Yours truly, the Editor-in-Chief, moonwalking at his 3rd grade talent show (1993)
Right now as I write this, we have about three days before we’re supposed to go to print...and I still have five articles to write. I can only imagine what Magic (IndyGround/Demencha) is about to go through when laying out the entire magazine with such a short time frame. I would be remiss to let this editors note go on without mentioning something about the untimely death of one of my childhood idols, the King of Pop - Michael Jackson. I actually deleted one person from my Facebook friends for sending out messages throwing dirt on MJ’s name a couple weeks after he had passed. If you’re reading this right now, homie, I’m sorry if you were raised on country-western and missed out on the greatest entertainer the world’s ever known. It doesn’t matter if you were a 70’s baby, 80’s baby or 90’s baby - you were probably brought up on Michael Jackson. Nothing proved that to me more than when I DJed my friend’s little sister’s sweet 16 party earlier this summer. In the middle of a bunch of Soulja Boy and Hurricane Chris, I intermittently dropped as much MJ as I could...and they went nuts for it. These were all kids who were probably born no sooner than 1993. As summer 2009 begins to fade, I hope everyone does as much partying and supporting of local music as they can before we head into the dreaded “off-season,” where dope shows will be few and far between...unless you want to car pool with me out to Lawrence once a month or so. Since we last spoke, I had the pleasure of checking out the Taste of Troost fest outside 7th Heaven on the 4th of July, which ended in a performance from Rich The Factor (which was a spectacle in itself). I saw Kid Cudi at the Voodoo Lounge, but a friend of mine and I were apparently the only people who left the venue hype over it. I’ve also enjoyed hitting up the Scion Lab in the Crossroads once a week or so. The Riot Room in Westport has probably been my favorite place to hit up this summer, though. Doing a cover story with a band, as in a multi-person music act that uses several different instruments to create music, is quite new to us. I felt the need to cover Hearts of Darkness because I really feel that they’re one of the hottest bands in the city right now. They’re a band that can actually make me dance, just as if I was dancing to hip hop or house music. I’ve also had reservations about doing features on DJs who spin dance music due to the question of “where?” Where am I going to distribute copies of the magazine where people in KC will actually appreciate a DJ who plays house music or any other form of EDM? I’m thinking about writing a cover story for the fall/ winter issue about the lack of DJs in this town. A wise man once said to me, “In most cities there are more DJs than there are rappers, but in Kansas City it’s the opposite.” I think it could be a very interesting topic. I’d love to do a cover story on some new, local, up-and-coming DJ, but they’re few and far between. If anyone has any suggestions, get at me via the contact info below.
I really think that the dance music scene here is hanging on by a thread right now and we should feel lucky that we have DJs pushing new sounds like Tactic and Lotus Camp, etc. If any dance music heads want to contribute articles to this magazine, get at me by all means! (Shout out to Daylight Robber for doing the review on Murderbot’s new record in this issue, also.) I can’t really spend much more time on this, but again, I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past 12 months since we restarted this project. Here are some songs/albums/mixtapes/DJ mixes that I’m feeling at the moment: Michael Jackson - “Man In The Mirror” Major Lazer (Switch & Diplo) - BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix Major Lazer feat. Nina Sky and Ricky Blaze - “Keep It Goin’ Louder” Drake - So Far Gone DJ Nephets - “I Came To Bring The Pain” Steddy P - Style Like Mind Public Announcement - “Body Bumpin’ Yippie Yi-Yo” (Mike Dunn’s Deep Soul Bump Mix) Tina B. & DJ Slugo - “Into My Bedroom” p.s. thanks to Julian Harper, Ben Bradley and Nici Watts for holding down the photography services for us. For inquiries on advertising, back issues, contributing content or being covered in Demencha, please contact: Chris Mills Demencha Magazine Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org facebook.com/demenchamagazine twitter.com/demenchamag myspace.com/demencha demencha.com
