I read this interview Blueprint did with HipHopSite.com years ago that made me realize a day job ain’t so bad when you’re making your bones as an independent musician. Matter of fact, here’s the exact excerpt from 2003 that popped into my mind while I posted this interview here:
“I’m not going to say that my degree specifically in computer science has helped me, but what I gained in professionalism, what I gained in organization, project planning, none of those things I would have gained without working as a computer programmer or a project leader for five years. I never would have gained those skills. There’s a different standard of professionalism that exists in the music industry as a whole that I’m nowhere near happy with. But overall it’s just like an occupational hazard now. And the only way I can get around it is to be as prepared as possible.”–HipHopSite.com
I never heard an emcee speak on the positives of the 9-to-5 hustle when applied to the mic check 1-2-1-2 an’ umm….
The professionalism Blueprint was waxing about 7 years ago still propels him forward as a wearer of many hats in the (no)pay-to-(hopefully maybe)-play world of Music And The Internet At This Moment. I first heard of Print on Aesop Rock’s EP Daylight where his voice and delivery hit me like a ’37 Harley Davidson Knucklehead cutting through the desert on “Alchemy”. After doing my homework, I found out about his association with MHz, Soul Position with RJD2, and Greenhouse with Illogic. Luckily, HipHopSite.com did its best to feed my hunger at the time — it seemed like every 4-6 months, they were pushing something new that Print contributed to. It almost seemed as though he had a *gasp!* plan to his success. Producer projects, remix projects, shows, tours, merch; Blueprint has existed and built a career on seemingly random whims in taste and style that never stray from a centralized and balanced point of attack, and LP release after release.
Blueprint has rebranded himself as a progressive and interactive indie artist. The topics he posts on his site Printmatic.net stretch way beyond self-promotion and empty one-sheets written by a publicist or groupie. He drops jewels on the the realistic advancements of an indie musician in interviews. Not to mention two ridiculously banging EP’s alongside Illgogic as Greenhouse, followed by a new solo EP, and now a tour with Atmosphere all within the last year….as they say, a great musician is a working musician.
It’s time for Blueprint to learn you something.
1. At what point did you realize music was what you wanted to do?
I’m not sure if there was ever really a conscious decision about wanting to do music forever or anything like that. I come from a musical family and church, so music was always a part of my life in one way or another. When I started actually releasing music in the form of Greenhouse cassette tapes it was really only because I felt like we had to have something for sale before we actually played a show. At the time, I never really thought we would make any significant money off of it and I definitely never thought it would end up being a career for me. I just kind of went with the flow. Once i got offered a chance to tour I had to reevaluate everything as far as my other career was concerned. Truth be told, I’m just now really looking at music as something I would like to be involved in for the rest of my life, and that idea just kind of came to me a couple years ago.
2. How has Columbus shaped your sound or molded you as an MC/producer?
I think the Columbus sound is very prevalent in everything I do, although a lot of people won’t necessarily know it unless they’re familiar with the other influential artists from my city like DJ Przm & the Spitball crew, MHz, Spirit, or Weightless. My dude DJ PRZM (r.i.p) was really a pioneer in terms of lo-fi hip-hop production in Columbus. He did music with everybody from the city and influenced me a great deal. A lot of the stuff on 1988 album that was lo-fi or grimey-sounding was just me paying homage to that style. Our artists are also very diverse, and don’t sound like anybody else. The MHz and Weightless were some of the first national acts from Columbus and I think the tradition has carried through to the younger cats coming up in the scene now.
3. Who are the people you look up to and learn the most from?
Most of my role-models have absolutely nothing to do with music. I actually admire regular working people who keep their head on their shoulders when times are hard and have one-of-a-kind character. I look up to pretty much all entrepreneurs as well.
4. With everything you’ve learned thus far, what do you wish you could have told yourself at the beginning? Would you have done anything differently?
Don’t save music for later. If you’ve got something that’s dope, put it out now, and don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. There is no perfect opportunity.
5. What’s hard for you? What do you struggle at?
Keeping myself entertained and challenged is a day to day struggle. If I’m not entertained or challenged then I’m probably gonna get into mischief.
6. Here’s a scenario: tomorrow you become the CEO of a major record label. What are the first three things you would do as the boss?
Fire myself! Ha! First thing I would do is drop the price of all cds to $5 across the board; new or old, five bucks. The second thing I would do is start a small division dedicated to creative packaging and vinyl. Third thing I would do is partner up with all the places that make music free (youtube, etc) instead of opposing them.
7. What are some of your favorite albums?
All time I’m in to classic hip-hop albums like Wu-Tang \”Enter the 36 Chambers\”, Nas \”illmatic\”, and stuff like that. Recently my tastes are all over the place, from classic rock to classic soul to everything in between, so it’s kind of hard to really say. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Kraftwerk.
8. What is inspiring your work right now?
Time. I think time is the biggest motivator out there for me. I don\’t need much else.
9. What advice would you offer someone getting into the business at this time?
Have fun and be yourself.
10. Any words to live by?
Do something small everyday, eventually you’ll get a lot of big things done.
Blueprint “Dream Big”
Blueprint f/ Aesop Rock “Lo-Fi Funk”
Greenhouse (Blueprint & Illogic) “Cold Out Here”
Soul Position (Blueprint & RJD2) “Run”
Aesop Rock f/ Blueprint “Alchemy”