Lessondary emcee Jermiside and Dublin producer The Expert joined forces for an album called, “The Overview Effect.” While being very much Hip-Hop, The Overview Effect utilizes sounds inspired by 60s psychedelic rock bands. The music adds to the urgency of Jermside’s lyrics that touch on topics that effect the entire globe.
The Overview Effect is produced entirely by The Expert. The 14-track album comes courtesy of Rucksack Records and features guest appearances by Stik Figa, Farah Elle, and Tanya Morgan.
The Real Hip-Hop chatted with Jermiside about finding a middle ground with religion, working with The Expert, and their new album, The Overview Effect.
TRHH: Why’d you call the new album The Overview Effect?
Jermiside: You know what, man, I was driving and listening to NPR as I do when I’m taking my son to school. There was a former astronaut on there talking about his experience of being in space. It’s been kind of coined by a guy whose name I think is Frank White, actually. He was describing what it’s like to be in space and look back at the Earth for the first time. That profound feeling and experience that you get from seeing the Earth floating amongst darkness, just black.
You kind of see how insignificant we are, but how significant life is at the same time. I kind of wanted to paint that same picture. The Expert already had the concept set out, but I felt like that idea kind of encapsulated what he wanted to bring forth. I heard him explaining that and I was like, “That’s perfect! That’s exactly what we’re trying to encapsulate with this project.”
TRHH: How did you link up with The Expert and decide to do an album?
Jermiside: We kind of had a working relationship already established. We’ve been working here and there for six or so years. I actually did a project with a friend of his named Danny Diggs. He’s also from Ireland. I think he’s bases out of Vancouver now. We did a couple of projects together and he pulled The Expert in to do a remix for one of our singles. After that, we kind of kept in touch and developed a working relationship from there.
TRHH: You said The Expert started the concept of The Overview Effect?
Jermiside: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was kind of ready-made in his mind how he wanted the project to be. He said, “I want it to be like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On mixed with this, that, and the third.” We just kind of built off of that concept and idea. He already knew he wanted it to be based off of psychedelic rock. I thought that was an interesting concept when he brought it to me. I said, “Yeah, I’ll definitely be down to work on this with you.” I was kind of like the paint brush for his canvas. He brought the soundscape and I just painted the picture.
TRHH: How long did the process take?
Jermiside: I want to say about three years. Three/three and a half, something like that. We definitely took our time with it. It wasn’t like a rush job or anything. I’m living life and he is too. We never felt like we have to record this and shoot it out the door. I know a lot of stuff is done that way now, but we come from a different school where people used to actually sit down and really map out a body of work. That’s what we did.
TRHH: The song “Bullet Shock” is so vivid. Take me into writing that song.
Jermiside: When I first heard it, it sounded like the Blues to me. It sounded like that early, early Blues. That deep south kind of feeling. I don’t know the original artist where he sampled from, but maybe that’s what they were trying to channel. That early rock was siphoning from the Blues. When I heard it, it just felt like the Blues. It felt like pain and despair. As far as situations with black folks and the police, those situations occur every day.
I was really pulling from the Mike Brown situation that occurred years before in St. Louis. That was what I was seeing in my mind when I was painting that picture – what was going on, on the ground when that happened. I took from there, I took from some other personal feelings and experiences from my personal life and just melded them all together to paint that picture. When I heard it, it just felt that way, so I tried to do my best to try to bring it out.
TRHH: The song “Crime Run the City” features Tanya Morgan. How did your relationship with Don and Von begin?
Jermiside: Don and Von, that’s been a longstanding relationship right there. Those are my guys. When they first came out with their debut Moonlighting I was a part of that project. Even before that we were running around the city trying to find some kind of a break in the music world. Our relationship goes back pretty far, and we’re all a part of the same collective, The Lessondary, which is us, Rob Cave, Elucid, Che Grand, and we have producers like Aeon, Jamie Cooley, etc., etc. It’s a pretty longstanding relationship. Those are my guys.
TRHH: Middle Ground is a song that stood out to me. Why do you believe peace can be found in the middle ground when it comes to religion?
Jermiside: Whoa, yeah, that’s a good question. Often times you hear about situations, and these are the only situations you really hear about because if things are going good there is no news, you hear about people going off the deep end with it. That’s really with any religion, Islam, Christianity, you got your Jesus freaks, and people who stand outside of the abortion clinic. You got people on that side and you have people way on the other side where they don’t really care about anything at all and any and everything goes.
