#PILOT SEPTEMBER 2011
+ Nike Goes Back To The Future + Dopest Wall Art on the Net + Max Payne 3 On The Way + Four New Album Reviews
CONTXT An MC from Georgia you need to know about
MAC LETHAL Kansas City's most-revered battle rapper gets called up to the majors and chooses the indie route
STAFF Tyler E. Hakes Editor-in-Chief & Publisher
Kyle Chickering Music Editor
Stu White Review Editor
Mel Berridge Photography Editor
Mike Pikhota Art Director Contributors:
Jake Greene Luke Muyskens Psalm One Willie Green K.J. Glauber Grant Brydon Tim Fish
AROUND THE WEB 003 2011 Nike MAG Max Payne 3 The Synthshredder
FEATURE 004 Mac Lethal
ALBUM REVIEWS 007 Apathy Declaime Roc Marciano & Gangrene (Oh No and The Alchemist) Headnodic
GET FAMILIAR 008 Blctxt Contxt
FEATURE 010 Eyes on Walls
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From working with Outkast’s Aquemini imprint to rapping over beats from King I Divine. Get familiar with one of Georgia’s greatest slept-on MCs. Page 8
AROUND THE WEB
2011 Nike MAG aka Marty McFly's Kicks in Back To The Future
Fantasy has finally become reality. Nike unveils the 2011 MAGs, replicas of McFly's iconic kicks and releases 1500 pairs for auction up on eBay throughout the month of October. Included: Light-up Nike nameplate. Not included: Hoverboard and time-traveling Delorean.
Max Payne 3
Max Payne is back to kick some ass. The third installment of the gameturned-movie saga is being helmed by Rockstar studios of "Grand Theft Auto" fame. Release date: March, 2012.
The Synthshredder Ever wanted to make music while shredding on your skateboard? Now you can. The Synthshredder, brainchild of UCLA student Jesse Chrong, is a bowl that also works as a synth-powered instrument. Currently still in development. #PILOT
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GET FAMILIAR FEATURE
TURNS DOWN A RECORD DEAL by Tyler HAKES
ansas City is a hell of a drug. Or, maybe it's just something that's in the water. Either way, the city (I'm talking about the one in Missouri) seems to house some of the most independent-minded rap artists in the country. Although probably best known for the triumphant independent success of Tech N9ne, Kansas City plays home to other thriving independent musicians as well. Namely, Mac Lethal. What's best about Mac Lethal – aside from the fact that he's been grinding
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it out since stomping his way through Scribble Jam circa 1998 – is that he's independent by choice and he's in it for the long haul. By choice meaning that major labels have come calling (and he's a former signee of the Rhymesayers imprint), only for Mac to respond with a resounding denial. “Fuck you,” basically. I talked to Mac Lethal about his interaction with major labels after reading various posts on his 30,000-some-strong Facebook fan page. Despite his reputation as being a never-sober Facebook troll that often makes wild claims just to rile up his fan base, the rapper speaks professionally
about labels approaching him, having a clear understanding of the music business and what's good for his career. He seemed genuinely disinterested with the prospect of signing to a major label, literally laughing at the terms he had been offered. “The Sony one was five albums and then I believe two options and then one sales milestone option where if a certain amount of records were sold I had no choice but to put out a record with them,” he tells me about the deal that the behemoth multimedia company put forth. “And, it was a $250,000 advance. Which, that's like insane. That's like, 'Hey, let us bend you over and put like 3 cocks in you at once.' It's outrageous.” The whole thing started about three months ago, shortly after Mac Lethal responded to a video titled “Pale kids raps fast” posted to YouTube with his own interpolation (“Pale kid raps faster”) showcasing his even-faster rapping chops. It seems funny, but the video – after garnering some two million views – caught the interest of a few labels, including Sony and “WEA” – as Mac put it – the Warner/ Electra/Atlantic conglomerate. The comedic part, of course, is that Mac Lethal is an independent rap veteran by any standard measure. He's the type of artist that should have already received all of the attention from labels he'll ever get and has transitioned into the full-time independent route. After rapping for well over 10 years and coming up top of his class in the battle rap circuit, Mac should have gotten his “break” much earlier if it were to come in the form of a major-label contract. “When all that YouTube stuff started popping off is when they started to hit me up,” Mac tells me, recalling how he received an e-mail from his booking agent that Sony was interested in talking with him. "Oh great, what now?," he says, with a heavy dose of sarcasm, was his response to receiving their first message. He has trepidations – major ones – about any sort of opportunity that just seems too good to be true. A product of many disappointments in the music industry he tells me, chronicling how on multiple occasions he's had his hopes up only to have deals fall through at the last possible minute.
