Monday, November 29, 2010

Conducting Thoughts with: Afaar

After interviewing NomiS and listening to him rave about the new album, I had to track down Afaar (member of the mighty Gallery Drive crew) and see if he'd be willing to do an interview about his new project, pop culture, and the nature of trying to make it in the music biz. Luckily, he and I have spoken before and both have a keen love of comic books so, he was down for it. I hope you enjoy what he had to say:

Conduct: I recently asked Nomis a similar question, since he was also on the Gallery Drive record also but, did that group effort teach you anything that you are now bringing to the release of "Art of Word?"

Afaar: I think it taught me a few things about doing music in general. This album was already finished before we really started working on the Gallery drive projects, which was good because I was able to put all my focus into that. A lot of what it taught me is compromise in music. Sometimes you need to give up what you want, or some of what's closest to you for the greater good. I know a lot of rappers and artists that are not successful because they simply do what they want. No accountability. I did a lot of the hooks and choruses on the album, and there were times the guys just didn't like how it came across. Either they didn't like how I was saying it, or they didn't want ME to say it or whatever. And that plays against your pride as a solo artist, to have cats say "I like your hook, but I don't want you to say it". But that made me a better artist. And that is what makes better records. When someone goes into the studio for 4 months, and shuts themselves off, and comes out with crap, don't be shocked. It's because something may sound good in your head, but NOT good to everyone else. So you have to take that criticism. I did a lot of that with Art of Word. I had close to 40 tracks to choose from, and I let folks hear it and tear it apart until I had what was widely considered a really good project from people who's opinions I respect.

Conduct: One of the most striking things I found interesting about the way you opened your new album here was just how seriously faith-focused that the track was. I've found that most people usually open up with a blazing "rap centric" or "banger beat heavy" track to start off their record. What made you decided to go with this song to open and, NOT use as a closing track?

Afaar: I started my last album "Write to Live" that way. But for this I wanted something a little bigger, more meaningful and epic. I had my good friend Analia sing on this track. She's classically trained in opera, and a bunch of other styles of singing. She's dope! Anyway, I had her actually doing opera singing in Italian in the chorus. The title of the song is Resistenza which means "Strength". I think the purpose for me was to make it something that was really meaningful, because this album was a journey for me, and it was really meaningful. Plus my boys Commoners and Kings killed it! My boy Jason had the spoken word at the end that really summed it up. Our strength is really God's strength that he gives us to do His work.

Conduct: We've talked about the use of your various pop culture references, from cartoons to video games, to comics in the past. I often sit and think long and hard on what references have last effect or end up being just passe. Do such references come to you easily or do you ever have to wonder whether its open enough for the audience you're sending sounds out to?

Afaar: One really flattering comment someone made about my last record was when he quoted a line, that I knew only a few people would get, and he went crazy because he recalled the reference! As a fan of music, when someone brings up a childhood memory, or something that I know about like comics, TV, video games etc. It gives me the feeling that I know this person a little better because that person likes what I like, he has seen what I saw and likes it. Now with the comic references, I really try to tone it down, because I can do it all day, and it becomes not as special if that's all I do. Like playing Tekken 3 with Eddie Gordo, you become a "1 button warrior"! You have 1 move that you play out. So I try to make more general references for punchlines. It's strange because it does come easily. When I write a verse, it feels like being the architect in Inception. I feel like I'm creating it, but I'm discovering it at the same time. I know guys who plan out their lines and bars, and even write out the alphabet on their paper to construct verses. I just.... write. I don't usually think about the next rhyme till I get to it, but usually I get it and it follows the topic and pattern perfectly. I don't know, it almost writes itself at times. I can't explain it.

Conduct: Beats are often thought of as being as essential (and, in some minds, more important) than the words which dance upon them. You have a nice set of producers on this project. Do you seek them all out or stumble upon most of the beat makers you work with?

Afaar: Both. I am fortunate to be good friends with Truth B Told, who is ADDICTED to production. (This dude has been known to spend $1000 on 1 beat LOL) I love him like a brother. But he usually finds producers out of the wood work! I'm talkin 19 year olds from Germany making CRAZY beats. And he hooks me up with contacts, or sometimes with beats he knows I'll use. It's nice to not have to worry about. But I did make relationships with a lot of producers for this project. I had some Teddy P production. Cat's a BEAST! I talked with him on the phone, and that was a refreshing change. Usually relationships with producers would be all emails back and forth.

