Ha, ha, sorry everyone but, after the last post I totally realized I left out a few things. So, here they are:
When the record was recorded, that week was very eventful and one of the things that happened (and a keen ear can hear it in the leanings of some of the music here) is that I was dealing with the sudden happening of my dog, King Ramses, having to be put down. In that...well, the album is bittersweet to me.
Jordan's being in town slightly coincided with McDonald's release of its Sweet Tea so, the line on Midnight Love at 2 am "I need you in my life like sweet tea" was literally because of his obsession with the drink at that time. We had a few trips to get some, thats for sure.
There's a track called Day to Day that didn't make this record, for whatever reason, with a 18-20 bar verse of mine that I can actually rap at any moment, off the top. My friend Noah, at the time, was around so, we allowed him to get in on singing the chorus, which he did off the top of his head and without writing it down. It was fun and, to be honest, I've no idea how it DIDN'T make it on the record.
Originally, we wanted to call the group, "Conduct Lionhardt and Jordan Santana will blow you to Smithereens," or, "the Smithereens." Didn't take long for us, however, to discover a group that went by the name already so, we went back to the drawing board or, in this case, to some stuff that influence us. Big nod to the film "Royal Tannenbaums" for being so awesome and quirky. Thus, we re-christened ourselves the Royal Applebaums. Like a hip hop version of Gene Hackman and Danny Glover. (bet Jordan might put that in a future verse...)
The album cover is my sketchy take on the Original art for the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, from early cover art for Alice in Wonderland. I had this idea (and I will eventually do more than just some random Spider-Man villain images I've done for my nephew) to draw with a pencil and white on brown paper bags. I set out to do that with this cover but, I really messed up by leaving all my art stuff behind in Pittsburgh, as this cover wasn't drawn until my trip to Arizona last year. Ha, ha. So, while there, I went and got some colored pencils and some construction paper (since I couldn't find something akin to brown paper bag there) and did that with 2 different browns, peach, and white. Amazingly, it doesn't look that bad to me...but its far from what I envisioned. The paper bag adds this grainy old look and I can strip the image a bit to make it look like a worn cover. Alas, should have, could haves... But, take note of how freaked out I made Jordan on the image, with me winking to him as to say, "Yeah, it is trippy but it will be okay, dun son."
So yeah, that was the extra bits. Hope you enjoyed them. Next post will be about...something else!
- Conduct Lionhardt
Friday, July 9, 2010
Interesting days here, as the label I signed too, Verto Records (http://www.vertorecords.com/) has released a free down loadable album of mine that me and my friend Jordan recorded over a few days back in 2007. Going by the noteworthy nom de guere Royal Applebaums, we just cobbled together this record at the last minute. Verto, hoping to start up a small buzz and give people a free reason to look into them, asked me if they could offer up the album for free. I said yes.
So, here I decided to depart from my usual non-insular way of blogging to give delicious scoops on what the tracks are, whom is referenced in them, and maybe some anecdotes worthy of people viewing. Feel free to download the album at the website listed in the last paragraph and join in this track-by-track reveal.
I'm never sure how I decide what makes a good opening track for a record. Here, the deciding factor was the beat by a guy who went by Ill Eagles. He had done quite a few nice instrumentation and this one was the first I wrote too in...I think like, late '04. My verse deals with two people in particular. One was a skater (I use that loosely, and that wrist break portion ACTUALLY happened) and the other a notable emcee who was disrespectful of a female friend of mine. "Dunnies" came from an in-joke sprung from a scene in a hip hop comedy called "Brown Sugar" involving two guys named Ren and Ten. Its classic scene and, surprisingly, one that could be called "Intentionally cross cultural." Check it out if you get the chance.
