Ness ‘EYE2025’: Rapper ‘Zones Out’ on Futuristic, New Collection
- by Keith Murphy
The description that’s getting bandied about for Ness’ ‘EYE2025’ EP is “a hip-hop ‘Clockwork Orange.'” The late prolific filmmaker Stanley Kubrick would have never imagined that his brilliantly warped, violent, dark and dystopian view of the future would be the unofficial template for such a challenging musical project. But Ness, a member of the politically minded duo A-Alikes — high-profile affiliates of the Dead Prez-led outfit People Army/RBGs — is all about defying expectations. Available now, ‘EYE2025’ is a psychedelic, genre-hopping release that mixes hardcore hip-hop, ’80s electro-pop, rock, funk and ’70s analog sounds.
Longtime fans of the A-Alikes expecting something of the order of their 2006 underground classic ‘I Eat, You Eat’ will no doubt be taken aback by the experimental tone of ‘EYE2025.’ But for Ness, it all makes sense. “It’s basically about being free,” says Ness, who hooked up with The BoomBox recently to discuss his bold new set, the future of the A-Alikes, his early days with Dead Prez and the respect Jay-Z and Kanye West have for his work. “Whatever sound inspires me to write — I’m not just going to stay in a box and say, ‘Nah, that’s too weird,” he says. “I’m going to just make music.” Spoken like a true rebel.
As a member of A-Alikes, you are usually involved in more political and socially conscious releases. ‘EYE2025’ has a more conceptual, experimental tone. How did it come about?
It started with me doing a movie soundtrack about a year and half ago. I was talking with film director Paul Biedrzycki about doing the soundtrack for a movie set in the near future. Something that’s tangible, something we can deal with. Not like a ‘Star Wars‘ or something like that [laughs]. Being a musician, I wanted to do the score for it. But it ended up rolling into this ‘EYE2025’ project. The script is on hold, but I moved forward on it in terms of making music. But the actual concept of ‘EYE2025’ is still based in the future. There’s poverty and [political, social and technological] strife. Very conceptual.
Structurally, that had to be different, right?
It was very different. You know, A-Alikes is usually rooted in right-now, street and political day-to-do experience. But this project is saying imagine you as a person still having your politics and worldview, but let’s give it a different perspective. Imagine where the world is going to be years from now. Imagine how music is going to sound and where people’s heads are going to be at and paint that picture.
Was there any particular movie score that you listened to for musical inspiration?
I was listening to scores from certain movies like ‘Blade Runner.’ I was trying to imagine what sonically would we be listening to years from now. And politically how would that also come off, content-wise. With the A-Alikes, doing what we have been doing for years, I felt the political climate getting more intense. I think hip-hop reflects that. But you have to keep it from being a niche thing. That’s what ‘EYE2025’ is all about. The content is a lot more general. It’s some next s—. It’s not just straight-up boom-bap. There are elements of electronic, pop and rock music. You can hear different genres in the music.
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