What have been some different listener reactions to the political and social nature of “Soul Man” so far?
So far the reaction has been pretty positive. A lot of folks are saying it’s very timely, with the incidents that are continuing to occur relating to police brutality, the election, the fan in Nebraska with the noose around a fake Obama, so forth and so on.
What do you think surprises listeners the most about The Essence?
I think our chemistry. It’s evident in our approach to recording, rehearsing and performing. I could be working on a track and J would already have a couple bars ready to build that fit perfectly. We use a lot of comic book and wrestling references too that often have listeners going crazy that are huge fans of comics or wrestling or both.
Who are your favorite rappers ever and why?
RIK DUCCI: Rakim. He changed the game and if not for him who knows what kind of state hip hop would been in. Slick Rick. His ability to draw you into his stories is dope. Every time I listen to “The Moment I Feared” I feel like I’m on that park bench and he’s speaking to me. I’m fan of the homie Jay Electronica. His approach is quality and real insightful. You can tell he’s a student of the game. Phonte is another. He probably has the best timing I’ve heard in a long time on a record. I’m a big fan of Skyzoo. Every time I hear him rhyme, he sounds like he loves what he does. I know a lot of MCs/rappers say they love what they do but Skyzoo sounds like the dude from the block that’s nice and unsigned. That raw authentic love for the sport. Another one is Ghostface. From his phrases to his one-liners to him spitting on top of a track with vocals on it. I gotta end this with J-Dubble. What can I say about this guy. He’s a professional. They call him One Take Jay in the studio. He’s a perfectionist, constantly striving to make the last verse better. He embodies everything you want in an MC: battle bars, storyteller, one-liners, cultural references, pen game, just everything. I was fan of his before we became The Essence.
J-DUBBLE: Method Man because of his sound, style, delivery and his stage presence. Whenever I perform, I always think of how Meth would give his all no matter the size of the crowd or who he was on the bill with. J-Dilla is another favorite of mine because he’s so dope of a producer that people forgot how nice he was on the microphone. Dilla helped me find my confidence in the vocal both and helped me master my sound and become the artist I am today. Honorable mention goes out to Bizzy Bone for being a major influence on my style. Whenever I try to sing or harmonize I use to always practice sounding like Bizzy or Bone Thugs.
J-Dubble, what do you feel is the strongest line you’ve ever written and why?
I have a lot of favorites but the one rhyme I like the most right now is a line I wrote on my third album Still Fantastic, a track called “Trouble Man”. I say, “No woman wants a starving artist, no matter how good his art is, I’m at odds with this, trying to flip the script, the words disappear, so now I’m standing here, a trouble man”. When I wrote this song I was in a relationship and music had to take a backseat to the relationship if it was going to continue. She didn’t care how good the music was, she cared if I was going to be around and not put her as second.
Rik, what’s your process for making beats?
My process is simple. I consider myself to be very soulful. I like to start with the melody and build around it. I know a lot of guys start with drums first and that’s cool. For me I gotta have a harmony for it before I can apply that knock needed.