The depth inside Phillie Blunt is never discarded haphazardly but are shards of trauma’d truth puzzled back into verse. There are scarred folds of flows and perforated pieces all prepared into performances. There are storied scraps that traveled through the ground’s spillings, befriending toxins as tonics and warring against the paraphernalia of broken promises.
Phillie’s MC fillings then become the composition of a smoking MC, the one who reignites the Blues of the Wisemen and burns through the rugged funk of Lord Jessiah. His verses can’t be merely transcribed to glorious appreciation lectures like his Wisemen brothers Bronze Nazareth or Kevlaar 7. They need to be heard for the emphasis of silence, the inflections on his words, the vowel extensions of passion, the shortened consonants of defiance and the effortless Black love no caper can capture. A premiere MC stylist who continues to excel as the unique narrator of our concrete corners, Phillie builds on his latest Picasso, his Crimeline Chronicles LP, produced by Lord Jessiah Allah. These are some of Phillie’s tokes on his latest work I’m honored to share…
SUNEZ: How is Salute holding up locked down?
PHILLIE: He’s making the best of a bad situation. He ain’t suffering for nothing. He’s getting his mind right and hopefully he won’t have to do that whole 10 [years]. That’s what brothers is concentrating on now, trying to get him an appeal. Get him out of there so he don’t have to do the whole joint. Good dude just was in a bad situation.
SUNEZ: Word. As far as what he was doing on the mic he really was coming into his own.
PHILLIE: Aww man, you ain’t even heard nothing yet from Salute. You can see, for example, the first Wisemen project we did [Wisemen Approaching, 2007], he was here and there. Then you hear the second one [Children of A Lesser God, 2010, Review HERE], he was everywhere. After that Salute started to get real active. The joint he did with me [“In My Mind”] was one of the last ones he did before he was locked up. They had caught him out where he was at. But he was just a machine, man. He was recording everyday all day. He’s got an album that he’s going to be dropping. He recorded enough to make an album. That’s gonna come out. Look for that. Bronze gon drop that soon.
SUNEZ: That’s peace. I always like hearing stories about your proficiency in the studio. As a writer, that inspires.
PHILLIE: It was a jungle. I had one of my homies ask me that not too long ago. We were in the studio as I was recording the Crimeline [Chronicles LP] and he was saying what you was saying right now. I can remember when I started and first got around the environment of rapping. I remember it was a lot of guys, man that was around me and they was all cold. They could all rap. I was just telling my mans I always made the cut. I knew what was ahead of me—I don’t know. It just became a nest for me, just something that I could do. There was a lot of guys that were just more lyrical, a vocabulary a lot more broader. You had cats that was real key with the punchlines then cats that had that nice cadence and flow. That all got attention. But I learned from a young age to always stand out. When I say that I hope people don’t take that lightly. The cats that were around me were really really good. You had to stand out and really do your thing to be noticed. It seemed like everyone was rapping. Not everybody was good but there were enough that were. That just made me how I am til this day with rapping. Today it’s not even something I try to do. It’s real fun.
SUNEZ: We got to build on Welcome to the Detroit Zoo [Interview HERE & Inter-Review HERE] and also Jessiah for G.O.D. [Interview HERE] and both of you realized the great chemistry. Was it after “The Lion King” track that you both decided we need to record more together?
PHILLIE: It was like this, Sunez. About halfway through the Zoo album we really started getting tight, hanging out in bars and what not. We’d see each other at each other’s shows. He approached me about a beat he said was tailor made for me. I eventually got to his crib and heard it and it was. We did like three [songs]. “Olympians” was the first track we ever did. It all happened so fast. I wrote that in the booth. It must have been just forty five minutes to an hour. With us Wisemen we kind of find that chemistry. We love when everything gels. When I came out with the Zoo we had already started working and I had some joints on it. He had gotten right on at the end of that Zoo album, on the “Lion King” with me and Bronze. I’m finishing off the song and something is empty. It might need a little hook. Jessiah was right there rolling up. He had been getting good with the hooks, I might add. So, yo, you kind of got it down. He came with that hook in about ten to fifteen minutes. Again, I sense that chemistry. Like me and my man I gotta mess with him a little more now. So we started making plans on making an album right before GOD. And I was such a fan of that album. It was such cold album like watching a movie and the part two is as good as the first. I came with this idea that our albums were similar in what we were trying to get across. Let’s see what we can see comes from that. Everything on the [Crimeline Chronicles] album, it was on the fly. Every time he made a beat I would come in. Drugs tha Emcee may be in there, Most High, Bronze and the album just clicked like that. The concept was from the Zoo and GOD album being similar to me. It was his sound and then Bronze’s sound. How would it sound if we fused off the strength of both of those albums.
SUNEZ: Here’s a point I saw about CC, and in Zoo too, it always comes across–not just the sincerity of the hustler but the hustler, himself, is oppressed himself by society as they fight to get on top.
