The Story Behind My Radiohead Cover

Shorty after turning my last album Adventures in Counter-Culture in to Rhymesayers, we began having weekly or bi-weekly meetings to discuss the release of the album and any ideas that would help create awareness about it.

One of the things we talked about was how many of my own fans actually overlook the fact that I produce all of my own solo material.  My presence as a vocalist, and even being a front man on stage, seems to take the eyes off of what I do behind the boards.  I had produced three albums for Illogic, one each for Zero Star and Envelope, one solo album for myself, and five Greenhouse albums, yet my casual fans had no idea.  This realization led to some brainstorming about ways create more awareness of Blueprint the producer.

One of the first ideas was to try to have me walk through the making of certain beats, or even just show me creating beats.  I was never really too enthusiastic about this idea, mostly because I’ve always felt that hip-hop production was such a closed-off and private process, that most producers wound up being boring by default.  Looking for entertainment value in something that a bunch of introverted people create seemed kind of risky to me.  It wasn’t a bad idea by any means, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk looking boring.

The next idea was based on the rising popularity of producers chopping up familiar samples and creating beats out of them; almost creating hip-hop covers of those songs. This one seemed a bit more doable, but I had never really considered doing a cover of another person’s song and wasn’t even sure the world wanted to hear me do one.  This was shortly after I turned in Adventures in Counter-Culture, and long before anybody had heard songs like “So Alive” where I’m singing.  As a result, I was a bit hesitant.  We had some discussion about a cover that P.O.S. did of a Pearl Jam song.  I remembered the video, but never thought me standing in front of an MPC felt natural.  I have a friend named Paul Dateh who has made a lot of noise doing cover songs on youtube, playing violin and singing.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think I was nearly as talented as he was at playing instruments to really pull that off either.

Needless to say, we never came to any agreement about it in that meeting.  I took everybody’s opinion into consideration, but didn’t have any intention on really following through with it unless something really jumped out at me.  It wasn’t that I felt it was a bad idea, it was more that whatever I did had to be true to who I was.  I couldn’t do what another artist did because I had to be happy with it myself.  Without a plan or direction, I felt a bit stuck.

About a week later, I was on a flight home from a spot date.  It was raining and dark, so I popped in Radiohead’s Amnesiac album.  That record seemed to fit the mood of the day perfectly.  I found myself singing word-for-word with the opening track, “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box.” That’s when the idea of recreating it popped into my head.  Technically, I knew I could do it, but as a huge fan of Radiohead – I was a bit hesitant.  I respected their music enough to not want to ruin it with a “hip-hop” interpretation that didn’t honor the original version properly. I decided that I would give it a try when I got home, and I would only let Rhymesayers hear it if it was solid.

Around the same time I had started building with a guy named Danny that I had known from around the Columbus hip-hop scene.  He ran a label for a while and used to throw events around the same time I was throwing events.  Danny eventually moved away to Norfolk, VA to go to school and booked me as an opener for a show there with Lupe Fiasco and the R & B singer Mario.  Besides being a very good payday, the show itself was somewhat of a disaster.  First of all, we were late getting there because of an accident.  Second, I decided that I was going to spit the most political and hardcore songs in my entire catalog to an arena full of radio-rap fans. I don’t even know if those kids were into it – they just kind of stared at me in shock.  To make matters worse, this was in 2009 when I was still drinking. I got kind of drunk before I got on stage and had no concept of time, so I ended up only playing twenty-minutes. It was probably one of the most punk things I’ve ever done.  Unfortunately, I was contracted to play thirty-minutes, so the university and event promoters docked my pay for every minute that I cut from my set.  It wasn’t a very strategic move on my part, but pretty funny looking back.  I took the loss like a man and didn’t even argue with them about it.  Time flies when you’re drunk, that’s for sure.  Rare Groove and I went out with Danny and his roommate Tyler after the show for some more drinks and laughed about it all night.  They were paying me way too much for that gig anyways so I looked at it as the universe putting things in their proper place.

While we were out kicking it with Danny and Tyler, they started telling me about their involvement in film and told me to keep them in mind if I ever had anything that they could get involved in.  I kept in touch with Danny from that day forward.

A year later, I mentioned to Danny that I had been given an idea of doing a cover song and had recorded a Radiohead cover.  Being a big Radiohead fan himself, he was into it and asked me if I had any ideas for the video.  I told him I was looking for some really simple, like me in the studio.  By then Danny was full-steam ahead with his production company Arris Productions, which consisted of Tyler, Danny, Tony Bumgarner, Antonio Crespo, Stan Moore, and Chris Cloud.  They were working on their first movie called The Enemies you Keep and were as ambitious as you could be; coming up with a video treatment that was way beyond my initial idea.  Their production team, Arris Productions, was the first real team I had worked with.  Before, I was just working with one or two guys for video shoots, but Arris rolled like five fingers balled into a fist, and that experience taught me a lot.  Each of them were really talented on their own and probably could have directed the video by themselves, but they all sacrificed their egos to come together to do a video for me just because they wanted to be a part of something dope.

A few months later, we turned in the video to Rhymesayers to get their feedback for it.  Rhymesayers really dug it.  The only issue was timing.  By then, the release of Adventures in Counter-Culture was coming up and there were already three music videos in line with release dates locked in.  We were stuck in a tight dilemma: it was slightly too late to include the song as a bonus song on the album and if we released the video it would cause confusion because the song wasn’t on the album.  I was lobbying for releasing it right after the video for “So Alive” but because the label and I both agreed that releasing two songs in a row with me singing on them could be confusing.  This was further complicated by the fact that I was on the road for over 200 days in 2011.  Without any more videos with me rhyming available, I decided to shoot a video for “Go Hard or Go Home” instead, hoping it would clear the way for “Packt Like…” music video.  The animated video for “Wanna Be Like You” was turned in much earlier than anybody expected, and ended up being slotted for release right after “Go Hard or Go Home.”

The next thing we knew it had been almost a year and we didn’t have a release date or plan for the “Packt Like…” song and music video.  At that point, I kind of knew that it would be best to just hold it off until I had a project that it could be used for.  I had no idea a project like Deleted Scenes would even be released, I just knew that I wanted their work to be seen because those guys all gave their all to make sure the video came out right.  Their professionalism is really inspiring and I admire their patience in working with me through a scenario that definitely wasn’t the best.

They say that every song has a story.  That’s definitely true for this one.  There were a lot of twists and turns but my Radiohead cover and video “Packt Like…” is  finally here.  Please check out the video and spread the word about it.

Word is Blog

Buy Deleted Scenes from Bandcamp (*includes two bonus remixes)
Buy Deleted Scenes from Amazon: vocal version  | instrumental version
Buy Deleted Scenes from Itunes: vocal version | instrumental version

Blueprint’s first book, “The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture” is available now!

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