When I started rubyhornet damn near 10 years ago, one of the biggest things for me and Virgil was being the studio with artists. Just the idea of “the studio” was a magic place, something like behind the curtain of the Wizard of Oz. I remember those early days fondly of being in the studio with artists like Naledge, GLC, Mikkey Halsted, Rhymefest and many others. The studio is where Closed Sessions launched, where I first met a 15 year-old Vic Mensa, and got to watch a hero like Raekwon breakdown his approach to music. I think back on that time, my early and mid-twenties, running around like a kid in the candy store. I had a flip cam, and would just hit record. One of my favorite articles on RH were the in-studio pieces where artists would share their creative process and their new work. Since I’m back at rubyhornet, we want to get back to some of our strengths, and the In The Studio articles are at the top of the list.
For this edition, Cooper Fox hung out with emerging emcee and Columbia College Student, NDPNDNT at SoundScape Studio. In between breaks during a recording session with Jeff Arenson, the two spoke about NDPNDNT’s studio habits, and how living in Chicago provides an abundance of subjects to explore.
rubyhornet: What are you working on today?
NDPNDNT: Today I did a song for rubyhornet called “Farewell”. It’s about self-reflection and being able to get rid of things you’ve been trying to get rid of for awhile, but they stay attached to you because that’s how life is sometimes. It puts you through these negative vibes and you have to detach yourself from it to move along in life. Which I think is appropriate for the time we’re in right now.
rubyhornet: What’s your process when getting into the studio?
NDPNDNT: To be honest, it’s really all about how I feel. Nothing is usually too out of the ordinary. For me recording is a lot about the feeling of it and how I feel at the time. Things can just pop up that I’ve never done before, I’ve recorded with the lights off and that’s not usual for me. It’s really just whatever I’m feeling. It’s how I write my music. Everything is about what I’ve seen and what I’m experiencing at the time and what’s about to happen, everything is about life. Everything is real organic.
rubyhornet: That being said, what is a big informer of your subject matter and what you write about?
NDPNDNT: Living in Chicago makes it very easy to write about things that have to do with society, there’s a lot of people that are depressed nowadays, a lot of violence but also a lot of people making great music. We’re in a perfect city for me to be able to write about so many different things. My mind can be in so many different places at once and it helps me make good music because it’s real to me. Everything that I’m able to write and record is real to me. That’s what makes everything so fun because this is really how I feel. This is what’s happening in the world today and this is me trying to be a leader for the youth or for whoever I’m speaking for. I love the city so much, there’s so much turmoil but I love it, there’s so much to talk about and so much to help. It helps create a story and a journey that a lot of people can relate to. It hits people hard when you tell them something that they’ve been thinking about.
rubyhornet: As a Columbia College Student how is finding a community within the school and networking helped you out?
NDPNDNT: The thing about Columbia is that it’s what you make of it because it’s not the type of school where you go to class and then go home. You’re paying too much money to do that, it’s all about the network and people you meet. Some of the kids are from Chicago and others come from elsewhere but they come together for the arts. There’s a lot of talented people at the school. The city is in a renaissance, people are coming in from out of town and people who were born here are really doing it. Included are a lot of people that know their purpose and a lot who are figuring out who they are. Columbia’s all about finding yourself. However, there’s so much individuality that people sometimes don’t understand the meaning of unity and that’s what we need.
rubyhornet: To wrap it up, is there anything you’re working on now or have released recently?
NDPNDNT: I have a project coming out called Voiceless, with two singles out now on Soundcloud titled “Free Me” and “Rock With You”. “Free Me” is about colorism and “Rock With You” is about love. The album title speaks for itself, it’s about a time in my life where I feel like I didn’t have a voice and about a time where I could speak for those who feel that they don’t. It talks about everything from gang violence, to being hungry and then to love. I’m showing the world the types of things I represent and who I am, NDPNDNT. It means more than just working by myself, it means to be distinct and different.