Chris Mills Demencha Magazine Since Steddy P came back to his hometown of Kansas City after attending college at the University of Missouri in Columbia, his IndyGround crew hasn’t quite yet reached the level of an INnatesounds Crew or Soul Providers…as far as the fickle Kansas City music scene is concerned, at least. We even heard whispers at a local hip hop show or two which seemed to question Steddy’s deserving of opening up for Reflection Eternal a couple of months back. Hell, the person writing this right now told Steddy personally that he wasn’t feeling any of the three records that Steddy had released until this point. That’s all about to change. On September 11, 2009, Steddy will officially release his new album, Style Like Mind, at the Record Bar in Westport to introduce the new record to fans and naysayers alike. This show will commence the Style Like Mind tour which sees Steddy hitting fifteen cities in seven different states, mostly West of the Mississippi (with the exception of Belleville, Illinois, Chicago and Columbus). Those cynics in particular, need to wrap their heads around the fact that Steddy’s been touring for a hot minute, has a razor sharp business sense and takes this rap shit “very fuckin’ seriously.” “In KC,“ Steddy begins, “I’ve noticed that a lot of people have trouble coming out and saying that
they’re a fan of somebody. There are people in this city that would rather bring somebody down rather than give them a compliment. Cool. That’s your prerogative…I figure, why tear something down that’s so small in the first place? The way that I embrace my (musicianship), I think is totally different than other people here. It’s been responsible for me paying bills and time off and time on, I’ve been just a musician, doing gigs to support myself. People here in Kansas City don’t know what the fuck that’s about. A lot of them don’t. I’m glad that I’m here, because I’m helping cats get out. I (tell other artists), “This is feasible. You can do this.” I swear to God you can. If I’m doing it, these people can do it.” Steddy insists that at one recent point during his rap career, he was actually drawing bigger crowds in St. Louis than in Kansas City, though he says that has proved to be untrue within the past 12 months or so. He nearly bounced out of Missouri entirely to link up with his good friend Approach in California, but stayed here because he wanted the graces of Kansas City’s hip hop faction. With this new record, Style Like Mind, he’s well on his way to doing just that. Ditching the traditionally boring beats and “real
hip hop” clichés that plagued his last three records, Steddy allied with a fellow Missouri-bred Scribble Jam contestant, Ben Bounce of St. Louis (who won the beat production battle at Scribble last year) to throw down Antlike, horn-heavy instrumental panoramas for Steddy’s self-acknowledged, vastly improved songwriting to buff out any inkling or memory of all the fast-forward material contained in his last three records. The first single from Style Like Mind, a song about breaking out of boxes, which should be up for download shortly after Demencha has gone to print, is “Format,” featuring Reach and Approach. However, the standout tracks on Style Like Mind include “Without You,” “Sublime” and “No Matter How.” These three joints could be lumped together as the three nicest choruses on the LP, which in some cases leaves Steddy doing the borderline-singing thing. As far as the
verses go on his new CD, there’s a much more aggressive tone in Steddy’s rhythm which is probably attributed to Ben Bounce’s more epic sound. Throughout the album, and in the course of his previous three records, Steddy’s voice can at times bob and weave into various recognizable intonations such as Aesop Rock, Negro Scoe, Brother Ali and even his idol, KRS-One. In today’s age, all the listeners really need is a tight beat and a memorable chorus. On Style Like Mind, Steddy appears to have recognized that. The aforementioned gloomy Gus’ should definitely make it out to his show at the Record Bar on 9/11 if they want to see what we’re confident in billing as the best show you’ll see from Steddy P yet. And we’re sure that with Steddy’s hard-working IndyGround promo crew, it won’t be hard to find a Style Like Mind.
