Houston Noise-Rapper B L A C K I E: "Kanye Was Listening to Me in the Studio"
Chances are you've heard B L A C K I E, even if the stylized name doesn't ring a bell at first. The artist--once described as a "one-man noise ordinance" by the New York Times --is the textbook definition of immersive performance art. The solo artist is completely in your face with melodic baritone spits, gritty, guttural noise punk-rap that blows hearts and brains, with a volume that rivals Swans' arsenal of amplifiers or My Bloody Valentine's noise-assailing sets.
The man behind the all-caps-with-spaces moniker, Michael LaCour, came from humble beginnings--performing anywhere he could, from house parties to block parties. These stints led to LaCour morphing into one of Houston's most revered noise pioneers, infamous for bringing his own speakers into spaces, many times unannounced, and plunging into sets both annihilating and captivating. Ask any Houstonian--noise-rap no-shows Death Grips and the media's favorite misfit, Kanye West, have B L A C K I E to thank for perfecting their art and sound.
We caught up with B L A C K I E the day before he kicks off his tour and talked about voodoo, LL Cool J, and family history in advance of his Shea Stadium show on Saturday.
Thanks for chatting with us before tour! What are you up to today?
Well, I'm going on tour. I start in New Orleans tomorrow. Last time I played there it was crazy. It was like a house. Sometimes New Orleans is weird. I guess it depends.
When was your "this is it" moment with music?
Man, my sister just told me she found some old home videos of me being real young, just a little kid, rapping LL Cool J and jumping off of crap. I remember that stuff. "Mama Said Knock You Ouuuuut!" It's like ... dang, I'm about to go on tour. I've been doing the same thing since I was a little boy. It's kind of messed up. I still remember it. I don't know why. When you're young, someone like Will Smith or LL Cool J sounds hardcore.
Totally. Whatever happened to LL Cool J? I feel like he disappeared.
Yeah! I feel like a lot of those dudes, musicians, actors, some of them do. Like Eddie Murphy, or Martin Lawrence. You never hear about them. Or they're just so rich and they think they don't need to come out of their house anymore. I think LL Cool J hosts some TV show now, though. I remember hearing my mom talking about it.
How have you been preparing before tour?
Hmm. Today I was sleeping a lot. I guess because I've been driving a lot--I just got back from doing a ton of shows with Zorch, and I've been driving all night. So once I get back home I've been sleeping all day. I know that musicians sleep all day and aren't productive, but I'm not like that. I'm hella productive.
Does that productivity stem from your personality? Are you the type of person that likes to stay busy?
Not really, I'm just real serious about the things I gotta do. Cause I got a kid now, so I don't like to screw around too much. I go to work, I show up early. I go on tour, I show up to the club like two hours early. I'm always an early bird. I was just telling my wife, it's kind of funny. I'll play a house show and the show itself will be crazy. People will be bleeding because they got hit in the face. It's a real rowdy time. But before she show I'm just sitting in a corner, and after the show I'm just sitting outside. I'm not a party kind of person. When it's time for music to happen, I get real active and crazy.
Have people assumed you're this manic sort of person because of how rowdy your live shows are?
That's kind of what being on tour is. On an underground level ... I'm not Tommy Lee or nothing, but parties--some kids want merch, they'll trade you pills for merch. You see girls ... they want something from you, people offer you weed, alcohol, drugs. I'm not straight edge, but I'm kind of in that realm of being anti-drug, anti- a lot of that stuff.
That's pretty responsible, especially for a tour setting.
Yeah, man! I gotta get to the next city, so I can't get caught up in that, or get screwed over because I was trying to party or something. I'm there for one reason--destroy the spot, get to the next spot, destroy the next one.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about B L A C K I E out there?
Some people say my music promotes violence, or is championed by like meatheads. I'm not about that at all. I like when I look out and see when there's a girl crowd-surfing and elbowing people, you know? I'm like equal opportunity--anybody can get hurt and have fun at my shows. I don't like to see big football type dudes jumping on people, you know? I like to see everyone getting into it.
I'm just a person making music. I mean, it don't matter what you think of me, because I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I've been rapping LL Cool J since I was five. Now I'm creepin' on up in age and I'm not gonna stop.
When you first started out making music, did you ever imagine people would be bleeding and going absolutely nuts at your shows?
Not at the very beginning. Once I saw how my friends were reacting, I thought 'Man, this is going to get people to move around, this is going to be cool.' I had this vision --this is really weird, I've never told anybody this. I made a song, and thought about one of my friends. He's this big Mexican kid. I thought then, when my homie hears this he's going to flip. And like months later, there was a concert and he happened to be there (he's from out of town). I played that track, and whatever I had visualized in my mind--he did the exact thing! It was like déjà vu or something. It spooked me out. I hit the beat, and I just imagined this big Mexican homie jumping off the stage, not looking, flattening everybody, and that's exactly what he did! Maybe I just know him because he's my friend, but it was weird to see it happen exactly. It happens a lot with me. I'm from Louisiana and my family is all from there. I don't know, there's some weird voodoo stuff happening.