On 11/11/2016 I released an album titled Building Bridges under my imprint Bucktown USA with the help of my partner Cynical Smith and Vermont native Robert Ronci aka Es-K, which is short for Essential Knowledge. I also implored the creative assistance of newcomer VVS Verbal, who is a veteran in his own right.
After tireless persistence and dedication Es-K made the connection. He would send beat after beat and I would load them into my macbook where myself and many times Verbal would get to vibe with the tracks. Verbal took a liking to the tracks and even recorded to a few them. I personally never got a chance to record to anything.
One day, Es-K reached out to me and said he was working on a project called Serenity and asked if I would do the title song with AG of D.I.T.C. He said we were two of his favorite artist not to mention I happen to be cool with AG. What appealed to me more was the concept of the song. This was a dedication to a good friend Es-K had loss. This coupled with his honesty and persistence is what led me to make my final decision to do the song. The beat was smooth so it accommodated the concept perfect. A very heartfelt and intimate track that allowed the story teller to be clear and comprehensive. I enjoyed making this song as it was a very dear topic to me as well. It reminds me of the people close to me whom I had loss and miss so dearly.
This was to be Es-k’s first album with vocals on every song, prior to this, it was primarily instrumental projects. He went on to release cds, vinyl and cassette tapes with Cold Busted Records.. I thought this was special because not many people go through the expense of creating vinyl let alone cassette tapes which are believed to be obsolete.
Es-K sold every piece of vinyl each cd and every cassette, save the promo pieces. I was proud of him and inspired by his genuine excitement and work ethic. This began our conversation about doing more work together.
Es-K emailed me several beats to listen to. They were all interesting compositions, similar to the Serenity song and other stuff he did on thatproject. I had never did a full project over this jazzy style of production and I thought it would be cool to give it a try.
I figured this would be a good time to test VVS Verbal’s creative skills. I honestly didn’t want to sit there and listen all of them beats alone, besides I have a different way I like to vibe to music. I don’t really like the conventional method of playing beats in the studio, it can become tiring and misleading. Some artist like to do it that way, whereas I like to listen to music while I am doing regular day to day chores and running around.
I emailed all the beats to Verbal to listen to on his own time. We pretty much were on the same page because he picked most of the beats I was gravitating to as well. Our chemistry was perfectly in sync. Once we had selected the tracks we were gonna use, we begin to vibe to it as if it were a finished project. We discussed who we would like to go on which beat and things of that nature, so we already had an idea of who would sound good on what track. Some were more obvious than others so it all fell into place.
Verbal kicked it off. I was in one room doing interviews while he was in the other vibing and writing to the tracks. By the time I was done, he had already written a verse to at least one of the beats and I was like’ “ahhh sh*t, thats what Im talking about, getting right to the work”. All I had to do was follow the tone of the song which Verbal had set.
As I was writing my verse to the first track, Verbal had already moved on to the next track. Once again setting the pace and tone of the song. Verbal is an extremely talented writer with an impeccable work ethic and he’s familiar with this style of beats so I had no problem following his lead.
When we awoke the following day, we decided to dedicate that entire day to writing to all the beats we had selected, sort of like a marathon. We weren’t trying to force it but I was curiousto see how far we could push it.
I was impressed at how fast we were writing. Normally it’s difficult to write back to back without sounding monotonous or just plain boring. The melodious tracks were a change of pace, refreshing and interesting, they almost told a story before having vocals on them.
We chose 14 beats in total and breezed through the writing process like olympic swimmers going for the gold. We completed the entire process in less than 48 hours and were thoroughly satisfied. The following day we started the recording process in The Trenches. The first day we recorded 6 songs and the rest where completed within the week.
I wanted Es-K to digest the music slowly so I emailed only a few songs at a time. He was excited with the first batch because he didn’t think we were going to record to anything that fast and we also had chose one of his favorite beats. Little did he know we pretty much had the outline of the entire project done.
I then begin to send the other songs and told Es-K who we were considering for features. Of course my BootCamp Clik was on top of the list. I got my blood cousins Supreme The Eloheem and (Young) Coke on a song together. I also reached out to Smoothe The Hustler thinking he was perfect for the Empire State track. Rockness was a little tough because he mostly rhymes to Monsta beats and these were clearly of a different, more laid back design. I was happy we were able to find the perfect track for him in the last batch Es-K sent. That track was selected by Verbal, also featured Ruste Juxx and was produced by Central Parks.
We got features from Shabaam Sahdeeq, Napolean Da Legend and Shadow The Great of Loaf Muzik. Soulful singers, Stage One and Mar’rz Atomz make appearances but my personal favorites are “Just Live” featuring Buckshot and “Unforgettable” featuring Sean Price.
I always try to get Bootcamp members on any project I am working on. Sean was special because we recorded this song only a few weeks before he passed. Of course is was a striking blow to us all. I’m honored to have recorded this song with Sean for various reasons but most of all it speaks as a testament to our friendship, the contributions he made to Hip Hop as well as all the people he touched. Sean Price is truly Unforgettable.
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Unforgettable - General Steele, VVS Verbal, Sean Price