These days, everyone wants to be enlightened. With spirituality and consciousness emerging as a growing trend, music fans can follow rising star Edwin “ECHO” Olivo to guide them through the ever-expanding universe of the awakened.
The part-time student of astronomy and biology at USC knows his way around the solar system and is dedicated to guiding fans to higher dimensions through his art. From his highly addictive Twitter timeline, which covers everything from string theory to popular culture, to his unique music, including the upcoming project “Spaced Out,” ECHO is a one-of-a-kind talent in a game that desperately needs new energy.
With Hip Hop legends Pete Rock, Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique in his corner, and the “new” Death Row Records backing his movement, the Washington Heights native is fearlessly fighting to push culture forward using the music that he loves.
“I’m pretty much self-educated,” he revealed during a recent chat with Mechanical Dummy. “Half the time I be knowing more than my professors know. They really just stick to curriculum but I study outside the lines. I buy my own books and study my own stuff so when I get to class I kind of already know what they’re gonna say.”
Feel free to call him a know-it-all, just respect the mission he’s on and turn to Google if you have trouble believing his spaced out ideas. In this exclusive interview with Mechanical Dummy, ECHO talks about the incident that inspired his thirst for knowledge, how he feels about comparisons to Kendrick Lamar’s TDE crew and what he has planned as the face of the new of his label Hoopla Worldwide/WIDEawake/Death Row.
Words by G. King.
Mechanical Dummy: Who are you and what do you create?
ECHO: ECHO is the name and I try to lead by example as far as what I create. I try to teach people through the music and the words that I’m saying, I’m from the hood. People in the hood think that you can’t be as smart as the people that know everything out here like the brokers, the government officials, the congressmen— all these people that have higher education and have access to certain information that people in the hood feel they don’t have access to. You can do it. You ain’t gotta be this regular hood cat that just plays ball or sells drugs. I used to sell drugs a lot, I was a pretty big kingpin in New York when I lived out there. I was running the streets like crazy. But I’m always trying to show people in my generation that you ain’t gotta be ratchet all the time. You can know a bunch of stuff and still be hip, still be cool. You can be down with the fellas and smoking weed and do whatever, but you can still also be very knowledgeable about the world and how it works so you’re not being taken advantage of.
MD: What fueled your hunger for knowledge?
ECHO: It really started back when I was in my late teens. I was a regular cat and one of the cops messed with me. I got beat up by the police. So I took it upon myself (to get educated). It freaked me out, I wanted to know why the police did that to me. So I started to research policemen and cadet academies and how they even find people that would want to be cops. And that started to build into judges and finding out about masons and free masons and secret organizations. Then I started going deeper and deeper and it just started building. It got out of control a little bit and I just started to run with it. Ever since that incident with the cops, I just kind of became self-aware. I was already feeling that way, but when I got beat up by the cops it pushed me to find out why people tick, what makes people do what they do. Why people get affiliated. Why people feel the need to wear a uniform to look more alike and suppress their individuality. So it just started to snowball and avalanche into where I’m at today.
MD: You’re one of a handful of new artists pushing an evolution of consciousness. Do you see it growing into a trend?
ECHO: I see a lot of the stuff going on now. I put a lot of it in my music because I study a lot of cosmology and stuff like that. So I know really deep stuff about the alignments of celestial bodies in the sky and how the magnetic energy that they create affects human beings on earth. Plants growing, certain things blossoming at certain times of the year, winter solstices, summer solstices and stuff like that. So the way we’re intertwined with nature, I’m just tryng to show people that there’s a lot of stuff going on in space that affects us down here.
MD: Like what?
ECHO: Like right now, we’re in the middle of mercury retrograde. [G’note: This interview was conducted March 4, 2013] So that kind of has an affect on technology and maybe even the way people think; the way you feel about certain things. You may feel a little weirder. You may wonder why, but it has to do a lot with what’s going on up in space. And I feel like if a lot of people in the hood started to know more stuff about what’s going on up there, it would help them a lot more down here. I see a lot of cats out there that are trying to say stuff like that in rap because I think it’s just a progression of where we’re going as a society.
MD: Where are we going?
ECHO: As far as how things are aligning with the universe, it’s affecting us down here. I know for a fact that a lot of things are happening with the Pleiade star system. Our solar system is aligning with that solar system. And I know that a lot of people think I’m crazy when I say stuff, like that there are beings in other solar systems, higher defined beings than we are down here.
MD: What do you believe in?
