New York City may not be the grand stage it once was for sculpturing raw Hip-Hop talent, but that doesn’t mean that the roots have dried up and sank back into the earth.
With so much going on music-wise in the world’s capital, it can be a little difficult at times to put your finger on act that is worth your hard-earned money (especially these days).
But climbing out of the depths of New York’s diverse musical culture happens to be one group that you won’t mind lending an ear to.
The Brooklyn-based duo known as the Metermaids can be considered as the 21st Century version of the Beastie Boys, but with a lot more lyrical dexterity pointing in their favor.
Consisting of MC’s Sentence and Sean, the two recently released their debut full-length album Nightlife— in association with their Nightlife In Illinois EP (a mash-up album between them and fellow artist Sufjan Stevens).
Sometime going against everything that is working can spell certain doom when trying to rise in the ranks, but for the two hometown kids from the Big Apple, hopefully it spells relief.
iHipHop.com: How did you guys first come together as a group?
Sentence: We were both just kind of doing our own thing in the New York scene as for solo shows, and then we came across each other’s music through mutual friends. From there we started working together and doing shows together. After that we went on tour together, and through the tour we realized that we liked the dynamic of working together better than what we were doing by ourselves.
iHipHop.com: Is there a story behind the group name?
Sean: I came up with the group name, and I just wanted something really different… So I thought it would be funny to name the group after the most hated groups of people, which are meter maids… [Laughing]
iHipHop.com: [Laughs]… Is there a lot of compromise involved, or are you guys usually on the same page?
Sentence: I think we do see eye-to-eye, because that’s what brought us together in the first place. We already have the same view of where we want to go with the music, and where we want to go with the group. There are differences sometimes, but really when it comes down to it, we have the same views. So when one of us comes up with an idea, it’s pretty common that we’re going to be feeling the same thing.
iHipHop.com: How’s your creative process? Do you guys write together, or separately?
Sean: We’ve definitely written together before, but we’re both really busy individually with life too; so we’ve done a lot of writing through text-messaging back and forth. We might come up with the concept together, but we do a lot of individual writing.
Like Sentence will text me something he just got, and then I’ll respond to that. So it’s like we’re writing separately but together at the same time, if that makes any sense… [Laughs]
iHipHop.com: [Laughs]… How would you describe your style to people who weren’t familiar with you?
Sean: We joke around with it a lot… [Laughs] We wanted to make this kind of rowdy music, and we both got together because we have so much fun performing with each other. So when we’re making music, we always wanted to make sure that we can translate it when we’re performing it live. We’re both really just into music, so it’s fun to combine all of these different things with Hip-Hop.
Sentence: It’s like Hip-Hop, but then it has elements of different genres like rock. It’s just like rowdy Hip-Hop, but it definitely has other genres in-tuned with it.
iHipHop.com: With so many acts from New York trying to make a name for themselves, have you found it difficult to standout?
Sentence: Sort of… But we pretty much carved out our own niche a little bit… We’re really not in the same sub-genre as the “underground backpacker stuff,” or like the “commercial stuff.” We kind of have our own thing going.
So in the terms of making a name for ourselves in New York, we feel like we’ve come up with something that’s unique. Although we are supposed to be “competing” with a lot of other acts, we have our own type of music.
Sean: Sentence pretty much hit the nail on the head… We’re not competing with your mixtape MC’s or any of the street Hip-Hop people. The kind of music that we make is separate from everybody else. But to the heart of that question, it’s difficult to come up in New York in general just because there’s so much music period. It’s not like if you book a show, there’s nothing else going on that night, and people are going to come check it out just because.
iHipHop.com: You guys released your Nightlife album not too long ago, and now you the Nightlife In Illinois EP, and a remix contest with it too? What’s that all about?
Sean: We put out a mash-up of our album and Sufjan Stevens’ album Illinois, which is one of my favorite albums of all time, and it’s been doing extremely well. We’re getting 1,000 downloads a week, and it’s gotten to a lot of people that might not have otherwise heard of us.
So in conjunction with that, our people over at Audible [Treats] put together a remix contest where you can take the title track from the album and remix it, and the winner gets a copy of Reason 4, which is insanely tight… I think they can also put the track up on iTunes, and we’ll put it on our Myspace player as well…
iHipHop.com: Sure you guys didn’t enter the contest looking to win that Reason 4 for yourselves?
Metermaids: [Laughing collectively]…
Sean: I think a lot of our friends let it go to people that we don’t know just for them to try and take it… [Laughs]
iHipHop.com: Okay then… I don’t want to read a blog at some point saying you guys ran off with it… [Laughs]
Metermaids: [Laughing collectively]…
iHipHop.com: What’s your take on New York Hip-Hop? Is it better or worse?
Sentence: I don’t think real Hip-Hop is dead… Anytime you go to a real show, or see real artists out there hustling because this is their passion, that is real Hip-Hop… I think the essence of it is still around, and I don’t think it’s going anywhere.
Sean: I feel like we’re not really qualified to even speak on it, because I don’t feel like we’re part of any New York Hip-Hop scene. We do Hip-Hop, and we’ve performed at Hip-Hop shows. Like we’ve opened up for people like Pete Rock, and Fabolous. But at the same time the people that we usually mess around with are into something different.
iHipHop.com: What would you say is the most difficult thing about being an independent act, if any?
Sentence: Everything! [Laughs]…
Sean: I think that the way the world is right now; like with the complete saturation of music—and I talked to a friend the other day and even the blog world is saturated… [Laughs] Everybody’s got a blog now, and stuff like that. But I think it’s just hard to get your name out… Without a ton of money behind you to get the right placements, it can be hard.
You have to hear about a band x-amount of times before you go and even check them out because there is so much going on, and I feel like people use blogs as their filter… [Laughs] You can’t be running around chasing every band that comes out, because you kind of wait to hear what other people are saying…
Sentence: Yeah, and being independent makes it that much difficult for that to happen…
Sean: There are independent artists who are trust fund kids, and I don’t think it’s very hard for them… [Laughs] But then there are independent normal people that have to work and things like that. It’s an insane grind man; it’s not easy… I don’t think many people would have the heart to do what Sentence and I have done for the past two years…