Angry Blackmen Interview

Newcomers in the underground rap scene as of late have geared towards eccentricity in vocals, unpredictable and unintelligible production techniques, and genre-blending so fine that labels become a useless sticker on a brand of music that can’t be boxed in. However, the Chicago rap duo known as Angry Blackmen have taken on a different approach. Formed in 2017, ABM’s earliest releases as a duo were sparse and featured more traditional instrumentals as well as approaches to rapping itself– while they leaned into the eccentricity of acts before them such as Odd Future, the music didn’t branch out too far from the influences they’d channeled in their solo works prior to the duo’s formation. Much of this era of music has been wiped from the internet by choice, although certain tracks such as 2017’s “OK” still remain available. Nowadays, they hit the crushed, industrial-tinged instrumentals commonly utilized by their peers with much more orthodox flows and razor-sharp bars that deal with the struggles of the Black community in America under late-stage capitalism as well as deep looks into the personal issues that they have faced throughout their lives, such as addiction and trauma; while many adjacent artists tend to hide their intent and messages through opaque layers of irony or imagery, ABM uses their extraordinary talent in the art of rapping itself to bring a more transparent approach to their music. The straightforward approach to their performances feels like a breath of fresh air in a scene that– while thriving and innovating the artform– can be cumbersome to try and approach for casual listeners. 

While finding their sound in the years following their formation, the duo self-released an EP in 2019 titled “Talkshit!”, exclusively produced by Spider Gang producer Wendigo. The popularity of the project (specifically the song “Riot!” and the associated video) led to Angry Blackmen signing to Deathbomb Arc, an independent label known for their focus on experimental and underground music, and that also helped launch the careers of other experimental hip-hop acts such as Peggy and Clipping (despite the latter self-releasing their first album). The more experimental, dark approach to the instrumentals on “Talkshit!” as well as the artists’ direct exposure to acts such as JPEGMafia through their label led the duo to pursue even more abrasive beats while still maintaining their bar-heavy approach to songcraft. ABM’s first release under Deathbomb Arc, an 8-song titan of an EP titled “HEADSHOTS!”, continued their left-field approach to production choices and ventured further into the industrial- and electronic-influenced beats that have become their signature sound as of now– partially due to the producer Formants, who contributed additional production to the EP as well as engineering it, but the beats on “HEADSHOTS!” were courtesy of the producer Gary G Beats.

Working sporadically on music throughout the pandemic, often separated by distance or a simple lack of time as both worked day jobs, ABM joined forces with the electronic producer Formants again in the fall of 2021 for a 4-track EP titled “REALITY!”, cementing the sonic evolution for the duo with absolutely brutal stylistic choices in the production– the snares in “Vomit” sound like Formants is taking a hammer to a metal bucket, but it works. Noise music, industrial, and electronic influences shine throughout the entire project, but despite the abrasiveness and unconventionality of the sound design, Formants brings it all together to create a slew of catchy instrumentals that prove themselves to be among the most unexpected earworms in hip-hop history. The two artists’ confidence had built over time and it absolutely showed in their performances on this record, with both Quentin and Brian sounding more fierce and hungry than ever in their delivery and putting their ability to find the best pockets in any beat on full display. The lyrical content that Angry Blackmen offered grew more personal and, well, angrier– when speaking with the duo, they mention the murder of George Floyd as well as the claustrophobia of the pandemic among the catalysts for their deeper focus on societal issues and increased musical output. 

Over the next year and a half after a brief break, ABM began work on their debut LP, teaming up with Formants once more and meeting whenever they could to record in brief spurts while developing a cohesive vision for the record. The 11-track project (appropriately) titled “The Legend of ABM” was released on January 30th of this year. The album is their most polished yet while also showcasing the most eccentric aspects of Formants’ signature production style, with drum lines that sound like a 10-car pileup on the freeway and extensive use of atonal elements carefully assembled into masterful compositions. Formants employs a more minimalist approach to the production on this record, particularly in the melodic components which are sparse if present at all, a move that allows the duo more freedom in their performances and also serves to provide more emphasis on the bars themselves. Instrumentals on here are certainly stripped-back compared to some of their earlier collaborations, yet they never feel like they’re lacking in any capacity, rather showcasing the precise sound design and attention to detail that runs through the entirety of Formants’ discography.

On “Legend”, Quentin and Brian cement themselves among the most talented new faces in hip-hop as a whole, offering mind-bending flows that warp around Formants’ oppressive instrumentation and venomous deliveries that ensure not even a syllable is missed by the listener, but the quality that truly takes their performances on the record to the next level is the sheer amount of personality and conviction in their lyrics. They’re not holding back whatsoever– the social commentary is sharper without a doubt, but we also get a much closer look at the people behind the music and the ways in which both the systematic oppression and personal traumas that they’ve experienced have affected them. Themes of mortality and self-destruction permeate many songs on this record, one of the most notable being “Suicidal Tendencies”, a solo performance from Quentin that delves into his previous battles with addiction and depression while digging deeper into the more recent catalyst for his ruminations on death: a near-fatal car crash in New Mexico with his significant other, a traumatic event that impacted the artist mentally and emotionally, feelings that he channels throughout the album. On the other hand, they exude confidence and conviction in songs like “FNA”; hard-hitting bars from Brian (“This that RapCaviar shit mixed with the moshpit / Pouring out my soul ‘cause I deal with the nonsense”) set the tone early on for the record, embracing the unique dichotomy of their orthodox flows and dense bars on top of the albums’ electrifying production that could turn any crowd into a warzone.

In late February, I had a chance to speak with Angry Blackmen over Zoom in regards to the development of “The Legend of ABM” and the success it brought them, their approach to writing songs and the inspirations behind the album, and how their signature sound has progressed throughout each project. We also touched on the personal motivations behind their scathing commentary on race, politics, and systematic oppression, as well as discussing the origins of the two artists and what led them to form the duo in the first place. I also had the opportunity to speak with the producer Formants directly to gain perspective on his approach to crafting the wild instrumentals on the album, as well as exploring his personal creative process and how he came to collaborate so closely with ABM. Read our conversation below to get a deeper look into the duo’s history and the artistry behind the music itself, as well as the development of their debut album from both the artists’ and producers’ perspective.

Steve: Hey! Glad to have you guys here today. To start things off, where are you from?

Quentin: I’m from Saint Petersberg Florida, I was born there, but I moved to Chicago in the early 2000s. Then, from Chicago, I moved to the burbs. So I’ve always been jumping around from the ‘burbs and Chic ago– more specifically, Sauk Village and Linwood, Illinois.

S: I remember you mentioning Sauk Village a few times on the album.

