Modern Gentlemen has a laugh at hip-hop's expenseA free back-from-tour show for Modern Gentlemen will be held at 10 p.m. Sept. 25 at 624 Live (formerly Shooters Saloon) on Tower Avenue in Superior.
With tongue-in-cheek tracks like “Loud Rap Club Song Dance Party,” playful hip-hop has finally hit the Twin Ports. The purveyors? Modern Gentlemen, a duo consisting of Kritical Kontact’s David “Bliss” Kittelson and former Number One Common frontman Cory “MC1980” Jezierski.
“We take ourselves seriously by not taking rap music seriously,” said Jezierski.
Indeed, the pair remains dedicated to strong lyrical content and a good flow — but, in stark contrast to, say, Kritical Kontact, the key word is “fun.”
“It’s rap music making fun of rap music clichés,” said Kittelson, whose main group’s records heavily revolve around what’s happening in the world. (Indeed, when the Budgeteer sat down with the group back in ’08, the interview took a 10-minute detour into the campaign talking points of Ron Paul, the presidential candidate all the members favored.) “There is a comedic and very lyrical vibe.”
“It’s not as serious as other projects that you’ve heard us on,” he said. “It’s got a good vibe to it. I think people will want to put it in when they’re partying or when they want to have fun and be in a good mood.
“They’ll be able to get some laughs out of it.”
Because the duo’s aim is to keep Modern Gentlemen shows upbeat and fun, they rarely mix in Kritical Kontact tracks or songs from their respective solo careers.
“It just doesn’t match up with what we’re saying,” said Kittelson, who has competed at a few of the Scribble Jams in Cincinnati.
Kittelson said they’ve actually tried it a few times, and it just didn’t have a good vibe to it.
“People were like, ‘Hey, we were partying and now you want to talk politics with us,’” Jezierski joked. “Afterward we realized that we were big, stupid idiots for trying to do that.
“… We’re up there popping off bottles of champagne talking about ridiculous things and the next thing you’re like, ‘Oh, this is about insert something serious.’ It just doesn’t work.”
Despite their aforementioned solo careers (and Kittelson’s Kritical Kontact duties), neither of the Modern Gentlemen members seemed too fazed by their workloads.
“It’s alright,” Kittelson said about juggling different projects. “I just keep them in separate folders on the laptop — that’s pretty much what it amounts to [Laughs].”
Recording for numerous projects is one thing, but Kittelson often bills joint shows when MG is back in the Twin Ports from tour that can be quite grueling.
“It’s not too bad doing Kritical Kontact and Modern Gentlemen shows together,” he said. “If I’m doing a solo set too, or if I’m rapping with Jaze or Legitimit (fellow Kritical Kontact members), then it gets to be about four or five sets. [Laughs] That’s just like, Well, I’m pretty much doing the whole show now.
“… It gets redundant, though. You want to have different people up there.”
‘Search for Bigfoot’
As an independent hip-hop group from the Midwest, it’s necessary for Modern Gentlemen to be on tour a lot (on the figurative roads paved by Atmosphere and the entire Rhymesayers Entertainment family down in Minneapolis).
“When you do it independently, it’s awesome,” Jezierski said of road life. “But, at the same time, if you don’t like not knowing where you’re going to sleep sometimes … it’s not for everybody.
“Stuff like that doesn’t bother me so much; it’s part of the fun.”
The former Number One Common frontman said you just have to take the good with the bad.
“Sometimes you do shows and you’ve got a couple hundred people there; sometimes there are four or five,” Jezierski continued. “It is what it is. When you’re going out there and doing it on your own, you just gotta keep doing it.”
Kittelson echoed his fellow Gentleman’s sentiments.
“It always balances itself out into a good experience overall,” he said. “You meet a lot of people; you sell some merch here and there.”
Surprisingly, for a DIY tour experience, the two didn’t have a lot to gripe about.
“I can’t think of anywhere that I thought that was really bad,” Jezierski said. “The grossest places I’ve seen on the road have probably been people’s houses, as opposed to venues [Kittelson cracks up after hearing this].
“I would’ve rather slept on the floors of some of those bars than in some of the people’s houses. God bless them for inviting us over — don’t get me wrong….”
About the only terrible concert experience either of them could offer up was at a cavernous space in Lexington, Neb.
“It wasn’t even really a bar or anything,” Kittelson said.
Jezierski quickly offered: “It was a big empty room.”
Either way, an amplifier started on fire before the long-away-from-home group ever got to play anything from the crowd.
“I didn’t even touch a microphone that night, so you can’t blame me,” Jezierski addressed Kittelson, laughing.
‘People like Me’
The members of Modern Gentlemen offered up a number of different artists when asked what they were listening to when they first got into-hop.
Kittelson rattled off Gang Starr, Eazy-E, N.W.A., the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.
“All the mainstream stuff like that,” he said.
Jezierski wasn’t shy about the hilarious way he got into the genre.
“When I was really young, this kid who lived next door to me gave me a tape — or he had a tape and after I heard it I made him make me a copy — and it was pretty hardcore, for being a little kid,” he recalled. “It had N.W.A. and Ice-T and, like, Sir Mix-a-Lot — ridiculous stuff like that that was cool. [Laughs] So, I heard all that stuff first, and it was cool just because I was younger and there were swear words.”
The two seemed to enjoy reminiscing.
“I used to steal my brother’s Eazy-E tape,” Kittelson offered.
This is, in turn, inspired more recollections from Jezierski.
“I made this other kid copy me the 2 Live Crew tape,” he joked about the infamous Miami Bass group. “That explains a lot.”
Modern Gentlemen’s debut album, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Dangerous Living,” is out now. Hear some clips at www.myspace.com/moderngentlemenhiphop.
Tags: arts and entertainment, modern gentlemen, kritical kontact, number one common, cory jezierski, david kittelson, duluth, budgeteer, music, hip-hop, rap, mc1980, bliss, mc, emcee, superior, indie, independent