This week, Dustin and I break down McMahon vs Austin in a steel cage, and Rock vs Mankind in a last man standing match. We also fight off two monster head colds in a tag team grudge match…sort of.

http://thefanspodcast.com/podcasts/getting-networked-wwe-st-valentines-day-massacre-1999

This week, Dustin and I discuss 4 different episodes, ranging from WWE, Mid-South, GWF, and WCW. The discussion ranges from hilarious, to heated, as we address how African-American wrestlers have been treated in the industry of professional wrestling. Even if you aren’t a die-hard fan of pro wrestling, this is a must listen!

http://thefanspodcast.com/podcasts/getting-networked-episode-42-black-history-edition-2015

“Scarlet Letter” is my favorite song from Chaos

Posted: February 17, 2015 by danjohns in Uncategorized

Produced by yours truly, with a thick bassline courtesy of Magnesium and his bass guitar, “Scarlet Letter” is my favorite record on the new Divine Suns album.

http://divinesuns.bandcamp.com/track/scarlet-letter-ft-attallah-es-mariposa

In 2007, I told you all that “the world keeps spinning; there’s no rewinds or going back to the beginning.” In 2015, it still holds true. Still, while we cannot go back in time, we can definitely handle unfinished business from years gone.

The Divine Suns (or DME as we were known then) formed WAY BACK in 1997, when we were all freshmen at Morehouse College. Spirited freestyle ciphers, low(no)-budget studio sessions, and epic emcee battles help us all forge a bond that has survived life and its many twists and turns. Ironically, despite all of our individual successes as artists, we have never completed and released a project as a collective before.

So, as ANON The Griot calls it, “Chaos Theory” is the ‘reunion album to the album that never happened.’ The album title lends itself to the creative process when 9 (and sometimes more) different opinions and views are thrown into the mix, blending into a creative stew.

The music reflects the natural growth of men. The fierce emcees have become fathers, and the ferocity once reserved for dismantling another emcee is now dedicated to providing for and protecting our families. Conceptually diverse, “Chaos Theory” showcases our various skill sets, without ever sounding forced, or as if someone had to TRY and fit onto a record.

A solid 19 tracks of music, ideas and theory (see what I did there?), this is project that we are all proud to share with the world. So proud that we invite you all to not only listen to and/or download the project, but we are confident that you will contribute to the cause. We understand that your contribution could come in the form of a monetary donation (where you set the price) or by spreading the word about the Divine Suns movement. Basically, there’s no reason that like-minded individuals should not have “Chaos Theory” in their collections!

We welcome you all to embrace the chaos, and join us at divinesuns.bandcamp.com

HomeGrown” Song Perspective

Dan: When we got the ball rolling, Hunch and Anon started sending out a TON of skeletons that they had done together that were unfinished. I wrote and recorded a verse to “Home,” and we dug it. However, Billy had lost all of his beats from this time period due to a hard drive crash, meaning that there was no way to properly mix this version of the song with an unmixed mp3 as the only files for the production.
 

We decided to send out an acapella of “Home” to different producers, asking them to remix the record, so we could include it on the project. Two DOPE REMIXES came back from Maverick aka Adrian Wilson (another fellow c/o 2001 Morehouse Brother) and Encore (who produces a ton of my solo stuff). Anyway, we decided to use both of their beats, but for different tasks. We re-recorded Home to Encore’s beat, and did an entirely new song to Maverick’s beat on the upcoming “inCOREporated” album.

I put down my re-record first, taking some liberties with the hook that Hunch had originally written by editing out just a tad bit of the profanity. When I sent it to Hunch and Anon, they decided to leave my first as the lead off (I was originally in the second slot).
 

Hunch: Billy had sent some beats to Anon for a session we were about to have. Cycling through a beat came up that instantly grabbed me. Anon started muttering something about home and I urged him on. Before we knew it the framework for the hook came through and I assisted on the adlibs, soon after bars came down. Fast forward a year and a half we were struggling to find a replacement for the beat we originally had because stems were not available for mix. When we found the beat we decided to each do a new hook and pick the best out the three. Dan dropped his first and the competition was over. Didn’t even get off the starting line. Can’t lie, I’m still a bit tight about that as I type this.

