I.B.E.: My live band, the Cavalry, is just breaking doors down

I.B.E.: My live band, the Cavalry, is just breaking doors down
A still from I.B.E. & Benzilla's "Let Me Ride" video.

Between backing I Self Devine's live set and joining forces with Greg Grease and Akrite to form TUSS Music, rapper I.B.E. had made a name for himself in Minneapolis long before he dropped his official solo debut This, That and the Third with producer Benzilla last summer. But his upcoming show at the Dakota could be his last as a Minneapolis resident.

Gimme Noise talked with I.B.E. about his move to Chicago and his premiere of a live band set.

Gimme Noise: What motivated your move to Chicago?

I got a job opportunity. I actually got it out on the road with [I Self Devine] for the ["War and Peace"] tour with Immortal Technique and [Brother] Ali. I'm not framing it like [a final show]. Who knows? I'll fuck around and be back like next month. I'm still backing [I Self Devine] up, I'm still in TUSS. I'm going to make my way back. As far as the show, it's just feeling good. I did a live set right before we went on tour, and then Miguel told me "This sounds nice, we should do something at the Dakota, just deck it out and have a night." He does a lot of stuff at the Dakota, he's a drummer. I think it just brings a liver element.

Tell me about your band the Cavalry.

This dope-ass funk and soul band, called the Solflower Collective, drummer, that's Miguel [Hurtado]; Elliot [Surber] on the guitar; Micah [Fitch] on the synth and synth bass; Javier on the keys; and the two horn players as well. Javier [Santiago] did some production for me back in the day, he lives in New York and is coming into town. We got a couple extra pieces, so it's gonna be pretty live. We've been rehearsing for about a month now. I'm geeked. 

How has the process of adapting the beats to a live performance been?

I feel it a whole lot more. I gotta voice that cuts through. A lot of artists, when you give them a live band, their voice doesn't cut through. I've seen interviews where Redman says he doesn't prefer the live band because the voice doesn't cut through. Doing things with just a DJ is great, but I like doing things in groups. During the first couple rehearsals when we would just put the songs together, we kept a lot of stuff, but some stuff we didn't keep; let's do it completely different... [it] makes it even more exciting. I want it to be framed as a casual night. It's only five bucks, a good date night and all that other good shit. I want it to be accessible to a lot of people. When you think rap show, you think it happens in a rap venue. But there's all these other things that could bring a different audience to it. I'm hoping to bring out different heads.

Have you noticed differences in the way you rap with a band?

Compared to working with a DJ, it's a lot more hands-on. You get the opportunity to -- I don't know that I want to say fall back exactly -- but to camouflage more. It's more of a full-on attack, rather than [just] the beat starting then the beat stopping. A band can carry the whole night. It's people doing their thing rather than just you seeing that one rapper. 

It's not just your energy on stage. It can go a bunch of different directions. 

Yeah, the drummer's going off, the horns are killing shit... There's so many different elements for people to grasp. We were thinking about the name, the Cavalry. That's what it really is, the motherfuckers is just breaking doors down. How Elliot flips the intro on the strings kills the game. I like rocking with a DJ but I'm definitely on a high when rocking with a band. I've never felt that feeling. Even though it's a band, you're the dude in the forefront. I like it because of the flexibility. The man on the strings can go in, or the man on the drums can go in. I like that feeling, that vibe. I remember being on tour with Atmosphere when they was rocking with the band. Seeing that shit live, I'm like, damn. It's so big. The way they start the shows, it's almost engulfing and hypnotizing. I always thought, if I could be able to do that, I would. I'm excited, appreciative. Everything is flowing real good. We've been talking about this before tour, around early August. It's finally coming out. 

What appealed to you initially about having a full band?

People are going to get it like I heard it. It started on some Jackson 5 shit, you can feel that. All the inspiration from live bands, obviously the Roots [are] a huge inspiration on how to rock it as a live band. Black Thought's one of my favorite MCs, and that ain't hard to tell by listening to the rhymes. It's classic shit. It's something that's timeless. Arsenio Hall said something the other day, talking about a younger generation having terrible oldies. You gonna listen to "Bandz a Make Her Dance" at 50 years old? On the infomercials of Greatest Hits from back then? It's kinda sad. A lot of people don't care to make timeless shit because the world moves so fast. I just want to be able to flex my muscle musically.

Not a lot of rap happens at the Dakota. It's cool to integrate the hip-hop with the live band in that setting.

When I'm handing out flyers, people are still a little caught off guard; they can't believe hip-hop is going to be at the Dakota. It feels good to be able to bring that element. K. Raydio's going to come do her thing, her album just dropped, she's killing the game. We're going to be setting a precedent in terms of what can go on there. I'm excited. We're all gonna be in that bad boy spiffed out. If you gotta three-piece and that's how you feeling, get it on, do you. Trying to have everybody out, we're gonna be Rat Pack status. [laughs]. 

Catch I.B.E. with the Cavalry at the Dakota Jazz Club, Friday, January 10th. 11 pm, $5, with K.Raydio.

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