INTERVIEW: Critical Opinion – Friends, Doctors and…Rappers!

Critical Opinion are made up of two best friends – Ardin (AKA DIZZ-E) is from the UK, and Peter (AKA Base – P) is from the US. They met in the Czech Republic back in 2010, when they were both teachers at the same high school. They are both highly educated doctors. Peter is a Medical Doctor and Ardin is a criminal Psychologist. They both came up with tough backgrounds, but managed to make it out. Both have had many family and friends pass on at a very early age. They had to grind and work hard to accomplish their goals. Rap music helped both of them to stay positive and also motivated. They currently live in the Czech Republic, where they still teach.

Ardin (DIZZ-E) used to rap back in the late ’80s with a group called Playskool, back in Manchester, England, however, rap was not very popular in the UK at that time. Peter sang in a church choir, back in the states, but nothing professional. After listening to what was out there, they decided to take it back to the old school type of lyrics, and mix it in with modern and fresh beats. They decided to call themselves, Critical Opinion because in many of their songs they rap about their opinion about what’s happening in the world today and in their own countries.

Critical Condition are already working on their second album and hope to release at least 5 albums. They have their own record label called, Phat Track Records, and video production company called, Kool Kats Production. The duo’s first album, “Blocks”, is available on all major online music platforms and stores.

  1. When did you get started making music? And how did the project Critical Opinion come about?

Critical Opinion: Well, to be honest in the beginning we just want to do this as a hobby. After we recorded a few songs, our close friends and family members encouraged us to record a full album. So that’s how it all started, plus we both grew up on Hip Hop music and we have a very strong love for music.

  1. Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?

Critical Opinion: We are both influenced by groups like NWA, Westside Connection, Nate Dogg and Warren G. We were also influenced by Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, The Game, Queen Latifah and old Motown artist.

  1. How do you conciliate your day job as doctors with making rap music? And what are your colleagues’ opinions on your artistic endeavors?

Critical Opinion: That’s a funny thing, you should mention that. Actually, none of our colleagues originally believed us. I mean they knew we could sing and rap a little but they didn’t thing we would actually put out and album. Now everyone seems to be very surprised, especially our students. But we get a lot of love and support from everyone. We want especially thank our wives, they have supported us through this whole process and have encouraged us to follow our dream.

  1. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?

Critical Opinion: We want to bring rap back into rap, to tell a story like they did in the old school rap, and mix it in with a bit of a new flavor. We want our fans and listeners to just enjoy our music like we use to back in the days. We want them to have fun with some our songs, like Blocks and No Limits and from other songs, like Crooked Cops and An’t No Sunshine, we want them to understand the message of what is going on around us and that we have to keep our eyes open and stand up and protect our basic human right.

  1. Do you produce your beats and write all the lyrics on your songs or do you collaborate with outside sources in any of these cases?

Critical Opinion: We have a wicked producer; Valentine Beats and our very good friend Simon Kang mixed and mastered our songs to bring our songs to life. We write our own lyrics; it is a team effort.

  1. Could you describe your creative process? What do you usually start with and how do you go about shaping these ideas into a song?

Critical Opinion: We are inspired by what is happening around us or in our respective countries, like for instance what is happening in politics in the US and the UK or what’s happening in our personal life. Sometimes I get a tune in my head and create a rough cut and then I send it to my friends who produce our music and they make it happen.

  1. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of artistry and entertainment?

Critical Opinion: Actually, we believe that the music platform give us an opportunity to express our feeling and thoughts about politics and culture. This is evident in a few of our songs such as, Crooked Cops, which speaks about what is happening in America and the UK in relation to how the people are becoming more and more aggressive and, in some cases, breaking the law they are hired to enforce. Then we have our song, Ain’t No Sunshine in My Hood and Hustlin, are two song which talk about what people have to do to survive, living in a low income and immigrant neighborhood. We also of course, want to be known for our artistry and our own unique style.

  1. Do you have a song in your catalog that you are particularly fond of for some nostalgic or emotional reason? And if so, what is its back story and/or meaning?

Critical Opinion: All our songs are very emotional to us, however, we both have a strong connection to three songs, Not Gone Forever, Realest and Pay Homage. These songs are about our personal to us because we rap about our family members that have pass on at an early age, so the songs Not Gone Forever and Pay Homage are dedicated to our loved ones. The Realest is how people have tried to change us and we choose to be who we are and stay true to ourselves.

