Unbelievably Chief Keef’s Music Elicits An Important Debate

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Who would have that that Chief Keef’s music could actually provoke an interesting and important debate as chronicled in this New Republic article? It’s one of those questions I often ask myself when listening to someone as unabashedly violent as say Uncle Murda. No doubt the music is a reflection of a certain reality, but at point does it become exploitative and even influential?

If you’ve heard of Chief Keef, a 17-year-old rapper from Chicago, it may be because he signed a $3 million dollar recording contract with Interscope Records last year, soon after spending two months under house arrest at his grandmother’s for pointing a gun at a police officer. Or you may have heard his biggest hit, “I Don’t Like,” a list of things he finds disagreeable punctuated with boasts of his virility, copious drug references,and murderous threats. “We ain’t gon’ fight,” he raps. “Our guns gon’ fight…” It’s a great song, mostly due to the powerful beat constructed by producer Young Chop, but one of the catchiest parts is Keef chanting “bang bang” in the background—a sound that has become all too common in Chicago, which had more than 500 murders last year.



Chief Keef is black, as are a disproportionate number of gun-violence victims in this country, and his music has been criticized for glorifying guns, which it does. He has also been criticized for being a poor rapper. His lyrics are terse and simple and delivered in a blunt, heavily slurred monotone. The Associated Press’ Jonathan Landrum called Keef’s major-label debut “woeful” and “borderline unbearable.” Nevertheless, when that album, Finally Rich (a sublimely ridiculous title, considering Keef’s age), came out in December, it had its supporters, too. Pitchfork’s Jayson Greene awarded it a 7.5 rating, calling it “ruthlessly effective.” Spin’s Jordan Sargent gave it an 8, praising Keef’s “unalienable artistic skill that so many people are invested in making you believe he doesn’t possess.” Cocaine Blunts blogger Andrew “Noz” Nosnitsky chose “Don’t Like” as his third favorite rap single of the year and tweeted, “chief keef made a fun album. i don’t know what the rest of you critics are listening to.” 


Greene, Sargent, and Noz are white, a fact that did not go unnoticed by Keef’s detractors. Ted Bawno, who’s either a wealthy older white media mogul who founded ego trip magazine in the early ’90s or a fictional construction of ego trip’s non-white staff members, took to Twitter to say, “white people love chief keef because he is the Chief of Nothing and only poses a threat to other blacks in down-trodden neighborhoods.” Brian “B.Dot” Miller, who is black, and an editor at Rap Radar, took Sargent to task directly, tweeting at him to “please stop writing about MY culture,” bemoaning “cultural tourists writing about the music of MY culture” and “outsiders like yourself in hipster media that get a hard-on by overanalyzing black music.” An anonymous reader of Noz’s blog, meanwhile, wrote him to ask: “Has anyone ever told you that because you are a white supremacist you’re promoting minstrel show music like Chief Keef, Wacka Flocka and whatnot on your blog, because you want to make sure your white race stays ahead … ?”



Noz responded thoughtfully, saying that he takes pains to avoid glorifying the violent content in the music he writes about—“I take a pretty hardline stance against moralizing any art”—but chafing at the idea that the music doesn’t warrant serious consideration. “As if Chief Keef’s music is so empirically horrible that there isn’t any possible way for a reasonably intelligent human to enjoy it without an agenda—-despite the fact that thousands of people do just that!” he wrote. “Many of his detractors are simply coding their aesthetic objections as moral ones.”



Sermons of the Side Eye blogger Judnikki, who is black, agrees with Noz in theory about the amorality of art appreciation. “Fuck moralizing art,” she wrote, in a self-described “rant” on Twitter. But then she raised the problem of emotional perspective—a problem that speaks to B.Dot’s use of the all-caps, implicitly exclusive “MY.” There is an aspect of ownership in black people’s relationship to black music, she says, even if they don’t choose it, because whites in America have for so long pigeonholed the black experience. “When ppl have a history of being stereotyped and generalized they lose that sense of individual privilege …” It’s impossible, Judnikki argues, for her to divorce herself from Chief Keef’s blackness—to not see her own reflected in it. American society won’t let her. So it’s impossible for her to listen to his music free of an agenda. Thus, she does apply moral concerns to her experience of art, as much as she doesn’t want to. “Motherfuckers see us as ONE fucking unit and THAT is what we want ‘white bloggers’ to understand. Someone sees Waka and then kills Treyvon … Y’all don’t know that fuckin’ struggle of being judged based on someone else’s actions and you NEVER will … You will never understand. Never feel the pain, shame, guilt … You get to be just you. But in America no matter how hard I try someone is ALWAYS judgin based on my skin and when the Chief Keefs appear, people are thinking OMG look at what years of oppression and demoralization have done to a group. They think: niggers.”

That is some depressing truth right there. Sad as it is, with its underlying theme of an unbridgeable divide between races and its fatalistic view of the American project—at least for our current generation—I’m glad she wrote it. For me, a white person, a rap fan who does in fact enjoy Chief Keef’s album, for musical reasons, much the same as I enjoy Waka Flocka Flame’s music, even as I find the lyrics banal and deplore much of their message—a person who likes to think that I can compartmentalize various elements of artistic expression, and appreciate music without any agenda—it’s worth giving hard thought to what it means that a black person is saying that she can’t. It’s worth ruminating on how deeply and insidiously white privilege and the black lack thereof infect every aspect of life in America—even something as simple as enjoying a good pop song.

In his essay “Many Thousands Gone,” from Notes of A Native Son, James Baldwin asserts that Bigger Thomas, the scared, hateful, murderous protagonist of Richard Wright’s “Native Son,” is the prototypical image of blackness in America—and that this affects us all. “The American image of the Negro lives also in the Negro’s heart,” Baldwin writes, “and when he has surrendered to this image life has no other possible reality.” That’s the fatalism in Judnikki’s rant: The sense of being trapped in a world where she respects the idea of a listener being able to appreciate Chief Keef’s music in a vacuum—art for art’s sake, in and of itself—but can’t make that idea jibe with her reality. Theories are good in theory, until life gets in the way.

Well-meaning white people who like violent rap music will argue against the notion that it inspires real-life violence among those who listen to it. I will argue this. But what are we to say when a black person says, “Someone sees Waka and then kills Treyvon.” And we know that she sees Trayvon’s face on the TV news and can’t not see her own face in his, and thus see her own face in Chief Keef’s, because she believes, she knows, that much of her country sees, still sees, all black faces as the same. We want it to be different, us well-meaning white people. Maybe that’s even part of why we listen to rap music, or part of why we started to, anyway, because we want to do our best to make amends, to bridge the divide. We don’t want to be outsiders; we don’t want for there to be such a thing as outsiders. We want it to be different, but it’s not.

