BEmagazine recently had the opportunity to engage in a meeting of musical minds with Animate Object’s Bass player, Prashant R. Vallury, and Guitarist, Steve Dobias, Chicago’s Independent Music Award winners for BEst Hip-Hop Song in the 2008 for their hit single “El Dorado.” Creating a new genre of Hip Hop – Soul fusion with live acoustics, Animate Objects are a rap group that consist of Charlie Coffeen on Keyboards, Justin Boyd on Drums, and two emcees, S. Squair Blaq and Aquil. Three classmates Prashant, Steve, and S. Squair at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, IL founded the group in August 2003 for a local Battle of the Bands contest, in which they won. The group descriBEs their sound as a reflection of their individual personalities, each coming from passionately different backgrounds, with their own separate sets of influences. “All together our music reflects all the different elements each member brings to the table,” Steve tells us when asked to descriBE the sound the band sound.
Industry wise, Animate Objects are compared to greats such as The Roots (primarily BEcause they’re also a band), “we love the Roots; they’re a blueprint for us,” Prashant tells us, but being compared to a Chicago edition of A Tribe Called Quest is the highest compliment they could BE paid. The debt of their lyrics and musicality is what drew band guitarist to Hip Hop. The band feels as though they are reinterpreting two generations of music and putting a little Chicago funk on it. Fellow Chicago natives Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke and other artists such as Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes and Bob Marley provide the Soulful influences in the bands design. The band is very proud of the musical heritage from their city, and aim to continue to display just that in any venue or set they perform.
Many artists have jumped on the Auto-Tune bus and the trend has BEcome a gimmick to more culturally conscious acts like Animate Objects. “People who lament the use of auto-tune and the same recycled BEats over and over…, if you dig a lil’ deeper and you’ll always find a gem,” Steve reminds us and goes on to say, “there is nothing that replicates the magic that happens when a group of people get together collaborating on the same song at the same time.”
High Notes for Low Lifes is the band’s latest project; a compilation of 10 tracks all expressing grass-root Hip-Hop lyrics and a live band-feel to the listener. When listening to the band’s album you can definitely take in the singing element of each song in conjunction with the well-written lyrics of the two emcees.
Animate Objects wants to let future fans and supporters of their projects know, “If you let us in your home, we’d like to sit down, get to know you, and build…” Prashant tells BEMagazine. “We like to play real music for real people,” and just like the real people’s magazine, it should BE a no brainer when referring to Animate Objects as a rap band, that they’ll BE having staying power with justly proven talent to match.