Blame One is in it for the love. That may sound cliche, but sometimes there is nothing better than a worn out, but simply true statement to get a point across. Spend just five minutes talking about hip hop with Blame, and you will come to the same conclusion. He lives, breathes, and bleeds this culture. One of the elements of hip hop Blame One began early on in his journey is graff writing, a craft, an art, a tradition he continues to participate in to this day – more stories about that another time. Over the years, many of his friendships began at the intersection of proximity, namely North County San Diego, and graffiti. One of those friendships which began years ago, his long time friendship with fellow graff writer and producer Harry Apollo, along with Apollo’s multi-instrumentalist, graffiti artist friend JonJ, has developed into the group, Big Block Silvers – a name which originates in the art that the three share in common. Blame One recently spent some time with us here at SDLovesHipHop to share a bit of where he comes from, where he’s at, and where Big Block Silvers is going. Enjoy.
SDLHH: Who is Blame One?
Blame One: I’m a father. A lifelong contributor to hip hop culture. Everything else that I am, I’ll leave up to the Most High to decide.
SDLHH: Can you tell SDLHH a story about how hip hop has changed your life?
Blame One: I found a cassette on the ground – Run Dmc’s self titled first album – in Edgewood Maryland as a child, went home and fell in love with “Sucker MC’s” and decided right then and there that I would start writing raps. I met the mother of my children at a hip hop show. A rival graff writer once gave me a pass when I rolled up to the yard as he was playing “Words I Manifest” by Gang Starr and I sang along to all the lyrics. He was surprised, so instead of kickin’ my ass, he shook my hand. Hip hop has been the glue to most of my friendships. Too much to mention. It’s my life.
SDLHH: I was fortunate to interview you back in 2011, an interview readers can check out HERE if they want to know more about your story. For the sake of this interview, I want to focus on the here and now though. What are you most excited about right now in regard to hip hop music and culture?
Blame One: I’m just happy, after all these years, to still be able to contribute and in my personal opinion, grow and improve. I’m also happy to see younger cats from the area like Veks or John Givez doing their thing, because I’m truly a fan of what they do.
SDLHH: Your enthusiasm for our culture has been persistent and consistent, and your dedication to authenticity has been as well, which readers are sure to have felt in your last answer. What keeps you going after more than two decades of giving of yourself to this thing called hip hop?
Blame One: I realized that people actually depended on me to make music. I was told confidentially by another artist that I really respect, that if the artists he listened to stopped making music, he would also want to stop. I marinated on that for a while and realized that my art is much bigger than me. That keeps me going and if I’m going to keep going, I’d prefer to keep improving.
SDLHH: Not only are you into hip hop, you’re growing yourself as an artist. You recently formed a group called the Big Block Silvers – can you tell us a bit about the group, how it came to be, what the name means, and maybe a bit about your vision for the group?
Blame One: Big Block Silvers is Harry Apollo doing an excellent job creating the foundation of all the tracks we record. JonJ lays down all the live instrumentation; Bass, Keys, Guitar, etc. Jon is crucial in making the project cohesive. The three of us are all graff writers and after we decided to form a group we all sat around and pitched ideas for the name. I threw out the idea of Big Block Silvers, which is a reference from one of my favorite graff writers (skeme) in the documentary Style Wars. I see the overall sound as being a little more rugged than my solo, but still fused with the jewels I’m accustomed to dropping.
SDLHH: The first single off of BBS’s Bold EP is titled, “Crime in the City” – what is the track about and why did you choose to lead off with it?
Blame One: North County San Diego is known as this beautiful place (which it is), but there are a wide range of differences spanning it’s five major territories (Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos & Escondido). I’ve heard people personally say they were in Oceanside when they were actually in Carlsbad, two entirely different cities in economic and social status. Those are small things out-of-towners don’t think twice about, but it’s offensive to those of us who are prideful of our neighborhoods. Four out of five of those towns, have some very poor neighborhoods or barrios, but you would never understand those areas unless you have lived it yourself. I have. As a kid in Vista, and with more than half of my friends from Oceanside where I would be daily. I’ve also lived in Oceanside at various times of my life. I wanted people to envision the North County I grew up in as a kid. The North County I took you around to visit (that story is forthcoming – you won’t want to miss it). It just felt right to set the project off that way.
SDLHH: You almost feel like a documentarian of sorts, both in person and in “Crime in the City”. How important is history, and teaching others history, to you? More specifically, how and why is it, important for you to pass on the history of hip hop?
