Sapient
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Sapient

Eugene, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | SELF

Eugene, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2004
Solo Hip Hop Indie

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"Album Review: Sapient - Make More 2009"

It may even be overly optimistic to say that out of 1,000 rappers only one will have what it takes to make a living off their music. If Portland has 10,000 rappers—and it just might—then a good percentage of those lucky few are probably in the Sandpeople. Were you to place bets on those with the brightest outlook of all, I would advise you to let it all ride on Sapient, AKA Marcus Williams.
Williams, a Eugene transplant, has been making music for the better part of the last decade. His first solo album, the raw and rugged Dry Puddles, is a masterpiece of sample-based underground hiphop. Charging from the gate with exuberant wordplay and banging beats, Sapient's debut album has the rare ability to stand up to even his most recent work, and came some time before Williams' signature singing began to appear on tracks, something that emerged later during his work with Sandpeople and Debaser.
Truly Williams' best asset is his versatility: As a producer his beats sell for hundreds of dollars a pop, and bang in club sound systems like no other. As a sound engineer he crafts radio-ready tracks in short order. As an emcee he delivers clever material in a unique and confident tone. And as a singer he is, well, shockingly good. His singing became so much a part of his style that, with the help of Grayskul's Onry Ozzborn, he completed a full-length rock album, Slump.
On his newest solo full-length, Make More, Williams continues to build his reputation as one of the Northwest's best and most prolific hiphoppers. As his production style shifted away from orthodox sampling to a fusion of analog and synthetic instruments, Williams now tends to assemble towering pieces of epic and grandiose orchestration. Lyrically, Make More features one of the best story-songs in recent memory ("I Did It"), and the album is compiled of beats that can fill rooms, knock down doors, and kick a few faces along the way.
There is no Vegas wager for who is most likely to succeed in up-and-comer hiphop, but if there were, smart money would be on Sapient to climb to the top on the back of Make More and his great body of work with Sandpeople. And as a proud, card-carrying member of the hiphop self-promotion club, his own money would probably be on himself as well: "I've always been as real as it gets," says Williams. "I'm willing to bet everything on myself 'cause I kill it to death." - Portland Mercury


"Album Review: Sapient - Letterhead 2009"

Sapient has been a member of the underground hip-hop collective, Sandpeople, since its debut album. Ever since then he has been recording with Sandpeople, as part of the duo Debaser (with label-mate Ethic), and as a solo artist. Originally billed as a lyrical emcee, Sapient proved his talents on the microphone through his contributions to Sandpeople’s albums and his solo debut, Dry Puddles. However, he has grown a tremendous amount since his beginnings. While recording with Debaser, Sapient also handled much of the production, incorporating various sounds into his work.

Letterhead is a good example of the growth that Sapient has undergone since his beginnings with Sandpeople. His lyrical style is at times vicious and hard-hitting, but he is a versatile enough emcee that he can just as easily sit back on a track and rhyme with a cooled out edge. On “Stay Connected” Sapient addresses society’s dependency on technology in order to (surprise!) stay connected. Where the lyrics falter at times with a lack of attention-grabbing topics (there’s quite a few boasts about how Sapient just kills it), the album is uplifted by the quality production.

Not only are the beats intriguing, but also they are also really fun. Synths flow over catchy percussion tracks, sometimes in a way that is actually rather unexpected. The production also works because it unifies the album very well, there seems to be a central style from which the album evolves, creating a very complete feeling overall. In addition, there are some spoken background noises (think early Eminem/Dre productions) that add a biting wit and humor to certain tracks. Other tracks are ‘souled-out’ with singers leaving memorable hooks throughout.

While he certainly has a lyrical style that matches some of the top rappers in the underground, Sapient may not actually be the most entertaining emcee when it comes down to what he is actually saying (the content). But Letterhead is a tightly constructed and thoroughly interesting album, and a very nice addition to Sandpeople’s label. - Potholes in my blog


"Album Review: Sapient - Barrels For Feathers 2010"

The app on my phone defines sapient as acutely insightful and wise. That seems fitting for an “underground” hip-hop artist, considering the droves of them who attempt to be “conscious rappers.” How many of them just use that as an excuse because their albums don’t sell? Sapient (the MC) doesn’t really seem to have an agenda and comes across as intelligent just by being himself, this honesty makes the album very attractive and it’s got enough hooks to keep you listening once you’ve heard it.

