Intervista Cor Veleno

Cor Veleno: «We do what we want: in this way our “Sacred Fire” and creative process converge»

“Fuoco Sacro” (Sacred Fire), the latest album by the historic Roman Rap group known as Cor Veleno, represents their unconditional love for Hip-Hop in all its forms and in its different generations. We had the pleasure of having Cor Veleno tell us about “Fuoco Sacro”. They also told us about their desire to continue to experiment new sounds, about their idea of ​​”integrity ” artistic in the current music scene, some of the main aspects in which they miss the artistic contribution of Primo Brown (R.I.P) and much more.

Photo by Arsenyco

Hello lads! It is a great honor for us to ask you some questions on the occasion of your latest album, entitled Fuoco Sacro and third Cor Veleno album after the passing of Primo Brown (R.I.P). The title of the album and the last track of the album is in fact evocative, it seems to represent something that comes from within. So, why the choice of the title “Fuoco Sacro” (Sacred Fire) and what fueled and continues to fuel this fire after so many years of honored career and almost a decade since such a heavy loss as that of Primo?

GRANDI NUMERI: Fuoco Sacro ( “Sacred Fire” ) is the sum of everything we have done in these years following Primo’s passing. For us that Sacred Fire is something that has always protected and represented us and has given us the strength necessary to resist from day one to today.

We wanted to pay homage to the three current rap scenes: the contemporary one, the historical one, and the hip hop scene that’s coming in the near future. It is an album that wants to represent all the love we have for hip hop.

What was the process of approaching and then creating the album? Was it an idea that came from afar or did it all come together quite quickly?

GABBO: We are always locked in the studio making music and developing ideas. It’s something that came to us straight away, given that we write every day, it happened spontaneously and not in an overly thoughtful way. During the creation, some lines of thought emerged, and from there we saw that all this also coincided with the 50 years of hip hop, managing to give a logical line to what we wanted to express over time. That is, seeing hip hop from 360 degrees, both on a historical, contemporary and future level.

We imagine it is increasingly difficult to dust off Primo’s old unreleased verses and choruses, even though it would seem that he left behind a lot of recorded material. Is that so? How difficult is it for you to build an album around or, in any case, using unreleased verses dating back at least 10 years ago, which are still actual ? And does Primo’s material used for “Fuoco Sacro” date back to a particular period or to various moments in his career?

SQUARTA: There is no dusting off because we don’t dust off anything. There was the material left by Primo. For example, the piece with Fabri was already the one you heard, obviously we finished it. When you’re a prolific artist like Primo not all the things you do come to an end, and so we joined the finale just to give it the right shape to get it out.

There wasn’t a dust-up job, but to finish a job started together with Primo.

Just looking at the album’s tracklist, the quantity of collaborations present stands out. Inside the album there are both historical figures of the scene such as Inoki, Fibra and il Colle, but we also find artists of the new generations such as Nayt, Mostro, Franco 126 and the unexpected Ele A.
What guided the choice of these artists? Do you have a particular relationship with these young guys or was yours simply a choice dictated by the artistic needs of the album?

GRANDI NUMERI: We have a very friendly relationship with almost the entire scene. When we proposed celebrating rap in this form, we received a lot of response. Specifically, the young artists featured on the album are the ones we listen to, the ones we like a lot. We think that even if to date, featuring has become a guarantee of success for the algorithm, this must be a limit in involving other artists. In each track we think that a particular artist fits better than another and from there we try to create that chemistry. There is no intention to make soups without rhyme or reason. Among the others, which are of a certain caliber, there is also Franco 126 which for me is a pride to have on the album, being for me one of the best.

Still regarding the collaborations, another thing to note is that each of them has a particular and recognizable style. What do you think were the contributions of each of them to the project? Is there any anecdote behind one of these collaborations like the one with Fibra or Inoki? How and when were they born?

SQUARTA: Each feat has its own peculiarity, because when you call artists who have “square balls” it’s difficult for them to have similarities with others, but when you take an artist who you have to use just to make minestrone then the problems start. We have chosen artists who have the “sacred fire” in our opinion. It was a sort of exchange: partly we looked for and wanted certain artists, partly they didn’t disappoint us at all, but we had no doubts.

At first listen, one of the striking things about the album is the variety of beats. There are no repeating sounds and everything is extremely creative and inspired. What were, in brief, the steps in the creative process of “Sacred Fire”? Did you deliberately seek greater experimentation in the variety of sounds for the occasion or was it simply a natural adaptation to the style of the guests or perhaps the retracing of different phases of your style and your long career?

GABBO: In our group there are three different personalities who have three ways of seeing things, three mentalities which then lead, through comparison, to ideas which sometimes reflect the character of one more than another.

As a rap band we always like to experiment. For example, the song “Comfort Zone” is inspired by the life experience of Grandi Numeri who lived for many years in Colombia. This led us to collaborate with a very high level artist like Marlon Peroza. With the typical sound of popular instruments typical of Colombia, we made sure that our roots merge with Colombian culture. The song with Colle, for example, has a strong old school rap presence, but also with a strong jazz influence. All this does nothing but finalize the diversity of our 3 personalities.


SQUARTA: This album is experimental but if you hear what we’re doing now, it’s even more experimental. Even when Primo was there we liked to experiment, we will always like it.

