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  • Writer's pictureEvan

A Talk with Travisty the Lazy Emcee

Having spent decades as a rapper and even longer as a rap fan, Floridian MC Travisty has dedicated his latest record to hip hop’s golden era. On Reminisce (90’s Shit), the Lazy Emcee pulls the listener back to a time when Nas was just getting started and jazz rap classics were dropping every other week.

“That’s what I grew up on, that New York, jazz-type, boom bap sound,” he said. Bringing together producers from Subskilla to KD, the artists worked together to recreate a sound easily mistaken for the grooves of a Pete Rock LP. “My main thing in here was just to showcase beats and rhymes. I dig all types of sound, but I feel that’s still a lost art in some cases, where everyone is trying to add in all this extra stuff. I think that’s 100% cool, but for this album, I just wanted to keep it some cool beats and rhymes, but still with a vibe that people can listen to. I want it to be a wave.”

Travisty may have gone for a different sound, but his creative process going into Reminisce was the same as usual. Calling on friends to offer feedback on every track, the LP was a far smoother process than usual for the rapper. “I’m an overthinker, and a lot of times I’ll play my joints with my homies a bunch of times before I’m like, ‘Alright, alright, this is okay.’ One of my close homies, his name is Fordy, he’s like the executioner. He’ll be like, ‘Nah. Nah.’ So I try to get it to these dudes, to get their acceptance, before I start doing things. This one, I think it was easier because I was like, ‘Hey, it’s strictly beats and rhymes.’ … It helped me, in a way, to simplify it sometimes.”

Although he has a few favourites from the ‘80s, no decade captivates Travisty quite like the ‘90s. More than simple admiration, it was nostalgia that compelled the MC to create an entire album in honour of the golden era. “Certain shows you grew up on, even if they might be more childish, you can watch them when you’re older and appreciate the nostalgia. The quality may not be there for some of those shows, which is where I think hip hop differs. You can listen back and get that feeling of where you were at that moment, but the quality is also there.”

Citing Large Professor, Q-Tip, and Gang Starr as some of his biggest influences, the old-school aesthetic of Reminisce (90’s Shit) is undeniable. That being said, the LP does not sound outdated in the slightest. “Boom bap is never going to die. Even though it might have peaked in the golden era, the ‘90s, you’re going to hear that 40 years from now. That’s not a trend; that’s hip hop.”

More than a trip back to the ‘90s, Reminisce is Travisty’s way of escaping the current state of hip hop. Though the rapper can list dozens of modern MCs he listens to every week, his relation to the mainstream has soured over time. He said:

“Hip hop now is still super dope; it’s super accessible. With that accessibility, I think there’s good and bad. Oversaturation hurts real artists. A lot of cats are getting famous off a Tik Tok or one video, then people put money behind them, but it’s not really good music. I definitely did commercial shit too, don’t get me wrong. But in my day, I could play Jay-Z or Nas and be like, ‘They’re official.’ … [Nowadays] you can go and make a music video yourself instead of paying thousands of dollars, but that accessibility opens up for dope and trash.”

He went on: “There’s still so much dope now, but I think what you got in the ‘90s, for the most part, this is what they were doing. It’s not a hobby; it’s not a fluke; they had to put time and effort into this and hone their skills, because if they came with some bullshit, they’re going to laugh it off. Nowadays, goofy shit that people dance to becomes popular because it’s like a saying.”

Unlike the ‘90s, the Lazy Emcee has his gripes with the 2000s. “That’s when popular rap changed for me. For the average CDs that were coming out … you’re getting 15, 18 records, you’re going to get your club song, you’re going to get your street record, you’re going to get your life record, you’re going to get your girl record, and then maybe some other hodgepodge … You’re getting a manufactured record.”

Turning away from his disdain for the mainstream, Travisty spoke on his love for the underground. As one half of the Benchwarmers Clique and a quarter of the group A1PHAB3NCH, collaboration has become a huge part of the MC’s identity, especially on projects like Reminisce. He said:

“All those cats on the album, that’s all homies. All homies from the scene down here that we deal with. There’s probably another 20 I wanted to feature, but I didn’t want to oversaturate the project. Serum is a super dope battle legend down here … Beleaf, 6, 8ch2Owens, Orion … I’m lucky to be able to pick because there’s a whole plethora of artists that, not only are my friends, but I listen to their shit.”

Travisty is not ready to leave the ‘90s quite yet. With Benchwarmers Clique and A1PHAB3NCH projects confirmed for later in the year, the Lazy Emcee is also looking to continue the Reminisce series. “I think next month I’m coming with a remix project with Jewbei. It has a couple of joints off 90’s, but also some unheard songs that Jewbei remixed … I would think that by the end of this year, early next year, I’m hoping to have another 90’s joint out.”

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