Q: Yeah– I think it was the first time I mentioned that place. I just feel like it was time, because it’s been such a big part of me, and I never really said it before,.

Brian: As for me, I was born and raised in Chicago, mainly the north side. I ventured around the south side, east side, west side– I’ve been around. Migrated south and came back to Chicago, and now I’m stationed out in Aurora.

S: Aurora, Colorado?

B: No, Aurora, Illinois.

Q: I forgot about Aurora, Colorado. I remember now– that’s the shooter, that’s where the shooter’s from.

S: [laughs] Yeah, that’s what came to my mind first. How did you two first meet, and what led to the creation of [Angry Blackmen] as a dedicated group rather than just collaborations between two solo artists? 

Q: So, the origins– we met at a music video through a mutual friend, his name was Eric. Eric was like, “Hey man, I got this dude that raps.” He was talking about Brian, and he was like “Hey dude, come to this music video shoot!” This was back when I was doing my solo shit. I’m not gonna say– [laughs]-- what my solo shit was, ‘cause it was corny and it was very, like, Odd Future-esque. It was just– It’s a product of its time. I was like, “Yeah, I can come to the video, that’s cool.” We met there, and we just kinda kept in contact, and we were cool but we didn’t really form some shit until later on. But we kept in contact. We did a show together in Stager, Illinois. We opened up for an artist named Prozac, I think he was on Strange Music– Tech N9ne’s shit– and I was scared to do it solo, so Brian was like “Hey, can I do the show with you?” And I was like “Yeah, sure,” cause I didn’t really wanna do that shit by myself anyway. From there, we kept in contact until about 2016-ish, towards the end of 2016, and I asked him to be in a duo. Brian probably wants to tell his side, but that’s my side. 

B: The time I was stationed out in the suburbs, I ran into Eric, and we were working together. I was coming up on my own little thing I was doing as well– I was in school, I was doing talent shows, I won talent shows, I did a going away senior thing [and] a poetry slam for the entire lunch room and the music kind of grew on me. All along, I wanted to be like, a football player or actor and I tried to get into acting a little bit but that didn’t work out for me– [Brian and Quentin laugh]--  I just stayed rapping and doing music production, and I asked Q– I had had an idea, I was looking at probably like, OutKast or something, and I was like, “If they can do it, we can do it.” So I was like, I asked him [to form a duo]. At first, I had named it Mad Blackmen, but that didn’t come off right. [...] Like, I don’t wanna come up with no corny name or nothing like that so it’s gotta be something that stick. When Q changed the ‘Mad’ in Mad Blackmen to ‘Angry’ and kept the ‘Blackmen’ I was like, that can work, but [it’s] like too in-your-face at the same time. But we were like, we’ll see how it works, see what happens. Really, as soon as we started, it’s always been a “let’s see what happens here”, we just been floating on this magical cloud. [laughs]. 

Q: A magical cloud, yeah. But [Brian] originally came up to me with the idea to do it, I was like, hesitant at first because at the time, there wasn’t a lot of duos. This was coming off of the Chance the Rapper, Chief Keef eras so I was like, “Man, I don’t really wanna…”-- I wasn’t interested like that. But when he said Mad Blackmen, I was like, “I kinda fuck with that.” And I said “Let’s change it to Angry,” because in my opinion, ‘Angry’ just hit more. When he came to me, it was the end of 2016, but we didn’t start it until 2017. I’d had the logo from my solo shit already, so the logo was already there. But it didn’t really make sense to me– like the logo for my solo shit was just kinda– it didn’t make sense. The Angry Blackmen shit, it was kind of like a match made in heaven. That’s the origins, I would say, of the Angry Blackmen shit. We really started getting into that shit around 2017.

S: So, as your group formed and you’re starting to make music, what initially drew you to [the label] Deathbomb Arc, and what kind of role have they played in the development of your group since you started?

Q: That's a good ass question– it’s a damn shame that nobody actually asks that question.

B: You’re the first one!

Q:  So [in] 2017 through 2018, we were pretty much trying to find our sound. A lot of our early work– we wiped a lot of it off the internet, but you can still find songs like “OK”-- it was a different sound. We were really developing over time. The first time I met JPEGMafia, he exposed me to a different world of music, and I thought, “What if we started being more abrasive with our music?” You can really see that first in our track “Riot!”, which was a sample of things to come. We made an EP called “Talkshit!” in the beginning of 2019, but everything before COVID is like, hazy in my head. We put that [out] and it got attention– or, more specifically, the “Riot!” music video got the attention of somebody that was affiliated with Deathbomb– I don’t wanna butcher her name ‘cause she’s a great person. I’ll send you the information about her later on, I can’t remember her name for the life of me right now. She sent the track to Brian from Deathbomb, and that's how he became aware of us. We were just on his radar, and he was too busy with [JPEGMafia] and all of that, so it wasn’t until 2020 we would officially work with Deathbomb with “HEADSHOTS!”, and from there I think that became the modern Angry Blackmen vibe. 2020 and up, anything before that was just the origin.

S: Thank you for that, that was very insightful. Brian, do you have anything else to add to that? 

B: Nah, he really covered the base on that one. We were just really trying to find a name and find a vibe that was like no other, you know, the first thing that’s popping up on your phone is Lil Durk, you know, drill… Then we just started going on our own adventure now, meeting people, and those people turned into more people that turned into people that produce and boom– we doing something on a Khaki Blazer beat, [and] that's what basically turned our sound into what it is today.

Q: That was for a [collaboration], you have to specify that, man!

B: Oh yeah, it was for a Hausu Mountain record label  collab– an artists’ lab. The song’s name is called “Cohen Bros.” if you ever wanna go check it out.

Q: Deathbomb Arc and Hausu Mountain did a collab in 2020 or 2019, but that particular track was the one that influenced us to go down the rabbit hole. 

S: I think I remember seeing that on Bandcamp! From the time before ABM, during your solo careers before the duo, all the way up until the release of your [debut album]-- through all the EPs and such– how have your individual approaches to writing and recording music changed over time?

Q: Ooh, that’s a good one. I would say the biggest change between the EPs and the album– and Brian, you can add onto this– the EPs I treat more like the ‘original trilogy’. It’s more grand and bombastic and more surface-level, while I’d say the album is more of like a reboot. Like a 2010s reboot, like Creed or The Force Awakens, but that was our approach to this album. We wanted to get more personal and more grand. With the EPs and stuff, we’d be together doing that shit. I’d jump in his car and we’d write in like parking lots, Dunkin Donuts parking lots, all over the suburbs. Now, with “The Legend of ABM”, we were separated. We were in two different states.

