Home > Around Town > Andromeda unleash the ambitious Blue Collar Music
Andromeda unleash the ambitious Blue Collar Music
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
D.J. Polaris and Brainstorm, the production guru and emcee (respectively) that make up the hip hop duo Andromeda, were friends long before they started making music together in high school. They honed their skills while they were both students at Howard University in Washington D.C., putting out two cassette-only releases under the name Original School. In 2000, they changed their name to Andromeda. “We really started out as producers for a group of 10 emcees,” says D.J. Polaris. “We always recognized our mutual interest in learning, music and humor, so after some went in different directions, we had this love and respect left for hip-hop culture and music.”
So they formed Andromeda, taking their inspiration from the political, socially conscious rap groups of the late 80s/early 90s, like Eric B. & Rakin and KRS-One.
Blue Collar Music is the latest release from the duo, their second full-length as Andromeda after The Need (2004). Blue Collar Music is a strong, ambitious CD that thematically attempts to explore the dynamic between the black worker of today and slavery as it was practiced in America up through the late 1800s, and musically reasserts sampling as an art form. “We were raised in an era when it was okay to have just ‘a funky bassline and a hype loop,’” writes Polaris on the group’s myspace page. “We decided to prove that you can still make a quality album with just the bare essentials of loops and drums.”
Fort Wayne Reader: Describe the early days when you were just getting started and when you guys felt like you first made an impact.
Brainstorm: Although it was hard for two broke college students to afford music equipment, we had a lot of help from friends and family. My older brother Todd bought our first keyboard and several friends gave us their equipment to use as long as we needed. Others who had studio access blessed us with free studio time. Andromeda has always been a collaborative effort that transcends the two group members.
We made a major impact when we released our first CD in 2001. Although it was only a 5-song Maxi-Single, we began getting more exposure by performing about 2-3 times per week, as well as speaking engagements in schools and youth centers. During that time we also had our first internet webpage which garnered us some international attention.
DJ Polaris : Our early days were truly in hip-hop fashion – the use of scraps! We used everybody's equipment who didn't have the "know-how," so they gave it to us to make music with. I believe our impact came when we helped our community with poetry ciphers, parties, the 'Spittin' Bullets' mix-tape series.
FWR : Were you pleased with the reception your earlier releases received?
Brainstorm : Yes, very pleased. Our fan base loves what we do and they inspire us to continue doing what we do even when we may get a little discouraged.
DJ Polaris: Yes and no. Yes, from our own community. No, from outsiders who were mad we were trying to wake-up black people to what's really the truth. Strange, but true!
FWR: How long have you been working on the new album? Where have you been recording and who is doing the production?
Brainstorm : We've been working on the new album a little over a year. We do all our own production and record in our own studio. We are definitely a self-contained unit.
DJ Polaris : We had various issues with outside projects and our studio got struck by lightning so we lost some time repairing our studio.
FWR: What are the goals that you have set for Andromeda - both short term and long term?
Brainstorm : Our number one goal is to remain independent so that we can make the music we wanna make and address the issues we feel the need to address.
DJ Polaris : Short term: destroy wack emcees and DJ's. We have to rid our culture of its problems, blemishes and people who want to water our culture down, then we can go back to work building a future. Long term: remain independent!
FWR: What do you think of the music scene in general and the hip hop scene specifically?
Brainstorm : Honestly, the local music scene is a lot like the entire music industry. There a few groups who are over-exposed, including Andromeda at times, while other groups who are not as connected or not wiling to conform to a certain set of principles or politics, which have nothing to do with good music, suffer from lack of exposure. Hip-Hop itself is stagnant on one end because too many artists are afraid to be themselves or invest in their own art or music, while on the other end it is thriving, because technology has made it feasible to put out industry-quality material without having a record deal. The sad part is many limited artists are taking advantage of these opportunities and gaining mainstream notoriety, while many more-talented artists are waiting on someone to give them a record deal or invest in their dream. In this day, the access to quality music is at its highest point, but the listening public does not use the resources at their disposal — newspapers, magazines, internet, and satellite radio — to seek-out a more diverse musical selection. Good music is available, you just have to look for it and support it when you find.
DJ Polaris: The music scene is pretty much the same as when it started. Labels vs. Artist. Main difference is now you don't have to be a slave. There's plenty of ways to stay independent by using the internet, or even going back to the first record deal ... selling out the trunk! If you want to get paid well, being independent is for you because you are your own ally and your own worst enemy … your level of success is up to you! Hip-hop culture is not dead but we are thoroughly exploited much like the entire black community. We have to gain something for ourselves before we try to share our few crumbs with other communities (white or others). Before we have our own bread, we break and feed our people first, then allow others to come eat if we feel it's the right thing to do.