I disagree that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what to write, or not write, about. I agree with what Noz wrote on Twitter, the day after B.Dot’s screed: “Fence in your culture and see if it prospers.” Rap music is pop music; it has gotten too big, too broad, for people to try to guard its borders. Art doesn’t need that kind of guarding anyway, even as I can see the impetus for claiming ownership (since it’s not an ownership that was necessarily chosen in the first place). It’s easier for me to listen to a Chief Keef song than it is for Judnikki, easier for me to dismiss the moralization of this particular piece of art. Chief Keef, the existence of Chief Keef, his popularity, his face on the TV, rapping about guns, poses less of a threat to me than it does her. I am a tourist in that regard.

I will continue to listen to Chief Keef’s music, and I reserve the right to praise it. But I probably won’t get off this easy. Or I shouldn’t, anyway. As much as I’d like to consider rap music, and all art, in a moral vacuum, that’s not possible. Not in America, not with our history. The past is still with us, and we share—to widely varying degrees—in the pain and the guilt. Chief Keef serves as a reminder to those of us who may have forgotten: There are some things that should make us uncomfortable. But that’s exactly why we should confront these things, all of us.

Via The New Republic

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Wordsmith Journal Entry #8

Wordsmith Journal Entry #8

Today’s journal is an open letter to my cousin “CuzOH Black” and his present/future fans. I’ve had the privilege of watching my cousin go from just a HipHop lover to an actual musician. Heck, I remember the first time he spit something for me and it ended up being a running joke we laughed about for many months (“My Life is in my own hands”, cuz you’ll laugh at that line). Though my cousins initial dream was not to be a musician he has become very good over the past 6 years. I’m thankful he was able to watch my continued rise as a songwriter, performer & business man because it prepared him for his 1 st release.

The title “Everybody’s Favorite Cousin” is genius to me because it goes deeper than just the title. I think most artists want their music to resonate with the blue collar people of this world, so when I think about the title it says to me my cousin wants you to view his music and him in general as someone you can confide in during the good and bad times. Sometimes we use music to mimic our current moods and CuzOH manages to deliver songs for any mood you’re in throughout his 8 track EP.

Opening with a cut called “A Dedicated Intro” you will notice my cousin is what you call a true spitter, which is rare these days. Hailing from NY, it must be in his blood because in my opinion if you’re from the Mecca of HipHop you better be able to spit. “Marvelous Motivation” comes next and this was a cut I heard a while back from my cuz, but to me it was one of those tracks that showed his transition into a songwriter. My cousin was kind of hit or miss when it came to hooks or bridges throughout the years (He will tell you the same), so finding his niche in that department was big for him. We discussed it and I let him know it was the most complete song I had heard from him to date. Don’t get me wrong he has dropped some heat, but when you have seen someone grow over the past 6 years you notice changes like this. “Spread Love” and “Party in the Left Wing” featuring some guy that claims to have a classic flow (lol) hit your eardrums next. To me these are the party records of the EP and they do a good job of picking up the pace after two records with slower BPM’s. “Life on the Fly”, “Exotic Touch”, “No Winter Coat”, and “A Graphic Ending” are the meat and potatoes of this EP. Why? Because all those cuts are deep and show CuzOH isn’t afraid to have some depth in his music.

My personal favorites are “No Winter Coat” and “A Graphic Ending”; both are just plain good music with a message, which is my forte. I fully endorse this project not because CuzOH! Black is my cousin, but because it’s a good project overall. I think my cousin knows I am very blunt and up front, so if I didn’t feel this EP was ready I wouldn’t have let him release it until he nailed it. This is a solid debut that should be killing people’s ipods for the next few weeks and I would like to thank everyone who will be hitting the download button after reading this.

MAJOR SHOUT TO WEGOININ.COM, J PIZZLE AND 730 FOR SPONSORING CUZOH! BLACK’S “EVERYBODY’S FAVORITE COUSIN EP”

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Wordsmith Journal Entry #7

Yes, I have taken a long hiatus from writing these journals, but if you follow my Facebook Fan Page you will see I’m constantly spreading my knowledge of the music industry with my fellow indie artists. No I never had anyone hold my hand in this business, but with the type of person I am helping others is as much apart of my musical journey as creating music. Why should it be every man/women for themselves? I mean I’m all about competition being a huge jock growing up, but competition and being selfish are two different things. I appreciate hearing from artists that have taken my advice, implemented it in their careers & saw results. I’m sorry, but I would like to be known for more than just my music; I want my colleagues to remember me as someone that was influential during my time in this game. I have a personal legacy I am building for my kids Zeke & King to carry on, but my music legacy will be defined by my fans & fellow artists.

In other news; I have been blessed to rock some pretty huge venues over the past 2 months. I’ve added Hard Rock Café in Baltimore & Atlanta, Lincoln Theater, DuBurns Arena & more. Why I am I mentioning this because to me it symbolizes a change in my career. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how big your impact is in this flooded industry of artists, so when promoters are reaching out to me to rock venues that some artists may never be able to put on their resume it’s a triumph.

I also like the fact that I get booked for more all genre festivals, conferences, sporting events & club shows because it’s a victory for HipHop, but more importantly tells me these promoters respect me as a musician over a HipHop Artist. It’s crazy that I was in Atlanta playing Hard Rock Café literally the week before the A3C Festival. Billed as the #1 festival for HipHop, it’s a black eye for A3C when you have the promoters behind the Driven Music Conference booking me at Hard Rock as the only HipHop act next to all Rock bands. It’s sad when a rock head like Bram Bessof, owner of Indiemaker.com, sees me perform at Hard Rock Café, yet was at a loss of words on why I was not playing A3C the following week. He even put in a personal call himself to the bookies, but it was too short of notice by that time.

Overall, it was almost like a win/lose situation for me because the respect of artists & tastemakers outside of my genre goes further in my mind then industry heads that only focus on HipHop.

Final shout to 730 and J Pizzle for continuing to let my mouth run wild on their site, no censors needed here fella’s….!!! See ya’ll next week!

Wordsmith
Aka
“The One with the Classical Flow”

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Duss Smitto Goes IN! Vol. 3

I want to start off by saying salute to all my real hip hop heads. I fell back for a few weeks to view a couple of different things in this music industry. Let me jump right into the last few albums I’ve heard which are from Nas, Rozay, Meek Mills, and Kendrick Lamar.

Let’s start with Nas. After I gave it a second listen I see its strong points and its weak points.
The beats are average but he comes across with fire verses as always so I give the album an 8. As far as Rick Ross and Meek Mills I give both there albums a 6 1/2. Why? Because their mixtapes are better then the music they sell. As far as Kendrick’s album I must give it another listen.