Conduct: Comparison is HUGE in the way people communicate newer artists to their friends so, out of fun curiosity, do you think you have similarities to any emcees out there?

Afaar: In my experience, if people like you, they compare you to people they like. even if they sound nothing like you. I have been compared to Talib, Xzibit, Common, Nas a lot, Biggie etc. One comparison that really gets me is Immortal Technique. People say that it sounds like I'm biting his style.... Which is funny because I never listened to an entire Immortal Technique album, I have heard a grand total of maybe less that 10 FULL songs of his. And people don't compare, they think I BITE his style. Of course I gave it an honest listen. Cat's on some revolutionary, overthrow the govt. stuff!! He's a conspiracy theorist. He's dope! I always knew that from the stuff I heard, but I was never really into him. My style is nothing like his, and my topics are not on the same things, so how am I anything like him?? Funny if you ask me.

Conduct: "Hundred Times" is definitely an interesting track in that you opened the project so Christ focused and then gets here where you talk about your skills and how beastly you are on the mic. How do you deal with the people who find that those two things are in opposition to one another, especially in regards to belief?

Afaar: I've definitely had conversations with people about this. If you want to see the fruit of Christ, look at my life. I have a loving wife, I have an American job while living in Canada (oh yeah, I moved to Canada). We give our tithes, and considering the financial status of a LOT of people, we are BLESSED! I read the word and volunteer at a Christian based youth center. So I have the freedom to have fun and make music that I like! There are a LOT of Christian MC's that touch on every topic, some that depress, some that encourage, some that are pretty much a copy and paste straight from scripture. I think HHH can have the freedom to just spit dope sometimes. I am a fan of hip hop music, and to not make some beastly tracks would go against the reason I started making music. And it becomes not fun anymore. I like coming up with clever punchlines, metaphors, hyperbole's and all that. And people like to hear that. It's just when people want to hear a more heartfelt, conscience, or even a Christ centered song, switch the track. I have those too. I mean, I am not trying to be another MC, if all you want to hear from everyone you listen to is The Ambassador, then listen to the Ambassador.... I'm going to rap. I enjoy it.

Conduct: "Audience" you chose as the video single. What was it about this song that you and your team at End of Earth felt made it the best track to be represented in a video?

Afaar: Dope beat, dope rhymes... It's one of 3 singles/videos we're doing. I think I liked it for a song to start off with because it's upbeat, it's style and pattern heavy, and I figured if people like that song, they'll go nuts over what I didn't show them yet.

Conduct: You know me, I love some good visual stuff and, I've been interested in your album cover since I first saw it. Why go with that revolutionary image for your project?

Afaar: The title "Art of Word" is a play on words from Art of War. And really from the first track it's kind of amping you up to be on that revolutionary vibe. I want to hear good hip hop music, music that I came up with that made me fall in love with hip hop. As a whole how music has progressed, has really been the opposite of progression. I'm not one of those whinny cat's who think everything is whack, and hate on every song that comes out. I just hate that hearing music that I personally like has to be so few and far between. Even in the HHH market. Is it too much to ask for someone who I think is talented to see success? I'm talking Grammy type of success. I'm not saying any names, but the people who are on top of the Christian charts... I don't like a lot of that stuff, it doesn't appeal to my liking, personally. I understand why everyone likes them, and they are extremely talented, just not my cup o tea I guess.

Conduct: There are quite a few features on this record but, I found, that it doesn't take away from you being able to showcase your individual talent. I, love asking this question of people because I feel that the feature game is out of control by people (especially newer artists): Why do you have features on your SOLO album?

Afaar: I have features from artists I respect, and who I feel like I wanted to make a song with. Period. It doesn't hurt from a business standpoint to have bigger names on the album to widen the listening range. I think any artist should have collabs on their record that swallow what they are doing. Moving to secular music for a minute. When a no name artist rhymes with Elzhi, I am only going to listen to the track because Elzhi is on it. And since 9 times out of 10 Elzhi is going to DEMOLISH any no name rapper on the song, it's not a smart choice for a collab. You have to be confident in your talent, and do your thing. And that's what I did, my thing. I never try to out rap anyone, in fact, almost every collab that I sent already had my verse on the reference track for them to hear before they decided to do the song

Conduct: Continuing on features, do you ever feel that certain artists do TOO MUCH featuring?

