Producer/Rapper Blueprint’s Behind-the-Scenes Book About Creativity, Inspiration, Process, and Making an Album
In all honestly, it had been a while since I had checked for something from Columbus, OH MC/producer Blueprint. I know him best for his work with RJD2, both on RJ’s solo albums and their work as the duo Soul Position. I am a big fan of the 2003 Soul Position debut 8 Million Stories, which dropped during my freshman year of college. Since college I lost track of both the Blueprint and his music.
Flash forward to about two years ago. I was checking J-Zone’s twitter feed and saw a blog post by Blueprint that Zone had re-tweeted. Curious, I gave it a look. After reading it, I continued pouring through Blueprint’s blog, admiring his fluid writing style and honest self-analysis. I loved his approach to writing about music gear, production, and the struggles of someone trying to make it as an artist.
Seeing a link to the Kindle version of his book, The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture, I decided to give it a look. I had yet to check the Adventures in Counter-Culture album, but I was eager to get a behind the scenes look at the album making process through the eyes of such a gifted writer. While brief (the last 30% of the book consists of the lyrics from Adventures in Counter-Culture), Blueprint’s book is a highly engaging read. Hitting all of the marks that make for captivating music writing, Blueprint gives the reader insight into the trials, tribulations, and life events that inspired him to make Adventures in Counter-Culture. This is an extremely personal book that deals with alcoholism, depression, and the loss of friends and family. If you listen to a song like “Clouds”, the emotional intensity of the content is palpable. The haunting instrumentation coupled with the Columbus rapper’s sobering lyrics are guaranteed to send chills down your spine. Throughout the book, it is evident that creating this album was a transformative experience.
In addition to striking an emotional chord, Blueprint breaks down his process in an interesting and accessible way. He talks about his production with enough specifics to engage rap fans, but doesn’t get technical to the point of risking reader interest. Formerly a sample-based producer, Blueprint moved away from sampling and towards the digital audio workstation Reason. He started making beats that focused on original instrumentation drawn from a MICROKORG synth and other sources. Making no apologies for this shift, it is clear that Print wanted to reinvent himself as an artist and see how far he could push the boundaries of his music. He raised the bar on his creative process and pushed himself in new ways to finish the album and break out of a creative rut.
The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture also gives readers without much background knowledge of the Columbus, OH music scene some valuable insight into the inner workings and important acts. I loved reading about the interactions between the different genres. Print writes about absorbing every kind of live music imaginable while trying to remain inspired. His writing reminded me that when looking for inspiration, we must balance our inputs and outputs. As important as focus, healthy workflow, and productivity are, people also benefit from engaging with other artists and experiencing their work.
I did find the book’s ending a bit abrupt, and would have liked to hear more about the uniqueness of his relationship with the Rhymesayers record label. That said, these were minor flaws. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will gladly purchase future books from Blueprint. In fact, I just bought his second book, What a Night, a collection of stories about the worst shows of his career.
The Making of Adventures in Counter-Culture served its purpose by entertaining me, making me want to go out and buy Blueprint’s music, and schooling me on the Columbus music scene. By showing me his process, he gave me tools for fine-tuning my own. Through honest and open writing about battling alcohol, television, sadness, and loss, Blueprint created an important document for modern day musicians and creators. I hope to see more books like this from Blueprint in the not-too-distant future.
This is a modified version of a post from my former blog Heavy in the Streets.
Bookshelf Beats is a website run by Gino Sorcinelli. I interview people about books that change their lives, inspire them, and/or make them think differently. If you enjoyed this article consider subscribing to my Medium publication.