BLVCK SPVCE | Kitty Cat Klub | Saturday, November 15
The opening synthesizer notes on the BLVCK SPVCE track "HEVDBVNDS," deep and ominous, are reminiscent of the more barren yet threatening style of an East Coast rap soundscape. Once the verses hit, their flow is confident and cascades easily over the heavily trap-influenced beats, which serve to blur the lines between hip-hop and psychedelia. The group is determined to "change shit up in Minneapolis," says member 1990, and from what they've posted on the BLVCK SPVCE Soundcloud so far, this goal may not be as lofty as it sounds.
BLVCK SPVCE is composed of RP HOOKS, CONNYE, 1990, goodkarmaniles, and Dj Snuggles -- all successful local solo artists in their own right. The group members are currently working fervently on completing their debut full-length, and this Saturday they will perform with Chicago MC Alex Wiley at the Kitty Cat Klub (after Friday evening's show in St. Cloud). Gimme Noise met with BLVCK SPVCE to talk about Minneapolis hip-hop and the concepts behind their self-described brand of "cloud rap."
Gimme Noise: How did you come to decide to form a group, despite all of your individual projects?
RP HOOKS: All energy. All energy.
goodkarmaniles: We all just landed on BLVCK SPVCE one day. It was crazy. We just appeared.
What is BLVCK SPVCE? What does it feel like to experience that?
1990: We wanted to change shit up in Minneapolis, even though we're not doing it for that... it was more just about being weird... like, on some other shit, and there are hella people that are on some other shit that are out there, so why not give those people something that they'd like to be a part of.
So, it's more trippy?
1990: Yeah, it's spaced out. It's about cloud rap, and ganja, and space, and good tunes and sonic waves. We have a lot of ideas that we want to get out there, so why not do it as a team rather than as one person.
CONNYE: Kind of all being on the same level and mindset in our own individual things, where it makes sense all to work together on making our sound, making the BLVCK SPVCE sound, and bringing that to Minneapolis.
Do you feel a sense of competition as a new Minneapolis rap group?
1990: Or the person that's doing it, we don't want to follow in their footsteps.
goodkarmaniles: We don't want to fall in line with any of that. We want to do our thing that we know we're doing. No rules, really.
CONNYE: People are actually pretty supportive here. People obviously want to get up and get theirs, but its still... there's a lot of people who I feel like help each other. There's not much animosity.
goodkarmaniles: But it is competitive. It's like anything else.
1990: I think if anything there's no competition here, it's more just sensitive motherfuckers that think they have some type of thing to be sensitive about when you've never sold records and you've never done any of that, so why are you sad? There are people that definitely, you see on social network, people bickering, and it's fucking funny because they don't have any... I guess you have to have something to waste your time, when you're not doing anything.
goodkarmaniles: On that Minnesota shit, that's where we're from. But my intentions, and our intentions, is global.
1990: I honestly don't care if people are thinking of it like that, who was on some shit first, because now it's coming down to changing the way people make beats because no one wants to listen to the type of beats that were happening before and were popular and were selling records in Minneapolis. People are on other shit and there's no one there to give them what they want and to sell records, and you gotta build that shit, you know? Sometimes it just doesn't happen overnight. For some people it does, though. That's just the real world.
What about the staple Minneapolis hip-hop groups (that shall remain nameless) who are almost guaranteed local success with every release they put out?
CONNYE: They all have their established sound. There's a lot of people that have their established sound, and a lot of people who know that and think of that as Minneapolis. There are a lot of people who are out there listening to shit that's just not being made here, and that's what we're on -- doing our shit that's on that level, which is bigger than Minneapolis for sure.
Musically, how do you guys come up with an idea?
RP HOOKS: We wake up, eat some food, smoke, talk some shit, turn on Ableton, make some shit, turn on ProTools, record some shit, and usually we come out with something dope.
