interview, Interviews

Bill Cosmiq Interview

At the turn of the millennium, alternative hip-hop label Def Jux was dropping some pretty avant garde shit. The game…

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

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
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#Interview: RoQy TyRaiD in ‘PLYNwcha’

RoQy TyRaiD drops a brand-new single “PLYNwcha” produced by NYC’s Motif Alumni with a psychedelic backbeat over hypnotic chants that…

RoQy TyRaiD drops a brand-new single “PLYNwcha” produced by NYC’s Motif Alumni with a psychedelic backbeat over hypnotic chants that groove. With an edgy prose, RoQy TyRaiD takes Hip Hop to the next level and Above Average Hip Hop wanted to know more. What can be said about his subject matter personifies the culture that raised him. Coming up in the game can be a struggle, but for RoQy, it’s all about keeping it real. “I don’t have to play by the rules. I’m going to do what I want, and I’m going to find my success regardless,” says RoQyTyRaiD.   

 

I get placed on this green planet for a finite amount of time and I don’t feel like I’m surrendering any of that to people who are championing consistencies and stratification and all of that nonsense. – RoQy TyRaiD

However, there are different modes of success, and whether it equates to monetizing your product or artistically expressing and further developing your brand, the rapper RoQy TyRaiD stays true to his values in the culture that brought him his new single “PLYNwcha.”

Tell me about RoQy TyRaiD. Who are you and where are you from?   

I reside in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m originally from southern California, born and raised. I’m just here to advance my artistic pursuits and find myself deeper in the culture that inspired me and gave me a live soundtrack. I feel that artists, at the end of the day, are just glorified fans. I’m finding my way further in the culture that inspired me, and this is why I’m here.

Some would describe you as a socially conscious rapper. How would you describe your subject matter?

I mean, people have classified me like that. I’m just more aware to life. I mean, it happens to fall in it in terms of just discerning your surroundings. Unfortunately, and fortunately as opposed to politics and things related, social climate plays a role. So, I could say, you know, they’re right. I’m just a normal dude.  I mean sometimes the content touches on political topics.

What is your most recent single?

It’s called “PLYNwcha.” It’s me flexing my capabilities lyrically, providing some hype music. I’m breaking away from the direction that I was sent down artistically and just getting back to making music that makes you want to throw a merch table across the venue. I detail instances where I was just being delivered pipe dreams just waiting for this nonexistent idea of success or mythical ideas and just really being fed up with it. I guess I deliver it in a more aggressive energy forward manner. But what it is — I have no time.

I’m not like a 21-year-old dude who can play trial and error. I get placed on this green planet for a finite amount of time and I don’t feel like I’m surrendering any of that to people who are championing consistencies and stratification and all of that nonsense. We’re with the advent of social media, Internet, and advancing technology. I don’t have to play by your rules. I’m going to do what I want and I’m going to find my success regardless. I guess it’s realizing that feeling and you know, taking the gloves off.

It sounds like you have a different set of values on what constitutes success. Would you say that is accurate?

Absolutely, my role is looked at differently from the next man or woman. Even describing the adversities and the games and you know, standards you have to abide by. For example, I have two sold-out dates in the UK, another one lined up press and individuals waiting to get the piece of this new music and you know, I think that reflects taking your destiny by your own hands as opposed to abiding by what you’re told to do.

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Sha Money XL Artist Tedy Andres Drops New Track “Ominous” & Chats Upcoming LP

“I just want to be the best,” he exclaims without hesitation.

It’s been a process for young Houston-bred MC Tedy Andres; he’s been bubbling up over the past few years, setting the stage for his upcoming release, which is poised to change everything. “I’ve been rapping since I was like 13,” he tells AAHH, “that was ten years ago, man., man.

“It’s been a slow build,” he continues. “I released a project called Mad Illusions and started getting a little buzz off the song called ’Mercedes.’” He rode that buzz and aside from multiple online nods, captured the attention of industry heavyweight Sha Money XL.

 
Sha was a producer for 50 Cent at his (musical) peak, and served as president of G-Unit Records, before taking the helm as VP of A&R at Def Jam in 2010. Currently working as an executive at Epic Records, he is currently managing Tedy.

