The hip-hop troupe 40Love is currently in possession of the most famous animal masks in modern Bay Area music history. Having made their debut in the video for Wallpaper's "#Stupidfacedd," the plastic faces are now being sported by three-quarters of the group in promotional pictures for upcoming album Dreams Don't Sleep. It's a project which Miss Haze, the non-masked member of the group, promises will be hooked around the relationship between dreams, reality, and the power of "raw spiritual energy."
Ahead of Dreams Don't Stop's July 24 release, All Shook Down got its hands on an exclusive premiere of the new 40Love song "Tiki Tiki." A ferocious, electronic-tinged blast of Bay Area hip-hop funk, it also happens to feature a cameo from Zion I's MC Zumbi. It also seemed like a great excuse to check in with Miss Haze, G-OFF, and producer Mikos (sadly DJ Whooligan was AWOL when we tried to reach him) for a chat about ancient Chinese tales, getting remixed by Bassnectar, and the raw and undiluted power of animal masks.
What's the meaning behind the song title "Tiki Tiki"?
Miss Haze: It's a children's story set in ancient China about a kid who has too long of a name. The whole album is really a mission statement for the power of harnessing visions to transform reality. It's just a raw energy track.
G-OFF: It's a story of these two kids, and one is named Chang and one is named Tiki Tiki Tembo, so it's a homage to this Chinese and Japanese fable. From there we just kinda went into this styled-out braggadocio approach.
Mikos: The song is mostly a showcase for some raw energy in hip-hop form. Because we put so much focus into making it as energetic as possible, we ended up just wanting to make the best hip-hop possible.
How did Zumbi end up on the song?
G-OFF: We've been friends with Zumbi for years. I think it was a couple of years ago when we did a New Year's Eve party with him and Zion I and we just approached him. That's one of my favorite Zumbi verses.
How did Bassnectar end up sampling the song?
G-OFF: Bassnectar originally heard one of our earlier songs and he was really peaked off of that, so he just started bugging us to hear some new music. We sent him "Tiki Tiki" and it turned out he wanted to use the hook of the song for "Wildstyle Method," which he did about a year ago. I've got nothing but love for Bassnectar.
Mikos: Yeah, he definitely put his own take on it.
Which artist would you most like to see remix a 40Love song?
Mikos: I would love to see Timbaland do a remix. And then J Dilla, SBTRKT, and Madlib.
What's the story behind the animal masks you're wearing in the promotional photos for the project?
G-OFF: Those animal masks are in the video for Wallpaper's "#Stupidfacedd." Our DJ in the crew, Whooligan, he actually lives in this house in the Lower Haight and Wallpaper used to live there. He had those masks. I guess my name starts with a G, so it's Geoffrey, and I ended up with the giraffe one.
Mikos: We were having fun with those masks, then we decided it was good luck. Our DJ, Whooligan, has those masks in his house laying around.
Miss Haze: We were kinda creating the dreamscape with them. We went into a Japanese tea garden; it was kinda like a retreat to nature but also bringing that raw spiritual energy into the world. It was about the inner forces of nature behind us and just using crazy visions.
Which other artists would you like to see wear the masks next?
G-OFF: I'd love to see MF Doom rock a giraffe mask.
Mikos: I'd love to see D'Angelo rock a mask like that. He's definitely a hero of mine; I'd love to see him in a mask. Then Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis.
Would Miles be able to play his trumpet through the lion mask?
Mikos: Ha ha, of course!