Wassup? Lyric here w/ another edition of Tell Your Story.
I’m here, reppin’ for the underground artists once again. This time, I have an article on an poet/emcee who is a Queens, NY native, implanted into Tucson, AZ. He only looked back to NY once, ultimately deciding it was best for him out in the Southwest. His poetry will grab you. His lyrics will excite you. His interesting style will make you want more.
Poets, Underground and Mainstream music fans alike…
Get into Al Basics…
Who is Al Basics? What is your background?
I’m an Emcee from Queens, NY who now lives in Tucson, AZ. I like to think of myself as a Poet first, with my main outlet being Hip-Hop. My parents are from Colombia and so the culture is highly influential in the man I’ve become today. I’m very family oriented and have an impulse to really go out my way to make people happy. I’m a voice for the common person who struggles with everyday things from paying rent to breaking up.
Tell me how you ended up on the other side of the nation in AZ?
I was a 20 year old in college and just wasn’t happy. I felt a fresh start was needed, so I transferred to The University of Arizona where I graduated with a Bachelors in English Literature and Creative Writing with a focus in Poetry.
What made you stay?
Going to school and working full-time in Arizona, I decided to really take the craft of Emcee and Poet seriously. I met a lot of emcees in the scene and everyone welcomed me with open arms. I also joined forces with two Emcees, Talk-Sik and Pablo S. Cobars, and formed KAMERATA, a Hip-Hop trio focused highly on lyricism. I actually moved back to New York City for 6 months in 2011 to see where life would take me, but I missed the Southwest and moved back.
You were kind of a late bloomer in the music scene at 21 yrs old. What made you start?
I’ve been writing down thoughts, little poems, etc since I was 16 but never really tried the music thing, mostly because I was shy/embarrassed of my voice and image. I never thought I’d be “cool” enough or that people would care to hear what I had to say. Then one day, I saw a cheap microphone on sale and decided to just get it and try recording for my own personal therapy. I won’t lie to you and say I was a natural behind the mic. I had to work countless hours and gain the skill that I have today.
What/who are your inspirations?
Life is my biggest inspiration. I’ve been blessed with the gift of perception and I see poetry everywhere. Musically: Nirvana, Tupac Shakur, Lupe Fiasco, Joe Budden, Atmosphere, Sage Francis, Joy Division, and Aesop Rock would be my short list. My third biggest inspiration is Literature and the short list is: Cormac McCarthy, Saul Williams, Ezra Pound, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Jorge Luis Borges, and Edgar Allan Poe.
I see you’re also big on poetry. Tell me about that.
Poetry has no stereotypes. It has no expectations and boundaries. It’s just a conversation between the speaker of the poem and the reader/listener. Studying it in college, I learned the skill it takes to be original, fresh, and the search a poet must take to find his/her own voice. I’m blessed enough to have read a vast array of poets from John Milton to Dylan Thomas, which in turn has made me very critical about the words I choose to birth into the world.
I was going through a serious case of Writer’s Block. Musically I felt dry and didn’t have the ambition and energy to write lyrics. Then one day, I was preparing for a session with KAMERATA, inspiration just came to me in form of poetry and I wrote the words for Ghetto Of My Mind on sticky notes. It was a rush of creativity that seriously came out of nowhere. I released it online the following day and received some great feedback, so I decided to release a spoken word project titled “Thoughts In Progress.”
Tell me about your style of music.
Well Hip-Hop is my foundation. Having an older brother, I remember listening to Nas, Biggie, Wu-Tang, etc. a lot as a child. We were real biased in my household and listened mostly to New York Hip-Hop. The rest of the Al Basics musical recipe is Grunge, Indie Rock, Spoken Word, and Reggae. I love to study lyrics, themes, and cadence and so all those genres have influenced my style, although Hip-Hop might be the clearest genre to identify.
Do you listen to your own material?
I listen to my own material a lot, but it’s mostly so I can point out errors or instances where I can improve for the next song/poem. Art is about growing, and I’m nowhere near the level I want to be.
What kinds of music do you listen to?
I listen to a lot of music. What I listen to changes depending on mood or current situation. The main genres I listen to are Hip-Hop, Punk, Reggae, Grunge, Rock, Salsa, and R&B.
Out of all your material, what’s your favorite song/poem?
My current favorite song is “Letter To Misguide.” Nothing like life experiences on wax.
What’s your favorite to perform?
At this point in time, my favorite song to perform is “Envision.” It was the first single to my first full project and holds a very special place in my heart. Although all the new material I’m working on for my album is going to top everything I’ve done prior.
What message do you portray in your music?
I’ve felt like an outcast for a long time and so one of the messages I constantly let out is not having to necessarily fit in to be happy. Another message is to just be truthful. I didn’t come from money, I barely have money now, and I’m not going to pretend I do to be accepted. That’s one of the biggest things I think that is wrong with Hip-Hop and why I look to other genres for inspiration and guidance on how to better this genre.
I worked with Pablo S. Cobars on an EP titled “Lyrical Contraband” entirely produced by B3NBi and that can be found here:http://kamerata.bandcamp.com/album/lyrical-contraband-ep
Also the Spoken Word project I mentioned earlier along with other projects of mine can be found here:http://albasics.bandcamp.com/
Any new projects in the works?
I’m currently wrapping up an album with a fellow emcee Danger James from the Hip-Hop group The Natives Are Restless. The project is titled “The Palette” and it’s produced by Shag of Beardology Records. That project will be available at the end of February/ early March. I am also working on my sophomore album which is mostly produced by HanSolo of 3rd Phloor Productions. That project will be out this Spring.
Words of wisdom for the readers?
Talent is never enough. The real way to make things happen for you is to take action and develop skill at any craft/passion you intend to pursue. Be truthful on your journey and learn to be thankful for the pains not the pleasures.
Contact info for the fans?
I have my own site www.albasics.com but I’m very active on Facebook (www.facebook.com/albasics). If you want to shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org is the best way to reach me.
Any artists or team members you want to shout out?
I want to shout out my crew KAMERATA for sticking through adversity and continuing to drop dope music. I also want to shout out Habeas Corpus, Danger James, and Eral a.k.a The Natives Are Restless, HanSolo and the entire 3rd Phloor Productions.
I want to thank Al Basics and his manager, Alejandra Reyes, for taking an interest in audioEMIT and wanting to be featured here. We greatly appreciate it.
Hope everyone enjoyed the article.
XXII – Breuckelen
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- Saul Williams…I Am Hip Hop (mysoulsonice.wordpress.com)