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PLAYDOUGH – Lonely Superstar – The Biography

15 November 2003 No Comment

Playdough – known for his contributions in the ill harmonics, Deepspace 5 and Phonetic Composition crews — is a lonely superstar. He has put years of work into refining his techniques of rockin’ microphones and cranking out phenomenal beats. He is considered by many to have one of the smoothest flows in hip-hop today.

He had the spotlight on him during ill harmonics’ surprising run on MTV’s hip-hop talent show, The Cut. He has two videos out with ill harmonics and has performed during their numerous tours across the United States and worldwide. He has been asked to lend his unforgettable presence in guest spots with a multitude of respected independent artists like LA Symphony, Tunnel Rats, LMNO and 2Mex of the Visionaries, DJ Maj, Mars ILL, MG! The Visionary and KJ-52.

But because of an uncompromising stance on his message and his art, that hard work has yet to pay off with fame and fortune. “Sometimes it feels lonely. Living broke with my wife, knowing that everyone doing it a certain way is making money.” Playdough says. “Then here I am, remaining true to my artistic integrity and we’re always struggling. I stay true because I feel it’s a reflection on my spiritual integrity… but sometimes you feel like you’re the only one.” 


“The overall message (on the album) is that nothing on this earth is going to last,” Playdough says. “Only the things that are spiritual have any significance. It’s easy to say it and hard to realize it. I just wanted to keep emphasizing it throughout the record. I think that’s one of the things that keep us from being free.”

Lonely Superstar is almost 70 minutes of audio ecstasy. Fans of any of Playdough’s past work will finally get to see the full range of his ability. Guests on the microphone include LMNO of Visionaries fame, Jurny Big of the Tunnel Rats, J-Beits and Joey the Jerk of LA Symphony, manCHILD of Mars ILL and Freddie Bruno. Bruno, Beat Rabbi and DJ Skillspinz also lend a hand with production. Obscure samples between songs add atmosphere to help to tie together the presentation.

“The special thing about it is that it’s MY album,” Playdough says. “There’s nothing on this album that I didn’t want there. I was the final say-so on it all. The sound is like some dirty-acoustic-melodic-breakbeat type junk. It’s real musical with a lot of live instrumentation.”

The album showcases the high-spirited Playdough exemplified on the Phonetic Composition and ill harmonics’ albums with tracks like Seeds of Abraham – the lively first single and video. An irresistible bassline and guitar melody lace this track where Playdough encourages all believers to stay true to their beliefs. Other songs along this vibe include Lonely Superstar, Retract the Feedback featuring Freddie Bruno and Palm Sunday. Playdough’s underrated singing ability takes center stage on Simple 1- a song expressing frustration with people succumbing to sin and Clappy Valentino – a soulful party rocker.

“Clappy Valentino is a perfect reflection of what represents me as an artist,” Playdough explains. “I play the guitar on it, sing, and rap over a nasty break.”

The grittier Playdough persona introduced to listeners on Deepspace 5’s The Night We Called It A Day album is also present. Head-nodding, classic hip-hop bangers like 5 Cent Needleheads, Mr. Mike R. Phone, Soul Brothers featuring Mars ILL, Shadow Dance featuring LMNO and Freedom Fighters featuring Jurny Big feature raw but melodic beats and vocals with always a strong verse from each artist.

The album ends with Supreme Service featuring Joey the Jerk and J-Beits of LA Symphony. The song follows in the super-group’s tradition of making silly, comedic hip-hop. A Fat Boys sample drives a funk-blues rift and uproariously funny verses.

Collaborating with the artists mentioned was important to Playdough on Lonely Superstar. “Most of the collabs were just people that I really respected musically,” he said. “I already knew most of the cats on the project so I just called them up and asked if they’d be down. Once they said yes I just mailed them the track to make sure they felt it and they wrote some of the illest verses ever.”


A career in hip-hop isn’t the norm for a white kid from small-town Texas. But that is exactly the dream Playdough is living out. “I wrote a rap for a puppet show in the 6th grade,” he remembers. “Once I saw how easily it came to me, I kept writing. That’s when I started the crew that I was in (back then).”

Playdough’s first break came when he and his ill harmonics’ partner Blake Knight appeared on a 1997 independent album E-Roc released under the name Rhymes Monumental. From then, the crew ended up eventually signing with Uprok Records and releasing “An Octave Above The Original” in 2000 and “Take Two” in 2002.

“Being open to grow allows me to keep learning new things and getting better,” Playdough says. “I think that old stuff I was on compared to now is a world of difference. I just want to stay hungry for the mic, hungry for knowledge and hungry for wisdom. I wanted Lonely Superstar to be something that expressed what I have to offer. Not what I thought people wanted to hear, but what I thought I should do. I wanted to express a lot of love on this album.”

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