it was about the actual body of work that I already have," he tells me, saying that was only part of the reason he eventually decided to pass on the offer. "It felt like it was about that they saw me and this gimmick of me rapping really, really fast on YouTube.” He did, however, at least entertain the idea. Mac responded to the e-mail and started to discuss the options with the A&Rs that contacted him. It wasn't just that he could rap fast, he found out, but it was the timing of fast-rap act that really caught their attention. It turns out, the major label universe tends to usually focus their energy on mimicking artists they see
“I'ma never let you do me like you did Lupe, keep your blood money bitch, hooray” as being successful rather than finding truly new and unique artists. And, Sony in particular had their sights set on matching one particular artist who has recently become well-known in the hip hop community. YelaWolf. “They name-dropped YelaWolf a lot,” Mac tells me, explaining how his communications with the label went. But, they did more than just mention the Alabama rapper. Mac felt like they literally wanted him to become a reincarnation of the southern wordsmith. “They want to hit with like some white, speedy, Midwestern, twang
Mac Lethal rocks the crowd with label homie Patric AKA Astroblack
LAUGHING AT LABELS It seems he was right to remain calm about the prospects, since the deal never did go through. “It never felt like #PILOT
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FEATURE Photos courtesy of Mac Lethal’s Facebook page. www.facebook.com/MacLethal
JANUARY 17, 2011 LA rapper Watsky posts «Pale Kid Raps Fast» video to showcase his fastrapping skills. Views: 12,885,571
JANUARY 21, 2011 Mac Lethal posts a «rebuttal» video, «Pale Kid Raps Faster!». Comments say the video is sped up and not legitimate. Views: 3,078,340
JANUARY 22, 2011 Mac Lethal posts another video, «Pale kid raps even faster (WITH STOPWATCH)», where he shows his iPhone stopwatch the prove the video isn't sped up. Views: 1,985,023
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rapper – southern twang rapper – before everybody else or before YelaWolf does,” Mac says. And, matching Yela's sound isn't the only thing the labels had in mind. They were prepared to launch a full-scale rebranding of the overweight, balding, 30-something KC native. They offered to fashion him as a member of an existing crew that belonged to a subsidiary label. They were going to say he was cool with them – they were boys. He laughs as he tells me the story, mentioning how his existing fanbase might be a bit confused by the sudden new circle he would be running with. And, Mac wasn't done laughing. What he found most-funny about the whole scenario was the entire premise of mimicking YelaWolf. Not that Mac doesn't think Yela is a good or talented rapper, but aside from the YouTube success of “Pop The Trunk” and some very limited re-release sales figures, the rapper has still yet to prove himself commercially. He's only just recently inked a major deal with Interscope / Shady and has yet to put out his first big-time record. There's no proof that he'll even be successful – let alone that his style is worth imitating. CONTRACT FIASCO "I'ma never let you do me like you did Lupe, keep your blood money bitch, hooray," Mac raps in his video for "Something I Can Heart" off of his North Korean BBQ mixtape. And, despite having made up the part of the song where he says he "smelled hors d'oeuvres" (we both chuckle when I call him out on never actually going to a
record label office), he held his ground throughout the negotiations. “They had their hands on everything,” Mac explains, outlining how one of the offers they put in front of him was essentially a "360 deal", where the label takes a cut from tour profits, merchandise sales and other revenue streams that are generally considered outside of the scope of a traditional record contract. This is the same type of deal it was rumored Atlantic was trying to force Lupe Fiasco into agreeing too, holding the release of his third album, Lasers, hostage in the negotiation process. Mac recalls being a spectator to Lupe's scenario and learning from the experience. "The Lupe situation, it was interesting because he said 'The label doesn't want me to make the album that I want to make so I said fine, make the album you want me to make and I'll come in and fill in my verses or whatever'," says Mac. "Then it popped off and now he can't fuckin' escape, they have him trapped. Absolutely trapped.” In the end, Mac saw the whole ordeal as just another experience in his journey. He recalls the entire story handily, although it's clear that he didn't take the encounter too seriously. His voice carries the tone of someone who's explaining the plot of a movie that was entirely too predictable. "No, I don't think I'll be signing to a major label," Mac says in closing. The most-definitive answer he could offer sums up the experience as a whole. Almost before we could get off the phone it seemed, the Kansas City MC has already booked his next round of Midwest tour dates. From the road, he continues to update his fans on the tour and interact with them directly. "I'm gathering that an East coast tour is wanted?," he posts to his Facebook page after his followers have harassed him continually to play their respective cities. His cult remains strong as "Uncle Mac" continues to gain fans through the hard work and hand-tohand hustle that he's come to be known for. Mac Lethal is staying independent.
