What’s up? How you doing, Sci?
I am great and yourself?
Yeah, I’m doing fine – I’m glad I can do this interview with you. So – first off – could you please introduce yourself to the people in Germany, who haven’t heard of you yet?
Peace Germany I am Lil’ Sci from a New York based Hip Hop group Scienz Of Life and also 1/2 of the new dynamic duo Sol Uprising! For more info please check out www.Solvizion.com and www.Soluprising.com.
Now, why do you call yourself “Lil’ Sci” as an artist? Is it just a nickname of yours or is there any special meaning behind it?
There is a significance behind everything! The Name Lil’ Sci is short for Little Scienz and it describes my narrative approach style. It means giving “A little bit of science at a time” or spoon feeding the masses. In my rhyme style I drop a lot of jewels so charismatic that you may not know that you are being schooled or taught something each time you listen to my music!!
Ok, that makes sense indeed, I didn’t know about this before. Today, you’re living in California. Do you prefer Los Angeles to your further residences (New York/Atlanta) and what were the reasons for you to move again?
Well I feel all the locations. I have been play a major role in the inspiring energy and creativity that goes into my music and life so I wouldn’t favour one over the other, they all have their unique values including New Jersey where I also lived. Los Angeles is a great place. There seems to really be some sort of Hip Hop renaissance going on here, the scene is one of a kind and the creative inspiration is plentiful. I moved here as a business venture being named the third partner in the new future Indy powerhouse label Shaman Work Recordings. I am here to spread the vibes of what I do musically and also to help Partners Chris Craft (ATL) and Lamar Gilliam (LA) growth the strength of our imprint Shaman Work Recordings for more info log on to www.ShamanWork.com.
Yeah, I can feel you on that point. You and your brother ID4 Windz (the main producer of Scienz of Life) were born in the Bronx and spent most of your life there. How did you get into Hip Hop and what were your early influences and idols?
We were born into Hip Hop. It is funny because I talk to my mom now and she doesn’t even realize that those parties she used to go to as a teen were the beginning stages of a phenomenon soon to be known to the globe as Hip Hop culture. Being in the South Bronx was like being in the womb of the culture. Every was around us. The talk, the dress, the graf writing, the dancing. I especially remember the block parties where the music would blast me and 4 Windz’s favourite joints. The main joint that inspired us the most was Kurtis Blow “AJAY”. That was the anthem of the South Bronx b4 a lot of Joints!! Wow your really taking me back man… We grew up on a block called Forest Avenue not far from the likes of D.I.T.C.’s Lord Finesse, Diamond D, Show and A.G., Fat Joe, also Bizzy Bee and pioneer graf writer/artist Phase Two. I can go one for days but a lot of these influences were right in our essence whether we knew or not. So much respect to all of them and so many more for the inspiration. Looking back to move forward as we move on!!
Wow, so you grew up right next to the legends of this culture. Haha, so before you fall into deep nostalgic feelings – let’s get back to the present. What are you listening to nowadays and what are your favourite artists in the game right now?
Honestly in my decks right now you won’t hear too much Hip Hop. You will mostly hear Vintage Jazz or Soul Music artists like Miles Davis, Ella Fitz or Art Blakey, Charlie Parker and the likes. Or the soul of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway or other priceless jems. I like some of the new soul singers too like Dwele, and Eric Roberson. These guys are really finding that early integrity of song writing that has been misplaced for years. I must admit I have been bumping that Andre 3000 Love Below joint!! Ingenious work right there. Also been bumping the Jay-Z Black Album. I thought Jay really brought it lyrically on this one!! The List goes on with the Vintage jems though I am constant looking for some classic inspiration!!
Oh yeah, I was also feeling both of the albums you mentioned. Too sad that it was Jay’s last effort. Whatever, you worked with some very talented artists like Stacy Epps, MF Doom, Science Fiction and many more. Who of these have impressed you the most?
All of them are very inspiring artists to work with, easy to create with! To be more specific working with Stacy Epps gave me a new technique in how to take melodies and form them into rhyme patterns and create choruses from them. Working with Doom is a experience within itself that brother has so many jems on rhyme writing that I can not reveal but he changed my whole perspective in the control aspect of my writing, no limits MF!!! And with Sci-Fi aka Wale Oyejide, he just blew me away as such a young producer in the game with such a mature sound of music taste in his works. His different style of beats I feel brought something out of my rhyme flows on our works!! But as I said all very inspiring artists and I have already started working with all 3 again since the work that the readers may have heard already!!
Really? That’s some exciting news, because the “Lil’ Sci vs. Science Fiction” project was pure heat in my opinion – good looking out. What other people would you like to collaborate with in the future? Or even more interesting – which artists would you like to record a song with, if they were still alive? No matter what musical genre.
