Since appearing on A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes and Life two decades ago, Consequence has long-established himself as an artist more than capable of making timeless hit records. Admittedly getting caught up in what Cons now refers to as "shenanigans," we think it may have led him towards making some of his best music yet.
His latest EP, aptly titled A Good Comeback Story, blesses airwaves today (January 15), several years after the fourth installment of his Movies On Demand mixtape series and fresh from making amends with Kanye West, his cousin Q-Tip and Pusha T after contentiousness fed headlines and hindered their partnerships for years. Cons has since been holed away in the studio — clear-minded and hungry to reintroduce himself as a producer, songwriter and rapper with this new project launching his next career chapter.
From reuniting with Q-Tip in the studio, overseeing his own production duties and grinning with pride as his four-year-old son, Caiden, makes his rap debut, Consequence is back in the game heavy, fueled by the strength only a warrior has after emerging from battle and with the wisdom necessary to turn his experiences into expression. In addition to his son, the eight-track EP features Ryan Leslie, Kam Corvet, Q-Tip, Lupe Fiasco and Chris Turner, with Mike Cash co-producing alongside Cons himself.
Consequence chopped it up with BET.com, keeping the mood light, showcasing furthermore how this time around it’s truly all about the music.
BET.com: It’s been about a year now since you squashed some old beef. How has it been being able to focus on solely the music since then? Do you think as a result you’re making some of your best music to date?
Consequence: Definitely. I'm pretty much shenanigan-free. [Laughs] Which is a great space to be in for what I do. The bulk of 2015 for me was spent being immersed in just the music, honing the craft and diving into it. A lot of the record was my having a hand in the production and overseeing all of that, so it put me in a new frontier that I'm enjoying.
Focusing on reuniting with Q-Tip in the studio, you guys approached this in a different way, with you producing and Tip rapping. How did the decision to switch it up this time around come to be?
When it came time to put my EP together, Q-Tip was working on his album as well, and I went into it with the capacity of a producer myself and we felt out the energy. He texted me [after hearing some beats] and was like, “Yo, it’s really dope you’re doing beats. You got some dopeness.” I definitely took the compliment with a grain of salt, thinking about “One Love” and not to mention the majority of the Tribe catalog… When he heard the “No Matter What” beat and he was like, “What’s this?!” I was just like, “I mean, you know! It’s available, what up?!” I really thought it was going to just be a Q-Tip record but he thought we should do it together.
We actually both came up with the chorus and the track together in different fractions. He had his rap part, and I put the “No matter what” in and then added my rap part to it. Obviously with it being the occasion that it was, it took me a little bit of time. For example, the second verse to “No Matter What” was the last verse I recorded for the whole EP.
The first verse came out so good to me in my head space, I was just like, ‘I don’t even know if I’m going to put another verse ‘cuz I don’t wanna mess the record up!’ [Laughs] But then I was like, ‘no, motherf**ker, this is your job! You have to do it!’ and it kinda just came. The other component to this one is obviously the bridge where my guy Mark Crozer sings with Q-Tip – it’s like the special sauce to this record. He's also playing the guitars that you hear at the beginning and at the end.
With you and Kanye both working on new music this year, how have you influenced each other?
I think at the end of the day, we’ve helped each other grow as producers and as artists; you know what I’m saying? I picked up a lot of pointers about production from him, absolutely, and vice versa, he picked up a lot of pointers from me about being a pure lyricist.
How was the process crafting “Make Believe”? How did you link up with newcomer Kam Corvet?
“Make Believe” is a really personal record for me. The whole social media thing really can compromise relationships. It makes it really hard to be in a monogamous relationship or an exclusive relationship at times, because somebody can leave your girl a comment or a girl can leave you a comment, basically like “hit me in the DM.” I know it sounds crazy but that’s a gateway to adultery. It makes it tough, especially when you’re having times of peril and vulnerability. It can feel like the devil on your shoulder is right there in your DM.
For me, I heard Kam sing on another record that was out on the Internet and I immediately was like, ‘His voice is ill.’ We actually did a record before “Make Believe.” Kam put a joint out called “Leave It Like That” and he asked me to put a rap on it, so I was like, ‘Alright cool.’ He thought I wasn’t going to do it, and I was like, “Man, I didn’t say no! I’ll do it for you!” [Laughs]
I wanted him to sing on “Make Believe” because before it was me singing it and when he brought it back, I was like, ‘Yo, this is it. This s**t is so f**king crazy.’ He captured the emotion that I was looking to achieve.
Beforehand, I was looking to maybe ask a big name. You know, I’m cool with Ne-Yo, cool with Mack Wilds, cool with a few R&B singers that would obviously add to the album, but Kam, he’s got a special voice. He really does.