"Jazz it Up"
My cousin, who goes by Lottoj (pronounced "low-taj") is a crazy good producer who just hasn't really pushed hard enough into getting known. Here is a beat he made...I don't actually remember when but, when he stopped by with a CD of music, we found what we thought would make a decent single. The concept is simple, talking about how what we do jazzes up the sound in ways people rarely did that year ('07). I know, cockiness, yeah? Anyways, what you hear from me is an attempt pull off an Abstract Rude flow (which I fail miserably at), inspired by listening to Haiku De Tat Cd's. Jordan loved the idea of rapping to the jazz horn sample and, thus we have the song. (note: Jordan references "TRL" which still was on air at the time. Welcome to the world of quickly exiting relevance to witty one liners)
Personally, this is a tough song for me to listen too. I'll explain later why this time was INCREDIBLY tough for me on a personal level but, you hear a verse from my bro-in-law EQual One...which is about my sister...yeah, its not really something to get into but its tough to listen to what he says in any of his raps about her and family. Jordan's verse is about a very trying time of attempting to love beyond the first big relationship he had, something I was privy to watching flourish then burn. Tough. My verse...Ha, ha, my verse is pure fiction. Its a long story but, Conduct Lionhardt and love (of the romantic variety) don't really work out. (I will say that, I do have one female muse that comes into play in future music I will release. I'll share that with you for sure. Its fun heartbreaking yet hopeful stuff)
"Get your verse written for $.32"
The basic idea to this is, we each wrote verses and had other people rap them. Oh the troubles I had with doing this because, since it was me and Jordan mostly, and then EQual One and my other cousin on some songs...I have a very specific way in which I approach music. My verses usually mean more than what you catch initially. Any who, EQual One does Jordan's verse, I do EQ's, and Jordan...poor Jordan, had to do mine. Since we liked the idea but it was going to be hard, we took this sparse beat and lazily did the chorus. Note that Jordan changes up the "1,2,3" thing with a "mom, dad, 1,2,3" on the last chorus and, of doing EQual One's verse I am most proud of the ad libbed Rick Flair "wooo!"
"Midnight Love at 2 AM"
Jordan's friend Carly lived in Pittsburgh and we wanted to make tribute to her for being our friend. We waited till 2 am though. Ha, ha. What you get with that is a weird tale of how me and Jordan (whom weren't romantically interested in Carly) had a disagreement over who gets the girl. (side note: she sat next to Jordan. Historically, they always do. Ha, ha.) Its all tongue-in-cheek fun, though and my verse has two great references, one visual ("picture her as wineglass scripture" Think about that for a little...) and then a reference to "Clue" with my use of the butt of the candle to take Jordan out.
My young pal, Cornelius Winthrop (a.k.a. C-Dep or "the Christ Dependant") crafted this beat here which came out of Jordan telling me how, when he was in Texas, he witnessed a dance that, when done, was cheered on: "Oh! Get Motivated! Oh, Get Motivated!" From there, I decided, having come off a headache, we'd switch it up and make a dance and song for "Oh, Get Medicated!" Ha, ha! The chorus was a fun treat since, the whole project was recorded in my sister's empty bedroom (she was married and lived LITERALLY 30-45 min on the other side of town) and everyone who was in the house that day (bout...5-6 people) were yelling it out loud. My verses have so many great lines that, I'd wager, its probably the BEST thing I've rapped. EVER. References to Shaq's muscle heating pads, how I' bring more Heat than Dragnet, bumba clot, the whole run on people at clubs, how my rhymes "dually bust", and the first of a series of references to the "Blade" movies, which were on back-to-back, that weekend. Its one of my favs on the project. "Sure as shootin' Kansas" is a strange reference to the character of Rusty, from Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, a slightly small project that Geoff Darrow illustrated. (Geoff Darrow is one of the visual minds that created a good deal of the tech and future look for "the Matrix". Rusty, often said "Sure as Shootin." (OH...and we did craft a "Get Medicated" dance...just not the weekend we recorded this project)
"Blink and you'll Miss it"
I've had the blessing (cause I know its gotta be from God) to have received production from some of the most talented unknown guys on this planet so, this track has the really great honor of having Re:Flex the Architect (a MONSTROUS emcee/producer from the U.K.) as its creator. The song concept, again, soooo not a huge breakthrough to new ground or anything but, the twist here is that, my verse (the 2nd one) is all about...me. Really, it is. Listen to it and realize that everyone of those lines was about me and how I was in 2007. I didn't even tell Jordan or anyone that until now so, yeah, big scoop.