Apathy Honkey Kong Stu White A little trimming of the fat would make the album shine, but, that being said, there are no true duds to be found. Anyone familiar with Apathy’s awesome style of rhyming will be more than pleased with this release as will listeners who are looking to see him step outside of the box a bit. As one of the truly undeniable lyricists in hip hop, Apathy’s rhymes never disappoint over the course of the near-hour running time. The fact that it’ll take most listeners multiple listens to decipher and decode every line gives Honkey Kong outstanding replay value, a quality which will surely land the album amongst the best releases of the Summer of 2011.
Declaime Self Study K.J. Glauber The album, while not entirely satisfactory, is a good effort and does maintain a coherent sound and context. However, when compared to Declaime’s previous work with higherlevel production and a more broad lyrical range, Self Study seems inferior to his other releases. It’s worth a listen, but will not likely show up on your newest playlist or in your car. Hopefully next time Declaime teams back up with the Stones Throw golden lineup and comes up with another Dudley Perkins release.
Roc Marciano & Gangrene (Oh No and The Alchemist) Gangrene Stu White At less than twenty-five minutes, Greneberg is over far too quickly. The album doesn’t really have a shining, defining, “must hear” track, yet is consistently strong throughout without — with the exception of the news report outro on “Sewer Gravy” — a wasted moment. It’s a quick album to digest, which may be an indicator of a lack of staying power in your CD changer, and one that you’ll certainly find yourself nodding and scowling to but never falling in love over. As a sampler as to what this talented trio can accomplish, however, Greneberg is an excellent testament to the idea that grimy hip hop, void of poppy sheen, can not only survive but thrive in 2011.
Headnodic Red Line Radio K.J. Glauber Overall a very impressive effort, Headnod could have gone a little wilder on this release. The variety is most definitely satisfying, but when listeners get a taste of his work in other genres like “Truth”, and “Pepper’s Lullabye”, it is hard not to wonder what else Headnodic is capable of. Perhaps the next release will settle my hunger for genre bending, but I’ll be bumping Red Line Radio for a while until then.
