"I don't want to make music for the internet. I want to make music for people's souls." -HADES
My October chat* with HADES feels so fresh...
It also takes me back in time to my first memories of him and his music.
Listening to the Suicide Notes debut (the record he released with LROY, fellow rapper/producer/DJ) is a blast from the past.
We first talked in early 2016 in the dead of winter.
It was cold when I drove around the Northwest hills of Austin, listening to Suicide Notes.
I was also bumping SHIFT, the new Protextor album at the time.
HADES engineered the vocals for SHIFT and produced part of it.
I was digging deep into "what's wrong with Austin hip-hop" and felt compelled to ask Protextor and HADES for a joint interview.
It was probably an inappropriate interrogation.
In 2017, I watched a livestream performance of other Austin rappers...after the show, they were interviewed about these same issues.
It felt wrong to put them on the spot like that.
I would do my interview with HADES and P-tek way differently now!
Back then, my brand new podcast was called "Monikker's Rap Show."
It was short-lived.
HADES was so honest about his talents and wins, struggles, and issues he saw in the music industry.
He still is.
Suicide Notes had a music video out for their single, "Kurt Cobain."
The album was so multi-layered...both HADES and LROY used alter egos for their characters on the album (HADES was Frankie Donatello and LROY was Boo G Ratchet, respectively).
The "Notes" part of Suicide Notes referred to both written notes and musical notes.
Almost half of the song titles are names of famous people...specifically, artists or writers who ended their own lives.
I thought the record was made for comedic effect, lyrically.
HADES said that both he and LROY were going through a hard time.
He commented in our 2016 interview that creating this record may have helped them not kill themselves.
A deep and serious statement to make, but I understood.
That's probably a big reason why we've always connected, even if we're not close friends and don't see each other much.
Suicide Notes had some memorable lines...lines I've never forgotten.
Especially in my own dark moments.
For example...HADES mimicked a K-Mart associate, speaking over a store intercom in "Jr. Say Ow":
"Attention...K-Mart Maintenance...we need a clean-up in Aisle 6...another failed rapper committed suicide..."
I've thought of it at random times...sometimes to laugh, and other times because I was low.
Suicide Notes had dark production.
It sounded like it was influenced by boom bap and UK trip-hop.
Sometimes vocals were pitched higher with manipulated effects, especially in the choruses and BGV's.
It made songs like "Ernest Hemingway" and "Bad Dreams" among my favorites on the record.
I follow HADES' label, Black Market Pluto, on Bandcamp.
I got the Bandcamp emails when he released his last two solo efforts (rapping and producing all of it).
HADES mentioned one of the albums when we discussed privacy and social media.
"I find privacy getting increasingly compromised and it creeps me out...I made an album called Can't Spell Confidence Without Con and it's about that.
It's about...nothing's free in the world and there's always fine print to everything. And you have to look at that and weigh it."
His very last solo effort was Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
Buffalo is possibly my favorite HADES-affiliated release.
He sang more and rapped less. It was more electronic.
I should've downloaded it.
HADES told me that he's no longer writing music as a rapper.
Future releases will feature him as a producer only.
Unfortunately, he took down the old HADES solo releases.
Fair word of warning to all: your favorite indie artists may take their music down at any time.
If you love a release, cop it.
Flash forward to today...
Suicide Notes and another Black Market Pluto release, Bateau, are still available on blackmarketpluto.com.
The sounds on Bateau's self-titled release are a good example of HADES' distinctive production style...
Trippy, echoing, dark and percussive.
HADES has been working with LROY on a solo LROY album for quite some time.
"We're not in a hurry. We're not trying to prove anything...one of us loves it one day, while the other one hates it.
Then we flip flop...we have a full LROY album that I think is really awesome. When the time is right, that'll come out."
I've heard samples of it on two different occasions...LROY himself played a few songs for me at least a couple of years ago.
At the beginning of this year, I heard a more recent version when hanging out with HADES.
Both times I got excited.
LROY is a solid rapper, producer, and DJ. He's the ultimate triple threat.
In this Hip-Hop Daily Dose exclusive interview, HADES spoke with me extensively about LROY's musical influence, friendship, and joint projects.
HADES can be hard to pin down.
