Rapper Blueprint digs into writing, management and music
By Tim Anderl
Columbus rap artist Albert Shepard carries a fitting moniker, Blueprint, and his latest effort, the self-released Respect The Architect demonstrates only one aspect of his evolution. Dayton City Paper recently spoke with him about the new record and some other huge, game-changing details.
You are currently out on tour in support of Respect the Architect. Is your approach to putting together the live show an equally weighted pursuit to writing and recording?
The challenge with any album is making sure it doesn’t come off as a collection of random songs and has a momentum and cohesiveness to it. The same challenge exists, at least to me, when I’m putting together a live show. I want my live show to have a momentum that takes the fan through a lot of different moods and emotions by the time it’s finished.
What were the prevailing themes you were trying to communicate on the record?
One of the main themes I tried to get across on the album was perseverance and focus. I have had many challenges on my path and I wanted to be open about those challenges, and hopefully inspire other people with my honesty. – B
On the title track you mention you had a struggle with alcohol some years back and have since made the choice to be sober. Do you care to talk about how that experience has sharpened your focus?
Being sober has completely changed my focus and productivity, but in a way that might be different than what people think. What it did was give me a completely different appreciation of time and how valuable it is. The more you drink, the less you remember about specific times and situations, which can be good if you have a lot of anxiety and stress. But the downside is it makes you less appreciative of time. You end up spending five or six hours just sitting in one place drinking or doing things that don’t contribute to where you want to be in life. So, being sober now allows me to really appreciate time for the first time in my life. And because I appreciate it more, I try my hardest to take advantage of it every day. – B
How was putting this record out yourself part of a larger or more deliberate career plan?
It came out on Weightless, which is my own label. As I get further into my career, I start to understand the importance of ownership. I have put out a lot of records for other labels, but this is the first true solo album I have released myself and owned all the rights to. I think every artist should make an effort to own at least a few things in their catalog, if they can. Doing it this way has really energized me again because I’m more connected to every step in the process. – B
You’ve been very active in social media, embracing blogging as a form of communication. Has that been a game-changer for you in terms of building dynamic, symbiotic relationships with your fan base?
Blogging has completely changed the way I interact with my fans. At least two or three times a night on this tour, fans come up to me and reference one of my blogs, and tell me it inspired them. They appreciate the fact I write about things no other artist is writing about. It’s added another dimension to my career and ability to interact with my fans. – B
You’ve also written a couple of books. Is that a natural extension of the writing you do lyrically?
I actually view the books as an extension of the blogging. I never really had the confidence to write the books until I started blogging. Over the course of a few years, where I was able to build up my confidence by writing 1,000 to 1,500 words at a time, I slowly gained confidence. And with that confidence came the decision to try my hand at writing books. – B
I’ve read some pretty great books by rap artists, including Chuck D’s. Do you measure your writing against other rap artists?
I read a lot, so I’m not just writing the books to make money or out of obligation, but more as a natural extension of my love of literature. I just want to contribute and inspire others. As long as I can do that, I’m happy with where I’m at. I’ve got many more books left in me. – B
I have to ask you about working with Dayton funk legend Terry Troutman.
Getting to work with Terry Troutman [of Ohio funk band Zapp] was an awesome experience. Just being able to drive to Dayton, walk into his studio space and see all the platinum plaques hanging on the walls was enough. But getting to see him fire up the Yamaha DX-7 and do all that talkbox stuff live was something else. He was a true professional and I will never forget that experience. He kept asking me if I was happy with what he was doing and all I could do was smile and say, “hell yeah!” – B
Blueprint will perform on Friday, July 4 at Hole In The Wall, 423 E. Fifth St. For more information, please visit printmatic.net.
Tim Anderl is the web editor and a contributing writer at Ghettoblaster Magazine, and maintains his own music blog at youindie.com. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.