Interview: Angry Blackmen Open Up Their Hearts on the Bitingly Vulnerable ‘The Legend of ABM’

Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres
Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres
Returning to basics but never sounding stale, Angry Blackmen produce an album that is vulnerable, universal, and soul-shaking with ‘The Legend of ABM.’
Stream: ‘The Legend of ABM’ – Angry Blackmen




Comedy veteran Marc Maron says that in today’s world, the edgiest thing you can do is be vulnerable.

Every brag has already been boasted, every topic effectively dissected and dismissed. What’s left then, is to cut yourself open and lay it all bare for everyone else to judge.

Few artists understand this better than Chicago’s Angry Blackmen.

On their latest album, The Legend of ABM, the duo have turned inwards and in the process, created their best—and most relatable—album yet. “When this album was originally conceived back in 2021, I knew the goal was to make something that would re-establish our brand and introduce us to a larger audience,” says Quinton Branch, who formed Angry Blackmen with fellow rapper Brian Warren in 2017. “While in the process of recording, the album ended up becoming a way more personal journey than what I or anyone originally intended.”

The Legend of ABM - Angry Blackmen
The Legend of ABM – Angry Blackmen

Yet it’s this personal turn that makes it so damn interesting. Their previous work, while still great to listen to, felt like the duo had erected a barrier to prevent us getting too close. The Legend of ABM smashes this wall, leaving us all with open hearts and a desperation to listen and heal. “The hardest part of the process was coming to terms with my feelings and sharing this deep burden I’d been holding onto for a while,” adds Brian Warren.

This diary-like lyricism is only a part of the equation, however. This album sounds like nothing Angry Blackmen has released before — or like much else in music right now.

“Going into this album, one of our main goals was to have one cohesive sound. The production for this album is handled by Derek Allen (Formants). It’s a mix of electronic and live instruments which mostly takes heavy inspiration from artists like Nine Inch Nails and Public Enemy,” says Branch. “I think the beats perfectly match the chaotic vocals and heavy subject matter that we rap about.”

Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres
Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres

This evolution not only freshens the Angry Blackmen sound, but also continues their experimental streak, taking them into a whole new direction.

“Our previous albums were more hip-hop oriented and surface level,” says Warren. “It was very important to have a cohesive sound and we wanted this album to push boundaries.”

Like Bob Vylan, Genesis Owusu, Clipping., and Busta Rhymes put through a broken amp, it’s an abrasive experience that keeps you entranced for the whole eleven songs. Nowhere is this raw honesty better found than on “Suicidal Tendencies”:

Might pull a Kurt Cobain,
Join the 27 club, in the tub,
Wrist slit they ain’t show a… love,
All my life I had it rough,
… had to act tough,
Growing up in the ghetto,
… call you on your bluff,
Step daddy on that stuff,
I was raised on section 8,
Mama praying on her knees,
Hope she see some better days

It’s a brutal confession, raw in delivery and tough to hear. But it’s also this vulnerability — this edginess — that makes it so resonant to so many.

It all adds up to an album with no moments to breathe, lurching from one bombastic verse to the next. The Legend of ABM is sonically overwhelming – a sense that, if not for the talented control of Warren and Branch, we could spin off in disaster. This is by design: “The way we ordered the track listing was intentional, we wanted the listener to spiral deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole,” says Branch.

“One of the themes that we were going for was existentialism,” adds Warren. “Everyday we are closer and closer to death but somehow we still find the will to get up: Move forward and strive despite our struggles.”

Yet despite all this, it’s a joyous record. It vibrates with the energy that can only come from unburdening yourself, from feeling emboldened by being part of a collective. Sure, it tackles capitalism, death, betrayal, the pointlessness of existence and The Simulation Hypothesis Theory — among other things — but it’s ultimately a call for togetherness, a reminder that we’re all dealing with this world’s chaos together.

“I want this project to make listeners understand that they are not alone in this struggle we call the human experience,” says Warren. “We are with you through the pain, happiness, confusion, and whatever other feelings this world may throw at you.”

— —

:: stream/purchase The Legend of ABM here ::
:: connect with Angry Blackmen here ::
Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres
Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres



A CONVERSATION WITH ANGRY BLACKMEN

The Legend of ABM - Angry Blackmen

Atwood Magazine: With your new album out in the world, what are your thoughts on both The Legend of ABM and the response it’s gotten?

