considered to have the best verse on a song featuring both of them and my personal favorite rapper from Divine Suns Hunch Punch too.  It was like the 2nd generation student had finally measured up to the OG teachers.  Then my moment of triumph was crushed when Dan suggested that we needed to do a radio edit for the song and my verse, which was 36 bars lol, was too long for radio song structure.  My pride and ego was damaged, but I took one for the collective good of the crew and agreed to write a new verse.  The album version that you will hear has the new 16 bar verse I wrote, but I can’t front, in my mind it will NEVER compare to the original 36 bar verse I put on the song.  Maybe that 36 bars will make it’s way to the light one day… until then, stay tuned!”

Dan Johns:

“Quiet as kept, this is my favorite song on the album. When i heard that sample, I knew that it was perfect for the Scarlet Letter concept we had discussed in a hangout. I was having trouble with the bassline though, so I reached out to Billy Northam, who is a more diverse producer than I currenty am. He was tied up with other projects, so Hunch suggested that I talk to Mark Magnesium (aka Mags) about it. I had no idea the brother had an actual bass guitar! he laced the record, live, all the way through the song, and sent the Reaper file back to me. The rhymes speak for themselves! I never intended to be one of the people “singing” the chorus. The words and melody came to me as I was riding. (Like Hunch,  90% of my writing is done in the truck)

I sent a rough draft of the hook to Anon and Hunch, since they have good relationships will some talented vocalists. I just want to add that i LOVE Plex’s 36 bar verse, but on a record that had 48 bars of rhyming before he jumped on, it was a risky proposition.”

Anon The Griot:

I think I had just recorded a hook to our song, Risk, and everyone was giving me grief for being the Drake of the Suns cuz I kinda sung the hook. Then Dan turns around and let us know he was working on a hook. Wouldn’t you know…. By brother got his harmony on. He gave me a lil space and I did the bass and Atlanta’s stylist to the world, Mariposa Butterfly laced the rest. It gave the song this driving energy. And being a book nerd, I was elated to go ape-shit on something inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne! It’s like literary repartitions. I also feel like that joint showed me how to live in the pocket. I think I owe the song a debt of gratitude. “

The Hunchpunch Champ:

” Dan dropped the concept and beat and i was sure i would not fit in. I believe Felix would have this spot, but shit has a way of clogging processes. So to get it done,  I tried to add something meaningful to the song(that i did not think i had) but still add a perspective. Had something i  unknowingly was  holding on to, and let it go.  Ill end it with one phrase: “Plex 36 bars of death. ” I still strive to connect with that level…”

MikChek:

“Dan kinda teased us in the beginning with this beat because he just posted a skeleton with drums and a few instruments for us to write to while he figured out the baseline.  I instantly knew it was going to be a banger.  I had never seen the movie and honestly had no comprehension of the concept so I struggled in the beginning to write to it. There was already several emcees on the song and after Plex dropped his 36bar explosion (before it was trimmed) I decided to do what no emcee ever wants to do and sit this one out.  This song will always be a classic!”


Anon had already broached the topic of a ‘love song’ with the Triad (an unofficial name for Hunch, Anon and myself) in a discussion. Croup, who has produced several of my solo songs over the years (“Day One,” “Suicide II,” “Ring Rust”), were having a conversation where he asked me why I didn’t let him do the extended version of my song “War Cry.” He actually already had a beat for it and everything. I told him to send me the beat, and asked if it would be cool if the Suns used it…and it is still hard to imagine that the “Love Languages” production was originally intended for a battle-rap song! (Even harder to imagine, now that I know that croup absolutely despises hip hop songs about love)

We had been having an ongoing discussion about the “5 Love Languages” that couples use to communicate, and we decided to use that as the inspiration for the record. What’s funny is that after the three of us had recorded our verses, we realized that each verse focuses on a different stage in the progression of a relationship.

Musically, we were all working on getting the perfect hook for this record. I reached out to my boy Gino Brown, Anon and Iris Isis put down their vision, and we asked Trice to get on the record. The funny thing is that pieces of all three contributions ended up on the final version, with Iris Isis and Gino’s parts being combined for the song’s intro.

Having written about my marriage on several different occasions, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to get into a little bit more of the backstory around how we met, and why our love has flourished. I know that I have done something right when Mrs. Johnson gives her stamp of approval!

The video treatment for “Love Languages” is currently being worked on by Mark Magnesium.

