The hip-hop duo Broken Dreams have been coming up in the scene with their soulful beats and down-to-earth rhymes. This week, they release a collaboration project with 2012 San Diego Music Award nominees Parker & the Numberman. The EP is simply titled BDP&T and is available at Access Hip-Hop.
Though much has been said about P&T, I caught up with the other half of the coin, Broken Dreams. Rappers Moodswing King Yomi and Brek One talk about their backgrounds in rap, including forays into poetry, U-God fandom and live instrumentation. Also, fair warning: Both of them use the word "s---" as a generic noun placeholder. Because they're so hip-hop like that.
Quan Vu: How long have you been together as Broken Dreams?
Moodswing King Yomi: I met Brek, like, in '99. I just graduated from high school. I got a job at some law office [as an] administrative assistant. One of the lawyers was his mom. Him coming through the office and I knew he was down with music. I knew he smoked pot.
Brek One: That's pretty much it. We just started making the most rudimentary recordings on these old 4-track recorders with the tape in it. We were even spitting into the headphones sometimes because we didnt' have the mic. Just s---. Making our own beats on these ghetto keyboards, these old Casios. Yeah, and just kept doing it and doing it and doing it and doing it. Progressed from there.
QV: Were you rapping yourselves before meeting each other?
Yomi: Yeah. In high school -- not to be all gay -- I used to write poetry. For real though! It's real s---, I'm not gonna front. I used to write poetry, just like thoughts I'd write in a journal. Ultimately, I did some spoken word s---, some performance-type s---. After that, it was kind of just a progression. I always listened to hip-hop. I listened to all sorts of s---, too. I didn't just box it up like, "Oh, I'm a hip-hop head. That's it."
Brek: It really started with us probably freestyling, right?
Yomi: Freestyling, being drunk!
Brek: Like, "Hey! That's fun. Let's do this s---."
Yomi: Then it built up. After awhile, you get a collection of s---. You get competitive with each other. I remember when I moved over to Victorville [in San Bernardino] for awhile, I used to come over to San Diego. Every time I used to come back, Brek would have a collection of s---. You know, he only had a s---ty-ass recorder. But he'll have a collection of 18 songs of him just ranting. Back then, it was a little more ...
Brek: It was a lot different.
Quan: Brek, were you into spoken word, too, like Yomi?
Brek: I draw and painted, so I'd always have some kind of sketchbook. But there'd always be -- same thing like he said -- random thoughts and po ...I don't even wanna call it poetry because I don't know if that's what it would be. But just like all these ideas, and sometimes they'd rhyme. After awhile, I was like, "Eh, I could put this to a beat."
It just kind of started happening. I got really, really, really into Wu-Tang. And each individual member of Wu-Tang. Like, "Oh, man, I gotta get the new U-God Golden Arms CD." Everyone's like, "This s--- is garbage." I'm like, "You are wack!" That's what started my whole hip-hop love affair. From "C.R.E.A.M." on. And, yeah, like he said, we started drinking and smoking together. And somehow music eventually came out of it.
For awhile we were roommates, and that was the most productive time for us. It was so easy. Someone comes home from work like, "Oh, what're you doing?" "Oh, I made a new song." "Oh, s---! I better get on that right now." I'd come home and he's writing. So it's like, "Oh! Damn, I should be writing right now." It was like this "healthy competition"-type thing, always trying to constantly be productive, which was cool.
Quan: Do you produce yourselves, too?
Brek: When we were very first beginning, we were kind of trying to.
Yomi: We would do our own s--- and f--- around making our own beats. Whatever we could get our hands on, Fruity Loops, I don't give a f---. Toward the latter of that, Brek used to make more of the beats. And then after that, we tried to f--- around with some live s---. Like live band s---. We knew a couple musicians and f---ed around with that. But ... in that way, it was kind of corny. It was wack. But it was kind of a means to be productive, no matter what.
Brek: And we were honing our skills, too. And it sounded really cool at the time.
Yomi: Even back then we were both kinda like, "Man." But eventually, we started f---ing with this dude named Dose. He used to make beats, and he had a pretty good eye for production. That's when we started making some tracks. That's when it started coming together.
Quan: When was that?
Yomi: 2005. About 2005, we kinda had a thesis or we kinda had an issue. And it was a little more dark. We talked about different s---. Like, we didn't talk about rap. We didn't talk about none of that. We didn't give a s--- about rap. You know what I mean? It wasn't on that level.
Brek: We didn't really even consider ourselves "rappers," I feel like.
Yomi: Well, we knew we were rappers, but we didn't consume that whole idea at the time.
Quan: You mean you weren't "rappers," you were "artists"?
Brek: We were just making music. We didn't even classify it at the time.
Yomi: Because this dude even made other music. We always had a guitar at the house. He'd always be playing classical guitar. You know what I mean? Different s---. Even some of the s--- he made was just weird, tripped-out s---.
Quan: Was it that weird, drum-n-bass, noise-beat stuff like what Psychopop makes?
Yomi: It was still hip-hop.
Brek: It had a break beat but ... just trying to experiment with weird ... I don't know. How would you describe it Yomi?
Yomi: It was trippy, man.< br/> Brek: Psychedelic. Some of it was kind of on that "noise"-ish sound. A lot dirtier. A lot more lo-fi. And like he said, a lot more dark.
Be sure to check out what Broken Dreams has cooked up with Parker & the Numberman on BDP&T.
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.