Upon meeting the promising young Columbus rapper P. Blackk in 2011, veteran producer J Rawls saw something special in the kid.
“I liked his humility,” Rawls said. “He was a dope MC, but he was humble and he was hungry.”
Rawls suggested they do an album together, an offer Blackk accepted instantly. After baring his soul on 2011’s brooding master stroke Blackk Friday, he was looking to prove his versatility.
“I’m not just one kind of sound, and I don’t want to be labeled as one kind of sound,” Blackk said.
On Friday nights, Blackk would drive out to Rawls’ Pickerington home studio. Sometimes they’d record; sometimes they just kicked it.
Casual vibes spawned casual music. For Blackk, spinning lighthearted verses over old-school breakbeats was an ideal counterpoint to Blackk Friday’s pensive emoting.
“I just wanted to back up from putting my personal business out there,” Blackk said. “I kind of wanted to tell stories and concepts that weren’t directly related to me.”
Rawls was happy to supply his signature sound, but he also wanted to include modern flourishes like double-time drums “just to show that I can if I want to.” Still, the final product is decidedly vintage.
“It’s all about the drums,” Rawls said. “All of the beats are very drum-driven, and that was very purposeful. All of the breaks that I used were original records. No internet stuff. For me, it was just about the sport of it.”
After a year of work, Contemporary Nostalgia dropped Sunday. Between humorous skits portraying what Blackk calls “a mundane day in the life,” he flexes on typical topics with atypical flair — confronting haters, repping his city, shouting out his favorite videogames.
Mission accomplished: It’s a breezy listen.
Now Rawls is recruiting talent for his label, Polar Entertainment, gearing up to promote concerts and hunting for web design and videography interns. As for Blackk, after observing Rawls (and, previously, Fly Union’s Iyeball) in action, the CCAD senior is attempting to produce his own music.
“Now I’ll be able to stretch and make the canvas I’m actually painting on,” Blackk said. “I’ll be more comfortable really being able to do what I want.”