As of late, it seems MCs are in danger of getting into it with unruly spectators during shows. Plies recently made hip-hop news when he practically got German-suplexed off a stage in Tallahassee by a so-called fan. The Columbus, Ohio-born-and-based rapper Blueprint addressed the issue in a recent blog post on his Printmatic.net site, even writing in bold letters “Do us all a favor and don’t get on stage” to those who frequent concerts.
Blueprint is no stranger to having weird, evening-destroying encounters with people on the road. He’s even written a book, “What a Night: A Book About the Worst Shows of My Career,” detailing many of those occurrences.
“The safety thing,” says Blueprint (real name: Albert Shepard), on the phone from his Columbus home. “That’s something where a lot of people have never thought about what it would be like to travel to a strange city every night, where you don’t know anybody, where you’re focused on entertaining, and just have people run up, throw things at you, insult you, try to grab – like, all these weird things that happen to artists.”
Blueprint still bravely ventures out on the road doing shows. (He’ll be at the Pour House Music Hall on Sunday, headlining a show featuring several Triangle hip-hoppers.) For him, touring is essential, especially with a new album out. Late last month, Blueprint released “King No Crown.” Written over two years, “Crown” includes songs dealing with the deaths of his father, his brother and Minnesota rapper/friend Eyedea. He says, “My father was sick. My brother was sick. Both of them had just passed on. But, I was also dealing with Eyedea’s passing and just putting things into perspective. So, family members dying and all this stuff around you makes you evaluate what time is all about. It makes you evaluate what you’re trying to contribute in your career and what you want to be your legacy.”
But Blueprint insists not all of “Crown” is depressing. “There are moments of loss, but then there are really moments of optimism on the record as well,” he says. “So, it kind of switches back in-between both of those things.”
Although he released an album of new music last year, “Respect the Architect,” Blueprint says he took his time crafting “Crown.” “I’ve never had a real due date when I do music,” he says. “I do a lot of music but, in general, I’ve never put myself on a deadline. I just kind of do what I feel, and if I have a project that I think needs more time, I try not to rush it. I feel like the current climate in music has a lot of artists rushing through their catalog and, to get records out, they can either tour or ‘stay relevant.’ But, to me, that’s not what music is about. Music is about, like, a snapshot of your life and you have something you have to do artistically. And I don’t think any of those things should be rushed.”
Blueprint continues to take his own sweet time doing things, whether it’s his own music or music he’s worked on with others. He says the long-awaited third album from Soul Position, the hip-hop supergroup he’s in with producer RJD2, will come out at some point this year. He wants to remind people that he’s not looking be taken down a peg, whether by aggressive audience members on stage or haters griping about how long it takes for him to make and release music. He’s merely looking to create a connection with his music. And, if you give him the time, he won’t disappoint.
“I think, for most artists in hip-hop, I don’t think they know what the impact would be in them showing who they are more,” he says. “I mean, there are a lot of artists in hip-hop who, you know, it’s about creating an image to them. Most of the people in hip-hop, at the mainstream level, are selling an image of being rich beyond measure and getting all the girls. It’s OK if you are rich and if you do get girls, but there’s so much more to life that I think people can relate to, and many artists are missing that opportunity to make a deeper connection with their fans.”
Who: Blueprint, with Supastition, Cesar Comanche, K-Hill, Defacto Thezpian and DJ Rare Groove
When: 9 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Pour House Music Hall, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh
Info: 919-821-1120 or thepourhousemusichall.com