Issue 40 (2002)
If you are familiar with Edan (pronounced E-Don) you have no doubt heard of his affinity for the old school and prowess as a mic manipulator and turntable specialist. The self proclaimed “Humble Magnificent” is a true student of the hiphop culture, as we all should be, but his music is much more than the simple ode to the 80s era that some people attempt to pigeonhole it as. Originally from the desolate hiphop town of Rockville, MD, he fancies himself an artist, able to play keys, guitar, bass, as well as DJ, produce, and emcee. Transplanted from Maryland to Boston in order to attend the Berklee School of Music, he began dropping notable singles such as “Sing It Shitface” and “Rapperfection” (feat Mr. Lif), generating enough noise to claim single of the month in a few magazines. The buzz reached artists like Mr. Complex, whom introduced Edan to UK label owner Mike Lewis.
The prosperous relationship with Mike Lewis resulted in the release of the celebrated “Mic Manipulator” EP and Edan’s magnum opus, “Primitive Plus” off of England’s Lewis Recordings, garnering him a considerable amount of attention in the UK and tour opportunities overseas. The album is titled “Primitive Plus,” because it embodies the past while probing the future. It’s a testament to the importance of knowing the fundamentals before breaking the rules. “If you know what went on before you entered the picture you know how to elaborate on the state of affairs and are empowered with more options as far as what you can do to embellish on what’s already been proven.” The album is fused with humor and impressive verbal acrobatics, ranging from tongue in cheek tracks like “#1 Hit Record” and the antagonistic “Run That Shit” to highly skilled wordplay on “Syllable Practice” and “Mic Manipulator.” To Edan it’s an absolute necessity to have such distinct differences in his music, because they provide variety and balance. If nothing else, “Primitive Plus” provides an exploration into his vast abilities as a DJ and Beatsmith, as he does all the cuts and production on the LP.
The album is officially available and Edan has hit the road, performing live shows cross-country from Boston to Cali on the “Personal Journals Tour” with Sage Francis, DJ MF Shalem, and Grand Buffet.
“I’m feeling performing, its really dope. You get to see and meet the people who are listening, but I want to put on shows at the levels of the Cold Crush Brothers, Treacherous Three, or Jurassic five with 4 dudes doing a choreographed set. That’s my whole thing I want to give people a well-organized show and right now I’m paying dues doing the shows by myself. I am doing as much as I can to keep it fresh but over time id like to get an entourage together that makes the show power packed like dancers or anything for aesthetic purposes.”
While he may not have ascended to that level yet, he is using the talents and tools he does have to establish himself as an entertaining performer. On the “Personal Journals Tour” he unveiled his new opening acoustic set. Instead of starting off the show in traditional fashion, Edan chooses to come on stage with a wig and guitar, irritating the crowd by playing folk songs and saying, “fuck hiphop,” all in fun of course. While on the surface it may seem to be just a practical joke to bug out the crowd, Edan takes the music seriously and there is an underlying purpose beneath the laughter.
“I’ve been writing some folk songs, something that I need to do to be able to release. It frees me up because sometimes you don’t want to kick it in a hiphop format and have other ways to express yourself. It’s unfortunate that some people can’t allow themselves to do that. I love psychedelic rock and hopefully I can convince some of my listeners that all of these things are of the same accord. The same inspiration that got Jimi Hendrix going might have been the same as what got Tribe or Melle Mel going. It’s all just beauty in art and it’s all related.”
After his folk rendition, Edan goes into his hiphop segment, ending off the night with a one-man arsenal exhibition, rhyming with the mic in the right hand and cutting the records with the left.
On the heels of the “Personal Journals Tour” and “Primitive Plus” album release, a new EP will surface called, “Sprain Your Tape Deck.” “Sprain your Tape Deck” came to fruition from a result of bad circumstances that occurred during the original recording of “Primitive Plus.” In the midst of recording, Edan’s cassette 8 track and tape player broke, leaving only the mixer on the 8 track functional. Using a few old drum machines he set out to prove that he was doing music for himself and decided to record a few live tracks straight to cassette in his bedroom. As a personal challenge he made the songs as fast as possible to see if he could create on the spot. In a week he attempted to be as prolific as possible, recording a song a day for about five days.
“I wrote the songs in about an hour or two to entertain myself and laid it down live in the studio. There’s a jam on there, a dedication to Schooly D, called “Schooly D Knew The Time.” [On that song] when I scratched I had to put down the mic and pick it back up when I wasn’t cutting. I just did it on the spot because my belief is that some of the best songs come quickly without a lot of analyzation.”
Some of the songs on the EP actually appear on the CD version of “Primitive Plus.” Edan felt by releasing them separately on vinyl and putting some tracks on the album he would satisfy both CD and vinyl buyers. “Let’s be Friends” is one of the songs off the project that appears as a hidden track on the album. The bonus cut is a hilarious melody about being friends with other MCs, hanging out with them at the park and going to the zoo. The song’s aim, aside from being silly, is to break the traditional rules of the underground, pointing out it isn’t necessary to dis everyone or be threatened by other artist’s creativity.
The “Sprain Your Tape Deck” EP isn’t the only new item to expect from Edan’s growing catalog. He is also a mixtape DJ and plans on releasing an assortment of “educational” mixes, demonstrating the skills of hiphop greats and rappers long forgotten. The first installment, entitled “Fast Rap,” is an old school mix that showcases high tempo flows containing such gems as the Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap remix of “Raw,” a Melle Mel freestyle, and various tracks from lesser known MCs like Percee P and the Bizzie Boyz. You may even see a future collaboration with Edan and one of these old school legends in the future. “I met Dougie Fresh in England and he was feeling my set, so maybe I can make something happen with him. I’m also trying to do something with Percee P, that would be a blessing.”
While he has shown his diversity and humor in his music, he also is trying to integrate methods of other genres into hiphop, specifically elements from punk and psychedelic rock.
“Something I want to incorporate is the short song. In a lot of punk rock they hit it and quit, performing a 2 ½ minute joint full of energy that just stops abruptly. Be prepared, I’m going to do an album with thirty two-minute songs on them. Psychedelic rock recording techniques in the sixties were really experimenting with colors and textures. I want to [expand on that to] make my music as vivid as possible with some beats sounding like sandpaper, fluid, or like the breeze. Hopefully I can redefine my sound every time I put out an album, putting a new spin on it just to show you possibilities are infinite.”
Expect a new Edan album as soon as the end of the year, but with a different twist. While his music will always be somewhat nostalgic, he is consciously moving away from the numerous old school references and comical aspect displayed on “Primitive Plus.” Instead he will be concentrating more on developing no nonsense hiphop that will be entertaining for other reasons. With seven or eight joints already completed Edan’s main focus is on rhyme patterns, skills, and fly beats.
Pick up the new album “Primitive Plus” in stores now, as well as his new mixtape “Fast Rap.” Expect more work from Edan this year as he produced several cuts on Mr. Lif’s new EP and look out for his newest LP still untitled by the end of the year. For more info check www.humblemagnificent.com and www.lewisrecordings.com.