It’s the voice that grabs you.
I get told to call the Warp office at three in the afternoon, but a series of mis-firing telephones begin to fray nerves on both ends of the line. Finally, a borrowed mobile phone is handed to Gonjasufi.
“Hello?” he croaks.
A voice spewed out by the Mojave desert, dried by endless, scorching winds. Remember how you heard ‘A Sufi And A Killer’ and thought it was aided by effects? Those weren’t effects. On his new offering ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ the MC / vocalist / sayer of truths continues to play with his voice. Amongst his first blasts, Gonjasufi sets the matter straight with a perfunctory statement: “It’s more me than a machine, y’know what I’m saying?”
Continually probing, with the barriers broken we start to throw questions at each other – along the way we cover everything from stagnation in hip hop to the 2012 Apocalypse.
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Where did the title ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ come from?
It’s just.. well.. it has to do with finding more from your same voice. It was just kind of like.. my whole life I’ve had to find a way to say what I really want to say. Without, y’know.. you can’t offend. I mean, it’s difficult – it’s a hard question, man, because we’re living in a completely different time. The way I grew up and shit you had to guard your tongue. Guard your tongue and know that your tongue is the difference between life and death. So guarding tongue.. ‘Guarding Tongue’ was the name of the album first. Guarding tongue, and then the garden of life – I think ‘muzzle’ would be another way to say that.
What inspired the track ‘Feeding Birds’?
Oh, well shit, man. It’s just kinda having kids, spawned that. That’s what I feel like I’m doing, I’m feeding birds. You know, like, feeding other mouths – other than my own, before I eat. The duty of life and death. Knowing the cycle and appreciating having children and knowing that one day I’ll day and those will be the best memories of my life. Giving birth to them, feeding them. That’s why I have my ladies on the track as well. What I done is that I actually sang that song the whole way through and when she comes in I just had to come in and do a take. There’s another version where I did the whole thing. But she’s just got such a fucking strong voice I just had to bring her in, y’know.
Do think that American society is out of sync with nature?
Well, it’s natural in the sense that it’s natural progression that they’re un-natural right now. Y’know what I’m saying? And it’s going to evolve into that whether it’s forced or we do it ourselves but I feel like there’s a re-birth going on in the States and it’s a result of the music, man, and the people who live there – like myself, and a couple of people. I feel like the less I focus on how shitty it is over there and the more I focus on bringing that life into that space, like from being over here the last couple of years I’ve been able to go over there and apply the lifestyle here from the East over there. Like people are slowly evolving but it’s definitely very plastic and it’s very synthetic and the foundations are really brittle. Y’know, so it will only just take one hard shake and that whole shit will crumble. I mean, everybody is kinda.. In America it’s not like we don’t care it’s everybody’s afraid of the government. Y’know what I’m saying? And that’s it, man, that’s it. But what the fuck.. everybody’s doing this Occupy Wall Street shit you know and what is that really about, man? I mean, what is that about, man? Is that heart controlling those motherfuckers? What is going on, why is everybody.. now what? What’s very interesting is next year.
Is that re-birth something you welcome?
God willing. Y’know I think we’re seeing it right now. It’s already.. that’s the key – the key is that date in itself is.. everybody is focussing on it. It’s like we’re being brought closer to the moment, closer to the now. For instance, that date is almost a meet up point that we’re all meeting up in, in time with our conscious thought. So some people, such as myself, I believe that it is the end of times but then I got to the point where I thought well there’s no better time for me to fulfil my life than now. And in doing that you’re not worried about that date because no matter what.. if it is the end of time then what better way to go out than all of us go at the same time? Me with my family. And if it’s not, then if I’m living my life the best right now then that can only bring force positive forces. So in that being, that moment is already bringing me into that moment. Then when we get to that moment all it wants is for other people around to be thinking the same things. We’re creating something just from meeting up at one spot in time and space that we think is in the future but is really now. We’re creating that shit now! I forget what the fucking question was..
I was asking about 2012, and it’s impact.
So – this has become the year of the now. I’m serious. I’m saying it’s already happening, so when you ask me that I’m saying it’s already happening. So if there’s going to be an Apocalypse – hopefully there isn’t – then from that moment on everybody can really live, and trust.
Is re-birth something religious, or do you view that in more general spiritual and political terms?