Shout out to maino an the Mafia. And as always Push! Montana shines bright over all. I’m waiting to view french Montana’s album and A$AP Rocky’s. With that being said the rest of the game is in a stand still. On Jim Jones’ 60 Racks record, Lil Wayne has the worst verse ever!

Until next time…

Holla world it’s SmittNation.

D.Smittoooo

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Duss Smitto Goes IN Vol. 2

I always want to start off by saying salute to all my true Hip hop heads.As I read through some of my favorite magazines and other websites, I see that this game is getting more sour and sour by the minute. The truth about the culture and what it was built on is lost forever in my opinion until these new artists learn their history and what the business is about. Otherwise we’ll always be behind in our own creation.

Look at Lil B. This nigga is a clown. He stands for nothing in the game, He is nothing but a target for a real niggas’ pockets. (laughing) This is why it’s so hard for real artist to get signed now because artists like wack ass Future are just holding up space. Let’s see how many new rappers make it past their first album. It’s so bad that New York ain’t even supporting their own artists at all, but they can play Young Money all day. Lil Wayne’s time is up. He needs to put the mic down and skateboard his life away (laughing).

Busta Rhymes is another one. Who the fuck cares to hear a album from him? These old rappers ain’t no better.

Well until next time. I’m going to review Nas’ new album because I think it’s trash. (laughing)

Holla world it’s SmittNation.

D.Smittoooo

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Duss Smitto Goes In Vol. 1

Welcome to the first installment of a new feature here at We Goin’ In called “Duss Smitto Goes In.” For those who don’t yet know, Duss Smitto is a seriously dope MC and real Hip Hop head straight outta BKNY repping for the Block Exchange crew with STRONG opinions about the music industry and the state of Hip Hop. Since game recognize game we are excited to give him platform to say whatever he wants to say about whatever and whomever he pleases. No holds barred, no censoring, and no worries about hurt feelings. If you’re offended, he might just be talking about you!

Duss Smitto Goes In Vol. 1

I wanna start off by saying what’s up too all my real people who support real Hip Hop.

I made a comment the other day at my video shoot for “That’s Power” featuring R.H. Bless and Cess Wonder about the fuck boy shit I see going on in the music industry that people are scared to speak on. These pay me to play your records DJs who are really pussy, these fake ass A&Rs who don’t recognize real talent and these fuck boy rappers who get robbed every other event they appear at.

This game is disgusting now. Either you’re a under cover homo rapper or you’re just a mainstream pop off dummy. Where are the real Hip Hop heads that live this shit day in and day out? The music that’s being made now is the music that is going to kill Hip Hop.

Labels don’t care who you are only what you can do for them. We are watching our culture be ripped from under us and nobody is doing nothing about it. Some of these new artists get way too much credit for me. Artists like Drake who I think is just ok. He’s not as nice as people make him out to be. Big Sean sucks point blank period. I think I need to hear more from J. Cole but the rest of the new artists are trash. Trust me people are going to remember I said these words.

Until next time Smittnation. Peace.

D.Smittoooo

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That’s Power Video

Interview: Kount Fif

You just dropped your new project The Swashbuckler Vol. 1: The Viking Wars which is really dope. Tell us about goal for the project and how it got started.

Well the goal is to bring hip hop back to where it started, with artists that I Think needed to see some Light, either again or kind of for the first time and restore some substance in the game.. It started in like 06 as an idea for a concept/compilation record that talked about real issues and based off of social and political problems that plague our present and history..RML came up with the name and we just started building and putting it together..

What’s the significance of the title? The content is definitely on some Viking shit!

It’s like The Rebel Pirate album that comes out in the middle of all this colorful happy (soft) music that has no soul or life..Just for the moment shit…We just wanted it to almost seem and look like a Heavy metal record haha..because it doesnt really look like urban street type of hip hop album ..but is just that and more.. and its different not really like anything else out right now..I think the record is diverse and has wide spectrum of music and features with a raw hiphop feel still.

You’ve got a great range of MCs on the project. Everyone from Copywrite and Killah Priest to Royce Da 5’9 and Gillie Da Kid drop verses. Tell us how you went about deciding who rocked over which beats. Did you have the beats then envisioned the different MCs on them?

You know me and RML would just go thru joints and think who would fit and yeah I would hear somebody on a beat and we would agree and send it to them to write to with a concept usually already premeditated or whatever, but this album went through so many changes to get to where it ended up…some songs I rebeated, some we recently added over the past year or less and songs that have been out on the net but never had a home and we always knew certain songs would stay on the project we just had to fit them in.

The production is pretty varied but definitely in that boom bap camp. How would you describe your production style and technique?

I work with the MPC 2000XL classic piece of course and other samplers and workstations. I’m a Pro-Tools guy though…I have a motif and tons of vinyl, a drum set, and other live instruments..guitars bass etc…but man the setup has changed tremendously. The first studio (Man Bites Dog Studios) which I am head engineer at, was in my basement, professionally designed and built by RML and I and our friend Mark who used to help with the label and was a contractor at the time, but I had a water pipe bust and it almost flooded the studio so we moved everything to where it’s at now, Man Bites Dog Studios and its better than ever, as far as the setup goes.

I know this can be inappropriate to ask a producer, but were you sampling Conan on “The Crusaders?” Either way that sample is crazy!

HAHA nah its cool I get that a lot “hey did you sample this? or “whrere did you sample that from” but good ear, yea I sure did, but thank you.

What other projects do you have in the works?

Well I did work on the UK Version of Copywrite’s new Album God $@ve the King. I produced 4 songs I think. That comes out at the end of April and we have a new Vast Aire EP “A Space Illiad” following the OX 2010 album A Street Odyessy..I did some songs on there and of course I will mix and master that and I am working on some other things I wont mention yet haha but have some VERY BIG things in the works.. Saty tuned!

Anything else you want to tell the people?

Yeah man first off thanks for your time and the opporunity…But yeah get the new album, The Swashbuckler OUT NOW!!! iTunes, amazon get the instrumentals and cleans too for Radio. For now Digital only but physical copies coming soon!! Get That NEW Copywrite God Save the King and Vast Aire OX 2010 and Killah Priest The 3 Day Theory I produced that whole album….check out our whole catalog…www.manbitesdogrecords.com is almost finished and will be up VERY soon…

Subscribe to our youtube channel we have over 30 some videos on there, All our artists…follow us on twitter and facebook Man Bites Dog Records, Kount Fif……. @kountfif @manbitesdogrecs @mbdswashbuckler… Peace to man, women and child and all who support Man Bites Dog and Kount Fif… Stay tuned the label has much more to come…#Respect

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Introducing Don Streat

I just got put on to a really dope artist out of Baltimore by the name of Don Streat. In the grand tradition of We Goin IN, we want to introduce him to the wider world at large. Dude is nice!!