Anon: Tight? Let’s be honest, Dan went body bag on us! I felt like the one-hit wonder whose single gets so hot that a legend gets on the track. Problem is— a lot of guys don’t rewrite their verses and the additions outshine their originals.
 

Lemme explain: Dan takes the idea of home and home improvement as the parallels for his whole verse.
Mind you, these were bars Hunch and I worked on like 6 years ago. So I guess it shows staying power. Honesty, it was one of the best moments for me; knowing that as good as I aspire to be, I’m still ripe to need CSI when my brothers get to eating. And that original Billy beat was monster, but Encore came through in the clutch!
 

Hunch: Anon’s place in the space time continuum is never fixed so he perceives time a bit different than the rest of us. We came up with the premise for this song on my son’s second birthday. He’s four now. Four.
 

Dan: Might I also add that no one felt like I caught a body on the original version. It wasn’t until we did the re-record over Encore’s production that I started to hear this body bag talk! I will concede the fact that the chemistry that I have with Encore’s beats is undeniable. I let my homie DaCaptain hear this when we were filming for the Divine Suns video, and he said “there is something about when you rhyme over Encore’s beats.”

Hunch: I think it was the crispness of your delivery and the bravado you bought on you second try that sealed it. And that hook? Had me asking for you to adlib my verse with some of that flavor. The beat gave room for a better attack than the original laid back beat. Instead of getting in the pocket, we were forced to rip out of it

Dan: What’s crazy is I still feel like your verse is the perfect bookend for the song. The underlying theme of your rhyme being that you never strayed too far away from ‘home,’ yet intruders came in and got comfortable like your spot belonged to them covers a lot of ground! Think about it from the perspective of a man trying to get things accomplished for his family, or an emcee who steps away from music to deal with everyday life issues.

Hunch: That’s what I love about this song; we all had a different but relevant take on it. I was listening to this song late one night when I realized how big of a record this was. I thought this was truly showing our growth as a crew. I think this is when I also realized we might have gotten bodied. Lol

Mikchek: Though I’m not on the song this was the joint that set it off.  There have actually been several circles of divine talking about reuniting over the years but Hunch, the Griot, & Billy were the only ones that actually put something down.  and didn’t tell nobody I might add.  It was dope to hear Hunch again because he kind of went MIA on some grown man stuff early in college and this music is and always will be home for us.  I love this joint.

Hunch: Funny you say that, cause when me and Anon went with this round of recording I sent the track out knowing it was going to spark cats. Nope. No responses. I remember thinking “Ok..this might be whack.” Lmao

Dan: I know that the first time that you sent me this, I really was going to hop on the record, but I was in the middle of a ton of recording, mixing, and just LIVING. Everything does indeed happen for a reason.

Anon: Yes. Time space continuum never fixed.  Always changing. I guess its cause we had so many joints in the bag, I got lost. Bottom line— I was happy with my verse; I felt like I let loose with delivery and content! So— yes, Encore helped with the bodying, but on re-listen, everybody get blood on their hands with this one!

Hunch: Anon’s verse was probably my favorite. It was colorful and descriptive and I felt he got a lot off his chest. It ran a little long but personally I didn’t care, it was the perfect set off initially. With the new version Everyone essentially switched spots which made his verse a perfect bridge to me and Dan.

Plex: My favorite lines:

“I wasn’t even home; I was with this jawn around the co’ne (corner)…”

“So I’m looking at my phone, no ring, Karl Malone…”

“Just squatting til the King reappear, man I’m standing right here, get out my mutha fuckin chair!!!” 

That verse gets me amped every time, no lie.  

Getting Networked returns to WCW as the greatest PPV review show on the planet celebrates episode 40! Dustin and Dan break down the Double Thundercage excitement along with somehow surviving one of the worst undercards in

history.http://thefanspodcast.com/podcasts/getting-networked-episode-40-wcw-superbrawl-1994

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”.