Wow some really excellent questions Peter!! I give thanks for this! I would definitely love to work with Brand Nubian on the Hip Hop level my favourite group in the game. On a Jazz level there are so many but if I had to choose it would be Miles & Diz on trumpet, Bird and Trane on sax, Herbie on keys, Billie, Nina and Sarah Vaughn on background vocals with Art Blakey on the Drums!! Wow now that is a Bomb Squad right there!! HAHAHA! On the Soul tip I would go with Stevie right now or even get ill into my personal taste and get Anita Baker on the hook or something!! I also always loved Hall and Oates on some other tip!!!
Haha, yeah that’d definitely be an amazing line-up. In other words – the Michael Jordans and Magic Johnsons of Soul and Jazz reunited in an All-Star team. But the thing with Brand Nubian doesn’t sound that unrealistic to me, as Doom used to be a member of the God Squad (consisting of his group KMD and the Nubians) – I think he was even touring with them a couple of years ago. And as we all know, you’re pretty close to Mr. Dumile now – so just holla at him, perhaps he can help you out and fulfil one of your dreams, hehe. Although you produced some tracks on the Scienz of Life and the Sol Uprising albums, your main focus is still rhyming. Where do you get all your impressions from, when you’re writing your lyrics? Do you just invent something or do you draw your influences from somewhere else?
Well both, but mainly just invent the lyrics most of the time. I am following the pen! I feel like there are higher powers guiding my scripted journeys. I live this Hip Hop well aware if my purpose in this music and I utilize that energy mainly for inspiration in my writing and everyday life! The influences a lot of the time are subconscious in which I am not always fully aware of them but I know they exist!
Most of your lyrics contain a lot of strong political statements. So do you believe that music can work as a media of education and change people’s attitude concerning prejudices for example?
Yes, definitely, but it has to be the proper formulas used to do so. The main ingredient is charisma (appeal). You can’t preach to the choir meaning heads that already know the doctrine you bring forth. That is why is you look at early Scienz of life to some of our present music we still have the same approach just updated the formulas to fit in this day and time. The main goal when making change is to reach those who need change and start at the source but with out charisma and appeal in your music we know that we will never reach the people so that is the reason we birth a group like Sol Uprising or record an album like Project Overground etc. It is all stealth movements in which the messages are still there but just not so preachy. They are more so in the essence of the music so the vibes do a lot of the changing for us!!
No doubt, I guess I know what you mean. It’s like school: nobody will listen and learn something, if he isn’t entertained the same time by the teacher. This brings me to my next question: Many people criticise the recent state of Hip Hop because a lot of MC’s are just talking about cash, drugs, violence and stuff like that. There are only a few rappers like you left, who see hip hop as an art form of “edutainment”, like KRS-1 used to call it back in the days. So how do you think Hip Hop will develop within the next 5-10 years and – could you share your thoughts about the current situation with us?
Hip Hop is such a phenomenon as I expressed earlier in the interview. It is really hard to say how it will develop over the next 5-10 years! It already thus far has developed into so many fashion shapes and forms and is still rapidly growing. I do know that in 5-10 years Hip Hop will rule the world!! And what I mean by that is all aspects of life will then be members of the Hip Hop generation and will be in positions like doctors, lawyers, architects, presidents and many other major positions in life. We must recognize this now and start taking action now in order to be prepared for the continued growth of this world power! The current state of Hip Hop to me is great through the eyes of an optimist like myself. The only thing truly missing is the balance in the mainstream! The mainstream is being ran by a lot of music that lacks substance and is very destructive in the hearts and minds of a Hip Hop purist point of view and the worst part is that the children and the elders that don’t know any better think that this is what Hip Hop is all about and it is killing the credibility of the great culture on many levels. Our job is to find the means to have the meaningful substance side of the culture more accessible by any means necessary!! We must use our Sol Power to dictate the future of our culture Hip Hop and ya don’t stop!!!
Aight, let’s get back to the main topic – your current projects. As far as I know, the idea of forming a group with Stacy Epps came rather spontaneous. And that’s really surprising me, because while listening to “Sol Power”, I can feel a deep harmony between Stacy and you and I get the feeling as if that album had already been planned a long time ago. So how did the whole “Sol Uprising” thing come about?
Well really it was rather spontaneous!! Sol Uprising was formed in ATL and really it came about from me and Stacy doing live shows together with my other 2 partners in Scienz of Life being back up in the NY – NJ area. And me being in ATL started me and Stacy doing soe live shows together. Some Scienz material and some of her solo demo stuff. We were helping her work on at the time. The responses from the crowd and from our inner circles were so overwhelming!! We continued to hear “Y’all should form a group” over and over again until we finally just did it!! It was such an easy transition that it almost seems natural and let us know we were doing the right thing with this new group Sol Uprising!! Formed by the people!! For the people.
Tell us something about the album and its main message – what do you want your listeners to learn from the whole album?
