When west side emcees Blackreign and Ohkang dropped Greatest Hits earlier this year, it was an ambitious move in both name and tone. The LP was all over the stylistic map. But with the new Oriental EP, the duo prove that their style is exactly that ambitious. The loping "Ying" features the exotic plink of the koto, the duo's brash raps layering over top for a dynamic push-pull effect. "Shogun Assassin" makes the requisite Wu-Tang references, while "Tamari" sketches a street life over disorientingly warm, almost underground production. For their monomanias, Blackreign and Ohkang offer glimpses into their process.
5. Sneakers: "There's just something about dope-ass kicks," Blackreign says. "Wearing dope shoes helps me think better; they help me bang out beats better. Ohkang, meanwhile, thinks it's all about mathematics. I don't know what he means, but that's deep."
4. Cartoons: When we're recording, Cartoon Network or Adult Swim are the number one constant in the studio.
3. Video Games: If the cartoons aren't on, then you're watchin' one of us get beat down to a pulp in NBA 2k7 or wrestling. Video games go hand in hand with the cartoons; all of equal importance to what we do.
2. The Far East: We love everything about the Far East. From animé, to the old samuari culture and history, to the region's sound and music. Our admiration for Asian culture is one of the many reasons why we produced the Oriental EP. We're paying homage to the koto.
1. The 1980s: The pop music, the cars, everything! The '80s left a huge impact on what we do today musically; all that stuff was glorious. For Blackreign and Ohkang, the 1980s isn't just a decade. It's a philosophy.
The Oriental EP is available now from www.myspace.com/blackreignandohkang.Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org