Lesotho-based producer San the Instru-Monumentalist has been under our radar for more than a hot minute, so we decided to touch base with him in order to hear about all the numerous projects he has been involved with over the years.
Who is Sanhedrin, and where are you based?
Sanhedrin is an emcee while San, the Instru-Monumentalist is a producer. The two are one and the same person, although as I’m sure you have already discerned, each moniker albeit particular to the one, is respective of two distinct yet complementary skill sets. I was born and raised in Maseru, Lesotho, a country in Southern Africa. This is where I currently reside and practice my craft (music production).
When did you become involved in hip-hop?
My involvement or rightfully put, my introduction to hip-hop began at a fairly young age. If I were to put a specific time on it, Iâ€™d have to say circa 1996. I was 12 years old then and a freshman in high school. In retrospect, that period of my life was filled with what seemed like endless possibilities and the chance to explore new worlds. I reminisce with a smile on my face the first time I heard the conviction of KRS ONEâ€™s voice on the â€œI got nextâ€ record, or the playful wit that was Mr. Cheeksâ€™ lyrical prowess on â€œLove, peace and nappinessâ€. I even remember flexing over the â€œJazzy belleâ€ beat with one of my dudes after we heard the psychedelic conceptual newness of Outkast in â€œAqueminiâ€ as well as the vivid story telling technique from Guru over Premo beats on â€œMoment of truthâ€.
How has the journey been thus far?
The journey thus far has been exciting and filled with plenty opportunities explored with the purpose of pursuing constant learning. Inadvertently, my apprenticeship within the hip-hop culture has fostered an environment conducive enough for self knowledge, tolerance and respect for my fellow man. Even though it seems like forever now, the culture never fails to present new and unexplored horizons.
Your catalogue is quite impressive – countless cross-continental collaborations and all. Has this always been your plan?
To be honest NO! Aside from being naive and inexperienced, when I started out making music I was all about my squad, I didnâ€™t see anything beyond that. All we knew is that we wanted to rhyme, we had no sense of business acumen or strategic direction, we just wanted to be emcees, say our peace and flex over beats. But as time passed, my education on the art form grew, and I moved slowly from emceeing to dabbling into the beat making side of things. I began to take a closer look at what I was doing with music and where I wanted to go with it. It was not until I tried to shop my beats around to a number of people outside my immediate circle that I came to discover that I wasnâ€™t getting that much love and appreciation from the local scene. On a wider platform, the kind of instrumentals and music I was making, locally, heads werenâ€™t ready to embrace that. So my focus shifted.
It wasnâ€™t until early 2006-2007 that I saw the benefits of multilateral relationships, be it those of a cross-country, cross-regional or cross-continental nature. By early 2007 I was fresh out of varsity from doing my undergrad and Id decided to enrol at Rhodes University, in Grahamstown, South Africa to do my postgrad. My time there, without a doubt marked not only a period of immense musical growth but for the first time, I was able to tap into and enhance my emceeing, beat making and production capabilities while surrounded by people from all walks of life and countries that had a genuine and holistic appreciation for my music without reservation. I guess what made the Grahamstown experience all the more potent for me was the ease with which I was able to form tight bonds and connections with people that were not my kin, not my countrymen nor were they people I grew up with. Until I went to school at Rhodes, these people were complete strangers. We all just happened to be at the right place and the right time and thought alike in terms of having an open mind and embracing creativity while respecting what each individual had to humbly offer the culture.
Of what importance has the Internet been with regards to aiding your musical endeavours?
It goes without saying that the internet as a tool for connecting people and sharing information presents a bountiful array of possibilities and opportunities. My experiences with the internet have been quite extraordinary seeing that 90% of the musical projects Iâ€™ve released in the past 5 years have all been possible because of relationships cultivated over internet forums and platforms of social networking. I believe that the World Wide Web grants us the necessary leverage to work with like minded people without even having to be in the same place. This notion is best explained by that GZA skit in â€œBeneath the surfaceâ€: â€œyou no longer have to be there, to be there.â€
You are also a qualified economist. What principles of the stuff you’ve learnt in academia do you apply to your relationships in hip-hop?
I am fortunate enough to hold a Masters Degree in Development Economics. Furthermore, I work at a Management Development Institute that deals with matters of national policy on a day to day basis. My role in this institution is that of planner and my primary responsibility is to not only propose efficient and effective institutional operational systems, but to also monitor the strategic implementation of such systems moving forward. My training at school coupled with my work gives me a firsthand appreciation of the benefits inherent in informed leadership, strategy, organisation as well as the advantages of adopting a systematic approach to everything one does, more especially when it comes to matters of business. And since Iâ€™m certain you and I both plus your readers can attest to music as being a business, Iâ€™m not remiss to conclude that such skills come in handy quite a bit.
Tell us a bit about Audible Braile Entertainment.
Audible Braile Entertainment is an artist management company established in 2007. It has a total staff complement of five individuals who are all experts in their field. Our core business is artist branding, marketing and project management, as well as music making, event planning and graphics design.
Our Motto: “Feel what you hear and hear what you feel“.
Our Mission Statement: “To ensure effective delivery of a continuous and sustainable platform for self expression through music.”
What can people look forward to this year from your camp? Why should anyone care?
San, the Instru-monumentalist, principal producer at Audible Braile Entertainment looks to drop two EPs in 2013. The first EP is called â€œAgainst the Grainâ€ and will feature SAN collaborating with California based emcee Elliott Niezel. The second EP is called â€œVerbal Artsâ€ and will feature San collaborating with United Kingdom based emcee Hip Hopkins. San also has a beat tape currently scheduled to drop late January 2013 that will feature him collaborating with Japan-based producer Ronin Beats. Moreover, heads can look forward to Sanâ€™s full length album called â€œPeoplePowerâ€ scheduled to drop late 2013. The “PeoplePower” project has been two years in the making and will feature a host of artists from around the world. On a technical front, it is very important to note that all the projects San has lined up will be mixed and mastered by the Audible Braile Entertainment in-house sound engineer Mr. Riz of Block Kids On The New.
Over and above that, heads can look forward to â€œRhyme Travelerâ€™s Wifeâ€, the debut album from Audible Braile Entertainmentâ€™s seasoned emcee Lyrical Thought In Parenthesis dropping early February 2013. Furthermore, the camp has some scheduled releases out of Botswana (Southern Africa) and Virginia (USA) that will see production credits from both San and Alias, the two primary producers at Audible Braile Entertainment.