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Lawless Element - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

The Lawless Element Of Soundvision

September 2005

One of music’s infinite powers is that a cinematic song can literally make the listener mentally see the music. The song may be telling or story or the production may create vivid mental images. Sometimes, emotions can just create lush, colorful patterns behind the listener’s eyes. True musicians understand this magic and attempt to create music with this power.

Detroit, Michigan has contributed some vividly picturesque music within hip-hop culture. Throughout the years, Detroit has given birth to some unique and extremely talented artists. Slum Village, Eminem, J Dilla (aka Jay Dee), Lacks, Phat Kat, and many others have maintained their individuality while contributing to Detroit’s signature sound.

Lawless Element is an independent hip-hop group consisting of Magnif and Gee. Hailing from Detroit, Lawless Element is making the world envision the Detroit sound. While both members rhyme, Magnif also handles a majority of the production. As a producer, Magnif creates cinematic music with heart-pounding beats and lush melodies. Babygrande Records recently released the group’s debut album ‘Soundvision: In Stereo’. The LP includes collaborations with some of hip-hop’s most respected artists. “Soundvision: In Stereo” includes J Dilla, Phat Kat, Big Tone, Melanie Rutherford, and Diverse. While Magnif’s production is refreshing, renowned producers Madlib and J Dilla also contribute their production talents to the album. ‘Soundvision: In Stereo’ is a magnificent album of dope beats and cool rhymes. Gee and Magnif want the listeners to feel and see their music. ‘Soundvision: In Stereo’ proves that Magnif and Gee have accomplished their goals. Rooted in the love of hip-hop, Lawless Element has created visual music that pushes the boundaries of Detroit hip-hop. Take a listen, take a look.

MVRemix: What goes on?

Magnif: Everything’s good!

MVRemix: The debut Lawless Element album, ‘Soundvision: In Stereo’ was just released on Babygrande Records. Tell us about it.

Magnif: It’s pretty much the debut of Lawless Element. We tried to prove a point with this album and show cats that we have what it takes to hold our own in the business. It’s just dope rhymes and great production.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on ‘Soundvision: In Stereo’?

Magnif: It’s kind of hard to say, but I probably have to go with ‘Soundvision’ and ‘Something (Remix)’.

Gee: I would probably go with ‘Represent’ or ‘Move’.

MVRemix: Can you explain your name Lawless Element?

Gee: Lawless. It’s like an unbreakable element that goes against the rules.

MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the album title, ‘Soundvision’?

Magnif: We called it ‘Soundvision’ because we wanted to give you music that you could actually see. We wanted you to envision the sound.

MVRemix: When creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Or, do you write to the beat?

Magnif: The way it works is like this. Since I produced more than half or most of the album, I banged out the beats and passed them on to Gee. Either I tell him what the track is about, or I tell him to give me a concept. He may hit me up and let me know what it’s about. That’s how we get the tracks done.

MVRemix: As a producer, do you do a lot of pre-production before you go into the studio?

Magnif: Yeah, I produce and make all the tracks at home.

MVRemix: Favorite sampler or drum machine?

Magnif: I use the MPC 60. The first one, not the version 2.

MVRemix: On Guru’s ‘Street Scriptures’ album, Talib Kweli comments that Pro-Tools made producers lazy. Do you agree?

Magnif: To a certain extent, it does. It’s a good tool. It’s really great when you think about it. Recording on a 2-inch or putting your effect in is a real big hassle. But, as long as you are keeping it real with the turntables and the samplers, it’s all good. That way, I don’t see any problem with recording with the Pro-Tools.

MVRemix: J Dilla produced, ‘The Shining’. How is his production style different from yours?

Magnif: I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to say. It’s just a different sound. We’re just different artists and different people. We have our own styles because my style fits my personality and his style fits his personality. I don’t know. I couldn’t call it. It’s just two different musical sounds coming from two different musical people. You just get different sounds.

MVRemix: How did you two form Lawless Element?

Gee: That’s my cousin! I’ve known him ever since!

MVRemix: As cousins, do you have any artistic differences when it comes to music?

Gee: We kind of like break even. Lawless Element is pretty much Magnif and me.

MVRemix: What has been in your CD player or on your tape deck recently?

Magnif: Right now, I’m listening to the older stuff. I’m not listening to any of the newer releases. A lot of the stuff I sample is what I’ve been listening to. The Donald Byrd ‘Stepping Into Tomorrow” album and that type of stuff. Also, Herbie Hancock’s ‘Gentle Thoughts’ too.

Gee: I have to go with that stuff too. I’ve also been listening to Big L and ‘Illmatic’ for that past month or so. I’ve been listening to Kanye West’s ‘Late Registration’. I was listening to Little Brother’s ‘The Minstrel Show’ just last night.

MVRemix: Who are some artists from Detroit people should look out for?

Magnif: Melanie Rutherford. She’s amazing. We are supposed to be working on a lot more stuff in the future. Be on the lookout for that. She’s an amazing talent.

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"Since I produced more than half or most of the album, I banged out the beats and passed them on to Gee. Either I tell him what the track is about, or I tell him to give me a concept. He may hit me up and let me know what it’s about. That’s how we get the tracks done."