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Q&A With Rising Hip Hop Collective Honor Flow Productions

Cthree: It’s a pleasure coming across real genuine Hip-Hop sounds this day and age. What influenced your group’s music approach, how did you all meet, and how did you choose a name?

DJ Chuck “thE oLd SouL:  The name Honor Flow Productions stems off the idea of being on the Honor Roll. It’s the highest honor one can receive in their education. Therefore, whatever venture Honor Flow Productions is involved in, it will be the highest caliber in which we will deliver.  So that’s why our logo (“The Graduate” as we call him) is in a cap and gown, and is holding a mic and turntables. I came up with the name in high school while trying to plan a house party with another DJ homie of mine, DJ Kryp2nite. I didn’t want to just put our DJ names on the flyer, I wanted a crew/company name to be the presenter. That’s when the name Honor Flow came to me; in the middle of daydreaming in church no less. I met ELIMN8 during our freshman year at Marymount College. We were actually in the same orientation group. We just bonded off the fact we both love Hip-Hop, Video Games, Comics, and lived in Palmdale at one point of our lives [laughs]. As a matter of fact, I didn’t know he could spit until a month after we met.

ELIMN8: For me, Hip Hop was always there. I grew up in a Christian household and my mom wasn’t having all that cussin’ in my music. Bad music could lead to a severe ass whoopin’ [laughs]. Luckily for me, my cousin is Rakaa of Dilated Peoples. When I wanted to buy music, the only CDs I could get were my cousin’s stuff [laughs]. That wasn’t a hard sale for me. Listening to Dilated Peoples put me in a good direction of artists to check out. As a result, my tastes have generally been underground/alternative. Punk was also very influential to me. I got on to it when I was in junior high school. I was living in Palmdale, and was skateboarding. I was drawn to it because it was loud, angry, and rebellious; it really helped me make sense of the world around me. A lot of people don’t know the connection Hip-Hop has to Punk; Punk giving a lot of Hip-Hop artists venues to play at for example. Punk helped lead me even more to Hip-Hop. I got my alias when I was 10. There was an anime called Digimon. I believe the episode is called “My Sister’s Keeper”. The villain of the episode was tired of being beat by the good Digimon and put this plan in place called “ELIMN8”. You had a bunch of the bad characters saying “initiate plan ELIMN8”. Something clicked for me; it was like time froze and heaven opened up or something. I wrote it down and I’ve been going by it ever since.

Chuck: Lord I met when I transferred from Marymount College to Loyola Marymount University for my Junior Year. We actually, crazy enough was supposed to be room mates. But he ended up living in a house right outside of campus at the last minute. But thought mutual friends, we ended up meeting. We joke it was maybe a good thing we were not roommates because NOTHING academically would have gotten done. It would have been a marathon of anything music and pro wrestling related [laughs].

DJisLORD: I opted out to join a service house that specialized in community outreach at LMU. A year after we became friends, I was approached by the Chuck to join H.F.P. as they were competing in a Battle of The Bands competition on campus. Their drummer was unavailable, so I stepped in as their DJ and we won! I’ve been part of group ever  since. I ended up meeting ELIMN8 a couple months later when had our first show at The Roxy. We all just shared a love for good Hip-Hop building up our culture, a love for Little Brother, WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Video Games, all things pop culture, and beautiful strong intellectual women. Our influences stem from a variety of persons, places, and things. Life experiences mainly. From relationships, to relationshits [laughs], to a shitty day or a glorious day at work, armchair critics, the trollers, the haters, our current state of our geopolitical climate, our disdain for whack rappers and DJs, a wrestling show, a concert, a movie, long strolls down the beach, at the gym, feminine fat that a physical trainer can appreciate, tacos, sushi, all you can eat Korean bbq, bottomless mimosas during obligatory Sunday brunches with family members you may or may not like, or just sitting around in DJ Chuck’s den sipping on some whiskey.

Chuck: Also musically, we do not shy away from our influences. It’s very clear we’re influenced by artists and producers that have a “Golden Era” sound from all coasts such as A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Slum Village, Little Brother, DJ Quik, Dr. Dre,

Battlecat, Gang Starr, and Black Milk. However, since were all music nerds and 2/3 of this group are DJs, our influences also come from various genres and eras. With all those inspirations, a term we coined for our approach to our music is “Progressive Nostalgia;” which is sampling what we love from the past, mixing it with the contemporary, and flipping it for the future. We are proud offsprings of our influences, but we understand we have to build our lane as well.

