Science Fiction - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman
Wale Oyejide, otherwise known as Science Fiction, is the best producer you do not know about. His debut release, "Walls Don't Exist", was one of 2003's best LP's, which featured a striking blend between Hip Hop, afro beat, jazz and soul. Now a year later, Wale's sophomore release "One Day, Everything Changed", picks up where his last album left off. The album is an amazing piece of musicianship that acts as a conceptual journey from Wale's birthplace of Nigeria, to his newfound home in the United States. The album is just more proof that Wale is one of Hip Hop's most diverse producers.
Wale recently took some time to speak with MVRemix about his new album as well as a variety of personal issues.
MVRemix: What would you say separates your new album, "One Day, Everything Changed", from "Walls Don't Exist"?
Science Fiction: It's a lot more organic, there are no vocal samples, every voice on the album is me. I did a lot of signing on the first album as well, but people didn't realize it. But this is a less weird album, for a lack of a better word. Its more for the everyday listener, but at the same time, I think it reaches people of different age group's, tastes and genres. Its just a more organic album, the words speak to you as supposed to the music itself, being the only thing you can hear to communicate with.
MVRemix: Which one do you think is better?
Science Fiction: I think this one, but a lot of artists tend to like their latest works. You like to hope that you get better as you go along. To me, both albums are moment in time, and this album is what means to me at this moment. I think "Walls Don't Exist" was good for me, because it was a therapeutic, as far as going through some issues and getting it out. And this album is a similar thing, but things are just better for me right now. So I just come out with songs that I hope make people feel better about themselves, and life in general.
MVRemix: The thing I love about the album is its variety. I was reading your bio and I think this sums up the album's vibe the best. "This might just be the first album that can double as both the soundtrack to a revolution and love making sessions at the same time".
Science Fiction: Pretty much. I have this thing with splitting my album up into little sections, and stuff like that. So the first half of this album talks about social and global issues, such as war, and how they relate to the individual person. And the second half is more of slow jams, your love stories, and stuff like that. And to me, these two things are connected because the whole social environment is based on our individual lives, and how things revolve around it. So if you don't have love, you are going to have war, which is what the first half of the album is about.
MVRemix: What would you say really influenced you while you were making this album?
Science Fiction: Life in general really influences me to make music. As far as music goes, the Sly Stones influence me, as well as other things, like having a girlfriend, to looking for a job. Stuff like that, just the daily grind. I'm real passionate about music, so you get into that zone and you keep going until your done. The album didn't take very long to make because I was in such a feverous state of doing the music everyday. Just because I was inspired by the world around us. Watching the news and people getting killed, houses are exploded, and things like that.
MVRemix: How long did it take you to do this album then?
Science Fiction: It was pretty short, just like two to three months of constant work. One or two songs were done before, like "Ever After Pt. 2", as the vocals were from the first album, and "This Is Dedicated", as I did the beat awhile back. But for the most part it was just a straight grind.
MVRemix: How did you originally hook up with MF Doom?
Science Fiction: Doom is just part of the family, the whole Shaman Work crew. Soul Uprising and Doom have been cool for awhile, and this is just part of the whole Atlanta scene. So my manager used to managed Doom, so we just all knew each other well. He would just come over, have a few beers, play some video games, or whatever. I have done work with him before, as Science Fiction, so it pretty much made sense.
MVRemix: What about Jay-Dee?
Science Fiction: The thing with Dilla is kind of funny, because the song was gonna be a remake of his joint "Fuck The Police". So I was like, "Yo, this song is crazy, let me do it with an afro beat, an African slant to it". So I started to make a remake, and halfway through, it turned out that it wasn't going to be about what I had originally planned. It turned into a war song, instead of a police song. So it just became more impact full and important and more global. So I finished the song and it was crazy, so I figured he would really like it. So we got at him and he loved it.
MVRemix: What song on the album means the most to you?
