What happens when the world of Wise Intelligent [of legendary Poor Righteous Teachers’ fame] collides with Dallas, Texas, based producer Gensu Dean, née Shavuden S. Allah? The end result is their “Universal Scientific” collaborative LP, ‘Game of Death’ [Mello Music Group]…
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Let’s hop right into these latest singles, “G.O.D.,” with accompanying video clip, and “Amen” — Tell me about these particular compositions? How did they even come to fruition?
Wise Intelligent: Well like many Hip Hop compositions, things usually begin with beats. Upon hearing the instrumentation for the two songs, the lyrical direction and subject matter came to me almost immediately. The beat Gensu provided for “Amen” summoned the black church pre-civil rights movement. When the church’s musicians were also the blues musicians providing the gospel for the church by day, and the deep down dirty blues for the juke-joint by night. So in that energy, lyrically, I mashed it all up – Willie Dixon meets Josh White “The Singing Christian,” the church meets the juke-joint.
Gensu Dean: Well for my contribution to the song (the music) “G.O.D.,” it was a triumphant beat. At the time, I was going through serious challenges in my life and had taken a break on creating music all together. As I started to emerge out of the slightly depressive state I was in, I wanted to create a musical piece that would reflect my return, or the renewing of my history (life). So I knew the beat had to be strong, up tempo, and full of energy. There had to be a certain level of movement, and the “G.O.D.” beat was the result.
…When I cooked up the beat for “Amen,” I was basically wanting to create (musically) an electronic, but moody type of vibe. However; it’s important to note that when I create music I don’t create with any particular artist in mind. I just follow my spirit and the direction the sound source takes me. I usually don’t think of what artist would sound good on it, until after the beat is done.
“G.O.D.” and “Amen” come courtesy of your just released debut, as a duo anyway, full length studio collection, ‘Game of Death’ — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you all?
WI: From the moment you’re pushed out of your mama’s womb, that birthing into this physical reality is both your first day of life and first step on a journey towards death (inevitable fate of the living). All of life from that point is a fight to stay alive (causality of form). A battle it seems versus an invisible opponent you have no way of defeating. So, how do you win this game of death? You win at the moment you realize that you are everything (ALL), and unique (individual) at the same time. Which means that you were always here – yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow (infinite). Although not necessarily in the same form (all energy is constant, but ever changing). Realization that you are formed of undifferentiated, homogeneous, infinite POWER, is to know that you are God…
GD: The title, just as the music, is multi layered. For one, it can be viewed as an acronym for GOD, which in turn has many layers to it within itself. Another layer is Wise’s masterful delivery in highlighting the Black experience regarding life’s many challenges. From music to economics, to music and religion, these are all aspects of life we all must navigate through, just as one would do when playing a game. When the listener listens to the album from 1 – 0, they should be able to conclude how the ‘Game Of Death’ applies to them.
In having said that, what all specific details; i.e. favorite tracks, producer credits, cameo appearances, etcetera, can you all reveal and/or divulge about your premiere set at this point in time?
GD: In terms of production, I did all the production and Wise blessed the mic. There are (2) other vocal appearances on the album at the intro and outro, from two of my closest brothers and supporters (Hakhem & Akil). They share a few thoughts regarding Life and Death. There are a few things in the works for possible remixes, which will feature other respected and skilled MC’s. But that’s about all I can reveal at this time. As for favorites, man…It varies with each listen! *Chuckles*
Sonically, how does ‘Game of Death’ measure up to what people already know and love you all for through your many works as either a soloist or Wise with your PRT brethren? How then does the new material either differ and/or compare to previous efforts?
WI: Sonically it differs greatly, due in large part to the production. We both (Gensu & I) hail from an era in Hip Hop where you could be inspired by other emcees and producers, but biting their shit was a felony. Punishable by banishment into the realm of utter wackness! *Laughs* That said, Gensu brings Gensu, not Tony D, not Father Shaheed, not Culture Freedom, not Masada, not DJ Pocket, or anyone else I’ve worked with. ALL dope ass producers who would elevate any emcee’s game, but ALL DIFFERENT and adding their own approach to the craft. So the sonic difference for me is that it’s uniquely Gensu Dean.
GD: For me, sonically I wanted this record with Wise to outdo “everything” I put out that proceeded it. It’s important to me to elevate my sound with each release, without losing or sacrificing the integrity of what I stand for as a creator. I took the record to the great DITC Studios (Bronx NY) and had it mixed with Parks, who is an amazing DJ/producer, and most of all studio/sound engineer. He works with many of the greats to include DJ Premier to Showbiz (from the legendary DITC). Together we were able to capture the sound I wanted, then my main man Jimi (Klearlight Studios, Dallas TX) added his special sauce for the mastering and…BOOM!
