The four-man faction known as Clear Soul Forces has banded together with fellow musically minded Michigan native Nameless for the group’s third studio album Fab Five. While the producer from Flint, MI handled the tracks on the new LP, Detroit emcees Ilajide, E-Fav, Noveliss, and L.A.Z. of CSF took care of the rhymes.
Fab Five is a 16-track collection of tunes that represent Clear Soul Forces’ ability to attract listeners focused on lyrics as well as drivers wanting a soundtrack for their time behind the wheel. That crossover Hip Hop style is embodied in the album’s lead single “BPSWR” (Backpack Subwoofer Rap).
Three of the members of Clear Soul Forces spoke with AllHipHop.com about their latest LP named after the famous 1991 recruits to the University of Michigan basketball team. E-Fav, Noveliss, and L.A.Z. also discuss the current Detroit Hip Hop scene, rapping about police profiling, and why they deserve a shot on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
How have your lives changed since the last time we spoke?
Noveliss: I had a daughter. I already had my son. So that happened. Then we went on tour. We went to Europe twice. We headlined our own tour. That was crazy. We’ve just enjoyed being well-known rappers.
L.A.Z.: It’s like life has changed a lot, but not really. We’re still grinding this out as far as the music. Sh*t is the same, but it’s different. Like he said, we’ve had the opportunity to go to Europe. My life has not changed, but my mind state on how I go about things I guess has changed in that time period. I’m pretty much on the same tip. I’m still chilling and rapping. I’m just a little bit more focused about it. We’re still grinding out the same though.
You’ve titled your new album Fab Five which is really fitting since you’re from Michigan. What are your thoughts about the Hip Hop coming out of Michigan. In particular, the “Detriot vs. Everybody” movement?
Noveliss: I think Detroit Hip Hop is straight right now. Royce did PRhyme with Premo, and I feel like that was one of the best Hip Hop projects to come out in the last few years.
E-Fav: Detroit Hip Hop is kind of in a place I feel like it’s always been. It’s always kind of been “Detroit vs Everybody.” But we partially get overlooked by most of the industry. People f*ck with us, they give us our props, but we don’t really have a lot of industry here. But in terms of Hip Hop as a whole, it’s doing well.
L.A.Z.: I feel like we’re smashing the Hip Hop game right now. On all levels. We got people on the radio like Dej Loaf and Big Sean. You got n*ggas running the Internet like Danny Brown. He can drop whenever he wants and smash the game. Then you got the Hip Hop scene – Red Pill, us. With PHryme, Royce is on top of his game right now. From top to bottom, Detroit is back right now – mainstream, underground. We’re killing it right now. Even producers.
Speaking of producers, you’re previous projects included production from Ilajide and others. Why did you decide to have Nameless produce all of Fab Five?
Noveliss: It’s something we’ve been talking about doing for a while. We always used to talk about doing a whole album.
L.A.Z.: It’s been in the works for a long time. He’s our dude. We’re in between projects and before we hop into our next thing this is more of a raw project. [We said,] “F*ck it. Let’s do it.” It was one of those kind of things more than anything else.
E-Fav: Yeah, it was one of those things where we had a rapport already with Nameless and wanted to make some more music with him. Initially, it was supposed to be an EP, but it turned into something more than that once we got to working on it. I feel like artists do projects with one producer all the time. It’s one of those situations where an artist teams up with one producer. That’s what Fab Five is.
On the album, there are several times where relevant social topics like police profiling and Trayvon Martin were mentioned. Did you guys feel like those were issues you had to touch on with this project?
Noveliss: The crazy thing is we made the songs before a lot of that sh*t started happening like Trayvon and Michael Brown. We always deal with that sh*t everyday.
E-Fav: A lot of that content was train of thought. Like Noveliss said, we deal with that sh*t everyday. It’s almost like it’s too common these days. It was at one point where we were all having run-ins with cops. Almost every other week it seemed one of us was having complications with police officers.
L.A.Z.: My whip got impounded. All of this s### was happening back-to-back-to-back.
E-Fav: It was like “Damn, what the f*ck?”
On the lead single “BPSR”, the hook says, “combination of backpack and subwoofer rap.” What inspired that concept?
L.A.Z.: That is a term I always used that personified our music. I always felt like that was the key. Sh*t that would slap that you would ride in your car and listen to, but yet you’re still really rapping with substance. The Hip Hop music you can bang. I always felt like that’s what our music was. I had been saying it, but Noveliss came up with that hook. He actually took the term and put in the lyrics.
Some emcees don’t like being called a “backpack rapper.” You guys don’t mind that label?
E-Fav: People are going to label you no matter what. I think it’s more important for us to make music that comes from an honest place. And for us to make music that sounds like what we want it to be. I don’t know if we necessarily pay too much attention to labels. That’s more for other people to identify us with.
Noveliss: The term “backpack rapper” doesn’t bother me, because I’m a f*cking rapper and I use backpacks. I don’t really care. People got to put a label on sh*t, so people can understand it. That’s just how the world is.
Your website is forceswithyou.com. That’s a clear play on Star Wars. Are you fans of the franchise?
Noveliss: I’m a big a## Star Wars fan, but I can’t speak for everybody else.
E-Fav: I’m a moderate Star Wars fan. I think I’ve seen all of them, but I can’t name characters and sh*t. [laughs] Just the main ones.
We gotta get on Jimmy Fallon man
— Clear Soul Forces (@clearsoulforces) March 25, 2015
Everyone tweet Jimmy Fallon and tell him what's up! #RAPS
— Clear Soul Forces (@clearsoulforces) March 26, 2015
I saw a Tweet from the Clear Soul Forces Twitter account saying the group wanted to get on Jimmy Fallon. If someone connected to the Fallon show happens to see this interview, what would be your pitch for why you guys deserve to be on The Tonight Show?
L.A.Z.: Look, that sh*t would be legendary. I watch that sh*t like every time somebody goes on there. People I f*ck with. From the Kid Cudi performance to Dej Loaf. I always watch it, and I feel like we would rock it. I like what the Jimmy Fallon show stands for. It’s fresh as f*ck having The Roots on there. I think we would shut it down. The Roots make pure music, and I feel like we make pure music. And we need a break. I want the whole world to see us.
E-Fav: I would second that. He’s got a good show. And like L.A.Z. was saying, with The Roots on there it would be epic. We would do it with no fear in our hearts, only excitement.