Chris Mills Demencha Magazine Quincy Jones has been nominated for a record 79 Grammy Awards (he only walked away with 27 of them), has worked with or outright produced full-length records with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and of course, the late Michael Jackson. We might not have similar artists to make it out of Kansas City who’ve gone on to become mega-stars in the music industry, but we do have the Basement Khemist’s and Tech N9ne’s of the world. Both
of which, dropped a heavy dose of recording and production duties on Icy Roc’s lap over the years for some of their most classic records. People close to the Demencha project have repeatedly told us how cold of a DJ Icy Roc used to be back in the day, and as you could probably guess, he caught the “DJ bug” when he was in high school while throwing parties with none other than DJ Fresh. But from there he “wasn’t satisfied with just listening to records,” and wanted to make his own music, which is the natural progression from DJing to producing.
Shortly after high school, Roc connected with J Lee (now of Heet Mob), Strict 9 and Darryl “Hitman” Woods to form Rhyme Elite Posse. He began traveling the US after meeting Tech N9ne and knowing people who knew people in other parts of the country. He recalls, “When we got back into town I took (Tech) to the studio that I was working at and we made this song called “The New Breed.” We performed at Kemper Arena with DJ Quik, EPMD, and Sole opened up. We got up there and did our thing and I guess the rest is history. We got signed with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and they flew us out to California. We met a lot of people in the industry from Redman to Naughty By Nature. We came back home for a while then they flew us back out to LA and we stayed there for about three months. We recorded a lot and we made a lot of connections out there as well. We started sending off packages to different labels. What we were doing at the time was a little bit too dark for a lot of people. So they weren’t feeling it. (Some people at the different labels) thought we were into devil worshipping type stuff. We’re not into that. None of us ever have been. We just sat here for a while. That’s when Tech met Don Juan and started working with him. Then when Tech got his deal with (Strange Music) and started his own label. That’s when I came back into the picture. We did “It‘s Alive“, “This Ring.” The whole reason I stepped away from this is that when JCOR went bankrupt Travis bought the masters to Anghellic. At the time I was supposed to get money for my work. Travis decided that he didn’t want to honor none of that. All those sales that were sold, I didn’t get no points. The only thing I got was producers money. And it kinda made me a little bit bitter. From there, I just distanced myself from that whole situation. We had a little altercation. With Tech’s next album, somebody had sent me the album over the internet. I gave it to a friend of mine and he decided he was going to start giving it to his next door neighbor and stuff and all this. And basically that caused me and Tech to fall out. But we’re cool now. I actually went to his video shoot a few weeks ago. Everybody’s cool.” In this, the first interview Icy Roc has done in a decade, he gets open about his current work with Kansas City’s Alex Hodgkins, a former American Idol contestant. He briefly touches on the Young Fierce solo project that he’s going to oversee and produce, his friendship with the late Roger Troutman and dishes his own thoughts on what makes today‘s autotune plague different than what Troutman became famous for. Demencha: When’s the last time you did an interview? Icy Roc: It’s been years and years. I don’t think I’ve ever
done one personally, myself, without being with Tech (Tech N9ne) or any of them. It’s always been a group thing or amongst other people or whatnot. Not just one by myself. Demencha: Before this interview, I was specifically told by a good friend to not bring up anything about Tech or Strange Music with you. Icy Roc: It’s cool. You can ask me whatever you want. Demencha: What are you up to in these days and times? Artistically, what’s consuming you? Icy Roc: Whatever stimulates my mind. Right now I’m doing a lot of video editing, a little bit of animation and music. I’m a human sponge. I want to learn everything.
