In the late 90’s to the early 2000’s, anime in America was still under-looked to a certain extent. Today’s mainstream appeal took a lot of constant push before modern media would start to get the message, and the roots, including the VHS’s found at your local Blockbuster, FYE, or Suncoast, where either on early in the morning or late at night. We can look at early adaptors like Fox Kids and the WB for easy examples, but the most prolific, the one our generation has rode the wave of since its inception into our collective consciousness with mainstays like Dragon Ball, to the hits that skirted tv ratings like Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, and Lupin the 3rd, was Toonami. As one of CLT’s underground producers, the Houston turned Charlotte transplant Blacksmith Sundays uses 2020 to tell that history with his soundtrack to the ever-continuing era, Toonami Beats.
Talking about one of the most revered hours-long blocks of television cannot be separated from the music that Cartoon Network, an Atlanta-based channel, would have on its shows as well as its custom messages set to their own beats. Blacksmith makes full use of those memories and references in each track on the May album.
The start-off, “Full Metal Gear”, isn’t necessarily named for a show on the block, but pays homage to both one of Konami’s most popular games as well as touches on another show that was too much for the censors. Futuristic into the 80’s/90’s crossover, “Akira’s Reign” paints the world of the post-apocalypse in dynamic form, with the background overlays to the glimmer paired with the drum ‘n’ bass throughout the track.
While “Code Lyoko” came out in a different era of the afternoon block, Magoozi, Blacksmith smartly pulled it into it’s own self-titled anthem, giving life to the show’s pre-conception of what adventures on the ‘net could look like with more up-tempo nods and a cheerier tone overall.
The standout on the album has to go to a direct inspiration from Shinichirō Watanabe’s follow-up to the genre-defying Cowboy Bebop, “Champloo”. Adding in the japanese guitar to string together the beats immediately puts listeners into the Feudal Era, remixing history in a way that could put this track on an episode without anyone second-guessing the move. Blacksmith Sunday’s love for the dedicated station is boosted the most here, as many of us wouldn’t be as diverse in our tastes if not for those early inspirations, sending minds to continue the trek, as heard on show soundtracks like “Cannon Busters” and anime-inspired “The Boondocks”.
Given the connections between our worlds, I had to see what I could dig out of the man himself, as another one of the membership the late-night block called “Toonami Faithful”;
Q1. In just a few sentences, who is Blacksmith Sundays?
A. A musically universal genre blending visionary. I want to touch all genres & make the best
music I can while keeping it funky & soulful.
Q2. I see that in your Bandcamp Profile that you’ve been making music since the 2010’s, so there’s already a large body of work from you out there, even before 2018’s “Photogenic”. What are some of the collaborations you’ve done that’s helped you progress as an artist?
A. I started my music making journey as a rapper recording music with my friend Misteree Saka under the group name Underground Intensity. A lot of our music is still on Bandcamp under that name. I most recently collaborated with Seven Star & Misteree Saka on a song called “Battlegrounds”. Working with them helped me understand how to build chemistry between myself & another artist. I applied what I learned back then to my transition into a music producer to help establish myself as an artist.
Q3. Between “Photogenic” and the latest drop, “Christmas on Sundays”, how would you say your sound has progressed between albums?
A. Oh, man! I was just starting to find myself during “Photogenic” & every release since then
has had a different style & story. “Waves in the Sun” was when I found my sound, “Toonami
Beats” was a way to challenge my skills and creativity & I always wanted to make Holiday
album so I made “Christmas on Sundays”. I’m always looking for ways to push the boundaries of what I already know & make something new.
Q4. “Toonami Beats” was our entry into your catalogue, and we still love to throw it up everywhere we can. So, as Toonami faithfuls ourselves, what were some of your favorite shows from the program block growing up?
A. Cowboy Bebop stays at the top of my list! Death Note, Big O & Black Lagoon were my
favorite shows to watch. I remember staying up real late as a kid just to sneak & watch
Animatrix when it was on Adult Swim. “Toonami Beats” is actually the name of a beat series I have on my Instagram every other Saturday. Anime has had a huge influence on me & I like to pay homage to the culture whenever I get the chance.
Q5. How’ve you spent your time outside of the music process during 2020?
A. Just livin’ life. Listen to music, talk to pretty women, try a new activity & stay out of the
house as much as I can. I like to socialize & be around people with great energy. Experience is the best teacher & can give me the inspiration I need to make better music.
Q6. Where have you gotten to perform in our scene? Which venue are you most interested in playing at post-Covid?
A. I haven’t really had the chance to perform around the city a lot. I played a few beat shows
back when I was just starting but nothing too serious yet. I’m also a DJ so I’m comfortable
playing at beat shows or parties. Playing beats at the Music Factory or Fillmore would be dope! I’m down to play at any event that’ll have me.
Q7. Last Question; RF20XX is half ‘n’ half music and gaming. What are your favorite games, or what was something you loved to play back when?
When it comes to video games you can always find me in a Call of Duty lobby! Crash Team
Racing is a favorite of mine that I played a lot as a kid that got remastered & rereleased so I’m on that too. Can’t forget Super Smash Bros & Dragon Ball FighterZ ! If anyone wants the
smoke, you can find me on PSN at BlackSmithVibe. I’ll be waiting.
All of Blacksmith Sundays 2020 Releases are on Bandcamp and Spotify, including Battlegrounds feat. Seven Star and Misteree Saka, and the recent Christmas album (Tis the Season). If you like what you hear out of his work, consider supporting him by grabbing a few of his tracks, or put him on your playlists and stream the music often. Remember; supporting your local scene will always start from discovering the artists that you don’t know. Stay Curious ~
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Thank you for tuning into your world, for this… is 20XX.