The Brooklyn Ac album Bored of Education is finally dropping 12 years after the group formed. What took so long to drop the official album?
Pumpkinhead: Basically what it was was the timing. The timing had to be right. There was a certain feeling that, you know, it had to be ready and we all had solo careers that went pretty good and it was just, like, the perfect time to do it. We all sat down and said we were ready for the Brooklyn Ac album and that’s what it was.
Block McCloud: Definitely. And like he mentioned, we all basically branched off for a little bit and focused on our solo careers and established ourselves individually. I think by doing that it gave us the opportunity to say that we are coming together to do this again and we’re that much stronger for it. And now we’re a force to be reckoned with. People are really going to have to watch their backs. (laughs)
Even though it took awhile to get an official album out, are you happy that things worked out the way it did?
Pumpkinhead: Me, personally, I think it reps us very well.
Block McCloud: I think in that development, what I would call a developmental stage when we all kind of did our thing, it allowed us to really explore ourselves as artists and touch on certain things that we may not have been doing back in the day. Before it was all straight spitting and it was straight ‘hood and as we did our things, we were able to grow as people and as artists and I think for that, we have that much more to say now and we have that many more ways to express it through singing, laughing, it could be hard spitting or it could just be heartfelt. Together we’re definitely that much deeper as artists and have a lot more to offer to our fans right now because of that time that we took to get to this point and I think definitely when they hear this album and they hear the mixtape, they’re going to see what it was all about, chemistry-wise, and they’re going to understand that.
Pumpkinhead: I agree with that.
Why the titled Bored of Education?
Pumpkinhead: Well, Metaphor, our other partner who’s not here right now, he’s handling some B.I. for the group, he came up with the name Bored of Education.
Block McCloud: We have a Brooklyn Ac t-shirt that says “Bored of Education.” We’re tired of the system and we’re going against the status quo. We’re sort of like rebels. We’re like, ‘Fuck the teachers. We are the teachers. We’re the leaders of the new school, to quote a great group.’ We’re educating people with what we’re bringing and we want to really show what hip-hop was about and what hip-hop should be about.
What kind of issues did you guys face as a group recording Bored of Education?
Pumpkinhead: Wow. We went through a lot, man. We definitely went through a lot of trials and tribulations with each other but we stuck through it and we’re that much stronger as a group now. It shows the family aspect of the group. I mean, we went through hell picking beats and getting the right artists for it and working with the sound.
Block McCloud: Even on a personal level, I think with us, because we’ve been friends for as long as we’ve been partners, which is going on 20 years, and then it’s always been, how can I put it, it’s always been kind of crazy in that we are very creative and we are very headstrong. The three of us are very headstrong people. We kind of went through our rocky stages. Basically we were trying to puff out our chests to a certain extent. We went through what families go through to a certain extent with squabbles and this, that and the third. Me, personally, I was going through a divorce and having a new wifey and a new baby. There were things professionally and personally that we were going through and we were trying not to let us affect the music to a certain extent. But I think that going through that made us stronger to a certain extent. Plus Pumpkinhead and I have the same last name so we’re brothers to a certain extent. It was a growing experience and it brought us that much closer. It’s a family and you gotta love each other. We’re all basically brothers, man.
You guys have been leaking songs like “The Growler” and “Put Ya Hands Up” since early 2007. Why did you leak them so early?
Pumpkinhead: I think it was because before we had an actual deal on the table, what we had set out to do was a mixtape first. And the mixtape was done. We had a lot of songs done already and we were like, ‘All right, it’s time to start making a couple of tracks here and there.’ So we made some tracks featuring Jean Grae and “The Growler” was produced by Marco Polo. And then it turned into, ‘Let’s just make an album and forget the mixtape.’ We had already leaked the songs and it was already too late to take it back. We just went forward and kept the songs because they’re very strong songs.
Jean Grae is featured on three cuts off Bored of Education. You may have to make her an honorary member of the group because of that.
Pumpkinhead: I mean, that’s what it is, basically. We’ve been working together for years and her and Block know each other. Did we hang up on Block? Yo, Block. Oh my goodness. (laughs) I’ll call you right back. This is going to be ridiculous right now.
