Q&A: Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence last played Folklife in 2001, when the five-MC Central District hip-hop group was still unknown. Their Folklife set changed that, building an audience for CI’s self-titled debut album while paving the way for two years of nonstop touring. At the end of it all, the group fractured into solo projects and household chores. Now two of them—Key and Big City—bring CI back to warm up for the summer release of the group’s second album, The Awakening

What was that first Folklife like?

Big City The audience was so open to us. I liked it. I’ve got a little hippie in me, you know what I mean?

Key Folklife was an opportunity for us to open our sound up to more people. I think it helped us. Not too long after that we started to hear from promoters and other types of agents. It increased our ability to tour.

Why are only two of you returning for this show?

BC The group started with Key and I to begin with. Most of the other guys will be in attendance, but a lot of them aren’t in a position where they care to make music anymore.

Key Life happens, you know? Families, kids and all that good stuff.

What made you two decide to get back together?

BC We were working with a group two years ago. I was helpin’ with managing and and Key was making beats. And one song, the group just couldn’t get it. Key and I were like, “Let’s just show ’em how it’s done.” So we got in the booth and it kept goin’ from there. That first song was called “Grown Shit.”

How is the new material different?

Key This is certainly a more mature album. It’s conceptual in many respects. The album is about growing, developing, maturing, getting past life issues and recognizing that things come full circle. The album has a really nice arc.