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Scanning Darkly- An Interview With The Dark Lyricist

Scanning Darkly- An Interview with The Dark Lyricist
Crow Central- So, what do you go by? What is your music a.k.a?
The Dark Lyricist- I'm known as The Dark Lyricist. I do have a few other names I go by or have gone by throughout the years. "The Dead Poet", "Dalyrius", and "Lyri Tengu" and sometimes just "Tengu". Overall I just go by "The Dark Lyricist" though...
Crow Central- How did that name come about?
The Dark Lyricist-  When I actually started recording I had another name, but as the years went on really it just came about. People would always comment on how dark or lyrical my songs were... it just kind of merged together. My songs touched on a lot of darker subject matter and I always strive to better myself lyrically and poetically. When you have the name "The Dark Lyricist" or "Dark Lyricist" it is not something you can just say I feel... over the course of many years I earned that. Where I'm from you didn't get to just come up with your own name you know? You were given a name or at the very least your friends and other people would put a great influence on it. It was like a badge of honor for us. If you had a dope name and were good, your peoples would be all about it. But if you had some name that didn't match or was not you, you would never hear the end of it and would get clowned, (laughs) or worse... I personally think no one should come up with their own name. You didn't make your own name when you were born you know? When you really are serious about hip-hop and music in general you get kind of born into it. It becomes a whole other part of you. You breathe it. You have to do it. It is a need. I was originally known as MC Dark. I never saw myself as a "rapper". To each their own though. Everyone's story is different. If you created your own name or it was given to you, all you can do is live up to it and try to surpass it.
Crow Central- What really got you into doing music? How did you get started?
The Dark Lyricist- I started writing poetry when I was really young. It was like therapy to me. When I was a kid, sometimes I had no where to unleash all the things I was feeling, had no way to really vent or take stress away... poetry was something that helped. I really dug all kinds of music growing up. Classic rock, jazz, blues, metal, r and b, and of course hip-hop and rap. I naturally just started writing songs. It sort of evolved out of writing poetry I guess. Hip-hop and rap became my favorite type of music. The rhythms, the bass, the storytelling, the wordplay, it all just mesmerized me. I kept it a secret though. It wasn't until late jr. high or high school when I started sharing it with some people. I was fortunate growing up in Michigan. The underground scene when it came to hip-hop and rap was mind-blowing. It was its own environment. Michigan hip-hop and rap was like the melting pot of Motown meets East Coast, meets West Coast, meets metal, meets punk, meets classic rock, meets the actual freakin' climate of Michigan. It's dark. It's cold. It can be harsh and hyper-real. While a lot of people my age grew up with what was the most popular on the East or West Coast, we grew up listening to musicians like Esham, N.A.T.A.S., Insane Clown Posse, Bedlam, Awesome Dre, MC Breed, The Dayton Family, Project Born, House of Krayzees (part of who later became Twiztid), while jamming Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, whatever. We really kept it all Michigan. If you were super-dope you got played though. The Phat Boys, Insane Poetry, Flatlinerz, DMX, WuTang Clan, some 2Pac, Simken Heights, Bone Thugs, just a huge mix. Even techno. Later on you would see "trendy" kids who had parents with cable TV listening to a lot of N.W.A., Biggie, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and later Eminem. Then stuff like Limp Bizkit, Korn, all that. All that stuff exploded. We would even jam KRS-One, Kool Herc, a lot of what people today call "Old School". We just took it all in. I met a cool group of friends in the small town where I lived and we all started rapping together, going to concerts, and started dabbling recording. (Laughs) We started making diss tracks on each other, in between making what was known as "The Wicket Shit". ICP really blew our minds. Their live show was the best I ever saw in any concert I ever went to. For some of us those days were really defining moments. Life wasn't easy. We were all angry, wild, and music was our release. It was our thing, the thing no one could take from us. We had a lot of fun. Big ups to the original Paul St. crew. Psycho B, Special K (Special), Skitzofrantic 01 (Willipeno), and all our peoples from the Sick. That's where I was born musically, the area where where I grew up, nothing but love.
Crow Central- What made you start Netherworld Records?
The Dark Lyricist- The music business is a hard thing to get in to, professionally anyway. Or so I thought (laughs). It is really shady and I wanted to steer clear of a lot of that. I always really wanted to do things independently. It was just the Michigan way I guess. I've been approached by a few outside labels and some associated with bigger business. Never really was offered what I was looking for, or couldn't come to the right agreement. I think part of it was me wanting to stay independent too. I grew up with hearing record label horror stories, and seeing people get hustled and screwed over, myself experiencing a lot of the negative aspects of the music industry, even on a very small underground level. Everything early on was a learning curve. No one gave me anything, not even knowledge. I had to fight for it, or teach myself, or figure out a way to learn it. I enrolled myself in college. I learned how to record things the standard way, the right way I guess you could say. I built everything from nothing, bit by bit. Netherworld Records has been around a long time. I've been reppin' the Crow since way back. I learned the hard way and to this day still pay dues. I started Netherworld Records to start doing things professionally and take things to the next step. I needed a platform to jump my music off from. It became a passion. I saw the music business constantly change over and over again. When everything is a storm your house needs a good foundation. That's what Netherworld Records is. A foundation stone. All you can do is learn and grow and better yourself. Netherworld is just one way I try to do that.
