Tackling a bonafide classic song is always a tough challenge but if you put your own spin on things, you can taken the song in a new direction, put your own personalities on it and give it a new lease of life. This is exactly what happened when legendary underground rapper Chino XL teamed up with up and coming singer Rama Duke for their new single, which is a take on the Red Hot Chili Peppers immortal Under The Bridge. We caught up with both Chino and Rama to hear all about the single and how it came to be, how they started working together and their new project A Bad Day For Sorry. We also had a chat with both of the artists to hear all about their influences and highlights of their careers so far and in Chinos case, his journey through hip hop. Check out then ingle and video which are both out now and keep an eye out for A Bad Day For Sorry.
Hi Chino and Rama, thanks for speaking to is today, First off, how did the hook up to do the single come about?
Chino – Jared Gosling and I worked together for years, on my last album Ricanstruction. We were mixing at Frank Zappa’s studio guitars and there were drum sets everywhere, I said let’s make a remake of Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under The Bridge, but we didn’t have time before we turned in the record. Six months later he called me, and told me Rama, who he also works with had a live version of the song that was hard and amazing. they sent me the rough, it blew my mind the rest is history.
Rama – In the process of creating my rock album I was in the studio with and arsenal of sick musicians. Gary Novak on drums, Tim Lefebvre on bass, and Orbel Babyan on guitar. Jared Gosselin who was the producer of the track told us this was an idea that Chino and him had so we rocked it out. From there Chino wrote his lyric and Jared took what we had and made it the hybrid that it is today.
What made you choose Under The Bridge for you to cover?
Rama – I’m going to pass that on to Chino to answer.
Chino – I always felt connected to it since I was a kid.
Were you familiar with the song before you decided to cover it?
Chino – Of course. See my previous answer!
Rama – Blood Sugar Sex Magick was a staple in my household and one of my all time favorite albums.
Have you always been a fan of rock music fan?
Chino – Through and through.
Rama – Hell yes, its my life. I love any genre but that is where my roots are.
Is the songs subject matter something you could relate to?
Chino – Absolutely, I’ve had to slay those demons on many occasions, but especially when we were writing and recording the song.
Rama – I have battled with addiction as far as I can remember, so yes this song is very relatable.
What do you think it is that each of you brings to the track?
Chino – If I’m the songs body, she’s the blood.
Rama, were you familiar with Chino before you made the track?
Rama – You know, I had not heard him until the producer of the track put me up on him. Funnily enough he has been a family friend and we were only just that until we created this song together. Once I heard him on this track I started looking him up. He is a lyrical master as far as I’m concerned and I look forward to learning all that I can from him.
Can you tell us a bit about the video for the song?
Chino – It was directed by Ra Dreyfus, she had a global vision of taking a certain aspect of the song that she felt was most relatable. We kind of debated with her about it, ultimately her passion won out for the better.
Rama- It’s basically a window into the cycle of addiction.j
Chino, what inspiration did you get to come up with your lyrics from the song?
Chino – Fighting addiction and fighting heartbreak at the same time. Albeit, not the exact substance the song refers to the metaphor of heroin and heroine spoke the most loudly to my creativity, hence the original title to the song Stick With You.
Rama, and you’ve definitely made your part of the song your own, how did it feel tackling such an iconic song?
Rama – I have nothing but respect for any song I choose to cover. Being so familiar with this song and loving it to death it was second nature to me.
The chemistry between you both is undeniable. Will you be working together again in the future?
We also think so, we’re working on a full length project right now with the same band that played on Under The Bridge. Our group name is A Bad Day For Sorry.
Rama – We are in the process of recording an EP as we speak!
What other songs would you like to do a cover of in the future?
Chino – If you call me personally, I will tell you. But I don’t want to give it away to the world yet and you better not either haha!
Chino, You’ve just done great tracks with Chris Rivers and The Shield Enforcers. What else are you working at the moment?
Chino – Thank you I’m proud of those projects. Presently, Bad Day For Sorry is my priority.
Will there be a new Rebel Armz album soon?
Chino – The next Rebel Armz release will be my brother Immortal Technique’s Middle Passage.
