Premiere: Nine 11 Thesaurus, "Stressin'"
Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Nine 11 Thesaurus
Bushwick five-piece Nine 11 Thesaurus are the feel-good Odd Future--19-to-22-year-olds with a punkish ferocity crashing arty loft shows, rapping over distorted bursts of indie-noise and lo-fi fuzz. But unlike the west coast bomb-throwers, Nine 11's lyrics (as their name implies) definitely lean towards the unflinchingly conscious and political. Their debut album, Ground Zero Generals (out April 26 via The Social Registry/Sockets), is a futuristic throwback, embracing the matter-of-factly picture-painting of political hip-hop in the pre-Public Enemy '80s. Think the Furious Five's "The Message," Kurtis Blow's "8 Million Stories," and the Fearless Four's "Problems Of The World Today." They've already gotten a co-sign from the Furious Five's Rahiem and Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn, who directed a 30-minute documentary on the crew. Hipster audiences may justifiably freak on the beats--produced by Tim Dewit of Gang Gang Dance and Matt Mehlan of Skeletons, it's naturally a noisy clutter of lo-fi drums, bubbling synth-scuzz, dancehall grooves, post-Merriweather flutter and Rammellzee dub-rumble. But obviously the real draw is the five members of the crew--Shasty, P.Dot, God's Sun, RiDDic.C and Hollywood--who play off each other like a vintage '80s cipher, tackling police brutality, the effects of drugs and street violence and generally bleeding a Dead Prez vibe of freeing yourself from the binds of modern-day racism. Album highlight "Stressin'," treats a sparse, "Grindin'"-style beat through a haze of distortion--corrupt cops, funerals, streetlife and general anxiety are given the "swag of a thug and a heart of a reverend."
Q&A: Nine 11 Thesaurus' Maurice "Shasty" Douglas and producer Matthew Mehlan on "Stressin'"
What inspired your verse from "Stressin'"?
Shasty, MC: What inspired our verses were the obstacles that were faced in our lives and community. The beat creates the vibe of the realm we were trying to bring to the listeners.
What inspired this beat musically?
Matthew Mehlan, producer: I have a tendency to add too many layers to a track--to the point where the beat fills a more textural role. So it was a fun test to see if I could make a track with only four or five elements total. Let the kick be as big as possible! It's always a shock to hear a track like "Grindin'" or "A Milli" that are so incredibly sparse on Hot 97 after you've just been bombarded with tunes containing five different samples and four different hooks and Funk Flex yelling over all of 'em.
How did you create it?
Mehlan: Well, the beat the guys were doing "Stressin'" over initially, to prepare for the sessions, was way more of a "The Way It Is" vibe--like that 2Pac tune with the Bruce Hornsby sample. Or like, "Keep Ya Head Up," you know? Kind of a sentimental, "Shit is bad, but this groove is gentle and positive" thing. So I just thought the lyrics would speak better with a much more intense, kind of bleak, aggressive background.
What's the wildest reaction someone has had to the name "9-11 Thesaurus"?
Shasty: We usually don't receive reactions behind the name until after we break down the meaning. When we explain that were trying leave the same impact on lives and the world as great as the tragedy did but in a positive way, people ask did we come up with that ourselves. It's overwhelming because that shows that we must be doing our job if were shocking people with stereotype thoughts while they're rocking to our music.
What's your favorite place to eat in New York?
If you ever wanna catch Nine 11 munching on one of our most favorite dishes, you would most like find us at our favorite local pizzeria in Brooklyn on Broadway and Cornelia. Oven baked and homemade.
The Nine 11 Thesaurus CD release party is at Don Hills on Saturday, April 9, with the Rahiem of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Skeletons, Janka Nabay, Bedstuy Tai Chi and Mic Blaque.
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