(Pumpkinhead hangs up and calls back)
Pumpkinhead: Yeah, so Jean Grae, I’ve been down with her for years. I knew Block already. We all just got along in the studio one day and you know, did a couple of joints for the Scheme Team album together. And then it was just natural. Block was on Jean’s album singing choruses. We have a joint with her called “Code Red”. So it was just natural. We got her in the studio and she was just down for it. We made it happen and it was just magic.
(Mr. Metaphor joins the call)
You guys have a song called “That’s Brooklyn” followed by “This Is Brooklyn”. I feel like I got a pretty good idea of what Brooklyn is like from those two songs.
Mr. Metaphor: For sure. On “This Is Brooklyn” with Ill Bill, it’s more like a grimy, street song running through Brooklyn back in the day. It’s giving a history of what it was like growing up in Brooklyn. And then on “That’s Brooklyn”, that’s basically describing the now. This is what can happen if you step in there and you don’t know your place and if you don’t know where you are. If you’re walking down the wrong street, something might pop off. You feel me?
Are you guys satisfied with the finished product Bored of Education?
Mr. Metaphor: Hell yeah! The album is fire, man. It definitely represents the craft that we built for many years. There’s a few things that wasn’t added to it, like the fact that we’re bilingual MCs. We weren’t really able to splash the Spanish and French stuff on there. Aside from that, I think it really represents us really well.
Block McCloud: I agree. We definitely hit with a full onslaught of what we do on different levels with the rapping and the singing and coming with the hard beats. We got a slew of great producers on there with Illmind, Marco Polo and Black Milk. And then of course the features, people that we’ve run with for years were able to make the album as well as the mixtape. We’re definitely hitting them with a great variety as well. There’s a lot of variety. You have your stuff for the underground hardcore fanatics and everybody else.
Pumpkinhead: There’s something for everybody, basically.
When are we going to see new solo albums from the three of you?
Pumpkinhead: When Bored of Education comes out, I think we’re going to see if we’re going to go another round with another Brooklyn Ac album. I’m sure everybody agrees on that because that’s a dope ass album. It’s only right. It’s a certain feeling. If the feeling is right, we’ll go with another Brooklyn Ac album. We can also do solo projects. And we’ll support each other on those too.
Block McCloud: Like we've always done. We’re always on everybody’s projects whether it be recording or appearing or singing a chorus. Whatever it may be. Solo-wise, I think we’re all in agreement that we’re all really focused on the Brooklyn Ac right now and obviously we have our solo careers that we’re going to continue to develop. If things go well with the solo project, we are somewhat committed to a second project. It’s an option, man, basically for a second album. We may pick up the option for the second album.
I’m guessing it won’t take another 12 years to see another Brooklyn Academy project.
Pumpkinhead: (laughs) Not at all! In the blink of an eye.
Block McCloud: We did the mixtape in about a month. It’s basically another album. It’s original songs with hooks and choruses. It’s well thought out. If we can do that I don’t see why we can’t do another album in the same amount of time.
Do you think Bored of Education will get its proper run from the fans and media?
Block McCloud: Definitely. And Illmind just walked into the building, by the way.
Illmind: Brian, what up? I came in to holla at Metaphor for a second. I just have to pick something up from him.
Illmind, what was it like working with these guys on Bored of Education?
Illmind: Honestly, man, it was cool. I didn’t get a chance to actually be in the studio with the fellas, but everything, honestly, man, everything that we’ve done so far, the tracks that I’ve given them, these guys have completely transformed the tracks to just that craziness. I was into Brooklyn Ac and Pumpkinhead and I know that these guys have been doing their thing for a minute so it’s my pleasure to be able to work with them, honestly, because these guys have been doing it for a long time and they’ve been holding it down. The stuff we’ve been doing has been crazy and it’s definitely, definitely only the beginning.
Have you started thinking about the next Brooklyn Ac album?
Mr. Metaphor: Yeah. Whenever we get in the studio, it’s real fluent. We have a chemistry that’s incomparable to anybody. As with anything, the more you work at something the easier it gets. The more you work together, it comes naturally. It always came naturally but it’s definitely going to be a lot easier the second time around, for sure. I feel like we’ve already gone through the transition period of coming together. Now it’s just time to work and do shows, record and do all that. It’s always been second nature for us. Here’s how it goes down. Block McCloud has his bottle of alcohol in the corner. PH rolls his eyes back and he always has the first verse and Mr. Met always has the last verse. We put it together and we always have a direction that we go in. It always comes together so nicely. And it always works out naturally.
