Opposites Attract the Madvillains of Nashville Rap, the Magnetic Forces Story, Part Two
Well, I’ve been waiting awhile, but here we are.
The next segment in the series.
The first one was legendary, setting new heights for the industry, a true game changer for all to witness.
And now this week, the story that has captivated the entire globe continues.
Of course, I am talking about “Infinity War,” the third Avengers movie.
I saw it last night, and I was blown away.
The visual effects were amazing, and the way they were able to include all the characters they did without sacrificing story was truly incredible. I laughed, I cried, I oohed, I aahed, I came alive, I died, I was reborn, all in the span of a couple of hours.
We are so lucky to live in an age where movies like this exist.
Marvel Studios has given the world an accurate and immensely entertaining film equivalent to reading a blockbuster comic book event after years of issues have led up to this truly monumental experience.
The pay off? I have no more words to describe the emotions I have about this movie.
And the soundtrack definitely lives up to the spectacle that is laid out before us. Every little gem, each battle, all the emotional struggles between the characters is captured in between all the notes that are richly laid out for our ears to join in the experience that is “Avengers Infinity War.”
The way they revisit the original “Avengers” melody, tweaking it enough to provide new shock and awe, yet still take us back to that time where Captain America, Black Widow, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Hawk….
What was that?
Oh, that was Tiffany Miller, Owner, Manager and Operator of Live Laugh Love Nashville, TMM Promotional Models and The Marketing Mill. Whew, she stays busy, doesn’t she?! She just interrupted my article to remind me that I’m supposed to be finishing my story on Magnetic Forces instead of heaping praise on “Avengers Infinity War” and its soundtrack.
My apologies to all, especially Adam Brock, the other half of Magnetic Forces and the subject of this latest article.
But seriously, go see “Avengers Infinity War” as soon as you can!
Last week, we talked about Aaron Emmanuel McNutt, the “North Pole” of Magnetic Forces, if you will. Aaron is the magnetic pole who lifts the group to new heights, with his boundless energy and intense rhymes forged in years of emcee battles, cyphers and lessons learned in life. I would consider Adam the “South Pole” of Magnetic Forces, because he definitely holds the group down with his solid yet animated beats, and practical old school rhymes.
Adam is the grounded yin to Aaron’s frenetic yang, or however those tiresome yin and yang comparisons are supposed to go when every writer resorts to using such a clichéd trope.
When the two are hanging out, you see how opposite they are right away. While Aaron is busy sharing his latest philosophical nugget with anyone who will listen, Adam is chilling out in the background, studying the scene and occasionally conversing with a few people. At the cypher, McNutt is eager to grab the microphone and spit, while you can see the gears turning in Brock’s head, waiting for the right moment to hit your ears with some bars.
I don’t know Adam like I do Aaron, even though we have a ton of mutual friends. Before it was called Saint Thomas Hospital, Adam was born in Baptist Hospital and would hang out with all the Hillsboro High/Hume-Fogg Academic crowd that I went to school with. Adam went to Hillsboro High School, even cementing his status as a true Nashville native by claiming Stokes as his Kindergarten school.
Like his former partner in music, Adam is a student of that raw and rugged Hip-Hop. Old school producers like Pete Rock and Prodigy are influences on Adam as well as newer producers such as MF DOOM, Dilla (R.I.P.) and Madlib who create an updated version of that old school flavor their predecessors bring to the scene.
Adam’s lyrical influences are of the same style, a mixture of old school rappers like Nas and Rakim and the “new old school” rhymers such as MF DOOM and Quasimoto. New old school is definitely a way to describe the beats on Magnetic Forces latest album “The Vision on Multiple Occasions,” which mix old school drum breaks and horn/piano samples with all sorts of inventive noises, melodies, rich interludes and other sounds you aren’t used to hearing in your Hip-Hop but all seem to fit right in like you’ve been hearing it there all your life.
If you paid attention to the last two paragraphs, which I doubt since I barely did, you’ll notice that I mentioned MF DOOM twice, as a producer and a lyricist. It’s not just because I am a huge fan of him in both roles, it’s because Adam Brock is, just like the Supervillain, a producer/emcee himself.
Though he does both, Adam makes it clear that production has always been his first love, it “makes his heart pump.” Ever since he heard early Dilla beats in the group Slum Village and the producer for Prefuse 73 combine “electronic elements with Hip-Hop beats and chopped up vocal samples,” Adam has been working on all things musical.