PHILLIE: You hit it on the nose. I don’t take for granted when Geto Boys said it best, everywhere is a ghetto. I always keep that in mind. I never take for granted that my story is no harsher, vivid or hurtful than anyone elses. But I understand this and this is what I love about rappers: A rapper, as talented as they could be, it’s sometimes about the person’s story. You could be hanging with a couple of your buddies and there’s some that can’t tell a story. Others tell a story that you just want to hear their story. It’s going to sound entertaining when they tell it. I feel like I could tell a story. That’s what this whole thing is. Detroit Zoo was my baby. That is how I view the world. I took that concept to Bronze it seemed a little odd to him but I explained to him this is how I view things and I felt like I was living in zoo. And like I had told you before, we’re all in our own habitat. You got the snakes in the snake pits, the lions in the lions’ dens, the foxes in the foxholes. I guarantee you that in Detroit someone will resemble one of these animals in this zoo. And they stay in their habitat. I don’t glorify it but it’s my story and the way I tell it. I might tell it better than someone else. That’s why when it’s all said and done I want to ghostwrite. I feel like I could get the most out of somebody. If somebody tells me their story I can put it down a certain way people think it’s Jay-Z or something [laughs]. You’ll be like man, this kid started rapping last night?! [laughs]
PHILLIE: It’s the way you tell a story and my story ain’t no better than nobody’s. I just feel it should be heard. Everybody’s story is unusual. That’s why I love rappers. If someone was equal to me in rap skills, his story would never be equal to mine. I’ve had guys come up to me, and I know their rap skills and vocab is a little wider than mine and they tell me, “yo, man, how do you come with that?” Ay, yo, I don’t know. It’s the way I tell it. The way I paint the pictures.
SUNEZ: On CC, you are outright showing the MC skills and your special techs. That way of inflecting that you have, with these pauses and putting real character in the lyric. When you write your verses how do you put that in?
PHILLIE: It actually just happens like that. When I started rapping I always had a certain rhythm in my head. Before I even put the words on the paper I could hear a certain rhythm with them and hum them. I could hum the rhythm before I even had the words. Then I would put the words to it. From the hum certain words don’t match. Then I mastered the bar system a long time ago and started playing with it. I don’t have to bunch a whole lot into a bar no more. I can give it that pause. Pure emotion. A lot of that be pure emotion. About forty percent of it I write, sixty percent of it comes out when I’m recording. With this Crimeline album, it was another chapter in the story, a spinoff. This was a gray time. I went through that stage where I had some crimeline chronicles and everything in there is pretty much accurate. From the Zoo album, it was only right to do this next. Next album I’m coming with is called Escape From the Detroit Zoo. It’s a trilogy. It’s a zoo and I did this shit in a zoo. That’s all I want you to know. Another chapter that I want to spread. If you listen to Crimeline from the first to the last song, “Dawn” it lets you know where I’m going.
SUNEZ: Let’s talk about “Dawn” where the first verse you tell us the reality we’re struggling in. Then that second verse is one of the best I could ever hear. It’s a whole manifesto on street life but the ethics and principles we’ve lost is there.
PHILLIE: I don’t know why others don’t. I just have to tell the story like it is. I don’t want a youngster hearing it and just saying yeah, I did it. A lot of rappers present it, say they did it then say their music don’t portray that but come on, man. Who are we really fooling?! They really are following this and I don’t want them to think he was fake. I want people to know I was right here. I sat on the same stoop you was on. I was on the same block you was on. I did the same thing you was doing. I was pushing the same product you was pushing. I was right there with you but there comes a time. That’s why I called it “Dawn.” There comes a time when you become a man and the things you did in the streets ain’t beneficial for your family, your kids, for your Earth. That’s where I was going with that song.
Don’t be afraid to sit back and say, ‘this life ain’t meant for me.’ That’s why I say on there, “I love the movies and all/but it’ll never happen that way when you involved/see it’s all an agenda…” All bullshit aside, we watch all the gangster movies and they all end the same. You’ll be one of them guys thinking that ain’t gonna happen to me even if it happens to homies on the side. But until it happens to the close ones you start realizing it could happen to you. You start to care. These bullets tear flesh. They not only killing but crippling out here. They wish they were dead. There comes a time when every thug and every gangsta in the streets has to realize what’s more important. Do you value your life? Your family or these streets out here? Nine times out of ten if they really look at it they’ll go to their families because there really is no genuine love in the streets, man. I’ve been to jail for cats before and they done give me bread when I got out cause I worked for them. The whole nine but if the chips really went down they ain’t got you like that. If I went away for a long time, luckily it was just for days or weeks. I was never locked up for no bid. They wouldn’t have took care of my family or did anything for my peoples. That’s what you gotta really look at. Last time I was in jail I was in there for over a month and a half. Right during the time I’m making the Welcome to the Detroit Zoo album. I remember when I got out I did “Phelonious.” I just started realizing who my friends was. I was hanging in the streets and had just went to jail working for a cat. And this was my dude and I love this dude. But do the streets really love me? When I got out I couldn’t call none of them guys. Everybody got blocks on their phones. Just business being taken care of on the outside. They impounded my car. I’m calling around for somebody to get my car out. I got money to get it. Without hesitation I saw who my real homies was. My Wisemen: Kevlaar 7, Bronze and Salute had the car out in two days. They even gave my Earth some money to give to my seeds, a few hundred dollars to give to my girls. I just realized who was who and started separating from the streets. I’m from the streets and all and I’m still here. They’ll tell you. I’m right here. But I ain’t down with a lot of that stuff no more. You talk to me now you’ve got to talk to me intelligently now. It’s okay to tell your story on some Tupac, 50 Cent type stuff but if you’re going to exploit it the wrong way just for fame—Aww, man. We ain’t even gonna talk about that. [laughs] You know what I mean?!
