Philly's Puerto Rican hip-hop duo Outerspace unleashes its debut album.
On the heels of their long-awaited debut album Blood and Ashes, the members of Philly's Puerto Rican duo Outerspace are surprisingly calm and collected. As is the case with many local artists--both independent and commercial--success has been many years in the making.
Born in North Philly and now living in the Olney/East Oak Lane section of Philadelphia, MCs Planetary and Crypt the Warchild were best friends for most of their childhood."Our older brothers knew each other," says Planetary. "And so did their fathers.
Crypt says, "We did the shit little kids do together. We've always been a group."
After years of stealing their older brothers' tapes and CDs, the pair got serious about rhyming in high school. The group was officially formed during their sophomore year. Planetary attended Lincoln High School and went on to a brief stint at what he deemed "KKF"--or Community College of Philadelphia. Crypt went to George Washington High School.
In 1998 indie hip-hop cult favorite Jedi Mind Tricks pressed up Outerspace's first single "We Lyve" on its own Superegular Recordings label. Though Outerspace is sometimes labeled Jedi's protege, it's a little more familial than that. Crypt says it like this: "We all break bread at each other's cribs. We fam."
"Once [Jedi's] Vinnie got his record deal," says Planetary, "it was easy sailing from there. Vinnie said, 'Hell, yeah. Do it,'" and the duo signed with Babygrande, one of the hottest progressive indie hip-hop labels around. Also home to Brand Nubian, Jean Grae and Canibus, Babygrande prides itself on artist development and creativity.
"We approve everything [the label does]," says Planetary. Crypt adds, "Everything has been cool. Everything we need, we got. I have nothing bad to say about it. If they question anything, we take it into consideration." The duo maintains 100 percent creative control.
Building on a solid buzz from years of mashing it up on the local underground circuit at places like Bobbito's Footwork, University of Pennsylvania and the South Street open mikes, Outerspace and Babygrande wisely hit retail stores this May with Jedi Mind Tricks Presents Outerspace, a virtual introduction with the Jedi seal of approval.
The disc is chock-full of unreleased tracks, out-of-print gems and old 12-inches. "Nobody knows our history and shit that we've done before," says Crypt. "The Presents jawn is a timeline that shows what we've done before Blood and Ashes. The first song to the last song shows what makes us who we are now."
From songs recorded when they were just teenagers all the way through to their last single (2003's "151"), the collection serves as a primer for a group that's been virtually ignored in the local and national press.
Recorded in Boston, New York and Philly, Blood and Ashes took about a year to create. With 14 tracks laced with raw lyricism bursting with Puerto Rican pride, knocking beats and a slew of talented guest MCs, Blood and Ashes taps revolutionary MC Immortal Technique, old-school stalwart Sadat X and many more.
Penning tracks for the album is done with an almost otherworldly ease, Crypt says. "We write on the spot or come up with a concept. It's not so much a process--it just happens. We've been working with each other for so long that we gel automatically."
Last year Outerspace nailed down a crucial part of any recording artist's career by touring to more than 25 cities with Jedi Mind Tricks. "People follow you, and you don't even know it until you're there. The fans were crazy," says Planetary of their first on-the-road experience. Crypt says their road dates were "crazy, bangin' and brutal."
Being on tour was certainly a difference from being back home in Philly, where the two hold day jobs and have families to support. Planetary is married with two sons, one 4 years old and the other 1 and a half. Crypt is the proud father of a three-month-old son. Their spouses give their full support, and both come out to see their men rock the mike.
Of the possibility of leaving 9-to-5 work behind, Crypt says, "Depending on what happens, we would love to live off our music. That's our goal. We have families to feed."
And right now the self-proclaimed "middleground" MCs are ready for whatever fickle hip-hop fans are ready to throw their way.
"We hope this album touches everybody, not just Jedi Mind Tricks fans," Crypt says. With Blood and Ashes, Outerspace proves that though there's power in musical associations, they can certainly hold their own.
Outerspace plays Tues., Aug. 13, 9pm-2am. $10. Five Spot, 5 S. Bank St. 215.574.0070