Pumpkinhead, why haven’t you hijacked any of Pen’s recent journals?
Pumpkinhead: Once I got into this Brooklyn Ac mode, I started doing things that weren’t Pumpkinhead and started doing things that were for Brooklyn Ac. That’s what we came to an agreement on. As brothers we made a pact to focus on this project and work as a group. I kind of fell back on everything. I moved to Staten Island and Jersey to be closer to my brothers so it would be sort of easier for us to work together and that’s what it is. I had to fall back from everything.
So that’s why you guys are so quiet on your solo projects.
Block McCloud: Basically. There’s nothing else to talk about but Brooklyn Ac right now. That’s all we want to talk about. Everything else is on the back burner. Our focus is this. It’s our love and our passion.
Pumpkinhead: We got plans to write each other’s solo albums next! (laughs) I mean, they’re going to come. The solo albums are going to come and when they do come, you’ll love them as much as the Brooklyn Ac album.
Going off the title Bored of Education, what kind of students were you guys in school?
Pumpkinhead: As far as me, I was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 9 or 10. I was really smart. I just could never stay attentive. But when I got my work done I got it done. And then junior high school came around and I started smoking blunts and cut school.
Block McCloud: I was really smart. I got kicked out after two years of truancy because I was hanging out with all the seniors drinking Brass Monkey and Cisco in the staircases, grabbing up on the shorties. I ended up at John Jay in Park Slope. I graduated on time. I was a very bright kid with an incredible amount of potential but I didn’t put the effort in. I put my effort into hip-hop and that’s all I really wanted to do.
Pumpkinhead: Met is actually the only one out of all of us that went to college.
Mr. Metaphor: Yeah. I went to LaGuardia High School and I got kicked out of LaGuardia. I was a vocal major. After the first year I got the boot. And then I went to private school and played basketball. I got a long educational history. I went to two different community colleges and then I went to SUNY-Albany and graduated with a degree in English and a minor in Psychology. But that’s not to say I wasn’t bored out of my mind and writing verses in the back of the classroom. The educational system is definitely fucked up, man, especially with the kids. And that’s basically where the concept Bored of Education comes from. We basically want to show people that you can express yourself and educate yourself through hip-hop and you can express yourself however you want and still be successful.
Block McCloud: This is the Brooklyn Ac curriculum!
What’s going to define success for Bored of Education?
Block McCloud: I would say for us, this is our very first album. We’re not looking for it to have financial and commercial success. I would just say for me, personally, if we got a good response from the critics and fans, I would be happy with that. Obviously if it does really well, like 100,000 units, that would be great.
Pumpkinhead: To add to that, I already feel like we succeeded with the album because we really brought together a compilation of songs that are very different from each other and very different from what everybody else is doing. We just did a show of fresh material of five joints and they were clapping and yelling for an encore. So already the material itself is a success.
Mr. Metaphor: Of course the sales of the project is important, but for me, and I believe I can speak for the fellas as well, it’s important that the people who have been following us for all these years are happy with the product that we’re putting out. And we’re not committed to giving into the watered-down hip-hop that’s in the game right now.
What’s the next move for Brooklyn Ac?
Block McCloud: To push the album as much as possible, to go on tour and to work on this next project, which I’m sure is going to happen, and to keep on putting Brooklyn Ac on the map.
Mr. Metaphor: The mixtape is like an album. We’re actually releasing two albums back to back. DJ Haze is hosting the mixtape. People will actually get two albums back to back from Brooklyn Ac. And I think that in itself is going to solidify us and take us to the next level.
Pumpkinhead: And we’ve gotten so much support from everybody. We got Ill Bill on the album. We got Skam from Miami on the album. We got Keith Murray on the album. Look out for that. Killah Priest. Illmind production and Black Milk. And on the mixtape we got Khrysis production, Wordsworth and Vinnie Paz. Just make sure you cop Bored of Education and look out for our mixtape Summer School, hosted by DJ Haze.