There are few local rappers who can come with enough lyrical material to construct two whole albums based on just the "best of "their own songs. Most are content to just write enough rhymes and siphon enough beats to throw ten tracks together.
But for a grinding, underground artist like Syntax Vernac of OC hip hop collective Speach Impediments (who talked to the Weekly back in April about their latest recordings,life lessons and diabolical plans for OC hip hop domination) being prolific is just part of the game. Last week, on Oct. 30, he dropped his latest self-released album, Timeframes, a compliment to his previous 2009 release, Timelines. Cobbling a mix of old and new material, Syntax (born Roger Tiborczszeghy) piles on another brick in a budding career that few people in Orange County really know about.
Maybe it's because he and his SI compadres have been toiling away on the release of their long awaited album Cobwebs for years. Maybe it's because he's busy touring and getting love from audiences in places like Arizona and Denver like so many talented OC hip hop artists who seek appreciative audiences elsewhere. Maybe it's because he currently resides in Vegas. In any case, the skills of this sharp-witted, slick tongued MC are worth a listen. Check out some free music below followed by an interview after the jump with Syntax about all the work that went into charting out Timeframes.
"Conflict", Syntax Vernac
"Conflict" by user52708 OC Weekly: How were these songs arranged? Is is a mix of older and newer material?
Syntax Vernac: Well, "Timeframes" is actually part two of a trilogy of projects. These particular albums are sort of mix-matched by hand. It's a blend of older material that I've done that may or may not have been previously released, tossed in there with newer music that I felt would best fit the vibe of each disk. The tracks on "Timeframes" in particular fit between recording sessions from 2001 all the way to 2009, but not in chronological order.
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OCW: Is recording a solo album an easier process for you than working on say a Speach Impediments record? What's easier about it? What's more difficult?
SV: Speach Impediments is my family with this. Recording, writing, doing shows... everything is easier with them. Doing solo stuff always feels like a bit of a chore. It's the type of thing that I always would LIKE to be doing, but when it's just me it seems too easy to procrastinate. On some, "I'll work on that one tomorrow" or "Maybe on my next day off I'll finish recording that verse" type-shit. There's no one to push me or hold me accountable when I'm lagging on solo stuff. So in that respect, solo projects are much more difficult for me.
OCW: Do you see this record as a complimentary piece to your previous release Timelines or are they two separate things in your opinion?
SV: Well, being that they're two parts of the same puzzle, it's definitely a complimentary piece to "Timelines." I almost like to think of them as being literally the same project, with "Timeframes" being the extension to "Timelines." I try to express that through starting "Timeframes" on track 13, rather than track 1. You can't see that type of detail when you purchase through a digital distributor like iTunes, but when people get hard copies of the album, they can see that on the back cover.
OCW: Which track on this album challenged you the most? Lyrically, emotionally, technically, etc.?
SV: My biggest challenge on this album was really just the mastering process. No song in particular was more challenging than the others. The actual process of recording and mixing is pretty much mechanical, second nature type stuff for me at this point. It was the whole sending off for mastering, paying for the time, then getting it back and hearing small glitches, or imperfections in the sound... then having to ship the original back again to smooth out the kinks, then listening to the new "master" and finding more problems, etc.
This album was the most difficult I've ever had to deal with in that respect. But it's always hard to take recordings from literally different YEARS, and different studios recorded on different equipment... it's hard to get so many diverse sounds to be compatible, and more importantly PRESENTABLE as a single, cohesive project.
OCW: Any plans to go on the road with your solo work?
SV: I definitely plan on hitting new areas with this one. The internet buzz is getting a little more broad for me, meaning people in different states and countries are starting to show interest. This was the first time I've ever held a record release party in a state other than California. I just got back from Denver, Colorado for the release. A completely new environment for me, but the response was amazing. I've also got some bookies asking for shows in Arizona, so I'll be hitting that area in a couple months as well. Traveling is always a fun experience for me in general, so put music in the mix and I'm pretty much as happy as I could ever be.
OCW: Care to comment on the status of Speach Impediments at this point?
SV: Speach Impediments are actually on the verge of something rather big at the moment. The "buzz" only seems to have gone down on the surface, with less traffic on the MySpace page, less shows, etc. But that's all on purpose. With us being more or less of a California-local group, we don't want to burn ourselves out in the same area without offering something new.
So we just lowered the frequency of live performances while we wrap up this project that's in the process of being mastered as we speak. The release is gonna be very interesting though. We're trying to break the monotony of SoCal shows with this one. So the venue, as well as the setting, are going to be very unique compared to the direction that SoCal hip hop has been going for the last however-long.
OCW: How long did it take you to put this record together?
SV: Technically, since 2001! Considering that's when the earliest recording was done. But realistically speaking, it was about a two or three month process hand-picking the tracks and arranging them to sound fluid when playing back to back. Then the whole mastering thing.
OCW: What elements of your personality come out of you when you rhyme? Is the man on the mic any different that the man off stage?
SV: Well, the man on the mic is very much the same as the man off stage. Even so much to the point that close friends still call me "Syntax" or "Vernac" when I'm nowhere near anything music related. It's all the same person. My projected voice on the mic may sound slightly different, or the level to which I express a point may be a bit more vivid when on record, but it's all one and the same. The stage is my forum to express thoughts. It would be musical blasphemy for me to put on an "act."
I see too many emcees "acting" on stage. They try to project what they feel the people want to see, rather than what comes natural to them. I basically vowed when I first started to never be that fake dude on stage. ANY lyric of mine is up for conversation. You can ask me anything related to my music and I'll have a way to expand on it for you.
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.