Crow Central-  What to you, makes a good MC? What to you makes a good rapper?
The Dark Lyricist- Ohhh... the 65 thousand dollar question... to me, in my opinion there is a huge difference between an MC and a rapper. An MC has to be lyrically bad ass, has to have really good technical skill and wordplay, really good lyrics, storytelling ability, delivery, all that. An MC has to engage and "rock" the crowd. Has to have presence. Has to always perfect and enhance their craft. A good MC embodies one of the pillars of hip-hop and strives to always be better with every song, every album, every performance. A good rapper is different. You don't have to be technically bad ass or have to have an excellent command of the language you make music in... you have to to be able to be "catchy". Its more about popularity I think. It is more about groove, feel of the song, and lifestyle, and sound, whatever. Either way you have to make good songs. I think MC's can be great rappers. I don't think a lot of rappers can be great MC's though. There's a bar. A lyrical standard set by all other MC's. You can be both though, that is for sure.
Crow Central-  Who are your some of your favorite musicians/MC's/rappers (in no particular order)?
The Dark Lyricist- That's a tough one... there are so many good ones. Hundreds.... If we are talking favorite musicians in any genre that is extra tough. I'm a huge fan of all kinds of music. I'll just say 5 that I always go back listening to... I have to say I really dig anything by Seven. His music really compliments the artists that perform and record vocals to it. If I say Seven I might as well combine him with Tech N9ne. Those two are a powerhouse.
I really like Rage Against the Machine. If I was a sport fighter I'd jam Rage when walking out. It motivates me.... plus they made music to buck the system and rebel to. Their whole discography is always jam-able.
Violent J's- from ICP- storytelling is phenomenal.... if you listen to those types of songs where a tale is being told- he can put you right there in a really entertaining way. You gotta combine J with Mike Clark though. That's magic. Mike Clark is unstoppable in my eyes. Literally in my top 3 favorite producers. That's the thing too- a lot of artists wouldn't be as good without their producers. I give producers big credit.
I always go back to Bone Thugs in Harmony. I can listen to E.1999 Eternal without skipping a single song, which is rare for me. I can do that with a lot of Bone Thugs in Harmony. Krayzie Bone's Thug Mentality 1999, Flesh's T.H.U.G.S., all their stuff is great. All of the Bone Thugs in Harmony members make top of the line music to me.Yeah. Hmmmmn.... Johnathan Davis has an insane voice... Korn did this cover of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" that will forever be in my playlist... NATAS' album "" is another I can play all the way through... Prince EA, Paris, 2Cellos, Kid Rock, Twiztid, Micheal Jackson, Krizz Kaliko, Insane Poetry, Immortal Technique, Led Zeppelin, there is just so much good music out there. I even listen to instrumental music like Old Viking/Scandanavian music, Native American music, Celtic music, all that stuff. It is epic. I like everything Netherworld Records has put out, and a lot it has yet to... (laughs) If you had asked who are my top 5 MC's I'd have to say at this point in time- Tech N9ne is in there. Lyrical ability and delivery and stage presence is bonkers. Royce Da 5'9" and the rest of Slaughterhouse is in there right now... Eligh from the Living Legends, that guy is masterful, Del the Funky Homosapien, so many are super talented man... number 5 is yet to be determined. I save that as an empty spot for motivation. No one is number one. It is a spot we all try to reach and it makes us better for it.
Crow Central-  What is your favorite kind of song to do?
The Dark Lyricist- For me at this point, it would have to be songs that are based on things I'm feeling... there is a lot of crazy and controversial things out there... a lot of injustice and really dark and scary REAL stuff... when you make semi-political or political songs based on your opinions and how certain things make you feel it really brings out another side you know? I heavily follow geopolitics and current events, and I'm deeply interested in real history. When you base songs in provable fact and from a place of knowledge it is powerful stuff. I take my natural rights and as an American, my Constitutional Rights very seriously. The other type of songs I like to do have to do with telling a story. Not so much the "activist" side as the entertaining side. I like really good media based in the "horror" genre. Movies and films, literature, poetry, art, everything. One of my favorite things as a kid was to sit around a campfire or bonfire and try and tell the scariest or best spooky story possible. That's where a lot of those types of songs that I do come from. I used to even write crazy short stories when I was younger. It's like passing down mythology and legends. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Halloween growing up in Michigan was out of this world. It was serious business. When I started recording songs, it was just natural to turn some of those tales that captivated me when I was younger into songs, and add some new ones of my own.
