Monster in the Making

01 Long Walk

This was a tough one. This was the first thing people would hear on the new album. It started out as a totally different song, with 86 bars over a Lazerbeak beat. He sent me a folder with beats to choose from and I ended up picking one, but never purchased it. We lost touch. The verse I had originally written isn’t dead. I still perform it acapella at shows and I am more than sure it will appear on our next album. At this point, I had been away for such a long time and we knew it had to be BIG. I also started thinking the intro shouldn’t be by anyone but Eric since it was the first thing people would be hearing, essentially introducing the album. So I would constantly harass Eric about creating a new beat around this verse. He sent me a stripped down version, roughly titled “Armored Elephants”. I knew we were onto something.

I used to rap what I had written to the Lazerbeak beat to this Armored Elephants thing Eric had created. It didn’t feel right. I knew I had to re-write specifically for this beat. I knew I had to explain why I was gone. I knew I had to match the intensity. I had the demo version for over 2 months before I had written a song. That, in and of itself, is very unusual for me. Anyone that has worked with me knows when I open an instrumental, I have the complete song written in 2 hours. Not this one. I chiseled away at it and cut and pasted and finally had the intro.

I was overly critical of this song. Bitter Stephens and Brian helped me record this in my basement, and we did that entire verse in one take. I hated it. Constantly being reassured by them “No dude, this is IT this is IT”. I went to bed hating it. I woke up to a message from Eric (SIDE NOTE: Eric lives in Florida and we do everything through phone and email) telling me that it was perfect and that he would start layering. I started coming around. Once Eric gave it a rough mix and added violin, along with the outro lead (played on a DIY diddley-bo), I knew we had nailed the mood and atmosphere of this album. I must have listened to this song 100 times before I liked it. I’m overly analytic. Sometimes things just grow on their own, but sometimes they become a completely different thing if you hover too much.

“Long Walk” Official Music Video

This was my first professional shoot, which was an eye opening experience. We shot this video all over Evansville, including Franklin Street, Red Bank Road, and in my friend Josh Brown’s back yard.  I really enjoyed it, even though it was a lot of late nights, fueled by coffee chased with beer.

My wife, Jackie, stitched 15 of those red masks in one  night.  Her brother, Pete, carved the “Jacob” tombstone out of wood with a chainsaw.  The masked dudes in that video all happen to be my close friends whom were incredibly cool about being out late on consecutive week nights. As a side note, I discovered you can have a ton of big ass menacing masked dudes, posted up in popular areas of town without ever getting harassed by cops… even late night loitering beside banks.

Eric did an incredible job with this video. The scenes off of Red Bank were shot in broad day light, but you’d never know.  Here are some storyboard sketches from his notes.  We used these for reference and location scouting.  This was all that existed of the video when he got to town.

“son and daughter kill the music, make it love harder

these fucking things are ghosts, these fucking songs I wrote

make my wife a widow, while I plat my life like second fiddle”

That may be the truest metaphor I’ve ever written. I don’t do music for money. I do it when it makes sense to me. I do it for my ego. I don’t mean for that to sound as shallow as it sounds. I mean it like… I do this because I feel like I was meant to. If I didn’t do it then I wouldn’t know myself anymore. I am who I am because of these songs. Every relationship I’ve made in the past 10 years is in some way influenced by my music.

“POISON, and it’s free so eat

dance motherfucker, they got guns at your feet

a billion dollar industry, you fuck and sing for free

wear the chains like ropes and abandon all hope”

You wouldn’t believe what record labels try to say to you. You wouldn’t believe the deals that will fall through when you say “no” to an idea. This is a middle finger to that. I won’t ever compromise the integrity of my ego. I’ll never be with them to not be with you. I hope that was conveyed here.

02 The Get Down

This was the second official song leaked off of the album. Chasing Greatness caught some attention, so we followed it with a song that showed the dynamic of the album. I am in love with things that make sense in contrast, like making an up-beat/down tempo song. I know that doesn’t make sense. It’s a sort of pop song about people being depressed, and that being the only thing that makes them happy/creative. The idea came from an argument my wife and I had. Basically, I created an argument to put myself in the mindset to write. Artists are assholes like that. She called me out on it, so I really examined what she said and came to this conclusion. This song is also the inspiration for the “balloon boy” image that is getting popular with people tattooing on themselves (which I fucking LOVE by the way) and that tells me that people get it. It’s not a pity party, it’s a melancholy parade making stops to pick up more like minded people.

