The Black Hearts are built of the sort of lyrical lumber that constructs genres and lays foundation for a devoted and faithful fan base. Straight out of Denver, local artists F.O.E. and Karma join together with Yonnas of The Pirate Signal to generate the sort of visceral badassery that comes from homesteading on your tongue: existing only your words.
Check out the Black Hearts opening for 3OH!3 on Saturday the 19th!
H/C -I’d like to start off by saying I am really excited about Black Hearts. Any upcoming news regarding the group?
Yonnas - Well, we just released a single called Bloodlines on Halloween. We released it digitally, though, we haven’t put out any CDs or singles or anything. We just wanted to put it out there so everyone can just basically see where we’re at. As far as an album, we won’t have an album out until next year sometime.
H/C -How does this collaboration differ from your individual styles?
Karma -I don’t think it’s different for me, ‘cause I’m wild anyway. The music’s just insane and it doesn’t have any foundation except just putting your heart out there. It’s just insane shit and I’m already kind of a noodle short.
F.O.E. -I’m probably the most sane person in the group. Everybody else is kind of crazy and—
- The Black Hearts
Yonnas -I think the thing is, see, I approached them about this group. They’re two vocalists that I know that are rappin’, they’re the best. To me, it’s kind of like a three tenors kind of thing. You get three vocalists who are really good and you set the stage for them to shine and do the things they do well.
F.O.E. -I don’t think any of it is much of a stretch for us as far as the music goes. We can do any type of music; I just think it was more explosive when we came together. I don’t think our styles changed anywhere in the music, we’re all still the same people, it’s just that the beats are very hard, the drums are hard—it’s all so explosive.
Karma -I think what’s exciting with the three of us is that I know that on every track he’s going to bring everything he’s got. So when you already feel like you might be approaching the top of your game it might sometimes feel like, ‘alright, no one’s touchin’ me’, but then you’re surrounded by people who bring that shit day in and day out. It makes you want to boss up and go even harder. The comradery of it is amazing. They're never gonna slack. If there’s seven people watching or a thousand, it’s gonna be the exact same show. That’s what I’m excited about: I’ll never have a chance to take a break. I think it’s important in music to never get comfortable.
H/C -You guys seem really close. How did you all meet?
Yonnas -Just rappin'.
F.O.E. -I’ve known Yonnas for years, rappin’ with Life Crew and stuff. We really didn’t get together until a few years ago. Karma, I met him in a back alley.
Karma -The funny thing is him and me were supposed to have a battle. We have some of the same family, and they kept telling me about this dude; some of them were like ‘oh man, he’ll chew you up!’ and others were like, ‘no, man, I know he’ll serve F.O.E.!” So, he comes over and we’re supposed to battle each other...
H/C -Like... physical battle?
[explosion of laughter]
Karma-No! A lyrical battle! [laughing] Aawww… so, anyway, he came over and spit a few lines and then I spit a few lines and before we knew it it wasn’t even like the art of war for the battle. I was so impressed. I’ve been in so many battles and it wasn’t about like, I slaughtered this person. So when I heard him spit it immediately changed from a battle to ‘how can we work together?’
But I woulda’ served his ass. Put that on record.
Yonnas -These fools are nice, though. When you listen to their records the first thing everyone says is ‘who’s that?’ and it’s just… rapping is a fine-ass art. I want it to be an everyman sport. I want everyone to do it. Everyone should rap. It’s healthy.
H/C -What sets you apart from the other hip-hop acts in Denver?
Yonnas -It’s about the world! At this point I don’t think about Denver and people around the way, it’s the world. The thing about Black Hearts, and anything else, is that it’s so visceral; it’s so musical and I think that it strikes me as the best of artsy sort of things. It just depends on the art. Whole genres like death metal—where it just concentrates on certain parts. We concentrate on the dope element and the incredible rapping. I’ve never seen or heard of any rapper who was makin’ this sort of music that was this good. [laughs]
H/C -In terms of the world, then, where is your favorite place to play? City or venue or-
Yonnas -We just like to play.
Karma -You could put me anywhere. I’d perform in a library if they opened it up.
F.O.E. -Actually, we are performing in a library in February.
Karma -See? But yeah, not to downplay any local artists, but a lot of ‘em are comfortable with just being street stars in Denver. So for me, as much as I love Colorado, it’s just not enough. And it’ll never be enough. I’d rather go somewhere where I can take my state with me.
Yonnas -It’s the best of what comes from this area; it’s unique because there’s no one that sounds like it. It’s inherent to this place but we’re not competing with this place. Anything that’s incredible out of here, we’re just gonna annex it.
Karma -We’re humble cats, though. Don’t get it twisted. It’s just not enough.
H/C -It's good to always want more, I think. On a different note, though, and I always wonder this about musicians: do you have any pre-show rituals?
F.O.E. -Smoke, I guess. I don’t really have any rituals. We laugh. We joke. Sometimes he [points at Yonnas] may sit in the corner by himself for about twenty minutes and put his hood up.
Yonnas -I would like to start doing some stretching. For real. I’m going to start making that my ritual; the few times I stretched, the show afterward was phenomenal.
Karma -I pray. I pray that our tongue doesn’t get a hold of us. For stamina. For people to be receptive to our show. I pray for them.
F.O.E. -Thank you, brotha'.
H/C -So what are the stories behind your stage names?
F.O.E. -I’ve just been called F.O.E. ever since I was a little kid. I think I’m just an asshole. I have a tendency of getting on people’s nerves for no reason at all. That’s alright. I tell the truth a lot, which I guess makes me an asshole. F.O.E. kinda fits me, it fits the things I do.
Karma -Karma for me just makes sense. Anytime I do something, [karma] just happens right away. Like, if I steal a lighter out of the grocery store my tire is gonna blow out on the highway on the way home. So I just started calling myself that.
F.O.E. -So when you stole that lighter that’s why they took your tires?
Yonnas -And that rhymed, too!
» The madness continues with the Black Hearts at Stolen Setlist. Read more of this interview by our intern, Haley Carnefix and see more photos and video of the Black Hearts on the super spiffy Stolen Setlist music blog!
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