Sage Francis’s Strange Famous Records has been on a tear as one of the last true indie-rap labels regularly putting out MCs from all over the hip-hop map. Strange Famous is following-up Francis’s Copper Gone record with Brooklyn duo Metermaids’ We Brought Knives, the group’s second album for the label, due out December 2. We’re proud to premiere the first single, “Profiteer.”
We Brought Knives finds the duo, Sentence and Swell, bringing the same energy that’s made them NYC standouts since the MySpace days. We spoke to Swell about how the new video encapsulates the album’s DIY mentality.
“Everything about this has been super-duper in-house. I think we wanted it that way. We just wanted to keep it really in the family.” In that same vein, Swell’s partner, Sentence, directed and edited the video himself. “What can we do on a Saturday night in your apartment for no money? We had a black sheet and a general idea how to film it.”
Entirely produced by M. Stine, the son of beloved Goosebumps author R.L. Stine, We Brought Knives is the group’s first album since the birth of Swell’s two children. “The new album started out as a way for us to hang out again and do stuff. It started as a friendship thing, and then he did the whole thing.” Swell tells us the main difference between the last album, 2011’s Rooftop Shake, and now is how having two children forces you to maximize your minutes. “Everything has to be scheduled, and the time that you have scheduled has to be productive. We wrote the majority of the record in a night. We did the bulk of the tracking in a night. Everything else from there, we did a lot of tweaking, but [Stine] put a tremendous amount of time in. You can’t have sessions anymore where ‘I think we had some good ideas.’ The pressure pushes us.”
The connection to M. Stine came from Swell meeting him over a decade ago at a recording studio where Swell was interning. “He was the head engineer, and I had put together a CD of my stuff. We bumped into each other and he said, ‘Oh, you rap? I make beats.’ And I’m sure both of us were like, ‘I’m sure you suck,’ but then he played me his stuff and it was really good.”
In keeping with that DIY mentality, the album features guest appearances from labelmate Prolyphic and head honcho Francis. But if there’s one thing that in-house methodology has spawned, it’s Swell’s pride in the record, especially “Profiteer.” “I would say the song is absolutely the most complete, best thing we’ve ever done. I feel that way about the album, too. Everything we’ve done beforehand has been trying to make something solid you can understand on the first listen. This time, we hope we can make something with a little bit more.”