US and Canadian Underground Hip Hop coverage including Rap plus Soul - exclusive interviews, reviews, articles
Sol Uprising - conducted by Todd E. Jones  


Independent Sol

2004

Sol Uprising is a male/female duo comprised of Lil Sci (of Scienz Of Life) and Stacy Epps. While Lil Sci handles all of the rhymes, Stacy Epps handles the singing.

Lil Sci first came on the scene with his group Scienz Of Life, which consisted of Lil Sci, ID 4 Windz, and Inspektah Willabee. Their first album “Coming Out By Day: The Book Of The Dead” (released on Subverse Records) was an overlooked LP with Sol Uprisingspaced out beats and lyrics. Their 2nd LP “Project Overground: Scienz Experiment” was a much more accessible project that reached a broader audience with a jazzier sound. During this time, Stacy Epps began doing song background vocals and singing on Scienz Of Life songs. Things eventually changed for Lil Sci. He started his own label, Shaman Works Recordings, and started a side-project with singer Stacy Epps. Together, they formed Sol Uprising, a positive conscious hip-hop group with soulful singing, intelligent rhymes, and jazzy hip-hop beats.

Their debut album “Sol Power” is a unique project that finds a balance between soulful singing and hardcore rhyming. ID 4 Windz, Lacks, Zulu The Cosmic Overseer, and others handle production. While some may compare them to other male / female groups like The Fugees, Digable Planets, Spooks, or City High, Sol Uprising is different because there is only one emcee and one singer. They have a positive energy and a passion for music, politics, and the culture. They simply love hip-hop and they love to keep busy. Stacy Epps is currently enrolled in law school while Lil Sci has endless projects being constructed on his own independent label, Shaman Works Recordings. He has a solo LP coming out that is completely produced by MF Doom. Scienz Of Life is even coming back!

Unfortunately, Inspektah Willabee took a hiatus from the group but Ta’Raach aka Lacks (from Detroit) has become the new 3rd member of Scienz Of Life. I had an in-depth conversation with both Lil Sci and Stacy Epps of Sol Uprising. They have quite a bit to say. We talked about politics, hip-hop, music, the law, labels, and more. Stacy Epps and Lil Sci are two independent souls who have come together to form something special. The movement of the independent souls has begun.


MVRemix: What goes on?

Lil Sci: This is Lil Sci!

Stacy Epps: This is Stacy Epps!

Lil Sci: And we are
Sol Uprising: “Sol Uprising!

Lil Sci: Everything’s lovely, man! We’re in Cali. The sun is still shining right now!

MVRemix: So did you re-locate there? Are you living there now?

Lil Sci: Yeah, L.A.! I’m no East Coast trader though, my man.

MVRemix: Your album is called “Sol Power”. Tell us about it. Who’s on it? Who produced it?

Lil Sci: ‘Sol Power’! It’s the power of the soul! It’s Scienz Of Life uprising again. It’s another branch of the Scienz Of Life family. ‘Sol Uprising’ is the new joint with Lil Sci and Stacy Epps. Production by none other than ID 4 Windz of Scienz Of Life, Lacks from Detroit. We also have Zulu The Cosmic Overseer. Heads may remember him from the ‘Project Overground’ album. We also have production by Floyd The Locksmith and none other than Hakeem. He’s a cat that goes way back to the early 90’s and late 80’s. He was in this singing group called The Boyz. You may remember ‘Dial My Heart’ and all of that lollipop music back in the day. Now they are flipping it to the hip-hop soul music scene. It’s a nice variety. It’s diverse. It’s a nice collection of producers who all came together to form the ‘Sol Power’ album. I’m very proud of the product and proud to be working with such a brilliant artist like Stacy Epps, an up and coming gem. ‘Sol Power’ LP is in stores now on Shaman Works Recordings. Go get it!

MVRemix: How did the Sol Uprising project come into fruition?

Lil Sci: The people! It was the people!

