Sur Jazz: Touring The World, Music Production, The Art of DJ-ing | Flow State with Harry Mack #2

Sur Jazz: Touring The World, Music Production, The Art of DJ-ing | Flow State with Harry Mack #2

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What's going on, y'all? Welcome back to Flow State. This is our first official guest episode, and I'm so excited to have my tour DJ and one of my closest friends on as our first guest DJ, Sur Jazz. A lot of y'all have been asking, you know, how we first linked up. We're gonna dive into the history of it. We're gonna get to know Jazz a little bit better. We're gonna react to a freestyle.

I'm gonna close it out with some bars. You know what it is, man? Flow State podcast. Let's go. This is for my flow state Flow state Addicts Y'all know we back at it. Ain't it crazy how the mind works magic? We'll show you the method behind the madness, because this is for my flow.

What's going on, y'all? Welcome to episode two of flow state. I'm so, so excited to be here with y'all. I'm very excited because this is our first guest episode, and I am thrilled to introduce this person we have with us as our very first guest, the illustrious, the incredible, one of one.

One of my favorite people on earth, man. Make some noise, y'all, for my guy, DJ Sur Jazz. Let's go. H Mack. What up, what up, what up? We'll layer some applause in post. We'll add some air horns.

What's going on, man? How you doing, Jazz? Man, I'm feeling good, man. Congratulations on the podcast. Thank you. Thank you for having me, man. This place looks phenomenal, by the way.

Thank you, bro. Yeah, we're getting it set up. We're getting it dialed in. Feels good.

I've been meaning to start this podcast up for a long, long time, but we've been traveling all over the place... Just a little bit. A couple of places. Just a little bit. So for those watching who may not know Jazz is my tour DJ.

I've had the privilege of being able to do I don't even know how many shows with you at this point. Somewhere in the 80s or 90s I think, right? Yeah, we're up there. We're getting close to 100 if we haven't hit it. But we've had the opportunity to do a lot of shows together.

It's been an absolute joy. I want to show people kind of the chemistry that we bring. So I think we have a clip queued up, by the way. Shout out to Sam behind the scenes, my producer, Sam. Sam, how you feeling? Good, man. What's up, Jazz? What up, Sam? Let's see some of you guys' work.

Let's get it. Atlanta, y'all ready Hotlanta, y'all ready Let's turn up a little bit ahead. Put the backside to side up top. Y'all with us? Y'all with us? Hands up, let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go. Hands up, let's go. Hands up, hands up, hands up, let's go, Atlanta let's go Georgia, let's go In the middle, let's go H Mack take a trip through the. stars

Matter fact, take a trip to Mars Yeah, you gon trip out, it's gigantic I'mma take a trip to a whole nother planet Illest off the top is what they telling me I melt emcees I'm tripping like LSD H Mack, grip up on the mic and I'mma bust soon I'mma have you tripping like the magic mushrooms Everybody knows I got em trippin when I be ripping You know I take flight just like a pigeon Like a eagle I rock with my people My flow is lethal When it comes to freestyles I ain't got no equal LSD what I just mentioned Yeah, y'all know we be easin the tension Matter fact, trippin like, LSD Till I'm really, all up in the fourth dimension Come off the top and they call me a rhyme smith I skip the fourth and I go to the fifth 'Cause all of my lyrics are timeles H Mack, man, I'm breakin the frame At the fans I be taking aim And y'all know they be mentionin my rhymes 'Cause I heard that the fourth dimension was time No time on my clock I don't even need a Roley and the industry really can't control me Yeah, when I use this raw emcee mind I could probably even freeze time Matter fact, we gon get ill We gon freeze time I don't need no quill Everybody right now, don't get hyped, chill Everybody in the venue stand still That beat switch, though, Ok bring it back into motion How crazy is it to watch some of that s*** back, though, man? Just seeing the size of the crowd and how big we built this thing up to over the past couple years is kind of crazy, man. It's insane, man. I was telling Sam, like, being able to watch back a lot of these Behind The Bars, especially from tour, has been my way of reliving the show, because I really forget we're kind of in autopilot on the road, and we get to the venue we set up, and once it's go time on stage, you're just kind of no drop intended, in the flow state until it's time to pack up the gear. So being able to watch this back, man, it's just like, damn, that happened, dude.

It's crazy. It's crazy. No, it's like, every time we get back from tour, I'm processing what just happened for so long. A couple months later, some random memory of something that happened at a show will pop into my head, and I'm like, damn, that really did happen. We really did do that. Was there anyone that recently that popped in your head? Since we've been back from the Europe tour? I'm trying to think anything specific that came back to me.

You know, what came back to me was that song we did. I actually mentioned it on the first episode we recorded for the podcast. Which one? For the love of the game in Amsterdam. Dude, that song was crazy.

And then coincidentally, somebody commented the other day and was like, yo they commented on a live clip that we posted, and they were like, for the love of the game in Amsterdam was, like, the hardest song we've ever heard, man. Put that s*** out. Yeah. So it's kind of a crazy coincidence that I mentioned that just the day before they said that in the comments, but that was a dope one, man. But, yeah, random songs, random, crazy ideas will come back to me and also just sort of, like, the socializing aspects of it.

Like random dinners. We had fire dinners, man, going bowling and s*** like that will come back to me out of nowhere. So it's fun. Tour was a great. Like, it was a lot of work. Very exhausting, but it was a lot of great team building, man.

I felt like in high school, you're on, like, a group field trip, man. Yeah, absolutely. Without the chaperones, you know what I mean? Just make sure you're able to do the job the next day and show up. That's kind of what it felt like.

But the whole team is super fun, man. Dedicated to the craft. 100%. 100%, bro. It's amazing.

It's really dope, man. And it's such a kind of binary thing, like being on the road versus being at home. They're so different. And I feel like being on the road is such a kind of unnatural way of living in the sense that it's just so adrenaline fueled. It's so much travel, so many flights, so many ubers, so many airbnbs, and then getting home, like, for me, I always find I need time to decompress. Yes. Yes.

