Google+ Beathearts: The Beat Generation Series #5: Roman Lee Norfleet (US)


The Beat Generation Series #5: Roman Lee Norfleet (US)

In our quest to discover new soulful underground music we come across many up and coming producers from all around the world. We thought is was about time to put the spotlight on a few of them that we think are about to blow up. We call it The Beat Generation Series.


Roman Lee Norfleet is a producer, songwriter, beatmaker and graphic designer. Born and raised in the Chicago area now about to move out to L.A. As a duo with Jaque Hammond he has put out several projects under the Martin Parks moniker. What first caught our attention was his unique organic sound and bad ass cover art that left us craving for more.


Name: Roman Lee Norfleet
Age: 23
Origin: 815, Illinois (Greater Chicago)

You’re a soloartist, producer and a duo together with Jaque Hammond under the name Martin Parks. Is there a difference of musical direction depending of which constellation you work in?

I would say my music is more RAW, more gritty, however I do plan on bringing some of that rawness to some future MP projects. When I make a beat for MP, I imagine us on the song throughout the whole process, but when I make a beat for me, it personal to ME.

Tell us the story behind the name Martin Parks and what it means to you?

Martin Parks is an idea, its a movement. Anyone could be apart of Martin Parks in a sense. MARTIN comes from Dr. King Jr. and PARKS stems from Rosa Parks, two revolutionaries who weren't afraid to fight for freedom. They didn't just sit back and let the cruel world pass them by, they didn't just accept all the hate, they made CHANGE. Thats what we want to do with our music. Now I'm not saying I'm out here rapin' King's speeches or elaborating on all his beliefs on a song. I still do me. I rap from where I know and personal experience. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks are just two of the many world changers we chose to represent the idea of our movement.

We first discovered you when up-and-coming vocalist Rob Milton sent us his first EP. How did you hook up with him? 

I actually met Rob through Jacque. They once sang in the Virginia State Choir.

[Rob Milton gave us more details back in January when The Love Today EP dropped:]

I met Jacque in my sophomore year of college. Then she moved away and came back a year later with Roman and started pushing the Martin Parks movement. I wrote a piece on them for over the summer. A little while later, I got a call about helping Jacque with her solo project, which releases sometime this month. Anyway, from there we put together my EP before I graduated this past December. 

Download: Rob Milton - The Love Today EP

How did you get started as a producer?

By wanting to be a rapper haha! No one in my town that I knew of made beats that had that raw soul. I was looking for and the few I knew in Chicago were trying to charge me a arm and a head. I was on unemployment with no ends haha!

If it weren't for my father who believed in my first dream of being a graphic designer and photographer I would have never found (Apple's) Garage Band! He spent the last he had saved for me on a MacBookPro and after I dropped out of college I promised myself I wouldn't let that money go to waste. I've been working to retire my old man every since.

What does the creative process behind a new Roman Lee/MartinParks track/remix look like? 

It looks very creative….haha! I'm working on quitting smoking fam!!! But after I cook up some beats I call Jacque in the studio and we TURN IT UP! Our ideas ALWAYS seem to mesh perfectly!

Who were your musical heroes when growing up?

Well I wasn't really allowed to listen to any secular music growing up. The only music I could turn to was smooth jazz and gospel. One of my favorite gospel tunes is Stand by John P. Kee.

John P. Kee - Stand (1996)

I was in high school then. father was a preacher and my mom was very God fearing as well, however their work schedules forced me to spend majority of my days in the projects at my sisters house, and that was all hiphop! Later down the line I discovered artist like Common, Lupe, and Kanye from hanging out in Chicago so much. And THEN I heard Waves from Dillas Donuts album... That was one of the first songs that really made me do my Dilla research. That moment I knew what I was put here for!

J Dilla - Waves (2006)

You’ve got such a unique organic sound. One of the first track we heard that got us hooked was Inspiration off Thankful For Sound (TFS). Could you tell us how that project came about? How did you come up with that sound?

Before we made TFS we had hella people trying to tell us what type of music we should make and what type of sound we should have. I feel that TFS went the total opposite direction of what people wanted and what we had previously released. I believe that TFS helped us discover OUR sound or at least a portion of it. We wanted to bring the soul and samples of hip hop without it being so plain. A lot of those beats on that project I made a year before we released it. It took us almost a year to release it after scrapping to other ideas!

Download: Martin Parks - Thankful for sound

What are your inspirations today? Could you drop three albums or tunes that have recently blown your mind? Any up-and-coming producers?

To be honest most of the music I listen to daily doesn't go past 98', I'm just not 100% feeling hiphop as a whole right now.

1. Georgia Anne Muldrow - Seeds.
2. Robert Glasper - Black Radio.
3. Kim Burell - The Love Album.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - Seeds (2012)

Robert Glasper - Dillalude #2 (2012)

Kim Burell - The Love Album (2011)

Any dream collaborations?

Don't really have any DREAM collabs, but I would def hop on a track with DOOM!

Another release that stunned us was the current project The Green Whale. Could you tell us how that album came about?

I wanted to bring back that raw imagination and creation I had when I was a child. I often created my own books which consisted of stapled loose leaf paper, and monsters I drew myself. Sometimes I would write story's in my books and sometimes I would just make monster catalogs. Blue whales are my favorite animal, they help us humans realize how small we are and a blue whale compared to the universe is even smaller and in this ego driven world we live in, we need that reality. but I wanted to create my own species of whales that reflected my character and with the help of Amanda Berglund I was able to create the first green whale, Nug. The entire project walks through life lessons and stories from the year 2009 to 2012. I did a lot of growing and creating during this time especially being out on my own. The Green Whale is a musical version of those loose leaf stapled books I used to create, each song being its own character, page and story.

Our takeaway tracks off The Green Whale are Perfect and Recognize (A5 mix). Could you tell us the story behind those two tracks? 

Perfect and Recognize were meant to reach out to anyone whose ever struggled with self identity, insecurity and just feeling alone and lost in the world. I've dealt with all those insecurites and sometimes may still struggle but I've found ways make it through! So it's only right to reach out to my fellow man, help uplift and to be able to identify.

Download: Roman Lee Norfleet - The Green Whale

What is your dearest piece of equipment and why?

My record player! It's where all my vinyl come to life!

The last couple of years crews like The Robert Glasper Experiment, BadBadNotGood, El Michel's Affair and Will sessions have literally blown up with their live sessions. Is there a Martin Parks live experience? 

We do shows here and there, but right now we're trying to push ourselves to our creative limits and really master our craft. We're moving to LA this month so you'll see more of us!

To sum things up, what can we expect from the Roman Lee/Martin Parks studios in 2012?

We just finished and 3 song EP with DJ/Producer 5ifth Element from Chicago. We've also making a big change to Martin Parks. [The new EP is entitled] Concluding Passages of a Revolution so look out for that.

As a final lil' nugget here's a Beathearts exclusive. It's the instrumental for LTII taken from Rob Milton's Love Today EP produced by Roman.

Download: Rob Milton - LTII (Instrumental)


That's it for this edition of the Beat Generation Series. We're really looking forward to Roman's upcoming projects and are sure you'll hear from him soon again!

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