I was never just a rap guy. In this stage of my life, I listen to quite a bit of instrumental Hip Hop [google “Odd Summer EP 2009”]. But I’m pretty sure Eric Morgan, who handled the post-production and editing on the Wifey video, would rather I not go into detail about that. So here’s the backstory.
Raised in what felt like a household full of books and vinyl in Washington, D.C., and then Garland, Texas, my parents gave me a fairly well-rounded musical education from day one. Even before day one, my mother says Hugh Masekela’s “I Am Not Afraid” was my favorite album in the womb. When I heard it in passing on a trip to Texas last month, it didn’t bring back any memories. But, still, I understand.
I always remember having thousands of records around the house, but my dad says it was only 1,500 or so. Then again, I remember him naming our massive collection of arts and literature the Bob Marley Memorial Library. He doesn’t.
I also remember when certain albums came out, and we basically had release parties to celebrate them. Stevie Wonder’s Hotter than July release was an event when I was 9 or 10 years old. Steel Pulse’s Babylon the Bandit. Gil Scott-Heron’s Re-Ron single. Even the 7-inch vinyl of Run, Jesse, Run that commemorated Reverend Jackson’s two presidential campaigns. It all shaped me.
The books were everywhere, too. But let’s just say I could understand and enjoy the vinyl and detailed liner notes on the record sleeves way before I felt like reading How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney.
We never listened to much classical, rock, bluegrass, country or gospel. But pretty much everything else — jazz, soul, blues, reggae, pan-African — was fair game. The Righteous Brothers and Gil Evans are the only white artists I ever found in Marley Memorial, but the culture was still rich and deep at the Blakes Estate. There was one Ornette Coleman joint I’d play over and over again, because that groove was just plain funky!
Fast forward to 2010, when I was planning the SANCT EP with producer Reggie “The Genius” Coby. Like Smiley Faces from S1 and Go Blaze from Picnic back in 2007, the song that became the only instrumental on SANCT — Wifey — had already been appropriately named by the producer/composer when it first hit my gmail account. I loved it from the first listen, and as I listened I never envisioned myself rapping over it. It was already what it needed to be, give or take some enhancement from my band, the Extra Plairs.
Reggie respected my wishes, possibly taken aback by a rapper who doesn’t feel the need to rap on every song. This was around the time of Kanye West’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy LP, which I’d listened to two or three times. My general assessment of it was very nice music and way too much rapping. So I practiced what I preached [shrug], eventually sending Carter Arrington (guitar), D-Madness (bass) and Jon Keyzz (keys) to record with Reggie at his home studio.
My lead strategic consultants on the SANCT EP, besides Mr. Coby, were my super-model-student-wifey Tif and my soul brother Easy from Mojoe. One night I was going thru the reference music and chatting online with Easy, who lives in Atlanta. Tif was working at the desk on the other side of the room. They were basically consulting me in stereo, a front channel and a rear channel.
I’d had a month or so to pick the beats from Reggie and chew on the concepts. At this point I knew I was going to call the project SANCT, and was just starting to tell Tif and Easy about it. When I suggested that Wifey should be an instrumental featuring the Extra Plairs, possibly the last song on the EP, they both quickly agreed.
My first and only solo album, Create and HUSTLE, ended with an instrumental called Farewell. Ten years later, the SANCT EP ends with Wifey!
As the song was produced and arranged to completion, I could see the video in my head. Plus I’d just bought a Macbook Pro and an HD camera, so why not shoot it myself? This SANCT EP is all about how things changed after I left Texas in February 2009. The Wifey video was the perfect opportunity to quietly explain it all from behind a camera on a couple of gorgeous Southern California beaches.