Well it’s finally here: the This One Goes To Eleven… 11th Anniversary compilation album for Different Kitchen! It’s been a three to four month journey putting this project together but it came together in a really great way and I’m super happy & proud of the sound of it and how it turned out in the end.
I’ve spent 11 years doing this blog, at some points spending more time on it than others but this is one of the things in my life that I get to do that really reflects who I am, my musical & aesthetic tastes and how I see the world without regard for what is cool, will sell or drive online traffic or what I should be doing from a career or personal life point of view.
All of the artists on the album are ones I really dig, personally and I have backed that up by supporting their music and careers on the blog. I’m glad that they all came through and supported this project with their art. Props go out to The Names Are Known, King Reign & Saukrates, Keita Juma, Brendan Philip, Noah Vinson & Isis Ash, Joel. & Arthur Lewis, J.Nolan, Jai Nitai Lotus & Sam I Am Montolla, Audego, Emay, Third Mind, 416 Band and Mickey Factz.
Also a big thanks goes out to Exclaim! magazine, the top music media outlet in Canada, who came on board as a media partner and co-premiered the album on their site HERE.
This One Goes To Eleven… Credits:
Marketing by CoolerBuzz
Audio mastering by Neil McDonald and Paul Kehayas for Echosound Studiolab
Art by Tiffany Pilgrim for Tiffany Pilgrim Art Direction & Graphic Design
Promo Art by Shehab Tariq for Implant Media
Viral video production by Ian Jones for the ear2much collective
Media Partner: Exclaim!
(For songwriting & production credits, click/see the back cover art above or to the album link on Soundcloud HERE to check each song’s credits individually)
I used to call Toronto-based ‘slop-wave’, alternative soul singer, Brendan Philip one of Toronto’s best kept secrets. But it doesn’t like I’ll be able to do that for much longer.
Brendan was part of the T.dot, Black boho 88 Days crew in the past but now rolls with the Fake Art collective. He’s being laying the musical seeds for a growing body of work that gets progressively better and increasingly creative while still remaining accessible and winning over more and more fans along the way. Last year he was the winner in the Toronto Harbourfront Soundclash, he has curated a mix for VICE’s Noisey music channel, been picked as an artist to watch by MTV and was part of the inaugural House of Vans Vice Island concert during NXNE this past June. Son is blowing up, for real!
Luckily for me I knew him before he became Toronto’s next hottest thing so when I asked to bless the #DK11 project with something, he was only too happy to oblige and delivered a smoker of a track called “Look” produced by fellow, #DK11 representer, Keita Juma (more on him next week). Once I had recovered from taking in the neutron bomb that was “Look”, I had to ask the homie, Brendan a few questions:
DK: It’s funny, we are connected through mutual friends but I actually first got up on you well before that after seeing the “You Just Have Me” video on Cityonmyback.com and promptly posting it on DK too (and putting a screenshot of it in the cover art for the #DK11 album). That was four years ago. What are your thoughts on that song and the music you were making at the time looking back now?
Brendan: I still have an affinity for that song! and everything from that time. I was just being adventurous and using my intuition to navigate how to use my voice and the things I wanted to say. At that point I had been listening to a lot of Sa-Ra Creative Partners (a production trio from NYC/LA. Principle writer is Om’mas Keith who produces Frank Ocean) and I just wanted to honour the black visionaries and purveyors of (for lack of a better term) futuristic music.
DK: That video was shot in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY. You have long running ties to BK. Can you get into what they are and what they mean to you?
Brendan: I started going out there with my brother/music partner, Jahmal while he was part of his band, The Carps. Later, I started going to see a young lady I was going steady with at the time. We would visit my other homey, Richenzo, who is the person who shot the “You Just Have Me” video. It’s funny now that I think about it, most of my videos were shot in Brooklyn. I spent some time writing out there a few years ago as well, just being a microscopic fish in an ocean. NY is cool, but I’m keeping it in Toronto for now. It’s home!
