Last time I chronicled my journey around Beijing to find and purchase a dope mic and preamp...
well Monday afternoon after I finished everything else I had to do, I copped a mic stand and went IN!!!! Lyrics, samples, everything all done in one day and it turned out DOPE
co-starring Philip Lee and Sam Weatherford on the vocal samples...
and much respect to Just Blaze for the beat and Jay Electronica for SLAYING the original song...
download the MP3 at http://thesixtyone.com/grandmaster/
[Vocal Sample Intro]
I'm splitting atoms by spittin at em with written language
got the scriptures so vision vivid from different angles
catch the minds of imprisoned prisoners
movin roman senators even Trojan men at war
couldn't fathom the epic message that we bring to you
from the streets of new York to the sands of Malibu
got the gift of prophecy so my talent is the truth
it's biblical reality I'm spittin in the booth
and its nonfiction so I ain't fixed on fictions
no tales of cocaine or life in prison
...that ain't a diss to nobody's art
I just had a choice to make and i went smart
got knowledge in my head and my heart
and my hands and my feet on the path thru the dark
got my brothers all around me they sharp with the darts
we speak like lightning, thunder, sparks
(Tell em who you be) Grand Master in the house
Came in the game, ain't nobody throw me out
(Tell em where you go) I'm on the path
Did the math, it's my time now
No Sean John, no Sean Paul
when it comes to raps, I'm more John Paul
with the bars I'm apostle Paul
Gospel scrawled on high school walls
when hell freezes like bboy stance
I saw the Christ come down and give mad daps,
razing hell of the hellraisers
i'm like 8 mile meets wildstyle meets Brooke Fraser
[haha] now I'm wildin a bit
At the home studio got the mic in my crib
got the ESV on my hip plus the two-tone
black and white paint colors on the whip.
car twenty years old, it can almost drink,
ever since I seen the light I done start to think
...flashes comin faster now
My passion written in the sweat of my brow...
[Phil sample - outro]
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Last time I chronicled my journey around Beijing to find and purchase a dope mic and preamp...
Sunday, November 21, 2010
After my trip thru the states I hit Beijing hyped up to take grand master to the next level. But determination must inevitably face trials if it is to be refined... that's why we say, Hiphop and you don't stop! So it came as no surprise that my perseverance was tested soon after I returned to the Beijing hood...
Last Sunday afternoon, three days after I returned to China, my producer hit me with a text letting me know that he had a new job and needed the mic setup I'd been borrowing from him (BIG thanks bent!!)... So my home studio was disappearing :/
This setback could have slowed the movement down... But no, we kept it hopping! Monday night I chopped it up with my Model Minority brother D-One a/k/a David Fung and benefited from his research and thought, then spent a couple of hours on Google hitting up the audiophile and recording gear message boards! A lot of good options came out of the woodwork, but in the end I know that I wanted something (a) reliable (b) within my budget and (c) that I could find and get set up ASAP to continue making that good music (no kanye west [but sometimes i wish i were])!
After doin the groundwork online, I hollered at my church buddy JOSH ONG who majored in music and runs the music teams for one of the church locations in town, I knew that he would have the hookup! And he did, he had a place that he usually goes to cop gear... right near the church location, actually. And even going above and beyond, the man offered to come hang out with me Sunday afternoon and walk around to see what might be available.
When I linked with Josh at the Zhongguancun subway station, I knew exactly what I was looking for... throughout the week, I went back and forth on what I wanted to cop and how much loot I wanted to drop on it - my thoughts ranged from a super basic entry-level setup for around $100 total, to a super advanced setup that would run me around $600 (in the US where electronics are cheaper... even though they're all made in China anyways, smh).
I finally settled on a top-quality vocal mic, the Rode NT1A ($230 MSRP, only one level down from the $800 Rode NT2A adjustable mics I bought for my college studio at Yale) and a slightly cheaper preamp/audio control interface, the M-audio Mobilepre ($150 MSRP for an OK preamp but most importantly, an audio => USB interface).