Don Streat or Cyrus which ever you want to call him is Baltimore hip-hop at its best. Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland but currently living in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Don Streat Hip-Hop history runs deep with ties to the Baltimore hip-hop scene. Beginning in middle school when he crafted his first rhyme and then began to write rhymes for his closest friends which spawned him in creating Infinite Description a three man collective of M.C.’s which went on to release a 12”. The Record did well and conjured some offers but the deals were never any the group were satisfied with and after placing a free article in the back of the Source even received a call from Ice Cube. Eventually times come to pass and the group fell apart and Don went solo. Music seemed farfetched at this point and Don found himself on the streets until joining the military during these times he was still releasing music. Hearts of Diamond EP, Dreamz 12”, Diamonds R 4Ever compilation, and The Don Streat Theory mixtape. Don Streat has a new inspiration and motivation through the Don Streat Theory VOL.2 Suicide Bars. The project boasts production of M-phazes, Dichter2productions, Rik Marvel, Alkota, and Vinyl Frontiers. The project has features from Ruste Juxx, Praverb The Wyze, Cadence, and Rasco.

Peep his latest single “Rapper Shot Remix” featuring Termanology and Lil Fame. Shit is fire!

More Info Here

Interview: RML From Man Bites Dog Records

Take us through the history and start of Man Bites Dog Records. What was your vision in starting the label?

After film school I was looking for something to do. I was writing and directing an indie film called “Hunting With Simon Ashley” which I also made the soundtrack for. I hit up bands and went through tons of songs to find a perfect line up of songs. I liked this, it was also so much faster and easier than trying to make indie films. My roommate at the time was getting in to recording and had just got “Pro Tools”. In 2005 we started the label with some locals to the DC area. The vision was to make classic records that reflected a certain time period in hip hop.

Do you see yourself as catering to a specific type of sound?

At first it seemed that way but with time comes change. Although we specialize in throwback style sound, we have some very interesting things afoot. Jason Rose is a good example of that.

There are only a handful of underground labels putting out quality music these days like Nature Sounds, Stones Throw, and Babygrande for example. Where do you see Man Bites Dog as far its place in the industry? Is there a niche you are looking to fill?

I think we have made our own place in the market. I would like to say that if you check for Duckdown or Stones Throw you would also check for us, as well as Rhymesayers. I guess that’s on the fans to decide. I am just gonna try to continue to make classic records with no skippers. That’s the real goal, you press play and let that mother ride.

In an increasingly digital age, how does a label such as yours have to adapt their business model and marketing to fit the current music industry landscape?

You mean in an age where mf’ ers just steal your product? Yea some real slick stuff people be pulling. Real fans support they don’t steal. If people want quality they will have to support to keep it going. People have the real power. We make quality that’s our business model. Crazy some of the people who rock our stuff, just haven’t given us the co-sign yet, like they are waiting or something. We have
certain releases that we will just be pushing digital, adapt or fall, I read “Who Moved My Cheese” I know what time it is.

You’ve got a great lineup of MCs such as Killah Priest, Copywrite, and Vast Aire, as well as producers like Stu Bangas. How did those relationships start?

Priest was the first national artist to sign. We had done some songs with dude prior and had a good working relationship. Kount Fif produced the “Gun for Gun” joint with Nas and him so it was a good fit. He came down and in roughly 3 days had the basic outline for the “3 Day Theory”. I worked on Copywrite for a couple of years, first we signed him to a producers deal called “The Puppet Show” about a year after that we signed “The Life and Times” deal. With Vast originally I was thinking just doing a record with him and Copy together. Timing was off so we approached the idea of doing a solo.

Copywrite’s God Save The King is getting great feedback and I think is his best work. How does it feel to have a project like this come out on your label?

It feels good. That album has had a couple different faces to it. Originally being just a UK record and now being two separate projects. It’s exciting to hear the feedback from critics and fans alike.

I know that Roc Marciano has an album coming out on Man Bites Dog. How did that come about? What can you tell us about that project?

Last Summer I hit up Roc to do some verses for some label projects, one of which has been released now “Golden State (Of Mind)” on Copywrite’s God Save the King album. The others will be on Stu Bangas & Vanderslice’s D.W.A record as well as one verse on The Swashbuckler. Since then Roc and I have been going back and forth on what would make sense for us to do together. He brought up Marci Beacoup and sent me song joints. They were banging. End of story.

What’s on the horizon for Man Bites Dog that we should be looking forward to?

There is a ton going on now but coming out the end of this month is “The Swashbuckler” which is a project that has been 5 years in the making. Everyone is on this joint. Royce, Roc Marc, U God, Copy, Cappadonna, Killah Priest, Heltah Skeltah, Outerspace, Torae, Vast Aire, Jason Rose, Inspectah Deck, Bronze, Gillie da Kid, Nine, Planet Asia, man this list goes on and on. It is produced by myself and Kount Fif. Crazy record. Also we have Stu Bangas & Vanderslice’s record D.W.A. All I have to say about that is wow! Forget what you know about anything, this record body slams your neck and ankles, so hard. Everyone and I mean everyone is on this record. Alchemist, Evidence, Roc, Apathy, Vinnie Paz, Slaine, Ill Bill, Outerspace, Esoteric, too many names…We are also releasing Tage’s (MHz) record ‘Contagion” which features production by Sid Roams, oh no, !llmind and features Copywrite and Planet Asia. Dope record. There is more stuff we are working on but I don’t wanna overwhelm people right now, I am sure we will get up again and I can lay more stuff on you.

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Wordsmith Journal Entry #6

 

Wordsmith Journal Entry #6

Okay, so I took a one week break from my journal and there was no particular reason as my life turns
like a hamster wheel. Anyway, let’s get started; I’m about 2 and half weeks away from my first trip to
the west coast in 2012. It will be part vacation and part business as I’ll be heading to Vegas first to chill
with my brother and his wife for a few days and then I’ll be off to San Jose, CA for two shows March 9th-
10th to promote my “King Noah” Album. On the 10th of March I’ll be doing a 45 minute in store set at
Streetlight Records, so I’ll pretty much be doing my full album LIVE!!!! This will serve as a sneak peak
for my west coast fans along with getting free promo cd’s of cuts from the album to take home. I have
to shoutout Paige at Streetlight because she has been very on the ball for my arrival and will even be
putting promo cd’s from “King Noah” in customers bags over the next 2 weeks before I hit the stage.
Next month I’ll be back in my hometown of Baltimore at Towson University for a show on April 7th to
promote my album more, but also raising money for cancer research. Doesn’t get any better than that
as I can fulfill two things I love at once; spreading my music to the masses and helping others!

