Interview with LA’s own Lexicon


Lexicon
The Rap Stars E.P.
Buy at iTunes Music Store

After releasing two successful indy hiphop albums and becoming one of the bigger names in the LA underground hiphop scene, Lexicon was frustrated. They felt they weren’t expressing themselves creatively how they wanted to, so instead of building on the props they’d achieved in the underground scene, they tore it all down, to build it up again. And in the process, they committed an underground hiphop cardinal sin — they added live instruments to their music. Lexicon began to grow weary of the un-originality that is pervading hiphop, in both the mainstream and the underground . They wanted to seperate themselves from the muck and break through the ceiling they felt was put on top of the type of music they were making. And most importantly, they wanted to make the kind of music they always wanted to make! Risky decision yes, but what’s more gratifying than doing exactly what you want to do? They spanned their influences from dance- rock to modern rock to the raw drums and stabs of classic hiphop, until they found a perfect mesh. And the thread that ties them together are that Oak and Nick are better MC’s than ever, and C-Minus is still providing neck breaking beats for every song. With C-Minus manning the beats, Oak and Nick doing what they do best, and bassist Alex Pauley and guitarist Jason “Metal 24/7″ Zimmerman adding what Lexicon felt was always missing, this is truly like nothing you have ever seen or heard before. Will the risk pay off? We’ll begin to see as Lexicon now unveils what they’ve been working on locked away in the studio for the past 2 years. Ladies and gentlemen, Lexicon presents to you THE RAPSTARS E.P, available exclusively on iTunes through B.E.A.R/Alpha Pup. Interview with Lexicon, Coming soon!

Lexicon Throwbacks:
Rock (Remix feat. Louis Logic, Celph Titled, Ryu and J-Zone) Download
Makin’ Music (Remix feat. Apathy and Celph Titled) Download
Ordinary Download
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BrokeBBoys Interview with Lexicon

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions with us.

Please introduce yourselves to the world:
Oak:
Hello world. How ya doin? I’m Gideon Black, aka Big Oak. Me and my lil brother are the rappers on this here Rapstars EP you’re hearin about. In fact, this interview will read much better if you go buy the EP from iTunes for only $3.99 and then listen it to while reading this.
Nick: Anything is better if you are listening to Lexicon at the same time! And oh, i’m his little brother, by the way.

How did you guys begin your career as Lexicon? Take us to the beginning of time and how ya got here.
Nick:
Well in the beginning, there was nothing. Then on the first day, i think it was light? On onwards down to us. Haha.. But like Oak said, we are brothers, and music was a big part of our upbringing. Our grandpa was a touring singer with Tommy Dorsey, Leena Horne is my mom’s god mother, and our parents were big music buffs themselves, so much of our Saturday mornings were spent singing along with Billy Joel and Quincy Jones, and The Police on the reel to reel. So music was just kinda in us from the get go. Then a friend of Oak’s gave him Kurtis Blow’s Basketball and it was over…we pretty much lived, ate, and breathed hiphop for the next decade or so, so it was impossible that we weren’t going to try to do it ourselves as immersed in the culture we were. So by about 1995 or so, Oak knew some people at the UCSB college radio station, and they put us on the air freestyling, which led to meeting some producers, some other rappers, helping start out a solid hiphop scene in the 805 (Lootpack, Subtitle, Oh-No, etc.). We just kept honing our craft and kept adding a little from all of our outside influences, and got our own thing going, and came down to LA in the late nineties and took some trips to Project Blow’d and opened for Dilated Peoples and Eminem and all the great underground hiphop stuff, and put out a couple of indie records on Spy Tech Records, and really just tried to make a name for ourselves in LA and in the world! Then we got mad at music in general, grabbed some guitars and some of our musician friends, locked the door to our studio, and popped out the Rapstars E.P. It’s 2006 now. And that’s pretty much it..

How do you feel about the new “RAPSTAR EP”?
Oak:
We feel great about it! It’s been way too long since our last official release. Our last full length called “Youth is Yours” came out in he last quarter of 03, so it’s been almost 3 years. Obviously you can hear the difference in our sound if you listen to both records, so this EP is extra special because it’s the introduction of what we’ve been working on for over 2 years to the public. And it’s a teaser/preview of what the full length record will sound like, so it’s also exciting to officially let people know what to expect from us from now on. We know this sound is kinda startling to our old fans, but we’re doing what we love so all we can do is hope everyone continues to love what we love. Does that make sense?
Nick:
It’s kind of our Frankenstein. We’ve been with it alone for the past three years, and no one heard a thing, so we feel like when we put it out, we kinda gave it that jolt and put it to life. It’s fun to watch it terrorize! ha!

