Musically driven in the likes of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, The Beatles’ “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”, or Prince’s “Purple Rain”; W A N D E R L U S T is a 120 minute film with an accompanying soundtrack encompassing a variety of genres including pop, blues, rock, soul, funk, EDM, and trap. It features guest vocals from [Blaque] Bird, Evil Twin, Jay Mail, Mic Blaque, Path P., J Finale, Helen Marie, & Blizzy Bambu, as well as production from Ronve’, BenNY FoxMORE, and the DOPESH!TE.
Blizzy is one of my true D.C brothers. He used to come by my crib and sit in this little bullshit studio I crafted out of the indoor storage closet. Its big enough for only 2 people. Real tight and cramped. But Blizzy didnt give a fuck! we banged out a bunch of demos and ‘Gr8ness’ was one of them. It felt so strong I had to include it on the score somehow.
When it came to the intro of the film, the song just felt so triumphant, and adequate to use as a welcome into this world we were about to take people through. Its a beckon of truth for people who’ve struggled through so much its chiseled them into what they are. Something more, something great. There is a quote that says; “ Great men are only made great by the times in which they live in“. That is what the song represents. Being called into our greatness. Recognizing it when it comes. That is our greatness.
When I was on tour in Liverpool, we had a few dates on the Liverpool Soundcity Festisval. I was a guest speaker on the festivals ‘New Media’ panel. At the time I also worked as a content creator for Radio One’s online network, so I had a lot of insight to offer in the content market. When the panel ended, I was amazed at the long line of people waiting to ask me further questions or take pictures with me. There was young guy that waited in the line towards the very end with alot of enthusiasm that handed me his beat CD. One of the tracks was so dope I had to use it. It sounded like a marching band or DC Bounce Beat. The original beat was just all drum and bass, but I found a guitar lick to ride over top of it, to give it some more instrumentation and movement. That shit bangs!
Look Up was a great studio session. I went to DJ Polo’s studio in Charlotte, NC with a gang of friends to lay that one. Polo and I go back too far. He was the 1st DJ who really saw something in me early, and eventually broke my 1st single ‘CoppaTone’ when I was like 17. Whenever I come home, I like to stay close to my roots. Keeps you grounded when your constantly moving from place to place on the road.
We layed the lead vocals for Look Up in North Carolina, and I had a long time friend, Bonita (aka Evil Twin), lay some real emotional vocals under everything. I wanted to bring the soul onto the track, and she is a scientist at it.
Around the time I was signed to Billy Danze’s (M.O.P.) label We Build Hits (WBH), I was living between NYC and DC. Whenever I would touch down in NY I would host open studio sessions in my crib in Harlem for all my artist friends. Everybody would just come through, blow it down, drank, get loose, and get at the mic. Shit would be lit!
‘Shot Away’ was a song that came out of one of those sessions. My brothers Mic Blaque and Path P. heard the beat and just went. It was like that old Wu Tang style, whoever got the hottest 16 1st is up!
After we layed the vocals I needed something to tie it all together in the hook. I was watching this documentary called ’20 Steps From Stardom’ about these underrated black background singers that were used to add soul to white rock singers music. One in particular was stirring. This chick has pipes!! The intro from The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” was perfect for a beat like this. My man Ronve’ is a master of making these triumphant beats. Like movies on hip hop tracks.
I chopped the vocals and layed it into the hook. I knew that was it when I heard it altogehter.
Pop Off ft. [Blaque] Bird Produced by The Dopesh!te. Written by A. Sator (BMI). Music is a recreation of 9th Wonders ‘unknown’ demo beat.
Bird and I must’ve recorded this demo too many years ago to count. We’ve always had a problem clearing the music, until I formed The Dopesh!te. We were able to take the inspiration from an old demo beat, and build on it to recreate the vibe we needed.
The song is a metaphorical innuendo using guns as symbolism. The attraction one has to a gun, and the power it gives them, alike a very charismatic lover that you can’t resist.
Shooting the scene for which the song appears in the film, was very edgy. I came up with the idea of having a sexy chick playing with guns sexually. Every time we scheduled the shoot with a model, none of them would show. I thought we were cursed with bad luck. So I kicked the idea aside to come up with something else.
Bird, unaware of my idea, came up with the exact same vision for the scene using herself as the talent. I thought it was bold, but I understood she trusted no one else’s eye shooting her in that light, but mine.
Ive always loved Led Zepplin and this was one of my favorite songs in their catalog. I love it as it is, so I didnt want to chop it too much. I wanted to keep the live feel, so we subtly enhanced a few drums and chords here and there.
The song is about our state of being, ‘Dazed & Confused’. A very lost culture trying to find the right footing that really matters. A youth gone wild from disillusionment and disappointment with the truth we’ve been fed about the system. We are all searching for a clarity. For some, that clarity can only come through drugs, or self hate. False senses of pride or safety. The dazed and confused.