Speaking on my “King Noah” Album some more it has been completed for about 2 months now, but
I had the honor of seeing a retail version already as some of the physical distributors I am talking to
needed a copy to see if they will pick the project up. This is big for me because I think every artist wants
to see there album in stores someday and it kind of validates you more as an artist when you reach
that point. Nothing against having projects out digitally, but I am old school in my thinking, so physically
getting an album in stores will be huge for my Label NU Revolution Entertainment LLC. It’s very tough to
get a distributor to pick up your label/Album in this day and age when good music won’t easily get you
in the doors. You have to put a plan of promotion together for your project and then financially be able
to execute the promotion you laid out to distributors. This isn’t a major label, so most distributors will
not give you a budget at all, they will literally just make sure your product is in every major independent
record store and if you’re lucky enough to have budget money for some Radio and PR large chain stores
like Best Buy, FYE, etc may give you a shot. I’m all about goals and I really want to start building my
physical catalogue up through my NU Revolution Label because there is more money to be made in the
future when you have 20 plus releases under your label.

Do I still want a major record deal; sure, who wouldn’t, but I like having control over every facet of
my company. Artists understand the main thing major labels can do for you is fork over a boatload
of money to make sure your singles, your album, your image is everywhere for the public to see. The
downside is you’re at their mercy and they can straight shelf you if you’re not hot at the moment. I want
to work my label to the point that any major deal I sign in the future will have to be a joint situation
because I’m already successful independently. Guys I look up to on that tip have to be Tech 9 from
Strange Music and Atmosphere from Rhymesayers Entertainment. Yeah they been at it since the 90’s
and there older guys, but they are very relevant today and sell over 100,000 copies of their albums each
time they drop. There are major recording artist who barely break 50,000 copies sold with the machine
behind them. When you hear the phrase grass roots or guerilla marketing it refers to guys like Tech and
Atmosphere whose fan bases will be by their side forever because they are blue collar artists. I should

know something in regards to distribution in 2 weeks, so hopefully the next time I write my journal I’ll be
closing my first physical distribution deal; I believe it’s possible, so it will happen.!

In closing, I’ll keep shouting out my team of CuzOH! Black, DJ Nominal, Strada, Capish, Professa
and Diallo. Keep checking out our new blogger on Revolt Radio Sofia Topsy and make sure you hit
www.revoltradio.com and send music to musicsubmissions@revoltradio.com for airplay/blog posting
via @cuzohblack and @djnominal on twitter.

Final shout to 730 and J Pizzle for continuing to let my mouth run wild on their site, no censors needed
here fella’s….!!! See ya’ll next week!

Wordsmith

Aka

“The One with the Classical Flow”

@wordsmithmusic

Introducing Miles B

We here at We Goin’ IN are true supporters of the underground and talent on the come up. We want to help artists with true talent and passion blow up and reach the masses. With that, we want to introduce you to Miles B.

Peep his bio and few samples of his music and you’ll see what we see which is someone with a bright future. More to come…

While every story has a beginning, the best tales are the ones whose fantasy never ends. For Miles B., the plot continues to thicken. Born Miles Ross on November 29, 1992 in Washington DC, the young emcee entered the world at an intrinsic time in hip-hop history, where artists such as Eric B & Rakim, Dr. Dre, Showbiz & A.G., Pharcyde, Ice Cube, UGK and many others were shaping rap music as we know it today. Moving to his new environment of Gordonsville, VA as a newborn, the sights and sounds of his surroundings impacted Miles B tremendously where he embraced the art of free-styling and began writing poetry at the age of 8, only to set the premise for a ground-breaking point in his career.

With music as the narrator to his life, Miles B. took advantage of every avenue possible to showcase his talents. A USB microphone and a laptop was the beginning of his career as a business man, making his first mixtape in high school then selling it for five bucks. It was then that Wes Estes, a family member turned manager for Miles, and Derrick Herndon — both of Skyline Entertainment, decided to invest in the young man who was quickly showing his knack for entrepreneurship and potential for stardom. It was then that Pure Precision Studios opened its doors which set the game plan in motion for Miles. After shaking hands with Rhythmic, an engineer, artist and founder of Lava Camp Productions, the growing young businessman had a great platform to push good quality music with a little work and dedication. After gaining the management and promotional support of Strong Quality Music, Miles B. and his team are cranking harder than ever as he prepares to drop his monstrous sound on the public.

Plans to inspire listeners with his music is only part of the adventure that this charismatic kid plans to detail. An array of mix tapes, shows, and buzz-worthy projects makes his future endeavors definite marks to chart; past work with a variety of DJs and music artists, both locally and nationally, have kept his name in the mouths of many and his story in the minds of a multitude. Relative and authentic, Miles B. knows that having substance and being accountable for his thoughts and actions will be his ticket to a successful career in music. With the goal in mind to tell his story, carrying his listeners through the ups and downs, the triumphs and even the losses, Miles B. delivers from a point of view that is authored by a character of sheer genius.

Miles B- Future

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Wordsmith Journal Entry #5

 

Wordsmith Journal Entry #5

After last week’s incident my life has been pretty peaceful on the personal tip. It’s been cool seeing my
son King Noah start moving backwards in his walking chair, clapping and straight cracking up sometimes
when you make funny faces at him. This is my 3rd child I’m seeing grow day by day and it still continues
to amaze me because each child is different. Think about that…you have no clue what gifts God has
given a child or what he/she may become when their born. That itself is a special journey parents get
to take along with their children. Dedicating a full album to King Noah makes it even more special for
me because I know he will have something to reference for the rest of his life. I’m not going to lie I want
King to be proud of me and see his father did some great things during his youthful days. You would
be surprised of the motivation this can bring to a child in the future. I wouldn’t be able to stand being
a father and I didn’t leave some type of legacy for my children, so any sacrifice I make now is strictly to
accomplish my dreams and most of all the future of all my kids.

Now to the music…if you remember my last journal entry I had just got booked to perform in the VIP
lot at the Superbowl. I have to say it was an awesome experience that will stay in my memory banks for
life. I was thankful to have CuzOH! Black and my buddy Dan with me as we started our trek at 4:30AM
Sunday morning to make my 2:30 set in Indy. I think we went through all forms of weather during the
trip with snow, rain, wind and a beautiful sun at times clearing the skies. My CD player had everything
from top movie themes we had to guess (courtesy of Dan), the “King Noah” LP, Radio Singles, freestyles,
unreleased tracks and some CuzOH! Black music. The company of friends/family and good music
definitely made the trip an easy one. Never going to Indianapolis before I was pleased to see the speed
limit was 70 mph most of the time since I drive Nascar style and it was awesome coming into downtown
Indy. We started seeing all the SuperBowl signs and coming up to Lucas Oil Stadium felt like slow motion
in a movie. We passed the lot I was performing in first go round as we didn’t realize I literally would be
performing right across the street from the front gate of the stadium.

