By Mike Tofin
Those looking for some hidden irony in the name Anti-Pop Consortium are bound to be unsuccessful. Beans, High Priest and M. Sayyid truly live up to the most literal interpretations of their moniker, providing listeners with a unique approach to hip-hop that won them a spot on tour with widely-respected artists like DJ Shadow and Radiohead. Paul Banks of Interpol went as far as to describe the group’s music as “works of literature… filled with secrets and rewards.”
Beans, who has a solo career of his own, took the time to explain the group’s success. They released their fifth album, Fluorescent Black, last October.
“As individuals, we each bring things to the table which make us cohesive as a collective,” says Beans. “Sayyid will know something about punk and Priest will know a little about Jazz. Plus, a lot of it has to do with our main architect Earl Baize, who is our DJ. We all bring different stuff that we play with to the table.”
The group draws not just from their diverse backgrounds, but also from the process they use to create their music.
“We met in a poetry setting, which allowed us to be a lot more experimental as writers,” explains Beans. “When we get together we do something that we can do collectively, that exists beside the production and all that and that creates something that is distinct from our individual outputs.”
But Beans has also found success with this individual output. Like many artists who belong to a group, Beans uses his solo career as an opportunity to produce music of a more personal nature.
“Thorns was dealing with a tumultuous time in my life when I was dealing with a lot of pain,” reveals Beans. “My solo work lets me be more emotive in terms of expressing things that I couldn’t if I was with the collective.”
Emotional motive in tow, Beans exposed his unconventional writing style, which seems to reverse the traditional approach many songwriters take.
“It starts with a title. Everything starts with a title,” Beans stresses. “For Instance, for this [solo] album that’s coming out in October, I had the titles before I even had the beats or the lyrics. For me the title dictates where the song might go, or what the lyrics might sound like, which is contrary to most musicians who write the music, build the lyrics and then add the title to the piece that they are working on.”
At the end of the interview, Beans couldn’t resist explaining his stance on the state of hip-hop as it is, revealing a simple distain for the music industry in general.
“The underground I knew of growing up is dead. It’s not the same. The climate has changed. Now it’s just people making bastardized versions of what we hear on the radio. It’s changed for me. It’s like it’s all guppies migrating towards the same pond, and the pond is filled with scum.”