Embracing radical mix

Soul Position brings serious and funny lyrics together on duo's latest release


MC/producer Blueprint is all about variety.

You can hear it in his lyrics for Soul Position's latest album, Things Go Better With RJ and Al. Half the tracks deal with such heavy issues as how pop culture perpetuates thug stereotypes, and the other half are straight-up hilarious stories like getting too drunk and taking home an ugly chick.

Alongside Blueprint's voice, producer RJD2 lays down beats with driving grooves and blaring brass horns. The CD is a party on plastic, and they'll bring it to Sonar on Saturday. Things Go Better keeps a steady balance between playful and serious songs.

"Hand Me Downs" is one of the most sober. On it, he says: If you let the TV define what black is / you think ice and violence is all we think that matters / I guess this is what happens / When rappers look up to thugs / And kids look up to rappers."

Go a couple tracks deeper, and you hit "Blame it on the Jager." You don't need much more than the title to get it, but here's a couple lines anyway: "When I was sober that broad looked like Al Gore / now she look a lot more like Demi Moore."

Blueprint wanted this mix of radically different songs on the same album because he was worried about being labeled a jokester or as too socially conscious.

"If you're like a funny rapper, then people peg you as not to be taken seriously all the time," said Blueprint, aka Albert Shepard. "But then if you get too political all the time, people don't accept it, or they don't believe it when you have fun or when you tell a joke. I want to have a career where I can talk about anything and have it just be seen as me being more human than me being inconsistent."

He's on the phone from Boston, starting the third leg of Soul Position's tour for Things Go Better. The record dropped in early April, and Sonar is the duo's last show in support of it. Blueprint's already started working on three varied summer projects.

In no particular order, they are:

An instrumental album on which Blueprint plans to play all the instruments - much like his earlier effort Chamber Music. So far, he said he has two or three contrasting songs and is not sure what kind of feel it will eventually take on. He's hoping for "really fast or just really dark and sinister-sounding."

A new solo album. He's been working on pre-production on this while on tour with Soul Position, sniffing out tasty samples on his laptop.

A record where Blueprint produces the whole thing and invites a bunch of guests for cameo spots. Expect Aesop Rock and a few other unsigned rappers from Columbus, Ohio - Blueprint's home base. This one will probably come out the soonest of the three, he said.

So much for lazy summer afternoons.

"I'm just going to try to work on as much music as I can," Blueprint said. "That's really my goal, to be on some mad scientist [stuff] where I'm just putting in 10-12 hours a day."

Soul Position is actually a breather compared with the effort Blueprint is already investing in his coming albums, he said.

"All I have to do is write and rhyme," Blueprint said. "Whereas with any other record I have to produce it, arrange it, all the technical parts like mixing it and that stuff can wear you out."

Soul Position plays Sonar's club stage Saturday. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Sonar is at 407 E. Saratoga St. Call 410-327-8333 or visit sonarbaltimore.com.


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