Furthermore, talk about being ready at all times; I think as soon as I parked the promoter comes up to
me and says hey we are ready for you; there is a bathroom to change in, let’s do a quick soundcheck
and hit the stage. Funny to me I stepped out of the vehicle with pajama pants on and flip flops, while
walking past people that were probably like who the hell is this guy dressed like that. Don’t worry I
got fresh quick donning one of my trustee Kango hats, did a quick soundcheck and proceeded to kick
my set off with two oldies, but goodies in the form of “The Great,” and “Rock the Crowd.” From there
I debuted several cuts off my “King Noah” album like “Generation X,” “Music for the Masses,” “Eye
for the Spotlight,” “Voice of the World,” “We Do It Better,” “Never Be the Same,” “On my Job,”
and “Globetrotters.” During my set of “Globetrotters,” which I do some theatrics acting like I am
driving a vehicle, a camera from NFL Network came right up to my face and shot some footage, while
a beautiful co-host dressed in red was rocking to my track. By that time several people had come over
to the stage area because you could literally hear the music in several places tailgaters were stationed.
I’m on stage performing and mind is turning as I am seeing people rocking to my material on an NFL
network camera. I have no clue if the footage was LIVE or even aired at all, but I know my stage show is full of energy, theatrical aspects and detailed movements, so it caught the attention of TV, which tells me a lot.

All in all, I felt blessed to be there and it surprised me there were way more Giants fans in Indy then
Patriots fans, so I definitely played off of that during my set. After the show my team and I gave
out a ton of free promo cd’s and the guy who actually paid for the lot I was performing in liked my
performance so much he asked if I would be interested in being booked for some spring events at
the stadium. Okay, okay, I need all my readers to say this with me…1,2,3…GOD IS GOOD! He took my
number and the promoter of the event ends up telling me, “Hey I know I told you guys your parking was
only good for a half and hour before and after your show, but you can stay as long as you want now!!!!”
Wowwwwwwww, that’s what pouring your heart out on stage and being professional does for you. We
took full advantage of that and headed over to “SuperBowl Village” to take in the sites and witness the
biggest event of the year in America.

Memories forever after this show and coincidently we got back home at just about 4:30am Monday
morning and stayed up another hour just to catch the highlights of the Superbowl as we missed it
traveling back. I slept about an hour and half and went straight to work for 8 hours. I told ya’ll, I am a
blue collar man, so despite some of the great things God blesses me with musically I still live in the real
world and feel the pain of the common individual. Even when I reach a high level and achieve my dream
of living off my music I will still be the same man and that’s important to me. Don’t worship celebrities
or idols; there is only one man that truly deserves daily worship and that is GOD; enough said.

In closing, I’ll keep shouting out my team of CuzOH! Black, DJ Nominal, Strada, Capish, Professa
and Diallo. Keep checking out our new blogger on Revolt Radio Sofia Topsy and make sure you hit
www.revoltradio.com and send music to musicsubmissions@revoltradio.com for airplay/blog posting
via @cuzohblack and @djnominal on twitter.

Final shout to 730 and J Pizzle for continuing to let my mouth run wild on their site, no censors needed
here fella’s….!!! See ya’ll next week !

“The One with the Classical Flow”

J-Force Interview

 

You’ve been around for awhile but have never really dropped any J-Force project or received as much credit as you deserve for producing. Your new project, Cadillac Respect, showcases your talent as a producer. Did you feel it was finally time to be recognized?

Definitely. I’ve been making beats for a long time, since 1990. The SP-1200 was taught to me by Ski Beatz. He used to bring it around with him and back in the day, all my friends met him. He would stay at one friend’s house and then stay at mine. Everywhere he went he brought the SP and he raided everybody’s parents’ record collection. I watched him program it and work it. Since I was a drummer by nature, I felt I could definitely program some really hot samples and drums into the machine. So yeah, I’ve been doing it for a hot minute.

You remix a lot of classics on Cadillac Respect, and it’s rare that I enjoy remixes.

I call them “revisits.” A “remix” is technically readjusting treble and bass and EQs in that aspect. But we’ve been using the word “remix” on the DJ level a little loosely. To me a revisit, and there’s actually a definition on the inside of the album, a “revisit” is basically calling back a classic accapella, with no disrespect to the original composition, and bringing a new composition totally.

It’s wild. People say the first single I put out was “Bullseye.” I was recording out of Englewood, New Jersey with Ski Beatz and it was next to Dance Floor Distribution, it was a record distributor and there was a studio inside the record distributor spot and that’s where I originally met back up with Ski. I originally met Ski at WBLS, maybe the late ‘80s. My DJ used to be Kevvy Kev and he was on Saturday nights on WBLS and Pete Rock was on Friday. They did the “Marley Marl in Control” show.

So I met Ski in the lobby of WBLS and later on caught up with him at this spot in Jersey and that’s where I recorded a song called “Dippity,” that I’d just seen on YouTube recently. But the A-side wasn’t my mix. The b-side was “Dippity” and I sampled Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” which Tribe sampled at the same time. I took some really hot drums, I think Public Enemy used it on “Don’t Believe the Hype.” What else did I take? I took “Doo-daa dippity” from Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours.”

So that’s really the first single I ever really did. That came out, I believe in ’90 or ’92. I don’t have the record in front of me but that’s really the first record I ever really did. And then “Bullseye” came out in ’93. I failed to put the year on my singles for after “Bullseye” and “Runnin’ on E.” It was kind of open arms for New York underground radio. Stretch Armstrong played whatever I did. DJ Premier, whenever he did an all-star weekend, he played both my singles. I had a little sticker on both of my singles “Live and Direct from the House of Hits” because Marley mixed both of my singles. Those were the first three singles that I did, from ’93 to ’96 I put out my own stuff. “Pink Chicken” was the third single that I never came out with that’s on Cadillac Respect. But I never came out with the version that’s on Cadillac Respect. It’s actually a revisit as well. The original is on YouTube. I took Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do?’s” bassline with Harvey Mandel’s “Cristo Redentor.”

And that was the original mix and then I chopped up a Shirley Bassey loop and put some crazy drums on it and I did a revisit of my own track f¬or the Cadillac Respect project, because it is a revisit project, and keeping with the theme, I put one of mine on there. Basically if you’re a DJ and you appreciate mixology, you’re going to love the album and the way I seamed the interludes together. It’s for real hip-hop heads.

How do you know when you have a revisit right?

How I always make beats is usually to know the beat is hot, I’ll usually throw O.C.’s ‘Time’s Up” over it and I’ll test it with a hot accapella. You know when it’s right. If it complements the vocals and it doesn’t sound anything like the original, then I feel like you got it. If it’s not anything better or brings anything different to the original, I don’t think you really should touch it.

“Time’s Up” is a great standard.

