Here at IMFmag.com we are always exposing you to the latest and greatest in Hip Hop and beyond. In doing so we come across loads of old and new talent everyday. We sift through the nonsense and drop the knowledge on our readers on the daily, making sure they get a quality experience minus all the hype. The problem is, Hip Hop as a culture is huge and people get stuck in their lanes, comfortable and rarely venture out into the vast world of the up and coming. It could be due in part to the here today gone tomorrow fly by night pace of the internet or the vast amount of horrible shit being put out there. But, whatever be the case I’m here to introduce a group that might have found “that feeling” that’s been missing in mainstream hip hop for so long.
Comprised of two emcees, Quotes and Def Poet, Retrospect is as new and rejuvenating as the time. Using the formula of extracting from the legendary artists of music history to create new and compelling music for the future. Retrospect’s music has been described as soulful, classic, and unheard of. Hailing from inspirations such as A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West and Common, Retrospect makes thought provoking music exciting and brand new. Last week I got to chill and laugh it up with the group and pick their brains on their new projects, superheroes, stereotypes, influences and their latest single/video Abella. Hit the break for the full interview and their latest music video.
After hitting the stage with the likes of Theophilus London and Pac Div, being featured on WGCI’s Go Ill Radio, in and out of Chicago publications like Timeout Chicago and the Chicago Reader, as well as performing for the TNK 2012 Winter Festival, Retrospect is definitely doing big things. If you’re still not familiar then you should take this as a brief introduction of how nice these Chicago Emcees are.
IMF: Let everyone know your names and the meanings behind them?
Q: My name is Quotes.
DP: I’m Def Poet.
Q: Well Quotes like… since back in the day since high school you know I used to write down quotes and stuff all the time and eventually… it just stuck with me. I was just Quotes.
DP: When I came up with my name it was during the time when WE [pointing to Quotes] first started.
DP: And I was really trying to figure out like… What makes good hip hop music? Because you know, that’s like the ONE thing. And I feel like I did. We were watching Def Poetry Jam…
Q: You still got my DVDs man. [laughs]
DP: Yeah, yeah I still got those at the crib too.
DP: And I think I found that thing that makes hip hop/rap sickest. It’s poetry. And what makes poetry good is how well the poet can communicate the emotion he intends to provoke from his audience. whether that emotion be excitement, anger, sorrow or if he wants you to feel like you got swag its the same with Hip Hop. If you put it that way, then its easier to say, yeah ok. That dope. That’s why I named myself Def Poet.
IMF: Did you have another alias before you were Quotes/Def Poet?
DP: You know what? We were thinking bout that and I can’t remember what we thought about. But that [Def Poet] was the first official one.
Q: Yeah [laughs]
DP: But I know he had one [pointing to Quotes and laughing]
Q: What was it, what was it!? Naw. I remember I had one that I used to write with a couple of other friends and that’s how it started but…
DP: It was, Rap-si-dize!
Q: Oh! It was Rapsidize [laughs] It was that, yeah! I don’t know where that name came from. I think I hung around the dictionary a little too much [laughs]
Q: I don’t know where that came from. So yeah that’s what it was. But now I’m Quotes!
Q: You were like [pointing to Def Poet] “That’s pretty whack” and then I was like “alright cool”.
IMF: So how long have you guys been together as a group?
Q: Maybe like four years, yeah I think four years.
Q: But then there was like a crazy hiatus and stuff. You know just about growing up and… Yeah your still young and want to have fun yo.
IMF: You guys have said your influences have been Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, and Blackstar. Who would be one major influence now that your audience would be surprised to hear?
Q: Easy. Drake. There is a lot of Drake/Kanye in there.
DP: Yeah Drake/Kanye… A lot of the new stuff going on out there, we try to be influenced by everything.
Q: Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole
DP: Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole. Jay Electronica!
Q: Yeah Jay Electronica!
DP: I’d say one emcee that always from the start that comes through and influences me for like a verse, you know what I mean. I would say Nas. Like going back to his Illmatic. Dude. That is just like…
Q: Yeah cause its like story telling, its just untouchable.
IMF: You guys talk about the superheroes in a few of your raps, is that a new group. Who are the superheroes?
DP: Superhero is not really like a group but its more, sort of like our Identity. Throughout our whole process of putting stuff out. I mean we’re really into superheroes too man and like Marvel
DP: Comics, you know X-Men, Batman and all that stuff.
Q: Yeah all that stuff.
DP: And we felt like there was such a correlation between, being like a musician and being a superhero. Even, maybe not even being a musician but whatever you do like…
Q: Just in general yeah.
DP: Superheroes effect like millions, and we feel like musicians have the same. So many correlations like. Superheroes, they go out at night. You know, and in the morning they got a day job and stuff. We feel as if its the same thing.
