. Jun 8, 2008

Theophilus London, a standout artist coming out of the big apple, is bringing back some quality vibes to the metropolis as the state of hip hop has recently been dominated by the Chi and the South. What gets me about London is that he sounds like nobody in the game right now. Jay is timeless, Ye spits with his ego, Weezy’s wit stands out, Factz is gritty in your face, and Theophilus is on his style. First, thing that got me on London was the flow as it caught me off guard, but I kept listening and I got hooked.

Theophilus London raps with a smoothness overflowing with personality and then switches it up with staccato lines that burst with attitude. Not only that, dude brings some soul to his music and sings at the end of certain lines to carry them out (For example, check out “The Blues”). Aside from his flow, the sound of his music as a whole is an electro flavored, 80s inspired hip-hop (I mean come on, dude flows on a classic Prince track on “Die 4 You”, it’s just dope).

My personal favorite track besides “Die 4 You” off of Jam!, his current mixtape based on the MJ song, although it is only a preview is “Late Night Operation” as the chill beat and his nonchalant flow go together hand in hand. Throughout the mixtape, you find a variety of different sounds as he spits a more conventional track on “Rest of ‘Em”, shows his sensitive side on “Blindfolded”, shows his inner thoughts on “Ber Ber Der Dant” that features an intro with Al Pacino from “Any Given Sunday” and finally he brings the mixtape home with him rapping over MJ’s “Stranger in Moscow.” Other songs that are my favorite cuts are “Starscream” and "Invisible Man.” Overall, Theophilus London is offering a new sound and branching out from the orthodox on “Jam!” and his creativity and innovativeness is sure to please.

I reached out to Theophilus to hear a little bit more about himself, so check the interview down below.

Ill Vibes: First of all, thank you very much for taking out your time to interview here at Ill Vibes. So, one of the things that immediately stands out about you is your name. Why did you change your name from "Thelonious Kapps" to "Theophilus London"

Theophilus London:

Well Thelonious Kapps is broken down to "Thelonious" and "Kapps" kapps was my childhood name in the streets of Brooklyn...... Not knowing as much as I knew now.. I was like man I need a fierce name to scare people (laughs) and I thought of kapps... But as I grew older I started studying music and I came across jazz musician Thelonious Monk.. So that's how thelonious came about.... But I was still finding myself... My birth name is Theophilus Musa London.. I love it now but as a kid I hated it.. I got teased and the first day of school was the worst.. My teacher always fucked up my name and the kids laughed.. That's why I chose Thelonious cause its close to Theophilus.. Plus its a name everyone was familiar wit... But my music got me real and I just evolved into me.. Theophilus London... Hahaha I guess I'm the first in music with a name like that.. I'm gonna make it better for all the other Theophilus guys in the world.

IV: Yeah man, that name is definitely a rarity. So, what inspired the unique sound behind "Jam!" and how did you hook up with Machine Drum?


I guess it was the colors and energy that were forming in my head at the time. I was having my 21st birthday party and I was so inspired cuz........ shit I can get in clubs and drink now... So I was like this year I wanna Jam! Hard.. My birthday is in Feb. So we threw a party at room service and themed it Jam! 1 week before the party I was having lunch with Machine Drum... And I was like let's create an archive... With all our inspirations plus our own music for the party... And In two days we created Jam the mixtape...... We got so drunk one night and did it.... So jam was done in February.. But we released it in May....
Machine drum and I are on the same label so the rest is history... Plus now we are roomies so yea we got a million and one albums coming out (laughs)

IV: The collabo was just crazy with an instant classic result, props again on Jam! What was your first experience performing on stage and what was going through your mind?


Wowwww this is very embarrassing... But my first show was in my mother's living room in Harlem... I was 9 years old.. I didn't have much friends and we was poor... But I had passion and love for the sound and art of music... I grew up on 98 kiss FM with Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, O'jays, Garth Brooks etc...

But anyways I had a huge collection of stuffed animals and toys.
So I dressed them up.. I made paper flyers and I sat them all in front of the couch (laughs and tears) then I put on the radio and started my show.. I freestyled to every song that played for 30 mins.. No one clapped or danced.. Well they were stuffed animals (laughed) but from the permanent smiles on there faces I knew they loved it. I danced and jumped around... It was like a rush for me... I was so sweaty and had full blast energy... I get emotional just talking bout it... But every time I had the chance I would perform... The class room. In front of my moms and her friends.. In front of my basketball cards... I guess that's why performing comes so natural for me
Each moment on that stage is sacred to me... And I cherish every moment of it.

