5 Years: Sketch Tha Cataclysm On IRDIFGM2

To all of you not privy to my existence, I go by the name of Sketch tha cataclysm. I am an MC/Producer/occasional contributor to ok-tho. I've written reviews and features in the past for the site, but I now like to think of myself as moreso an artist-in-residence. In celebration of my project's anniversary, I wrote this piece for those that have encountered the work along my path and those still continuing to. There's others that I thought might just dig hearing about "the process". I wanted to give some honest perspective from my side of it. Thank you all for being a part of this. My apologies for what may be perceived as just self-indulgence. I just let this all spill out of my stupid face.

Five years ago today, Indie Rappers Do It For Gas Money Vol. 2, my last official full length, was released by Little Ax Independent Media. It was intended to be a full length personal (literal and figurative) record that used my chosen career path as its vessel. Sonically, I wanted to come off like how I felt I did on stage, with the music suiting the type of band that I was performing with (warmer funkier instrumentation). In my opinion, at this point in time, I had yet to capture THAT energy right for a complete record.

In the months prior to its release, I was newly single, probably depressed, living mostly off of miniscule music income and kindness, still heavily involved in the AntFarm Affiliates, performing regularly with DJ Mo Niklz or the aforementioned 9 ish piece band, and curious about the audacity needed to push my thoughts in front of the public's faces (ears). Discussions with my peers Tah Phrum Duh Bush and Expertiz lead to me doing minimal crowdfunding ($1000) to on level help with the physical production of the work, but on other to affirm that people out there really wanted to hear it. Crowd-funding achieved, Alexandra Leigh Toskas (formerly Simmons) completed the cover images she began years prior, Dirt E Dutch mastered it, and on September 27th, 2011 IRDIFGM2 was released to the public.

The album was released amid a Northeast mini-tour with Premrock & Willie Green. When midnight hit, I sat teary-eyed at our stop at Freestyle Mondays in NYC thinking about how happy I was to be releasing it.  This was the project that I was most proud of. I was texting tweets of joy, even while having convos with Dutch about how there was an iTunes error, so the project wasn't going to be available on all sites at the same time. This in addition to manufacturing delays that caused physical copies to not arrive at my residence until AFTER I left on tour. Ode to the small audience indie rap life. Still, I was overjoyed; happy with what I had achieved with a new project released that I thought the people out there might enjoy.

All promotion was DIY and any reviews/coverage that I got for the project felt like pure luck. I couldn't afford to put any money into the promo, and even happened across the first season of the Lights And A Backdrop series by Adam Dunn (Evil Ice Cream Pictures) for a video for the opener "Re-Introductions Aren't Necessary But Fuck It". (This was just short of two years after the album release. More reality for those of you keeping track.)

Ok so, with that as the jumping off point, here is the track by track sets of tidbits that you may or may not know.

1. "Re-Introductions Aren't Necessary But Fuck It" - I wanted this song to somehow be the all encompassing "this is who I am" song. There was an aim to give the listener glimpses at a lot of the ways that I can write and spit in one song while painting a self-portrait of me as a man and artist. There was a goal to be as honest as I could about my faults and just kind of put it all out there to start the album. The track features three of my bandmates at the time: Will Vega on guitar, Josue Ramirez on trumpet and George Prieto on the sax recreating and/or embellishing sample work that was already chopped and laid down. The song opens with a chunk of lyrics about a memory of me being on a cruise many years before that felt like a memory that was me at my core. The song closes with a Muppet Show sample that I used to rock years earlier when I would dj at multi-genre shows.

2. "If (The Possibilities)" - This song originated many years prior as an outtake of my first record Tao Te Ching, surfaced in another form on my first band's record SODA POP IS DEAD, and ultimately officially survives atop a Willie Green production that I basically won for being up late at night on twitter. Willie did this twitter contest a couple of times that I know of and I obtained two of the works as the result; both taking residence on this project but with Willie completing the mixes of this one here himself.

3. "Get Over You" - This was originally going to be a song for an Expertiz project featuring me but I offered him money (which he declined) to have it on this album. It just felt like it fit the theme far too well to not be on it. It was meant to be super direct and an entirely factual representation of the masochistic relationship that I have with the music. True Scribe made a beautiful track that I had Will Vega embellish with an awesome guitar solo that he hates haha. Ex and myself had an idea for a great music video for this song that may have helped us get this album to an exponentially larger amount of ears and eyes. Is what it is children.

4. "Beware Witness" - Thus begins the 6 Defnyshn contributions to this record. This super talented gentleman held down the core of a few of the AFA releases and really helped me bring my vision to light. This joint in particular was presented to me as a rough edit that I left as is and just rhymed end to end on. I wanted this song to be a performance piece that exemplified my desires to not just rhyme in a way that people will just be able to do themselves and make a statement. There was always this under current in my thought process of wanting to do things in a special way that was not easy to replicate by others. The opening ten or so bars of the verse were originally written in a format that I wrote five other verses. All of which were done to a self played blues guitar piece. Another of the verses ended up on an Adam Bernard B-List tribute song that never got released. "Admire this, pi-uh-lot, pirating nihilist fire script, piles and piles and violent dialect. . . "

5. "To Whom" - Expertiz once described this as my "fuck a mainstream rapper song". This was aimed at a specific MC after I had been changing channels and encountered three awful things of theirs in a row without trying. I had a rare moment and thought I needed to highlight the truth of that feeling. Defnyshn contribution #2. It closes with my second Jim Henson piece that I used to use in my DJ sets.

