Rudy and the Rhetoric
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Rudy and the Rhetoric

Seattle, Washington, United States

Seattle, Washington, United States
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With the help of online voters, a band from the UW is on the verge of making big success.

Rudy and the Rhetoric, a two-man band, is one of five bands up for the mtvU Woodie Award for "Best Music on Campus."

The Woodie Awards are rewarded to those bands that get the most online votes and are listened to most by college students. There are several categories, including Woodie of the Year and Alumni Woodie. This is the first year that "Best Music on Campus" has been awarded.

"MtvU wanted to find a way to recognize these artists and shine the national spotlight on them," said Ross Martin, senior vice president and head of programming for mtvU. "It signals a massive connection to college students."

Rudy and the Rhetoric has been a group for about two years, though they actually met in high school.

"We were both just naturally interested in music," Jon Everist (aka Rhetoric) said. "Rudy has a background in rock-type music, and at that point I was a complete hip-hop snob."

After that initial meeting, they gradually began combining their talents, and now work together to make all their songs.

"I make a track and send it over to Jon, who will either tell me it sucks or tell me it's good," Andrew Willingham (aka Rudy) said. "Then he'll make a bunch of suggestions on how to make it better. ... Once the beat is done Jon writes his lyrics to it."

Everist describes their sound as a hip-hop and rap blend.

"We make music for a listener that's bored with hip-hop and rap in general, on both the underground and mainstream levels," he said.

The band has been experiencing rising success, and has gotten to perform with some people they admire and respect. Hanging out and performing with Afroman, Mr. Lif and Onry Osborne of Grayskul are some of their most memorable moments.

The band is finishing up a record, and they then plan on touring and promoting the CD. They both agree that the exposure they are getting from mtvU is invaluable.

"I think just having the MTV name on there gives it a lot of weight," Willingham said. "If you're one of the top-rated or most viewed artists on the site, there's no doubt you will gain a lot of exposure because of how well MTV markets all their stuff. ... Winning would open up a lot of doors for us."

The band heard about the competition from Everist's cousin, and they thought they might as well give it a shot. After they made their profile, they were in the running to win a $1.5 million recording contract. They did not win, but are okay about it because they feel they weren't ready to win it at that time.

However, now they feel they are ready for all that would come with winning this Woodie Award.

"I'm a firm believer that you can be and do whatever you want," Everist said. "It's like, a lot of cats have these big dreams locked up with no real intention of making a go at it. I say 'just do it.'"

The winner of this competition will win a trip to New York City to attend the awards show Nov. 8, as well as $5,000 to help begin their career.

Past winners of "Woodies" have been Death Cab for Cutie, Plain White Ts, The Killers and Fall Out Boy.

Martin said they saw a large number bands and solo artists on their Web site, but feel Rudy and the Rhetoric deserve to be in the top five.

"They have been blown up," he said. "They have a legion of passionate fans supporting them. ... [They are] extra talented and are really connecting with the audience."

Winning this award would mean a lot to the band because they know how much it would jumpstart their career in the music industry.

"It would obviously be really gratifying," Willingham said. "It's a step in the right direction in terms of exposure on a national level."

Although Everist agrees that it would help get their name out there, he also sees another benefit.

"I just want to win so that my mom believes me that I'm a real musician," Everist joked.

Fans can vote on either www.mtvu.com or www.bestmusiconcampus.com. Voting ends Nov. 2. - The Daily


Who said hip-hop was only about sex, drugs and guns?

Rudy and the Rhetoric, the UW's own up and coming hip-hop duo, clearly do not fall into this stereotype. By matching Rudy Willingham, 22, on the turntables with Jon 'Rhetoric' Everist, 22, on the microphone, you get one of the top 15 bands on mtvU's Best Music on Campus contest.

"What makes us unique is that Jon knows all kinds of different sounds because he grew up with a hip-hop background," DJ Willingham said. "But I grew up as more of a rock guy, and that gives me a fresh taste to hip-hop. I want everything to be a crazy, fun party, while Jon wants to keep the integrity in our music."

"I was exposed to a lot of hip-hop, so I have watched it grow over time," said Everist, who writes the lyrics for the band. "My tastes have changed a lot. I used to be a snob because I hated mainstream hip-hop. While our music is still considered underground, now I appreciate all kinds of hip-hop after actually making our own. It is important to keep your individuality in this genre."

Willingham and Everist, once high-school friends who shared a passion for music, now share a room where they make music together. All their music is made in a room that is filled with musical equipment and Everist's video games.