Barrels for Feathers is my first encounter with Sapient, although I’ve heard his older work is excellent, so you’ll have to excuse the fact that I don’t compare this album to his previous work. There is a little bit of something for everyone on this album (as far as rap goes, anyway) from light hearted not so serious tracks like “Find Home” to more “gangster” tracks like “One of the Many Ways.” And to really legitimize his rap status, Sapient even includes “skits” on his album (which is something I never really understood why rap artists did this.) The beat on “Glorious Day” reminds me of Sam Adams (but with a little less party, and a little more musicianship).

For a non-major label artist, Sapient has amazing production, sampling everything from piano, and flute, to guitars and everything in between. Sapient is a story teller, and that’s what makes him great. A guy who has what seems like a lot of natural musical talent, but it’s raw. The album does come across as “planned” more so that each hook, each bridge, each beat was instinctual rather than thought out. This concept gives the album a more melodic feel than you typically get with hip-hop. He’s like the white Kid Cudi.

The most genius moment on Barrels for Feathers comes at the very end with “Grown Up.” The theme of the song is something that we can all relate to. “If momma said there would be days like this I wouldn’t have grown up.” We use music as a catalyst to another place, to another world, hearing a certain song can bring us back to a better time, or get us through a tough time. The arrangement and sampled piano and strings move you to feel exactly what Sapient is saying. “My greatest gift is my instinct for survival.” Despite the hard days he has endured. Sapient isn’t here to tell you about his gold watch, he isn’t here to tell you about how shady the government is. He’s here to write music, have fun, and wear his heart on his sleeve. Good on you, Sapient. - inrevu.com


"Album Review: Sapient Eaters Vol. One: Tusks! 2011"

Sapient might be too good at his day job of selling beats. While the Sandpeople Producer/MC’s new collection, Eaters Volume One: Tusks!—the first in a planned series of Mad Lib-style instrumental collaborations—is plenty layered and sonically ambitious, many of its tracks beg for the human voice. That’s good for business, but I’m not entirely sure it was the point of Tusks!

Where brief, horn-packed opener “Ivory Holders” is a complete composition, Sape’s sparkling, Ratatat-esque second track, “Trifle With Me,” comes packaged with a couple of pre-made hooks that all but demand skilled MCing between them. Like most of the disc, both tracks straddle the organic/electronic divide Sapient has long been adept at connecting—but where instrumentals sometimes need to wander and creep to set a mood sans MCing, Sape often chooses to put the beat on blast instead, crafting impressive but incomplete-sounding compositions.

Then comes “Many One,” which builds an unlikely bridge between Ennio Morricone and The Legend of Zelda. And there are a few more shockers to come: “Earbugs” is too slow and churning to accommodate most MCs, and “Airport Land” begins as a gurgling Flying Lotus-style head-nodder with a touch of g-funk stitched in its seams, then moonlights as a club cut and goes minimal before the finish line.

Some of Sape’s more traditional beats are certainly strong enough to stand alone: “Throat” and “Cool Walter” are two end-credits-worthy jams that bring a cinematic sort of boom-bap to the table. But it’s the two vocal cuts—a remix of Barrels for Feathers’ “Blissless Yield” that reminds a bit of Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and the brand new “Place for One,” a fascinating narrative exercise that seems to be rapped from the perspective of a fetus—that remind us that, even if his production skills are bountiful and unique, Sapient may just be too talented of a lyricist to keep his voice off the record. - Willamette Week


"Album Review: Sapient"

[BRUTAL BEATS] For a good visual representation of what local rapper-beatmaker Sapient’s music sounds like, look no further than the cover of his latest album, Eaters Volume Two: Light Tiger. It features a snarling Bengal tiger decapitating unsuspecting victims with laser beams shot from its head. It’s gruesome, awesome and ridiculous, just like the earth-trembling slappers Sapient has been creating for years in his home studio.

Eaters Volume Two is no different. It’s made up of monstrous instrumentals, built on Zeus-sized synths and basslines created from samples of roaring animals. When it gets going—when the heavy claps kick in on “Forels,” or when the heart-stabbing flutes come out of nowhere on “Mansion”—it comes off like a beat tape cut out of steel, forcing you to nod and scrunch up your nose in pleasurable disgust. Whatever the term for the opposite of easy listening is, this would be it. It’s music covered in a blob of ooze and armed to the teeth.

