“There aren’t any more lyricists…”
“Hip-Hop is dead…”
“All you need these days is a dope beat and a hook…”
“Lyrics don’t matter anymore…”
These are all actual quotes that we all hear about today’s hip-hop. I love all hip-hop honestly. I’m one of those quirky people who finds beauty in every form of music.
I would’ve been a hippie if I wasn’t born in the 70’s.
(After the bi-centennial I might add! I’m not in my 40’s…yet.)
I have a special spot for hip-hop. I grew up in hip-hop. I am a rapper. I am hip-hop!
OK, that was my moment of pride. I’m done now.
While I love today’s hip-hop, the one thing that truly has faded to the background is lyricism. Where did it go? Sure, there a few mainstream artists that are attempting to bring lyricism back. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, & Big Sean are 3 of the notable emcees in mainstream spotlight.
Personally, I love the music I find underground much better than anything I hear on the radio! I scour SoundCloud and Bandcamp like a kid trying to dig through a box of cereal to get the toy inside.
That brings me to the purpose of this new series: Legacy of the Lyricist. Lyricism is still alive and well! The topography of Hip-Hop is much like its planet of origin. On the surface, it appears to be weathered and damaged, but there’s a vast network of diamonds and rare treasures underneath.
This week, I interviewed one of those jewels…
Aramis SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/aramis616
Aramis Bandcamp: https://aramis616.bandcamp.com/
How are you doing today?
Aramis: I’m doing great man! Things are lovely on this side at the moment. I hope it’s the same for you.
It is man! When I hear your name, Aramis, I instantly think of the Three Musketeers. Is that where your name comes from? Is there a subliminal tease for a future project with the other “2 Musketeers”?
Haha. Well a lot of people don’t know this, but “The 3 Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas is my favorite book. I had to read it in high school and it left a lasting impression on me. Aramis was the character that I identified with the most, which is where the name came from. High school was when I first started rapping, and I went by a different name; I didn’t start rapping under Aramis until years later.
You are a lyricist who prefers the “Boom Bap” sound over the ever-changing sound of today’s hip-hop. If you could pick any producer from that era, who would you match up the best with?
Man…if I could rock over a track produced by DJ Quik, that would be EVERYTHING!
Speaking of the past, let’s talk a little about your history. What made Aramis become Aramis. How did you become an emcee?
Well, in Middle/High school I was a super introverted nerd. I felt uncomfortable in most social situations, but I ended up with a lot of friends because I was a really easygoing person. I was actually into rock music a lot more than hip hop in those days, but hip hop ended up being my outlet for all of my teen angst (laughing).
It started on message board, posting my lyrics on hip hop forums and then I went a bought a cheap $10 PC mic and some software and started recording. People in school and online were digging it, but when I look back at those tracks now they were horrible. God they were horrible (laughs).
Obviously, you’re really into video games. I peg you as an old-school arcade kid. The kid that was in the arcade when games were a quarter and the pinball machine was in the corner. Now we have gaming systems that have much more gaming power than the old arcade machines. Which do you prefer, the arcade or gaming consoles? What’s your favorite system console and game?
I think console games will always be my favorite, but I was in the arcade ALOT back in the day. My dad was a league bowler and would bowl every Saturday,. I would go with him mainly just to play the games in the arcade. I actually got beat up over a game of Mortal Kombat 2 by and older kid once lol. It sucked at the time, but when the kid’s dad found out, he whooped him in the middle of the arcade right in front of us. It was needless to say things were pretty chill after that.
My favorite console would probably have to be the Genesis because of all the Sonic games, Comix Zone, Streets of Rage, and a lot of others. I actually had the 32X and the Sega CD at one point. Thing looks like a space station, but it was dope. My favorite game though is Xenogears on PS1. Still the best RPG ever made in my opinion.
You’re often labeled as a “Nerdcore rapper”. When I think Nerdcore, I think Anime & quirky Video Game raps, but when I listen to songs like “Black Box”, it shows me there is a lot more in your lyrical war chest than people give you credit for. Would you label yourself as Nerdcore?
If I had to label myself as something, I would say I’m Nerdcore just because Nerd-culture is referenced in about half of my content. At the end of the day though, its all Hip Hop. I’m very conscious and aware of the current state of the world and try to balance the fun tracks I make with serious stuff. I know music is an escape for a lot of people, but I think that its gotten to the point now where nobody is talking about the real issues at hand; or at least those songs that do don’t make it to the radio. I believe that isn’t a coincidence. Music is a powerful tool, and I plan to use it to entertain, as well as wake people up.
Getting back to Black Box, that song has a political message that you obviously want to convey to the masses. It seems like the audience for conscious and political rap has diminished since it’s peak in the 90’s. How do we get the message to it’s intended audience these days?
I think Kendrick Lamar sets a perfect example of how to do that the right way. His beats are dope, and he really engages the listener with his unique style. I think the most important thing is to stay current, if for nothing else to keep the attention of your listeners. These days nobody wants to analyze lyrics, you gotta be in their face with it, and Kendrick does that really well.
Out of your catalog, if you had to choose one song for everyone to listen to, the song that would be a synonym for “Aramis”, which one would it be?
Man, that’s tough. If I had to pick one though, it would have to be ‘On my Way’ from Sleight of Hand. That’s probably the realest song I ever wrote as far as who I am underneath it all.
What do you have in store for us this year? Can we expect some more fire in 2016?
The will be LOTS of fire haha! I’m already 4 songs into the my next project. People will definitely be surprised. Can’t give away much at the moment, but you will hear the first single in a few months.
Check out “Black Box” the latest video from Aramis, below!