Additional Commentary:

Plex Long: “When I 1st heard this it took me back to when I 1st heard “Camay” on Ghostface “Ironman” album.  Love Languages is the only song on the album that I’m jealous I’m not on… Lol. Definitely one of my top 3 favorite joints on the album. The smoothest song on the project hands down.”

 

ANON The Griot: I just knew that we had to have an almost typical Hip Hop love song on the project; you know, like Round The Way Girl, Mahogany, You Got me? And I had recently been reading about the 4(?) love languages and I thought it would be a perfect jump-off for the song. I even wrote what I thought to be a dope hook for IrisIsis to sing. But, Trice Be PhantomMagnetiq came into town and smashed his hook. Thankfully, Dan Johns was nice enough to add IrisIsis’ part at the beginning. It still makes me feel like we’re in a scene from School Daze.

 

Trice Be Phantom Magnetiq: “now you speakin my language baby baby baby…” chants Dan Johns over the first reference… that along with the verse was super inspiring.. i immediately thought early 90’s feel with the R&B soul group INTRO’s style and texture should flavor the hook…I remember recently taking the love languages assessment to determine my love language, and instantly began applying what i had been learning about love languages and communication and the words came forth… i recorded it on my iphone’s garage band and put the efx and sent to Dan..

 

Little did I know, there was a hook written by Anon and performed by IrisIsis that ran concurrent with, if not prior to, the hook i submitted. I am glad we were able to incorporate the innergy of both, together they provide a great scope on the topic of love languages..

 

loved hearing how ANON the Griot and The Hunchpunch Champ echoed the sentiments and bring forth the innergy to round this joint off as a bonafide Hip Hop Soul banga..

 

The Hunch Punch Champ: At this point we were seeing our true potential. It was a turbalent day for the suns personally and and as a group so some steam had to let off. That night i want to say we wrote one song and recorded two..that evening all i remember was ‘mail!’. We were sending each other our verses as we recorded them at our individual spots. Essentially we were recording simultaneously…

 

Today’s song perspective comes in the form of an open conversation, discussing “Black Magnum.”

Dan: “Plex, we had really just met a couple of months (maybe even weeks) before we decided to do a Black Magnum song. But we pretty much vibed instantly. I remember pitching the idea to you about doing a record with you and Diligent, over some of my production. I didn’t even have an idea for how the beat would sound, but I knew that it had to have some of the common elements from the catalogs of Black Box ENT & Magnum Opus Records: heavy low end and a ‘poetic’ melody/sample.”

Plex: “Yeah, I remember this song idea coming up right around the time we did “Scarlet Letter”, so coming off of my 36 bar original verse I was feeling like I was in a nice zone.  When you dropped the beat in the group & said it was for Me, You & Diligent my eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas.  I remember asking you what the concept should be and you said something like “Let Diligent decide, but I already have an idea about what he will want to do lol”

Dan: “And like clockwork, Diligent came out, both barrels cocked, and letting off shots! Diligent and I hadn’t done a song together in over 10 years before “Better Left Unsaid,” and in that time, we both, in different arenas, had made a name for ourselves as battle rhymers. When I chopped up those strings and keys for the “Black Magnum” beat, I already knew that Diligent was going to take it to the arena. In a way, I hoped that he would, because even back in college, that always brought out the best in both of us. We pretty much all wrote our rhymes for this one in seclusion, right? lol”

Plex: “Lol… Yup!  We all wrote at the same time and I don’t think anyone heard anyone else until they were all recorded.  Me not being a battle rapper or a punch line king, knew I had to step my game up to stand out amongst battle tested emcees like You and Diligent.  When I heard the final song and how well it went together, I knew we had to do a visual.  So I hit Diligent up to see if he was down and used it as an opportunity to get us all out to South Carolina so me and you could finally meet face to face and vibe out.”

Dan: “What was dope about the process of crafting the visual to me, is how much input Dan Hunter (the director) allowed us to have. He did a great job of making the trip from Atlanta to SC make sense in the visual, and the Tarantino homage fit perfectly. It gave a perfect explanation for the ANON & Mikcheck cameos, and Hunch’s appearances on the hook.”

Anon: “The best part was seeing Dili get his wings. Like…. he was like I’m bout to drop these bars and Dan ain’t gon be ready! He was like ready to cause a brawl. He was feeling that champion music. The subtlety of his verse is what makes it dope. It’s like the first part of the verse is just more emcee….. Then he say “for time sake” and went in!!!!!”

