Posts Tagged ‘atlanta hip hop’

Song Title: We Beautiful People

Artist: Divine Suns 

Song Produced by: Dan Johns

Video Directed & Edited by: Daniel Johnson & Laquan Davis

For the People. By the People.

Video Description: If God were an artist, he’d paint in vivid, dripping, and swirling colors. He’d embrace imperfection and find the beauty in our collective ugliness. He’d paint you in front of a mirror, admiring all your flaws and embracing how they come together to create the picture of you. He’d sculpt you as a giant, towering over your piles of bills and stepping over your mountain of regrets. He’d hum blues tunes about the struggle and belt gospel songs about your triumph. He’d paint and sound just like you. He would look like us.

Fresh off the seamless patchwork, Chaos Theory, and a sanguine visual for Scarlet Letter; Divine Suns return with We Beautiful People, an homage to what is perfect within us all. Be advised: this really is a Movement.

The Suns are in rare form. Sporting their We Beautiful People t-shirts and b-boy swagger, the Suns trade bars in the W.A.L.L.S. and along Atlanta’s Beltline. Street art and graffiti cross-cut with scratches from South Carolina’s DJ Prince Ice fit perfectly with the song’s message and the video’s gentrified setting. Think the Humans of New York blog set to a thumping bassline and sharp, introspective lyrics. Best of all— they brought friends and family along for the ride.

The message should be clear. We are scarred. We are flawed. We’ve been branded; and yet, one thing remains true: We Beautiful People. Even the intentional absence of “are” acts as an announcement (a la The Declaration of Independence). For the People by the People.

In preparation for their new album, inCOREporated, Divine Suns also present webeautifulpeople.com, an interactive website where fans can keep current with new releases and custom design their own We Beautiful People apparel.
We Beautiful People is the lead single for Divine Sun’s next project, inCOREporated.

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.  

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!”


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”.

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