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Interview: Beatbox Mastermind Rahzel Tells Us How to Master Our Anatomy

**CW: I hear you’ve been spending lots of time in the studio?**
Yeah. That’s tedious. You gotta spend a lot of time in the studio sitting there. It’s just crazy. **What have you been working on?**
Just been working on this project: Greatest Knockouts Volume 2. Trying to get it together. It’s been one of those summers—where you wish could be out on the road, but gotta be in the studio. **So, the studio is a pain?**
It’s not a lot of fun for me. I like the live performance. Just traveling around. That’s what I like to do. The studio part is good, but after a while it starts to get a little crazy. **How many different producers you work with on this one?** Four or five. It’s crazy. They try to get the right sound. And you go back and fourth. And, it’s crazy. **Well. You’re on the road pretty soon with the Asia tour.**
I'm excited. I’m so excited. Hopefully, the kids in Beijing will get to see the art of noyze, you know? **What can we expect from the show at Bling?**
A good time. Witness some real hip-hop. **What surprised you about China when you were here with The Roots?**
So many people. There are a lot of people. You see it on TV, but when you’re actually there, it’s a different experience. But this time, instead of being confined, rolling with a group of people—hopefully, this time, I’ll be able to move around. **What do you want to do?**
See the Great Wall. Hopefully take in a couple of sites. **When I looked you up on Wikipedia, the entry said you had recently died when doctors tried to remove a drum machine from your trachea …**
Ha. Yeah. I’ve been getting a few calls about that, but it's false information. **You've been doing a lot with Mike Patton. Do you two have a collaborative album on the wing?**
We’ve been kicking that idea around. He’s a busy guy. I’m working on a project now though that I’m putting out through his independent label, coming out on [Ipecac](http://www.ipecac.com/). So, we’re both excited about that. **Is he as weird of a dude as he seems?** That’s a façade he puts on. He’s really a cool dude. He’s a really humble guy. He likes to learn different things. When we first started to collaborate he was asking me a lot of questions about different techniques for producing different sounds and stuff. He’s not as insane as people think he is. **Is it difficult to teach the people to make the sounds you make?**
Nothing’s difficult, you know. ‘Cause it’s your own anatomy—that’s your own instrument. So, you just have to learn how to manipulate your own instrument. That’s all it is. Everybody’s totally different though. Like me and Scatch (also formerly of The Roots). Scratch is a little dude. So, there are certain things on the high end he does that I don’t do. And there are certain things on the low end that I do that he doesn’t. It’s like the Fat Boys and Doug E. Fresh. It’s anatomy. You learn your vocal ability and learn how to manipulate. **What’s the longest you’ve ever worked on mastering a sound?**
It’s ongoing. Everything is always in production. It’s a language that you never get the full comprehension of everything because there’s always something that you didn’t know. Everyday, I continue to listen, be open and manipulate my abilities. **You’ve started doing stuff for kids with Nickelodeon, Yo Gaba Gaba?**
Yeah. So, that’s my newest venture. You know, the way music is, especially in America—it’s hard to dictate where you want your music to go. So, I came up with a solution, like, okay, when was I inspired to do what I do? I was very young. Probably between 6 and 8 years old. So, for me, that’s a great way to start—with kids at a young age. They have an ability to absorb more information than an adult. So, that’s been my new venture, my new strategy, my new target. **Is there anything in Volume 2 coming out that reflects how your experience working with kids has opened you up to new possibilities?**
With Volume 2, that’s another side of me. I’m doing more writing on this CD. You know, I’ve always been one of those artists that multitasks, so on this one, I’m doing a little more writing. There’s more creativity with the writing. And, there’s beatboxing on there, solo acapellas and stuff like that. I’ve got some live instrumentation with Supernatural. But you know, I went a little more in depth with the creativity in the lyricism. Just to open up people’s minds, you can’t put yourself in a box as an artist. As an artist, you have the ability to do different things, so you’ve got to push the envelope everytime. A lot of this stuff goes over peoples’ heads because they focus on one thing. Most people will focus on “If You’re Mother Only Knew” without knowing that I wrote the whole album and produced a lot on the album. So, I want to push that envelope again. **You’ve collaborated with a lot of people, Ben Harper, Bootsie Collins, The Roots ... Who's the next you want to work with?**
Michael Jackson, man! I’m so upset. I'm still so upset. That was the dream. **Can you teach us how to make a good bass beat sound?**
You, mean how to get the low end? **Yeah.**
See, the art of it is low-end theory. So, what you want to try to do is get as much bass as possible. It’s a sub culture of the low-end theory. If you listen to Afrika Bambaataa. A lot of producers believe in the low-end theory. And what I mean is that the resonance of your kick drum and the resonance of your bass is an octave, or a few octaves lower, than the average bass. It’s really hard to do that over the phone. You’re not going to hear it. A lot of it comes from the hum factor. In the beginning, you’ve got to hum. There’s many chants—the Tuvian singers … You know, where they do the multi-layers? It’s like that where you get this resonance with the bass, but it has more of an urban feel. But to actually understand what I’m talking about. If you got a drum machine, the Roland 808, that’s what you want to duplicate, those low end sounds. **Speaking of Tuvian throat singers. Mongolian throat singers are doing well. You should connect with them while you’re here.**
Yeah ... Well, I’m super duper excited now. I learned very young from Afrika Bambata, you've got to be open to new experiences, and that’s what creates longevity. That’s been on my wish list—to do a record with Tuvian throat singers. **Well, maybe it’ll get started when you hit Beijing at Bling on Friday..** ###DETAILS [Rahzel at Bling, Friday, November 20, 10pm, RMB100](http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/beijing/events/53704/?most_viewed=1)

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