Of course, knowing what I wanted and finding it could be two COMPLETELY different things. After all, in China, brand names are not only often misrepresented, but viewed as even interchangeable. Not to mention, the quality of equipment that I was looking for - in terms of reliability and brand recognition - was a cut above what you usually find in China, super local brands like ISK and Takstar. Not bad, but not something I would be wanting to use 10 years from now.... whereas, decades from now the Rode could still pull its weight.
Right around the ZGC subway station lie several large electronics markets... I'm talking multiple buildings, multiple floors, all crammed with tiny booths and slightly larger but equally transient retail layouts, 20 service workers all trying to pull you towards their shops as soon as you set foot on the floor, etc. You might have one modestly sized store selling Sennheiser headphones (super high quality, my favorite brand) right next to a tiny booth jam-packed with low-quality karaoke equipment and unbranded webcams, mouse pads, USB gadgets etc. I really wasn't looking to roll dolo through this environment so I was really happy Josh came through with me...
Anyways we linked up and walked in and asked one of the first market workers we saw where we could buy a 麦克风 (microphone), and she said 3rd floor so we walked up to the 3rd floor and saw nothing... i'm talking super simple joints, even the few microphones were the local ISK brand junk (OK for a podcast, something like that, but nothing even touching pro quality!) but that was just in the front of the floor. The more pro-level shops are in the back: with no impulse buys in stock, they don't need all that foot traffic and they can have a quieter and more professional atmosphere for buyers looking to drop more than a couple hundred RMB (~20 bucks) on simple gadgets.
Walking back, Josh and I were approached by another persistent worker, trying to draw us into his store... well we weren't going to have it but I just said "you guys got microphones?" to the worker and he said yeah, plus the store looked on the up-and-up and large enough to have good 关系 (connections) with suppliers large enough to stock good brand names. So we went in and he had me write out exactly the model numbers of what I was looking for, then went running around to various stockrooms pulling out exactly what I wanted.
Eventually they had everything I wanted out there... the Rode NT1A package with pop filter and shock mount, plus the Mobilepre preamp/Audio interface package. Haha, the salesman even asked me BOTH TIMES about the price like "are you sure you want this one? 这种有点儿贵" (This kind's a little expensive). But I told him I knew what I needed, and I was willing to pay for the quality.
But remember I said that things usually cost more in China?? Because of taxes and general shadiness on the part of foreign brands, etc. So they were asking 1850 RMB ($278) for a $230 mic package and 1380 RMB ($208) for a $100-150 preamp... ummm not cool. But with the equipment lying right in front of me, in good condition, I felt like making my move. After all, time was burning and the sooner I got my new studio setup done the better, right?? So I put my 8 semesters of Mandarin into play and bargained/cajoled the worker into hitting me with both for 3000 RMB total = 450 USD. NOT CHEAP but not expensive either, especially given how shipping the two from the US would have cost > $80 plus potentially taken weeks! AND having to go collect the package at some post office, plus the possibility of its breaking en route.
And you know the way I knew it was a decent price, the salesman wasn't happy with me after we sealed the deal! When we walked in talking about buying a high-level mic they were all getting us seats and bringing us hot water... but you know, if the staff is smiling at you and acting happy once you put the cash on the table, you did NOT hold up your end of the bargaining in this town!
We wrapped up the interface and mic in plastic bags, and i transported them back on the subway... soon you'll get a chance to hear how that new home studio sounds! By my estimates I'm thinking 10-20x the vocal audio quality.....
BONUS FOOTAGE: I hung out with China's #1 hiphop DJ, 3x national DMC champion DJ Wordy this last week... kickin it in the studio, building on the musical level, and killing Nazi zombies in CoD! I got some footage of Wordy mashing-up, mixing, and scratching for me!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Thanks to my 妹妹 Kiki we have a shot of D-One and me during our recent MV shoot this past weekend in 五道口... this one goes out to every 留学生 who has passed thru BLCU, PKU, Tsinghua, or anywhere in Haidian!
Please believe me when I say that this video + single is going to be MAJOR and I hope that a lot of people enjoy seeing some familiar sights! We were out all afternoon in pretty much 0 degree Celsius weather but it was worth it!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
During my recent trip to NYC I had the privilege of linking up with the big homey DALLAS PENN of dallaspenn.com, XXLmag.com, and iNternetscelebrities.com fame. We've built in the past for various sneaker- and blog-related activities, not to mention exchanging kicks and the like, so when I was in town for about 20 hours last Tuesday, I knew I had to connect to the homey if at all possible!