Stacy Epps: Yeah, basically, how it started was that I met up with Scienz Of Life in Atlanta. I was just really feeling their music and their tracks. It was just so sick. I was like ‘Please! Can I work with y’all?’ We started doing the first thing we ever recorded, which was a song called ‘Life Jones’ and they wanted me to sing the hook. It really was just so easy because the vibe just matched. I sang the hook in one take and it was perfect. From then on, I did a couple of other songs on ‘Project Overground’. I also did performances with Scienz Of Life, doing background vocals and choruses. Since the other members of Scienz Of Life moved to New York, Lil Sci and I began performing together since we were still in Atlanta. People were just really feeling what we were doing and the chemistry. They kept on telling us to form a group. I was like ‘Word!’ It just came together so easily that we pretty much knew that it was meant to be. The name and everything came easy. We sat back, thought of the name, how we were going to do distribution and other stuff. We knew it was a special project because it just came together so easily. I’m especially excited because it is my first full-length album. It is just a great experience working with Lil Sci, who has so much experience in the hip-hop game. We found a balance with a male and female hip-hop soul combination.

Lil Sci: We really have to point out that this is Stacy Epps’ first project other than small collaborations and Scienz Of Life prior stuff. It is the first full-length stretch. In terms of that, it makes it more of a classic. It becomes a foundation to look back and learn from.

MVRemix: How did the songs get written? Did Stacy write all of the hooks and singing parts while Sci wrote the raps?

Lil Sci: It was a collaborative effort here and there. Most of the singing parts are hers. We did vibe. She may come with a melody and I’m feeling a couple of the words. Like Stacy said, it was pretty much a divine order how things came together. There was no stress at all. We were sitting down and there was a vibe to the music as were coming up with the concepts. She would sing a melody or chorus then, we would build around it. Sometimes we would build the whole concept of the song from that. To be honest, I think doing this project took both of our techniques to the next level in different ways.

MVRemix: When making hip-hop songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics, and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?

Stacy Epps: For most of the album ‘Sol Power’, we heard the beat first and then, wrote directly off of the music. That’s another thing that made the album special. It was really musically focused and the producers truly guided us as well. ID 4 Windz, who did a majority of the tracks, really had more of an impact than a typical producer who would have had the songs already written. We heard the tracks and that was what inspired us to come with our creativity and our creation. The music was the positive inspiration.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on ’Sol Power’?

Lil Sci: That’s hard for me to say.

Stacy Epps: I would say ‘Solar Love’, produced by Zulu The Cosmic Overseer, is my favorite because I love the combination of the jazz and the hip-hop soul in that song. I think it is a very universal vibe, talking about love, in that song. I really love Sci’s verse in that song.

MVRemix: Are you going to do another Sol Uprising album?

Lil Sci: Definitely! There’s no question about. That’s a project you can expect sometime next year. We may do a ‘Sol Power’ remix EP. Key songs from the ‘Sol Power’ album remixed by Wajeed from Bling 47 and maybe Madlib along with ID 4 Windz. Maybe a few bonus tracks as well. It will bring some more life into the album and just get a little creative with it.

Stacy Epps: We have a mix-tape CD that’s coming out called ‘Rise Up’. It’s really hot, soulful underground hip-hop tracks. We chose some really dope beats. I’m excited about that.

MVRemix: Lacks and you have made some wonderful collaborations. How did you meet and hook up with Lacks?

Lil Sci: Lacks is the new member of Scienz Of Life! Actually, we met in Atlanta. His manager is my partner in Shaman Works Recordings. I’m the 3rd part in Shaman Works. We met because we are joint management. The brother’s creative energy was amazing. I haven’t met too many artists with the same creative energy who can sit down and come up with the song concepts just like that. He has a next level approach to the songs.

MVRemix: How is the production style of Lacks different from ID 4 Windz?

Lil Sci: I would say Lacks’ production style is more funk than ID 4 Windz. ID 4 Windz is a little more diverse. To me, Lacks has a more of a dirty, soul, funk sound. He has heavy, hard-hitting drums and soulful samples and ill bass lines. No matter how hardcore, it still has that appeal to it. It has that raw, underground grit to it that older people can appreciate too. 4 Windz is more of a jazz, bass, and soul sound while he has reggae or hardcore tracks too. I’m a little biased because I know ID 4 Windz more. That’s my brother right there.