B: Yeah, really just the– the more the fans came in, you sit on social media and you see what they talk about. It just becomes a big community and you kinda… learn what to think and say to them in the sense of like, songwriting skill. Over the years, we’ve seen the rise come, which is like, we can’t keep sitting here just commercial rapping, you know what I’m saying? Or like, surface-level rapping. I felt like I was just surface level rapping and it really gave me a chance to dive deep and give very comfortable, tasty pockets to the album. I felt comfortable delivering that type of information on top of those melodies, like on the tracks “Magnum Opus” or “Sabotage”.

Q: Yeah, it was definitely more personal, I would say. That was the big difference between the writing process and approach. We knew it was gonna be [on a] bigger scale, like a reboot of our name, something to really reintroduce ourselves. As before, with the EPs and whatnot, we were just putting shit out there. It wasn’t much thought, some of that shit was made like– I wanna say “Reality!” was made in like, 2 months, 3 months tops. “Headshots!” was made pretty quickly too, we had to get everything together and whatnot. “The Legend of ABM” took a year and a half.

S: Do you feel that making the music more personal helped you appeal to a wider audience even though it’s more of your own artistry [in the music] in a sense?

Q: Yeah.. what’s your thoughts on that, Brian? I think so.

B: … Did you say whiter or wider audience?

S: [laughs] Wider, w-i-d-e-r.

B: Oh, I was finna say, whiter– I don’t care what type of audience we got, we spitting to whoever! But appealing to a more mass audience.. I feel like in my case, would be a challenge to appeal to a [larger] audience, because you have to sit down and think about like, “How do I appeal to the age group of 18 to 25?” and then 35 to 45. What can you talk about all in one sentence? I honestly get my best verses from conversations with those people out in the world. You know, going out, working, or going out to an event where you know some people and having conversations help with songwriting and appealing to a larger audience.

Q: Can you repeat the question? I feel like I missed something.

S: Sorry, I just kind of freestyled that one. It was, “How do you feel that making your music a bit more personal helped you find a wider audience?”, especially with the success of your recent album.

Q: Oh! Like Brian said, I think the goal was to get personal, but I don’t think that we set out to have a wider audience. Like, we would hope that it would reach people, we hoped that the bubble was gonna be bigger. That was a goal, but we weren’t like, “Oh, this is gonna appeal to everybody!” There’s no way this was gonna appeal to everybody– look at the cover, and like, “Angry Blackmen” [as a name], that’s already kind of a niche. But if it, like, reaches a wider audience, I wouldn’t be mad about it, and I think that’s what happened with this album. I think it’s getting around a lot more, and people have their own opinions on it. That’s cool, because I’m curious to see how somebody that doesn’t like this feels about it, or didn’t like it before– I’ve seen a lot of people reach out like, “I didn’t really care about y’all, no offense, until I heard this album.”

S: I think embracing yourself and your own artistry– while the intention isn’t to reach a wider audience, it can really help you reach people and connect in a deeper way.

B: I feel like us reaching a wider audience– I was listening to an interview with a couple rappers and they were like, “You really don’t start striking people until you go deeper within yourself,” like, how do you go deep within yourself without burning your character out too much and trying to appeal to a wider fanbase?

Q: Yeah, it’s a balancing act, I would say. You gotta be true to yourself and your morals and still manage to make that accessible. At the end of the day, it is a music business; you’re trying to reach a certain audience to make money, or you know, send a message, whatever one that you personally like. Whether it is to make money or send a message out, it’s a business. It has to fit in that mold. I think we made a choice in the beginning to stay true to ourselves. That’s a really interesting question, because you have to stay true to yourself as much as you can in the music business, because it’s a business. 

S: That makes a lot of sense. Looping back around to the [beginning] of the creation of this record, where did the title ‘The Legend of ABM’ stem from? Did you have any other ideas for titles floating around while creating it?

Q: Damn, that’s a good question. This n—- got questions! (laughs) That’s a good one, because no one asked what the title was before. I don’t think we had one, it was untitled– Brian, was there something you had in mind for this title, or did we just walk in blank to it? I don’t remember.

B: We just walked in blank to it because we were trying to build tracks. The main thing was, we were trying to compile a decent amount of tracks. That was the main goal. After that, we were just like, we can’t just be talking about anything on here. We have to come off like we’re from this urban legend or something like that. We were having talks about that before we even came up with [the title]. It was something that was in our minds for a while and then one day it just clicked, like, The Legend of ABM! 

S: I think the more personal aspects of the album really embody that title and give it deeper meaning.

Q: Yeah, 100%. I want to add onto that because, how Brian said, the themes were there when we were making it but we were sitting in the car today and I was talking about the I Am Legend book, because the book is just so much better than the movie. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Will Smith movie, it’s pretty popular. In the movie, he’s a legend because he sacrificed himself for the people, and it was very Hollywood. In the book, the main character’s a legend because he’s hunting these people– these vampire people– and he finds out they’re sentient, like cognizant of their actions, which is what they don’t show in the movie. I think there’s an other version where they hint at that, but I don’t wanna stray too far [from the topic]. In the book, the guy who’s hunting these vampires finds their colony of just, like, random people and he’s just the boogeyman to them. A legend to them. He doesn’t feel like he fits in this society anymore because he’s been hunting these creatures down thinking that he needs to find a cure, but on the flip side, he’s a relic of the past and they’re the new species, you know what I’m saying? So with the title, we felt like Black men in America were boogeymen, and we wanted to take that aspect for the Legend of ABM. It’s in no way saying we’re legends, like, “Aw, we’re the best!” I think that’s how some people take it, and it’s like, with ‘The Legend of ABM’... If somebody found this 20 years later, they’d listen to it and be like, oh, this is a type of story.

S: With the commitment of this being your debut album, coming off of the quickly-made EPs and whatnot, is there a significant amount of pressure that either of you felt?

B: Hell yeah, boy. I felt some good pressure, then I’d be coming up with verses and Q was like, “This [is our] College Dropout, nah.” Then it’s like, okay, back to the rap. I would literally sit back and stop writing and allow life to happen in order to just– I don’t know, life would happen and then I would just start writing about stuff. I didn’t even leave the state. Q left the state, so he was able to conjure up a lot more things and talk about some great stuff, and I was like, I need to live, I need to experience life like that too. So I started doing that. I kinda put a blindfold on and I was like, if the people like it, cool. If the people hate it, cool. I love making music, so if the people rock with it, I love you. If you don’t, I still love you, ‘cause at least you heard it.