Crow Central-  What was the first concert you ever went to that really blew you away?
The Dark Lyricist- It was Halloween night. October 31st. The year was 2001. I had been to a lot of other concerts, but it was a concert by the Insane Clown Posse. Hallowicked 2001. It blew my mind. The way the crowd was. The performances. The theatrics. The whole production. The whole experience was out of this world. Those guys blew 99.9% of anyone I had ever seen or watched out the water with that show, and a whole lot of other ones since. I'll never forget it. That's one of those nights that you have a paradigm shift. I definitely did.
Crow Central- What are you listening to at the moment? What’s in your stereo or what are you jamming?
The Dark Lyricist- I have a lot of Netherworld Records music going. Straight Out the Sarcophagus... Mindscape... new stuff I can't wait to share with the world that I am super excited about. I also have been listening to Wardruna, Fever Ray, the new Insane Poetry album, I just heard some of Tech N9ne's new music... a little Twiztid, but to be honest mostly instrumentals. I'm in work mode so I don't like to be influenced sound wise too much subconsciously. I try to keep it in-house unless I am really jammin' it. I listen to a lot of podcasts and new. I still gotta jam Mastamind's "Forever" every now and again (laughs). I practice my music a lot too, so I always have that going and am rehearsing.
Crow Central- Who is your favorite super-hero? Super-villain? Why are they your favorite?
The Dark Lyricist- DC Comics' Batman. He is human surrounded by a bunch of overpowered species and entities and still holds his own. He is outmatched by nearly everything in that creative universe and still perseveres and succeeds. He has problems like anyone else. He has a dark side he keeps in full control of. He has nearly mastered his own personal self. Plus all the folks who write the stories like Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder for example are awesome writers. I identify with Batman on a lot of levels. I don't have a favorite Super-villain. Villains show us what dark parts of our nature we should stand up to and fight against. I respect that. No "favorite" though. I never root for them. Most of the time they are lucky. Those stories are like never ending second acts. Villains most of the time always get second chances. Real life is not like that whatsoever. Second chances are rare and sometimes only come by way of miracles. I stay vigilant.
Crow Central- What drives you? What motivates you?
The Dark Lyricist- My wife and my family. I want to do as much as possible for them before I die. I want future generations of my family to know that no matter if you came from absolutely nothing you can live an amazing life. My friends motivate me too. God motivates me as much or if not more. There has been a lot of struggle and suffering, but even in the darkest of times God brings things I didn't even know I had in me to the surface. I have a never-ending need to better myself. I also have a huge need to speak up about things I'm seeing in the world. We live in interesting and turbulent times. I give it up to God man. Big time. Building a good life for the ones I love is huge to me. Hopefully my music speaks to people the more it spreads. If I can touch someone's life in a positive and good way... that is a blessing.
Crow Central- Whats your favorite song you have released so far professionally?
The Dark Lyricist- "Sides". Hands down. The content of that song is powerful. The lyrics are really on point. Which side are you on? There is a lot of political turmoil going on right now all over the world. Everyone as a whole, really would benefit from serious contemplation. There are things going on that no society should tolerate in this day and age. In the end it all boils down to good versus evil. To quote Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." It is time to do something. I feel it is not only time for people to take a stand, but really get informed about what is going on in the world. Hip-hop has always had a political element. While it may not be the most popular, it is very powerful. "Sides" for me, is just the beginning...
Crow Central- What new stuff are you working on? Are you working on new material? Tell us about what is coming everyone’s way…
The Dark Lyricist- Right now I just announced that I am working on a new album. I can't give out the title right yet, but it is pretty ambitious. It is technically my first solo album. I really am aiming for a high level. You evolve over the years as a musician. When you constantly work on your craft and push yourself a bit you grow. I only want to constantly improve and get better. It is just forming. There are quite a few things in the works. We just launched CrowCentral which is like our own internet magazine/media hub. It is going to be a platform for not only Netherworld Records artists, but anyone affiliated with us, or anyone who wants to be a part of it. We want to make it a fun and unique place to go online. We have a lot of fun and exciting things in the works. I'm hoping to put out a new video too. My brother has a great talent for photography and video. He was a big part of the "Sides" video. When him and I team up again it is going to be crazy. I'm also working on some in-house projects for other artists on the label. We are really building something great. Netherworld Records has been rebuilt from scratch a few times now. It's not always easy building a solid foundation. This time around I feel that the progression is on a new level. We work hard. You can start looking out for live performances too. This new album in the works, it is special to me. I have a feeling everyone who hears it will feel it speak to them.
Crow Central-Thanks for stopping by!
The Dark Lyricist- No problem. We'll do this again soon!
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