“We should make an album about this book”. Nate Wolfe's venomous grin bit at the pages, salivating. This invitation of sorts—instantaneous—inspired by an LSD high... still dancing in the open ends of our minds 8 hours later...after washing a vile with vodka to extract the last precious illusions of this beautifully dangerous chemical compound. My girlfriend and child asleep upstairs unbeknownst to the two city hippies below, trip-pin.
“This book is dope Phree.” “Yeah, I know.” “Did you read it?” “ Every bit.””Can I borrow it...till tuesday? “Low-Fi?” “Low-Fi.” Nate goes back to reading, I'm aranging pages for a book I wrote. Reading your own shit when your high is like learning a new language. I couldn't pronounce a sentence or what in the hell I meant. Anyway, I'm feeding the ego, Nates going coptic on me—then he jumps up with an opiphanie about writing songs for each parable, me on the beats, both of us rapping—even call it the Ethiopian Tattoo Shop. “We should do this before you move”. “ Shit bro, ain't got but maybe—3 weeks left in the city.”
I was moving to Hawaii. After 28 years of Seattle born life, ten strong in the hip-hop undergound, I was on my way. And the first answer that honestly came to my mind when Nate made the suggestion to get down on a record together before I bounced was... no—I can't. Packing, family, projects, beats, shows, busy, goodbye's, beats, busy, work...yadi yadda. At that moment I had no clairvoyance or faith for the possible intoxication that would envelope us into the creation of this piece, a piece I'm so ultimately proud of. All I could think about was how agitated I was that Nate suggested the idea. I thought it was a perfect idea, and it pissed me off thinking it couldn't be done. I was high. So I said yes. Nate Wolfe is a convincer.
Initially Nate's idea was that we would make the album together, since I found the book and he was now borrowing it. We were both idiots and assholes—thinking we could pull it off without Graves.
And when I first plucked the book from a musty shelf at a Sally Shop, I found the cover cool, but the description exoteric. I put it back and kept looking. Whether it was fait—or the fact I had 2$ left over after copping a cheap desk lamp and the Complete Works of Shakespeare, I gravitated back to the shelf and bought the book: The Ethiopian Tattoo Shop by Edward Hays—judging by it's cover. The desk lamp turned out to be a dud and I haven't read any Shakespeare. If it wasn't for Nate's ambitious zealotry and a perfect dose of decent acid, that Sally Shop might have reaped the better end of a transaction.
At the time, Nate and I were recording and collaborating with Graves at his home studio in Beacon Hill. The 3 of us have been friends for years and compliment each others talents. It was obvious to include Graver. He is a music-holic and someone that can be counted on in times of inspiration so, he was down for the cause immediately. Without his help—his skills and ideas—Nate's psychedelic wishes and my experience would have never came fruitful.
So, the book went from my hands to Nate's (he actually brought it on tuesday to Lo-fi), then to Graves. When the 3 of us had read the book, I started out on the first beat for the album. After 2 fanatical days and a quarter ounce of Sour Diesel later, they were completed. While I was working on the beats I could hear the voices of dope emcees I knew spittin'; their cadences and delivery. My nature and nurture agreed that we should share this with others. It was surreal to find that Nate and Graves were thinking the same. Open up the doors of the shop. And although a few cats who were invited to get their ink missed out, this album is blessed and graced by talent and collective energy. Friendship is a hell of a drug.
The Ethiopian Tattoo Shop is a compilation of Coptic Christian parables and each song is based upon a different parable but, isn't Christian Rap—trust me. I believe that Christianity and the teachings of Christ differ—so I'm not a Christian. I don't speak for everyone on the album but if I had to, I'd say they weren't either. Prior to writing each song, the object-able parable was read aloud or individually read by whoever was on the song. Every cut was wrote and recorded at Graver's crib. By the time it was done, everyone had read from the book, some of us in it's entirety.
And suddenly there I was, on an airplane headed for the most remote chain of islands in the world—off to the next awakening, with a fresh tattoo. A few weeks later, Graves emailed me the mastered version of what I now consider my greatest contribution to music. And that was back in October, its January and I'm still pumping it daily...like the reflection of Narcissus. If you enjoy the album—find the book. If you've found the book—hear the album. The toil of Edward Hays became our muse, let our toil become your trip. --Phreewil--
released January 17, 2011
Produced by PHREEWIL, Mixed and mastered by GRAVES 33, Written by Phreewil, Graves33, Nathan Wolfe, Milo, Suntonio Bandanaz, Audiopoet, Page1, Tru ID, Khanfidenz, Leland Jones,