As rap evolves throughout time, we find more and more of those badmans in leopard patterned trousers claiming to be gangsters. Every fucking day, those nobheads are spreading around the world of hiphop, just like the word “swag” in France. Rap is increasing becoming ingrained in the mainstream and loses itself in the business side. I bet Shawn Carter ears bleed each time the title Hard Knock Life is played somewhere around the world. Artists like Ugly Heroes reassure me: Hip Hop is not dead ! There are still guys like Verbal Kent and Red Pill, who are no thugs and just have a sick flow, spreading it on the melodic and polished beats from Apollo Brown, the producer that brought them together. Guys like you and me, telling their stories without bullshit and makeup, in fact creating some real dope music.
J / Hey Guys, could you present yourself ?
Red Pill / My name is Red Pill. I am an MC from Detroit, MI. Plant worker by day, rapper and/or functional alcoholic by night.
Verbal Kent / Whaddup , this is Verbal Kent.
J / Why did you name yourselves Ugly Heroes ?
R / Ugly Heroes represents the majority of people throughout the world. This album and this group is about the working class, not just the US but everywhere in the world. I think what makes us unique is that we aren’t telling tales of crime and violence. We are giving you the most real experience, the one most of us go through : working to live and support our families - the ups and downs of life.
V / We represent the ‘everyday hero’, the ugly one, the one representing the majority. Heroes are currently portrayed as physical idols in society, we come and challenges that and let the listener relate to him, in turn realizing that we are all ugly heroes.
J / You all have solo projects, how did you came across working together ?
R / Apollo discovered me through a mutual friend of ours sent him a link to a music video on YouTube. He was impressed and hit me up to do a song with him («This Is Life» from the album), for a Mello Music Group compilation project. Shortly after, he asked me if I’d be interested in working on an album with him and another MC, under the group name «Ugly Heroes». I just couldn’t say no.
V / He had the concept for ugly heroes in mind..banging beats under real life rap, for everyday people. Red Pill and I fitted the bill for his Vision.
J / Where does your inspiration come from for your lyrics ?
R / As cliché as it may sound, my inspirations really just come from my own experiences or from people around me. I write about my life, very personally and I always have. I try to be what I would consider an « observational » lyricist. To me when I’m writing I’m so focused on metaphor, similes, etc... The general definition of being « lyrical ». I’m focused on observing my own life and the life around me and trying to put that in its plainest terms. I want people when they hear a line of to think how obvious an observation of mine was, if that makes any sense. I think that’s what connects : making people relate to the story, or letting them know that as a writer I’ve been through the same things as the listener.
V / For me it comes from the flaws of our society, from what is unspoken and from what I need to let loose. Writing is a big tool for me, it’s one of my closest allies in life.
J / You are based between Detroit and Chicago, explain us a bit how the scene is and your respective backgrounds.
R / Being from the Detroit music scene is really incredible. We have an incredible music history here from Motown, to techno, to garage rock and to hip hop. Detroit is an innovators’ scene. A lot of what you hear people doing throughout the world started right here. It has a history of being a «crabs-in-a-bucket» scene, but I honestly see that changing a little bit. There’s a lot of talent in all genres and everything is blending and it’s creating very interesting sounds. My background is working class. My Dad has worked various jobs, almost all of which have been manual labor. My Mom passed away when I was 19, after health complications due to her alcoholism which my family dealt with since I can remember. I was kind of a fuck up in high school, but I ended up turning things around and went to Michigan State University, which is where my music really picked up. I currently live in Ferndale, MI, work at an axle plant and make music.
V / Growing up here in Chicago we had a diverse scene, many left the city to reach success elsewhere. In the early 2000’s I played shows all the time, built with whoever and grinded.. but that grew stagnant so I reached out to Europe and other places to try and expand my horizons. Chicago is a tough place to make it in music, as we lack a strong record label presence.
J / How was it to work with a beatmaker as Apollo Brown ?
R / I was a fan of Apollo Brown long before he was ever aware of me. I used to write to his beats from «The Reset» and «Skilled Trade». So it really was a cool moment when he asked me to work with him. As far as working with him in terms of his work ethic, or his method, it’s a formula and it works great. He preaches consistency with his music and it has made him successful. Much of my own solo work is more «fluid», for lack of a better word, and I really appreciate being able to learn from Apollo and steal some of his methods for the future. Ha ha
V / It was a blast. Apollo expects only hard work and focus, and we all fitted in. His beats are ideal for writers like us, and they are inspiring to build to. We connected with his choices easily, and it only reinforced the potential of this project upon first listen. He is one of my favorites in the game, so truly honored to be in the spot that I’m at with Apollo and Red pill.
J / What is your favorite track in the album and why ?
R / It’s always changing, but I think one of the best on the album to me is «Hero’s Theme». There’s something very unique about that track, from the beat, to the lyrics to the vocal sample on the hook. I think probably «Graves» and «God’s Day Off» would be my other choices right now.
V / I’ll go with «Desperate» as it captures a hope, and at the same time paints a picture of the down and out. The beat Apollo threw down for it is unreal, and Red Pill and I couldn’t have been more honest over it.
J / Are you gonna continue working together after the album or do you prepar other stuff in solo ?
R / I am currently working on solo stuff with a producer from Ann Arbor, MI named Dayggs and more stuff with Detroit, MI producer Hir-O, to follow up our album «Red Pill & Hir-O - The Kick» that came out in January 2013. But yes, I think and truly hope there will be more Ugly Heroes stuff in the future. This is a major part of who I am as a musician now and I am excited to have been part of it.
V / Yes we all want to continue... But we will all be dropping solo work in the meantime. I have records I’m working on with !Llmind and with Khrysis at the moment... Both beasts!
J / How do you see hip hop evolution ?
R / I think it’s fairly obvious that over the course of the next 5-10 years in hip hop, a resurgence, or a reimagining of «golden era» hip hop will happen. I think with rappers like Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Drake... Rappers that actually rap taking over the mainstream, that it’s really just a sign of changing times. I am not a hip hop «traditionalist» or purist by any means, but I do think in general hip hop is ready for a change and it’s on the horizon.
V / It’s a beautiful thing. It’s come so far in such a short time, I can’t wait to see where it goes and I’m honored to be a part of it. There’s something in hip hop for everyone, and there’s no telling what you’ll find in a record.
J / Some tracks that are unforgettable to you ?
R/Innoorderandifyouaskedmenextweekitwillbe different : Royce Da 5’9 - “Shake This”, Atmosphere - “God’s Bathroom Floor”, Blu - “Dancing in the Rain”, Nas - “Memory Lane”, Slum Village - “Fall N Love”.
V / Biggie Small - “Warning” , Come clean, Jeru - “Come Clean”, ODB - Cutting Heads.