Shenzhen’s very own, the ever productive Adrian Blackstock, has just released his 3rd Vachina album (which you can download for free below), so we hit him up for a quick interview. Scope his tunes & words below!
Why did you decide to base this project on the bruce lee movie?
On July 20th some friends came over to my house to celebrate Bruce Lee’s life, on the anniversary of his death, by watching his movies. After watching “Enter The Dragon” and hearing the awesome score LaLo Schirifin, the composer, came up with, I said “man I gotta use this stuff” and the beats kind’ve made themselves. Bruce Lee has always been one of my idols and one of the reasons I’ve had an affinity for Chinese culture and martial arts culture.
What does your process of writing lyrics for songs look like?
With this project I knew I’d use quotes from the movie for concepts and after having that concept, writing comes pretty naturally for me because I’ve been rapping and recording my own albums for 15 years. Also i’ve been freestyling for 12 years so coming up with concepts flows naturally for me. I don’t share my ideas with people because I don’t always like giving and hearing unsolicited information so when I make these albums it’s my chance to share my truths and use my voice.
Who are your favorite rappers/artists of the moment?
At the moment I’m loving Anderson Paak, ThunderCat, Stormzy, Chance The Rapper, Los Hacheros, Tank and The Bangas, and anyone that does NPR: Tiny Desk Concerts.
What has been your most memorable performance experience of 2017?
I have a few, The VaChina II album release party at BaiShiZhou Magma (it was the last show they were allowed to do there and it was a big community showing)., Performing at Shenzhen and Guangzhou Fashion weeks (always a dream since I saw Jay & Kanye perform at Paris Fashion Week), and debuting songs from the new Enter The Black Dragon album at the Secret Spot Full Moon Party was amazing because I didn’t know how the response would be but it was special.
What do you find helps your artistic creativity and productivity?
Working in the shenzhen music scene has been one of the biggest influences on me, Dirty Curtyy releasing his first album inspired me to do VaChina I & II and, a new guy to check for, Nathan inspired me to finish Enter The Black Dragon because he showed up at open mic with his tracks and he’s hungry. I feed off of all the musicians and opportunities here. Touring with DJ Tayta and all the bands and groups even record labels in the community creating their own sounds. Shenzhen is an inspiring place!
Any lessons that we can take away from this album/movie?
The movie has so many lessons, I used my favorites for the LP and they became the themes. 1) Thirteenth commandment is about taking personal responsibility for yourself and your life. 2) Mister Nasty Time is about how there are ghettos all over the world and in those ghettos you can find spiritual gurus and goons. 3) “Chop it” is a trappers anthem about hustling your ass off whether it be product, talent, or services. 4) Too busy looking good is about how physical beauty can inspire and be a detriment. 5) Straight Outta Comic is my #blacklivesmatter anthem and a personal statement about the problems my people have faced from external forces and internal forces.
Please break down your favorite lines on the album for us.
Okay I’ll pick one line from each song.
“Cut beats like cats paw dag…
Switch that joint up like the vogue n drag…” – this line is about producing music, cats paw dagger is a Game Of Thrones reference but speaks to how I made the album cutting samples and most of the songs have tempo and melody changes and I’m fascinated by Drag culture and Vogue dancing, so that’s a homage to their bravery but also how the music and life changes and “switches”.
“Dollars make (cents) sense when invested…”
I’ve had a lot of conflicts dealing with money in my life and it’s a general them in my music (“til payday” for example) however when it’s used as a tool for growth it makes sense to me and I can appreciate its value.
“Tony Jaa, Rastafari…Muay Thai in tye dye…”
Tony Jaa is my new favorite current martial arts star from Thailand and this line talks about the duality of being a peaceful person but studying martial arts and the art of fighting. Like the internal fight of being a hippy yet wanting to whip ass sometimes, we all go through it.
“She was flyer than a parakeets feet…I was shyer than chance and queen latif…”
The first line is an obvious metaphor but the second line isn’t as obvious if you aren’t familiar with the ChiTown sound, in. which Queen Latifah was in the movie Chicago and Chance the Rapper is one of the best coming out of Chicago right now. But it’s a simple word play on Shy and Chi.
“This what happens in the scary movie when the black people don’t die”
This was the first lyric that came to me when I made the beat. Everybody knows they normally kill off the only black person in the scary movie in the first 10 minutes because most of those movies don’t work if there are some real black people in the movie because either we’re going to fight fire with fire or we getting the hell up out of that situation with the quickness. I can only imagine what some of these horror movies would be like with some gangsters in it, LoL. I don’t see it turning out the same.
Thanks for listening and supporting the album, check for the Chop It remix featuring Skezz Phonic repping SMHH, The Mighty Orphans, and Dr. Bus soon. Also next year the last of the series VaChina 3 and Blackstock “DaHooZi” albums.
Peace and Blessings.
Follow Black Dragon