5 Questions for Sankofa

Intro and questions by Dan O

Answers by Sankofa

Creating things is one of the few times I feel fully present in a moment. Instead of my mind racing over various possibilities with a clock looming overhead, time goes away and things are accomplished. 

Listening to the Fort Wayne, Indiana MC can be like staring down a well watching your reflected insecurities along the water. His newest album, Legacy Materials, lets the sun challenge the shadows by way of its producer The Illustrated One. A whole new set of hues are triggered by the collaboration. I had to ask 5 questions to know more about the album:

Q- On Chains of Gold you say “content to be me whether or not they
know the name.” When did you start focusing on this as a goal? It
seems nearly impossible in a post-social media world.

A-The more I began reflecting on what mattered to me, the less it became
about me.  What I seek is the sense of fulfillment when creating
something new.  I’ve always loved to make things and songcraft is an
opportunity to establish relationships with dope and down to earth
people and build something together.  Creating things is one of the
few times I feel fully present in a moment. Instead of my mind racing
over various possibilities with a clock looming overhead, time goes
away and things are accomplished.  My rap name indicates my being a
solo artist, but the amount of people responsible for what a
listener/participant may encounter goes well beyond my wheelhouse
which is what makes collaborating such a rewarding process.  For me,
social media is a chance to share my excitement about what we (my
collaborators and I) are building, plus a way to represent indie
dopeness (be it clothes/shoes/beats/raps/artwork/photography/tattoos/videography)
because so many of us aren’t built to play the game, we are built to
create.  I am not a brand, I am not a neat box of “this right here,” I
am a very excitable person who is fortunate enough to continue finding
people to make dope stuff with.

Q- “I found my way around the darkness till its memorized” from That
Pair of Crutches in The Third Grade is an interesting analogy for
fighting through mental health challenges. What did you learn about
yourself making Legacy Materials?

A-I learned that there is a lot more to who I am than I thought.  When
Covid first hit, my levels of anxiety/stress were such that, when year
two hit, I made it a point to not be so hard on myself and thus the
people around me. I’m not fully there to that sense of calm, but I’m a
lot closer.  Pieces of everyday life are based in patterns I’ve
developed through the years and all too often I race past things,
trying to get through whatever instead of fully experiencing what that
moment may offer.  Those crutches may be long gone, but the impression
they left on me has definitely remained.

Q- The Illustrated One puts so much life into these ten songs. Calvin
Showers is so radiant, Until I’m Not is so meditative, why did this
set of sonics speak to your writing?

A-Until I hear a beat, I can’t say what it will draw from me.  I can’t
even tell a producer “I like this kind of beat,” because, depending on
the time and situation when and where I am at that moment, something
which I’d consider dope when I’m in one mood may well not inspire me.
When The Illustrated One reached out to me about the possibility of
working together, he sent a variety of beats my way and I selected the
ones which most called to me.  He already had the vocal samples in the
tracks, so I took some of them and just ran down that pathway.  For
whatever reason, the pieces he created called me to reflect a lot more
and then speak more plainly upon my feelings.  My feelings have always
been in my songs, but it’s been more kaleidoscope than mosaic.
Honestly, I think I’m getting to a point in my life where the limits
of my mortality are beginning to truly impact how I see the world and
these songs are a reflection of that shift.  That The Illustrated One
provided the mechanism to unlock that part of me is what makes
collaborating so dope, I don’t know what will happen and there’s a
magic to those possibilities.  Some of the self-reflection (what my
dad used to call examining the depth of his navel) from Legacy
Materials has poured over onto one of the other projects I’m currently
working on, again pulling something out of me I forgot existed.

Q- On I Apologize you are thinking about your child’s growth, feeling
proud then admit “I feel like a failure more often than not too busy
in my world to go offer them props…” parenting always leaves you
feeling you could have done more no matter what you’ve done
successfully. Does the music help you manage the self defeated feeling
or propagate it by taking up time you could be putting into parenting
(fueling guilt)?

A-Honestly, it’s a bit of both.  I want to have that balance within my
life where I’m giving my sons the attention they deserve, but I also
want to make sure I’m not stifling myself which would then potentially
lead to resentment, which inevitably would then impact the people I
love most.  My oldest son has been coming to my school with me for the
past seven years and this is the last year he will be making that
journey, as he’s gearing up for middle school.  Just typing those
words gives me a sense of powerlessness and dread because I feel like
I’ve kind of fumbled along and now he’s almost a middle schooler.
Parenthood is this magical thing which transforms the world and
reminds me how powerless I truly am.  Between seeking to best give
each child the guidance and support they need and all, it’s a lot.
I’m thankful for a wife who is very thorough and persistent, because
the supports our oldest now has would not have come about were it just
up to me.  I can’t even fathom parenthood without her.  The sorrow I
feel when reflecting upon the good I haven’t done and the bad I have
then distracts me from appreciating the present, so the best plan I’ve
come up with is trying to be more appreciative of what is currently
transpiring, other than what I have done or have yet to do.  Honestly,
I hope our sons aren’t as hard on themselves as their mom and I are
with ourselves.

Q- That Classic Back and Forth with JON?DOE is an interesting way to
end such a personal album. Do you consider it a fun exhale for the
listener to have on the way out? What was the sequencing idea behind
that placement?

A-TaliRod (the engineer) and I were very deliberate with the sequencing
of the album, be it the adrenalized introduction of The 8th of
December, to the negative self talk of I Apologize, to the uplift of
So Constantly; we wanted Legacy Materials to be a journey.  The song
preceding That Classic Back and Forth is about my moving out to
California to pursue whatever rap was going to be and that’s when I
moved in with JON?DOE and Spon (then the duo Double Helix), so I feel
it set the table for JON?DOE and I to close out the album.  Although
it’s only 25 or so minutes, there’s a lot of heavy lifting going on,
so getting to collaborate with one of my best friends (we just spoke
on the phone for the first time in ages regarding the sequencing of
another song for yet another project) who also mentored me from back
when, feels like a nod to the past while leaving with the energy of
two guys who love each other and have been making raps together for
ages and shall continue doing so.  One of our mutual friends, Adi, did
a lot of artwork for indieground rappers (MacLethal, CunninLynguists,
etc.) back in the day, and I’ve been in steady touch with him through
the years (be it when he made my first logo to coming up with new
stuff or talking about shoes) and he’s always loved when JON?DOE and I
do songs together.  During one of our many conversations, Adi and I
determined that we would have Tom Rule, stating that JON?DOE must be
on a minimum of one of my songs per release.  That Classic Back and
Forth is a palate cleanser, an uplift, and proof of friendship in song

Stock up on Legacy Materials as well as previous Sankofa projects below:



One response to “5 Questions for Sankofa”

  1. Purdy cool. Fine job fellows.

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