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V Exclusive! The Cannabinoids Talk 'The Beat Tape Vol. 1,' Fitting In and The State of Hip-Hop

If Hip Hop is your religion, then the Cannabinoids may be your future deities.

While calm, cool, and collected as individuals, the nine multi-faceted members, with its sole female lead as the majestically pragmatic Erykah Badu, are aiming to ease your senses and push beyond your musical boundaries. The Dallas-based group of DJs/turntablists, producers, keyboardists, and drum machinists are also on a mission to get you addicted--musically, that is--even if they're recreationally inclined (these experimental cats also have plenty of reefer madness to spare).

Following recent gigs at Afro Punk in Brooklyn and the Decibel Festival in Seattle, with front-woman Badu, the band showcased cuts from their premiere combustion of sonic fusion on The Beat Tape, Vol. 1 . Rob Free and Jah Born chatted with VIBE to explain what makes their ensemble special, the average audience perception to their work, and their place in the current state of hip-hop music. This is crew love at its most enticing.

VIBE: How would you describe The Beat Tape Vol. 1 in retrospect because it was recorded a few years prior and yet you guys chose it to be your introduction to the world. Why use older, material instead of newer work to introduce the dynamics of the group?
I think because it represented the way that we create. We were really excited about how we first started and how everything was magical. We collaborated so well together. We really wanted the audience and the world to know the process and the creativity from the beginning.. It wasn't something was forced..this is Cannabinoids from the top, freestyling.

You're essentially named after the effects on marijuana on the brain. Aside from inducing a kind of mental vacation for the audience, what are the benefits of listening to your music?
The benefits of listening to it is that we're all producers, and it's coming from similar but different perspectives. We got one guy on the drummer scheme, another on DJ equipment, we got keyboards over there; you've got all these different equipments producing different sounds. It's an electronic band.

How do you think you guys fit into today's hip-hop/R&B landscape? Or do you even care to fit in?
We don't care to categorize ourselves. We create our music and we have people enjoy it as much as we liked creating it. We don't necessarily have a particular description.

How has the process become more or less difficult in creating a follow-up to The Beat Tape, Vol.1?
[As far as] the second Beat Tape, I'm just as, if not more, excited, and it's going to definitely be an extension of the first one. We chose some of the different tracks for the second one for a second feel and to also show another dimension of how we create and when we do our thing in the studio. I guess to answer your question, there's no kind of pressure to follow up. There is more an excitement in putting it together.

Badu referred to you guys as being focused, and specific about certain things, "a perfectionist", yet when listening to The Beat Tape, it sounds very carefree. Do you have a goal in mind when you create music?
Yeah, I mean we come together naturally like we used to do, and once we're together, and latched on, it's over. It's hard to break out of a vibe like that, and out of that type of thing, comes these beat tapes, vibe-y tracks, and the crazy thing is that we'll start with just one, and then we transcend and transform into another track, which is totally different from how we started and we're all in amazement of how it happens.

Has there been anything in current events this year that's going to inspire or influence the next project?
It's just kind of like our daily experiences. We come into the studio and we're all geeked on the fact that someone had a wonderful meal, an amazing lunch, or whatever, and we take that energy into the creative process. I think that life summed up inspires us collectively. A lot of us have common interests whether it be the 24-hour theory, or whatever various other theories out there, and having that alone in the room as a collection keeps the vibe going.

What are your viewpoints on the state of R&B, hip-hop or soul music today? Do you feel that hip-hop still speaks for the people, or is it something they have to go out and search for?
Well, hip-hop is [still] for the people, and I know that there are plenty of folks that do what we do. I'm saying that [Cannabinoids] feel a void, but what we kind of do is interesting, it's weird, but it's dope in that sense because the people are going to be interested but not necessarily because we fill a void.

Because you guys are DJs and producers for the urban genres, how does that compare in being a producer or DJ for dance music? I'm sure you guys are aware that the genre has been blowing up within the past year so where does that leave the hip-hop DJ as far as its influence?
What you'll find is that most producers have some degree of DJing and some degree [of being] a musician and a writer. So at different times, the aspects of artistic character shine. At the moment, especially with The Cannabinoids, we represent a lot of that in one group. We're a group of artists, DJs, producers, songwriters, working and performing as a band, but also individually we capture all of those things. We are sort of like a hub.

Check out and download The Beat Tape, Vol. 1 here.

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