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blctxt contxt ing I Divine is one of our favorite newer producers. How is it working with him? King is my brother from another mother. Working with him requires me to get my vision in order, and that was something I needed because all I knew how to do was write songs before we met. His name is not King I Divine for no reason, dude is MAJESTIC and everything that he does he puts his all in to, no half-assing. This lesson alone is why I stay working with him. How did you get started making music? Music and I have been flirting around since I was a kid but I decided to take her seriously at the end of 2003. flyMusic was the name of a band I was a part of as the spoken word artist then. The experience I had with my band was one of epic highs and lows; great bandmembers that showed me different approaches to making music. Family situations lead to the disband us and a great sound; eventually the break up lead me to crafting rhymes and a solo mission as you see and hear it now. You started out as a spoken word artist? How is that different from now, rapping? Do you approach it differently? Yeah, I’ve been writing poetry since I was taught about adjectives in the 1st grade! Spoken word is basically the performance art of poetry. I wanted to reach more people with my message lyrically so I decided to add music to my palette with the objective of moving butts and minds at the same time. Most of the best MCs start of as poets or just writing poetry as they begin to express themselves. The approach isn’t much different, it’s
just that I’m making touch with them? music now. Once I Any industry conAGE: 26 learned how to structacts come from HOMETOWN: Born in Katy, Texas ture rhymes, it was the experience? but I was raised in Forest Park, Georgia like me structuring That was a big a poem in a different deal to me as a kid LABEL/GROUP AFFILIATIONS: I haven't been associated with any format and making and especially begroups/labels in the past but this sure I stayed on beat. ing from the area new project A Smart Black Boy, will You’ve been pretas such an iconic be coming from the Working Class ty quiet in most of group. I still speak platform. the blog scene as far with some people DISCOGRAPHY: as we know. What from that time peri• Contxt Clues: Prelude EP kind of avenues have od to this day. As far • Acknowledgment EP you used to promote as industry contacts • Crown Jewelz 2 by King I Divine and distribute your go, they’re pretty • Crown Jewelz 3 by King I Divine music? much friends more • A Smart Black Boy: The Sonic Right now I feel than anything. One Inception like the best way for of my main homies me to promote and from the label was distribute my music Mitch. He’s doing is by using the Internet to the FULLhis thing with Janelle Monae and The EST. Terry Urban said something about Wondaland Arts Society. He taught me how we as a society live around the some really important things when it Internet; we leave our desks, houses comes to the music industry and how and wherever based off suggestions to act around folks. online. As an independent artist I’ve tried different avenues (passing out Tell us about a great music memory music at shows, doing hole in the wall that you have. clubs, basement parties, festivals etc.) Aaah man, the freshest memory has to but the best results seem to come from be October 2009 at Lenny’s Bar (R.I.P.). online promo, so increasing my online My homie Gotta Be Karim had me presence gives me more visibility to help him promote this Black Milk and those all over the world. Eventually, if Black Spade show. I was a big Stan for my theory proves correct, I’ll get back Spade’s To Serve With Love LP (a classic in the streets the old-school way. It’s all in my eyes) so all I wanted to do was a learning process though. chop it up with him. Spade opened up and during his set he would make use If you could do something over the MPC to start off a song. He played again in your life, what would it «The Clapper» by Dilla and freestyled be? Why? over it. My nerd ass went loco, Spade *ponders heavily so he doesn’t give a put his hand out for what I thought cliched response* There are a million was a pound but proceeded to pull me things that I feel like I missed out on on stage to bust a verse, so I did! Felt because of me not listening to intulike Yeezy when he got knighted by ition. However, back in 2003 I was Jay in Chicago, my bars were wack but a shiny, young, black kid FRESH out I was just happy to be on stage with of high school with an internship to someone who I feel is a legend. OutKast’s now defunct record label Aquemini. One year of this internship What’s next for you? placed me around new faces and of Right now all of my attention is on my course, the business of music. I wish new EP, A Smart Black Boy: The Sonic I would have stayed around even in Inception. I just released 2 singles, the midst of the things I was going Cooking Up [prod. by Illastrate] and through personally. No regrets on Goodbye [prod. by J Haze] from it and leaving because I’m a family person so far so good on people’s responses. and family is always first, but stayFinishing this EP felt like a true acing would have ultimately given me a complishment to me and I’m just anxjump in my music career. ious to share it with the world.
