The cancellations of events and shutdowns of bars and restaurants due to COVID-19 have affected everybody — and that includes local musicians who have seen their regular gigs canceled and, in some cases, their lifelines profoundly compromised. As a result, we are checking in with one musician a week to see how they’re doing, what they’re listening to and if they are up to creating new music while they quarantine with the rest of the world.
This week, we caught up with Lorenzo Nichols, also known as Stitch Early, he of local hip-hop fame. During our time, we talked about what he’s been listening to lately (spoiler: a lot of podcasts), how many projects he has going on currently (another spoiler: a lot), and why a Mos Def song has helped get him through the pandemic. For more on his work, check him out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stitchearly or stream his music at inktr.ee/stitchearly.
1. What have you been listening to while self-quarantining and what about it makes you want to listen to it these days?
Nichols: Honestly, I’ve really only been listening to beats — mostly. That’s my go-to on a daily basis. Music-wise, I’ve found myself going back. Camp Lo, Style P, Mos Def, Cam’ron and Raekwon. I’ve been going and listening to their first and second projects. Having a lot of time on my hands and doing projects in the house, you sometimes want to hear something familiar or something that transports you. Those projects take me to a whole other time, when life was more worry-free. I also listen to a lot of podcasts — Joe Budden, ‘Need To Know Pod,’ ‘Rouge and Royal’ and ‘Cutting Deep’ to name a few.
2. Have you come across any live streams/internet-based performances over the last few weeks that have stuck out as a result of COVID cancellations?
Nichols: I’ve seen a couple the local joints from Andrew of Silent Old Mtns. and DoubleMotorcycle. I’m sure you’ve heard of them. Besides that, NPR has been doing a great job of putting out live content. They did a joint with Black Thought, which was amazing and that’s one of my favorite MC’S. DJ’s have been holding it down crazy, too. 9th Wonder, Questlove and D Nice close out most nights at my house. I also started doing some joints with my daughter called ‘Beats, Rhymes & Hair’ where I’m rapping over Sham beats while doing her hair and streaming the video online.
3. Are you using this time to write new material? If so, how’s that process going?
Nichols: Yessir! The one thing that I’ve had is a lot of is time. So I’ve been in the studio working on a couple projects. A solo project ‘TEMS’ and a group project with my brother, Sham Phoenix, and the name The Uhrise Collective. We’ll be dropping ‘HOME’ sometime in the near future. Ya’ll will see those coming very soon along with a lot of other content coming from Uhrise. On top of that, I’m getting new pieces ready for ICONNATN.
4. What’s the most positive takeaway you’ve been able to experience from all the self-quarantining and the music industry being on pause for the time being?
Nichols: I’ve been able to actually relax. I think that’s been the best thing. I’m always on the go, so this has been a good time for me to slow down a little. In doing so, I’ve been able to get a lot of stuff started with Uhrise and my music endeavors, ICONNATN and taking care of my husbandly duties at the crib. It’s also opened me up creatively, which has been amazing.
5. If there’s one song that you think could help everybody get through these uncertain times, what would it be and why?
Nichols: If it was one of mine, I’d say ‘The Day After’ off of ‘When The Sky Cracks.’ That track speaks on being grateful for everyday that you are blessed with life. One that I keep in the rotation is Mos Def’s ‘Umi Says’ — you can never go wrong with that one. It’s just a very relaxing calming record, in my opinion.
BONUS QUESTION: What artists, local or not, do you think have done a great job staying engaged musically online and what about what they’re doing sets them apart?
Nichols: I can say that me and Sham have stayed consistent with The Stitch & Sham Show and building up our content. Ricole dropped his first solo joint in like four years, ‘Banned From Streaming.’ Dawson dropped an EP, ‘Smolder.’ Iodine P has been doing great with posting videos past and present. My man Jas been going live rapping and working out. I think the biggest thing is that everyone is doing! The best thing to do now is continue to put the content out because the eyes are there. Forward progress is the best progress.