Greenhouse Effect conducted by Todd E. Jones  

The Blueprint To Successful Indie Hip-Hop

September 2005

Growth is an essential ingredient in the evolution of hip-hop. In order for the roots of the culture continues to spread, various regions are earning their due respect. 15 years ago, Southern hip-hop was just tiny addition to the culture. Today, the South not only is respected but has influenced the world. Midwest hip-hop has the same potential and diversity as New York and Oakland. Chicago gave us Twista, Kanye West, and Common. Detroit gave us Slum Village, J Dilla, Dayton Family, and Eminem. Minnesota gave us Atmosphere. What about Cincinnati, Ohio? J. Rawls and J. Sands are an excellent group called Lone Catalysts. Hi-Tek is a producer who is 1/2 of Reflection Eternal (with Talib Kweli).

Rappers Greenhouse Effect InterviewDuring this time, a minor independent label has been consistently releasing quality records. Owned by Blueprint, Weightless Records has a roster consisting of Illogic, Blueprint, Envelope, and DJ Dare Groove. His compilation, "The Weightroom" kept them under the radar but earned them a following. Fans and the press began to take not of Blueprint's unique production. Not only did he produce an entire compilation, but he produced whole albums for Illogic. While Blueprint's production talents earned him accolades, he had to satisfy his need to rock the microphone. His energetic delivery and signature vocal tone separated him from the typical backpacker hip-hop. Through the years, Blueprint's connections kept him deeply rooted in the culture.

While many emcees start out as members of a group, Blueprint is a member of a myriad of different groups. RJD2 and Blueprint teamed up as Soul Position and released "8 Million Stories" LP on Rhymesayers Records. The Iskabibbles include Blueprint, Manifest, and Aesop Rock. The groups are actually parts of a bigger group. Aesop Rock, Eyedea, Blueprint, Slug, & Illogic formed The Orphanage.

Blueprint's roots run deepest in his home, Ohio. Blueprint and Manifest (a close friend from college) teamed up to form Greenhouse Effect. Originally, Greenhouse Effect also included Inkwel. These days, the group consists of Blueprint and Manifest. Entirely produced by Blueprint, "Life Sentences" LP by Greenhouse Effect featured Vast Aire, Illogic, Bahdaddy Shabazz, and Plead the Ph5th. His production talents were displayed on his instrumental LP, "Chamber Music".

Blueprint ventured on as a solo artist. While fans embraced Blueprint's production on Illogic's LPs, and other Weightless albums, a real solo album was needed in order for Blueprint to be a whole artist. Weightless Records teamed up with Rhymesayers to release Blueprint's "1988" LP. A homage to a revered era in hip-hop, "1988" has all of the elements of the albums released during the late 1980's. Without an abundant amount of guests or various producers, Blueprint's "1988" LP was an honest statement on contemporary hip-hop. Blueprint did more than just prove that he could produce a quality album (like the albums released in 1988). His "1988" LP made people compare the average, weak LPs of today with the classic solid albums of hip-hop's golden era.

Life is like a circle and you end up where you start. Everyone goes back home eventually. After proving his capabilities as a solo artist, Blueprint went back to his Ohio roots. Manifest and him teamed up again and recorded "Columbus Or Bust" by Greenhouse Effect. Released on Weightless Records and Raptivism Records, "Columbus Or Bust" continues the formation of the signature Weightless sound. The humorous, "E-Thugs" is a much needed song about the people who act tough behind the anonymity of the Internet. Murs contributes a solid performance on "They Listen To This". "Still Shook" is Greenhouse Effect's own version of Mobb Deep's classic "Shook Ones Pt. 2". Fess and Blue may not be from the ghetto, but they maintain their own hardcore style. "Find Me At The Bar" proves why a neighborhood bar is more fun than a wild night club.

Blueprint has come full circle as an artist. Not only did he grow as an artist but his record label has become very successful and widely respected. The culture of hip-hop can only evolve with this type of growth within. As Blueprint brings the heat with Greenhouse Effect, he is following the blueprint for success and respect within the hip-hop culture.

MVRemix: As a group, Greenhouse Effect consists of Manifest and Blueprint. You guys just released your album, 'Columbus Or Bust'. Tell us about the LP.

Blueprint: It's been a long time coming. It's a new style. I'm happy with it. It's the first album and it feels like a brand new group.

MVRemix: How did you two meet?

Blueprint: Actually, this dude grew up around the corner from me, but I didn't know him at the time. We went to separate high schools, but we met at college. Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio."

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on the 'Columbus Or Bust' LP?

Blueprint: I don't think so, man. I don't know. It's like picking your favorite kid.

Fess: Right, right. I like them all.

MVRemix: Murs appears on 'They Listen To This'. How did you hook that collaboration up? What was it like to work with Murs?

Blueprint: I met Murs on tour. It was the 'God Loves Ugly' Tour with Atmosphere. It was the first tour I ever went on. We all toured. Me and Murs were like roommates. We toured together. We did like 70 shows in two and a half months. We were around each other every day. We always tried to put something together after that.

MVRemix: Was the collaboration with Murs recorded while together, in the studio, or was it mailed in?

Blueprint: Nah, it was done in the studio. He came to my place. He was here.

MVRemix: What song on 'Columbus Or Bust' took the longest to do, from conception to completion?

Blueprint: I would say the one with Jakki on it, 'You Must Learn'. That may have been the longest. You know, when you are actually talking about something and you don't want to regurgitate what everybody else is saying?

MVRemix: On 'Columbus Or Bust', you did your own version of 'Shook Ones Pt. 2' by Mobb Deep. Out of all of the Mobb Deep songs, why did you choose this one?

Blueprint: It started out as a show routine. We thought, 'Hey, man wouldn't it be funny?'. You know, when you see a live show, rappers will go out and rhyme to somebody else's beat. That's pretty common in rap shows. I started doing routines where I would take that to the next step. We would re-write that verse, or one part of that, when I used it. This was so it wouldn't just be me, rapping my rhyme over their beat. I wanted to make a real tribute to it, but rearrange the verses on it. We came up with the idea to do 'Shook Ones'. It came up at a show and it sounded good. We had to record it over that same beat just to learn it. Then, we kind of liked how it came out. We were like, 'Shit!' You know?

MVRemix: How do you think Mobb Deep would feel about your version of 'Shook Ones'?

Blueprint: They would probably think that it was either real weird or they would feel complemented. Maybe, they would feel that we were stalkers or that we were complementing them. (Laughs).

MVRemix: When creating a song, do you have the lyrics pre-written or a set theme? Or, do you hear the music first and then, write to the beat?

Fess: Now, I try to write to the beat. Sometimes, I come up with it, but in this business and group, I write to the beat. I just find it easier and I could be more apart of the song.

Blueprint: Yeah, I try to write to the beat. I come up with concepts ahead of time. There would be a lot of times where I would see something, think about it, and say to myself, 'I wanna write a song about that'. I would make a little note to myself. It takes it until you hear a track that puts you in that mood before you actually write the song.

>>> continued...

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