Five questions with: Rasar Amani, MC of the Lique

The Lique

Sanctuary Pub — Tuesday, July 10 at 8 p.m.

The Lique head to the Sanctuary Pub from Las Vegas. — photo by Erica Young

On Tuesday, July 10, hip-hop–jazz act the Lique (pronounced “leak”) will be stopping by Iowa City on their tour supporting Times Like These, their sophomore album. Their 8 p.m. show at Sanctuary is free. The band formed in 2015, and with its 2016 release Democracy Manifest, along with a string of packed concerts, the Lique skyrocketed to the top of the Las Vegas music scene. Las Vegas Weekly named them to their list of 10 acts to watch in 2016. Vegas Seven called them the best band in Vegas.

Rasar Amani, the band’s MC, had a long music career in Sacramento before moving to Las Vegas. He was about to head home again when he met Sean Carbone, Jason Corpuz, Jeremy Klewicki and Nick Schmitt: four jazz musicians looking to create something new. Together, the five of them took jazz riffs and rap vocals and spun them together to create funky songs filled to the brim with political awareness. Amani answered questions for Little Village via email recently for the Five Questions With … series.

You come to the Lique with a rap background. Was that your first love, musically? What was your experience with jazz, prior, and what does it mean to you to blend the two together?

Personally I loved jazz before I knew what it was as a toddler, but hip hop was what got me into music. My favorite song as a child was “Compared To What” by Les McCann & Eddie Harris. I played with a lot of jazz and funk musicians in Sacramento years before the Lique was created.

Both hip hop and jazz are very in-the-moment, flow-oriented styles. How does that come into play when it’s time to approach songwriting, especially in a large group?

Many of our songs have come from capturing improvised jams and working on them after hearing a rough recording. It usually starts with music, but songs like “Magic” and “The Frequency” were built around vocals. We all contribute to song ideas, but a lot of the new album began with ideas from Jason, our keyboardist.

As someone not originally from Las Vegas, how do you feel that city affected your musical style?

I’m originally from Sacramento, but moving to Las Vegas elevated my showmanship and timing. Sacramento was an excellent ground for honing my technical skills and sense of artistic community, but working shows on the Las Vegas strip and learning more songs that I grew up on gave me a different perspective on presentation.

In the three years since the Lique formed, what’s been the band’s major point of growth? What’s your pipe-dream fantasy for how things will look in another three years?

Touring extensively has been the single most important point of growth. Traveling across the nation, meeting so many different artists and new fans, along with building our chemistry and being forced to constantly adapt to a frequently evolving environment has elevated our live show, friendship, business sense and individual craft.

Three years from now, headlining some national festivals and international touring would be most ideal.

Who’s your favorite fusion artist, past or present? What role do you think mixing genres has in moving music forward as a whole?

Hard to choose one, but we really dig: Robert Glasper, Thundercat, Flying Lotus. Just as life continues to form new combinations throughout nature, music will continue to blend and bend the countless styles of expression.