Cthree: In today’s game its all about fan reach. What are some ways your group is connecting with your supporters?

ELIMN8: Finding ways to contribute to H.F.P. is something that’s always on our minds. DJisLORD and “thE oLd SouL” do this whenever they DJ; you see our banner and see their laptop covers. I work in the video game industry as a video game QA tester and the hours can be very demanding; especially with how big the project is that we’re working on.  I remember working on The Last Of Us during my time at Naughty Dog. Those were some of the most brutal hours I’ve ever worked. I would be so tired, I didn’t have time to do anything but sleep. When Twitch came around, I started seeing that people were showcasing their gameplay. Sometimes they were presenting themselves as experts, but didn’t know what the hell they were talking about as far as industry knowledge goes. I decided to make an account initially to clear up misconceptions and drop knowledge on games, what goes into them, and what it’s like to be a video game tester. Then I saw an opportunity to promote H.F.P. by posting links to our stuff and talking about us. All that is front and center when I’m streaming and my followers know what we do. Follow me on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/xxelimn8xx

Lord: We connect through our fans through social media, our live shows, and being personable, humble, and grateful when we meet them in person.

Chuck: Even though our line of work is very internet/social media driven, I am the biggest advocate for connecting with people in person. As a matter of fact, I think it is more important than ever. An e-mail, a DM, or a tweet holds more weight when you have met the face behind it. So doesn’t matter if it’s our own show or we’re out in streets supporting another artists at their function, we are always holding genuine conversations with anyone who is in attendance. Always talk eye to eye with your supporters, never below. We believe this method of having physical contact and having physical product on hand for them to take with them and spread, is one of the primary reasons we have had the success we’ve had thus far.

Cthree: Okay, give us a break down of how this album came to be. Were you guys sitting around one day getting high and somebody was like “The B.L.A.C.K. Odyssey” or what?

Chuck: [Laughs] Nah, nah. The B.L.A.C.K. Odyssey is actually a title we’ve had in our back pocket for now a decade. There are actually 3 versions of this album that exist. The first draft dates back to summer of 2008 when ELIMN8 and I had just graduated from Marymount College. The second was crafted from Summer of 2010 to Fall 2012 while our line up consisted of a full band.

Lord: We were at one point a 8 piece band. When that line up disbanded, we then became a trio like Run-DMC, De La Soul, Dilated Peoples, etc. This group has gone through so many incarnations. As a band, we experimented with a lot of styles and rhythms. Once we became a trio, we found that sound that is uniquely H.F.P.

Chuck: The third version, which became the album you hear today, was another 5 years of development from the beginning of 2013 to this past Summer. With each draft, the concept of the album was more fleshed out.

ELIMN8: I was just getting back in the country from Japan when the third and final version started to take shape. I was out there teaching junior high school English in Ibaraki prefecture. I needed sometime to get my mind together and try something new. It was an amazing experience and Japan will always be a second home to me, but working there sucks; especially when you’re a gaijin. I came back and we went right to it. Chuck mentioned he wanted to submit music with his Red Bull Music Academy application. That spawned the Boombox Sessions EP. He wasn’t accepted into the academy, but it got the ball rolling on The B.L.A.C.K. Odyssey. I would go to his studio, Drake’s Den, every week to work on the album. That said, I was super depressed with work and the album was a source of light in the darkness for me. All the writing, recording, and production was purposeful and very fucking therapeutic.

Chuck: The B.L.A.C.K. Odyssey is our thesis on the concept of “freedom;” intertwined with life motifs of self-expression, spirituality, romance, self-discovery, and personal joy. “B.L.A.C.K.” is actually an acronym that stands for “Beyond Light Years Away Carrying Knowledge).  The idea is everyone has their own story to tell and everyone has their own ideas and energy to share with the world. Everyone is on their own “B.L.A.C.K. Odyssey” so to speak. This our “Odyssey” told thought some bangin’ music.

Cthree: So far in in Hip-Hop, what has been the most monumental moment for you guys as a group. Like that bone thrilling experience you can’t help but be proud of?