I have recorded roughly 42 different versions of this song, and that’s not an exaggeration. This song started about 4 years ago as I remember the demo titled “sep-five-nine”, which didn’t sound anything like it sounds now. It was way more piano driven instead of the bass carrying the verse. We re-worked it. This was roughly when I was finishing up my home studio and finally able to record myself at any time. SO many versions of this song were deleted the next morning. It was hard to pin down exactly why it wasn’t working, I just knew it didn’t make sense. It use to be much more aggressive, instead of that laid back delivery. For a while, the “brick by brick” outro was various voices I recorded with people stopping through on tour, to drink with me and eat my wife’s cooking. I lost those files somewhere in my move. It sat for a long time until Nick Dalessio played those swingy, modest mousey guitars over it. In the final stages of the mix, I invited a core group of friends to come over to my basement and yell at a mic. I think it sounds much better like that. We always thought of the ending as a march that more and more people start joining, and Eric really nailed that in the mix.

“The Get Down” Lyric Video

We made the lyric video because I didn’t want the heavy content of this song to be overlooked.

I won’t say too much, but I urge people not to let pills become their personalities. 

This is one of my favorite songs to do live. It’s not “too emo” so it keeps the audience’s attention (most of the time) and it’s just heavy enough to rattle around in their heads. It’s also fun to get everyone building up the “brick by brick we all fall down now” section.  We all become part of the  parade.

“when it feels so good it feels so bad

when it feels so bad it feels like the past

and the past is the last thing to call your own”

I think that line will make the most sense to people. The majority of my twenties was spent feeling this way. This song is my safety blanket.

03 Chasing Greatness

This was the easiest song to make on this entire album, as well as the first song released. I just did a search of my inbox to see what time Figure sent the instrumental. It was 4 AM and it’s called “tonight’s showdown”. When you work with Figure you gotta do it right then-and-fucking-there because he gets bored with his stuff like… immediately. So I walk into the living room, sit on my couch, and listen to it. I remember thinking I have to write to this NOW but my body would not allow me to. I’m back up around 8 am, with nothing to do that day, and immediately get to work on this song. The first verse took 30 minutes. I text him “DO NOT give this beat to anyone. I have the first verse written”. I decide to call and rap to his voicemail, which producers hate (RAPPER TIP: No one likes listening to rap over a phone or Xbox Live, send a scratch recording). I immediately start on the second verse, again, 30 minutes. BAM, that baby is done. Figure calls and says he’ll be in town until Friday, and that I should come by and record at his studio. Later that week I stop by and we recorded that entire song in one mother fucking take. He added some effects and leveled it in about 5 minutes and BAM, we are sending it to Eric for mix. It was that easy.

I give Wick-it a call and get his trademark, “well hell yeah, send it on over”. I’m thinking we’ll see this in a couple weeks. Midnight, I get a call and this dude is finished. Wick-it has this uncanny sense of knowing what fits in a song. Timing is that dudes middle name. I am willing to bet that dude could walk through a packed club and crop dust the most in-tune and on-time farts that have ever been unleashed. The smell would somehow trigger good memories, as weird as that sounds. That’s that mother fucker! On a side note, that is a metaphor and Wick-it’s farts probably smell like fast food abortions.

Figure is one of my best friends. He and I used to perform together as Rapper/DJ, and then he started doing his own thing and got waaay more famous. We still work on music together as often as we can. He is one of the most talented people I have ever met and you would not begin to believe how fast he works. It is mind boggling. His brain is a little computer that thinks light years ahead of what it is supposed to. He never over thinks shit and is precise, which is why success looks easy.

