B L A C K I E is the alter ego of 27-year old Michael LaCour, a Houston-based artist whose closest contemporary would be the "thrash-rap" of the recently disbanded Death Grips. With his just-released Imagine Yourself in a Free and Natural World, LaCour seems to have transcended any debt to hip-hop, with a record more in line with the genre-shattering late-'60s works of Albert Ayler.
How was the new album recorded?
The majority of the tracks for the new album was playing a bass guitar into my dad's old tape deck, so I'm using some of the same equipment as when I was a little boy.
I've been working on these songs for over a year. Some of the loops I made, you know, years back. The actual recording happened real quick—usually just the first take. I'll be screaming so hard or blowing the sax so hard, I'll just roll with the first take. But I may have been laying in bed for three weeks, brainstorming. Then I get out of the bed, wake my ass up, and hit record. ... It's a weird process. I'll have the idea in my brain for a long time.
Do you even consider yourself a rapper?
That's a weird thing, because every year, every new thing I drop, I feel like I'm stepping further out of that box. They still call me a rapper but there was always different things going on. This album's the least traditional 'rap' thing I've done.
The lyrics on Imagine Yourself in a Free and Natural World are very impressionistic, especially the song "Forest of Ex-Lovers." What is your writing process like? The title "Forest of Ex-Lovers" came from when I was jogging a lot. Whenever I'd get tired I just imagined people I used to date or people I didn't like and it would just make me want to run harder.
With the lyrics, sometimes it's freestyle and other times it's written out. Or, one line could come from, like, one night when I'm on some drug and feeling good and then the next night somebody tells me something horrible. So when I'm on stage, it's all happening at once and emotionally, I'm fucked up from remembering both of these events. With this album, you can see the front, the sides, and the back, but the listener has to fill in the bottom to make it real to themselves. I'm just trying to break something into reality that's not in reality. If I can create three storylines happening simultaneously, then I've brought something into reality. It's not a cartoon anymore.
Your live shows have reputation for being extraordinarily intense.
The show is real fucking heavy and it's really fucking me up. (Past shows) were like, kids moshing and in my face. But now there's nobody near me. Everybody's standing around in a big arc—I have the floor to myself. I just had my back to the crowd. The last show was like that and I swear, I ain't ever felt that fucked up in my whole life. It felt like somebody took something out of me. It started to scare me because I'm putting so much of myself, so much of soul in the album, and I feel like I'm dancing with some weird shit now. It's scary for me. I feel like I might have gone too far.