"Our equipment is falling apart," Willingham said with a laugh. "We have a blown-out speaker and the knobs off our mixer is falling off." Despite the technological setbacks, they still manage to churn out stellar music.

"The people who see our room after listening to our songs are surprised by the quality of our sound," Everist said.

"It is not what you have, but what you make of it," Willingham said.

The talented team has become a well-oiled machine in the process of making music. Willingham begins the sequence by making beats, or the instrumental basis of the song, by splicing different sounds off dollar-bin records and adding the drums. Everist then continues the process by adding a baseline with the keyboard and then writing lyrics for the song, but only if it earns his mark of perfection.

"I have made about 250 beats for our CD, and Jon has written lyrics for maybe 10 of them," Willingham said. "But that is what is going to make our CD that good."

While Willingham speeds through making beats, Everist takes his time writing to them.

"I start with the beat and get into the flow of the music. I like multi-syllabic lyrics that have a pretty deep meaning. ... It takes a couple of times listening to the song to get it," Everist said. "But I also write straightforward songs that tell stories." They said they aim for their music to be like that from music labels Rhymesayers, Def Jux and Old Dominion.

Their participation in the competition held by mtvU was almost accidental in nature. While setting up a profile on the mtvU Web site in December, they were asked if they would like to join the contest. Little did they know that the simple gesture of signing up would cause them to be selected as one of the top 15 out of approximately 600 groups. Fan votes are now all that stand between them and a $1.5 million deal with Epic records.

Regardless of the contest, Rudy and the Rhetoric have already succeeded in reaping fame, fortune and a growing fan base in and around the city. Starting from the humble beginnings of playing for their friends, they garnered much enthusiasm from those who heard their music. As their support grew, they began performing, and each show cascaded them to their next. Now, they have an unofficial manager, are booked straight through to July and are, among other triumphs, getting their very own ringtones and iTunes.

Their first album, We're Big in Europe, still needs finishing touches, though most of the songs are ready to go.

"We are really excited," Willingham said. "Our album is going to light people on fire."

Though they have only started performing this year, they already have plenty of stories to share.

"There was one show where I randomly asked Rudy to switch places," Everist said with a grin. "I took over the turntables and Rudy took the microphone. All he did was make fun of me and repeat the one rap line he knows over and over."

There have also been times at concerts, due to the ample amounts of free beer, where they have performed slightly more inebriated than they should have been.

"I would forget my lines, but it was an inside joke since 99 percent of the time nobody could tell I was messing up," Everist said.

Willingham also proudly professes his failed attempts at stage diving.

"I have attempted five stage dives during our concerts and only successfully completed it once. The last show, I knocked at least three people on the ground. My goal is to eventually knock over at least seven people with one jump. My rap career would be complete if I could do that," he said.

While exciting events are unfolding for the duo, it is clear that they remain fun-loving guys with a passion fo - The Daily


A few of hip-hop’s wicked and weird stood their ground Wednesday night at 2nd and Blanchard in Seattle. The Crocodile Café became a haven for odd-ball fervent lyrics and animated unconventional beats, as three, mark that, four acts showcased their skills. Headliner Buck 65 didn’t take the stage until quarter to midnight, but in the meantime the crowd was prepped with MC/DJ duo Rudy and the Rhetoric, some untainted spoken word from Bernard Dolan and the scratch gymnastics of Scratch Bastid.

As the crowd began to filter in, U-Distict’s own, Rudy and The Rhetoric set the stage, starting with their new track “Blade Runners� which features another local underground crew, Grayskull. The set dove into the exciting art of zombie hunting as Rhetoric spat “Cut off their heads!� on “Graves Are Empty.� The growing flock really started to feel Rudy’s homespun beats on “Who’s Hearts Are Heavy� and “Amen.� After several shout outs and thank yous to Buck 65 for having them, R&R said their goodbyes and exited stage left. - Kexp.com


Seattle's Rudy and the Rhetoric has a sound that they themself describe as 'Angels on PCP'. I'd add an indie feel a la Rhymesayers and a mellower Def Jux with a bass line type vocal flow. 'Blade Runner' features Rhymesayers rhyme fiend Grayskul and wouldn't have been a bad addition to the more apocalyptic El-P records. 'Lucid' has a melancholic beat with an unexpected bleepie synth melody backing the slow groove. Recommended. - Sit Down Stand Up