Afaar: I think I came really close! hahaha! I think there should be a maximum of half the album. You lose your own voice other wise.

Conduct: "Naomi" landed on a few people's repeat tracks list (of people I've spoken too, who heard the record) and its very interesting because most people say they've heard or experienced such stories themselves. How was it to write this track especially since you have a personal connection with the mother in the story?

Afaar: My last album had the story telling track Isabella, which was really successful. I decided to follow suit with a story that touches on the social aspects of the communities we live in. I felt like we have songs about the strength of single mothers, and even young mothers... mothers, mothers, mothers.... Its all about them. What about the child, they're important too right? So I made it about her, and how her parent's decisions effect her. This is loosely based on an actual relationship in my past, the names, locations and events were doctored up. But I think people can draw emotional responses from this. When I showed this to a friend of mine right after it was mixed, I looked back when the song was almost over and he had tears in his eyes... Dude was literally crying! I thought to myself, OK we got it... hahahaha

Conduct: What is your idea for where you want to take this music of yours? What's your goal?

Afaar: The ultimate goal is to do music full time. To be able to tour a few times a year, sell records and live off of money made for music. Plan B is to start my own youth center, that emphasizes art and music for programming. I would love to take what I do, and give it back to young people. That way I can justify making music when I'm 40! hahahaha

Conduct: As a writer do you have a process that you always adhere too? Like, do you find it easier to write in a quiet place all by yourself, around other members of Gallery Drive, or do you just do it wherever and whenever it hits you?

Afaar: I like to write where I feel the most inspiration. Usually that's on my own. I've been known to write on the bus, on the train, on the beach, in writing sessions with Gallery Drive (even tho I usually go in the other room to focus). My process is simple, just write, like I was saying before, it's weird how it comes to me, especially when I'm inspired.

Conduct: Recently I went back over some of my past "Conducting Thoughts" interviews and found that a few people I had spoken too mentioned a concern with how many people are doing rap now and, that a good amount of them probably never asked themselves if rapping was what their purpose was. Have you ever asked yourself that or, came to a moment of crossroad in whether doing this was what you SHOULD be doing?

Afaar: When I finished "Write to Live" I spent a long time in prayer on the alter. I wanted to know what my problem was. And God answered. I came to the conclusion that I used to do it to prove myself. When I should be doing it to give back to Him. It's a gift, and as Christians we are taught to give those gifts/ talents back to God multiplied. So my progression as an artist, and becoming a better rapper, and man of God is my talent that I am giving back to him... The whole audience of one cliche. LOL

Conduct: How did you manage to get Freddie Bruno on the album TWICE?

Afaar: Easy. I gave him 2 dope beats! LOL. I really respect Freddie. He's a really good rapper, I used to listen to Phonetic Comp. all the time while working out. Which is a BIG deal, because my workout play list is SUPER exclusive. You don't just get on my play list cause I like you. Put it this way. I have 1 Talib Kweli song on my playlist and 3 Mos Def songs. Blackstar is my favorite record of all time. That should tell you something.

Conduct: Nomis just dropped an EP, "Rosario Dawson" which I just interviewed him about. How does it feel to see your other friends from Gallery Drive making these moves on the solo?

Afaar: Well, NomiS is a solo artist. It's good to see him doing well in what he does. I'm proud of him! I've been friends with that cat since 7th grade. My mom used to braid his hair when he had a fro! LOL! That's right I knew him when he was bald headed! That's my boy, he's like a brother, I want him to reach every level of success. Plus, if one of us wins, we all win!

Conduct: Do you listen to much music and, if so, whom makes it onto an Afaar playlist?

Afaar: Like I said, a lot of my music listening is during workouts, but here it goes.... Elzhi, Joell Ortiz, Royce, Common, Little Brother, Kam Moye, Jay Electronica, Gallery Drive, The Roots, Pharoahe Monch.... and others I can't think of right now.

Conduct: What personal lesson have you learned in your walk with Christ that you think you can share with the people out there that maybe you haven't put in your music as of yet?

