For the ones who don’t know you, please introduce yourself.
Whut up, my name is Apoc. I’m an emcee, a drunk, and a disappointment to my parents. You should buy my album because it prevents cancer.
Let’s talk about your life as a musician. I think a lot of people want to know what the meaning behind your name is, so tell us what Apoc does stand for!
Okay, but only this once, cuz even I’m not sure I know anymore, but here’s my theory: Apoc is an abbreviation for apocalypse everyman. I had this big earnest idea about writing an “amorality play” structured around the morality play ‘Everyman.’ You know it’s that allegory about the final judgement of man. I thought it would be clever to have this totally ambivalent god and this allegorical everyman bent on his own destruction with man trying to pass judgement on god… kind of existential I guess… I don’t know I get these lofty ideas, but when I try to flush them out they just come off as trite and stupid really. This was also around the time immediately following 9/11 so everywhere you looked in American media there were these stories from some fear monger detailing some obscure scenario that was gonna lead to the end of the world or at least the end of our way of life. The threats weren’t the old ones of war and nuclear annihilation though. They were all based on what one man or a few men could accomplish. Suddenly individuals and not just nations were being conveyed as capable vessels of apocalypse. Something about that struck me as poignant, but I’m not even really sure why anymore. Anyway the idea didn’t pan out but I still liked the title ‘Apocalypse Everyman’ so I started recording under it. In fact the first promo copies of ‘Salesmanshipwrecked’ still said ‘Apocalypse Everyman’ on them, but everyone was calling me Apoc cuz that other shit was just too fuckin’ long, kinda’ like this explanation.
Almost every musician in Hip Hop uses a pseudonym for his real name. What do you think is the reason for that?
It’s always been about ego, n tryin to make yourself sound cooler than you actually are. All the first emcees gave themselves titles like ‘grandmaster’ or ‘king’ to make them sound important. Over time maybe we’ve become more clever or poetic in choosing our stage names, but it’s still an ego game. That’s hip-hop.
Your are not well-known out here, so please tell us something about your history in the game.
I’ve been rhyming forever. I guess I started freestyling when I was like 14, but it was always just for fun. Just doin’ shit with friends. Rhymin’ out front of my high school or whatever. I was always writin’ too but never really took it seriously. We’d hear somebody had an eight track and an mpc or sumthin’ n we’d go drop a verse about some stupid shit n that was the extent of it. Or we’d hit up open mics or whatever. It really wasn’t until I hooked up with Rel and Earmint in the winter of 02/03 that I started taking shit seriously. Me n Rel recorded ‘The Lovers’ (this ep you’ll never find unless you get it from me personally) in like a week and then me n Earmint pounded out ‘Salesmanshipwrecked’ in like three months. We weren’t even really sure what we were gonna do with it at the time, we were just like ‘let’s do an album.’ When it was done we started circulatin’ copies around Chicago n people were really feelin it so we pressed it up n have been hustling ever since.
Did you create the artwork of your first album “Salesmanshipwrecked” on your own?
Nah, Earmint did that. That’s what he does to pay the rent is graphic design so when he gets the chance to do his own thing he goes wild n comes up with these ill designs. You’ll see a lot more of his shit in the future.
How did it come up with the album title?
At the time when we were recording the album I was in the process of quitting my job as a salesman, and the idea of a shipwreck seemed like a great source of imagery to work the album around. Plus isn’t that what just about everything in our culture is about? Selling shit? I’m still in the business of sales, but now the product I’m trying to sell is me; my ideas; my words. Everything’s become a commodity.
Let’s assume the worst case scenario. You would ship wreck on a lonely island. What would you do?
Is this one of those ‘if you could only take one book what would it be’ questions? Fuck, I don’t know… I’d probably jerk off a lot and die after a short time cuz my survival skills aren’t up to par. I can guarantee one thing though, I sure as hell wouldn’t start talking to any fucking volleyball or some stupid shit like that.
Did you get any good album distribution? I haven’t found your album almost nowhere to order.
Nah the album had virtually no distribution to start with. We didn’t know what the fuck we were doing, we were just like ‘lets press up this album n people will buy it.’ Right now online you can buy it at cdbaby.com, ughh.com, and towerrecords.com as well as from our site lab-o.com. We’re working on getting our product to more online stores. We’ve also just secured distribution through Crosstalk and are in talks with some other distributors so that hopefully soon our shit will be easier to find. In the meantime, if ya managed to get a hold of a copy, burn it for your friends. Fuck it, burn it for yer enemies.
“Salesman…” came out on Lab-0. What’s you position on there?
www.lab-o.com is Lab-Oratory Records, which is my label. Basically me n Earmint started it to try to get our shit out to more people. So far we’ve been well received. In addition to ‘Salesmanshipwrecked’, we’ve released Me Myself & Rhymes debut lp, and did a limited release of ‘Changing Seasons’ from the group Lab-Oratory which was comprised of myself, Definite, and Brendan B, but now has a looser definition as it has grown to encompass everyone working with the label. We’ve got a lot more to come in the near future so keep an eye out.
One of my favorite tracks on your album is “The Fifth Element”. Can you tell me something about origin of this track?