Q: That’s what I’m saying. I be getting a little salty. I be looking at reviews on RateYourMusic and Album of the Year and feeling salty sometimes but then I’m like, at least they’re talking about it. There was pressure, for sure. We wanted to make sure this thing was a great reintroduction, essentially, something that we could be really proud of compared to the EPs. No knock at those, there are some great songs on there that we still perform to this day, but this one, like… We just put a lot into it. It was so much put into it that I wasn’t even focused on the technical side of rapping, I didn’t even want to do crazy flows because I actually had something to talk about and something to get off. Some criticism I saw of the album is that our flows are sort of more traditional or basic, like older hip-hop, but I didn’t want to be all technical and not say anything on there.

S: That actually leads me to a question I was gonna ask later on! A lot of underground or “experimental” hip-hop artists tend to have very opaque lyrics or they express their emotion a lot more through their vocal performances, more like the approach MC Ride takes. Do you feel that you’re able to convey your messages and ideas better with your more traditional approach to rapping?

Q: Yeah, see, I knew it was gonna come up. [laughs] Yeah, ‘cause I’ve seen a lot of reviewers say, “They have an older style of rap,” and I’m like damn! Because we came up in the era of like, Chance the Rapper, J. Cole, Kendrick, Tyler, Mac Miller; these are people that have more of that traditional flow. I know those newer kids– that 2015 [XXXTENTACION], Juice WRLD– that’s the dominant shit, that was the dominant shit at that time. So, how we’re looking at it, you know, it was just more traditional. I think it is easier to be more straightforward and convey messages in my opinion. I wonder what Brian has to say about it. I think that’s why people love Death Grips, I don’t think MC Ride is technically a good rapper, but he gets his point across. He gets the job done. I’m not saying he’s ass, but he gets the job done. Same with JPEGMAFIA, it’s not Kendrick-level rapping but he gets his point across. Out of all those guys, [on a technical level] I think Danny Brown is the best, or even Earl Sweatshirt if you wanna go there.

S: True, I love all the blog-era and SoundCloud rappers both, they always kept the experimentation going in their own separate lanes (and sub-lanes and I think they really helped the underground and mainstream hip-hop scene as a whole.

Q: I got a question for you. You said you were 17 in 2019?

S: 2018.

Q: 2018, so your era was more of the [XXXTENTACION], Juice WRLD era– the SoundCloud era. Do you remember that pretty fondly? I used to hate that shit. At the time, I think I was like 23 or 24, and I was like, “I fucking hate this shit!” Now I love it. I go back to that shit, like Juice WRLD, X, and Ski Mask. That shit hard, we didn’t know what we had.

S: I definitely do remember it fondly, it was something very new to me that I hadn’t explored before, but the first people I were really into were the more avant-garde; Earl Sweatshirt, Odd Future as a whole, A$AP Mob, Flatbush Zombies. At first, I also really hated it but being so young at the time, it captured the energy that I felt in a real, tangible way.

Q: Damn, that’s really cool, man. Like, just the difference in everybody– I know rap is getting a bad rap now, [laughs] rap is getting a bad rap, but rap is getting a lot of critique now because of Yeat and Ice Spice and all this new shit, you know. Everyone was hating on Chief Keef, shitting on Soulja Boy. Now they’re legends.

S: For ‘Legend of ABM’, what were your biggest inspirations in creating it, musically or otherwise? What types of energy did you want to channel the most throughout the project?

Q: Brian, how do you feel about that?

B: Hmm, I remember talking about this on Brooklyn Vegan. The energy that I wanted to channel on there was– what’s the dude’s name from No Country for Old Men?

Q: Anton Chigurh?

B: Yes.

Q: Hell no.

B: I wanted to channel his energy. I had a few energies I wanted to channel. Some Kendrick energy, some No Country for Old Men, I wanted to channel Earl Sweatshirt. I was just, like– it was an amalgamation of a bunch of different things I wanted to get off and carry throughout the album, so I hope I delivered it right. I put my all into it. Listening to OutKast a lot and like, listening to Kendrick, all the artists that Q and Derek would put me onto like Nine Inch Nails and Ho99o9. It was a lot; we was listening to a lot, doing a lot, trying to compact a lot into this project, so we was all over the place with inspirations and influences.

Q: I know Brian had his own set. For me, I was really into Philip K. Dick. He’s a science fiction from Chicago, and he wrote a book– he wrote a bunch of books– but I think his most popular is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which got turned into the movie Blade Runner. At that time, I was really into his shit and watching a lot of science fiction like I Am Legend, Blade Runner, and The Matrix and I think you can hear me… yeah, I mention those quite frequently because that’s what I was really into at that time. That’s a book of my influences.

S: I had a question about the way people label your music. People always seem to try to stamp labels on your music and put any sort of “experimental” hip-hop in a singular box; do you feel that labels such as experimental or industrial hip-hop are reductive or restricting, and would you say you embrace them or reject them as it pertains to your own work?

Q: I used to embrace the shit, but now I’m kinda over it. It seems like everyone that’s doing something different gets compared to Death Grips, I know JPEGMAFIA used to have that same obstacle when he first came out and I would argue he’s even bigger than Death Grips now, so it doesn’t happen as frequently. I used to watch his interviews and, just, MC Ride– I’m like, this dude looks nothing like him. So I think there’s a racial element; if you’re Black making this, you’re always gonna be compared to somebody. I’m sure it happens to white artists too, but it’s not very many “experimental” [Black] artists so everybody gets compared to each other. So at first I embraced it, but now it’s annoying, and I’m like, “We’re not even the same thing!” Like, Death Grips, them n—-s just be shouting sometimes, and no knock at them but we’re actually rapping technically about stuff. It’s like a double-edged sword, ‘cause on the one hand, we are on the same label that helped all these guys– clipping., Death Grips, and JPEG– so I get the comparisons and I like those artists but like I said, and Brian will tell you, he listens to Lil Wayne and shit. He didn’t know what the fuck a Death Grips was until I brought it to him. I found out about them much later, it’s not like I was around in 2011, so it’s not like we attempted to make shit similar to them. It just kind of happened because we fell down the rabbit hole.  JPEG was the first n—- that I found out about, then I went down the rabbit hole and found out about Dalek from the early 2000s, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them. They did an album called From Filthy Tongues of Gods and Griots in 2002, and we actually did two shows with them which was fun. Really great time and really cool dudes. Then you got clipping., Danny Brown, I know I’m missing people– there was this group in the early 2000s called Food for Animals, and I know we get a lot of comparisons to them and I definitely see that. Now that I can see. But the Death Grips shit and getting put in a box– I have a lot to say about this, my bad– but it damn near makes me want to not even venture out for this next album, just because I’m kind of sick of it at this point. Brian, what’s your thoughts, bro?