"Whatcha Tryin to Do"
Freeeeeeze. My cousin Jeff (a.k.a. Mr. Freeze) was a KILLER rapper and totally came on this track and decided to depressively sing on this track about how girls had messed with our hearts. Again, I used my skills at fiction to ride the beat and make it seem like I was miffed at some girl for her actions of taking my heart then going with someone else. Jordan...ha,ha, that verse he rhymes was initially not delivered as crazy. I think he was going over it, did a weird infliction and we laughed at it. That made him go forth with the wild delivering. We often made each other want to do interesting things because, for the most part, we make music we find fun to listen too.
Ha, ha...I like the song it kinda, fits that very straight forward Christian rap kinda vibe but, for me I don't have too many points for this one. My verse is shorter than I usually write and, its very tough for me to do that. Very tough. I wrote a longer verse then did some editing it down until I ended up with that...12 bars, was it? The beat was made by EQual One and he didn't make it the length we needed so, since it would have been 45min to and fro...I had to take the short straw on this one.
"Saturday Sand dune Jamboree"
My sister likes those beach party movies, ya know, the campy ones from the technicolor film days and, this just spoke to me like that so, with some BLATANT SAMPLES (which this FREE album is riddled with. And I MEAN riddled with) we composed what each person would be performing as character's in a fictional film called "Saturday Sand Dune Jamboree." The funny thing is, that's not something I shared with everyone involved, either. Ha, ha! I would have...if we'd made a video for it, though. Would have been epic mini-movie styled. Anyways, you can almost visually see the song as a trailer with each of these random beach moments happening from each person's perspective. My sister (Dove Wonder Why) is on the hook with the weird effect on her vocals. I wanted more of her on this record and, sadly, it just didn't work out that well. She doesn't think of herself as musical but there are things she brings to the table that allow me the better expression. It may just be knowledge of how I am and the lack of having to explain what I'm trying to get across, though. (EQual One is on various tracks of this project, simple because he was there. Me and Jordan were having such a creative time we just allowed whoever to join in)
"Shake, Rattle, and Roll"
Jordan brainstormed this one up and, it has the distinction of being the ONE song on the album that had pre-existing verses on it from everyone. Most of this thing we just wrote on the spot on the fly and recorded. No major MAJOR planning involved. This one was due to Jordan having his verse and wanting to rap it to something, so me and Freeze just found some stuff that we liked. Frankly, my delivery to the verse I did is atrocious in my ears. I can't stand it. I'll re-record the verse on something mixtape-esque to make myself feel better some time. Its a good verse, writing-wise, though. Not AMAZING but good. My frame of references is usually from old Hollywood movies, comic books, old tv shows, archeology, professional wrestling jargon, East Coast rap music, Jazz, and of course, The BIBLE. A strange brew but, it makes some intriguing stuff...well, I think. Hm...that doesn't have too much to do with this song except a few lines from my verse and Freeze's. Me and him were TIGHT back then. That "Now for a Break" sample can be found on older versions of the beat program, Fruity Loops.