MVRemix: Stacy Epps is going to law school? Tell us about that.

Stacy Epps: I’m going to USC Law School right now and I have finals to look forward to. It’s going good. It’s all part of the movement. I want to do music law and help independent artists and labels. That’s part of the movement of what we’re doing. It’s exciting because I’m learning so much right now. I love the artistic side of me but I have that intellectual side of me as well.

MVRemix: How does school affect your creativity or work? Or vice versa?

Stacy Epps: It actually goes pretty well. I study all the time. It makes me remember why I am in law school. I do not forget or lose sight of what I am meant to do. It’s exciting. It’s going well. It’s a lot but I am handling it.

MVRemix: Because the female member of the group, Stacy Epps, is a singer, there have obviously been comparisons to The Fugees, The Spooks, or City High. How do you feel about that?

Lil Sci: I feel great about that. If we can get ‘The Score’ numbers than I’m not mad at all. Compare us to The Fugees all you want. The reason for those comparisons is that there is not a great deal of groups out there like us. To add on to that, another comparison is Digable Planets. I’m not mad at it. I respect the artists who came before us. That’s how we are inspired. They gave us ideas.

Stacy Epps: Speaking of Digable Planets, Butterfly or Ishmael’s father was actually one of my undergraduate professors at University Of Virginia.

MVRemix: How did you get the name Lil Sci? What is the meaning behind it?

Lil Sci: It is a description of my style. Many people think it is a play on Lil Wayne or ‘Lil this’ or ‘Lil that’ but it is actually deeper. There is much more substance to that. The style or approach that I have is that I spoon feed people or spoon-feed the masses. I don’t come with a style that is 100% preachy but I still get points across and have substance in my lyrics. It ultimately means ‘Little Science’ or ‘A Little Bit Of Science’. It’s about spoon-feeding the masses instead of coming with the corny, preachy nonsense style that comes with conscious hip-hop. Whether I am speaking directly conscious or not, the consciousness may be ingested in the essence of the sound of the music or my flow. A little bit of science at a time.

MVRemix: What emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Lil Sci: Brand Nubian! That’s the ultimate inspiration right there. Sadat X’s ‘Sauce For Bird Heads’! On a different level, I would say someone like Stevie Wonder, someone who changed things in music.

Stacy Epps: I want to work with Dwele and Amel Larrieux. Those are two of the main ones I want to work with.

MVRemix: I loved Brand Nubian’s ‘Everything Is Everything’ even though many people did not like it. Sadat X stole that album!

Lil Sci: It’s funny because I listen to that album not too long ago while I was out here in Cali. That album, ‘Everything Is Everything’ sounded like they were out here in California.

MVRemix: What producer would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Stacy Epps: Madlib.

Lil Sci: Madlib? That happened already! I would say Pete Rock. That’s one of my favorites right there.

MVRemix: What happened with Subverse Records?

Lil Sci: As a company, I don’t know what happened. With Scienz Of Life, I am now the President of Shaman Work Recordings so it is foolish to give our music to other outlets when we now have our own. We released 2 albums with Subverse. We just weren't really happy with the amount of marketing and promotion that was put into our projects. Yes, they still have rights to some of our catalog so we have to stay on good terms. We are all about business.

MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?

Stacy Epps: I kind of experience it in school. It’s real subtle but there is a majority of white students. Whether they know it or not, there are little things they do even if it is unconscious. I can’t say all of them but there are certain ones who won’t even talk to people of color. I notice stuff like that. One time, Sci and me were in a car. Sci was driving and a police car pulled us over.