It’s all the same, man. All that shit is going to become the same. I mean, the spirit is more powerful than everything. The weak will wither away, y’know, and there’s only so long that man is going to deal with politicians and politics and that way of life so man also wants to keep up brainwashed, through the frequencies of communication, through TV and shit. I think, y’know, in the natural order of things that’s only going to last so long and I’m not Nostradamus but we’re in the End of Times and I think there will be an end to a monetary unit. And that in itself what becomes currency will be life. Maybe there will be an event which will knock off the grid and the powers that be.. something like that. That’s what we all want, in a sense, as fucked up as that sounds. Nobody wants to work all their fucking life to buy food when they can grow it on their land. I don’t know. It’s an interesting time to be alive, I know that much.
Do you see your music as aiding that re-birth?
I do. Yes. The answer would be yes, because it’s allowing a part of me – it’s like freeing myself, man. It’s like I’m getting out of my cocoon, the music gets me out of my cocoon and I’m trying to fly like a moth. These songs are like layers for me to get free from so I can finally get free so I can finally leave the body.
Is this re-birth something you’ve witnessed on a global scale?
Oh yeah. Definitely. It’s really kind of buzzing over here. Well. Wow that’s serious. That’s kind of like the chicken and the egg and shit, right? But I do that either way you can have chicken and eggs, so who gives a fuck? Y’know what I’m saying? It’s happening all over the world. The way I see it, it travels from the East to the West. You saw it from Northern Africa all the way over across the the Americas. It’s definitely global. The reason behind it? That’s kinda.. that’s what I question. It’s interesting.
I’ve read that Tricky had a big impact on you, is that right?
Yeah I had no choice man. I listen to ‘Maxinquaye’ and shit, Massive Attack and shit.. in the 90s that was hard as fuck. Y’know I haven’t really been listening to Tricky this minute but definitely, man, Tricky is a brutal motherfucker. Shit. A lot of my friends say that about my rhymes but I take that as a compliment, I’m not trying to bite him. I don’t think it sounds that much like him. I can see why people say that it does, because he’s definitely been an influence on my life.
There’s similarity to the approach, a density to your music.
Yeah. I mean, that’s because he’s in the womb producing his shit. Probably doing the same shit. Like the love, the scene, the smoke – the same shit. He’s in there doing his shit, spending time alone. The way he approached the mic and recorded was different than anyone else. That motherfucker was ahead of his time, bro.
Do you still view yourself as a hip hop artist?
Definitely, man. I mean.. what they call hip hop.. Ah fuck it – whatever. Of course I am, man. Hip hop – that word has been bastardised to fuck, beat up.. brutally. Boom bap, the fucking boom bap. Y’know what I’m saying? GLK’s next record, the next record he’s making.. Wait until you see this motherfucking record, man – straight up. This motherfucker is some shit. At the end of the day, I on the end of the NPC chopping beats, chopping breaks, rolling up a pile of drum breaks and looking for the hardest synths, making my deep instrumentals all day. That shit will never change. All this other soft shit that I put out – the Gonjasufi moniker and shit, that’s like that side of my but that other side is hardcore rap, man.
Are you going to tour this album?
I’m not sure. Maybe. 50/50.
How do you feel about performing?
Love, hate. Hate it and love it. I like to spend time with my kids, man, to be honest. I like to be at home with my kids.
Did working with a live band open up new directions for you?
Yes it did. Very much so. It gave me just the confidence and shit to just go all the way in. Like, now they’re listening. I’ll put your sound out the way you really want, dial them in and let them come along with you for the whole fucking ride. It made me realise that – OK there’s people listening now I can out these art pieces out. We’ve got two, three minutes or so. Ask me anything, man.
That’s a big question. What’s your next step?
Yoga. I’m just, right now. I’m focussing on my practise, getting back into my practise again. Not really spending too much focus getting out of my practise again, trusting in that path of discovery of myself that I could know out some more shit. Just going back in, man, and just stepping away for a minute from the tour life, the hype and all that shit and just going back into myself.
Do you believe in destiny?
Yes. I believe in Karma. And I believe that in a lifetime you can achieve Christhood and Godhead and that life in just about Karma, burning through Karma and getting past that life cycle. Having constant déjà vu.
Do you have constant déjà vu?
Not as much as I used to. But every now and then. When I’m sober – yes.
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‘MU.ZZ.LE’ is out now.