Quentin Branch: I think this is the most cohesive project we’ve put out so far, we wanted to go all in and had our backs against the wall when we created the album. If you listen closely you can hear the fearlessness in the music. The response has been overwhelming beautiful. It seems like we’ve been on everyone’s radar lately.

Brian Warren: At first my thoughts were racing, but now that I’ve had some downtime to really sit with the album I’m very happy on how everything turned out. I’m hoping everyone is connecting well with this project and I sincerely hope the audience understands the messages that Q and are trying to convey.

Favourite song on the album?

Quentin Branch: It’s very hard to choose just one, I love them all like my children! But if you had a gun to my head and I had to pick it’s “Sabotage”!

Brian Warren: My favorite song is “F*** OFF.”

What was your mindset going into the recording?

Quentin Branch: When this album was originally conceived back in 2021, I knew the goal was to make something that would re-establish our brand and introduce us to a larger audience. While in the process of recording, the album ending up becoming a way more personal journey than what I or anyone originally intended.

Brian Warren: I asked myself, “Is this going to resonate well with the fans?” and “Will the subjects I chose to talk about stand the test of time?”

How does it differ to your previous work?

Quentin Branch: It’s definitely more personal than our previous work. I think with The Legend of ABM most people will get a better look into our world.

Brian Warren: Our previous albums were more hip-hop oriented and surface-level. I feel our producer (Formants) experimented more with different sounds and I also feel like we had a chance to delve a bit deeper into ourselves and stay true to what makes us authentic.

What do you hope listeners walk away thinking or feeling?

Quentin Branch: I want listeners to feel like they went on a journey with us.

Brian Warren: I would hope listeners walk away with a better understanding of our trials and tribulations while realizing they are not alone in this world.

Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres
Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres

The album is so cohesive throughout! How important was it to you to have this coherent sound?

Quentin Branch: Going into this album, one of our main goals we wanted to achieve was to have one cohesive sound. The production for this album is handled by Derek Allen (Formants). It’s a mix of electronic and live instruments which mostly takes heavy inspiration from artists like Nine Inch Nails and Public Enemy. I think the beats perfectly match the chaotic vocals and heavy subject matter that we rap about.

Brian Warren: It was very important to have a cohesive sound and we wanted this album to push boundaries so we can look back at this moment in time and feel proud how everything turned out. Whatever we decide to do next, the audience won’t know what to expect!

There is a real feel of friendly competition to the record, how much does one-upping each other fuel you?

Quentin Branch: It’s always friendly, but I want to leave every track knowing I did the best I could.

Brian Warren: It’s a game, I don’t really feel heavy competition. At the end of the day we are teammates! Us against the world.

What is one inspiration for this record that would surprise me?

Quentin Branch: The simulation hypothesis theory.

Brian Warren: Kendrick Lamar, I don’t know if that’s much of a surprise though.

Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres
Angry Blackmen © Joseph Torres

This album feels like the process of falling apart, but never gives the relief of the actual collapse. Was this feeling intentional?

Quentin Branch: Yeah! That all was done by design. The way we ordered the track listing was also intentional, we wanted the listener to spiral deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. The final track, “Magnum Opus,” really does feel like that hope at the end of the tunnel.

Brian Warren: Great point! One of the themes that we were going for was existentialism. Everyday we are closer and closer to death but somehow we still find the will to get up: Move forward and strive despite our struggles.

Some of the lyrics of this record are really personal and almost difficult to listen to. Was it cathartic to get this thoughts and feelings into the world?

Quentin Branch: Absolutely, it felt like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.

Brian Warren: Yes, the hardest part of the process was coming to terms with my feelings and sharing this deep burden I been holding onto for a while. I contemplated how people would receive this album.

What do you want the legend of ABM to be?

Quentin Branch: I want this album to be a great piece of music history that will stand the tests of time and resonate with those who need it most.

Brian Warren: I want this project to make listeners understand that they are not alone in this struggle we call the human experience. We are with you through the pain, happiness, confusion, and whatever other feelings this world may throw at you.

— —

:: stream/purchase The Legend of ABM here ::
:: connect with Angry Blackmen here ::



— — — —

The Legend of ABM - Angry Blackmen

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The Legend of ABM

an album by Angry Blackmen



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