"Here we Go Again, As Opposed to the Last time you heard us, which was probably Bananas"
This song has a crazy history to go with that title (I'm uncertain if the full title was attached to it but, yeah, thats it) Me and Jordan first met up in Ohio of...'03, I believe, when I hopped a Greyhound to meet my Internet/phone musical friend. We built up a nice fellowship and started our tender steps toward doing music together. The most notable song that time, was a track we did on a Lottoj beat he had crafted with a beat machine called Dr Groove, which was entitled "Bananas." Thus, this song is the direct sequel, like a lot of them, that took various years to get too. I have a habit of wanting to challenge the ways I've rapped on things before and, since "Bananas" had been done in a double-timed delivery, I felt that this one should too, but with a slight twist as I slowed it down at one point. Its not very impressive but, at the time, I was pleased I could do it and it not come off as REALLY bad. I like parts of this verse, some cool Nintendo referencing to a game I played a ton...Oh, I introduced a concept that is a part of things I'll do later on in that, the line about the "Pray Boy" shirt. I did make a mock shirt (which no one knows about till this very second) and I intend to press up some more soon. The basis is I took the image of a "Play Boy" shirt and re-drew it into a boy with hands in classic prayer gesture. My intention is to get up a web/blog site for notable and unknown Christian men to post up essays and thoughts on stuff in a manner that kind of is a more "clean" version of Hef's rag. it'll be different but, for me, I've found that not many men's magazines and such, offer a perspective on stuff that interests me the same. There should be. Its kooky but If the opportunity presents itself, I'll build the site up. All the same, if anyone is interested, email me and I'll get you a shirt.
Ah yes..."Fin." Originally, this didn't exist. EQual One (again! I know!) had made this beat for his brother to rap some thuggin and buggin on. Jordan got a listen then ask if we could somehow get it and EQual's brother agreed, since he doubted he'd write something anyways. Thus, we decided to go with an ending track to match the production's bravado. Freeze gets things started, makes reference to how this is a piece of what we're capable of. (He would end his recording association with us on this song, finishing up high school then working. Far as I know, he's only done a few verses on one of his cousin's records and doesn't actively do music anymore.) EQual One thanks us for allowing him to get down on the record. (It would be his final musical act. He's stopped rapping and making beats, after this.) Jordan starts to build the intensity with his verse then I go. I like this one alot. It has a great presence to it, I think. My verse is one of those fun things I do, to challenge myself. I took all the tracks before and referenced them in my verse. My opening lines take into account that me and Jordan were doing this record, then let the others in on it. I tried (again, unsuccessfully) to do a Remnant-style on this track with my verse. (Remnant, or Remnant Militia as some know them, WAS one of the best rap groups ever. They combined a vibe that worked on both a mainstream and underground sensibility and were my personal pick to make a real impact on a wide range. Everyone I played their records to, didn't just like them, but LOVED them. The year I recorded this, they broke up so, this verse is the first of what will be a few tributes I do to them. haha. They'll be better too. I promise)
"Rap Your Own Verse, for $1.03"
Again, Not sure if the title stuck but, this is a response to "get your verse written" where we each rap the verses we "ghost wrote" earlier. The thing that sets this one off for me is that we did it on this crispy Fab Da Eclectic production. We reworked the hook where we alternated the 1,2,3, count. I had a terrible time recording this cause I have sucky timing when it comes to matching up vocals for emphasis. Seriously, I suck at it so bad. Listen to it again, my verse is WAAAY more timid than the other two guys on that chorus. I LOVE my verse though and rapping it how I wrote it is the thing that lets me fly. I think my fervor could have been a touch harder on it but, for what I managed, I'm pleased. I am a huge believer in the fact that a relationship with Christ is essential for a full and complete existence. My verse, of course, ends up being the more "Conductful" one, for lack of a better way to say it. You'll hear my second Blade reference in "Should I grab the Bible or Snipes, to swing the harder Blade," also making note of how the Bible is referred to as a Christian's sword. And finally, this track is accredited to the work of the Holy Ghost, whom I prayed to guide (a.k.a "write") us in our expression of rap.
Hopefully that adds a little extra to your listening to the project and, keep a lookout for my ACTUAL releases from Verto Records this year: "The Return" EP, and my full length debut, "Finite."
Hmm...feels weird doing that whole, "artist plugs his upcoming stuff" thing. It'll take awhile to get used to THAT not being strange. Now excuse me, I have to go and prepare character sheets for "Rex Roy is: Dr. Divinty...Bookseller" to send to the author.
God Bless and good listening,
- Conduct Lionhardt