Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Lawrence hip hop duo Archetype started making music together in 1997 and toured steadily throughout the region in the following years, building its brand of hip hop and a fan base. The group recently released its final album “Red Wedding,” on Dekagon Records, a project that was several years in the making.
The duo worked on “Red Wedding,” performing it live and finalizing the record version for nearly three years. Producer Jeremy “Nezbeat” Nesbitt and MC Isaac “iD” Diehl decided to go their own their own ways, each pursuing his own music. Nez is now in the California Bay Area promoting “Red Wedding” and honing his producer’s craft, while iD is pursuing his own musical interests back in Kansas.
Archetype released two previous albums, “Freehand Formula” in 2002 and 2005’s “Bleed for Them.” It toured aggressively, sharing the stage with hip hop luminaries such as KRS-One, the Pharcyde, Mobb Deep and Kansas City’s Mac Lethal. The pair’s style is cerebral, focusing on themes of heartbreak, pain and making the most of life, eschewing boasts of wealth, partying and badassery often associated with the genre.
Nezbeat recently spoke about finishing “Red Wedding,” the frustration of releasing it after Archetype’s ending and the influence of Lawrence and its golden era of hip hop.
Mike Krings: I understand “Red Wedding” is the first release you’ve done in five years. What got you guys back together, working and recording again?
Jeremy “Nezbeat” Nesbitt: Well, the album was actually recorded about two, three years ago. It was just finished in the last year, with all the mastering. It took a few years to get it actually finished and out. We wrote it between 2005 and 2010. Between that time, me and Isaac were recording other projects. But yeah, we were always kind of working on it, you know, it’s been kind of a gradual thing, that album.
MK: Tell me a little bit about the background of Archetype. You and iD have been working together since 1997, what’s kept you guys together and going this long?
Nez: It’s just family, man, we grew up together. We started hanging out in middle school and started making music soon after. We’ve always been together and wanting to do the same shit, and a bunch of people were together and making hip hop in that era in Manhattan and the Lawrence area and that’s what got it going and that’s what’s in our hearts.
MK: What are your plans now that this record’s done and out? Are you doing any touring, nationally or doing some local shows?
Nez: No, this is our last album and we actually broke up before it. We actually decided, as a band, everyone would go our separate ways. So we decided it was best for everyone to move on. Maybe later on down the line we might do another record. But, for now, it’s the end, so it’s just gonna do what it does. I wish we could tour, but it’s not in the cards.
MK: Knowing that, then, how do you view this (“Red Wedding”) as a final project?
Nez: Well it’s a little frustrating you know. It wasn’t my decision to break the band up. Isaac wasn’t feeling it, doing the hip hop live anymore. He wanted to go another direction and I was fine with it, you know. I’d like to tour with it, ‘cuz that’s how you actually sell records these days, but it’s frustrating because it’s gonna be a lot harder to promote it, but you know, it’ll do what it does.
MK: Knowing that you’ve been together a while, are you hoping the people who have been with you since the beginning will see this as a good final piece of the puzzle?
Nez: Yeah, there’s definitely a built-in fan base. We played it live years ago before it was out, so all our fans knew it was coming and were prepared. So yeah, but they’re also bummed that we won’t be playing it live anymore.
MK: Tell me a little about your history, as Archetype. Lawrence is a town that’s known for an “indie” scene, but not necessarily as much for a hip hop scene. What’s it been like being a hip hop act here, and how important has it been having Kansas City nearby?
Nez: It was great, ‘cuz we grew up musically and grew a lot just by meeting artists and rock and jazz musicians, you know? We played with a lot of ‘em and recorded with a lot of ‘em and it was a good influence for sure on our music and we kind of came in at a time when there was a scene kind of growing and we started to sound good, and Archetype and Approach and all those cats were around and doing their thing, so it was good. We felt like it was a little scene and now there’s a lot of younger cats doing their thing. But we feel like that was definitely a sort of golden era as far as hip hop and electronic scene in Lawrence.
MK: What’s your creative process like when you were making your previous albums and this one? Do you and iD collaborate on the beats and write your own verses, or do you come at it from a different way?
Nez: Yeah, it’s pretty separate. I write a lot of those beats and try to make just as much as I can. I’m always constantly doing something and he just picks his favorite stuff and, like, comes up with a concept. So usually I’ll just start with a record or a melody and move it forward and hand it off to him and the outcome is usually a lot different than what we started with. After we write it we’ll shoot to the band and they’ll do their thing on it. It’s a fun process, a really long process. More than just writing a rock song with a band and recording it with a band. It’s a lot different.
MK: Would you say “Red Wedding” has any overarching themes or subject matter?
Nez: Isaac’s style is really hard to describe. The album’s really dark and kind of mystical, I guess you’d have to hear it honestly. It has that golden era sound, ‘cuz I sample a lot of things I was influenced by, soul and jazz and it has that feel, it’s natural, you know.
MK: What influence would you say Lawrence has had on your work? How has working in a location that’s not necessarily known as a hot bed of hip hop inform your work?
Nez: I’d say the Midwest just has it’s thing with the weather. Me and Isaac are both influenced by our surroundings. There’s the deeper crazy summers that are 110 degrees and the depressing winters and those beautiful in-betweens. I think we take that and utilize it. Then there’s also the actual town of Lawrence itself, which was a hotbed for, you know, good-minded artists and people that are trying to do music. It was just a good community to grow in as an artist. I think the town definitely influenced us, just from all the rock and roll shows that were coming through, you know, we’re both into all kinds of music. So getting all those shows was a huge part of being there.