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5 seconds into album opener, “Clockwork,” and Brooklyn-based group Cross Culture already set the stage for all the hype they’re about to throw down. A synth line that sounds like the soundtrack to a final boss battle leads into lead emcees Saidu Ezike and Nemiss showing off their effortless, clever, old school style flows. An electric guitar riff flys over the top while the drums and bass groove so hard that you can’t help but bounce your head. And that’s just track number one.
This group of musicians are undeniably talented and they constantly reveal new sides of themselves as the 12-track LP, Majesty, progresses. From the hard rock of “Faded Away” to the almost acoustic, spoken word of “Appreciation Letter,” to the funky, disco groove of “Rock All Night,” by the end of the album you feel as though you’ve experienced a whole year of heartbreak, love, and growth right along with them. Nobody can deny Cross Culture are set on creating their own lane, and based on the fact that they’ve performed at notable venues including Joe’s Pub & National Sawdust, and opened for The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, it seems that audiences are hungry for more!
Take a listen to Cross Culture’s debut album Majesty below and catch our exclusive interview with them to find out what artists inspire them, their favorite tracks to perform, and how they came to be fronted by a married couple!
You boast a multinational group of musicians in Cross Culture, how did you all meet and come to be?
Amen. I originally met Jude, our bass player, through a friend of mine, Dale. Jude played for her sister, Lea Anderson. Jude has been the glue that held our musicians together. Everyone who has joined the band either is a direct or second connection via Jude. For example, the keyboardist who played on our album, Mina, is a direct connection via Jude. Ben, who played drums on this album is Mina’s husband. Our current keyboardist, Jihee, went to school with Mina. Evan, our current drummer, is a friend of a friend of Jude’s. Our current guitarist, Jernej, is also a friend of Jude who went to Berklee School of Music. Some exceptions are, our original guitarist, Scott, (who played on this album), our singer, Ruby whom I met online. And our sax/conga player (who didn’t play on this album), Reggie who I met through a friend of mine, Ben Chin, leader of the band QNA.
Tell us a little about the inspiration for the name, Majesty, and the overarching theme of the record.
The word ‘Majesty’ describes the band. The first dictionary definition, per google, is “impressive stateliness, dignity, or beauty. In my humble opinion, the group of people in the band are impressive in a number of ways. Starting from the fact that we don’t look “normal” by conventional band standards. Aside from a male-female emcee duo, we have a Korean female keyboardist who soundmen often confuse as male. The list goes on but we’ve often impressed people with being different and we’ve learned to embrace it.
You blend a bunch of genres throughout this album, who are your biggest inspirations as a group?
Word up. I would say that our biggest inspirations, in no particular order, are: Gym Class Heroes, Linkin Park, The Roots and Outkast. Each of these groups stood out not only for their music but for their uniqueness. Before GCH, people said they’ve never seen a GCH before. The same was said for the other bands I’ve mentioned. I truly feel the same can be said about us.
I was surprised to find out that the two emcees we hear (Saidu Ezike and Nemiss) are married. That’s definitely unique for a hip hop outfit, what is that story?
Nemiss and I met a little over 3 years ago at an event my friend curated. She performed and I was very impressed by her rapping ability. I followed her as an artist for a little bit and she eventually came to saw Cross Culture perform when it was just me as the emcee. We became friends, realized we had a ton in common and soon began dating. I had been searching for a female emcee since I formed the band so it was only right that she was that emcee. Not to mention that she’s one of the best emcees of any gender I’ve seen do it. I proposed to her at a show about a year later then we got married ☺
I’m sure you love all of the music on Majesty but do you have any absolute favorite tracks?
Definitely. I think the album is strong from start to finish. It’s hard to say what my favorite track is because it depends on the mood. ‘Going to Church’ and ‘Rock All Night’ are my favorite tracks to perform live by far and those usually get the best response at shows. I would say, however that ‘Dearest Mother’ and ‘My Grind’ are the most versatile tracks on the album in terms of mood. I can always enjoy those tracks regardless of what mood I’m into.
Are there any messages you hope listeners walk away with after listening?
Don’t be defined by what we know as ‘conventional.’ Everyone’s experience is different and I encourage people to embrace it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way. Also, don’t be afraid to evolve.
Any final notes?
This band also represents constant evolution. The Cross Culture of Majesty may be different than the Cross Culture of our following album and I think that’s okay. Often, I’ve seen music become formulaic and I think that takes away from the authenticity of the musicians. I’m excited for what’s to come and I think our listeners should be too ☺