So it's Friday night (or about to be). You just got paid. Unless you actually just got laid the fuck off and are now feeling the crunch, desperately searching old jackets and flipping couch cushions for Pabst money. (Raise your hands.) Hopefully you saved enough to hit the December 19 CD- release show for The Gutterbrook, the debut album from UW grads Rudy and the Rhetoric. Rhetoric is the MC, who chatters out a dense verbal binary smacking of Aesop Rock or perhaps Onry Ozzborn (who appears along with his Grayskulian co-defendant JFK on "Bladerunners"). Rudy is the producer. You know how the producer from Jedi Mind Tricks calls himself the Enemy of Mankind? Rudy should call himself the Enemy of Sound Guys. (Club owners: just kidding!) It's just that his home-crafted beats slap hard and heavy like your dad after happy hour—razor synths methodically saw through your skull, the bottom jackhammers your sternum into shepherd's pie, people go apeshit. It's a good thing. The pair have a trademark sound here—a hard enough thing for any emerging act to come up with—they just have to find some more breadth to keep it fresh. Meanwhile, Gutterbrook is a steel-hard, paranoid work of PDK-rap, a fresh debut that hints at big things for these two—so check them out at Nectar along with Grayskul, the Let Go, Candidt, and a rare appearance from ace turntable terror(ist) Waystyles. - The Stranger


The Mustard Seed is the kind of bare-kneed chug-joint bar you'd expect to find in a muddy ditch in Everett, not in the plaque-free heart of downtown Bellevue. But this makes it the perfect place to talk with local hip-hop duo Rudy & the Rhetoric about their debut album, The Gutterbrook (available Dec. 19), because a juxtaposition similar to the one between this gritty dive bar and its pristine surroundings exists for the boys and their music: They look like the suburban white kids from Bellevue they are, but their songs sound like they sprang from the demented minds of the suburban outcasts who booze at the Mustard Seed.

Imagine that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn't stalked the hallways of Columbine High School with shotguns, but instead vented via a dark form of hip-hop. Now you have a sense of the dastardly deeds contained on this disc.

Yet Andrew "Rudy" Willingham and Jon "Rhetoric" Everist haven't made a self-conscious paean to doom and gloom with all the subtlety of a grindhouse flick. (If that's how they played the game, then they probably wouldn't have gotten a mention as the "Best Music on Campus Woodie" in '07 by mtvU.) There's something else going on in these songs about psychological torment, zombies, and the hypnotized gaggle of humanity that's deeper and more ambitious than mere scares and spooks.

In large part, this is because Willingham and Everist take from hip-hop what they need and shun what they don't. The result is a monster mash of industrial, electronica, and metal overlaid with opaque but effective lyrics that, save for one track produced by the Gigantics, is all theirs.

Sequestered in a corner booth inside the Mustard Seed, Everist and Willingham explain the origins of Rudy & the Rhetoric as after-work stragglers trudge in and out. Although they'd met playing football for Bellevue High School, it wasn't until the two entered college that Willingham began producing. Once he got his confidence up by his sophomore year, Willingham convinced a skeptical Everist (who had taught himself to produce and play drums before they'd even met) to write lyrics and rap over his beats. The result was a party-hearty album that worked for the college scene but didn't head in the diabolical direction they really wanted to go.

Producer Rob Castro—whose Beacon Hill ATB Studios serves as a hub for many locally based hip-hop acts—says that when this duo called Rudy & the Rhetoric first came to his attention, "they didn't really know much about recording in a studio." So he showed them techniques, such as "how to get your drums to crack a little harder" and other tricks of the trade, to polish their sound.

The lessons and their effort paid off: Willingham and Everist learned both how to work together and, crucially, what worked musically and what didn't.

Other than the four tracks on The Gutterbrook Everist produced alone, the creation of a track usually begins with Willingham searching for "really weird album covers," especially from soundtracks and vintage electronica, in order to find an appropriately oddball sample. Once he makes a selection, Willingham will sometimes loop the sample directly ("If it's an awesome loop, I owe it to the song," he explains). Most of the time, however, he chops it up, lays drums over it, and then sends it to his partner.

If Everist doesn't like it, then Willingham trashes it, but if he does they move forward, with Everist using his instrumental and production background to guide Willingham as he further develops the beat, suggesting additional layers until it becomes organized sonic mayhem reflecting Willingham's primary influences: Radiohead, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Portishead.

Willingham confesses: "If I didn't have Jon to give me suggestions, I would be a significantly worse producer."

Once the production is completed, Everist starts writing. "Usually I just turn the beat on and start free-styling in my head just to get the kind of flow that I want for that song," he says. And then, sometimes as much as two months later, he'll return with the lyrics.