Wick-it is also one of my best friends and I have known him for years and years. We met when he was just getting into making beats, and somebody passed me his demo CD with his home phone number scribbled on the front. I wanted to work with him on a project so I called him one night. A woman answered the phone. I thought it was his mom but it ended up being his wife, and so we chatted awkwardly about hip hop. The mental picture I had of this dude was far different than the person that he is. Wick-it is literally one of the funniest people I have ever met. When I am around him I don’t feel funny… which is weird because I am one of the funniest people I have ever met.

chase_trio

If you ever get a chance to see them live do NOT pass it up. Their shows are fucking incredible.

“a mother fucker on the chase

to stare it in the face

and cut away the age

like it was born yesterday”

If that isn’t a line that sums up this album then what is? Some songs are 4 years old and you would never know it. This song is kind of my Quentin Tarantino song; wordy but full of action. I didn’t know how it would work on the album, as it’s kind of wedged in there, but now I feel it was necessary to paint the whole picture. Sometimes great things are easy to catch when you’ve been chasing them your whole life… especially when you keep good company.

04 Never Runner

Sometimes I feel empty inside when I am away from home. It’s a really big internal conflict for me. This song is essentially about being afraid and not running from it. To break that down, I’ll share something usually reserved for intimate conversation. I suffer cataclysmic thinking, including humongous irrational fears, and a little OCD. Not the Hollywood version of OCD, or the kind everyone thinks they have when they like their house clean, but the kind where you literally obsess over routines for fear of the worst happening. I am not proud of that and it’s embarrassing, really. I just need to air that out so this will make sense in context. When I am away from home I fear that I will die out there, or that when I come back every place and person I know will be gone forever. I know that’s irrational but it doesn’t keep me from thinking about it or being able to sleep any better. These were the thoughts inside my head that I wanted to scream out but faced head on. I also have a humongous fear of flying but flew from New York to Seattle to be on that tour. The only time that I am really comfortable out in the wild is when I am on stage or having a conversation that occupies my brain.

This instrumental happened on a whim. It was at a time when Eric was doing more video production than studio work, so music had really taken the back burner. I used to email and call him all the time just BEGGING for beats, BEGGING to finish the album. It just wasn’t the right time. One night I made a tongue-in-cheek comment about how all I wanted for my birthday was a new beat to write to. BAM. There in my inbox, the morning after my birthday, sat a new beat. He’s added more bass and retracked guitars since then, but it was largely just how you hear it now. I always felt that instrumentation complimented our verses very well. It’s one of Eric’s favorite songs on the album, which I didn’t expect.


I wrote this song right after being on tour with Sadistik, Kristoff Krane, Bodi, and Eyedea. I thought it was appropriate to get Kristoff on this song because he was who I confided those feelings in for most of that trip. Kristoff is an incredible soul. He has more empathy than anyone I have ever met. I wanted his perspective on this song. Originally, Kristoff Krane was on the chorus too, but the production branched out over time and called for something different. That’s where Ceschi came in. The first time I ever heard Ceschi I was in a car driving to Minneapolis with Pilks, Prolyphic and his wife Sandrine. Pilks put on a song called “Half Mast” and I lost my shit. It was the first time I had felt that way about a song since I was introduced to independent hip hop. It felt so nostalgic yet it was the first time I had heard it. I went home and bought everything I could by Ceschi. He is the only feature on this album that I don’t know as well as I would like to. It turns out that he is an incredibly humble and kind soul that was more than happy to build with me. He was incredibly busy getting all of his ducks in a row before going to prison, but he still made time to record this chorus. It was exactly what the song needed. Eric and I talked about Monster needing a “Jazzybell” moment, and I think he gave it to us on this song.

“fighting for breath my wings feel cut

far from home but I’m free as I want”

It’s not the deepest lyric of this song but it’s the most relevant to my life. I am my own prison but I’m constantly trying to break out.

“found the you in the verse and me in the us”

I was trying to put into words how all of the listeners are my universe; you-in-the-verse. I did’t know if anyone would catch that, but there’s your easter egg spoiler. Theres another one right after it… did you catch it?

