It’s good to hear from guys that are as smart as they are talented – the duo of producer T.E.C.k! and MC SeezMics have been making waves in our backyard of Washington, DC for some time now – part if the Hip-Hop gathering around here called The Food Chain Collective. Educated Consumers is an example of chemistry in its purest form, as they’ll explain, “We are both exceptional at our individual craft and adept at blending our separate skills into a cohesive body of work. Most rappers focus solely on the rap, but we incorporate other aspects of performing and recording to ensure that our art is well-rounded.”
It isn’t just talent and smarts that power T.E.C.k! and SeezMics – they’re witty as hell. Just listen to their answer about music being a career for them: “I’ve always known we have the talent and maturity to walk the tightrope of making good art and getting paid for it, but there’s so much luck involved… it’s like meeting a girl you really dig but aren’t sure if she feels the same. It’s a big leap to put yourself out there and be 100% committed without knowing if things will go your way. But we’re at the point now where we told her how we feel and have a lovely weekend in Vermont planned if she’s interested.” Awesome. And we all totally get it.
They’ve released a new LP titled “Hello Big Mama”, their latest in an impressive line of work that includes their self-titled debut, a second record called “Aisle 2”, a third one titled “Write Hear”, as well as a free EP they released last year called “The Waiting Room”. Big Mama is basically Educated Consumers at their best – sure, you should probably check out all of their work, but if you only have one choice – this is it. It mixes the old school with modern intelligence into something significant. And they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to getting “Hello Big Mama” out there by selling it exclusively via dropcards. I’ll let them explain – “They are plastic cards with a code on the back. You enter the code at educatedconsumers.com and can then download the album. Vinyl will always live, but CD’s are being Darwined out so we want to get off the island.”
Get your hands on a dropcard if you can, because the music is available. And check out the schedule – Educated Consumers don’t plan on taking many breaks in the near future. There’s a lot more to learn below, so get into the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Educated Consumers
PensEyeView.com (PEV): What goes through your heads the minute you walk onto stage?
Cole: I’m focused on executing the planned material and finding a handful of things to mention that the crowd can immediately relate to. I always get a rush of healthy nervousness before going on stage, mainly because my jokes are pretty corny and I think I saw some kid holding a tomato.
PEV: Hailing from Washington, DC, what kind of music where you both listening to growing up? When did you find the love for music?
Cole: Jason was, and still is, a 100% HipHop junkie. He began collecting records at 15 and eventually managed a record store for several years. His record collection is all encompassing in regards to genre, so his influences are very eclectic. He has an innate love for music that is enhanced by the fact that he makes it.
I grew up in the ‘burbs and swallowed whatever pill was given to me by the radio and television. It wasn’t until I got to college that I was exposed to the independent world of art. I’m a narcissistic person and my love for music is driven primarily by the fact that I make it, but I’m a super fan of artists who inspire and humble me.
PEV: A Hip-Hop duo, what do you bring to the table that others do not?
Cole: We are both exceptional at our individual craft and adept at blending our separate skills into a cohesive body of work. Most rappers focus solely on the rap, but we incorporate other aspects of performing and recording to ensure that our art is well-rounded. I used the “thesaurus” and “pretentious” functions to write this answer.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Educated Consumers show?
Cole: We understand that there are a handful of people who don’t know all of our songs by heart, so we spruce up the live performance with subtle jokes and props. However, we reward fans who take the time to know our songs by segueing seamlessly using tangible tangents. We are very precise live and don’t lean on ridiculous vocal effects or a squadron of useless hype men. One more thing: We take requests, but only if they’re written on your breasts, no shouting “Freebird!”
PEV: Tell us about your first live performance. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?
Cole: Wow. We weren’t bad, but we were very raw and unsophisticated. I don’t remember the specifics of where and when, but I do remember it being pretty amateurish. Eh, to be honest, it was pretty god damn terrible. I remember thinking “This rap thing isn’t going to work out, I need to focus more in school and prepare for a life of economical servitude.” Nothing has changed.
PEV: What can fans expect from your new LP “Hello Big Mama”?
Cole: If you liked our previous albums, “Hello Big Mama” will be an instant classic. If you didn’t like our previous albums, I will passive-aggressively acknowledge that everyone has the right to their opinion and I respect yours. But I don’t.
Our first record, the self-titled “Educated Consumers”, is a very traditional rap record. “Aisle 2”, our sophomore effort, is much more abstract and does not rely on the conventional structure of most HipHop albums. “Write Hear”, our third album, is an homage to the golden age of boom bap records. “The Waiting Room”, an EP we released for free (you cheap shmucks!) in October 2008, is a blend of all three of our prior approaches.
“Hello Big Mama” is almost like a “best of” album. The older songs (see “creative time” question) are absolute bangers that are still relevant and cutting edge. The newer songs are completely different in terms of structure and content, but everything fits cohesively and flows the way an album should. The songs are also very conducive to a live show, which is important since we’re touring like nobody’s business. Based on our intense listener-feedback polls, “Hello Big Mama” is also the best showcase of t.E.C.K!’s beats on one album.
PEV: How is this album different from other albums out today?
