(Carlos Nino & Lil Sci) What's the Science?
What happens when a world-renowned jazz visionary teams up with a passionate, thought-provoking emcee with a love for true hip-hop?
The answer is another question... What's The Science?
The duo's hip-hop/ jazz-fusion also channels elements of soul and electronica to create a truly unique and eclectic sound. "WTS is a direct tribute to the early 90's Elektra Records era," says Lil Sci. "At that time, Elektra Records was signing acts like Brand Nubian, Pete Rock and CL Smooth and launched the whole era of, conscious, thought-provoking music that made it cool to be an intellectual. It was the emergence of hip hop as a culture that young people could embrace and relate to."
With plans to reignite the passion and positivity that seems to have eluded hip-hop in recent years, What's The Science? is set to release their full-length album, Elevation on September 23.
Lil Sci (John Robinson) met Carlos Nino in 2003 after he moved to Los Angeles from the East Coast. Nino was already an established producer, composer, and musician who hosted a weekly show on a progressive local radio station, KPFK. Lil Sci, a New York-based emcee had already experienced success as front man for Scienz of Life and came to Los Angeles to attend his new post as President of Shaman Work Recordings. "We spoke the same language and the energy was really good. We were on the same wavelength musically and that's how our journey started." Their connection was instant and undeniable. Within a week of their introduction, the two were recording together and What's The Science? was born.
"Carlos helped me connect with a lot of elders in the LA jazz scene like Dwight Trible and Derf Recklaw," recalls Robinson. "In working with Carlos early, I was able to travel to Europe and tour with his project to bridge the gap between hip-hop and jazz."
Nino's international fan base was ready to receive the new sound he presented with Lil Sci. "Carlos has a separate history and catalogue and discography and people recognize that where we go and bring it together in a way that doesn't happen in the US."
Over the next few years, the duo produced music together and was busy pursuing other projects as well.
Nino's LA-based collective, Build An Ark, released albums under Robinson's Atlanta-based label, Shaman Work Recordings. He is also a member of Ammoncontact and The Life Force Trio. In 2007, he collaborated with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and released Fill the Heart Shaped Cup with Alpha Pup. He also released a collaborative record, Carlos y Gaby with Gaby Hernandez. Never one to lay low, Nino is also largely credited for bringing one of the world's most celebrated avant-garde soul-jazz singers to prominence: Dwight Trible, who is featured on Elevation.
Lil Sci got his start at an early age. Born and raised in the home of hip-hop, the Bronx, NY- native was mesmerized by the music world. Always a star student, (he graduated high school a year early) he struggled to focus on anything but music. After he realized he couldnít deny his calling any longer, he left Rutgers in his sophomore year to pursue his passion.
In 1997 he was featured on the hugely successful compilation, Lyricist Lounge, Volume 1: Outside The Lounge and has performed with The Roots, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Dead Prez, Run DMC, Q-Tip, and MF DOOM.
Lil Sci is known for his narrative, introspective style on the mic. His work with Scienz of Life put him on the map as a hip-hop renegade, eager to bring the true spirit of hip-hop culture back to the forefront.
With Nino and Robinson's never-ending list of projects, it's no wonder Elevation took almost a year to complete. "We recorded the album on both coasts, between each of our other projects," says Robinson. "He [Nino] would fly to New York when he could or I would shoot to LA to record there." The result is nothing short of amazing. Fast-forward to 2008. What's The Science? is back in action and ready to release Elevation, a 12-track album featuring vocal cameos from label mate Tiffany Paige, Dwight Trible, Prince Po (Organized Konfusion) and Invisible Handz.
Elevation is bound to ignite fans with thought-provoking, relevant lyrics and the innovative yet timeless sound. In an effort to move toward the future the artists looked to hip-hopís past. "We stand here before you as students of the same conscious movement that birthed the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, KRS One, Rakim, Public Enemy, Brand Nubian, X Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, KMD and countless others that brought forth an entire essence that took the world by storm and made it cool to be intelligent." Lil Sci (John Robinson) is out to prove one thing: "It's no longer smart to be dumb." With the daunting, tumultuous social, economic, and cultural conditions plaguing the planet; it's only fitting that the music reflects the consciousness of the people. At the same time, What's The Science? reminds us that above all, music should be fun and hip-hop is all about l-o-v-e.
"Love, Hugs and Hip-Hop Soul" serves as a tribute to the roots of hip-hop and demonstrates the change Shaman Work hopes to facilitate. "There's a lot of hate in hip hop now," says Lil Sci. "Today, you have a bunch of selection and no choices. We want to give a choice and be an alternative to what the music has become." Other tracks to look out for are "Higher" and "Freedom" -- a remake of Pharoah Sanders' classic "We Gotta Have Freedom". "It brings jazz standard into the younger generation, soulful vibe to the song that is very upbeat and reminiscent of the B-bop era."
Prepare to be elevated when Shaman Work Recordings releases Elevation on September 23.