Daniel John Guess Jr., aka Mr. Goodbar, has long been a fixture Louisville hip-hop. For years, Goodbar brought his skill as one of the city’s most thought-provoking emcess as part of the Skyscraper Stereo hip-hop collective, which just called it a day last year. But Goodbar has music in his bones and hit the ground running with a new project, Good N’ Filthy, with producer Filthy Rich. The duo just dropped Demolition Derby City earlier this month on Little Heart Records, which you can hear below. We caught up with Goodbar to talk about the end of Skyscraper, his newest collaboration, and who he would launch into the sun.
Never Nervous: What got you into music? Have you ever done anything else or has it always been hip-hop? Why hip-hop?
MG: My connection to music is something I can’t explain. It’s too cliche to say I can’t live without it, but I will say I’ve always lived with it. It makes everything better. If you’re familiar with Jon Stewart’s Half Baked “on weed” bit, thats how I feel about music. My parents were never not playing R&B when I grew up. What drew me to hip-hop was the way songs from their era were sampled and rearranged to speak to me and our generation. Soul music samples have always been my weakness.
I’ve never tried to create music of any other genre, but I’m never been opposed to cross-genre features.
NN: Do you recall the first verse that you ever wrote? Is it cringe worthy or does it hold up on reflection?
MG: I remember. It was pretty bad. My homie Sherman and I formed a group when I was like a Sophomore or Junior at New Albany High School. I believe I was going by Unedukatid Guess at the time. We recorded over an old cassette tape. We took Outkast’s Jazzy Belle instrumental and recorded a track called “Look but don’t Touch.” The hook was like, “look but don’t touch, crave but don’t bite, love but don’t lust, hate but don’t fight”….sooo, yeahh.
NN: What is the best verse you’ve ever written?
MG: I’ll blame it on being used to a group setting, but I have the curse of being my best on features as opposed to solo endeavors. So being on a track with the G.O.D. (guardian of dialogue) Nacirema brought the beast out of me on Dundiff’s xmas album. Really solid project. Everybody killed on it.
Here’s the verse:
Gotta find my whey working out with these dumbells/from the ville where them bullets select you like unseld/the game is still unsold/cause everyone tells/only true players will catch me, devin funchess/not black panther/more pink panther I’m too chill/still I know there’s a lot at stake like Ruth’s Chris/these news clips take me back to my roots with ruthless/records, with ice cube, Ren and yella like fuck you pigs/ain’t shit you can tell us/too lit with the new caesar/killing em/champagne flutes with the brut clinking/blues clues in the Lincoln Continental/wanna leave me with the blues in clink/I’m too seasoned/spice up the egg nog/let’s get it cracking/sonic the hedgehog spinning/i’m sipping 10 year pappys/old good van winkle/don’t you forget about me/I should trump these niggas/i’m too democratic/listening to my demo in the caddy/remembering when I didn’t have shit/get it mixed and mastered with the intent of triggering specific demographics/cause when you spitting classics its too legit for masses/it doesn’t matter/with dundiff whipping the the pad/we keepin it one thousand/got nacirema spazzing/that means it’s cash/so if you happen to see us slackin/grab a screen capture/and @ us when you tweet the caption
NN: Tell us about the life and times of Skyscraper Stereo. How did start and how did it end? Was it amicable with all parties?
MG: Long story short, I was part of another group and things went south. Jawon AKA Justin Bailey AKA Chuck MF Deuce AKA JuJuPapPap AKA Buttons McBoomBoom (AKA Shonuff at the time) was shopping his beats and he had a refreshing sound. I decided to do a solo project with him as my resident producer. Throughout the process of recording the solo project we discovered we had a really good chemistry and Dat Boi Dunn caught the rap bug from sitting in on our sessions.
My first solo album developed into the Skyscraper Stereo debut – River City Ransom. Fast forward 5 years later, in my pursuit of happiness I discovered love and a career as an Accountant. Not only did this realign my priorities, but my aspirations of being a famous rapper began to fade. I personally believe that transition initiated our deterioration. We’re family before anything, so I don’t think they had any ill feelings toward me for premature adulting. But I take responsibility for giving up on them. My life took me on a detour and we ended up on different paths.
Unrelated to my concerns, Jawon announced he was pulling the plug last year. His heart was no longer in it. He hit a wall creatively with hiphop and has since moved on to find himself as a musician. Landry took the breakup the hardest, but I feel his music will benefit from it. In times of adversity he shines the most. He’s been the heart and soul of our collective since the start and is currently building his own brand. Keep watch! 👀
NN: What was your main take away from your time with Skyscraper? What did you learn that you may not have otherwise?
MG: It still bewilders me how the 3 of us could agree, sonically. We all have completely different tastes in music, but somehow when we got together it just clicked. I think thats the beauty of Skyscraper Stereo. We had some great times and the music brought us closer together. The more we bonded, the more we found inspiration, and built our legacy from our experiences. Our stage presence is probably our strongest attribute and it’s a testament to that bond. At the end of the day those are my brothers and I would do anything for them.
NN: How different is it in flying solo than working in a group? For that matter, how would you describe the group dynamic in hip-hop as opposed to say rock music?
MG: I would say my sound as a solo artist more closely represents the type of music I’m into. The flip side is that it lacks the mass appeal that Skyscraper typically demanded. I fancy myself versatile, so I don’t necessarily favor one over the other. Jawon was the architect for Skyscraper so he gave us the direction and we put our faith in him. As a solo artist I’m more boom bap, beats and rhymes. For Good N Filthy I tried to channel a darker element to fit the mood of Filthy’s production. Early on, we had a rough time fitting into the open mic circuits which was pretty much the only outlet for Louisville hip-hop then. We decided to market ourselves like a band. As a result, we did a lot of mixed genre shows which quickly built our fanbase and created an opportunity for us to inspire a hip hop scene we could relate to. Don’t get it confused, I still have love for everyone from those open mics. We just felt like we didn’t belong.
