At times I tend to forget the LA underground scene. It’s not on purpose, and I don’t know why I sleep on it, it just happens from time to time. Case in point, Project Blowed alum, NoCanDo. I had heard the name from various battles, projects and guest appearances, but I didn’t fully appreciate his talent. That was until dude hit me up last week about his new album, Jimmy The Lock. I wasn’t listening to anything at the moment, so I click the link he provided, downloaded it and gave it a listen. It’s been playing rather non stop for the past week. It’s something that is totally something I don’t usually listen to, a close friend of mine that knows my listening habits said she didn’t think I would like the album when I told her I had been playing it, but I think that’s the beauty in it. It’s different, it’s creative, it’s challenging. The sounds are within the realms of the hip hop genre, but it’s not your FM music. Then of course NoCanDo has the rep of being a beast on the mic. The 2007 Scribble Jam champion sharpened his skill at the Project Blowed grounds. But battle emcee’s don’t always equate into dope albums. No worries as NoCanDo does a great job creating an album that isn’t full of one liners and punchlines.
So naturally, for my own good and others, I wanted to know more about the cat NoCanDo, so he kicks off our spotlight week that will be on both WYDU and our sister site, Bloggrhouse. Check for our Crown Nation spotlight there….
NoCanDo - Hurry Up and Wait (single)
1. “Hurry Up and Wait (Dirty)”
2. “Hurry Up and Wait (Clean)”
3. “Hurry Up and Wait (Instrumental)”
NoCanDo: Yeah My Name is Nocando, and whats poppin is my debut album, Jimmy The Lock
W: Alright, so let’s talk a little bit about your history, before the Project Blowed upbringing, how did you get into hip hop? What were some of your first memories of the music?
N: My first memories were my dad playing the guitar by ear. Also I lived in Leimert Park when I was 6 and there were a whole lot Earth, Wind and Fire records spinning and a little DJ Quik and Bob Marley too.
W: Just how important was Project Blowed to the LA underground scene in general, do you think it’s legacy is fully appreciated outside of LA?
N: I don’t know what it means to everyone else but I know that to us Blowdians it is very important. Arguably the best lyricist on the west coast sharpened their tools there. It is freestyle central. It’s where every graff writer in the 90’s and early 2000’s met up and wrote in each other’s books, and so much more. It is not fully appreciated outside of L.A. but it is recognized. I’ve been all around the world and have had people stop me and talk for hella long about some of my peers and older homie’s contributions to rap and their lives.
W: Most cats that read WYDU will undoubtedly be familiar with whole Project Blowed spot, describe coming up through that scene. How did it help you as an artist? It helped me as a troubled kid first of all.
N: Hip hop gave me a sense of purpose like some folks with religion and Project Blowed was the church or the temple that we would all congregate in to publicly practice that religion. It was rough. There were haters, gangbangers, battle rappers, taggers, b-boys and they all
were experts on hip hop and if they thought you were whack they’d let you know. So you had a room full of heads that feel as though they have seen it all and are impossible to impress and I somehow had to impress them.
W: You were pretty well known for battling in your younger years, battling at Project Blowed and participating in the Scribble Jams, how different is it being a battle rapper, then switching to making songs? How difficult is it to become a song writer?
N: Being a battle rapper is really easy for young men with big vocabularies and big egos and a little wit. When making songs my ego is less important as well as my vocab and more knowledge of music theory was needed. I had to take the pressure and adrenaline that I
got in battles down a notch. It is not difficult to become a songwriter I just think you need topics and musical know how.
W: Being on Daddy Kev’s Alpha Pup label and part of the Low End Theory scene, a scene and label that is known for it’s rather avante garde sound, which isn’t always what hip hop is known for, how much did that effected the sound of your latest album, Jimmy The Lock?
N: Very much so. Haven’t you heard the record?
W: Why did you choose to go that route with a label that wasn’t known for it’s hip hop releases and challenging yourself in scene that is more known for it’s electro scene?
N: When I signed with Alpha Pup in June of 2006 they had a roster full of L.A. rappers. Alpha Pup picked up the beat heads and elctro instrumentalist later. I am close friends with an artist named Subtitle who had a release on Alpha Pup and he kinda hooked me up with
the label and it’s all history from there.
W: Reading a recent article on you in the LA Weekly (by my man Jeff Weiss), it mentioned some of the trials and tribulations that went into making the album. Was there ever a time you just wanted to say “fuck this,” and release it as it was? Do you finally feel comfortable with overall result?
N: There were not any times like that. I knew I needed growth to get where I wanted to be. I would drop free mixtapes and EPs to check for public opinion on my skills as a songwriter and recording artist. I was still a battle rapper freestyle junkie until mid 08, this record and its concept didn’t take form until early 09. I didn’t learn how to talk about my issues without bitching or celebrate my victories without bragging until the summer of 09. I feel hella comfortable with this record.
W: Are you afraid that the album might go over the head of some hip hop listeners?
N: No, I am too foolish to be afraid of that.
W: How was the release party night? Crazy chicken heads, lot’s of bubbly and the usual?
N: I was with my wife and the rest of my adult family, some ex-coworkers from EA games, some Blowdians , other L.A. underground rappers, a few bottles of Guiness, my Low End Beat Celebs and, 700plus fans in the Airliner n’ all that. There was one chick that Dumbfoundead asked me to pull on the stage that was popping it and showing some skin. L.A. came out to rock with me, man that night was big, I’m smiling thinking about it.
W: Where do you go from here, meaning what’s next for NoCanDo?
N: I’ve started an imprint called Hellfyreclub and I’ve already got 4 releases slated this year. Intuition’s ‘Girls Like Me’ Feb 9th. Kail’s ‘Scarlett Payne EP’ an instrumental record with L.A. underground beat pros Maestroe, Quest1nder, and Always Prolific and I’ve recorded an EP with DJ Nobody that I’m putting out . No funny business, just good music. I’ve got a west coast tour booked for late April/early May and I might do a Grindtime Battle or two.
W: Any last words?
N: No not now.
W: Thank you.
N: You’re welcome and thank you.