Four years since the release of Girls Like Me, it feels as though there's no other way than “Weight Is Gone” for Intuition to announce his return on the fully-collaborative follow-up with long-time in-house producer Equalibrum. Aware of his station, the greeting of Intuition & Equalibrum simply states, “I heard we got that shit you waiting on / a deep breathe, release pressure / now the weight is gone.” Spoken solemnly over bluesy soul production by Equalibrum, Intuition sends an immediate message that a lot has changed since he was chasing skirts, trading bars with LA brethren, and smirking with his hand tucked under his belt like Al Bundy.
Pieces of Intuition & Equalibrum have trickled onto the internet in the interim via Bandcamp singles and hi-definition Youtube clips, preparing followers for a record that would show tremendous growth in both the rapper and producer. Despite the slow lead up, I&E remains a jolting record. Intuition puts up zero fronts or personas across a deeply personal record with a narrative worthy of resonating with the every-man 30 somethings, not just those who unwisely chose to enter the music industry. He disguises middle fingers towards poisonous individuals on “Best Fool”, sends a break-up letter to his vices on “Dear John”, and keeps optimism open as an option on “Make Better”. Not all of I&E is meant for everyone though. “Imagining” finds Intuition sorting out the family matter of his father's mental decay due to Alzheimer's. Whether you know where he's coming from or not, Intuition will have you lingering on his every word in the second verse as he fights off his anger for the cards dealt, still unready to fold the hand: “I'm just saying, I'm not angry / no wait, I'm angry as fuck / But I'm not angry at you / No man, I'm angry at luck / I'm angry that me and my family and you have to be stuck / watchin' you get blown away like granules of dust.” It's new territory for hip hop and that's part of the gift Intuition and Equalibrum bring to their latest record. Albums are often referred to as “offerings,” but I&E is a record that arcs closest to the definiton.
Your last record was Girls Like Me on Hellfyre Club in 2010. What are some of the reasons for the four-year gap between albums?
Real life ends up taking precedence over rap life. Mark[Equalibrum] and I pretty much took 2010 off from making music like some sort of post coital rap album after glow. Between albums I found out my dad got sick, I got laid off, got sidetracked in some sketchy business stuff, had a “manager” that tried to get me to stop making music, blah blah sob story. Had a lot of stuff that kept me distracted from music. Essentially we barely worked on anything in 2010-11. The bulk of the record was made in '12 and done by '13. We live two hours away from one another and tried to record everything in the same room, so a lot of it was finding time to be in the same room since we both have jobs and lives. We also (with the help of Kyle Gray and a few others) tried a kind of “put it out when it's done” mentality and made a lot of music videos for the project as we finished the songs, so you can kind of see how the record progressed by looking at our Youtube output.
Your debut Stories About Nothing was the last time you had Equalibrium handle the entirety of the production. What's the chemistry like between the two of you when it comes to crafting a song and in greater part, a full length?
Even on SAN there were a couple beats from Mark's brother, so he didn't do 100 percent of the beats, which is why we've never gone by “Intuition & Equalibrum” before, but he's always been the tie that binds the albums together. He did all but two beats on GLM as well. This time we wanted to make an album 100 percent by ourselves the closest thing to a guest appearance is some singing help from our friend Raquel [Rodriguez].
Our chemistry is… I don't know, we have good chemistry. I'm sure it's similar to how most rapper / producers work: he shows me the very early versions of beats he's been working on and I go through and write to what inspires. We really make a lot of cool stuff happen after he has all the elements of the beat and I have all the words recorded, and we can start putting the song together like a puzzle piece. I love working with the dude, we've been doing that for 10 years now.
The fun-loving playboy persona present on Girls Like Me is not as dominating on this record. You present significantly maturer and to a degree weathered soul on it. Would you say you are a different man in life and thus Intuition on record has changed? Any major life events influence this?
Sure. People change and priorities change. While writing the last record I had just gotten out of a four-year relationship and was living single in the biggest city on the West Coast… I was out having a lot of fun. A lot of shitty things have happened since that last record, and I've also realized that this hobby has a timeline and I have to grow up and get my affairs in order eventually. To me, half the album feels like recollections of roadblocks I've been hitting, and the other half feels like reminders to disregard those negative things and be a little happier.
Going into this record what were some things you wanted to do differently or were there challenges you set up for yourself and discussed with Equalibrum in shaping the overall sound?
We just wanted to do what we do together, but do it better than we have in the past. Neither of us are a prodigy or savant, we just like learning how to get better as we go. We still just get a kick out of finishing a song and going “whoah, we made this.” Only concept we had was no guest rappers / no guest producers. All us, with very little input from anyone outside our immediate brain trust.
You're self-releasing I & E. What factors played into the decision to do so?
No one should want to sign a pair of white dudes in their 30's making rap music. Bad investment. But I'm a big boy now and have soaked up a lot of info from people smarter than me on how to put out a profitable record, so we'll be fine.