MH the Verb - Space Ninja
ABOUT THE MESSAGE/ CONCEPT
This album is about connecting generations through hip hop music. We use the word “Ninja” out of respect for the ancestors and to empower generational communication. I got the idea from speaking with elders in my community who expressed their frustration with the language of hip hop and how they couldn’t get passed specifically the words, Nigga & Bitch to really understand the messages of young artists.
For example, one of the BaBas (or grandfathers) was surprised to learn about the inter-sectional community work and impact Nipsey Hussle had in his neighborhood. When he watched one of Nipsey’s videos he couldn’t decipher the positive messages thru the profane language. In the true mission of the Afronaut, as a younger generation, whether we agree or not, we must learn to make respectful comprises from time to time in order to move the culture forward to the future and honor the past.
I’m looking to use the project to promote conversations between generations as we gear up for movement in 2020. Rather than focus on traditional shows and concerts, I will be focused on more experiential curated events that combine music, art, and technology to bring together generations.
ABOUT THE MUSIC/ PRODUCTION PROCESS
The album features all live instrumentation & production (no midi) with a focus on organic creation from the ArtHouse95 team.
I began the process a few years ago by hosting multiple studio sessions in Philadelphia. I set up a spread of food, drinks, and other goodies, and invited some of the best live musicians I knew to record improvisational jams based off of production ideas I had create while on tour. Those sessions laid the ground work for me to arrange and develop songs.
After relocating to the Bay Area, I spent months searching through these incredibly complex 10+min jam sessions and editing them into instrumental hip hop beats. My goal was to blend the influence of east coast jazzy boom bap with west coast spacey funk. I began heavily studying how artists like The Coup used funk to promote the energy of their activism. By listening to legendary California producers like Dr. Dre and DJ Quik, I picked up on the influences of Parliment Funkadelic and Tower of Power, and I decided to focus on the short looping bass lines and how to make them sound fat and percussive with layering effects.
The east coast hip hop sound of the 90s was more natural for me to cultivate through the live keyboard sounds. I studied the dynamic of the drum snares and fills from bands like The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, and more recently Oddisee. I also decided to really focus on the abstract song structures that would drive the message of the album in a similar fashion to Outkast’s “Stankonia” and Q-Tip’s “The Renaissance”. I felt using the automated computer vocal interludes would be a nice homage to Tribe’s “Midnight Marauders”.
In December of 2018, I organized a retreat at Turtle Studios in Philadelphia and took over all 3 rooms of their studio to put the finishing touches on the album in a 30 hour block recording session with the full ArtHouse95 team. Over the next 6 months, our engineer and co-producer, Johann Sebastian and I corresponded over emails & phone to mix the album and create a sonic impression that captured the essence of the live philly hip hop sound.
Executive Producer: MH the Verb
Co-Executive Producer: Johann Sebastian for The Juicebox
Arranging Producer: Buscrates 16-Bit Ensemble for Captain Coolout Music/ASCAP
Associate Producer: George “Cylon” Casseus
All Songs Mixed & Mastered by: Johann Sebastian for The Juicebox
Album Art photographed by: David Hiltbrand for City Blights
Album Art designed by: Fresh Daily
Art direction by: MH the Verb
ArtHouse95 sessions Recorded at:
The Juicebox (Philadelphia, PA)
Woodbrook Studios (Penshauken, NJ)
Turtle Studios (Philadelphia, PA)
Broken Horn Studios (San Mateo, CA)
Dave Humes Studio (Philadelphia, PA)
ArtHouse95 recording sessions featured :
MH the Verb : vocals/ dj/ drum programming
Logan Roth : keyboards/ synth
Arjun Dube : drums/ percussion
Buscrates 16-Bit Ensemble : multi-instrumentalist/ drum programming
Johann Sebastian : bass/ mixing engineer
Chena Kovax : vocals
Evan Bogunia : bass
Kuf Knotz : vocals
Christine Elise : vocals/ harp
Drusef : vocals
GR Stone : keys
Will Mandell : production/ horns