#DaFiveFingerDiscount: Joel – songs about charles [Editorial]

Posted on January 29, 2015 by

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Da Five Finger Discount v3

Joel. took some time out of his busy day to give us at Da-What #DaFiveFingerDiscount on his latest album, one of the best to come out this month.

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1. what hov said: I had been sitting on this intro for YEARS. It’s from a scene from Jay Z’s film “Fade to Black” (which I still watch, almost as a reminder of the work needed to get to where you know you are destined to be). So, we have Q-Tip talking to Hov about how what he raps about is real and a lot of those who try to make the same type of music can’t because they’re forcing it, because they’ve never lived what they rap. Then we segueway to a scene with Hov and Young Guru, one of Young Guru’s artist friends, and another dude I don’t recognize. I remember listening to the conversation and going “YES! That’s it!” As artists, especially as Hip-Hop artists, and ESPECIALLY as Hip-Hop artist of color, it’s easy to fall victim to the cliché of “doing what sells.” You hear this dude basically saying “I want to be myself, but it’s hard because folks don’t wanna hear that, and the short route of rapping about what I think folks want to hear just makes more sense.” Guru asks homie “why would you write a rhyme you don’t wanna write?” and ends with Hov saying “You see what ya’ll did to rappers? They scared to be themselves” and we lead right into…

2. creston + 188th: I grew up on the corner of Creston Avenue and 188th street in the Bronx. So, this song felt like the perfect re-introduction of sorts to anyone who had been listening to me prior to, and any new listeners who were gravitating toward the music now. I also wanted to make a complete record. Me singing the hook, a bridge, 2 verses; like I can make a song, have it have substance, and it still be “listenable”. I was scared as shit, because the last thing I wanted was for anyone to get up in arms about me singing. Because that seems to be the new wave of “artistry.” I’m not a singer. I just do what feels right with the song. And that felt right. This whole album is me doing what feels right. Right now.

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3. better late than never (intermission): Again, another eerie type singy vocal I’m doing here. I feel like this song is the transition moment on the project. Because after this, I’m way more introspective and kinda talk a little more about growing up where I came from, and also my present state. I perform that long ass verse as a separate spoken word piece at times. It just feels like it encapsulates so much over the time span of my some odd 30 years on this earth. I wanted to see if I could tell my whole story in one song. I still haven’t, but I’ll keep trying. This song is my first real stab at that.

4. glory (thank you, Madlib): I realized I have SO many songs recorded to Madlib beats. I need him to say one day “Yo Joel, let’s do some shit together.” His drums will always speak to me. I had heard some song and got in the mood to write. I can’t remember how I stumbled upon this beat, but once I did, I wrote it in no time. There are just certain beats that just make the process of writing so effortless. This was one of those beats. I like painting pictures with words; trying to create a scene in your head via lyrics. “glory” I think is an example of that. I say something in the 2nd verse about “they tried to git’ me for my brand new leather.” That’s when me and my homies got chased by a gang of Crips in 8th grade on Fordham Rd. in the Bronx. I was shook, so I changed out of my leather and sweats into my basketball shorts. It was like 30 degrees outside. I relayed that story to my brother Dwain and he was like “Man up” basically. So, that’s where that line comes from.

5. our world: Not too much to say about this record. I kinda envisioned it as a harder version of Common’s “The People” with Dwele. Again, me trying to paint pictures, and also hoping that the song is relatable to those who have been through the struggle. I had fun recording this record because it’s pretty dense, lyrically, and I really got to get my rappity rap on. I love getting my rappity rap on.

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