Blame One: You can’t move forward without history, or you simply repeat it without even knowing you did so in many cases. History is crucial to life in general. I pride myself on my knowledge and I’m not a hoarder of it. Ask anyone that knows me, I will talk your ears off. It’s not my best trait, but if you pay close attention, I always manage to get a few important points across.
SDLHH: What is one piece of your personal hip hop history you are most proud of, or grateful for?
Blame One: Meeting Jenell and creating two of the most amazing humans I could ever imagine.
It is amazing that such an intimate piece of who you are is still wrapped up in the culture you love.
SDLHH: Speaking of your personal history, can you list your discography and give one word to describe each project?
Mystery’s Extinction: Self Titled Cassette 1995- Foundation
Tales from the polish pub- Cassette 1997- Rare
Finally the EP 2002-Dope
Chemically Imbalanced 2003- Good
A Complex Burden 2005- Incomplete
Priest, Thief & Wizard 2006- Jewels!
Days Chasing Days 2009- Illmatic!
Endurance 2010- Diego
Walk in the Sun 2013- Cohesive!
Big Block Silvers– Bold 2017- Proud
SDLHH: As you think about each of those projects, which one is your “favorite”? Why does that one stand out to you?
Blame One: I have three favorite albums and I place them equally. Preist, Thief & Wizard– This was my first album I was truly proud of. I can still listen to it front to back on occasion. Days Chasing Days– This was really my introduction to the world and I got to work with a lot of people I had hoped to. Walk In the Sun– J57 and myself just connected naturally and it felt like my first grown up hip hop album. A very adult record. I’m only focusing on my work of the past in this response.
SDLHH: Alright, back to Big Block Silvers. Can you tell us a story about a moment when the three of you sort of looked at each other and said, “oh, shit! I think we have something special here!”?
Blame One: Well, I think that Harry and Jon already knew it because they had been doing a lot of work behind the scenes. On Halloween I took my kids to Harry’s to take our kids out getting candy. He told me to come into the studio, that he had something he wanted to share with me. They took what we laid down as a skeleton and had transformed it into this vision that I was shocked by. I stopped him mid way and said, “… woah woah woah… rewind that!!” I knew right then and there that we had to be a group.
SDLHH: As you look to the future of BBS, what do anticipate most?
Blame One: We are three people who depend on creativity for survival and sanity. I anticipate that we will create a full length album for ourselves with the world in mind, and it will help people get through their daily lives and routines.
SDLHH: I read the DXclusive write up on “Crime in the City” over at HipHopDX.com, and it said something about remixes may be done by Exile (of Dirty Science), J57 (of Brown Bag AllStars), and by Thes One of People Under the Stairs. What’s that all about? What is your connection to each of those producers, and why are they a right fit for remixing some of the Big Block Silvers tracks?
Blame One: Well most people that know my music know that I have a strong connection with Exile. J57 is one of my partners in rhyme. Thes actually has a great connection with Harry, who is also a surfer like Thes. Thes actually really supports us on the project and is behind us, so it was natural for him to do a remix as well. We will also release a new exclusive track with those remixes as well.
SDLHH: After reading this, why should readers stop what they are doing to go pre-order/buy the Bold EP?
Blame One: If you pre order the EP, you will be put into a lottery to win a one of a kind vinyl test pressing. You can also wait until Friday but if you know my music, take my word for it that it’s DOPE and that’s my word. Very proud of this work and it’s only seven bucks.
SDLHH: What’s something you’d like to share with San Diego’s hip hop scene?
Blame One: I love you. I don’t show up to the events like I used to because I have obligations as a father that have grown more intense the older my children become. But I’m watching and I realize we still have a ton of talent. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, just be the best artist you can be and offer what you can to advance the culture while respecting the foundation. That’s how I was raised and it has worked well for me because I truly do care about the roots of the culture as well as the future of it. Don’t pat your friends on the back when you know the song they just recorded is wack. Tell them what they could improve on, it’s the only way to move forward.
SDLHH: One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other artists who you see as comrades and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?
Blame One: As I mentioned before I don’t go out as much as I used to so I don’t make a bunch of friends in the scene anymore but I’ll tell you who I am a fan of at the moment. Blame Two, Johaz, Choosey, Veks, 18 Sense and Ric Scales, Saviorself, 3D, John Givez & Dream Junkies.
SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you? To stay in tune with BBS releases? To catch you live?
Thank you for taking the time to interview me! You’re a stand up dude Nate!
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst to effect change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, then please leave a comment.