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Colorado Springs Independent:

Honoring the outcast, Abstract Rude celebrates hip-hop's indie legacy

By Chris Parker, April 22, 2015

What initially seems like the bane of your existence can sometimes turn out to be its salvation.

For Abstract Rude, it started with hitting the open mics at South Central L.A.'s Good Life Café as a teen in the early '90s. The young emcee built his chops and felt bound for a major label. But then the gate slammed shut as the industry sold out Hip-Hop's Golden Age at gunpoint.

Two decades later, Rude is still alive and well in the indie hip-hop world. Next week sees the release of his Keep the Feel: A Legacy of Hip-Hop album, featuring appearances by artists ranging from Aloe Blacc to Atmosphere emcee Slug. For Rude, it's all about the power of the DIY hustle and the legacy that industry outcasts have built with it.

"If you give us all the scraps, we'll take it and make chitlins," he says. "Just staying in something, and not quitting, speaks for a lot."

Rude and his crew, Abstract Tribe Unique, had hoped to use their demos as a stepping stone to a major-label deal. In the process, he honed a gruff downbeat flow that rumbles like a Mustang over jazzy, rubbery, sidewinding rhythms.

But after West Coast rappers like Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship and Kool Keith got signed, major labels unceremoniously abandoned conscious rap, in favor of the darker, melodramatic True Crime style pioneered by N.W.A. and perpetuated by a cast of thousands.

"We were forced into a DIY network," explains Rude. "It's like the industry let us in for a second and then shut the door really quick — and put out the dog before they shut it."

But as more and more artists stepped outside the narrow guns-hoes-bling formula, the indie hip-hop movement has upped its game and tightened its craft.

"The curse became the gift," says the emcee. "It took the industry falling apart for that to happen."

Rude remembers Prince's discontent being one of the first signs that everything really was changing. "When you have him walking around with 'Slave' written on the side of his face, you want to be independent. We started thinking what we were doing was maybe kind of wise."

That's the spirit Keep the Feel seeks to honor. To do so, Rude empties the Rolodex for a pair of tracks, "Kan of Whoop Ass" and "Kan of Whoop Ass (Reprise)," that employ a cross-generational all-star lineup including Myka 9, Slug, Brother Ali, Blueprint, Grouch & Eligh, Pigeon John and Busdriver, among others, rapping about how they and their crew made it in the game.

Another track, "For the Luv," features longtime friend Aceyalone with sudden sensation Aloe Blacc, who charted internationally with "I Need a Dollar" and subsequently earned a Grammy nomination. Rude knew Blacc from his previous rap duo, Emanon, and was heartened by the artist's commercial success.

While excited and optimistic about Keep the Feel, he knows better than to linger too long on the possibilities. "I'm open for any unforeseen success that may come my way," he says. "But the way you stay in this for 20 years is to not think about that kind of stuff."

Tags: AudioFile, Abstract Rude, interview, Black Sheep, Keep The Feel, A Legacy of Hip-Hop, Abstract Tribe Unique, Aloe Blacc, Slug, Atmosphere, Good Life Café, rap, hip-hop, music, Colorado Springs, Video



by Erik Otis, April 22, 2015

Abstract Rude’s contribution to the art form of west coast hip hop music is invaluable, taking part in the culture that Project Blowed has cultivated and keeping it moving in the 2010s with consistency. It’s hard to believe it’s been over a decade since Abstract Rude, Aceyalone and Mikah 9 released the self-titled group debut, Haiku D’Etat (Twentyfour:Seven Records, 2004) and his lyricism and choice of production work has remained at that level since. After forging a relationship with Alpha Pup Records on his label debut Steel Making Trax: The Export in 2010, the world has been eagerly anticipating a follow-up to the underground classic. This all changes with the 19-track LP Keep The Feel: A Legacy of Hip-Hop Soul, scheduled to drop with KFT Entertainment and Alpha Pup Records on April 28, 2015. The production culture that Alpha Pup Records has cultivated in Los Angeles and beyond is infused into the framework of the album’s roots with the west coast Project Blowed foundations, featuring magnificent lyrics over funky, soulful and sophisticated beat work from Mr. Dibia$e, Vitamin D, Kenny Segal, Chief, Mike Parvizi, JNTHN STEIN, Snorlax, Dot, Dave Atkins, Tk Kayembe, Steve Nalepa, Fat Jack, Biz One, DJ Remode, DK Katch, BVA, DJ Drez and Dave Atkins. Aaron “Abbey Rizzle” Pointer handled executive production work, orchestrating an incredible amount of energy from dozens of individuals for this undertaking.

Keep The Feel: A Legacy of Hip-Hop Soul features an incredible list of masterful vocalists who’ve previously collaborated with Abstract Rude, including Slug, Brother Ali, Abbey, Maya Jupiter, Just Brea, Pigeon John, Medusa, Busdriver, Olmeca, Blueprint, Psalm One, Musab, LMNO, Neb Luv, Otherwize, Kail, VerBS, Open Mike Eagle, Alpha MC, Droop Capone, Luckyiam, Sunspot Jonz, Eligh, The Grouch, Aceyalone, Aloe Blacc, Riddlore?, Ellay Khule, Shames Worthy, Gel Roc, Jroz, Brandi Kane, Jizzm, Self Jupiter, Zumbi/Zion I, Myka 9 and Medusa. This list is mind blowing within itself, collecting some of the world’s most gifted lyricists under one roof. The energy and cohesion of the album is incredible from beginning to end with the posse cuts and the solo tracks giving the record a lot to offer. I feel this is going to be another classic contribution to underground west coast hip hop music as time passes and those with a historic perspective start to put the pieces of the puzzle together for this era.

