How Do You Respond to Failure?

 

About six weeks ago, I was contacted about teaching two workshops on writing to a group of High School kids. The person who contacted me had originally reached out to me a couple years ago, but for whatever reason we weren’t able to make it happen.  It looked more likely this time around since my schedule was clear; I had been at home writing my book for several months straight and had no plans to be on the road for a while.

After giving it some careful thought, I confirmed the date and started to prepare.  Admittedly, I was nervous about teaching, but since I had more time to prepare I felt confident I could put something together that the students and I would be happy with. Continue reading

E-book version of “The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture” now available

For all my friends who have Kindles (or Ipad’s with Kindle Reader apps), the E-Book version of The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture is now available on Amazon.com for $5.99.  Click HERE or the cover to purchase.  Audiobook version will be available later this month.

Thanks for the support

Chip Away At Your Goals

In the spring of 2010, while I was on tour with Killah Priest, I had the idea to write a book about the making of Adventures in Counter-Culture.  I started jotting down thoughts and memories, emptying my head of everything that I could recollect about the process and everything that went into the creation of the album.  I wasn’t sure if I would ever finish it, but It was a cool activity to keep me busy during the long drives.

The album itself wouldn’t come out for a year, so my initial idea was to finish the book before the album was done so it would be available on the album’s release date.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  I was able to write up about three or four pages of notes but that was it.  Sadly, the initial idea for The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture book was filed away along with all the other ideas that I used to talk about but never finished.   I had a bucket list just like everybody else, which included items like sky diving, write a book, and make a movie, but during the two year period that I was drinking heavily nothing really seemed to get checked off of it.

Things started to change shortly after that 2010 tour with Killah Priest. Continue reading

Blueprint “Go Hard or Go Home” Music Video

The one year anniversary of Adventures in Counter-Culture is today.  In celebration we are releasing the official music video for “Go Hard or Go Home.”  The music video was shot on the south side of Columbus and directed by yours truly, Printmatic!  If you like it, please share it on your Facebook, Twitter, & Blog.  Pick up the album HERE

Word is blog

The Adventures of Blueprint “Go Hard or Go Home: Behind The Video”

It's been a while since since I've aired an episode of “The Adventures of Blueprint,” but have no fear, I'm back.  Brand new episode, baby!  This one talks about the upcoming video for “Go Hard or Go Home” and the circumstances that inspired its creation.  Check it out!

 

The official music video for “Go Hard or Go Home” will debut next week, on the one-year anniversary of the Adventures in Counter-Culture album.

Word is Blog!

How to Cure Writer’s Block

For those who write, writer’s block is the antithesis of expression.  As unseen as the common cold and as paralyzing to our creativity as any sickness that attacks our bodies. Those unfortunate enough to catch it are forced to carry on their lives voiceless in a world that barely gave them a voice to begin with.

As writers, we tend to beat ourselves up over it.  The longer it lasts the more we start to question everything that made us unique, how we got this far, and if we’re really cut out for this field of work.  We worry that maybe we just ran out of “stuff” to write about.  Maybe our lives are just boring and we have nothing to offer.  But following that line of thinking only leads to the most obvious solution, which is to go do something interesting so we’ll have interesting things to write about.  This sounds good on the surface but don’t be fooled.

I’ll explain. Continue reading

What I Learned From A 30-Year Old Drum Machine

Yesterday I bought a used Roland TR-606 drum machine from craigslist.  For those that don’t know, the Roland brand of drum machines are synonymous with most of the music released in the 80’s.  You would be hard-pressed to find a record from that era that wasn’t made using one of the Roland drum machines; the most popular being the TR-808 model.  This model is so popular that people just refer to its sounds as the 808 kit, and an “808” is now slang for the really deep bass kick that’s used all over the place.  Even if you didn’t know what it was, you’ve heard it a million times, especially on southern rap records and 80’s music.  The TR-606 I bought originally came out in 1982.

