Kings of Tragedy Interview (MC Till and Wonder Brown)

So the Kings of Tragedy are fresh off of their debut release and they were kind enough to stop by the blog…

Wonder Brown, MC Till thanks for stopping by.
T: No problem.  Thanks for having us.
B: YO!

Ok, so give us some background on how you guys got started as rappers individually.
T: I was about 5 years old in Evansville, IN.  Hip-hop was beginning to spread from the coasts to the midwest.  My brother first caught wind of it.  I wanted to be like big brother so I started doing it.  For my brother it was something cool at the time.  For me it was the beginning of a life long relationship.  I loved Hip-hop back then and still do to this day.
B: I grew up loving hip hop, and always wanted to make music, but first got into it almost 6 years ago, when i met Theory Hazit.  I was just getting into performance poetry, and an off-and-on friend asked me to tag along to a studio session, telling me of this dude who’s “just getting started and is right up your alley.”  I ended up rapping my first verse that night and developing a really close relationship with Theory.  Look at me now, ma!!

As individuals and as group what motivates you guys musically and spirtually?
T: As an individual I believe music is very spiritual.  Some music just moves me.  There is something about a sample and a bassline and a dope drum and an mc or singer flowing just right.  It does something to me spiritually.  And it doesn’t even have to be from an artist who considers himself spiritual.  The teachings of Jesus no doubt motive me.  I especially like the idea of God being all powerful chose to manifest in the flesh of someone who was poor and oppressed.  That motivates me to continously rethink what it means to live on this earth.  As a group, I think good conversation and fellowship motivate us.  We like to talk about all kinds of stuff from personal to spiritual to music to business, etc…
B: I’m a poet first, so I was once told by a teacher (an atheist at that) that my gift was “given to me” and that I was “obligated to share it with the world.”  The world around me is an inspiration, both good and bad, and my job is to translate it.  When you look at the world around you in an honest manner, you see the beauty of it, you see the brokenness, and you realize the connection of this life and the next’s.  As a group, I love and relate to the drive for excellence in Till, and a true lack of ego that shapes our bond.  In the end, we’re both just two simple guys with big dreams.

Who did you guys listen to while you guys we’re growing up and who do you listen to now?
T:I listend to a lot of the native tongues (De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest especially).  I listen to about the same now (De La, Q-tip, Common, the Roots).  I like music that is fun, but is also intellegent.
B: I love soul… Not really a particular sound, or particular words, but just the right combination.  I think you can hear someone’s soul in music, and I want that honest, that truth that only a soulful song can bring.  When I first heard Nas, Coldplay, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Dylan, the Supremes, Robert Johnson, I could feel the spirit of the music and truly appreciated where it was coming from.  But I loved pop music as well, as long as I could feel the soul.  Same goes for today.

Kings of Tragedy….what got you guys thinking “Hey we’re pretty good rappers let’s be good rappers together”?
T: We’re pretty good rappers?  huh?
B: Lol, I had known Till for only a short time, but we seemed to click when we would have convo about even the simplest of things.  I had known of him through mutual friends, but really only a handful of months when we connected one weekend and he offered to take me to Pittsburgh with him.  He gave me some of his stage-time that weekend, and we rocked an impromptu show together; and I do mean rocked it!  Next thing I know, we’re inviting each other to solo appearances and conceiving new ideas for show presentation, which we sorta just always did in the car.  The Kings of Tragedy was birthed out of that fellowship and willingness to forego the solo route and share in the experience; and came to fruition when I decided, almost on a whim, to move to the west coast and remembered that Till would be traveling to Oregon to see family for spring break.  A little over a year ago, we toured our way out west and had a blast.  When I decided to move back to Ohio, we went back to the drawing board and decided to make this a more vested affair…there’s much more to the story, but you get the picture.

