Blakface: Bamboozled

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Photo courtesy of Olina Rose

Funk Logik and $in are Blakface. The duo from West Covina, California and South Bend, Indiana respectively are cousins, band mates, and business partners. Both men produce and emcee and in a short amount of time they’ve made an impact on the world of Hip-Hop. Blakface’s most recent release is a 17-track album called “Bamboozled.”

Bamboozled is a stellar project that features guest appearances by Planet Asia, Poetik Force, Oh, Sean Wyze, and Illa J. The album is produced by Blakface with additional production by Eclectic and J. Bizness.

Blakface spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about why they rhyme for a reason, how they developed their chemistry as a group, and their new album, Bamboozled.

TRHH: Why did you call the new album ‘Bamboozled’?

$in: We called the album Bamboozled because the group is called Blakface. Spike Lee made a movie called Bamboozled and it was basically about people being in black face. Basically we’re really talking about how in the game everybody is in black face and we’re being bamboozled by what we hear on the radio, what they portray, and what they show us. We’re being hoodwinked and we don’t even know it. It’s right under our eyes but they don’t see it so we have to wake people up to the fact that there is different types of music out here and there are different outlets, ways of thinking about things, and handling situations. It’s not really to be preachy but to be on the same level with everybody to say, “Hey, we’re all going through the same shit.”

TRHH: I don’t know how old you guys are, I’m sure I’m older, but I remember a time where all types of music was promoted. It wasn’t just one style of music that was promoted in Hip-Hop. Why do you think there was a change?

Funk Logik: You’re right, you might be a little older because we are 29. We were born in ’88 so that’s right on the cusp of the 90s. We get it. Our sisters introduced us to Hip-Hop and during that time it was crews like Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, the Pharcyde, and the Roots. There were crews out there that were coming with substance and at the same time you had groups like the 2 Live Crew, M.C. Hammer, and Vanilla Ice that was just coming for the party. At the same time that brought in money. I think money is what changed the industry, which in my eyes I think it didn’t have to. Just because you got a lot of money doesn’t mean you have to abuse it. Actually, you can help others that’s on the same wave length as you push the culture forward. I think money is the real reason why everything changed.

$in: I agree with that but I wanna add on to it. I also think another reason is also the mindset of people. You gotta think about it, in the 90s black people were on a different mindset. The music is just a reflection of us. In the 90s we were thinking different, in the early 2000s we were thinking different, and in the late 2000s we were thinking different. The way we’re thinking now we’re real fucked up right now as a whole. Technology is a good and a bad thing. It’s fucked us up but it’s also helped us. We wouldn’t be talking to each other right now if it wasn’t for technology and life being the way it is now. I personally think it’s the mindset of the people. Like he said we had Brand Nubian and Tribe – anybody from the Zulu Nation. That was a whole movement going on. The movement’s going on now are about drugs and I’m not talking about marijuana.

TRHH: I’m 41 and I’m intrigued by what inspired guys Hip-Hop-wise that were born in ’88. What was your inspiration?

Funk Logik: For me and for $in we grew up in the church. We were singing in the choir and playing instruments so that’s how music was introduced to us. Our mom’s and dad’s played a lot of funk, jazz, and gospel. I think the rhythm is just in us by nature. For Hip-Hop I remember watching Talib Kweli – The Blast. I came home from school one day and I was eating a cup of noodles and it just caught my attention. My sister used to watch music videos. She’s like 35 now. She used to watch music videos and I would tell her to change the channel and put on some cartoons and she’d be like, “Nah, sit down. We’re about to watch this.” The Blast by Talib Kweli caught my eye and that had to be around ’98-’99. That’s what kicked it off for me. I was just a little boy but I thought, “Oohh, I think I wanna do this.” I had friends that came up just like I did. We went to school together. One of them got a beat machine for Christmas so after basketball we’d go to his house and we’d start making beats. That made me go, “Yo ma, let me get a keyboard, let me get a beat machine!” For my birthday she copped me my first keyboard and it’s been a wrap for me ever since. That was like ’99.

$in: Coming from the Midwest, like he said it was church, but I was raised on a lot of different stuff like UGK, Twista, and Three 6 Mafia. The older southern rap influenced me but like he said, The Blast! Coming home from school and turning on Rap City and seeing The Blast – that used to be my shit! It was crazy. Also the first album I ever bought with my own money was Slum. When I bought that Slum Village album I would sit down, listen to it, and write their lyrics down. Fast forward a little bit I was writing shit down from Get Rich or Die Tryin’, College Dropout, and shit like that. That influenced me to be an emcee, rap, and produce.

I didn’t have the access to hardware so I was working Fruity Loops for years. I didn’t start working with keyboards and all that shit until probably about five years ago. My pops used to be bumping Arrested Development back on cassette. We’re influenced by a lot of things because me being from here a lot of my friends were rapping on southern shit and we’re right next to Chicago – a hop, skip, and a jump. It’s different sounds out here but that sound was also a part of me. I just had to link up with Logik and his whole crew. I had to play catch up because they were doing it in the 90s and I was a youngin’ and to myself in the 90s. Like early 2000s was when I started making beats. That’s when I started hooking up with Logik every year and talking about music. Logik and the people that he came up with are an influence and inspiration that pushed me.

TRHH: What inspired the single ‘Humble Pie’?

Funk Logik: I’m a big fan of D’Angelo and lot of eclectic soul music. $in made the beat so when I heard the beat it already had a melody to me so I started humming that melody. Then I started to think and feel in that moment and in that moment I was real humbled by everything that was happening around us. We got our first tour and we had big hit on Dear White People, which was our first big placement. I was just humbled by life itself. That’s how the lyrics came. I hit $in and told him I had a song to the beat. I think it was originally called “Granny’s Keys” or something like that. It made me feel like there was an old woman singing in church. It reminded me of my grandmother so that’s why on part 2 when the song transitions I talk about her in the lyrics because I could feel her spirit at that time when I was listening to the beat. It came from life happening around me, where I was in life, and being real humbled to see things working out.

