The most frustrating facet of the pandemic for music fans has been the absence of live shows.
It's been a struggle to listen to an artist's latest work and not be able to see them in concert. But even as live performances remain largely on hold, one local rap group is looking to bring forth the live music vibes the social scene has been missing in the form of a new release.
Comprising Emanuel "Eman" Freeman, Jordan "J. Pounds" Pounds, Kenneth "Chad Savage" Hibbler and Drue "Breauxgawd" Pounds, 4Deep evolved from four friends making music solo and sometimes together to a dedicated group of local heavy hitters. Following a year and some change of few local music releases and even fewer live shows, the group's latest venture, The Big Gang Theory, packs just the right amount of vitamin D to lift your pandemic-exhausted spirit.
The Big Gang Theory is the first full-length effort 4Deep has released, following a handful of singles and Soundcloud tracks spanning back several years. Its single "Solstice" boasts a smooth vibe with bold lyricism and a clever, hooky earworm of a chorus that serves as a perfect summer soundtrack for emerging from your pandemic cocoon.
It's also the strongest example yet of the group's dedication to getting serious about its craft. The group agrees that mainstream artists such as Outkast, Pharrell and Kanye West have all been inspirations to them, but more than that, spending time with one another as friends and artists — especially during the relative downtime brought on by COVID-19 — has fueled the unique sound they've created.
"We don't sound like anything that's out," says Eman. "But the way we make music influences each other."
"When the pandemic set in, we noticed all of our flaws with our music," Breauxgawd adds. "We were able to sit with our music for a decent amount of time and figure out what we needed to change to make it better."
And so the past year for the group has been about growth, refining their sound, and finally making a complete body of work come to life. That meant making sure studio time could fit within ever-changing COVID regulations, and making decisions for the album the group could unanimously agree on.
"We had songs from two years ago and songs from two weeks ago on the album," Eman says. "It was just kind of molding them to be able to speak a story into existence."
The bulk of the work for the album took a little over a year to complete, the group says. And while some artists were able to dedicate themselves to ample studio time, 4Deep had to be strategic and meticulous when it came time to record. Most studios that remained open did so with limited hours and COVID precautions in place.
"Some of the studios we'd go to had to switch things up to be COVID compliant," Chad Savage says. "You couldn't have more than one person recording at a time, so everyone had a plan for what they were doing and working on while they're in there for an hour."
In making The Big Gang Theory, the members of 4Deep say they were passionate about promoting a positive theme for listeners to relate to, since brotherhood and supporting one another define the group's dynamic.
"I just want people to feel good about themselves," says J. Pounds. "I think it's feel-good music. It's empowerment. I want you to feel like you can do whatever you want to do."
But The Big Gang Theory is not an album made simply to inspire; it's "got something for everyone on there," says Chad Savage. "We have the songs for people in the club, something to smoke to, something to chill to. It's different modes and moods of music for sure."
The group's members agree they can feel the growth in their sound versus the singles they've dropped in the past. And since the album took more than a year to create, the group was careful about not announcing it as finished prematurely.
"The mind that we have when we're making music is if we really like it, we're not worried about if others are gonna accept it," Chad Savage says. "We'll play the song over and over before it's even released."
As more vaccine doses are injected into arms across the country and life begins to show promise of semi-normalcy, the question of how live music will look in a post-COVID society remains. The group has goals of potentially holding live performances this summer, maybe releasing a limited collection of 4Deep apparel and accessories, and of course, creating more music.
But for now, the goal is to enjoy the process, keep growing and continue building the strong bond the four have with one another.
They plan to do it all. Together.
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