DK: Your music tends to the more underground/alternative side of things soulful but i also hear Prince influence in there too. In the last couple years there’s been an explosion in sounds out of that general space getting attention in the ‘mainstream’: from The Weeknd, SZA and Frank Ocean to Blood Orange, Jesse Boykins III, FKA Twigs, Solange & her Saint Records label and even The xx and James Blake. What’s your feelings on that movement? Do you feel like you fit into that lane and is it good for what you’re doing or no?
Brendan: To some extent I definitely see myself running the same marathon as the groups you mentioned. Most of them are contributing proto ideas or innovating what R&B and Soul is sonically. Twigs is an exception out of this group, because she has fully conceptualized a bizarre, beautiful character that has this virgin-like aesthetic but really hyper-sexual at the same time. I guess I relate to her the most out of the bunch in that way; I have an ever expanding inner-space that is about an ever-present and expanding black experience.
DK: Toronto seems to be a hot bed of this sound even before the Weekend blew up with artists like Shi Wisdom, Allie and others like Ivanunknown and even Rochelle Jordan. What is it about Toronto that seems to breed this sound from your pov?
Brendan: I feel like a lot of it has to do with the climate. Weather is just this thing that takes up a place in how you feel and how you express yourself as well. But another thing we’re known for is how chill we are here. I mean a lot of it is just passive aggressive behaviour but we like very chill things, the culture likes to leave time for space and introspection. In my mind that falls into how we sonically express ourselves too: tons of room for thought and feeling, reflection. That may not be the active conscious thought while creating but more of a subconscious intrinsic sorta thing.
DK: I asked KJ to speak on it this too in my interview with him: you guys are frequent collaborators and he produced “Look”, the track you contributed to the THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN… album project so can you talk about the process of creating the song with him?
Brendan: Keita Juma is a fucking sage and he always has been. Obi Wan Juma! We’ve been working together since we started working on music. Whenever we get the chance we have long builds and just go through it. We always have music playing, it doesn’t really ever stop. One time he was playing some beats he’d put together and that one just caught my attention particularly because it seemed like a good opportunity to take something strange but that had an apparent groove and make an after dark kinda vibe. Truth is I just think everything is strange, myself included, so making a song that’s about admiring and wanting someone or their body to strange sounds makes sense to me.
DK: Ha, OK! This question is really for me but also for everyone else who’s already a fan of yours but has a hard time keeping up with all the creative iterations you record under: can you talk about what the differences are between your solo material, C R O W N S, sAvidA and Purple HeArts and how do you decide what project name a new song you write goes under or is right for?
Brendan: The different iterations are mostly defined by who I am working with and what frontier we’re embarking on. In truth the words are always from that zen voice most of us were born with, spoken or sung through Brendan; what happens is the sonic environment changes so I have to translate these ideas to fit cohesively with the sound.
Each project is a like a planet in the solar system, so one project is just the music of Earth, another is what they fuck with on Venus, C R O VV N S is Martian gospel music. If I come up with a melody walking down the street, its really about the word choices that help to make it clear what project or planet it belongs to. If I’m building a loop or putting together sounds it may be sAvidA when working with Jahmal and Keita, it will be Brendan Philip. I am just at a certain place with understanding how my immediate world works and how I function in it, that there is no challenge in deciding how to present these ideas.
DK: Last question: you describe your music as ‘slop wave.’ How did you come up with that term and what does it mean? I’m guessing it’s kind of inspired by P-Funk‘s Cosmic Slop?
Brendan: Slopwave isn’t really anything but what it can indicate is the kind of musical experience you’re embarking on. But most importantly yes, its a nod to one of the greatest influences in funk: George Clinton. Funkadelic has an album called, Cosmic Slop and next to another album of theirs, Maggot Brain those are definitely some of my favourite things to listen to. These dudes just listened to themselves and each other and made stellar magic; so in that anti-tradition they practiced and mastered, I follow.
