A Humble Lyricist
Adeem is actually one of the reasons why I started this blog back in 2006. I had a loose idea then that I wanted to write about battle rappers and posts dedicated to my favourite emcees. Unfortunately I only produced one post dedicated to Eyedea (R.I.P.) before I got side-tracked. I was an addict when it came to Scribble Jam, and it was through that I discovered Adeem. Ever since then he's been on my top 10 of favourite emcees of all time. So it is with immense pleasure to present this interview with him.
You’ve been around the scene for many years now, but you still hold a low profile. Would please present yourself to anyone who doesn’t know who you are?
I can't believe I've been around as long as I have. I feel like a rap dinosaur. "Time don't stop even if I ask nicely…" -Siah. For those who don't know, I am Adeem. Say it like A-D-M. I've been rapping since 1989, putting out music since 1999 in some form or fashion. I've spent the majority of my career with my group Glue which also included Maker and djdq. Been making music forever with my homie DJ MF Shalem and also had a stint with MF Shalem and Adverse. We called ourselves The Dorian Three. A lot of people have heard of me through battling in the old days when I was a young pup. If you want to know more you can always hit up www.winnersneversleep.com
To me you will always be one of my favorite battle rappers of all time. Is the battle form still something that interests you, or is that entirely a part of the past?
First off, thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it. Battling will always interest me. It's one of things that has always made hip-hop so interesting. I don't think members of any other genre have that kind of interaction with each other. A long time ago it would actually make or break someone's career. That was wild to me. Hearing KRS-ONE come at MC Shan and then never really hearing from MC Shan again was incredible. It was so powerful. I still try to keep up with what's going on in the scene. It's different though. There are tons of rappers who make a living off battling now because there is such a demand for it. Grind Time has done a great job with that. The only thing that I wish there was more of was rappers still battling over actual beats. Most of the stuff I see nowadays is a cappella and all written. I was always more into cadence and off the top. That was my steez. Regardless, it's nice to watch the scene from afar. Never thought I was that great of a battler. I was in the right place at the right time and I did my best with most of those situations, but I never should be considered one of the best. Although I'm appreciative of anyone who thinks so.
You haven’t released anything for 5 years, how come? What have you been up to these years and what made you ready to release new music this year?
Five years is waaaayyy too long. It's been killing me not to have music out. The major reason was that after Glue released our last album we spent a while trying to figure out what direction to go. We did a couple of songs but nothing as good as we knew we were capable of. Life got busy for all of us and we decided to take a break. That was in 2008. I had also realized that I wanted to pursue a concept I was working on. I had pitched it to Glue, but it really wasn't our thing so I ran with it. 2008 and 2009 were mostly about writing and recording. I got together with a bunch of musicians and producers, had brainstormed for about a year, and then spent all of 2009 recording. I went to Cincinnati for a month or so and mixed the album with Tobe Donohue. I originally had planned on the release being in 2010, but took some extra time to get it mastered and look for the best situation as far as going with a record label or independent. In the end I preferred sticking with myself and my team to do the best job getting this album out. Also, I wanted to get it out in 2011 because the world is going to end in 2012 and I would be really frustrated if the world ended and this album never saw the light of day.
I just recently found out that the group Glue, consisting of you, Maker and djdq, has called it quits. Did you guys feel that you’d accomplished what you set out to do, or what made you make that decision?
That's a good question. For a long time I wasn't satisfied with what we had accomplished. I thought we had a lot of life left in us, especially creatively. I had to really stand back from the situation to appreciate all the things we did. I was always thinking that the next record would be better so it was tough to stop, but it was the right time. I think Catch as Catch can is a great album to end with.
I know a lot of people have been looking forward to a new record from you. Would you mind sharing what we might expect from the album and what people are you working with?
I'm glad people are looking forward to this, I am too. I think you can expect the unexpected. This record is a new direction for me. Rapping is the foundation, it always will be, but the way it's presented is different. There's more singing from myself and from a lot of talented people I got to work with. There are about 12 different stories going on at once. I've never used the word "concept" to describe any of my albums, but it fits with the The Volume in the Ground. It's certainly not linear. It jumps all over the place, so I had to be careful and try to put bookends on both sides of the album to clear up with is going on and use a narrator. I won't get heavy into the details of the concept, I'll let people work it out for themselves or think of something better than what I had originally intended. I love it when that happens. I worked with 20 people all across the country. It was an incredible experience. It's a very long story, but I kept meeting great people who would introduce me to someone they knew and they would add something to the album. It kept going until I finally finished. From the artwork to the music to the concept. It was a group effort in many ways. The producers were DJ MF Shalem, Chadeo (remember that name. incredible producer), Nobs, Maker, djdq, and myself. I had guest vocals from Swamburger and Alexandrah from Solillaquists of Sound, Kaleigh Baker and Sherwin Sleeves. Tons of musicians. Ben Rogers from Moving Pictures and Eric Gagne from Redwing Blackbird.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everything. Almost everything I write is stream of consciousness. I trust myself enough to reshape the things I see and feel into something creative and interesting. We make millions of tiny decisions every day and I try to be tuned into as many as I can. This album was inspired by my ghosts. We all have ghosts and these are the ones that wanted their stories told.
You’ve always come across as a very humble person, both in your music and in interviews. It’s refreshing to have artists like you around, and I want to thank you for doing this. Any finishing words?
Thank you for the compliments and for taking the time. I appreciate the support.
The new album comes out May 17, 2011 The Volume in the Ground.
People can go to www.winnersneversleep.com and sign up for the mailing list and we'll email you a song as a thank you. Until then everyone can hear the song Meet Death with a Handshake here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Lth6zZQtY&feature=email