Q. Tell the readers a little about THINK TANK and how the group was formed. In other words how Llamabeats paired up with Parable?
Parable: It actually stemmed from Spits and myself meeting at a show where he tossed me a beat CD. We linked up at the Llamabeats studio a few weeks after that, and homeboys showed me some joints that blew me away. We worked on one song together, “Money Kulture,” but the chemistry and vibe was so dope that we agreed we had to work on more.
The What’s Good?: I was a latecomer to the group, but what strikes me about THINK TANK is that the four of us are first and foremost good friends. We have a good time just hanging out, which is apparent in the music.
Q. Who is the biggest musical influence for THINK TANK?
Spits: Jonas Brothers, definitely the Jonas Brothers.
The Master Fader: Naw, but for real, that’s a pretty tough question. I mean, there are 3 of them, so it’s hard to choose which Jonas Brother is most influential. Ha!
The What’s Good?: Ok, but for real this time, we each have very different influences from all over. We could all agree on Black Star, The Roots, Dilla, Pete Rock, Kanye, J-Live, D'Angelo, Pharcyde, Sublime, The Beatles, George Shearing, Mingus, MAYDAY and Tito Puente, just to name fourteen.
Q. Where is the current state of hip-hop? Where do you see it heading in the next few years?
The What’s Good?: I once heard Phonte say that hip hop now is starting to cultivate audiences in more niche genres. We have hip hop in electronica, in rock, in pop, in jazz, etc. I think this is happening in all areas of music. For many, true quality is found in the music that appeals to a smaller audience. At the end of the day, I think that this diversification is the only way Hip Hop is going to survive in the long term.
Parable: For a while there was that argument of Hip-Hop being dead, and I’d say it sure was close. But now it’s alive and kicking thanks to a new sleugh of artists pushing the boundaries of creativity, and we like to think that we are in that realm. The Mashed Potatoes mixtape we have set for Nov 2nd touches many different styles and genres.
Master Fader: When we write songs, it's a free for all. When it comes to choruses or harmonies, we put our heads together to think of a concept, or even just a word that sounds cool. This inevitably leads to everybody making incoherent noises to some sort of rhythm or tune. The actual lyrics will eventually come from the original concept and we'll put the two together until a song that makes sense comes out.
Spits: Generally you have to run what we come up with through some sort of grammar check to make sure it actually means something. And then, BOOM!, hit songs are made. The other way is just putting the beat through the "Hit Song Generator" machine we bought. We did that with about half of the songs on the project. You'll know which ones those are because they talk a lot about how a woman's "binary code" makes them feel. In my opinion, some of that stuff is downright offensive.
Q. Any advice for aspiring MCs?
Parable: I would say to just be authentic and work-hard. Have confidence in your style, be original, and execute. It's not always about talent, tho. Of course, when there is talent and quality that helps. But just as important is work ethic. The cat that's working the hardest is the one that's gonna pull fans. So really, do work!