Tedybrewski, “Red Pill”

James Johnson

Tedybrewski

Of the many, many, offbeat Soundcloud rappers, Tedybrewski‘s catalog stands out. The titles and artwork alone are like looking through a hallucinogenic reel of puns, playful pastiche of cliche rap tropes, and, occasionally, poignant social commentary. At his best, the Hartford MC synthesizes all three with an off-kilter, sing-song flow that shows a clear passion for tongue-in-cheek wordplay and engagement with whatever media buzzword we’re being told to care about at the time. He also has versatility on his side: his two tapes from last year, Hentai Waterfalls and Black Friday, showcased drastically different styles. While Hentai Waterfalls was a much more “typical”, well-produced hip-hop tape, Black Friday is something else entirely. Over the past few years Tedy has developed a side-project under the name Typical Black Punks, a fictional band of, presumably, black punks, that are purported to have their own following and legacy. Under that moniker, Tedy chops up classic punk and new-wave samples layered with raps or singing in his ‘Morrissey voice.’ Black Friday was an entire tape as Typical Black Punks, and the rapper-as-fake-punk was really one of the strangest and most compelling tapes released last year.

On the heels of Black Friday, Tedy is preparing to change lanes again with his next tape, Wipeout. “Red Pill” is an exclusive peek at the new release that shows Ted back in his rapping mode; no hook, just #bars. A bouncy, ethereal beat is sourced from producer Contemporary Shopping, while Ted makes frenetic references to the Home Alone series, The Last Dragon, and the swine flu epidemic. In the track’s denouement he reflects back on the attention deficit world he’s constructed before ultimately escaping it through the titular red pill.

We caught up with Tedy over email to chat about his reflections on the upcoming Wipeout project to be released in April, Typical Black Punks mythos, and being influenced by everything from FKA Twigs’s face to the New England Patriots. You can read our interview after the premiere of “Red Pill” below.

How did you start rapping? Were you in other bands before the Tedybrewski project, do you play any instruments?

I started rapping when I was 13. I was never in any bands. I tried to learn guitar when I was 13 but I never stuck with it. I’ve been playing around with it lately, hopefully I can learn a few things and start shredding. The only thing that ever stuck for me was making beats on FL Studio. I think that worked out because of the freedom to do whatever I wanted creatively. I started that when I was like 13 or 14 or 15. Considering the time I’ve spent doing that I should probably be way better than I am right now but it’s all growth.

How did the concept for the Typical Black Punks/Black Friday tape come about? Can you explain that alter-ego a little bit?

Typical Black Punks is ridiculous. It’s a racial slur and I’m parading around like its the name of my band. The Typical Black Punks idea originated in 2012. I think I was listening to The Smiths a lot at that time. I drank a six pack of Newcastle and looped an old French cold wave sample and started yelling Typical Black Punks. At that time it was just a concept and I didn’t expect to make a whole album of that style. It was really fun. It took me a while to get the sound down but I think I perfected it on Black Friday. I’ve been pretty happy to see some of my underground rap contemporaries doing similar stuff.

At the time I was a bit bored with what I was doing. I wasn’t listening to music at all. I was working a shit job and frustrated. I basically wanted to hear some hard shit. When I made that album I wanted to do the culture justice. I watched a bunch of documentaries, I listened to a shit load of music for inspiration. I learned about bands like Black Flag, Suicidal Tendencies, Fugazi, Bad Brains, Operation Ivy and all that classic shit. I didn’t want to just make some lame rap rock album. I made sure that I didn’t just use samples and make cover songs. I made sure that I created some of my own music from scratch. I looked back on my own musical history. I listened to all those nu metal and pop punk bands that were huge in the early 2000s. I wanted to say real shit, I wanted to talk about politics, I wanted it to be classic and undeniable. I just wanted to make something that I wanted to hear at the time.

I’m going to admit the shit is a gimmick, it’s a big fucking gimmick, but its also the most culturally relevant and creative piece that I’ve ever done. Interestingly enough the album dropped right at the time when everyone was fed up. The album dropped like the day after all those riots in Furguson. It was a mind fuck looking at the album cover and turning on the news and seeing buildings on fire and cops in the street reeking havoc. It was crazy to me because I asked Sauceweak to design a cover with buildings burning and stores looted like a month before all that shit happened. When I saw that news coverage and looked back at that cover it definitely blew my mind. That entire project is beyond me, it exists on the plane of the collective subconscious. I can’t explain it any further. I really hope to do more with it in the future. I think the gradual progression of that brand/project will involve less samples, more original songs, rawer live performances and more musicians/collaborators.

It’s a big fucking gimmick, but its also the most culturally relevant and creative piece that I’ve ever done.

Describe this new track, “Red Pill”, and the direction you’re moving with Wipeout. How has your sound evolved, is it still going to contain the new-wave and classic punk samples or is this a more rap-centric project?

“Red Pill” represents a desperation that I’m feeling right now. A sort of New England desperation that you would see in movies like Good Will Hunting or Boondock Saints. Portraying a longing to be recognized and a longing to see the world but also coming to the realization that there are only so many opportunities that all seem to be passing by. The song is a free flowing/train of thought piece. Sometimes when I write a lyrical song I will just follow wherever it takes me. This song ends with an allusion to The Matrix. I’m sort of inviting listeners to exit the grid and come on a journey with me. The beat is by my west coast homie, Contemporary Shopping. The beat sounds like a melting of the snow representing this shift from Winter into Spring. The track is dope, definitely a return to my original all bars no hook style.