Q: We’re like undercover and nobody knows who we are and then all of a sudden its night time. And everyone is like oh yeah y’all Retrospect.
DP: Yeah so, I mean that was the big thing behind our mixtape project that we came out with, two years ago and we kind of just stuck with it… Pretty much.
Q: yeah its like our theme, our niche.
IMF: In your car right now what’s the last track that you played?
Q: I think last track I played is actually not a track thats released yet, its off our next cd called “We Came Last” produced by Brandun Deshay, thats the one. other than that Kendrick Lamar’s “Hol’ UP”.
DP: I played Frank Ocean’s “Think About You”
Q: that is a good one
IMF: Who are some of the producers you’ve worked with so far?
Q: Our new project the Retro 1 EP is with Pak.one. He did the whole project so its like a Retrospect x Pak.one CD.
DP: its really the first project that we were able to do that with, that’s all produced by a producer and not like taking an instrumental from somebody else
Q: yeah yeah. other than Pak.one there’s chrismatiC another Chicago guy. We got beats from Brandun Deshay
IMF:…that’s a good song though, I like that song “Whats up” that’s a dope song.
Q: just wait till the next cd, he got our… maybe our first single, maybe. on the next cd, its going to be a banger with BrandUn DeShay. Classick from Classick studios…
IMF: Yeah that’s another dope song, with that old school vibe…
Q: “Just One Of them days” [laughs]
DP: oh man that is old school
Q: yeah that’s really old man, that was like three years ago, but yeah.
IMF: You guys were talking earlier about working with a bunch of different producers at the moment, can you talk a little about that project.
Def: Well after the Retro 1 EP we’re going to have a new project. It’s untitled right now but
Q: that one got six producers on it and that’s going to be a pretty big project. It’ll be an LP.
IMF: I know you [Def Poet] sing, right?
DP: Yeah I pitch things [laughs]
IMF: Was that part of the plan or was it just cause it sounded dope?
DP: That’s how it came across
Q: Yeah that just sounds good, whatever feels good.
DP: [laughs] We had no singer so, and that was during the time when Kanye West was like ‘man we can sing our own hooks’ [laughs]
Q: Yeah cause like Kanye was all pitchy and its like, yo we can do that. I tried it and it was pretty whack [laughs]
IMF: From listening to your catalog you can tell that you guys love the music, if you could change one thing that people associate you as individuals or as a group what would that be?
DP: We both know that we have always been associated with Old School Hip Hop. Which is dope because many argue that that’s when it was at it’s finest, but on the same token we don’t want to be stuck in that box. Yes, we named ourselves Retrospect because we wanted to bring back a magic that was prevalent in the “Golden Era” of hip hop but we most of all strive to be as innovative as possible. After all that’s exactly what those “old school” legends were striving for at the time.
IMF: What’s your favorite track so far that you feel that the people have over looked?
Q: “Sposed Be” which is our second single off of the Retro 1 EP. Abella seemed to have stole the show but “Sposed Be” is my favorite track off the Retro 1 EP.
DP: One track I feel people have overlooked is “Superhero” which was one of our only originally produced tracks off of our Superhero mixtape. It was supposed to be the big track of the mixtape and was slated to represent the beginning of a new sound for RETROSPECT that we feel we are continuing with our upcoming untitled EP set to come out after RETRO 1.
IMF: How did you guys meet the director for your first single Abella?
DP: In terms of doing Abella, I actually got a bears gig. I was the assistant camera man at a bears game. It was a pretty crazy game and that’s how I met Chris Yankton, who is the director our Abella video. We got to talking and heard our music. And he was like he’s been trying to do a really good music video. So we just ended up working together and it turned out pretty dope.
IMF: So what happened to the original video, why did it get pushed back?
Q: a lot of things happened. the second day, the night scenes didn’t work out because of the music
DP: we filmed at this club right and it was supposed to be like all my verse, right.
IMF: And they messed up your part
DP: Yeah [laughs] this started like New Years day and he had his own day. Everything was him [quotes] rapping, I was all jealous.
Q: Yeah I was pretty stoked [laughs]
DP: And when it came to my turn we were at this club and we got a whole bunch of dope footage. Everything was really good but when we started editing it, we found out that the audio that was playing on the dj table was sped up. So all that footage we had, all these people come through and we couldn’t use any of it at all.
Q: It was by a few BPMs too but it made a difference.
DP: But the video turned out even better. I think it turned out way better anyways
And those girls…
You can catch Retrospect April 28th at Subterranean and May 4th at Lasalle Power Company for the Retro 1 EP release party. Check out the “Abella” music video and follow the links to catch up on this dynamic duo.