Audio Reconnaissance, the Indianapolis-based digital music label run by former Mab Lab drummer Eric Brown, is returning with another year-end wrap-up concert this Friday at the Melody Inn. Keeping true to the label's modus operandi, all the acts on the bill - Grey Granite, Whois Louis, Justice League and Random Art Projects - push the boundaries of rap.
Brown took a moment to reflect on a momentous year for his label via an e-mail interview. "2008 was huge for us," Brown writes. "We were able to step out a little more into doing live events as well as form new partnerships in the industry. We also started our first sub-label, Jazz Meridian records, which will be home for all our jazz/blues/world releases. It was also a sad spring with the sudden passing of Jack Gilfoy. We also have brought on board a couple of indie labels, which we will distribute through AR digital - Worm Music and, out of Colorado, Broken Beaker Records."
The year-end show, titled The Rap Up 2008, starts at 10 p.m. for all those who drop the $7 cover (or $5 with a canned or dry food donation for Gleaners Food Bank), and features two acts on Audio Recon and two from outside the fold. There's Grey Granite, a local favorite whose high-energy show draws on everything from The Killers' rock and roll to rap music's early electro roots, who is typically accompanied by producer/DJ J. Brookinz for live shows. Then there's local legends Justice League, who are some of the hardest working hip-hop artists around (you don't know about the Poopstain Diaries?), and have developed a wonderfully nuanced live show that features good interplay between the four emcees and impressively solid delivery.
Performing out of the Audio Recon stable is Whois Louis, a producer and emcee who made it to the finals in this year's Indianapolis Scribble Jam preliminary producer battle (runner up to winner J. Brookinz). Louis' rhymes can go from angry and intense to heartfelt all in the course of one verse.
Finally, there's Random Art Projects (R.A.P.), a group relatively new to the scene that features Audio Reconnaissance stalwart Rick Haschell, aka Id Obelus, who hails from hip-hop mecca Star City, Ind. I got a chance recently to speak with Haschell about his new group and hip-hop in general.
NUVO: How would you describe your group Random Art Projects?
Id Obelus: It's a fusion between my solo stuff and a group called Tramaj Voyix. It's a psychedelic, danceable, experimental live band with a hip-hop feel. My cousin, Matt Milo, is the bandleader and brought it all together.
NUVO: Does the live band push you into different territory?
Id Obelus: Yeah, definitely. Before, I did straight up hip-hop. Well, experimental hip-hop. But now it's more just wherever the songs take us. Some are more rock, some have more of a techno feel. I think all of us are going into new territory.
NUVO: Do you feel there is an overall message in your music?
Id Obelus: At times it's message driven, with social commentary, but a lot of it is stream-of-conscious. We want it to always be fun at the same time. A lot of my stuff is just free association word play with no particular subject matter. I tend to throw subtle references in to testify my views and beliefs.
NUVO: What is your writing process?
Id Obelus: I rock these beats that are given to me in my car on the way to work and back. I just recite lines over and over, building on them until they are finished. I haven't written anything down in a long time. I just memorize it.
NUVO: Can you give us a lyrical excerpt?
Id Obelus : It's not the usual brutally beautiful
glued to the tube watching suitable television programming;
hell, it's all programming isn't it?
Ever since I acquired the status "Dad," I started to give a shit ...
about what we ingested orally, visually and audibly.
Thought I ought to change the awful behavior that God'll see.
I got a free ticket to paradise, I'll stash it ...
in my front pocket for safe keeps. I'll cash it in ...
when Christ gets back, despite the fact that
half of my friends aren't on the righteous path.
NUVO: What's the typical reaction you receive from a new audience?
Id Obelus: Mind-blowing. Everybody seems to dig it. We try to be experimental without being pretentious. We want the artsy crowd to dig it, but we also want the typical drunk crowd to dig it, too.