Dan: “How about at the video shoot, when we were pressed for time, as we were trying to do all of my scenes for the video, and still have time left to shoot footage for “Hungry Arms,” and Diligent was making sure that he was “Sunday morning fresh” before coming out of the house?  Everything he does has a purpose, and a reason behind it.”

Plex: “Yeah, just like his beard, you know Diligent always fresh, clean and perfectly pressed.  It was amazing that we were able to get so much done in such a short time.  The only thing missing that day was Hunch, I’m glad we were able to capture his scenes back in the A to make both “Hungry Arms” and “Black Magnum” videos complete.  I view “Black Magnum” as the song that truly solidified my contribution and role within the project. But yo Hunch, how di you come up with that hook?” 

Hunch: “Dan dropped the beat and intentions for it which did not include me. I was determined to get on this track, the beat was so me. Throughout the process i would drop subte and not so subtle hints that i needed to get on this song. Eventually i got through cause i was asked to do the hook..had something in mind, then heard the three verses. Original hook went in trash, and new one was hashed out…”

By The Hunchpunch Champ

Though this is the third entry on the album the song was created towards the end of the album process. At this point, everybody was fined tuned in their writing, trust with each other was at a all time high, and distribution of songs was becoming easier. ‘Plex Stockton’ was slowly gaining rep within the crew as the assist man. He would acquire beats and flawlessly be able to assign which emcees would sound best over the track.

Personally 85 percent of my writing process happens in the car. There is something about driving and zoning out to a beat that makes it easier to catch cadences, witty word play, and concepts for me than just simply listening through headphones. There is a phrase we use ‘in the pocket’ that describes this. I was in the car when Plex sent out the beat. It immediately jumped on me, then through me. The bass line was entrapping. The drums immediate. In no time I was in the pocket.

As I explained at this point in the process our level of trust was growing amongst the crew, so much in fact, if one of us had and idea, the others would give them space to help manifest it. The words “my moment” began to repeat in my head. “My moment my moment my moment.” I was not sure how this was going to work into the song, but I sent Plex Long that phrase and said I think I got something. One thing that I have to respect out of the crew is when ideas are presented, they are never shut down or put to the side. Rather, they are picked up and ran with as shown when the following morning Plex had his verse. Which defined what the song was.

I always say I spit the realest things on Charlie P’s beats, but I also come up with  my best cadences as well. The bars came naturally and the flow was challenging but I was able to eventually nail it. I had an idea for the hook, but couldn’t get it quite together.  I asked Dan to take the reigns because I felt I was over thinking it and Dan is a master knocking mountains down to mole hills. I always say there is genius in simplicity and Dan made it clear when he came back with the hook in no time. A chest thumping, desperation declaration of “This is the Time. MY moment.” 

Additional Commentary:

Dan Johns: When I heard what Hunch did with his verse and that INSANE flow, I knew that I had to change up the flow to try and keep up. T

ANON the Griot: I was bumping Smiles and Cries II at the time, so I was crazy over Charlie P. tracks. I had already reached out and hollered about some out of the box type tracks when I heard “My Moment.” Since I had already blessed a few tracks by then, I couldn’t be offended. But damn, did I hate I that I didn’t jump on it. That subtle 808?

Plex Long: So, this is a funny story to me… I literally had to fight Charlie Pazinets to get this beat. continued below…

Me & Charlie P were jammin thru tracks in the lab, like we always do, and he played the beat as a raw idea in the making. I immediately was like “nah man, I need that for the ‘Chaos Theory’ album”. He was like “I don’t know Plex, it’s not finished, it’s just a basic idea I was playing with”. So we went back & forth for a while til he finally let me have it. I knew off the rip that the sound would be set off perfect by the voices/flows of Hunch & Dan, so I sent it to just them that night. Dan had just said he was gonna take a step back from the pen for a min, so he didn’t really react right away. Hunch said “I hear something about My Moment, like this is my moment, my moment”. So I ran with that and dropped my verse in the middle of the song and sent it to Hunch & Dan the next day. A day later Hunch dropped his verse and the foundation of the hook. Dan followed that with the rest of the hook and an anchor verse to make you press rewind & reconsider your bars. Another banger in the books, from the words of Dan Johns, “Don’t worry Charlie P, we got this”.

