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Interview with Josef Lord: Voice of Dead Island’s Sam B
By Danny Pena on September 8, 2011
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Josef Lord, aka J7, and I am an emcee, singer, songwriter from the 818 Valley Area of Los Angeles California by way of San Francisco. Trained as an instrumentalist at a very young age, I paired that musicianship with a love of all things hip hop and a natural ability to musically adapt to become a musical “jack of all trades.” I have been blessed with chances to perform with and learn from influential people of all walks of life and have been able to pull from those experiences to put that into my art.
So how’d you get hooked up with the publishers of Dead Island, Techland?
Working with Deep Silver was an amazing experience. I had done several films and TV shows with the production team the Transcendars (www.transcendars.tv), and they referred me to the producer Chris Knight of Shadowbox when he came looking for an MC/writer that was able to deliver a song of any hip hop style that the company was looking for. They just pointed me in the right direction with a pen and a microphone, and it was time to go to work.
Tell us your inspiration for your character, Sam B.
As with all licensing and publishing work, understanding the character and the direction of the product is key to being successful. I spent a good time just watching the cut scenes from the game, reading the synopsis and listening to the monologue dropped by the wonderful and talented Phil Lamar (Sam B’s in game voice). I had a chance to speak to the writers and used direction from Chris Knight to craft a joint that was both irreverant and dark, but also relevant. I pulled from my own battle mc days and fused it with the ’90s horror core that was prevalent at the time, and Sam B’s “Who Do You Voodoo…..?” was born. I kept thinking and asking, “Have I gone too far for a video game?” And they kept pushing me to get grimier and even darker. It was about as fun as I have ever had on any project.
Have you played the game? How’s the final product?
I got a chance to play and demo the game at both E3 and ComicCon this year. It is beautifully done. I love how you can create and modify your own weaponry and that the colors and environments are so dense and deep. You can probably get lost in the video game if you try hard enough.
How do you go about writing a rap song about zombies, what was your inspiration for that?
Man, writing a song about zombies is actually tougher than you think. The topic isn’t hard as its just a “lil Halloween mixed with a bunch of “Swag.” I hate that word, but it fits. The hardest part is trying to stay on the zombie topic and not switching back into my own persona. When I wrote it I had to be Sam. I had to take the J7 out of it, and instead of “killin mc’s and singing to my lady”, I had to become a horror core rapper from Louisiana. Not an easy feat for a west coast mc/singer. That was the fun part though, and that’s what I enjoy the most about what I do.
Are you a gamer? If so, what games you are currently playing?
I don’t know if I could be considered a hardcore gamer, per se, but I do let my nerd flag fly a bit. I am mostly into sports games, fighting games and “hack and slash” titles, and still play those whenever I get the chance. When it comes to RPGs and the like I am so into the graphics, cut scenes and all that, I can sit and WATCH someone else play with no problem. Currently I am transitioning from NBA2k11, Madden 11 etc and easing my way into the 2012 versions as they become available. Dead Island makes the cut for the games I’d play though cause there’s so much going on, and it’s never a dull moment.
I noticed you’ve worked on several movie soundtracks. Let the readers know which ones.
I have penned and performed on things ranging from Power Rangers and Target to Knocked up and I Think I Love My Wife. I have songs in a quite a few TV shows as well. The most recent work outside of Dead Island was the song “Going Home” in the movie The Smurfs. I think I have written every type of hip hop song for every genre and can only hope to be blessed with the opportunity to do and learn more. I consider myself a true MC and can adapt to whatever track or film that is asked of me. Shoot, I have been a gangsta, pusher, lover, partier, lyricist and everything in between on track. That is what makes this all worth it, the ability and chance to stretch myself creatively and make music that sticks.
If you had a chance to be part of a game in the future, which one would it be and why?
I would love to be a part of any Dead Island sequels. Would love to do music for the NBA 2K series or for the Madden franchise. That would be epic. Outside of those I would love to be found somewhere on the the DJ Hero/Rock Band style games as they would give me a chance to do something new and maybe even put some of my personal music on the map. Doing the theme for a Call of Duty, Saints Row or a GTA would be monstrous as well. Shoot, let me SING a song in a game. I’m down to do all of that.
If you were Sam B in real life. What would you do to survive against zombies?
Good question. If I was Sam B in real life I would probably find the highest tower or building I could find, load as much ammunition and weaponry that I could possibly get up there and camp out with my back to the edge facing the only entrance available. If I could sit in a tree or a place where they can’t climb then so be it. My goal would be to make it through at all costs and I would be determined to make it outta there in one piece all body parts in tact.
Are you working on any future projects? If so, let us know!
I am currently working on my first independent album, titled “Paradox.” This album is in dedication to my late son and comes from a real place of soul. It is a chance for me to show what I am made of as a person and artist and hopefully take over a few iPods and hard drive space in the process. Paradox has been in the works for a while and will feature quite of few of the independent hip hop scene’s brightest new faces from both a production and an artist stand point. Given that it is me singing on 90 percent of the album, I think it will be a refreshing change from what people have gotten used to me doing. I am hoping to put a new stamp and sound into the ears of urban and suburbanites collectively. I call it an urban-folk, soul-hop album and hope that people can find the love I put into it translated into their own lives.
Can we find you on Twitter? Do you have a website?