Haven’t heard Brendan‘s track, “Look” from the THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN… album yet? Check it out right here:
Written by Brendan Thomas; Keita Juma
Produced by Keita Juma
Audio mastering by by Neil McDonald & Paul Kehayas of Echosound Studiolab
Art by Tiffany Pilgrim for Tiffany Pilgrim Art Direction & Graphic Design
Haven’t checked out the THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN… album yet??! Right this way, please….
King Reign is one of my favorite artists in my hometown, Toronto that is full of great artists. I was honored when I asked him for a track for the THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN… compilation that he and his manager, Click did not even hesitate to say, yes immediately and laced me with “The Books“, a rare banger of a track with a serious afro-blaxploitation feel that had seen only limited release before. The track was so dope I had to make it one of the pre-release singles and it’s gotten great reaction from hip hop and non-hip-hop heads alike so far.
I’ve seen Reign around the scene for years now but I’ve never really had a chance to sit & build with him in any deep way despite us having many friends in common so it was great to hear him speak on his career to date and his music in an interview I conducted in support of the #DK11 album project. Check it out right here:
DK: Reign, you’re well respected in the Toronto scene but still considered as a bit of a dark horse. Is that a deliberate strategy on your part?
Reign: No, I don’t think I can take a lot of credit for that. I can say that dark horse references usually comes when someone is not thinking about doing something that’s been done. It has been my experience that no matter how good a piece of art is if people can’t reference it with something else, they’ll lose interest quickly. In this saturated market I feel like I just need to be consistent with the music I put out and as fun as it is being the “dark horse”, I’m sure that will change. My job now is to make my art or style one of the staples that people are used to out here. Wish me luck!
DK: People will tell you how I say all the time that “Guilty Party” is one of my favorite hip-hop tracks of all time. Interestingly it’s a cut featuring Saukrates as is “The Books,” the track you gave me for the comp. Can you talk about the process and inspiration behind the making of “Guilty Party”
Reign: I had the lyrics written and I was in a search for a new sound at the time. Mark Hines, the producer, and I came up with about five beats that sounded like the beat I ended up using for Guilty. We were looking to make that my sound and in hindsight I should have tried harder to stick to it. There’s still a chance that I could revisit an updated version of that later on in my career over a whole album.
The spirit of hip-hop inspired these lyrics because as heads we’ve always been unapologetic about what we say in our raps. So, I’m challenging others in hip-hop through this song to be that honest about themselves in their raps.
DK: What it’s like working with Soxx as an ongoing collaborative creative partner?
Reign: The songs come pretty easy when we work. We share a lot of the same influences and we have similar approaches to making music. Guilty was a song that I recorded on Soxx’s 1680 before I got my own. He was in the back whispering some lyrics as I was recording it and I was like “I know you got something for this,” and that’s what you hear. We both give each other freedoms we wouldn’t give working with other artists. It’s a luxury to work with someone you can trust creatively. We know even if one of us comes up with an idea that wasn’t what we were thinking, it’s worth it to see the idea out. So far, we’ve never had to double back.
DK: What would you say is the creative difference between “Guilty Party” and “The Books”?
Reign: If I was to place the lyrics in “Guilty Party” into a setting it would be in a confessional, except I’m not really apologizing. It’s a double meaning as in I’m the guilty party and I’m also throwing a guilty party celebrating the fact that I’m OK with being human and taking that weight off my shoulders. I’m saying I’m guilty of all these things but “meanwhile I’m guilty of breathing.” In other words I’m guilty of being human and I’m sure you all are too. It’s about accepting the fact that we are all works in progress. As a matter of fact, the title I originally had for my first album was Work In Progress. “The Books” is me doing some accounting, standing back and planning out my future by assessing where I’m at and my game plan for the future. The song itself is about balance and reasoning. I use situations I was dealing with at the time. The type of drama that comes from having one foot in home training and the other in the streets, wanting to be in love but not wanting to be committed etc. After I recorded the verses at E3‘s studio I played it for Soxx and he jumped on it immediately. He came up with that hook on the fly. I’m happy we got to put that out with you all.