We actually both started making beats on the same program. I was excited to hear another artist talk about MTV Music Generator, the program that let you make music on your PC or your PlayStation back in the day. Eventually, he moved on to Cool Edit Pro, and still actually uses his 2.0 version of the software, even though it is “sixteen years old and causes occasional compatibility problems when doing large projects.”
Adam runs Cool Edit Pro on a Dell laptop that he scored for free five years ago, which is the brain of his studio. He also uses Native Instruments’ Maschine, Numark NS7 and an Audio Technica LP120 to craft his musical compositions.
And the resulting compositions are those beats you nod your head to, melodically smooth and capable of drawing your ear to Magnetic Forces before the lyrics hit your skull to complete the experience.
So, why work on lyrics?
The world has too few producers and millions of emcees rhyming club and love, so why work on both?
“I dig that I can do both and then get to slap them together,” he replies, “In a way, to me rapping is a way of celebrating a good beat. I make something, then I listen to it and let it tell me what to write…I meditate on the beat and the lyrical seeds that ultimately create a complete track.”
It makes sense, Adam is a full artist who wishes to be a part of his creation until completion. To create the drum beat, place all the notes and samples where they belong in the musical constellation of the song and provide the words that express the feelings falling to the ground from the divine inspiration of the heavens is a wonderful feeling.
The “beat first, lyrics later” philosophy is what separates Magnetic Forces from those groups where emcees trip over their metaphors and punchlines without any regard for the rhythm being revealed within the breaks.
Also, Adam has discovered that “if I want something done, I usually have to do it myself…I started rapping just to flesh out my beats.” It’s the tried and true philosophy anyone with a solid work ethic and dedication to achieving their goals lives by, and Adam is definitely one of those people. No beat? Make one. No rhymes? Make some.
“I just wanna make beats and chill out
I just wanna race streets and peel out
I just wanna do what I wanna do
When I wanna do it with no one to say no to it
I wanna go to work on a slow day
I wanna play a good show for low pay”
Magnetic Forces, “What You Want to Do”
Adam isn’t here to play music industry games or get involved in drama or business politics. He is here to make music, drive motorcycles and work hard without the desire to ever become a star. He puts making art from the heart ahead of making art for the cheddar any day.
“Being an emcee is secondary for me, and I’m still an apprentice at it,” admits Adam when pressed further about wearing both hats. Adam has a flow that he self-describes as “a smoothie…you got banana, strawberry, blueberries, peanut butter, honey, spinach, whatever - throw it all in there.” His rhymes are “chopped up smooth.”
FYI, the above ingredients are his “go-to smoothie recipe.”
His rhymes are definitely smooth, a soothing vocal tone spitting a steady old school flow over those boom bap breaks and it sounds so nice. Though he considers himself still an apprentice, dope lines like “Before I move on, cruise on, put some new shoes on / To get out of my head, I gotta keep my head down / We all wanna get a head / Can I get a headcount?” Let the listener that his word play is much more adept than his humility leads us to believe.
“Practice is the key lack this admit defeat
It’s not complex to me, so there’s no rest for me
I’m not the best that I can be, but I got the recipe
Struggle makes the best of me
C’mon life, keep testing me”
Magnetic Forces, “Desired Traits”
That first line, rhyming “practice” and “lack this,” then “the key” and “defeat” is a great multisyllabic rhyme within the singular line. Adding “admit” which is a slant rhyme with “practice” to continue the rhyme scheme is definitely not an amateur move for a lyricist. The producer inside Adam lets him naturally craft his lyrics in a way that sound good when you spit them.
It’s not always just about a great rhyme scheme, it has to sound fresh so people will listen to it multiple times.
So we’ve established that Adam is skilled at multiple elements of Hip-Hop, so we went to an overpass in East Nashville with some spray paint to see if he was a gifted graffiti artist.
We did not do that.
Put down the phone, Tiffany, no need to call the cops.
Nothing going on here but writing about Hip-Hop.
Thank you. Moving on.
So where did Magnetic Forces start, anyway? Last week we touched on when Aaron joined the group but they existed long before he blessed them with those hot bars only McNutt can come up with.
It all started with Adam Brock and a gentleman named Nicardo Dalton wayyyyyyy back in the year of 2002. Dalton and Brock were roommates in Murfreesboro, and as he describes it, “I was producing wack beats and we were just getting drunk, making random odd beats, free styling in our cars and plotting our rise in the scene.”
It was Dalton who actually coined the term Magnetic Forces.
