Monday, September 20, 2010

Staten Island Based Rap Trio, "The Higher Concept"

IB, Tekst, Matty J (left to right)

New York City is known as the birth place of hip-hop, with underground and old school legends hailing from all over Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. However, Staten Island has its fair share of legendary lyricists as well- the WU-Tang Clan. The WU are/were some heavy hitting emcees and producers coming together to form rap the way it should be- raw, gritty, emotional, thought provoking. The mastermind creators of the "Shaolin World" over came obstacles and hard living to create a legacy on this Island that will be tough to follow. Yet here we are today, on an Island filled with a decent amount of good rappers. So to anyone who doubts Staten Island's place in hip hop history, don't sleep on us. The vision was laid by the WU, and portrayed on their records. Now their concepts are pushing forward to the future of lyricists who just want to be heard. The Higher Concept is this future, bringing back the fresh feel to a genre desperately needed a face lift.

Here's an interview with The Higher Concept. Answers are from IB Profyn with collaborative help from Tekst and Matty J.

Where did the name "The Higher Concept" come from?
The Higher Concept came from our obsession with hidden meanings within our music. We knew our music was going to have a strong message when we formed the group and we also knew we were conceptual writers. Mix that with our recreational habits and we got (THC) The Higher Concept, a name that works on many levels. It was Matty J and IB who came up with the official name in '03 in the Syracuse University dorms. I remember we really wanted an acronym and when we landed on THC, we knew we had the perfect fit.

How did you guys form? Did you know each other, or was it by chance?
The story of our music goes all the way back to High School. J. Glaze (our feature producer) and I spent hundreds of days after school working on a rap/comedy album to play for friends. It was filled with tons of rapping inside jokes and Glaze was just getting his feet wet on the production side of things. The next year we linked up with Tekst, an old friend. He had a real grasp of the underground hip hop movement that was starting to gain momentum in 2000. With his guidance, Glaze and I, wrapped our heads around the real hip hop culture for the first time. Learning there was more out there than guns, drugs, and woman to rap about, I found that I could start writing about things that were actually relative to my everyday life. I didn't have to make up raps about shooting people or having sex with the most girls. This push turned rapping from a joke and hobby to something I really wanted to be involved in and take seriously. Songs like 'Scapegoat' by Atmosphere and 'No Regrets' by Aesop Rock changed my life. I wanted to make songs that inspired people like those.

Senior year of high school consisted of after school time spent in Glaze's mom’s apartment working on a “real” album. We named the group Manifest Destiny and released an 18 song album by the end of the year. All three of us knew we wanted to follow this career path so we went off in three different directions to meet as many people as we could and make as many connections as possible. Tekst went to Wagner College in Staten Island. Glaze went to University of Maryland, and I went to Syracuse University. I met Matty J on the second day of college. He was placed two doors down from me in the freshman dorms and we hit it off instantly. I had met his roommate the day before and he told me that Matty was a rapper. We hit the ground running, recording a track that very first night on his Labtek microphone into his computer. Throughout the semester, Matty and I had been sending tracks to Tekst in Staten and Glaze in Maryland. They were both feeling Matty's style so over winter break, even though I was out of town with my family, Matty went down to Maryland to meet Tekst and Glaze. After that it was a wrap (pun intended). The group was formed with Glaze at the time, as an official 4th member. He even rapped two verses on our first album, Figure It Out. As we grew and started working with other producers it was only practical to cut the group down to the three MC's, even though Glaze is still a big part of what we do.
What draws you to hip-hop and have you ever engaged in any other styles of music? In the beginning it was an attraction to a new and different culture than I was used to. I got into rap listening to a lot of west coast gangsta rap. It was the first genre of hip hop I was exposed to. I discovered all the different genre's of music and realized that there were rappers out there covering subject topics I could actually relate to, a switch flipped and I knew I wanted to be making that kind of relatable music for the rest of my life.
Did you ever feel like a rock star performing? Why?
I try to feel like a rock star every time I step on stage. Every little thing you do while performing is analyzed by your audience. You should treat every crowd even if its twenty people like one hundred thousand people. I try to give as much energy as possible during all my performances. If the crowd reacts, it makes you feel like a rock star. I’d say my main rock star experience was this past year opening up for Kid Cudi at The Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. We were set up backstage with our own dressing room, a bottle of vodka and a thirty rack of beer. After the show we walked the two blocks to the after party and within two minutes of being in the place, I had been bought shots and drinks from three or four different people. It was pretty wild.
Honestly, have you ever been booed off stage or had a really bad experience live? When you’re playing the type of venues we have been for the past six years it's very easy to have a “bad experience” live. Most of these bars with their makeshift sound systems don't really allow for a great live experience because of the sound. We have definitely had a ton of issues with sound at our shows. It's the worst when fans can't hear our lyrics because when we play without a band, our lyrics are the only captivating thing about our performance.