That’s actually an interesting point. That’s the one track that I had written before conceiving of the idea for ‘Salesmanshipwrecked.’ Once we started working on the album I was flipping through my notebook and realized that it conceptually fit the album. When we originally recorded it, it was over an old j.money beat, cuz that’s what I had written it to. The beat that you know Earmint had used to remix this Common song (for a while he was doing a lot of remixes just for fun, just to hear what he could do with em). We were listenin to the Common track in his car one day n I heard the part where it’s like ‘is this four? no five!’ n I was like it would be dope if that would work for ‘the fifth element.’ We went back to his crib n found that the beats were the exact same bpm. We didn’t even rerecord that shit, we just took the vocals n flipped em onto the other beat and it came out nice.
Which artists do you feel right now?
Shit, I mean that would take a lot of space to list them all. Why don’t I just mention a few albums I’ve been playin a lot recently: Qwel & Maker ‘The Harvest’, Jadakiss ‘Kiss of Death’, Immortal Technique ‘Revolutionary Vol. 2′, Thaione Davis ‘Situation Renaissance’, TV on the Radio ‘Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes’, Consequence ‘Take em to the Cleaners’, Modest Mouse ‘Good News for People Who Like Bad News’, Rob Sonic ‘Telecatessen’… I don’t know there’s a lot of shit but those are the discs that have been dominating my stereo as of recent.
In an interview for an italian site you said that you never grew up. So you still play with toys or how did you mean it?
Nah, it’s just a lot of the shit I still do other people my age seem to have grown out of. Some of the kids I used to rhyme with have went and got “real” jobs and can’t believe that I’m still rapping and getting excited about new hip-hop releases. People I used to party with have ‘settled down’ n gotten married or had kids or some shit n I’m still at the bar every night tryin’ to pick up college girls. N a lot of the kids I used to go to protests with or talk revolution with have joined the democratic party n call me an idealist or a dreamer. Plus I still get school boy crushes on girls n like to make a fool of myself in public. As far as toys go, as recently as yesterday I bought a rubics cube and there’s always a full water gun in the console of my car.
When you came back from the west coast, what had changed in Chicago?
Mainly me. I mean the hip-hop scene had grown n some of the kids I knew from back in the day had started makin moves, but mainly it was me that had changed. Last time kids in Chicago had heard me rap I was wack as hell, n I’ll be the first to admit it, but when I moved back, I was getting props all over, n was ready to do shit.
What makes the living worth in Chicago?
I love Chicago. That’s my city. I think the hip-hop scene here is more diverse and deeper than anywhere else in the country. The food is the shit. So much good ethnic food and so much variety. The skyline is gorgeous. The lake is beautiful. The people are real. The weather… alright the weather fuckin’ sucks, but nowhere’s perfect. No matter where I move in life, I will always call Chicago home.
2 days ago there was the third anniversary of the day that openend the eyes of your home country. What do you feel when you recall the moment you heard of this event first?
It was very surreal. I was living in a small mountain town in Colorado. My roommate woke me up n I was all hung over. We went to a friend’s crib cuz we didn’t have a tv. They just kept showing that same shot of the planes crashing into the towers over and over again. I don’t know why we kept watching. It was probably the first time I’d watched television in weeks. I remember all the newscasters expressing such shock and surprise that anyone could do such a thing to America. I never understood that. These were the people that you would assume followed the news closest and were the best informed and yet they acted as if they were totally unaware that anyone in the world had anything but the utmost admiration for America. While the event certainly was horrific and alarming, the people who I sat n watched with all expressed that we had sensed something like this was inevitable, although none of us would have predicted that it would be on such a grand scale. The war-mongering started immediately. Before we had a chance to catch our breath Fox News’ pundits were debating who we should bomb first. And within days all the editorial writers were discussing every aspect of our culture and how it was rendered anew in a post-9/11 world. I still don’t feel I have a grasp on what that phrase means. I think it will be years before our country will really be able to measure the effects of that day’s events.
How did it change your attitude towards terrorism?
I don’t think it did. I don’t really know anyone that had a positive attitude toward the type of terrorism we witnessed that morning. What it did do was make me contemplate the scope of the word ‘terrorism’ as hundreds of left-wing organizations were targeted as terrorists due to the new broad definition of the term.
Do you think anything will change when a new president is voted?
NO. I mean yes, John Kerry will handle the international situation with much more grace and subtlety than George W. has, but will our country’s imperialistic manner change? No. People are using Bush as a scapegoat for everything that’s wrong with America. Kerry will just usher in a return to the politics of Clinton where we bomb pharmaceutical plants, answer to the oil lobby, and allow corporations to pillage the third world without calling it war. America has become a puppet democracy and change will only come when we oust the puppetmasters.
What is coming up next from you and Lab-o?
This fall we are releasing Earmint & Elfamail’s “Third Eye Pizza Party” which is dope as hell!!! Elfamail is fucking hysterical!!! Plus that kid can rap his ass off n the beats are sick. We’re also putting out a compilation called “The Zooey Files” which features new stuff from a lot of the artists we’re working with as well as a handful of new tracks from me. I’m finishing up my new project, “Gods and Ghosts” which should be out sometime this winter and should have much better distro than “Salesmanshipwrecked” has seen. Plus there should be some 12″es and some other surprises. Keep checking the website for updates.
Any last words before you go back to the streets?
R.I.P. Brendan B…