Blueprint conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Blueprint Interview

February 2003

Blueprint is an emcee/producer from Columbus, Ohio responsible for assembling Weightless Recordings and a variety of musical gems. Also affiliated with RJD2 and RhymeSayers, Blueprint is preparing to drop his debut album; "The Weightroom" on March 25th.

MVRemix: Obvious question, but nevertheless, it could be interesting...explain your name.

Blueprint:, now that was a tough, let me think, haha. Nah, I chose my name because I wanted to stand for all of the things that symbolized the foundation Hip Hop wise, but didn't sound too crazy. I wanted to be my vision of how I am or how I contribute to the art form by creating a name that's not too out there but at the same time is fundamentally sound and not too complex that someone wouldn't understand it. That's what I wanted to create.

And so I was looking for a name, back in '95 or '96 - I had a wack name. I think I may have called myself "Universal" or something like that. I got rid of that, but then I just heard someone say the word "Blueprint" in a song and I was like "That's gonna be my name! That's it." This was in '96. Ever since then I've gone by it.

MVRemix: Now you've been emceeing for over a decade. Not really releasing material much, but you've still been "doing it." Are there any bedroom tapes with some gems that maybe you'd like to bring to the light or intend to?

Blueprint: Oh yeah, there's a gang of stuff that needs to see the light of day. I mean I've done so many collaborations with people and so many songs that this year and last year it kind of dawned onto me. I've been doing it for a while, but I've never really had anything of my own out there with my name on it. And so, there's a lot of stuff that will be out there.

I mean, I've got Maxel's of tapes that people need to hear. I think The Orphanage album people need to hear; which is myself, Slug, Eyedea, Illogic and Aesop Rock.

MVRemix: How did 'Weightless' [Blueprint's record label] form?

Blueprint: I started Weightless in '98. I started it just because I had my crew, Greenhouse, and we were doing a lot of music. We were getting to the point where we wanted to do a show. But, I've always had this belief about Hip Hop that if you don't have a record to sell - you shouldn't get on stage. I think that would change a lot of the bullshit you see locally whereas people would take their art more seriously.

I was like "Why am I gonna get on stage if I'm not going to increase my fanbase?" or awareness or whatever. So in '98 we would start dubbing tapes, I would print up the labels by myself and would record the tapes real time on my tape deck then we would go and do shows. I needed a name - this was when me and Illogic were getting real close and so we were working on his record; 'Unforseen Shadows' and then we did a song called 'Weightless' that's on the Greenhouse album. I just decided I'm gonna put that on there; "Weightless Recordings."

I didn't know what to put, I was like "You need a name!" You can't just put out a tape without a name, haha. It's like rhyming without a name. So I just chose the name then, we sold a gang of tapes and then I decided; "Cool, we're 'Weightless' now."

Through the years we've been kind of known more like as a crew than a label.

MVRemix: You were saying about going on stage without having any material for people to purchase. A few years ago, in an interview with my colleague Philip Oliver, you stated Springfield, Ohio has "No [Hip Hop] scene." Is that still the case?

Blueprint: Well, I haven't been back to Springfield since I graduated. So there may be a scene there now, but I seriously doubt it. I just don't think there are the things there necessary to contribute to "A scene" being built, unless it happens on one of the campuses. It's not that there aren't talented people there, it's just that there's no real outlet for them.

I think unless you have a venue and allowed DJ's to play. Or have a specific night there, an "Open Mic" night or something, then you're not gonna have "A scene."

MVRemix: What did you study and graduate with?

Blueprint: I studied and received a degree in Computer Science.

MVRemix: Why do you emcee and produce? Does it make you feel like a more complete artist or is it just because you wanted to try your hand at both...

Blueprint: I started out freestyling, and I was DJ'ing at the time. This was like '95. I was properly freestyling, I wouldn't write anything down. Then in '96 I hooked up with Inkwel, and he was writing at the time. Talent shows came up and I started rhyming, but we didn't have any beats.

We did one talent show and I think we came in first or second, from then on we were like "We want to use our own music." But we didn't know anybody who even knew the science of beat making. So all I know, I'd heard the term "Drum machine," I'd heard "Keyboards" - I didn't know what a "Sampler" is at this point. Then later on I started really finding out what was what from guys who were in the Columbus (Ohio) scene and were in the crew with me.

I only got into doing beats because we never had any beats to rhyme on. Then the people I'd seen who were doing it were rhyming to their own beats and it made it that much more effective. So it was really important for me to do it. When I started, I didn't anticipate being good at it. I didn't think about doing whole albums, I just thought I'll do beats until we can find someone because we can't afford to buy beats off of these people and we don't know someone else who does beats. I just kind of ended up doing it more and more. The more beats I did, the more I got into it. Even to this day, I like doing both enough to the point where I feel I can focus on doing either for a large amount of time and not care about the other one.

