A couple years ago, we told you about the GAHEDiNDIE hip-hop collective and their struggles to make it here in the Valley. In the summer of 2009, the crew relocated to Minneapolis, home of indie rap mainstays Rhymesayers Entertainment and the Doomtree collective, in hopes of finding a bigger audience. It's taken a little while, but from the sound of things, Chris Martinez (aka K.) and company are starting to make some waves in the Twin Cities' eclectic music scene.
K.'s latest album, Sana Sana, was released on January 11 and contains some of his most progressive and innovative work to date. Is the world finally ready for a post-rap revolution? That remains to be seen, but the ever-quotable K. was hardly at a loss for words when we asked him to do an e-mail Q&A.
Read on to check out a new song from Sana Sana and K.'s thoughts on the album, his transition to life in Minnesota and the differences between here and there.
Up on the Sun: Give us an update on the GAHEDiNDIE crew. What have you, Jamee, Sean and Botzy been up to for the past year and a half?
K.: It's been a nutty, exciting year and a half for sure. Botzy and GAHEDiNDIE split ways a year ago due to creative differences. He is doing well in the cities as part of a band making some noise in the Twin metro. As for Jamee, Sean and I, we moved in together and got super deep into our artistry and soul searching. For a long time we removed ourselves from some less then stellar human beings that surrounded us. We hit some personal and professional roadblocks that complicated our initial hustle in the cities, and clouded our space. Nonetheless, it scratched some light on what we really want to represent and that we are hustlers of another variety.
Recently, however, we have fallen amongst some fine people and performed gigs where we received mass amounts of praise. The last six months have been fantastic. Sana Sana is blowing the matter of headstock all across the Midwest right now.
UOTS: What's the story behind your new album, Sana Sana? Is there an overarching theme? What do you want listeners to take away from it?
K: Sana Sana was built from the absolute mess of the last two years of our lives, from our send off from PHX to our shaky arrival in Minneapolis. It was the initial stint in Minneapolis and the dissolving of our perceptions that added the extra zip to the brutality of the record. "Sana sana" is taken from a Mexican folk saying which in whole reads "Rub, rub the ass of a frog. If it's not healed today, it will be healed by tomorrow." My grandma used to recite that when I would get a scraped knee, right before she slapped some butter on it. But the saying is sturdy and strong in the Mexican tradition. I adopted it as a metaphor for the state of my existence and my experience in our country. It's no secret we are seeing a decline in social quality such as the arts, music and basic conversation (i.e. Twitter in 140 words). But there seems to be a lack of true care or awareness of our innate nature as human beings and how we relate as pieces of earth. Folklore sayings such as "sana sana" are taken at face value in Mexico. They go without question, although it's absurd to think a frog's ass will heal a wound. Or maybe it would? This relates to questioning what we as Americans are told is the law of the land. Are we as a country smothering butter on our collective wounds, chasing our tail? Are there too many distractions to even notice? Sana Sana aims to break down those barriers for myself and for any listeners that may feel unsettled when they listen. Loaded question, Mike.
UOTS: How is it different from your previous work? Have you made any significant changes to your writing or recording process?
K: Sana Sana is different from previous work in that it is our most cohesive, consistent noise to date. I have really had a love/hate relationship with my noise and I feel it was harnessed properly on this album. It is also our cleanest sounding and most sonically diverse record. We pride ourselves on smashing anyone's sonics with limited equipment, and that's what I did on this album. It was terribly difficult work that may go unnoticed and misinterpreted as static and low-fi. Quite the opposite. I am the eater of noise. My mixing techniques are completely unorthodox. Not on purpose, just is. We accidentally took all the rules of standard mixing and turned them inside out. Our new engineer Bob Lindberg helped master and smooth out my ignorance. Haha. That's another big change. We actually have a completely amazing engineer to clean up the mess we make in a beautiful studio called Gravebomb. Bob gets us and we get him, which is super important when trying to destroy the Earth.
UOTS: Is the Minneapolis hip-hop scene more receptive to your music than the Phoenix scene was? What's the biggest difference between the two scenes?
K: One thing I have learned over the past year is that I have a strong dislike of the word "scene." In Minneapolis, or more importantly the Midwest, we have been received very, very well. I think a huge part of that is our attitude has completely shifted. The other part is, the Midwest seems to just really enjoy any type of live music. It's a different pace and culture more suited to appreciating art and artistry. But it is also very receptive to getting your party on and popping pills. Generally, the difference isn't within the scene, it's within the landscape and attitudes of humans in different regions. I haven't put my finger on the exact difference, other than it's a slower, darker, colder pace out here.
UOTS: Do you still follow the local hip-hop scene here in the Valley? If so, who has impressed you?
I probably follow the local AZ stuff way deeper than most people would care to know. I am curious and anxious to see and hear someone doing something creative or just plain hard. I feel I have a limited scope, since I only follow AZ Beats, but some guys I respect from afar are dudes like Trap, Random, Mr. Miranda, Span Phly and there are others. The only thing is that, aside from Random, I haven't seen consistent output or moves from a lot of them. Maybe I am not looking in the right spots. There aren't enough live venues or people interested in going to shows in AZ to make it very visible in my opinion. Still looking for something super weird to come out of there though.
UOTS: Any plans for a homecoming gig in the near future? Seems like this would be a good time of year to get out of Minnesota.
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K: I would love to do a show in AZ again, and in fact, I tried the last two times I came back. I didn't get any responses from guys I stuck my neck out for to put them on gigs, or guys who I hooked up with shows here in Minneapolis and let them crash on my couch. I guess people are still salty about the big evil K. bringing nothing but bad to the desert. Truth is, it's such a stifled existence as an artist in AZ, your allegiances better fall in line if you wanna be a footnote on a national headliner show. So I understand and forgive those who believe in the myth of the big bad K. In fact, I will still hook them up with gigs when they slide through the frigid north. You know who you are, humans.
People should go to www.gahedindie.com for super weird videos and up-to-date info. The record can be purchased there as well.