He is no newbie to the music business so upon hearing his latest track, April Showers, an ode to family and friends gone forever, we just had to grab a few minutes with Montreal MC Bless. Close affiliate of Gangstarr’s late MC Guru, Bless considers the iconic Hip-Hop star as a huge influence over his emergence into Hip-Hop and speaks candidly about the demise of his friend in this interview as well as the rumors which circulated after his death.
The loss of friends and family has definitely taken its toll on Bless but he has extracted the positive and ran towards the goal line with it rather than letting it consume him. While working on a bunch of new material and developing a new sound with his production partner has kept him busy there is still a lot to come from Bless.
Speaking on staying ahead of the game, how his character in the Def Jam Fight for NY video game led to global recognition and how a close knit team is the ‘key’ foundation to build upon, check out what Bless said when we managed to catch up with him as he flipped between cities.
Bless “April Showers” MP3: SKOPE IT HERE!
First of all, what have you been up to?
I have been working on this new album and producing a lot with my partner Mano. We formed Soundmachine Productions about three years ago, and have been working on crafting a new sound. Fusing hip-hop with various other genres.
How did being on the Def Jam game impact your career?
It impacted my career tremendously. It was a launch pad for me internationally. Having my own character in the game as well as two songs on the soundtrack really introduced me to fans on an international level, in markets outside of North America especially that may have not had the chance to be familiar with me or my music prior.
In fact how did that whole scenario come about?
The game was being developed by EA in B.C. Canada, and I had been out in Vancouver on tour with G-Unit at the time and was invited on to the radio where I dropped a freestyle. One of the people at EA had heard me on the radio, and thought it would be cool to get at least one Canadian artist in the game. They contacted me, and asked me if I was down, then actually went back to the president of DefJam at the time, Kevin Liles, who I had met with back in the day. So once he okayed it, it was on! And the rest is history.
I know you just recently released your single April Showers, quite an emotional song. Can you break down where the inspiration for that song came from?
I was at a crossroads in my life, dealing with the loss of my sister at the time when I received the news of Guru going into a coma. Then eventually, passing away and I needed to find a way to not only pay tribute to them, but to get all of those emotions that I was dealing with off of my chest. The original concept was like…the changing of seasons, and the cycle of life, which is why I chose the title, April Showers. Lyrically, the rest just kind of came naturally. I wanted to be very candid and honest, and rather than just reminisce explain the grieving and healing process that I was going through. The song is about hope, and celebrating genuine connections with loved ones whether its my loss or your loss I think we can all relate to April Showers.
Guru was a huge influence in your life. There were a lot of rumors surrounding a letter that was written prior to his passing, which upset various folks within the industry, do you have an opinion on those rumors, knowing Guru the way you did?
Personally, I feel like 90% of that letter had nothing to do with the Guru I know. Whatever differences he had business wise with whoever, he simply was not that kind of guy. I know for a fact, although he had not spoken to several people within the Gang Starr camp for a while prior to him passing, that he had nothing but love and pride for everything he had accomplished, especially with DJ Premier. Guru was one of the most positive good-hearted dudes I ever met, and he did a lot of great things for a lot of people in the industry, including myself. To be blunt, the last thing that I think he would have done, especially in his last days is put anyone in a negative light. That’s just not what he stood for, that’s not the kind of guy he was. Whether you knew him personally or just connected with him through his lyrics, he wasn’t about that. Guru even had evolution and revolution tatted on his arms, and real hip-hop tatted on his neck. One of the most solid cats period, so no I think that letter in general was very fishy.
Do you think a co-sign is as important today as it was say ten years ago?
I still think that on a commercial level, in terms of getting your record charting and spinning on commercial radio it is very important. Although Youtube and social media revolutionized a lot of the way people discover new music, radio not being the only game in town so to speak. When it comes time to breaking new artists internationally, that having the right co-sign or at least having interesting features is still as important as ever.
Being prevalent in the music industry for quite a while, what do you think it takes to make an impact now, beyond just hot rhymes?
I think it’s important to stay on the cutting edge. Not necessarily to follow trends, but to make them. Fans and music lovers are more savvy and informed than ever. The Internet and social media have made the world a very small place. The consumer wants to be able to connect and relate to their favorite artists. It is very important to keep people up to date and engaged constantly. Long story short, it’s about more than just the music.[youtube lZVDHenzrYw nolink]
I know you have your own set up, as in label, now, can you break down for is what drove you to do the label thing and just what you are up to on that label?
Well basically, I started my own company out of necessity originally back in 2003 when I released my first album, Platinumberg The Movement. As I evolved as an artist, and perfected my craft, I also understood that in order to stay relevant I needed to not only learn as much of the business side as possible but also be self-contained and self-sufficient. I like to keep a small team of very talented and passionate people around me, whether its video production, in house beat production, or down to the cats that do my graphic design. We like to keep it all in the fam.
Do you have an album in the works and if so what do you want the Bless fans and Hip-Hop lovers to get from this album?
I definitely do have an album in the works, the tentative title is The Day After. What I want people to take away from it, is that no matter what genre or what style of music you grew up on, good music is good music no matter what. This album will be more mature and musically evolved then some of my previous work. I started writing this album at a very difficult point in my life, and although its not completely finished yet I think half will be about where I have been and what I have been through, with tracks such as April Showers, and the rest will be more about where I’m headed musically as an MC and producer in 2012.
Are you as driven as you were when you started out in the industry?
Absolutely! On some levels, I think I am even more driven now. I’ve been chasing my dream, and making music for more than half of my life at this point. I feel like not only am I where I want to be artistically these days, but I’m in a great head space to appreciate and capitalize on any opportunities that come my way. I have a great team of people around me, and I’m excited to share my new project with everybody.
What would you say have been the biggest advancements in the music business in your estimations?
I think the Internet in general has changed the game. It has given a platform and voice to a lot of great artists that otherwise would have never been heard. Its kind of a universal equalizer and a great place to start putting out feelers and building your movement from the ground up. Once upon a time in this business, if you didn’t have a deal in place there was little to no way of being heard. Over the last decade, we have seen the rise of so many independent labels and artists who have been able to plug in and connect to their fan base directly without the machine calling all of the shots.
People consider the internet something of a gift and a curse, what is your take on this?
Like I said in my previous answer, I do consider the Internet a gift. However the obvious decline in sales can be considered as a huge setback. Touring, merchandizing, and licensing have become the main source of income for artists rather than record sales, which I guess is a catch 22. But what can you do, you have to keep changing with the times.
And finally what are your plans for 2012?
My plans for 2012 are to keep producing great music, and stay in the studio as much as possible. I’m looking forward to finishing my album in the new year, getting some interesting collaborations done, and will keep releasing fresh product on a monthly basis.
By: Laura Croft — Crate Raider