The Force Awakens has released and the world is in love! When I was mentally preparing for my first showing, I ran into Boston-based Hip Hop artist MC Esoteric. I have met Esoteric before and we got to catch up and nerd out over what we were about to witness. A few days later we found some time to talk some more about, Star Wars, music inspiration, and what social media can do to bring people together.
MA: When was the first time you were introduced to Star Wars and how did it affect you at the time?
E: I saw A New Hope and Empire at the same theater, the Charles Theatre in Boston which has since closed down. My dad reminds me how long the line was fairly often. I fell in love with the two movies and characters and by the time Jedi was out, I was a full-blown Star Wars fanatic. I was really young so I didn’t have much to compare the saga to, I just fell in love with it.
MA: What was it that originally drew you into music in the first place, specifically hip hop/rap?
E: I think originally it was the connection to basketball that drew me closer to hip-hop. I played a lot of basketball as a kid, and was on traveling teams and played outdoors a lot in Boston, where people had their radios out blasting whatever was new. This was the mid to late 80’s, but the first record that really struck me was from ’84… Sucker MC’s by Run-DMC, and after the way that made me feel, I started getting my hands on all the hip-hop I could find.
MA: You like to use a lot of comic book, pop culture, and sci-fi story references in your lyrics and music. What is it about heroes and villains that make for such quality writing material?
I think lyricism in hip-hop is rooted in extremes, and characters in comic books or films take extreme paths of heroism or villainy to entertain the viewer and rope them in. When I’m rapping, I’d rather compare myself to Martian Manhunter wiping out the opposition with electro magnetic spectrum vision because that’s more stimulating than saying you’re on the block serving fiends or you’re an ordinary guy talking your way out of sticky situations (unless you’re a Corellian smuggler, that’s always cool).
MA: What was your initial reaction to the news that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm and said that we had new Star Wars films on the way?
E: My faith peaked when I heard two things: that J.J. Abrams was at the helm and that Harrison Ford was returning. For many years, I would tell anyone that would listen something along the lines of “they should make 7, 8, and 9 and include the original cast, just older…it will work perfectly because they’re naturally older!” I can’t be the only person to want, say, or predict this, but I definitely thought it and championed it. And then it happened! I couldn’t be happier with the result, I think everyone in the new filmed aced their roles…new cast and original. I will always take a new Star Wars film and give it a chance, no matter what…I owe Star Wars that, just as I owe the Fantastic Four a viewing no matter how horrible the outcome. These characters got me through some dark times in my childhood.
MA: A lot of writers, artists, and musicians have their own “Process” that gets them in the creative mindset. What’s something about Star Wars that really gets you excited to create something new?
John Williams and the sound of the Death Star gunner firing the superlaser and blowing Alderaan to bits gets me in a comfy creative space.
MA: You’ve been in the music industry since the 90’s. What sort of things have you seen change due to the rise of the internet and social media age?
Without social media we might not be doing this interview, so it gets deep…like If that R5-D4 droid didn’t have that bad motivator, would Luke ever meet R2 and get off that rock? Ha. I don’t think so. When the internet rose, our exposure rose. People communicate easier. There’s no way to get around the way the internet has helped us, even with pirating, and describing it as a gift and a curse is pretty accurate. The web helped in getting us touring overseas in the late 90s, connecting us with fans across the globe. On the other hand, before the internet, I didn’t really know that Tom in Ohio hated my guts. Now, he has about 65 different platforms to tell me!
MA: Can you let everyone know what you’ve been working on currently, what projects you’ve released recently, and where they can get in touch with you for more info on your work?
We are working on more CZARFACE material, which is me, 7L, and Inspectah Deck of Wu-Tang Clan. The last album, which was our second as CZARFACE, “Every Hero Needs a Villain” was a lot of fun to make, and we’re excited to complete the trilogy. You can follow me on twitter or instagram at @MCEsoteric or see us at www.czarface.com
And of course I couldn’t go without asking him our famous 5 questions!
1) Favorite Star Wars film – A New Hope
2) Favorite SW character – a popular one, Chewbacca…what’s not to like? But for a more unsung choice: 2-1B or Leia’s Boushh…as a kid I was so disappointed when Boushh was revealed to be Leia (mainly because it immediately killed the character off)…after seeing that thermal detonator and Boushh’s look, I had high hopes of it being someone to rival Boba Fett. 2-1B just looked really cool, and I was interested in how that model could be a medical droid but also an interpreter for Jabba.
3) Favorite line of dialogue or film moment – the entire first scene of ROTJ, aka the Han rescue from Jabba’s Palace…the best part is Luke on the skiff where he looks at Lando and then R2, and R2 gets ready to launch the saber…the way it plays with John Willams’ music gives me chills almost every time….as for dialogue, it is probably the Han and Greedo exchange in A New Hope, or pretty much every word from Dr. Evazan up until Ponda Baba loses his arm.
4) If you collect, what is your favorite collectible you own – I don’t actively collect, but I have some remains from my originals, like the original Kenner Chewbacca, the big head Han, and my war-torn original R2-D2 and R5-D4. They’re not stored in a case or anything, they are currently in the mix with my son’s figures, which are a combination of Marvel, DC, TNMT and Star Wars guys from Power of the Force and newer lines. I think IG-88, Walrus Man and the Death Star Droid are in there too, Walrus Man was always so hard to stand up. These figures stuck around for so long somehow…funny how characters like General Madine and the Rancor Keeper are missing. I have a stuffed Ewok from ’83 somewhere too. Let it be known, I’m not one of the Ewok haters, I love the Ewoks.
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5) What messages or themes about the Star Wars saga resonate or speak to you – I like the mystery of the force. I like the idea that nature is superior to the technological terror of the Dark Side. I like Ben Kenobi speaking to Luke, telling him to turn off his X-Wing’s targeting system and let the force guide him. I like seeing the Ewoks use sticks and stones to topple the Empire on Endor. I like R2, 3PO, and BB-8 having human emotions. I like Chewbacca. I love Chewbacca, I don’t want to call him a dog, but when I’m out with my dog in the woods or anywhere, he’s my first mate, he’s my Chewie.