I’ve spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out how to start this album review, bouncing back and forth between eloquent similes and haphazard comparisons, only to arrive at one conclusion: Conrank just dropped one of my favorite albums of the year, What’s A FKNG Conrank. At the end of the day, what more needs to be said?
Well, lots, probably. The 16-track album out now on Circus Records is one of the truest examples of a pure dubstep record released in 2019. It pays homage to the classics and looks forward to the future in one concise, well-executed package that is not only incredibly creative in its production and presentation, but also damn fun to listen to. Skits are interspersed throughout the album á la The Slim Shady LP, giving the whole thing a deeper, more personal feel. Conrank also collaborates with a number of his contemporaries, including Dirt Monkey, Mark The Beast, Charmae, and more, infusing What’s A FKNG Conrank with diversity and extra flavor.
Conrank has been in the game long enough to appreciate where dubstep came from and see ahead to where it’s going. And this album, long in production as it’s been, is a pertinent example of what dubstep can do when it’s probably tended to.
Listen to the album and read on below for our interview with Conrank, asking him about past and present influences, what the skits are all about, and more.
A lot of dubstep these days is pushing the new 150 BPM standard, but you’re looking back to the genre’s roots — your own roots. Do you feel like you’re taking a gamble on this, being your debut album, or do you feel like you’re staying true to yourself?
They day I decided to do music full time was the big gamble, and the reason I started making music was to stay true to myself, so I mean it’s a bit of both, being a musician is a daily gamble, but the only way to really make it through, I believe is to stay true. I love the music i make, and i wouldn’t do it any other way. I couldn’t imagine making music just because I thought it’s what I had to do, rather than wanted to do.
There are some tracks especially, like “Level 8” and “Buk Em,” that capitalize on that early dubstep sound. How did you go into producing these tracks to give them a nostalgic feel with a modern day polish?
It’s not really something I sat and planned, I love the vibes of early dubstep, so when I’m creating a patch for example I subconsciously veer towards those vibes. It just happens. Then I carry on messing with it the way I’ve always messed with tracks and that’s really where my current sound comes from. The merging of two worlds in my head haha. I try not to think too much in the studio, which is hard cos I usually overthink everything. I work fast, and stay creative, sometimes I forget how I even came up with stuff.
One of the more creative tracks on the album that doesn’t necessarily look to the past is “OI!” with Illaman and Onjuicy. Though, it sort of is at the same time since you’ve worked with Illaman in the past. Did you go into the album wanting to work with a foreign-language vocalist, or Onjuicy in particular?
Illaman is a straight G and has become a really good friend, I’d work with him anytime anywhere, so it was awesome to have him on this track. Regarding ONJUICY I’m always on the look out for dope mc’s wherever I go, and last year i played a show in Tokyo and met him. His flow is so sick, he’s incredible, so I had to make it happen. I didn’t have a vision necessarily of working with a foreign speaking MC, it just happened, and I didn’t know where the track would go, but when I started thinking about the album i knew straight away this was it’s home.
“Bullet In The Gun” is my favorite dubstep tune in years. It’s beautifully melodic and intensely powerful, and the bass is absolutely relentless. How did you produce this one to give it such a powerful sound?
Thank you a million times. it’s tough with tracks like this because it’s a track driven by emotion. It’s not a rail rider track it’s a smile ear to ear, close your eyes and dance your little shoes off track, but that makes it even harder, because i want to find the balance of heaviness and power, but also make sure that it has the feels. i must have mixed this track 100 times trying to find the balance, it was really hard because i wasn’t looking at meters and trying to be technical with this, i was just trying to give myself chills, there’s no plugin or meter for that sadly. haha. The original has a real place in my heart so i wanted to do it justice.
At what point did you come up with the idea of doing the skits on the album?
The idea to put the skits on was obvious for me, I really wanted the album to have an album feel, like Doggystyle haha, lil funny sketches and things that show a bit of my personality away from the music. I was selling merchandise before a show once and a girl was like “Hey what’s a fucking Conrank” it was hilarious and I loved it and that was it, the whole concept was born… and a massive shout to CONRANKS ARMY for being involved too!
What took this long to put out your debut LP?
Not feeling I was ready, not feeling I was in a place where I could really express what I wanted to express or create something that I loved end to end… but it finally happened. I’m really proud of it, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Do you see a shift going on in dubstep right now? Whether that is the scene, the music, etc. (Open ended question)
I mean, things shift constantly, all I’ll say is that I think people are really opening their minds up to different sounds and styles within dubstep and it’s beautiful. The scene is pretty vibrant rn.
If you had to describe the face you wish people would make when they hear this album, in 5 words or less, what would it be?
Hmmm, that’s tough, but this pretty much sums it up : https://www.pinterest.com/hodgson1248/gurners/