Last week, The Nocturnals (MC Rota and producer Lucca) released "To Be Continued..." at www.nocturnalsmusic.com. It is their second album. In this interview with RapReviews contributor Jack M Silverstein, MC Rota discusses the improvements made from their first album to their second, his newfound confidence on the mic, and what he loves about being a rapper.
JMS: You've got an album coming out, your second - what are the big improvements on your end from Next Time It's Personal to To Be Continued...?
Rota: One improvement is that I've bought a pop protector for the microphone, so it sounds a lot less rough. (Laughs.) I also think that - I don't really know how to put this - I guess I'm more comfortable in my skin being a white, Jewish kid with a nasally voice. On Next Time It's Personal, I was trying to deepen my voice on all the songs. It hurt my breath control. It didn't feel as natural. The rhymes felt a little more stilted and deliberative.
On this next one, I was working with a cousin who is a musician, and he was just like, "This is a totally neurotic song. Quit trying to sound cool. If it's a neurotic song, sound neurotic." And I was like, "Yeah! That makes sense." And then it felt so much more natural, tellingly.
I think the songs lyrically are a lot more coherent. They're certainly rambling and kind of stream-of-conscious, but they're generally about one thing and they stick to it. The last album had a lot of me playing with words but sort of aimlessly. Musically there's a lot more defined parts - not necessarily in a traditional style - but more extended outros, more developed bridges, things like that.
JMS: So you are a lawyer, you're passionate about it, you enjoy it, but you're definitely an artist. What is it that you love about being able to rap? About being a rapper? About making music?
Rota: I love everything about it. At General's video shoot, I was talking to someone there who goes to Eastern, and she said "I think at Eastern they'd really like you, and I could talk to someone about booking you there, but you'd have to drive awhile," and I kind of interrupted her and was just like, "I don't care how far I have to drive. It'll make my day." You know? It'll make my month.
I've always been into public speaking and presentation, and for some reason I feel like rap is a medium that suits me for saying all the crazy shit I want to say more than other things I've done. More than public speaking, more than just writing, more than just poetry. I like that there's a structure - there's a beat, you generally rhyme in counts of eight, but within that you can do whatever you want. And the production can do whatever they want.
Rap is such an eclectic genre. It's funny when people who don't really listen to rap say, "Rota listens to rap. He doesn't seem hard core, right?" And it's like, There's so much rap! The nerdiest music is rap. You can do anything you want. It's a new genre. It's being re-defined constantly. That's pretty awesome.
Jack M Silverstein is an oral historian covering music in Chicago. Hit him on Twitter @ReadJack.