Even though I experimented with the 80’s sound on Adventures in Counter-Culture, I never owned any vintage gear, so I had to work from memory and studying those styles more than actually owning the gear they used to create it.   I would’ve loved to own some vintage gear in the past but it’s usually pretty expensive, and I didn’t know if I would be using it enough to justify the purchase.  Luckily, I saw the 606 on craigslist for a price that was in my budget, so I went for it.  I spent a few hours last night going through the user manual and learning how to use it, and while it hasn’t even been 24 hours since I brought the TR-606 home I’ve been reminded of something that was starting to get a bit lost. Continue reading

Being Nervous is Good For You

I often get asked by friends and fans if I get nervous before I get on stage, and my answer for the past 10 years has always been “no.”   When I say I don’t get nervous most people think it’s because I’ve got nerves of steel or that my confidence is just so high that I can’t be shaken by being in front of unfamiliar crowds, but the truth is a little more complicated than that.

Early in my career, I wasn’t nervous because I was too nieve to be nervous.  I was playing shows in my city but hadn’t really left yet and could still count on knowing the majority of the faces in the crowd.  Shows were social events more than shows back then and it was easy to be comfortable.  At that point being nervous about performing would’ve meant that I actually understood the long term scope of what I had gotten myself into, and that I wasn’t just out there having fun.  It was easy to be comfortable when you don’t know how bad things could go, and what you could lose in terms of fan support by doing really bad shows.  Truth be told, if i would’ve actually understood things a bit more at this stage I probably would’ve been nervous enough to piss my pants.  Everybody goes thru this stage. Continue reading

The Struggle of Getting Music Out

2012 marks the tenth year that I’ve been a full-time artist. Without a doubt it’s the most rewarding career I’ve ever had.  It’s also the most challenging, although in completely different ways than my previous jobs.

I remember when I was considering resigning from my job back in 2001, I went around getting advice from other self-employed people, in hopes of getting encouragement or advice before I made the leap.  One of the people I spoke to was named Todd Buck and he ran an in-home studio on the west side of Cincinnati that I would routinely use for mastering the first few albums I ever released.  He had just made the decision to move his studio and business out of his basement and to a larger one on the opposite side of town.  He had only been self-employed for a year at the time so I asked him for some advice. Continue reading

Blueprint feature in the Orlando Weekly

Last week when i was in Orlando, their weekly paper The Orlando Weekly did a great feature on me and Adventures in Counter-Culture.

Please check it out here: http://orlandoweekly.com/music/under-the-radar-1.1245038

Here’s an exerpt:

In 2005, Al Shepard stopped by the headquarters of Power 107.5 FM, a radio station in his hometown, Columbus, Ohio. Shepard had ties to hip-hop, and so did the station, but each had a vastly different idea of what makes the genre great. Traditionally, Shepard raps over self-made beats as Blueprint, keeping his work low on coolness and flash, and heavy on honesty. Slang doesn’t play into his verses much and he’s consistently willing to experiment with different moods and sounds in his beats. (He’s had albums issued by stately indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers.) Continue reading

Blueprint announces the “Sunshine State of Mind” Tour

 

Hello Friends.  Although it’s officially winter I would like to announce the Sunshine State of Mind Tour, a week-long headlining tour that will be brought to the sunniest of sunny places, Florida.  If you live in the state of Florida, I would like to officially invite you out to one of the shows.


Blueprint Tour Dates:

Thursday December 15th – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum: details & RSVP
Friday, December 16th – Orlando, FL @ The Social: details & RSVP
Saturday, December 17th – Jacksonville, FL @ The Phoenix Taproom: details and RSVP
Sunday, December 18th – Orlando, FL @ Blank Space (Producer Showcase): details and RSVP
Tuesday, December 20th – Lake Worth, FL @ Propaganda: details and RSVP

Thanks for the support,

Printmatic!

I’m working on a new album

 

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to say.  In fact it’s the opposite.  I’ve had a lot to say, I just haven’t had the time to sit down and say it.

But I do want to say this: I’m currently knee deep into working on my follow-up to Adventures in Counter-Culture.