‘Game of Death’ is a Mello Music Group project — What particular string of events actually led up to this inking?
WI: Gensu called me! *Laughs again* But for real…he reached out to me. I’m glad that he did.
GD: I am one of the artists signed to Mello Music, so all of my releases since 2012 have been with them. Mello is the home team. When it was time for me to work on another project, I wanted the honor to work with Wise. Thus, I made it happen and Mello backed me.
Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you all, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
WI: Well the music industry has changed much – analog vs. digital; 2 inch tape vs. Pro Tools; samples vs. keyboards; record shops vs. downloads; drum machines vs. FruityLoops; peer-2-peer sharing vs. buying your shit; multiple rap styles in mainstream vs. same 10 song playlists; radio vs. streaming; phone companies vs. record companies dictating the formats, etc., etc. As far as myself changing, I don’t believe any of those things have changed me (at least not characteristically). I will say, however, that my writing is light years ahead of where I was in 1990. More focused, more controlled, more contextual and interpretive.
GD: As far as the industry changing, that’s a deep issue. Having said that, the short answer for me would be the respect for artist and the music has changed drastically. The value in the craft of making beats/beat culture, or emceeing has diminished. because everyone is now able to do it, no longer is it viewed as special. This effects everything from show attendance, to record sales. As an artist, I have/had to evolve with the time, but again without sacrificing my principles and being other than my own self.
Longevity, what do you all attribute yours to?
WI: I would attribute my longevity to the fact that I don’t write for, nor within any particular era. My writing is from the vantage point of the history, experience, triumphs and struggles of a people and not an era. Therefore as long as there are people going through shit, my message will be relevant; and I’m an all around fresh muthafucka – if I’d say so myself! *More laughter*
GD: I will better be able to answer that once I have as many years rocking as Wise does. *More chuckles*
What do you all want people to get from your music?
WI: For me, that Hip Hop is not, and never has been, constricted to this dangerous, dumb ass, dangerous single-narrative, mainstream mediums have shaped and maintained of black men and the black community in general.
GD: Enjoyment, entertainment, and enlightenment.
On a more serious note, are you all happy with the current state of Hip Hop? And, even more specifically, where exactly do you all “fit in” when it comes to today’s current/trending sound-scape?
WI: The state of Hip Hop has not changed for me. Unless what’s being financed, marketed and played by major/mainstream corporations has erroneously become our litmus for what Hip Hop is/isn’t, its state and or condition. Outside of mainstream, corporate, mostly rich white men controlled platforms Hip Hop is as dynamic and diverse as its ever been. It’s still political, conscious, gangster, sophisticated, spiritual, mobilizing, active, party & bullshit, and both male/female are STILL represented in the culture of emceeing – as well as the other elements of Hip Hop. We have to stop letting non-Hip Hop entities control the perception and narrative of what Hip Hop is or isn’t.
GD: There are aspects of today’s Hip Hop that I think are awesome, yet there are more things that I dislike (see answer to previous questions *Chuckles again*). As far as “fitting in,” I try not to look at it that way. I just make music that moves my spirit, in hopes that it will one day touch someone else and move them as it did me when I created it.
Do you all have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
WI: Sustainable living…
GD: To be a teacher/educator on a collegiate level.
What has been your greatest career achievement(s), at least thus far anyway?
WI: To have a young lady reveal to me that her parents were my biggest fans and that they named her (their daughter) “Shakiyla” because of that song. She said she’s learned what it means, tells all of her friends and strives to be thus. That was the greatest achievement for me.
GD: For me, that is a reoccurring thing. As I see it, each record I put out is a blessing and thus a great achievement. One is no more important than the other.
Lastly, what’s next for you all?
WI: I’m working on 5th period of my 7 Period boxset entitled “Back 2 School.” 1st Period was ‘The Talented Timothy Taylor’; 2nd Period ‘The UnConkable Djezuz Djonez’; 3rd Period ‘El Negro Guerrero’; 4th Period ‘Stevie Bonneville Wallace.’ I also, released ‘TheBlueKluxKlan’ in February of this year. You can expect a slew of new music videos (that started) the 27th of this month, and every week after for a minute.
GD: Hopefully, more records…
Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
WI: Connect with me on Twitter: @wiseintelligent, on IG: @wiseintelligent, on FB: Wise Intelligent…for collabs, panels, shows, etc.: booking@wiseintelligent, for merchandise: www.wiseintellige
GD: No Sir!
Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
WI: Thank you all for reading!
GD: I want to thank you for sharing your platform with us, and allowing the opportunity to freely express our thoughts and views with your readers. I appreciate you. Peace!! GD
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