Demencha: More specifically, what are you doing music wise? Icy Roc: I’m making beats, engineering, a little bit of mastering. That’s about it. Some days I might just sit up and tweak sounds with some of the synths or whatever so I don’t have the
same (sounds) that everybody else has. I can’t have it where somebody can just load up something and have a preset that’s the same that I use. So I always go in and tweak stuff. I’m really just going after it and enjoying myself as much as I can. I’m doing stuff with this young lady named Alex Hodgkins, this group H.U.S.T.L.E., and whoever I can work with. I’m down to do just about anything. That’s (Young Fierce’s) group - H.U.S.T.L.E. So I’ve been working with him also and we’re supposed to work on a solo project for him as well. Demencha: Tell us more about Alex Hodgkins. Icy Roc: She has great vocal capability. I would say she sounds like Nora Jones slash…a few different people. I can’t even put my finger on it. Like with the song that we’re working on now, I had her working on a bridge and during this certain part of the bridge she kinda sounded like Nelly Furtado. Demencha: What’s the project with Young Fierce going to sound like. I’ve heard that he’s going for more of a spiritual vibe on this one. Icy Roc: That’s kinda what I’ve been told, but with more of a street edge to it. Not so preachy. He’s going to give the listeners a message without them even knowing for the most part. We haven’t started any pre-production on that at all. So I’m in the dark. Demencha: How did you know Roger Troutman and what are your thoughts on autotune today? Icy Roc: You don’t want to get me started on that one! I met Roger Troutman when he came in town to do a song with Tech called “Twisted” (which appeared on Anghellic). Tech brought him up to 7th Heaven where I was working at the time. The dude was cool. He was one of my idols. I used to listen to all his records and still do. As a talk box player myself, I think autotune is cool but I don’t understand how people can listen to that and think that’s the same thing as Roger Troutman. There’s a big difference. With the talk box, you have to play notes with a tube in your mouth. With the autotune you just have to click some buttons.
art of it’s own. I’ve been doing it for maybe ten years. I’ve had people come and see me do it, and then they go out and buy one and tell me that they’re frustrated that they can’t get it to do what I did. It takes a lot of practice. I’m stubborn. I learned it. Autotune is cool for the most part, but there’s really no talent with autotune. You could get someone on there who doesn’t know how to sing at all, and it’ll clean your notes up and make you sound half way decent. There’s people in the industry who can’t nail a particular vocal so they’ll just use autotune to make sure that they get the performance that they want. Basically, I look at it as cheating. Demencha: Why have you been so reluctant to do interviews in the past? Surely people have tried to contact you. Icy Roc: I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to accomplish yet so there’s not too much to talk about as far as everything I did in the past. But all that’s not really important to me. I want to take it to a whole other level. With me doing music and video production, now I’m able to offer that to artists that I’m messing with so I can be self-contained and work on video and audio stuff and have it be quality. Demencha: So what do you specifically want to do with the video editing? Are you wanting to shoot videos for local artists and things of that sort? Icy Roc: Shoot. Edit. Everything. Do motion graphics, everything. Everything is self-contained. I won’t have to go outside to ask anybody to do anything. I’m building a team. Right now I’m working with this guy, Benson Caruthers, and his company is called BJC Video. Me and him have been working tightly together for the last year and a half. Right now, both of us work for this children’s book illustrator off of 31st named Shane Evans. We’ve been doing all the media stuff for him. We film and edit the shows that he has coming in and we help him make TV shows. We’ve got like 12 shows on the air right now. They’re on UMKC’s TV channel. I know I went off subject, but I never felt like I’ve accomplished enough for someone to interview me. That might sound silly, but I don’t know.
