The Naked Collective – Eclectic Explosions
Eclectic Explosions is a compilation album hosted and put together by Ben Alessi for The Naked Collective (a philadelphia movement started by Alessi, Tyler Beers , Andrew Rufo and Sinead Kelly, check them out at thenakedco.com or www.naked-collective.tumblr.com ).
“Your grandmother’s favorite grandson” also known as “Ben Frank$” is a Philadelphia born producer/designer, and a very dear friend of mine (and apparently my grandmother!)
By the sound of Eclectic Explosions, Alessi has a golden ear (he confirmed during our phone interview.) Teaming up with The Naked Collective and a wide variety of Pennsylvanian artists, he and Beers dedicated their time and ears to finding musical gems that do not get enough airplay. They then put them out to the public (contributing vocals, production and engineering to the tracks to give them a professional mixtape sound.)
Alessi spearheaded the project; making the beat and producing the song “Billy D. Freestyle”, and co-producing “Life’s Hard, Be Easy” as well as “Re-Invention.” Alessi , Beers and Brian Treichel (DJ Marvel) hand-picked and recorded each sound effect and sample along with choosing each artist and track. The problem was, they wanted all kinds of music, and not just rap.
As Alessi said: “Honestly, making the tags was my favorite part of this project, and the main reason why I wanted to host it as if it was a rap “mixtape.” I know it sounds ridiculous, but I figured that rap/hip-hop have become so mainstream that it would be possible, it was just a puzzling concept when I pitched it to Tyler at first. The main piece of the puzzle that I had to figure out was how to bring together like ten different musical genres on one ‘mixtape’….so we decided to mix things up and that’s when I decided we would just call it a ‘mixed tape’ and go from there.”
Alessi and Beers hit the web, contacted friends/family (Beers and AGT semifinalist Dylan Andre grew up together as kids) and sometimes even random people on the street (Alessi said that the girl’s voice for “The Naked Co.” tag is a girl he remembers only as ‘Laura’ and he asked her outside the studio randomly.) After a month, they started building up a track list. Alessi and his “Naked” collective came together, and they “mixed” things up. A few months later, they found themselves with a track from quadriplegic rapper OppO (www.iamoppo.com), a track from AGT finalist Dylan Andre (www.dylanandre.com), a radio-ready jam from The Skeleton Frames (www.theskeletonframes.com) and a whole team of up and coming artists to work with. What came about from this is Eclectic Explosions, a poster child for musical diversity.
The “mixed tape” has old school hip – hop, trance electronica, reggae, a love ballad, party rap, dub step and even a cover. The track “Re-Invention” enlightens the listener to real hip – hop, with a track reminiscent of Digable Planets or The Fugees. Other musical highlights include the summer jam “Burning for You” and a cover of Ed Sheenan’s “YNMIDNY.” Overall, my favorite thing about listening to it was that, at almost any time or place, I could find a track that was appropriate to play. Eclectic Explosions exposes one to the different tiers of musical consciousness, bringing the world a bit closer through music and the human experience. Alessi and his team took on almost every track and took it to another level of musical consciences, download this “mixed tape” and enjoy it this summer!
(Below is my interview with Alessi and the links for streaming/downloading Eclectic Explosions)
Interview with Ben Alessi, aka “Your Grandmother’s Favorite Grandson” , aka “ben frank$”
Where are you from?
“Long answer? I am from Philadelphia and was born in Bryn Mawr, then the accident happened when I was 18 and I was in a coma for a little and then I was re-born , this time back in Philadelphia. Short answer? Heaven. ”
I have seen some of your clothing designs, why the foray into music?
“The clothing and the music for me have always been interrelated. I made the “Be Easy” shirt because ‘Life’s hard, be easy’ is my slogan, and luckily was able to connect with Wiz (Khalifa) and give him a shirt after the concert he performed at for my benefit. A few months later, I sponsored Big Sean’s first ever concert in Philadelphia before “Finally Famous”, and I got him in a shirt and a video shout out that I need to turn into a tag for the next mixed tape. Remind me to do that!”
What inspired you to make this “mixed tape”?
“I was inspired to make this for two reasons: The first is because I feel I have a golden ear and I find musical gems that others do not often stumble upon. The second is because I wanted to get into the production of making music. I always wanted to rap on a track, but not to be rapper, the focus for me and The Naked Collective is getting artists like Millionz and Dylan Andre signed. I have a ton of sample ideas and tag ideas, it gets tricky to find obscure clips like the one I sampled for “Re-Invention.” I guess I just wanted to prove myself musically, because I have been criticizing other’s music my whole life.”
Is there a reason why your album has no genre?
“I do not believe in genres. You have good music, and you have bad music. This is GOOD music, from Beezy, not G.O.O.D. music from Yeezy. Not that Kanye makes bad music; I think recently he just has been making awful decisions.
(laughing) “What was the question again? “
I believe I asked is there a reason why your album has no genre?
“I wanted to make a CD that no matter whoever listened to it, they could find a song they liked. Also I don’t believe in genres ”
Where did you find these artists?
“All these artists are an artist who started or is affliated with PA (except for the last track “GOD”) from my home state’ of PA, and God provided them and their music to me.”
Is this a religious album?
“Definitely NOT. Religion is for the government, God is for the people. That is important to us here at The Naked Co. One God, One Son, One Love. I don’t believe in “Christian Rap” and genres like that because if I am a Christian and I am rapping, then it is ‘Christian Rap’, you feel me? Honestly my rapping is so DJ Khaled I do not know if I should have used that example”
I loved it! Where did you get the name for the “mixed tape”?
“The word eclectic means a lot of different types; it’s an explosion because it was my first ever musical project. I am trying to teach kids new words and blow up your eardrums.”
What is your favorite song on the “mixed tape” ?
“Probably all of them (laughs). I do not really have a favorite song; it is hard to choose, especially when there is like 7 different genres of music on there! I have favorite moments, like the shout out Millionz gives me in “Young” , the introduction to every track, and the background sound effects. I would have to say my favorite part is the way that the coughs line up with the beat on “Re-invention.”
“Could you ask your grandmother to text me? (laughs) Yes, be easy and live naked! Download the mixtape!”
STREAM/DOWNLOAD LINK FOR A SAMPLING OF THE MIXTAPE :
Twitter: @beeasythreads, @thenakedco
FB: BE EZ, The Naked Co. (group), Ty Beers