Dropping Science Pt. 1 by Sicarii Arafat
What up y’all?? It’s your boy Big Sic and I’m here with my man Nate, he started this new blog “LEGAL DOPE” (also the title of the upcoming DC tape) and I told him I would write a column, so he asked me to break down the science behind “Before I Sleep”. Since I’m a long-winded motherfucker by nature and love talking about music, I agreed. Every song has its own story, some more than others, and I’m going to give yall a glimpse into my original baby…
ALBUM BACK STORY:
My solo debut. 25 Years in the making. Prior to “Before I Sleep” I had recorded about 4 albums of solo music, however, because my group at the time, KIN DREAD, was my main priority, most of the songs only circulated thru Massachusetts on burnt Cd’s and mp3 files. By the time Kin Dread disbanded in around 2008, I had already started on a real solo debut, but found myself in another halfway house. My career and life was in the gutter, again. My drug addiction had destroyed everything I touched, and almost erased all the hard work myself, Frank White, and others did in Dread’s 7 year span. Flashback to 2007, when I started the album: I was going to die. I knew it, felt it, and my life was barreling in that direction. Drugs had replaced music and become my everything. However, since i knew i was going die, i wanted to leave behind one complete piece of music to explain my story. Before I took the eternal sleep, I wanted to let everyone know what i was going thru. This album was my last will and testament. Towards the end of the album, a miracle happened, and I somehow got clean. After taking about a year to get my life back on track, i revisited my solo debut, adding a few tracks and decided that this would be the first installment in a 3 album trilogy which would tell my story. I didn’t wanna make a dark depressing concept album, i wanted to tell my story and make hip-hop records at the same time…so it would take 3 albums. In September of 2009 I released…
1. “Before I Sleep” – The title track. No intro, just getting right to business. The title was also taken from the Robert Frost poem where he says “and miles to go before i sleep” which my father always read me. Lyrically, I was setting you up for what you gonna hear in the next 70 minutes or so. I made the beat in Tampa Bay, Florida in 2005. Bishop and I’s geographical change came to and end and we returned to New England. Originally I used this beat for a song called “My Disease Talking” which I wrote in Pittsfield while in my first halfway house. It was me rhyming from the p.o.v. of myself and my addiction. It was cool, but never did it for me, so I put the beat aside, and when I decided to really do this album, I started here. The sample at the end is from “THE WIRE”, one of my favorite dramas.
2. “Bless Da Boy” – THE LIVE TRACK!! To this day, this is one of the crew and I’s favorite songs to perform. People love it. It tears the place down. Actually one of the hardest beats i ever made. The lyrics are violent, the first verse is directed at a certain person that did some grimey shit to me and without getting to into it, I attempted to step to him several times, with him always running away. And I was on probation, so I had to get it out somehow. Second verse was originally written for a KIN DREAD song, with the rhymes being based around titles of horror movies. It never stuck, but it was dope so i rocked it anyway.
3. “80 Ways” – Bishop’s favorite song from the album. Just some real shit, my forte. I was definitely going thru some shit on this one. I don’t really tell stories in the traditional sense, but i do take events from my life and intertwine that with other stream of conscious type rhymes. This one is everywhere, my family, my girl, my sponsor, etc. I remember writing this at one of the more coherent periods of my drug use, I was probably clean or atleast sanitary. The last verse was orignally intended for a different song that I actually recorded, but didnt keep and it worked on here. This would never get cleared on a major label album, haha, and i love it
4. “Departed: Baby Don’t Go” – This beat is bananas, and I did the scratches too. Once again I don’t tell stories, but a lot of my shit has imagery or dramatic themes to it. I wanted to almost make a movie in a song, but my racing mind wouldn’t let me, so it goes from certain scenes to punchlines haha but i guess that’s S.I.C. I used to work in a supermarket and constantly heard the song I sampled on this, matter of fact, that’s how I get A LOT of samples. Scorsese is an amazing director so I wanted to pay homage on the hook. I direct rhymes like he directs movies.
5. “Can’t Shine” – My man Jump p.k.a. Karate Face did this beat, and I heard it for the first time in Cape Cod. We were all gonna do a song to it, but KEY didn’t like it, so I took it back to Springfield and did it myself. The rhymes are dedicated to my child’s mother, who had yet to bear my child at the time but we have had mad problems, fights, and love. She my wisdom and I’m her knowledge and that’s just how Allah made it. The hook switches up for the second one, cuz its always the dude wanting his girl back, then her wanting him back. Yall know it.
