Artist Of The Week - X:144
L to R: SPS and X:144
When one hears the name X:144 Hip-Hop may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Once the Orlando MC who goes by that name catches your ear, however, all that will change. As one half of the curiously named duo X:144 and SPS, X:144 is setting out to take the Hip-Hop community back to its roots, back to when the culture was more than just one big MC battle over who has the nicest jewelry and the biggest guns. Recently X:144 called in to one of my radio shows and during our conversation he broke down the root of his unusual moniker, the development of Orlando’s Hip-Hop scene, and what he feels the real job of an MC is.
Adam Bernard: Whenever I say your name and the name of the duo, X:144 and SPS, I think I’m giving some kind of naval launch sequence, I really feel like I say that and Bush pushes a button or something. How did you come up with such a name?
X:144: X:144 is an evolution of names I’ve had throughout my MC career. It ended up being X and I wanted it to be more pronounced but definitely with a definition and also (involve) how I come across in my music, kinda giving everybody a different frame of mind or open their minds up to stuff that they may not know that they don’t know. The letter X and the number 144, they’re equivalent to each other because you know everything’s based on mathematics, so the English alphabet was coded by man in multiples of six, A’s six, B’s twelve, C’s 18, you get to X and you get to 144 hence the prophecy in many many denominations, whether it’s Christianity, the Mayans, or ancient Egyptian order of the hundred and forty four thousand here to save the earth, which is my personal belief, that we’re here to save the earth, or to be saved from the destruction of earth, whatever the case may be, nonetheless and hence the name the X Generation. So basically it’s just a representation of you. And SPS, for those who don’t know he’s the southeast DMC champion, he rocks every DJ battle or any turntablist battle in the southeast as well as all over the country and all over the world, it stands for Second Place Sucks. So that’s just the simple form, so it’s definitely a balance between the both of us.
Adam Bernard: You have quite a resume, too. You’ve won a shelves worth of awards for your work.
X:144: Yeah man, I’ve been doin it for a minute. I’ve been in Orlando’s scene, helping build the Hip-Hop community as a community not necessarily as a means to just get my music out there. Actually back in the day in Orlando me and my affiliates were the first to start a Hip-Hop showcase thrown by artists for artists and in that showcase Smilez (of Smilez & Southstar) performed for the first time ever in his life, that was his first show, and back then, which may be hard to believe, he was raw, he was straight up raw. I’m not sayin that he isn’t raw now it’s just that I have yet to see that exhibited. And these are conversations I’ve had with him in person so don’t feel like I’m talkin behind his back. We fam or what not, I got love for him, it’s just like c’mon you gotta come with it. I haven’t heard the new material, they are working on a new album, hopefully it’s on the level that he was on back then, the stuff that I’m accustomed to hearing.
Adam Bernard: Are you looking to become household names and with names like X:144 & SPS? Do you think that’s possible? It’s a lot to get out.
X:144: Yeah man, yeah, I mean why not? Think of all the household names, or anything that became a household name, at one point in time and think of how terrible their music was. If you believe in something that much, for example if you take something such as any down south music that kinda exploits black people for less than what they are....
Adam Bernard: Are you subtly hinting at crunk music?
X:144: Crunk music, basically. But I’m talkin about pre-crunk music when it was called somethin else, it was called dirty dirty, or whatever the case may be. At that time when it started to gain its respect in the industry as a money maker the industry itself believed in it so much as a money maker it made all that terrible ass music, pushed it out there to the masses, and people bought it. Why? Because they were convinced that it was phat, it was the hot stuff at that moment. It’s disposable. Can you think of a song that came out commercially six months ago? That’s the bottom line, so if we as a culture can believe and support artists that actually represent more than just trying to make money, represent you and actually care about what goes on in your community even though he doesn't live in it, just a people person, we can go far, but we have yet to do that. That’s why we have politicians who know nothing about our real lifestyle ruling our country. And I don’t mean to come off on some “oh this dude’s a political rapper. He’s following in the steps of Chuck D.” I mean yeah, so be it, I am because he’s one of my influences. I’m not trying to be a political rapper, I’m trying to be a humanist. I care about people. It’s not just like oh I care about politics, no man I’m just saying that the MC’s role is to battle politicians as opposed to each other, that’s why MC battling is starting to become redundant.
Adam Bernard: With that in mind what do you want listeners to get out of this song?
X:144: Basically a breath of fresh air. Hip-Hop is in a stagnant state and I know there are so many MC’s, so many groups out there just talkin about the same thing, the reason why they keep talking about the same thing’s because the same things seems to dominate our culture, which is this commercialized version of our music. Just like KRS said, rap is something we do, Hip-Hop is something we live and it’s come to the point where rap music itself has been categorized as its own thing on a commercial level and that the pure rap music per se is now called Hip-Hop music. Basically it’s addressing what goes on and what’s actually been missed. The MC’s are our political leaders within the culture, they’re the voice. The graff writers, they’re supposed to bomb the message. The break dancers represent our attitude. Hip-Hop has a greater purpose on the planet than just to be something that’s marketable or fashionable.
X:144 & SPS’s debut album, m.e., will be in stores September 26th