You may not be familiar with Encore, but after this week's release of Layover, you will be. In fact, the span of Encore's career is probably longer than your favorite rapper's.
When he wasn't a Handsome Boy in Modeling School (the album that is), he was taking over the Bay Area underground with his conscious, yet catchy lyrics. His new album Layover surpasses any and all expectations for what a breakout album should sound like. AllHipHop.com was fortunate enough to catch up with Encore and meet the man behind the music. It's clear that Layover is not only Encore's well-deserved baptism into the mainstream, but a revival in the reputation of the underground.
AllHipHop.com: For those who are unsure, what is your affiliation to Hieroglyphics?
Encore: I've known Domino, Del, and most of Hiero for over 5 years. Pep was on my first album as well as this one. I toured with Del in 2000.
AllHipHop.com: It's difficult to place a label on your style, but if you had to have a word for it, what would it be?
Encore: I've been labeled a 'purist' style-wise. I focus on flow, riding beats, and still maintaining lyrics that mean something. I don't like to cram shit into beats where it don't fit or forcing a whole bunch of punchlines. I'm a spitter with content. Nothing redundant.
AllHipHop.com: You had a personal experience that led you to the way of Islam. Briefly talk about that and how it affected your music.
Encore: I had a DUI. Doing a song like '.084' felt good because it showed me that doing songs that have some form of personal relevance to me improves the overall quality of my music. There is more of a vested interest.
AllHipHop.com: Are you obligated through Islam to keep your lyrics a certain way and do you feel all Muslims in Hip Hop have a reputation to uphold?
Encore: I'm obligated to be as honest as I possibly can with myself in music, whether the results are Islamic or not. Honesty in itself is Islamic, so that would be the only 'reputation' I feel I have to uphold.
AllHipHop.com: You must be incredibly excited for your album release. Do you feel more confident about Layover's success being on Hiero's label as opposed to 75 Ark?
Encore: I'm confident in the fact that I know that the music that I put together was an accurate reflection of my state of mind. So yeah I'm excited.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel you've matured musically from Self Preservation to Layover?
Encore: I think with Self Preservation - it was a good album, but I think I limited myself in some aspects, worrying about how I was going to be perceived. I wanted to make sure cats knew I was no joke lyrically, and made myself appear a little one dimensional. I let some time seperate myself from Self Preservation in a creative sense. That allowed me to be more comfortable showing more facets of my musical tastes and style.
AllHipHop.com: Explain the title of the album.
Encore: 'Layover' is a metaphor for where I'm at in my career musically. Layover is literally like a waiting period before your flight. I look at my music in the same way - I'm waiting for my flight. There are a few areas I want to go with my music, but at this point in my career I have to wait on. If I don't want to take my listeners along with me, then I gotta bring ya'll along slowly.
AllHipHop.com: On Layover you stuck with productions from Architect, Jake One and Vitamin D among a few others. What producers and/or emcees would you like to work with in the future?
Encore: Dilla, Madlib, DJ Khalil, Nottz, Just Blaze, Kanye, Premo, and Pete Rock
AllHipHop.com: Tracks like "Faithful" give the listeners some insight on your lyrical ability while "Zigga Zagga" provides the radio friendly head nod music. What was your formula in choosing the songs for the album?
Encore: The formula is the music. I mean, I take what the music gives me. I didn't premeditate anything on this album. I went with my gut and what felt good to me.
AllHipHop.com: What brought on the collabo with Ladybug Mecca for Real Talk?
Encore: The beat itself. I heard the music and the concept came to me immediately. I did the second verse first, then I did the first verse, Mecca's part of the first verse too. I didn't even know her, but her Digable Planets' image was what I envisioned when I put that together.
AllHipHop.com: What's your favorite track on the album and which do you hope gets the greatest response from your audience?
Encore: My favorite track is 'Way Home', simply because it's about and for my family. Getting their reaction to it was all I needed. What I would like to get the greatest response would probably be 'Faithful'. I think I put alot into those verses. Questioning my religion versus my faith versus my Blackness - it's all there and all real to me.
AllHipHop.com: How do you think Layover will compete with the other albums out right now?
Encore: I don't know. What I've learned in these past few years is that the audience has changed. I've learned that "underground" heads think the same way that 'commercial' heads. What's good to a listener is based on who he's affiliated with - what names are producing your shit. For the most part, it hardly has anything to do with the actual music. The names are different, but the mentality is the same - so, who knows? I think Layover is a banger and that's really all that matters in the grand scheme of things. I can only do me. That's the only way I'm going to be happy with my music.
AllHipHop.com: Can we expect some tour dates?
Encore: It's looking like I'll be out with Hiero in Europe some time this year.
AllHipHop.com: How do you plan to transcend the title of "underground MC" with Layover and your future works?
Encore: By just doing me. My concern is not being in the underground. It's the stigma behind it that's all fucked up. The only thing I would like to transcend is the stigma.
AllHipHop.com: On another note, will you be voting for the next President? Who do you hope it isn't?
Encore: Bush got us on some bulls**t. So I'm going with Kerry.
AllHipHop.com: And finally, if you weren't here, where would you be?
Encore: On some National Geographic, travel-the-earth shit.
For more information on Encore, please visit http://www.tygereye.net/