I was recently able to catch up with underground hip-hop legend Blacastan from Hartford, Connecticut. The emcee has been rising on the scene with some of his latest solo material such as an LP with DJ Doom, collaboration/group albums and more. Get the full scoop here:
P-Rice: How did you develop your name Blacastan and what is the meaning behind it?
Blacastan: I developed the name during the Capone N Noreaga era of Hip Hop. I was a really big fan of what they brought to the table, during the time of The War Report album. They introduced Hip Hop to “The Desert Rap” motif, where they adopted middle eastern names to different locations in New York ei. Queensbridge they called Kuwait, Lefrak was Iraq etc. My emcee name at the time was just BLACK, a friend of mine who was also a big fan of CNN came up with the idea of BLACKISTAN. Initially I thought it was kind of corny, but I knew I needed to have a name that stood out more than just BLACK. So, I started to use the name in little raps that I was writing at the time. I also thought maybe I should change the spelling up to make the name more my own. So, after using the name for awhile I changed the spelling up to BLACASTAN. Everybody that heard me using it thought it was dope so I stuck with it. (((BLACASTAN))
P-Rice: You’ve recently collaborated with Stu Bangas for the album “Watson & Holmes”- for those who haven’t heard it, what is the idea behind the album?
Blacastan: Yeah, the whole Watson & Holmes concept came about when me, Stu, Reef The Lost Cauze, and Vanderslice were working on a collabo album that ended up not happening. Due to everyone involved having too much things on each individual’s plate. Stu and I had submitted a few records towards that project, when we realized that everyone else had a lot goin’ on we decided to salvage what we could and keep goin’ with what we had. During that process Stu sent me a beat that would later become the music behind the title track of the whole project “Watson & Holmes”. When I got the beat it spoke to me right away I wrote the whole song almost instantly. There was a line in there where I said: “As we embark on a journey like, Watson & Holmes.” Then the lightbulb popped on, I hit Stu up like: “Yo we should call ourselves Watson & Holmes, we’re like the rap version of Watson & Holmes!” He agreed and the name stuck we named the song “Watson & Holmes” then later decided to name the whole project “Watson & Holmes” as well.
P-Rice: How was growing up in Hartford, CT & how was the hip-hop scene?
Blacastan: Growing up in Hartford, CT was like growing up in any other urban area in the U.S. I would imagine. I mean I kinda bounced around to a couple different neighborhoods and schools growing up. My Moms was a teenage mother who struggled with addiction and raising two boys on her own. My older brother struggled with staying out of trouble, I struggled with staying out of trouble also I wasn’t too successful at keeping my nose clean in my younger days I ended up goin’ away for awhile. I’ve always had a love for Hip Hop since bein’ introduced to it by my older brother and cousin.
The Hip Hop scene has always been there, I mean everyone that came from the hood loved Hip Hop. As far as emcee’s who’ve made it pass a local level the list really isn’t that long. However, I can say we have some amazingly talented emcee’s, DJ’s, Graffiti artist, and Producers that are still active today. I would place myself amongst some of the more notable artist to come from CT definitely.
P-Rice: How do you feel about the New England & conscience hip-hop scene?
Blacastan: I definitely have love for the New England scene, Boston particularly has played a major role in me making it to an international level. I appreciate music that has a message behind it, the Hip Hop I grew up on had a definite meaning behind it especially during the Pro-Black Era in Hip Hop. However, I think there’s a definite line between bein’ conscious and bein’ preachy. The message has to be brought across in a dope way, If it’s corny it’s just corny and nobody wants to hear a whack record preaching: “Save The World”. That’s where I think we lose people when we start to throw around the word “Conscious” in Hip Hop. That’s just my humble opinion.
P-Rice: Who would you say are some of your inspirations in hip-hop?
Blacastan: My biggest inspirations are: Gangstarr, KRS, Nas, and Wu,…
P-Rice: How would you describe the style of your lyrics, the messages you possess in them?
Blacastan: I consider myself a storyteller. I would say telling stories is definitely my strong point. My lyrics can depict whatever I’m feeling or thinking of at the moment I’m writing. I try very hard to make the listener visualize what I’m rhyming about, creating images with words.
P-Rice: How did you get involved with Army of the Pharaohs? How was being a part of In Death Reborn and Heavy Lies the Crown? What can we expect next from AOTP?
Blacastan: I started to run with the Pharaohs in the most organic way possible. The relationship started out when I got introduced to Karma and Papa D over at BRICK records. I was at the time already tight with Apathy who was already an official Pharaoh, It’s kinda hard pinpointing the exact moment everything went down and was made official. I met everyone individually and we all would hang out when any given member was in the area we formed relationships. Overtime I just became a part of the movement. It was incredible bein’ involved with both of these projects I was honored to be trading bars with these brothers I mean these guys are some of the best lyricist the underground has to offer!
P-Rice: Do you have any upcoming future solo projects? If so, could you let us know what we can expect?
Blacastan: I’m in the process of completing a follow up to “Watson & Holmes” with Stu Bangas. I have an LP on the way with DJ DOOM. I’m also working on a solo project featuring prod. from Stu, DJ DOOM, ColomBeyond, Apathy etc.