A Thousand Clones- An Interview With Blueprint.

May 1, 2011 by Chris Grosso

Blueprint’s highly anticipated sophomore release  Adventures in Counter-Culture finds him focusing on the unexpected while experimenting heavily with his musical past.  First trained in his church choir, Print played in R&B bands in high school and later developed a rep as a standout rapper.  Here, he experiments with the synths, keyboards, and drum machines that connected the musical dots of those early days.

Print began pursing his career as a musician in 2001, working on several hip hop projects including his collaborative project  Soul Position with DJ/Producer RJD2.  Releasing The Unlimited EP 8,000,000 Stories on Rhymesayers Entertainment with RJ, Blueprint began work in 2004 on what would become his first solo album,  1988.  The success of that album allowed him to tour extensively throughout North America and Europe, before returning home to focus on writing and recording his next album.

When he sat down to work on this sophomore effort, Print began with the dark, soulful and sample heavy hip hop of the early 90’s, but soon found himself hitting a creative wall. What shook him loose was a new mission: to create an album that encompassed every facet of music he knew, blurring genre lines and bringing it back home as one cohesive listening experience.  The more he worked to pair new found interest in rock & electronic music with his love of hip hop, the more he was able to break down that creative barrier.

Thus began his Adventures in Counter-Culture, a monumental undertaking that would involve reinventing himself as a musician and person. His growing cynicism with the world, his disdain for pop culture, the state of politics, and an apathetic, uninspired society, all worked as fuel to inspire this sophomore album.  Moved by the impact that sampling lawsuits were having on the music community, Blueprint also decided return to his roots and began writing and producing his own original content. 

After a five year musical journey and experiment, Blueprint has emerged with his greatest effort to date.  A culmination of self discovery and societal critique.

The Blueprint Interview

TIS: So Adventures in Counter-Culture is easily your most ambitious release to date as you span Gospel, Electronic, Rock & Hip Hop styles. Can you tell me about your process while making it?

BP: Well the process was kind of long. A lot of it was just experimenting on my end musically because when I started it I wasn’t sure how to execute it. I knew what I wanted to do because I was discovering that there was a lot of diverse music. All of our fans, and we as musicians are diverse now as we’re in the Ipod era of music. You talk to kids at shows and they have playlists etc because music is so accessible via downloading and how you store it, hard drives, bandwidths etc, but the music doesn’t necessarily reflect that. So I thought it would be kind of cool to make something that truly reflected my influences and things that inspire me instead of just a straight forward hip hop record, you know? I felt like we were being short sighted as Hip Hop artists.

TIS: Well that actually leads me to something else I wanted to ask you, which is that you’re obviously influenced by a lot of music outside of Hip Hop. Can you tell me some of the artists you’ve found inspiration from?

BP: The last recent artist I found that really influenced me was Bon Iver. You know him?

TIS: Absolutely. I really dig him. There’s a great cabin recording story about him but that’s for another time. So is there anyone not necessarily recent?

BP: I would say Kraftwerk helped as I was doing my electronic stuff. Some people might think I went to new music, but I didn’t. Something I noticed while I was working on the record, and we’re all guilty of it sometimes is we’ll hear something new, electronic or hip hop or whatever, and then a lot of artists start to emulate that. They think, “Oh that artist has a cool electronic sound and I want to copy it”, so what I found was instead of doing that, it was always better to go to the source. So for me, I went back and revisited stuff like the Daft Punk catalogue and the Kraftwerk catalogue and felt like if I could understand them the same way I understood 1988 Hip Hop, then I’d know how to make something new. I’d understand where it’s going instead of where it’s at now, or where it’s been, whereas I felt like before, if you just studied something current, you wouldn’t really understand it. I did a lot of that on this record, revisiting old artists that were pioneers and kind of took it from there. If you understand Daft Punk then Justice is no mystery to you, but a lot of kids will hear Justice and they’ll try to sound like them, but if they go back a couple more steps they’ll probably be fresher because they’ll understand where it came from.

TIS: All so true man.  So there’s one line in Radio-Inactive where you say “And while I may not get the same hype as the next man, Everything in my life is going according to his plan” as you point to the sky in the video, obviously referencing God. I was wondering if you could tell me about your personal understanding of God or how He/She works in your life?

BP: As far as it goes on my record and just my path, I think just doing the record itself and finishing it was a huge sign. I felt like everything was taking me so long because I was either on the wrong path, or I was on the right path. Deep into the process I started to feel like I was on the right path and it was a path that’s bigger than me, you know? Because what I’m talking about is not some selfish “me” shit. I felt like there was definitely a spirit, and that God was helping me through the process, but not like “Oh yeah, I’m gonna give you a melody”. It was more like “I’m going to put this huge challenge in front of you and make it so that you don’t know how it will end, and at the end you’ll become a better person, and by becoming a better person, maybe you’ll become a better artist.” That’s what I felt like happened even though it wasn’t necessarily intentional.

TIS: Wow man. That’s really heavy and inspiring. So now you’re on The Family Tour, which kicked off recently with Atmosphere and friends. How’s the crowd response to your new material?