“That’s like a big brother to me,” Tedy says of working with the storied executive. “We got a great relationship, he’s a top 5 A&R in the game, you know what I mean? So sending him records and getting his opinion is always good.

“He’s was a businessman,” he adds. “We’ve been working hard together,” he notes.

His latest release, “Ominous,” is a song that is setting the stage for his upcoming project. “My producer [Kill] and I locked in the studio and ade that beat together,”’he explains. “I just had some inspiration a couple of days after … it’s a storytelling vibe about a couple of people I know.”

 
He cautions not to get too comfortable with the vibe of “Ominous,” as he’s definitely diversifying his vibe. “I don’t really have a title for it yet … I’m kinda keeping it under wraps,” he says of the LP. “I’ve been making a bunch of records, and hopefully around October I can get this [album] out.

“There’s going to be different types of things,” he explains. “I mean, it’s going to be lifestyle, it’s going to be storytelling … I’m trying to make new, different types of records. I’ve just been making a bunch of songs and they all sound a little different, but I’m going to wait til everything sonically go together.”

One producer he’s worked with is Harlem’s own V-Don — who we’ve chatted with in the past. His sound is quite dark, but Tedy is clear that he is trying to brighten things up this time around.

Related: Read our V-Don interview, here.

“I don’t want to do something so dark because my last project was a little dark … I was kind of in a dark place for it,” he says. “I don’t even want to put it in a box right now because I’ve been making so many records.“

Tedy has lots lined up, including a host of new videos that will line up with the release of the new project. Ultimately, he just wants this album to be an enduring, timeless piece of art.

“I just want to be the best,” he exclaims without hesitation. “I want people to love it. I want it to be a classic, you know what I mean?”

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Koncept Talks Korea & Premieres New Video For “Never Again”

The Queens MC flipped a two-week tour into a two-year odyssey of success

It’s all about trusting the journey because sometimes following your gut can take you into unexpected territory. Just ask Queens (New York) rapper Koncept — one-time Fat Beats employee and former member of the Brown Bag All Stars. He’d built a bankable brand as a solo act, blazing from the onset of his debut LP back at the top of 2012. Having worked his J57 collaborative project The Fuel and having just about wrapped his next LP (which would become 14 Hours Ahead), he set off on a short tour in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. That was almost two years ago, and Kon has finally made his return to New York City after what became an unexpected odyssey of overseas fame.

RELATED: Read Our 2015 Interview With Koncept [Released In Support Of The Fuel]

“I was only supposed to be there for two weeks … the tour got extended,” he reveals to AAHH. “I ended up partnering with Sony Music [Asia], and it was a domino effect into a bunch of things.” The label made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, but as they agreed to release his 14 Hours Ahead LP, the deal required him to stick around indefinitely. “They said they wanted me to stay over there for the rollout of the album, so I could be face to face in the country, play shows, promote my brand and the album.”

The LP’s success led to a consistent touring schedule. “I tried to come back a few times,” he notes. Each time he attempted to return, bookings would pile one, forcing him to abandon the plans. “This time I was straight up, like, ‘all right, I’m going to go back to New York. I’m going to fly out June 20th. Like there are no bookings after June 15th, you know what I mean?'”

“I just been nonstop,” he continues. “I just finished this new album, and I want to drop these news videos I have … but I just [needed to] regroup and take a little rest, you know what I mean? Chill for a little bit and then get back into everything.” The first of these new videos — there are five in total — “Never Again” is premiering right here on AAHH. “It’s just about not making the same mistakes and learning from your experiences,” he says of the track, “just getting rid of all of the negative things in your life, from relationships to friendships, etc.”

 
Ultimately, he credits his time in Korea with helping him break ground that merely networking online wouldn’t have allowed — which is a big takeaway for any artist considering touring overseas. “I’m constantly booked … I play three shows a week. There’s a real connection with the people, the fans, and with the industry as a whole out there.” Though he’d already tasted some initial success stateside, the same success that led him to Korea in the first place, what’s he’s built over there has been next level. “Going out there and just being the unicorn, just being different, instantly people gravitated towards it.” On top of just a hectic live schedule, he also landed numerous print magazine placements and even commercial placements — notably appearing in Spyder clothing ads that appeared across Asia in movie theatres.

