Sunday, August 7, 2022

What Is Nine Leaves?

Before my career as a solo artist, there was Nine Leaves.  A collective of 4 rappers and myself, the sole composer and non-rapper.  Prior to this, I was interested in one day scoring film.  After this, I didn’t give a shit about scoring film.  Prior to this, I hated rap.  After this, I was rapping.  Prior to this, I was just a composer.  After this, I was a composer, and a lyricist, and a recording artist.

It was Nine Leaves that introduced me to the power of songwriting and the spoken word.  And it was within Nine Leaves that I learned how lyrics can influence and shape the underlying music, for better or worse.  I went from watching the other members react to my music, interact with it, compliment it, and transform it with their lyrics, to eventually doing the same alongside them.  And I ultimately came to see the spoken word as another instrument within the orchestra.  

Lyrics have specificity.  Even the most vague lyrics will inevitably narrow the total possible interpretations that would otherwise be available to a listener.  And thus, the absence of lyrics maintains a lack of specificity in music.  Both states, lyrical and non-lyrical, are powerful.  Both do things the other is incapable of.  And so it’s no surprise that throughout my career I’ve continuously utilized both states, moving between them as desired.

Nine Leaves is where these revelations and insights all started for me.  It’s the prequel to Zack Hemsey.  An effort that spanned 10 years, bridging adolescence into adulthood.  We were all teenage kids at the beginning, and by the end of it, most had children of their own.  It was a garden of ideas, and the studio a laboratory in which we tested our experiments.  Our collective explorations, our personal transformations, and our artistic evolution is all embedded in the body of work that Nine Leaves created.  A body of work that up until now, has largely been unreleased, and generally ignored.

So is the way it sometimes goes.  Except I found myself going through archives, resurrecting and restoring old sessions, and remastering the entire Nine Leaves catalog.  My intention was not to substantially alter the music, or attempt to “modernize” the songs in any way.  Rather, it was to treat the catalog as a historical work, doing only what was necessary to ensure that it speaks as it was intended to speak at the time it was created.

This process has been like opening up a time capsule.  Much of the material I hadn’t heard in two decades.  I fully expected my face to contort with embarrassment and disgust at what I was certain was going to be a sea of flaws, awful performances, and amateur mixes that were painful to listen to.  But instead, I was met with the carefree attitudes of young individuals making songs simply because they wanted to, and performances that were infectious because of their purity and sincerity.  Yes, it all sounded young…but it didn’t sound bad.  Quite the opposite.  The body of work still had value.  It was still worthy of being shared.

And so it’s my pleasure to introduce this.  It’s Nine Leaves music.

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