B: I embrace it because everybody's entitled to their opinion– how they feel, or what they hear and see. So, it's the artist's job to conduct it in a way where it's a target, you know what I'm-- You get it, you get what I mean. I did a good job at you trying to get what I mean, you know what I'm saying? So, you know, I've seen a lot of the Death Grips comparisons and for everybody that keep calling me MC Ride, fuck you. 

Q: It's so ass. 

B: And honestly, I don't want to put us in a box. I don't want to put myself in a box because I could hop on a country song and rap something great, you know what I'm saying? So, we're going to continue to make an album, and the next one may not even be experimental. Who knows? 

Q: I was telling him, bro, like I said, we fell into this shit. We didn't really know anything about Death Grips. You know what I'm saying? Like, if you listen to our early tracks, it sounds nothing like what we're doing today. So the next probably won't even sound like this.

B: I want to say ‘Talkshit!’ sounds more hip-hop than ‘Reality!’ and ‘Headshots!’ or anything. 

Q: ‘Headshots!’ still is a little bit more– I would say– of a traditional hip-hop sound. But definitely ‘Reality!’ and [the album], I could see like, "This is like Death Grips.” I could see that. But at the same time, I think we kind of mastered this style, to be honest. I know there's much more that we could be doing with it. But in my opinion, I think we mastered this to a degree where we can rap on this shit and get our point across. So I feel like for the next album, we might just do something completely different. 

S: I feel like especially in the lane that people tend to put you in, you've separated yourself really well, especially to like a casual listener, just because of the difference in how you approach the actual vocal performance aspect of it. I think the more traditional aspect definitely comes through while still, you know, being a little left-field and still being completely your own. I just always thought that was really cool. 

Q: Thank you. 

B: Thank you, man. 

S: On songs like ‘GRIND’ and ‘FUCK OFF’ from the album, you discuss the pain and suffering that Western capitalist society has brought upon both disenfranchised communities and the world at large. Were there any specific experiences in your life that led you towards anti-capitalist ideology or was it gradual upon seeing the effects of it on society? 

Q: This is a good question. For me, it was gradual. I feel like when you were young, you don't really think like-- you just think it's the way of the world. You think this is what you're supposed to do. But the older you get, it's like you sometimes see this shit. People kind of shame you for being lazy, right? And like, you start really thinking about life and the systems that we're in, and some of that shit is just not fair. You see that people will be done bogus sometimes. And like granted, there are quote-unquote good things about capitalism for sure. Like if you have the good-- if you do cool things, whatever. But in my opinion, I just think in today's society, it's just a lot of bad, and I think that became more apparent to me during COVID. I started seeing that shit. And I was just like, "This is crazy." You're literally seeing people dying over capitalism, everybody freaking out about the fucking stimulus checks. Yeah, that time period really made me think, people fighting over tissue and shit. That shit really made me think, and I got more into it. Even the movies I like, there was a lot of anti-capitalist themes, and they wouldn't be overt because obviously the movies have to make money. You can't just make a movie saying fuck capitalism. It's just, you know, they put [the messages] in there, sprinkle them. And I think of There Will Be Blood. I don't know if you're familiar with that movie. 

S: I am.

Q: Amazing movie by Paul Thomas Anderson. It's very-- I wouldn't say ‘anti-capitalist’, but there's themes of capitalism-versus-religion and family-versus-capitalism. And I mean, the main character, Daniel, is hunting for oil the whole movie trying to get this money. Then by the end, he's [just] by himself, no family, no son. He left his son, his adopted son. He's just there with his money in this mansion. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. So it was like I said, movies like that just really open my eyes to these messages. Just like, I don't know, just something weird about all of this. I think something has to change where people are more comfortable. 

S: With what you said about people fighting during COVID, that was very poignant because it always made me think about what happens when this reaches a fever pitch. If we were able to politicize a pandemic, what's going to happen when it gets real bad if we're already fighting over tissues, you know? 

B: [laughs] It's gon' get horrible.

Q: Yeah, that was a crazy time. Brian, with you and your anti-capitalist shit, you were just tired of working jobs. Like these jobs just make you feel like shit. 

B: Why is it? Dude, I was just finna talk about that as like my part of anti-capitalist shit. I've been bit by the anti-capitalist bug. Going back when we started Angry Blackmen, I was working at Sam's Club, dude. I was a forklift driver at Sam's Club and they laid everybody off. I seen so many old people cry. It was sad. It was a sad day on Earth. They got kids. Like, people didn't know if they were coming or going next week--with bills!-- because it just happened out of nowhere. And a lot of people just, I don't know, after Sam's Club closed down, they opened it back up as an online store. In the community, I've just seen everybody from that store just get spread out. Some went to Walmart, some started online businesses, some work online. So it was really catastrophic to see that. The company did not care. They gave us a three-month warning! How? If you have a house, you have a baby, you have anything going on in your life, you got three months to try to figure it out. 

Q: That's a good fucking... wow, Brian. That's a good idea, I didn't think about that. 

B: They don't, the government, they just-- whoever controls all of this shit, they don't care. And I would like to see what happens to the world once that specific person that controls it dies. 

Q: [laughs] You said a person? It's not just one person. Okay. If it was one person, it would be over quick. 

B: He could be the public's fucking throne. 

Q: Hell nah!

S: There's absolutely no mercy to the casual consumer inside a capitalist society, you know?

Q: 100%. 

S: So, the next question-- I'm going to get back to the actual music in a bit-- is a follow up to the last. Without putting the whole of your political ideology and/or philosophies under one label, how would you describe your respective political leanings and how do you try to channel that into your music in a meaningful way? 

Q: I can't really say, to be honest. I don't know what-- I just, at this point, I'm kind of over putting people in a box like, oh, "You're right wing, you're left wing!” I just-- I was gonna say I'm right-wing in the sense where I just like right shit, like things to be right. I'm not right-wing, like right-wing, but I want shit to be right. I'm a fucking... believe-in-what's-right-wing. That's what I am. I think whatever I feel like, and I feel like whatever there is to do for people should be done. I don't care for this shit because at this point, both of [these sides] are really just corrupt at this point. It's no good side. As much people don't want to admit it, there's good things about both parties for sure. That's the funny part, and nobody will ever admit that. To be forced to choose a political side is just kind of… it's the old guard, in my opinion. In 2024, we don't really need that. We're sticking to like these old traditions to, you know, define what's new. We're living in 2024. Some of that two-party shit just don't work. Like, you know, that shit worked for Rome.  I don't think there's more than-- I think there was two parties in Rome, I'm not sure. But a lot of that [traditional] shit, I just feel like we're past that. We need newer things. People are still holding on to certain religions and not updating them. You know what I'm saying? Not updating what you should do for the modern society. Like, y'all are listening to n—-s that didn't even know dinosaurs existed. So, I don't know. 