DK: Us too! “The Books” is actually an older track that saw a very limited release a while back. It’s an amazing track, can you talk about the song and why you never really put it out in a bigger way before now?
Reign: I was planning on putting that on my first album too. I released it on a mix tape way back called The Fresh Water Show as sort of a soft release with plans to re-release it. I’ve always got great feedback about that joint. Like a lot of us, old songs sound old to us after we make them but this joint refreshes itself with every new listener.
DK: You just released your latest album, Sincere which is great and already generating some buzz as a possible Polaris Prize contender. You preceded it with the Reign Music Volume 2 promo EP. To me the EP seemed even more pop/alternative leaning in its sound than the album which is the opposite of what many artists might have chosen to do strategy-wise. Can you talk about what you see as the difference between the two releases and why each one sounds the way they do?
Reign: Thank you for putting that thought out there. I haven’t thought as far ahead as the Polaris Prize. With songs like “Grey”, “The Future” or “The Audacity Of Hope (remix)” I can see why you would get that pop/alternative feel. These are joints that represent a sound I’ve always had from the beginning of my career and that I’ve always planned to make a whole album of. Reign Music Volume 2 was a taste of that. The songs on the EP were made at different times over the years but they all represented that sound so I put them together on Volume 2. Starting out in a jazz musician’s studio you get a taste for a clean sound and adding live instruments.
Sincere is more influenced by R&B. Songs like the title track, “Sincere” and “Already Over” are dead giveaways. This was deliberate and was recorded all at once in a short period of time. When I started Sincere it was me just recording some joints in a new studio my man put me onto. As I started recording I liked the way it was feeling so I just naturally went with the flow. The fact that I could uses pieces of all my influences in one genre of music, is what kept my love for hip hop music alive.
Haven’t heard “The Books” yet? Check it out now:
Written by K.Thomas, E.Hall III, K. Wailoo
Produced by E3
Cover Art Design by TiffanyPilgrim for TiffanyPilgrim Art & Design
Audio mastering by Neil McDonald & Paul Kehayas for Echosound Studiolab
Haven’t checked out the album yet? CLICK HERE then hit the jump to check out the “Guilty Party” video and audio and Reign’s latest album, Sincere.
Mickey Factz is a special artist here at The Kitchen. He’s one of the first new acts that we championed on the site and, without idly boasting, we were the first blog to support him back in the day and helped put him on the map. And in turn, he helped put us on the map as a tastemaker site that other tastemakers checked for that signaled to people that they needed to be checking for The Kitchen too.
Seven years on from when we first introduced him to the word, we still strive to fulfill that role of being the freshest, supporting the new & dope and not just following the (blog) crowd. Mickey set the bar for the kind of acts we love to support most here at The Kitchen: ridiculously talented, creative and really saying something of substance. Art (music) can be fun but it can also make serious statements about the world we live in and that’s the standard I try to reach for with this blog too. And with that, let’s get into the conversation we had with Mickey a couple nights ago about his career and the excellent track, “Me & My Paintbrush” he gave us that closes out the This One Goes To Eleven… album:
DK: I got put up on you back in the day when I was at Jive and knew Kwasi from the industry. He passed me your In Search of N*E*R*D mix CD (it was still CDs back then!). I was pretty leery about checking it out but I knew Kwasi was a pretty plugged in cat so I gave it a shot and was pretty blown away. What’s your thoughts on that tape looking back now?
Mickey: Wow, man. This is like a time machine. October 2006, I believe? (Ed note: March 2007, actually) I’m glad you checked it out. You were the absolute first person to put me on a blog. I’m happy you were blown away. I listened to the project not too long ago. It’s still impressive given that a lot of the tracks I rapped over, people still haven’t. Pharell loved the tape and put one of the songs on The Glow In The Dark mixtape. Back then it was like a 9. Nowadays, I’d give it an 8. Its still lyrically superior to a lot of stuff out, from just spitting to topics.
