Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to email@example.com.
Sitting in the ornate and magnificent chair at the head of the Artist of the Week table, we get tons (tons, tens, whatever) of submissions sent to us each week. More often than not, submissions are sent from the bands themselves, which, is pretty much the same as talking about yourself in the third person when you introduce yourself to a girl.
So when we received a "Hey Check This Guy Out" note from Henry Adaso of the widely read rap.about.com, our ears perked up. Adaso passed along the particulars for heady Houston hip-hopper Soulbrotha. Though we were entirely unimpressed with his name, the lyricist's penchant for bending and tilting words to his will was more than enough to secure him a spot in our lineup.
We reached over to SB and he was politic enough to give us a few of his minutes. After the jump, read about his relation to C. Thomas Howell, the fundamental ideology of Christianity and his non-beef with rap firm Hueston Independent Spit District.
Rocks Off: You being Soulbrotha and all, we're curious to know: are you of any relation to Soul Man? We haven't seen him since the late '80s. Last we heard he was trying to get into Harvard or something.
Soulbrotha: Not at all. That guy once tried stalking me for answers to test questions. Creepy, I tell ya.
RO: Can you talk a little about the Ezekiel Hanani thing? We're not entirely sure we understand it.
SB: It's [an album] based on a guy. "Ezekiel Hanani" is an aspiring MC and works a 9-to-5 as an engineer. The album finds him returning to the "local scene" after a brief hiatus, re-introducing himself to his fanbase and new fans. It was my first attempt at a conceptual album which I drew from bits and pieces of myself, my aspirations and fictional ideas that I wanted easily relatable and memorable across the board.
RO: Your main DJ dude on that is white, right? What's with all of these white guys infilitrating hip-hop? Just looks weird, doesn't it?
SB: [Laughs] That's Birmingham, UK's own, Roeg Du Casq. I don't have a problem with white guys infiltrating hip hop. I'm white too, look at me!
RO: Jokes aside, we really enjoyed "Viva La Revolucion." Thought it was very creative lyrically and easy to listen to. What's going on in your head when you write something like that?
SB: Thank you. Basically I try to draw my listener into my head from a visual standpoint. I hope to write and rhyme in such a manner that it's almost as though they are living in the moment of the song. I think that comes largely from my love of movies and theater. So I always aim to create each piece to stand as its own little film of sorts.
Most importantly, though, I just want people to be touched and inspired in some way when they hear a Soulbrotha song. When I wrote "Viva La Revolucion" I wanted to expand the discussion from what Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" meant to me and take it to a place where we could look inward and debate our beliefs and their validity in regards to what we had previously perceived to be true versus what was happening now in front of us.
In life, you realize that what you thought or held to be truth may have either been a lie, an exaggeration or an understatement the entire time. I wanted listeners to see that my faith [Christianity] has been subject to various interpretations at different times but one fundamental element remains true: Christ came to save mankind from death via separation from their Maker, God.
Christianity has never been about self, greed, war. [It's] never been about kingdoms or killing off those who didn't agree with its tenets; those were all man-made fixations consciously or unconsciously interwoven for personal agenda. Christianity is about Christ and His Love for human beings, His Desire to have human beings in a personal relationship with Him individually, period.
RO: Wow. Kinda got away from us there. In three questions you went from talking about one of the most ill-conceived movies of all time to the basic tenets of Christianity?
SB: I noticed that. I just kept on going.
RO: [laughs] Indeed. One thing we've always wondered is how come rappers don't hit up open-mic nights at venues around town? We been to a ton of 'em and we've never seen a rapper perform. Have you ever performed at an open-mic night? Why is that?
SB: Very good question. Well, for me personally, I did open-mic here and there when I first moved to Houston and I'm trying to get back into doing open-mic spots at various venues. I kind of fell back from it for a while, but this year it's been part of my motto to go out there and do it. I really don't have an answer for that question other than having to get back into the scene again and observing the reactions and responses to myself and others and going from there.
RO: We don't know if you're familiar with them or not, but you remind me a little of Hueston Independent Spit District. You both have that kinda hip-hop-head feel going on. You probably want to call them out, right? Maybe start some sort of Rick Ross/50 Cent thing?
SB: Big ups to them, they are about their business. I actually ran into Savv and Equality [emcees from HISD] at my homeboy Mike's art exhibit show very recently. E-Classic, one of the producers in the group, is a close friend. I knew about them through him. Only problem with that sort of thing is I don't have tattoos or a weigh close to 300 pounds, don't have Vitamin Water profits and I do not know Noriega, the real Noriega, unfortunately.
RO: Well done, sir. Port of Miami was a very good album, we think. Who are some other Houston rappers people should be keeping an eye on?
SB: This kid named RUKUS (pronounced like 'Ruckus'). Honestly, I would say he's the "next big thing," but you just have to hear the gentleman. The guy is an MC in the true sense of the word. Another artist isn't a rapper but a singer, her name's Marium. There are singers and there are SANG-ers - she falls into the latter if you know what I mean.
RO: When, where, and for how much can people see you perform live next?
SB: For only $10 you can catch Soulbrotha, Rukus and Marium monthly at the Jet Lounge headlining the House of Oni's various events which feature a live band, the House of Oni Band, DJ Tunes and various local artists. We are having another show coming up at the end of the month. For more information go to www.houseofoni.com.
Grab a copy of the very good Ezekiel Hanani LP via iTunes, Amazon and its official Web site, www.theehlp.com. You can also listen to Soulbrotha's latest mixtape via Imeem at www.imeem.com/soulbrothathemc.
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