12ozProphet Exclusive Interview: The Crazy Monk aka Steve Olson
Recently, 12ozProphet had the pleasure of talking with the man many of you know as Steve Olson. Steve is a great guy who is a talented man in many ways and one of his many talents is the art of emceeing. Many of us know Steve as a professional skateboarder, but few people have actually gotten to know the man behind the board. This interview gives everyone an in depth look at what Steve has been up to, and more importantly information regarding his new music under his emcee name “Crazy Monk”. Peep the interview below for the full story behind Steve’s evolution into hip hop, and his new Crazy Monk Persona.
How has skateboarding changed from the days of Rolling Thunder to today?
Man Rolling Thunder came out around 94’ so skateboarding has changed a lot. Back in 94’ skateboarding was more of an underground thing, super underground. Now though skateboarding is progressively becoming more mainstream. There’s so much more big money in it too now, and mainstream media coverage. I like skateparks but at the same time kids these days get trapped at the local park everyday, almost as though they’re under observation. Skaters need to take it to the streets no matter what. Use the parks as a training facility then take it to the streets. The government wants you trapped in a skatepark, don’t let that happen. Skateboarding is evolving more than any other art, so all artists can find inspiration in that. Skaters, b-boys, graff writers, DJs, beatmakers, and emcees all need to keep evolving, building skills and to stay original.
Does the direction of modern skateboarding culture bother you?
No the direction of skateboarding culture doesn’t bother me because the real skaters out there are still doing it because it’s what they love to do. People who love skateboarding should just hold true to the art. It’s crazy how all of the big money corporations have infiltrated the industry.
Do you ever plan on returning to the skateboarding industry?
Could you briefly explain to us who Crazy Monk is?
Crazy Monk is a Hip Hop emcee straight up. I’m a disciple of Hip Hop and a Jedi disciple of the force. I make real Hip Hop music, and I practice the art of emceeing. I would call the style of hip hop I make some kind of conscious anti-oppressor mystical spiritual Hip Hop. I freestyle, write rhymes, record, and I do regular live performances. To me, rhyming is like kung fu and I’m trying to train everyday. Hip Hop and especially emceeing is my life. There’s been a lot of times when I was down and going through some really hard times in my life and just being able to walk down the street and kick some freestyles was what helped me to continue to see the beauty of life. Life is a blessing and we are surrounded by many amazing things at all times. Crazy Monk is a rapper out here trying to change the world.
What influenced your decision to take on the Crazy Monk persona?
I am a Crazy Monk. Anyone who knows me well would probably tell you that the name actually described who I am. Even before I took the name I already was Crazy Monk. But as an emcee you gotta get a new name, a dope name, so I thought long and hard and came up with Crazy Monk. I think that was around 98’ or 99’, and I had already been emceeing for 4-5 years prior to that. But like I said emceeing is my life, and I know this isn’t an easy road but I’m trying to make a career out of this music. So Crazy Monk and Steve Olson are one in the same, there is no separation. I’m just doing what I love to do and it is what it is.
What motivated your first solo project 27th Letter of the Alphabet?
First, let me just say to my readers please check out my solo album: Crazy Monk – 27th Letter of the Alphabet. You can download my work for free here. I’ll also be putting out a second solo album later in the year 2013. I have been rhyming for a long time, since the early to mid 90’s. I started to record around the year 2000. So I felt like I needed to focus and actually release something. So around 2010 I started to record my first solo album. Before 2010 I recorded a lot of tracks but never really had the motivation to release anything. Seems like in life there’s always something distracting us from making art and being creative. But since I had been super focused on making music since 2010, I just knew it was time. So I put all that I had learned over the years in terms of the knowledge inside of me and different rhyme styles into this record. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from my album which dropped back in May of 2012, so I know I’m definitely supposed to be doing what I’m doing.
What role has graffiti writing played in your life/music?
I met a graff writer from Cali in about 89’-99’ in my home town of Tacoma, Washington. That’s when I got into tagging. I had some of the first tags ever in Tacoma, Washington. A lot of skaters got into graff, then over the years I got into Hip Hop music more and more and developed more respect for all of the elements. I met some ill writers in San Diego around 2002-2005 and I got really into tagging bombing and piecing. Mostly I would just go to crazy hidden places and do big multicolored pieces from sketches I had done. Man, I really got into graff for a minute and began to pick up basic skills that other writers taught me. Classic letters and hand styles were mainly what I focused on. I never got too good at graff writing but I love it. Mostly I like to get crazy with ill hand styles and markers. I live right next to train tracks, so I see a fair amount of graff just on the freight trains passing through. With my lyrics I think about graffiti letter styles and I apply that to my rhyming, coming up with different rhyme styles. Basic rhymes are like straight letters and more complex rhyme styles are like some wild graffiti styles. I love graffiti.
What is the ultimate goal of your musical endeavors?
