After some relatively minor delays, abstract rappers Bazerkowitz and Orko Eloheim -- together as Left-Handed Scientists -- have released their latest album. Kill Your Present Future (available digitally here) is full of futuristic soundscapes and dizzying rhymes, mixing together as something both beautiful and evil.
But before they were killing anything together, they were actually part of rival crews, Orko as part of Masters of the Universe and Bazerkowitz as part of Zentradi Camp. I spoke with Bazerkowitz about old rap beef and how they squashed it to make music together.
Quan Vu: Can you tell me more about the beef between Masters of the Universe and Zentradi Camp?
Bazerkowitz: Do you remember Robotech?
QV: Nah, not really. You mean the cartoon?
Bazerkowitz: Yes! Well, Zentradi stemmed from Robotech. Masters of the Universe stemmed from He-Man. The funny thing is it was actually real street people trying to escape that through things they liked when they were kids. At the same time, we were dealing with all these local situations and things going on. We all related on sh-- we watched on TV. You know how now it's like, "I got a Bentley." "I got a Lexus." "I got a..." Who gives a f--k? Then, we were like, "I like Thundercats." "No, I like Transformers." "No, I like Robotech." People consider it now as nerd rap games. But imagine these nerd rap conversations happening with people with guns and bandanas on. We were just all involved in our own circles. I didn't know why I hated Orko and Orko didn't know why he hated my camp. We didn't even know. We just knew it was supposed to be.
Quan: Did you guys battle at some of the open mics around San Diego like Improv or Mesopotamia?
Bazerkowitz: No. Orko was pretty much the reason for the Improv. That stuff was almost prior. A lot of the things that started happening actually stemmed from the Icon Armada, an outside circle.
QV: Are you talking about the Icons with DJ Demon and Sketch and them?
Bazerkowitz: Demon wasn't part of them then. But yes, the same Icons. Sketch. Frosty. Back then, it was DJ Psycho. And there was HOP. Icon Armada stretched out with Dizzyorder. It's funny, we were just talking about Hot Monkey and Alma. There was the Cipher. That was a huge hip-hop freestyle event. Orko and Dizzy were battling at Alma's place, The Hot Monkey [Love], which I was just talking to [rapper/poet] Aaron Evans about. Orko and Dizzy were battling. Dizzy felt like, "Oh my god, this is one of my mentors," even though Dizzy was actually older than Orko. And Orko and Dizzy had no idea. So they're battling. Dizzy said a couple things. And Orko grabbed the mic like, "I'm not gonna rap," and punches Dizzy in the face with the mic.
This is Hot Monkey Love. What it became was Queen Bee's. Alma is the owner of all that. And she used to hold the Cipher and a lot of these different events that a lot of places wouldn't hold. She even held a "F--k Bush" show that I did back in like 2005. Cops filled up the parking lot. FBI agents were there. Not because we were good at rapping. Just because what we were doing had something that was counter to what they looked at as acceptable.
QV:So how did you and Orko start recording together?
Bazerkowitz: I had a meeting for that show I was just talking about, the "F--k Bush" show. And Orko was there. Me and Orko locked eyes, he was across. Me and him walked up and shook each other's hands again.
At that time, it was the Temple, which is what Vokab Kompany is now. The Temple was me, Ridley [Mr. Ridley of Anti-Citizens], and then pretty much the Vokab Kompany without the two rappers. Just the musicians.
So I saw [Orko], we shook hands, and I told him, "Hey, I have this lab right down the street." He came over the next day and we recorded our first track called "Reptile Skin." And the track came out so good...And then [2011 San Diego Music Award nominee] Genghis Khan came over. And we're like, "What?! Can't believe we're all in this room together about to do something." And that was actually on Earth Day. So we went and recorded a song. Now Genghis Khan at that time was going through some stuff and he was saying some stuff that was just weird. And he didn't show up to this one thing. So me and Orko were talking like, "It's just gotta be us two."
Quan: Tell me about the title of the new album, Kill Your Present Future.
Bazerkowitz: It means everything that you've done creates your future, right? And your present is now. So everything that you've done prior that wasn't right, at this point, you can change the present and make a new future no matter what you've done before. To change your present future, everything you've done, you're gonna get a certain amount from it from what you've contributed to. And the present's always now. So anything that you do right now is gonna change your future and make it more positive. Kill Your Present Future, all it means is to live right now and realize that anything that happened previously that's bad, don't feel guilty. The present's now. And it's time to change all that because you can still change your present future by what you do today.
And the first album we did was called Kill Your Computer. Orko actually named that. I didn't even wanna be called Left-Handed Scientists and I didn't want our album to be called Kill Your Computer. I was just like, "...Okay."
QV: Why didn't you like the name?
Bazerkowitz: I liked it but in my mind, me and Orko coming together finally after everything that happened, calling it Left-Handed Scientists was so nonchalant. We were both from prominent groups that did certain things. Calling it Left-Handed Scientists to me, I didn't understand how it would be perceived or what it would be. I was a lot younger. But we stuck with it. And we're both left-handed. And we look at it like we're scientists of life. Meaning everything that happens around you, you have negatives and positives and you have to balance certain things out. Life is like a chemistry board. It's almost like we're scientists of life. And us being left-handed made us think slightly different and realize we're both slightly controlling energies around us in a major way.
Quan: Can you tell me about the making of Kill Your Present Future?
Bazerkowitz: Funny as it is: the main overseer of [Seattle-based production duo] Blue Sky Black Death. You know what the guy's name is? Reverend Left [now known as Young God]. It's weird, right? And then there's Orphan [now known as Kingston].
Quan: He did production on the first Left-Handed album, right?
Bazerkowitz: He did. That song, "One Brain Cell." The first Left-Handed album was pretty much produced by Ridley and Orphan.
QV: So did Blue Sky Black Death produce the entirety of Kill Your Present Future?
Bazerkowitz: Not the entire thing. But a lot of it is. But the main props for that are gonna go to Orphan. Because he created the sound of Atoms of Eden [Orko's 2003 album], he produced the whole album. A lot of Left-Handed stuff was stuff Orko chose not to use for Atoms of Eden.
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog SD Raps.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.