OH YOU DAMN RIGHT, its a double barrel edition of Getting Networked as Dan and the Hardcore Fish review not only Royal Rumble 1999, but also cover Royal Rumble 2015 and the fallout that has ensued online.   As always, follow both Dan and Dustin @danjohnny5 and @dspencecantlose - and continue sending in your suggestions for February reviews!

http://thefanspodcast.com/podcasts/getting-networked-episode-39-wwe-royal-rumble-1999

As the countdown to the February 10th release of “Chaos Theory” continues, we are going to give you some perspective on random songs from the album. Today’s entry is the opening song, “Nobody Want It.”

After the group had reconnected via social media, and the decision to work on an album had been finalized, we needed a launching pad: a song that would start the ball rolling, and also allow for us to figure out the best work flow for a project of this magnitude, considering that the Suns are scattered around the country.

Having just wrapped up my solo album, Alpha Writer, I was eager to do more work on the production side of a project. I went through my collection and found a classical violin sample that I wanted to flip into something new. Once I found a suitable snippet for the verse portion of the beat, I built some drums around it and a very simple bassline. I posted this in the Suns private group as a “beat skeleton” for the crew to write to…

…but I wasn’t sure if the direction that I had in mind would translate to the group in the simple skeleton. So, I came up with a verse, and laid a rough recording of it. I then sent that to the group, asking them to check it out and let me know what they thought. I believe it was Hunch who named the song “Nobody Want It,” taking his cue from the last line of my verse, “my mic had bodies on it, don’t nobody want it.”

Next thing I know, the verses started coming in quick, first from Anon, then from Hunch.  Let me back up a second though, because I recorded and produced my portion of NWI in Reaper, the group decided it would be ideal to record “Nobody Want It” in Reaper as well, since I would be arranging and mixing the song. So when Anon and Hunch sent their rhymes, they sent the entire Reaper projects, which made it easier for me to line everything up. Then the record took a dramatic turn…

Trice Be Phantom Magnetiq, or as we call him, Trice Beezy, was tasked with laying down the hook for NWI. What he sent us was an epic, operatic, proclamation of him singing “No, No, No, Nobody Want it!” He left open two bars for the emcees to fill in. That blew my mind. When he sent his files, I placed them after Anon’s verse, and I heard something that needed to be added.  I played an organ in the melody of his chant, with an accompanying bassline, to break the monotony of my beat skeleton. Next, I sprinkled elements of that melody throughout the verse portions of the beat, most notably during the beginning of Anon, Mikchek and Felix’s verses.

Additional Suns Commentary on “Nobody Want it” follows:

The HunchPunch Champ: First song on project, I set out to show the rest of the squad my growth as an emcee.  Sat with the beat for about a week before I actually recorded to it. Definitely was out to set the bar. Didn’t realize everybody else had the same intentions

Mikchek: As we were agreeing on the track listing for Chaos Theory it was only fitting that this was the first joint on the record. While we all worked on other joints, if I remember correctly, this was the first joint that we jumped in the lab together and finished.

ANON the Griot:  I honestly didn’t want the song on the project at first. I was afraid that it sounded too much like that late 90’s battle-rap. In fact, it wasn’t until I let my brother John Baiyewu listen to it that I changed my tune. He kept comparing it to a Wu-Tang song whose title we can’t remember. The one where Meth says, “Like a sandwich ain’t a sandwich without Miracle Whip.” Sometimes it takes fresh ears to hear things anew. The thing is…. that one moment gave me stupid confidence in the project and all songs going forth.  I could truly see the symmetry.

Trice Be Phantom Magnetiq: when i heard the beat, all i could think of was, EPIC… and that’s where i saw fit to bring out one of the weapons in my arsenal.. the OPERATIQ BATTLE CHANT AND CALL (spoken with deep resonating bass voice with reverb) llol… in essence it felt right to come out the gate bangin heads…
Trice Be Phantom Magnetiq:

For those of you that are unaware, in addition to being an indie hip hop artist, I am also 1/2 of the Getting Networked Podcast duo, with my friend Dustin Spencer. We are both life-long professional wrestling fans, and dedicate many hours of every week to watching and reviewing wrestling PPVs from yesteryear (all of which can be found on the WWE Network) on our weekly podcast. New episodes are available every wednesday on Itunes, www.thefanspodcast.com and on the podcast app of your choice. Check us out!

With that being said, tonight WWE presents the 2015 Royal Rumble, and I will be locked in. The Royal Rumble officially kicks of Wrestlemania season, as the main event will be pretty much etched in stone after tonight. With rumors surrounding Brock Lesnar’s contract ending sooner than you may think, tonight’s results are uncertain. Here’s what I think will happen:

The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor):

The Ascension goes over here, hopefully bringing an end to several weeks of horrible booking since they debuted.

