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Artist Of The Week – Core Rhythm
Monday, July 24, 2006

Core Rhythm, whose real name is Mtume Gant, is already well known as an actor. His credits include Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power and HBO’s hit television series Oz. Lately, however, he has become more known as Core Rhythm, super emcee. A native New Yorker hailing from uptown, Core's been a mainstay in the city’s underground scene. He has shared stages with the likes of Wordsworth and Breez Evahflowin and collaborated with artist such as GrandMixer DXT and Baba Israel. All of this has lead to the release of Core’s first full length album, Nat Turner Reloaded, an album he calls "a new form of sonic protest." Fresh off the heels of his album’s release I sat down with this fascinating individual to get to the core of Core.

Adam Bernard: First things first, when did your love affair with Hip-Hop start and how did it develop?
Core Rhythm: Growing up in NYC Hip-Hop’s been a part of me since jump. I remember my mom had a vinyl of Doug E Fresh’s “The Show” and I was obsessed with it, I played it all the time on her little turntable. I couldn’t have been any older then four or five years of age. I loved seeing graffiti on trains even though I wasn’t old enough to understand its significance. I watched movies like Beat Street and Breakin over and over again and shows like Yo MTV Raps and Rap City were viewing rituals for me. By the time I was like eight or nine I was bumpin everything from LL Cool J to Public Enemy to Kid-n-Play, but it wasn’t until around ‘93 when Wu-Tang’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) dropped that I was like “Yo I wanna rap.” Them droppin’ completely changed my life. I was 13 at the time so I was looking for something to attach myself to and these cats had it all in my eyes, they were like superheroes to me, I was like move over Batman, make way for the GZA! At around 14 I started writing rhymes, freestylin’ a bit, and by the time I was 16 it was a functioning part of my life.

Adam Bernard: Out of all the elements of Hip-Hop why did MCing appeal to you most?
Core Rhythm: There are a couple of factors with that, one was just economics. As a kid I always wanted to get turntables and beat machines, but just didn’t have the bread until I was older. Emceeing you didn’t need any funds, just your person. Another factor was because I was good at it, it kinda came naturally to me. But probably the biggest reason was because when I started spittin’ (93/94) Hip-Hop had become very emcee oriented. Emcee’s at that point were just so dominant personality wise, heads like Ice Cube, Nas, Wu Tang, O.C., Jeru the Damaja, even cats I didn’t feel as much such as Tupac or Biggie, had so much charisma, were such rebels of form that one could not help but want to have a similar aura attached to their persona. It felt like it was as close to being superhuman as you could get. Actually I still feel that way.

Adam Bernard: Talk to me about your album, Nat Turner Reloaded. How’d you come up with the title and how does it relate to the album’s content?
Core Rhythm: Part of my background is in experimental/political theatre. I was heavily into the works of Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Berolt Brecht and many others of the social/political cannon. I fashioned a lot of my theater work after there sensibilities. When I made the transition from doing theater to Hip-Hop full-time I carried my sociopolitical sensibilities into my music, so the title and the content of the record comes out of that sensibility, a need to make a statement about our times and what one personally feels needs to be done to usher in a new tomorrow. What Nat Turner Reloaded means to me is that it’s the return of revolt, but revolt manifests itself in many ways. We have heard the rhetoric, no one’s going to do that better then Chuck D did it almost 20 years ago, but what Chuck knew and still knows, and what a lot of these so-called “political” rappers don’t, is that revolution is far more then rhetoric, it’s about change in form. In my opinion Hip-Hop, for the most part, is not working, and its major problem is not so much content as it’s a lack of imagination in form and sonics. The majority of Hip-Hoppers are stuck following formulas, underground and overground alike. They are slaves to these formulas and many of these labels are the slave masters telling them if they do not adhere to these formulas they can kiss their deals goodbye. You have a lot of emcee’s spewing a lot of rhetoric, but they are still slaves in form and sound, so really there just blowing a lot of hot air and not really contributing jack. Nat Turner realized he was a slave to a formula, to put it lightly, and he decided to do something about it. This album is of that spirit, it attempts to invoke his memory to hopefully inspire a sonic revolution in Hip-Hop.

Adam Bernard: What do you feel are reasonable goals when releasing an album independently?
Core Rhythm: For me it has to do with the ability to make more records. Can the exposure, money made, etc. from this project assist me in my quest to have a musical career? Can I make enough bread to put out another record myself, perform more locally and/or nationally, or can it garner me enough momentum and exposure to do something on even a larger scale market wise? I’m not sitting in my crib hoping someone is going to pick me up after this record drops, but what I am going to sit in my crib and do is figure out how am I going to make the next project come to fruition.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what do you want people to think when they hear the name Core Rhythm?
Core Rhythm: Passion. That’s the bottom line for me. I know not everybody is going to feel what I do musically, many frankly will be extremely confused by it, but if they can sense my passion for aesthetics, for Hip-Hop culture, then I feel I have done my job. Art is subjective, I try to never let myself forget that and the listener’s state of mind goes into what type of music the listener will consume more than anything. What concerns me is do they feel that I mean, what I say, that I am passionate about my expression? I feel that’s all one can truly hope for.

Websites: spitmatix.com & cdbaby.com/corerhythm

MySpace: myspace.com/corerhythm

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:17 AM  
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