San Clemente rappers Innate & EP have stepped away for a musical moment from their group Rock Bottom to release Such As I last month. The duo's new album grooves along relaxed beats and uplifting rhymes. "People often ask if I make a living off what I love / I tell them I got love and it's more than enough," the lyrics declare off the opening track "Everything" which sets the tone for the rest of the way. Samples aren't solely relegated to chopping up snippets of sounds to complete a beat, but draw from the voices of personal and political gurus as well. Wisdom from the late Black power activist Eldridge Cleaver and J.Krishnamurti is peppered in between elevating Such As I's offerings.
Innate and EP first worked with each other when Rock Bottom was formed with Bumps the Goosegot back in 2006. Three years later they dropped their debut LP Expanding the Cage hittin' stages from coast to coast. Before the pair rock back-to-back shows this weekend, the Weekly catches up with the rhymers about their latest endeavor.
Gabriel San Román (OC Weekly):What made you want to make a duo album apart from Rock Bottom? Innate: I had moved out to Austin, Texas in 2011. Anthony came out to visit me and I had been making a lot of beats. We started out there hoping to come back to make a Rock Bottom project out of it. Like I said, the hassle of life kind of catches up with things and unfortunately, Bumps [the Goose Got] wasn't able to be on this one. It kind of ended up working out that way. It wasn't a planned thing.
Is live instrumentation always something you all have done in terms of making hip-hop beats? EP:Nate produced the majority of the first Rock Bottom album all off an MPC. Live instrumentation has been a newer endeavor for us. Since the first record, I learned how to play the piano and Nate learned how to play the bass. We all grew creatively. We slowly started incorporating live instrumentation into the record.
On the album 'Such As I' there's a golden age 90's era of hip-hop feel of it. Apart from live instrumentation where did the inspiration come from in terms of the sound that was created? Innate: That sound comes from sampling records. I guess a lot of people are getting away from that maybe because clearances, but we never worry about that too much. The beats we grew up on and that we really like, that's how they were made. I mean, keyboard beats are cool, but I think that there's something special about that time period. You can't create that sound without sampling.
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Lyrically, the songs have a real positive vibes and messages. How is that a conscious reflection of you as MCs? EP:We really wanted to make an album that was positive and honest to the lives we live as people. It wasn't so much us saying we're going to sit down and this record has to be positive. We were more like this record should be honest and should be something we can connect people without having to make excuses for it. We're not perfect people by any means. We wanted to make something that was going to good for all age groups. It turned into what it turned into. We've always been lyrical hip-hop. It's a natural process.
You've got some shows coming up. For those who haven't seen you do you thing live, what can hip-hop heads come to expect? Innate: We've been involved in the Orange County hip-hop scene since 2005-2006. We've been laying low on doing shows and have just been working on music. That's the most important part for us, making albums, shows come second and social media comes way last. [Laughs] EP: Fans should expect a good time. We put a lot of time and effort into our shows. We've gotten good responses since we started performing this album. We've only done a handful of shows since it came out. They should definitely expect no background vocals playing off the CD [Laughs]. We're going to bring good performances, something to look forward to.
Innate & EP perform at the Back 2 Basics Fest with The Pharcyde, Dilated Peoples 2Mex and more at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Sat., 4 p.m. $32.50. All Ages and again with 2Mex at the Tiki Bar, 1700 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa, (949)270-6262. www.tikibaroc.com, Sun. 7 p.m.