Greenhouse Effect conducted by Todd E. Jones  

The Blueprint To Successful Indie Hip-Hop

September 2005

MVRemix: Blueprint, you are a renowned producer, but you have also rhymed over beats produced by other producers. Do you have a different approach to writing over someone else's production?

Blueprint: Yeah. If it is a solo song, yes. It's completely different. A lot of the solo stuff I do, I try to think of a hook first. I'll try to be really focused with my writing and really conceptual. It's not like a battle rapper style. A lot of Rappers Greenhouse Effect Interviewstuff I do for myself is really specific and conceptual. On the other hand, some of the Greenhouse stuff is just us having fun and emceeing. I don't get an opportunity to do a lot of that.

MVRemix: Blueprint, were you an emcee or producer first?

Blueprint: I was an emcee first. We'd rhyme. The town has less people than Ohio State University. We were rhyming at the time, but we didn't have anybody to do beats. No one knew how to do beats. No one wanted to be behind. The kids with samplers inspired me to do beats. Once I was inspired, the next day, I put a sampler on layaway at a pawn shop. I never thought that I would ever be as good as I am at it.

MVRemix: Who are some of your major influences for production?

Blueprint: Premier, Pete Rock, D.I.T.C. I like Dre. I like the production for Outkast. Earthtone.

MVRemix: Who are some of your major influences?

Blueprint: I grew up on EPMD, Krs-One. After that era, Nas.

MVRemix: What do you think of albums by Nas?

Blueprint: Lyrically, I think he really stepped up. I always had issues on beats. I just like what he does visually.

MVRemix: Do you do pre-production often?

Blueprint: I do everything. Sometimes, I use songs that were recorded two years ago. I would go back and re-visit them. I would make the beats better. My process is different. Some people would go in, drop a beat, lay the vocals, and be done. That's just the beginning stage for me.

MVRemix: If you could remix any classic hip-hop song, which one?

Blueprint: I don't know if I would. A lot of those songs are so perfect, I wouldn't want to f*ck them up.

MVRemix: What about remaking a different one besides 'Shook Ones' by Mobb Deep?

Blueprint: If I did, it would be a silly version. It would be serious. Maybe, I would do something like 'Cheque The Rime'.

MVRemix: Who are some producers you would like to rhyme over their production in the future?

Fess: J Dilla.

Blueprint: The producers I am motivated the most by are Jay Dee, El-P. I'm crazy about what Edan did on his last record. I like J-Zone.

MVRemix: How did you start Weightless Records?

Blueprint: I started the label in 1998 or 1999 with me and this guy from College. We started out, and eventually did some shows. We didn't have any music. I started dubbing up tapes. I didn't have a name. I would be dubbing tapes all week at my house. We eventually got distribution. At the time, it wasn't that hard. It was just what I was doing after work. I was calling people, writing people, contacting writers, sending them our tapes, and going to shows. It wasn't necessarily a label really

MVRemix: That Soul Position collaboration with RJD2 was dope. How is RJD2's production style different from yours?

Blueprint: In the past, I would say that he is a little more elaborate. Mine is more effective. There wouldn't be a lot of breaks and really musical sections. You have a song like 'Share This' on the '8 Million Stories' album. That song is, as an instrumental, is amazing. It's so challenging to come up with something to complement it. Sometimes, to me, I would try to concentrate on making the beat effective. I would try to come up with a 2-bar / 4-bar arrangement that is really compelling to listen to for 2 or 3 minutes. Then, I would roll with that. I think that's probably the only real difference.

MVRemix: What music have you guys been listening to lately?

Blueprint: Today, old soul records. I'm trying to have a barbeque on Saturday and I want to be on some grown man sh*t."

Fess: I'm listening to a lot of stuff coming out of Detroit. I like Slum Village and their camp. That's basically it. All of that type of stuff.

MVRemix: Who are some artists you would like to rhyme with in the future?

Fess: I never really thought about it. I really don't have an answer for that. I don't really look at music like that, you know? I don't feel like I have to climb on a track with this person or that person. I have no answer. There's nobody in particular, but I would like to work with people who I'm feeling. Of course, I like Jay-Z, J Dilla, Juelz, for his reasons. I have a range.

MVRemix: Blueprint, who are some emcees you would like to produce?

Blueprint: I would like to produce for any rapper who can rhyme well but put out an album that kind of sucked. You know, people who historically have had bad beats. You know, Nas, Ras Kass, and Canibus. They are great but their ear for beats sucks. Those would be my first three. I would like to produce an album for each of those dudes who never lived up to their potential.

MVRemix: This Greenhouse Effect album was released on Weightless and Raptivism. How and why did you get involved with Raptivism?

Blueprint: I think we just needed to try a different experience. You put records out yourself for a while, but we have something brand new. We haven't put that many records out in the past. The opportunity to have a bigger distribution was the primary thing.

MVRemix: Where were you doing the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected hip-hop?

Blueprint: I think I was on my way to work. I got to work and this lady said, 'Planes crashed into The World Trade Center!' We didn't believe it until we started watching the news. As far as it affecting hip-hop, I don't think political rappers can talk the sh*t that they used to talk. A lot of people had to scrap their album covers, like Paris and The Coup. Paris had 'Sonic Jihad' or some sh*t. Rappers naming themselves after terrorists is not good. People aren't really feeling that sh*t.

Fess: I was at work as well. I was watching it on television.

MVRemix: What kind of work were you doing?

Blueprint: I worked as a computer programmer for a supermarket chain. I worked on the Unix database. I have a degree in Computer Science. I did database programming. I was doing that until I went on tour with Atmosphere.

Fess: At the time, I worked for a telecommunications company.

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

Blueprint: Trying out new ideas, or rearranging songs so they don't sound exactly like the record.

Fess: Connecting with the crowd, talking and joking with them. If they see you having a good time they are more likely to feel the same.

MVRemix: How has your live show evolved?

Blueprint: Now it's more interactive. We used to just get up there and rap really hard, but now I'm more into crowd interaction and making sure they're involved in the show and having fun.

Fess: First off, actually practicing for weeks instead of just jumping on stage. Interchangeable sets to keep things fresh. Coming up with fly routines with the DJ. Before we just rapped without a plan and let the DJ go on what we call 'scratch excursions'.

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