It’s An Infinite Cycle Interviews… Thelonious
In this interview, Thelonious‘ background in music is discussed and he talks about The Life Of A Teenage Champion beat tape. This interview also accompanies the release of Thelonious’ Life Of A Champion, so download that after you read the interview.
You share a name with with one of the world’s most prolific pianists. How was this name chosen?
As a child my mother and father surrounded me with music, my mother went to a DAS EFX concert while she was pregnant with me and I attended an Outkast concert with her while she was at Florida A&M I was only two. My father has always been around music from managing Dj Mark Fulla Flava and even producer Xtreme. He always played music when I was little and it started with jazz, ranging from Miles Davis, Idris Muhammad, and of course Thelonious Monk. I moved from my pops to live with my mom at the age of 5 so revisiting this calming era with father is the way i pay homage with my name.
You live in Montclair, NJ, but in the summer, you stay in Chicago. Are these two cities active influences on your beats?
Being back in Chicago every summer I got to listen to the No I.D.’s and Kanye’s early, like you would think that Chicago is such a large place, but my auntie went to middle school with him. Yet I can’t sit here and say my influences are just Chicago and Montclair based though.
Speaking of influences, which artists influence your work?
It’s really funny because listening to Kanye West didn’t make me jump out of my seat and say I want to make beats, it was more of the Just Blaze’s and No I.D.’s. The hip hop I grew up on was the 90’s east coast Bad Boy and Wu Tang so you can def hear that within my sounds. But as I grew older I found Dilla and 9th Wonder, it was like finding new religions that people were hiding from me. 9th Wonder is my idol and that is probably the one producer that I say I emulate.
How did you start and learn to make beats?
I started making beats like 7th grade, I was in a rap group with a couple of friends and my friend Matt was the one who made the beats. I always gravitated towards how he did it and funny enough by watching him I sat back and learned how to use the computer programs and what not. That became the spark for the influence to make beats, then by setting out to figure out how to do what I wanted I watched documentaries, endless amounts of Youtube videos and tutorials, and hard work. I purchased my laptop in the spring of 2008 and since then beats have been made.
Being as young as you are (17), do you think that would be a drawback for you?
I think it shouldn’t be a drawback, but I can’t sit here and act like people are like “Oh he’s only 17”, I just turned 17, but I’ve had a beard since 15. Like I don’t feel young with music, I’ve been around it since I was small, so I feel as though my old soul should show through my beats. Like what 17 year old you know that just thumbs through Ahmad Jamal records.
What is the meaning behind the title of your latest release, Life Of A Teenage Champion?
The way the title came to be is actually hilarious, I was talking to my big homie Mars, and he asked what i wanted to that weekend. I replied in a joking tone “I don’t know fam, make some music, dance with a girl, make out with someones cousin, eat and sleep.” And my homie Mars replies “Yo that sounds like the life of a teenage champion.” And it started to click, the moment that was said I ran with it. So props to Mars no doubt. The Life Of A Teenage Champion is the basic sleep.eat.create. lifestyle, to me I’m doing what I love in simplest form and I rarely let anything bother that tranquility.
Life Of A Teenage Champion is also your third release of 2009. What made you release that much material this year?
Really I have released this much music because there is really this much music, yet again there are like 3 or 4 projects I just did for personal progress, I’m always working 2 or 3 steps ahead of where you think I’m at. Like right now I’m working on my next beat tape and production for artists I’m working with.
If you could work with any artist(s), who would it be and why?
It’s crazy because I had set out a list of artist to work with by years end and most of them I worked with, but now the list of artist to work with is, XV, Nero, Shawn Chrystopher, Esso, and Mickey Factz. I feel like these guys are the future well there a few artists I didn’t list because I’ve already worked with such as QuESt, Threatz, Treazon, and MoShadee, along with those guys I would like to work with, these guys def are apart of this new tide of great emcees.
Download: Life Of A Teenage Champion