It’s elementary my dear Watson!
The combination of MC Blacastan and producer Stu Bangas is a no brainer, but it was a long and winding road that ultimately united these two talents. They both grew up with a love for hip hop and comic books. “We came up on the same stuff,” Stu explains “I used to subscribe to comic books but I also subscribed to the source and when I got the source I would read the whole thing cover to cover.”
Blac began making music as a teenager, mostly just for fun, he would freestyle with friends. “I never really took it seriously,” Blac admitted. “Then, you know, just like growing up in the neighborhood you get into trouble and when I went away is when I started to learn how to really write.”
Blac was sent to prison when he was just 16-years-old, that’s when a fellow inmate introduced him to the world of underground hip-hop. “He would like send me some cassettes or whatever and I was like, ‘Yo, people are really making records rapping how the fuck they wanna rap.’”
When he was released, creating music became a key element in the rebuilding of his life. “You get branded in the system dude, it makes life impossible you know, trying to turn your life around.” However, Blac’s story is an inspiration showing that it’s possible to start over.
“He’s like a wicked good dude,” Stu chimes in, “he’s the nicest person you could meet, man. That’s the biggest thing if you’re respectful to people, you will get a second chance regardless of what you’ve done.”
While Blac was dealing with that impossible situation, Stu was honing his craft, graduating from turntables to an MPC, and beginning to create his own beats. “I always hung out with older kids so they taught me how to make beats and stuff, like how to chop samples, how to dig for records.”
The two eventually came together as members of the massive, masterful rap collective, Army of The Pharaohs. They were drawn to each other and began work on a side project. “Blac and I and a couple artist were gonna do an album together and everyone ended up being busy and me and Blac had already started making songs together,” Stu explains, “the songs sounded pretty good so we decided to just keep working on it.”
In 2014 they debuted with Watson & Holmes. “We were at a comic book store and there was like an independent comic book that we saw that was like ‘Watson and Holmes’ type thing and so we saw that and thought we could kind of adopt that.”
Blac adds, “Watson and Holmes were real tight and they would match each others wit, so it was perfect. Actually, the only bad part is that they’re detectives because you know in hip-hop you probably don’t wanna be in law enforcement.”
Even though they live in different parts of the country, Blac & Stu speak every day, and they guide each other through their own creative processes. “When the beat instantly grabs me that’s when it’s gonna happen,” Blac explains of their writing method. “This time I tried to relax from that though. I tried to pick stuff that I didn’t go to right away and I tried to push myself to create.”
That’s just what he did on their sophomore album, The Uncanny Adventures of Watson and Holmes. Stu’s dynamic beats move and evolve with some of Blac’s finest writing to date. “What we’re trying to do is elevate it each time without catering to what everybody else is doing.”
Words by Luke LaBenne