Lazerbeak on Mixed Blood Majority's Icehouse debut and entering fatherhood
Joe Horton, Crescent Moon, and Lazerbeak
Since his teenage years, Aaron "Lazerbeak" Mader has had a running fascination with Alexei "Crescent Moon" Casselle. "He's like one of the godfathers of Minneapolis hip-hop," he says during a conversation with Gimme Noise. "He and I Self Devine are like the dons of the city."
In the Minneapolis scene, part of taking the brass ring is spreading out your work and influence, and treating collaboration as a natural part of the creative process. "Side projects" don't exist when you're only content to move forward. After some prodding from Doomtree cohort Sims, 'Beak and Crescent Moon finally started talking about making a rap album "without overthinking it" a couple years ago. Scheduling proved to be a hurdle -- until last year.
With No Bird Sing's Joe Horton as an added catalyst, loose talk begat recorded sessions, and Mixed Blood Majority proved to be something dark and contemplative -- and tangible.
"It's still rap music, and still underground rap music, but it's been cool to get into a different setting," Lazerbeak says of the ten songs tracked so far for the project. "I get so comfortable with the stuff we do for Doomtree, so it was nice to break away for a second."
Breaking away means a focus on hypnotic lyricism, as evidenced on the group's first track, "Fine Print." With the foreboding swell of keys and strings as the backdrop, there's a cinematic aspect to it. Horton and Crescent Moon are "knock, knock, knockin' on the door to rock bottom" in their lines, but also evidenced in the tension coming through vocally. How the rest of the material fits together is still very much a mystery.
"Both of those guys -- the art they create, the music they write -- it comes from a serious perspective," Mader says. "Darker, introspective. I knew once we got into it that we weren't going to make a joke song or a 'yo momma' song. This is what these guys do, and they do it really well. I wasn't trying to break them. It's a darker album. There are bangers on there, but they're darker. Ominous."
Not to say that creating a backdrop for Mixed Blood Majority had a particularly different approach than any other Lazerbeak production from the get-go. As with any meeting of beats and rhymes, it was just sending over about 25 potential tracks at a time and seeing what stuck. So even when it came to the marble-carving results of last year's No Kings, Beak says, "it's not like 'I'm going to make a club anthem,' or 'I'm going to make an R&B joint,' it just kinda happens. Once I get an idea of where they're going, I can build ideas around it."
After that it came time to actually synthesize Mixed Blood Majority in-studio. While the recorded output retains an understandable gravitas, the recording process was anything but that. Two ingredients proved key to the clowning-heavy sessions behind this album: mini basketballs and doughnuts.
For Lazerbeak, this project comes on the heels of the most intense touring and personal cycles of his life. Now, the 30-year-old producer and his wife have got a daughter named Penelope to show for it all.
"I'm trying to put together a book at the end of this next year for the really, reall big guide for dummies for first-time dads," he says. "I was trying to read what was expected in the tour van and just banging my head against the window. Like, 'This is boring, I don't get it, whatever.' There are a lot of stories I could tell you that involve fecal matter and throw-up."
The confessed homebody has enjoyed this additional excuse to stay in with his five-month-old to care for -- writing emails with one hand and shaking a rattle with the other. Saturday's all about Mixed Blood Majority's infant performance, though, and you can hear the anticipation in Mader's voice.
Mixed Blood Majority. With Ostracon, and Mike 2600. Hosted by Kristoff Krane. 21+, $7, 10:30 p.m. Saturday, November 3 at Icehouse. Click here.
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