With all that is going on in the world, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up with each issue at hand.
While our country is facing racial injustices involving police brutality, there’s still battle zones breaking out across the waters all over the globe. At times like this, music is the best escape that people can turn to.
This is where we can bring in New York City natives Alpha Memphis and Machia, who make up the group Dynamic Equilibrium.
The two have an undeniable chemistry, as they’ve known each other since their youth, and they’ve combined their brains to create a powerhouse duo that’s ready to take on the music world by storm. Their music easily fits into the “conscious rap” category, as they speak on numerous issues, including ones that don’t even receive much light being shed on them.
Both Alpha and Machia have been making their rounds over the past couple of years, increasingly building their buzz through performances all over the East Coast, as well as dropping their incredible project Post Crack Era last year.
They both have their own set of creative talents to contribute to their teamwork, as Machia covers the production work, along with contributing his rhymes, while Alpha covers a lot of the film work on top of spitting “dope ass lyrics.”
I got a chance to sit down with the duo, where we talked about their intriguing back stories, how they got their name, and how they tackle some of the important social issues we need to know more about in their music.
Get to know the guys of Dynamic Equilibrium below, and check out their music here.
Tell me the back story of how you guys got started in music.
Alpha Memphis: I got into music in around the 5th grade. I started writing with three of my friends, and we had a group called Baad. We used to sit around and listen to a whole lot of Eminem and try to write lyrics after it. So we were in the 5th grade writing things we didn’t even know about. I won’t get into that too deep, but it was pretty bad. That’s just how I got the flow down through writing and everything. Then I got into high school, and I started taking it seriously. I started recording with Big J, and I did a track called “Shake Your Shoulders.” This was the old school Alpha. I got to college and got down with the Genius Sounds Family, and started taking it super seriously with performing. Now I’m here, and trying to maintain.
Machia: I went through about two phases as far as being an MC. I remember being around 11 years old and going to Radio Shack, which is when I got Michael Jackson’s Invincible, because my mom is a big MJ fan, like most moms. I would just listen to it over and over, and I liked the lyrics, so I would write them down. So that got me into writing. My 3rd oldest brother rapped, my oldest brother DJ’d, so one day my 3rd oldest brother came out of nowhere and told me to sit down and write my first rap. I was writing some shit that I didn’t even know about, and he thought it was dope. I thought that was cool, so I just continued doing it. So we would just freestyle into the early mornings. When I was 14, I got my first drum machine, which I still have. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I’d have to give credit to some guy I met on Myspace. If it wasn’t for him, I would not know how to do a lot of stuff. He told me the formatting, as far as hooks and 16’s, and intros and outros, and piecing the beat together. It was because of him I got better at sampling, and it became something I developed over the years.
How did you two come together to make music?
Alpha: High school is when it all started.
Machia: Yeah, high school is when it happened.
Alpha: But we weren’t even Dynamic Equilibrium. We were just two friends rapping.
Machia: What’s even crazier is that I didn’t start out at his school. My freshman year I started at FDNY in East New York. Worst mistake of my life. I seen some shit a 14 year old did not need to see. I went there from September-December. January 1st I went down to the school, and told them I was leaving. They just told me, “Peace!” I didn’t have to do no paperwork. They told me I was too smart to be there. So I ended up at his school in January, but we didn’t make music until the Fall semester of Junior year. I think it was probably the second semester of senior year that we started getting more real and real.
Alpha: Then we went to college, and it kind of just ended. He sent me like 100 beats before he went to school. He told me, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make beats anymore.”
Machia: I was going away to military school, so I warned him that I might not have time or I might not get back to this, so I gave him my whole catalogue.
That’s so cute! You guys seem to have a beautiful music bromance.
Alpha: Ha! Yeah, something like that. So, with those beats, it was cool since I could just write to them all the time. I went abroad, and it was just amazing seeing the U.S. from that outside perspective. I wrote all of Post Crack Era while I was out there. I came back, and that was when we met up during that winter break, and recorded the whole thing in the Bronx.
Machia: We got to work!
Where does the name Dynamic Equilibrium come from?
Machia: That actually became our official name after the tape was done, which is crazy because people usually have it before. After it was all said and done, we thought, “what should we call ourselves?” He just said Dynamic Equilibrium, and I thought that made sense because dynamic equilibrium in the sense of science is about two forces of balance coming to equilibrium. So my side is dope ass beats, and his side is dope ass lyrics. You put them together, and there’s balance. We compliment each other.