Demencha: What would you call what Roger Troutman did? Icy Roc: That’s talk box. Basically, somebody came up with a way of taking an outlet on a keyboard, plugging it into a box that has a speaker, and the speaker is enclosed in it’s case. And the sound is projected through this tube that goes into your mouth. So you could say any word that you want to and press one key, and it’s just gonna sound like one key. Once you start playing notes is when it sounds like you’re singing. It’s an
Drunk with Power by Lucid
Chris Mills Demencha Magazine It’s rare that we get a new crop of freshly-turned 21 year old kids diving head first into the local hip hop pool. In the “city of old rappers,“ as KC has been called, King Reel, Phantom*, Dutch Newman and Atilla the Beatsmith could give a fuck less if these old farts hogging up the lane have been enjoying their adult swim for a bit too long. For many aspiring musicians, taking advantage of turning 21 can make or break a lot of them. This is when your networking skills are supposed to develop, particularly in a city where there’s a drought of 18+ and all ages hip hop events. This is the time when you’re supposed to spread your wings and explore. As a matter of fact, this very magazine was started on such opportunities. But even the most inspired youngster can have delusions about what is more important; pursuing dreams and a hopeful career, or chasing women and patron. Atilla, Phantom and King Reel admit that they don’t party much, even though they’re 21, 22, and 23 years old respectively. “Dutch on the other hand!” King Reel begins. “That guy parties a lot!” “He parties like a rock star!” Phantom added. “His is a mixture,” Reel went on to say. “He may party a lot. But he stays on his grind. When it’s time to do music, he does music. When it’s time to party, he’s like “Where’s a drink?” “Well I’ve been drinking since 21 so I got one up on the rest of the boys,” replied the 24 year-old Dutch in an e-mail interview later. But in all seriousness, it’s important for up-andcomers to not drown in a pool of beer, or get “eaten up by the scene” as the more hardcore party kids commonly say. Dutch, the elder statesman of the collective, actually had a big hand in putting the rest of them on, in one fashion or another. King Reel divulges, “I was wandering around on myspace and I came across Dutch...which, everybody probably came across Dutch on myspace. I hit him up and he invited me out to the Peanut. So if it wasn’t for Dutch I’d probably still be wandering around wondering what’s going on.” Phantom agrees, “I think the first show I threw was in ‘06 at the El Torreon. It was a learning experience.
I don’t think things really hit the ground until I met Dutch, to be honest. Dutch got me into a lot of stuff that I didn’t have access to yet. I owe a lot to Dutch, to be honest.” Atilla admits that he wasn’t entirely familiar with the idea of Kansas City having it’s own homegrown hip hop artists until a couple of friends in high school gave him copies of Reach’s first album, Soundsgood and Ces Cru’s old cult classic Capture Enemy Soldiers. So do these young thundercats feel slighted at times when it comes to getting respect from older heads? “There’s people that you want to notice you, but sometimes they’re so full of what they’re doing or not even seeing anybody else that’s in that same lane and we’re all doing the same thing. Some veterans do have bigger heads. I’m not gonna say any names,” Reel comments. “Honestly, I’m at the point where I don’t care,“ Atilla confesses. “But I know what I’m doing. Trust. That’s why I don’t go out much. But to answer your question, yes, I feel that my brothers and I get slighted sometimes for various reasons, our age being one.” Phantom, who is probably the most talented and most versatile of the whole bunch as a producer and MC, says, “Personally, the longer I’m doubted, the better because I love surprising people. I don’t really get upset about it anymore. But now I can see that there really isn’t much to gain from any of this. It’s like, who am I paying dues to? Everybody’s still paying dues. Nobody’s big time yet. The longer I’m doubted, the better. When I’m no longer doubted, it doesn’t really challenge me anymore.” On the topic of whether or not the lack of 18 plus and all ages events is screwing up underground music in Kansas City or not, the group has a lot to say. Atilla wrote in via e-mail, “Fans in every demographic want artists they can relate to and our demographic has not been targeted. It’s only right that we be the ones to do it.” Dutch and King Reel both acknowledge that a lot of their fans are between 18-21, and Reel says that his listeners are “shit out of luck” if they miss a show because there’s no telling when the next 18 plus show will pop up. In wrapping things up, Reel throws out a suggestion and a frustration at the same time, “I understand when (club owners) say “I don’t want kids in my bar.“ But you can control that. Every venue here is not a huge ass venue. Most of the venues are even smaller than this restaurant here. And you can’t keep track of who’s drinking or not? Clubs even put big ass “X” marks on people’s hands, so how come you can’t put an “X” or a wristband on somebody to keep them from drinking? I don’t get that. Maybe it’s something I will never get.”
O.V.E.R.K.I.L.L. THA CLICK
Cranking Gears by Lucid