“We never took off from the ground and instead taxied to a slow stop,” Brock adds, “I continued to brainstorm and develop the brand, and evolved my skills over the next decade. Then, in 2011, McNutt and I started working on a project under the Magnetic Forces name. It turned into 2012’s Skunkworks Protocol.”
Adam was interested in working with Aaron because “he wanted to work. He needed beats and I needed an emcee.”
So Adam started working on a project, and ten years later, after some changes and additions to the roster, produces an album that started off a successful collaboration that went on to achieve regional recognition, which is a huge accomplishment in the independent underground hip-hop community.
Kinda like the ten years it took for Kevin Feige to take the success of the first “Iron Man” movie and eventually create “Avengers Infinity War,” a movie that will change the cinema as we know it forever.
Okay, even I know that was an awful comparison, riddled with bullet holes and obviously just shoehorned in by me to give Marvel Studios some love, but give me a break, the movie was outstanding!
If anything, a better fit would be to compare each three Magnetic Forces albums Adam and Aaron made together to each of the three Avengers movies that Marvel Studios has made so far. “Skunkworks Protocol” is the first movie that brings the team together, “Kings of Lofi” is the “Age of Ultron” that brings the team closer to each other, and “The Vision on Multiple Occasions” is their “Infinity War,” a polished masterpiece that took everything to the next level.
I’ve already gone into how much I’ve enjoyed listening to “The Vision on Multiple Occasions,” I bought it on Bandcamp and it stays on rotate while I’m driving passengers around for UBER. One of my passengers even compared it to the Wu Tang Clan, which is high praise, indeed.
However, I like to compare the album to the 2004 gem “Madvillainy,” which came out on Stones Throw Records. This indie classic was created by Madvillain, a group created by MF DOOM and Madlib. When I threw out the comparison, Adam nodded his head, joking it was probably “because I have ADD.” “Madvillainy” is notorious for its brief verses, lack of choruses, brief musical interludes, and just completely abandoning the normal song structure that Hip-Hop and popular music in general has adhered to over the decades.
Brock elaborated by adding “because Madlib and MF DOOM had a huge impact on me. I like short choppy weird stuff and so that’s what I make. I don’t want to get bored listening to a track, and that happens around the three minute mark for me. You don’t need to hear that hook over and over. We invented instant rewinding. If you like it, just listen to it again.”
So after crafting such a catchy album, why is the group calling it a day?
In this answer, Adam admits that “everything ends sometime.” He could see that Aaron was ready to move on from the days of Magnetic Forces and work on music with some other artists and that’s life. As I stated last week, Aaron cited creative differences and Adam, while wishing he would stay on, understands how he feels.
As Brock sees it, “I will miss performing the current set, but overall I think this is going to give breathing room to new ideas and new projects.”
“I’m looking at it positively,” Adam concludes.
There will always be a mutual respect between the two, as Adam appreciates Aaron’s “great memory for details and history” and notes that he is a “very talented writer” and a devoted student of Hip-Hop. He’s still the friend that Adam met back in the day playing ultimate Frisbee back at the Dragon Park in Hillsboro West End.
Though the second era of Magnetic Forces has come to a close, it is not the last we have heard of Aaron or Adam in the music game. Adam is toying with keeping the MF name alive, since it has been his brand for nearly two decades. He is in the stage of restructuring his live set and while he has ideas, “I don’t want to talk too much about them. I’ve heard that the more you talk about doing something the less likely you are to actually accomplish it.”
Truer words were never spoken, and speaking of words, I had to ask Adam what came to his mind when he hears the “Three Magic Words.”
LIVE? A cartoon image of someone getting zapped by a live power line.
LAUGH? That video where everyone on a train gets an infectious giggle fit.
LOVE? Family, friends, my girl, hip hop
So now that we have discussed the history of Magnetic Forces, it is time for Adam Brock to do what he does best: getting to work. Because only by doing something can we work towards a brighter future for Hip-Hop and humanity in general.
Let’s do it, people!
You can connect with Magnetic Forces to send your condolences on the one and only FACEBOOK!
You can follow Aaron Emmanuell McNutt or Adam Brock on FACEBOOK to see what musical projects they will be up to next
You can also listen to their music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp!
Make sure and buy a copy of their album “The Vision on Multiple Occasions,” it is a great album and you WON’T regret it!
Social media, isn’t it great?!
Written by Charles Bridgers IV for Live Laugh Love Nashville