Paige and Natalya vs. The Bella Twins:

I really don’t care, but I suspect this will follow whatever storyline Paige and Natalya have going on Total DIvas.

The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) (c) vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow:

I’m gonna say that the Usos go over due to some dissent between Miz and Mizdow.

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins:

My wife thinks that Cena will win, but Rollins walks away the champ after cashing in. I would love to see that, but i think that Brock either wins tonight, or reclaims the title at the next PPV, setting up Brock vs the winner of the Rumble…

2015 Royal Rumble match:

The IWC may just self-implode if Daniel Bryan doesn’t win this year’s Rumble, AND/OR if Roman Reigns does win. I don’t think Reigns is ready to shoulder the pressure of being in the main event at Wrestlemania. If it was me, I would put Bryan over here, but have Reigns be the runner-up. OR give Reigns the heat of eliminating Bryan, and make his character more sinister. The fans would eat that up. But i guess that would only work if Cena wins the title tonight?

Feel free to reply with your thoughts and predictions!

Introducing: The Divine Suns

Posted: January 24, 2015 by danjohns in Uncategorized

In less than two weeks, Divine Suns,  a collection of talent that I am proud to be a part of, releases “Chaos Theory,” a full-length album that has already surpassed our expectations.

The creation process was just as effortless and organic as it was when we all connected as freshmen at Morehouse. Of course, we have all grown as men, and as artists, in the years that have passed.

Personally, “Chaos Theory” gave me an opportunity to explore the range of my abilities as a producer and engineer. I haven’t had a hand in producing so many tracks on one project since “Tech Files,” my group album with alone in 2004.

The best part of the Divine Suns movement is the (re) affirmation of the brotherhood that we all share. The conversations and meeting transition from song order and concept ideas to slow cooker recipes and video game suggestions. These are my BROTHERS.
In today’s social and political climate, it is important that the music we consume do more than make us move. The messages in music have sparked change, revolution, and self-awareness.

Collectively, the Divine Suns’ mission statement is simply to remind you that We’re Beautiful People.

Song Title: “Divine Suns”

Artist: Divine Suns ft. ANON The Griot, Dan Johns, Felix the Black Cat, The Hunch Punch Champ & Trice Be Magnetiq

Song Produced by: Dan Johns and Trice Be Magnetiq

Video Edited & Directed by: Magnesium

Video Description: Some of the greatest stories have never been told. Some of the best songs have never been heard. At least not on radio. Such is the case with the Atlanta collective of Divine Suns. A narrative that began in heated cyphers on the campus of Morehouse College sees the light of day with a crisp and humble visual treatment. And while not household names, they are hardly new to the game.

Song Title: Black Magnum
 
Artist: Divine Suns ft. Plex Long, Diligent, Dan Johns & The HunchPunch Champ
 
Album: “Chaos Theory” (Coming Fall/Winter 2014)

Song Produced by: Dan Johns

Video Directed by: D. Aaron Hunter

Video Description: Plex Long is a businessman trapped in a maze with dire consequences. His new associate, Dan Johns, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of some precious cargo. Understanding the gravity of the situation, Plex enlists the help of his partner in crime (and rhyme), Diligent, to ensure prompt delivery of a mysterious package. Plex’s life hangs in the balance.

Director D. Aaron Hunter crafts a seamless collage of film noir, suspense, and comedy in a subtle homage to Quentin Tarantino. Boasting plenty of action cuts and cameos by fellow Divine Suns, ANON the Griot and Mikchek (Jarian Rich is the cool, other guy), Black Magnum is a visual metaphor for the David-and-Goliath battle of the emcee versus corporate interests. Black Magnum fronts the maxi-single release of Divine Sun’s Chaos Theory, an album commemorating 15 years of brotherhood and celebrating the reunion of an “album never released.”
 
Official Video Link: http://youtu.be/Nb0Bh92fdMM

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id908936123

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Divine_Suns_Black_Magnum?id=B656ammao2ie5rtl7n3qcz5742y

Twitter: @DivineSunsMusic @PlexLong @HunchPunchChamp @DanJohnny5 @DiligentSWATs

Instagram: @DivineSunsMusic @PlexLongBBE @HunchPunchChamp @DanJohnny5

Official Facebook Fan Page: http://www.Facebook.com/DivineSunsMusic