/> ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP | Ear To The Track


room to breathe coverI am very pleased to announce that Unique Records will be releasing my first ever solo album ‘ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP’.  This record contains ten, high-velocity, Hip-Hop tracks for listeners who enjoy intricate, action-packed rhyming skill showcased over fresh loops and funky drums.  Lyrically, I pushed myself as far as I could go with regard to style, pace and feel and the result, in my untrustworthy opinion, is a seriously cool collection of material.  Along with my own production work, I had help from Jungle Josh and Young Einstein on a few numbers, plus, I got excellent tracks off an up-and-coming UK duo called ‘The Allergies’ and my good friends, the ‘True Beatz Crew’ from Berlin. 

Speaking of good friends from Germany, I need to mention that this project really got started when my old pal Henry Storch who, for years, ran the Unique Club in Dusseldorf and maintains a funk label with the same moniker, heard these songs and excitedly proclaimed to me, “This music needed to be out on vinyl!”-who am I to argue with a insistent German?  A few weeks later, my lovely wife Tina snapped a photo of me trying to act aloof and we sent them off to a talented artist named Christian ‘Chrispop’ Beermann who crafted a vibrantly colorful jacket, I couldn’t be more pleased with the design.  And now we’re off!!!

Let me give you the lowdown on the songs…


andy studio

In the studio almost certainly pressing ‘command X’

Secretly, I’ve always wanted to record a horribly viscous battle-rap in the tradition of Rakim’s ‘Lyrics of Fury’, Kool G. Rap’s ‘Poison’ or Big Daddy Kane’s ‘Set it off’.  Being a member of a fairly happy band like Ugly Duckling, my opportunities to scorch the mic with vocal acid were few and far between so, for years, I’d been stockpiling violent metaphors and grizzly similes which I finally unleashed on ‘Bring It To Me’.  To give this track the appropriate intensity, I hooked up a healthy dose of the Godfather and dug through my vinyl stash to procure all kinds of explosive hits, breaks, fills and scratches to back my assault.  By the time this tune fades out, I’ve commanded armies, dropped incendiary bombs and assassinated world leaders before pulling the plug on my competition!

2. ‘NUMBER ONE’   

Being that modern Hip-Hop is filled with half-tempo beats and 808 drum sounds, I wanted to take my shot at flipping a slow break in an innovative, new way.  Attempting to blend two different eras of Rap production, I combined multiple, Lo-Fi samples with a little bit of synth and some digital boom for your subwoofer.  On the mic, I worked at the fastest, lyrical pace I’ve ever experienced in a recording booth; it’s like someone hit ‘Hyperspace’!  The result is a swinging explosion of syllables that I’m still surprised came out of my mouth, but what gives me the most joy is that, somehow, I used the word ‘indefatigable’.


charlie brown

This is the happiest I’ve every seen old Chuck

A while back, Young Einstein and I produced a track that we never used for U.D. so, with Rodney’s permission, I got out my tools and reworked the old instrumental until it became an upbeat homage to my favorite ‘Blockhead’.  For whatever reason, I’ve always loved the way ‘Peanuts’ cartoonists animated the kids dancing at various holiday events so, on ‘Do the Charlie Brown’, I was inspired to give them a new jam for their next TV special; I can’t wait to hear Schroeder’s take on this number.  My wife Tina helped with the chorus which was nice because I can’t really afford to hire background vocalists.  Big shout out to my man Vince Guaraldi!


Andy and the Sphinx

Almost as good as the one in Vegas

Over the summer, i visited Cairo and while I really enjoyed the experience, I couldn’t help but feel a bit crowded in the midst of eight million highly energetic Egyptians, some of whom were trying desperately to sell me pyramid statues at marked-up prices.  With that theme in my head, I came up with some chunky drums and a creamy groove over which I bragged about how slick I wish I was while complaining about crowds.  Channeling the spirit of Kwame* on his tune ‘The Rhythm’, I, as it says in my lyrics, “Spit slick as Ricky D” with hopes of churning out a classic; always my objective.  Recently, the Origu label issued a 7″ single of the track which is now spinning all over the world and maybe someday they’ll be an Egyptian DJ who plays my 45 at a festival in front of the Sphinx.

*Kwame is still alive as far as I know         


true beatz one

At a Berlin Christmas market (weihnachtsmarkt) with True Beatz family and friends

I’ve known a group of German DJ’s called the True Beatz Crew since 1999 and, over the last 17 years, Ugly Duckling has been fortunate enough to perform at many of their parties in Berlin.  At one of those shows, I was looking to exploit the guys for an eventual ride to the airport so, after a lengthy discussion, we carved out a deal which entailed me recording some vocals to earn my transportation to the ‘flughafen’.  The next day, Steve Rolle, Stone Fingaz and I met for lunch and hung out until I c,ould come up with an idea to put down behind the groove Stoney had concocted.  I had just read a ‘Wax Poetics’ article about an older, touring musician who had “Chased the funk” for decades without achieving a hit record.  As a man who could relate to that experience, I quickly scribbled off some lyrics and 20 minutes later, we hit the button.  When it came time to put together this album, the True Beatz guys, who had never issued the song, were happy to let me take advantage of them once again and put it on my LP.


