Forget arbitrary borders between ‘underground’ and ‘mainstream’ – The Feenom Circle slashes them all with organic, intelligent, speaker-blowing ease. Bay Area crew The Feenom Circle comes at you with lyrical and rhythmic distinction destined for the inner circle of your consciousness and the neck-snapping motion of your head.
In short, The Feenom Circle is hip hop’s first “middle ground” group. Not mainstream, not underground, simply Feenom.
For the last six years the Feenom Circle has been devoting time and effort toward making a refreshing and distinct version of hip-hop. Hand delivering their music to the masses, they now find their songs emanating from stages, street corners, and passing vehicles. Souled Separately is their testament to finding inspiration from the uninspiring 9 to 5 robotic drudgery of work life. Souled Separately aims for a middle ground with a stimulating and evolving vibe.
1. For people who may not have checked for you yet… what can someone who’s never heard of you expect from the album?
Well with “Souled Separately” we were aiming for a project that touched several different concepts, vibes, and sounds. We were definitely not trying to make a standard underground project, nor were we aiming for a mainstream sound, it was really just an organic process of shooting for the middle, and hence us calling our music “middle ground” hip hop. For someone who’s never heard our music, hopefully they’ll walk away thinking about the multiple perspectives we try to offer on each song and also leave humming or singing some of the music. I guess to simplify this answer, people should expect variety, quality, and thought.
2. Are you pleased with the response the album has received so far?
I think Feenom as a whole is more than pleased. Before this project was on store shelves via distribution, we were selling it on the streets. So going from the sidewalk shuffle to having people from random places email or call us telling us how much a certain song means to them is mind blowing. Also, I guess the critics that have actually “got it” have given us high marks. So overall we’re happy and hope that “The Pawn Shop” our next project gets even more love, because we feel it’s a better project.
3. I like the graphics on the album. What is the idea behind these graphics?
Thanks for the compliment. There were several ideas going into the artwork. One, we wanted to use colors that would make our project identifiable and stick out (pistachio green). We also wanted a very smooth and cool (think temperature) feel to it. Those were the main factors going into the thought process of the art. At the same time, I remember us discussing how the project should look more Euro than U.S. Luckily, since we do all of our own artwork we can take the time to go through several versions, I’d hate to subject an outside artist to our criticism. Glad you like the art.
4. On the album back-cover stands 2001 all rights reserved. Was this album supposed to be released in 2001? If yes, why did it take so long to get it released?
It’s so funny how people actually notice these things. We pressed our initial copies at the end of 01, so we should have just put 02 on there, but we didn’t. Again, we didn’t feel like it would make a difference. We began selling it on the streets, at shows, and on consignment in 02. From there we managed to get distribution via Seven Heads/Caroline. The project was slated to come out nationwide in November of 2002, but was pushed back. So finally in 2003 it was out. Regardless of the semantics, it took a long time to get this project released; distribution was slow in coming, the economy was down, and 100 doors closed in our face before 1 would open. In the meantime we recorded another project (The Pawn Shop), which we are releasing next month, so we utilized the down time. The moral of the story, keep it moving.
5. How do you go about creating a track? Do you all sit down and discuss things, or does one of you just come up with a beat and run from there?
Here’s a few scenario’s: We’ll sit in the studio with no agenda and start playing with instruments or a sample and slowly build something From there we’ll try to identify what emotion, vibe, or topic fits and start to write. Sometimes we’ll try to write the hook first, other times we won’t have a hook until we record.
Another scenario is one of us will have a skeleton beat, a rough beat in the works, another member will hear it, add input, then another member with input, and then we’ve completely moved away from the original rough. Each member, Tope, Boog, Bee, and myself (Rawj) have different preferences so each member’s tastes get incorporated into the songs. In the end you’ll have a mosaic, then we’ll start on the lyrics.
The last scenario is we throw around a concept, write to it, and then try to make a song that captures the emotion.
6. Who would you like to collaborate that you haven’t yet, whether it be HipHop, Rock, or any other form of music?
As far as hip-hop, I think we’d like to work with Stonesthrow and Def Jux because both labels/rosters support creativity and experimentation, but with music in general, we’d love to work with everyone from Radiohead to D’Angelo. There are literally 100’s of artists we’d love to work with doing electronica, rock, soul, etc.
7. How did you come to the conclusion to begin a career as a HipHop artist?
Well since about 1994 I’ve been recording music, so all of the efforts since then were working up to this. I always felt like we had something relevant to contribute to music. The challenge was to get the hustle going, it takes a great deal of work but the prime motivating factor for me is that I know musically we can add something to the genre. Like a PhD, they only give you one if you add to the body of knowledge your specializing in. I feel Feenom and Melatone are working on getting to the same level with music. It goes beyond hip-hop, but at the same time we have all been raised on this culture and music, so it almost choose us as much as we decided to do it.
8. What did you went through to get your music released?
I think I’ve alluded to this in previous answers, but to break it down, we’re going through self-promotion, marketing, and financing our endeavors. It means we have to be on the streets and at shows meeting people to try to get on, we have to keep carving out our fan base one person at a time, and we have to keep our business tight. We have to treat each one our supporters with gratitude and keep giving them quality music. Technically to get released, you can just press up your own music and hustle hand-to-hand, but if you want to make an impact and grow your following you have to work everyday and chip away. Somehow you have to capture the attention of people, that’s what you’re fighting for, and when you get it make sure you’re not wasting people’s time, give them something worthwhile.
9. How do you separate yourself from other HipHop artists?
I think the main point of separation is how we categorize ourselves. We feel like we’re in the epicenter of a polarized genre. Hip-hop is, generally speaking, a music of polar opposites, you have underground, you have mainstream. There is a huge void lying between; the space between should be about just good music, not status or socio-economics, which is why we’re really pursuing the middle ground niche. That’s our claim to fame, we’re the one and only middle ground group/label.
10. What are you planning to do in the [near] future?
Well we are readying the release of “The Pawn Shop” project, we’re filming a video and documentary, and then it’s back to making more music and continuing to hustle. That’s everything in a nutshell: make music and keep hustling.
11. What artists are you listening to at the minute?
I’m listening to Prefuse 73, Radiohead, Janes Addiction, Moloko, Cannibal Ox, The White Stripes, the Live Savas, the Neptunes, oh and watching Scratch.
12. What is your opinion of today’s HipHop scene?
This is such a loaded question. My answer is inspired by an email conversation with someone. Hip-hop is a dysfunctional family, you have some successful members, some exploitative ones, victims, some are lost, some don’t care, some are failing and some are expanding, innovating, and carving our respect for the family name. Overall, it’s one big family.
13. Do you have anything to say to the MusicRemedy.com’s visitors?
We just really appreciate the opportunity, and we invite your visitors to listen to our music and create their own opinion, we have an mp3 page and audio streams on our site. Let the music be the guide and if you like us, spread the word. Thank you.
MusicRemedy Last Words:
I would like to thank you for doing this interview with MusicRemedy.com. I hope you will like the feature/interview when it shows up on the website. Thanks again!