Live bands are a rarity in hip hop, excluding The Roots, so when a new one pops up people tend to take notice. The latest contemporary to everyone’s favorite hip hop band are an upstart group of musicians who go by the name of In Case of Emergency or ICE for short. They’re new to most, but time will tell if they can break through the ever crowded hip hop scene and propel the genre to even newer heights.
What is In Case of Emergency?
It’s a five piece band of myself, props the mc vocalist, fern who is the bass guitarist and he also does some singing with us, Malik who’s our drummer, Rob who’s the keyboardist and we have a new guitarist named Hiro. Basically I was a solo artist doing spoken word as well as being a MC for about four or five years in the tri state area music scene doing my thing and I was just looking around and always trying to find a way to make progress and continue to evolve in my craft and it was at that time that I realized that one of my favorite things about hip hop wasn’t being utilized by pretty much everyone except The Roots. Black Thought is one of my favorite MCs and I was just inspired by their energy and synergy, so I set out trying to build a band.
How has it been getting acceptance following a live band format?
Well as far as acceptance goes everybody loves it. It’s not a situation where people are looking at it like what’s up with it, but it’s more of people just wondering how we’re staying together. I think whether its fans or peers, when they see a band holding it together and performing consistently in different venues they tend to admire it because they understand how hard it can be to get five people to not only create the sound, but stay together when they have completely different schedules, so once they actually see it they love it. I’ve gotten a lot of questions from other artists about how I do it and I share because I want this to grow. I think not only hip hop as a culture, but I feel like our people need that live instrumentation and we feed off of it. It gives a different type of energy when you see it live or when you hear it in a recording than when you hear regular production.
How have you guys been able to keep the group together?
I won’t even lie, in the beginning it was a mixture of some rotating band members. I didn’t know what I was getting into I just felt called to do it, so I was kind of going off what other band mates had talked to me about or told me I should do, but I started to realize that as much as the talent was necessary (for) all of the other band mates, I can’t explain to you how talent(ed) they are every time that we record, rehearse and perform, but it’s also important to have dedicated people. This vision that I have is not just mine anymore. Everyone has their own take on what this vision and this band means to them, and once you’ve had the dedication, even at times when it’s hard for us to catch up, that love and camaraderie is there, so it’s not just one person driving the ship. This is literally a brotherhood and it’s growing to be like a family.
What makes you different from The Roots?
This is by no means a slight to The Roots because they inspired me as I’m sure they inspired the rest of my band mates, but what makes a difference is the other individuals that are also with us. We do have a producer by the name of Leon aka Legacy who works with us, and he creates beats that are seen as a template for us that we can expand on or strip it. We can really dig into production beats and then formulate it our way. We do some music on our own as well too. We have a song called “Play My Demo” and we created that from scratch, but it’s always good to have that production ear to it as well. We have a DJ too, so she adds her ear and her piece to the product. We add almost a sense of underground and contemporary coming together because I love The Roots, but I also (love) Drake, Little Brother and Jay-Z as well. So, there’s a whole talent that I love in hip hop that I feel hasn’t been fully shown in a full band setting.
What was the thought process behind the release of the latest project?
To really show the listeners and the fans, whether they’re in New York or abroad, what ICE is all about. Not just in terms of the recording either, but in the performance as well, so while we do have an album thought process where we wanted to create a certain theme, this album in particular is with what we perform on a regular basis. We are a dynamic band that can give you some hard hip hop; some funky hip hop, some smooth hip hop and we also have a little bit of a rock element. We really are the type of band where, yes, we are a hip hop band first and foremost, but when you look at us you’re going to be like “that’s a dope band”. We wanted to give the fans what they want, which is exactly what we do on stage, so that’s why this album that’s coming out September 11 is called We Are I.C.E.
Michael Mahon attended Clark Atlanta University, where he majored in journalism. He is a regular contributor to SoJones.com and has written for several other online and print publications, including Ballerstatus.com, Allhiphop.com, Creative Loafing Atlanta, and INsite Atlanta. Aside from writing, he is also a huge sports fan and film buff.