Both you tell me something about the rhymestyle of your counterpart.
T: Let me break down Wonder’s rhyme style in an equation…
in the pocket delivery + a bunch of words X fast forward = Wonder Brown’s Rhyme Style.  Wonder Brown takes you to a place where you have to really listen and think.  His rhymestyle is aggressive and metaphorical.  You might know what he’s getting at.  You might not.  You have to invest the time to digest it.  Usually, I don’t have that time on my hands so I’m not sure what he’s talking about half the time.
B: Wow…Till really broke that down for you.  His is a lot simpler; simple guy + laid back lyrics + mic + stage x zeal for life = MC (Till)

Now I’m not sure who produced the album but it’s like that person threw all these vintage sounds in a blender and released it. What came out was a beautifilly made smoothie of sounds. How did this come about and what was the motivation behind the beats?
T: Actually, the way you described it is exactly how we made the beats.  I traded in my autographed George Forman Cooker for an autographed J. Dilla Blenda.  It is put out through ‘Dilla Blends’  Through advanced technology, all you have to do is buy some records that look they are from the late 60’s early 70’s, throw them into the Dilla Blenda, wait about 35 minutes for the blenda to process, and bam, you got a delicious plate of beats.  Okay, seriously, I did the beats with Wonder Brown co-producing several of them.  Originally, we were going to pay other producers to make beats for us.  But, then we realized that would cost money.  So, I made the suggestion that we just do the beats.  I was half serious.  Wonder jumped on it right away and started listening to the MC Till beat catalog that day.  Personally, I love making beats.  Making beats for me is like therapy.  I really enjoy it. 
B: While on tour, we listened to a lot of De La Soul, and just reminisced to when music was fun.  Interestingly enough, that vibe really just permeated our souls, and added to the experience of the tour.  Although those dudes weren’t preaching Christ, the vibe was edifying, and the spirit was alive everywhere we’d go.  When we came back to Ohio after the second tour last year, we still had that experience alive in us, and wanted to channel it into a possible project that we could perform with.  At the time, we were just mixing stuff from his solo album “Beautiful Raw”, and a few other projects including the Scribbling Idiots record “The Have Nots”; we just wanted to step our game up, so to speak, and have something we could perform together and sell right on the spot – before, we had impromptu songs that we performed, and people would ask us which album had that song.  OOps!!…Well, oops no more. Till killed the beats and I did my co-production “put this there” “take that out” thing!!!

So what message we’re you guys trying to convey with this album?
T: Joy. 
B: Freedom.

Now it’s great to hear collab material with the two of you, but we barely hear any solo material from you guys. Wonder I know you released The Wake a couple years ago and MC you released the Beautiful Raw at around the same time. Where’s the NEW SOLO STUFF!!
T: Wonder Brown release ‘The Wake?’  When did this happen?  Why don’t I have a copy?  My next project is called “Grass cutters and Poppy Seed Heads.”  Just kidding.  But seriously, don’t steal that title.  I’m working on my next project right now.  And unless an indie label approaches me I’m sticking with the independent thing.  I love having full control over the music and I get paid all the money.  Sweet.
B: I really invested myself in “The Have Nots”, and have continually learned about the craft, so that when I step up to the bigs with my solo effort, I’m knocking it out the park.  I have a solo album almost complete, entitled “Just Another Wonderful Life”, and another EP in the wake of “The Wake” entitled “The Gallows.”  I have another EP that will come out first, that is produced completely by Thought P, as well as a record that I’m in the last stages of mixing and mastering entitled The Darke Bros – a group with CASMETAH and myself….that joint is blaze and will be out later this year…lotta stuff on the plate, but it IS coming.

Lastly what projects are you working on now.
T: I’m working on a marriage project.  It has to do with me being a good husband to my wife!  It’s called til death do us part!!!! On the music front, I’m working on my next album.  Every once in a while k-Drama and I talk about doing another “Black Guy Meets White Man” album.  We’ll see.
B: Oops, already answered that…but there is one more project I’m working on – a record with my good friend Sean Little produced completely by Vintage entitled “A Love aPhiliated” – which is almost done.  Soulful stuff, man!

Ok, thanks for stopping by anything else you want to let the readers know before you go?
T: Yes, if you want to talk to me just hit me up at 812-430-4464!  Peace.
B: And 513-304-8664 for the Wonder Brown hotline…BigUps to the Sto for all the love!!!

~ by Michael Stover on May 5, 2009.

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