But those hard-hitting beats also present a problem, and it isn’t a new one: Sapient’s light and unassuming voice has never really fit his production. It’s a tough dilemma for a talented MC. Even in the ever-so-brief moment on Eaters Volume Two when someone else raps—the vocal sample of Harlem rapper Cam’ron on “Hurricane Hands”—the listener experiences an endorphin rush from the realization of how good these beats would sound with a more compatible voice over them. Alas, Sapient doesn’t seem interested in collaboration, and he wants to pulverize your brain to mush so you won’t care, either.

SEE IT: Sapient plays Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with Illmaculate, Goldini Bagwell, Load B and Slick Devious, on Tuesday, July 8. 9 pm. $8 advance, $10 day of show. 21+. - Willamette Week


"Album Review: Sapient"

After releasing “Gone DEFCON” a few weeks ago, HD-favorite Sapient has decided to give us a glance into the full-length project it’s a part of, and we have to say, it’s quite impressive. Eaters Volume Two: Light Tiger is a fifteen-part hip-hop project that sums up what this Portland-based artist has been working on for some time now, and will define his sound as an MC and producer until we get to hear his next crop of tunes.

Like his previous releases, Sapient has focused on honing an aesthetic that features his penchant for experimentation, while still ensuring that the music is accessible and in line with the type of quality that his fans have come to expect. Right from the beginning, you’ll notice that he’s opted for a more eclectic production style, but almost every track is still beat-driven, so there’s never any question that the music was meant to serve as a backdrop for his words. When the two song elements are combined, there’s more than enough catchy synth notes and clever lyricism to go around.

Each track on EVTLT has its merits, but since there’s a substantial amount of material to chew through here, we’ll recommend a few to get your feet wet with (that’s no excuse to skimp on the rest, though; you’d be missing out on a heck of a lot good music if you did). “Dents” is a good starter track, and it’s got a great guitar-laced intro that’ll get you excited about the rest of the project, while setting a strong tone for the rest of the track list. Next up is “King Louie Williams”. It achieves a lot of the same effortless flow that “Dents” does, and it also uses guitars at the beginning to grab your attention, but it it’s also much faster paced, and just a bit more high-strung. Sapient’s words are well-crafted, and it makes for easy listening despite the reletively aggressive audio backdrop.

Bringing up the rear is “The Fate” and “Ice Lords Of The Northern Tundra”. “The Fate” is a bit more relaxed, and “Ice Lords Of The Northern Tundra” is an instrumental that livens up the project a bit, but it also gives you a good idea of his breath of interests as a musician. It’s definitely different from the rest, but it’s quality stuff nonetheless, and really enriches the listening experience when you soak it all up in one sitting. Eaters Volume Two: Light Tiger, as a whole, may be one of his best albums to date, and, as always, you don’t ever need to worry about not getting enough substance within it, because there’s a depth of talent that Sapient has that’s hard to come by, but out in full force on his newest album here.

Eaters Volume Two: Light Tiger will be released on June 17th, but you can pre-order now at iTunes or Bandcamp.

Upcoming Tour Dates:

7.8 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
7.9 – Salem, OR @ Duffy’s Hangar
7/10 – Bend, OR @ Astrolounge
7/11 – Boise, ID @ Reef
7/12 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Loading Dock
7/13 – Park City, UT @ Cisero’s
7/14 – Denver, CO @ Cervante’s Other Side
7/15 – Santa Fe, NM @ Burro Alley Lounge
7/16 – Albuquerque, NM @ Burt’s Tiki Lounge
7/17 – Mesa, AZ @ Yucca Tap (Blunt Club)
7/18 – Pasadena, CA @ The Terrace
7/19 – Fresno, CA @ King’s Records
7/24 – Sacramento, CA @ Harlow’s
7/25 – Reno, NV @ TBA
7/26 – Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar
7/30 – Eugene, OR @ Luckey’s - Hillydilly.com


"A Hip Hop Dad"

Last year, my wife gave birth to our second child, unmedicated, in our home. I know this isn't as strange-sounding as it was 10 years ago, but most people still look at me wide-eyed when I spit that one at 'em. I am Sapient, I am a hip-hop artist, and I am also an advocate for natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting. And yeah, breastfeeding isn't exactly hip-hop.

