The Blue Scholars - conducted by Sam Cameron  

The Blue Scholars

January 2007

It's not just coffee and Nirvana, and it's far beyond rain and Sir Mix-a-Lot. The Blue Scholars have arisen from the Seattle underground to wake up the world to the Northwest city's flourishing hip-hop scene.

A classic combo of DJ (Sabzi) and emcee (Geologic), the group brings social conscious rap to a new level. Forget lackluster beats and weakly worded messages, over Sabzi's club-worthy beats, Geo punches a potent pitch he uses to convey his clever poetry to the masses.

With 'The Blue Scholars LP' (2005) and 'The Long March EP' (2005), the duo has gained local fame in a vein untapped by mainstream musicians while bringing mainstream appeal. Songs like 'Southside Revival,' 'No Rest for the Weary' and 'The Inkwell' have the potential to become true anthems for hip-hop heads around the globe.

In June 2006, the team joined forces with Common Market (DJ Sabzi and emcee Ra-Scion) and The Blue Scholars to form an artist-run, independent record label, Mass Line Media. A glimpse into the minds of the duo provides intelligent think that could be considered revolutionary. The two sat down at a coffee shop in their Seattle neighborhood of Beacon Hill for this interview. Welcome to the Blue School, class is in session.

MVRemix: Tell the people who you are.

Geologic: We're the Blue Scholars I'm Geo the emcee of the Blue Scholars.

Sabzi: I'm Sabzi, the DJ and producer for the Blue Scholars.

MVRemix: How long have you been doin' your thing together?

Geologic: Four years, actually four and a half.

MVRemix: Has it been a turbulent four years, or has it been an exciting four years?

Geologic: Exciting. Turbulent implies that shit's about to go wrong so I wouldn't say that.

Sabzi: It's never been turbulent between us.

Geologic: Yeah

Sabzi: Yeah, to grow you have to do all types of shit.

MVRemix: You guys have been busy releasing records with Mass Line and doing shows. What about being busy do you like?

Sabzi: What about being busy do I like? I like that question, no one's ever asked me that. I think being productive and working is something that every person really needs, so to be doing it and not in an exploited position is a real privilege and it feels good for the soul.

Geologic: Yeah, I agree. Sab's been doing this freedom from the chains of an employer for a minute and I just got out of it three months ago. So just in the past three months is the first time the Blue Scholars has ever been able to devote the majority of our time to this. I think we could've easily just focused on OK, we made it to a point where we can just make music and that's it, just hit the studio and make beats and make rhymes, but that would be an empty feeling if we weren't doing the same things we were already doing before. You know community work and being down with the organizations.

MVRemix: Talk about your involvement in the community. How did you get involved?

Sabzi: There's not enough time in the day to do everything that we'd like to do. And so, when you say how'd we get into that, I guess we're still getting into it and it's going to continue to develop. The whole concept behind Mass Line is to be this cultural meeting point where we can get other folks involved too. People can meet together and pool resources to get certain initiatives into the community. You show some interest and then you ask Blue Scholars what's up. You see what I'm saying, as opposed to not doing anything. That's what we're trying to do and it's what Mass Line is all about.

Geologic: Before Blue Scholars we both came from backgrounds in which we, not as deeply as we are now, but just got started in getting into community work, things like youth education and art workshops. It was like coming in to after school workshops and doing writing exercises with them. We were doing that here and there and it evolved into actually being invited out to colleges and conferences for workshops. Now it's actual community organization. We use the music that we make on all levels. The lyrics that I write will always be a reflection of the people that I'm surrounded by and their issues, not just myself. If we didn't have that connection, that grass roots connection, we'd kind of just be talking about nothing.

Sabzi: If you have certain artists that do something and then they move into some house and hang out with all these rich people so they have to buy clothes to fit into that scene. It's like any other social scene, but it's very unique. It demands all of this money and attention. And then those people become separated from any type of regular folks and they lose their capacity to be a cultural leader because they're not even in the community.

MVRemix: Talk about selling your album by yourselves.

Geologic: We sold 15,000 albums. We did the initial run of 1,000 and it took us almost a year to get rid of those first 1,000. From February to November of '04 we were sitting on this first pressing of CDs wondering what the hell was going to happen, selling like 10 or 20 a month in stores, but mostly at shows. We played as many local shows as we could.

Sabzi: Then we teamed up with our friend Mark Sampson and he took the lead, so when I was out there diggin' in records, Mark was out there at every store he could think of telling them to carry it. You just have to grind at it and actually make it happen. The way we were able to do shows was because we were in the circuit since '99 with the Student Hip Hop Organization of Washington (at The University of Washington).

>> continued...

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"The whole concept behind Mass Line is to be this cultural meeting point where we can get other folks involved too."