I put the track as No. 3 on the EP because I really felt like, for a Consequence fan, they’re going to get what they came for with some of the records later on. But I was thinking, let’s say a girl is listening on Spotify or iTunes or whatever and she’s in the car with her boyfriend and I was like, "What on this EP [that] is for her? This is it. This song right here is the record for people who don’t even know me."
Plus there’s so many people who go through the land of make believe, you know what I mean and it’s something people can identify with. The record identifies exactly what that is like, "You about to go to the land of make believe, so when you’re online and getting into all that wild s**t, you not even here no more, huh."
What’s it been like working with your son, Caiden? Do you see a budding rap career here or is he just excited for father/son time?
I think a little bit of both. But I mean I love my son to death, man, so you know I gave him the best I could for this record. The thing about “That Dude” that is so great for me is that every time I play it for someone, they smile. He just makes them smile. It’s hard to get a record that just makes someone smile. He’s a four-year-old kid!
I didn’t really think I would be in this territory with him until he was at least 10 or 12. It’s super early. This video is going to air on BET Jams! I had to tell his mother just how crazy it is that he has a video that is being aired and possibly in rotation too. It’s just really amazing that it’s our song.
Performing together recently at his school’s holiday party, was he nervous or was he a natural on stage?
Absolutely natural. I didn’t have to gas him up at all. He was like “Give me the mic, let’s go!”
The first time I brought him on stage with me was at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, and I think with him, he doesn’t even factor in a crowd. He doesn’t have stage fright because I think with him, it’s me and him doing it and it’s what we do in the house. On the other hand, he can be dead serious. It’s funny because its like, "Oh, you on stage, huh! You wanna be hot out here." Hey, whatever I can do to help! [Laughs]
When you approach your time in the studio, do you delegate — like “OK, this session is for beat-making, this session is for writing” — or do you let it happen organically?
I try to let it lead by inspiration. Like I said, with the “No Matter What” joint for example, there comes a time when you have to be a professional at what you are doing. And that goes for both ends, production and lyrics. With this EP, there was a time where I was like, ‘I gotta just cook’ because I really want this to be phenomenal. I really want it to be some s**t.
I came across the beat for “That Dude” a little later on, as well as the whole concept of it. The record “Battle Anybody,” that beat is really some s**t. My goal is always just to get to a finished record. I got a bunch of ideas on my computer that I really need to finish. I think it’s important for me to finish records so I try to be responsible in that aspect and not leave too many potential ideas up in the air.
Would you say that you are a perfectionist, especially with handling the production now? How do you know when a track is finished?
A lot of times, as a businessman, you have to wrap it up. [Laughs] As an artist and a craftsman, there are times where I overthink things and other times, I think, "No, no this is actually good the way it is." You have to factor in all those sub-equations to really get a track to where you want it to be. It just has to feel like some s**t, you gotta have it feeling dope. If it ain’t dope, then it ain’t ready yet. So you go back and you do it over and if it isn’t as dope as it was, then maybe it was ready before, or maybe you have to step back from it. It all depends; you kind of know when you’re at that point. It’s like, knowing is better than learning ‘cuz even though you might have learned, you ain’t knowing. So knowin’ it is better than learning it and that’s the key!
When people hear your name in 2016, what do you want them to think of next?
I just want people to just enjoy the EP. I don’t want to put a bunch of extra additives over this s**t. I just want people to be like, "This is dope." I’m looking forward to shows too. It’s been a while since I’ve been on tour. I’m just really looking forward to being a rapper. And a producer. Just doing my music without me having to be on some other s**t. [Laughs]
Overall, it seems like you’re having a lot of fun right now.
I’m having a lot of fun after two years of the worst s**t I’ve gone through in my life! So, for right now, I’m just going to savor the moment for the moment that it is and then continue forward.
This has been a year of working on this project, so I’ve had some ‘banging my head against the motherf**king wall’ days, you know? With the title, A Good Comeback Story, when you coming back, that means at some point you’ve gone through some stuff. You may have stopped or people may have counted you out. They might say this about you or that about you, you know. I’ve seen every comment in the book. Some people are still holding reality TV against me, and I get it and I understand it, but for the fans of music who like me for dope music, hopefully all discrepancies aside, all crazy s**t aside, I hope people listen to this EP with an open ear for some hip hop s**t. I want people to be like, "Not for nothing, I just respect his effort and I respect how he get down."
I can’t wait to start really getting into it. This EP is just the start! We're going do some s**t out here this year!
(Photo: Courtesy SvpremeRetinas)