Speaking of the new project, How did you guys start delving more into the indie/rock genre? The live instrumentation and rock aspect of the music.
Nick:
Our music taste is pretty broad, and has gotten much broader in the past 5 years or so since Hiphop really hasn’t been making anything that is exciting these days. To be honest, i hardly even consider myself a hiphop fan any more these days because i just don’t like what is coming out! So we’ve always dabbled with those other influences, we even have had a couple of side projects with full bands and even did a couple of Lexicon shows with a full band, but we always kept it seperate from “Lexicon.” But we realized that we were playing scared a little, so we just decided FUCK IT..who cares what the kids think, lets just make what we want to make!
Oak:
Everything Nick said, plus the fact that nobody has really done the rock/hiphop thing the right way. In the past the groups that tried it were mostly just straight rock groups with a frontman who could rap a little bit. But with us, we’re MC’s first and foremost. So our mission is to blend genres, but still keep it hiphop. I think our approach is more organic, and not so in your face aggresive with little bits of spit flying out of our mouths. As cliche as it sounds, we keep it real. Really. What we do is way more real than any stupid song you hear on the radio by a “real MC” talking about the same damn thing that every other song is talking about. Isn’t that “keeping it fake?” Does everyone reaaallly like their rims and chains that much, or do those type of songs simply guarantee a little radio play if done well enough? Remember when hiphop was all about being creative and orginal? You know, those little things that the entire foundation of hiphop was build upon? Remember when biting was truly considered a sin in hiphop? Now you gotta bite and copy to survive. How did this happen? There’s no way in hell we’ll ever make a song about something that isn’t totally true to us, or about a topic that we don’t truly feel strongly about, just to get some play. A lot of rappers out there really need to think about whether their integrity is worth a few months in regular rotation.

How they feel about other music scenes and their ties to hiphop.
Oak:
Every scene is represented pretty well in LA. If anything the hiphop is at it’s worst right now. It’s either way to commercial…and don’t get me wrong…i love me some commercial hiphop, but most of this shit just has no integrity. And if it’s not too commercial, it’s way too underground…boring beats, super abtract lyrics…not fun at all. My thing is that i don’t care what scene or genre it is…if the music is dope, it’s dope. I like dope music. Dope music makes me happy.
Nick:
Good music is good music and good people are good people. LA is like a million small scenes all in one city..and i’ve ended up at everything from Rock-a-billy bars to Goth Industrial clubs, and its really all the same, just a different way to dress! As long as people are making genuinely dope stuff, i’m into it.

Do you see yourselves ever dabbling with electronic driven genres or collaborations?
Nick:
Yes! There is so much good electro out there right now, and more and more creeping its way into my ipod, so i definately could see us doing remix’s off of the new album with some electro-producers. Daniel from Haujobb, a dope german group, is actually remixing Junk Food right now!

Any artists/producers you havent worked with that you’d love to work with?
Oak:
There’s so many producers that we love that we haven’t worked with. We really like keeping our music and projects within the fam, but we’d always love to work with our heros. Personally i’d love to be able to sit down with Timbaland and work on a few songs. Rick Rubin too. I feel like both of them would really get us and our sound. And even though it’s the trendy pick right now, but Dangermouse would be great to work with too. He understands how to blend genres the right way, so i think it would be a good fit.
Nick:
And a hot duet with John Tesh.
Oak:
I recorded a hot duet with John Tesh the other night while you were sleeping Nick. Ah ha.
Nick:
I know… I think your penis is gay for him.

