Explain the concept behind For Madmen Only.
How words have multiple meanings/interpretations based on context. First, lets take a look at the definition of what it means to be mad.
1 : disordered in mind : insane
a : completely unrestrained by reason and judgment <driven mad by the pain>
b : incapable of being explained or accounted for <a mad decision>
The title comes from the Black Panther’s Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver’s essay where he’s challenging “madmen” to step up, “intensify the struggle” and protect their community from injustice. For too long he believed, black people had sat back and allowed themselves to be abused. He’s forcefully questioning if the people had had enough. There’s no space for milquetoast half steppers. Be about it or take a seat.
You could very logically reason that to take up arms against the police is a totally unsound and illogical decision to make. Madness. But if you were tired of getting your head kicked in, and have the organized support of your members of your community, is it really that farfetched of and idea? Could it be an immediate solution to longstanding problems? How far are you willing to go to make your vision a reality?
The tarot card for The Fool/The Joker/The Madman represents letting go of worry & fear / living in the moment / doing the unexpected / expanding horizons / being true to oneself. Are these not qualities to strive for? At least sometimes in your extraordinarily mundane fucking existence on this planet? Who’s really mad?
Houses of worship and so called spiritual/religious leaders/gurus often provide great comfort to seekers of spiritual fulfillment sometimes under great deception and sick god complex driven ulterior motives. Like a Father Divine. Like a Jim Jones. Like a Bishop Eddie Long. Having grown up in Pentecostal churches, the preacher-man/congregant archetype was an natural target to subvert and attack.
“Catch them praying upon the lost one. Speaking to your distortion, sheep’ll follow for fortune. Seek until they’re exhausted, pay though they can’t afford it. “ — “Peoples Temple” / For Madmen Only
Planet Earth, about to be recycled?
Hahaha. Yeah man. Doomsday. Rebirth and all of that. I think. Its such a mindfuck of tune no? Ali Boombaye really came through with the crazy mash-up video that we love to play out live. That quote is taken from a video recording of Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heavens Gate cult apparently right before he caught that Hale Bop comet. Heard that’s a bumpy ride… It’s another play on dialogue sampled from divisive 20th century personalities that included Malachi Z. York, Bill Hicks, Alex Jones and Marshall Applewhite. When divorced from their original context and placed within my own framework, they became my disciples. Sort of, hah.
How would you describe your sound?
It varies with every project. My last few projects (elucid.bandcamp.com) The Sub Bass Diet and Super Chocolate Black Simian 1&2 have been more of the experimental electronic/dub/dubstep sound. The previous projects Smash & Grab and Police & Thieves definitely had indie/garage rock leanings mixed with more traditional rap production. So I’m open to many different sounds and influences. It really depends on the ideas in trying to express lyrically.
I had the idea for this album, FMO before I met A.M. Breakups. When we connected and started to build I knew I wanted him to produce the whole record. I really liked that his sounds foundation was boom bap. Honestly after the past few projects and all the buzzy/zappy/tweaky electronic sounds, I wanted to scale back and rap over more sample based stuff. The first thing that attracted me to Breakups’s beats were the sense of space and his use of melody. It was never just a loop! They were these constantly building, layered organisms that never got too busy and always left a pocket for where i thought my vocal would sit. It really made my job as a songwriter very easy.
What’s your favorite A.M. Breakups track?
Playing the favorites game is hard but when I first met A.M. Breakups he had just put out The Cant Resurrection. I immediately wanted to rap over “Blackout (Another Trip Part 2)”. Paired with my lyrics, it eventually became the song “No Invitations” and was really the first Cult Favorite song created. His latest instrumental project 924 Myrtle is pretty rad as well.
What’s your favorite A.M. Breakups Remix then?
Super Chron Flight Brothers – “African Robotics”.
How did the Exit Tapes come about?
That’s just me wigging out on hash and caffeine making noise remixes to Cult Favorite songs. With the exception of “Demolition”, every song on the album has a noise interpolation. There might be a particular lyric or groove in the track that stood out to me. I would usually chop those sections and re play those elements live with my sampler. Most of the filtering and effects were also done live.
Same sampler you use for your vocal effects?
Yup same gear. Ive always been interested in sound design and I have applied those techniques on some of my earlier projects. For Madmen Only definitely showcases these ideas front and center. I earned that co production credit! It was cool that AM understood where I was coming from. He really gave me complete freedom and let me get weird producing my own vocals.
What’s your stance on indie rap?
Its cool, I guess. I like rap in general, indie or otherwise, as long as its skillful. Kendrick Lamar, who’s on a major label put out one of the best albums of 2012. So I don’t like to recognize those imaginary boundaries. Indie has become the new mainstream anyway. As someone who doesn’t have a record deal I enjoy a certain freedom in creating what I want, when I want. We book our own shows. We financed our own record. It might be cool to release music on a larger platform burning through seven figure budgets and hot publicists and spilling condiments from drippy $50 burgers on label conference room tables. But that model is basically a dinosaur at this point. Especially considering the type of music I make versus the majority of what major labels release as rap music. A group like Death Grips is really interesting to me though. I wonder what would make a major label like Epic Records take a gamble on a group that defies categorization the way that Death Grips does. Is it hope for the future of major labels? Is it an experiment to poach from indie culture? Who knows. Regardless, with or without a label, I’m still gonna be an artist and writer.
Those Reservoir Sound guys are weird right?
I’m a proud member of the Reservoir Sound Traveling Freak Show, Inc.
How’s Woods doing?
He is well. We have teamed up as a group calling ourselves Armand Hammer and are finishing up on our record Race Music. He’s one of my current favorite rap writers out really making that type of no compromise music that I do. Our album should be out before the close of the year.
What do you miss most about the ’90s?
Not much actually, haha. I still wear Tims and buy my camo at army navy stores. I recently grew back my flat top haircut. I bought a Sega Genesis on St. Marks Place. I release music on vinyl and cassette. What’s there to miss about the ’90s?
Is this real?
Is what real?
Talk about the artwork of Cult Favorite.
The artwork was a collaborative process between NYC based artists/designers Little Tree and Stephanie Matthews. I’m very proud that we were able to keep all production in house with super talented individuals who understand our families vision.
I hear there’s a remixed version of FMO coming out?
Yup. Its cool to hear these different interpretations of our tracks. We’re not sure when it will complete and ready for release. I don’t want to divulge any names of involved parties until its all complete, but I think people will enjoy it.
How does one join the cult?
You don’t! The cult calls you.