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Sole was hatched the year Elvis overdosed—1977—in the far northeastern city of Portland, Maine. He recorded his first demo in 1992, which featured such unhits as “Cops Ain’t Shit,” whose first lines snarled, “I’m still pissed about Rodney,/ yeah, pissed is what they got me.” For reasons he chooses not to recall, he shopped the demo to Entertainment Resources International, the management company responsible for Da Brat, Kris Kross and Xscape. There was serious initial interest in what may have been the first great white kiddie rapper, and they flew him to Florida to record a few songs. When sole idealistically insisted on DJ Premier beats and they could offer him but Jermaine Dupri remixes, however, the deal gracefully fell through. Soon after, at 15, sole regrouped and with a new crew—45 Below Records, which included anticonian alias—and a new DJ—Cuz the Highlander, who in later years emerged as a rare record guru and occasional producer (under the name Moodswing9) in the Bay Area—and released an album under the name Northern Exposure. That album, Mad Skillz and Unpaid Billz, was a mishmash of early 90’s hip-hop like Lord Finesse and Black Moon and sold upwards of 300 copies. A year later, fresh from this unsuccess and flush with savings from his after-school job at McDonalds, sole pressed up his first 12″ and freely gave it away at the 1995 Gavin Convention to little effect. 1996 brought another sole group, Live Poets, and a new album, “What’s It All About?” While unmistakably beholden to classic East Coast rap, the album began to exhibit the considerable influence experimental and underground Los Angeles rap, circulated through long distance trading of hissy tapes. The rhyme schemes showed cracks and surprising fissures, and the lyric content veered wildly between the battle raps on which sole had been nourished and a more original strain of poeticized language delivered with compressed emotional force. One song in particular, “Think Twice,” with its jangly setting, loosened song structure, and lyrics in which sole’s personal conflicts and ambivalences took center stage, was sole as the sole he would soon become. Meanwhile, being the equal-parts curious and ambitious sort that he was, sole started up a webzine and an online radio station, run directly from his basement bedroom in Portland. Through his website, his compulsive contact-making, and he and pedestrian’s semi-frequent assays into Brooklyn and Manhattan, sole’s world rapidly expanded to include a whole constellation of radical rappers and industry shitheads situated throughout North America. His Live Poets 12″ from ’97, “Respect” (which took the canonical O.C. line from “Time’s Up”—”I’d rather be broke and a have a whole lotta respect”—as its premise), indicated the significant development of his art, garnered some press and college radio play, sold a few thousand copies, and most importantly led to further hook-ups among like-minded artists like doseone and jel, Atmosphere, the Shapeshifters, and the Sebutones (Sixtoo and Buck 65). With his typical blend of idealism and Ice Cubism, sole soon tired of the East Coast indie music establishment: “I had worked too hard to water my shit down,” sole said in retrospect, “just to gain acceptance from people who don’t even share my values.” In early ’98, sole and pedestrian, led by vague visions and strong desires, coined the name “anticon” and decided to establish a broad-minded collective of rule-breaking rap musicians. pedestrian and sole soon fled westward and settled in the Bay Area, and in the years that followed, the rest of anticon gradually made their way to California as well. anticon’s first flower was Deep Puddle Dynamics, which coalesced dose, jel, Atmosphere’s Slug, alias, and sole, and anticon’s opening salvo was the collaborative vinyl EP, “hip-hop music for the advanced listener,” which waged a full frontal assault— both directly and incidentally—on the staid rap industry on behalf of the marginalized but aesthetically expansive rap underground. In 2000 sole released his proper debut, Bottle of Humans, which provided target practice for hip-hop conservatives and an object of adoration for critics and a range of fans who instinctually trampled over the artificial borders of genre. anticon’s brand grew exponentially through tours, consistent aesthetic growth, and perpetual indifference to industry expectations. 2003 saw sole’s accomplished and acclaimed Selling Live Water, which earned unlikely laudatory bouquets from magazines like Rolling Stone and Playboy. In 2004 sole relocated to Barcelona, Spain with his wife, and has cast himself as a rapping Nero to the western world’s enflamed Rome, touring not only the U.S., but Western and Easter Europe (even having rocked throughout the former Yugoslavia a few times), Israel, Japan and Australia. In 2004 he recorded a self-produced record for Morr Music under the moniker, mansbestfriend. He has made music with DJ Krush, Sage Francis, Slug, Atmosphere, sixtoo, and the entire anticon family. Meanwhile, he’s kept his hopes characteristically too high, his wit sharpened to a jagged point, and his raps painfully true.


Live from Rome
Selling Live Water