I wanted my music to sound like the synapses in my mind firing off, stream of consciousness type. That’s why you might get a Lone Wolf & Cub or Martin Lawrence reference next to theories of perpetual motion machines and thermodynamics.
Some people just have that thing. They can make sticks and mud into castles and lizards into dragons. Davis, while grounded in his mission, is an alchemist with the pen. I got a chance to talk to him about the stellar work he’s delivered as well as the label he is 1/4 of.
Q- Why? Records is a core four. All four rap, all four produce, and release albums in different combinations. If you were to try your hand at a Foot Clan explanation similar to the powers and skills breakdown of the Wu-Tang Clan on 36 Chambers, how would you describe the unique strengths of each of the core four and what they bring to the foundation?
A- Virtue is the glue, the Queer Nigga Shaman himself, none of this shit would be without him, his vision is unparalleled. Malci is like a mad scientist; his capacity for experimentation is endless, void-like. Always sharp, never dull. Ruby is the wunderkind, youngest cat out the whole shit. A work horse in the truest sense, the man is like Doc Oc to me cause he really got his hands in everything Why (rapping, producing, merch, etc.). It’s hard to describe yourself but I’m just a regular nigga, a bit reclusive, just at the crib sharpening my mind and my pen, like a warrior mage, a paladin. Frances is behind the scenes working diligently, that shadow hand that’s making chess moves for all of us. Together there’s no stopping us.
Q- The Why? Records release that really floored me was Art is Love Vol. 1. Most labels putting out a compilation are looking to showcase their core people and a few friends and mix them into different combinations. When I pressed play on Kara Jackson’s song Bed, I was instantly looking for a pre-order of her next album. Are all these artists releasing content through Why? You have Case Oats doing Country, Daymaker doing peak Sub-pop style Indie. If you could figure a way to put all this out it would be pretty unique!
A- The Art is Love joint was a one time thing to provide funds and support to our people on the front lines fighting tyranny, specifically to the Chicago Community Bond Fund and Brave Space Alliance. It would be nice to do a Vol. 2 sometime soon because we all know there is still much more work to be done.
Q- The album that brought you to my attention, Green Parakeet Suite was something like 17 minutes long. Garcia Vega Forces is even shorter. Some artists do not feel comfortable releasing long, sprawling projects. Is that the case for you? Could you envision a Davis project that is 22 tracks long?
A- Garcia Vega Forces is the second part of a dual EP release, following the Ebony Maw EP. I feel that all my releases (GPS, Ebony Maw, GVF, even the UDABABY joint w/ Virtue) are sprawling sonically. You get a Neon Genesis Evangelion snippet, into a Shintaro Sakamoto sample, into a Blade (1998) sample, into a Eugene McDaniels sample and that’s all just the first two tracks from GPS, not to mention the linguistic acrobatics I accomplish throughout all my projects. I feel that I pack a lot into my verses so it’s a bit more palatable to have these small doses. It’s like a gusher almost: small, but packed full of flavor lol. But who knows! It’s never out of the question for me to do a longer project, the beauty of it is that it’s totally up to me lol. When I feel niggas can handle that I’ll drop something a lil longer.
Q- What is your comfort level with the term Art Rap? I think this applies to you because lyrically you inhabit such a unique space. On Super Green you go from The Golden Mean to boobs. Your lyrics can get mythological and literary or NY rugged. I feel like the designation of Art Rap was created so the full range of work/references would be respected by listeners and critics. How would you like your music described?
A- I mean I’m okay with the term. I feel that there are clear delineations of what “Art Rap” is or what people deem “Art Rap”. You got shit like Mavi, MIKE, Liv.e, Pink Siifu and that whole camp that have a somewhat homogenous take on what that can be, and sometimes that overlaps with cats like Open Mike Eagle (who coined the term I believe) Rory, billy woods, Elucid, etc. all of which are carrying that mantle. But the beauty of it is that to me, and I’m assuming to them as black creatives as well, that term might pop into their heads from time to time but that’s never the intention. To make “Art Rap”. The intention is just to create and to create something that you and yours are proud of and that has longevity. I’m simple in my self classification tho. I make hip-hop there’s not much more to it in my opinion.
Q- Your music (and the core four) has a real unique speed, feeling and ambiance. As you were developing what you wanted the world to hear, what did you want Davis music to sound like?
A- I wanted my music to sound like the synapses in my mind firing off, stream of consciousness type. That’s why you might get a Lone Wolf & Cub or Martin Lawrence reference next to theories of perpetual motion machines and thermodynamics. It makes sense as a rhyme to you as a listener, and you might do some studying afterwards on what a bhaskara wheel is if you’re doing your due diligence, but simultaneously makes a larger and grander sense to me and me only because ultimately it is a timestamp for where my mind was at that time. All this shit is for me, I’m in the driver seat.
If you want to learn more about Why? Records go to the bandcamp below(or check out the hyperlinks in the interview):