In the last period, even at a mainstream level, for example there is a return to the massive use of samples, the fashion of 808s etc has passed, while you have often distinguished yourself for the use of live instruments… What is your approach to production? How do you manage to combine the fact of producing by playing instruments with the evolution of fashions and tastes of listeners while managing to keep the Cor Veleno style and imprinting always clear?

SQUARTA: If by sample you mean taking stuff we played in the studio and working on it, yes. If you’re talking about taking a sound from somewhere else, who knows? The nice thing is that for us it’s not clear, there may or may not be samples. The important thing is that when you listen to the most emotional part, it energizes you, the rest doesn’t matter. Comfort Zone was played here directly from Colombia by Marlon Peroza.

GRANDI NUMERI: Let’s say I’m the gypsy.

GABBO: Giorgio is the gypsy but with his stateless culture he enriches us a lot.

In fact, it was interesting to note that in many tracks (such as Comfort Zone) instruments and samples that are not too usual are used. So, still referring to production, where did this desire for experimentation come from?

GRANDI NUMERI: For us, playing has more of an international sense of the word. Around the world we use the word “play” to mean playing. We are eclectic, then when it comes to work we have no limits. Let’s do whatever we want, because only in this way do the sacred fire and the creative process converge. If I want to do a singing piece on a piece, I do it. We are not interested in the limit that many artists set for themselves in the façade they have to give, the façade is determined by all the souls that are part of the same project. So if playing is the way to bring out the best, let’s play. Obviously not doing it as a hobby because this is our life.

SQUARTA: We started rapping when there were rules in rap. And already with the first album that we called “Rock and Roll” we made it clear that we don’t give a shit about these rules.

The thing that must always be in our record is that it must be recognized as ours. That’s the challenge isn’t it? Embracing the entire musical world, but then always leaving our trait recognizable.

Exclusively from a beatmaking point of view, what are the things that mainly inspire you the most in this period? And are there any Italian or non-Italian producers that you particularly admire lately?

SQUARTA: It is full of quality people, as well as a flattening and a photocopier that is always on. So just be curious and look for the things that rock in the world and in Italy.

2023 was conventionally celebrated as the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop Culture and Rap, which especially at the beginning of its history, even in Italy, had a strong social and protest connotation in the lyrics. Even in Cor Veleno’s lyrics, words of social criticism and criticism of the system have always been present in some way. Today Hip-Hop and rap have been domesticated by the System and in many cases it has become a form of communication functional to the system itself. In your opinion, what direction is the Italian rap scene taking from this point of view? Is there still a possibility of making social criticism and awakening consciences, without appearing hypocritical? Have there been important changes on a social level that have changed the trend of not only the hip hop scene but the Italian underground scene in general in your opinion?

SQUARTA: There is certainly still room to do some slightly disruptive stuff. 

It is clear that until a few years ago the model was that of the rich footballer, if today kids take rappers as a reference who in turn take influencers as models, the rapper no longer becomes an artist, but a product. If you yourself make yourself a product you are destined to make up for it. If you stay with the balls, you reach the people and remain a disruptive character. But you don’t have to stop at the first obstacles, because that’s what we’re noticing. Many think they do this job, then when they collide with reality, they already prefer to change. This job is made of closed doors: if you have the strength to fight, it’s a wonderful job.

GRANDI NUMERI in some songs we noticed a change in your characteristic flow, managing to adapt your style to the different sounds of the album in a natural way. In general today, from your point of view, how has the way of rapping changed compared to twenty years ago? At what point and in what way did you feel the need to adapt your writing and your approach to beats to different or more current styles?

GRANDI NUMERI: I have always tried to be as free as possible and not have a specific style. I’ve always liked to experiment with different sounds, hearing what the music suggests to me. This thing exists in Fuoco Sacro but also in many other pieces throughout our career. I have always loved versatility and the most diverse flow. As far as the change in rap is concerned, it’s fantastic because in any case there is always an evolution that is not static. Music evolves and rightly so.

Another thing that is not missing and that always has a certain effect on hearing Primo Brown’s voice, a perfect way to keep his memory alive, especially because the album opens and closes with a sample of his. What contribution did you make in the creative process and in the studio that you miss the most, as well as obviously from a personality point of view?

SQUARTA: David was someone who called you every day and told you “I wrote a new song”. It was also difficult to keep up with his productivity. Then when a figure like him disappears, in addition to a brother, a friend, a diamond, what is missing in the studio is his ability to always be able to pull you on the right side of the music even when on some days you were less inspired.

Speaking about Live shows: currently more and more rappers are preferring performances with live music bands. First of all, what could have caused this change of directions in the live show? Also, does rap music in general require a different approach than playing other genres?

GABBO: We have chosen to play with live bands on stage since 2006, a choice born from the desire to make music together and always develop a productive exchange. As for us, it was the strong desire to make music with as many people as possible even with a musical genre that was not yet very active in doing this at the time. We saw that it worked and, as you said now, it has now also become common to do it.

SQUARTA: But since we never like to do the same thing, we also decided to change the formula and do DJ, bass and rapper. Each show has a different idea.

But it must be specified, it’s not that with the music band then the live becomes cool regardless. If you’re dope, you’ll rock with or without a band.

Who created the album cover and, almost an obligatory question for our magazine, what are your relationships with the Roman graffiti scene?

GRANDI NUMERI: I personally grew up with many of them as friends. I know many writers. Over time the bond has remained. On this album we worked with Diamond, Flavio Solo, Ibanez, we asked to create something different and that could reincarnate more than the iconography of the group, but the sacred fire itself.



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