SUNEZ: [laughs] Absolutely!
PHILLIE: Don’t put it to the kids so that when they hear it they’re thinking they need to be doing that. Are they listening? I don’t think they do but that’s debatable too [laughs].
SUNEZ: [laughs] Word. Tell me about that verse on “Bloody Meadows.”
PHILLIE: I remember when I was sitting at home writing it. They had already made the blueprint and I really wanted to dive in. When you got MCs that write that well and telling a story articulate and very well so I didn’t wanna sound redundant to the next verse on any song. I tried to give it something that they wasn’t saying. That usually works for me. I went off into something else that still related to the topic. And we all stuck to the theme. I’m proud of everybody on the album for sticking to the theme. Another one I wrote—nothing special [laughs].
That first line, “Black kid serenade” was inspired from Bronze. These brothers are some deep brothers, soul wise. They really know a lot of their history. He had this beat album full of beats called The Black Kid Serenade and I asked him why it was called on that. Bronze and Kev always put me up on real useful facts. That first line was on the strength of Bronze putting me on to the Black kid serenade back in the days of slavery. Then I said the “bird in the bush…” I always want to reflect my life but I can’t say it plain. I don’t wanna say it normal. Once I start writing it’s like a switch. Whoever’s around me I got to do my best. Mine might not touch theirs but I got to do my best.
SUNEZ: Why “Night Crawlerz” as single?
PHILLIE: For one, it came out extremely good. You know when a song is already pretty good before its mixed and mastered. As we started making more songs, “Night Crawlerz” started to really reflect what the album was about. My verse I’m portrayed as a driver for Nicky Barnes and he’s talking to me. To me that’s my Picasso of a person like what he would have, should have said to a person—that you don’t want to be in the game. Cause I’m just a driver and it’s not really saying it that I’m all anxious as this driver to get in the game. If you listen to what he’s telling me, “you’re just a driver, don’t get caught up in the cipher/ stay low from the Barney Fifers/ the police/you bought before they priced you if you get in this game/they double d hyper with dudes just like us/ You a hyper dude but when you get into this game/now you with cats that’s just like you/you ain’t no unique kid no more.” It’s cats that’s hyper than you. That was fiction and non fiction, real and not real at the same time. I had a guy that was quite big in the neighborhood. I wasn’t his driver but I was riding with him one day and he was telling me some similar things to that about the game. About how I wouldn’t come home no more, if you come in the game there’s certain things on your mind ready for this. He said have your mind ready for that. If you get the door kicked in and all types of stuff. That song I wanted to put it out first as a single because it was the big gangsta that everybody reveres, loves or inspires to be. He’s telling the story like it is, no sugar coating, lett5ing my man know. I’m gone. I’m gonna leave you this and you stupid if you fail. I got this all set up. He’s telling me that but telling me what the life was about. So he’s like I’m gonna leave all this for you but you stupid if you fail but we all fail. If you really pay attention to the story he’s saying we all fail.
PHILLIE: These things are gonna be around when I’m dead and gone. My albums will still be around. My thing has always been about my legacy. So if I’m gone and people hear my music and say ‘that guy was pretty good at what he did.’ I don’t want to be known as ‘he made so much money and he was so rich.’ That’s cool in one aspect but I’m talking about Hip Hop. He sold all these albums but what is he saying? Is he saying something fictional or is he saying anything even remotely about his life? Is his message any good? I always wanted my legacy to go down as one of the best that ever did it. Not the best. None of that but just one of the best. I always feel the need to be truthful and give people that part of your life where we as entertainers and rappers spice it up like they do in movies and turn it into a symphony, something big, golden where your life is being reflected in a way that’s interesting. One thing I believe about a rapper. No one can tell their story the way that they can tell it. The way they vocab, the choice of words, no one has that but that unique individual. I’m blessed to be able to do it as long as I’ve been.