05 Cold Spell

This was the first beat Eric made for The Monster and The Wishing Well after completing Liberation, which is where the title came from. Of course it sounded a lot different then. This was a horse of a completely different color. It used to be 3 different arrangements with a really big outro-turned-intermission. There were three verses and no features on this song, just me doing sing-songy rap. It wasn’t horrible but it got boring really fast and had no business using 3 full verses. I ended HATING this song. I knew the beat was good but I hated how I sounded on it and almost gave up. It sat dormant for years, until Eric and I had a discussion about finalizing the album.

We agreed the song shouldn’t be trashed but, instead, made into something completely fresh. So I went home and started tweaking the verses… then pouring gasoline over them, going to the neighbors house and letting their pets urinate on them, and setting them on fire in front of a church. In the meantime, Eric refined the instrumentation so well that my previous work was now a ghost. The outro-interlude elements were subtly absorbed into the main arrangement, which was much easier to write to. I sat down and wrote a verse in about 2 hours, then sent a scratch version to Eric. By this point, Tommy Jamin had done the chorus for it and I absolutely loved it. That chorus was meant to be. It was the one thing that remained unchanged. Now the wind was back in our sails.

I will go out of my way  to work with Tommy Jamin on every project I do. I love his voice. It’s clean but not TOO clean, and he layers his voice like an instrument. This is where his production background really stands out. It wasn’t what I imagined the chorus to be, it was what I would have imagined the chorus to be if I had a better imagination. I hope Tommy records a full length album one day.

It was painfully obvious to me that Proe needed to be on this song. Proe (who now goes by Derek V) is one of my favorite rappers. The dude just sounds cool. Plus, one time when he was working as a bouncer (and this is no bullshit) he jumped up in the air and round house kicked a dude in the head, knocking him out! Am I not supposed to put him on a song after hearing him act out my dream scenario?  I have always liked how Proe and I sound together and I knew that I wanted to work with him again on this record. So I reached out and he finished his verse for it in a day, then recorded it in 2 weeks. For Proe, that is a record.  I couldn’t wait to hear the mix, which I knew would sound really huge. I used to hate this song… now it’s one of my favorites.

“in a trap where the timelapse fills the void

and I’m paranoid like I lost my voice”

This is a song about how, if you go away, no one cares that you are gone. It doesn’t really matter to anyone except for you. All us musicians aren’t surgeons. Sure when you come back there are a lot of friendly faces but they don’t need you. We need the music for ourselves. That’s a cold reality. Sometimes that’s just the ego check a musician needs. So if you’re reading this, I personally want to thank you for welcoming me back with open arms. Time flies.

06 Vultures

I knew I wanted a posse cut on this record. I knew I wanted Prolyphic on this record. We did a few tour dates together and we clicked instantly. That dude has the exact same sense of humor as me and we are in the same head space when it comes to music. So while we were out in the wild together we started kicking around the idea of doing a track together. Now some people might not know that Prolyphic is a fucking really dope producer and that dude loves diggin’. In fact when we were in Minneapolis we went digging with Big Cats! and those dude’s had a lot more fun than me. I can dig for maybe 25 minutes before I wander into the used video game section of these places and try to channel my inner hip hop soul by finding a bargain. This dude could dig all day long. This dude probably tried to dig holes to china when he was a kid and then just graduated to hip hop digging after finding out that the word dig is also hip hop related. So once we were back home I sent him a few messages about producing something for the album and doing a verse on it with me. He’s asking what the vibe should be and Im like, “let’s call it Vultures. Let’s make a track about these gimmicky youtube rappers”. About a week later this beat shows up in my inbox. When I first heard it, I instantly knew this shit was going to be a posse cut. That shit is so grimey! When I think Grimey I think of my homie Bitter Stephens. We grew up together. He’s actually who really got me started in on rapping. This is JUST that dudes style and it would have been a fucking travesty if I didn’t include him in on this. I float him the beat and the next god damn day we are in the booth recording our stuff.

