Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Lost Holocron

The Lost Holocron; a first of its kind, all-original Star Wars Hip Hop album.

That is the tagline I’ve been using to briefly summarize my album, The Lost Holocron. Two of my biggest passions in life are Hip Hop and Star Wars. Thus, it only seemed natural that I embarked on developing a project like this. The album blends rhymes and beats with Star Wars stories, topics, characters, and the music of legendary composer, John Williams, to create a truly unique journey through the Star Wars universe. Throughout the years, various artists have released; re-makes of popular songs using Star Wars-based lyrics or themes, Star Wars parody songs, Star Wars-themed “gangsta rap” songs/parodies, original compositions with loose Star Wars themes, and countless songs with Star Wars lines or references. And there are even cover bands with Star Wars-themed names and image. By no means am I downplaying any of those artists, songs or projects (I am a fan of a lot of it), when I say that The Lost Holocron is none of those things. There are no gimmicks or parodying with The Lost Holocron. It is one hundred percent Star Wars, non-canon of course, delivered in pure Hip Hop form. And just like the Star Wars movies, TV shows and novels, the songs on The Lost Holocron consist of action, drama, love, excitement, and that little splash of comedy. Coupled with my writing style, and my knowledge and passion for the franchise (pre-Disney of course), The Lost Holocron carves its own hyperspace lane through our favorite galaxy far, far away.

The idea for this album came to me, with the force of a Wookiee’s punch, in the summer of 2008. While I was dumbfounded the notion hadn’t struck me sooner, I was instantly inspired. Within days I had the concept outlined, the album title, a plan for the format, a long list of song ideas and titles, and had even started writing. The album title, The Lost Holocron, holds a ton of significance. My full-time performing and touring days were essentially over, thus not regularly performing in front of new crowds, or famous in any regard, was going to severely limit the audience of the album. And generally speaking, many die-hard Star Wars fans tend not to be hard core Hip Hop fans (oddly, many Hip Hoppers are Star Wars fans, just not necessarily in the “die-hard” realm). So right from the beginning I felt of the album as this sort of undiscovered “lost” gem and resource. Something that people didn’t know existed, but once they learned of its existence, would yearn to unlock the secrets inside. Also, this album was going to be my personal contribution to the Star Wars universe. Yes, I have my years of work in, with and for the 501st Legion, and that means a lot to me. But there I am playing my part on a large team for a greater purpose. And while I do take great pride in that, it does not fulfill me need for an individual legacy within Star Wars. I’ll never be in a movie, probably won’t ever voice a character, I may still make a post-Disney attempt at getting a book published, and given my stance on what Disney did to Star Wars, will almost certainly never work for Lucasfilm (sadly). Thus, this album, The Lost Holocron, is my time capsule for Star Wars fans present and future, my addition to the ongoing saga.

Despite my initial inspiration and excitement, nothing other than some writing happened for two years. In August of 2010 I was down in Orlando for Star Wars Celebration V. I had been asked to do an interview for a Star Wars documentary. While talking to the director and crew, it came up that I rapped, so they asked if I would do a little something for the film. So I spit a verse I had written for The Lost Holocron and then threw in a little freestyle about Celebration. I never did hear what became of the film…? Coincidentally, that same month my group, Manifesters, had a little resurgence and began putting out new music again. The combination of those two events then began the process of getting The Lost Holocron off the ground.

The format of The Lost Holocron is extremely unique compared to my other Versifier and Manifesters’ projects. All songs are written and performed by me, and are produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by my long-time producer, friend and collaborator, Big Jess. The production of each song is done using one song off the Star Wars soundtrack from the original trilogy, prequel trilogy, and The Clone Wars movie (so technically not all John Williams due to The Clone Wars). So the ratio is always one to one. I take a track from one of the seven soundtracks and highlight certain parts for Jess. Jess then takes the soundtrack track and my notes, works his brilliant magic, and produces a Star Wars re-imagined Hip Hop beat. All songs are then written once the beat is complete, however for many of them, the concept and title are already in place first. Audio clips and sound effects from the movies are then added to heighten the experience. Instead of releasing The Lost Holocron as a one-time complete album, it is released in waves of three songs per wave, similar to how Hasbro Toys releases Star Wars action figures in waves. This allows for the album to be an on-going and continuously growing body of work, just as the saga and stories of Star Wars has continued to grow and expand over the past forty years.

