New York-based hip-hop duo Punskription are quickly growing in the music scene and have been influenced by such hip-hop acts as Gorillaz and KRS-One. The duo has been playing and working in NYC's music scene for the last couple of years and growing their fan base. Punskription just released their new EP, Native Brains: Foreign Hearts, on February 24. They previously released their first album, Conscious Pop, under their old name, Negative Death. The duo consists of Queens, NY natives Pete the Lone Lobo and P. Cruz. They really enjoy the clever wordplay of hip-hop and utilize influence from the Boom Bap era of hip-hop. Punskription spoke with AXS about their new EP, friendship and hip-hop influences.
Stream Native Brains: Foreign Hearts here.
AXS: How did the project Native Brains: Foreign Hearts come about? Did it progress organically?
P. Cruz: We had a bunch of demos and wanted to put out an EP because since changing our line-up, and band name, our sound changed too. It felt weird not having a body of work that accurately represented us as we are now. The process was far from organic because the lineup change pushed me into the producer role, and Pete and I were figuring out our lyrical chemistry as a duo. We were constantly adding and subtracting songs from the track list and a lot of the production was being edited up to the night before we handed it in to mix. This made the process stressful but it was well worth it. Now that we have Native Brains: Foreign Hearts finished, we have a standard for what kind of music we want to put out, and since figuring out our chemistry, songwriting has finally started to feel organic.
Pete the Lone Lobo: Yeah, what he said.
AXS: Most artists evolve on their follow-up projects. How did you guys evolve stylistically and lyrically?
PLL: I think that has to do with our friendship, to be honest. The more we hung out, the better our music got. When you’re in a group, it’s so important to understand how to bring out the strengths in each other. When you know someone on a personal level, it translates into the music because the relationship dynamic is real. Our lyrics are directly generated from our experiences, and as we figure out our space in this world, and this genre, our lyrics represent that transition through all its stages. As far as style, we evolved because P. Cruz took on the production role and he is unpredictable. The next project might be all ukuleles but you can bet your ass I’d rhyme on it. From the start of demoing, it was clear we don’t make boom bap and I don’t think we should. We are sonically influenced by music outside of hip-hop which is liberating in the sense that we do whatever we feel. As an MC who was used to rhyming over Boom Bap-Era beats, I like the challenge and pushing the boundaries of what people expect hip-hop to be. Those boundaries have become everything and nothing. That’s how I feel about us, we’re everything and nothing in hip-hop.
AXS: Who in the past and present of hip-hop influences you both the most?
PLL: Nas is a constant influence on me in particular, but we both are influenced by the likes of Lupe, Pharoahe Monch, De La Soul and Black Star to name a few. More recently, I'd say Run the Jewels. I've told P. Cruz that I see them as cool rap uncles that put you on to game. They're not much older than us, but they've got so much experience and push the art form with their craft. Same thing with an uncle, it's the experience they have that makes their advice or example meaningful. Going back to De La Soul, their last album was phenomenal and gave me inspiration. It demonstrated the growth through their artistic journey. As a person pushing 30, it's nice to see that you can continue to contribute to hip-hop as you get older, in a profound way, without seeming out of touch. It makes me want to rap even when I get my AARP card.
PC: I also want to mention Aesop Rock. His latest album, The Impossible Kid, is amazing and my favorite work of his to date. We geek out about it all the time. He’s another example of someone who keeps on making music and keeps on getting better and better. It gets me excited about growing older and finding out what we’re capable of years from now.