Proph and Dirac, the group’s emcee and producer respectively, have cultivated a classic hip-hop sound built around jazzy keyboards, a steady groove, and matter-of-fact storytelling along the lines of A Tribe Called Quest, J. Dilla, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.
San Francisco musician Leon Zai sings the hook: “I just want to make it to the top / Fight against time, yeah I hear the ticking clocks / I want to be heard so I give it all I got / Not to be famous, but not to be nameless.”
“The name of the single ‘F.A.M.E.’ stands for ‘fighting against momentary existence,’ which loosely sums up the album as well,” says Proph. “I contemplate two different narratives within the song: what does my musical legacy look like after death without ever breaking into the industry? The second verse is more of my observation on hip-hop and how it’s an ageist culture. As much as I love hip-hop, unfortunately I feel like the culture is a bit finicky on who it celebrates. And though it has matured, it still stigmatizes age especially if you’re 30 plus trying to break into the genre.”
“Also, life is life, man,” he continues. “Depending on where you’re at after you’ve turned 30, trying to break into the industry might be an existential crossroads for you. If you really love music, you’re always going to create music whether it falls on deaf ears or not.”
Self-reflection and perseverance are threads that have woven in and out of Sound Minerz’ music since their last album The Prefix, but “F.A.M.E.” re-enters this territory with elevated levels of nuance and honesty.
Between Time album cover
On the production side of things, Dirac says: “We went through so many different iterations of ‘F.A.M.E.’ before really finding the right vibe. I read an interview in which one of my major influences, DJ Hi-Tek, stated that he makes two or three versions of each song and pitches them to the artist to see which they’d prefer. I really challenged myself to incorporate that approach into my modus operandi.”
“For me, this album is making my peace with my past, present, and future, and honoring both life and death,” says Proph. If “F.A.M.E.” is any indication, Between Time promises to be an excellent, introspective, and refreshing record.
Between Time is out January 25. Presave/preorder the album here.