"I've always been a floaty kind of dude. I've always shed friends completely. I have so many different groups of people that don't know if I'm alive or not. Even my wife at one time thought I was dead. I'm kind of nomadic."
I'm honored he agreed to join me on the show. I hope for many more conversations with him.
HADES isn't trying to be mysterious. He likes his privacy.
Growing up before the internet really took off, he didn't have access to some of his favorite artists.
"The mystery is what drove me to make music. I had no idea how Massive Attack was doing that...and they're a UK band and they're obscure and weird at the time.
I couldn't get any information, I didn't know what they...looked like. I didn't know how they made music and I couldn't see them live.
It was powerful and an obsession and they had the kind of careers that now it's an interesting story. So now it makes sense.
They've accomplished so much and they've impacted so many things. They've inspired an entire genre of music...so now they're people of interest.
Let's tell that story.
I don't really want to tell my story but I can tell you about my experience in music."
The part I haven't gotten to yet is...
I don't know HADES' real name.
At the beginning of this year, he told me his story. And it was crazy.
HADES doesn't want people listening to his music just because they heard his story.
He wants them to maybe know his story one day...after he's proven himself as an artist.
He's doesn't feel entitled or self-important.
HADES is easy to talk to, and there are plenty of moments to laugh.
I think we're both the kind of people who enjoy laughing at ourselves, other people, and situations.
For instance, we talked about why HADES left social media.
I admitted my own embarrassing social media behavior from this last decade.
HADES said, "What I'm thankful for is my entire life on social media was under my pseudonym character, my persona. Because from the very beginning I valued my privacy, a lot.
There's no accounts with my real name, ever...the person I'm embarrassed about on the internet is a character...so at least I have that."
Dang it! I was using my real name the whole time.
Well, except for some of that Monikker stuff.
HADES has had quite a run as a producer and rapper so far.
In our recorded chat, I asked him about his career highlights.
He cites working with the late Austin hip-hop icon, MC Overlord, as a high moment.
He's also worked with C-Rayz Walz.
"The whole Def Jux crew is like the gods to me."
He tells the story of hanging out with Snow Tha Product after being her opening act.
His then-girlfriend (now wife) was wearing a robot costume that LROY designed.
It caught Snow's attention.
HADES has no tolerance for wack rappers and their crappy live sets.
"I think every artist has to have a level of integrity and find out what that line means for them. And for me, it means you need to deliver a...Cypress Hill-level show.
Cypress Hill delivers a show...there's a DJ, there's a bongo player, there's...Sen Dog. He plays bass sometimes. Sometimes Rage Against the Machine's there too.
That's a...show. That's what you pay to see."
If you rap on stage to a recorded track and have no other live performance element, HADES considers it to be karaoke.
It was MC Overlord's live show with a full band that made his shows unmatched in Austin.
What HADES is working on now
HADES talked about his upcoming Black Market Pluto release with New Orleans-based musician, Jillian Kay.
They recorded a four-track EP.
He described it as "spooky and dark, and bluesy. It's nuts."
They're calling themselves Mini Manic.
"I think if it's good, people will like it and spread it for me because everyone's connected to social media now."
He also mentioned that Jillian Kay has a show on November 29.
If you're in New Orleans, go check her out from 7-10 pm at Starlight Lounge.
HADES and I covered a lot more in our one-hour recording.
It's all captured in Hip-Hop Daily Dose #27...the most public and personal you'll probably ever get to HADES.
Thank you, HADES. I hope it's ok if I try to unravel your story for people here and there.
I wouldn't be a good street journalist if I didn't.
Also, thank you to your wife for letting me take some of your time.
Here's to the past, present, and future.
*Quotes from my interview with HADES edited for length and clarity
Take a trip down memory lane with me
HADES (as Frankie Donatello) and LROY (as Boo G Ratchet) in "Kurt Cobain" from the self-titled Suicide Notes release (2015)
HADES handled the production (LROY on the turntable scratches) for Bateau's self-titled release (2015).
"Downtown (Houston)" was a popular single.
It shows HADES' trippy, other-worldly production sound.
HADES was a featured rapper (second verse) on MC Overlord's song, "Take the World."
It was on the last Overlord album, You Ain't Know?
Rest in Power, Ovey.