The Projeckt
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The Projeckt

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The best kept secret in music

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"The Projeckt"

The Projeckt

In the month of March, one of the more interesting discs to cross my desk had nothing to do with the SXSW Music Festival. “Strictly Confidential” by the Projeckt is a tightly produced collection of hook-heavy hip-hop cuts, a handful of club bangers, anchored by conscious joints tackling everything from God and poverty to (gasp!) homophobia. The group’s lineup is as intriguing as the music itself, a black dude, a Latino dude and a white female. And yes, all three come correct.

The Projeckt came about when local producer 3rdegree approached MC 20/20 (aka Ike from the group Mike and Ike) about collaborating on album that would include said female, Baltimore-based artist Infinity. Infinity is a bundle of contradictions. Raised by hippie parents in one of America’s grittiest urban centers, she’s still fairly new to the game, but was making a splash on the open mic scene in her hometown. In person, she seems almost shy, but on the mic she’s solid heart. 20/20 liked her sound and entered into a collaboration that also included Austin-based MC Israel (aka Rival) and DJ Diamond Tip. For a year, the group talked on the phone and passed tracks back and forth over the Internet, developing material and honing a sound. During that period Infinity traveled to Austin twice to record. The group’s name naturally emerged through the process. Separated by a couple thousand miles and a time zone they weren’t a live performing group, instead a work in process, a project.


When I caught up with the group at a live taping of the local music show “The Infynit Hour” at Austin’s Public Access TV studios, the sense of accomplishment after 12 months of hard work was palpable. “I like this album because it has something for everybody,” said Infinity, “It has tracks that are underground feeling, it has tracks that are commercial feeling, it has tracks that really have a message behind them. I like that fact that we’ve brought everything together.”

Like Mike and Ike’s eponymous debut which was also produced by 3rdegree, this joint has a throwback sound. The rappers all share common influences, Nas, Mos Def, Common. “Not old school, but like ‘95, the Golden Era,” Israel clarified.

“Exactly,” Infinity chimed in, “That’s the time when we were coming up, around the age when we started getting into hip-hop.”

It’s no surprise that all three rappers cite intelligent lyricists as influences. The album covers a lot of ground thematically, and has a heavy emphasis on wordplay. But it still manages to bump. The first single, “How We Live” is a radio-ready banger with an irresistible Latin beat pulled from an old N.Y.C. salsa bootleg of Infinity’s. At a moment when Reggaeton is burning up the hip-hop charts and Spanish-language radio is king of the Austin market it’s a solid choice, commercially speaking.

“There’s a huge Latin audience, of course especially in the South, Texas, all the border states. We thought it would be good to capture that. And the beat was hot,” said 20/20 (himself a Latino).

“I think up to that point we had nothing but serious subject matter we wanted to do something a little more upbeat.” Israel added.

The group realized they needed to balance the weighty material both to reflect their own personalities, which are far from solemn, and also to make the album more accessible. “Nowadays people have to be more fake to appeal to a commercial market,” Israel explained, “Back in the day if you were good, people accepted you because of your technique. Now the balancing act is being true to yourself and still reaching people in that form.”

But really, commercial appeal was a secondary consideration in this project. “Our goal for this album was to go back to the basics,” 20/20 explained. “Let’s make the lyrics undeniable as far as the lyricism goes, and let’s make the beats undeniable as far as how they bang, what type of versatile emotions they invoke. After that, we just tried to be real with ourselves and write what we felt.”

The end result is one of the stronger works I’ve heard in a minute, a solid album that goes hard all the way through. But now comes the tough part, finding the money to keep the project going. The group would like to tour, to continue to perform live, but they have a geography issue that won’t be easily overcome. Infinity, a single mother, hedged when asked about the possibility of relocating to Austin. The baby’s father is in Baltimore. For right now the group plans to put the album out and shop it, locally and through the Internet, and hope for the best.

The album release party for The Projeckt is Friday at Latitude 30. The Projeckt will perform at 11:30 p.m. and other artists on the bill include local hip-hop acts Global, Crew 54 and more. It’s a free show, and cheap drinks have been promised. “We really are about our music, so we’re going out of our way to make sure that people have a good time because we’re only going to have a couple times at least in the n - Austin 360, Cox Texas Newspapers


Discography

The Declassified EP-Released March 2007
Strictly Confidential-Released April 2007

Radio Airplay can be found at Austin 360 Soundcheck Radio

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

From Austin, to Baltimore to the UK, The Projeckt, is what a collaboration is meant to be. “The Projeckt” is an eclectic collection of raw, yet polished talent, composed of Austin based producers 3rdegree (Armageddon Music) and Robert Porter along wit UK based Van Glorious, a production duo from the UK. The three emcees are Alpha 20/20, Infinity and Isreal. Alpha 20/20 is better known as Ike, one half of Texas rapping duo Mike and Ike, whose 2006 debut album “Introducing” received underground critical appraise. The other member of the group, Infinity, is arguably one of the most talented female emcees to ever grab a microphone. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Infinity is about to compel many emcees to go back into the studio to improve or just quit, regardless of race or gender. With thought provoking lyrics, sharp delivery and smooth voice, Infinity is about to turn a lot of heads.
The final member of the group is Isreal aka Rival, the street conscious Texas rapper with content, voice, delivery and swagger. The Projeckt also includes an unofficial member by the name of Mr. M.I.G.G.I.E., one of the most talented and entertaining soul/R&B singers and producers to emerge from Texas in recent years. Musically, the group prides itself in achieving balance and making music that allows it to connect with people from all walks of life. The sharp, thought-provoking, accessible lyricism/songwriting is present, along with intricate, innovative hip-hop production. With high quality sound and charisma, mixed with a bit of southern soul, The Projeckt is like nothing you have ever heard before. The various up and coming producers each bring something distinct to the table, with sounds that remind you of several genres, from rock to rap to R&B but is distinctly straight hip-hop. Their debut album “Strictly Confidential” is set to release April 3, 2007.