 

vultures

 

Now to get back into the story of how this all came about, I was invited to Prolyphic and his wife Sandrine’s wedding. While there I met Swell from Metermaids and I loved that dude immediately. We (or maybe just me) got drunk and just clowned for 5 hours straight on the dumbest jokes that anyone in the world has ever heard. I don’t know if I ever laughed that hard. Also everything that Swell says is amplified by how cool his NY accent is. I knew I wanted to work with The Metermaids after that, and this was the song for it. I hit them off with our shit in the email and they had it back by the end of the week.

This song is like a mash of different styles that all balance each other out and the end result is interesting and fun to listen to. I really loved how this song came out. I also like drinking forties on my front porch while this song plays from boom box speakers, mean mugging mother fuckers that walk by.

bitter

Bitter Stephens: I wanna start by saying that I was blessed enough to be on two songs on this album, and Vultures has a special place in my heart. That song is so hip hop. My kind of hip hop. From the heavy drums that seem to instantly set the tone to the fact that we didn’t need any hooks or bridges to make an amazing record. Initially I thought this verse would be much easier to write than it was. The pressure of being on a song with that much evenly matched talent is a lot to take on but I absolutely love that every single rapper on the song spits completely different yet we collectively lift you up off the ground, hold you steady for 3 minutes and then hurl you back towards the earth. I have the utmost respect for everyone this track and it’s not often you can say that in rap music. Vultures was one of the last songs recorded and one of the first songs mixed. It was evident that this song was a monster after the first listen. The positive feedback has already been overwhelming and I would like to thank my brother Cas for giving me this opportunity, the homies from Strange Famous for wreckin shop with me and every fan that always brings up my “the elephant in the room is” line. I love you guys!

prolyphic

Prolyphic: I first met Cas at a show we did together in Bloomington, IN. The show was terrible in every sense. I possibly got paid with a counterfeit $20 at this show and I still had a great time with this dude. We clicked immediately. He did the rest of the tour with me. So many funny things happened on that short tour, we still laugh about now and probably will forever. Fast forward to Sept 2012, I invited Cas to my wedding. I asked Swell of the Metermaids (who’s a reverend at the Baptist Church of Bucktown) to marry my wife and I. They both show up to my wedding. Those two met and hit it off like two boy scouts. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d spend the night before my wedding with these two, but am I glad I did. We probably would have been the characters in Stand By Me back in the day if we knew each other. I love those dudes 4-eva. I love Sentence too. I don’t know Bitter too well but I’m sure I’d love him too.

Cas asked me to get down on his new record. I was like hell yeah. Cas is like “I want you to make the beat too…”, I said “slow down”, then said “hell yea”. He came up with the title “Vultures”. I didn’t need an explanation of what it meant. I know the type of people he was talking about. I had just went digging because I love digging in a dig with a dug named Doug who had a dog who dug in the same dig that I had dug in. When I was thinking about making the beat, I wanted to make the opposite of what I hearing from most producers. Anti-soft. The shit knocks, the sample is a guy screaming his soul out and the bass line is thick enough to make someone shut up. I ended up sampling vultures in the wild while I was in the desert to make it official. Sent it to Cas, he loved the Mobb Deep’ness of it. I was like word. Everyone’s came rock solid on the song. Bitter came off, first time I’ve heard him rap. Respect my dude. This is what music is all about to me and why I got into making it. Cas, Metermaids and myself would like to put out more songs together at some point. I would love to tour with them because I know how much fun we would have. I’ve known the Metermaids for awhile, they’re the homies for life. Sentence is a gentleman and a dope rapper. Swell is a Spice Girl fan and a rope dapper. Hopefully, you hear more songs from us in the future. Fuck a shout out!

swell

Swell (Metermaids):
After like 6 years in the game, or whatever it is, I think both me and Sentence are over a lot of the petty aspects of the indie hip hop scene. Everyone who is worth their salt has put their time in on the road, rocked for 7 people, rocked for 2,000 people at that one show, etc.

When we started focusing on making music and doing shows with the people that we like, as opposed to doing things strictly because we thought they would help us blow up, that’s when we started having fun again. And it’s when we started to actually achieve some kind of success. Not surprising.

When I listen to our verses in Vultures that’s the vibe I get. Goodbye to the mentality (and the kids who still have it) that the indie scene is something to be taken over, or manipulated to your advantage. It’s basically a dead scene anyway, in the sense that no one is going to make money the way the four-fathers did. Let the vultures pick at the corpse.