ECHO: A lot of people talk about aliens and how they intermingle with us and they’ve been here before we were created. Or some even believe, like me, that they helped create us as far as where we were as Homo erectus and all of a sudden became Homo sapiens. And there’s this whole thing about the missing link, and scientists can’t even explain that. That happened because of an integration when aliens were on earth. They kind of combined their DNA with our DNA to make us more than just an animal. We’re animals, but now we’re rational animals. We have the power of ration and logic. And I feel that has a lot to do with other beings from other planets and other solar systems. And I feel like a lot of the stuff that’s going on on earth now with the alignment of certain solar systems aligning with our solar system, is making human beings of this era, this time, this decade, be more aware, more conscious, more metaphysical. To think about their spirituality. Like, why we’re here, how we’re here.
MD: So you’ve studied the legends of the Anunnaki?
ECHO: Some of it. A lot of the people that are out there now, like the TDE Movement— I’m not mad at Kendrick and Ab-Soul especially for all the stuff that they’re doing, but a lot of people compare me to those guys. And I feel that to an extent, but it’s more so, I hate to use the connotation “dark,” but they’re more like the dark side. Like in Star Wars, there’s a dark side and a light side, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader type stuff. Ab-Soul and TDE, they’re more, to me anyway, the dark side. They’ll give you one side of how everything is up there in space as far as the Anunnaki, Nibiru, the celestial bodies aligning, what happened to earth before it was earth. I’m giving people the light side of it. Like, instead of scaring people into thinking aliens are bad and we’re gonna get attacked and all this other stuff that these other cats is rapping about. I’m giving people out there the other side of it. I feel once I blow, there will be a good balance to what’s going on out there as far as people like Ab-Soul and Talib Kweli and other rappers who are talking about things like asteroids, and meteors and Nibiru and Anunnaki.
MD: I saw you tweeting with Talib Kweli about how “nobody talks about anything important anymore.” What went wrong with mainstream rap?
ECHO: It’s hard because since the beginning, Hip Hop was created from the hood. But I think a long time ago, government officials, like CIA and FBI, realized that it was a way to permeate the hood. Like you can get the people in the hood to kind of do things that they’re not even aware that they’re doing. As far as misogyny, dumbing down things, or whatever. I feel like mainstream Hip Hop is always controlled in some way shape or form by the government as far as what’s allowed to be on the airwaves. Obviously the government controls the FCC, so as far radio stations and program directors, it kind of tiers everything to a certain side of the scale. Like, it’s not balanced, so you don’t get a lot of the smart music, so to speak, with the dumbed down ratchet music.
MD: How do you break that cycle?
ECHO: All we’re getting is a plethora of ratchet music. And that’s all people are aware of. And without realizing it, they’re living that life. It’s just a popular thing that’s out. And a lot of people are like that, as far as being Pavlovian. A lot of people are triggered by a bombardment of things that they’re not even aware of being bombarded by. And then they start to react to those things and live under that ethic. But I think that, right now anyway, there’s a lot of little guys— like Talib, the Ab-Souls, you got Frank Ocean— just doing stuff that’s making people think a little bit more. And for whatever reason, that’s being allowed to crack through the ratchet-ocity, as I like to call it.
MD: How do you define rachet-ocity?
ECHO: It’s this whole movement of just ratchetness. That’s all we get. We get a lot of the Trinidad James stuff, the Juicy J stuff, you get the 2 Chainz, obviously. All these rappers that are out now that are made to be the most popular so people will gravitate towards that type of music without realizing that there’s a whole other side of it that you can also be in to if you don’t get sucked into what the machine is programmed to put out there. That’s not all that’s out there. You gotta make people wanna know and wanna be down with being smart.
MD: What do you do to fight the mindset that consciousness is corny?
ECHO: As far as myself, I try to lead by example. So even with just my Twitter account, I tweet about the Knicks, I tweet about all kinds of stuff that people are into but at the same time they get the other side of it where they say, “Yo, Echo’s tweeting about dark energy and dark matter. I’m just like Echo. I look like him, he dresses like me, we’re kind of the same dude. We come from the same place.” You ain’t just gotta accept that that’s who you are and that’s what it’s all about.
MD: What about from a musical perspective?
ECHO: In my music, I try to incorporate things like astronomy, cosmology, theoretical physics, but in a dope way. So I use the beats that are hot and cracking and that people wanna slap to and go to the club and hear. But at the same time, they’re gonna be jumping around and bobbing their heads and be like, “What did he say? Did he mention something about Jupiter? What’s he talking about?” And the same as when I tweet to make people Google stuff. A lot of people tweet me back like, “Yo, I favorited every tweet you said today just so when I got home at night I can go on Google and see if you was just talking shit, or if what you’re talking is real.” And they’re always coming back to me like, “Yo, that thing you tweeted about today, I found out it’s true and I can’t believe it’s true. I can’t believe my teacher didn’t teach me that. I can’t believe people in my hood don’t know about that.”
