Tacoma rapper Big John and Mic Daily, an MC who has collaborated with him on his first two solo albums, recently formed Bound by Honor.
The two met each other in sixth grade, when they were attending Mason Middle School. Mic Daily grew up near the school in Proctor District, while Big John grew up in Stadium District.
Big John noted they spent a lot of time in detention together. "We were kicked out of school more times than we were let in," he recalled.
Big John spent a lot of time as a teenager hanging out downtown, bored and looking for something to do.
He began writing rhymes in third grade. Around that time he began listening to gangsta rap, fascinated by the sounds of the street set to intense beats. "Ice T's 'OG' album was incredible to me," he said. "Death Certificate" by Ice Cube was another one of his favorites.
By fifth grade he was getting into punk rock and hardcore. NOFX became one of his favorite groups. He got a guitar and began banging out riffs. Soon he was playing in death metal bands around town. A scene in one of the "Ace Ventura" movies where the Florida death metal band Cannibal Corpse was shown performing lured him into this particular genre.
After playing in bands for a while, his interest in rap became stronger. "It was hard to get the sound I wanted with five guys in a band," Big John said.
Mic Daily never picked up an instrument. "I was more of a word guy than an instrumental guy," he said.
He started writing lyrics in ninth grade and began joining in freestyle rap contests.
When Big John recorded his first album, he brought his friend on board to collaborate on a few tracks.
Recently, they came up with the idea of an international hip-hop group that uses rappers and producers from around the world. They eventually realized the difficulty of keeping the creative process going by using the Internet and e-mail music files. They adjusted their plan. They realized that to be successful, they needed people they could reach and interact with face to face with ease. "In order for this to work and be powerful, the core had to be me and Mic," Big John remarked. "He is on the same wavelength as me. He challenges me as well."
The name of their group came to them one day when driving around town. "It is a statement," Big John said. "It means we work harder and spend more time in the studio than anyone else."
The group's logo was designed by John Sabin of Flaming Dragon Tattoo. Big John recently had it tattooed on his left arm.
For the past 18 months they have been writing and recording their album "B for Vendetta," which is almost ready for release. A listen to a few of the tracks confirms the work ethic and intensity of the pair.
The musical samples cover a wide range of sounds, from abrasive to smooth. A few are soul tunes.
Big John challenged himself, singing on a few of tunes. His rapping style is evolving. "I am getting away from my more aggressive vocal style," he observed.
They are gearing up for a national tour with Jedi Mind Tricks, Esoteric and Reef the Lost Cauze. It begins in San Diego on Aug. 19. It will take them through the Rocky Mountain states, the Midwest and New England, with a few shows in Canada. It wraps up in Boston on Sept. 11.
Big John is a friend of Esoteric, who knew the tour promoter was looking for an opening act. He asked if Bound by Honor was interested, which they most certainly were. "I think we are going to give them a good show," Big John said.
They are making T-shirts to sell on tour. Big John has been putting in extra time in the gym to be in top physical condition. He gave up drinking some time back and is careful about what he eats.
"I am training like a boxer for a prize fight," he said. He is not a big sports fan, but used to follow boxing and admires Mike Tyson, who he considers the best boxer of all time.
Mic Dailey is the sports fan of the two. One of the songs on the new album has him spitting some venom at Clay Bennett, who purchased the Seattle SuperSonics and moved them to Oklahoma City, and Howard Schultz, the head of Starbucks who sold the team to Bennett.
"We really pulled some wild $#!% on this album," Big John said. "Me and Mic reached deep on this."
They hope to schedule a local show for a CD release party upon returning from the tour. For more information, visit www.magnusrecords.com.