Today we’re interviewing James Sobers, better known as BluRum13. He’s a Maryland grown artist (by way of NYC) who is completely versatile, with past influences greatly shaping his “Unversal” rap flow. His rap flow has traveled the globe, granting him high praise and exposure to knowledge from some of the greats. Take a few minutes as BluRum13 tells HIS story…
So tell me about growing up in Maryland & how that affected who you are today?
Maryland, at least where I was living at the time was a rural town, that was rapidly becoming a suburb. I left New York to move there and I was old enough at that time to consider New York my home. Where we ended up moving was considered a progressive neighborhood, yet 10 miles away in the neighboring town was Klan activity. I grew to hate racial hatred, as did the youth of all races at that time. Then there were the diplomats, these kids who had cousins in our schools and would just hang out and cause mischief, but these kids also had cars and would give us rides into the city to hear concerts. In Washington, D.C. at the time, GoGo was the most prominent music, so you couldn’t even make music with out centering it around a great percussionist, and a lot of swing. I used to vibe with a young Canibus at a friend’s house in Beltsville as well as groups like Born Jamericans and Non Profits.
How did this help you grow as an artist?
There was a lot of talent and a lot of appreciation for the art. We used to be involved in these “culture clinics” called “State of the Union” where we would build on and cultivate the craft. It created a lot of dope freestylists and influenced me heavily in that respect.
I read up on your artist moniker, but I want to hear it from the man himself. How did you come up with BluRum13?
It was given to me by my college rap group at Howard University. The “Blurum” came from “Redrum” who was a partner in my crew. He had changed his approach from empowerment to battle rhymes, and so ‘Blurum’ was created to poke fun at this 180-degree attitude shift. I was already nicknamed “Blu13” because of my “scientific method” (dubbed so by friends) of rhyming at the time. Eventually they meshed, and the definition grew along with my world experiences. Now we are at the point where Blu (blue) represents the primary colors and their inability to be broken down beyond that existing color, i.e. no two pigments blend to make blue, you utilize it to make more colors Further representing the words or color or artistic side to BluRum13. 13 is a prime number, meaning it can only be divided by 1 and 13 (if the objective is to end up with no remainders, as mine is…). This represents the math side of my music, the beats the, the tempos, and time. Thus the underlying themes, art meets math, science meets magic. I wove this philosophy into my name to remind me of the power and purpose of my music. To use the magic of words over the science of beats to remind people of the power of themselves.
Now the list of artists, DJs and producers you’ve collaborated and shared a stage with is already extensive & is continuing to grow.
How did it feel working with them?
Collectively, it’s amazing to be grouped with any kind of talent that you admire or respect. Individually, they’re just that. Those who I shared studio time with, we tend to have a deeper creative understanding of each other. From those I shared the stage with, I got wisdom and advice, which is something you get if you’re lucky. People like Vadim and Koala I was in bands for years with and did many creative projects with. When you can work through an entire project with someone, the chemistry is such that you want to work with them again – to see what you can do on the next one.
You’ve also been featured in the Canada based “The Family Biz”, UK based “Skins”, “CSI” and “Cirque Du Soleil”. Did these features impact you in any way?
Not enough! Well, I will say they opened up the prospects for how to make a living in this industry in terms of publishing. Many amateur independent artists aren’t aware of these avenues or how to access them. So they were learning experiences in the business sense.
Before we get into your new album, let’s talk about the group you founded, WaterPower. Who are they, their genre, what they’ve done, you know… the works.
WaterPower is a conglomerate of talented people and a creative think-tank. So far, we’ve released a single on Fat Beats Records, released an independent project called “The Insignificance of Language” in which we explore how hip hop music, regardless of lyrical content, influences the listener. There’s more to come, although there is no schedule, and there is no limit.
Now back to your highly anticipated album, Inverted. Our readers need the full scoop. How did this album play out?
I began working on the record shortly after the One Self “Children of Possibility” release on Ninjatune records. I was signed to a small German label called Organic Records, but the untimely loss of all the masters halted and eventually ended the record deal. After recovering some of the masters, a trip to Australia (to work with the Resin Dogs), a huge influx of new production from producers all over the world for me to collaborate with, I found the inspiration and drive to complete the record.
“Making this album has been a real highlight for me because I made the music I heard in my head despite the pressure and anticipation. I was consumed with this album—there were a lot of sleepless nights—but it feels amazing right now,… It feels like a blockage was removed from my artery.”
Tell us about your interesting style and flow. How did it affect the album?
I come from a school of hip hop where you don’t bite a style.. unless you quote the artist, so a lot of time and effort went into building my own style by learning language and poetry while studying hip hop and culture. My style has been described, by those that feel me, as UNIVERSAL rap flow. not sure what that really means but I think I get it, and I like it.
There were two songs that really caught my attention, “Threat Level Orange” and “Universal”. How did these songs come about?
T.L.O. is that track… I was on my way back to Montreal from Australia, I wanted to do a song that expressed my distrust with various regimes of governmental control. I didn’t want to gripe, I wanted to empower and I was listening to Big Pun at the time. I had the idea, and took it to the studio…
I told my homie Conn Shawnery, an amazing producer, and he had this record with an array of indigenous peoples quotes on it. We started from there, I laid the first drum beat and Conn kept building on it. It pretty much came about that day in the studio. I laid the rhymes and BOOM.
Universal is one of my favorites that was made where I am now in La Herradura, Spain. We (as in Mr. KIK and I) rocked this one just by passing the keyboard back and forth. I played the main guitar riff on the keys and Mr. KIK took the mid-synths and looped the drums. I laid the bassline and he took it over and made it sound phat!! “In the studio we were watching MJ videos and inspired by how futuristic his dance moves were — people don’t do the twist anymore but they still moonwalk. We wanted to capture that futuristic element of his moves musically.”“Clever and poetic with some cool background beats. It’s something you need to open your ears to but once tuned in you’ll find plenty here.” – DJ Magazine
When is the album slated for release?
September 13 was the official release, it’s now everywhere.
Alright 2 more quick ones before we go…
Do you have any words of wisdom for upcoming and underground artists & do you have any special shout outs?
Youth, you can write an O.K. song, but skills are never questioned, become skillful and find peace.
Shouts to Conn Shawnery, R33, Kid Koala, DJ Woody, Biz, Oz, Core Rhythm, WaterPower, Resyte Theez, DJ Vadim, Yarah Bravo, DJ Toner, Ben Sharpa, Indigenous Invaders, and Mark Robertson.
You heard the man. The album is a month in, so make sure you go check it out, buy it, support. Big thanks to the Cyber PR team for the opportunity. Upcoming artists should definitely start a campaign with Cyber PR. They don’t disappoint.
Click the link below to head to the media page to read his biography, view his videos and to listen to the music that shapes his identity. Indulge in his craft.
Tell Your Story is an original online series by aEM which highlights artists, designers and entrepreneurs with in-depth interviews and a showcase of their craft.