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interview // the visionary // part 1

MG! The Visionary dropped his debut ďTransparemceeĒ on Uprok Records in 2000 and altered the scene of hip hop with an inimitable lyrical style and ear pleasing instrumentals. MG1 later released ďSinners PrayerĒ in the same here where traditional hymns were remixed into a fusion of hymnal hip-hop; in present time it seems as if MG! has left hip-hop forever. MG! The Visionary now known as simply The Visionary is returning with his upcoming album entitled Bobís Place. The Visionary took the time to let Aphire in on an exclusive three-part interview of past, present, and future.


How did you begin rapping and who was your inspiration?


Iíve always loved music.  Music has been a huge part of my life since the beginning.  I feel like God has placed me here to create music and reach people with His love through music.  Iíve always been around incredible musicians and vocalists alike.  I feel rhythm in every aspect of my life from driving a car to watching people walk or talk to everyday sounds while walking down the street.  When I came to Christ -Feb 12th 1990 -starting to create and perform original music was natural.  Music was even involved in my conversion.  I had some friends that were believers, Christians, and they were real and down to earth as opposed to being Ďreligiousí.  It affected me in such a way that I too wanted what they had, the Light so-to-speak.  After accepting the Gospel me and my friend Dave (aka MO, the Mental Oriental) decided that we should make our own music since the stuff we were hearing or listening to at the time was lacking in content.  Thus, we started writing rhymes and thatís how I began, though I didnít get serious until 2 years later when I graduated from high school.


Iíve always loved soul music and hip-hop but Iíve also grown up around rock and alternative as well, so Iíve derived inspiration from any and everything.  Specific artists that have influenced and inspired me include Charlie Peacock, KRS 1, the Roots, U2, Busta Rhymes, DJ Premier, Queen, Old School Jazz musicians like Miles Davis and Coltrane, Joao & Astrud Gilberto (did I spell that right?), Allies, SFCÖthere are too many to name.  Life influences me.  I love the ďunderdogĒ stories where the unlikely contender has to overcome insurmountable odds to reach his goalÖand does it!  Thatís me, that gives me inspiration.  Being alive in itself is inspiration.


Your debut solo album, Transparemcee was released in 2000, what have you been working on in between?


ShootÖsince TransparEmcee my life has taken quite a turn.  I went through a horrible divorce and also split from Uprok Records, stopped touring for a bit but Iíve been writing and recording ever since.  I put out Sinnerís Prayer: Declaring War after TransparEmcee also, but I have not had any major releases since.  This new album, Bobís Place:lifemusic, has been the focus.  As a result thereís so much music that I have been recording even besides my new album, which I will release independently this fall while shopping for a bigger deal and looking for distribution.  Essentially, I poured my life into Bobís Place.  Itís an extension of TransparEmcee in that itís even more honest and transparent then the former.  Itís an incredibly intimate and candid look at the experiences of my life over the past 3 years.


How did you hook up with Uprok for the album?


Itís not a well known fact but I was instrumental in creating Uprok, it was my brainchild.  From the logo to the name and image it was all from me and my camp.  Even the roster was dope.  Honestly, in the beginning Uprok had the potential to make some major moves in both the general and Christian markets.  Itís so unfortunate that Tooth & Nail wasnít willing to stick to the original ideas of really keeping UPROK legit, Iím talking street cred as well as just being freaking ill.  I mean címon, forget the corporate slickness of spending UBER DOLLARS on making something look appealing but watering down the material.  Even when you saw the roster and people we were working with back in the day you got excited.  In addition, though I felt closely tied to the whole thing, since we created it, Iím glad to be where Iím at now.  Iím also glad that they decided to shut it down altogether as it was beginning to pollute the art and dilute the essence as things got worse and worse.  Donít get me wrong, Iím not a hater and I know Tooth & Nail will continue to rock the niche they have cut for themselves for years to come but I do believe in excellence and if youíre not going to do things to your best potential then you need to just close up shop and do something differentÖespecially if my name is on it.


