Blackout Top News had the chance to catch up with Brooklyn rapper Saga & Chigaco producer Thelonious Martin during Hip Hop Kemp 2017 in Czech Republic. Their collaborative project Molotov dropped earlier this year and quickly caught the attention of potent and powerful rhyme lovers and head-nodding beat addicts. Boosting features from Rapper Big Pooh, Fashawn, The Mind & Freddie Gibbs, Molotov is a jewel in the list of releases this year.

Check out the Blackout Hip Hop Shoutout captured at the HHK backstage and the full interview after a jump (continue reading). Cop Molotov via Vinyl Digital.

How did a BK emcee and a Chi-town beatsmith hook up on the very first place? Did you connect online or via mutual contacts?

Saga: My manager Max knows my style and the type of vibes I dig so he sent a link to Thelonius’ instrumental album ‘Wunderkind’ and I was feeling his tracks and thought it would be a natural fit.

Thelonious: Shoutout my international plug Max, he’s like Leon from the Professional. He linked Saga and I initially for a few tracks then the project grew legs into something bigger, and now you guys have ‘Molotov’.

The release of ‘Molotov’ was a celebration of good quality music. Recently we don’t really hear that many LPs coming from the States featuring boom bap slapper tightened up with intellectual bars. Did you have a vision on how the final outcome should sound like or it just came out naturally during the working process?

Saga: I’ve heard from a lot of people after the project was released that our sound is something they’re fiending for, so I think there’s a piece in the culture that’s missing and I’m more than happy to fill it. It’s the boom bap, the lyrics and the soulful element that make it stand out… I can’t say exactly why the boom bap sound hasn’t had a great year but there’s probably a few reasons.

As far as the vision goes we both just did what we do best and allowed the project to grow and once we were 8 tracks in, I used the remaining 4 tracks to tie it all together and make it well rounded…
I can keep my sound consistent so creating a foundation isn’t difficult but it’s important to create a common thread, vibe, sound and keeping it cohesive and interesting…

Thelonious: It’s what came naturally, honestly my sound is a bit more traditional with a modern twist, it serves purpose for those who miss that sound and for those trying to get into that sound as well. The chemistry molded the project into what it is, it’s like a grassfed organic steak. It took time, and it’s not overcooked.

‘Molotov’ features a good variety of favorite lyricists like Fashawn, Freddie Gibbs & Rapper Big Pooh. How did you decide to pick them up?

Saga: Fashawn and I were in NYC and we were driving to a Beat Society show in Williamsburg and I was playing some tracks and he heard ‘Yesterday’ and turned to me and said “I wanna get on that”… What better way than to have an artist ask to be on a song, the result will always be great.

I wrote and recorded my 2 verses for “All I Know” and Max and I both felt it had a Little Brother vibe so Pooh was the perfect fit and he was mad professional, he had his verse done in less than 24 hrs…

Freddie was a no-brainer, he’s independant, he’s a big artist and he’s Gangster Gibbs so we had to have him on the project so we sent him the track and he was feeling it and was D to jump on..he later invited me to open for him on his Canadian tour which was a dope experience for me.

Saga, your 2015 debut album ‘From Out Of The Shadows’ was entirely produced by Marco Polo. How did you see yourself and your sixth sense for authenticity 2 years later?

Saga: I didn’t take rapping as a profession seriously for a long time. I just cared about the craft, honing my style and seeing how hard I could push myself as a lyricist. I rapped to make music I wanted to hear.

Because Marco and I are friends for a while “From Out of The Shadows” was created over years of working together. We were just making songs for fun and once we had accumulated a lot of songs I chose the best and most cohesive ones to form the album. It wasn’t created in a the traditional way with a specific intention. It was a compilation of our best work together.

Your lyrics are not anti-anything, but rather a mirror through which you see the world. Is this driven by the yoga and meditation practice?

Saga: I’d say I was always naturally driven by objective curiosity and analyzing the world before yoga and meditation but they helped to crystallize certain understandings and helped me focus on what I was trying to accomplish. Analyzing the world is a cerebral exercise and can get tiresome and exhausting because ideas inside your head are always competing so meditation quiets the mind and yoga or any physical activity gets me out of my head. I tend to go with what works for me as long as it doesn’t effect others negatively.

At the same time you are into boxing? How does it combine with yoga and what’s the impact on your live performances?

Saga: Boxing and performing are very similar for me. The anticipation before I perform either is the worst part but once I start all the extra things going on in my head are gone and I get focused.
Yoga enhances everything and unifies the mind and the body and thats where I find a’flow state’ as its called by some. It makes everything I do better.

Thelonious, you’ve dropped a beat tape ‘A Dozen For Dilla’, on what would have been Dilla’s 43rd birthday. Did you have the chance to work directly with him and how did his music inspired and influenced you?

Thelonious: Being only 25 I was pretty young when Dilla was alive. His influence is very important to me and he’s the reason I make music. So to honor him in any regard is very important.

You’ve produced for the likes of A$AP Rocky, Joey Badass, Action Bronson, Mos Def, Mac Miller. Mass Appeal’s Rhythm Roulette recently challenged you and eventually the final beat created some buzz in the Hip-Hop community. Do you have any plans using it in the near future?

Thelonious: You might actually see it on a particular album with a particular rapper that likes Molotov’s.

Following the critically acclaimed success of ‘Molotov’ are you working on a new album together or any emcee-producer project with other artists?

Saga: Yes I’ve got an EP in the works with my homie DJ Skizz. Hopefully that will be out before the year ends. Thelo and I already started working on ‘Molotov 2’ that should be ready for spring.

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