Longtime Christian rap artist and Deespace5 member Sivion spoke to Rapzilla about the early October release of his first album in four years, Dark Side of the Cocoon. The emcee broke down the meaning of the name, the musicality of the album, and his reunion with Deespace5.

It’s been a number of years since your last release. Why was now the time to drop something?

Sivion: I started working on this project and another one shortly after Group Therapy released in 2013. However, life at that time was a little complicated. Earlier in 2013 I was divorced and dealing with the logistics of trying to still be there for my kids, but also stay present, visible, and focused on the reconciliation I knew God was working within what used to be my marriage. So as you can imagine, time in the studio was at a premium and things just took a little longer than normal. But God ultimately restored our relationship and we got remarried a year later on the exact same day that had previously marked our divorce. In 2014 that same date was Good Friday! Amazing how God can flip a situation completely upside down and take the very thing that originally caused pain and use it to create infinite amounts of joy. Once things settled down in my household, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to switch gears and use this record to give testimony to a lot of what I was feeling during what had been the most difficult trial of my life. And this record couldn’t be more timely. With all of the political turmoil, economic uncertainty, and socioeconomic/racial tension out there right now, I feel that this record has a redemptive message that the world needs to hear. We all go through stuff and circumstances can look crazy at times, but we need to stand firm in our faith knowing that God continues to work ALL things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

What does Dark Side of the Cocoon represent? What’s the cocoon symbolize, the theme of the album, etc?

Sivion: For most of my career my name has been synonymous with imagery around the butterfly. I love what butterflies represent…the journey, the transformation, the humble beginnings, the beauty and freedom found in their wings, as well as the intricate color patterns that God created within them. And for the most part my music has represented the brighter side of the butterfly’s life…either the caterpillar side where you’re hopeful and optimistic about the future or the butterfly side when you’ve survived a difficult trial and now you’re living with a sense of renewed purpose and confidence. But during my time of divorce (and many months leading up to it), I was experiencing what I would consider the darker side of a butterfly’s life…the part where you’re inside the cocoon, you feel trapped, scared, bound, and uncertain if you will even survive or see the light of day again. So most of this record is coming from the perspective of what I was feeling during that “cocoon” time. I know…all too deep and nerdy for hip hop, right?

How’d you get together with Sebastian Hochstein to make this record?

Sivion: Sebastian is the HOMIE! I worked with him on a killer joint called “Security Checkpoint” for one of his records in the past and ever since then we’ve kept in touch and he’s always sending me batches of beats. He’s always had really interesting production with a wide range of styles and genres. Sebastian is a certified “G” when it comes to his use of samples, classic hardware, etc. I think he told me that he used an SP-1200 on a couple of the beats just to get the drums to sound right. I love his balance between that current/relevant “today” sound and his use of throwback means to create an authentically “classic” hip-hop sound.

I love this record because of its musicality. The production speaks volumes without even the words being there which is why I’m glad you included the instrumentals. Can you talk a little about that and also, what came first, the music or the lyrics?

Sivion: The music came before the lyrics, though the concept for the album helped drive what types of beats I would select. The ones I chose for this album were the ones that really grabbed my attention at a time in my life when I was connecting to a bit darker vibe, but still seeking light to help me through the darkness of that season. The genius part of these compositions was how he wove both light and dark within the colors of the samples chosen and the elements he played along with them. On many of the songs, the vibe starts off dark within the verse sections, but then brightens up in the chorus and bridge sections, as if the clouds parted giving way to the sun. It was such an eye-opening experience to be able to deconstruct the beats during the sequencing phase of finalizing the album prior to mixing. I had so much fun peeling back the layers of these amazing beats. And for all of those reasons I was excited to be able to add the instrumentals to this transparent work of art. I had exposed windows and doors into my life on this record and it was only fitting to strip the songs down and open those same windows and doors into the compositions that carried these journal writings across the finish line.

You say the words “deep space” on “Darkness,” and “deep spaces” in “Stand” I feel these were an intentional play on words. You also have Krum on the record, so there’s that connection. In your mind, what separates yourself as a solo artist as opposed to someone rapping in a group?

Sivion: You are very perceptive. Nice…These are REALLY GOOD interview questions by the way. Yes, the use of Deepspace and Deepspaces was intentional. On “Darkness,” I’m talking about being lost and confused in the darkness of what I was going through. But my fans are the ones that pick me up when I’m down. They occupy the “Deepspace right in front of me.” This was a shout out to them. When I’m looking in the mirror and struggling to see the positive in my reflection, my fans are the ones that see me differently. Not that they always have the full story behind what they do see, but they are definitely a huge source of encouragement when I need it. I don’t ask, they just share it constantly without fail. I love them for it and I certainly needed it in a big way during my “cocoon” time, so thank you guys for that blessing.

On “Stand” when I mentioned running “at least 1 mile in my Deepspaces, Hoping you only see grace written on the laces,” that reference was just about being in my world at the time. Everything was so deep, intricate, and complicated. At times it made me feel like I was drowning, but all the while I knew through amazing grace, that God had my back and was my salvation, my refuge, and my shelter through it all.

Man, don’t get me started on Krum. His contribution to “Really His” was NUTS. Totally took the song to a new level and I thank him for it. That’s the Homie for real and I don’t know how I would have gotten through some of what I went through without his brotherhood. We’ve both gone through some stuff and we encouraged each other to keep our eyes focused on Jesus through it all. Easier said than done. That’s why God weaves those genuine people into your life to hold you accountable, to stay centered and focused on Him, through whatever. I love all my Deepspace5 brethren. The Brotherhood has been awesome. We’ve had our moments rocking together (mainly in the studio vs. on the stage), and there’s a sort of strength in numbers being a part of a group this large. But when you’re solo you’re kinda out there alone. I do however enjoy working on stuff with the crew because with so many other creative minds you don’t have to come up with all the ideas. You kind of just spread things around and add your two cents where it fits in the best.

What was it like getting together to record 5:55 with Deepspace5 again?

Sivion: It was chaotic, HAHA! Imagine trying to make decisions through a democratic system of votes with 10 members all with different ideas. That’s Deepspace5. There’s just no easy way to get everyone on the same page. Usually, one or two of us would take lead and start spitting out concepts and then the others would follow our lead. Then as stuff got recorded it would spark ideas in other members that were initially less vocal. In the end, we got stuff done, but it was a bit of a mess. All of our records have been like that. With such talented emcees, producers, deejays, graphic artists, etc. represented in the crew, there are just a myriad ideas floating around, all of which are good for the most part. But at the end of the day, only a handful will work for the good of the whole. It was nice to get outside the box a bit on this record and challenge each other to continue to step up our collective game!

Get the album now on iTunes or Amazon.

Read part two with Sivion next Wednesday as he talks about his career and Christian hip-hop over the last 20 years.