MD: That must give you power and inspire you to keep creating.
ECHO: You ain’t gotta be somebody with a Harvard education or somebody that pays 400 grand a year to learn that kind of thing. You can learn that stuff all day long if you want. You just gotta hit up a museum. Write a letter. Use the freedom of information act, a law that you can actually ask the government to send you documentation on certain things that used to be classified.
MD: Who are your musical influences?
ECHO: Obviously, people like Nas, Black Thought. I was tweeting today about the difference between MCs and rappers. The MCs influenced me. Like Black Thought, Nas, Big Pun, Talib, obviously. People that just know how to formulate words in a certain way. And obviously with my studying that I’ve done, I know things about harmonic resonance. I know things about diatonic scales. So I know that there’s a way to incorporate words in a way where the vibration of the things that you’re saying affect peoples’ heartbeats. They affect the way people feel. Certain sounds push certain vibrations inside of people that make them feel happy or make them feel sad or angry. I try to use that knowledge that I educated myself with to incorporate into my lyrics. The way I deliver certain words, the way I rap over a beat.
MD: Who could people compare your sound to?
ECHO: Canibus was a huge influence for me. The way he used to put words together and say things I never heard about like rocket ships and physics. When I was a kid, I heard that, I was like, Woah, what the hell is he talking about?” And then I’d go research. And that’s the kind of thing I’m trying to do. When people hear my music, I want people to go back and research and say, “What did he say? What is he talking about? What does he mean by that?”
MD: He was definitely ahead of his time.
ECHO: Canibus, “How Come,” off the Bulworth soundtrack. That song changed my life. When I heard “How Come,” I was like, I can’t believe somebody is talking about things that I’m curious about and put them in such a dope rhyme scheme with a crazy beat with Wyclef on the hook. I was like, “I gotta do that. I gotta make music like that. Not just like bitches and hoes and my rims, but crazy insightful stuff that even my professors and teachers weren’t teaching me about.” I was researching stuff off of that song for years after I heard it for the first time and I still listen to it today.
MD: What’s your ultimate goal for your career?
ECHO: I’d like to revolutionize things to the point that I blow up and people start to really check for me and I can really start talking about this stuff. Because a lot of things that I know about, I’m afraid to a certain extent to tweet or rap about right now because— I don’t want to compare myself to Martin Luther King or Huey Newton or all these people— when people like that get to a certain level of popularity, it becomes dangerous to the government. Because the government doesn’t want people like that with that many peoples’ ears open to them talking about stuff that they don’t want you to hear about. So I’m kind of biding my time for the moment, building a little buzz, so when I finally do blow and I got like a million, two million people, I can really start to get into the stuff that I want to talk about.
MD: How deep do you plan to take it?
ECHO: Like Ankh science— and people don’t even know about free energy. I know things about free energy that I’m afraid to talk about now because I know government and security companies are gonna try to kill me or try to shut me down or completely discredit me once I’m out there unless I have good enough platform where everyone in the world is supporting me and knows about me. They can’t touch me once I’m out there doing what I’m doing. And that’s when I’ll really start to hit people. I gotta get to a certain level of fame to where I can’t be touched. So if they try to touch me, my message is already out there and it’s too late, they can’t stop it even if they kill me.
MD: What keeps you going when you have thoughts like that?
ECHO: I gotta do this. It’s not even a question of whether or not I can or should or shouldn’t. I have no choice. It’s something in me I can’t even stop. And again, I don’t want to compare myself to somebody like Martin Luther King or Huey Newton or John F. Kennedy who got assassinated by the government for being out there too deep and talking about stuff too deep. I want to get on top so large that I can be heard all over the planet. And at that point, I can really start to rap about the stuff I really want to rap about and put out books about things I really know about for fact and then I can’t be denied. Nobody can tell me, “That’s not true,” because at that point I’ll have so many people listening to me and supporting me and defending me, that they’ll be like, “You can’t kill Echo. We’re gonna fight for him. We’re gonna go to war for him. He’s not gonna go out like that. We’re gonna protect everything he does because he’s the truth. That’s all I’m trying to do.
MD: You sound like Pac when he was really getting his shit off. Why is the reborn version of Death Row (via Hoopla Worldwide/WIDEawake) the right label for an artist like you?
ECHO: I think Death Row is perfect because a lot of people know that label and know what it used to be about. So for them to see somebody like me on that label, they’re gonna be like, “Wow, if a label like that can totally flip their entire conscious and go from gangsta rap and shooting people and spitting in cameras like Pac was and go to a place where Echo is rapping about physics, astronomy, quantum mechanics and string theory, there’s gotta be something to what he’s saying.