A Hip-Hop Crew That's Right Here
by Cheryl Thompson
Los Angeles hip hop collective, and 2008 world battle of the bands winner SomeWhere Else has officially released their first music video and new single,"Bunkers", off their up-coming project, The SWEM (The SomeWhere Else Manifesto).Three members of the group (Lonnie Ro, Saint P, and Jono) managed to find time in their increasingly busy schedules to speak with SoulMatters about hip-hop, their upcoming projects and they also provided some insight into where they see hip-hop right now.
SoulMattersMag: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us we appreciate it. As a first question, perhaps you might tell our readers who you all are and what SomeWhere Else is all about.
Lonnie Ro: Oh so SomeWhere Else isn't your favorite band already?
Saint P: SomeWhere Else is our mind state when we create. I feel like nowadays theres a certain expectancy of new music, because everyone is trying to churn out the same material. We we try to play around with boundaries and make our listeners feel almost foreign to whatever we do next.
Jono: SomeWhere Else is a band of writers, rappers and musicians. We just try our best to make good songs.
SMM: How long have you been a collective?
J: We have been together since high-school.
SMM: The artists that come out of Los Angeles seem to have a gritty but playful edge, would you say that is true? If so, why is that?
LR: I'd say that's true. I feel it's more so a youth thing, kids have always wanted to fuck shit up, and not really get in trouble for it. Youth pushes boundaries.
SP: I guess that's true. Maybe it's LA. It grittiness and playfulness are an interesting combo. Maybe it's because the modern "rapper" doesn't take themselves as seriously as they used to. I mean just look at any big corporation that clearly doesn't listen to rap make a joke about a rapper. They
usually show the big gold chain, huge clothes and 1 gold tooth (laughs) niggas don't do that shit anymore there's no longer a "rapper mold." We're ourselves and when we show our personalities, a lot of playfulness tends to come through while the beat itself is gritty. It's not really an LA thing, it's a personality thing.
J: Even though we are from LA we really try to do our own thing and have our own sound.
SMM: Tell me about the first video/single “Bunkers” what is that song all about? I loved the video a lot because it seemed to match the intensity of the song, was that the plan?
LR: Thanks. Honestly I don't know what "Bunkers" is about (laughs). But thanks to help from the IvsEye team, the video feels
like our arrival....right before the end of the world.
SP: (laughs) Niggas in my own group sayin' they don't know what our single is about?? Bunkers isn't necessarily a conceptual type song it's just that song that states our entrance into this extremely crowded music world (laughs) we busting in recklessly and people need to be finding bomb shelters because we're about to be droppin' shit on everyone (not real shit....well yea "real shit" but not actual shit).......and yeah we totally planned on making the video match the song (laughs).
SMM: What can we expect to hear on SWEM when it is released? When is the anticipated release date?
LR: The SWEM will be something that you can only get from musicians who have time and space. You'll know what I mean when you hear it. Expect it 2nd quarter 2012.
SP: The SWEM is the result of our maturing sound and thoughts. It's us in a nutshell and as a whole, it's actually pretty different and chill compared to our singles. We just trying to knock in some clubs (laughs) but we don't primarily make that type of music.
J: The SWEM has a wide variety of sounds and styles and we are still finishing it up.
SMM: It seems like hip-hop, at least the hip-hop that is saying anything worth remembering, is in the underground scene, would you agree with that? If not, what do you think when you hear people say that?
LR: Good question. I think there's different types of music for different types of people. I also say there is a such thing as "moment" music Nobody necessarily wants to hear some eye opening life changing bars while they're gettin' fucked up at a party, Yaddadamean? (laughs) No seriously, what is there to remember if you don't remember last night? The popularity of certain styles is just a reflection of the times. Music with meaning WILL have its time.
SP: That kinda annoys me. "Underground" and "mainstream" measures popularity to me not content. I feel like there are plenty of shitty mainstream artists just like there are plenty of shitty underground artists. I'm not trying to be negative but there's just a lot of shitty music and how many people are listening to it makes no difference. On the other hand there are a bunch of undeniably good musicians with memorable messages in both categories. your music is an extension of yourself and once you gain mainstream popularity your life changes and so should your music. Kanye has a VERY different life than me but he still says real ass shit that anyone could connect with. No one knows who the heck we are right now but when they do and we start experiencing new things our music will probably change to. But it's entirely up to the artist if the message is gonna stay the same.
SMM: Who do you guys draw inspiration from and/or listen to?
LR: Believe in muses. It's never you.
SP: Older music for me. Like the Beatles, Tribe, Radiohead, Quasimoto, Badu that kinda stuff. I try not to listen to too much current stuff although the black hippy movement is dope.
J: We listen to so many genres including rock, jazz, blues, and who ever we are listening to at the moment. I get inspired by people who are fully devoted to crafting their own sound and are not just trying to sound like everything else. I listen to everything from Howlin' Wolf to Beethoven.
SMM: What can we expect to see and/or hear on your next single/video?
LR: Visually, expect a lot of next levelness. Music videos and SWEM movies coming soon. We also produced an album for the big guy K. Rudd so anything coming from him is an extension of us. We make durable content, expect quality.
SP: We got a lot in the works. We're a part of a large team that's all coming out with new stuff. K Rudds about to drop a project and were working with I Vs Eye on a new video for our next single Bugs! But also were getting into our own directing and editing too so expect to see visuals develop for our collective called Innovator!!