Any guest appearances currently in the works?


Iím always collabing with folks on different levels.  Eventually the Bufphoon Cyrkel (including 3NP!, Lightheaded, Lojique, Soul Plasma and others) will record a collective album.  My man Smoke (3NP!, Olddominion) and I will probably do some new stuff soon.  Iíve also got a whole crew of heads in Bangtown where Iím from and weíll eventually drop some joint efforts.  Iíve got a live band that freaking rocks like none-other and Iím just waiting for the opportunity to hit the studio with them, not to mention hit the road with a band.  However, in the meantime Iím moving to HI, the great 808 state.  Iím excited about that!  Iím recording a whole new album called Island Time and it will be released maybe not even 3 months after Bobís Place!!  Iím completely ecstatic about that!!  Me new stuff isÖwell, Iíll let it speak for itself when it drops.  On Island Time Iíll be collabing with some the heads out here in the HI as well.  Iím amped for everything, really.  Lots of opportunities and possibilities.


Are you still apart of 3np?


3NP! Ďtil I DIE!!!!!  The world has not even begun to see the full potential or back catalog of 3NP!.  Thatís real.  Iíll tell you this, once this stuff blows youíre going to be hearing stuff from the 3NP! collection for days.  Iíve got enough material to fill a small IPOD no doubtÖhahahaha!  There are about 6 albums to be heard, and Iím talking 6 solid albums not including TansparEmcee or Sinnerís Prayer.  Iím thinking about making a collectorsí CDrom containing the majority of my material as MP3ís.  I think that would be dope.  Also, this stuff will soon be available on my web-site www.mgthevisionary.com as soon as I have the time and resources to get the web-site fully updated and functional.  Iíd like to tell the fans out there not to worry, the site WILL be in full force shortly so stay tuned.


What influenced the name change to drop the MG!, from MG! The Visionary?


The name change.  Itís fairly simple.  MG! the Visionary is what Iíve been since I begun.  I never changed my name.  Yet, there have been many life experiences and changes.  Now, when I hear ĎMG! the Visionaryí it sounds, umÖletís just say it sounds more playful then the artist that I have grown into, not as strong or as powerful as ĎThe Visionaryí sounds to me.  The Visionary is quick and to the point, it has a ring to it that is not achieved when you add the MG!.  MG! the Visionary sounds so long that you could possibly change your mind or fall asleep in the middle of saying it.  Yes, Iím still a Man of God and always will be, people even still call me MG! and thatís okay.  But itís a new day and weíre in a different time and place, me especially.  The name change marks a new era for me.


Tell me about your upcoming release Bobís Place:lifemusic, what will listeners hear on this release?


Bobís PlaceÖlifemusic.  First off Iíll explain the name.  I began the most horrific and painful time in my life in July 2001.  I had no place to go, really.  I was sleeping in my tour van at a truckstop!!  I have a friend in Medina and his name is BobPut it this way, Medina is Bill Gateís neighborhood.  He, Bob, allowed me to stay there for 10 months while I recorded and recuperated mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  Well, Iím still recuperating but the album did eventually get completed.  As far as completed bodies of work this is by far my best work, in my humble opinion.  It takes you with me through the emotional ride of life experience.  In honor and tribute to Bob I called it ďBobís PlaceĒ.  Shoot, my vocal booth was setup in his wine cellar!  Ďlifemusicí is added for one because Iím a nut about names and love to be very specific and descriptive.  Also, the music really is the soundtrack to my life and it only seems natural to add it to the title.  However, it will be predominately known and referred to as ďBobís PlaceĒ most likely.