Lord: Honestly, it’s an honor, and I am filled with the utmost gratitude to be able to have the privilege to DJ and perform, with “thE oLd SouL” & ELIMN8. Everyday is gift, that’s why it’s called the present. Whether its rocking to 5 people to 5,000 people, we wake up, and have a driven purpose in life. That purpose is to share our craft and the music with the masses. Whether you like it or you don’t, that’s fine too! [laughs].  If it’s not your cup of tea, it’s the next man and woman’s shot of Hennessy. When people resonate and know the words to our music at our live show, that’s bone thrilling in itself.

ELIMN8: Man, there are so many moments that stick out. I’ll give you two. The first time was when rocked at The El Rey Theater is one. We still had the band component of the group and we were really jammin’ that night. People were pulling out their phones and taking selfies. One girl asked us to take her phone on stage. That shit was wild, yo. Another time was recently and probably the best compliment I’ve ever gotten with our music. It’s no secret at my current job that I generally don’t like the people there. The people I am cool with got to hear the album, and I didn’t share it with the main part of the office. My lead was so moved by the album, he shared it in the general office chat. One co-worker said “ I feel like I just met you guys after listening to this.” I damn near teared up [laughs].

Chuck: Two things for me. From a professional standpoint, I am proud of what we have accomplished just as an operation with no label support and no management support. To perform at legendary venues such as The Roxy, The Troubadour, The El Rey Theater, The Greek Theater, and The Wiltern, and to build our careers our way the entire time, is an accomplishment. We have been told “No” or “that’s not going to work” so many times on damn near everything you can think of. We have always stuck to our guns, made the music we wanted to make, and it has truly connected with people. And that’s the other thing. It is one thing for you to feel you made something special, it’s another for other people to listen and feel the same way about your music. At the end of the day, that is what it’s all about. This music is healing, it is sociology, it is psychology, it is nirvana, it is one of biggest connecting tools we have in a world that can divide us over the stupidest factors. So when people invite us into their daily lives as part of their soundtrack, that means everything. You live forever though song. That’s some incredibly powerful shit.

Cthree: I have seen you guys active with new visuals etc, what’s next for the camp?

Chuck: As you mentioned, we currently have out the music videos for “Alright” and “@ The Speed of Light” from the album. Both of those visuals were directed by LAgom Like Minds, which is a rising LA film production company. Make sure you check both of those videos out on Youtube.

Lord: We have more visuals from the album coming!

Chuck: Yessir, along with more shows, and a gang of other surprises we can not publicly comment on yet.

ELIMN8: You just got to tune in for that.

Chuck: Just know, we’re ending 2018 strong and it’s going to be a breakout year for us in 2019.

Cthree: What is your definition of Underground Hip-Hop?

Lord: Underground Hip-Hop to me is Hip-Hop and Rap that is raw, unadulterated, and uncensored. It’s that brash, in your face, Boom Bap/Trap Rap with dope lyrics that feeds the soul like good food. It uplifts, educates, and invigorates you from the gut, to your spleen, and all organs in between. It ignites that rebel spirit, a vehicle, and a pulpit we use for change and evolution of our culture. Underground Hip-Hop should inspire, provoke critical thinking, deepen your lexicon, broaden your knowledge, and makes you self-aware. It doesn’t mumble, Underground Hip-Hop speaks assertively and with forthright passion!

ELIMN8: Underground Hip-Hop to me is to be the alternative. It’s also a focus of Hip-Hop culture at large with all it’s elements. Unfortunately in the mainstream, the focus when it comes to Hip Hop is the Emcee/Rap element and maybe a DJ here and there. With us, one phrase that describes us is: “Not mainstream or underground, just a dope sound.”

Chuck: Underground Hip-Hop to me is contrary to popular belief, not a particular sound or era. It is simply to me, artists who make Hip-Hop that are on the rise. The underground is where you pay your dues, educate yourself about the CULTURE, develop your style, and discover if you are really in this for the right reasons. If your heart is not in it, the “Underground” will eat you alive. Only those who love it will survive and strive.  We have lost count of how many peers since we have started that have hung up the mics, the beats, and the turntables. We’re still here because we love it and it’s a central component of who we are. In short, we’re not going any damn where any time soon [laughs].

About Cthree

Gate Keeper of HIP-HOP @ughhblog Contributor to the culture of Artistic Elements of Expression. 3rd Eye Tribe Entertainment. 2017