Time for real talk
Josh Fernandez vs. A.R.A.B.:
When a rapper asks you to critique his work, it’s usually street slang for “Give me a good review or I’ll write a song about how gay you are.” But not A.R.A.B. When I told the Sacramento artist (First Dirt Republic) that I wasn’t really into his latest album called The Trojan Horse, he wanted to talk about it. So we did.
When you say in the intro, “My soul is transmitting on the highest frequency,” I thought the whole album was going to be filled with great metaphor.
You kind of got let down, though?
A little bit. What’s going on with the hyphy-type vibe, like on “Fall Back”?
My music, in general, isn’t meant for a younger generation. They don’t understand struggle yet. They don’t understand hardship yet. So my music is more geared toward somebody who has been through my personal situation. So I tried to step out of my box and get the younger cats something to feel. I’m not going to lie, man. I understand why you felt the way you felt, because my whole goal for The Trojan Horse was to go a little more mainstream with the beats.
Ah, that’s funny, because I thought, “There must be some reason for the way this sounds.” Do you feel like you had to compromise for this album?
Kind of, in a sense, because I’m an underground emcee. I’m a battle emcee at heart. I love punch lines and I like that grittiness, but as time progressed and I got to learn a little more about the business, I realized that I can’t always just be that.
Your verses can be very gritty, but the hooks seem like you focused on making them really mainstream. Like the song “Living the Life,” which is completely Auto-Tuned. That’s where I lost it.
(Laughs.) I had so many people hate me for that shit! I had to try it though, man. It was tight because that original song I made … I don’t know if you can hear it in there, but it was to a reggae beat.
Yeah, it was to a reggae beat. If I showed you the original, you’d be like, “Fuck you, Tim, you’re a bitch for that shit.” And I would take it. I would be like, “I’m a bitch for that shit!” But [the producer] flipped it, and he’s like, “Dude, I think this would be hot for the radio.” And I heard it and I … could hear the appeal to it.
I could, too. But then, it’s like, you know, T-Pain did it already. To come out with that shit now isn’t right.
I know. I tried it, though, man. It’s not my proudest moment.
Also, your album could have benefited from a deejay.
Totally. I felt so rushed with this one. By the time I had it done, I built up this relationship with DJ Rated R, and he was like, “Let me get on this shit.” Next thing I know, I’m already in mastering phase.
What’s The Trojan Horse? It wasn’t really explained on the album.
It was more of a marketing scheme. When I make music I get so scatterbrained; people that I work with hate that shit. They’re like, “Focus!” I’m like, “I’m sorry; I can’t help it sometimes.” You’re not the only person that’s told me that. To me, it’s a learning process, and I’m going to apply [what I’ve learned] to everything I do now.
I told someone I was going to interview you about how I didn’t like your album, and they said you were going to flip out.
No, man. I love that shit, dude. I love when people are honest with me more than anything. I’m a big boy. (Josh Fernandez)
I recently had the opportunity to check out a demo recorded by a new band in Sacramento featuring Zac Brown, bass player for Dusty Brown, and Jess Gowrie, former drummer of Red Host. The new project, called I’m Dirty Too, features Brown on guitar and vocals and Gowrie on drums and vocals. The song I listened to featured fuzz guitars, Gowrie’s hauntingly sweet voice battling Browns’ Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-esque vox, creating an anthem reminiscent of the mid-’90s band Imperial Teen. Gowrie’s hard-rock drumming style and Brown’s lo-fi guitar sound really complement each other. Since both Gowrie’s former band and Brown’s current group have had such a great amount of success in Sacramento, it is difficult to believe these guys will do anything but swoon our fair city. The duo plans to hit up a couple of out-of-town venues before they make their local debut. (John Phillips)