Iíve always pushed the limits with my music but thatís because Iím trying to push the limits of me.  My music is essentially me.  Iím inspired to write with a thought provoking honest lyrical writing style.  I speak from my own perspective and do not claim to know everything: just that life is way bigger then us and though we do not understand it all we can have hope in Christ thatÖwell, that there IS hope and we need not give up.  This album feels like a letter to myself reminding me of where Iíve come from and what destruction Iíve risen from, by the Grace of God.  I rock out and sing a lot more on this album also.  I used to toy around with the idea of singing more and intertwining both rapping and singing but now I think Iíve begun to really hone and apply both skills to accommodate each other in a good mesh.  Yes, I am hip-hop but Iím so much bigger then just one box of limitations or labeling.  Everything I do, well most everything I do has hip-hop, that rhythm, that beat as a base but Iím much more confident now to venture off into different ideas and sounds.  I believe my fans will be happy to know that Iím still the same MG! they heard years ago but now itís even better.  Iíve got crazy vocal arrangements, the mixes themselves make this a great headphones album to blast but you can also just turn these joints up in your ride and let it bang for sure!


What do you feel is your favorite track off the album?


Man, thatís one of those questions like asking a father which of his children he loves best.  Songs are in a way like my children.  For one, I always write from the heart both lyrically and production-wise.  You will not hear me on some type of ish that Iíve never experienced before.  What I can tell you is one of the songs encompasses and best describes my purpose for writing this music, or doing anything for that matter. Itís called All I Have.  It was also released on my 12Ē vinyl single of That Cru from TransparEmcee (for the few out there who have it).  However, I cannot necessarily say that itís my most favorite track.  Thereís such a variety on Bobís Place it all grows and grows on you.   Though it will be new and fresh to you most of the material is over 2.5 years old or more.  You know itís good stuff if you can listen to it 3 years later and still have it sound and feel like the freaking joint!  I canít wait to get it to the public.  Thank you all so much for your support and patience.  Thereís also this new joint that I ended the album with called 50mill.  For the most part itís a rock song and itís a very late addition to the body of work known as Bobís Place.  However it was the first song I wrote to begin with.  I lost the lyrics write after I wrote them but would remember the tune and melody for the next 3 years kicking myself for losing the words, which I felt were so powerful and real to me I did want to attempt to rewrite.  Finally, several months ago I found the song!!!  Where else but in an e-mail I had sent to my boy Pauly Paul waaaaaaaaaay back in the day.  Thank God Iím such a neat freak/packrat with computer infoÖI donít throw away a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g!


How did you become such a successful model with your image from anywhere from Raisin Brain Crunch to UPS web advertising banners?


As far as how those pictures got started and my "modeling" career, I did a photo shoot in 1999 with Tooth & Nail for one of their CD's right after I signed with them.  The photographer liked my pics and asked if he could keep them on file for future opportunities.  The first opportunity was pretty cool, I got jacked once again but not as bad.  I was one the main face for Raisin Bran Crunch when it first came out.  I've been every magazine it seems like from Sports Illustrated to Vibe to Maxim.  But then I did another photo shoot with this company called Getty Images.  Little did I know how big this royalty-free stock photography company was.  They are the GIANT.  I got paid $115  for my 30 min shoot, thinking I made out good for half an hour.  IDIOT!!!  hahahah!  But who would have known that my face would become THE picture on that disc that hundreds of different graphic designers and companies would use - repeatedly - to sell their products?  You must remember, there are literally hundreds of photos to choose from on the disc that I'm on.  I've been used for everything from printers to churches to Planned Parenthood to Microsoft to Universities and everything in between.  Crazy!


What would the ultimate reward for you be?


The ultimate reward for me would be to impart this blessing, this gift of creativity and music to my sons with the foundation of faith and love so they could carry it on in their own waysÖwhich means it doesnít have to music. In addition I desrie to continue writing, performing, reaching and inspiring people all over the world through music and other creative gifts I have.  Success to me is building a family both blood and beyond that knows, loves, and supports each other while doing and helping others to do what they love to do.  What else could you ask for?  Well okay, I would like another Specialized Stumpjumper because I had to pawn mine at one pointÖand who wouldnít want a National Team futbol jersey from as many countries as possible?  Thatís my game brah!!!!


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