BP: It’s been really good. I only do one old song during my set which is Boombox and that’s it. I’ll say I’ve seen a lot  more new people than I was seeing when I was doing the 1988 stuff. The 1988 stuff definitely brought in a certain kind of people, but not necessarily wide in scope. I had a sort of niche audience with that record and that audience is still there, but now with this record I’m seeing a much bigger pool of regular people, people who are hearing me for the first time so they have a completely different view of me as an artist. It’s something that’s bigger than it was before but it’s still just starting. The record isn’t even a month old but I think it’s having more of an impact than 1988 did. When I’d play 1988, Boombox and Big Girls Need Love Too were the two biggest songs off that record and it wasn‘t like I’d do those every night in front of Atmosphere’s crowd, which was huge and it wasn’t like I could do them every night and people would be like yeah, that’s my shit. But on this tour when I play Radio-Inactive and people hear the first piano notes, they start cheering right away. I can actually hear how many people have been impacted by that song who are excited, and it makes me feel like “wow, I’m doing something much bigger than with the other material”. I’ve also completely changed my stage show to go along with the record. I’ll play some keyboard and synth. I also have a bass player on stage with me. I don’t want to say it’s more interactive, because I talk to the crowd less. I don’t do a bunch of “when I say this, you say that” or “put your hands in the air” shit. I barely do any of that anymore. It’s almost more performance art and it sort of fits the record perfectly because it’s a real personal piece of art I made.

TIS: That’s awesome man and I’m really psyched for you. So this is totally off topic but you posted a comment on your Facebook last year, which made me laugh that went something like “Hardcore/Metal music would be so good if there were no vocals”. Do you remember that and if so, can you elaborate?

BP: Haha, yeah I remember that one. It’s funny because I go to a lot of rock and metal shows in Columbus. The music scene there is intertwined with Hip Hop and rock guys. We’re all friends and we drink together. We play the same venues so we’re all cool.  So I  go to a lot of shows and the weirdest part was that a lot metal bands start out with a really amazing instrumental piece. I mean they have really long songs, like seven minutes where they’ll start singing at like the last two minutes and sometimes that shit completely ruins the song. I mean the song is super incredible and then they’ll start singing about something crazy, like I don’t know, Satan or whatever the fuck. So it’s like man, if someone could take this shit right here and not put any words on top of it, it would appeal to so many people. Words can be very divisive in a way. So that’s a genre where I think the music is so incredible but that that’s the only part of it I’ve had a hard time embracing. I really like that shit. There’s a couple of bands in Columbus I’ll go see regularly and they’re incredible. It just pisses me off sometimes that they sing and fuck up a perfectly good song.

TIS: Haha, well thanks for clearing that up. So I have a rather cliché question for you, but something I’m genuinely interested in which is, who would one of your dream collaborations be with, either past or present?

BP: I would like to work with the producers from Portishead. I’d like to just learn from those guys. They’ve got something going on production wise that no one has really copied yet. It’s so rare to have somebody doing something that really dope and accepted, as well as respected, but no one else has really tried to figure out how to do anything similar. They don’t really do interviews so you never really know what’s going on, which is awesome, but at the same time I’d also really like to sit down and be an understudy to those guys.

TIS: Right on. So can we expect anything new from Soul Position in the near future?

BP: I think so. I had a meeting with RJ last week when we played in Philly and hung out. He played some stuff for me. I think there’s gonna be some stuff, it’s just that I can’t commit to it yet because I feel like I have to push this record as far as possible without interruption. When I put out 1988, I kind of pulled up about a year in when it was starting to really get some momentum to do the Things Go Better record. We did a tour for that because he wanted to do it right then or he couldn’t do it at all. I don’t want to put myself in that position again. I mean if I create that record I’m going to have to be committed to it coming out on a timetable that I can’t control and that may interfere with the momentum of this record, where if I go 110% with this record and I don’t with that record, it would conflict. I’m in a better position because at least I have some kind of control and can still push this record as far as possible.

TIS: Cool. So somewhere down the line we can still expect something new though?

BP: Yeah. He’s supposed to send me some beats this week so it’s not like I’m not going to do it again. It’s just that going through this process has made me really value what I have to do and how committed I need to be to become a successful solo artist. I’d say about a year ago, 1988 got to the point where it was as strong, if not stronger than anything in the Soul Position catalogue, and that’s been really tough. When I’d go out and play earlier everyone would be like “where’s RJ at” because I have this whole body of work that’s full of his shit but he’s not there to perform it, so it’d put me in an unfortunate situation. Now I want to make sure that the next time we do another record, my body of work is where it needs to be.

TIS: Definitely understandable.  So can you name me three emcees you would NOT want to freestyle battle against?

BP: Haha shit, that’s easy. I’d say Juice, this kid Iron Solomon, he’s crazy, and any of the cats from Project Blowed like Aceyalone, Abstract Rude etc…I would definitely not fuck with those guys.

TIS: Well I can’t thank you enough for your time, especially with you’re crazy tour schedule right now.

BP: Oh no problem man. Where do you live?

TIS: The Hartford area.

BP: Oh shit, we’re not headed to that area anytime soon but next time hit me up and we’ll hang.

TIS: Um, yeah ok!

BP: Cool man.

Click Here To Visit Blueprints Official Website!

Click Here To Visit Rhymesayers Website!

If You Liked This, You’ll Prolly Like These:

The Indie Spiritualist Interviews Doomtree

The Indie Spiritualist Interviews Brother Ali

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • email
  • Digg
  • Tumblr
Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.
  1. […] The Indie Spiritualist Interviews Blueprint Share and Enjoy: […]

  2. […] Blueprint Interview Share and Enjoy: 3 commentsshare on facebook contact chris […]