Interview iH2 – Brooklyn Academy: Straight Schoolin’ ‘Em

14 years ago view-show 1,750,914


The borough of Brooklyn, New York has manufactured some of the most well known MC’s in Hip-Hop, whether they’re hob-knobbing with international dignitaries or entertaining their underground fateful in clubs no bigger than a sweatbox. As for the trio of Brooklyn Academy, they fall under the ladder, but their status has allowed them to graduate from tiny hole-the-walls, to more recognizable venues.

Consisting of Mr. Metaphor, Block McCloud, and Pumpkinhead; the natives of the Park Slope section of Brooklyn may not have originated from the typical MC breeding grounds of Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Crown Heights, or Brownsville; but their ability to push a pen to its limits is just as equal, if not better.

While their fan base still heavily includes Ecko T-shirt wearing Hip-Hoppers who avoid listening to the radio as if it had Leprosy, they did let their preverbal “backpacker” guard down in order to release their first national widespread project, Bored Of Education.

Filled with guest spots from artists like Jean Grae and Killah Priest, and producers such as Khrysis, Black Milk, and Marco Polo contributing behind the boards—you can say their homework has been more than completed, with no signs of detention anywhere in sight. So talk about Bored Of Education. Was everyone on the same page when you were putting it together?

Block McCloud: Definitely, All it takes is a banging ass beat and some alcohol to get things going man. We love spitting, creating, and knowing that a large audience would get the chance to hear our joints were a great inspiration.

Mr. Metaphor: Fah sure man, we stay on the same page, same chapter, its just different ink from a different pen nah mean. During the creation of Bored Of Education, we were in the studio hard body. Coming up with hooks, selecting beats, keeping that traditional Brooklyn Academy vibe alive was our focus…

Pumpkinhead: I think we had the vibes going good. The liqs were pouring, and beats blaring! [Laughs]… With you all being well known, why did it take so long for you guys to release this album?

Block McCloud: We’ve always been in each other’s corners supporting and recording on each other’s solos. The time was right and we jumped on the opportunity, as did Gold Dust [Media]. They are smart label, and we’re a smart group, perfect fit.

Mr. Metaphor: We loved being independent for so many years, and we kind of created this underground myth of a group that was heard but rarely seen. We loved that, but came to a realization that we needed a lot more exposure; and having that machine offering to push us forward couldn’t be turned down. So we gave in and finally released an official album through a label. Throughout your careers, you’ve all been considered as “Underground Artists.” Does that sit well with you, or would you all just be talked about as “artists” period?

Mr. Metaphor: I prefer musicians to anything honestly. We all produce, sing, compose, arrange and write music. Those ingredients are bigger then “artist” or “underground artist.”

Pumpkinhead: I for one am proud to be an underground artist, there is a lot of respect involved, and we have our own mini sub culture. It’s not that mini anymore actually, it’s more worldwide, and we have more control creativity-wise when it comes to our projects.

Block McCloud: I have to agree with Pumpkinhead. I’m an artist, and musician, but there is no shame in being recognized as an underground artist. I’m recognized worldwide through this underground genre, and I’ve been able to feed my family through the support of our underground fans.

Some underground rap sucks… [Laughs] They take creative to the next level, but we definitely get to do things mainstream cats are scared to try. Right now it seems like Hip-Hop has become a lot more gimmicky. With you all obviously being “anti-gimmick,” do you think it will be hard getting people to listen to your movement?

Block McCloud: Not at all, people are starving for something fresh, new, and something that’s not the status quo. We are refreshing and when people get a real dose, they’re going to fiend for more, like Crystal Meth in the Midwest!

Mr. Metaphor: It ain’t hard getting people to listen at all… That’s the easy part… getting people to come out of pocket and purchase the music is the hard part. You’ve all had solo projects, but do you feel more comfortable in a group setting?

Mr. Metaphor: I’ve always preferred being in a group setting. It’s always fulfilling to create a solo project, but having a group project and being able to share experiences with someone it is why I live for music. Without that, I’m done.

Pumpkinhead: I love the group atmosphere three heads are better than one (pause). But I do love the solo stuff too, and I think it’s evenly appreciated.

Block McCloud: I love being in a group, and doing the solo thing. Each one creates a different aesthetic, and influences you to create differently. I’m a different character when I’m solo; I’m darker, and scarier… [Laughs] With the Academy, I’m more lyrical and fun. Hip-Hop groups rarely stay together, so how as Brooklyn Academy managed to keep it together for so long?

Mr. Metaphor: Block and PH pay me extra royalties to stay in the group… we sell more records that way… [Laughing]

Block McCloud: [Laughs]… Sure! Nah we just appreciate each other’s talent and respect what the Academy brings to the game. We feel that we have a responsibility to keep creativity alive in a game that gets duller and duller by the day. That keeps us going. Also, you guys all have experience in the battle arena. But do you think it’s necessary for established artists such as yourselves to still enter those competitions?

Mr. Metaphor: Oh hell no… I’ll punch someone in the face before I battle them… [Laughing]…

Pumpkinhead: Wow it’s funny you ask that question, you never know; I think it’s important to stay sharp and never lose that hunger. You might just see ya boy in a battle soon! [Laughs] Nah, I’m actually the co-host of Grindtime Battles, so I respect the art, and wouldn’t hesitate to step in the ring if need be again… Check us out: WWW.GRINDTIMENOW.COM

Block McCloud:
I don’t do the battle thing anymore, but I will if stepped to. I’ve never had a cat beat me, and I’ve met some great MC’s in a cypher. How’s the process like when you’re all creating? Do you guys write together, separately, etc?

Mr. Metaphor: It’s usually together… It’s usually with lots of alcohol and weed… It’s usually a f*cking sick deranged circus fiesta of a time

Pumpkinhead: For the most part together.

Block McCloud: Yeah, it’s all of us, Met, PH, Block, Jack, Johnny, Goose, Mary Jane, Henny, etc. [Laughs]… When it’s all said and done, what do you want people to take away from your music?

Mr. Metaphor: These guys represent where Hip-Hop originated… These guys inspire me… These guys make me think, “Holy sh*t, did you hear what he just said?!”

Pumpkinhead: Life lessons, free Spiritness, yes I made that word up just now… [Laughs]

Block McCloud: We want to change the game, how they spit, how they sing, how they record, and how they think. We want heads to go back and rework their whole approach to music and life. Class is in session… Holler!