Lil Sci: This was in North Carolina. We were driving back to Atlanta. The cop pulled to the side of our car and drove down behind us. I think Stacy had a baseball cap on backwards but I cannot remember what I had on. I know that whatever I had on did signify that I was not a Caucasian. He pulls us over and says that the reason he pulled us over was that I was swerving. He said that I might be tired or intoxicated. It was prime time. It was not too late. I was sober. I was well awake and feeling good, not speeding or swerving at all. He pulled us over. It’s a touchy situation. I know my rights but when you get pulled over on an interstate at night by a state trooper who wants you to get out of the car but you tell them you will not get out of the car even though your paperwork is straight, there’s going to be a problem. So, I get out of the car and he takes me to his car to run my license. He asked me if I was drinking and I said, ‘Yeah, I was. Dr. Pepper for that boost because I’m driving a long way but no alcoholic beverages.’ He’s running my license and everything is cool. Since he put me in the front seat of his car, he had to put a box that was on his seat, on top of his car. He put the box was on the roof of his car. He got a call about something else. Something was happening at a gas station a couple of exits ahead. He said, ‘Okay, everything is good.’ He gave me my license back and told me that I could go. When he pulled off, he forgot about the box on top of his car, which had his life in it. His wallet and all types of personal items, just flew all over the interstate. We just laughed and thought ‘That’s what you get!’ We knew from the door that he was pulling us over to try to find something. It was for no reason. It was obvious. He pulled passed us, looked in the car, and then slowed down and pulled behind us. That was the latest incident that I can remember. There are so many incidents.

MVRemix: Where were you on Sept. 11th (The World Trade Center Terrorist Attack)? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected music?

Lil Sci: It affected us directly because Stacy and I were on our way to New York to do a show at NYU with MF Doom. We were on our way to the bank and a rent-a-car place. At the bank, I saw on the television that the Twin Towers were on fire. Before that, I got a call from a friend of mine that the World Trade Center exploded. I thought, ‘Whatever, man. This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ I physically saw it and thought, ‘New York is cancelled.’ Even if it is not, I wasn’t going to perform in New York with this going on. Ultimately, I think it affected hip-hop on a negative end and on a positive end. On the negative side, it made hip-hop see the state of the world and gave us a clear vision. The positive side was that it woke a lot of people up and made them realize that everything is not sweet. We have to be more responsible with the messages we are giving to people. Other people still see it as ‘I gotta get money’ while I see it as a higher level. It depends on who you are dealing with.

MVRemix: Word association time. I’m going to say a name of a group/emcee and you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say ‘Chuck D’, you may say ‘Revolution’. Okay?

Stacy Epps: Okay.

MVRemix: The Fugees.

Stacy Epps: Dope.

Lil Sci: Lauryn Hill.

MVRemix: Wu-Tang Clan.

Stacy Epps: Method Man.

Lil Sci: ‘Midnight Marauders’ because I copped both of those albums on the same day.

MVRemix: Spooks.

Stacy Epps: Singing.

Lil Sci: Sol Uprising wannabees. Nah, only kidding. I take that back. I’ll say good singer.

MVRemix: Jay-Z.

Stacy Epps: Wordplay.

Lil Sci: Ill flow.

MVRemix: Slum Village.

Stacy Epps: Hot.

Lil Sci: J Dilla.

MVRemix: Phife Dawg.

Stacy Epps: Short.

Lil Sci: Quest.

MVRemix: Eminem.

Stacy Epps: Funny.

Lil Sci: Controversy.

MVRemix: Gil-Scott Heron.

Stacy Epps: Revolutionary.

Lil Sci: Rap.

MVRemix: George Bush.

Stacy Epps: F*cked up.

Lil Sci: Foolish.

MVRemix: What do you think hip-hop or music (in general) needs these days?

Lil Sci: It’s lacking education. My opinion on it is that people do not really know what hip-hop is. They think that hip-hop is just rapping. You rap and that’s hip-hop. There’s so much more. Hip-hop is affecting the whole world on a constant, continuous, consistent basis. I don’t really watch too much television but I do watch the news here and there to stay tuned to what is going on, but who knows how true that really is. I was flipping through channels and the 2004 Grammies had the most nominations in hip-hop, or as they call it ‘Rap Music’. I feel that people need to know that hip-hop is not just rapping. It’s a whole essence, a whole culture, a way of living.

MVRemix: What was one of the first songs that made you fall in love with hip-hop?

Lil Sci: Kurtis Blow’s ‘AJ Scratch’.

