Emanon: Nickel Bags of Funk

If good things really do come to those who wait, that explains why Emanon’s long-awaited debut LP is a triumph – 15 straight tracks of bona fide goodness. Southern Cali products Aloe Blacc and Exile have been laying down tracks together for more than a decade now, but The Waiting Room marks their first full-length […]

If good things really do come to those who wait, that explains why Emanon’s long-awaited debut LP is a triumph – 15 straight tracks of bona fide goodness. Southern Cali products Aloe Blacc and Exile have been laying down tracks together for more than a decade now, but The Waiting Room marks their first full-length effort.

Staples on the left coast subterranean scene, they’ve made moves on the national landscape more often in individual endeavors on 12”s and mixtapes than as Emanon or part of their collective, Dream Sequence. That all changed with the release of The Waiting Room and its first single, the Sister Nancy-sampling party cut “Count Your Blessings.”

Though Exile holds down the album’s production and Aloe sticks to verbosity, both are card-carrying jacks of both trades. Some heads might not even realize that’s Exile spitting verses on “Six Million Ways.” AllHipHop.com loved the album in review, so we brought ‘em out like T.I. for the feature…

AllHipHop.com: How long in the making was The Waiting Room?

Aloe Blacc: I would probably say about five years in the making. Some of the songs on there are from as early as ’98 and we finished production on it in 2003. So ’98-’03, about five years.

AllHipHop.com: Is the album’s title a wink to the wait getting out there?

Aloe Blacc: Kind of. But it’s more just a metaphor for life, like life is a waiting room for whatever comes after.

AllHipHop.com: Where did you face obstacles along the way?

Aloe Blacc: Just trying to shop it to different labels. We had the album together and we’d always been used to just putting things out ourselves, saving up money and releasing ourselves. So that’s one of the things that was an obstacle.

AllHipHop.com: I knew you guys had good harmony. Alright, we’re getting deep here. What were some of your ambitions in releasing The Waiting Room?

Aloe Blacc: I think one of the ambitions is to put the name out there and let everybody know that Emanon does more than just Rap and Hip-Hop, but we’re still Hip-Hop. That was one of my goals, I wanted to make sure people saw a full spectrum. Or at least a semi-complete spectrum of what we do as musicians and as artists.

AllHipHop.com: Between songs like “Politician” and the brilliantly cut and pasted Bush speech, how important was it for you guys to give the album a political edge?

Aloe Blacc: It wasn’t so much a focus of giving it a political edge. It was a song that we made that we liked and it was good. If we had made ten political songs, trying to force a political song on the album, and they were wack they wouldn’t have made it. So it had nothing to do with trying to force a political edge into the album, it was more like it was a song that really did work.

Exile: Actually it was a remix to a song that I had did called “Exile For President,” where I just talked about what I’d do if I was president. And I made the “Politician” beat originally, but then I flipped the same sounds and made “Exile For President” and did my song and I asked Aloe if he’d do a remix to it afterward. And that’s what “The Politician” is, and we just ended up using it on the album.

AllHipHop.com: The Bush speech really made its way around the Internet.

Aloe Blacc: Yeah there were different versions of it. I think a lot of people have had the idea. And I got a copy from a friend of mine online, and I said, “Oh that’s pretty dope.” So I took it and reedited it a little bit and put one on there myself. It’s not a super-original idea, its been done with other speeches in other times. I think it just fit for that particular song or for that particular moment.

AllHipHop.com: Outside of the political angle, what do you think are some other themes that are prevalent in your music?

Aloe Blacc: We’ve got an introspective theme with “Six Million Ways” to die, for sure, and with “The Waiting Room” itself, the title track. And there’s a party theme in “Count Your Blessings” and “Make Music.” And then there’s the love and life topics like “She Thinks” and “More Than You Know.”

AllHipHop.com: What do you think it is about your respective styles that makes you two compatible?

Aloe Blacc: Just years of working together. I mean we didn’t put out an album, a full-length LP, right away. We had been working together for about five years already. If it didn’t work out in those first five years, we wouldn’t have started working on a full-length. It’s just a matter of being together and working together and being comfortable working with each other. There’s other MC’s that don’t have a producer. They just try to find beats from all different people and that’s foreign to me, I’ve never had it like that.

AllHipHop.com: What have you guys been doing on the solo side of things?

Exile: I’m working on an album with Sound in Color, it’s called Dirty Science. It’s a compilation album featuring all of my production. A little bit of me rapping. I have Kardinal Official on it, Slum Village, Oh No, MF DOOM, some other artists too. It’s almost done. And Aloe’s working on an album with Stones Throw right now.

Aloe Blacc: Yeah, solo album. Mainly me on the production, I think 75 percent and then I’ve got some beats on there from other folks. Not a whole lot of samples, maybe only two or three samples on songs on the album. Everything else is me on the Triton. And not a whole lot of raps, mainly singing.

AllHipHop.com: You guys have done a good amount of touring overseas. Is there country that’s impressed you above the rest in terms of representing Hip-Hop?

Aloe Blacc: Germany’s pretty strong in its representation of Hip-Hop. But I really like France though. I think they have more of a true feeling of what it is to be Hip-Hop than a lot of places because of the kinds of living conditions and neighborhoods that are in France that don’t exist in a majority, or aren’t as prevalent, in other countries.

AllHipHop.com: So how has the groupie love evolved since you guys dropped the album?

Exile: I’ve stepped up the game on my beats I’d say, I’ve just been making a lot more beats–

Aloe Blacc: [laughing] Okay, so just don’t answer the question at all. You said groupie love, right?

AllHipHop.com: Yeah. Everyone else asks how you’ve evolved. I want to know about the groupies.

Exile: Oh. Yeah. I had one groupie.

Aloe Blacc: [Laughing] Oh man, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s progressed since the album’s release. But I went out one time and I was just kicking it, talking to some girl, and I was like, “Oh your friend said you’re coming out to see me tomorrow.” And she was like, “What do you mean?” And I was like “I’ve got a show tomorrow.” Then she started to realize who I was and she started trippin’. She started singing one of our songs that we released back in ’97, like singing the lyrics word-for-word, trippin’. That was kind of ill. Needless to say… she wasn’t my type.