We will be somewhere else, making songs with our friends because we like to. Throw in the fact that this particular song is with family, basically (Pro and CasOne) and it’s the perfect sentiment for our current head space.

Booyah.

07 Rabbit Named Wolf

This is the song that almost never happened. I always told Eric I wanted to write to some Chili Pepper sounds. He hits me with it, and I love it, but had no idea what to do with it. I wrote 3 different songs to this, wadded them up, and threw them into outer space. After that, I was pretty dead set on making it an instrumental. Eric and I argued about it (which never happens) and he was persistent about it until the bitter end.

I approached this instrumental with a topic in mind, but kept finding myself at a loss. Once I went in letting the music do my talking for me, we had a solid song. I sent it over to Eric and the next night he had a mixed version back to me and I was like… oh fuck… okay… I get why this needed to be a song. This song sort of became a theme for the album. It was short though. I was initially going to write another verse but, because of it’s length, people would restart it and play it again. It’s not long enough to form an opinion on first listen… so you’ll listen again… and again… and then you’ll like it simply out of repetition. Or I hope so at least. This was the surprise of the album for me. Eric knew it was there all along.

“I use to think my father was an asshole

until I was a father learning how that grass grows

momma had a habit now that bag’s closed”

I love contrast. This song is the mascot of the album and the opening line displays it well. I used to hide a lot of meaning behind shit and it kind of circled the drain. This is an example of where the metaphors are in plain view and still poetic.

08 Out of the Light

Eric: I’m still not exactly sure what this is, but I have Jake to thank for placing it on the album.  I was obviously listening to 808′s & Heartbreak at the time.  That, and I was hung up on this Peter Gabriel song.

Tracks usually happen in 2 or 3 phases, but this came out in a couple of hours.  You gotta love those little surprises.  The vocal parts were spontaneously recorded into a handheld mic, then slammed with pitch correction and woofed up, a la Kanye.  Then, of course, guitars.  What you hear is the first pass.  I meant to re-record it before releasing the album, but sometimes you fall in love with the demo.

When I send tracks like this to Jake, I am 99% sure he will hate them (as was true for The Get Down). But he loved it, so I was eager to hear what he would write. I kept refreshing my inbox, waiting for some strange Andre 3000 thing to show up.  Finally, he calls and says he doesn’t think it needs lyrics but we should still use the instrumental.

I was ready to bury it, but he added it to the track listing.

09 Am What I Am

Eric sent me this beat about a year after Liberation came out. It was not like any beat I had ever heard so I recorded a song and put it on Myspace. It was okay, but it didn’t feel like a song worthy of praise.  I liked the beat, it was really different. It actually came about one night while Eric was riding his bike to the studio. He was out of breath and started humming that melody in his breathing pattern, then built a beat around it. He didn’t think I’d like it but I did… a lot. So, we had this stagnant song that sat in a closet for a really long time.

I talked to Sage Francis a lot before finishing the album.  He was reviewing rough mixes I had early on and was like “This stuff is all great but I think you have more sides to you. You’re not always dark”. That got my brain spinning. I thought, “I CAN MAKE HAPPY SONGS. I can make upbeat songs!” It’s a fine line to walk between corny and upbeat, so it’s always been harder for me to make happy songs. I definitely feel more comfortable doing darker music.

So I got to thinking about that bike breath beat. I tell Eric I’m going to record something new to is and he was a little apprehensive. I’m like “no dude…this is gonna be new, lets just try it”. So I write this song in one night and record the next night. It takes on a whole new personality and is way more appropriate for this beat. I send it over to Eric and he is really really digging the delivery. It’s hard to get compliments out of Eric, so when I do I’m on fucking cloud 10. Guess who did’t like it though. Sage Francis. I ain’t mad though. We got this song out of it and it wouldn’t have happened without him. After that, I was unsure of how my fan base would embrace it. It’s pretty different from my norm so I’ve gotten a lot of feedback about it. This happened with a few other songs on the album. Expect the unexpected, I guess.

