Zilla Rocca doesn’t get angry very often. He’s a peaceful bloke, who digs the Los Angeles Dodgers, Raymond Chandler, the collected verse of Dennis Coles, and the love a man has for a fine Cuban cigar. But like most artists that matter, if you push him he wields a ferocious temper, which has manifested itself in the Shadowboxers project. The video for “No Resolution 2” chops 12 Angry Men to fit the the hypodermic growl of Zilla, Elucid, Nico the Beast, and Has-Lo. The Blurry Drones beat lashes “Venus in Furs,” and the rapping brings a similar fury.
No need to malign the state of contemporary hip-hop. For the first time in years, there’s too much good material to process. I can’t even lambaste the major labels, considering Def Jam released more stellar records (Curren$y, Big Boi, The Roots, and The Cop) in the last two months, than any other major has released in the last 24. If there was a void, it existed in lieu of the coffee-black, art-rap that Def Jux perfected over the last decade. And between Open Mike Eagle, Nocando, and Shadowboxers, it’s been a good time for rap music that you can talk to your local barista about while picking up a soy latte and a Back in the Day Hip-Hop Compilation Mix. Which to Starbucks’ defense, is pretty well done.
To connect the dots, Zilla and fellow Philly fanatic Curly Castro recorded their own interpretation of “Life’s Ill.” They don’t say “fuck Will High,” but they do everything else. Below the jump, the behind the scenes commentary on the video courtesy of the rap Jack Bauer.
Quick backstory on the making of “No Resolution 2″:
Elucid was the key to this entire creation which you now see and hear. I remember Haj of Dumhi and Small Pro talking up Elucid 2 years ago when he put out Smash & Grab. I put it on my list of Things To Download and Catch Up On, but as I’m prone to do, I totally forgot about it. Fast forward to last year during the promo run for The Slow Twilight. An Australian blog Straight Outta Kingston did a niece piece on the album, then went back and grabbed my mixtape Bring Me the Head of Zilla Rocca and posted it up alongside….Elucid’s Smash & Grab. The sound Aussie, Nick, who did the piece, he and I got chummy. He said Elucid and I were the only rappers he was listening to and that I should do a song with the mystery man of Lessondary. Well now I had simply no excuse not to familiarize myself with the man.
After downloading Smash and Grab and loving it, I reached out to Elucid, sent him the track, and he responded by totally nailing the essence of the original. His voice was so gripping and fierce, I thought it would be cool to have my homie Has-Lo jump on with his calm, nihilistic tone to balance out the track. He was a big fan of the LP and wanted to get on something Shadowbox-y. After a few weeks, he stopped by the studio and laid down his verse, paying homage to Tyler Durden and Fight Club. My verse was already done at this point, a dystopian flip of Nas’ rhyme on “Get Down” (peep the flow structure). At that point (this is probably August-September ’09) I figured the track was done in the order of emcees as it is on the song. Then one day, I realized if “No Resolution 2″ was going to be a full-on posse cut that could upend the original, which was alot of people’s favorite off the LP, then I had to get Nico the Beast to round it out. He was the only guest on The Slow Twilight. I told him I wanted him to take it back to 2006-2007 when we were writing the Clean Guns mixtape Living in Harmony, just super lyrical, crazy underground energy, tons of words, etc. I asked him to deliver a personal and violent verse with wordplay like he did on “Hell’s Winter Freestyle” from that mixtape, not a tall order since it was probably not even a month removed from the tragic death of son Domenic Jr. And man oh man, did he bring the goods. Even though we’ve since parted ways, I still get this particular verse of his stuck in my head for days every now and then. In my mind, this is the best verse he’s ever written and I was lucky enough to capture it for this song.
The following month was October, and Elucid and Shadowboxers were booked to play the Khyber (RIP) in Philadelphia. We all got a chance to do this song live to close out my set — the energy on-stage for that performance was astounding. The audience was enthralled. It was that night that Curly Castro ran up to me, wildly enthusiastic, saying he knew what the video for the song would be: a take-off on 12 Angry Men, one of his favorite movies, where each of us would assume a character from the film. I ended up reaching out to Lyle Horowitz of 5846 Films after seeing his work with CapricornOne (Elucid x El Carnicero) and their remix of “Skullcrusher”. Again, Elucid was the key in getting Lyle and myself together.
So here we are, almost a full year since the song was recorded, with the first video from Broken Clocks EP. I love it when a plan comes together in a completely random and long stretching fashion all centered around the gulliest cat to ever hang with Tanya Morgan.