Interview: Black Knights
Tue, 04 Feb 2014 09:28:36
Black Knights get medieval on yo ass—literally.
The Wu-Tang Clan affiliates Crisis tha Sharpshooter and Rugged Monk pull out the swords and shields, storming the hip-hop castle on Medieval Chamber. It's a unique, undeniable, and unbridled combination of old school rap fireworks and legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante's inimitable instrumental magic.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Crisis tha Sharpshoota and Rugged Monk discuss Medieval Chamber and so much more.
What ties Medieval Chamber together for you?
Rugged Monk: When we started the album, we didn't begin it as an "album". It all started as us working together. There was an organic feel that came from making songs collectively together. It just came about after so many songs clicked. John Frusciante sent me ten or twelve songs we had done through email, and I thought, "We've got something here!" He sat down and asked me what I thought about putting them together as an album. We all got together as a collective and felt the same feeling. We thought it sounded great together, and we decided to go forward.
What do you dig about the medieval imagery and that vibe?
Crisis tha Sharpshoota: That's been our chamber. We were Black Knights when we first signed with Wu-Tang Clan back in 1998. Medieval Chamber has been our chamber we just brought it to life.
Rugged Monk: Black Knights is our logo and group name. We say, "We're Black Knights in modern day times". That's why we have songs like "Camelot". Camelot symbolizes California, but we converted it into a modern-day medieval world. This is what we go through as Black Knights as MCs. We're dominant warriors on the mic, but we take it farther. The medieval times symbolize what we're going through as artists.
Crisis tha Sharpshoota: Hip-hop is in the dark ages right now. That's why everything sounds the same. Nobody's creating. Nobody's being themselves making music. They just follow the program. All of this makes sense with the times going on right now.
What's the story behind "Keys to the Chastity Belt"?
Crisis tha Sharpshoota: That was literally the first song we made together. He played the beat, and it had a tight feel like a girl was involved. We came with that tight feel. We're living it period. Coming to the studio, your girl thinks you're doing something wrong. You aren't doing anything but going to work in the industry you chose to work in.
Rugged Monk: I like that track too. We have so many songs concept-wise. We had to incorporate the females as well. They're a part of the project too.
How did "Camelot" come together?
Rugged Monk: That was a later song we did, but it tied into where the album was going. That was a good fit for it as a closer. It's a good way of signing, sealing, and delivering the drawbridge. We open up the drawbridge and we flood you with music. "Camelot" symbolizes the mind frame we transition through over the course of the album.
What inspires you outside of music?
Rugged Monk: I read a lot, and I'm a real movie buff. I tend to watch a lot of classic cinema. I like dialogue in movies. That had a big influence on my writing and things like that. I don't listen to that much new music. When John Frusciante and I sit down, we listen to a lot of classical music or rock like Jane's Addiction or Depeche Mode. It's like we're bungee jumping from genres of music. That helps us stay relevant with the sound we're trying to capture when we make our music.
Crisis tha Sharpshoota: I read too, but the biggest inspiration was the music because John is so far out there that he added on to me musically. He opened my eyes and my mind to things I had never paid attention to before, and I saw them for what they were because he knows the music so fucking well. He breaks it down from an angle you weren't even approaching it from.
If you were to compare Medieval Chamber to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Rugged Monk: I'd say a classic Quentin Tarantino film that takes you different places but it all ties into one. He chambers his movies and writing style with all different contrasts. At the same time, the storyline all comes together as one big epic movie. If you read the song titles of our album, it's like reading a book.
Crisis tha Sharpshoota: He takes you through different feelings and emotions.
Have you heard Black Knights?