So, you know, maybe we can start there. We've been back from tour for a couple months. How you been since getting back? How has know, readjustment to, I guess regular life felt, Man. And what's been going on? Yeah, being back from tour the readjustment has been just that -- a readjustment.

It's kind of different when you wake up without a true agenda. Like, you have things you want to do, but they're not like hard time frames, like flight at 11:45, we got to be at the airport. Big Lis can even talk about that, scheduling all the Notion forms to make sure we're all aligned. Shout out to Big Lis.

Shout out big Notion squad. Big Li is in the building. You can't see her. She's standing and taking a bow right now. Holding it down. So it's like you kind of get used to it.

So now I'm back home and it's like kind of freestyling my notion daily. It's kind of just been like, yeah, maybe you want to wake up at 09:00 maybe I don't. Exactly. But the cool thing was getting back into a rhythm of daily activity, producing a lot more being able to cook. One of the things during the pandemic a way to step away from music was get out the studio was for me to cook.

And on the road coming back home, I was like, do I want to get straight back into the studio? I still needed something to break up my daily routine. So cooking has been that, and that's been kind of good. See, you're talking about cooking actual food. Like real food. this whole time. I thought you were talking making beats Cookin in the studio.

We do that too. But it's just like, just because when you're on tour, you're fully immersed in music you're listening to music on the flights, you're performing music. We're talking about music. New music is dropping every week. And so, yeah,

I just kind of came back and was listening to silence and just things cooking on the stove, man. Hell yeah. But it did help. No, I feel that. Getting back into those routines and those comforting activities is so essential because I do feel a little bit of like an emotional lull right when I get back, when that adrenaline starts leaving my system. So I feel like getting back to the things that feel comforting is essential.

What's something that's comforting for you? What did you find yourself doing in that free time? For me, it's like I sit in this big ass leather chair in my house, Okay, that I sit in every morning. I write my journal in there. I do my meditation there sometimes.

Yeah. So sitting in the big chair, lately, I've been going on a lot of walks, getting back to doing that, getting outside, catching some sunshine. Beauty of LA, man.

but it's important. I'm curious, man, what's some of your favorite things to cook, man? Like, what do you cook up in the kitchen? You know what? I think I'm kind of pushing myself to try other things. I think I'm finally at the stage in my life I understand the idea behind cooking. Right? Yeah.

I normally would cook just to eat, like, sustenance. I'm hungry. Survival. Survival food, right? Not the best. Yeah. Maybe overseasoned sometimes.

Okay, that's better than underseasoned, Better than underseasoned, you know but I wouldn't feed it to people all willy nilly. Right. But now I feel like I'm at a point where, oh, I understand why aromatics are cool in a dish or why a stock is important for a soup or, like, rice.

So now I'm having way more fun. So, right now, I'm still heavy into cooking steaks and stuff, but different ways. I started, I fried I did, like, this buttermilk fried chicken yesterday.

Day before yesterday. That sounds fire. I never fried anything without an air fryer a day in my life. I've never fried anything without an air fryer. Yeah.

It's kind of traumatizing, man, because, really, you can't put a grease fire out with water. So if anything. You ever think about things like that? I've never thought about that. Something's on fire, your first instinct is to douse water on it, and it's just like, that's the worst thing to do.

Really? Grease that makes it go crazy. Yeah, it goes insane. I had no idea. Wow.

Good thing we're having this conversation. So safety first, kids. Safety first. Wow. That's important to know. That's amazing.

So how have you leveled up your cooking game? Like, you say, now you understand. Do you watch, like, chopped or something, or do you read cookbooks or what's your thing? You use recipes? I watch a lot of YouTube, man. YouTube is, like, the best culinary school out right now, man. That's free.

But what's cool is that I love reading recipes, but it's cool to see why people do things in practice. I think that's why podcasts are great, too, because people can go a little bit further into why they use paprika, you know what I mean? And they can talk about it as they're doing it. And I think for me, that's way more helpful in context to the final dish.

Yeah. So, yeah. YouTube is huge. I just watch food tv just casually anyway. Hell, yeah. Never really wanted to be in that universe, but it is fun to watch competition cooking shows, for sure.

That's dope. Yeah. Me and Lisa watched a lot of Chopped during the pandemic.

That was our go to every night. We ate dinner. We watched chopped. You would eat dinner and watch Chopped? Yes. Okay.

And that was, like, an important association. I feel like it's like, all right, we're eating what we just cooked, and now we're seeing what we should have been doing. And now tomorrow night, maybe we'll apply some of what they're doing. but it did help us. It just helped to gain sort of an understanding of the basics. Just, like, use some kind of fat when you're cooking something on the pan, you can add these seasonings together, and they'll pretty much always work.

Once you get the basics of the language down, you can improvise a little bit more, which is freeing. Yeah. Okay, so the people want to know. Uh oh. The people want to know.

They want to know how we met, man. A lot of comments came through asking how me and you first connected. And it's kind of funny because me and Jazz, we met at a Rose Bowl gig. Rose Bowl? Rose bowl gig, man.

Can you believe it? It's crazy. But not a Beyonce style Rose Bowl gig. We were in a tent on the field.

On the field for a corporate event, performing with a group of emcees led by our mutual friend Austin Antoine. Shout out my guy, Austin Antoine. Yeah. Shout out to Austin Antoine. Super dope artist and incredible writer, but also incredible freestyle emcee.

And he put together a troupe of I think there were four emcees. Four emcees. And I was one of them.

And you were the DJ. That's when we first met. What's crazy to me, though, I was thinking back on that show, that was probably one of the last live gigs I did before quarantine That's right before the pandemic. Yeah That's true.

That was in 2020. I can't remember if that was, like, for sure the last last. But it was one of the last public facing things that I did. that was summertime, right? When did? It was January. Big Lis says January Hard to tell in LA.

It felt like July. I don't know. Could have been. It was, like 80 degrees yesterday.

