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Joaquin Phoenix on Hip Hop

Published February 12, 2009 in Gossip
By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Joaquin Phoenix Joaquin Phoenix
People are still doubting Joaquin Phoenix's retirement from acting, some even going so far to suggest that his proposed hip hop career is a hoax. Phoenix says he's been contemplating this for a long time and now he's serious about making the leap.

Joaquin Phoenix Talks Retirement to New Profession


"I think that I've threatened myself with quitting after every movie but I think everybody does that, right?" Phoenix said. "It's something that I've thought of for a long time. I've been working on my music and doing all sorts of different kinds of music and stuff. I don't know, in some ways, I felt like I needed to make a statement for myself in terms of quitting. I think that if I didn't have, I guess, some celebrity or whatever it is that I have, I think that it wouldn't matter and then people wouldn't really be aware of me until after some time, but just the first thing I do gets thrust in the spotlight and I knew that, but I just said f*ck it."

There's been some bootleg video of Phoenix's first shows and he's working on an album, but understand that neither is in any state for proper review or critique. "I have 10 songs now and three of them I think are really good. The others are pretty crap but we're working on them. I don't really feel this pressure to get it out and I think that also things are different now. You don't necessarily have to release a record. You have a website and you sell, you do a couple singles, you do an EP and then you let it grow. So I'm not really sure, like I've gone back and forth between going I want to make a double record to going I'm just going to do an EP to start with. So I'm just amassing songs and I think you just kind of try and get it down, you boil it down to what is the best, what you think is the best."

You might even see some other Hollywood celebrities collaborate on Phoenix's tracks. "You know Dermot Mulroney, you know that actor? He's an amazing cellist. I've known him for years and he's played a couple things on some older stuff. I'd like to work with him some more. I'd love to get Flea. I mean, Flea did the bass for Young MC just back in the day, you know, so that would be kind of genius to get Flea. I saw Meth recently at House of Blues perform with Redman and he said he wanted to come in and do a verse. We'll see. Also, Diddy knows a lot of great people and stuff so we'll see. Who I'd love to f*ckin' produce a track, my dream, my dream would be to have DJ Premiere produce a track and have Chuck D do it but Chuck D never would do it."



Ultimately, the album will better represent Phoenix's sound than live shows. "The record is more important to me and that's really what I've been working on. The performances thus far, like Diddy just said, 'Look, you gotta get out there.' I've been going around to these little clubs and freestyling, doing this and that. He's like, 'You have to do a show because it's too easy to go like, "Ah, it's freestyling, I f*cked up and forget it," you walk out. But when you really set your mind to it, you've got that this is a show and set it up.' So I set up the show really just to get the experience. I was certain that it was going to be a disaster. I mean, I was doing the mixes the night before. I had no idea what the system was, right? So you're sitting there back and forth and going, like, "F*ck, is the snare too loud? Snare's too loud, I gotta pull it down." You pull it down and it seems like the bass is too loud. So I was rushing doing these mixes and I've never done it before. It was such a weird concept, just giving somebody an iPod with a backing track, given a mic. It was really strange to me because I want to have a show. I want to have musicians and the whole thing. This is just part of the training, but unfortunately, it's public and I'm public and so you're seeing the training."

He's even thought as far ahead as music videos. "I want to do Thriller style, the whole big intro. I think you always have those lofty ambitions that you always think of. Whatever. I'm a f*cking moron. Of course, I just want to imagine that I would do something great but it'll probably be one of the worst videos ever made. I'll direct it and it'll be the worst thing ever. You strive for greatness, right? You know that you probably will never reach there but you're not good enough but you strive for greatness. I think that's what you do so hopefully I'll come up with some great concept. Or maybe I'll get lucky and Spike Jonze'll want to do a video or something."

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Fred Topel
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