In many ways, the quasi-title track "Gutterbrook (Petulance)" embodies the force of Willingham and Everist's ambitions and talent. It opens with what sounds like piano and violins and whispers before unleashing a full-frontal assault of synthesizer for the first half that Everist blitzes with his no-nonsense vocals. He says "gutterbrook" stands for an "amalgam of foolish people all traveling down the same path," and it's worth quoting the first verse at length, as it's a good indicator of his lyrical style:

"Laser beam stress in my breath/I grind teeth/Cash calf resident spent/I smell beef/Message from the 'plex reach the mind, dystopian confined in the flesh—hold breath grit teeth/It's the Gutterbrook/All aboard the inimical mother-ship/Neon vagabond automaton will still your troubled look/I know I'm scratching etches in this history like on a corner screaming at the sky, and who wi - Seattle Weekly


Discography

"The Gutterbrook" - Released December 19th 2008 on iTunes, Amazon MP3, Napster, Rhapsody, Emusic, AimeeStreet, and other digital and storefront outlets.

Currently has radioplay and streaming capabilities in select indie and college radio stations.

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Bio

Rudy and the Rhetoric is a classic one-DJ-one-emcee duo gaining notoriety in the burgeoning Seattle hip-hop scene and beyond with their inventive beats and refreshingly intelligent lyrics. Rhetoric (born Jon Everist) is the MC and co-producer of the duo. Rudy (born Andrew Willingham) specializes in production and back up vocals for the group.

The young act's idiosyncratic sound represents the blend of two unique personalities. Rhetoric channels his voracious appetite for literature, art, science fiction, mythology and media into his lyrics. Citing various influences including Radiohead, MF Doom, and Pharaoh Monch--Rhetoric's style is dense, flowing, and undeniably original. The glance listener might describe his verses as frantic, cryptic chatter with intense delivery--while the more discerning ear relishes in the subtle metaphors and poetic wordplay that permeate every song.

Rudy's penchant for deviance and taste for the bizarre show through in his contributions to the beats. A natural inclination towards the gloomy fuzz, chaotic and hard hitting music a la Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, El-P, and Mr Dibbs, Rudy provides a "steel hard" slap and fuzz that is highly accessible yet deeply intricate.

The result is a high-energy mix of intriguing lyrical content laid over visceral, arresting rhythms.


The mounting buzz surrounding the group made mtvU take notice, naming Rudy and the Rhetoric one of the Top-5 College Bands of 2006. They were also one of five acts nominated for an mtvU Woodie Award in the "Most Likely to Break Through in 2007" category.

R and R's strong fan base and unique style have afforded them the opportunity play shows with a number notable hip-hop acts. Highlights include Cool Kids, Buck 65, Mr. Lif, Grayskul, Vast Aire, Sleep, Josh Martinez, POS and Doomtree, as well as local acts like Cancer Rising, Grieves, Onry Ozzborn, and much more.


The end of 2008 saw the release of their anticipated debut album, "The Gutterbrook", a high-concept amalgam of dense wordplay and complex, synthy beats. The duo's unique tastes and painstaking attention to detail make for a level of polish and originality rarely seen in a rookie outing. All beats are produced by Rudy and/or Rhetoric, save one by Onry Ozzborn of Grayskul (the Rhymesayers duo also makes an appearance on one of the tracks).

Rudy and the Rhetoric look to hit the ground running now that their album has been released, entering 2009 with the same passion and energy augmented by new-found momentum.

Media Quotes:

"Home-crafted beats slap hard and heavy like your dad after happy hour, razor synths methodically saw through your skull, the bottom jackhammers your sternum into shepherd's pie, people go apeshit. It's a good thing. The pair have a trademark sound here...Gutterbrook is a steel-hard, paranoid work of PDK-rap, a fresh debut that hints at big things for these two."
Larry Mizel Jr. "The Stranger"

"On the page the lines may read as self-consciously cryptic. But just as [Rudy and the Rhetoric] complement one another in the creation of their music, giving and taking until the track is done, so too do the production, lyrics, and delivery, banding together in (un)holy matrimony. In other words, the songs sound like they went through a process developed by artists committed to the same aesthetic."
Kevin Capp "Seattle Weekly"

"They have been blown up... They have a legion of passionate fans supporting them. ... [They are] extra talented and are really connecting with the audience."
Ross Martin, Senior Vice president and Head of Programming, mtvU