Ok, first off the listener must realize that these songs are Stacy Epps first songs!! Meaning these are directly inspired pieces from her first professional recording effort. As far as the message: The main message is “change”. The only thing constant in the universe is change. We are tired of seeing the same formulas being done repeatedly. We want the listener to feel the uplifting vibes of positivity concealed in the essence of the music. We want the youth to see that you can be cool and responsible or that you can be hip and intelligent at the same time. We are bringing the love and passion back into the game. We want to see change for the better and we focus mainly towards the minds and souls of the masses with this one. We aim for the real ‘you’, the inner self. The spiritual ‘you’ – the Soul. Hence the name Sol Power. We want people to become aware of their spiritual side as well as the physical. Sol Uprising here to uplift the minds and souls of the people and start and uprising in this mainstream commercial industry all in one BIG swing!!
That’s a really good message – the world needs more of that kind of music. So, will there be a follow-up to “Sol Power” and a solo album from Stacy Epps within the next years?
No question about that this is just the first chapter in our novel of life. We plan on keeping the movement flowing strong and also the people can look forward to a solo project from soulstress Stacy Epps!!! Stay tuned to www.Soluprising.com. I am currently in the lab now working on my solo effort.
Hehe, yeah I will come back to that later. As the name “Sol Power” already tells us, the album has got an enormous influence of soul music. Especially your brother ID4 Windz’s melodic productions and Stacy Epps’s awesome voice make this LP to something special. But also your style fits perfectly into the whole vibe of this record. So are you planning to do more stuff like that or even do some singing on your upcoming projects in the future?
It may happen like that naturally but my approach now that Sol Uprising exists is going to be to let the Sol Uprising music be my outlet to bring that soulful sound that inspires me so much and bring back the throw back Lil Sci with the storytelling and “scientifical madness”. Expect to hear a variety of flavas from the kid!! My creative juices are overflowing lately
Hehe, so you’re probably not going to be the next Andre 3000 and give us something like “The Love Below” you mentioned before?
Nah I will leave that for him!! But I am such a Jazz head on the low you might see me on the live instruments doing a live Jazz record in the future. Sky is the limit.
Haha, that would be dope for sure, Sci. Can’t wait for that to drop. Ok, now as we’re already talking about your future projects – can you tell us something about “The John Robinson Project”, your highly anticipated solo debut entirely produced by the metalfingered supervillain MF Doom? As far as I know, this will be a vocal autobiography, but could you please give us some more details about the release date and possible features? Heads want to know.
Let’s see, John Robinson, that is me!! I want to paint many pictures, both reality and slightly exaggerated to fit from pieces of my life and times on a record and at the same time blend that true Hip Hop essence bringing it back to when heads made full albums!! The whole joint is dope type formula – no fillers!! Same approach I took with the Sol Uprising song for song, one jewel at a time!! And of course expect to hear the ingenious concept album steez from the Villain himself and maybe some rhymes from him too!! As far as features, I will not reveal that just yet as we are locking down some key features to bring the entire project to the next level!! This album will be like nothing I have ever done before!!
Any info about the release date? Will the album be released before summer?
Either right before or smack in the prime of Summer 2009. Nah, I am kidding!!
What’s your formula working on “The John Robinson Project”? Do you give Doom some hints on how you want the beats to sound before he produces them, or does he just bless you with some of his instrumentals and you pick the beats after listening to them? Or do you even work as a kind of a co-producer for this album? Just curious.
Really I am keeping the purity of this project. I am not even really picking beats I am taking what Dooms feels should be for the project and then concepting them and building with him on the concepts and scripting it and running with it!! I trust the villain’s ear.
I understand … just wondering, because as the album’s going to be some kind of an autobiography of yours, the beats might reflect something of your personality or your personal experiences in life. I don’t have any doubts that this project will blow us out of our shoes, because every time you guys are working together, the result is something decent – I suppose everybody who listened to “Yikes!” (of the last Scienz of Life album “Project Overground : Scienz Experiment”), “Impressions” (of King Geedorah’s “Take Me To Your Leader”) and the new KMD track “Sorcerers” will agree with me on that one. Talking of KMD : How will you and the whole Scienz of Life crew be involved in this project? Will we hear you and your brothers on some more tracks of this album entitled “Mental Illness”?
HAHA, now that is TOP SECRET INFO. I must stay silent on that question instructed by ZEV Love X himself!! Sorry!! The story will soon unfold!! Put it like this, Doom is a genius with this concept album thing man!!
Hehe, that makes the whole thing even more interesting. Sorry fans, you heard it by the man himself. So – time will tell … but I’m sure this will be off the hook, too. Could you at least answer this question: How did you get in contact with Doom? I know that must have happened some time after he moved to Atlanta and you still used to live there. Please tell us something about that.
Actually we knew each other from being label mates back in the Fondle ‘Em records days!! We officially linked up in ATL around 2000 when we moved there!! And the rest is history!! Linking with Doom for me has been the marking of my career going full circle!! Zev Love and KMD era was definitely one of the many inspirations that led me to pick up a pen and began my writing spree!!