To say that a lot can change in a decade’s time is no grand revelation to anyone who’s ever thumbed through a photo album (or, to keep things more contemporary, scrolled back far enough through their Facebook pictures). But musical identity can be a completely different beast, and in this way, Jeremy Ian Thomas is definitely looking ahead with his latest project, The Emerald Tablet, available online via the Rappers I Know record label.
Rapping under the moniker of Surreal, Thomas first made noise on a larger scale as the voice behind True Indeed, the 2006 album from jazz hip-hop production duo The Sound Providers. Garnering some notoriety amongst those in the know within hip hop’s underground scene, the album took Thomas and his group mates across the globe with international shows and became one of the unsung gems of the genre.
Since that time, Thomas has relocated from Florida to Los Angeles and begun his journey in developing a more hands-on role on the production side of things. Largely an instrumental effort, The Emerald Tablet draws its influences from both the foundations of the Sound Providers past and more modern influences of today.
“Most all of the tracks were made between December 2015 and April 2016,” says Thomas. “A lot of new production techniques were employed, and I ventured into BPM’s I hadn’t really messed with. I’ve been working with a lot of vocalists as well, so there’s a musicality that I think might not have been prevalent in my earlier work. Just beneath the surface is a trap influence, mainly with percussion and time signature.”
The songs on the project slip in and out of different moods, touching on elements of soul, electronic, psych rock, and hip hop, to name a few. But no matter what genre they might align themselves with, the entire project carries a heavily spiritual slant.
For Thomas, the vibe of the songs — which collectively tell a story about the divine feminine through their titles when read in sequential order — were inspired just as much by his external surroundings as they were by his internal dialogue.
“What’s so amazing about Los Angeles is that it’s actually the farthest west you can go in the continental U.S. and there’s a ton of Eastern influence. A lot of the great teachers from Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other spiritual disciplines came here first, and I think it seeped into the water,” he notes. “And obviously, the Brainfeeder and LA beat movement had an effect on what I’m doing now, but interestingly enough, they are all heavily influenced by the same thing I mentioned before.”
He continued, “Also, there’s just a freedom here. People do all kinds of wild shit creatively and there’s a kind of acceptance around that. It makes you feel like anything and everything can make a cameo in your music. I sampled a lot of strange shit for the percussion on Tablet, and I think LA had a big deal to do with the sound of this record.”
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