My ultimate goal is to just make music and to continue to kick rhymes, freestyle, and to record. I want to continue to create new albums and play more shows, I guess I’m on some crazy starving type artist situation right now. Let me break down my whole rhyming style. Hip Hop culture (people talk of Hip Hop as a culture) if you study most historical ancient cultures there was art, painting, drawing, dance, instrumental music and singing. But cultures have more than these elements. Almost all real cultures have a spiritual belief system. In ancient tribal society the shaman medicine man was the keeper of spiritual knowledge and often also a singer of songs during times of gathering. This is how I see myself, the real emcee, the master of ceremonies. See, in order for Hip Hop to fully become a culture it has to have a spiritual knowledge system that preserves and teaches within that culture. The founders of Hip Hop acknowledge that Hip Hop is a world culture that stands for equality between all races creeds and religions. So in my opinion to be a real emcee you must study the spiritual knowledge of all races and religions and put that into your music to be a light in your own community. So I’m gonna keep doing what I’m doing to try and serve my community and the world by making this positive music. I don’t follow any religion in particular, but in studying all spirituality I learn from that and it helps me on my path of being the most decent person I can be. Heads are either gonna be down with it or not… The forces I connect and work with are the eternal infinite forces of life. If heads aren’t about that then that’s on them. Basically, I’m dedicated to keep making my own original Hip Hop music… I’m trying to make a career out of this and things are looking good… First do it for the love.
How do you feel about today’s popular music?
Some of the popular music out there is good, but I think that a lot of mainstream rap is totally whack and fake and contradicts the very essence of Hip Hop in itself. I think Hip Hop is a powerful force and the government knows and understands that. So mainstream fake rap music is really a form of disinformation used by the government and the mainstream media to overshadow and discredit the real Hip Hop that is dope. Music is a force that shapes people’s opinions and even society’s opinions. The government and the powers that be know that and they are indeed afraid of real Hip Hop. All of the true Hip Hop heads know that the mainstream stuff is whack. We just gotta keep making Hip Hop music with a meaningful message, artistic creativity, and originality. Is it crazy to say “make music that influences the world in a good way”? I don’t think so. This music is my life and it is sacred to me. As artists lets be original, build our own skills and most importantly to have fun with it! I grew up in the streets and I’m trying to give something positive back to the streets. That’s the truth. I’m a thread in the ancient tradition of this art known as emceeing. I love all types of music from the heart regardless of the genre.
If you could have a jam sesh with anyone in history, who would it be?
Where do you see your music going?
Basically, I’m gonna keep doing it and continue to try and progress. I’m gonna keep emceeing and learning different rhyme styles, I’m also going to continue to put spiritual knowledge into my music. To me Hip Hop is sacred, and to me what I do is make sacred music. I’m not gonna stop and there’s a lot of heads out there who are on the same page as me so were all gonna connect and keep building. This music we are making right now is gonna change the world and might even feed a lot of people too.
What is the next big thing for Crazy Monk?
Well I’m working on my second solo album which will be out this year. I’m also gonna be doing a west coast tour this May. Essentially, I’m trying to get my music out to the world as an independent artist. My focus is on maintaining and continuing to create music. It seems the more I do this I keep meeting people that create opportunities for me to continue onto the next level. So I’m really out here just trying to keep going to the next level in this video game….
Any live shows planned for the near future?
Yea, I got a lot of shows coming in April in Washington State. I live near Tacoma and Seattle. I try to do at least one show every month for almost three years now. Orko Elohim is coming here in April and we’ll be doing some shows together. And as I mentioned earlier, I will be doing a west coast tour in May. Performing live regularly is a big part of music for me. I always try to do good performances, and to get the crowd to feel the energy.
It’s plain as day to see that your music serves a purpose to open the minds of people, can you speak on how Hip Hop can free the individual consciousness from the global corporate oppressors/governments?
I think that the government wants us all to behave like worker robots. So as a Hip Hop artist, I have to tap into my inner creativity to make some music, bust some rhymes you know? I think that the powers that be or the so called “Illuminati” wants us to work, to go home tired, be stupid, then to go back to work and repeat those steps the next day in an extremely vicious dehumanization cycle. So being creative and making art breaks me out of the slave man state of mind so to speak. Also, for the people that listen to conscious underground Hip Hop they get a dose of a lot of lyrics in the music. Hip Hop as a type of music contains more information than singing because you speak faster. There’s a lot of cats out there trying to make music to strengthen others and to free people’s minds. To me first and formost freedom is a state of mind. The original Hip Hop heads freed their minds and emerged from the ghettos of NYC with Hip Hop! The entire science behind freeing your mind is primarily what my music is about. Free your mind and get knowledge of self. This crosses over into philosophy and spirituality. So yeah I’m seeking to make music about having a free mind, figuring out who you really are, THE KNOLWEDGE OF SELF. When you know who YOU are, the government, “Illuminati” or anyone else has no control over you. You become a free uncontrollable force in the universe. So yea, I’m a firm believer in this real Hip Hop music having powers to help people get liberation from oppression both physically and spiritually.
Any last comments/shout outs you’d like to make?
Respect and shout out to Alkaline, Dulok Shaman, Orko Elohim, Graves33, Cave studios, Summon, Wormhole, Trust One, Smear, Qui Vive, Blae Lue, Clydewell, Anahata Sacred Sound current, New Cocoon fam, all the true Hip Hop heads in 2013, all of the conscious spiritual Hip Hop heads, all my friends and family, Hip Hop freedom fighters and anyone I forgot. Thanks to Alex for doing the interview, and huge ups to 12ozProphet for giving me the opportunity. Stay strong everyone, find truth peace and happiness WITHIN.
Last word: Yo, go download my solo album Crazy Monk – 27th Letter of the Alphabet. I’m offering a free download for everyone on my bandcamp here.
If you’re reading this and want to talk/work with or book me for a show, feel free to talk with me via my facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/CrazyMonk1