A while back we here at Boston Hassle started trying to “rap” our heads around the local rap scene. An editor turned me on to recent MASSART grad Lewis M, and he agreed to come play some shows with us. That’s when we were first treated to works from his upcoming That New Violence project which, now, has reached fruition. It’s our honor to bring you an early taste (stream-link at bottom) and in this review we asked Lewis a few questions, so, here’s the man himself!
BH: Who is the audience you most hope to reach with this work?
LM: “I know my work, by nature of its subject, can be a bit confrontational. So, my audience would be people who are socially aware, and politically minded. I wrote the album to speak to people who’ve been having trouble sorting out their emotions in the midst of social turbulence.”
Honing his art in poetry groups, both here in Boston and before in his native Rhode Island, Lewis brings exactly that sort of intelligent hunger for justice into sharp focus in many of these raps. The message isn’t always comfortable for Caucasian ears to take in, but this is part of poet-craft; to dazzle listeners out of comfortable patterns of thought.
BH: Are there any artists whose work inspired you in it’s production?
LM: “Musically, I took a lot of inspiration from producers like The Alchemist, Marco Polo, and DJ Premier. Actually, one of my friends, Haasan Barclay, just released a project entitled Heaven Is Your Last Dream. We produced our projects at around the same time, so watching him work really motivated me to push forward with this project.”
Often Lewis sets off his verse in ironic contrast to his backing tracks, looping cuts from soothing, orchestral mid-century cinema soundtrack and television broadcast breaks blended with hip-hop beats. In fact, the production is stylistically consistent throughout, owing certainly to aforenamed NY producers, but also co-evolutionarily reminiscent of Dancehall Jazz popularized a decade or more back by European producers and club DJs. It’s thoughtful songcraft and makes That New Violence a compelling listen for thinking folk, be they hip-hop lovers or poetry freaks.
BH: How do you see yourself within Boston’s creative landscape, vis-a-vis; rap, poetry, activism, diy,
and what are your next aspirations?
LM: “Honestly, I’d love to just have my work known and respected amongst my peers. I want my work to reflect my life and what I do in different artistic arena. I want to try and go on a mini “That New Violence” tour. That’s one thing I definitely want to do. But, in the mean time, my next main focus is working with Flatline Poetry (a group I’m part of).”