I grew up surrounded by music and play multiple instruments. Over the past decade, my life has revolved around my career as a hip-hop artist. I have been a rapper, beat maker, graffiti artist, DJ... Pretty much anything that you might typically associate with hip-hop, I've done it. Except break dance -- I still can't break dance.

Immersing myself in hip-hop culture obviously meant partaking in that dominant, "I'm better than you" bravado and the "I don't give a fuck" attitude. Admittedly, I do enjoy that aspect, but I always secretly gave a fuck. Although the stereotypes surrounding hip-hop are changing and have been since I first stepped onto the scene, I don't fit any of them. Nor did any solid role models really exist in that sphere to prepare me for my most influential role -- fatherhood.

Three days after proposing to my wife, we found out she was pregnant with our first child, and so I entered into the realm of touring artist right around the time I was also about to become a dad. This was all part of trying to figure out how to reach the next level of income as an independent artist and trying to provide for my family, as I knew that I would be sole provider as soon as my daughter was born. I had been barely able to support myself at that point. There was a lot of figuring out that I needed to do.

I learned that if I wanted to continue the career I've already spent a third of my life pursuing, I would need to be gone all the time. It was important to us that my daughter have a stay-at-home mother. To ensure that my wife would be a constant in our baby's life meant I had to sprint to make the bills. In all the years leading up to this shitty epiphany, it had never occurred to me that touring would be a torturous uprooting from my family every time I hit the road. Babies don't know the difference between a father who is out doing negative things like drugs or getting locked up from a father who is out of town for work. Obviously, there are some different symptoms, but an absent father is an absent father no matter how hard I had to work selling beats, doing shows, mixing and mastering people's albums, whatever.

We had planned a home birth for our first-born, but my wife went into labor early and our midwife felt it was best to move to the hospital. She had admitting rights at Portland's OHSU, so we still were able to have our midwife instead of a doctor and I was able to deliver my daughter. But we couldn't help feel some disappointment not to have the home birth we had planned and practiced for. Foreign germs can live in hospitals, and mothers already carry antibodies to the germs in their own home, plus the stress and discomfort of being in a hospital can have drastic effects on the mothers ability to relax during labor, which can really slow down the process along with other things like IVs and being surrounded by strangers and doctors recommending things that make the birth fit their schedule rather than nature's.

Thankfully, with our second child, things went more smoothly.

I had spent the years after our daughter was born of juggling parenthood with being a productive artist, booking shows as often as possible and touring the left half of the U.S. like it was a cell that I was pacing. Despite this, I wasn't seeing any surprise jumps I'd hoped for in my career. I thought, If I push super hard for a few years, I will increase my following enough for things to ease up for me financially. I made more money, but as I made more money, my financial responsibilities grew.

While touring for my 2010 album, Barrels For Feathers, I got the call from my wife that she was pregnant again with our second baby, and we began to prepare ourselves for our second experience in natural childbirth.

Nine months later, I woke up at 4 a.m. to my wife telling me, "This is it." For two hours, she hung her arms around my neck as we paced back and forth in our living room. She was naked and moaning (sounds like how we got into this predicament in the first place, right?), and through a natural, drug-free home birth, we had our baby boy. This right of passage is so important for babies. I love being an example that it's not just hippie extremists who have home births, and I'm so proud of my wife.

After going through this process for a second time and reflecting on that "don't give a fuck" attitude I once carried, I cannot quite explain how far removed I feel from the life I once led. It makes me wonder at what point it became socially acceptable to act like a child, not only in this industry, but also just in general. I see a lot of people my age having trouble "growing up." Technically, it just means getting older, but I'm 29, and when I was 21, my view of 30-somethings was that they were usually square "grown-ups." They looked like they should be wearing suits. Nowadays, it seems like the 29-year-olds I see in suits still look like kids who dressed up for their older cousin's wedding or something. Like Shia Lebeouf in that Wall St. movie. Most of my friends still wear baggy pants, smoke weed all day and don't have their shit together, and no -- if you put 'em in a suit, they don't look more "grown up." Even though I have moved on from that phase in my life (perhaps by force of love), those are still the people who I relate to. I can't go to these playgroups and make friends with these other dads, because they're always -- I don't know how else to put it -- they're square.

Last year, after our son was born, I released the album I had been working on and hit the road again, but this time when I got home, I realized that it was far more important for me to be there solidifying that early bond with my kids. I took over a year off of touring and have been at home with my family ever since.

