A lot of shit went down in 2016. But while the rest of us were having a terrible time, local hip-hop/jazz/funk band The Lique did okay for themselves—they played the Life Is Beautiful music festival, toured the United States, were featured in Afropunk, landed a residency at Sayers Club in SLS and released their debut album Democracy Manifest.
The suit-and-tie-wearing quintet (made up of guitarist Sean Carbone, standup bass player Nick Schmitt, keyboardist Jason Corpuz, and drummer Jeremy Klewicki) is fronted by the charismatic, funny rapper, Rasar Amani. After a spontaneous show at Bunkhouse last year, celebrating Rasar’s birthday resulted in a magical crowd surf that can be seen in the band’s “Batman” music video. Tonight at 8 p.m. The Lique plays their last show of 2016 at Bunkhouse with Cameron Calloway and Abstrack for a repeat of Rasar’s birthday bash. He says he’s turning 85. He looks great for his age but considering the male life expectancy is only 76, we should all go out to the show because who knows how many more years the young-looking geezer has left? Plus, he says he wants to top last year’s crowd surf. Pressure is on.
You guys had a pretty busy and impressive year over 2016. What do you think was the highlight?
Life Is Beautiful was the hands-down best moment. The build up consisted of a video contest. People sent videos [of themselves singing The Lique songs] from all over… It was amazing to get everyone involved … [It] was a great reminder that when you put in the work, and you go out of your way to provide value—not just content, we’re all pushing content—and do something different and inclusive, you can’t help but create a ripple effect that causes people to want to be involved in some way or another.
I really enjoyed your performance of “Walk Into My Office” at Vinyl in July. You’re a great performer and it had a theatrical vibe. The song is about people trying to sign and take advantage you. Is that something that you’ve experienced as a band?
I already released [that song] five years ago on my solo album, which is all just redone … I can say it now, but for many years I didn’t talk about how I was supposed to be on MTV [as a coach on the show Made]. It was a very long and painful year-long process. They wanted me on TV, and they kept coming after me. [MTV] offered a lot of things. There was a lot of things going on in my life at the time. I needed a break. The industry runs you through so many unnecessary loops. You’re just trying to show up, do music, and move on. They want you to dance, say this or that, and it’s always something. You’re never good enough…
[The band] had a few situations that looked good, that ended up snaring us. The supreme irony is that someone approached us who saw our live show, and wanted to record “Walk Into My Office”… This same person who respected us deeply, supposedly, because of that song, became the exact thing “Walk Into My Office” talks about. He had a bad contract that he wanted us to sign … That dude was holding us back and we weren’t even on a label. There was a lot of money being flung around and it got very heated. We were pushing along despite it all. You can’t let the drama hold you back. That’s why this show is so important.
It’s your birthday soon, and then Christmas after that. What do you want for Christmas?
All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! Let me think—my number one birthday gift I want is, I want to top that crowd surf. That was a real dream of mine, earning a stage dive or crowd surf. My one birthday gift I wish for is that we get so crunk up in this dancery, that I can literally freely stage dive. Everyone will catch me and I can fly all over the room. That’s legitimately all I want. I haven’t stage dived before.
I think your chances are pretty good. The only way we can know for sure is just for you to go for it! What do you have planned on the horizon?
We’re already back in the studio. We’re going to start “leaking” (see what I did there?) singles. We’re not worried about an album. People should know we’re on Spotify. They should know about our website: www.thelique.com. I want more people onto that. We’ve already got a couple jams laid down. You may not see as much of us as before. We want to continue to provide quality to the people—exciting and fresh! The last thing we want is people saying “Oh yeah, they always play here.” I want it to be a call-off-work-reason to come see us!