I feel like there is a middle ground with that, where you don’t have to be so extreme on either side. I feel like that’s where the personal peace is found and with individuals dealing with each other I feel like that’s where the middle ground is found there as well. It’s like, “I’m on the other side of the fence. I hear what you’re saying, even though I disagree.” At the end of the day we don’t have to fight each other or anything like that. We’re two different people, with different ideologies, ideas, or ways of going about life. I feel like the middle ground is where the peace is found.
TRHH: I agree completely. It seems to only be with Christian or Islamic based religions. You don’t hear about Jews preaching or recruiting people. I’m sure it happens, but it’s not out there. I think what it is, is the faith is so matter of fact and it helps so many people, and when you’ve been helped you want to help other people. I think those people at the abortion clinics really think they’re saving babies. They really think they’re saving somebodies life, but in reality, they’re just being a nuisance [laughs]. I mean really, mind your business and keep it moving. You feel like this thing is so good and it’s helped you so much you want to share it. That’s the whole Christianity thing, you share the Gospel. But It can turn people crazy like you said.
Jermiside: For sure, for sure. It can definitely turn people crazy. We’ve seen enough of that. Just turn on the news anywhere in the world.
TRHH: And the weird thing is for Christians, are you really following what Jesus was doing? He wasn’t really out here bothering people.
Jermiside: He surely wasn’t!
TRHH: You really have to follow his model of not being judgmental and helping the less fortunate. Whatever, we can go on and on about that…
Jermiside: We can talk about that all year! So much to be said there. I just feel like people need to get used to other people having differing anything, differing opinions. He eats different food, you build your house a different way. I feel like we’re here to appreciate the diversity of what is here on earth. We’re not here to try to make everybody be the same. You’re here to find out about other people. I come from here, you come from there, so, tell me about where you’re from. Introduce me to what you guys do and I can show you what I do, and we can learn from each other and appreciate each other. People get caught up in being like “Oh, you’re different. You should be like me.”
TRHH: I feel like extending beyond religion, I know a guy that posted something on Facebook like, “I hate Liberals” or something like that. I said, “Well, I’m a Liberal,” and he says, “But I know you.” What does that mean? He said Liberals want to take our guns and invite foreigners to the country and they don’t want to assimilate. I’m like, “Assimilate?” He said, “Yes, we have a culture and people should follow our culture and not do their own thing.” For real? This is a black dude saying this. It just blew my mind. That is the mentality of a lot of people in this country.
I was in Georgia for work years ago and I went to lunch with this group of people I was working with. Everybody who was working at the cafeteria were speaking Spanish and the white people I was with were flipping out. They were like, “This is America. Why are they speaking that language?” For real? These were people from North Dakota. I’m from Chicago. I grew up around Latino people. I’m not bothered by them speaking Spanish, but it really pissed these people off. There is a part of America that a lot of black people don’t even know about. These people get fired up. They aren’t comfortable with people who aren’t like them. That mentality applies to religion, nationalism, and even in Hip-Hop. How many heated Hip-Hop discussions have you had? You’re right, we need to get there. We need to say, “I disagree and we’re good.”
Jermiside: I think one key thing that the guy said to you was, “Well, I know you.” That’s the thing right there. You don’t know everybody else and that’s why your vision is clouded. In order to really be able to speak on something you have to know these people. You can’t make broad, sweeping, generalizations. I mean, you can, but it might not end up well.
TRHH: It’s as simple as that. Why say you hate an entire group of people? You can say you disagree with a political thing. Politics is not so cut and dry. There is nobody completely conservative or completely liberal.
Jermiside: Right. It’s a lot of gray area. When they’re completely on one side that’s when you get those crazy people doing crazy things.
TRHH: Just like religion! Okay, on the last verse of the song “I Love You, Still?” you speak about black people trying to find themselves. You say “relying on DNA tests trying to be whole again.” How much do you believe black people’s struggles in America come from not knowing our family history?
Jermiside: I think probably a good amount. Especially with people who are “woke” and that could include me and you, I don’t know. People who have some kind of consciousness and awareness. The cliché phrase is if you don’t know where you’re from how can you know where you’re going. We don’t really have that. You might look at yourself as lesser than the Ethiopian guy over here. He knows his history, he knows his culture, he takes pride in his history, his language, and his writing. All of these things that this person knows from their past they can kind of stand on that and be proud.