S: Even with some neoliberals on the left side, they halt any progress just because they're comfortable with the way things are. Like the people that are like, "Yeah, Joe Biden!"

Q: No, 100%. I guess I don't really care for-- I just believe in doing the right thing. Like, the whole political shit is just dead. Sort of like the buddy that, you know, set himself on fire recently for Palestine. Like, that man was really fed up! He did what he felt was the right thing. You know what I'm saying? He did something. 

S: He was like, “This is what it’s come to.” Like, damn, for that to be your last thought. 

Q: Yeah. I saw that video. 

B: Did he die or not? 

S: Yeah. 

Q: Yeah, he did die. Yeah, he said, you know, he got it from that monk in Vietnam that set himself on fire. It's a famous video, but he did it because he was just tired of the war, man. I'm not trying to go on and rant, but it's so fucked up, because you have a white middle-class kid... Like, for all we know, this dude was just a regular white kid from a suburb. He had a nice life, and now they're trying to spin it like he's mentally ill and doesn't know what he's talking about. It's like, you just can't win. And then you got the internet discourse is like, "Don't say rest in power for white people!" It's like, damn, n----, they got us so trapped. This dude did something noble, and it's really like Black Mirror. We got Black fucking Mirror. Now everybody is like trying to disregard his shit. "He's mentally ill," and, "Don't say rest in power because he's white." It's like, damn, his message though. 

S: It’s a repetitive cycle of just, like, useless discourse.

Q: Yeah. Shit like Black Mirror.

B: I'm sorry, I just feel like, trying to rap and be political-- like, I remember when we first started out, people thought we were supposed to be that and it was like an oxymoron. I was like, "No, you idiots, sit back and listen." We just started! Just wait, you know?

Q: That's a funny point. 

B: They were thirsty for us to have something to say about what's going on around the world. And it's like, what the fuck are we going to do? We're just artists that's going to capture this moment, and then it's just going to be a sound in the store somewhere. It's not going to monumentally change shit like Martin Luther King or Malcolm X, it's not going to change nothing. 

Q: I'm actually watching that series right now. 

B: Really? 

Q: Oh, yeah. It's actually really good that you brought that up. But nah, that's funny that you say that, because there's two [iterations of] Angry Blackmen. There's one before George Floyd, and then there's one after George Floyd. I like to say that Angry Blackmen before George Floyd, we just-- listen to 'Talkshit!', it was just us having fun. Yeah, it'll be some little political shit here and there sometimes. But even with the song 'Riot!', like, for us, that wasn't really political when we made that shit. It was just kinda like us just having-- it was just n----s having fun, essentially! Then in 2020, when 'Headshots!' came out and the George Floyd stuff happened, we kind of embraced that [political] shit. It just took time. Because, like with what Brian said, when we first started... We were trying to be more like Wu Tang and just kinda having fun. But now, you know, Public Enemy, you take influences and little things from them. It was just a process. 

S: So you would say what people consider to be your "political leanings" are just like a distrust and tiredness with the existing system? 

Q: Yeah, I would say that. That's a shortened version. 

S: Right, I definitely hear what you're saying. Like, with 'Talkshit!', it definitely was a lot more casual and a little bit more personal, less about society as a whole. But I do hear it [over time], I hear that development for sure. So, going back to 'The Legend of ABM', there are recurring motifs of existentialism and coping with your own mortality woven throughout the album. What led you to explore these themes more throughout the record. and do you feel that doing so through your art has helped you cope with it in a healthier way? 

Q: Yeah, absolutely. Brian, do you want to take it first or do you want me to go? 

B: Man, everything that I said on [the album], it stemmed from a topic that me and Q came up with before we even started crafting verses, and it was the art of dying. And, you know, we was like, we need to approach this with the fear of "Are we going to be here next year? What's going to happen?" You know what I'm saying? We-- just maxing out on the thought of working a nine-to-five, and then you only got a set amount of years left after that to live your life. You know, if you got kids, oh, you're not going to live your life at all. 

Q: [laughs] I mean, you can. 

B: You can, but it's a certain percentage that's cut off! A nice certain percentage, you know? 

Q: Yeah, I can see what you're saying. Um, we just want to make it count. I think this whole album is death coded. I mean, I almost died making the shit. I was in a car accident. And, um, like Brian said before, we were just kind of-- we wanted to put our all into this because nobody's here forever. Like, fuck, I'm 29 now! I was 27 when we started this. So looking back on it, it's like, I'm glad to be here. The whole album-- especially from my side of things-- was like, "Am I going to be here past 27?" So it's one of those things where you give it your all because you won't be here the next time. And you got to come to terms with that, you know? 

S: Just speaking as a person and not a journalist or whatever, I'm glad you're here. 

Q: Thank you.

S: Another topic explored a fair amount through [the album] alongside the existentialism is mental health, particularly depression, paranoia, anxiety, and addiction, all of which I'm familiar with. How have your struggles with mental health impacted you personally, and do you find music to be like a cathartic way of expressing that and coping with it? 

Q: Yeah. No, yeah. 

B: Honestly, a couple of them verses that I wrote, you know, I teared up because, uh-- Hello? [technical difficulty]

Q: Yeah, I'm here. 

B: Oh, okay. Yeah, um, I actually teared up on quite a few things that I wrote about for the album and just, you know, certain things that just like, cause me to spiral into depression. I talk about those things on the album and, you know, I still go through depression to this day and addiction and stuff like that. I battled it a little bit, and I was able to overcome it. So, you know, Q did the same. It was a couple of things I didn't really talk about that he talked about, you know, just over the phone personally to me. It was just things that I didn't know he was going through that he would write about and I'd just be sitting in the studio like, "Damn, I ain't know he was going through that!" It'd be like a mind blowing movie, just sitting there watching it. I found that getting on stage, man, I feel 10 pounds lighter every time I get off stage because I felt like I gave people my all. I was able to shout, get my aggression out, and give, you know, just all those times I wanted to swing on the person that made me mad or just caused me to go into my depression. You know, I'm able to let those demons out on stage and, I don't know, I feel like the people definitely feel that because they come up to me with their hair blown backwards like, "Bro, that was amazing." And I'll be like, well, I will essentially black out and just enjoy it--

Q: My bad, I didn't mean to cut you off. Are you in Chicago, Steve? 

S: I am, yeah. 

Q: Okay. Yeah. You did say that. My bad, I was thinking about that. We're definitely going to try to play some shows this year there. We haven't done any in a while.

S: I'd be down to cover them! 

