Hezekiah: Conscious Porn

Producer and Emcee Hezekiah is a man whose personality is as eclectic as his music. It would be intriguing enough to simply learn how this Delaware raised prodigy went from choirboy to dope emcee, but that’s only until you find out he was once a skating punk rocker and juggled mountain lion cubs at the age of 13, in the UniverSoul Circus. Yes…mountain lions….seriously!Then there’s Hezekiah’s quick-witted and off-color sense of humor. During his interview with Allhiphop.com he noted, among his accomplishments, “I play the hell out of a piccolo and I used to play tambourine for Burt Bacharach.” After the mountain lion revelation it actually seemed credible. However, he was kidding. But it’s no joke that he is one of the most respected up and coming emcees in the game and is already established as a sought after producer whose credits include Bilal, The Roots, Redman, Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild among others.AllHipHop.com spoke with Hezekiah and asked him to walk us through the personal and musical journey that shaped the artist he is today. AllHipHop.com: Hezekiah!Hezekiah: Yes, yes.  This is I. Ha Haaa! How are you?AllHipHop.com: (Laughs) Good. So where are you?Hezekiah: I’m in Philly, Center City, a couple of blocks from South Street.AllHipHop.com: I understand you have ties to Delaware. We’re you born and raised here and what was that experience like?Hezekiah: I was born and raised in Chester Pa but I spent most of my memorable childhood years in DE since the age of 14. It was a culture shock! Music-wise I had a crew. I would always gravitate toward the weirdos ‘cause I, naturally, was a weirdo. I was raised by my black hippie mom. She always encouraged individuality within the household. We were skaters before being a black skater was cool. We were picked on by Black cats. We were picked on by Whites. We just didn’t fit in so we just created our crew and just stuck together. Had to knock a couple of people out in the process but it’s all good! Then, I always rapped because my two older brothers rhymed and hip hop was the rebellion music of the time. Punk Rock was my lifestyle and Hip Hop was my lifestyle.AllHipHop.com: How did you go from a choirboy to an Emcee? Hezekiah: I started out good. (laughs) Yeah, the choir, that’s where I learned musicality. I grew up in a time when music programs were prevalent in school. We learned to play the recorder. We learned chords on the piano. We learned notes and singing and harmony. It was music in school and music in church, then my uncle played the guitar and gave me guitar lessons. That’s when I fell in love with music.AllHipHop.com: Who are some of your musical influences?Hezekiah: Besides my uncle, Quincy Jones, number one…. as a producer… Barry White, uuuh…Isaac Hayes, just how they layer that sound, that wall of sound and still have the drums knockin’ at the same time…James Brown. You know what I’m sayin’?AllHipHop.com: Yeah, you like the heavy production.Hezekiah: Yeah, that heavy production! That’s how I do my production now. I layer and layer and layer until you can’t get past it. AllHipHop.com: So what was your chitlin’ circuit experience like? Everybody has to pay dues so as you were becoming the artist you are today, what are some of the things you had to go through?Hezekiah: Is it over? (laughing) I don’t know, Man. I’ve performed in front of 10 people….on tour. I have been on tours where no one showed up, tours where we sleep on the floor, that’s normal on hip hop tours. I have been on tours where you think you’re getting paid and you’re not getting paid and the promoter says ‘I’ll pay you in weed.’ Well, I don’t smoke! And I knew this is not how it’s supposed to be ‘cause I went on tour with The Roots. I was their roadie for four years so when I started becoming an artist I knew how it was supposed to go. This ain’t right, right here. Call it paying dues but it’s still ‘being taken.’AllHipHop.com: So where would you define your place now? Do you feel you have made some headway? You got the hot videos so obviously somethin’ is crackin’ for you.Hezekiah: Oh nah, yeah. What my music did for me is establish me as a quality producer ‘cause right now I’m the guy that soul cats call for production and hook writing. I’m a songwriter/producer… like tomorrow I go in the studio with Jaquar Wright. I’m writing a song for her.AllHipHop.com: How do you classify the type of music you make? Is it Neo-soul?Hezekiah: I perform with a lot of people like I can do a show with Freeway and I kinda fit in, but then I don’t fit in. I fit in ‘cause my show is kinda gully but I perform with two horns and a deejay. It’s kinda different so I’m a little eclectic for the street crowd. Or I could do a show with Bilal, Jaquar Wright, Kindred and The Family Soul and I’m too hood. I’m too gully. I’m too hard. So I don’t fit in. I definitely fit in with the Mos Defs and Talib Kwelis. It’s pretty much in that same niche. Some people call it conscious rap. AllHipHop.com: How do you feel being part of that elite group coming from that Philly Neo Soul? And how do you feel about Neo soul? I have heard criticism that it’s fading out.Hezekiah: What happened to Philly Soul is it never had a chance to grow. The sound never evolved. That’s what killed it. And the reason why is the artists who came to Philly looking for that sound and the artists that were here were produced by the same production camp, A Touch of Jazz, and it consisted of four producers. Subsequently the four split and paired off as two separate production teams and remained in demand. Everyone that came to Philly for that sound, like Usher or whoever, was going to those same four producers. There’s a million other producers doing other things. You got me, Tony Whitfield. So if you have four producers producing a whole movement, there’s a problem. It’s going to get old. Those four producers don’t have a chance to evolve in sound. It’s not like Atlanta where you get to evolve ‘cause there are so many different producers people are gravitating to. You can go to Lil Jon or Jermaine Dupri and there’s mad versions of that Altanta sound. Now we are a crew now. The Steve Mckies, and the Tony Whitfields, and the Bilals. It’s our turn now. Call it the Next Next Movement!  Hezekiah  has had two previous albums. “Hurry Up and Wait” (2005) and I Predict a Riot (2007). His singles include “Fired Up” featuring Bahamadia and Talib Kweli and a mellow relationship song the ladies can dig called “Let’s Get Involved.”Hezekiah’s upcoming album Conscious Porn is slated to be released on October 12th.

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