DK: Your crew, GFC could be considered part of a loose cultural hip-hop movement that back then was still pretty nascent, Cool Kids, The Pack, Kid Cudi and few others here and there but which has essentially taken over the sound & fashion aesthetic of hip-hop in the seven or eight years since? Did you see that coming or what’s your feeling on where hip hop has gone in the past few years?
Mickey: Um… Back then, we were just having fun being in our own little world. When your with tastemakers, that’s what happens. Especially with the clothing. We knew people would jack that. As for music, I always said it would be the soundtrack to 2016. And we 2 years away and you see it, Lol. I find it to be flattering a bit. I just find it a little disrespectful how I was clowned so badly back in the days and now it’s basically the norm for artists to follow. As long as people from back then can co-sign my marks I’ve left in the hip hop game, I’m happy with that.
DK: You were one of the first rappers to really build a career via social media with your track-a-week freestyles and really build your presence and name via blogs rather than traditional media. Now that everyone pretty much tries to do it that way and it’s become the de facto artist development template, what do you do now to make yourself still stand out?
Mickey: I have a very personal connection these days with my Facebook followers. So much so that quietly I go viral at least once a week with them. They also were my biggest contributors for my Indiegogo project. I continuously just have creative things I want to push for. Especially visual wise. Collaborative efforts with brands are still one of my strongest attributes. I also just make really good music. People who don’t like me have to at least give me that.
DK: Ironically you ended up signing to Jive after I left there. What was your major label experience like?
Mickey: I want to say that I loved being on Jive. There were times we bumped heads but the people that I worked with really believed in my work. There were really only 2 people that I couldn’t rock with. Aside from that, I was very happy. I coulda did more and vice versa but it was a great experience. Moving to RCA, was the dagger in my heart though. That really was a bad experience. It made me hate the music industry a bit. But as you know perseverance always comes through.
DK: You’re an artist that seems equally comfortable spitting over traditional hip hop beats or more hipster electronic or dance music sounds? Can you talk about what in your background led to that being the case?
Mickey: Well coming up in The Bronx, I’m a true Hip-Hop head and can debate with the best of them. I studied the greats and what they rapped over. The shift happened because of the New York scene in 2006/2007. The things we were listening to: Telepopmusik, Daft Punk, N.E.R.D., etc. and I felt like incorporating what I was inspired by into my music. Why not, you know? I found myself rapping over crazy instrumentals that people wouldn’t dare touch but still opening up my fan base to people who listen to those sounds. I would still go in over boom bap stuff so they knew I wasn’t something or somebody to sleep on or play with when it came to straight raw lyrics.
DK: You’re also an artist that isn’t afraid to take on political and social issues in your music (like your Sean Bell track) but doesn’t get all preachy about it? How do you manage it when so many other rappers can’t or are afraid to still.
Mickey: I recently was asked about this. For me, I just feel like I can tell stories extremely well. Its just one of those qualities as an emcee I possess. I also try to stay middle grounded when it comes to politics with a spice of edge. Being knowledgeable in so many different facets of life can also add to that equation. The Sean Bell situation I was getting tired of rappers reaping the benefits of his death by creating music that Flex could put bombs on it. So I decided to tell the story from his point of view. And people loved it. I’ve done this many times after and continue to speak on different issues we as blacks deal with as well as things I deal with in my life.
DK: Out of all the mixtapes you’ve done, which is your favorite and why?
Mickey: Mickey MauSe is probably my favorite project hands down. It took me 9 months to create. I produced the whole thing, I grew a beard, became the character, researched the 80′s, wore the same outfit for 9 months, etc. I became the project. Lyrically, it was story telling on another level, production was top notch, I sampled Dangermouse and deadmau5. So inspiring.
DK: Talk a little more about the process behind making and the meaning of “Me & My Paintbrush”? The track kind of came out before. How come you never gave it more of a push?
Mickey: PACE had sent me a track while I was in Colorado. I was creating a bunch of singles. No real Mickey Factz music. So I decided to speak on everything that was going on during that time. Just painting on the canvas. I put the song out with no promo because it was just for my fan base. It was a record that didn’t make the album. I then took it off when it came down to your project, good brother.
