April 22, 2013

Article: Exclusive Interview with @gensudean & @planetasia

As a long-time fan of Hip Hop, I am very much enjoying the current trend of one artist linking up with one producer. There was a time where this practice was anything but trend-setting. It was the norm for the genre before the Internet and back-and-forth of sharing became common practice. This method, however, allows for a project to achieve a coherence otherwise made challenging with a dozen or so producers crafting beats to fit the overall vision of the album. Many critics –sometimes justifiably- dismiss these collaborations as forced or contrived; but, there are those projects that rise above the criticism and what remains is seamlessly flowing music, uninhibited by outside influences.

One such example is the latest endeavor by Gensu Dean and Planet Asia. Abrasions sees the producer/MC tandem in full swing as the album plays effortlessly from start to finish. Gensu and his trusty SP-1200 deliver a counterpunch for those looking for an alternative to the utter bombardment of microwaveable music. Planet Asia’s rhymes fit snugly inside the warm, analog textures, and the listener soon realizes that this album is made from two artists appreciating their respective talent. Find out how Gensu and PA (Planet Asia) linked up and crafted an album that harkens back to the classics while offering a glimpse of Hip Hop’s bright future.

How did the album Abrasions come about?

Gensu Dean: I always knew about PA’s (Planet Asia) mastery. The first record I heard was the Peanut Butter Wolf record (“Definition of Ill) that Madlib produced which really showcased his samurai skills. When it came time to do the next project after Lo-Fi Fingahz, it was going to have me producing with one MC and limited features. I had a short list of artists I wanted to work with and PA was on it. We meant to connect earlier but scheduling conflicts arose that prevented this from happening until now.

Where does Abrasions fit in your respective canons of music?

Planet Asia: Gensu makes all of his beats on the SP 1200 and I like that about him. I always wanted to make an album like this that captured the raw sound of the SP. Keep in mind: I was a fan of Gensu’s production before we linked up. The video he did with Large Professor (“Forever”) was ill and really caught my attention like, “I’m with it.” This album fits well in my catalog of music and is really an extension of Black Belt Theatre. Abrasions sounds like some 2013 music and you really can’t tell that it was done on the SP 1200; it’s some updated boom bap sh*t. Less is still better to me. I’m that dude from the generation who comes before this current crop of artists –Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Blu, Jay Electronica, and others- who was fighting for what everybody loves today, even up to Kanye West. I was before these artists acting as the first soldier going into battle. Gensu Dean and I breathe this and it’s what Abrasions represents. Gensu, on the production side, comes from Diamond D, Pete Rock, Premier, Large Professor, and all those classic cats that I grew up loving; he is an offshoot from them.  Similarly, I come from the MCs that they were producing for. You get two cats that fall in line with that sound and are cut from that clothe, but with a 2013 sound.

Directed by Calvan Fowler for DayDream Film Works

Gensu Dean: It was important for me to make beats that are customized for Asia’s sound. I’m not trying to come with some weirded out, quirky feel for him. I have to be conscious of his fanbase and move him forward, but not too far from how he rocks.

Planet Asia: Katy Perry will be on the next album (laughs)!!! Seriously, I can’t be Wu-Tang and Justin Beiber at the same time. I have to do me.

Tell readers about the “Aura” record and how that melds the worlds of Ice-T and Mantronix.

Planet Asia: I wanted to make some straight up d-boy music! I told Dean to send some 808 beats over so we can create –or recreate- records that are still relevant. The way I rhyme, my lyrics stand out over simplified beats because people can then focus on what I’m saying. Plus, a lot of cats won’t even know that we incorporated Ice-T’s “6 ‘N The Mornin’” record because they are unfamiliar with it. It’s crazy to say that (laughs)!

Gensu Dean: It serves a dual purpose: The older cats can appreciate the Hip Hop break and the newer cats can appreciate the drum sounds that are so common in the music they’re listening to –the 808s, the 707s, etc. It still has that raw Hip Hop sound though.

Planet Asia: Yo, you gonna laugh at me now. I didn’t even know that the Mantronix record “Fresh is the Word” was incorporated into “Aura.”

Gensu Dean: I changed the lyrics to it and flipped it on some 2013. It covers both coasts at the same time. No one has a record like this out there now.

The artwork definitely stands out amongst other releases. How does it define the record?

Planet Asia: It’s on some Picasso sh*t for real. Craig “Flux” Singleton did the artwork. I always wanted some artistic and flavorful design work on my records and something you really have to look at to get the meaning. You really have to come with some exit-through-the-gift-shop material. It’s the reason I go back to Eric B and Rakim’s Follow the Leader album because I keep hearing things that I didn’t hear before. We wanted to capture that same experience for listeners and the artwork is just an extension of that.

Gensu Dean: We also didn’t want other graphics covering up the image either. Simply having Planet Asia and Gensu Dean logos and fonts covering up the artwork would lessen its impact. PA is that kind of artist; he is of that higher caliber. He plants seeds so that listeners will pick up on things ten years down the line. I do the same thing with the beats where I sprinkle little sounds that you may not pick up on right away. It may require headphones or a different setting for you to hear it. Eventually, there are people that are going to get it. Not everything has to be obvious or spoon-fed to people. It’s good to have listeners work a little to figure out the nuances of your records.

Tell me about the “Bar Mitzvah” record? What’s the meaning behind this record?

Planet Asia: This cat had put out an unauthorized copy of a project of mine –an underground tape- and I was going to call it Bar Mitzvah. I’ll let you in on a little something and keep it one hundred with you: The reason I am talking so much sh*t at the beginning of the record is because it’s kind of a diss record aimed at that dude for putting out my music without my permission.

This question is more directed at Gensu. How is does this record sound sonically compared to Lo-Fi Fingahz?

Gensu Dean: The mix still focuses on drums, but they are not out in front as much as records from the 90s. The last album (Lo-Fi Fingahz) was a labor of love and was my first record. Abrasion knocks and it’s an evolution in my overall sound. Going back to your earlier question about where this record fits in my canon of music, I feel it’s my best, meaning most complete, album to date. Jimi, the main engineer from Klearlight Studios, mixes many of Erykah Badu’s records and he really put some nice touches on Abrasions.

So what’s next for both of you?

Planet Asia: I have the Durag Dynasty album on Nature Sounds that is currently out as well. It’s called 360 Waves and it’s produced entirely by Alchemist. It falls right in line with Abrasions. Also, Rasco and I have a Cali Agents reunion album coming featuring some Gensu Dean productions.

Gensu Dean: I’m finishing up my instrumental album for Mello Music Group and it’s going to be a collage of beats. Also, 730, a very talented artist who happens to be on the Mello Music roster, and I are working on a full-length album due out later this year. I’m just staying busy.

Abrasions Buy-Links:
Fat Beats
Underground Hip Hop.com (ughh.com)
Mello Music Group

Chris Moss

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One Trackback

  1. [...] Gensu Dean: I’m finishing up my instrumental album for Mello Music Group and it’s going to be a collage of beats. Also, 730, a very talented artist who happens to be on the Mello Music roster, and I are working on a full-length album due out later this year. I’m just staying busy. Source: http://allindstrom.com/2013/04/article-exclusive-interview-with-gensudean-planetasia/ [...]

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