So it's December. so, yeah. Damn, that was January. So that was definitely one of the last That had to have been the hard line. Yeah. Because I think things shut down. What? March?

Yeah. That's wild, man. That's wild. But what's so crazy thinking back on that, okay, last live show in person before the pandemic. All this time passes.

I was doing all my virtual stuff. I was doing the Omegle Bars thing. Started that up. I was doing a lot of live streams.

Crazy. Going crazy. and then when it was finally like, okay, the world might be opening back up again. We might be able to get back out there.

I thought of you immediately, man. Just based on. Based on the vibe and the energy that you brought to that first single gig, the one and only time that I ever met you. And I think we did a couple of rehearsals for that as well.

But, yeah, man, your energy just, it lights up the room, bro. That's love, man. I appreciate you. Yeah.

And it's just been such a joy to be able to build with you, man, and to be able to do these shows, man. Same. Likewise, man. Likewise. That gig was very unique because it was a corporate event. And see, the thing about working with freestylers, y'all, when they say things are unplanned, it really is. We rehearsed more so just to kind of get a flow of timing.

And then we get to the gig, and the guy's like, I'm backstage, and then they make all of you guys move to the other side of the stage. That's right. And then meanwhile, Paris Hilton is, like, giving, like, a Ted Talk damn near, about tech and stuff. That's right. Paris Hilton. Shout out to Paris Hilton.

So I'm thinking it's going to be. I had no clue, guys. No context. And then we get backstage, Paris Hilton is walking off, and the guy's like, yeah, just stand on this thing. I'm like, dope. This is ridiculous.

Tell them about the thing, man. So I stand on this thing. I have my little bitty controller. I'm thinking, like, as a dj I'm going to be like, side stage. Like there's no reason for me to be center stage. And so I stand on this little podium looking thing on the stage, and sure enough, just like home, cuz just pushes me out to the...

So I'm just on this podium, just sliding across this, like, Paris Hilton's walking out. And then I come, like, sliding. And now I'm center stage, and they're not out yet. And I'm just like, yeah, y'all ready to party? Mind you a bunch of people in suits with lanyards that was the vibe. It looked like the hypest hip-hop show of the year, bro. People seated in suits and lanyards.

You're on a full on floating platform. Floating platform with an Itty bitty controller with zero context. I think the setup with corporate shows is always tricky because no one knows how to transition into the next phase.

I learned that sentence from you, by the way. Transition into the next phase. Oh, let's go. Hell yeah. But, yeah, it felt awkward, but it was like, oh, snap.

By the time you guys came out, it really did become one of the dopest shows because they stood up, They were having fun. They were probably waiting for this the entire day, and y'all brought it. And everyone's style.

I think it was you, Lex, Austin, Yep. Lex Rush. Yeah. Shout out to, Lex like, everyone had a different style and they approached it differently. And Jazz, did you DJ for them when they were on the mic? You were djing their set? That's actually just kind of playing some industry beats and just kind of, like, catching everyone like, okay, this feels like she's about to teeter off. Maybe Mack will pick it up.

And irony. The timing really worked for everybody, so that's why I was like, damn, everyone here is freaking dope as hell. It was smooth, man.

It ended up being really smooth. and that's what I love about doing improvised shows, honestly, is like, you kind of have to commit. It's like either we're going to map it out, and we're going to know exactly what we're doing, and that's what's going to give us the confidence that we're going to be able to crush it, or we're going to wing it, we're going to freestyle it. And in a weird way, that gives me the confidence because I know it's wide open.

So it's like, I don't have to be doing any one exact thing at any given time, but based on the energy I'm getting from you, and in that case, with the other rappers, based on what I'm feeling from them, it's a lot of body language, reading the energy and stuff. Interesting. That's my favorite way to do it. Obviously. That's dope, man. When did you realize that? When did this become like a realization for you of that? Because getting in front of people, there's always going to be butterflies, always nervousness.

When did you realize that? Yeah, I think in terms of realizing that improv was more comfortable for me on stage, that probably came when I was in college, because prior to that, I performed with my group State of mind, my homies from middle school and on through high school. And that was all written material. At some point in high school, we started incorporating, like, a ten minute freestyle cypher segment within the middle of the set, just for fun. So that was my first dipping my toes in it. But, like,

90% of the music we performed was from our albums. Catalog. Yeah. But then in college, I really started going deep into the improvisational thing as, like, this is actually how I'm presenting the final product. I had a band in college called The Cleanse. Shout out to The Cleanse.

Okay. Shout out The Cleanse. Crazy name. Crazy name. Sounds like a juice, like, it was not a juice cleanse. It was not a colon cleanse. Yeah, I don't know. I think I came up with it.

So. Sorry y'all, but we rocked a lot of parties and stuff, and it was, like, live instrumentation, and I would freestyle the full set, and that's when I first started getting comfortable doing that. And I was like, dude, I love this, because we were rocking college parties and stuff, and you never knew what the vibe was going to be or what the environment was going to be like. So having the flexibility, whether it was like a tiny little house party where we're just crammed in the corner and we're, like, in the living room, but people are kicking it outside. So when you pass through, you're kind of part of the music.

I remember vibes like that, or some of them. It's USC. So sometimes the music industry program would rent trussing for a stage and actually build out, like a f***in stage behind some big frat house or whatever it was. I never knew what the vibe was going to be. And so for me, it was like a cheat code to be like, I just show up, blank slate, and I'll improvise about what's happening live, and that's how I'll draw people in. No matter what. I know I can make it fit instead of being locked in, but.

Yeah. Shout out to the college era, man. Shout out. Yeah, man. Definitely got a lot of reps in.

In the college era, for sure. The reps are a big part of it, right? Got to get those reps up 100%. Do you wish we had a floating riser for you for the Odyssey tour? Man, you know what, it would make getting around those stages? Because on the Odyssey tour, these stages were way bigger than Envery Exchange. Way bigger.

Getting from on and off, maybe? Yeah. Just for speed. Yeah. For efficiency, we should probably spring for the floating riser. Sheerly for efficiency, man, just to get your set up out there. I'm thinking for the next one, dude, like just popping out from the bottom of the stage, man, smoke just land.

Ay, man, I'm here for it. You come from the top? Yeah, I will be lowered down. Yes. Let's do it. That's the new walkthrough.

I no longer enter from the back of the venue. I enter from the f***in ceiling. From the ceiling. A fly through. Yes. The fly through. Fly through, dog.

That's amazing, man. no, but it's true. The stages got way bigger. Okay, so let's take people back to the first. To the first one.

The first show after quarantine, I remember I sent you a DM. I was talking with my team, like, let's get out there, let's do some shows. Let's test this idea of doing a fully improvised freestyle show, like an hour runtime, like a full set.

And I sent you a DM, I don't know if you remember, of Black Thought freestyling rhyming over Questlove and Questlove was DJing and doing like, a blend. Roots picnic. Yeah, Roots picnic. That's right. And that makes sense because it was like the quarantine version.

Exactly. That's why they were doing it like that. It was like they were filming it outside. There was no audience. It was back in that time when people would pre record their sets and submit them to a virtual presentation for the festival. I saw that clip, obviously. It was super fire.

Black Thought is one of the goats to me. Legend. and I basically sent you that. And I think I was just like, yo, I'm trying to do some s*** like this. Are you down? Yeah, that's kind of how I went.

Yeah, you were like, hell, yeah. Let's get it. and, oh s***. I screenshotted the DM, actually. Oh, s***, there it is.

I said, I think I said it was actually like, yeah, I know. Because yesterday I pulled it up and I screenshotted it. Context is key. Well, anyway,

you know, paraphrasing, hey, you down to do some crazy s*** like this? Jazz says yes, and that's fire. That's dope. First show. Hollywood Improv comedy club. Side room. Side room.

Not the main room. Not the main room Side room. 50 person capacity.

50 people. 50 people. Small room, me and you. And for people to submit words, this is the craziest part, for people to submit words for me to freestyle about, because that's part of what we do, is people submit words from the audience and I use them to make up the songs. we had an easel. We had an easel and we had like pieces of paper.

Was it paper? Paper? It was cardboard. It was like middleweight cardboard. Got it. That's right. Not too flimsy, but not too heavy either. That's right. Somewhere in the middle.

That's right. Mad pens and sharpies. Mad sharpies.

Out on people's tables. Yeah, that too. People had tables. People had tables. Dinner club. Yeah, like small dinner club vibe. You could order dinner. True.

During the set. You could eat during the set. Dude, it's crazy to reflect back on that first show for two reasons.

One, I personally had no idea if it was going to work. Just in general, the concept. I thought it seemed like it could work to do a fully improvised show with words submitted by the audience.

The whole run of show, it was like, is this a thing? Will this work? It was the very first test, which is crazy to think about. and then the other reason that it's so crazy if I can remember what the other reason was, but I can't. But that's why it was so crazy, because we were testing it. That was another reason why it so crazy. Thinking back to it, I think what I was going to say is to see how far we've taken it from there.

When you look at that Atlanta clip, I wanted to ask you, man, did you have any idea, like, when we were doing the 50 people in the side room at the Hollywood Improv, that we would eventually take it to the Atlanta level? You know what's crazy? When you first sent that DM and I saw that and I'm like, yo, this is a tight performance. And then it start to contextualize, like, what is a freestyle show even look like? Yeah It was one of those things where I just kind of like, green screened us, where Black Thought and Quest was, but the crowd was just shrugs. We don't know. I don't know how people were going to move. I had no clue. So the first show gave so much context to the potential of the show.

And then not only was it it was fun to be a part of, but being that intimate of a crowd, you can see everyone's eyes, which is rare at the bigger stages. But this first show, I'm able to look at everyone in their eye and they're like, oh, snap, they are really loving this. Hell yeah.

They are fully immersed. They're reacting to the bars, the visual cues of the words being on the cards helped massively because everyone's engaged together. It really felt like a magic show. So I was like, damn. It was that point. I was like,

oh, snap. This could be nuts. This could be crazy. What about you, man? After that first show, you're done. You're sweating. You walk off stage. Yeah. You're thinking next step already? Definitely. I was like,

f***, yes, we have something. That's how I felt after walking off after the. I was like, yes, we got something.

We have the first thing. But then I was immediately like, the easel cannot be the long term thing because we threw away. Just like, from an environmental standpoint, dude, I just were like, dumpster in the back. Just throwing away. I mean,

that night. So we did a back to back. Actually, we rocked 100 people total, but in two separate groups, cleared everybody out, brought a new crowd in, which is also crazy to think about doing that now. So we threw away 100, but as soon as we took it up to the next level, where we did the Irvine Irvine improv. 500 people or so. How many people? I don't know.

What's the capacity? Does anybody know? The.... Yeah, but something like that. A lot of cards, dog. About 500. And we also did a back to back there. And I remember,

like 1000 cards getting just tossed in a dumpster at the end of the night. And I was like, yo, if this leaks. Canceled, dog. Yeah, exactly. It's way too early to get canceled.

Some YouTuber's like, dumpster diving, is like, orange, orange, dog, table. Supercalifrag---- aw ran out of space. The letters are getting scrunched. But, yeah, no, we had to figure out how to get the digital word submission popping.

But, yeah, it was 490. Is the cap in Irvine improv Insane. Also seated. But you also got to think about, like, context here. All right. 50 people is a lot of cards.

Like, big old cards. I don't know if you could shuffle a deck. People struggle with shuffling a deck of 52 cards. Yeah, a life size deck of cards with words on them. Just getting that randomized with 50 people just looked like a task. Oh, yes. There we go.

Here we go. Wow. There's the easel. Look at the floor, too. I was just chucking them down on the floor. Just fully adrenalized. Damn. I'm on a wired mic, too.

I don't remember that. Wired mic. Yeah. That's actually crazy. That is so funny to see.

It's also funny the evolution of the show fits for me. Because now I wear that shirt as pajamas. It gets demoted.

Yeah. Each year, what I thought was fire just gets demoted to like, dude, I wear that if I got to do some f***in laundry. Yeah. I would never wear that s*** on stage. Like, what the f***? Tie dye, man.

Tie dye's here to stay. Well, shout out to Big Lis. Also by the way, Big Lis is my girlfriend, Lisa, if anybody's confused.

But shout out to Big Lis because she's my one and only stylist. And anytime I'm wearing something that looks decent, it's probably because she picked it out for me. Again in post, we will add the applause. That's so cool to see, man. Amazing. All right, so, from these shows to what we just did, Odyssey Tour, man.

Much bigger stages. Much bigger stages. Much bigger crowds.

Much bigger crowds. I'm curious to know, man, just for you, because tour is such an unnatural lifestyle, and it's so different from the day to day when we're here. What do you love about being on the road? What's maybe your favorite part about being on the road? And then what's the biggest challenge for you? Man, really good question. Well, I guess I'll start with the challenge, first right? Like, the challenge of being on the road is that it is exhausting.

And I think the lifestyle, I'm pretty routine in my daily when I'm back home in LA. That routine gets thrown out of whack on tour. I don't know what's going on. The communication with friends and family kind of falters as well because of different time zones, and they may be texting, and we're having a recap, and we forget to. So it's so easy to get lost in the time warp of yourself. Right? So sometimes it does feel a little selfish when, for me, at least, I have a big family, a lot of friends, and the communication just kind of fell off.

So social media was the best way for people to see. Okay, I see where you at. See you next week, bro. But outside of that, man, tour is amazing because you get to go to different places. I love traveling because I love to eat food. It might not look like it, you know what I'm saying? But your boy loves to eat.

And different lifestyles, different weather. I don't know if on tour, I have my daily routine of just getting out the Airbnb or hotel and just going for a walk. 90% of my day was just to see, like, I have my airpods in, not listening to anything, but just, like, I'm in the. Oh, ok, that's a strategy right there But if you see me, I'm going to be just like That's a strategy, bro.

So people don't approach you? They leave you alone. You don't have to do the stop and chat. Exactly. Still pop it out like, huh, Right. Well then they really get the message, hopefully. If you pop one out and say huh? And they don't say oh, my bad, never mind, please proceed, then they're clearly not very socially aware.

Life hack, airpods with nothing playing But walking around and just seeing what going to restaurants, see what they're playing on the radio and Ubers and malls and stuff and just kind of absorbing. It does give context to a lot of the cities that we've been to out of the touristy areas of course. But once you get around some locals, like, oh, I do feel like certain cities, I understand. That's dope, dude. And I love that.

I noticed that about you too. Yeah, you'll get out on solo journeys when we're on tour and you'll go check out a restaurant, you'll check out a sporting event, you'll go do this and that, buy a new fit, whatever. Check out Definitely the local scene. And I love that.

I'mma huge fan of the long walk. I'mma huge fan of the solo walk. And like I said, I'm actually just bringing that back into my routine and it feels really good to be doing that just in my neighborhood. But do you feel like doing that on tour helps you even for your set, like for your DJ set or musically, does it help you as a performer to get the vibe of the city? Absolutely. I think everyone should do it. because you kind of miss the beauty of being in all of these amazing cities, right? It does help me with my set, but like you say you never know when you get into the building.

But I think it helps contextualize, like, oh snap, this is where we are. I remember we're in Detroit and certain cities just have a certain pride. Like the Detroits, the Atlanta's, the Houston's, like the New York's, like the LA. Like certain places, Chicago, you go and it's just, yo, you can't not acknowledge the people from here, you know what I mean? There's bleed over in a lot of other cities, but I forgot about Detroit.

And then when I was out in the city and I was like, oh snap, like Detroit loves some Detroit. Like this is tight. I bought a bunch of records out there learned a lot about history, man.

Dilla, met a ton of dope house DJs. And then I get on stage and it's just like, let's try it. And then they go crazy when it's something like, oh, this guy knows what he's talking about. It's such a dope nod, man. Absolutely.

And it's so cool because, yeah, for those of you who have never been to one of the Odyssey shows, Jazz warms things up. before I hit the stage for 30 minutes with his own set. And it's so dope when you play the local s***. Yeah. And I feel like it's a respect thing, too. It's like, hey,

we're here in your city. We're guests here in your city. We're excited to be here. Like, yo, what's going on? We know what's up.

We do the knowledge, man. We do the due diligence. The funny thing about that for me is because I'm not a sports guy at all, as you know.

So on tour, it's like every city we go to, like, on the way to sound check, someone will be like, all right, Harry, lions, tigers, and whatever. It's like, list off the teams. That was good, right? What else? You got two of the Detroit squads. Yeah, he nailed it.

And then usually it doesn't ever come up. but stuff like that is funny. Everyone's always careful with me, too, because I go really deep on the things that I do know about, For sure. and then there's other areas of life where people are like, this is common knowledge. And I'm like, who's that? In Toronto, I remember Mikey was like, right before I went out, he was just like, casually, like, yo, man, you know, Toronto is called The Six? And I was like, yeah, bro, I know that.

That was it. And then as we walk on as we walk on I'm like, in my head, I'm like, okay, somebody wrote The Six as their word suggestion for the show, for sure. And then Kaan was like, yo, make sure Harry knows this. Yeah. It's just funny stuff like that man.

He's always watching out for me. But that's dope, man. I love that. I love that you go on those solo journeys.

And I think it's important, man. I love going on long walks, dude. I feel like a lot of artists and creatives enjoy the long walk. it feels like a good way to clear the mind, but also help focus the mind in a weird way, Focus as well. I mean, like, fortunately, the time of year we were doing it was, like, spring, and then we did Europe in the fall, so at the same time, getting a taste of seasons, like, LA is just kind of the same. So it was cool to just see trees regrowing and that crisp, Hell yeah.

What's that, morning dew in the morning and springtime, the fall air. Like, I kinda like, that was half the reason why I got out. I was like, yo, I'm not going to get this again.

I'm going back to desert. So let me just soak up all. Portland was so dope because of just clouds.

Exactly. Seasons. Seasons. Like, damn, not a lick of sun? I'm with this. I'm with this. Yeah.

well, When my parents watch this back, they're going to be like, yeah, nah, no, it's enough of the clouds. My dad just had his birthday and my mom gifted him this special light that you can look at in the morning and it replicates getting sun. Interesting, because people are like, Portland has the highest rate of seasonal depression, man. People are sad. I believe it. It is a long, it's a long period of gray.

but I love it, man. And it made me, I was born and raised there. Talk about it. Represent. I thought that's how the world was.

And then two days into LA, I was like, this is crazy. And after the first week I was like, what the f***? I am never leaving, I am never leaving. It's always vacation here. So was there an adaption period when you got to LA from Portland? Yeah, but I quickly was like, woo.

Like, let's go, dude, this is dope. Palm trees, it's sunny every day, like, it wasn't hard to adapt, but it was shocking because it was so different from what I was used to. But do you feel like that makes it harder to discipline and focus up if it's like, if the weather's nice? Oh definitely Portland will probably make you be indoors a little more. Yeah. When I first got to USC I was just like smoking weed at noon every day.

Just like, dude, this is dope. Let's go to the beach. Yeah. It was hard to get my act together at the beginning for sure, but now I do feel like now I'm a bit older, bit more responsible, much more productive, and I do feel like the weather plays a big role in terms of me feeling happy.

Really. I feel like emotionally it affects me, man. It does man, that natural light, dude, It's so good, it's so good. Speaking of, so you're from Maryland originally? Yeah. And then moved to New York.

How old were you when you moved to New York? So I was born in New York. Oh, born in New York. Started in New York, moved to Maryland, Got it, stayed out there like public school, college, and then moved back to New York. I would say what, like 2013, -14 or something like that.

But it's, like, different. I was, like, grew up in Brooklyn, moved to Maryland, and when I moved back to New York, I'm like, yeah, I don't know if I want to live in Brooklyn again. So ended up living in Washington Heights. And even though they're close on the map, it's like two different lifestyles of the city.

Washington Heights is, like, right above Harlem for people who understand Manhattan, it's like, way up there on the west side. but we were right on Riverside, and it was like, the water is there, the sun sets in the west, so we get, like, the beautiful sunset right over the water. Dope. And it was slick, I loved it, man. Love New York.

Hell, yeah. Hell yeah. Do you feel like, obviously New York is, you know, the city where hip-hop was invented.

Do you feel like moving to New York? Moving back to New York impacted you musically or creatively on your journey? Does that city, do you think it's part of your story as a musician, man? I thought it would have. I think as a kid, it was When I was a kid, man, the radio hot nine seven was like the thing. Like, the cyphers on the radio were the thing.

My dad's a DJ, so I just remember him playing tons of reggae in the car. So as a kid, like, New York and Brooklyn in particular shaped me. Like, you had all the legendary guys, the Biggies, the Jays, the Fabs. Brooklyn in particular just had a run of really dope emcees.

And I think as I got older and New York got more expensive, it kind of lost that. So when I moved back to New York, it was like, oh, it's not really where the creatives go. They tend to go elsewhere. And so it was a struggle at first, man. So DJing was, like the only thing that was popping, I would say, on the music scene for people.

So right now, New York DJ's probably crushing it. But as far as the artists, they all had to go somewhere else. So that's why LA became a hotbed, Miami became a hotbed, Houston is a hotbed. But as a kid, for sure, man, like, that mold.

I was in Maryland, we would just argue all the time, like, who's the best emcees? Like, they're like, Lil Wayne. I'm like, nah, Jay-Z. We would just never see eye to eye until we got older. We're just like, oh, yeah. Like, they're all dope.

Everyone's dope in a different kind of context. Yeah, that's crazy. No, that makes a lot of sense. I feel like if I would have grown up out there.

I would have seen it differently because when I was young, like, when I was in middle school, we were like anti mainstream anything. Yeah. So I went through a phase where I was like, Jay-Z's wack. F*** Jay-Z, that's just like some mainstream corporate s***, of course. But I didn't know what the f*** I was talking about because I'd never listened to Reasonable Doubt. This was like 2002, 2003 or whatever.

But I was just like, Blackalicious, J 5, all underground s***. Yeah, like Def Jux, all that stuff. And then later I was like, oh, my god, what am I talking about, dude? I'm missing out on so much. It took me until I was, like, in high school, before I really started listening to Jay-Z.

And even a lot of the greats, like Nas, I've been a fan of since back then because I'd heard Illmatic when I was that age. But that's dope to be growing up out in Brooklyn at that time and to have that be like, what's popping? Yeah. That's insane. It's interesting because what you're saying is a good point.

I think people discover artists through radio and tv and stuff. But in New York, when I was a kid, the mixtape era was like the thing that was like the proving grounds of who was going to be the next dope rapper. So before they even got record deals and stuff like that, they would do these mixtape, like 50 Cent, and you would just be like, even Nas had his run on.

He would have the album Nas and he'd have mixtape Nas. It's like different tiers of rapper. They're trying to make songs for the radio versus just trying to rap rap. Fact. And I grew up, like, that was a proving ground.

I was like, nah, let me bump the mixtape first. And now my friends and I, it's like trading cards. Like now I got this new Lloyd Banks mixtape. You heard this? And it's just like, we're trading and we're going back-- Lox.

Lox was going crazy. So that's what got me into these particular guys. So what's interesting, like, Jurassic 5, how'd you get into Black-- I know you're like, Blackalicious, Jurassic-- you went to saw them live, right? Yeah. Blackalicious was the first rap show I ever attended, but we got put onto them by my friend Brady's mom, actually.

Really? Yeah. Shout out to Brady's mom. But yeah, me and Brady, we were musical partners back then, man. Back in 6th grade he was the DJ and I was the rapper.

He had one of those fabric binders with the rough texture with the zipper, and he would take the tip of the pen and scratch it back and forth outside of the binder sounded like he was scratching. That's a throwback. And I would kick my little rhymes and s*** with my prepubescent Alvin and the Chipmunk voice, just using vocab words from class.

Yeah. So we had a group, and then we were really into it. And his mom read an article in the Willamette Weekly, I think, which is a newspaper up in Portland, where I'm from, about the Blackalicious record. And she was like, here. And it mentioned that it was, like, positive.

Like, it was, like, on a positive tip. Got it. She's like, oh, let me steer these guys in a-- you know, because we were listening to radio rap and stuff, and so I think she was like, oh, this might be good for them to check out.

And I think she gave us a $20 bill and was like, go walk up to Music Millennium and cop this. And we put it on and we were like Whoa. I'd never heard anybody rap like that.

Rest in peace to Gift of Gab he's the emcee from Blackalicious, who's like a crazy style master and super dense, lyrical, multi syllabic, like alien. And we were just like, what the f*** is this? So that's how I got put on to those guys. And then it was just, like, building out the that was the nucleus.

And then we just started expanding out from there. Like, Chali 2na from J 5 is featured on one of the songs on there. Then we started checking out J 5. Doin due diligence. Yeah. Read the liner notes. Oh,

it turns out, oh, Questlove played drums on this track. That's amazing. And then find out about the Roots and everything was just sort of, like, organically. We built our own sort of universe up in Portland because there wasn't really a scene that much going on that we were aware of up in Portland.

So we were just discovering cats organically that way. That's insane. That's what I was wondering, because you were talking about.

You named a lot of artists. I'm just like, not that they're obscure, but the level of discovery is really tough. I came across J 5 on accident, too.

They're probably featured on a song from someone I liked. So features clearly work, right, as far as discovery goes. But that's wild. Portland is west coast. Was there any west coast artists that you discovered on your own coming up that you really gravitated towards? I'm trying to think.

Well, we sort of like discovered the Lifesavas up in Portland which is, by the way, Lifesavas are a really dope group. And they ended up getting signed to Quannum Projects, which is the label that Blackalicious was on. And so I think one of the early shows when I saw Blackalicious, I don't know if it was the first one, might have been, but the Lifesavas opened up and we were like, these cats are from Portland. This is crazy. We were like kid-- I mean, we were twelve years old, so we weren't on the scene. You know what I mean? Exactly.

They were definitely doing big things in Portland already. And if you were like a hip-hop head in Portland that was like 18 and older and could get into shows, Yeah. you already knew them. But to us we were like, how has this been happening all around us this whole time? What the f***? Where have we been? It's like, dude, we are eleven.

Lifesavas. Shout out to the Lifesavas, man. They're really dope.

But you know what, I love what you mentioned too about the sort of parallel underground vibe of the mixtape. Vibe that was happening from cats that were on the radio that we know as legends from their records. But then there's like this parallel mixtape thing happening that was like localized because it was like you had to buy the actual mixtape.

Mixtapes. Probably right before or maybe aligned with, I don't know, the exact timing but like the beginnings of being able to download s*** off LimeWire, but probably before that a little bit, right? So it's like you actually had to cop the mixtape. Where in New York there's always like a spot selling mixtapes. Every big DJ had their runs, a DJ Clues or Funk Flexes. That was their bread and butter and they made a lot of money.

And then fast forward to DJ Drama and stuff. The mixtape was the brick and mortar of sauced up rap. Fast forward, when you're not in that environment to physically buy them, it's impossible.

There was no Amazon back then. Right. So like Limewire was, when that came out, at least when I was in Maryland, I was able to get a song or two, Yeah. you know, keep my ear to the street of what's going on in New York because without physically getting that mixtape, you weren't getting it That's crazy. That was a parallel universe for sure. That's so dope, dude.

That's such a different way of experiencing those artists that are now on everybody's top five. But it's like, you got to hear this whole other side of their creativity. And I was talking to a friend about this, where it's so mystified. Like, the artists from the 90s, we don't know their journey. We just see the success. Exactly.

And you hear all the stories about DMX battling Jay-Z. It's like, damn. There was so much groundwork that happened in these guys' careers that we are just-- it's just like folklore, you know what mean? Like, it's just like, man, I heard, like, Jay-Z and Big L battled.

You know what I mean? And it's just like, you look at it from like, oh, that's cool. But for the streets, that was probably, like, massive. That's like a heavyweight boxing match.

Oh, hell, yeah. For up and coming artists. You know? That's insane.

So I always love that part of it. And digging back. Yeah. So dope. I got tricked by LimeWire so many times, though. You remember massive collab tracks, dude, I thought they were real. And I'd be like, what? It would be like, Eminem, Jay-Z, Biggie, Nas, Tupac, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Kool G Rap.

It would just like, go on and on and on forever. And I was like, oh, my god. They worked together. They did a song together. What the-- how are people not talking about this? But it was either just some, it was like somebody got the acapellas and put them all on a beat. Put them all on one.

Or it was just something completely different, like a total troll thing. Like somebody's song from some up and coming rapper that's, like, trying I got hit with that a lot, man. I had, like, 14 different versions of Crank That Soulja Boy He got me dog First rapper to troll people on LimeWire I had 14 different mp3. Wow.

It'd be like Michael Jackson, Beat It. Soulja Boy. Shout out to Soulja Boy, man. Marketing. Marketing genius.

That's amazing, dude. That's amazing. He claims to be the first at so many things, but I think he really may, in fact, be the first to troll people on LimeWire. He figured it out. Wow.

That's f***in amazing. Dude, speaking of the come up and the climb for some of these artists, man, you mentioned your father is a DJ as well. Absolutely. DJ Wooligan. Wooligan.

Yeah. Let's go. Shout out to DJ Wooligan.