Science Fiction: That’s a hard one. There are a lot of them that are important to me for different reasons. The title track is really important because it speaks on the whole theme of the album. Its just a theme of hope and things are eventually going to get better. But that is sort of the same theme as "Keep Pushing", so its all connected. "Kaya" is a song I dedicated to my girlfriend. So the whole thing speaks as one theme and one general message of love and peace.
MVRemix: What is going to be the measuring stick on whether this album is a success to you or not?
Science Fiction: Honestly, I don't set out to impress anybody but myself. And if I blow myself away, than to me the album is dope. I have worked with some of my heroes on the record, and its just a beautiful album, end of story. But obviously as an artist I want to make some loot and I want to get on the road and see that I influenced some people. But I can wake up every morning and look at my album sleeves and look at my 12 inches on the wall and be like "Yo, I have done something, that people, maybe not many, but people will remember years later". So that is good enough for me.
MVRemix: What's going on with you and Third Earth Music? Are you still signed to them?
Science Fiction: Yeah, but things are kind of slow right now. I am more interested in doing this Wale thing, and Science Fiction was kind of a moment in time. So I may go back and do another one, but its not really on the plate right now. So I am really going to take it step by step and see what happens with that.
MVRemix: Do you find it hard to get your name out there on a large scale, considering instrumental albums or whatnot are only considered an "underground" thing?
Science Fiction: I would say so to a degree. That is something we all struggle with being an indy artist. But even being an indy artist I don't expect to be on a Ja Rule or Nelly status. But even within the scene, its all about who you know, what label your on, etc. Its a lot of politics. But I'm not the type of person that worries about that. I believe that if you consistently put things out you will be ok. I try to stay busy, as I put the Science Fiction album out last year, I put this album out this year. Hopefully, God willing, I will have something out next year. So you just stay busy and stay consistent with good music, and it will happen. A lot of people are really impatient, and that is there downfall. You just have to understand that everybody has their time, if its not today or tomorrow, it will come eventually.
MVRemix: I just think you have to force people to listen to different types of music. Because I believe people aren't going out and trying to find new music nowadays.
Science Fiction: That's just the way it is, because there is so much garbage out today that you really don't trust anything. Unfortunately I'm the type of cat who has to see it to believe it. You can tell me about it but I gotta hear it to know that its dope. Just because there is so much stuff that is bad out there, its rare that you are going to hear something that makes you go, "wow, this is different, or this is interesting". So that is just the general mindset of the people. But that is why you have your collaborations, whether it be with whoever, that is the whole point, to get people interested. Because people will say "Oh, if so and so is on it, maybe this is dope too". But you just gotta play the game.
MVRemix: I know you get this question all the time, but for those that' don’t know, can you explain what broken jazz is?
Science Fiction: I guess a lot of journalists when they review a record, they try and throw it into a sub genera, or they call it something. So that was just me and my preemptive strike to try and get a name out there that I was happy with. But its pretty much my style of what I do. It’s a culmination of everything from jazz to hip hop, to soul to afro beat. Obviously, I have a lot of influences in my work, as I don’t try and hide them. But as long as I am not biting; its just paying homage to people that have obviously taught me a lot. So to me, broken jazz is just a mesh, a melting pot of things I grew up on.
MVRemix: What equipment do you use when producing?
Science Fiction: I'm real bare bones. I'm real next to nothing, as I don't even use an MPC. I basically have a guitar, a Roland Phantom Keyboard, that is where I get my crazy organ sounds form, and I use Fruity Loops for sequencing.
MVRemix: When you are making a beat, what is the first thing you lay down or work on?
Science Fiction: Typically, it depends. This album I don't do very much sampling. Obviously the first album was heavily sample based. This one was a lot more live key and guitar playing. So it depends, sometimes I'll start with drums, sometimes I'll start with the guitar. So it just depends. I just typically build everything in layers, but I guess that is what most producers do anyway.
MVRemix: Onto a lighter note, since you live in Atlanta, what do you think about the insane popularity of crunk music?
