A-Alikes comprise of Illuminessence “Ness” a.k.a “P. Red” and Karaam “K” a.k.a “A-Black”, Tallahasse, Florida natives with Dead Prez, relocated to Brooklyn, New York. On her recent trip out there Lady Jay met up with Ness for a quick update on their UK connection (through Baby J) and the progress on the new album, ‘OneLife, One Death’ …
Your name alone relates to oneness, in a sense. Why is that important to you?
Because that’s what’s missing amongst our people, and humanity as a whole. A-Alikes means people of like minds, it means unity, it means one love. It doesn’t mean that we all are the same, carbon copies, or not individuals but instead it means that we have common goals and we set aside our individual differences for the common good. We dont want to sound corny, preachy, or idealistic but thats basically what we trying to say with our music. Lets get together and get it together. This is what society is missing. In the same token it aint peace right now and we not saying turn the other cheek, we do have a common enemy and that common enemy is the system. It is white supremacy as an institution and anybody who supports white supremacy because that’s whats hurting everyone on this planet including white people. Until all people on this earth stand on equal ground its going to be war, confusion, turmoil, poverty, starvation, racism, etc… also anybody who has the mentality of ‘the dollar over the people’, thats the enemy of anybody who wants true change.
What is A-Alikes about?
A-Alikes is about sparkin’ change, waking up those that are sleep walking, and inspirin’ those that are already up to keep pushing forward because we need that energy for the movement. A-Alikes is about the hood, the people going thru the day to day grind trying to pay bills, eat, and survive in this capitalist society. A-Alikes is together the ants will conquer the elephant.
When I saw your show, you burnt money on stage. Explain what this represents
Don’t be a slave to money point blank. Its bigger than money. The system uses money and symbols of “wealth” to trap us in cycle of enslavement. Gotta get that money, gotta pay bills, gotta get the new this or new that, get rich or die tryin’ etc. And please dont get it twisted, we not stupid, we know that while we livin’ in under capitalism u gon’ need to make money to get the basics and live a “decent” life but look past that for a second and imagine how much better our lives would be and the world would be if we wasn’t under all this bullshit.Thats why we burn money on stage, to wake people up to the idea of a world beyond the need for money. Can u see it? Also it represents that fire that we gon’ need to make that revolutionary change. Symbolic fire as in that revolutionary spirit and actual fire as in firepower.
I feel that materialism has become so ingrained in hip hop music and society as a whole that some people don’t want to hear anything thatchallenges ˜get money, check my ride/rims/ice’ shite. Do you ever feel you have to be clever about how you present your ideas to reach the maximum number of listeners, or do you always say it exactly how you think it and wait for those people to catch up
We say what we think, and if u listen to our music u already know. We do think about how to strategically reach the most people as possible but at the end of the day we still saying what we say. We have certain songs that aint necessarily attacking the goverment or the system in the song but thats just cuz we artists and we have different things we talk about in our music. Sometimes we talk about relationships, homies that passed away, hustlin’, or any number of topics that aint super controversial. We from the hood so we come from the point of view of people from the hood, and talk about what we go thru in the hood. We get alot of people that relate to our music and that’s important cuz we aint tryin’ just say fuck the police 20 times on our album for shock value. we buildin’. If its relevent to what we buildin’ about then its going to be in the music. For those that dont agree with anything in our music then they either the walking dead, the enemy or both.
Tell me about the ‘Make The Hood Better’ track.
Make the Hood Better is a song from our new album ‘OneLife, One Death’ produced by our people’s P. Parker aka P Kaso. Its some up tempo, summertime feel good, hood love shit. Basically a common thing in the hood is everybody trying to get out the hood.
When u make enough money to get out of the hood u leave and don’t look back type of shit; but what we sayin; is Make the hood better. U don’t even have to stay in the hood if u dont want to but if u got it like that then give back so that the people livin’ in the hood can have a better life.
Also I dont know if this is true for The UK but gentrification is big in inner cities around the country in the U.S. White people with money are moving back to the inner city areas aka ‘the hood’, property values are going up, they put a few Starbucks up, and black people living in those areas are being forced out to suburbs which will now become the new ghettos. So lets just build up our communities and do for self as much as we can under this system we livin’ in.
What is A-Alikes working on right now?
Working on the new album One Life, One Death coming at the end of this summer August.
Also been doing a lot of collabos with artist overseas, and in the States.
How did you end up working with Baby J?
We known Baby J for years. We met him thru the homies dead prez. He was trying to get them on a compilation he was working on back in the day called “the Birth’.
We came to the studio and ended up getting on one of the last few beats he had left for the album and the song ended up getting picked as the single. The joint was called ‘Walk with a Bop” and it was us and Poetic from the Gravediggaz (R.I.P) on the single. The rest is history.
We went on to do 2 albums where Baby J produced a majority of the tracks, ‘Live or Die’ and ‘Kill the Middleman’. If u don’t got these 2 albums definitely get’m cuz its some raw, soulful, classic hip hop. Also we’ve been featured on other projects he produced from Yogi, to some of his other compilations. BABY J is one of our favourite producers because we not only worked with him on a lot of material but we also built with him on music, sounds, politics, concepts, how a joint should bang, etc. We’re proud J’s progress and all of his success. We got some new shit we’re working on with him for a couple projects he working on right now and there might be another album we might work on together . We’ll see how things work out.
We got a lot going on right now with ‘One Life, One Death’ coming up and the follow up to that album ‘Us against Them’ which we already got mostly finished. Stay tuned!
What’s happening with your label?
If you’re talking bout our label Guerilla Nation then we gettin’ everything ready to get this new album out to the world. As far as the label we released our last album “I Eat, U Eat” on, Nervous Records we aint fucking with them anymore. It’s a bunch of shit that happened but lets just say we had a classic album that they dropped the ball on. They weren’t capable of giving us the push we needed to make that album pop the way we wanted to pop it but it still did well regardless.
We made an impact and that’s the important part. So we figured that the best thing was to go in a different direction and do what we got to do to make shit pop the way we want it to. WORD TO ALL THOSE ASPIRING MC’S: Sign yourself and do for self! The industry is crumbling. Its time for the real music to shine. They done pulled back the curtain on The wizard of OZ, the show is over. GET ON YOUR GRIND. Plot, Plan, Strategize!
Check us out, send us a comment, let us know what u think, lets link, lets build…
– Lady Jay UK