$in: I give you a lot of credit for that because you put those two beats together. They wasn’t made to go together.

TRHH: What’s the process like for you guys recording being in different states?

Funk Logik: It kind of started off with him being in Indiana, I’m over here, and he’s sending me beats. $in moved out to Cali in like ’08 or ’09 and that’s how we built our chemistry. So now when he can’t be here and he’s back home it’s e-mails back and forth. Since we kind of know each other and we’re family it’s really a lot easier because I can tell if he really likes something, he can tell if I like it, and we’re not afraid to take a chance. To finish the album $in flew back to Cali and we were in the studio for a couple of weeks every couple of months.

$in: Lately I’ve been flying out there to record for like a week or two. We’d go crazy and record like fifty songs.

TRHH: One thing I noticed is that although you both produce individually, there is cohesion to your sound. How did you develop the Blakface sound?

$in: It’s four producers on the album but Eclectic is a part of our sound. He makes all these beats and shows them to us and we pick them. That’s how we get Heroin, Positive Light, and Destiny. Those are like some of my favorite tracks on the album. I don’t even know how to explain it. I don’t know how that shit happened. It’s crazy because a lot of the shit that Logik does I like it but I never would have done it. It’s a vibe.

Funk Logik: It does happen naturally but I think it comes from us liking the same kind of music…

$in: And us being family.

TRHH: You tackled police misconduct on the song ‘Don’t Shoot.’ What do you think should be done to end police brutality?

$in: I personally think first of all it’s because the cops aren’t from that area, are scared of that area, and have a misconception about that area. They go up in there and don’t know shit about the hood, don’t know shit about us, they’re scared of us. Think about it, if you’re scared it’s like being around some animals and you have a gun. If an animal jumps at you and you’re scared you’re going to shoot it. It will change if we get something different going on. We don’t need as many cops. Dwindle them down to the ones that are doing the right thing and get rid of the ones that are not cutting it. That would probably help. Getting some of us in there maybe. I don’t even want to say that but maybe it will help a little bit. At least motherfuckers would be from that area.

Funk Logik: That’s a good one. A big thing for me is they don’t see us as equal first off. Without the badge or with the badge minorities are not viewed as equal to the majority of cops, which are white. Even if a cop is black I still feel like he probably doesn’t see me as his equal. He has a power trip and feels like he’s superior to me while I view him as my equal. Don’t get me wrong, I respect good cops. When I get pulled over I do what they say. But they still tell me to get out the car, they want to search my whole whip when I ain’t got nothing in it even though I treat them with respect.

They don’t see us on an even playing field. It’s an equality issue and that’s not just with police, that’s with people of this society in general. And then I think weapons; I understand defending yourself but a lot of these cases come out as excessive force, not like a cop defending himself. They rolled up on Eric Garner and put him in a headlock and killed him. Same thing with Mike Brown, I feel like it could have been handled in a different way. That’s why in the video we portray Mike Brown and a Trayvon Martin because it was excessive force that killed these brothers and a perspective of where a person felt superior to somebody.

TRHH: $in, on Humble Pie part 2 you say, “I guess it’s best if we make some music with some depth.” Why is it important for Blakface to make music with substance?

$in: Just because I feel like it’s a time and place for everything. When I heard an artist like Big K.R.I.T. it changed it for me. I was like, “Thank you — it’s somebody from the south that has substance.” If he wanted to he could dumb the shit completely down and be just another southern artist, but he chooses not to. Just seeing that I feel like those types of artists are the ones that hit you more and that’s just the type of person I am. I feel like I think different from the average person I see. I feel like I be trying to put people on game. When you get knowledge that’s a problem with black people. A lot of the issues that are going on are because of ourselves. We have to get ourselves right first. We gotta figure some shit out. Making music with depth is trying to wake them up with it. I like to talk about those things and I think like that.

It’s like how I said about being a cop, at least if you’re from there you can relate. I didn’t have the worst childhood or grow up in the worst shit ever in life but I’m from the hood and I’ve been through different shit, seen different things, done certain things, my family has done certain things, friends are gone, people are locked up, all types of stuff. I feel like I represent for them because they always pushed me to avoid negativity and do music. I feel like I make music to represent that so if they’re in jail and hear it, sit back and smoke they’ll go, “Damn, that shits crazy.” I got a lot of people like that that hear our album and it’s instant. They go and listen to all of our shit after that. I just got a text like that two days ago. When I made music it was more so with Logik in California but me being here and doing that, that’s cool. The depth is to wake people up really.

TRHH: Who is ‘Bamboozled’ made for?

Funk Logik: Bamboozled is made for everybody. We make music for everybody our ages, to our nephews, to my grandmother. To me if you listen to the radio it’s the same song for two hours. It’s the same sounding song to me so Bamboozled is made for the person that’s trying to get away from that, that’s trying to listen to some music with some depth, substance, color, and creativity, and that’s trying to expand their mind and not be kept in a box. So if you’re some type of person of intelligence or you’re trying to get up out of that it’s for you.

$in: I feel like for different type of people you’re going to get something different out of it. To me even if you’re not going through it it’s something that you need to hear because you need to hear everybody’s struggle and you need to hear everybody’s story. The things that we talk about aren’t getting represented 100% like they should. It’s a lot of good artists but you turn on the BET Awards or something like that and you see all these rappers that’s not really talking about nothing or doing anything. They get all the glory but the ones that could be and are out here really doing shit don’t.

Purchase: Blakface – Bamboozled

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About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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