Modern Fix

PLAYDOUGH – interview by farr

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What do you get when you cross an emcee with a musician whose instrument is the MPC, guitar and clean ADAT tapes? Add some heartfelt lyricism and you get Playdough of ILL Harmonics and DeepSpace 5. Having said that, here is my encounter with the “Lonely Superstar” himself. (This is the title of his debut solo LP) Conducted while en route to a couple of shows in Columbus, Ohio; Playdough was gracious enough to allow the interview and give us a glimpse into the world of a lonely superstar.

Okay Playdough, where do you hail from? Dallas, TX, Where the real hip hop lives.

You seem to be in a lot of crews for a solo artist. Run them down the line.
Phonetic Composition (which is a part of Deepspace 5) consists of Freddie Bruno and myself.

Honing his craft for a good 14 years before we ever heard of him, Playdough’s dedication to the art is self-evident. Playdough’s dedication is further evidenced by the release of his debut solo disc Lonely Superstar on Uprok Records. Such a title for a debut album could be perceived as both pretentious and self- deprecating at the time. For Playdough, the reasoning for the title Lonely Superstar is extensive because it works on a variety of levels. As Playdough explains “Sometimes, y’know there are pressures to do some things that you don’t want to do to reach a certain level of success, and you see the formula and what you have to do, and you realize man, it’s this and that. So then you start seeing people do this and that, ones you knew and loved back in the day, they weren’t making much noise until they started doin’ some formulaic things and you watch ’em blow up. So that starts twistin’ the game around, and then these are the kind of people that labels want to put out because it’s selling; so that there’s all the pressure to become that. If you don’t become that, sometimes it feels like you’re maybe the only people that are staying true. Whether that’s you or your crew, either way there aren’t very many of us, it’s kind of lonely in that regard.”

Playdough is definitely one of those artists who clearly had a lot to say. His explanation of the ‘Superstar’ aspect of the Lonely Superstar was especially interesting because it draws attention to how people view and measure success
“If you do it (music) for financial reasons y’know, I’m definitely not a success then. But I consider success something that’s spiritual, something that you get when life is over. That’s part of the reason that I stay true to not doing certain styles that other people have done; that’s how I entered in life, too-lonely; Plus I’m far from a superstar, so you know it’s a little, sarcastic.” And so emerges a bit of that self-deprecating humor previously mentioned.

For all my beat crafters and producers, Playdough gets down with an MPC 2000, records on ADAT’s and dumps everything to Pro-Tools to mix and master the material.

MTV’s “The Cut” helped the career of many aspiring emcees. Playdough and ILL Harmonics were definitely in the ranks. This career boost came in the form of exposure to many label executives and judges like KRS-ONE, Treach from Naughty By Nature as well as others from the realm of R&B. To all aspiring emcees: get out there and work on your craft! It all helps. Well, maybe not everything helps, but, you get the picture.

In parting conversational company with this ‘Lonely Superstar’ I made sure that Playdough’s response to my final inquiry reflected the mindset of an intelligent, thoughtful artist. When it’s all said and done, when both career and life are over, how do you want to be remembered as a person and an artist?
“I definitely want people to see God in my life, and really to be known and remembered as a person to have just shown love. As a person that’s really all that matters, when you break it all down. So many things stem from that; really I think that (to love) may seem like such a small, one statement, but really it’s pretty broad. Love extends to so many different areas of your life, your art, your peers and such. I think that’s the most important, I don’t know if that’ll be true when I’m gone, it’s a hard thing to do, man. But that’s what I’d like to do. “

As for future plans, Playdough will be working with partner in rhyme Blake Knight for the next ILL Harmonics project once they return from touring. A short European tour is in the works as well as trip back to the West coast for a San Diego show in June. So support live conscious rap when Playdough comes to your neck of the woods! When Playdough’s in town, his wordplay & dope beats are abundant.

Be sure to check for the Lonely Superstar CD on Uprok Records. Playdough is also featured on the Underground Rise Project with many underground Hip Hop luminaries.