Sunday, August 11, 2013

Q&A with lyfestile of Altered St8s and Plan-B

Internationally known hip hop writer/producer, emcee, human rights activist, comedian, radio host, indie artist advocate, promoter, arts entrepreneur, bird, plane, and superhero lyfestile (spelled intentionally with a lowercase "l") is a lot like an onion. Under each layer, you'll discover more potent flavorful magic that'll bring your collard greens to life AND make you cry uncontrollably all at the SAME TIME.

I met lyfestile around the way on some hood shit, but once I caught the attention of this hip hop powerhouse, I wanted to learn more. Everything he touches turns to DONE, SON! He's humble; probably because he's too busy grinding to care about appearances. He shared stages with the likes of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Pharcyde, brought down houses all over the Midwest and beyond, and is working to put St. Louis indie hip hop on the map. He co-founded the annual St. Louis Underground Music Fest (SLUMFest), showcased at SXSW, and mothers love him. Ladies and gentlemen, meet lyfestile.

BLUE: Where are you from and when did you start writing and performing?

lyfestile: I'm from St. Louis Missouri....I started writing in the mid 80's when I was about 11 years old..... I started actively performing in the mid-90's ('round 95).

B: What would you say was your first "big break" as an independent emcee?

l: I don't know if I've had a "big break" but I've had a lot of "little breaks." We *(Altered St8s) started putting out vinyl around 2000 and to get support from some of our heroes like DJ Premier (played our record on his show) and Krs One (years ago he started off his set in ATL with our record) is cool. Playing SXSW in 2011 and 2012 was cool. Just being able to make music and have dj's that I respect acknowledge it.... -that's encouraging that's a good feeling. I've been on two labels (Brooklyn based Sondoo Recordings and STL based F5 Records) and got some real hands on experience promoting records and meeting my peers from around the country. Getting approached by a lot of really talented producers who send me incredible much that I'm always playing catch up.... I've had a hand in the scene in St. Louis as far as sharing the little bit that I know about the culture to help other artists in their development. I'm one of the founders of the ST. Louis Underground Music Festival and we've gotten a little light from the Corporations *(MTV etc..) but more importantly....We're starting to re-invigorate a sense of community at home and indie artists around the country are noticing and trying to get involved. I'm just happy to make the kinda shit I wanna make, network with a lot of folks worldwide, travel and hopefully encourage others to help in pushing the culture forward. It's great to know that there are a few folks out there who like these little songs. Whenever somebody says they like a song... that's a "little break too."
Altered St8s of Consciousness

B: You belong to 2 beastly collectives of hip hop madness: Plan B and Altered St8s. Who are the members of these collectives and how did you all come together?

l: Well, Altered St8s of Consciousness is me and my man Amene. - That's the crew right there beyond Hip Hop....we're brothers from other mothers. "Altered St8s has no beginning and no ending" but we got together around 95 and recorded a two song single on cassette. We used to sell that and started doing shows and selling our self produced cds. There was a lot of trial and error...but we paid our dues and ultimately hooked up with Sondoo Recordings which was a NY based label started by some friends of mine. Da Fly D-Ex *(who is a legend in his own right for sure) started deejaying for us around 95 too and He has rocked with me ever since... solo, Plan-B whatever... live on stage or in the studio... a god on the tables. Plan-B is myself and Nato Caliph - who's an incredible emcee with a number of projects under his belt. Plan-B came about after Amene relocated to Atlanta around 2003... I didn't really know what my next move was... and Nato was sort of in a similar situation as the collective he had been working with (SOULTYDE) had dissolved. We had a mutual respect for each other and I ran into him one night and approached him about doing a song. I was actually looking for someone else that night....but that person didn't show up *(I think we were at Blueberry Hill)..... so we ended up building on music. Nato and I are like a super group, I think the chemistry that we have brings out things in each of us that folks wouldn't hear otherwise. We compliment each other well. We did a vinyl single "Eye of the Storm/Here Today" in 2003 and recorded an album's worth of material that never "officially" came . We pushed some of the other songs digitally and some of it ended up on other projects. Some of that stuff might still see some light... When we Perform as Plan-B... you hear Altered ST8s, Nato Caliph, lyfestile AND Plan-B..... we have a lot of fun with that platform.

B: What are your core values and artistic mission?

l: I just want to make the kind of music that I like to make. I like to provoke thought and or/emotion. I constantly work on being a better emcee. Staying sharp lyrically for the sport of it. I try to use whatever influence I may have for the greater good. I love Hip Hop and I love my people so if I can encourage knowledge of self and social awareness then I try to do that in my own way. Hopefully music is a catalyst for examining the world around us and looking at some solutions to the ills that all of us face. I wanna get paid

B: What advice do you have for a young emcee coming up in the wild game of music?

l: I hope you love the art, cuz the business can be a drag. It can be hard to make a lot of money up front, but pay attention to things like publishing, licensing etc... Get $ for shows once you've established a following. Be yourself and do what you like, because you can play yourself and conform and still never see the light of might as well satisfy your soul. Always get something out of a show, know your value. DON'T PAY FOR RADIO PLAY OR SHOWS! -That's fucking up the game.

B: What is your impression of hip hop as it is? What are your hopes for the future of hip hop? 

l: Hip Hop is a unique beautiful expression that sprang from the ghettos of America, the potential to experience that beauty will always be there... it's just a question of whether or not we are aware of it. What we see and hear on corporate-controlled radio and tv is a racist, sex and violence fueled farce... shoveled down the throats of the youth for the financial benefit of the "suits" at these labels. Records don't sell like they used to...... People are more open to looking outside of traditional outlets.... so the key is to try to stand out. I think that as long as artists and listeners continue to take advantage of their options as far as introducing or being exposed to new music....things will get on track. The key is getting the people's attention which is an ongoing process. I think Hip Hop will see a renaissance...then the corporates will fuck it up again.... "We" have to own and control these outlets, we have to control our expression.... We're learning the hard way.

B: What do you like most about being an independent artist? What do you like least?

l: I like the freedom of creating according to my own rules and reaching people that appreciate the music for what it is. It can be harder to get get exposure and $ when you're indie....sometimes people front...if you don't have corporate backing.

B: What's next for lyfestile?
l: I'm almost done with a project that I'm doing with the SOULITION *(Nodzilla and Dj Reminise) - That'll be out soon. I've been collaborating with a lot of artists from the Stl and beyond. We're working on a video for "Paper Trail" with BLUE. I'm on a vinyl EP that's out right now called "Ryks Muzik-Dah Projekt" which was put out by a French label - Ryks Muzik. It's a cool collaborative effort between European producers and American emcees. Stayin' busy....

B: Any last words for the fans?

l: THANK YOU! There is more to come, hope u dig it.

B: Where can the people find you?

Altered St8s Of Consciousness had a digital album called "Warning Shots" that can be purchased wherever mp3s are sold. You can find me at; and I've done a little writing for, might do more freelance here and there.

B: Thanks for visiting Uranus!!!!

l: Thank YOU... PEACE!

Check out this throwback from Altered St8s Of Consciousness entitled Common Thread 
Featuring: Oktober, Yah Supreme, Dee Surreal & Anom

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