The introductory phase of Keep The Feel: A Legacy of Hip-Hop Soul has been enacted today with the release of the album’s first single, “Walk Slower Daddy”. Working with Seattle’s respected Vitamin D, Abstract Rude tackles the subject of community, parenthood and how the rich culture of his music plays a vital role in the evolution of his world. His soulful vocal tonality is slowed down from the more fiery lyrical passages he can emit, projecting his lyricism with storytelling and passion, not just mazes of word play. Abstract Rude is back with an incredible release and we have the first premiere of this track for you today. Stream the soulful vibes on the records first single, “Walk Slower Daddy” and support this album on April 28th with a purchase.


Listen to These '90s Underground West Coast Rap Releases if You Like Kendrick Lamar's New Album

By Matt Welty, March 26, 2015.

Kendrick Lamar shook the rap world last week when he decided to unexpectedly drop his latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly. In many ways, the album stood out, not just because the music was stellar and furthered how Kendrick is perceived as an artist, but because it took inspiration from a slew of different places.

At first blush, it's easy to point out all the jazz and funk influences. Bilal, who is featured on two songs, went so far as to say Kendrick's latest album is "high-level jazz." For many, To Pimp a Butterfly sounds unlike any rap music. But for those who have a knowledge of the underground Los Angeles artists who came before K. Dot, it was possible to pinpoint some of his possible influences. There were elements of '90s West Coast hip-hop all over Kendrick's work, and it made us think that there are older albums his fans could appreciate after hearing To Pimp a Butterfly. If you consider yourself one of them or just want to listen to something different, listen to these '90s underground West Coast rap albums if you like Kendrick Lamar's new work.

Freestyle Fellowship, Innercity Griots, Year Released: 1993

At the end of their 1991 debut album To Whom It May Concern, Freestyle Fellowship—an L.A. rap collective comprised of members Aceyalone, Mikah 9, P.E.A.C.E., and Self Jupiter—made a 1:30-long promise to their fans. They collectively chanted, “We will never fall the fuck off we promise.” And the crew’s follow-up album, 1993’s Innercity Griots, proved just that. It’s the building block off of which much of West Coast underground hip-hop, and underground hip-hop in general, was built. Mostly, because its sound was so new and diverse.

Kendrick has long been noted for changing his flow and style, even mid-song, and that’s one of the cornerstones of Freestyle Fellowship's legacy. Every member of the crew was capable of chopping it up or altering their cadence for each instrumental or rhythm. There were angry bursts from P.E.A.C.E. and words from Mikah that tip-toed across the jazz-inflected production, much in the same way Kendrick was able to on tracks like “u” and “For Free?” Then there are moments when Kendrick isn’t as concerned about his flow as he is with rapping and talking to the listener. That’s Aceyalone—the substance to the fanciful, art-like expression.

If fans are going to listen to To Pimp a Butterfly, then it’s only right that they (re) visit Innercity Griots, which is just as complex, although not so lyrical.


The Coup, Genocide and Juice, Year Released: 1994

Oakland hip-hop group the Coup always did things a little differently, and their 1994 album, Genocide and Juice, balanced West Coast flavor with a Bay Area tinge. As the album's title suggests, the work is a play on the themes that dominated Left Coast rap at the time, but there's a reflective nature to the lyrics. The songs are such that anyone can sit back and connect with them, but they're getting something more, from a content prospective, in the process.

The Coup was making music in the same vein as Kendrick. For those who aren't necessarily looking for the viewpoints expressed on the record, the production helps the medicine go down.


Volume 10, Hip-Hopera, Year Released: 1994

Volume 10 and Kendrick Lamar may fall on opposite ends of the rap spectrum, but their approach to rhyming is very similar. Listen to 10's Hip-Hopera album, which features his breakthrough single, "Pistol Grip Pump," to get a better sense of the similarities. L.A.'s underground has long been known for something referred to as the "chop," a type of flow that speeds up a rhyme cadence and is often able to pack more words per bar due to the velocity that words are being spit out of the mouth.

Kendrick and Volume 10 both practice this style, even though the primes of their careers are more than 20 years apart. They also have another thing in common: talking about the harsh realities of where they're from. As Kendrick speaks from the soul and makes thought-provoking statements about life inside the confines of South Central L.A., Volume 10 is more of a punch in the face, with his rapid-fire cadence taking place over brash, more-traditional West Coast instrumentation, that, at times, could mimic the G-funk sound that was going on during his career.


Project Blowed, Project Blowed, Year Released: 1995

There’s a lot of Los Angeles in Kendrick’s music, but the city isn’t as definable as some believe it to be. This is best exemplified by the various members of Project Blowed, the city’s hip-hop collective that gave L.A. a conscious break from the gangsta-heavy sounds of the ’90s.

The crew, which was started at an open mic at the Good Life Cafe, had a recognizable sound usually centered around quick, sporadic flows that were paired with jazzy beats that strayed from L.A.’s trademark G-funk sound. With a crew that had a multitude of members, it was only right that they assembled a group album. Aceyalone and Abstract Rude were able to offer a different perspective than C.V.E. or Ellay Khule. Stylistically, they might have been similar, but their lyrical content was night and day. It also represented the same two-sided views that Kendrick gives in his music......

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