The Away Team: Bringin' It Back Home

posted November 12, 2007 12:00:00 AM CST | 9 comments

North Carolinas Justus League crew has had what could be considered a turbulent year: 9th Wonder left Little Brother, and the new duo left Atlantic Records for ABB Records. But while talking to Khrysis and Sean Boog, youd never know. The producer/emcee duo, collectively known as the Away Team, is too excited about their sophomore set to worry about the bullshit. And they have reason to be: Training Day is a lean, 12-track disc of melodic boom bap, complete with notable upgrades from Khrysis and Boog and well-placed cameos, helping it stand with the years already expansive list of solid indie releases. Right before starting off their tour with Little Brother and Evidence, the Away Team talks with HipHopDX about their new album, playing as the underdogs, and keeping fun in the music.

HipHopDX: You guys have two albums in the can right now, Training Day and another. Did you guys just record a lot of material at once? Or do you think you just had a lot of time since your first LP?
Khrysis: It was a little bit of both.
Sean Boog: We stay recording, man. The music never stops. The other album thats ready to go, called The Warm Up feat. Nervous Reck, was just us recording joints, no plan of an album. For Training Day, we went into to it like, Aight this is going to be an album." We actually initially were going to do something else with Training Day, but we sat down with our manager Dho and decided to do it through Hall Of Justus.

DX: So what were you guys going to do with it at first, and what made you change your min
Initially we were asked to do it for the Rawkus 50, that was why we banged it out. We were planning on The Warm Up to be next, but they said they needed some more people to fill up the roster. So we jumped on it. We had [Training Day] readywell 10 joints and while we were waiting to hear back we hollered at Dho, played it for him and decided to do it ourselves. Dho landed the distribution through Fat Beats and we ran with it. Shout out to Slopfunkdust.

DX: So are you happy with the decision you made?
SB: Yeah!
K: Hells yeah!
SB: For one, me personally, I like to keep the shit I do within my team as much as possible. I know they have my best interests in mind. As artists you have to make decisions be proud of your decisions and roll with it.

DX: This record hits me a lot harder than the last, and there were a couple things I noticed. Boog, in reviews for the last album, some critics said you didn't sound too inspired. Did you go into this one with a "Prove them wrong" mindset?
With me, man, [pauses] Aight, Ill say it like this: Theres the joint on Training Day called "The Odds." On the first verse I start off, "Growing up I was the shortest of the bunch/ so what I do I packed more into a punch. This Away Team shit and the meaning behind the name is the underdogs. I grew up that way, thats all I know. Thats my comfort zone. So in a way, yeah, Im always out to prove motherfuckers wrong. Tell me I cant or that I wont, and I will.

DX: How much do you think you've improved since National Anthem?
A lot! When we did National Anthem, you have to understand as far as making records and putting an album together, we were babies. I mean I was rapping before I met Khrysis and Khrysis was making beats before he met me.

We came together the chemistry was there on all levels so we did the Away Team shit. I think as an artist if you arent constantly improving you dont need to be doing this shit. On this album I found what my purpose in this rap shit.

DX: And what's that purpose?
Man, the music me and Khrysis make is bang out, good ole fashioned rap music! Beats rhymes from our point of view. We want you to leave your problems at home when listen to the Away Team. Some artists get really deep and shit, which is dope, and I like that. But when you hear the Away Team, nine out of 10 times, youre not going to hear that.

DX: What makes you prefer it that way though?
Its our personality, [and we] have fun with it.
K: Basically, its the kind of music we grew up listening to. We're from the school where people as rap fans wasnt all caught up in the personal lives of the artists. We didnt give a fuck where you was from, who you was fuckin'. It was just music to us, on some life soundtrack type shit. Its a whole lot of "he say she say" going on. Im like fuck that: whats your music talking bout?

DX: So thinking like that, shit had to be pretty crazy during the whole situation with 9th leaving the group
[Laughs] Not really, because the music was still good. Plus, that was a thing that was between them.
SB: 9th [is] still fam; we just rocked his album release party. Thats LBs situation, man.
K: And Pooh just left my house not even five minutes ago. We all still kick it. We still got Training Day done.

DX: Khrysis, your beats are pretty ill this time around this before or after you switched your equipment?
Mostly after. Theres only two joints thats done totally on [Fruity Loops]. Some were with both, and most were done totally MPC.

DX: What's the new shit you're working with?
Im still working on same equipment from last year. I flip flop back and forth with equipment to this day.

DX: How difficult was it for both of you to get accustomed to the new shit? How difficult was it for you to make beats, and Boog, how much did his beats change for you to rap over?
For me it was all mechanical. Once I learned my way around the machine it was a breeze. Like I said, we knocked 10 jams out in a month. We were in a zone like never before, and most of the songs were done on the spot.
SB: There wasnt really a change. A dope beat to me is a dope beat. I gives a fuck what you use, what you sample, or whether or not you sample. It was the same shit: just me and Khrysis making music.
K: He'd come over and we'd bs for about an hour or so and then next thing you know Im makin' a beat and Boog is writing at the same time.
SB: I get off work, go to his crib. Hed be halfway done making a beat, I write, he finishes the beat and we record.
K: [Laughs] We were like machines on a mission. Thats why I feel like this is the greatest album ever! In Hip Hop! But for real, our chemistry was at an all time high.

DX: But what do you think contributed to that renewed chemistry?
Real shit though, we were in a zone on this joint. It was never lost; it just improved. It was just like everything was working on all cylinders.
K: We see eye to eye on so much shit its ridiculous. Boog is my brother for real.
SB: Shit has and always will be deeper than music! And thats going to keep us getting more and more successful.

DX: This album also has a lot more guest spots on it. Was that a conscious decision to include more cameos?
Nah, all the guests we have a personal relationship with. If not one of us, both of us. We just got cats we fucked with on songs.

DX: What about the one with Black Milk? That seemed out of nowhere.
It was just something we wanted to do; gotta go outside the box.
SB: Theres a mutual respect there.
K: I met him and [Black Milks manager] Hex at a Beat Society in D.C. we was in together. We all kicked it after the show, and shit was pure comedy.

DX: I can see that, y'all seem to have similar personalities.
We respect each others music as well. Plus I feel like hes a dope emcee and would fit well with what me and Boog is doing.

DX: was just really weird, to hear Black on someone else's beat.
Thats the thing, people sleep on him as a rapper. They try to put people in boxes, like His beats are crazy but his raps are aight.
K: Fuck aight, them shits is dope. Plus we all on the same mission: bringing music back to the music. Hip Hop is like a soap opera right now, and quite frankly, niggas is tired of it. So rather than complain about its better to be part of the solution. There's a lot of worldy issues that can be talked about, but we're not that type of artists. Even though the world seems to be going to hell in gasoline drawers, the band will pay on. We got other emcees for that, and they do it well. Somebody has to bring the variety back. If we all made the same kind of beats and rapped the same kind of raps, then shit would be boring, from the underground to the mainstream. And I see it on both ends starting to happen: if youre underground you gotta sound one way, and if youre mainstream you gotta sound another way. That turns everybody into robots, and that aint Hip Hop.
SB: True story. Thats why we dont overthink our music; we hit the "stu and do us!" As cliche as it sounds that's what the fuck we do.

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