You guys both do behind the scenes sort of work outside of being in the main spotlight. Machia, you handle production, while Alpha, you actually do some film work. How do you guys come together to create a concept, as well as a track, video, etc.’s unique theme?
Alpha: Well, I mean the lyrics come with the beat, and I usually just sit with it until I bring whatever it is that I’m feeling that day to the table. Maybe whatever I’m going through that week or that month kind of resignates with the track. The visuals for my video “Lucidity,” wasn’t so much a personal story about suicide, but it was a story that a lot of people can relate to. I didn’t use my name in it, so it’s a lot of first person stuff for anyone to be the character. When you’re watching the video, you know that’s not me. I want to let people know that that’s not where my head is at, and that I’ve never really contemplated suicide, but I know a lot of people who have. I even know some who have taken their own lives, so I wanted to speak to the people who may be thinking about it, and try and let them see that there’s always two options. You don’t have to do that. There’s always going to be people who are going to miss you, and love you. That was where “Lucidity came from.” It was a real dark time in my life, though.
What do you feel are some of the issues you guys want to tackle in 2015 in your music with all that’s going on in the world?
Alpha: Definitely police brutality. I just finished recording a track that’s called “Catharcist” that I put the finishing touches on, and my verse touches on that. There’s a lot that’s going on as far as racial violence, and just violence in general. Formula 90, the next project, should be out early 2015, and it touches on a lot.
Machia: I mean you get a little bit of everything. It’s not as focused as Post Crack Era, but this should touch issues as well. We’re going to give you 9 dynamic tracks.
Alpha: Basically, it’s going to be fire. [laughs]
How do you feel about the state of hip-hop right now? How do you think you guys can improve it?
Alpha: Well, I mean, all we can do is stay true to ourselves, and stay real with what we do. But I love the current state of hip-hop. But you know, to each it’s own. I can’t say somebody’s music is wack, because they clearly have their own fans. Somebody thinks they’re dope, so they can’t just be wack. But I don’t fuck with most of the music that I hear on the radio when I’m driving. I keep my auxiliary cord plugged in, and I’ll listen to my own shit. The current state of hip-hop is beautiful, though.
Machia: I like the direction it’s going in, especially with what Kendrick and J. Cole are doing. It may not be as conscious or aware as we are in our music, but obviously in order to stay mainstream, you have to have that balance. I feel that they’re doing that pretty good.
How has New York City influenced you guys? Maybe had you grown up somewhere else like in the South or on the West Coast, you could have a completely different sound.
Alpha: Well, growing up in New York, it was never easy. Going to school on the Lower East Side was one where all the rejects go. Everybody from the projects goes to this school because it’s so close to so many different projects. So growing up and going to school there involved beating on tables while rapping, smoking weed, getting put in cuffs by undercover police, and it was just something you knew what you were dealing with when you were in New York. The music is way realer. It’s really something we all had to deal with as far as fucked up police officers. I was a kid, why am I dealing with this? I’m at the park just chillin’ at a chess table. Leave me alone. They would never do that, though. So that comes out in my music. You get pushed around enough, you get angry, and you start talking about it.
Machia: Yeah, man, fuck the police, that’s how I treat ‘em…[laughs]
Who are some of your guys’ biggest influences?
Alpha: Oh man, definitely The Notorious B.I.G., Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Red & Meth. Basically, anybody I ever listened to my whole life. That’s a long list. Kanye West, definitely. Nas. Everybody from New York, definitely.
Machia: More specifically for myself, production-wise, Kanye West is it. What it was was “Through The Wire,” because of the sample. I was so intrigued as to how he was making it sound like that when I was younger. I was on vacation in the Caribbean, and we were tuning into the music channel. Chaka Khan’s “Through the Fire” came on, and I was shocked. Then, I started taking vocals and found that as inspiration.
Where do you guys want to be 5 years from now?
Alpha: Fuck that, I just still want to be relevant 5 years from now. Whether it be in music, in film, in whatever I’m doing at the time. I just hope I’m still buzzing. For real, I’m going to keep rapping. I’m not going to stop rapping, and it’s something I’ll always do. 5 years from now, but I would like to be alive, healthy, and still rappin’ and trappin’ [laughs].
Machia: I want to be touring! Me, personally, I don’t really care to be like a Jay Z, but if it happens, it happens. I just want to spread this message in our music. It’s getting around, but I feel like a billion people need to hear it. It’s necessary because not a lot of people are talking about what we’re talking about. It’s not as real.