Will we see a new solo album from you in the future?
Chino – One more.
If you could choose anyone to do a track with, who would you choose and why?
Chino – Chris Cornell, because when he writes he puts his soul on display and Maynard Keenan, because he’s fearless when creating. No genre, style, or subject matter is taboo
You’ve done quite a bit if acting before with roles on CSi Miami and Reno 911 as well as various movies, is this something that you will return to doing in the future?
Chino – Sure, with the right roles and great stories.
Which acts did you get into hip hop from initially?
Chino – Local Jersey emcee’s and LL Cool J.
What was the hip hop scene like in your hometown of New Jersey like when you were coming up as a young emcee?
Chino – The emcee’s I grew up around are all legends at this point. I wouldn’t trade my Jersey lyric breeding ground for anything.
What are your main memories of hooking up with Rick Rubin and American Tevords for your debut album Here To Save You All?
Chino – His beard, his song structure, his advice and his support.
Having worked with major labels in the past, do you think that doing your own thing as an underground artist is the best thing for you as an artist?
Chino – Wholeheartedly.
What are your favourite MC/DJs and albums of all time?
Chino – Favourite MC: Kool G Rap & Big Pun. Favourite DJ: DJ Romes, DJ Houseshoes and any one of the Beat Junkies and RIP DJ AM. Favourite Album’s: Pete Rock and CL Smooth, The Main Ingredient, Immortal Technique, Vol. 2 and Black Sabbath’s Black Sabbath.
What are your opinions on the state of hip hop in 2017?
Chino – Commercially piss poor. The underground as usual, is alive and hard body.
You’re known as one of the most lyrical emcees of all time. What is your own favourite verse of all time?
Chino – Every single one. Kidding, kind of! They’re all like my children. I give every composition my 100 percent.
You’ve appeared on two phenomenal posse cuts in Sway & King Techs The Anthem and The Underworld 2 and I’ve got to say, your verse on both are so good! Who would you choose to do your own ultimate posse cut?
Chino – Myself, Tech9, Eminem, Royce, My brother Immortal Technique, Pharoahe Monch, Chris Rivers, Crook, Horseshoe Gang, Twista, R.A The Rugged Man, Sick Jacken and Jean Grae.
Does it humble you when you are frequently noted as one of the best and most lyrical emcees ever?
Chino – Absolutely. I was just a skinny nigga with a book bag of raps who wanted to get his babies out the hood and for Kool G Rap and the legends to say I was nice and contributed to the art form and culture in some way.
You’ve worked with some of the all time hip hop greats from Kool G Rap and KRS One to Kool Keith and Big Pun. Who has been your favourite to work with?
Chino – Proof (RIP) and J Dilla (RIP) and of course G Rap was a dream come true.
What have been some of the highlight of your career so far?
Chino – Meeting people who’s lives I’ve saved through my music and meeting artists who saved my life through their music. Also, my mom seeing me perform for the first time since I was 14 in front of a sold out House of Blues audience, meeting my Rebel Armz Brothers. And being a bonside rockstar this week, with the release of Under The Bridge haha!
Have you got any final words for your fans in the UK?
Chino – I appreciate the support, I love the underground hip hop scene over there. Don’t underestimate your contributions to the culture, see you soon.
Rama, When did you start singing and how did you develop your amazing vocal range?
Rama – I always sang. I was very shy about it but always had it in me and it wasn’t til i moved LA at twelve that I was accepted to LSCHSA, an arts school that I took it seriously. I’ve trained myself, whatever that means haha! I think if you love it, go for it.
Who are some of your influences as a singer?
Rama – Influences I would have to say are from Ella Fitzgerald to Maynard Keenan.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Rama – I toured a few dates with Tricky back in the day opening for Tool which at 17 I almost lost my mind and just being able to float my bills and do what I love is a highlight in itself.
If you could do a track with anyone who would you choose?
Rama – Jeez! Trent Reznor, Maynard and Zack de la Rocha come to mind.
Have you got any final words for your fans in the UK?
Rama – Just to keep your mind and ears open and stay true to yourself. And thank you for listening!