Text and Interview: Alec Coiro
Photos:Lauren Hillary Voss
You might have first come to know Beans as part of Antipop Consortium, but in his emerging post APC career, you may well come to know him as the first musicians out there to simultaneously release three albums and a novel all at the same time. The prodigiousness reflects Beans uncontainable creative energy. Most MCs from New York if transplanted away from their creative network to Cleveland, would have a hard time getting back in the flow. But Beans immediately connected with right people and put out more work than ever.
And, yes, you did read that right. There is also a novel being released along with the albums. It’s called Die Tonight and centers around a piece of vinyl that is possessed and swirls from there into a tale that is part Orpheus part Natural Born Killers to put it very loosely (Beans explains it better).
One thing that hasn’t changed is his commitment to art. Each album is unique both from the other two and from any trend others may have hopped on.
Can you tell us a little about your novel? What inspired its creation? To what extent does your novel writing intersect with your music making?
Die Tonight is a book of weird fiction (an amalgamation of various genres including but not limited mystery, fantasy, and/or science fiction) that tells the story of Eric Ford, a teenage loner who gets possessed by a record, goes on killing spree, and finds himself.
Eric Ford is an avid record collector who prefers to surround himself with his impressive record collection instead of people. One day, while record shopping, Eric stumbles upon a record that changes his life forever. He unearths an album by an obscure, sadistic recording artist named Stalker, which is possessed.
Whether Eric’s homicidal urges are intrinsic or newly persuaded, the Stalker album influences him to become more assertive with his aspirations, which include his high school crush, Tabitha Plumber, and the elimination of his rival for her affections, Kevin Rosen.
After their untimely demise, Tabitha and Kevin reunite after death and are shown their way around the afterlife by an angel by the name of Jasper, a holy hedonist once ostracized from Heaven who still carries a torch for his ex-girlfriend from Hell. Jasper acts as the duo’s chaperone, showing the recently deceased that the party doesn’t get started until after you’re dead.
The book is mostly fictional but gets slightly autobiographical at the end. The names were changed to protect the guilty and innocent alike. The book isn’t about my making music but music is used to weave various pieces of the story together.
I got started writing the book with my mom. We would go to writing workshops together while working on our own individual writing. The writing group that we joined together helped flesh out ideas as I was putting the story together.
Your rhymes often form narratives. How do you put these stories together? What makes good fodder for a hip-hop narrative?
Life. Art is a reflection of my imagination and my life transcribed through mics.
We know you as New York City based. But these most recent releases find you in Cleveland and working with several Cleveland-based producers. What brought about the relocation?
My missus was living in Cleveland so I moved here to be closer to her. Since I was already here in Cleveland, moving somewhere new wasn’t going to stop me from being creative so I sought out people who I could work with here. HAAST, the third album in the trilogy, is the result of that effort.
You’re coming out with a quite a flurry of releases after a sabbatical of several years. What were you up to during your hiatus? What was behind the decision to do simultaneous releases?
I started working on Love Me Tonight before I finished End It All. Once End It All came out, I met this producer named Tobaggon at a show with The Death Comet Crew in NY. A year later, Wolves of the World was done after that meeting.
Anticon passed on Wolves so I started finishing up Love Me Tonight. I was writing the book, Die Tonight, at the same time as I was finishing up Love Me Tonight. Die Tonight took 2 and a half years to write and Love Me Tonight took another year and a half.
While I working on the book and Love Me Tonight, I had an idea for another record incorporating strings and live instrumentation. In that time I had moved to Cleveland and sought to materialize that germ of an album.
Another year and half passed, HAAST was born and I had 3 albums and a book. To my knowledge, no one has put out 3 albums simultaneously and here we are talking about it.
That’s what I’ve been doing all that time.
Is Antipop Consortium still together and putting out new work? How do you see your solo work as distinct from your work within the group?
No hate but I was fired from APC so I’m the wrong person to ask about the status of the group. I have minimal to no contact with the other members of the group save for Earl Blaize . I’ve spoken to Priest via Facebook occasionally and as recently as 2 weeks ago but that’s been the extent of an overall group interaction.
With my solo work, I make no compromises. I hold the reins tighter without having to deal with clashing egos or having to make any concessions within the context of being in a group.
Please don’t get me wrong when I say that I’m beyond grateful to have had the experience of being in a band of such prestige as APC. I’m quite proud of the music that I was a part of it but in all honesty, I’m more focused on moving forward musically in my current direction.
What was the collaboration process like for these albums? How did you bring the collaborators together and what was the process of working with them like?
I asked them to work with me and the producers responded favorably. The experience of working with various producers on all 3 albums was pretty cool as all parties involved are pleased with the end results. I communicated that type of tracks that I was looking for and the producers made it happen.
Moving forward, all my next recorded outputs are all going to be coming from 1 producer, Ay Fast, formerly from Miami Schematic Music.