As does the life of Blaq, with his renewed focus on striving for harmony amongst his various creative outputs, personal and spiritual life, and professional ambitions. I’ve long been amazed at how much he balances, well, and simply gets done in a day. This man will go in the studio and professionally mix a bunch of songs in just a couple of hours. He will record music for a bit, completely switch up his energy and attire to do a photo shoot, respond to client needs on behalf of his entertainment company, Rock Star Crazy Entertainment, and then edit the photos himself, while feeding new content into various social networking platforms to keep his fans and supporters engaged. But seriously, his schedule makes me dizzy… in spite of the fact that I’m pretty damn busy myself.
K’bana is a full-time artist, which is simply to say that he doesn’t support himself financially by doing anything outside of being a versatile artist; now a professional singer, actor, model, songwriter, producer, video director, etc. What’s remarkable though, considering that everyone is a multi-hyphenate these days, is that he truly does it all, quite well. It’s all credible, at a minimum. For me, he epitomizes the modern, renaissance ideal.
And really, it’s largely what has led to his current success as a popular indie music act, and now, a fledgling movie actor. Right now, I am interviewing K’bana for this AltDaily piece, because he is headlining an album release concert at Shaka’s in Virginia Beach, this Memorial Day Sunday. The album is his debut studio project as a solo act, following a decade plus of recording and touring success as one of the lead singers of VA’s The Fuzz Band. Titled Snakes and Angels, the album’s release is the culmination of a couple years of mix-tape releases, as well as producing highly popular music videos for those mix-tape releases, which have collectively garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. And besides the album release and concert, he is currently shooting the film, “Employee of the Year,” playing the key, supporting role of Julez, a character who is quite different from K’bana’s musical persona. The indie film, which is being shot here in Hampton Roads, will have its theatrical release in the fall.
But back to the music. Blaq’s headlining set at Shaka’s, supported by his 7 member band, will cover the gamut of his catalogue thus far and, of course, feature a nice helping of his upcoming album, which will have its digital release on Tuesday, May 27th. Later this summer, a physical release will follow, as well as a short film featuring music from the album. I ask the singer/songwriter to describe Snakes and Angels, which features eighteen tracks. It is executive produced by Blaq and Prince Hakeem, with production work by Derrick “Drop” Braxton, who has worked with Lupe Fiasco and N.E.R.D., Dj A1 Supreme, Justin Powell, Dj Kalismeo and L. Sosa.
[the writer, Prince Hakeem and K’bana Blaq, from left to right | (image by Shane Sense Nassy)]
“It’s very upfront. The angels that you meet that cross your path, and the snakes that you meet, that cross your path, in order to get you to your goals,” he says. “It’s about me and it’s a risk, because there are certain subjects that are very obvious, and people will get to, at least, question or come to their own theory about it…from my faith as a Christian, to just me as a person, to my sexuality…”
As usual, K’bana handled the large bulk of the songwriting. This time though, he spent more time with the songs, and really, really focused on the album’s thematically tied narrative.
“I wanted to do like Prince said…you don’t count [songs], you make an album.”
“I would sit with them every day, rest and go back to them,” he explains, regarding his songwriting process this time. “I really feel like this is my first full project, not a mix-tape, but a full CD.” His executive producer and lead engineer, Prince Hakeem, who is also the owner and radio host of Famous Radio Live, the highly popular internet radio station broadcasting from the 757, agrees with K’bana’s assessment.
“When K’bana came to me with the concept of Snakes and Angels, I thought it was a really dope concept,” Prince says. “I like his creativity and that he’s not scared to try something different.” Hakeem also produced the track “Party” for the record.
“I’m really honored to even work with him…producing, engineering…” the recording studio owner notes. “It’s a really big honor because he does a lot in the community. He’s a very blessed, talented individual.”
He’s also a hard ass worker. Many of the songs deal with maintaining his artistic drive and discipline. “I work from the time I open my eyes, to the time I close them,” he says, with some pure conviction. “It is by no means easy. But it’s so worth it.” It is.
The Blaq Out, a CD release concert featuring K’bana Blaq, the Traprock Misfit, along with special guests, takes place this Sunday, May 25th at Shaka’s. Tickets are $12.00 at the door. Doors open at 6 pm, with show time at 7 pm. Visit Shakasva.com for ticket info. Snakes and Angels hits various digital retailers on Tuesday, and can also be purchased at traprockmisfit.com.