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Stop Calling My Cell Phone!: The Hip-Hop Art of Soul Position

Soul Position pic #1
With a very intense touring schedule, Soul Position recently spread their brand of indie hip-hop art cross-country, promoting the new CD, Things Go Better with RJ and Al. Many states eagerly awaited their arrival -- another touring band told me that they saw Soul Position posters announcing their future shows in almost every venue they hit, in several different states.
After listening to their CD, I was glad to discover why so many appreciative fans are ready to support this duo.
Based on their answers in our interview, it's apparent that Blueprint and RJD2, the two halves of Soul Position, are still well-grounded and focused on getting their music out to the public in a fashion that is entirely their own style, which is skilled in nature, but unconcerned with the critics who attempt to force them into the stereotypical hard-core rap mold.
But don't take my word for it. Read the following interview (and buy the CD) to see for yourself.

SCR: Your touring schedule through May and June was a very intense one. Was there any strategic reason behind your choice of cities, and was there one particular city you were looking most forward to playing in? If so, why?
Blueprint: I can't say there's anything really strategic about the cities we're playing on this tour. I think some of it is based on cities we've had the strongest success at in the past, and the rest of it is based on routing and interest of promoters in those markets.
RJD2: SF, Baltimore, Philly. Always fun shows there.

The lyrics on Things Go Better with RJ and Al are fun and playful, yet artful and somewhat thought-provoking. Do these just flow out naturally from your life experiences, or is there a special effort being made to bring certain points out to the audience?
BP: I don't think there's a special effort being made. RJ's music is a big part of the Soul Position song writing process, since most of the stuff I write is inspired by the beats. I just try to write the best songs that I can to each beat.
What would your mission statement for your band be?
RJ: "Good Songs."
BP: "Good Music. Good Songs."
Who were your greatest musical influences? Have they evolved over time, with your increased exposure and success?
BP: Most of my biggest influences growing up were in gospel and R&B, then I moved onto more hip-hop influences like EPMD, Public Enemy, KRS-One, and Eric B. & Rakim. Once I got into production and record-collecting, I started listening to everything, so my tastes are a lot more eclectic now.
RJ: I think they're always changing. Too many to name. They seem to evolve more based on what I get exposed to as a fan of music.
How do you feel about what you are doing? Are you where you want to be yet musically? If not, what level would you like to attain with your art?
BP: I don't think anybody who is really in this for artistic reasons can say they're happy. Some people can say they're bored, and maybe they've taken their particular style as far as they can take it, but for me it's about trying to stay challenged and making sure no two records I release sound alike. So I can't say I'm satisfied yet.
-- Soul Position record cover
(Music courtesy of Rhymesayers Entertainment.)

RJ: I am happy with what's going on but always want to improve what I do. I'd like to be at a point where I can execute anything I would like to, and I'm definitely not there yet.
Being so busy with your work, do you find much time for a personal life outside of the studio and concert venues?
RJ: Yes, you just make time.
BP: Definitely. You can only stay in the basement so many hours a day working on music before it gets unhealthy. I try to make sure I'm out and about just to make sure that I'm talking to people and in tune with what's going on around me. I don't want to be in a vacuum.
What other hobbies and interests do you have?
BP: Sports, video games, home remodeling.
RJ: Housework. Carpentry.
What type of work were you doing before your time in the music industry became so all encapsulating?
BP: I was a computer programmer.
RJ: Food service. I was a bank teller for a while.
Was there someone in your personal life who really aided you, in terms of having the good attitude about life that you have and the motivation to succeed, that you'd like to mention?
BP: My mother, the most amazing person I know.
RJ: My mother and my father.

Soul Position pic #2
You've received quite a few reviews, both of the good and bad variety, regarding your latest CD. It has been said that every sort of publicity, negative included, is good publicity. How do you feel about that?
BP: I try not to sweat it and make sure I'm doing music for the people. If people respond to the music when they're at a show, listening on CD, or in their cars, then what the press says really doesn't matter. They want to believe that they can make or break artists, which is why you see such sensationalized writing nowadays, but that's only true if the people are already behind those artists. And they can only hurt artists whose careers are built on good press and magazine features. So for me, the goal is to have enough of a grassroots following that one writer can't make or break my career. I do this for the people.
RJ: I don't know what to say about that. I'm trying to pay as little attention to the press as I can.
Your lyrics and the controversy in the critical world regarding these bring up the question...well, then...what is real hip hop? How would you best answer this question? Do you feel, as some have claimed, that you have managed to create art which resides within the heart of true hip-hop?
RJ: Everything seems real to me, so I don't see a distinction between real and fake. More between good and bad.
BP: Me arguing about what is or isn't real hip-hop would be a never-ending argument. I would rather let the people decide. There's a lot of music that the critics jock that I think sucks, and there's shit I think is good but gets no props from the critics, so who's to really say? So we might as well let the people decide. I just like what I consider good music at the end of the day, but I completely understand that's up to the listener and everybody's different.
What would you like for your audience to know about Soul Position?
BP: I hope that in picking up our albums, they can find out all they need to know. Our records are pretty direct. END