Afaar: God's grace is sufficient. I have grown up in church, and I heard that a million times. I understood it intellectually, but you don't truly understand it till you've made it through some stuff, and you see other people not make it through. When you really reflect, and see your life, and look at other people's lives, You realize how God's grace stands up. Man! So powerful. I would love to do a song that would do that justice. Maybe on the next record.

Conduct: Now you get to play interviewer here and ask me ANYTHING you want. I will honestly answer it. Go ahead.

Afaar: Ok. What song on this album is your favorite, and which song do you think other people would like the best, and why?

Conduct: That's a tough question. I think there are 5 incredible tracks on this record but, I guess to be honest, its going to be one of these three, depending on how I feel in the moment: Naomi, Resistanza, or Duty Calls-Outro. Ha, ha. I really love records with strong opens and closes.

Conduct: This is the open space to say, plug, or even tell a joke. The whatever you wanna say place. Go!

Afaar: Buy the album! It's worth it, I promise! Plus, look out for my, exclusive song "Motivation"! It is a 100 bar verse! Pure Heat! I put a lot into this one... Be easy y'all PEACE AND BLESSINGS!!!

Thank you, Afaar, for "Conducting Thoughts" with me.

Afaar's new album, "Art of Word" can be listened too and purchased at the link below:

Monday, November 15, 2010

"waiting for the buS" secrets revealed!!

Almost 9 years ago, me and my friend Owen decided to try and form the world's largest rap collective...just for the fun of it. We didn't think anyone would want to join up with two "message board rappers" and just posted up online as a joke. Little did I know that not only would people be interested but that the very act of fun would become the start of my entrance into music and my connection to various people around the planet. Once boasting a line-up of over 35 people, Legion Of Sub Par Emcees has become, in many aspects, a community for me, one that extends to nearly half the planet and most states in America.
Two days after my 30th birthday, we released a collection of songs from our recent history on an EP entitled "Waiting for the buS." I figured that maybe some people would be interested in some behind-the-scenes info on the project and possibly a few small jokes at the timeliness of its release. So, here we go:

Track 1 "Gratitude"
Featuring Sage Sensai and Name Basic aka Tricloptic Nerve on the verses and dj cuts by Dj Ryval, this particular track ended up being one of the better ones that the group has put together. Initially, I wanted to have the collective really do rap music that showcased our diversity of locations and skills. I connected with Sage Sensai (David Whitaker in his civilian guise) when we needed someone to shelter the group. Sage was looking to start up a label and started working with him on that. Interestingly enough, in the course of doing that on the side he found that his calling was to move to Japan and do music and other work there. I hear from him from time-to-time and he's still putting paper under his pen to this day. He lived in Georgia and connected with fellow emcee Name Basic and the two submitted this song, with cuts from, then, Legion member Dj Ryval. I believe I got this song in...'06 from them. Its the most classic rap track on this project and Name really hates how his voice sounds on it now. haha. A majority of these songs are a few years old but I think its really great.

Track 2 "So Human"
Featuring the rhyme stylings of Shaesan and Obstacle (member of another great crew, ShadowFacts) "So Human" is probably one of my favorites from this release. Shaesan is an interesting artist from Canada whom I met over message boards that put out a great independant record called "Combat." I've always loved the thought of how he chooses his words so when he asked me last year if he could submit a track for inclusion I jumped at the chance to have him on the project. Little would I know that he was going to ask for an assist on the song from Obstacle, whom I had also kind of befriended over the years. Now, Obstacle is somewhat of a puzzling emcee in that he vanishes for, what can seem like, years and then pops up in the most unexpected places. His flow styling is flawless and you can totally feel how comfortable he is with rapping. (Legion of Sub Par has a mix of people who've done music for years and relatively new artists) I never thought of having these guys together on a track, one of those classic moments where as a leader you think, "how come I didn't consider what that combo could do?" Here you get the response in a potent 2 verse track that really brings home facts of how Jesus was the Christ. Its a bright message made unique by the beat which, to me, seems dark. I'm hopeful that both of these busy guys can get together with the group for another good song.

