Two Lower East Side New York emcees are coming together this year. Veteran Punchline is largely associated with his work with Wordsworth and the subsequent EMC [click to read] quartet with Masta Ace and Stricklin, and Fokis is known for his work with Dr. Dre protege of the same name, Focus. August 18th, the duo is releasing an Appetizer EP to promote an album they hope will find a label-backer and release by year's end.
"Fokis was doing an EP with the [Aftermath] producer Focus. They put a project out called 20/20 [click to download]," Punch told HipHopDX last week. He asked me to be a song called 'Games Of War.' The vibe was cool. He just reached out like, 'How would you feel about doing a project together?'" Fokis recalled, "I always knew who he was, but our relationship kind of started now. I saw him at a show, maybe three years ago. I gave him a CD. We kinda just stayed in touch from there."
Although newer at working together, the duo both carries individual affinities for putting concepts back in verses. "There are concepts with the EP and also the album. We went in to start recording the album, and some of the songs that we felt would match better with the album, we moved those over to the side. The other records, we put on the EP as the appetizer for the people," said Punchline. "What inspired this project was the current state of the business of music," he added. "Instead of trying to get a deal, we decided to just release music that we love with[out] labels trying to tell us what is Hip Hop. In 2009, it's almost impossible to sell music. Nothing beats the price of $0.00" The project was recorded in Fokis' Brooklyn studio. He said, "We've got some nice concepts! We went the creative route. It just came naturally, and I will say that a good 40% of the album is concept-driven." One example is a track on the forthcoming album called, "One That Got Away," recalling the quality women of the past that each emcee thinks about still.
Fokis, who is a relative newcomer compared to his Lyricist Lounge alum partner, says this work will alter perceptions. "It's been a pleasure, a great experience...People are gonna be surprised when they hear this. I think a lot of times Punch is labeled as this underground cat. I think he's just a talented artist, period. Now, with this project, people are actually gonna see him on a bigger scale; we really have records. It's not just underground."
The Appetizer will be made available August 18th, through 2DopeBoyz.com, KevinNottingham.com and HipHopGame.com. Despite rolling out with three sites, Punch revealed, "Each website will have an additional song that the other ones don't." As expected, the EP is both for fans and for business too. "We're putting the finishing touches on the album, trying to get [a label] to pick it up." Production comes courtesy of Focus and Asher Roth affiliate Teddy Roxpin.
"Enemies Of The State" featuring General Steele can be heard on HipHopDX [click to listen].
Lastly, Punchline confirmed the status of his EMC brethren. "As far as EMC, right now I'm doing this with Fokis. [Masta Ace] is doing an album with Edo G, the A&E project. We just recently spoke about starting up the next EMC album, so we're in the process of doing that, which is perfect timing."
The Appetizer EP is available at 2DopeBoyz.com, KevinNottingham.com and HipHopGame.com Tuesday, August 18.
Additional reporting by Andres Tardio.