Wipeout is my new mixtape that is coming out some time in April. Don’t expect to hear all songs like this one on the mixtape. One of my biggest goals is to not get stuck in one sound. I chose to make something long and abstract in an effort to exercise my skills. I haven’t found my sound for 2015 yet and I need to experiment in order to find it. It’s really like a tryout process. I’m trying to find out what kind of stuff I like to make and who I like to work with. Ultimately, I want to experiment my way through a couple of mixtapes until I reach peak rapping performance.

In the end, Wipeout is just a fun mixtape. It’s a dope tape, very wavy. I’ve got a few collabs with friends from around the way and producers from near and far. I definitely encourage you guys to come back around and check it out when it is served. Just expect the unexpected, anything is possible. I’m halfway through making Wipeout 2. So I’m just lining up mixtapes and preparing videos right now.

Who or what is inspiring you nowadays, or was inspiring you as you were recording Wipeout?

I’m inspired by Clint Eastwood movies. I especially dig the movies where he’s a nameless cowboy killing everyone. I’m aiming to become rap game Clint Eastwood walking around killing anyone who fucks with me. I dig that show Girls on HBO. Right now I’m a substitute teacher, so I relate to Lena Dunham’s character who is struggling between failing as an artist and earning a living as a teacher. The show is too dramatic but I like the story. It’s inspirational that she writes all that shit. The fact that that is her idea on television every week is hella inspirational to me. I’m inspired by anyone who’s on the come up. Some of my heroes are Bruce Lee, Bob Marley and Malcolm X. I’m inspired by Hype Williams’ film catalog. I like Earl Sweatshirt lyrically, I like Rae Sremmurd energetically. MILF is a rap group based out of Washington, DC, those guys are my extended family and they are all my favorite rappers. I dig those plaid bondage pants that punks used to wear. I’m a fan of BAPE camo prints and Jimi Hendrix. My favorite band right now is Blonde Redhead. I’m a fan of Russell Westbrook. I’m inspired by FKA Twigs’s face. I usually get inspired by nature but it’s been snowing for like four months straight, so I can’t remember what trees look like. I’m inspired by the internet. I’ve been friending randoms on Facebook for inspiration. I’m a fan of James Brown. I’m a fan of The Rolling Stones. Keith Richards started swag. I’m inspired by religion. The concept of having faith and truly believing in something is going to be an important theme for this generation. I’m inspired by the New England Patriots, Superbowl Champs even when everyone hated. I’m inspired by people who stand outside with signs while boycotting and calling for action. Protesting takes passion and dedication, true American heroes. I’m inspired by single moms and shit. Jim Carrey is dope. Jim Morrison never existed. Dave Chappelle is lit. Dennis Rodman is the homie and I also like Ariel Pink.

How do you see yourself fitting into the larger rap culture as you move forward in 2015? Do you self-identify as a rapper? There’s a whole community now of experimental, independent, mostly internet-based artists that wouldn’t necessarily fit into a strict hip hop box, such as those featured on the Internet Hippy compilation alongside yourself. Do you find support from this community?

I’m a rapper and I’m going to rap. Some of these new dudes say things like “fuck hip hop” or “hip hop is dead,” I respect that perspective but I’m not with that movement bro. I’m all about passing on culture and learning about culture, becoming culture and not letting culture die. I have faith that I will find my spot in the skies. I’m going to shine. I’ll be chillin’ on a cloud droppin’ the wettest creations like acid raindrops on the rooftops of Brazilian favelas. In terms of fitting in, I’m not sure. I don’t think I’ll ever fit in and I’m totally cool with that. I’ve never been the type to ride somebody else’s wave to my advantage. I’m going to keep doing my weirdo shit. I’m going to keep having fun. I’m going to keep dropping bars and the rest is going to work itself out. No doubt about it.

Shout out to Internet Hippy, Clever Tom is doing a great job of bringing people together. Another rare blogger/artist I want to point out is Blam Lord, he covers some pretty rare shit and has always shown me some love. I dig the internet music community but its still the internet; everyone has an ego, no one is unified, etc. It is what it is though, as long as everyone is positive and continuously pushing boundaries then we all win. Also shout out to Stafe, Lonny & Daeshawn. Shout out to the new people who read this interview & big shout out to everyone who’s been down with me since All American Indulgence.

Where can the people find you?

Check out my Soundcloud for random songs & singles. Check out my Bandcamp for more cohesive albums. Check out my Tumblr, if you go back four or five pages you can find some of the extra rare mixtapes pre-2013. You can also friend me on facebook, I share random shit. I don’t do a Facebook like page cuz that’s weaksauce.

I do a pretty poor job of organizing my music for the internet, but if you dig you will be able to find some rare jams. You can definitely go into a K-hole of my music if you so choose. I would suggest 2012 Tedy mixtapes cuz I honestly killed it that year. Big thanks for the opportunity to premiere this song and big thanks to everyone who has let me rap over their beats.

Thanks. Much love Impose.

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