At the turn of the millennium, alternative hip-hop label Def Jux was dropping some pretty avant garde shit. The game was in a weird place – the golden era was over, and we weren’t as deep in the musical “cesspool” we’re engulfed in today. Artists like MF DOOM thrived in this particular pocket of time, as did the harlem duo Cannibal Ox. Rappers Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, over a sound bed provided by El-P (one half of Run the Jewels), released The Cold Vein in 2001, which was acclaimed as one of the best hip-hop albums of the preceding decade. Unfortunately, following a falling out with Def Jux, the duo all but disappeared. After a serious of empty promises of a awaited reunion, they emerged with a dope new album and a new sound. That sound belongs to New York-bred producer/rapper Bill Cosmiq.
I recently had an opportunity to chat with Bill about his music, his influences and how he became the go-to producer for one of hip-hop’s most acclaimed underground groups.
Can you start by introducing yourself to the people?
I’m a producer/emcee based out of New York City. I’m ½ of the group “The Quantum” and lead producer of Cannibal Ox’s Blade of the Ronin album.
How did you get into music?
I’ve made music for years, developing beats for friends and local artists. I never put pressure on myself to record albums in the past. I jumped into the scene in recent years because I wasn’t hearing a lot of music I enjoyed. I was compelled to make a contribution.
What/who were some of your influences?
I’m influenced by all great musicians. Countless people have made an impression on me from Lee “Scratch” Perry to producers like DJ Premier and Timbaland.
Growing up, I remember seeing Quincy Jone’s signature on the back of Chaka Khan albums, movie soundtracks and Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Seeing those album credits drove my interest in developing music across genres.
How would you describe your sound?
I never put a label on my sound. Once I try to define it, I set an unnecessary boundary. I just try to keep it honest and inspired.
What’s your creative process like when you produce/write?
I try to get in a zone and allow my beats to naturally come together. Sometimes I have a seed of an idea before I sit down and work, but most times I work without an idea of what I want the outcome to be. Discovery is always part of my process.
While making a beat, lyrics start to come to me inspired by what I hear. The music always drives a mood or mindset.
How did The Quantum (Salvador and you) come together?
We’ve known each other for years. We worked on music because we have a similar vision of the records we want to make. The response people had to our collaboration helped to drive the formation of “The Quantum”. No gimmicks or forced music. The Quantum is the middle ground where our creative styles meet.
Can tell us a little about the Paragon EP?
The Paragon EP was an introduction to The Quantum’s sound. It’s a window into our mindset and what we are offering to the culture of Hip Hop and music community at large. I feel like we are bringing the spirit of the “golden era” with a future-forward approach. The EP also features Kenyattah Black, Taj Hotep and Vast Aire.
You are the main producer of the latest Can Ox project, how did that come about?
I linked up with Vast Aire years ago through a mutual friend, Taj Hotep. The first track we released was Royal Purple Bag off of Vast’s A Space Iliad EP. After that, Can Ox and I continued to connect and work on a number of records.
The team really responded to my beats which produced some inspired studio sessions. Ideas exchanged back and forth and the consistency of those sessions helped to fuel the energy behind Blade of the Ronin. It all comes down to chemistry in the lab.
What was the process of putting Blade Of The Ronin together?
I wanted the album to have a cohesive feeling all around. We didn’t rush the creative process. I let things come naturally and the compositions started developing an intense cinematic edge.
After we created “Gotham” in 2013, Cannibal Ox and I started to discuss Ox City and what that environment is like. We discussed the look, tone and feel of that city. Blade of the Ronin is like a soundtrack that illustrates a walk through that environment.
What is your fave song on the album, and why?
I look at the album as a whole. The whole listening experience of the album is favoured.
What’s next for Bill Cosmiq?
I’m focused on producing more quality music and presenting my creative ideas to listeners. The Quantum has a new project in the works and I’ve been collaborating with a diverse range of artists. I’m interested in working on a film score in the near future as well.
…Cannibal Ox and I are still in the shop working on new heat!
Any last words or shoutouts you’d like to leave our blog with?
Shout out to my IGC family and Above Average Hip Hop