Communicating Vessels’ recording artists Shaheed and DJ Supreme are one of hip hop’s most consistent groups. They hail from Birmingham, Alabama, but you won’t find them categorized among the typical dirty south artists. They are, in fact, seen as practitioners of traditional boom-bap hip hop.
The duo, who have worked together since 2000, began this collaboration in 2007 and have an impressive track record to authenticate their expertise. They’ve released two critically acclaimed LPs (Health Wealth & Knowledge of Self and Scholar Warrior (The Remix Album)). They’ve shared stages with Raekwon, Atmoshpere, Brother Ali, DJ Shiftee, The Bodega Brovas, and Stalley, as well as labelmates The Green Seed. And their albums feature guest appearances from artists such as Akil the MC (of Jurassic 5), Amir Sulaiman, and W. Ellington Felton.
With 2013 comes the release of their much anticipated third LP, Knowledge, Rhythm, and Understanding. This is their debut label release and Communicating Vessels is certain Shaheed’s skillful lyrical agility and DJ Supreme’s soulful production will leave listeners perfectly inspired.
Ghettoblaster caught up with DJ Supreme before a run of late summer dates to celebrate the albums August 20 release. This is what he said about it.
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
Writing and production took about two years.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Actually the songs were not troublesome at all. We did all the preproduction at my house, plus Shaheed is so brilliant. He has notebooks of rhymes and hooks. So we generally know how a song will be arranged before each session.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
There’s a song called “Keep Climbing” on the album that I initially produced for a remix for another artist. So I synced up their singing with the music, mixed it and sent it back to them. I thought the song fit perfectly, but they didn’t like it. So I just used that beat for our album and Shaheed always liked the beat so when I told him it was up for grabs he already had a song for it.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Yes. We have Akil The MC from Jurassic 5 on “Champions of Truth”, Adib from Unseen Ummah and our label mate R-Tist from The Green Seed on “Boom It In Ya Jeep”, and we have Angie King singing on “Keep Climbing”.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
I produced the album in its entirety.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
This album is more aggressive than our previous releases. The emphasis is put on skills and word play. The beats are the icing on the cake. I think we’ve put together a well oiled machine with this album.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We’ve actually been performing “Right Now” for about year before we released it as a single. We just recently added “Champions of Truth”, “Saliva”, and “Like This” to our arsenal because they get a very positive response.
(Catch Shaheed and DJ Supreme live at one of the following dates:
8-19 Birmingham, AL – Workplay Theater (w/ Bro Ali & Atmosphere)
8-20 Birmingham, AL – Communicating Vessels HQ
8-23 Birmingham, AL – Parkside Cafe (CD Release Party)
8-24 Montevallo, AL – Montevallo Artwalk
9-13 Tuscaloosa, AL – Egan’s
9-14 Birmingham, AL – Avondale Brewery)