Q&A: Blueprint Takes Us On ‘Adventures in Counter-Culture’ (FILTER Exclusive)
By Geneva Perezcastaneda on April 25, 2011
Years after his solo release 1988, Blueprint is still making a name for himself in the indie hip-hop world with his sophmore release Adventures in Counter-Culture out on Rhymesayers Entertainment. The emcee/producer embraces the art of collaborating different musical styles to create a well-rounded sound for the album. After working with such artists as Illogic, being a member of the underground hip hop group Greenhouse Effect and duo Soul Position, to starting his own label (Weightless Recordings), Blueprint has plenty of experience under his belt as a producer and emcee that shines through in this album. FILTER was able to catch up with Blueprint (aka “Printmatic”) to talk about the importance of self-producing his sophmore album, “rhyming” and the art of mixing genres.
There are plenty of different styles of music you put together smoothly on your latest release, Adventures in Counter-Culture album. What inspired you to mix together different genres and sounds?
I got the idea from talking to people, even looking at my own music selection, and realizing how much more diverse it is compared to how it used to be. Back in the day, people who listened to rock kind of stuck to rock, and people who were into hip-hop kind of stuck to hip-hop. Now it's to the point where we're in what I like to call the "ipod era" because it's so much easier to get access to so much more music, the average music listener is way more eclectic and diverse about what they listen to. Seeing that situation made me wonder why nobody ever makes albums that actually embrace that diversity, so I wanted to try it myself.
How do you feel your style has grown from your work with Soul Position and Greenhouse Effect to Adventures in Counter-Culture?
Soul Position was my first experience as a solo song-writer, which was important at the time because when we formed the group I didn't have any experience as a solo artist, but since RJD2 was doing all the production I only had so much control. Greenhouse was my first opportunity to produce and create an entire vision for a group where I controlled the sound and production of it, but since it's a group I have to find a common ground for the topics we want to talk about--it has to be something that everybody in the group can write about. Adventures in Counter-Culture is me putting all the pieces together and becoming a complete artist. I controlled all the production and content, so it's really me 100%. I was able to apply all the things I've learned over the years to Adventures in Counter-Culture.
You are known as a very skilled freestyler. What was your process when developing your rhymes for this album? Did you incorporate your freestyles at all?
I've actually found that freestyling kind of hurts my creative process when I'm writing songs, so I try to not mix the two. Sometimes when you're really in the moment with freestyling, you can say something that is amazing at that moment, but doesn't stand up over extended listens. With songwriting the goal is to write something that lasts longer and has depth so people will revisit it, so i try to slow down the process and be much more deliberate about it what i write. They're almost the opposite types of skills, so I've had to sacrifice my skill in freestyling to become a better songwriter.
Why was it important for you to self produce this album?
I don't think anybody else can hear what I've got going on in my head and know how to translate into music better than I can. I've tried to explain it to people but it's never exactly what you're looking for unless you do it yourself--so producing the album myself was the only real option.
Do you feel like your production process has changed at all from your 1988 album to Adventures in Counter-Culture?
Definitely. When I was making 1988 I was pretty much listening to records, looking for samples all day. Once I found a sample, I would chop it up or make a beat out of it then and there. Now I don't start out that way. I do listen to records to get inspired musically, but the music i wrote for Adventures in Counter-Culture actually began at the keyboard. I would write melodies or riffs all day, pick the best ones then expand on them. It's kind of the opposite approach to making beats.
Your rhymes have a great story behind them. What lessons are you hoping the listeners take from this last album?
I think my overall story is that of a dude who believed in himself enough to put everything he had into something, and not be held back by what other people expect him to do or take the easy way out. Believe in yourself.
"My Culture" paints a strong picture, and in the beginning you say, "This ain't a game to me/I don't rhyme for sport." What is “rhyming” to you and do you feel it has changed for you over the years?
Rhyming to me has always been a way to express my feelings and get my message across, so in that way it's never changed. The only difference is that I get better and better at it every year and talk about more and more personal things.
Pick up Blueprint's Adventures in Counter-Culture here.