Science Fiction: Crunk is dope, but I can understand that its not for everybody. For instance my girlfriend just moved here from Philly, and she hates it. I went to college here, so when I came here I was like, "this is garbage". But you get up in the club and you get a few drinks in you and its on pretty much. It’s a local thing, as with a lot of cities. Its more of a cultural thing, and its cool because its gotten global. I just went to the Bahamas and I was walking in the street and guys were chanting Lil Jon and The Eastside Boys choruses. So I was like, "Wow, this is crazy". But that just goes to show you the power of Hip Hop, it goes global. But crunk is cool, it shows Atlanta's personality. It's almost like the punk rock of Hip Hop, its just raw energy.
MVRemix: Who are some of your favorite artists?
Science Fiction: I listen to a lot of different stuff. As far as Hip Hop, I'm a big Dilla fan, Roots fan, the whole Soulquarian's crowd, Common, Mos Def, etc. As far as Jazz, I'm big into Cold Train, Sly Stone. I listen to a lot of everything, and I think that is what keeps my sound interesting.
MVRemix: I'm going to name some producers, and you tell me if you think they are hot or not? First up Mannie Fresh?
Science Fiction: Mannie Fresh is hot.
Science Fiction: Hot, the stuff he did on the Big Noyd album was crazy.
Science Fiction: J-Zone is dope, but I'm not really too up on his work. I really don’t check for his work, but the few beats I have heard were really fresh.
MVRemix: Swizz Beatz?
Science Fiction: Nah, he had a couple of joints when Ruff Ryders was poppin, but as a whole, I'm not really messing with him. That "Hotel" with Cassidy…I'm not going to even get into that.
MVRemix: What was the first Hip Hop CD you fell in love with?
Science Fiction: Mos Def & Talib Kweli's "Blackstar". I listened to Hip Hop a little bit growing up overseas. But I remember I was in my freshman year in college here in Morehouse, and some kid was playing "Respiration" in the court yard on some big speakers. And I was like "Yo, who is that". And the kid told me Blackstar, and I thought he had said Gangstarr. So I went out looking for this Gangstarr song called "Respiration". Cause I wasn't even into Hip Hop like that, but I finally discovered it was Blackstar.
MVRemix: What do you think about the new Roots CD, since you said you are a big fan?
Science Fiction: Its dope, but what I think is happening with The Roots is people are having preconceived notions of them. Its kind of like you want to hear a certain thing. First and foremost their live show is always phenomenal. But I think on record they don’t always translate the musicianship that they could. Obviously, Black Thought is a crazy emcee, and he really comes to light on this album. But to me there is not very musicianship on the album, and that’s what I was looking for. Its like, I'm not trying to hear you on some regular beats that anybody could make. It's cool, but to me "Things Fall Apart" and "Illadelph Halflife" are the pinnacle for them musically. So you take the good with the bad. I think the emceeing is great, but I don’t look to them for emceeing, they are The Roots.
MVRemix: I think you definitely hit it on the head. The album is more stripped down and they really don't sound like a band on this album. For example, you have that Scott Storch beat "Duck Down", which is cool, but its something you would hear Timbaland produce.
Science Fiction: Its cool, Scott Storch is ill, as you have "Lean Back" as the hottest single on the radio right now. And I'm not gonna tell The Roots what they should be like, but ideally when I think of them I don't think of straight up loops and beats. I wanna hear some keys and some chord changes and things like that. But they always kill it live though.
MVRemix: So after the album, what plans do you have?
Science Fiction: I am about to get on the road, starting out in LA in a week or two for the album release party. I'm going to be doing a little US thing and a little Europe thing as well. Its just touring right now. I'm not too focused on another album, I have a couple of new songs, but I am just going to ride this one out for a little bit and see how people like it. Then after that I will get back in the studio.
MVRemix: Any last words?
Science Fiction: I just really appreciate people checking out the album, and I think its an honest and open record. There is not any pretentiousness about it, I'm not trying to say I'm the best or illest at anything. I am not trying to say I'm gonna change the game, I'm just doing music. Its definitely not like anything else out right now, or that has been out ever. So if you want to check something out that is definitely fresh and new then give it a preview. Download it if you have to, but if you dig it, pick it up.