Blctxt in the studio with King I Divine
Wow, you scored an internship with OutKast’s label? Do you stay in #PILOT
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Eyes On Walls
«Aenema» by Alex Cherry
Underground Art Finds Mainstream Homes
rt can play a great part in defining a generation, and nobody distributes a more on-point definition of the today’s youth than Eyes On Walls. This edgy and modern art distribution company was only officially founded last year, but is rooted in over twenty years in the poster distributing business, and has made a name for itself by bringing a unique product to a unique consumer base. The company seeks out artists the create original, modern and striking urban art that inspires our generation, prints their artwork at their headquarters in Montreal and ships it out all over the word at prices surprisingly low for the art world, bringing affordable beauty to a whole new generation of art buyers. Eyes On Walls is home to ten inspiring artists whose work ranges from oil painting to design to digital art, including notable artists such as Camilla d’Ericco, Charmaine Olivia, and HR-FM, and has hundreds of pieces available for as low as ten dollars per print. We talk0 1 0
ed with the founder of Eyes On Walls, Tom Rowlandson, as well as a couple of incredible artists featured by the company, Alex Cherry and Lora Zombie, to find out some more information on this intriguing new collective.
TOM ROWLANDSON Founder of Eyes On Walls.
«Rain Dogs» by Lora Zombie
AGM: What were your goals when you originally founded the company? I started my career in the art business working for a mainstream poster publisher of artists like Andy Warhol and licensing properties like Disney. Eyes On Walls was founded to publish and promote a new generation of artists and make their work available, affordable and accessible to a new generation of art fans. How do you choose artists to publish through Eyes On Walls? Our target audience are true appreciators of art, they’re not looking to fill a space with something that matches their sofa. They’re also generally young-
er than the typical art buying audience, and are looking for something different and interesting. So we select artists to publish with that in mind. We receive submissions through our site and also actively seek out and solicit the right kind of artists to add to the line, usually adding only one or two artists at a time.
and work off of that by any means necessary for me to “complete” my vision. Music is my storyboard. What does your artwork mean to you personally? It means a lot. It is an extension of myself, like a separate person I’m sharing my life with. My work goes out with other people, it has relationships with them, and sometimes it introduces me to them. I’m very lucky to have such a partner. My work makes friends with people, and sometimes introduces me to them.
What are you doing differently than other companies out there providing similar services? Most companies in our space are concentrated on building a massive digital catalogue of artwork for sale. Our approach is different in that we focus on a small number of artists and invest heavily in promoting them.
What do you want viewers to take away from your artwork? Anything people take away from it is enough. Though angry at times, my work has no enemies or prejudice. And like all people, I think it just wants to be loved.
How do you think art fits into modern popular culture? I think art is more popular now that it has ever been. I’d attribute that to how accessible the Internet has made artists, and the recent worldwide surge in popularity of street art. It’s everywhere you look really. Do you have any plans to expand the company? Yes – we are growing steadily and our next move in terms of expanding the operations of the company is to establish a creative, sales and product development office in Toronto separate from our manufacturing and fulfillment in Montreal.
A young artist from Russia, with a diverse, self-taught, unique style. She has built a significant presence online, and is now branching into the gallery world. eyesonwalls.com/collections/lora-zombie
«Tom Waits» by Lora Zombie
A Los Angeles-based digital artist heavily involved in Eyes On Walls, with dozens of striking, distinct, urban-style pieces available on the website. eyesonwalls. com/collections/alex-cherry
At what age did you get involved with urban art? When did you first realize that art was going to be a major part of your life? When I was around 15-16 years old I was drawing a lot of GORILLAZ fan art, and at the same time I had some access to internet, which helped me to see what was happening around art and music then. It was such an inspiring background for me so I had a lot of enthusiasm to be a part of this movement.
Do you have any early encounters with art that stick out in your memory? Marvel Comics by Jim Lee, Star Wars conceptual work by John Berkey and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was at one time obsessed with all of those and they’ve had a big impact on my work as an artist/designer. Especially Ninja Turtles. Where does your artistic inspiration come from? 90% of my inspiration is from music, the other 10% comes from the rest of my life. How does music influence your art? Music is the boilerplate for my art. I start with a concept defined in a song
Tell us about your background on art. How did you get started? I started from early-early childhood. I used to draw Looney Tunes cartoon characters all day long when i was a very little girl. When I grew up a little I started my self-education with books about how to draw, paint, etc…
What is your inspiration? Currently I am most inspired by music.
«Trash 2» by Alex Cherry
Who is/are your favorite artist/s? Banksy. Ian Francis. Ashley Wood. Jamie Hewlett. Tex Avery.
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