1990: Chris and I usually do the beats. We make them on our own, and then we come together and put our ideas together and make them tighter than they were. Then we use Dropbox. It really depends. Niles, Chris, and I will write lyrics to it and get together and dish out the ideas, and usually just record them right away, and then refine and perfect.
What kind of music do you guys listen to?
CONNYE: Everything. I just have access to a lot of things through my job, so I just try to listen to as much as possible. I work at Cheapo Records. I see a lot of stuff in there that's really awesome, and it's just like, all right, just grab it and see what's up. It might suck, it might be awesome, but I try to listen to as much as possible because you never know when you hear something that's like, whoa, that was fucking crazy. That's influential to what you're writing. You may hear something that's such a rad idea that somehow fits in some groove of that you're writing. It might not even be the same genre, but something how can learn through that.
What are you trying to say to people in your music?
goodkarmaniles: My shit is like... fuck it. I just want people to know that I just don't really give a fuck when it comes to music. I don't want to be in a box. I want to do whatever I want when it comes to music, and I live my life like that, so that's what comes across. I care about a bunch of different things, and that's what's in my music. I care about politics, and I care about what's going on in Africa, and that's in my music. I also care about smoking and living life, and that's in my music, and everything else, you know? It's not even that we have a goal, it's just to get ourselves across, who we are. That's what I am. When you listen to Chris, he'll tell you who he is, and when you listen to Ninety, he'll tell you who he is and what we want to get across. It just fits, and makes sense.
Life is real. You're never the same. No one is ever the same.
1990: Yeah, my story isn't Chris's, and it isn't Niles's, but we all vessel it through hot beats that are on some space shit, on some dark shit, on some fly shit, some geechy shit. It's all going to be spaced out and you'll get what that is when you hear it, but there are different topics, sounds, and vibes on the album. It's not just going to be one thing, and it's not going to be stagnant. It's not going to be still.
I'm interested in what's behind what you guys are actually rapping about, and talking about on the album.
1990: Weed, philosophy, Sun Ra, Terence McKenna... it's definitely out there.
What are your beliefs?
1990: My beliefs come out in the songs. They come out through everything I do. I don't know if I could really put it in a sentence. I think the whole logic... we have more parallels with that than say, the fucking right-wing politics...it's so far left that it's in outer-space, you know? That's what we're on. We don't give a fuck. We will think what we want and we'll say what we want, and we're still going to respect and be considerate, but not at the same time. We're not trying to follow some written rule, we're not making up a story for anybody to believe or to not believe....just listen to the shit, man. I don't really have a spill of positive energy, or some story I could spill at you that we're trying to change the world, other than just getting more people to smoke weed. To be honest, we don't really think like that.
I don't know if anyone is looking for a "change the world" story.
1990: There's movements in Minneapolis hip-hop right now that definitely have parallels with positive shit, something that's happened before in hip-hop, like in New York...and we're just doing us. We're not really trying to do anything in particular.
Do you talk about any of your belief systems in your lyrics?RP HOOKS: A lot of shit in this world doesn't really make sense. I think a lot of things are built to keep people confused. It's different for everyone. Money, the power struggle, the system, shit that makes a lot of different people confused. When's the last time that you spent a dollar, you know?
goodkarmaniles: All that shit comes out in the music -- our ideas, our beliefs, our lives. You just gotta listen to it.
1990: I'm not a person that's connected to a religion, so my belief system isn't based on somebody else's belief system. If you want to break it down to why we're called BLVCK SPVCE, and why we're on some space shit, it's that those dudes are prolific motherfuckers, and we want to do big shit. You have to have some type of person that you draw parallels with, with your thinking and what you do, just like every normal person does, but those people, like McKenna, are just far out. We probably like them because we're far out.
BLVCK SPVCE perform this Saturday, November 15, with Alex Wiley at the Kitty Cat Klub, 10 p.m., 21+, $5. Sponsored by Greenroom Magazine, Closed Sessions, and Create Karma
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