Cole: It’s good. Yeah, I said it: Everything else is sonic puke when compared to this album! We are also selling the album exclusively via dropcards. “But Cole, what are dropcards?” They are plastic cards with a code on the back. You enter the code at educatedconsumers.com and can then download the album. Vinyl will always live, but CD’s are being Darwined out so we want to get off the island. “But Cole, technology frightens me!” Meh, we may some CD’s too. But you should know that CD’s cost the artists more to manufacture and therefore provide less profit, as well as create more junk for the Earth to digest.
PEV: What is it you like so much about the Hip-Hop genre? What first drove you to it more than any other?
Cole: For the most part, HipHop heads accept different styles as long as the artist has solid fundamentals. I like that the culture demands that individuals pay respect to the collective ground rules, but also allows for originality once those ground rules have been acknowledged.
PEV: Tell us about the creative time behind the making of the album? What was it like creating this?
Cole: There was a time when we were recording several times a week, so we had a surplus of songs that didn’t fit on “Write Hear” or “The Waiting Room” for one reason or another. As a result, most of the songs on “Hello Big Mama” were recorded years ago. Initially, I worried this album would have a “thrown together at the last minute feel,” but we tightened the loose screws on a few of the songs and came up with some really dope segues to tie everything together thematically. We were also fortunate to get some great guest appearances which really tied the room together. I mean album. Sorry, I’ve watched The Big Lebowski a million times.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about both of you?
Cole: Well, it’s pretty well known that I am very hairy. Fun fact about Jason, he is actually hairier than me but his hair is so light you can’t really tell. Pet him some time, you’ll see.
As for me… I have a really bad temper and very little common sense. People who only know me through music say I’m always so calm and thoughtful, but I’m pretty quick to yell and I get lost while driving to places I’ve been a million times. So it goes.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you and you were determined to make it happen?
Cole: I’ve only recently started to think of music in terms of a “career,” and mainly because I’m in debt from printing up CD’s, shirts, etc. I’ve always known we have the talent and maturity to walk the tightrope of making good art and getting paid for it, but there’s so much luck involved… it’s like meeting a girl you really dig but aren’t sure if she feels the same. It’s a big leap to put yourself out there and be 100% committed without knowing if things will go your way. But we’re at the point now where we told her how we feel and have a lovely weekend in Vermont planned if she’s interested.
PEV: What one word best describes Educated Consumers?
PEV: Traveling is now a large part of your life. How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts? Any fun stories?
Cole: Pros: getting to sleep in, long drives lead to funny/insightful conversations, meeting women, seeing new cities
Cons: not getting to regularly play basketball, sleeping on dirty floors, having to masturbate quietly, getting lost
There are a ton of “you had to be there” stories on the road. You develop a pack mentality and tons of inside jokes that don’t always translate to outsiders. Like this one time, I had been in the car for hours with my homey Dez and I said, “It’s so funny it’ll make you piss out of your armpit.” We laughed for about 20 minutes, but I guess you had to be there.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your musical careers? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?
Cole: My parents are still iffy about it, and rightfully so. They spent a lot of money on my education and worry I’ll quit the cushy job I have now. However, the only show they’ve ever been to was when we opened for Atmosphere at a sold out 9:30 club which holds 1,200 people. As far as they know, every show is like that.
My dude friends do the normal dude thing and rib me about not making any money, but when it comes down to it they are very supportive. My lady friends are always supportive for which I am thankful. Hometown shows have been increasingly awesome for us because we are building a bigger and bigger audience of people we don’t personally know. There’s a great conglomerate of DC HipHop heads called The Food Chain Collective. It’s comprised of several acts from the DMV area and everyone supports each other, so we’ve benefited from being a part of it.
PEV: What can we find each of you doing in your spare time, aside from performing?
Cole: We’re both huge sports geeks, so we watch and read and eat and sleep sports. We’re both news geeks too. Jason has two cats, one of which isn’t batshit insane. I don’t have any pets so I watch a lot of movies, read a lot of books, and ask my friend Virak if he has any leftovers since he’s such a good cook.
PEV: Is there one artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?
Cole: We were fortunate enough to tour with Eyedea & Abilities in May 2008. That was an awesome experience because they’re incredible musicians and cool people. Brother Ali is a good friend and I think he’d sound great on a song with us. We’ve been fortunate enough to work with several artists we really dig to this point and I’m sure that will continue in the future.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
Cole: Dezmatic, Dood Computer, Cubbiebear, Head ResiNators, DJ cam-one, Food Chain Collective, Icon The Mic King, Poorly Drawn People, Lush Farm, and The Caverns to name more than a few.
PEV: If playing/writing music was not your career, what would you most likely be doing?
Cole: Hosting a sports talk show.
PEV: If we were to walk into your practice studio/space right now, what would we find?
Cole: Jason has an incredible record collection and his recording studio has all kind of cool trinkets. I’m an ardent minimalist and keep my place pretty bare. In other words, you’ll never find my porn.
PEV: So, what is next for Educated Consumers?
Cole: “Hello Big Mama” will be available September 3rd at educatedconsumers.com. “Hello Big Mama” tee-shirts and album release party tickets are available at 1vsM.com/hellobigmama. We will be touring the east coast September 3rd through the 19th to support the album, check the site for dates and locations. The album release party will be September 19th at Expo, 1928 9th Street NW DC 20001. Thanks to Sammy Popat of the UMCP Alumni Association for arranging this interview, and thank you Richie!