The fact of the matter is “Time’s Up” is such a strong record that you have to come with a lot of heat to do that one over. As far as I’m concerned, it’s almost cheating because he sounds dope over almost anything. And if the revisit is not going to do what the original does, then I leave it alone. That’s why you didn’t see me come with this one here. But that song is a classic, period, the end. But it is tough. You know when the formula is right after you’ve been doing this for so many years and if you can come forth with something new and paint a new picture. And the revisit, I altered the lyrics too to do different things. I started off the Ghostface one with the hook and the “Oh my God” sample at the beginning of the Buckshot one. It’s a whole new formula and a new picture. That’s what I feel you have to do to really do a revisit correctly. It can’t be the same formula as the original recipe.

Are there other songs you look at as untouchable for a revisit?

I would say yes, absolutely, “The Symphony” being a good example. In fact, when I met up with Marley for one of the first times, I met him at a record store in Rockland County and we were both digging for records. I asked him why he picked that beat for “The Symphony 2.” You out of all people, take the Otis Redding again. I really wish the remix had a version from the original Otis Redding “Hard to Handle” sample. I actually said that to him and Marley appreciated the honesty and then we started to hang out and get tight after that.

It takes some balls to say that to Marley Marl the first time meeting him.

(laughs) Well, you know what? Honesty is the best policy to me and that’s all I am, nothing but blunt and up front. A lot of people might not like that and appreciate that. Either you want to sit around the roundtable and tell fairy tales or you want to just deal with the truth. The truth of the matter is “The Symphony 2” is nothing compared to “The Symphony.” But you’re talking to a guy where the beat is first to me. A lot of people get into the lyrics and what they’re saying. I don’t really care what they’re saying if the beat’s not hot. If the beat is hot then I want to hear what you’re saying. “The Symphony 2,” the beat was not hot to me and that’s the point. If Marley didn’t want to talk to me from there on out, that’s fine, but we all know that’s the truth. (laughs)

If fans tuned into Future Flavas, they’ll know you. What were those days like?

That was a platform for me to really flex and hone my production skills, you know, thought that show. I would rock the two SP 1200s with the mixer in between and then of course you got Pete Rock on the turntables. It was magical. Sunday nights, the show came on from 10-11 and it was the time when I was really blossoming as a beatsmith and I was fortunate to have Marley actually mix the singles that I put out with my own vocals. It was pretty cool.

Marley moved up to Chestnut Ridge, New York and I was upstate at the time and that’s how I really ran into him. He would ride around in a red Marc 7 around and he had “Marley” plates on it so it was kind of sticking out like a sore thumb. After awhile, I was invited to do the Future Flavas show with him and Pete Rock and after the show, that’s where I would record these artists that were guests. We would record them after over J-Force beats and I was in full rotation of most of the shows from ’99 to 2001. And I actually was with Marley when he changed from Hot 97 to Power 105. I was with that whole transfer. And then I kind of fell off. I didn’t really go to every show anymore and I would up actually leaving and then I popped up doing some beat stuff for documentaries and networks.

When everything was all good, what were some of your highlights?

Well, during the high points of the show, I would say it was around 2000, I was called by a music publishing company that Jay-Z’s protégé was feeling on one of the tracks that leaked out on my CD. That was Jaz-O. I went to Masters at Work to record this Jaz-O record that later became “King’s County.” To me, that’s where people would say, “We didn’t know you did that.” A lot of people didn’t know I did Future Flavas. I was just in the background with exclusives and SP beats. But the King’s County record was picked up by Fat Beats and I wasn’t credited on that. I lost a lot of stuff for awhile. That’s the nature of the beast. It’s the music industry. I’ve paid dues that I don’t even want to disclose in this conversation but you know some other stuff that I did, for sure, that I had to deal with.

I always felt that I gave you my pinky but I still had a whole hand to give and now, hopefully with the Cadillac Respect and the reception of websites, if people embrace it, I got a lot to give, man. I could be the guy that brings it back to the essence of New York City underground. I’m not really interested in crossing over. I’ve bought albums for the Premier cuts on the album, not the radio records. If I heard one track that was underground, I bought the whole album. I’m trying to be the album cut guy. Everyone is crossing over to some Golden Era-type stuff, and if it’s gonna stay where it’s at, I’ll be that street credible guy all day long. I’ll make those territory records all day long.

Do you think a lot of the younger artists rocking over ‘90s sounding beats is authentic appreciation or reaching for a gimmick?

It’s tricky because a lot of people think that I’m stuck in a time warp, but I feel like history will always repeat and if you look at the true “Golden Era” of hip-hop, I mean, I’ve been listening since Soulsonic Force records and Malcolm McLaren and Man Parrish and all those instrumental records that were from Britain that people were breakdancing too. If you think about it, I think the culmination of the Golden Era as a genre, it was definitely the ‘90s era and if I already existed in that era and that era is what we keep going back to, then why can’t that era exist again? We’ve been talking about it coming back for years. Is 2012 going to be the resurgence of that? Then let’s go. If not, then I’ll still be here and stuck in that time warp for when it does lift off again. I kind of look at myself as an untapped reservoir or music and an endless sea of music. I have DAT discs and old Adidas sneaker boxes full forever.

Are you going to release those?

I got at least a fifteen, twenty year run right now. If it was to resurge again, I’m right there.

What would it take for someone to get a J-Force beat?

Okay, great question. I’m really feeling Roc Marciano, hard. Marcberg, I’m a big U.N. fan. I’m into mic-ripping vocals and braggadocio. I’m into story-telling, of course, but I’m not into champagne-popping music. I stopped listening to mainstream radio from ’98, ’99. I don’t even know what Drake looks like, no disrespect. I’m really, like, so to the left of mainstream right now that I don’t even care to be mainstream. I think that’s a lot of girl scout hip-hop. Like, when people say, “Do you like the beat?” they mean, “Would you buy it?” and I wouldn’t buy a lot of it that’s out there. I don’t know who’s calling the shots as far as what becomes mainstream but I think hip-hop has gradually descended from 1997, 1998 to the present day.

I’ve done a slew of records with Killa Sha and Jojo Pellegrino and basically if you got gut-wrenching lyrics, I’m interested. Give me a shout. It won’t even be hard to get with a J-Force beat, but I will reserve the right to be selective.

I just want to keep my ear to the grindstone and I am less interested in the mainstream unless you’re a Christina Aguilera and you think you got some words for myself. I could see Mary J. Blige on some of my records. I always loved the meshing of R&B and I gotta give it to guys like Pete Rock and Kevvy Kev. They kind of started that back in the BLS era. They were putting Mary J. accapellas over rugged-ass beats. I love the singing over hard beats, but as far as the lyrics being Cristal-popping, eh, that’s more for the skinny jean era and the backpackers. That’s not my cup of tea at all. No disrespect. I mean, if that’s your thing, hey, I’m not hating on it. It’s not my thing.