Track 3 "Overcome"
The majority of the time the way things work with the Sub Par is that people send me the production and I craft the line-ups on the songs and the song's concept. (Note that the first two tracks were created without me hearing them first or suggesting who'd be on them.) This song and subsequent ones end up falling under my guidance in some form or another. Chef1, a talented emcee/producer and one of the tip top graffiti artists in Cali made the beat and sent it to me. I dug it but really wanted to get some thoughtful people on it to make the track not the USUAL thing you'd hear on this. So, I got to thinking about who, at that time...'07-ish, I believe, would really bring a fresh take on a song with Martin Luther King jr. sample. I chose in 3 of the freshest voices we had in the group, Artofact, Notion, and CommonCHILD. Artofact and Notion I met when they were in high school, each carving out a solid niche in their respective styles of emceeing. These two guys had matured in a variety of ways and of people I've worked and, well, grown in this life with, I am very proud of the men AND artists they have become. Now the last guy was tricky because I had these two young dudes from the west coast but didn't think I should go with another young voice. I decided to hit my peer group age and got CommonCHILD on it. Trying to not sound favoritist, CommonCHILD (who's a year or two older than I, I think) is arguably my favorite "heart rapper." I doubt anyone else expresses themselves and their belief with the spirit this guy puts in a song. I wanted that on here with the other two. Oddly enough, all 3 were big fans of each other, even living near to, and mentioned, in the same circles...Yet they'd never managed to work with one another. I think the collaboration went well enough and, again, I hope that one day I can arrange for these guys to have another go at it together.

Track 4 "Radio Edit"
Chef1 again brings a beat that I thought had a very specific sound. I instantly knew it required certain vocal types to be on it. Thus, in '08 when I got this one, I looked at the available roster and found great comfort in getting Kwestion and Silas Sirius on this one, with more vinyl cutting by Dj Ryval. Kwestion was an acquaintance I met through Artofact and we had some very nice talks about Legion of Sub Par and life stuff so, I felt that with him, I could just suggest this beat and he could concept it all out. I want to say it was my idea to get Silas on this with him but, my memory is foggy on that. Probably wasn't, ha ha. Silas and Dj Ryval were part of a South Carolina group called "Inktroverts." I'm sure that's what secured Ryval on the scratches here. I'm fond of this track because of how far it was from an idea the production had given me for it. Plus, lets be honest, not many songs about how the radio and what's played over the air ISN'T good stuff. The play of words on the term radio edit is not lost on me. And Silas' line about how he longs for the term "male enhancement" to refer to a man's character, may sum up my thoughts on various matters. Its a keeper.

Track 5 "Outside the Window"
By far and away the most bittersweet song on here for me to listen too. It features myself, EQual One, and Mr. Freeze who, at the time, were known as the "Hall Monitors." They were local emcees and for the early part of the aughts, my closest friends. After the recording of this song both Freeze and E One would cease music for a long spell of time and totally change from the men I knew them as. We wrote an entire record that will never see the light of day. So, listening to this song, on Dave Slayer production, takes me back to 2005 when we made it happen. From this you get a look at our various takes on the simple concept of what looking outside the window means for us all. Mine was the internal struggles that would send me to depression that year, EQual One's disdain with the events that surrounded his area, and Freeze's creative verse from the perspective of the old man who used to own the house Freeze was then living in. To me, Freeze's verse was the keeper. I was surprised then, when he recorded it, because I didn't expect that take on the concept from Freeze, who was a lot more of a battle rapper. I did the scant amount of singing, always prone to a minimalistic approach, thanks to a fear of not being a good singer.

Track 6 "Tailgate"
Feauturing the full line-up of the Inktroverts (Silas Sirius, Aj, Icthus9, and Dj Ryval) this song with production from 5ive8ight was one of the original tracks put together by this set of guys for the Legion's "still-in-progress" full length "raP buS" (read backwards it spells "Sub Par." neat huh?) When various starts and stops happened due to membership upheavals and a variety of trouble getting musicians from all over the world on the same page, the Inktroverts took the track back and put it on their own album, Headed back Home. Unfortunately, they didn't make the splash they maybe thought they were going too and, in the process of making their own album, Icthus9 and AJ retired to focus on family stuff. The group asked me to include it on whatever was to be the first release by our collective thus, you find it hear in all its crispy mixed goodness. Its another stand-out for me, despite not liking the beat at first. I think one of them was really into the idea of the song so I gladly gave the thing away...And had it returned to me, as gold.