NN: What was your collaboration like with Filthy Rich? Was it your first time out with him or have you all worked together before? Tell us about your experience.
MG: It’s only good vibes with Filthy. He and his wife Ashley are chill AF. He provides the libations and we make waves. Very accommodating. I feel as if we compliment each other well on tracks. I’ve always been a fan of his production. We’ve collaborated before a few other times. It’s always a pleasant experience. I really appreciate all he’s done for the scene and am honored to be attached to his elite list of joint efforts.
NN: What’s it like to drop a guest verse on a track? Do you have coordinate your verse with what everyone else is saying to create a combined narrative, or is every person on their own?
MG: It varies. I think it’s primarily the decision of the artist the track belongs to. I’ve had situations where the song is sent to me with all the vocals recorded except for my own. I’ve had artists just send me raw beats without concepts who wanted to decide on the concept together. I’ve also had a little bit of in between both ends of that spectrum. I come from an era where artists actually met in the studio and exchanged ideas. The new normal is emailing a track with an empty verse. It’s convenient and quick, but it takes away from the whole “meeting of the minds.” Often I find its difficult to get everyone on the same page, but if the chemistry is good, who cares whether or not we’re on topic? Does anybody even listen to lyrics anymore?! 😉 I honestly look to work with other artists as much as possible. There may be a compilation at some point, who knows?
NN: For that matter, how important is it to have a tight narrative arc in hip-hop?
MG: It’s probably more important than I want to accept. I’ve always had kind of a braggadocio, wordplay-first, narrative-last kind of approach to my music. I acknowledge that my music lacks substance but I find it difficult to rap about things like politics or promoting positivity. At this pount in my life, I’m just having fun with my music. To some that may sound ignorant, but I’m just being honest. At the end of the day I can say what I want and that’s what I love about it. If one doesn’t approve, he/she can make the choice not to listen. I learned the hard way that you can’t please everybody so now I’m just doing me. Love it or leave it.
NN: What is the best show you’ve ever played and why? What about the worst?
MG: The best was Forecastle, because… Forecastle! In our prime, JK came to a Skyscraper show, which gave us the impression he was scouting for talent to play Forecastle (which has always been a goal of ours). Needless to say, he wasn’t interested. Last year, along came the rap genie we’ve grown to know and love as Dr. Dundiff to grant our wishes. The energy was unmatched, the crowd was massive and engaged, and the camaraderie was like nothing I had ever seen on the local hip hop scene.
The worst show I’ve ever done was on me. I got slizzard before I hit the stage. Literally sat in a chair and hugged a pole as I struggled through verse after verse. The crew hated me that night, lol. Good times. Also, we played BBQ Fest and we were given the impression that we didn’t have to perform clean versions of our songs. As soon as Pussy Mary-J came on they shut off our mics. Hahaha
NN: What do you think was the first CD that Drake owned and why?
MG: PM Dawn – Of the Heart, of the Soul, and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (that’s a long ass album title)
Because that’s hilarious. Can you picture Wheelchair Jimmy lying on the floor gently caressing his discman and whispering to himself “Set a drift a memory bliss of youuuu”?! Because they’re the father to his whole style. Their lanes are different, but imo Drake is a more evolved PM Dawn with a much better flow. He really can rap when he’s not in his feelings.
NN: You have a space shuttle that can fit five people in it, all of which will be launched into the sun. Who do you pick and why?
- Donald Trump – because he stands at the epicenter of hate and the world doesn’t need that right now or ever.
- Matt Bevin – because he’s the next Donald Trump.
- Kanye West – I think I’m officially over it. He’s ruining his legacy being a whiny bitch and I don’t want to hear it anymore.
- Pit Bull – I just can’t.
- Martin ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli – he’s a piece of shit and he deserves a one way ticket to the sun. We would get that Wu-Tang album back! Oh…and reasonably priced pharmaceuticals for deadly diseases. That would be nice too. But mostly we need that album back.
NN: What non-musical things have you interested lately? Have you read, watched, eaten, or drank anything worth talking about?
MG: Lately all I read are Becker books in preperation for the CPA exam. Aside from that I don’t read much. I just discovered The Wire recently and I’m on season 4. Broad City, Superstore, How to Get Away with Murder, Making a Murderer, Eastbound and Down, to name a few favorites. Just had Gospel Bird in New Albany for the first time. Trust me, you need it in your life. Taco Luchador and Feast are my go to’s (Them bourbon slushies tho!). They never disappoint. Eagle Rare is my salivation salvation.
NN: What are your top five desert island album picks and why?
MG: I’m bad at picking favorites. If you were to ask me this again, the list would most likely change. In no particular order…
- B.O.N.E. Thugz N Harmony E.: 1999 Eternal – It’s a really good album you can listen to all the way through. It’s timeless imo.
- Jay-Z: Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life – I’m a huge Jigga fan and this is the album of his that has always stuck with me for some reason. This one is my Reasonable Doubt. He released his movie Streets is Watching that same year (1998) and I’ve watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack probably 1000 times.
- Outkast: The Love Below – Andre 3000 is a genius. He can do no wrong. This album is him at his best and it never ever gets old.
- N.E.R.D.: In Search of… – Early Skyscraper was heavily influenced by this album. We used to ride around the city in the spring and summer with this on repeat and freestyle to it. I love N.E.R.D.’s take on rap/punk fusion.
- Ghostface Killah: Ironman – huge Wu-Tang fan as well and this was my introduction to the most colorful emcee I’ve lended my ear to. Start to finish this album is lit. Yes, I picked this album over OB4CL #sorrynotsorry