Posts Tagged ‘hip hop’

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.  

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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”.

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:

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.

http://podcast.inoslen.com/inr51/

Dan Johns makes his first appearance on Noslen Radio, discussing the past, present and future of hip hop, his new album “Alpha Writer,” the Divine Suns & more!

Here’s the flyer for a show next Saturday in West Columbia SC, featuring yours truly performing on the bill with Fat Rat Da Czar and DJ Shekeese the Beast


After working out the details with http://www.2dopeboyz.com (one of the best hip hop blogs period, according to VIBE) my new EP “Hype Machine” will be dropping next week.

The new single “Meaning of Life” (produced by D.R.) is up now to go check the post out HERE.

Dan Johns : Meaning of Life | Mediafire

I know what some of you are thinking: Dan Johns turned 30, then he fell off….

…no. I’m still feeling good, hitting hard, staying sharp. Musically, I needed to give yall a chance to miss me. Blogically (lol made that ish up), I needed something to talk about before I posted, and real life has been a lot more fun than sitting in front of a PC lately (unless building an arcade machine counts).

But yeah, that’s been my latest project, trying to take some leftover PC parts and putting together a machine to play old arcade games on. (Super Nintendo, NES, Genesis, and arcade games). I have a stash of well over 9000+ games, and an adapter to connect my PC to any TV. The project is going well. I’ll probably take some footage of it when Akshun comes to record Sunday.

I took a break from everything music related for a little while so I can come back to the speakers with fresh ears to mix “Hype Machine,” and so that my pen will be rejuvenated to start writing the new material (doing a mixtape with Ak, and starting on “End Game”)

On a more personal note, I have experienced several high’s and low’s in regards to friends and family lately. Family members have passed away, and friends that I haven’t seen in a while have crossed my path again. Both scenarios have left me with a new found appreciation for spending time with loved ones, and nurturing those relationships.

Everything seems more rewarding when you can share it with friends and family. I think about that more and more these days, and I value the support and opinions of those closest to me. With that being said, I’m going to have an invitation-only listening party before I hand “Hype Machine” over to J. Master. I’m looking to invite those whose opinions I trust for a night of food, fun, and hip hop. We’re going to sit around, eating snacks, listening to my tracks, with discussions and suggestions to follow. I think that’s a dope idea. Not that I created it or anything, but I can’t say that I’ve ever taken this approach.

I’m sitting here letting my Thanksgiving dinner digest (to make room for cake), watching the Cowboys game. My fantasy football team can still make the playoffs with a win (and a loss by the “Fabulous Freezeburners”), and my real life football team (The Oakland Raiders) at least manned up and beat arch rival Denver last week. I’m a Raiders fan until the day that I die, but today I’m rooting for Romo to throw a TD pass to Patrick Crayton. (I traded for Crayton, then the next day they traded for wideout Roy Williams).

Tonight, I plan to watch the new Katt Williams stand-up “Its Pimping Pimping” with my girl, and I’ll probably still be laughing this time tomorrow. I’m wrapping this up to watch the game, and break my own Tetris record.