B: Wait a minute. I didn't know you was in Chicago, man!

Q: I forgot to tell you that, yeah.

S: I was going to meet up with Formants in person, but we're going to do [the interview] over the phone. 

Q: Oh yeah, definitely talk to Derek (Formants). Yeah, definitely, cause we haven't really talked about production, we've just been more on the writing part, but I just want to add on to that. He really had his own thing going into that, like, we had no effect on his production. I think I might have sent him a couple of ideas. I think maybe 'Atrocity Exhibition' [by Danny Brown], and he was already familiar with Nine Inch Nails. I sent him "The World Went Away"-- a song by them-- but he was already a big fan. But we had really no input in [the production] in that sense, besides 'Magnum Opus'. I co-produced that one. Other than that, that's all Derek, so that'd be a good conversation. 

S: That actually leads me to my next question. You've worked almost exclusively with Formants throughout these last EPs and throughout your album; how did you make that initial connection? What shared aspects of your artistry led you to work with him so much since? 

Q: That's crazy, right? Yeah. We met him in 2020, before COVID, at a basement show. I think Brian is-- I feel like this man is gone [referring to the Zoom meeting]. But yeah, we met him at a basement show. [The show] was just strange, man. It was like a small house, I forgot where. Brian, do you remember where in Illinois? 

B: Yes, it was... ooh-wee. 

Q: Was it Elgin? No.

B: Dude, it was like right outside. It was not too far from Berwyn, I know that. 

Q: I know. It was like a super white suburb, I would say. 

B: Man, what the fuck? It was like 20 minutes from the city. I don't even know. 

Q: Dude, I would probably have to go and look at Wikipedia. I'd probably have to go Instagram and look at the flyer, but it was Blake Saint David, [other artists listed are unintelligible due to audio drop]-- I love them n----s from Minneapolis. And Derek was there at that show. He just came up to us. He was like, "Man, if y'all need anything, y'all are dope, just say what's up," and I'm not really taking him too seriously. Everybody says that shit. We didn't really act on him too fast, because I remember we were like, recording with Blake and doing other things, bro. But, we kind of came to the conclusion that we should make shit with him. The first thing we worked on with him was 'Headshots!'. So we met him at the basement show, he really liked our set, we stayed in contact, and we worked on 'Headshots!'. But, those beats were done by a dude named Gary G. Beats-- I think he's from Boston. We had linked up with him on the internet, but Derek essentially mixed 'Headshots!', and I think he threw in some synths on the title track. But yeah, [production] was all handled by Gary. So, with Derek, that was his first thing working with us. Then we were like, "Man, we should do an EP with him.” That was because I heard some of his solo shit as Formants, and I was kind of impressed. We did the 'Reality!' EP with him, and that's really where-- after 'Reality!', we were just like, “Yeah, we should probably do something full with him.” 

S: So with the Formants production, hearing the more industrial sounds he's offering, is that encouraging you to experiment a little more, you know, vocally or in any way with the music? 

Q: Yeah, that shit pushed n----s to the limits!

S: Was much of the creation of 'Legend' done in-person in traditional sessions or through online collaboration? A little bit of both? 

Q: I want to say-- Brian, you can add on to this. It's a mixture of both, I want to say, because we were writing our shit separately. Then, I would fly out to Chicago. I think I flew out about three times to record this all in all. I want to say it was done in three or four sessions. I think I flew out three times, and we did like two sessions in one visit, so maybe it was four sessions, I don't remember. I would write my shit on my end, and I would talk to Brian on the phone about it. He'd write his shit on his end and we would go to Derek [in Chicago] and record that shit and then still send him ideas. It was a mixture for sure. Brian, do you have anything to add on to that? 

B: Yeah, that's basically what would happen. We would come up with the subject matter over the phone, and then we would spend some weeks, you know, writing and tossing and turning on the beat. Once [Quentin] would come out here, we would tailor it up because he would write things completely from his perspective, and then I'd write my own. We would have to ultimately make it-- we would enter that part in a project where it would be about cohesiveness, so we would have to tailor each other bars to where it's like, okay, you know, this [bar] makes sense here because this flows with what I'm talking about over here. He would do the same thing. That's how we'll come together. And Derek would put his cherry on top, you know, put his suggestions in and it'll just be completely filtered out by then. 

Q: Yeah, it was definitely a three-way collaboration. With all three of us, like nobody really...  I mean, everybody brought something to the table, whereas like-- and I don't know if Brian wants to go against it-- I would say I had more of the creative direction with like, the cover and just kind of the vibe of where the album was going. But, I mean, Brian brought a bunch of shit to the table lyrically and with suggestions and Derek had his own [contributions], like with the production, so it was definitely like a three-way fusion. And then we got the collabs; we got Fatboi Sharif, SKECH185, Abby [From Mars], and Nordra. Everybody brought something to the table. 

[Steve and Brian's speech overlaps momentarily]

B: It just kind of naturally happened with a New York thing, you know, to be real. 

Q: What do you mean? Oh! Oh, shit, we'll go into the collabs later if he was gonna ask that, I see what you're saying though.

B: Yeah, it's just kind of gradually happened because we could have reached out with anybody, as many places as we've been. And I don't know, we just gradually, naturally, gravitated towards them with the sound. 

S: You did mention the collaborations. What was it like working with artists such as Fatboi Sharif and Abby From Mars up on this recent album? Was it a different experience creatively rather than being a self-contained thing, or do you think it allowed you to branch out and explore a little bit more of your own artistry working with other people? 

Q: That last part, for sure. [laughs] I think, with Fatboi Sharif like Brian said, going on to that-- they have their own, like, vibe coming in with the sound.. I don't want to say sound, but moreso the approach of their feature, because they really didn't have any effect on the sound, per se, but like their approach to jumping on the feature. And with Fatboi Sharif, he has such an abstract take when he does shit, you couldn't help but try to mimic or match his style. I think it's more apparent with Brian's verse. His shit really fits Shareef's shit. Like, they both complement each other. I think my shit is still very much how I've been rapping, but I even tried to, you know, bring [his style] on little things. So, he had an effect on all of us. When I originally reached out to him, I was like, "Man, we want you on this track, we got to do something wild." I was like, we got to do some shit that's gonna be true to ourselves, but still allow you into this world-- like a fusion of the worlds. So, shout out to Fatboi Sharif, because he really pushed us. I feel like... Brian, you just don't sound like that nowhere on the album, besides Dead Men Tell No Lies. So, I feel like he really had an influence on us both.

