Soulquest LAB #14 - An interview with Blue November

This week in the Soulquest Lab, we went to sunny California to ask a few questions to talented LA based rapper Blue November. He told us how recording his own voice took his music to the next level, the producers he works with, the music that he's currently working on and a lot more.

Hey what’s up man ?  How are you?

I’m doing well, can’t complain !

We’re fascinated by versatile artists like you. You have the ability to rap on uptempo trap beats like Swamp or Sanctuary, be flawless on Spacey and melancholic beats like Void or Pea Coat Pimp and rap/even sing very melodic hooks on Neo-Soul/Hip-Hop productions. What would you attribute this to?

I’ve never felt confined as far as music goes. Slum Village being one the most influential groups in my life, as well as people like Dilla and Mos Def, naturally I gravitate towards those soulful beats and attempt smoother and more playful cadences. Then with the more uptempo production, being from Florida, that style is kinda in my blood, that rage. I love a chance to sound a little zany and experiment with flows. I definitely do wear the versatility on my sleeve. My voice is deep and raspy so I can’t necessarily sing, (yet), so I try to use the deepness and soothing tone in my voice for hooks and harmonizations. Mood is everything for me so it’s imperative to me that I know how to access and express different moods and tastes.

In terms of lyricism, who would you say are the rappers/ you listened to the most growing up and who inspired you the most?

I was a huge fan of Ludacris as a kid. How erratic his flows and cadences were definitely stuck with me. And rappers like DOOM, Black Thought, Lupe, inspired me lyrically. And Elzhi. And Danny Brown. XXX is in my top 5 favorite albums ever. 

What’s your writing process like ? Do you start with a theme or an idea and try to find the right beat or do you just go with the flow and write around beats ?

When I find a beat I like I just sit with it and start humming flows or words to go off of. Anything could spark the first few words, the tittle of the beat, some random lyric I wrote in my notes that I can now repurpose. I try not to think too hard when it comes to writing. 

As I mentioned earlier, production seems to be very important to you. You’ve worked with some of our favorite current producers here: Foolie $urfin, Cay Caleb, EU-IV, Nubes, to mention just a few. What do you look for in beats?

First off, shoutout to everyone you named, they’re all talented as hell. These days I’m very picky with beats. Since I’m so versatile, I’m hit with a variety of beats but I’m not always in the mood for certain sounds. So it all depends. If it makes me feel something then great if it doesn’t then I’ll pass, I never force myself onto a beat even if it’s objectively great, I have to feel it.

Let’s just go back in time for a moment. When did you first start rapping and recording music? What was the catalyst of your art when you first started?

I started writing raps in high school. Like freshman year. Obviously wasn’t as good and I didn’t think too much of it. I would always show my raps to my older brother and he’d tell me to keep it going. I didn’t start recording until I graduated high school when I was 17/18. I attribute the sheer belief I had in making music to my homie Mark aka Alfonso X. He taught me how to use fl studio and it was a wrap from there. The rest is history, a long deep one.

You record your own voice. Do you think having the ability to do it yourself played an important part in your progression ? (especially when it comes to training your voice)? 

Definitely. Recording myself allowed me to be in a space I controlled and feel most comfortable in, therefore I was able to really find those expressions I wanted to exhibit flawlessly, in the comfort of my home. Not only comfort, but just being able to practice everyday, hearing my voice and knowing how to manipulate it in anyway I want. And learning how to mix my own vocals is also a plus. I’d encourage anyone who doesn’t have a home studio to build one, even if you want to do your final recordings in a studio with an engineer, you can at least record demos at home and know exactly what to do when you get to the studio. 

In 2019, you released your first LP Stuck In The Swamp which we obviously love. The flow, delivery, atmosphere and beats are amazing. Even though it’s already 2 years old, I keep coming back to it. Can you tell us a little bit about this project and what the creative process was like?

Thank you. That LP was really an experiment for me. There’s styles on there I did that I may not do again. The process took about 2-3 months of gathering and writing beats. The concept of the album was me being spawned onto earth, in Florida, and having to navigate growing up there. As far as the music, the way it’s track listed is purely by the vibe of the song. If you pay attention the mood changes every 3-4 songs. So from Swamp to Trenches, that’s one act, Eclipse starts the next one. There’s everything on this album too, Trap, Boom Bap, Dance, Lofi shit. It was fun just rapping over so many different types of beats and being conceptual with it. I can’t believe it’s already been 2 years old.

How does living in LA influence your music?

Women, weed, and weather man.. that’s all I gotta say. 

Can you tell us about your group, The Left Field Theory ?

TLFT was formed in high school by METVLMOUTH. We ran with a different name back then, I eventually brought the idea to use The Left Field Theory as the group name. Right now it’s, Metvlmouth, Zae the Philosopher, Nelson, Lauren Truee, Alfonso X, illfigure, & myself. Producers and rappers alike. We started dropping music together around 2016 and did a bunch of live shows. We’re working on a group album now, we know what’s expected of us though so we’re taking our time with it. 

Who are some underrated artists around you that you think people should listen to ?

Aside from The Left Field Theory. Garrott Odom, Contour & Nory

What’s next for you? What should people expect from you this year ?

Expect a group album, a collab album with another rapper and producer which I don’t think I’m at liberty to say. I haven’t started on another solo album yet, I want to lock in with one producer and do it.

Good to hear man ! We'll be on the lookout ! Thank you so much for doing this interview man. Really appreciate you for your time and insights.

You’re welcome ! I appreciate you guys and your platform.

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