Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Artist Feature: Temple5

Temple5 will be performing at Deep South in Raleigh
alongside NO9TO5 and Jswiss. Purchase tickets here
When one thinks of North Carolina hip-hop, thoughts don't usually stray towards Wilmington. Maybe the chart-topping J. Cole comes to mind or perhaps the more underground breakout acts like King Mez or Deniro Farrar, but certainly not an eastern North Carolina act. Temple5, however, is doing their damnedest to change that mindset. Temple5 is a seven-piece act that blends elements of hip-hop, jazz and funk to create one dazzling, rhythmically driven sound. While it's easy to lose yourself in the intricately arranged pieces that comprise these recordings, this is the kind of music that you need to see live to truly experience in its entirety. You've got to watch the very obvious chemistry that these musicians have together, feel the horns wash over you as the band's lyricist Louis. effortlessly weaves together ridiculous rhyme schemes that cover everything from socially conscious messages to clever punch lines. Temple5 will be performing at The Deep South Bar on Saturday, Jan. 31 alongside NO9TO5 and Jswiss, so in advance we spoke with members of the band on the intricacies involved with their music and what to expect from the band in 2015.

The creation of Temple5 was a very deliberate process, something that seems to be have been in the works for years on end. AJ Reynolds, saxophonist for the band, goes as far as saying that Temple5 was something he's wanted to do since the age of 16, but states but waited until he was 23 because that was when he felt like he and his peers could approach this band with "the artistry, maturity and ambition" required to make it what it should be. Deliberate may be an understatement when it comes to this band. Steeped in the tradition of acts like The Roots and The Robert Glasper Experiment, Temple5 has melded the new and the old together to create a jazzy take on hip-hop.

"I’ve found the ongoing process of acculturation that has been happening in America over the past 100+ years fascinating," states trumpeter Aaron Lane. "It started with early blues and jazz which was a fusion of African rhythm with Western harmony/instrumentation," he states, and from there the music has morphed into various widely different forms. These two forms have in some way or another influenced practically every wave of popular music and has risen to the top once again with hip-hop. Now as Lane states, we see that the hip-hop has begun to revert back to its origins, pulling heavy inspiration from the jazz, funk and soul that birthed the genre in the first place. And while the whole reverse acculturation thing is a large determining factor in the birth of new and innovative hip-hop, it also doesn't hurt that having a live band just makes a performance that much better.

"I think most of us in the band have gone to hip-hop shows and said to ourselves, 'man, it would be so dope to see a live band up here laying it down with the emcee,'” Reynolds states. And sometimes thoughts like that ignite a spark that erupts into something much larger than anyone could imagine. When you've got so many talented musicians together in one project (they all mostly met at the UNCW Music Department through various university ensembles and jazz combo/big band projects) then it's only a matter of time until things blossom into something that's truly unparalleled. Acts like The Beast have tapped into this in the Triangle, raising the socially conscious flag while laying down some serious grooves, and now it appears Temple5 has taken this torch for Eastern NC.

"We are a unique group of guys in a unique situation with a unique goal," Lane states, "to create and grow a local community through the positive message of hip-hop." With that goal in mind, all it takes is a brief listen through to the band's two previously released EPs to grasp how passionate this crew is about their message and how intent they are on getting it right. Strategic Arrival: The Statement marks the beginning of the band and finds them dipping their toes into the water, toying with Barack Obama speech clips that tackle socioeconomic woes. The Bap Is Eternal: The Argument, found the band diving deeper into the rabbit hole, with a dedicated emcee in Louis. the crew has started take a heavy lyrical focus while still producing acrobatic instrumentation. Their forthcoming full-length CompUtopia: The Solution promises to find the band in the perfect place, vibing together as a crew and ready to produce a definitive statement that relays both positivity and dance-inducing jams. When Lane describes the band's writing process he relays one simple notion, "either it grooves with people or it doesn't." Temple5 most definitely grooves.

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