[Editor's Note: Spare Notes is a Weekly music feature highlighting outtakes and personal stories from bands who just finished working their asses off to put out new music.]
There's usually something borderline awkward about listening to rapper's CD while you're in the car with them. You hope you like it, but what if you don't? What if you can't hide the fact t that you don't like it? The possibility of their anger and disappointment inspiring them step on the gas and drive you off a cliff is always in the back of your mind.
Luckily, as I listen to rapper C4mula's freshly-minted, sarcastically-titled new offering, "Another Stupid Mixtape Too," the Orange-based rapper's mixture of battle rap bars and deep diary entries rocks well in the cabin of his black, Lincoln SUV. It's about 10 p.m. near the Santa Fe train station in downtown Fullerton. We're parked. That's a good thing. Mostly because C4mula can't help but spit his verses over the actual recording, his hands leaving the wheel to trace the air over the dashboard in time with his rhyme cadence.
Razor tongued delivery and a wild, wide-eyed grimace remain an indelible part of his style. But as he raps, it's clear the new mixtape trades most of his braggadocio for a much deeper perspective on his life, his personal family struggles with substance abuse and the general hazards of being a white rapper. On a weeknight in between spitting verses and sipping beer, the MC who's done everything from ghost write for major artists to rap for crowds at charity food drives talks about his newest release and a few of the important elements of his identity that have changed over the course of releasing it. And in case you haven't realized it, the quality of the rhymes will definitely inspire you to bob your head rather than drive off a cliff.
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On the inspiration behind his track "Expose the Heart"
"It's about my dad dying on the couch [from cancer] when I was younger, we basically watched him wither away and my mom's wondering how we're gonna pay bills and pay for our house. And I'm saying all these things and it's depressing. But at the end of the song, I talk about meeting everybody again at the end. And I'm here right now to say it. So that just shows you that no matter what you go through, these seconds passing that I'm speaking to you means that a lot more positive shit has happened in my life.
As far as that beat, I actually wasn't made for me at first, it was for another rapper. I didn't know though. I wrote three verses one day when we were recording at this studio in Malibu. Everyone else I was doing the session with over there went to sleep one night and I couldn't sleep, so I was up and I just wrote these raps to no beat. So when I was running through some beats for the album, a lot of them were shitty and then I came across this one and so I went in the recording booth and laid three verses. Then the producer walks in and tells me the beat was already made for somebody else. But I spit it for him and he said it sounded dope. And with the subject matter I was talking about, he was just let me have it at the end of the day."
On getting his rap name and the song on this mixtape that inspired him to possibly change it:
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I have this song on the album called Cloudy Sun, and that shit means a lot to me. One of the verses goes like this:
"Broken backpacks and cracked CDs, back then they would'nt act like they could rap with me. Now it's a big damn game, kids campaign, lookin' through the dictionary tryin'a pick that name."
Now everyone's rap name is like Quasar to the 3rd or some shit. My name is C4mula, but those lyrics are kind of making me think about ust changing it back to my real name, Andrew Bowman. The name C4mula, or rather "C4" came from a hilarious situation. I didn't pick my name. Now it sounds tough, back then, it was a joke because I went to school and I had this Anarchist Cookbook and I had all these pages on how to make bombs and C4 and Semtex. I copied it down and I got called to the principle's office because someone told on me. So they sent me home and later I was in a disciplinary board meeting and my mom is crying and shit. And they let me back into school and told me I had to go to anger management classes. So they let me back into school and on the first day this dude in one of my classes was like "What's up C4?!" So for years people called my C4 after that and C4mula is just what it transitioned to.