B: Yeah, actually, hearing this part-- I remember just like it was yesterday-- Derek came out with big-ass eyes. He said, "Bro, Fatboi Sharif's shit was crazy!" I was like, wait, huh? And it was a little intimidating, because I was thinking like, I don't know how I'm gonna go up against this man. I don't know, I was crafting and finishing out the final touches in the studio, the verse, and then I just went there. I didn't even know how I was gonna say it, or what I was gonna do. What you get on there is all fresh. It just came out. 

Q: It was really good, man. I think your shit on there was very, like, abstract and to the point. I say abstract because, [with] Fatboi Sharif's shit, his shit is not straightforward. I feel like that's a critique that we get. A lot of our shit is very straightforward. Our lyrics is to the point. It's not like Billy Woods and Armand Hammer where their shit's like, eclectic, and you gotta kind of decode their shit, like, "What does he mean by that?" But Fatboi Sharif is like that, like, he's like one of those dudes you gotta kind of listen to. I think when you hear Brian's verse on Dead Man Tell No Lies, like I said, it seems like he really complements that. You got inspired by, like-- I feel like my shit's still the same on there, I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. I don't know. But it's interesting, that collab is interesting.

S: With those collabs out of the way, and the first album done: As you move forward, who would some of your "dream" collaborations be, and who do you have plans to work with in the future? 

Q: Oh, also shout out to Nordra, Abby from Mars, and SKECH185, talking about collabs, because they all brought something different. Before I go into who I want to collab with, I just want to shout them out because, man, Abby made that Magnum Opus shit just crazy. They all brought their A-game. SKECH, super lyrical. Nordra, super dreamy. Shout out to them n----s, man, they really made that. I see a lot of people love the last half of the album, and that has most of the features, and I just think they really elevated that shit. But as for dream collabs, I'm going to say Danny Brown or JPEGMAFIA. 

B: I would say Earl Sweatshirt for me. I would, like-- that would be an epic battle on the mic. 

S: Earl Sweatshirt definitely has that opaque quality to his lyrics and delivery and whatnot that I think you complemented with Fatboi Sharif, so that would be a really interesting collaboration. I think you would complement each other really well, especially Danny Brown and JPEGMafia too. So, this is my last question for you. It's a personal one-- well, not personal, but a very subjective one. Every artist defines success differently. What do you define success as for yourselves, and do you feel you've reached that point? 

Q: Oh, that is like a really good fucking-- Man, Steve, you got the questions, bro. Shout out for the interview. I don't think personally I'm there yet. I definitely want more for Angry Blackmen. It's cool to see where we've come from, and it's weird because [with] defining success, it always changes. Like when we first started this, I would have loved this. What we have right now, I would have loved this, like for Fantano to shout us out and a Pitchfork review, and I ain't gonna say what else we got in the works, but it's pretty big shows coming up. I would have loved this when I was like 20-- whenever we started [ABM], 22, 23. I was 23, so Brian, you were like 20. Steve, maybe you're 20 or 21, but we were in our early 20s, and I think we would have loved this. So that changes, and now I want more. 29-year-old Quentin wants more than 22-year-old Quentin, and then 35-year-old Quentin is gonna want more than 29-year-old Quentin. It's always changing-- the success thing-- and whatever happens, I'm not gonna let it just define my character. I'm gonna just roll with the punches. I'm gonna just stay true to me, because at the end of the day, all this shit don't really matter. You know what I'm saying? It's like who you are at the end to all this. So I don't know. That's a good-ass question. Yeah, I just want to be happy at the end of the day, success or not. You gotta be happy with what you're doing, because it's like, we could be at the Grammys and not be happy. Make your little ass albums and be happy. Being on Pitchfork was cool for me. That made me happy, you know what I'm saying? So it's really what makes you happy. Like I said, you could be at the Grammys and it don't make you happy, because it's fucking bullshit. You could be like Macklemore texting Kendrick, "I'm sorry I won, bro!" I don't know. 

B: Just looking at all the publications when I was younger, and now our face and name is plastered across the screen... It do get surreal, but then reality hits. Then I'm just like, okay, you still gotta pay bills, still gotta live day to day. You still gotta make it some way, shape, or form. We're still building on this company, what we're embarking on. I don't know, man. You've been asking some really great ass questions tonight, so, shout out to you. 

Q: Yeah, thank you so much. Honestly, this is how bothered by the anti-capitalist shit I am, because I can't even say it's a fucking company. It's a journey at this point, bro. That word company, I just can't really co-sign that shit. I feel like we've been building on this journey, you know what I'm saying? Because like--

B: It has felt like a journey, but it's just like the... It felt like a journey when we were younger doing it. Then when it gets to the business side of things, it feels like, "Oh, they're just trying to turn this into a company."

Q: In a sense. Yeah, it's like.. I don't really know. 

B: Now we just-- we went from like, just worrying about rap, to now we're here trying to focus on more paper and contracts and all of that stuff. It's really just been getting more complex. And it still feels like a lovely adventure, you know, but at the same time, the companies will still try to turn you into a cash cow. It's up to you to not even see yourself as that. 

Q: The best part to add on what Brian said-- like I'm a huge anime fan. And the best part, I could say... Are you familiar with anime? Like, do you watch it? 

S: Yeah, quite a bit. 

Q: Okay. One of my favorites is Fullmetal Alchemist. I don't know if you've seen it. You have Brotherhood in particular, and I'm trying to tie it into this because Ed goes on the journey where he wants the Philosopher's Stone. And, you know, he wants to get his brother's body back, and he wants to do all these things. He starts the series thinking alchemy is the best shit ever. Like, this n---- is reliant on it. He ends the series– he gives up his alchemy and realizes, you know, it's the people around him in the journey, you know what I'm saying? And I think that series is like one of the best examples of that without being too corny. A lot of series make that shit corny. I always like applaud that series for naturally coming to that, you know, conclusion. I think that's a lot of people's shit. Like you really want that shit. And then when you get it, it's like, damn, it was actually the journey that was the best part. Because like I said, we're doing some pretty cool shows this year, and going to some pretty cool places. I'm excited about it, but the journey to it was more interesting than probably actually playing that shit. 

S: That's really insightful. Thank you for that. That pretty much wraps it up on my end, is there anything else that either of you want to mention or add to the conversation?

Q: I think I said what I said. Now, um, yeah, I don't really got nothing to add. Brian, do you have anything? 

B: An extraordinary journey for extraordinary gentlemen. That's all.

Stream the debut album from Angry Blackmen, ‘The Legend of ABM’, available on all streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal. The duo also have a number of upcoming shows, the next two both in their hometown of Chicago: the first on June 9th at Chop Shop, and the second on July 19th at the 2024 Pitchfork Music Festival. For our Dutch readers, check them out at Le Guess Who? in Utrecht on November 7th.

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