We broke bread on 8th and Broadway at the famous Cozy Soup n' Burger, where we even got to spend some time talkin g with COZY'S SON, born and raised in the spot! With me moving forward in my rap career, I needed input and feedback and Dallas was quick to oblige. And you know we had to hit off the internets to say what up...
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I arrived at Beijing's Capital International Airport at 4:30 this evening... grabbed my bag and took the airport rail line back home... hit church to link up with my Embassy fam, then went home...
And what did I do there???
Forget going to sleep, D-One was jumping on a track so you know we HAD TO GO IN!
Check it out... Black & yellow... for our people worldwide:
and download the MP3 at http://grandmaster.bandcamp.com/
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Most of you probably know, I was living in New Haven for 6 years total... 4 as an undergrad at Yale and then 2 years on-campus working as staff for the same student congregation (UCW) that I attended during my undergrad years. During those 6 years, because of mad friendships and also my awesome UCW friends, I got super linked into the Yale Korean community especially the KASY (Korean-American Students at Yale) crowd... I'm talking about showing up to KASY events and knowing 80% of the people there, running into people randomly on W 34th in NYC, shopping in Soho, etc. etc.
One of the dope events that KASY puts on every year for the community is "Adopted Friends," they invite any local families that have adopted Korean children to come and have their kids (ALL their kids, not just the adopted children) come and learn about their home culture. Food, clothes, taekwondo, all that kind of thing. I remember MAD families used to come through - I even saw my advisor (i knew him all 4 years, philosophy professor, director of undergraduate studies, etc.) and his wife and two kids there one or two years in a row!
Well Asian media, especially Korean media, loves Yale! So this year my homegirl SARAH PARK was KASY social chair and so she put together Adopted Friends... and it was a huge success!! So big that they covered it in KOREA DAILY, based in Long Island... way to go Sparky!!
I see you! Miriam, Paul, EK, Eliot, Mindy, Esther, James, etc.! Hahahaha.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Just woke up at my parents' house in Delaware... after a whirlwind trip through the northeast, hitting New York, New Haven, and a wedding in Pennsylvania (congratulations to Justin and Kelly!!).
It's been good to be on the road, getting some space from Beijing and the day-to-day rush there. I've been constantly busy while traveling; but in a different way than I am while I'm grinding in Beijing... I haven't really been able to rest, but I've been getting a chance to refocus and recharge. In a lot of ways, the places I've been visiting are the places where I got my passion to do what I do: writing, thinking, rapping, recording, and serving others.
All of these passions involved going out, moving forward, going to new places and sharing my life with new people. But in order to move forward, you have to know where you are.
They say you can't go home again, and it's definitely true. New Haven, as much as I feel confident and comfortable there, isn't home anymore; and neither is my parents' house, which I haven't really lived in since I was 18. But you can go back to places that once were home, and remember why and how you were sent out from them. Maybe that's just as good.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Yo internets fam!!
Another week and we still keep it rolling onwards!
Another video shot and edited in BEIJING by D-One! Two tracks off my upcoming mixtape re-release, Grand Master Vol. 1: American Dream, Chinese Hero (美国梦想，中国英雄). Watch it and you'll see: even when we're eating (饺子), we're still spitting like we're hungry!
Connect with my facebook artist page for the latest updates on music, videos, and shows.
More videos and mixtapes dropping throughout December and January!
Monday, November 1, 2010
Yesterday when I was hanging out in New Haven with my old roommate Ray, we decided to hit up East Rock for the sunset overlooking the city. Thinking back on my years here I thought I'd spit my first verse EVER recorded for yall! Peace!
First off, thanks to everyone who's always supported my music... even when I was super wack and just figuring out this emceeing thing!
And thanks also to the new fans. I won't ever call anyone out on sleeping on me, I'm happy that more people are in on the movement!
This is the first cut off D-One and my duo mixtape: Model Minority presents... The Model Minority Report.
I'd appreciate it if you Like my facebook artist page
and I've been twittering more and more, so hit that too.
More to come! Much more!