As far as us being booed off the stage, that has never happened. The closest instance was probably back in 05 or 06 when we did our first show on Staten Island. There was a girl in the back of the concert hall that yelled “your not black” after we finished our first song. It was funny to us, and a reminder that most of the general populace still associates hip hop with gangster rap alone.

Usually it’s the other way around. We get on stage and see people pointing and snickering and joking with their friends about us, but once we get off stage, they are the first ones to come up and tell us how surprised they were by how good our show was
What's the biggest venue and biggest crowd THC has played to?
Our biggest venue to date would definitely be the Eastern Michigan University convocation center where we opened up for Nas in '09. There are 40,000+ seats there although maybe half of them were filled up for our Nas show. We've also played The Michigan Theater to a sold out crowd of 1,700. The Country Club in Syracuse opening up for Method Man in 07 probably had close to a 1,000 people there, and The Highline Ballroom in NYC opening up for pop sensations LMFAO had close to 600 people in attendance.

Give me a list of all your achievements and successes.
To date we have released four official albums and three official mixtapes under “The Projectivity Movement”. We made the Canadian college radio charts back in 2008 with The Lookout EP. Other than that, there are not too many crazy accolades to speak of but the list of artists we've opened up for and worked with is pretty extensive: Method Man, Nas, Kid Cudi, Fergie, Sean Kingston, LMFAO, Afroman, Inspectah Dec, KRS-One, DJ Kool Herc, and many more.

My favorite success to date came at a show we played three years ago in Connecticut. There were only about twenty people in the crowd but we performed our hearts out and gave a great performance. After the show I was approached by DJ Tony Tone. The original DJ for one of the first hip hop groups ever, the Cold Crush Brothers. We exchanged info and we've been working together ever since. He has introduced us to the likes of KRS, Kool Herc, and Double Trouble (from Wildstyle).

Are there any cool stories behind your emcee names?
IB goes way back to 9th grade. It would take way to long to explain it but the “I” and “B” comes from another nickname I had growing up with my friends which was Ibus. From Ibus I came up with IB Profyn and the whole Musical Medication thing.
Tekst (pronounced 'text') was always just a tag I used when I would write graffiti. As I got more into the music it seemed to make sense to use as an emcee name based on what I was writing about and what I wanted to present about myself." - Tekst

Matty J has been my nickname since I was in middle school, and there's no hidden meaning. What you see is what you get!" - Matty J

Where do you feel the state of hip-hop is now? Where would you like to see it go?
Hip Hop now is in a much better place than it has been for a long time. I love how things are moving towards a more conscious style of music with live instruments being used for beat making. Artists such as B.O.B. and Lupe Fiasco who discuss real issues and have very intelligent lyrics are getting bigger and bigger. Rap fans have started to get tired of the, I’m the most gangsta dude out here so you should buy my records mentality. We also have more of a meshing of genre's in popular hip hop music these days. Hip hop has merged with R&B, pop music, and even rock music to encompass any and all types of music. In the future I believe we will see hip hop becoming more genre classified like what happened with Jazz music after its popularity died down.

