In 2014 I was doing the standard, half-conscious Instagram scroll, continuously hoping to find something that I have yet to hear. Something refreshing. To make a rather boring story short I stumbled on a video clip of MindsOne (KON Sci, Tronic, Dj Slim Deluxe, Dj Noumenon) and Kev Brown’s ‘Pillars’ EP that had just been released. Somehow the record slipped by me. The download was immediate – as well as a thorough backtrack to find out four years prior their acclaimed ‘Self Alliance’ would contribute to my drug addiction. I found pure underground gold, on and off record. We hope that if you missed any of their releases or are just getting familiar with the group that you dig in and feast – bet you won’t regret it.
Now their new Phaseology release. It feels important to quickly note MindsOne’s production choices, wether in-house or outside collaborations. Dating back to Self Alliance it’s not uncommon to bump into them under the jazzy, boom-bap umbrella, but not limited to. I think KON Sci and Tronic can properly annihilate just about anything in front of them. Anyhow, I was not too familiar with Belgium’s Dj Iron prior to this release. Again, being properly introduced to a brick of sonic gold. Getting busy since 1997, Iron has worked with and played alongside 9th Wonder, L’Orange, Sadat X and a laundry list of other notable artists that you probably like. Aside from the beats being top shelf throughout Phaseology, the natural element of turntablism is a welcomed slap in the face. It’s no secret that we’re not offered many raw elements on the radio today, so when we are presented with a body of work that embodies the proper use of turntables and actual lyrics it’s a holiday.
One cool thing about Phaseology is its listenability on both ends. You could throw this on as an easy-to-vibe-to, background playlist with your cousins or you can actually sit and listen to the lyrics with your jaw potentially drooped – as I’ve been. Sonically it’s butter, lyrically it’s knife work, and conceptually it’s spiritual scripture. I sound like a tree hugger but it’s true.
Serious alert: the record brought me back to life’s reality a bit. To realize that a lifespan is a series of ongoing phases and that we’re all promised maybe 80-90 years on the earth is a kick in the throat. Perhaps a good kick in the throat. MindsOne and Dj Iron help us further understand the importance of embracing these phases, both past and current, with this release. So, by bringing me back to reality I simply mean letting go of expectations, loving family, chasing after dreams at all costs and being present in every situation. And to weave within phases instead of swim against the tide. It is a body of work to be taken serious, but don’t bypass the lighthearted and fictional elements. MindsOne are not new to storytelling and painting guided imagery if and when.
John Robinson is the only featured emcee on Phaseology – “Horizons” to be exact. Is that fresh or what? It translates as “we are not insecure and we don’t need 900 featured artists on our releases for them to be dope”. It’s a rich verse from JR that I’m still trying to wrap my head around, written perfectly to suit the album’s concept followed by one of my favorite hooks. MindsOne and JR are no strangers to working together, as their “Shark Week” (2010) makes just as much sense.
There have been a ridiculous amount of quality hip-hop releases in 2016 already. The underground/independent scene is a beautiful world to enter, and we thank Ill Adrenaline Records for this release as well as dozens of records that are already going down in history. Phaseology is easily one of my favorite records this year – I think I’m comfortable saying that. We encourage you to check the album out and keep up with MindsOne and Dj Iron moving forward. Below we have a conversation with MindsOne that you’ll probably like. They were all together, so we had to pick their brains a bit. Thank you, peace and love.
Tell us about connecting with Dj Iron for the canvases. The combination sounds like it was meant to be.
DJ Iron included our music on a compilation album he put together for Platform 8470, a European hip hop blog that awarded our album “Self Reliance” album of the year honors in 2010. He then reached out to us for permission to use our songs, we recognized his skills immediately, and stayed in touch. After we wrapped up working on “Pillars” in 2013, we asked him if he had any available production to listen to and the rest is history.
We’re pretty confident that this is the most polished you have ever sounded. You really sharpened your swords on Phaseology.
As far as the sound quality, we can agree that sonically this is probably our most polished material. DJ Iron and his team in Belgium mixed and mastered this project. They put tons of effort into post production, and with DJ Iron creating all of the beats he was in a position to revisit all of the instrumentals and retouch certain elements. As far as content and flow, we appreciate the kind words. We strive to elevate with each offering.
Inviting John Robinson as the only guest emcee says a lot about you and the record. A lot of releases today are oversaturated with featured artists and it ends up an exhausting obstacle course trying to hear the artist(s) you actually paid to listen to.
We have never been too into loading projects with features. DJ Iron had a connection with John Robinson as well, so his involvement was very natural and the outcome was exactly what we were looking for. It is an honor to continue working with JR. Overloading an album with features does dilute the artistry. We love to collaborate and creatively connect with other artists, but when we are writing to new projects if we decide to feature another MC it has to be very purposeful. The other MC must fit the mold of the instrumental and the concept. We do not just get features to fill space.
This life thing really is a series of phases – some beautiful, some awful. Do you find that creating music while transitioning through these phases enhances them?
The life cycle is a very intriguing and all encompassing concept for all the members of MindsOne. This allows us to be versatile and touch numerous topics of concern for us without being pigeonholed as a specific type of group/MC/DJ/artist/genre. Phaseology offers a glimpse into a general sociological idea which helps to conceptualize the life cycle. Without delving too deep into the next project we will release, which is going to be a full length project with a mix of talented producers, MindsOne will offer even deeper philosophical insight into our perception of the life cycle.
What’s your favorite joint off of the record? We have ours. We want to hear yours and why it’s yours.
Every song has meaning to us and like any other MindsOne project, as we listen to “Phaseology” we gravitate towards specific songs as time progresses. Certain songs fill certain needs, much like the creative process. When picking out a single, we chose “Follow The Light” because we felt the beat, concept and verses all came together perfectly and summed up what we were attempting to achieve with this project. In an effort to not be too difficult interviewers, we each have different favorites at this moment in time:
DJ Noumenon-“Horizons” / Tronic- “Underdogs” / DJ Slim Deluxe- “Mythos” / KON Sci- “Horizons”
Okay, you have a new, young emcee in front of you. They’re nervous but ready to create. What piece of advice would you share with a new artist looking to take his craft seriously?
Be yourself and put in work. If you are trying to be anything other than who you are, then not only will you most likely not be successful, but you will also miss out on what makes being creative so beautiful and cathartic. Be patient and let your passion guide you.
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