(AllHipHop Features) Detroit, Michigan has gone through rough economic and political turmoil for several years. While the city works to reinvent itself in a post-industrial America there is still one classic Motown export that the world still values: music. From the tradition of great Detroit musical artists like Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Aaliyah, Eminem, and J. Dilla, emerges “The D’s” next creative representatives Hip Hop group Clear Soul Forces.
Clear Soul Forces consists of emcees E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and rapper/producer Ilajide. The four-man group released the well-received digital album Detroit Revolution(s) in 2012 and now are about to drop their latest LP Gold PP7’s. The same way the Gold PP7 gun in the GoldenEye 007 video game takes out any opponent, CSF hope this new collection of music slays anyone who doubts their drive to takeover the rap game.
“The meaning of the title is just that fact that a Gold PP7 gun is a one shot kill,” explains Noveliss. “Everything that has to do with this project, everything that we do, we just feel like it’s just a one shot kill. Beats, rhymes, anything we do is a one shot kill.”
The collective was formed after L.A.Z. moved to Michigan to attend Oakland University. He eventually met E-Fav who introduced him to his cousin Ilajide. L.A.Z. and Ilajide then began recording tracks together before E-Fav decide to pick up the mic as well. As separate acts they each performed at a local showcase thrown by Robo Rob. It was at that event where they connected with Noveliss.
The story goes the four rhymers, still not an official group at this point, spit for fellow Detroit emcee Royce Da 5’9 at a studio one night, and Royce suggested that they combine their talents. With that E-Fav, L.A.Z., Noveliss, and Ilajide formed what would later become known as Clear Soul Forces.
“It’s kind of wild the way that we came together and met,” says L.A.Z. “A lot of it is just luck and fate.”
While the group’s star in the music world continues to rise, regular life for the members has not changed too greatly. They still work day jobs as they record tracks at night in order to support themselves and their families, but it probably won’t be long before their bosses have to hire replacements.
“For us a lot of this sh*t that has come with the album is like a fallacy, because life ain’t really change for us from how things move on a day-to-day basis,” says L.A.Z.
“We’ve had success with [Detroit Revolution(s)], but people got to remember we’re a four-man group, and we got a manager too. That’s already a five way split, and we ain’t talking about no major, millions of dollars where even if it’s split it’s life altering. It’s maintenance money, keep the ship afloat,” adds E-Fav. The guys may not be millionaires at the moment, but according to one member their real worth is greater than their current bank accounts.
“We got million dollar f*cking raps. N*ggas with a million dollars don’t even rap like this, and they can’t even rap like this,” states Ilajide. “We rap better than them, so we deserve their f*cking money.”
Clear Soul Forces are not reserved about their opinion of the current mainstream rap scene. They cover that topic throughout Gold PP7’s specifically on the track “War Drums.” The song includes a skit where Noveliss performs a freestlyed impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger that takes comedic shots at rappers who pop bottles and mollies.
“I went in there and did that sh*t one time, and it came out like that. It was funny,” says Noveliss. “Hip Hop don’t exist in the mainstream. That’s how I feel. There is no such thing as mainstream Hip Hop. It’s f*cking commercial rap, and that sh*t sucks d*ck.”
E-Fav reinforces Noveliss’ perspective that real Hip Hop does not have a voice in the mainstream, “They’re rapping good and sh*t, and the beats are not bad, but they’re not Hip Hop records. They’re commercial rap records. They’re meant to be sold. Hip Hop records, I feel like they are just made to be enjoyed versus just to be sold. That’s just my opinion.”
Some of the Hip Hop acts that do get regular rotation from CSF are The Roots, Slum Village, OutKast, Redman, and Method Man. They appreciate the work of these artists, but say that they get most inspired by each other. The camaraderie between the four emcees is evident through their music and at their live shows.
At a recent concert in Erie, Pennsylvania, Noveliss altered the group’s set a bit when he decided to punch Ilajide and L.A.Z. in the stomach right on stage as they were rapping. The prank did not stop Ilajide from flowing, but L.A.Z. had the wind knock out of him. It is these type of crazy antics that fans can expect to see at a CSF performance.
“We be catching the f*cking holy ghost on stage. You never seen that sh*t before,” expresses Ilajide. “N*ggas be knocking each other out. N*ggas be choking each other. N*ggas be beating each other up. We just be f*cking wild. That sh*t be cold.”
Clear Soul Forces are heading out on their first European tour which includes stops in Amsterdam, London, and Paris. They also book their own shows in their hometown with other acts from the city, but according to E-Fav fans in Los Angeles may not get to see the group in the near future.
“We’re supposedly blackballed from doing shows in L.A.,” reveals E-Fav. “I don’t know if this is true, but this is supposed stuff. This is what people say.”
“It’s a lot of motherf*ckers that went out of their way to make sure that we didn’t get on stages for shows and put in extra effort to make sure that we weren’t able to do things that would have put us in a better position,” says L.A.Z. explaining why he addressed concert promoters on Gold PP7’s. “That sh*t just stems from the politics, all the politics in the game. Sh*t is wack.”
Even with haters trying to hold them back Clear Soul Forces have an objective to breakthrough the obstacles and leave a mark in Hip Hop as both a group and as individuals. The Gold PP7’s album is just one step towards CSF’s goal. Expect more music videos (the first being for the track “Freq Freq”), perhaps another album, and eventually solo projects from the Detroit collective over the next several months.
“We got another project in the chamber. I don’t want to say sh*t, but Noveliss is going to be doing some solo sh*t. I’m going to be doing some solo sh*t. L.A.Z. is going to be doing some solo sh*t, and so is E-Fav. We’re just going to be taking the f*ck over. 2014’s going to be crazy,” says Ilajide.
Clear Soul Forces’ Gold PP7’s will be available September 17th via Fat Beats Records.
Listen to the Gold PP7’s album sampler in the video below.