6. "Busking & Speeding Tickets" - This is only my second full production contribution on the album surprisingly. There's lyrics to this that have yet to be presented for ears out there. I just felt like you needed a break from my fucking voice after two songs (4-ish minutes) of me straight rapping. The title described the touring experience of busking on the corners of Madison, WI and selling CDs while DJ Halo was doing an in-store and the multiple occasions where I got speeding tickets while driving at or below the posted speed limits travelling through the mid-west.

7. "Love Is" - Defnyshn joint #3. I had a feeling like I needed to hear more rap songs where a dude actually uttered the word "love". There needs to be more expressed emotional complexity to us as humans in these songs. Just my thoughts. Some balance helps. Part of the hook is tribute. There's a lot of myself in this one both explicitly out there and not. Love in three parts.

8. "Kidney Stones" - Second Willie Green contribution. I wrote 9 different songs to this beat before I dug into this version. The title is a metaphor as well as a reference to a direct set of kidney stone experiences that I had had years prior. I once had this song blind focus-grouped to see if it was fit to be a single just out of pure curiosity. It went over "ok". Haha This is about moving the genre forward really but apply it to your life as it fits.

9. "Indie Rappers Do It For Gas Money" - Defnyshn #4. "Hey yo I need this beat to have enough shifts in it for 12 verses." 11 rappers and one DJ featured from various areas of the country. There was double the amount of people asked and either confirmed their contribution and never submitted or declined. One of the folks that declined just did not understand the joke of the title and thought it was a mission statement rather than a sad reality for most/double entendre. I used to have t-shirts that said Indie Rappers Do It For Gas Money on them many years back.

10. "The Venue" - Defnyshn #5. Used to be my favorite on the album. I think this is a great display of what Defnyshn does with its beat shifting entirely throughout. I believe that this beat was completed as is and I wrote to all of the 4 or so shifts in the track without any asks for adjustment. I really appreciate what he did throughout the album. He definitely carried the meat of the project and allowed for my band to have some great songs live.

11. "Power The Fight" - Defnyshn #6. For some folks, this track was a direct continuation of my project Party Music 4 Pissed Off People but more serious in tone. I was happy to get Rising Sun Quest and JK1 The Supernova on the joint, two cats that have come across on track with their own socio-political focus. Quest had been rocking heavy with Defnyshn throughout his album Journey Toward The Sun and it felt like he needed to be there. Possibly one of his last few appearances on metaphorical wax that I know of. JK1 The Supernova was featured on my first album on the ridiculous "Strawberry Cheese Danish" and this felt like a necessary opportunity for a counter vibe.

12. "Place To Be" - This is the Dirt E Dutch production to go along with his mastering work. The story in the track is the true story of me basically stealing the last ten minutes of an RJD2 openers set that included call and responses and my original drummer John Tyler. 100% true story. Fun times. This beat was sent at the same time as the beat for "Yesterday Is For Suckers" that ended up on Dutch's Bars Magica. I was told they were both tracks that people had trouble rhyming on for some reason.

13. "Love Poems To My Impending Poverty" - Was told by a bunch of close folks upon first listen that this song sounded like my literal life mission statement. I wrote it many years before as I quit one of my jobs. The production is only my third contribution on the album and the original version of the beat was probably only my fourth or fifth thing that I made with the MPC.

14. "Furor Poeticus" - The bonus track. This was originally a song released through bandcamp for free. A couple of folks asked me to release a version that was a bit higher energy like my live performances of it. Mo Niklz rocked with me regularly performing the cuts on this one so I included him as well. My last production on the album.


So five years later, I am a few more tours in, still single, working a "regular" job, homeless/couch hopping survivor, crewless, performing regularly solo or still with Mo Niklz, and now a father of a two year old that listens to those muppet clips in their original context. There was a few never completed albums in this ones wake; one of which released partially in demo form to a limited set of hands was intended to be a colder companion piece.

Thinking back about this album, I still feel proud of what I have done with it. I still continuously get great responses from folks who discover it and seek out the harsh negative commentary I receive from folks who "don't get it" or "just don't think that its my thing". And that's cool as fuck.

I want to give a quick shout to everybody that contributed or inspired the process and everybody that I have encountered along the way. Thank you to everybody who shared it as well.

Peace and blessings.

Sketch tha cataclysm.

For those in CT area, we are celebrating the anniversary with a full length performance at Anna Liffey's in New Haven, CT on Saturday 10/8.