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Name: Adam Bernard
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Under The Influence
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Many people outside of hip-hop may have the opinion that the music of the culture is something that’s insular. Bridgeport emcee Chase Davis is quick to dispel that myth, though, noting “a lot of the artists I vibe with listen to other types of music, whether it’s rock, soul, or dubstep.” So even while every emcee has a long list of hip-hop artists that inspire them, they also have a list of artists from other genres of music that inspire and inform their music, as well.

This week I rounded up five of the state’s most prominent emcees and dug a little deeper into their personal inspirations and influences that have nothing to do with hip-hop in an effort to both find out more about the men who make the music, and possibly provide a connection between our local superstars and people who may not have otherwise thought to listen to their work.

Sketch Tha Cataclysm
Non Hip-Hop Influence - Jeff Buckley

Why he’s a fan: “His vocal range was beyond impressive. On top that I’m very big on listening to his live performance recordings. He was able to do any kind of song and just go back to regular banter in-between songs, joking around with the crowd and doing impersonations.”

Influence on Sketch’s work: In addition to the between song banter, which Sketch says “I was already doing before I got into him, but I definitely felt like I was validated after hearing that,” he adds Buckey’s influence on him can be heard in his lyrics, “if I get really poetic with my wording, or I pull my whole vocabulary into it,” and song structure, “he did a thing where he didn’t really give a damn about verse-chorus-verse structure.”

Other non hip-hop influences: Radiohead, The Pixies, King Tubby

Chase Davis
Non Hip-Hop Influence - Janko Nilovic

Why he’s a fan: Even though there are no lyrics in pianist/composer Nilovic’s work, Davis says “you can feel the soul in the music, you can feel his energy, you can feel the power in it. You just want to attack something when you listen to it.”

Influence on Davis’ work: Davis says Nilovic’s work has had a huge influence on the way he likes his beats built. “Let’s have a great intro, let’s change the music up so it’s not just repetitive, let’s add something different to the mix so if a band is playing it they can have fun with it.”

Other non hip-hop influences: Curtis Mayfield, Deodato, Baby Huey

The Rising Sun Quest
Non Hip-Hop Influence - John Legend

Why he’s a fan: In addition to having the utmost respect for Legend’s ability to play an instrument and the fact that he writes his own music, Quest points to Legend’s live performances as a key inspiration. “Even if he’s just sitting at a piano and playing the keys he’s able to command the audience without having any big, grand, theatrics behind him.”

Influence on Quest’s work: “I know as long as I tune in to my music, and deliver it the way it is intended, and put all the heart and soul into my lyrics, it could just be me on the mic without any crazy stuff going on and I can capture the audience and have them feel my music.

Other non hip-hop influences: Maroon 5, Robin Thicke, Alicia Keys

Big Stat
Non Hip-Hop Influence - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Why he’s a fan: “They’re honest with their lyrics, whether they’re talking about drug addictions, or whatever. I also pay attention to their melodies and the way they construct their songs. I listen to how they put their songs together, the formats and stuff like that.”

Influence on Big Stat’s work: “If I’m listening to the radio, I love whenever a song of theirs comes on, I’ll just start jamming out. It’ll put me in a good mood and get me excited to work on something new.”

Other non hip-hop influences: Evanescence, Bob Marley, System of a Down

Plus
Non Hip-Hop Influence - Sade

Why he’s a fan: “Every time she comes out she looks great, she sounds great, and the music gets even better. This woman has been doing it since I don’t know how long and she still comes out and nails it every single time. Every song on the album, every album as a whole, is just unbelievable.”

Influence on Plus’ work: “In terms of drive it seems like she has the drive and a half to keep on going and I feel like I have the same thing.”

Other non hip-hop influences: No Doubt, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses

Using these five artists as examples, it’s pretty clear an emcee’s influences can come from just about anywhere, which is why most people should have no problem finding something to connect with when it comes to their music.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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