By Jeff Simpson
November 11, 2014
Hip-hop has been pronounced dead by some of its most faithful members, while others champion its actuality. N’DangR Species walks a fine line between the two dissenting opinions. Night Terrors, the latest sonic sampling from the N’DangR Species collective, is an invitation into the void. Surviving as the progeny of an almost extinct art form, the hip-hop/EDM collaboration simultaneously veers away from purist sentiment.
On “Brainfeeder,” members Maf Maddix and Luse Kanz rap amidst Roel Funcken’s distortion of sound. Kanz opens the track addressing the Frankenstein of culture transmitted through the media: “Hustle harder tryna make a living / Poverty’s a disease inside the mind like kryptonite / When you speak about being rich and come out like it’s a dream.” The song’s relevance is supreme when considering the case of Elonis v. United States.
The hip-hop community’s free speech and expression has long been under fire. With all the opposition it faces from outside of its fan base already, does it really make sense for continued division to remain within its core? On “Anything,” the members acknowledge the resistance felt from other members of the community for their departure from traditionally crafted songs. Their choice of EDM as opposed to sampling, or conscious lyrics vs. pop melodies initially brings about tilted heads. An aversion to doubt, Maf reiterates, “Anything you can do, I smash out the frame / Ice cold blood in my veins, kiss the rings / and I can provide what you need to make change / and life manifest what I write / Anything.” Real shit.
“JunglJimRap” displays more muscle, as the emcees flex on listeners while sending a warning to would-be challengers. There is no friendly competition, only domination. Intelligence coupled with brevity hits you over the head with profundity. Those statements then resonate in the space Funcken has designed for rumination. It’s like getting some sense smacked into you.
CLTure had the opportunity to catch up with Chris “Maf” Maddix of Ndangr Species to talk about hip-hop, the creative process and what they have in store for 2015.
CLTure: “Hip-hop is dead” Is a phrase that’s been circulating within the community for some time now, despite the fact that most of the current styles and waves were preceded by pure hip hop artists. What is your take on the statement?
Ndangr Species: Hip Hop isn’t dead. It would have died if it had remained stuck in the 90’s at the golden era. The thing about life is that it comes with ups, downs and changes of all kinds.
CLTure: How did this collaborative effort come together?
NDR: I (Maf) met Roel at a festival in Atlanta while he was on a tour in the U.S. We chopped it up a bit and exchanged info. We dug each other’s work and decided to put together a project and mash up our styles.
CLTure: What are some of your influences outside of music?
NDS: Movies, probably. That’s why a lot of our shit has a cinematic feel to it.
CLTure: Is it a struggle to remain true to your style, or does your passion naturally fuel you to hone your sound?
NDS: Every day we wake up in our own skin. We can’t not stay true. Anyone who doesn’t remain true to themselves is way lost. Our sound evolves as our influences, and passions change and as we go through life.
CLTure: I’ve heard some artists say they disagree with free (digital) releases because it devalues their craft. As recording artists, what are some of the difficulties you face with releasing music?
NDS: Inspiration is a gift and it’s free. The best things in life are all free, contrary to popular belief. However, it costs money to put out an album that is up to consumer standards. Therefore, consumers need to pay, because studio time and engineers make artists pay. Putting out projects is hard especially with hip-hop because the mainstream has a lot of fans used to big budget output and a lot of raw artists can’t produce that level of product. Just the struggle, I guess.
CLTure: Due to the strength of your lyrical content and instrumentation, do you find yourselves in competition with one another when creating a new track? Are there tracks more heavily saturated with glitch and bass when you need to find space to let your lyrics breathe, or vice versa?
NDS: We don’t really compete with each other when writing. We tend to find our own space and vibe off of each other when the time to connect comes. We build off of each other’s strengths. The best thing about this album is that the beats were crafted around the rhymes. The music took inspiration from the lyrics!
CLTure: Your “Brainfeeder” visuals are refreshing and easily stand apart from most music videos. Who directed the video and where did you come up with the concept?
NDS: The video was directed by Michel de Klein and the vision was his, I think. I’d probably give that to him or Roel. Strangely enough, we had a similar idea in our minds about the project, so when he told us his idea, we knew it was perfect. We were blessed to link up with such a talented dude.
CLTure: Can you tell us about the album name Night Terrors and what inspired this project? Does it fit within your larger canon of music or is it a standalone project?
NDS: Night Terrors… N’DangR Species… people in animal masks eating other people. I think it connects in a few ways. Night Terrors is a concept for an album we had for a long time because there was this crazy time period where things were really stressful for us and we, for some reason, both suffered with that. If you’ve never had one, you don’t know fear.
CLTure: What is your writing process like? Do you write through to completion or piece songs together?
NDS: We generally get in a room together and blast the beat until we have a song or five written. We don’t often piece tracks together. We tend to craft each song specifically. Lately, because of distance, we have had to write on our own and pull it together once we link up.
CLTure: Are you still collaborating with DJ Brooklyn Airlift?
NDS: Brooklyn Airlift will always be family but he is working on some things that have taken precedence over music, so, nah.
CLTure: Any local artists you’d like to work with whether they’re from the city, state or region?
NDS: I’d like to work with more producers. We are at a point where we like and respect a lot of local emcees and non-local ones but we probably will keep it in-house. We have a deep crew that we still need to do more with.
CLTure: Who are you currently listening to?
NDS: There are so many dope emcees coming out and still putting out fresh shit, we stay with new dudes on deck to check for. Maf tends to branch out into some way out stuff, from doom metal to what’s on the radio, we are all over the place. As long as it’s dope.
CLTure: What do you have planned for 2015?
NDS: We have another project or three in the works and we are pushing for those. We hope to tour this project and expand our reach more. We both stay hella busy outside of N’DangR music, so we are just coming from everywhere. I know Luse got his Bangaminute stuff coming and I have Brother Aten stuff on deck too.
Listen to the new album Night Terrors by N’DangR Species Watch the new video for “Brainfeeder” by N’DangR Species created by Michel De Klein