Rapper/member of Raleigh rap group Kooley High Tab-One and producer Sunshine J were miles apart when they began working on “Madflowridiculous,” Tab-One’s latest debut effort. “He was living in Brooklyn for, I guess, most of the album, half of the album – something like that,” recalls Sunshine, as he and Tab (who moved back to Raleigh last September) discuss the album at a downtown Raleigh watering hole.
As Tab says, their distance did not interfere with the collaborative process. “He would just email me beats and I would do some writing in New York or when I came home,” says Tab.
The union of the 30-year-old, Raleigh-born rapper (real name: Taylor Burgess) and the 26-year-old, Long Island-born producer (real name: Chris Latson) came after they had known each other through various acquaintances. Sunshine and Tab eventually started working on an album after Tab contributed to one of Sunshine’s previous projects.
“I always wanted to make an album with just one MC,” says Sunshine. “That’s been one of my goals for a long time.”
Adds Tab, “I think we’ve both always been fans of projects where an MC works with one producer. I think it just makes the project more fluid and it comes together a whole lot better, I think.”
Of course, when you work on your own, you can use more of your own ideas and opinions. Tab fully takes advantage of that on “Madflowridiculous,” which has him getting deep and personal over Sunshine’s Native Tongues-ish beats. “Personally, I like to do it because when you’re working with a group, there’s always a lot of compromise,” says Tab. “And when you get to do your solo stuff, you kind of finally get to write about whatever you’ve been wanting to write about, just kind of do your thing for a little bit. I think it’s good.”
In the end, as two local hip-hop artists who created a whole album while in two different parts of the country, Tab-One and Sunshine J would like to see the Triangle hip-hop scene have that same unbreakable unity.
“Everybody that I talk to says the local scene’s too cliquish,” says Sunshine. “There’s no unity and, you know, it’s true. But everybody’s doing their own thing. There are a lot of real talented people. And it’s hard to work with everybody, you know. Most people support each other. And it’s just difficult to bring everybody together to a unified movement because there are so many different artists in the area.”
“I think that’s the nature of hip-hop too,” adds Tab. “Like, one of the elements of hip-hop has always been battling. There’s a lot of ego involved in it and there’s a lot of trying to one-up somebody, I guess, sometimes. To me, I think if hip-hop were to evolve into something better, it would be, like, maybe getting past that.”
Hey, if B.o.B. can do a song with Taylor Swift, anything can happen. “Well,” Tab says, chuckling, “I don’t know that I encourage that, either.”