I wont go too much into lyrics because, to be perfectly honest, this is not a lyrical masterpiece. It’s just for fun. There are a few little gems in there but I think it speaks a lot to who I am. I’m rarely as serious as I appear in songs. I’m also rarely out so, if you see me out, make the sitter make the money.

10 Strutbounce


Watch the garage session here.

11 Empty Nest

When I first heard the beat for empty nest it made me instantly nostalgic. It’s got that feeling like a fall night — right after the sun went down — and you’re smoking cigarettes on the front porch, waiting for your homie to pick you up. At least that’s what it felt like to me when I heard it. That beat is the score to my fucking high school years. Bitter is that dude I was waiting on to pick me up to get into some shit with, so that song had to be with him.

We sat down together knowing we had to write some shit about being grown-ups and how it was so different than what we thought we would be. We thought we were going to be famous when we were 16 years old. We thought nothing else was going to matter because we are going to be rich and no one would be able to tell us to do shit. We were gonna live off music so fuck everything else. We fell for shit all the time too. Back when the internet was just coming around, I was once convinced that I was getting a contract from Ruff Ryders and even got t-shirts airbrushed that we wore to school. That mother fucker wore a hoodie over his because I don’t think he was as convinced of that golden contract as I was. That hurts to remember. That shit is hilarious to remember, but it hurts. I’m a lot more jaded to the music industry bullshit at this point in my life. I don’t believe a fucking thing anyone offers me until I’m in it or there’s a contract involved. The chorus is a nod to our childhood music roots. Snoop and Dre played a big role in the way Bitter and I grew up. What better way to give a tip of the hat? It’s like this and like THAT. Which is really fun to do live as well. Hands up in the air, wave them side to side while we take a ride down memory lane.


Bitter Stephens: The first time I heard the Empty Nest beat, I was probably 6 beers deep in Cas’ studio. Automatically, I knew what he wanted from me. He didn’t have to speak. It’s that moment that close friends, who also happen to be musicians, can only explain. You smile, you shake hands, excited as fuck because you know this ones gonna write itself. I always knew it would be a solid song for the record, not to mention a GREAT show song, but after we got the first mix back, we knew, it was so much more.

If you didn’t know, I’ve known Cas for almost 20 years. He is my brother. In high school we basically lived together. Spending every second of our formative years crouched in a basement, walls and floor covered in shitty graffiti, every single picture out The Source magazine duct taped to the cinder block walls… writing 4 page verses because we couldn’t grasp the concept of bar structure. Living off microwaveable food and smoking all of his moms cigarettes. It was a terrible place for adolescent males to spend all of their time. Excuse me, it was Heaven on fucking Earth. It’s were we listened to Nas. It’s where we found the Lost Boyz. It’s where Canibus was the deadliest lyricist we’d ever heard. It’s where Biggie lived forever. It’s where we wrote our masterpieces. It’s where Empty Nest was born.

I start my verse with the line, “I was a thinker, on the broken path to infinity.” Simply put, I thought this would last forever. Forever, is a long time. Forever is far away. Yet, we are still here. We are happy and we still do what we love everyday. Our bills are paid. That’s enough. This is the richest I’ve ever felt in my life. I love rapping and performing. I love watching Cas do his thing on stage, but still to this day, when that beat drops and they grab that extra mic, the crowd goes bananas. I sit my beer down and we just nod at each other and let it go. There is no single word to describe it. We don’t rehearse that song. Why would we? It’s the same thing we’ve always done. We memorized our youth a long time ago. I’m so proud of this little song and I only hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.

Once upon time, we just wanted to make music with our friends… and then we did.

“It’s the dreams we never get ’cause the worlds realistic

“They say they rap to feed their kids

I say I rap when mine are fed and tucked right in,

that’s the hustle and maybe that’s the hard part”

Both of those lines are acknowledging this rap stuff as a professional hobby that I love so much. This is me acknowledging that I will never be a millionaire. I will never be a super star. I never wanted to be, but I didn’t know that when I was 16. I am more than happy with what we got going on right now because this is more than I ever should have expected, in the best way possible.