Track 7 "Notebook"
This track does a lot for me. It was a rare occasion to have both Jordan Santana and Freeze on a song together, alone (prior collabs always included another person...or 2) as well as having production from Arizona mastermind, Pac0naut. I desperately wanted to write to this with its melancholy root and tightly crisp drums but, in the process of recording ANOTHER record (the Royal Applebaums "Bipolar Backspin" project) I was unavailable to get in on this. Thankfully, the song (about notebooks left behind by people) turned into a chilling classic, with the two emcees balancing their flows to a similar style (amazingly, because they don't rap similar AT ALL) and Jordan providing just the right tone to that sung chorus. Its totally on that, flipped up Cusack collar sadness and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Track 8 "The Edge"
Originally to be released on a production album, Dave Slayer graciously gave us this track, which featured a bunch of Legion affiliated rappers...and an amazing emcee named Weighword. Starting out the track with a very open and honest verse about his life and struggles, I really found myself pleased to have such a song make its way into my hands. Coupled with Artofact, Sage Sensai, and Micronaut bringing the strong finish, I'm actually glad we went with this as the closer to the project. This song also has the amazing distinction to being the oldest on here, being made in or around '03 or '04.

The Cover
Scroll back up and look at the cover there. I initially had a few extra things on it. There was a few street signage things I was going to have in the minimalist background as well as a kid to represent everyone who was on the project...which you can note from the lack of 2 kids with dreads, that neither I nor Sage Sensai are there. Instead I decided to keep it more toward the reference pic I had with the 6 kids, and I went with complimentary colors. It was done in 5 year-old markers that totally died out on me whilst coloring, ha ha. Thats about all I can say about my art (I've been challenged NOT to talk bad about it). Oh, here's who DID make the cover, from left to right: Dave Slayer (kid in winter hat), Obstacle, Jordan Santana, Freeze, Shaesan (older kid on far right), and CommonCHILD (yawning big guy). Randomly selected, of course.

Hopefully that was a nice short read (despite my longwinded typing) and you'll check it out if you haven't on iTunes or Amazon. Just look up Legion Of Sub Par Emcees. If you dig it, sweet, if not, we're working on the "raP buS" record so, next year, I promise a great 45-an hour of solid rap music...or you can punch me around a bit.

- Conduct Lionhardt

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Conducting Thoughts with: NomiS

"Conducting Thoughts" interviews are back in full swing and I figured I'd start with a guy I've worked with before. That fellow is NomiS (of, Gallery Drive and, formerly, Forgotten Heroes) who's released a free EP for the masses, entitled "Rosario Dawson." NomiS is an emcee on the come-up in a few circles and I was eager to get a few words from him on his project, a few random questions, and hopefully some insights on the "O-side resident." Please read on...

Conduct: Its been quite an interesting last year you had with your crew Gallery Drive, dropping a mixtape and album. Do you feel that the group effort has brought a bit of shine on you and your crew?

NomiS: I sure hope so! ha ha. But yeah, I think the "Psycho" video got a lot of attention and as a result we've made some new supporters. For people who haven't heard "Scratching the Surface", you guys are sleeping big time. I think that album is so freakin good!

Conduct: Gallery Drive dropped a pretty slick looking video for your first single. How important to an artist do you feel "the video" is in this day and age?

NomiS: Wow, these days everybody has access to something extremely "professional" and you have to keep up or get left behind. We live in a visually stimulated society these days so I think the video aspect is such a big help in promoting yourself!

Conduct: Have you found it to be an easier or more difficult task to get a release with a group out there and into the public eye?

NomiS: Well, when you have more people involved your pretty much always going to have a larger audience check for it. 6 people promoting instead of one person is a big difference, even if our audiences are very similar. BUT, the process of finishing the album and actually getting it out is so much more work! Doing music with the Gallery Drive crew is a ton of fun, but its a headache for sure! ha ha

Conduct: Let's get into the new project, its been awhile since you released your last album, "Mouthpiece of the Lion." What made you decide to come back (on a solo project) with an EP?

