Columbus, Ohio poet/emcee Illogic and New York City producer Blockhead, who first collaborated back in 2000, recently teamed up again to record two EPs and their first full length album project together - the TK via Man Bites Dog release Capture The Sun which arrives in Amoeba Music today. The 16 track album is an all killer, no filler hip-hop release that finds these two talented artists at their best with select special features from such artists as Slug (of Atmosphere), Blueprint, and Abstract Rude. I recently caught up with both Blockhead and Illogic to chop it up with them about the new album that I learned is dedicated to Illogic's grandmother who, he told me, passed away just a few weeks ago after battling cancer for the past few years. "Even before that [though] I was planning on dedicating this record to her because the whole album title and the concept is inspired by something she would always tell me. And that is that your dreams that are delayed are not denied. And that is something I try to impart to my family as well; just to go after their dreams and no matter how long it takes that they can always achieve them. And that is something that my family has imparted in me as well," said the father of three sons who holds family dear to his heart. In fact his mother, who when he was just a little kid used to give him the dictionary to study, has being perhaps the most influential person in his life as an artist. "My mom is an interesting person," shared the emcee/poet. "She was a black nationalist in college. She studied Islam. She was very intellectual. And I actually learned to speak French before I could speak English. She always made sure that I understood the power of language and the power of words. And that is something to this day that I am grateful for because here I am: Illogic the rapper, the writer, the poet. And that is mainly because of what my mother instilled in me at a young age."
"With the concept for Capture The Sun Blockhead was the perfect producer for what I was trying to accomplish," said Illogic noting that what has always attracted him to Blockhead's production style is his meticulous attention to detail. "He will take a two-second part of a song and put it into a beat. And he will take a whole bunch of those; two, five, ten second parts and create a complete backdrop of something completely beautiful that you have never heard before…..he just makes a symphony out of everything that he does!"
Blockhead and Illogic first met back in the late 90's when the Ohio native came to NYC for a Rock Steady Crew event and was staying with mutual friend/collaborator Aesop Rock. Soonafter the two worked together. "I did a track with Illogic back in 2000 but that never had a proper release. Its' been leaked since then," said Blockhead whose most recent solo release was last year's Interludes After Midnight on Ninja Tune. For the production process of the new album the producer and emcee worked over the Internet between their respective NY and Ohio home studios. For the most part the beats came first, then the rhymes came about. "I must have sent him about fifty or sixty beats and he basically went through them and slowly picked out the ones he wanted," said Blockhead. "Most of the songs were written to the beats," added Illogic. "Some I had written already…..but I am the kind of artist that thrives off the mood of the beat to write to make sure that everything is cohesive with what I am doing so most of it was the beat first and that was what inspired the lyrics."
"It's been a lot of hard work," admitted Illogic of Capture The Sun. "We've been working on this album for about two and a half, three years and it all started from an email that I sent Blockhead and he said yeah he'd like to work on a record." Even though they are geographically over 500 miles apart from each other recording together was no problem. "The beauty of this day and age is that you can send things over the Internet and work on them slowly," said Blockhead "Even ten, fifteen years ago we couldn't have done this," added Illogic. And while many artists may miss the old way of working in the same studio with a producer there are advantages to working separately and connecting online. "It's a good way to do it because you both are separated from each other and you can kind of put your own thoughts into it and you never really butt heads," offered Blockhead. "When people have a lot of cameos on their albums it kind of waters down their message," explained Illogic of why he only has a few well chosen featured guests on the album. These include Blueprint who is featured on the track "Justified" on which Illogic addresses police brutality and the misuse of power by those in positions of authority. "There's been a lot of people who have been killed by police officers unjustly and I speak on that," said Illogic of the song, "And Blueprint takes it in a whole other direction just looking at his neighborhood and how that is affected by the lack of police supervision. Another guest artist on Capture The Sun is Kristoff Krane (on the song "Lighthouse") who Illogic said was "a kind of protege" of the late great Saint Paul, Minnesota emcee Eyedea who introduced Krane to him not long before the rapper's sudden October 2010 death at age 28.
Capture The Sun, released by TK via Man Bites Dog Records, is available as of today (April 16th, 2013) at Amoeba Music. Below are two videos for the album tracks "Neva Heard" and the title track featuring Slug.
Illogic & Blockhead "Neva Heard" (2013)
Illogic & Blockhead "Capture The Sun (feat. Slug)" (2013)