Hip Hop was started as a means to keep gang members off the streets and get them dancing and having a good time. Hip hop is returning to that vibe by becoming much more dance party oriented.

Top 5 greatest rappers dead or alive?
IB: *Disclaimer* these are my top 5 favorite rappers, if you had asked me who my top 5 best MC's were, KRS would be #1 on the list without a doubt-
1. Slug
2. Common
3. Gift of Gab
4. Chali 2na
5. Nas

Tekst: I’ll base this answer on a combination of my favorite artists but also judging them all on ability to perform live along with the album material and everything else. In no real order -
Tailb Kweli
Method man

Matty J: These are my top 5 favorite artists, which is a different list from my best lyricist, best rapper, and also my best emcee list. No order, except that Black Thought is #1-

Black Thought
Talib Kweli
Phonte (of Little Brother)
Slug (of Atmosphere)

Does THC freestyle?
Does THC freestyle? Yes
Does THC freestyle well? Not exactly…

Being in this game for this long it’s been impossible not to dabble in freestyling. When you’re doing tons of shows, there will always come a point where you forget a lyric or something goes wrong and it’s imperative to freestyle to save the set. In those cases I think we thrive because of our skills as emcees. We've been doing it so long that we know how to move and control a crowd. We also try to visit Sin Sin in NYC once every couple months to work on our freestyles. Every Monday night in the city at Sin Sin ( 5th St. & 2nd Ave) they have a live band jamming into the wee hours of the night. emcees line up to freestyle and pass the mic all night long. It's a great environment to practice your freestyles as everyone shows love regardless of talent.

I read about the Projectivity Movement. Pitch it to me in a nutshell. Why is it important, and how do you become involved?
The Projectivity Movement is a collection of musicians, artists, teachers, designers, promoters, and generally good people working together to help expose each others work and passions. There is no business structure or organization, just people working together to help promote each others product, show, music, art, etc. It is a volunteer based thing. Recently the movement has been focusing on educating kids in the music engineering/production field. Currently members are helping to promote after school programs, workshops, events, and more. will be up soon to really showcase what we have done and what we are about. The Higher Concept is really only one small group of artists within the entire collective that is Projectivity.

On a strictly musical basis, The Projectivity Movement is our record label. We signed to The Orchard for our distribution and release music under The Projectivity Movement LLC. Our roster of releases currently consists of The Higher Concept, Michel Aubertin, A Tree of Crows, J. Glaze, and Emilio Sparks.

Why should people listen to "The Higher Concept"? -You should listen to The Higher Concept when you need a breath of fresh air, musically speaking. -You should listen to The Higher Concept if you want to be cheered up when times are tough.
-You should listen to The Higher Concept when the sun is shining and Life's Good.
-You should listen to The Higher Concept when you need somebody to relate to.
-You should listen to The Higher Concept because we make music specifically for YOU.

I think The Higher Concept brings a new sound to a game that has been lacking in freshness for some time. We make feel good music with a positive message and there aren't too many groups doing what we do. The majority of our fans are not hip hop fans; they are people who appreciate good music. I often hear comments about our music like “I don’t normally listen to rap, but you guys are great.” I think we bring a new image to a culture dominated by guns, drugs, and misogyny. We will make you think twice about your perceptions of rap music.

Most groups that make music in our genre ignore or abhor the commercialized version of the genre so much that they refuse to analyze the better qualities of commercial rap music and so their message or lyrics, though they may be great, get lost because the production quality isn't up to par. We mix a strong message and a feel good attitude with more modern and poppy production so you get the best of both worlds.

Plug anything you want here: albums, websites, music videos, shows, blogs, etc. check out all of our albums for purchase here - Http://
check out all of our free downloads here -
check out all of our video content here -
Our website is
Twitter is Http://
myspace is
facebook is
to download our newest album for free -


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