NomiS: Well, before I started working on this project I was already working on my next full length album (Searching for Alpha Trion). During the process I was getting this feeling that my career was feeling very stagnant to me. I was growing as an artist, but my audience didn't seem to be expanding at an equal rate. So, I decide that i would bite the bullet for one project, make something that I felt was really dope, and then just give it away for free with no strings attached. I try to promote myself in the ways that I feel work on me. For me, if I've at least heard about an artist a few times and I see that they've released a free project, I'll download it and listen to it at least once 7 times out of 10. So my hope for "Rosario Dawson" is to expand my following and hopefully get some new ears checking for me. Once "Searching for Alpha Trion" drops I'll hopefully have a whole new group of people excited and ready to buy it. Ideally this next release will get the proper attention that I think it deserves. If it does, I will finally be able to do this full time and just focus on music. But, that cant happen if people don't support financially. I can be as well known as Drake or Lil' Wayne, but if everybody just bootlegs my album, I'll stay broke.

Conduct: Rosario Dawson. Your thoughts on the actress?

NomiS: I think she is lovely....we can just leave it at that. ha ha

Conduct: What made you want to call the EP "Rosario Dawson?" Was that track just the one which, thematically stood out as what the set of songs was all about?

NomiS: I picked that song for the title track because I felt that was the song that was the best representation of where I was at when I wrote and recorded the project. The idea of people wanting what they cant have (or what isn't important), versus wanting what they really need has just been very apparent to me lately. Its what our country thrives on these days. We teach people what they "need" through television, radio, etc. and as a result we're creating a generation of snobs who feel like the world owes them something.

Conduct: Besides the title track, what made you decide to go with the 2nd video, about human sex trafficking?

NomiS: I picked that human trafficking joint because real talk, that's the most important song I've ever written in my life! The subject matter of "On Behalf of the Silenced" is so important to me, but on a larger scale, so important to God. "Christian Rappers" always talk about sin, grace, eternity, etc. But dang, we have this huge issue happening right now and nobody is talking about it! There are an estimated 27 MILLION people enslaved right now around the world. That's more than ever in the history of the planet as far as I know. Anyway, people need to hear that message, so that's why I picked that song for a video.

Conduct: Do you ever feel that, as an emcee, you can really dig into topics of such a sensitive matter that you wouldn't be able to if you did music of another style?

NomiS: I've been thinking about this concept a lot recently actually. Rock musicians don't sing about being better than other bands, or "killing drum sets" or something silly like that. But rappers do it all the time. "I'll murder the track" blah, blah, blah. ha ha. On the flip side, there are bands that sing about the exact same things for multiple albums at a time! Their entire catalog will consist of songs about "love", but some how they still get away with being redundant. Rappers cant get away with that!!! ha ha. In general, Hip Hop does allow me to be more specific about certain topics because of the nature of the music. Hip Hop requires so many more words in a song. That alone helps to dig deep into a topic. I would love to see more genres stepping up their content though. I think they all have the ability to do it, I just think that people are scared to talk/write about issues like this. It leaves you very vulnerable in the public eye, and its not very marketable. Just look at my two videos that I released a week a part from each other. Right now as I'm typing this, the "Rosario Dawson" video has like quadruple the amount of views as "On Behalf of the Silenced" does.....I wonder why that is? (SARCASM)

Conduct: When not doing music (or music related things) Nomis can be found doing..?

NomiS: NomiS can be found watching The Boondocks or eating at Chipotle. ha ha

Conduct: here's a place to plug something or someone that you think is deserving of attention -

NomiS: Well, I'll plug my homie Afaar's new album (Art of Word) and EP he has done. I'm not sure the order in which they'll be released, but they're both very good; especially the EP. Then there is also a new EP from Insufficient Funds that should dropping hopefully in 2010, but I'm not sure. I'll also plug my next full length solo album dropping in 2011 entitled, "Searching for Alpha Trion". The album is sounding very good so far and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm trying out some new ideas and working with some new producers. Its going to be a little bit of a different direction musically, but at the same time, I'm staying true to what "NomiS" really is. You'll get honest raps, just packaged a little differently then normal.

Conduct: do you have a question you'd like me to answer?

NomiS: Who's your favorite rapper in Gallery Drive? Like, honestly. Not just what you think I want you to say. ha ha

Conduct: Either the guy who said "Get to the choppa!" On that one track off the album, or probably Afaar, for his sheer amount of comic book quotes. lol. YOU have my fav hairdo in the group, though.

Thank you, NomiS, for "Conducting Thoughts" with me.

NomiS' fine music and other things can be located at these fine links: