Have you ever been confused with the other rapper named Koncept? I listened to his album on Spotify by mistake.
Koncept: The other Koncept, I don’t know if he actually really exists, but he does have an album on iTunes and the album is like 7 years old or something like that. So I don’t think he actually does anything anymore. I don’t know if he’s even any good because I haven’t really listened to him. But I do know when MySpace relaunched, when you would put your music up, it would automatically link to what was in your iTunes and it would always link me to this other fucking album. And his album cover is like the standard picture that comes with a PC computer. When you used to get a PC computer in like 2003, you know that screen with all the trees in the different shades of blue? That’s his album art. He stole the fucking PC image! And so every time my music would link to that I was like, “Goddamnit! I don’t want people to think that that’s me.” There’s also not even a picture of the dude on thing. I think there might be like a silhouette. So I’ve never been confused for him, but I have noticed it myself and been kind of irritated. Even if you go to iTunes right now it will show my projects and then his fucking thing. I don’t know how to disconnect it! [laughs]
In a previous interview you said that you really like to keep it in-house and work with other members of Brown Bag AllStars. How did it feel to work just with Numonics for your last EP?
Koncept: It was good. He’s a good homie. That project sort of came about – so Numonics and J were doing a producer album and because J and me are always working together, they decided I could be on a Numonics joint. So we did the one and then Numonics was like, “Can I send you some beats to check out?” And he sent me some beats. And at the time we were kind of in the middle of working on the album, and they were all really dope. And how it ultimately ended up happening was Numonics said, “Let’s do like four songs. I’ll fly into New York.” So he flew in and we did that EP in a day.
So in the video for “Not For Nothing,” you get evicted. Is that related to you life?
Koncept: Yeah, the song is just about working so hard and people not really understanding it or realizing it. Because people outside the industry or outside of being an artist may not see all the hard work that was put into it. Because a lot of things are off screen. So basically the song is about working really hard to achieve something and just thinking, “I’m gonna get it.” And that not sleeping and the struggle of it – not to sound cliche – is all worth it. So basically, nah, I didn’t get evicted. That was just for the video. [laughs]. But yeah it does relate to my life, but also just an artist’s life in general. It’s hard until things really come together. The beginning stages of it, especially, are really taxing.
I feel like producers feel that especially because when you send an instrumental to someone, they don’t know about all the samples you pulled and maybe the musicians you called in to record with. How does that feel as a producer? How do you deal with that? Because even with more famous producers, people say, “Well that was a good beat” without thinking about all the labor that went into the instrumental.
J57: That’s a great call and I appreciate you looking that up because a lot of producers are probably gonna read this later and be like, “Good dude for noticing that.” A lot of people don’t notice that. But I luckily rock with good people. Like for real, I’m not just saying that because one cat’s in the room. Like for real, all the people I rock with, even the people outside of Brown Bag – Homeboy Sandman, Sene, whoever else – they always big me up on tracks, which is really dope. But I always get my shine because I really put in my time when I’m doing these records. I’m really involved. Like obviously I’ve worked with dudes where I just send them a beat, but just a few times. I’m not really into that because I’m always hand-on. And it happens so much, people big me up on the track in some form. And just to be sure – I’ve got a few records with some big people. I can’t really say anything yet – I kind of just add my J57 tag at the beginning, just to make sure I get the recognition.
So producers add tags not just to prevent their songs from being stolen, but to say, “I did this.”
Yeah, that’s why I do it. I don’t to it for the stolen reason. I feel like we’re finally at a point where if somebody stole something, I could put them on blast so crazy that it would like kind of ruin their career. Or if someone was big and did that to me, it would actually give me some shine. [laughs]. But yeah, I really do it just to get my shine. And if you hear a J57 tag on a Koncept or Soul Khan song, it’s not like I was thinking I wouldn’t get shine from my boys. I probably just made the beat without them in mind and put it there. But if I’m rocking with someone I don’t normally rock with I just add it. Because I’m an emcee too. I don’t really big up the producers on my tracks, almost ever, so I know how it goes.
How did the Red Bull arrangement happen?
Koncept: So Red Bull hit me up to be a Sound Select artist, just out of the blue. I just got an email from one of the reps one day, basically saying that they wanted me on their roster as one of their artists. Which I thought was pretty fucking cool. [laughs]. So I hit up the dude and he helped me set up a profile on their website and everything and three days later I got this big ass box from Red Bull with all these cans of Red Bull – which I don’t drink. I drink too much coffee as it is so if I drank Red Bull, I’d be like shaking -and all these towels and other cool shit. And then they assigned me to an official rep. And the rep hit me up and was like, “Hey we want to put you in this contest with a few Red Bull artists.” And I typically don’t do online contests like that because I feel that there’s politics involved and it’s unfair, but my rep was like, “You should really do this contest. This contest is legit. There’s no cheating involved.” And I was told there’s no way for people to get their homeboy to sit there and make a thousand votes or something like that. So they gave me all the rules and told me that whoever wins, they’ll bring you out to their studio and you get to meet with all the A&Rs and all the different people at Red Bull.
So I was like cool. I didn’t really think much of it, to be honest. I actually signed my contract a day late. But then I ended up winning! People voted every day and I won all the votes, and then at the end of the day, it was gonna be the top three people and the head A&Rs at Red Bull would hand select who they wanted to win. And I won the votes and they chose me to win. So that was the perfect opportunity for us to because we were already working on the album at the time. So once that all started to happen, that’s when we were like let’s dive into this and put everything on hold. And then we went out there and found out that it was unanimous. All the Red Bull A&Rs chose me, so it was a great opportunity.
What are their studios like? Was it a different experience from where you usually record?
J57: It was definitely a little different! [laughs]
Koncept: It really was a little different. But to be honest, now I think it’s really steered us in a direction of using big studios and more musicians. I feel like that opportunity was pretty life-changing. Because once we found out what was going on, it was when we like we really need to step everything up.
J57: And I’d say it was pressure. We both had pressure for that and we weren’t even afraid. We were really excited. We were like this is our big fucking chance to show everybody we could do this. And of course it was scary to go into a big studio – we’ve only worked out of a couple, like three of them, really and we never were in control of the situation. But at the Red Bull studios we had to run the show, directing the engineers and all that. We had a fucking meticulous game plan.
Koncept: And the chemistry we had with the engineer when we got out there was just perfect. We did the whole album in a week.
J57: Actually we finished in a few days. The last two days we were just mixing. We were done with the whole album.
Koncept: Yeah, in like three days we finished.
J57: There was a ton of prep, but there was like meticulous scheduling. We were like, “From noon to one, we’re gonna work on this song. From one to two, blah blah blah.” We didn’t even think about food. It was like four o’clock on the first day and the engineer was like, “So, are you guys hungry, I’m starving?” [laughs]. And we were actually starving so we were like, “Oh shit! Good call!” And we went out to eat and actually became better friends with him, ended up buying beers with him. And after that we were like best friends with the dude and just beasting. When we get put in those situations, we will rise to the occasion.I was a little worried, I guess. I didn’t think that we couldn’t, but we had never had it happen before. But again, there was that pressure.
Koncept: Yeah we had this block of time – where we could have done nothing – but we knew that we had to finish everything in this time. And we were so good about it that we had time to just mix the last two days.
J57: Which was a shock to us. We had even scheduled like posse cuts because a lot of homies are on the West Coast, and we were like if we have time at the end, here’s a couple posse cuts, just in case. I emailed them like a week before, but we ended up actually having time for that. But man, I have OCD, and I wasn’t even stressed. We had this crazy game plan and it was so good I couldn’t even be stressed out.
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