The cover of Ecid’s latest album, Werewolf Hologram, features the image of bright pink fur and a toothy grin. It’s creative, it’s different, it sticks out, much like the music that’s on the album, and the man who created it. “I’ve always stuck out,” the Minnesota native explains, “it wasn’t on purpose, but I just always took my own little route and made more edgier, or experimental, music. I hate the word experimental, though, because everybody should be experimental. I just took a different route.”

That different route has resulted in six albums, and on the heels of the release of his latest we caught up with Ecid to find out more about Werewolf Hologram, why he feels it’s a great starting point for new listeners, and how he stays sane while handling both the lyrical and production aspects of his work. Ecid also shared an amazing personal story of his time with Eyedea that is not to be missed.

Adam Bernard: First of all, congrats on having the pinkest album cover in the history of hip-hop. Has Nicki Minaj called yet to try to fight you?

Ecid: She should have. I’ll fight Nicki Minaj.

AB: Is this an open invite, right now, on, for you to fight Nicki Minaj, obviously in a battle of wits because we don’t want to get a Chris Brown thing going on here?

E: Yeah, and she’s got a lot more money than I do. I don’t have much muscle. I mean that literally and figuratively and financially.

AB: So you’re not pumping weight or moving weight?

E: Yeah… well, maybe.

AB: Let’s talk about the content of the album, because there’s some serious stuff on there. Out of everything you say, if people only get one thing out of Werewolf Hologram, what do you hope it will be?

E: One thing? I would say, to me it could be summed up in one line – we’re not going for broke, we’re going for amazing. That is very broad, but for me that record was about finding a way to relate in the midst of lot of dark things going on in, not only my life, but my peer group and people in my generation. A lot of people are afraid to talk about it, so I wanted to bring light to a lot of the dark things I feel like I’ve seen and been through, and maybe people don’t take it the way I intend it, but I feel like that record is for people to be kinda like fuck yeah, fuck that, I don’t need to dwell on the negative side of my past, or what I’ve been through, or what’s happening right now, just take the good out of things and try to make something better out of that.

AB: When you say it’s about the dark things, and overcoming those dark things, what are some of those dark things you see that you feel everyone can relate to, and everyone’s going through?

E: I feel like right now, at least with my generation, pills are just sweeping everyone’s lifestyle, so I feel like a lot of people have a brother, or an uncle, or somebody that’s struggling with that kind of addiction. Even though it’s been around for a while I feel like it’s really coming of age right now where people are realizing that it’s actually a problem. It’s really effecting a lot of progression in people in their 20s. Some people might not even realize it.

AB: I remember when I was in grade school was when the big ADD phenomenon, and prescribing kids things for that, started.

E: Yeah, and when I was in high school it was like Vicodin and all of that, but now kids are taking Oxy in their teens and going to heroin way earlier, and it’s just not cool. I’m not trying to be preachy, like don’t do this, or don’t do that.

AB: I don’t think anyone’s going to consider you preachy for taking an anti-heroin stance.

E: Yeah. {*laughs*} You’re right. In my music my thing is about finding who you are and owning that and championing what you’re good at and what you’re bad and accepting all of that.

AB: You have other albums. If someone is just hearing about you now, what kind of a starting point is Werewolf Hologram for the first time Ecid listener?

E: I feel like it’s a great starting point because I feel like I’m finally growing into myself as an artist. I’ve definitely made a lot of music and a lot of records, but I was very young. I’m 28 now. I finished Werewolf Hologram last year when I was 27. A lot of my early stuff is kind of like a guy in his bedroom exploring sounds and different styles of writing and trying to figure himself out. I think all those records are valid for people to listen to. At least 100 Smiles and Runnin’, and the project with Awol One, and there’s a couple other ones in there, too, but Werewolf Hologram, to me, is like my first real record where there’s a lot more attention and excitement about it.

AB: You handle both the emcee and the production aspects of everything you do. At any point in time does it become too much? Do you ever want to just throw a producer some money and rhyme over an already made beat?

E: You know, 100 Smiles and Runnin’ was the first album I’d done where I didn’t produce it. I had just made an album called Red Beretta that was super intense, I was going through a divorce, I was 25 and had all this stuff around me, it was a very hectic time. I was also producing for a ton of people. It was great now that I look back on it, but I needed a break from doing it all, so I got my friend Arsenic to produce that project. It was really fun and it helped me focus on just rapping my ass off. I felt like early on, with my beats, I would get so attached to them in emotional ways I couldn’t just rap. The song had to be like this grandiose scheme with this crazy concept to it. It was almost too much depth. It just went over everybody’s head because I was reaching for it a little too much. When I did that album it was like, just be yourself, just talk about what you’re going through. That’s what I did with it and it really helped, I think, when I went into Werewolf Hologram, because I had like two years of prep time and growth to explore and find new sounds. Once I got to that record I felt like it all started clicking on all cylinders.