This has been the best year of my life. Getting to wake up everyday with my wife and seeing my babies turn into toddlers is something I could never replace with dollars. The sabbatical from tour has definitely put speed bumps and a 15 mph sign on my road to seeing my career flourish. It's been an internal struggle for me, watching many of my peers gain the success that I've had my eyes on for so many years. They're busy making connections and gaining the exposure that the touring artist does. There is also the puzzle of supporting my family while not out making tour income. Luckily, I'm like MacGyver when it comes to creating an income out of art, and I've somehow been paying the bills.

There was no definitive path or guidebook for my journey into fatherhood. It's like I had to create my own. Maybe I'll call it, "What To Expect When You're Expecting And You Are A Hip-Hop Artist" or maybe just, "Holy Shit." My purpose now is to find a balance in my beliefs as a father and husband in an industry that doesn't offer much support for those ideals. I realize now that my own actions position me as a sort of "cultural influencer."

As I grow, so does my music, and this next project is more of an indie rock album, born of my frustrations of hip-hop, some of which ve mentioned above. I guess, in a way, it reflects a new direction of my identity as a person and an artist. But I still don't feel like I've grown up. I've heard from 80-year-olds that you never feel grown up in the way you imagined your parents felt, and I bet they didn't, either. What I have done is matured, which I think is reflected in my music and career, however, the two certainly don't mirror one another. I don't think these underground hip-hop-heads want to hear about wiping poop off of balls and my conversations with a 3-year-old about why we wear warm clothes so we won't be cold. But that's just what parenting means to me. - Huffinton Post


Discography

Solo:
Dry Puddles LP, 2004
Letterhead, 2008
Make More, 2009
Famine Friends, 2009
Make Morphine: The Remixes, 2009
Barrels For Feathers, 2010
Tusks!, 2011

With Debaser:
Crown Control, 2006
Nothing But Silence (single), 2006
Back to Work, 2009
Peerless, 2010

With The Prime:
One Uppers, 2010

With Sandpeople:
Points of View, 2004
All In Vain, 2005
Honest Racket, 2007
B-Sides Vol. 1, 2007
Roll Call (single), 2009
B-Sides Vol. 2, 2008
Long Story Short, 2009

Photos

Bio

Sapient is a Hip Hop artist based in Portland, OR who has been an influential voice in the Northwest music scene for the past ten years. His exquisite stage show has taken him across the world, leaving onlookers captive until he exits the stage. His songs and are known for their instrument heavy beats paired with rhymes that are matchless in delivery and wit. Music is Sapient’s element and there is nothing comparable to witnessing him in the midst of it.


Sapient is one of those rare hip hop artists who manages to sound completely unique and fresh

- NYLON Magazine


Coming up as a graffiti writer and beat hustler, his art has ripened into more complex levels of musicality, and branched out into graphic design, illustration, and videography. He is a husband and father to three kids who have inspired and fuelled an uncanny level of grit, turning him into the creator and producer who can and does do it all. With a sought after sound of indie influenced beats, often incorporating samples, live instrumentation, and heavy drums that leave sore necks as the by-product of rigorous head nodding, he is Northwest Hip Hop’s most innovative voice and greatest renaissance man.


Sapient will never let himself be confined within the box of a single genre.

- Portland Deli


Sapient was born into music and has dabbled in multiple instruments for as far back as he can remember. After being busted for graffiti charges at 18, he took to rapping over his own beats made with a drum machine, a guitar, and an 8-track. This early training blossomed into a distinctive sound of multi-textured arrangements that are structured with the sense of a songwriter. Sapient’s beats have re-defined the sound of Northwest Hip Hop and carried luminary voices from the likes of Macklemore, Aesop Rock, Slug (Atmosphere), Cage, Eyedea and more.  

As a vocalist and producer, Sapient has been a member of The Prime (a duo with Living Legends’ front man Luckyiam), as well as Portland’s Debaser, and is a founding member of the Northwest Hip Hop collective, Sandpeople. He tours frequently, spreading his name across the country as an independent artist, and is always hands on: mixing and mastering, designing visual art, directing videos, and developing his unique brand with an insatiable work ethic. Committed to care for his young family and cultivate his creative vision at the same time, Sapient is pushing through boundaries and claiming his own space in the musical lexicon.

Band Members