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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Side Effect
Monday, June 28, 2010

I may not like their sports teams, but man oh man does Philly have some fantastic emcees. One such emcee is Side Effect. Side Effect’s been building his name in Philly’s underground scene for nearly a decade. His first album, Underground Concoction, was a self-released effort that came out in 2003. He followed that in 2004 with Rocking Chair Theory, which was released on Krush Unit Inc. and featured the single “Spitacular,” the video for which earned Side Effect a few dates on that year’s Vans Warped Tour. A few more albums, and a few collaborations with Snowgoons, later, Side Effect is bringing people Cabin Fever. The Karma Response Unit Records release features production from Happ G and some of the best lyricism around. This week I caught up with Side Effect to find out more about his music, the audience he hopes it reaches, and the reasons why Philly’s underground hip-hop scene sometimes flies pretty far under the radar.

Adam Bernard: For starters, what are you the Side Effect to, or from?
Side Effect: Side Effect is an acronym, it stands for Spittin Ill Dope Extra Extraordinary Funky Flows Every… sike! I wish I had some deep meaning behind my name, but truthfully, I don’t. When I started rapping back in the day everybody was MC this and MC that, I just wanted to be different, so I picked the name Side Effect and I’ve been stuck with it ever since. But who is Side Effect? I’m a dope emcee from Philly just doing my music and putting it out there for people to enjoy.

Adam Bernard: What’s your path in music been like?
Side Effect: Similar to most artists, my path in music has been all uphill, but definitely worth the trip. I started rapping when I was about 13 years old. My older brother was in high school and had a wrestling buddy named Tauheed who could rap. He used to come by our house after school and he would freestyle in the basement while I played instrumental records or beatboxed. He was the first person I ever met who knew how to rap. That’s when I decided to pick up the pen and give it a try. I soon hooked up with Jae’, my childhood friend who lived across the street from me, and we started a group called II Scandalous. We borrowed a 4-track and a Roland R8 drum machine and started putting together little basement demos.

Adam Bernard: Did the group make it out of the basement?
Side Effect: Yes. One of the most memorable shows we did was at the Philly Uptown Theatre in North Philly. It was a talent show during Greek weekend that we won and we got the chance to perform with Ultramagnetic MC’s and the U.M.C.’s that night.

Adam Bernard: There’s a song on your latest album, Cabin Fever ,where you say you stopped rapping for a ten year period between 1992 and 2002, but from your life story it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. I’m confused. Straighten me out here.
Side Effect: I never stopped rapping, I just stopped performing during that time. I focused more on writing and learning how to make beats and produce songs. During that time I really lost touch with the Philly scene as far as performing goes. I recorded a lot of songs over those years, mostly just songs that my homies have heard. Basically, I was honing my craft, teaching myself how to work MPCs and becoming a better songwriter. Around ’99 I started venturing back out, hitting up open mics on South Street, and going to underground shows to check out the scene. Then around ‘02-’03 I started performing again, giving out CDs and trying to get my name known. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing rhymes. Hip-hop is one thing I never get tired of.

Adam Bernard: Let’s continue to talk about Cabin Fever. How did this album come together?
Side Effect: Cabin Fever came about sometime in ‘09 when my man Happ G approached me about doing an EP. I didn’t have anything going on at that particular time so he gave me some beats and I started writing. Earlier this year, during the worst winter Philly has ever seen, we hit the studio and started banging out songs. What started as an EP began to turn into a complete album, and it just so happened to be finished around the spring. This is how we came up with the title Cabin Fever, because we had just come out of that crazy winter. Also “Right Back,” one of the very first songs Happ and I ever recorded together, which we did back in ’04, made the album, and in that song I say “cabin fever/flow contagious.” It kind of ties the whole concept together.

Adam Bernard: With age comes wisdom, but in Hip-Hop youth is king. How are going to go about bridging that gap?
Side Effect: Honestly, I’m not making a direct effort to bridge the gap. Hip-hop music is youth driven, but there is an audience of grown people who still enjoy hip-hop music. Those are the people that I focus on. These people grew up on it from the beginning so they know the real when they hear it and see it. I can’t do what the new generation does the same way they can’t do what I do. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do songs with younger artists, it’s just musically we would have to meet somewhere in the middle.

Adam Bernard: What’s the hip-hop scene like by you? Philly seems to be forgotten at times. Why is that?
Side Effect: I personally think Philly’s hip-hop scene is poppin! I don’t hang out in the scene as much as I used to, but just from the music, pictures, and video footage that I hear and see online, there are lots of good artists contributing some great music to the scene. You have to search for it, though, because similar to most underground music, it’s not blatantly out there in your face. Philly also tends to be very clique-y, people tend to stick to their own crews. I’m just as guilty of it myself, but there are many artists here whose music I really enjoy and there are a lot of artists and crews doing their thing in Philly, like AOTP, Gargantuans, Cimer Amor, Karma Response Unit, Jakk Frost, Bee-Eater, Krush Unit… too many to name. Don’t sleep on Philly!

Adam Bernard: Finally, since you’re on Karma Response Unit Records, tell everyone why your karma is good.
Side Effect: Well, technically I’m not on Karma Response Unit Records. Cabin Fever is a one-off project Happ G and I decided to get together to work on. Hopefully it does well for us. We may get together and do another one. But my karma is good because I’m a good dude, I treat people with respect and the same way that I would like to be treated. Happ G, I just made up a new mission statement for KRU! {laughs}

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/sideeffect88
Blog: sideeffectmusic.blogspot.com
KRU Records: krurecords.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:27 AM  
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