MC Mr J Madeiros laughs heartily down the phone line. ‘Oh yeah, we are constantly having to win people over. Trust me, it takes a lot of energy to prove people wrong about us. We’re from Colorado and we’ve got a white guy in our group. It’s tough.’ ‘But’, he concludes, with more than a hint of satisfaction in his voice, ‘we’re working hard to do something original in this industry’. The boisterous Madeiros is calling from Rhode Island where The Procussions are currently on tour supporting A Tribe Called Quest. In light of Madeiros’ obvious delight, I ask how this union came about. ‘Oh wow!’ he booms down the line, ‘we were at a Brooklyn hip-hop festival – coming from Colorado to New York, to the majesty of hip-hop was amazing. We’d gone back to our tent after our set and this guy came in and started talking to us, saying how much he dug our music and wanted to tour with us. It turned out to be Ali Shaheed Muhammed [A Tribe Called Quest’s DJ]. We were blown away’.
Having formed back in 1998, the trio (fleshed out by MC Rez and producer/ multi-instrumentalist Stro the 89th Key) currently reside in Los Angeles, a far cry from their hometown of Colorado Springs in Colorado.
‘It’s a small community and there really was no hip-hop scene at the time’, Madeiros recalls. ‘It was a very military state. Very violent. It was more about gangsta rap than anything else. The three of us were part of rival b-boy crews and we were always battling each other, until one day we just decided to join forces’.
Perched unapologetically on the outskirts of hip-hop alongside the likes of RJD2, Nu-Mark and The Roots, The Procussions seem perfectly content to remain there with their new album, the percussion-driven 5 Sparrows for 2 Cents causing a stir – not least of all for the fact that it has been released through Rawkus, a label renowned for breaking underground artists.
‘It’s time for a revolution. Hip-hop is very conservative, in terms of its form and construction at the moment’, Madeiros declares. ‘It started off as this birth of a new art but now there’s a formula. You have to have Kanye guest on your album. You have to dress a certain way – there are so many things you have to follow.
‘We’ve had it with that, and the response has been good. We don’t wanna follow regiment. We’re not about a scene. We’re not about a style. We’re all about getting inside the rhythm’.