Resident rapper Jaron Ikner, better known as Black One, may call Phoenix his home, but his heart still lives in his hometown. Tucson.
Fresh off of his first full-length album, Black Sun Rising, Ikner looked to T-Town for a lot of the material that comprise the 14-track record. Only two months removed from that release, Ikner is already working on a new album where once again, past experiences from home manifest themselves into verse, rhythms and rhymes.
On Saturday, March 24, you'll be able to hear Ikner first hand when he opens for music collective Writer's Guild at Club Red; one of the 28 acts that rocked the house last week at New Times' Soundcheck. The collaborative of contemporaries is made up of Valley hip-hop heavyweights, Mr. Miranda, Pennywise, Random, Roknowlege, and RoQ'y TyRaiD.
We caught up with Ikner for his explanation of the track "City Lights" as well as his take on Black Sun Rising and Writer's Guild.
Up on the Sun: Can you talk a little bit about your upcoming show with Writer's Guild? Is this the first time you share a stage with them? What do you like most about the collaborative effort they got going on?
Jaron Ikner: I have this hip-hop showcase in Tucson called "Chronicles" at Vaudeville Cabaret. It's going on it's sixth year in March and I was fortunate to bring out Writer's Guild last November. I have worked with a few of the members on an individual basis as I have done shows and song collaborations with Random and Roknowledge. It is really awesome to see these talents come together to make such a powerful force. Each emcee brings something special to the table: RoQy Tyraid is the best lyricist in Arizona, in my opinon. Mr. Miranda is smooth and subtle but can still pack a punch in a cypher, Random is the all around emcee, while Pennywise is a wild card. Roknowledge acts as the minister/overseer of the group. I'm very excited to see what comes from these cats. Shout out to Savant and the State Bar for letting me rock with them in March.
What's the story behind, "City Lights?" What is the inspiration behind the track? What was the writing process like while you penned this song and the rest of Black Sun Rising?
"City Lights" was produced by my man OC Notes out of Seattle. Once I heard the beat I knew that it was going to be something special. There are a few ways you can digest the track: If you take the song literally it's about living in a small town, namely Tucson. We don't really have a skyline, or a bright city in general, but the stars are beautiful, and on certain nights they are bright enough to guide you where you need to go.The metaphor behind the song is that you don't need the bright lights and glitter to get where you need to be in life, just a bright enough star, or source of inspiration.
Black Sun Rising was a difficult album for me to put together, mainly because of the way I wanted to approach it. There is story being told if you listen to the album carefully. It's a boy meets girl story. The girl is the "Star/Sun" or the source of inspiration that I talk about in "City Lights." However, once the boy begins to look deeper inside himself and her, things become complicated, as we all have demons that we must defeat in order to achieve true happiness. The album touches on serious issues such as domestic violence, death, lust, addictions and heartbreak, but on the flip side there are songs that will make you dance, make you think, and make you nod your head. There is a solid balance throughout the album.
And you're already working on another album, Block House? How's that coming along? Do you have an expected release date?
I am working on Block House, it has been an interesting process so far simply because I'm trying to create a particular sound. Block House is named after this apartment complex in Tucson where things really began for me musically. I solidified lifetime friendships, met the love of my life, and threw some of the most epic parties. However, I lived very carelessly. I thought I was invincible. I made life altering choices and experimented with a wide variety of drugs. At the time though, the music I was making wasn't quite reflecting that. I was making music for an older me, more conscious, wordly music but never really reflecting my surroundings and environment into the songs. So for this album, I'm trying to take my mindstate back to those days. Naturally, the album will be very reflective and introspective, but at the same time there will be plenty of feel good tracks and head nodders. I recorded the track "Damaged Goods" for the album but I am not sure if it will make the cut. It's certainly the direction I am trying to go. I am taking my time with the album but I am hoping to have the album out by December 12, 2012, so it will be one of the last things you hear before the world ends.