Spring 2006

 

 

 


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Artist spotlight

art in purest form
an interview with members of the hip-hop band
Nate Thomas

 

From left to right, Purest Form is: Anthony Dubose (A-quil), Marc W. Nicolo (DJ Suede), Alex Leonard (Alibi), Andy Winger (A-ron), and Anthony Powe (Dialek).
From left to right, Purest Form is: Alex Leonard (Alibi), Marc W. Nicolo (DJ Suede), Anthony Powe (Dialek), Anthony Dubose (A-quil), and Andy Winger (A-ron).
From left to right, Purest Form is: Alex Leonard (Alibi), Marc W. Nicolo (DJ Suede), Anthony Powe (Dialek), Anthony Dubose (A-quil), and Andy Winger (A-ron).

Between working on movie sets and laying tracks for Purest Form, Anthony Dubose has a lot going on—but he and a couple of members from Purest Form made time to answer a few questions about their widely popular hip-hop group—even though one of the group was in Atlanta at the time, and joined the interview by cell phone. Anthony graduated from Metro State in the Spring of 2004, with a Major in Diverse Writing (a personally tailored degree), and a Minor in Creative Writing.

Anthony (A-quil), Alex Leonard (Alibi), and Anthony Powe (Dialek) all attended Saint Paul Central High School, and it was there that the group found its beginning. Saint Paul Central offered a complete recording studio, which was a unique opportunity for these classmates who began laying the groundwork for Purest Form in the late 1990s. Purest Form has been performing as a group since 2002 and has played multiple venues across the Twin Cities, as well as in Iowa. Purest Form tackles issues ranging from community and national politics to personal growth and development. Purest Form is unique in that, according to Dialek, they are a “group of individuals.” While all the members of Purest Form come together to form a cohesive group, they do so from the perspective of accomplished individuals focusing on personal growth. In addition to their collective albums, they all have individual projects that are either available or in the works. Their interests are varied and their messages are many, but their goal is simple: returning hip-hop to its Purest Form.

Nate Thomas: What is Purest Form all about?
Alex: The group message is really just that we’re dedicated to trying to promote hip-hop culture in its purest form. The mission is to deliver a positive message.
Dialek: That pretty much sums it up.

Nate: What does the “purest form” mean?
Alex: I think that basically we’re trying to take all the best elements, the most positive elements, of hip-hop music and culture, and use them in a way that we make music and how we express ourselves—you know, whether it has to do with us as MCs, in [writing] our songs…being the best songwriters that we can be, delivering the most positive message…the most timely message that we can deliver. And just making real, honest music, you know? But using the medium of hip-hop to deliver that message.

Nate: What is the songwriting process like for Purest Form?
Anthony: It basically depends on what the topic is—like, somebody can come up with the topic, [and the song] just might be written by one person, or he might feel that the weight and the structure of the song might work better with two people on it. Basically, it’s just however you feel that the song is going to work the best and get the message across the best.

Alex: Yeah, a lot of times we kind of all consider ourselves a group of solo artists. We’re all… independent but when we do songs together, when we do collaborations together—you know, somebody can come to the table with an idea. We usually just talk it out. I mean, the group songs that we have where it’s all four of us…it’s always a long, drawn out…real nice ten hour conversation before we even get into the songwriting. Even if it’s just two of us writing a song—I know that Anthony spent months working out song ideas so that we’re on the same page, you know—if we’re doing a song together we want it to be cohesive.

Nate: How many albums have you released as a group?
Dialek: As a group we have our debut album, “The Perfect Balance.” We released that in September of ’03. Since then we’ve done a mixed tape called “Love, Hate, Respect,” which is basically like 29 tracks—actually 27 songs, including the intro and outro. That mixed tape was kind of like a collection of verses and song ideas that we had done independently—and then we just kind of put that together as more of like a collective promotional tool. But a lot of people that have had a chance to listen to it almost consider it like a street album, like an unofficial release. Just because we put more work into it than just writing a verse, recording it, and putting it out there. It was very structured and there was a concept behind it, just as the concept with “The Perfect Balance.” It was well though out and we definitely went into it with a goal in mind.

Nate: What were the concepts & goals for each album?
Anthony: When we went into the “The Perfect Balance,” we didn’t have anything set in mind. We just kind of had some songs and some song ideas, and just kind of laid it out—and all of it just started falling in place a certain way. Once we knew what we were working with [then we knew] where [it was] leading, [and what] we need[ed] to do to make it a whole album, a whole package, and not just a collection of random songs. We wanted to make it an experience from front to back, and have it all connected. It’s like if you hear the album—like the intro and outro—the outro is actually called the beginning.

Alex: Yeah—the concept behind “The Perfect Balance” was really to have an album that was, in hip-hop terms, a perfect balance of music…you got battle rapping on there, you got songs about relationships, you got songs about personal struggles. The idea was…to make this album that was perfectly balanced—you know, to where anybody, [even someone who] didn’t like hip-hop music, there would be something for them.
Dialek: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point…[we were] trying to balance out these songs and the feel of the album so that people who don’t like hip-hop music, or [are] purists, or nonbelievers, or whatever—could find something on there that they actually liked. With “Love Hate Respect”—actually the title was the last thing that we came up with. We all worked together to basically really show different aspects of our personalities, kind of like on an uncensored level. “The Perfect Balance” gave us the opportunity to make something cohesive that kind of filled in these pockets of expectations, or just different creative spaces as far as the hip-hop realm was concerned. With “Love, Hate, Respect,” it was just like—ok, everybody, just do your thing.

Nate: Apart from being a group of individuals, what distinguishes Purest Form from other groups?
Anthony: We’re not out here trying to make money off our music. It’s about the message first, and you know—how many lives can I inspire or change with what I’m trying to get out here and say? We don’t make money off this, you know—we have day jobs. By us having day jobs, we’re not relying on this to bring in income, so we can say what we say—and if we only sell ten albums, that’s fine. Because those ten people are gonna really love it and appreciate it, you know? And if we sell a hundred or a thousand…that’s fine. The people that have the music are gonna cherish it, and really take it in, and feel something down in their heart, to the bone—that’s all.
Alex: The message. I think the message first and foremost, you know? And then after that…I think we’re original. I think that nobody talks about what we talk about, or how we talk about it, you know? For me, anyway—that’s hip hop in its purest form.

You can find out more about Purest Form by visiting their website, www.purestform.com, where you can catch up on the group’s latest news, read in-depth biographies, keep abreast of upcoming performance dates, and contact the group on their message board. Purest Form’s and group member’s solo albums are available on the website, as well as the local section of Cheapo; however, in keeping with their mission to deliver their message to the masses—“Love, Hate, Respect” is freely available for download on their website. Check it out!

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