Perhaps most importantly, it’s sparked a whole new wave of creativity for Koncept. “It’s dope because it’s in a different place is just really inspiring. You know what I mean? Walking outside every day and just seeing things that I’m not used to, meeting different people … it’s a whole other inspiration.” As he explains, the outlook has given his music an even more unique vibe than it already had. “I’m not to trying to be pigeonholed as a New York rapper … there’s a big world out here. I’m trying to be a fucking a global artist, you know, global musician.”

14 Days Ahead
is available everywhere.

 

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Get to Know London Rapper: Kid Bookie

“Energy Transcends” was the phrase that stuck with me after an insightful conversation with the highly motivated, London based rapper:…

“Energy Transcends” was the phrase that stuck with me after an insightful conversation with the highly motivated, London based rapper: Kid Bookie.

After watching Bookie’s music video for the single “Who’s Next,” I became intrigued by the UK artist. The image that stood out to me from that video was of a sign reading: “you’ve been brainwashed into liking trash,” because immediately after showing it, he spits bars that would make any Soundcloud rapper terrified. Kid Bookie proved to me in six seconds that he had a deep respect for lyricism in Hip Hop, and that he was not afraid to voice his opinions towards those who mishandle it. After watching a few more of his videos I learned that Books had recently toured with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. This was truly icing on the cake. So I called him up.

The first thing I noticed about Bookie was how hungry he is to be heard. This man truly cares about his art and he told me how appreciative he was that I recognized his talent. Immediately I asked him about his quote from the “Who’s Next” video: “you’ve been brainwashed into liking trash.” And his answer clarified how deeply involved with Hip Hop he truly is.

Books said that “Even if you’re not rapping, but you have an element of musicality because you studied music, and you know what goes in a beat, that shows me that you care. And people don’t care these days, but people who do care, you find them. You have to study your predecessors.”

 
This is pretty much an extension of the J. Cole/Lil Pump conversation, where people are acknowledging the increasing gap between “clout” rappers and true lyrical artists. But Bookie had no malice for these types of “rappers” in his statement. As he put it: people will find those who put blood, sweat, and tears into their music.

When I asked about the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony tour I was impressed to learn that the group actually reached out to Bookie first. The London MC modestly said that the OG’s respect him, despite being relatively underground. And it was clear the respect went both ways. Bookie described growing up watching his father rap, and hearing Grime artists all around him in. But he made it clear that he is not a Grime rapper, or fully aligned with London’s underground scene. The MC told me that he resonated more with artists like XXXTentacion and those with an aggressive, artistic energy about them. When Bookie and I previewed a track he had been working on I could spot the influence. With a combination of fast paced spitting, melodic singing, and super aggressive scream-rap, it became apparent that the young MC has a strong portfolio in the making.

When I asked Bookie who inspired him growing up, he told me that before he even picked up a rap CD, he listened to rock. System of a Down, Slipknot, Korn, and Blink 182 were just a few of the bands the MC said influenced his music. We spoke about the importance of the rock/rap relationship and how Hip Hop has adopted the energy that was introduced in the 80’s and 90’s via the punk scene. London was arguably at the forefront of this scene, and Bookie proves he is a product of this through the energy he puts out. As I listened to his upcoming tape “Publish THIS” I could hear the rock influence; but it’s his variety of flow, subject matter, and carefully calculated lyricism that makes it an airtight project.

My conversation with Kid Bookie gave me a promising hope that there are budding MC’s out there preserving Hip Hop’s gritty, lyrical roots. With the self-proclaimed underground album: “Publish THIS” scheduled to drop May 31st, Bookie wants you to know before he’s dead, no matter how early or late it be, he will change the world through his music.

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Laya LaRoche Interview

"Do what you want kitties! Live your life and don't let anyone tell you how to live it!" —Laya LaRoche...

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