The initial plan was to have each wave of The Lost Holocron include three songs and one music video, and to release three waves per year. This proved to be a very non-realistic schedule. First and foremost, both Big Jess and I have multiple facets to our lives, respectively, both in and outside of music. So time was definitely a factor. Secondly, unlike all the other music I create, I cannot sell, or make any money in any form from, the music on The Lost Holocron. The Lost Holocron is essentially non-licensed Star Wars fan fiction. The soundtrack samples, movie clips, sound effects, and images are all trademarks and copy written material of Lucasfilm. Thus, to avoid breaking the law and a Lucasfilm lawsuit, and out of respect, all songs and videos from The Lost Holocron are entirely free to stream, download and watch. I sell nothing and collect nothing. On the flip side however, I do have to personally fund the project. Beats, studio time, mixing and mastering, directors, and music videos all have a price tag. So funding for this project always has to be in balance with funding for other projects I am working on. On a side note; I did inform Lucasfilm of The Lost Holocron, and they were supportive of the project and the parameters. Unfortunately, because it is un-licensed, they cannot endorse, promote or use the album in any capacity.

The Lost Holocron has the potential to appeal to Star Wars fans, Hip Hop fans, and music lovers across the globe. Like the Star Wars movies, I keep everything in the PG to PG-13 range. While none of the songs have curse words or anything blatantly offensive, a few songs do contain some adult content. The album is definitely geared towards adults, but is generally family friendly. The music is free and easily accessible. My hope, above all else, is simply that people enjoy it and share it with others who may enjoy it as well. I have had, and will continue to have, fun making the songs. So if nothing comes of it, I won’t be disappointed. Obviously though, if opportunities arise because of it, I will welcome them. I may have started “Star Wars Hip Hop”, but the torch will always be there, burning brightly, if/when another emcee decides to pick it up and run with it.

The Lost Holocron – Wave 1
Released: April 22, 2014
1.1 Move Along: Move Along is an up-beat track that puts a fun, spirited feel and twist on the events in Mos Eisely on Tatooine in Star Wars Episode IV. The song features guest vocals by Denver-based singer/song writer Fatima Lily. Thus far, this track has clearly been the fan favorite. I was even asked to perform this song live at the second annual Central Garrison (of the 501st Legion) Banquet in Des Moines, IA in August of 2014. The music video for Move Along was scheduled to shoot this past October. However, due to military obligations of the director, we were forced to cancel last minute. The hope is to re-schedule once this Minnesota winter ends. This video has a cast of almost thirty, so coordination is tricky…

1.2 Alone: Alone explores the emotional and social isolation of the Jedi and the Sith from the rest of the galaxy. Their respective use of The Force, their power, and their influence on galactic events sets them apart and above the ordinary being. However, it’s also what denies them the common joys and acceptance of life. Alone features a guest appearance from Twin Cities Hip Hop emcee, Ernie Rhodes. In the song, Ernie Rhodes plays the role of the Jedi, and I play the role of the Sith.

1.3 Ahsoka: Ahsoka is my ode to Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars. The music video for Ahsoka is a compilation of Ahsoka images, which follows her existence from her debut in The Clone Wars movie to her leaving the Jedi Order at the end of Season 5 of The Clone Wars.

The Lost Holocron – Wave 2
Released: March 13, 2017
2.1 Duel of the Fates: Duel of the Fates is an aggressive track about the heat of battle, the balance of power, and the inevitable outcome of victory or defeat. As the title suggests, it uses the Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon vs. Darth Maul scene at the end of Episode I as a major theme component. It has a battle rap feel to it and is very pro-Sith.

2.2 Lack of Faith: Lack of Faith is a light-spirited look at the galaxy divided up by Force-users and those who don’t believe. Lack of Faith features a guest appearance from Twin Cities Hip Hop emcee and pioneer, Dispute One.  

2.3 Whip Your Lekku: Fictionally speaking, I refer to Whip Your Lekku as a “Coruscant club banger and Nal Hutta favorite”. It’s a sexually charged track about Twi’lek and Togruta dancers and escorts using their lekku for a little extra entertainment while dancing or in the bedroom. There may be a music video for this song somewhere down the line.

The Dark Side
The Dark Side single and music video are kind of like the precursor to The Lost Holocron. The song is over a non-Star Wars-themed beat produced by my brother, Online, and the content is more real life with a Star Wars theme. Thus, it didn’t fit the formula for The Lost Holocron. But I still dug the track and decided to go all out for the music video. The video is directed by Dan Delano, the director of my Whiskey Tears music video, and is the first music video in which I solely wrote the screenplay. The video features an all-star cast consisting of actress, model and TV host Meisha Johnson, newcomers Priscilla Lovas and Jenny Andrews, members of the 501st Legion Central Garrison, and members of the Rebel Legion Central Base. Cameos in the video include New York Times best-selling Star Wars authors Troy Denning and Daniel Wallace, Lucasfilm artist Grant Gould, Star Wars artist Kevin Doyle, and Twin Cities Hip Hop artists Big Jess, NiiBox and Online of Manifesters, and Hypnose and Master Wong of Cypha Squad.

Stream and download The Lost Holocron:

Watch The Dark Side music video:

Wave 3 of The Lost Holocron is already underway. Stay tuned…!

No comments:

Post a Comment