Stacy Epps: I would say ‘Life’s A B*tch’ from the ‘Illmatic’ album by Nas.

MVRemix: Stacy, singing-wise, who are some of your influences?

Stacy Epps: First off, I would have to say my favorite singer is Billie Holiday. She’s the epitome of even hip-hop singing. She is even what we represent as street singing with the raw music and pain and feeling. She was singing from the soul and there wasn’t that polished sound. I always compare her to Ella Fitzgerald, who was always brilliantly dope as well. Ella is just so much more polished that Billie Holiday. Her voice can just go from any pitch you can imagine while Billie just had that raw, ill voice that truly touched you in a deep way. I would say Mary J. Blidge, Amel Larrieux, Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. There’s so many.

MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake that you made in your career?

Lil Sci: Wow! Do I have to say that one? The biggest mistake I made in my career was dealing with Subverse Music. (Laughs.) Nah, only kidding. That’s not the biggest. You know what, I don’t have any regrets to be honest with you.

Stacy Epps: I haven’t made any.

MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show?

Lil Sci: Beats! I love the beats and the vibe that people give when the beats come on. The beats are very entertaining and universal. Sometimes, the people don’t know what to expect when Stacy starts rhyming. That’s one of my favorite parts too.

Stacy Epps: The response we get. I love when people give us their feedback and their love. I really enjoy that part. The energy we get back from the people is my favorite. I love it when Sci speaks to the people too.

MVRemix: What is next for Sol Uprising?

Lil Sci: We’re not going to do a formal tour only because Stacy is in law school. We will be doing various spots on the East Coast as well as on the West Coast. It won’t be formal. Word is, I just got news on a European tour this summer. That is something big coming up. There is a ‘Sol Power’ remix project. Also, there’s a Lil Sci solo project coming called ‘The John Robinson Project’ where MF Doom will be producing the entire album. Stacy Epps is doing a project with Madlib. He will produce her entire album.

MVRemix: What is next in the future for Lil Sci, Scienz Of Life, and Sol Uprising?

Lil Sci: You can definitely expect a new Scienz Of Life album next year. It’s going to be phenomenal. Scienz Of Life made some changes. One of our members, Inspektah Willabee is taking a hiatus for about a year. This happened after ‘Project Overground’ dropped. There are no problems but he wanted to deal with his family and children, live life outside of hip-hop for a little while. We decided that we couldn’t do Scienz of Life as just a 2-man crew because when we started it, the energy was formed as a triad. Actually, Scienz Of Life in 2004 has a new member and that member goes by the name of Ta’Raach aka Lacks. Scienz Of Life is now Lil Sci, ID 4 Windz and Lacks. I’m looking forward to the project. We have a couple of songs done and the chemistry is excellent. You can peep a new Scienz Of Life joint on a Shaman Works compilation that is not in stores but on-line. It’s called ‘The Family Files’ and it has MF Doom, Finale, Sol Uprising, Divine Mind, B.I., Loose Cannon, Dwele, Elzhi of Slum Village, Big Tone, KMD, Science Fiction, Stahhr The Femcee, Emanon, Amdex, and more. It has exclusives. It is on www.essdub.com . Check it out.

MVRemix: Any final words for the people who are reading this?

Stacy Epps: We’re really excited to be offering this music because it is an offering to the people. It comes from positive inspiration and positive soul. We want to make people feel good. Listen to the music and vibe off of it. It’s something different than what is available. Check us out. Give us a listen. Come to our website. Holler at us. We’re there and we’re chilling. We’re doing it for the people and we are here to make a positive difference.

Lil Sci: Do it with responsibility, my people! If you love the music and you want it to continue, support real music with real substance. Don’t say that you are for this and cannot stand what they are playing on commercial radio over and over and then, go on-line and download the Sol Uprising or Scienz Of Life album. Ultimately, we need your support so please play your part. In addition to that, thank you to you, Todd! You’re helping our movement grow further! If it wasn’t for you, people would not know the personalities behind the music and be able to get to know us a little more. We appreciate that! Keep doing your thing and don’t stop your movement! We have the spark and passion to do what we do and you do to. Everybody out there, keep moving!





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