During the twelve year time period that I was not releasing music, I’d worked on an EP that I was calling “The Second Win.” I’d collected and purchased beats from a lot of awesome producers, including RJD2 and Trox, but I never really got anywhere significant with most of the tracks.
Last year I decided I wanted to finish it and drop it before I turned 40, but when I went into the studio I found myself reinvigorated by the beats that Trox had given me. Has-Lo and I were in the studio saying that we wanted to do something that followed the same format as Drake’s “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” over one of Trox’s tracks. That was what became “King’s Ransom.” I ended up laying 12 tracks in that week’s worth of sessions, but the ones that were making me want to rap and listen over and over were all from Trox.
I kept having Trox send me more beats and I realized that this record was not going to be finishing what I started with “The Second Win.” Instead, it was going to be something different. It was going to be iCONIC. My only goal was to make a record that I’m really proud of that represents who I am now and I think we’ve accomplished that.
After the Mike and the Fatman album, I was working on an electronic album as part of a group called Robots with Hearts. I’d played Chum some of what I’d be working on and I’d been singing on tracks and being more experimental. At the same time everybody’s music was sounding bigger and we wanted to go in a direction that was far different from what we’d previously done.
I wanted to make a record that someone could listen to and feel like they weren’t alone when they were going through hard things. A literal aid to keeping cool when life is going sideways. Initially, I’d wanted a singer to be a part of the group, but we ended up just keeping my singing instead.
Our process was also a lot different. We did a lot more collaborating where I’d pull a record off the shelf, he’d make a beat, and I’d spot-write the rhymes. We quickly began to build an album that was multi-genre and sounded different from our contemporaries, but was really good music and, frankly, really interesting.
Unfortunately, Chum and I had a falling out just short of the album being completed, and it never saw a proper release. Years later, I finished recording the last song myself (Life of the Party) and tossed it online to little fanfare in 2010 or 2011. I adamantly believe that, had we put this album out properly as a fast follow to “Flavor Ade,” we could have been huge.
In the late noughties, mixtape culture was at a fever pitch. The standard practice was to release a series of mixtapes leading up to your album in order to build a buzz.I never liked that idea because I felt my music was more valuable than how mixtapes were treated. I also did not intend to have any featured artists on our self-titled release, so I decided that we should take all the records that didn’t make the Cool-Aide album, and make a few more with features and release that as a lead up release to the album.
Flavor Ade was considered the off-brand version of Kool-Aid, so this record was meant to be what wasn’t good enough to be on Cool-Aide. The record features, in order of appearance, Slug (of Atmosphere), Has-Lo, and Elzhi (of Slum Village). Prior to ICONIC, this is the last thing I commercially released.