I feel like black people in America have a lot to stand on and a lot to be proud of, because we have overcome a lot of adversity and came out on the other side. Everybody is really benefiting from the fact that we went through that struggle. We can really stand on that. We have enough here to be proud of, we just don’t have a deep connection with a specific place or a cultural identity. Even people that come from the Caribbean like a Jamaican, they have a strong cultural identity, and other places as well. We don’t have that. It’s almost like, our whole being here is based on struggling and maneuvering our way out of adversity and building the country and making the country better. Now everybody else can come here and benefit from the hard work and the struggles that we went through.
Even if they don’t realize it, no matter who you are, whether you’re African, Chinese, Japanese, you can come over here and people aren’t trying to lynch you or bar you from coming in restaurants, and all of the things that they used to do to us, is because of the fact that we struggled for you. We made that possible. I feel like there is a lot to be proud of there. We don’t have the traditions, the language, all the things that make a culture a culture, we don’t necessarily have that. We’ve got Hip-Hop and we’ve got Jazz as our musical contributions, but if you go beyond that it’s like, dang, what’s there?
TRHH: You also have to look at movements from the 30s to the 60s like Marcus Garvey’s movement or Elijah Muhammad’s movement, or whatever else, was kind of crushed. They really did their best to stomp out any kind of identity or unity or whatever, so even now we don’t have a cultural identity. I feel like we do, but we don’t. It’s systematic.
Jermiside: Yeah, it’s definitely by design. It’s real scary when you just start thinking about it. Just the depths that they went to, to keep a whole group of people permanently down. It’s so systematic that people don’t even realize it. That’s why there is a whole argument about Critical Race Theory. They’re arguing about it because the white folks here don’t even realize how systematic it was. A lot of us don’t realize it, unless you really read. That’s why they’re kicking back at it. They’re like, “What are you talking about? Slavery ended and that was that.”
TRHH: They want to paint the picture that we picked cotton, sang songs, and then we were free and everything was great [laughs]. Nah, you really have to dig deep and know that it’s by design and it continues to be. From banks, to police, come on, man.
Jermiside: Yeah. The people in power they are definitely keeping that whole system going. The people like us, the regular, average Joe Schmo, they are probably none the wiser. That’s why they’re looking around at stuff like Critical Race Theory.
TRHH: One time I was playing ball with my cousins and one of my cousins’ sons. We were talking about how Jessie Jackson said the Cavs owner had a slave master’s mentality when he went off on LeBron for going to Miami. My cousin’s son said, “Why are people still bringing up slavery?” He’s black! It blew me away. I was raised on Public Enemy, I was raised on KRS-One, I was raised on Rakim and Ice Cube. I had a desire to go back and read and learn. I think there is a generation after me and you that had none of that. It was just gravy.
Jermiside: We really didn’t have to read and learn. We could just ask our parents and grandparents. We could ask them how it was when they were growing up and they could tell you all of the stories that created the conditions that made a Public Enemy. You go far enough back in your history and maybe your great grandmother was a slave. We’re still somewhat semi-attached to the people that have these stories. My dad is 72, he grew up in those times when they couldn’t go in the front of a restaurant and white folks chasing you out of this town and that town and all of that.
It’s so many stories that we all probably have. You’re right, the generation under us is not going to have that attachment because you can’t just go home and hear those stories from your parents and grandparents about how it was. We’re kind of like the last ones. They’re still dealing with police brutality and stuff like that. It’s not like it’s over, it’s just not as in your face.
TRHH: The George Floyd anniversary just happened and we really had a country split on this. People are justifying him being murdered by saying, “He was on drugs” or “He had a fake $20” like, really? Imagine if that was a white guy with a knee on his neck. Do you think people would have been split on it? We’ve definitely got a long way to go.
Jermiside: For sure.
TRHH: Who is The Overview Effect album made for?
Jermiside: I want to just say it’s made for everybody. It’s made for everybody, but it’s made with a purpose of kind of making people think. I always try not to be too preachy in my music, and that was really kind of hard considering the overarching idea and subject matter of the album. I tried to make it socially aware, but not preachy. It’s for everybody. It’s for everybody to take a step back, look at the world, ponder for a minute, and really think about everything that’s going on.