Secretly, I’ve always wanted to kill people. 


Leon working himself to death

That, of course, is a joke but deep down, I must admit that, throughout my life, I’ve carried a slight admiration for the characters of film and literature who, clad in leather gloves and black dress, quietly murder for hire.  It could be the lone-wolf individuality or the cash-lined, leather briefcases but, in the end, i probably just like the idea of making my own hours.  Whatever the case, with ‘Unlikely Assassin’, I put together a sneaky arrangement and took on the role of a cold and calculating microphone-wielding eliminator maneuvering cautiously on another clandestine assignment.  There is a degree to which I’ve always felt like a non-typical and unassuming rapper (that’s the nice way of putting it) and I do suppose that one could say I “arm” myself with unshakable, vocal accuracy and needle-sharp wordplay which, in theory, could be a danger to rival vocalists.  That down, I can’t imagine there are any MC’s who, having heard the track, are looking over their shoulders but if so, they probably have nothing to worry about.  At least that’s what I want them to think.



Pretending to walk for a photo is strangely different than normal walking

I am fascinated with people who posses great faith and total conviction so on Blind Faith, I tried to put myself inside the head of St. Paul, the first century evangelist who traveled the Roman empire and penned 14 books in the New Testament before he was executed.  In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul wrote, “I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren”, these words inspired my lyrics.  On the track, my good friend ‘Jungle’ Josh sourced me some crunchy drums to offset the pretty, acoustic lead part and, after hours and hours of chopping, pasting and fading, everything came together.  I decided to use melancholy music and a somber flow to walk down a cold and lonely Damascus road but the question is, did I see the light?


my way

I bought it for ‘Blue Lace’

Music biographies are one of my passions and, regardless of whether I enjoy that particular artist’s work or how well-written the book may be, I can put my head down and obsessively go cover to cover; it’s a sickness, really.  Well, as I plowed through Paul Anka’s nearly unreadable autobiography, Anka told the story of writing Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ as a goodbye number for the ‘Chairman of the Board’ who had, by the late 60’s, hit a rut and planned to retire.  Ironically, the song was such a huge hit that it revitalized Sinatra’s career and, with that momentum he worked right up until his death in 1998.  That in mind, ‘Thanks and Goodnight’ was an attempt to capture a little of Frank’s blue-eyed lightning in my bottle.  The track is funky Soul with a thousand-yard stare and lyrically, I share my decades-long journey of working in the entertainment business with an honest heart for music.  But now, as Sinatra said, “I face the final curtain…” (wink, wink).

9. ‘ASHES TO ASHES (pterodactyl mix)’

Not long ago, I did a vocal for Producer Shawn Lee’s ‘Golden Age Against the Machine’ album and I was really pleased with my verse.  On ‘Ashes to Ashes’, I tried to write an honest and cathartic obituary for Hip-Hop music because, in my opinion, the essence of the culture died a long time ago and very few people have the guts to admit it.  To make the death knell appropriately eerie, Jungle Josh and I created a HEAVY track that combines Electro, Fusion, Funk and even a little Opera.  It came out great but, honestly, I can’t believe I did something like this because it’s so weird.  I suppose that’s what going solo is all about!


the allergies

Moneyshot and Rackabeat of the Allergies. I would make fun of the photo but I don’t want them to deny me permission to use their remix

I met DJ Moneyshot in Bristol, England about a year ago and we quickly hit it off because, most importantly, he was spinning extremely dope music and, secondly, he pretended to be impressed by me.  Not long after, he and his partner Rackabeat surprised me with a remix for ‘Bring It To Me’ and I could not have been happier with the results.  From the start of this track, I love the intense, driving nature of their instrumentation which helps propel the lyrics forward and, in my opinion, makes the words feel more gritty than on the original song.  The vibe Moneyshot and Racka created feels a bit like a Bomb Squad production from the late 1980’s (Sista Souljah in tow) which, for me, was a great counterpoint to my version.  When I began working on the Free LP, ‘Bring It To Me’ was the first thing I created and the high-quality sound of the track gave me the confidence to produce more material so, because of the importance of this particular number, I was happy to make this “Rap raconteur’s last massacre” the first and last tune on ‘Room To Breathe’.

If you’re interested in downloading the ‘Room To Breathe’ album or purchasing it on cd or vinyl, please visit: unique-rec.com

cd's in a box (2)

I hope they pressed up more than just these



Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE FREE EP

One Response to ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP

  1. DJ Moneyshot

    Ha. Love the background story on our remix. Since Freddie’s dead (that’s what I said), I am the great pretender)…


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