Hepcats: ACKronem Interview
“Hepcats” is a new feature that we’re excited to welcome to Reviler. Every edition will zero in on talented up-and-coming rap, hip hop, and spoken word artists in the Twin Cities in an effort to raise awareness of those “underground” stars. It’s the brainchild of Benjamin Werner and Kenta Yamamoto (bios below). For this first edition, Werner and Yamamoto sat down for an interview with local rapper ACKronem.
Benjamin “Valentine” Werner is a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota working in economic development. Besides fixing cars, cooking, or reading, in his spare time Ben likes to listen to hip hop, jazz and indie electronica. He came to Reviler to explore his passion for music from another venue besides creation.
Kenta Yamamoto is a soon-to-be graduate of the U of M in the biological sciences. When not in the lab doing cancer research, he likes to listen to jazz and hip-hop music as well as write poetry and rhymes. He hopes to be able to shine light on starting or developing local artists by being a contributor at the Reviler.
We sat down with local Minneapolis rapper ACKronem on a hazy Sunday morning outside Spyhouse Coffee across from Hennepin and 24th. Ackronem, whose name is Chris Audet, sipped iced coffee as we began to ask him about his life, and his work. We were immediately impressed with how articulate Chris was about his craft; he’s been making music since he was ten years old, and you can tell. From writing, producing, booking shows, to promoting other artists with his events, Ackronem is an integral figure in the Twin Cities hip hop scene. His most recent album “Live Fast Die Never” encapsulates the themes of being conscious and reflective, in a headnodic fashion that doesn’t feel forced. He produces and writes all his music, so we began our conversation with him on that note.
Reviler: You write and produce most of your songs. What’s the creative process like being in full control of both sides?
Ackronem: It’s really nice knowing I want a break here or a pause here. It’s very easy to edit things. A lot of people who just rap, don’t have that control. A lot of MCs who don’t make their own beats have the limitation of having to find all these beats that match their criteria. Whereas I can make as many songs as I want, and the budget is unlimited for beats right? But if you’re just an MC, you obviously have a certain budget for beats, and if you spend that on beats then you might not end up wanting to use them later. I can lay a simple layout of verse-chorus and think, okay I’ll actually put a bridge in here or break it down here. It just gives me more flexibility.
In our conversation, we discussed Ackronem’s unique process of making many more beats and songs than what will fit on an album. For Ack, making music is a way to process his own life, and he puts pen to paper even if that thought will never be published. Hearing how connected his music is with his own experience, we asked Ack to describe his artistic message in more depth.
Reviler: So what would you say you try to convey to your listeners? Maybe it changes from album to album, but overall what’s your message?
Ackronem: A lot of writing for me is self-therapy. If I’m going through something, I’ll write about it and it helps me out. I was going through a lot of depression when I was younger, so I wrote about it trying to get people to relate. Like, “Hey you guys can feel better, here’s how I did it.” That switched into being more conscious about everything—”You’re your own god” type mentality. Trying to get people to be more conscious about their life.
To dig deeper into some of his music, we asked Ackronem about a few lines in particular from his latest album.
Reviler: On the track “Free to a Path” from Live Fast Die Never, you say “Feels like the spirits talking through me.” We’ve heard some artists describe themselves as a conduit to the forces around them, can you tell us more about that feeling?
Ackronem: You knowthe phrase “the song writes itself”? That’s what that line is about. I’m not even too sure sometimes why I came up with certain things, then realize how much meaning it had later when I’m expressing the song to someone else. There’s some other energy that I wasn’t super conscious about, that was coming out of me when I wrote that.
Reviler: On your song “Top of the World”, you say “A greater understanding for who you are as a person/ A quest left unfinished for most of society’s servants/ Pay me pay me pay me is all I’m hearing lately”. Can you expand on what you’re saying here?
Ackronem: A lot of people go about lives ghosting through the process, you know? That’s what I was getting at earlier, just trying to orient people to be more conscious about life. Like think about if you don’t want to do this; or want to do this. Instead, people go “I have a job, I’m gonna do this, and then go home, and then watch TV and then go to my job.” There’s something better there, you just gotta have to think about it. It’s like the quest left unfinished. People dream about something and don’t do it; because you need to make money and rent; sure you do, obviously you do, but there’s ways to make your dream work. Not everyone can make it work but you can always try.
Ackronem regularly hosts “Fresh Hop” at 12welve Eyes Brewing. He is set to have a residency at Honey in June, and will be performing there on May 22nd. Also check out “Live Fast Die Never” and his newly released single “Blessed”.