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LAist Interview: Sole & The Skyrider Band

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Sole is a rapper who as a teenager was already blowing off major record deals, because he thought having an album produced by Jermain Dupree was lame. He set forth making rap music for the advanced listener, and choosing never to pander what TRL, MTV, and Record Executives want to cram down all of our throats. Being one of the co-founders of anticon places sole on a special branch of the family tree of hip-hop. Sole's new album is dropping soon, and he's back from europe, so we thought it would be a good time to hit him up for some questions.

LAist: What's the best and worst thing about being part of Anticon?

Sole: best thing is that i know what a special and unique thing anticon is and i'm honored to be one of its founders. the worst thing... its hard to determine what the WORST is, i would say that the "media" is so hard on anticon, the so called "alternative music world" will sing the praise of 50 cent and white stripes all day long about how they're geniuses, but wouldnt grant a hundredth of the amount of press to an anticon act, and if they did, then the next record anticon puts out is equally great they'll turn around and say, "we did a 13 word feature on why last month, unless you guys start shelling out some advertising dough we have no incentive whatsoever to give you any free press." on the other side of the coin, it seems like the smarter the journalist is, the more they want to tear us down. its amazing how personal the insults get and the lack of support out there from so called "liberals" and "knowitalls" but i guess thats the terrain we fight for, not high enough brow for the really pretentious music critics, but not low brow enough for rock music and rap critics to say the music is good enough for 16 year old trendsters. in the end the limitations and desperation makes great art, so i cant really complain, it just makes me sick how the image is always more important then the content...

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Are there any funny stories about groupies that you could share with LAist?

yeah, we're in japan, and we're being chased by japanese kids who dont speak english. i allow them to follow us, then i start to run, and they begin to chase. when they finally surround us i just keep calling out brands to them and they chant them in return... "coca cola!!! COCA COLA.... bruce willis.... BRUCE WILLIS.... it was pretty funny, non of them spoke a word of english.

What's behind this new album, Sole and The Skyrider Band? How is this different from mansbestfriend, bottle of humans, and selling live water? and how is it NOT different?

this album i use the word "mature" to describe. its subject matter, its production, the live instrumentation.... almost everything about this record is opposite then the way i have done things in the past. in the past i never left myself open to any feedback, this time id even get some help in the studio with recording. with 3 other musicians to work with the process went smoothly, and was very exciting. so, id say its more like selling live water in that its a well produced cohesive work, and it has little in common with mansbestfriend or other things.

its like my other records in the sense that its still me rapping on it, i havent made up some stupid personality which i saw on an old movie that would make a good character, its me, a bit older, less angry, still pissy, but im chilling. i read a lot, but with less of a sense of urgency, i just sorta channel everything through the music and speak my piece. we worked hard to make every song good and to rework things till we were happy without making them mechanical. i havent been this excited about a project in a very long time.

let's play "Mary, Fuck, Kill": Janet Reno, Bee Author, and Barbara Walters... Which lady would you marry, which would you fuck, and which would you kill?

i would marry janet reno, fuck barbara walters, and kill bee author, because i dont know who she is.

What motivated you to live outside the US for so long?

a sense of adventure i guess. the real question is, "why did i come back?" the answer would be the same to that as well. im trying to know myself and remain excited and challenge myself in new ways. that and the fact that the standard of living in america is so far beneath that of the rest of the western world, if people only knew, no one would stay here, that and the fact that its damn hard to get a visa in europe.

How does Los Angeles rank in comparison to other cities you've played shows at?

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la has the longest and most exciting history of experimental hip-hop and i would argue, thanks to project blowed/freestyle fellowship la is the birthplace of it. because of that, la heads are way ahead of the rest of the country as far as being tuned into what anticon is doing and understanding it, the kids there rate mcs on a ton of different things and nothing really freaks em out, on the east coast you gotta tone it down a bit stylewise to be accepted otherwise, "its too wierd." i mean, how many times was project blowed played on stretch and bobbitto? southern cali consistently has the best shows. and some of the best food, coming second only to the bay. the smog in southern cali is also the finest on the west coast...

Why haven't you collaborated with mogwai yet? Who else is worthy that i am forgetting?

i dont know why i havent collaborated with mogwai yet. the guy's wife threw a show for me in glasgow and their office sent some cds to us once when we were there, so there must be an awareness. i'll look into it.

i like mward, silver mount zion, anyone who can make good music i can rap on and get along with in real life, im down with.

Who are the worst "commercial rappers" that are popular right now?

hmm. i love so called gangsta rap; tech 9ine, lil wayne, young jeezy, that stuff is exciting and original to me. the stuff i cant stand is the formulaic and boring. i go out of my way to seek gangsta rap and because i dont listen to the radio. they say when you have a sensitive mind to only ingest "healthy" things, so in that sense, i close my ears to that which disagrees with me. yes, songs about people cooking crack in the kitchen is "healthy" to me.

What role did you have in the creation of Anticon? is it true that you are the GZA of anticon?

yeah, anticon. i came up with the name and anticon was my beast of burden for the first 3-4 years. i negotiated contracts, handled distribution, pretty much everything i could handle. but i really didnt enjoy it very much, it was a lot of work and i had a hard time getting a long with my friends during that time period, and it was incredibley hard to get music done cuz i was just pissed off all the time, all the time. so when we officialized the "collective" i handed the reigns over to baillie parker, and he ran the label up until now. running a record label is a thankless, stressful job, the hardest part is feeling responsible for the carreers of people you care about.

What do you do for fun when you aren't being a bad ass emcee?

i cook a lot, i read, i swim, i play with my dogs, i go on hikes, play
video games, etc.

What do you say to the people who don't like/understand what Anticon is all about? Like when some people say, "the guys at anticon aren't rappers!!"

"who cares, its either good or its not, and i think its good." if they're being really hostile i'll try to guess what they like by the way they talk/dress and tell them to get the fuck out of my face and stop wearing a uniform, there is a reason people stopped wearing trucker hats.......

Are Buck 65 or Sage Francis still affiliated with anticon in any way?

sage is the homie. thats my man. he's affiliated in the sense that he has continued to be a good friend to all of us despite his tremendous success. buck65 is affiliated with anticon in the sense that thats how a lot of people found about him.

Having been a rapper since at least 15 years old, what advice would you give todays 15yr olds who want to bust sick rhymes?


if you sound like what you listen to change your style, or listen to something else, if that doesnt work, become a real estate agent.

Any last words for LAist?'

thank you, and may the force be with all of us..

Photo of SOLE from