I’m doing track-by-track commentary on my new EP, Gifted Student. You should go grab the new EP at my bandcamp site.
My girlfriend has pointed out to me that these haven’t really been commentaries, more like “crazy ramblings that I just puke out of my brain.” So today, on what is undoubtedly my favorite song on the EP, I will give you my commentary.
About six years ago, I started working on a project. I was so obsessed with comics, I was so into making hip hop online, I wanted to make a grandiose kind of release. I wanted it to tell a story, to be full of big ideas and concepts, and in the end, I wanted it to mean something. That’s where War For Infinity comes from. It’s an album that only a select percentage of the people who know who I am, actually give a shit about. Because it came out literally at the time I started doing music full-time, before I was really anywhere close to where I am today. And in many ways, it was the worst kind of debut.
That album in a lot of ways is responsible for a lot of structure in my life. It was when I started working with Tribe One, it’s what put me in touch with people (like kHill, who in any chance he gets, will tell you that this is his favorite album of mine, and all the rest of them are shit, except for what he produced). It gave me something to sell on the road, and let me have a career. Years and thousands of dollars of credit card debt later, the album is out-of-print and a relic of yesteryear, save for a once-in-a-while performance of “Silver Age” that me and Tribe One flub our way through.
I say it’s the worst kind of debut, because it’s mostly (like seriously, 90% of the album) serving a narrative. There’s no fancy rhymes or punchlines, no guest verses of note. It all served the purpose of telling this story about Adam WarRock, the Infinity Gauntlet, and using music as a way to fight evil. But like, it’s a serious album. It’s hard to describe, and if you’ve never heard it, go listen to it. It’s probably the most “me” album I’ll ever make, and in a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve been running from it, and seeking to replicate the experience ever since then.
The plan was to release a sequel to the album 3-4 years later. Instead of being about a Marvel Story, this time it would be about a DC story, specifically Final Crisis (“Finite Crisis”). I had the whole outline, and about three songs written (to no beats really, just like, writing poetry), and it was going to be this weird, four-part, disjointed album that was all in the same key. The album was going to have Tribe One’s character teaming up with me (like Thanos in the sequel with Warlock), and fighting against a Darkseid analogue, with the idea that the Anti-Life is the opposite of creativity. One of the parts was even going to just completely deviate away from the main story, and be the parallel to the Superman part of Final Crisis. The album would end with me dying, like (spoilers!) Batman did, setting up the third part of the trilogy (all comic sagas are trilogies, right?) where Adam WarRock would come back from the dead. This song, “The Fire Burns Forever,” was going to be the finale of the album, mirroring the final panel in Final Crisis, where Bruce Wayne is sketching a bat on the cave wall, and a simple panel that says “The fire burns forever.”
So in a lot of ways, this song is about four years old, for an album that never, and may never really get made. I guess because a.) The War For Infinity was incredible difficult to write, record, and produce and b.) it’s more lucrative to make songs that aren’t 70 minute opuses that don’t really have singles.
So when I first heard the beat that Mikal had laying around for this, I instantly remembered I had this song sitting in a folder somewhere, dug it up and recorded it. It fit perfectly. It’s probably one of my favorite songs I’ve ever made.
A lot of what I do is about not being precious with my art. At least on my website, it’s meant to be messy, to be imperfect, to be quick and dirty. We spend a lot more time tweaking and adjusting the album. But the stuff on the website is often just first take, done and posted. It’s something I speak to a lot in interviews with people — how art should be imperfect, it should be messy, there should be a compare and contrast to how you do things; and because art on the Internet, on blogs, on twitter, bandcamp, now is a lot more personal. Have you ever emailed me? You could if you want. I’ll probably email you back. Unless you’re being a dickhole.
The chorus is kind of angry, it’s kind of a rallying cry:
And I will keep scratching symbols on the walls of this cave
And I will hold on to these records that played
Find a box for me to place
All of these things that gave me joy and the pain
All of these songs I never got to explain
And I will keep scraping this rock into this metal
‘Til the fire has escaped
And I will watch it grow to a blaze
And I will throw that box right into the fire
Until it’s all been erased
And fuel this flame for days
Because the fire burns forever…
Because when you’ve finished making the thing you do, you walk away from it, and make the next thing. If you gotta burn that paper, sell those tools and supplies, if you have to bleed to make more, you do. And maybe somewhere along the way, because people won’t forget what you do, your art will last, and be important. Be meaningful, even if you let it burn to keep you warm in the coldest of nights.
I bet you never knew this was a Batman song. Well it was, nerds!
Feb. 27 – Pittsburgh Comics – Pittsburgh, PA (facebook event) FREE
Feb. 28 – Shumatsucon – Columbus, OH
Mar. 1 – Green Brain Comics – Dearborn, MI (facebook event) FREE
Mar. 3 – 42 Lounge – Milwaukee, WI (facebook event)
Mar. 4 – Legend Comics – Omaha, NE (facebook event) FREE
Mar. 5 – Challengers Comics – Chicago, IL (facebook event)
Mar 6 – Singers Karaoke Club – Syracuse, NY (facebook event)
Mar. 7 – Bombers Burrito Bar – Albany, NY (facebook event)