It doesn’t have an official title yet, it doesn’t have any guest appearances on it yet, but trust me that it’s definitely underway and could possibly be finished by the end of this winter.  Continue reading

Columbus Producer Community

To all my friends out there that do beats and are from the Columbus area, as the winter approaches we start to get close to that time that is typically the most depressing yet the most productive for us.  Since we can’t go out, we make beats.  If you are one of those people, and would like to get out of the house and share your work, I have an idea.  I would like to build a Columbus Producer Community.  Nothing even very formal, but just a place where we can all meet up and share our work (either weekly, biweekly, or monthly), at a spot with a nice PA, probably during happy hour or something.  If there’s enough interest I will get the spot.

I think it would help build community and inspire us all, two things that are always needed.  I’ve never been one for beat battles myself, because I always felt like the beats had to fit a certain type of sound or style for a producer to be successful in that format, and also because they don’t really build community.  So I would like to try something different.  I’ve got a lot of cats in mind already, and you probably already know who you are.   If I don’t know who you are and you’re interested in participating in this please e-mail me at info(at)printmatic.net and send me the links to your work.

Thanks in advance.

Artists that have influenced me: Bjork

More than ever, since the release of Adventures in Counter-Culture, one of the questions I get asked the most often is who my favorite artists are and what artists have influenced me. I guess back when my album 1988 came out it was pretty obvious, but now its not so clear since adventures is such an eclectic album.

I realized the other day that while the people who hang around with me know that my taste in music is extremely varied, the people who listen to my music may not, so I always thought it would be cool to actually write about artist or songs that influenced and inspired me.

The first artist I would like to talk about is Bjork. Continue reading

Blueprint News Update – September 2011

Hey Friends.  It’s been a while since I’ve written so I figured I would write one post that summarizes all the stuff that’s been going on.  This will also be my first newsletter that I’m sending to those that subscribe to my mailing list as well.  Continue reading

Adventures in Counter-Culture is in stores now!

Alright folks.  Today is the day.  My new album is in stores right now.  You can get it from itunes, pretty much any mom & pop store, on-line at fifthelementonline.com as well as chains like Best Buy.  I’m gonna spare you the sales pitch and just say that I’ve put a lot of time into it so obviously it would be great it you picked it up.  I’m going to be flying back to Columbus to do an in-store at Magnolia Thunderpussy at 7pm today, so I’m not going to be online a much until later, but feel free to hit this post up and let me know what you think of it if you’ve got it already.

Pre-order Adventures In Counter-Culture now from Fifth Element Online! You can still pre-order today and get the bonus materials! Every pre-order will receive a bonus Weightless Radio CD for FREE, a 27 track instrumental album of previously unreleased beats produced by Blueprint and only available at Fifth Element. The vinyl features a custom limited and numbered double LP picture disc in a full color printed jacket. It also includes an 8 page booklet with lyrics, liner notes, and digital download card. You don’t want to miss out on this exclusive deal, only from Fifth Element!

Pre-Order today: Fifth Element (with exclusive bonus instrumental disc) | iTunesAmazon

Here’s the information on the inst0re today: Continue reading

Blueprint, MTV, and “Selling Out”

The Adventure

I started working on Adventures in Counter-Culture 5 years ago.  At the time I started working on it I was fed up with everything around me; television and its stereotypical and harmful images, commercial radio, the stagnation of the music (even in the hip-hop scene that I’m a part of), and society in general.  To me, there had become too many rules, too much routine, too much recycling of ideas and concepts.  So as far as I was concerned I didn’t want to be a part of of that anymore, even if it meant that I had to challenge even the things that I’m known best for as an artist.

That’s what counter-culture is.

So as I took on this task of trying to destroy everything I knew musically and socially, I immediately realized that there would be risk involved, but I made the journey primarily for me so I didn’t care.  I had to do it for myself.  Make the music that I wanted to make, become the person I wanted to be, free of expectations and rules, so that I would know that I’m not just another artist playing it safe like everybody else, making the same boring record over and over again just because it makes them money.

When this entire scene that I’m a part of began to pop off in the early 2000s, it was because the music was different and progressive.  It expanded and inspired many.  Unfortunately, there came a point where it began to recycle itself and became stagnant, depending on the same ideas, styles, and concepts to stay successful, but not growing.  That’s what I’m fighting against.  I realize that everybody may not be with me on that, or even understand my desire to distance my music from what I consider to be formulaic and boring, but there’s no turning back for me. Continue reading