  1. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your career or life so far, and how did you overcome the event?

Critical Opinion: Well, we have both had to overcome a lot, BASE-P lost his mother at an early age and basically raised his three young sisters on his own, while still working on his medical degree to become a doctor. Me, (DIZZ-E) lost both of my parents in an auto accident when I was five years old, but I was very lucky to have had a grand-dad who took me in and raised me and taught me about life. Trust me it wasn’t easy on him, but he never budged on his duty as my guardian. We are who we are today because of the strong figures in our lives. And the two of the strongest figures currently in our live are our wives. They both allow us to be who we are and be the men we want to be.

  1. What would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your career so far?

Critical Opinion: We are proud of a lot of things, such as graduating from our respective universities and having successful careers and now having the chance to pursue our next dream to becoming a successful rap duo and sending out a positive message to our fans.

  1. If you had the opportunity to change one thing about how the music business works right now, what would that be?

Critical Opinion: To take rap back to how it was, to tell a story and shine a light on social and humanitarian issues and put the excitement back into the listeners again. You can see some of the older rappers are coming back like, Ice Cube, Too Short, DMX, Redman, Method Man, Snoop Dogg and Dre. These guys are the Godfathers of rap and are still dropping hits.

  1. How do you handle criticism and/or haters in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?

Critical Opinion: We haven’t been around long enough to create haters, so far, we have had lots of love and support from the people who have been listening to our first album. But if we do get haters, much love to them cuz, they will only make us work better and encourage us to reach our goals.

  1. Which aspects of being an independent artist excites you most and which aspects discourages you most?

Critical Opinion: What excites us the most is we get to put out what we want and be free to express ourselves without boundaries. The discouraging part is that we have to do most of our own promotions and get in front of the people and make sure our message gets out there. This especially difficult when you are just starting out, but thank God for modern media and social networks, they make it somewhat easier.

  1. How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a video you would suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your craft?

Critical Opinion: We think videos are very much an essential part of music. They are your calling cards and they give people a visual of, who an artist is and what their message is. Most people are visual and they want to see who is performing the songs. Sometimes we think videos help bring out a deeper emotional reaction.

  1. In general, do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?

Critical Opinion: We believe that modern technology is definitely a very important aspect in the music industry. You can do everything over the internet. Take us for example our music was produced in England and Germany, the vocals were recorded in the Czech Republic and the mixing and mastering of the tracks was completed in Brazil. With the help of the internet and social media we were able to publish and market our own album. With modern social web sites an artist can connect directly with his or her fan base and marketers around the world. In way technology has allowed more people to do what they really love to do and share their creation with everyone.

  1. If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?

Critical Opinion: There aren’t just a few keywords to describe our music because we have very mixed style of lyrics and beats Old school mixed with new school, hard lyrics with a blend softness. Our music has been described as being very eclectic.

  1. What do you think makes your album “Blocks” special and worth listening to?

Critical Opinion: It’s real and it comes from our heart, I think people will really connect with some our songs.

  1. Do you only create and work in a studio environment, or do you also find time to perform live? And is so, which of these two do you ultimately prefer and why?

Critical Opinion: Will since this our first album, we have enjoyed the creative aspect of our music. However, I think when we perform live, we will bring a different energy to the song. Back in the 90’s I (DIZZ-E) used to preform live and it was always electrifying I enjoyed it just as much as being in the studio.

  1. How did the choice of the name ‘Critical Opinion’ come about?

Critical Opinion: It came from, the fact, that the two of us have always had a critical opinion about things and we bring this into our songs. It’s basically our opinion and the way we see the world.

  1. What do you find most rewarding about what you do? And do you have a specific vision or goal that you would like to achieve in the near future?

 Critical Opinion: We have always liked to write and express our thoughts and share our feelings. Rapping allowed us to deal with personal issues that we had in our lives and to be able to share those with others who might feel the way we do. We are currently working on a second album, called, “Get Low”, to be released in the start of the new year (January or February). We want to reach the highest level in music as we can. Put we always said no matter what we are going to enjoy the journey of getting their by doing what we love.

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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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