6. “Get It” – My lifelong friend Lord K did this beat. We don’t mess with each other much but that’s my man. When Kin Dread went on indefinite hiatus we had amassed a rediculous folder of beats from all sorts of producers. We sat down and split them up. I took what I wanted and Frank took his, that he went on to use on “THE FRANK WHITE LP” and me, here. This is me, just killing rappers. I thought the beat had some commercial appeal but radio never bit on this one. Still it’s another banger in the catalog.
7. “Narcotic” – I made this at Frank White’s house. The day after a 2006 show with Slaine, Blacastan and others. The show was so fucking ill, i think i still had the energy in me. So i sniffed a football 80 and got down to business. Verse was written under similar circumstances, as most were. Honestly, i had just gotten into the diesel game at this point, and all the fiend out kids in Agawam were loving this shit. I was trying to equate the power of my music to the power of heroin. Punchlines and syllable rhymes galore. My man Excetera from The Camp likes this shit.
8. “On The Humble” – I honestly can’t remember a fucking thing about making this song. Seriously. It’s one of those songs that is dope as hell, more real shit, but doesn’t really stand out. It serves its purpose on an album, back when albums had album tracks. Lyrically i was kinda defending myself against people that said I needed help. I never listen.
9. “Half My Brain” – This was originally called “Mint Leaves” but my man Golden from Black Book wanted me to change the title when they originally put out the album. The beat was a sample I had flipped years before for Kin Dread but the song never got no real play so I wanted to do it justice. This is underground shit. Hard beat, dense lyrics. Sicarii.
10. “Bail Money” – Wrote and recorded this towards the tail end of the album, after i had been arrested and locked up for a few days. Lord K did this beat, and I always liked it, thought it sounded like early Alchemist shit. Frank actually added a bass line later on this track and a few others. Mad people love this hook. This is some cold winter shit. Also on some super real shit, which most artists would never say, at this time I had never played with needles…that changed.
11. “The Garden” – Another album track. Good song tho. Wrote this at my girls house…where I’m currently writing this. Mellow Karate Face beat, one of a batch of 3 I took from him in like 2007, the last of which we JUST used on the LEGAL DOPE TAPE dropping soon. I GOT MAD BEATS DOG!! This reminds me of some Nas shit, spark an el and just zone. And thats what i did. Frank added a DOPE bassline on this afterwards too.
12. “The Suicide King” – MY SONG!! Up until recently this is the joint I come out to at shows. The hook is an interpolation of a Bishop rhyme from a Suicide Kings’ song. I had to claim my throne. Other cats are Kings of New York or Atlanta or what the fuck ever. I’m the Suicide King. Good movie too. The outro beat is some dub shit my neighbor would always play. The 3rd verse originally had some ridiculous Jim Jones-esque adlibs…I took a few out.
13. “Shiver” – This is Leg’s wife’s favorite song haha. I made this after the album was already “done” in like a week long period where I produced, wrote and recorded a new song everyday. Made “Girl”, “Diary Of”, “White Widow” and others in that week. This was just me swagging it out. Beat reminds me of harder Timbaland shit. I fuck with this song…
14. “Sucker-Free” – Another album song. I made this beat originally as a joke kinda. See, cats used to always love to come thru and be like “yo, im telling you dog, sic can make a beat in 20 minutes out of anything and its fire”. Some beats sit around for a while before Allah decides to graduate them to songs. Thats kinda how this happened. Good ass bars too. Hard beat, dense lyrics…SICARII shit.
15. “Diary Of” – Where do I start with this song? I could write a whole column on this shit. The heroin song. This was a very dark time in my life. People come up to me with tears in their eyes and tell me about this song. That’s the best compliment i could ever ask for. I had the beat for a while, originally titled “My Son, The Heroin Addict”. I was almost nervous about writing this. Eventually I had it, my man White Justin was coming over a lot then, smoking blunts and shit. So I was like “yo, I’m about to record some really really personal shit…you can stay if you want”. So he rolled up and I laid this shit down with my tear ducts holding back every line. I basically took half of my experiences, and half experiences of other addicts I know and told our story. Detox love, mothers shooting dope, those were all people I knew and some I used with. It’s Real shit!
