From Monk to Musical Madman
by Dan OrrJason Fladlien, lone member of the Straiht Wikid Crew, may greet you with a bow and a prayer or a dazzling rap from his upcoming debut album, Kali Yuga Demolition Vol. 1. A rapper since his elementary days, Iowa native Fladlien had a knack for performing. He used to rap verses to the crowd at local football games. At 16, he did his first show. Why then did it take 6 years for this to culminate into his first release?
"I was disenfranchised for so long," Fladlien says. "It was like I didn't have much of a purpose, but only pressure. I felt like I had to get good grades to get into college to get a good job. But that didn't particularly appeal to me very much, and all the while I couldn't find anything that really interested me besides music, which I was repeatedly told I would never succeed at."
Fladlien couldn't fit the traditional mold any longer and he never was much for the conventional life. His solution? To become a monk. "I decided to join the Hare Krishna monks whose core practice is to chant the holy names of God, both silently on rosary beads and aloud, accompanied by musical instruments. It was the most blissful experience of my life."
Seduced by the heavily emphasized aspect of devotion through music, complimented by the simple life style of the Krishna monks, Fladlien felt at ease for the first time in his life. Why then did he decide to record a rap album? "I'll be honest, I really don't have any rational explanation. Though I was following strict devotional guidelines as well as meditating 3 to 4 hours a day, there was no inner voice that guided me to do this. There was no feeling of destiny, nor was there inspiration from a higher source, at least none that I am aware of. I am not quite that advanced spiritually to think I could make such a claim. But one day I just felt the need to create again. And from that came about this first release.
From listening to the album it was hard to detect that it was solely written, arranged, produced, recorded and mixed by a young monk. In fact, much of it is brass and harsh, sometimes crude and often sardonic. By no means a gospel record, it is far from the average hip hop release and very hard to compare to any style of music. It definitely has its own sonic appeal to it.
"It was very spontaneous. What I focused on a lot during meditation and my spiritual practices was how consciousness affects the mind, and how to free oneself from the bondages of the material body and how to achieve spontaneous love of God, which is free from all dualities we experience currently. So I kind of applied the same process. What ever I was inspired to create on that given day I did so without questioning the results of how it would be interpreted. That is why you have songs like "Get on Down to the Beat" which are happy, blissful and positive, and you also have songs like "Modern Day Hitchcock" which are dark, dreary and rather bleak." Still practicing his devotion habits, Fladlien now does so while creating rap music.
To hear songs off the new album, go to www.straihtwikidcrew.com.
Fellow Iowan Dan Orr (aka Dan Whore) is a member of Disgruntled Noise Box, a bizarre kazoo and drum machine rock band, and the Clones who helps out his fellow Muscatine musicians by selling mersh, booking gigs and writing articles about them.
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