If 2020 was supposed to provide mankind with a clear vision of what to expect in the next epoch, then shit ain’t looking good at all. The 20th year of the Common Era has instead been marked by political chaos akin to Civil Rights era Amerikka, pervasive pandemic paranoia, a bubbling over of long brewing racial tensions from coast to coast, and a furthering of the economic divisions between classes. No where else is that more exemplified than the concrete jungles of New York City.
The spots where blooming retail outlets, luxury apartments, and chi-chi night clubs flourished just six months ago, are now being replaced with dope fiends and armies of homeless city dwellers setting up shooting galleries in broad day. Crime in the subways is on the rise and the shootings in the projects are looking like 1992 again. Youth gangs hold sway over hoods while jaded police officers turn a blind eye to the urban decay.
The esteemed gentlemen in the seminal NYC Black hardcore outfit Rebelmatic saw and heard everything going on in their city and weren’t happy. Something had to be done and something had to be said about the wicked times we’re spiraling into. Earlier this year, Creature (vocals), Karnage (Bass), Alkatraz (Guitar), and Ramsey Jones (Drums) locked in the studio and funneled all the angst, confusion, fear, and rage into Pro Tools sessions and a fucking gut punch of an LP was borne.
“Ghost in the Shadows” is the hardcore social justice soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic New Yiddy. There’s nothing sweet about this plate – these boys are serving up the venom raw and uncut to match the times we’re living in. Joints like “Insult To Injury”, “Blood and Gold”, and “Fire This Time” combine scathing lyrics, raw, and at times unhinged vocal delivery, and maniacal instrumentation to produce what may be their finest work to date. If y’all heard their previous works “Elephant Amnesia”, “Prey for The Vulture”, “Eat The Monster” and “Judas Goat” then you know this record is a fuckin’ problem.
I recently caught up with Rebelmatic front man and downtown celeb Creature during their press run for “Ghost” and we chopped it up on what inspired this stick of audio dynamite, how the band was adjusting to this new COVID-19 world, and what their follow up is going to be. Sit back and enjoy…
Rebel Matic has been putting a dent in the NYC Hardcore scene for what seems like an eternity, but on this new LP it feels like the crew caught a second wind. Tell me a little bit about the road you guys have taken to get to this point and how it affected the sound of this new plate.
Yeah, we’ve been around for a minute, not in just the NYHC scene. We’ve been dipping in and out of many scenes from Hip-hop, Hardcore, punk, etc. We have played Afro-Punk, been on the Chris Gethhard show on TruTv, Mt Vernon CityFest, and shared stages with DMC of Run DMC to HR of Bad Brains, to Abudion of The Last Poets to Leftover Crack, Aesop Rock to The Lox. We haven’t stopped. It’s a testament to our diversity. We just grind and stay true to our musical core. We connected with Mark O’Connell (Taking Back Sunday) and Dan Wallace (Red Right Recordings) and that helped put more light on our music. Also, having the right unit with the talent and attitude is vital in where we are currently at and going.
Why “Ghost In The Shadows”? What was the inspiration behind this new collection?
My 6 year old daughter came up with the title when she was four years old. The image of the girl on the cover is her. I was putting her to bed, and she said, “Daddy, Daddy there is a ghost.” I said “No, there is not.” She said, “Yes there is a ghost in the shadows. Look!” It was her looking at her own shadow. It was brilliant. To me, it meant things that were here before us, things that are still always here spirit. It may not be here in the physical realm, but the energy is looming. Also, on a simple level the title is bad ass! Shout out to my daughter and son for being huge inspirations.
When did you know during the process of creating “Ghost” that you were on to something?
We knew we were on to something when we played them out live and the people responded well. We’ve played 90% of this album live before we recorded it. So we knew we had something that we enjoyed and our supporters dug and hopefully new people will enjoy this album as well.
Listening to the album, I picked up some hard-edged social justice vibes underneath the surface. How did today’s political climate help shape the direction of the songwriting?
I am wired to write how I feel. I came up in the era of social consciousness in music and in my household. All of our music has a certain social awareness in it. My thing was to write about Freedom, Justice, and Equality and not harp on Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. People have already done it. They don’t really need me to add to it. Rebelmatic strives to add a balance to the world of heavier music.
The media attention for “Ghost” has been very favorable; and it looks like you guys are on the precipice of something potentially big. What are your expectations for the band moving forward?
The feedback has been wonderful. We truly appreciate it. We want to make Rebelmatic a household name. We’d like to go on tour and share our style of music to as many people as possible. Our goal is to remain true to ourselves and expand at the same time.
You guys are known for putting on a hellacious performance. How hard has it been not being able to rock a crowd in this new COVID-19 world?
It is a bummer. We are doing some virtual shows, and working things out, but nothing is like the live experience. We pride ourselves in our live shows. It’s been really hard not playing live, but we are keeping our PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).
Lastly, I have seen a lot of your heroes throwing bouquets at you. Any surprise projects or collaborations coming up soon?
The flowers smell amazing. We have so much we are working on. I can’t reveal them as of yet. I’ll say this; when live performances return, don’t be surprised to see Rebelmatic sharing the stage with some of your favorites. Thank you for your time for the interview. NYC is in the building! Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx all five Boroughs. Peace!
WORDS: Greg Cee aka Slick Flair
IMAGE SOURCE: Rebelmatic