Just the other day I was on my way home, and I decided to grab some steak tacos from this hole-in-the-wall spot. Starving, I consumed them all in a matter of minutes, and without hesitation nestled onto my comfy futon and slipped into a food coma. When I awoke I was eye-to-eye with a piece of leftover meat that found refuge in a crevice of the foil wrapping it originally came in. I was both satisfied and disgusted, and couldn't help but wonder what I had just put my body through. Seeking answers I picked up the self-titled album of local beatsmiths Meat Number 5, inserted it into my computer and pressed play.
What I heard was an eerie opus of instrumentals that could have easily been the soundtrack to my "too bizarre to write about" daydream. The slamming drum breaks and splices of meat-inspired dialogue made me laugh and bob my head all in one motion, and when it was finished, I played it all over again. It's a traditional album by hip-hop standards, yet it's one that toys with unheard rhythms and abstract concepts reminiscent of DJ Shadow. Centerstage thought it would be fun to catch up with Ricky Ropesack (one-half of the duo) and get the skinny on how the concept came together. Grab your favorite meat product and follow along.
Who's Meat Number 5 and what are your respective talents? Me, Carter Bryant aka Ricky Ropesack. I'm the beatmaker/drummer and Ian Osborn aka Big Once is the-DJ/Co-producer.
What is it about meat that's so compelling to you and why the number 5? Meat Number 5 generally represents everything that is completely disgusting and wrong, yet totally awesome about meat. It's a play on Yellow number 5, but for meat. Also it's a vision of a genetically engineered meat which continually feeds and grows off of itself and ingests its own excrement. Perpetually growing bigger and bigger; eventually providing delicious meat for everyone for all times.
How did Ricky Ropesack and Big Once come together? We initially met at an impromptu jam session at a hip-hop show in 2004, then went on to be in a band called The Cankles. After a couple years, The Cankles dissolved, and we decided to make an album based on the Meat Number 5 concept.
Tell me about your self-titled album. It came together pretty quickly actually, I went on a rampage and banged out all the beats in 2-3 weeks, and invited Ian to contribute to it. Within two to three months, the album was completed, and it was the most focused project either of us had ever been a part of. Right now, we are finishing up an EP that will be released on Lab-O records in May, which will feature four new tracks and remixes from Maker, Earmint and MaddJazz. Plus, we have begun working on our next full-length album, which will be out in 2010.
There aren't a whole lot of musicians doing what you guys are doing. Are there any artists out there that you're really feeling? Right now, we're really feeling dubstep guys like Burial & Loefah, and also listening to a lot of Glitch Mob & Electric Wizard.
There's an Opus quality to your beats were you influenced directly by them? We like the Opus, we played a show with them a while back, but our main influences are DJ Shadow, Prince Paul, TRS-80 (Ropesack) & DJ Yella, Lench Mob, and J-Zone (Big Once).
Any favorite spots in Chicago to get your meat on? Out of all the shows we've rocked so far, our favorites are probably Empty Bottle and Sonotheque.