DK: In the track you make reference to XXL calling you pretentious and then praising Jay-Z for his “Picasso Baby” performance piece, care to elaborate on what you were trying to say there? Do you feel like, even though you’ve been in the game for a while, you’re still relatively overlooked for your innovations in the game?
Mickey: It goes back to the Mickey MauSe project I created. Mickey MauSe is a street graffiti artist from the 80′s who grew up around Warhol, Basquiat and [Keith] Haring in NYC in the 80′s. It was a super honest depiction of what happened in that time period coming from months of research and interviewing people. A XXL writer reviewed the tape and called it pretentious. Saying I was teaching too much or something of the sort, don’t want to misinterpret. That really hurt me more than anything because I really indulged in that project. I wanted to show people, don’t just say these artists names, know their work and worth. Jay does “Picasso Baby” and its “OMG I love art! This the greatest thing ever!” Its sad but true. I said on MTV if Kanye had created Mickey MauSe and did the same thing he would be called a genius. I’m always overlooked and will always be overlooked for the things I’ve done, started and contributed. As long as true fans know what I’ve done it’s OK.
DK: Finally, I’ve asked this question to all three of you but there are 2 other Bronx-based artists, Noah Vinson and Joel (fka MaG), on the album which I’m happy but bummed about at the same time since I was a Brooklyn head when I lived in NY and there’s no BK artists on it. Do you know those guys and what does being from the BX mean to you as a hip-hop artist and as a person?
Mickey: I don’t know these guys. I believe one of them reached out to me though. I have nothing but love for all Bronx emcees ‘cos we are so overlooked. Being from The Bronx there is so much weight on our shoulders. But the love and respect comes from everywhere.
Haven’t checked out “Me & My Paintbrush” yet? Hit play right here:
Missed checking out the whole This One Goes To Eleven… album? CLICK HERE to listen to it in full.
Written by Mickey Factz
Produced by Pace
Audio mastering by Neil McDonald & Paul Kehayas for Echosound Studiolab
Art by Tiffany Pilgrim for Tiffany Pilgrim Art Direction & Graphic Design
Sample Brownstone‘s 90s R&B classic, “If You Love Me”?? Yeah, Beeda Weeda & Young Gully did it for us!
I used to call Toronto-based ‘slop-wave’, alternative soul singer, Brendan Philip one of Toronto’s best kept secrets. But it doesn’t like I’ll be able to do that for much longer. Brendan was part of the T.dot, Black boho 88 Days crew in the past but now rolls with the Fake Art collective. He’s being laying […]
King Reign is one of my favorite artists in my hometown, Toronto that is full of great artists. I was honored when I asked him for a track for the THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN… compilation that he and his manager, Click did not even hesitate to say, yes immediately and laced me with “The […]
Mickey Factz is a special artist here at The Kitchen. He’s one of the first new acts that we championed on the site and, without idly boasting, we were the first blog to support him back in the day and helped put him on the map. And in turn, he helped put us on the […]
“Feel Bad” is track #12 from the THIS ONE GOES TO ELEVEN… album recorded by Toronto’s 416 Band, a new project produced by 2013 Red Bull Thre3style Toronto champion and remix/production wiz, DJ M-Rock. M-Rock was gracious enough to answer a few questions about “Feel Bad” and his remix, production and DJ work last week. […]
The This One Goes To Eleven… 11th anniversary compilation album has been out for a little over a week now and it has been a great success so far. Exclaim! co-premiered the album and it has gotten support on an album and track basis from blogs like CityonmyBack.com, Peace magazine, DJBooth.net, Pigeons & Planes, Potholes […]
Going strong since August 2003, our roots run deep in the game. We made the records that your favorite rapper was inspired by, true story. Want that ole' different ish? Walk with us (and while you're at it, click the 'Like' button in that Facebook widget down there on the right to follow us on the DIFFERENT KITCHEN Facebook page and also check out the brand new DIFFERENT KITCHEN Tumblr....)