Cash Shit ft. J Finale & Jay Mail Produced by unknown. Written by A. Sator, J. Danzy, & J. Watson (BMI)
I was with my homies J Finale and Jay Mail one night and we just pulled up on a studio and layed this shit. It was just a good record for all of us to talk our shit on. Our cash shit on. Something for the strip clubs and hustler’s out there riding all night picking up and dropping off.
This was definitely a family affair, having the homies in the room. We recorded it in some dudes bedroom that Finale knew. I remember he had a little dog that was shitting on the floor. I think he cheated us on the mix , but we couldn’t find him after we layed it. Some ol’ High Point shit, ya know.
This was fun to make. Alittle something for the trap. BenNY is dope on that real hard boom bap type of shit. When I heard the beat, I knew it was gonna be a banger with the right words. I wanted ‘Rise Up!’ to be motivational for my street neggaz. Something to wake up and start moving to. Its for the beginning stages of that epiphany of ‘wokeness’. Like the start of that spark.
For people where Im from, they are seldom gonna listen to you unless you can relate to their circumstances. This song was for my city. I’m speaking to people in my world. Reaching out to those who feel like changing.
Me & Ronve’ probably hit it off more than anyone in my time with WBH. He’d come through the studio wherever I was and we’d just get it in. We have a whole album of shit together that we never released. We just have a good chemistry in the lab. We always had an instant vibe.
The track was produced by my man Black Trackz. We recorded it over his house one night. This was the 1st track Ronve’ & I ever recorded and wrote to. I’m such a competitive rapper when Im on a track with other people. This was also at a time that all of us had something to prove being new signees to Billy’s label. I knew after this track here, that this negga could hang with me on a beat.
I met Kokayi when I was a DJ on Wheat Bread Radio. A DC friend of the show passed his music along to me and told me he was someone I needed to fuck with. The kid was fucking nice. A real musician. I love his movements and grooves.
‘Anti’ was a track that stood out so strong I called him immediately when I heard it and asked him if it was available. He told me no at 1st, which broke my heart. For some reason, a year later I called him back and asked about the beat again and sure enough he told me it was available again. By then I’d already written the song and recorded the demo of it. I sent the scratch vocals to Bird and told her to take the words I’d written for the hook, and bridge and give me something more creative. I let her play with alot of the bridge and her harmonies. I loved what she did.
Once we finished it, I felt like it was one of the best songs Ive ever done. It introduces Bird to the world on their level as well as ours.
Let’s just say this song was made out of a semi-true story. I gave Arin the concept to write her verses to, and we both came up with a smooth swing to loop on the guitar. I love the version of the song with just Arin singing and me playing the strings. I took my time with the rap. I wanted to say alot in as little space as possible, so I would’nt take away from what Arin had done.
In the end the song gives me chills sometimes. Its was a very vulnerable moment for us both on that record. It can be interpreted so many ways for so many people. Its more of a feeling, or raw emotion, than a story.
When it came time to score the moment in the film that illustrates how much love Starr & Caktuz share between one another, This song spoke volumes throughout the scene. It took on new meaning to the story.
I saw a meme one day that read something like; ‘find something you love to do , and let it kill you’. I started thinking about that afterwards, and kinda came up with a quote that works more for me. “Find something in this life that you love, and let it kill you..”
For me its about finding your passion, and diving fully into it. Let it take you to the ends of the earth and back again, ya know. Whatever you wanna do in life, whatever you wanna be, just dive in. Let it kill you a thousand times just to be the same thing to give you life. If not but for one moment in time. Its a serenade to the heart of the dreamers.
I’d demoed the song when I wrote it, but heard this real higher pitched female croon in the hook. Helen and I know alot of the same people, and had ran into one another in DC. We set up a mobile studio at her apartment one night, and fleshed out the vocals through out the song. I wanted all the vocals to feel like they were apart of the movement of the music.
I lived with that song for months and never got tired of listening to it. Front to back. Its still one of my favorite songs. Not only because of the moment in time I was able to illustrate, but its not your typical rap song. It feels like so many other things. Overall, I think it can apply to alot of peoples true passions in life.
I heard the original record, ‘I’ve Got Dreams To Rememeber’ by Otis Redding, playing one day and couldn’t get it out my head. It really spoke to me and trudged up alot of memories of my past, people Ive lost, my family, etc. Just thinking of all the dreams we’ve shared coming up. How many of us never got to see our dreams manifest. Alot of them never lived to see me make it this far. A whole lot of broken dreams.
There was alot going on in my personal life at the time I recorded this whole project, and ‘Dreams’ was one of those songs that really summed up alot of the anxiety I was feeling over alot of people in my life at the time. Some were still there, and others were making their transition out. For better or worst I will always have dreams to remember…even more to forget.