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Monday 9th August, 2010 1:58PM

Beans (aka Mr Ballbeam)- MC, worldwide maverick and global raconteur, is set to shake minds, asses and possibly tectonic plates in NZ this October.

A restless shifter, finder and pusher of boundaries- artistically, lyrically, sonically, Beans has been creating and perfecting his own style for over a decade, solo and as one quarter of seminal (and recently reunited) New York hip hop group The Antipop Consortium. Ever relevant, Beans teeters on the edge of the hip hop avant-garde, leading the charge against mediocrity wherever it exists. Inquiring impulses and relentless questing lead him to find others also seeking, collaborating and touring with kindred spirits as varied as they are amazing - Holy Fu*k, Battles, Radiohead, DJ Shadow and Public Enemy to name but a few in a long list.

His latest album, Thorns (2007) twitches, glitches and snaps with beats that run the spectrum from minimal growl to tongue in cheek, cheesy, sweetly sleazy, while his words are angular and confessional, going for the jugular of reality- politics, sex, death, love, music. The stuff that matters, that moves.

Prepare yourself to be moved, and in a pioneering spirit venture forth to listen, watch, shuffle, nod with arms folded, and maybe, just maybe even dance to Beans - live this October.

Well, that’s what the press release said. And now, here is the word for word transcript from when I had a chat with Beans recently. He’s playing in Wellington and Auckland on the 25th and 26th of October, and you know you don’t want to miss out!

Martyn: Hey, how is it going?

Beans: Good, you?

Great! So, when did you first start doing this music thing?

Since I was 17 and I’m thirty plus now, so it’s been a while. I started actually doing shows when I was 21, started touring when I was 23, 24; so it’s been a minute.

No doubt! So how did it all kick off for you?

When I was 17 I tried to learn how to be a DJ, but I couldn’t afford the equipment. So it was cheaper to start writing, and that’s how I really started getting into it. But prior to that, as a kid, I used to dress up as Rick James and Kiss and use a tennis racquet as a guitar and force my family to sit around in a circle and sing ‘Superfreak’ and what not, and wear my mums boots and that, and lipstick and all, and perform for them, so I guess that’s how it kind of started.

Serious? Damn. So where was your head at before this music thing?

I mean I didn’t know it as the time, because I went to art school, and I wanted to be a visual artist prior to being a rap artist, so my main thing is drawing and whatnot, but even when I was in art school, I used to cut class to go to the studio and whatnot, so it became art or music, and I chose music.

So you were all up on drawing and painting and stuff?

Yeah, drawing, watercolour, charcoal, pencil, things like that, a lot of portraits and whatnot.

You still fuck with visual art?

Only as an admirer of art; not a participant.

Let me guess, surrealism? That was your thing?

Yeah, the surrealists, my whole thing was the surrealists, those were my early influences, and it influenced the writing as well [as an MC].

So you were up on the DJ thing first?

As I said, I tried to be a DJ, but I ended up rapping, because it was cheaper and I couldn’t afford the equipment at the time, so I just started getting into it from not being able to DJ really, then the virus spread, my mum hated it at first, but she didn’t have much of a choice.

Haha, feel that. Okay let’s switch gears, what was the first record you bought?

Not that I was a musician then or anything, but the first song I ever bought on my own was ‘Planet Rock’, that sound has always really stuck with me. When I was growing up, as a fan of hip-hop, I didn’t necessarily want to be an MC. That didn’t come till later, in my late teens, when I was trying and attempting to do so. When I was growing up it wasn’t like something I wanted to do, I wanted to be a visual artist. But the more I started doing it, the more I got into it.

Word. Okay, so you’ve worked with a mad wide range of artists inside and outside of hip-hop; why?

Because my whole personal approach to hip-hop is that in order to bring new things to hip-hop, you are going to have to work outside of hip-hop, because you can’t get results by doing the same thing. So I was always open to working with people outside of hip-hop who didn’t do things in a hip-hop manner. I always found that more interesting and I try to expand the vocabulary of it. So that’s really where it comes from.

Ain’t that the truth. So, was there anyone who encouraged you to think outside of the square along the way?

I just think that in general, diversity is a part of the landscape of what hip-hop was supposed to be. So my whole thing is hip-hop is supposed to go outside of itself to bring new things to it. I mean the first song I ever bought, ‘Planet Rock’, if it wasn’t for Kraftwork it wouldn’t have been that song. So if it wasn’t for Bambatta being exposed to something outside of what he was doing, we wouldn’t have had that song. That’s a perfect example of what hip-hop is supposed to be in my mind. It’s supposed to go outside and bring those things to hip-hop, and that’s now considered a classic. That’s always what I thought of hip-hop as being. So I never thought of it as anything other then doing what I was supposed to be doing in the context of hip-hop.

Dude, I gotta hand it to you. I wish more people making hip-hop looked at things like you do. Anyway, you have a real open and confessional rap style. Why do you expose so much in your lyrics?

If I can’t be honest with myself, how am I going to be honest with the music, you know? I mean that’s my life. That’s a reflection of who I am. That’s the most honest form of expression that I have. It helps me deal with things by putting it out there. It’s not always easy to, trust me, I know that, but I mean, it’s somewhat cathartic.

True again. So how do you rock your live show these days?

I tour with a DJ named Prolific. I do all my solo stuff with a dj. I used to play with an I-pod.

That’s right.

Actually, when Anti-Pop [Consortium] first broke up, it was just me and a CD player, and then I got an I-pod, and then I got a DJ. I’ve honestly only been working with a DJ for two years now. The rest of the time since Anti-Pop [Consortium] broke up; it was just me and an I-pod.

What was that like? Just rocking with an I-pod?

I liked it, it was just me. It was just me on stage, you know what I mean? It helped my breath. It helped me as an MC, cause I had to carry a whole show for an hour or so. Now I move around a lot, and my breath control, not to brag or anything, but my breath control has increased and it’s made me a better mc by doing it like that.

By Martyn Pepperell


Sunday 25th October - Wellington – SFBH
Monday 26th October - Auckland – Zen

Tickets on sale now - click here to get yours.

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