AB: Other than being able to say you did it all yourself, what’s the reward for working this way? It seems like it would eventually drive you insane.

E: It might have. I don’t know, man. I love it, and it’s very natural for me to make music alone because I’m an only child, and I was raised by just my mom. Growing up I had a lot of friends, and I was very social, but at the same time I could be happy as all hell to be alone. I’ve always been that way, so there’s nothing more gratifying to me than just hanging out in my little dungeon studio making beats and just getting weird on it. If nobody’s around I’ll take a synth and do stuff that may not be musically the right thing to do, but it sounds cool. I can do that for like five hours if nobody’s around me, and all of a sudden I have something cool, but nobody wants to sit through me doodling with these weird sounds for however long.

AB: That would be like the worst first date ever. “Hey, I’m gonna work on this song for five hours.”

E: Yeah, and then ten hours later it’s like OK, I’m almost done. I swear I’m almost done.

AB: When you were readying the release of Werewolf Hologram did you have any knowledge of the possibility that Tupac would be coming back as a hologram?

E: I didn’t. I wish I did cuz then we could have done a mega promotion together. It would have been incredible. What’s funny is I think that I have at least three Tupac references on the album, so it was like a match made in Heaven that didn’t happen.

AB: Be real with us. Lots of people think Tupac is still alive. Are you really Tupac in a new form? Let’s get the rumor mill started.

E: {*laughs*} Yes! Yes! Yes! I grew up on that shit, Bay Area rap. I was all about the West Coast rap when I was a teenager, so Tupac’s in me. I think.

AB: On a much more serious note, you mentioned going through dark things earlier, and one of the tragedies you went through was the passing of Eyedea. Thinking back to all the time you spent with him, do you have a favorite Eyedea story you can share?

E: Aw man, there are some good ones. When I met him he was on a hiatus from Eyedea and Abilities, and he had started the band Carbon Carousel. He was just bored with rap, but he liked to hang out with us. He kind of lived vicariously through myself and a lot of my friends that I rapped with, and still rap with, because we were going through the process of figuring our styles out and getting our names out there. He would come hang out at random shows we had and there was this Halloween where he came out to our show, afterward we went to a mansion and did the Halloween party thing, and then we went back to my little apartment. It was probably like eight of us all in my little studio, and we all wanted to freestyle. Instead of doing the “let’s all spin some records and spit bars,” he kind of forced everybody in the room to dig deep within themselves like who are you, tell me who you are. I remember friends of mine from Sioux Falls who were in town, who were in my house for this, saying they were rapping like they’d never rapped before. It was just more honest. That was just something that Mike could do with anybody. He could just get you to bring your guard down if you gave him two seconds of your time, and he did that with everybody, it didn’t matter who you were. That was a really cool moment.

AB: It incredible that he could pull that off at 2:30 in the morning with a group of people who were just wanting to rhyme.

E: Yeah, and that kind of thing really resonated with me early on. It almost gave me that chip on my shoulder like if Mike said I should do it this way then he’s right. He definitely had that effect on people. He was an amazing dude.

AB: Have you found yourself doing anything similar, like changing, or tweaking a variable when you’re hanging out with a group of people doing music?

E: Yeah man. A lot of times, when it comes to collaborations I can be kind of a stickler for trying to go for more than just the average let’s collab and rap about rap and ourselves, or how cool we are. He definitely helped embed that in me, to always hunt for something a little bit more out of everything. When working, especially with younger artists, I always try to find out… like you hear somebody and you kind of see what they’re good at, or what they’re best asset is in their style, and sometimes they might not even realize it yet, and you try to get them to understand how to exploit it.

AB: Finally, on a much lighter note, I read you traded in drinking for yoga. Was that strictly for the views of girls bending over?

E: {*laughs*} Actually my girlfriend got me started doing it. Now she’s not even doing it, but it’s kind of become my saving grace, in a way. I felt like when I started doing it, it helped me let go. If I go to a class I can like immediately write a song after if I want to and not over-think it. It just kind of clears your head really well. I’ve always been a runner and played basketball, but when I started doing yoga it was like oh damn, this is dope.

AB: So I’m totally not buying your earlier comment about not having any muscle.

E: {*laughs*} Yeah, I do heat yoga, too. It’ll kill you if you’re not hydrated and ready for it.

AB: That’s how you get the Tupac in you.

E: Yeah, that’s totally… this is gonna end up in the article and people are gonna think I’m crazy, but I do the yoga classes in like short shorts, so I’m definitely channeling my inner Tupac six pack. All I need are the tats and the bandana and I’m good.