IV: Ah man, that's too funny, but hey everybody needs their first crowd and practice makes perfect, it's a great story. What are your upcoming projects (music videos, mixtapes, an LP, collabos, upcoming shows, etc.)?


I just did a commercial for Rocksmith... It's like a short film shot on different roofs in Brooklyn.. Its gonna be the youtube blockbuster for the summer... My Ep is done and will be released soon titled "This Charming Man" you can check out my upcoming shows via Myspace... Also the special bonus Jam! Cd will be out July 1st with 2 new songs... Plus I'm working on my LP dropping 09

Check this performance out by Theophilus, I feel like the joint starts to really jump of with the hypeness of "Rest of 'Em" at 10:50, the energy of "Invisible Man" at 12:00, and the soul of "The Blues" at 15:21, one of my personal faves.

IV: I can't wait to hear the extra songs and the LP in 09 and we'll be sure to keep our viewers posted. Name some of your favorite tracks off Jam! and explain the thought and creative process behind them.


Well "Blindfolded" which will also be on my ep is a fav. The colors and mood in that song is amazing. The chords and slap bass guitar is powered off soul... The song isn't even finished.. But I wrote it in the spring.. Like night time.. I was on my way to see my girlfriend and I thought about what would happen if I ever messed up.. So I wrote the song on the way to her apartment... Also "Night Ridin" is dope its all about an era in my head.. The leather jacket, purple smoke, black cars its all inspired by that.. I can talk all day about every track on jam.. But yeah its a dope collection.

IV: Yeah man inspiration can come randomly and the result of "Blindfolded" is simply fire and I can't wait to hear the full joint since I only heard the preview on Jam! So, what is your favorite memory in terms of music in New York?


The hard knock life tour... The unity the music the era in music at the time.... And all those guys was based in NY... I love that DVD

IV: That must have been a crazy concert...So I gotta ask, Nas, Jay-z, Biggie, or Tupac?


Man Jay-z... In the amount of time he has been here... What he has done and how far he's reached not only as an artist but as a person... His catalog and his leadership.. I can argue that Tupac catalog is probably better.. But for my time jay-z has it.. I can argue that Biggie is probably a better rapper.. But he only had two albums... Man I don't even think Nas or Biggie is in the race they are dope rappers.. Jay took it way further.. Tupac maybe but he died to soon
So yeah Jay-z.

IV: Yeah, Jay has been killin the game for a minute and has stayed consistent, though I am a big Nas fan cause Illmatic just did it for me. So, what other genres of music are you interested in besides hip-hop and name a few artists?


Actually lately and since I was a kid hip-hop has been my least fav. But I listen to a lot of soul music- Michael jack... James brown... Marvin Gaye... Erykah Badu... A lot of that stuff.

IV: You gotta know the classics. Name five of your all time music artists and tracks (doesn't have to be in any particular order)


Michael Jackson- Billie jean

The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

Prince- The Beautiful Ones

Lauryn Hill- The Water

Bob Marley- Redemption Song

IV: Prince is the man, I loved the sample you did on "Die 4 You." Mickey Factz did a nice rendition of Hill's joint on "Live Water" too. What's your favorite CD out right now?


The Smiths
Meat is murder

IV: Never heard of that, I guess I gotta do my research. So, Boston Celtics or L.A. Lakers?


Hahah Lakers.. I'm a big sports fan
I'm a Lebron fan.. But him and Kobe share the same passion... Its funny cause on of my good friends lives in Boston and she is going for Boston.... So Kobe all day man all day

IV: Same here, Kobe is on something this year. So, why did you decide to pick the MJ song "Jam" for the theme of your mixtape?


Hahahaha it was only right
I really wasn't just inspired of that particular song it was just the sound of jam.. I wanted to build a culture to that word... Bob Marley also has a song called "Jammin" but yeah it was only right for MJ to start off my joint, he is the man.


True, aight now let's do some word association, just name the first thing that comes out of your head when you read the following...


a. 2009 President- Obama
b. New York. - Dark Inspiration
c. "Ringtone Rapper"- Soulja man
d. Michael Jackson- A great energy
e. Mariah Cannon- Dope she has nice boobs
f. Chicago- Played out
g. Electronica- Club time
h. Best Rapper in the Game - Andre 3000
I. Ill Vibes- Dope shit

IV: Word, thanks a lot for showing some love to Ill Vibes Theophilus and I wish you only the best. Peace.

If you don't have the mixtape, you better get it now!

Theophilus London - Jam!

Be sure to check out his myspace as well.