The world is awash with sequels these days — from the 007 franchise to another 9+ hours of Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle Earth in The Hobbit. And it’s not just Hollywood doubling (or tripling down). Los Angeles-based rapper Sum’s album, Dragon comes in two parts (Vol. 1 which is out November 27 and Vol. 2 which is coming around the bend), so who better to do a two-part interview with Ninja Tune artist Blockhead, who delivered some beats on Dragon.
Sum: We live in a time where there’s been so much art created, people are now wanting to go back and re-create older stuff with new technology. It pisses alot of people off. Do you feel like movie reboots get a bad rap? Or do they signify that the human race has reached the end of it’s rope?
Blockhead: I think it’s a case of Hollywood simply running out out of fresh ideas. This is nothing new, but at least back in the day they’d make a movie that was like another movie, not a straight up remake of it. As a dude who was around in the ’80s and ’90s, seeing these useless remakes of movies that were great to begin with is pretty depressing. What’s the point? I think the only movies they should be remade are the ones that missed on the first try. Judge Dredd is a great example. That original was a piece of shit. The new one though? Most bang for my buck of any movie I’ve seen this year.
Sum: In your opinion, what is the worst sequel of anything ever?
Blockhead: I dunno if it’s the worst, cause it’s actually fairly watchable ,but the least creative remake ever was The Hangover 2. it was pretty much the exact same movie as the first but less funny. The worst ever might have to be Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 cause it was 75% flashbacks of the first movie. It literally could have been made using a camcorder and two VCR decks for dubbing the old movies “flashback” scenes. Truly atrocious shit.
Sum: Who is playing Blockhead in the Blockhead biopic, and then who’s playing Blockhead in the reboot of the biopic that will come out five years later?
Blockhead: HAHAHAHA…Shit, depends what age I’d be played as. If it’s me in my early twenties, I’d imagine a young Scott Wolf (of “Party of Five” fame) would play me. If it’s an older me, I’d like a nice Bruce Willis role. We got the exact same nose, so it might work. As for the remake five years later…I’d just like to assume I’d be played by any of Will Smith’s kids.
Sum: How do you continue to evolve as an artist without going back to the same ideas and concepts repeatedly?
Blockhead: This is something I don’t really think about. I’ve never consider myself a constantly evolving artist as much as one who just refines what he does over time. I’m not changing paths drastically enough to really consider it anything more than natural growth. I tend to always keep the foundation the same , at least in terms of my beginning point. What comes out on the other end is more just a role of the dice.
I always felt that a lot of artists who go out of their way to “evolve” stretch themselves too thin and end up making contrived music that’s pandering to whatever popular at that moment. I’m more of a “stay in your lane” kinda dude. There is evolving within that but it’s not like I’ll be making a dubstep album any time soon.
Sum: Give me an example anywhere in music or movies where the sequel was better than the first (try to leave The Empire Strikes Back or Troll out of this).
Blockhead: In movies there are a few good examples. Gremlins 2 was better than the original (which is saying a lot considering how good that first movie was). Evil Dead 2 is another. Hell, I’d even say the last Rambo movie was the best one yet.
For music, it’s a little different. The sophomore slump is a real thing, but a few artists have been able to power through it. The Jungle Brothers Done By The Forces Of Nature was their masterpiece. I actually prefer the second Portishead album to their debut. A lot of times, artists kinda figure things out the second time around and really find their sound. That certainly could be said for A Tribe Called Quest and Kool G rap and DJ Polo.
Come to think about, lots of sequels are kinda the best. Who knew?
Blockhead: If there was a classic album (of any genre) that you would “reboot” as executive producer with an all new cast and new technology, but the same overall music and topics, what would it be?
Sum: I think Elzhi broke ground with the Elmatic project with Will Sessions. He rebooted a classic album. I honestly don’t even know if anything I could think of would even fuck with that. Yeh, I just spent like 15 minutes racking my brain on this one. No point, Elzhi killed this category forevermore.
For a long time I wanted to kind of “reboot” Black Sheep’s first album A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing, cuz it’s got so many joints on it and Dres is such a big influence on me. That never took flight. Lately I’ve been daydreaming about turning Digable Planet’s Blowout Comb into a theater musical. It’s such a theatrical album, there wouldn’t have to be any dialogue or nothing. It’d just be like a moving opera, with the music guiding the action of everything. One day maybe. I guess if I was serious about it, I’d do a Kickstarter campaign, because every idea that’s an idea worth having is worth starting a Kickstarter campaign for, right?
Blockhead: Where do you think a sequel was better than the original?
Sum: In movies….Meatballs 2, Breakin 2 and The Dark Knight. In music, The Chronic 2001 was a far superior album than it’s predecessor. Lot of people will have a problem with that statement, but that’s my story, I’m stickin to it. Even though I’m a bigger FAN of the first one, the second Chronic was overall a better album, you just gotta give respect where it’s due. Sonically, muscially, the engineering, the great hooks and guest appearances. Big.
Karate Kid II was arguably better than the first one. Daniel-San wasn’t such a lil queef, and there was more overall ass-whoopins going around in the second one. Oh, and Drunken Master 2 aint too shabby either. A lot of times, sequels get overlooked…the creator has actually become a better artist, and the work is better, but people are expecting what they got with the first film/album. But alot of time, shit just sucks. I do think that Dragon Vol. 2 is gonna far outshine this first one. Listening to Vol. 1 now, I’m realizing I was just warming up.
Blockhead: Who’s playing Sum in the Sum biopic?
Sum: For ages 5-13 Sum, Lou Gossett, Jr. All ages after that can be played by a rotating cast of James Harden, Will.i.am, Scottie Pippen, Emmanuel Lewis and Jason Sudekis. What will be more important is who plays “dead” or “spirit world” Sum, in the sequel to my biopic, which will probably be way more interesting than anything I might manage to squeeze out while I’m rappin here on earth. I hope to God no biopics of me are ever made though, truly. My music is far more interesting than the action points in my life.
Blockhead: What are your favorite examples of series/sequels in music (i.e., Cuban Linx, The Blueprint, In My Lifetime, Johnny Cash’s American recordings, etc…)?
Sum: Maybe Stillmatic and De La Soul’s Art Official Intelligence series. Stillmatic was just a good example of Nas keeping it simple, but moving forward at the same time. He kept the formula familiar as a return to form of sorts. Kinda dope how he did that just to show it could be done, then went on about his business with Street’s Disciple, which wasn’t bad by a long shot.
Blockhead: What is the worst sequel of anything ever?
Sum: Teen Wolf Too. Even the title is terrible. How can you mess up a sequel title? Just put a “2″ next to what you already got. Before you know anything else about the movie, you know it’s called TEEN WOLF TOO. That’s some ’80s shit for you.