What was that like, man, growing up with your pops as a DJ? Like, was he a big influence on you early on? Were you like, oh, that's what my dad does. So I don't know. Did you have that embarrassment thing at all of, like.

I don't know if I can do that. Or, what was that like, man? Yeah, man. It was different because I didn't look at it as a DJ. I thought it was just a job, you know, it didn't look glamorous like, watching him.

This is before Serato and computers. So he would have a garage, maybe about the size of this podcast room, and just-- Massive. Massive.

Just huge, no. Full of records. And he's just out there just playing records. Needle to the vinyl, boom. And he would have a BPM counter, so he'd have to manually tap out the BPM, write it on the sleeve, put it in the thing, organize it by genre, and potentially in order, he might play these songs in. Wow.

And I'm, like, watching him, I'm just there for the vibe. I'm just like, this song is tight, but he's, like, working, and then it's time to go to the gig, and he's lugging all of this gear up and speakers. And I told myself, I was like, I am never going to do that. I told myself straight up, I was just like, nah, that don't seem like it for me. Yeah. But I think what ends up happening is that workload aside, I think DJing is just strictly, like taste.

And what I did learn from my father at a very young age is just taste of music. And he would play things and he would match them up similarly, right? Like, reggae would do these kind of cover songs of popular American records. So I always knew the reggae version, and then he would play the American version. I was like, oh, this is where they get it from. Then he would play, like, the OG sample that the American song came from.

So it became this spider web of music knowledge that I wasn't expecting until I got older. I was like, oh, I see where these songs connect and where the influence came from. And I think that's what DJing became to me. And I never saw myself being a quote unquote dj. I just wanted to just share music with people. That was the foundation of it.

And I think now we're at a space where with all these platforms like SoundClouds and the Mixclouds and Bandcamps, you can do what my pops was doing way back then with different audiences. From the comfort of your house, once again, I think it is back to the tastemaking area. Yeah, that's amazing, bro. I mean, I love so much of what you said right there. One thing that popped in my head was like, if I had lived with somebody who was a professional drummer, and I saw them have to pack up the kit and lug it to the gig every night. I don't know if I would have gone for it, because I f***in hated that part of being a drummer, man.

I loved the drums, but I didn't get to see the real behind the scenes. So that's fascinating that you got to witness that part. But yes, dude, the curation, the taste, that part is-- what a cool gift to receive that from your pops, man. That's so cool.

And I agree. I think that's what DJing is all about. It's funny because me and my crew, back when we were 11, 12 or whatever, and Brady was scratching on the binder and then eventually got turntables and was scratching on the turntables.

We were very into the scratch DJ. We were like, yo, Qbert Mix Master Mike, The X-Ecutioners, and we had seen the Scratch documentary really early on, actually, that was one of the first kind of like, long form hip-hop movies that blew my mind. And we ended up getting to go see the Scratch tour because they did a tour for it. They did do a tour, yeah.

So it was like the The X-Ecutioners. it was like Qbert was the headliner of it, and other people were involved. But what was so crazy was the person that blew my mind the most was Z-Trip. Z-Trip is incredible. And he wasn't scratching.

It was just straight mixing and blending records. And I had never seen that up close. We were always up in the front row back then because we were short and because we wanted to be in the front row. But I remember I had never seen that up close. I was like, oh, it's all about the scratching and the technique.

And when I saw that, I was like, this is f***in mind blowing crazy, because it was just, and it was all vinyl at that point. he just had his crate out there and he was freestyling, but it was like acapellas over new beats. In key. Singing comes in, it's in key. which doesn't sound crazy now with the tools that are available, maybe, but at that point, using the pitch control on the turntable to get the tempo the same.

Exactly. And then you happen to find out that it aligns in. I don't even know how cats did that, to be honest. Figure that out. It was all ears. It was all, Yeah, this was their best tool, man.

That's insane. But, yeah, it was a new joint, like every 15 to 20 seconds max. Like, all blended in tempo all happening live. And I left there realizing, like, oh, man. It's about curation and knowing what to play next and knowing how to string it together. I remember one part, he's about to put the record on.

He's dripping in sweat because he's going so fast. He's working, he's about to put it on. He's like, oh.

And he thinks of something. Goes, yeah, literally did that. Ran over, threw it on quick cue, and then boom. And everyone went crazy. It was the perfect thing to play. And I was like, that's f***in amazing.

That's what DJing is to me. It's like there's so much technical ability, of course, that's required in any job. But the things that always blew my mind was just connecting universes that probably never would connect on paper. Facts.

And I think Z-Trip was one of those. DJ AM was one of those as well. Djing became like this open court again, where it was less about just your genre that you're really good at. Everything was up for grabs. And whoever had the most experimental taste and gave the f*** the most about diving in and researching and stitching those roles kind of won me over.

Z-Trip was goated at that. Bro, well, you have a super eclectic taste in music. Obviously, the hip-hop like, hip-hop is how we come together and that's the way that we work together. But you're super hip to s*** that I'm not hip to at all. Even like the Big Lis leading the charge on an emo night out in Europe. It's like, you know, the emo joints, man, as an example and so much more and obscure s***.

Where do you think that eclectic taste comes from? Have you always had that or did it expand over time? I just love music, man. I think things that tickle my fancy, I'm just always like, I'm one of those, like, yo, what is that? I'm always listening to something. We'll be in a restaurant and a one chord progression would hit me, like mid combo. I'm just like the airpod trick, just. What'd you say?

And then just lean over to the speaker. Because music is a language and I think the most interesting thing always catches my eye. TV, of course, was a big crossover during the whole emo era. There was always, like, TRL and I was watching all the videos. That was a good way to bridge gaps.

But also sampling. Hip-hop sampling was a beautiful way to got me into Bollywood music and jazz crosses over into this world and what's going on in Brazil and of course, reggae reggae. So, all of these webs still come together under the roof of hip-hop to me because of sampling. But if you find something tha

2024-02-22 10:00

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