Hip-hop at heart


Spoken-word artist and rapper Emic browses the library stacks.

Spoken-word artist and rapper Emic browses the library stacks.

Photo By David Robert

Emic’s next spoken word performance is June 22 at 8 p.m. at Se7en Tea House, 100 N. Arlington Ave., Suite 102; 348-9526. Free. For more information, visit myspace.com/emic.

Iain Watson doesn’t dress like a rapper, talk like a rapper or look like a rapper. In fact, he’s dressed in cargo shorts, flip flops and a polo shirt, and he makes fun of the kids he sees trying to hold up pants four sizes too big.

“I’m almost to the point to where I want to get out of the hip-hop classification,” says 25-year-old Watson, a spoken word poet and rapper who goes by the name of Emic onstage. “But I’ll always be a hip-hop kid at heart,” he says.

With influences from spoken word poet Saul Williams to indie rapper Aesop Rock, both of whom are reflected in his music, it’s hard to define Emic’s sound.

“I want to make someone cry,” he says with a chuckle that suggests he still means it. “I want to get up there, do a spoken word [performance] and make someone shed a tear.”

Emic does hip-hop shows around town with other rappers and then does spoken-word performances with other poets.

“That’s the power of words, man,” he says. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Poetry aside, Watson still holds some qualities of the classic rapper. He can be found most Tuesday nights at The Green Room for the downtown bar’s hip-hop open mic.

“Free styling is …” He pauses. “It’s fun as hell. … People are always amazed when you can freestyle.”

He’s been rapping for 10 years now. He put out an EP called Dog Fish in 2003.

“It was a rushed album,” he says. And he’s “not at all” a fan of it.

In April 2007, he released an EP called Still Life. It’s got seven tracks on it, all hip-hop except the last track, which is a spoken-word piece over a mellow instrumental.

But there isn’t much difference between his raps and his spoken word. He talks about the same subjects, expresses the same feelings and rhymes either way.

He is a fan of Still Life.

“I can listen to every track on that and be happy with it,” he says.

He likes to “sit on” his music for a while before he releases it. “I want to make sure what I put out is quality, where I can listen to it as a fan.”

An EP every four years may seem like a long wait. “I’m like the most lazy recording artist you’ll probably ever meet,” he says. He later explains that he is juggling about six different EPs right now. He records often—he just doesn’t organize and distribute his music often.

His personal favorite of all his songs, “Even Angels Need a Savior,” hasn’t made it on an EP yet, but it can be heard on myspace.com/emic:

“Girl I love you, but it will never be the same. I just hope in 20 years you remember my name. But I know I needed you as bad as you needed me. I just hope another savior will set you free.”

The song has a complex, yet soft production over lyrics that are as much spoken word as they are rap. The song is about love, or, rather, love lost. But the lyrics are uplifting and more about acceptance than resentment.

Simply put, it is the result of everything he does as an artist.