First Published December 2008
PREACH interview: The Message
Written By Imran Mirza
With fire in his belly and a fist pumped straight to the sky, Preach unleashes ‘Garveyism’ – the debut album from this keen photographer, journalist, comic-strip writer and South Carolina resident – which does everything it should to assure a great future for this artist, and is the perfect representation of a man with a lot to offer in each of his endeavours.
The album is rooted heavily in solid soul music [D’angelo fans should be ecstatic about the skilful use of two songs on ‘Garveyism’ but I don’t want to ruin the surprise so won’t reveal any more than that], with the majority of production handled by Clokwork, Midi Marc and Jah Freedom, who really perform wonders on this album – in particular Jah Freedom, who genuinely has a modern masterpiece in the form of the album’s highlight, ‘Dance’. Foreign Exchange’s, Nicolay, even shows to lend his production talents and seal of approval on two of the album’s tracks.
Garveyism seems to walk that fine line between being informative, intelligent and positive hip hop, while still being an entertaining and diverse album. In the end, you’re ultimately left with a fairly strong and honest depiction of a well-rounded artist – his thoughts, feelings and passions – and hopefully, one the public wont be able to help but embrace. More than anything though, this album is the portrait of an artist that loves his craft, which unfortunately is almost unheard of in today’s hip-hop culture. Liberation Frequency were lucky enough to secure time with the man himself in an exclusive one-to-one:
LIBERATION FREQUENCY: What inspired you in taking steps to become a rapper, and who were some of your early influences?
PREACH: I was brought into hip-hop at an early age. I think I was too young to participate in the so-called ‘golden era’ in the mid-nineties but old enough to appreciate it. I was a dork growing up and just read a bunch of books. So, expressing myself through rhyme kind of came as my way to keep me out of trouble. I recorded at home as a teenager under the group name 7 Moonz when I was like 16 or so, but when I saw Spitkicker in 2000 [concert with Common, De La Soul, Reflection Eternal and Pharoahe Monch] I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
LF: Garveyism is such a well-rounded album – was that a conscious decision you took to make it as appealing to listeners as possible, or is the album just a natural reflection of yourself?
PREACH: It’s a combination of both. I believe that you can talk about whatever you want on records, as long as it’s in a way that the people will enjoy it, they’ll give you a chance. So, I made it a point to focus on hooks, harmonies, bridges and things that usually rappers may not pay too much attention to. I kind of wanted to get out of the standard talk 8 bars before a song, 16 verse, hook, 16 bar verse, etc. I wanted to make sure I could make the best record I was able to do. And with the production team I worked with (Clokwork, Midi Marc, Jah Freedom and help from Nicolay) I’m proud of the record. I mean the entire album is me all the way. If there’s anything that I’m confident with the record, is that people can hear who I am but I was still conscious of how it sounded. So, I made sure the production sounded like I wanted, and nitpicked to the best of my ability. I’m proud of the album.
LF: Can you talk a little about how you hooked up with the producers for the album?
PREACH: For the most part, all of the producers on the project were a family type of thing. Clokwork, I’ve known for years, is probably the person that understands the sound I’m looking for the most when I’m working on something. Midi Marc is a dope ass producer from Columbia (where I’m from) and Jah Freedom is from North Carolina. Pretty much, anything I work on, these are going to be the guys I work with. We’re all apart of the same scene and want to see each other successful, and I think it comes through with the music and how it meshes together. I love all them dudes…. No brokeback.
LF: Have you given any thought to the direction a follow-up album would take?
PREACH: Right now ‘Garveyism’ is my main focus as I’m still pushing it as hard as I can and I believe things will come. Right now I’m working on a number of projects. One will be an Afro-Beat hip-hop influenced project with myself and Clokwork. The aim is more or less going to be used as a platform to inform people about what’s going on in Darfur and is our way of trying to make a difference. I’m also working on an EP with Midi Marc who is going to be someone that you’re going to hear a lot from soon. I have ideas and concepts for a follow up album, but want to focus on one thing at a time. Right now, the afro-beat material is what has me wide open. I love the music, and I’m a big Tony Allen and Fela fan. The music has such a groove to it, something I believe hip-hop is missing. That’s why all of these hip-hop dances look so crazy, because the music is really mechanical. Groove, like soul and funk, is where the heart is. And that’s what has me so excited right now. I can’t wait for us to start recording to it, it’s going to be a great project.
LF: Was Blusic Productions started as a platform to get your music heard, or do you have plans on bringing in and nurturing new talent?
PREACH:For the most part, I really wanted to help the talented people in this area get heard. So many dope emcees and singers have talent, but don’t know how to package it. Don’t know how to get pictures for the album, or who to go to when they need graphics etc. Well, I’m a professional photographer and have the connects to get the packaging of the art for these people that aren’t as savy about that stuff as I am. So, that was one of my goals, it makes me feel good to be able to help people get their artform put out there, and me having a hand in it. But first thing’s first. I needed a project to be able to do all of that, and that’s what ‘Garveyism’ was. More than anything Blusic is so many things like music, photography, I’m a journalist, etc. The main goal is to be able to make a difference in the black community (and beyond) through art. It just so happens that this album was the best thing to invest in first. There’s more to come, but ‘Garveyism’ became that introduction needed for the world.
LF: I ask this question because I know you’re a fan of music, but what are your thoughts about the current downloading culture – do you find it ultimately hurts the artist/industry in the end?
PREACH: It doesn’t bother me. Beefing with downloaders is like having to drive somewhere and getting angry about putting gas in your car. You’re going to have to deal with it, so might as well make your peace with it. Downloading really gives the power to the public to get their hands on music (and that can be good and bad) but what artists and labels have to do is find a way to work with the downloading craze. In a few years, labels will probably start releasing albums exclusively online, and only have limited edition packaged CDs made. But to get angry or pissed about the downloading, you’ll exhaust yourself in vain. Every week I Google my name and album, and find different places that are downloading it, and I kind of take it as compliment, because people are checking for me. But in a nutshell, do good work and the people will support you. Even if they download your album, if you do good work and do a show in their city, they’ll pay to see you etc. So, the support will be there. The only problem with the culture now is, that the artists are really focusing on singles and not albums. So, someone gets a hot song, and a label tries to force an album out of them. Someone who isn’t nice to begin with, and people buy it and get pissed off. That’s where the downloading comes from; A public tired of bullshit being passed off. I know how I am. If I get an album before it comes out where I have to review for a magazine or local paper, and it’s not an official copy, if the music is dope I end up buying it when it comes out anyway. Also, artists are finding new ways to get money outside of CD sales. Whether it’s movies, sponsorships (cough,cough Vitamin Water, cough,cough) we’re finding ways to be more productive.
LF: Are there any artists around now that you’d like to work with, or that you’re just a fan of?
PREACH: Production wise I would absolutely love to, one day, work with Organized Noize. That sound they had during the late 90s with ‘Kast and Goodie Mob, that soulful sound is what I love. I tried my best to capture that sound with the majority of the production on “Garveyism”. Listen to “From the Soul” on my CD and then peep “In Due Time” by OutKast and Cee Lo. It has that same flavor. I think when the production is soulful, it makes it timeless. That’s why you can pull out a Tribe record or Pete Rock record anytime and get people going nuts. I mean think about it, “T.R.O.Y.” is like fifteen years old! Hip-hop wise, that’s like a century. And as far as one of my favorite people in hip-hop is probably K-Os. Dude is just the man to me. Would love to work with him. We’ll see. -PJ
For more information on Preach, please visit: http://www.myspace.com/kindablu
Garveyism is available to buy from CD BABY:
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