BURNTmd, a Brooklyn born, Denver-by-way-of-Vermont transplant, recently released Not So Black & White, a project eight years in the making, which features his well honed but constantly changing flow, plus old-shcool hip-hop legends Craig G of Marley Marl's legendary Juice Crew, and production from Madlib, J Glaze and Copywrite, among others, along with a multitude of hip-hop samples drawing from every hip-hop era. The MC has performed with some of the hip-hop's all-time greats, form Ice Cube to Wu-Tang to M.O.P. to Immortal Technique. We recently caught up with the MC to hear a little bit of his story.
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Westword: Have you always lived in Denver?
BURNTmd: I moved here a year ago. I'm from Brooklyn. I moved here from Burlington, Vermont. I lived there for ten years
How did you get started in rap music?
I've been writing I guess you could say poetry since I was about fourteen or so. When I was about fifteen or sixteen, I got into the rave scene in the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area. That was in 1997. I started getting into those drum-and-bass MCs, like Jungle music, you know? Those MCs really stimulated me; they were spitting super fast and just crazy. So that enabled me or influenced me to put my writings in a rhyme format as far as music was concerned, you know what I'm saying? Maybe when I was, a few years later, eighteen or seventeen or so, I started writing my own rhymes as far as hip-hop. In 2004, I put out my first CD.
Is hip-hop what you've always listened to?
Nah, nah, I listen to my music [laughs]. As far as hip-hop, I listen to other stuff, too, but for the most part, I'm listening to everything under the sun. During the day, I like to stay calm, so I'll have reggae, you know what I mean? I'll put on. I don't know if you've ever heard of a group called the Spam Allstars, but they play an eclectic sound. It's definitely Cuban influenced in a sense, salsa influenced. But I listen to jazz. I listen to all types -- as ODB would say, "all types of fucked up shit!" [laughs]
Are there any MCs that you can think of that you've modeled your style after or who have influenced you?
No, no. I do my very best to stay in my bubble, in my cave, my underground lair, so that I'm not swayed by outside influence because it's imperative that I reflect myself. You know, we are a product of our environment, per se. I was raised -- my mom was going to Woodstock while my father was studying for medical school, so I happened to be a fuckin', you know. My music is in a sense hard if you hear it, but I'm also talking about positive things or positive messages. I try to just be me, you know?
Now that you've finished Not So Black & White, do you already have a next project in line?
I do. I have a few. My next project is called The Green Invasion, and it's gonna feature Snoop Dogg and TI and Keith Murray and a bunch of people.
You have a pretty impressive collaboration list. Is there anyone you want to collaborate with that you haven't?
I would love to work with a band and ultimately offer the most stimulating music possible. The people that I would choose to work with are not necessarily rappers, you know what I mean? But there's a lot of people that I would love to work with, you know? I just love music, so anybody that's capable of bringing forth quality music, there's too many to name.
When it's all said and done, whenever that happens to be, and you hang up the microphone, what do you hope you will have accomplished.
What I set out to accomplish on a daily basis, which is to positively influence as many people as possible, to let people know that they're not alone and to influence healthy growth.
Is there anything else you want people to know?
It might be interesting to know how I got to Denver. I was on tour with Black Thought of the Roots, and we had a stop here, and it happened to be during the Cannabis Cup. We were only here for a night, but it was a good night, and I ended up moving here a few months down the road after that. So music brought me to Denver ultimately...So that moved me to Colorado and Colorado was appealing to me for many reasons: There's a lot to do; we could have a Smoke Fest and actually have a good time at it, you know what I mean? [Laughs] And that's what the show is called this Sunday.
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