There was a time in my career where I would just do beats for six or eight months but not write a single rhyme, and there have been times where I'd write for about that period of time and not even turn on my sampler.

MVRemix: Tell me about the "Weightroom" LP...

Blueprint: The "Weightroom" is kind of like a production compilation if you will. It's kind of when you do albums with people, as a producer, you more or less create the backdrop for their vision. If someone has a concept for a song, you have to kind of create the backdrop for that to support their vision.

For the producer, even though you can do a lot of bangers for people. A lot of times since you really want to create, it doesn't come out unless you're driving the creation of that album. And so the "Weightroom" is just kind of a chance for me to say; "Look, this is what I wanted to create sonically as a producer" and just getting people to support that vision. Getting people to write songs to help create that vision. The feel of the album was built more around the feel of the beats rather than what people had to say.

So it's kind of a good opportunity for me to do that, then also, do a production album which a lot of people aren't doing. Another reason I've done it is a lot of music I've done over the years have been with my crew and other people I'm really close with that has never come out. I don't want to be the victim of being a guy with a lot of buzz but hardly any material out there. So I want to do that, but also contribute to the people that know me as a producer, because in terms of this year. By the end people will know me primarily as an emcee I think. Definitely after the Soul Position LP comes out with RJ.

MVRemix: There's one track on your album where you talk about recognizing the music, and you're hoping that it wasn't downloaded. That people who are actual fans will purchase it...Do you feel that the MP3 scene has helped or hindered the independent scene and also does it effect the mainstream in a greater or lesser manner?

Blueprint: I think it's both now. Depending on the day, I could answer this question completely differently. Obviously for a lot of artists that don't have the big muscle behind them; marketing, publicity, distribution...the internet is creating an avenue where they can gain a lot of fans or at least get a lot of people to listen to their music without having to pay anything for it. That's the positive side.

The negative side is where you have a lot of people listen to your music but they never buy your record. It's cool that they know who you are, and they know the words to your stuff but sometimes you wish that they'd bought the entire thing and that they'd know the name of that song. And that they'd actually know what went into it and maybe contribute to your longevity in the game because at the end of the matter how dope Blueprint is - if he doesn't make money off rap, he's got to go back to programming computers.

That's the negative part that I don't necessarily like, but I acknowledge and appreciate everything that has done for myself like I'm sure that people may have only heard of me first that way. But I just want people to be a little bit more sensitive to the situation that as an independent guy. Every year that kind of counts.

My perspective now is that "Okay, hey, you download this album. You've got to buy something else that I put out." Obviously you're not gonna buy this least make your friend buy it. It's tricky man. I don't think anyone can safely choose one side and stand on it - there are so many counter examples.

MVRemix: Now, you said that by the end of the year, people are going to know Blueprint more as an emcee. Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Blueprint: Five years? [pause] I don't know if I'll be rhyming, unless I'm on a huge label or something like that. I don't know if I'll still be rhyming like I am now. In five years I'd like to be more of an instrumental artist, maybe do things like that. I think in five years you have to look at the whole performance and touring aspects.

Would I still be able to tour in five years? You know. To go out there for two or three months at a time and grind it's not easy. That's one thing that's making me look at it. It's not that I feel I won't be doing things artistically that are worth them seeing anymore in five years. It's more like the performance aspect being a huge part of it. I think the instrumental side and its growth is making me think.

If I make certain steps now, to set it up in five years then I could actually be doing instrumental music or just production. I see myself going more into that role and then just hopefully running a successful label.

MVRemix: What's going on with the Soul Position album, as we've mentioned, and the Greenhouse album?

Blueprint: Both albums are done and have been done for a while. Both of them were finished 2001/early 2002. But I think the thing, and they're both so inter-related that it's kind of weird explaining it to everybody.

What we'd originally tried to do was we said "Okay, we expect the Soul Position record to come out early 2002." Then we were like "Okay, we're gonna drop the Greenhouse record three to six months after that." Haha, well every time the Soul Position record got delayed, the Greenhouse record got delayed. So it has created this cycle of delays with both of those records whereas no one knows what's going on anymore. I'm now wondering should we just wait till this Soul Position record drops or should we just drop the Greenhouse record?

We're definitely gonna drop the Greenhouse record some time this year. But, the thing about that too is we're putting out the Greenhouse record ourselves. Whereas RhymeSayers are putting out the Soul Position record, and it's gonna have a lot more muscle behind it. So, I don't want to put out the Greenhouse record at a time where I can't be dedicated to promoting it.

That's the situation I'm starting to run into where you want the record to come out, but you don't want to be half-assed about it and put it out too close to the Soul Position record where I'm doing a bunch of Soul Position shit.

MVRemix: Are there any last comments you'd like to make to your fans/potential fans that are going to read this?

Blueprint: Shit, thanks for the support! And, I'll try and put out quality records this year. I'll try not to disappoint anybody.

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