Morgan Cooper, AKA Barrel Maker, and Denzel Williams, AKA Conductor Williams, are the Kansas City hip-hop duo and culture builders BLKFLANL. Built around the interplay between Conductor's intricately arranged beats and instrumentals and Barrel Maker's socially conscious raps, BLKFLANL recently released their second album, BLKFLANL II: For the Imperfect, For the Dilligent, to wide acclaim. We are fortunate to bring you a new interview with Barrel Maker who discusses the new album and shares his book, music and movie recommendations.
Introduce yourselves. Where do you live and work?
I’m Morgan Cooper, AKA Barrel Maker. I live in KCMO and work full time as a commercial cinematographer.
How did BLKFLANL originate? Who brings what to the mix?
BLKFLANL started one random fall day in 2014 when D invited me to his studio to hear some of his beats -- he had no idea I rapped at the time. I originally reached out to him to collaborate on a video project. While at his studio, one particular beat really caught my ear and I started mumbling raps. That very day in one take we recorded arguably our most popular song "Hands High” and BLKFLANL was born.
Tell us about the recording process for BLKFLANL II: For the Imperfect, For the Dilligent. What were some lessons learned that you’ll take to future projects? What are you most proud of?
The recording process for BFII was VERY natural- we took our time. D would send a batch of beats, I would write, we’d record -- nothing super drawn out, we only worked when it felt right. We found a very good flow and balance of our recording sessions while creating this project. I’m very proud of that fact that we didn’t force anything. D brought what he had to the table, and I brought what I had to the table and I feel it just worked so well.
What other projects do you both have outside of BLKFLANL?
I’m working on an LP w/ the Lawrence, KS based beat-maker LION that we’ll release in October, along w/ an EP w/ Miles Bonny.
What inspires you the most about the Kansas City rap and hip-hop music community?
I’m inspired by the diversity in sounds of the KC hip-hop scene right now. Everybody is doing something different, which is healthy for the community.
Barrel Maker's recommendations from the Johnson County Library catalog:
Miles Davis at Newport 1955 - 1975 by Miles Davis
Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest (DVD)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane by Thelonious Monk