What is your view on the current state of hip hop.
Nick:
Heh. I think we may have already vented about this enough! It’s terrible. The mainstream has gotten so uncreative that you seriously need to act, look, dress, and even have almost the same hook as the last number one single or you have no chance of making it. It’s a one-hot wonder era, completely. about three of these cats out there are career artists. And the underground is just non-existent. There is no scene like there was when we were coming up. Maybe in other cities it still exists, but its dead in LA. And i haven’t heard a good indie hiphop, that really made me, ya know, get goosebumps, in years.
Oak:
Yeah I’ve already said enough. I’m sick of complaining. I’ll tell you what i really like in hiphop right now: Lupe Fiasco’s record. Ludacris in general. Outkast. The Game’s new song “one blood.” Will I Am. Fergie’s “London Bridge” (honestly…tell me it’s not dope…i don’t believe you). Hot Dolla’s “2 Steppin.” The Roots new record “Game Theory” – that’s what hiphop should sound like in 2006.

Do you think social networks like MySpace have helped or hurt underground hip hop? Ive heard both arguments.
Oak:
Me too, and I think both arguements are accurate. I know first hand that it’s helpful, because the internet in general, and social networks more specifically, have really, truly helped us reach a wide range of people. The ease of networking on myspace and letting people hear new songs as soon as they’re finished and interacting with fans is amazing. I don’t know how we could be doing any of this without the internet. It’s hard to even remember how people heard about good new music without the internet! But of course problems come with it. Anyone can technically “release” music now, and so much of it sucks. And i don’t mean that in an asshole way…there’s just people out there who shouldn’t be making music…there’s something that they’re better at than that. But the internet and myspace makes people feel like “if so and so can release a record, i can to!” Underground hiphop specifically has been hit hard by this cause some kid in his room can write a little rap or freestyle and put it online and actually think he’s contributing something to music. Some kid can’t just pick up a guitar and think he knows how to play it. You actually have to know how to play it. But everyone thinks they know how to rap. And now everyone does rap. So a lot of rap music sucks. I never realized it was that simple!
Nick:
Haha! It realize is that simple. I think the internet as a whole has killed a lot of shit. It’s not a bad thing at all, but its just, now something that is “cool” or “edgy” is passed around the internet in a couple of hours and it loses its charm fast. The internet is a cool-killer, you don’t have to hunt for shit any more. And in terms of hiphop, or music as a whole, it has taken away the excitement. Part of loving hiphop so much was just finding the groups. Now you can just do a band search on myspace and read what other people think and read their history and maybe even exchange a couple of emails with them..way before you ever even buy the cd or see them live. it’s just not the same.

Funny story. A while back, My wife was watching “America’s Next Top Model” and all of the sudden, from the other room, I heard “Rock” coming from the TV and I ran and yelled “That’s fuckin’ Lexicon theyre playing right there!”… Does it trip you out to hear your music played on television and in movies?
Nick:
Haha! I love it! You don’t know many people blame hearing that on their wives and girlfriends though… Just admit it.. We all watch that shit!!! But its great to hear it in things like movies and TV. We write our music simply as a soundtrack to life, so to see it being used as just that is amazing.

Do you guys have any videos or tours in the works?
Oak:
Both are in the works. We’re in the process of finding a home for the full length record,and once that comes together, we’ll be able to finalize tour plans. If everything stays on course, which is much easier said than done, the album should be out by March 07 and we’ll be touring all over the place around that time. As for videos, we actually just linked up with this kid from Spain named Espaun. He’s an amazing artist and we’re gonna do a video with him for the lead single off of the EP called “Big Money.” Based on what we’ve seen of his, and what his vision is for this video, it’s gonna be something special.

Any advice to up & coming artists:
Nick:
As cheesy as it sounds, and as obvious as it sounds… Go with your gut. When we look back on this ride we’ve had so far, Our first instinct almost every time seemed to turn out right. I have no regrets, but there is nothing more frustrating then run so hard just to end up right back where you were. Do the music you want, Listen to the people you choose, and don’t let nobody tell ya otherwise!
Oak:
Three things… They sound easy, but they’re so tough to maintain, but they’re the key:
1.
Believe in yourself
2.
Appreciate every single little thing that happens along the way.
3.
Work as hard as you possibly can.

Any last comments… Anything on your mind?
Nick:
Buy the Rapstars E.P., email us on myspace and say hi, and Don’t eat spinach!
Oak:
Why, What’s wrong with spinach? I was just eating a bag of Ready-Pac like potato chips… So yummy! Wait… I think I have the flu. Nick, will you call mom?

Lexicon on Youtube

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