16. “Murder” – The Anthem!! Produced by my man GUT from Kemistree with Young Cee and them. They made some incredible beats coming up. This shit is so rugged. Wu-ish. I aint really know Shev like that, that was Golden’s guy, down with Ave cats, and originally Frank White was gonna get on it. Then Era, but G boy wanted to show Shev some love i guess. He did his parts over at the Black Book studio. I was there, he was like doing the Jay-Z/Wayne free-styling but not really shit. Verse is dope, I would like to work with homie again. We been saying “Murda Mass” forever, first cats I heard was MASS MOB back in the 90s and shit. Used to go to the Music Center downtown and get all the records on Friday when they aint come out til tuesday. I loved that. I love Massachusetts, I love Springfield, I even love Agawam. Oh and thats a real CHANNEL 22 news clip haha.
17. “Winner Takes It All” – This was done in 2009 after I already had the bulk of the album done. I kinda did 80 percent in 2007 and 8, then finished it 2009 shortly before we put it out. My man Phflow did this beat, he makes more beats than I do, but this one really caught my attention, had that hard street ass sound and I wanted that on my shit. Mixtape style rhymes, punchlines, no real hook, but this was hardbody. When i think of hardbody shit, I think of this. 3rd verse was my favorite. Kinda pieced this shit together, as i tend to do, the verses were all written to different beats originally i think. BLACK BOOK CONTROVERSY: I’m not gonna really get to much into this on here, but I initially released the album with my brothers from Black Book Inc. They busted their ass selling the album on the streets, but at the time I just thought we were gonna do more with it and I wasn’t happy. I felt this was my homecoming, we were here. I guess it boils down to the fact that I ain’t wanna be a link in a chain, I wanted to have my own shit, my own team, and put out my own shit. I still love all them brothers, but we don’t really fuck with each other too much. Me and Frank will always be close, but when I left BB it changed everything. I went ahead and re-released the album on my own, with ‘Done Clinic Productions, and added a couple bonus tracks to spice it up (but really just made it longer haha). Let me say it here, I love Black Book and all them brothers, Golden, Era, Genesis, Justin, Gito, and I wish nothing but success and prosperity on them and their loved ones. Real talk.
18. “I WANT IT NOW!!!” – Young Cee produced, of the world famous ROYCEE MUSIC GROUP!!! Back in the day, Cee and Gut would come thru, Denise would make them french bread pizzas and they would give us beats. TRUE SHIT! I got mad back in the day stories about cats you know, but that for a different blog.Pizza and Pepsi, check the “Appetizer 4 Destruction” shit. Song is cool, I always liked it, plus thought it would get shine cuz of Young Cee’s status as New England’s favorite producer, at the time, but it aint really ever do shit except be number 18 on a CD. Golden thought I should take it off the album, so I did, then I put it back on. Bi-Polar Sic.
19. “White Widow” – I can’t believe this is only the 2nd guest on 19 tracks. Bishop killed it. I did me. Beat was cool, quickly made, rhymes too. This was actually done after the album was done. Never got much shine either. I was gonna either throw this or “Girl” on the bonus tracks, but i guess “Girl” got the better fate, we still do that at shows.
Mark my words, NO MORE LONG ALBUMS. Awakening was long. After that I’m done. TIAL aint as long. 14, 15 tracks from now on the most. Anything after that people start drifting off. It just sucks cuz I absolutely HATE taking tracks off albums. I make albums with very specific vision and when i gotta take pieces away it kinda fucks me up. There you have it…the truth behind “Before I Sleep” in 5 million words or less. Even I’m tired of reading this shit…go get laid or something, word. Oh but if you ain’t got a chance to peep this shit, the mediafire and purchase links are below…
SICARII CATALOG on KUNAKI.COM:
“BEFORE I SLEEP” MEDIAFIRE DL LINK:
Michael Sicarii Cook Jr @ Facebook
Sicarii (Ice Grill) @ Facebook
Sicarii (Ice Grill)
D.C. ‘DONE CLINIC PRODUCTIONS
SICARII LIVE!!! OCT 29TH
DC ‘DONE CLINIC LIVE!! OCT 26th…more will be revealed
FACEMEETSGRILL EP – JULY 19TH!!!!
TOMORROW IS A LIE – WINTER 2011
THE AWAKENING – OUT NOW!! – CLICK LINKS BELOW!!
SICARII’S CATALOG: http://Kunaki.com/MSales.asp?PublisherId=122040
michael sicarii cook jr. on facebook
sicarii (ice grill) on facebook