You use the SP 1200 for your beats. What is it about that machine that brings music alive for you?

I really like the way it spits out drums. I like the way it swings without even using swing. I also like how what I put into it, it spits it out even hotter, like if I grab a snare from a random record, the way I sample the snare, the way I EQ the snare into the machine gets the machine to spit it out fuller and thicker than the original form. I would like to see the original SP 1200 with 20 second sample time. I wouldn’t even need the minute sample time. I also came up with ways to fit much more information into the machine. I get more than ten seconds worth out of it anyway, but I feel like less is more in every aspect. As far as production, it’s kind of tight. Let’s keep the emphasis on lyrics and keep the beat hard and basic. That’s really my formula. I don’t really deviate much.

Can you take us through the making of a J-Force beat?

You know, I used to start with the loop and then as soon as I chopped the loop or whatever sounds I want as the melody part, as soon as I get that part loaded, it’s very easy to add drums. Nowadays, I have tons of drum disks so all I really do is thumb through the vinyl on the Technics and sometimes I have a CD. I’ll load up a drum disk and just play a segment and actually place the needle over different parts and have the drums playing and then the loop second. It’s really either or. I do this on the spot. Also, I’ve been into comprising all the loops that I hear on a given day. I’ll just do burn CDs, I call them, where I’ll just have stuff that I like the way they sound and put them on the turntable and burn them to a disk. I’ll just collect stuff that I like the way it sounds and save it for a later date and I’ll just have tons of loops from the turntables and the way I would want them to sound as the end result.

To me, that’s also a part of producing music and changing the tune of the way a record was originally recorded. On the Technics 1200, the green is the way it was recorded. I don’t necessarily like the way tones of a note where in it’s original form. It may have wandered plus right, negative eight, plus two. I’ll save my burn CDs and use them for a rainy day when you got beat block and you can’t hear a beat. I’ll just pop one of those in because I got tons of those too. I’ll pop one of those in. I label it with a date and I wrap the CD in a piece of paper from wherever I got the loops from so everyone can get their sample credit if it ever came out and became something, so I’ll know where I got it.

I used to just fish through vinyl and I could still do that, but mainly I got burn CDs of stuff that I like and wonder why I never did nothing with that and then I’ll load up a drum disk and figure out what drums sound right with that. I’ll loop my burn and then I’ll just keep marinating on the drums, going through snares and maybe popping in a new disk. That’s my formula nowadays. It’s easier for me. I could also go to a studio session and make them up on the spot.

How I’ve actually been working with rappers at present is I would ask them two questions. Who are you feeling right now hard? The Doors, the Temptations, and then what kind of music is it? Is it ballads? I kind of pick the rappers’ heads and if it’s a melancholic feel, I know what loops to play them and if it’s something else, I’ll know what to play them. It saves time and I can make them a custom beat. Production is the graduation of DJing. If you can play something that a crowd feels then you can tailor something for an artist that they feel.

Are you at your best when you’re making something custom for an artist?

I definitely have the catalogue. Here’s the deal. I’ve been fortunate to play beats in sessions and you’ll want two of the three. I can’t even bombard these guys with seventeen or twenty beats. I can’t even hit them with beat CDs anymore. If I feel the rapper, it takes twenty minutes to say, “Hey, I think you need this. You’re gonna like this.” That’s usually exactly how it happens. It has become a lot easier. I also hone those kinds of skills at Future Flavas. You had to be able to play stuff for people and have them like it in ten minutes. That’s cool. Not everybody is going to love a J-Force beat and if they do, not everybody is for a J-Force beat. It can’t be a forced issue, in my opinion. It has to be right, but I’m willing to work with grassroots up to established artists. If you’re tight, you’re tight and we can rock

What was it like working with Jaz-O?

I was actually working for a music publishing company at the time, Reach Global. They actually started doing Chuck D and Flava Flav’s Public Enemy catalogue. Years ago, I used to fish on my computer for writers that weren’t signed to publishing deals, like writers on Eminem records. So one day I got a call from one of the writers I worked for and we ended up publishing “The Originators” record and that was Jaz-O and Jay-Z and Jaz-O jumped over one of my beats. They called me and said they had good news and bad news. They said how much it was paying upfront and how much on the backend. We all know we’re never going to see the backend. It was $1400 on the frontend and on the backend, which I never received, which is all right. I never received the credit, which is not all right.

Fat Beats came out with it. DJ Clark Kent had the A-side of the single. I don’t believe “King’s County” even made his Immobilarie album and I don’t know why. A lot of people ask me why and I have no idea. But the bad news is I had to show up at the studio session 24 hours after I got the call and it was no problem. Jaz-O was there and we had no idea what the hook was going to be. I believe he wrote his lyrics on the spot and I did all the little ear candy drops around his lyrics and he looked at me and asked what we were going to do for the hook. I said we could Run-DMC the hook and he could say something and I could cut something. I didn’t have my rare accapellas that I liked to cut, like my Mobb Deep and Raekwon records. I ran out and came back within an hour, still on the clock, and Jaz-O actually did compliment me on my studio etiquette and he couldn’t believe how we brought that record home in six hours. The engineer was a monster Japanese kid. It was really one of my favorite moments recording anything. That was around 2000, 2001 and a lot of people, I would tell them that I made that record and they would really jump back. No one really knew. I got so many more things like that. I’m basically an untapped resource to this day.

What was it like working with Killa Sha?

Killa Sha was my dog. I miss him so much. Rest in Peace. He did so much for my career and the documentary side of me. He actually brought me to Quincy Jones III and that took me to doing the Rock the Bells Wu-Tang movie and that got me a call from Bling, that went on the network and then off the network. VH1 pulled it. It was real cerebral and about the real blood diamonds. He started all of that. I did four records with Sha. I did “Black Dracula” and actually Marley got the credit for it. I had to correct one of the blogs that posted it. I did “Raging Bull.” That was actually blogged too. I have a song called “Analyze” that came out later and now I believe my man Phantom is working on a Killa Sha release and “Raging Bull” will come out on that.

I’m trying to collect some Sha lyrics for something new and I’m actually working on something with Killa Sha and Tame One. It was recorded posthumous and I got the accapella. I talked to Phantom about recording something new. It’s gonna be special. He’s my boy. We used to vibe out on the Future Flavas show and I really miss that guy. I was fortunate enough to get a couple in with him. Some stuff might still come out. We have to drop it later. That’s if this real stuff comes back. Hopefully there’s a resurgence and the younger crowd has to hopefully get turned onto it first. That’s why I came with Cadillac Respect, to hopefully educate the young ones.

Will we hear more from J-Force in the future?

100%. I’m tired of laying. I got a couple of other projects going on already. I got myself a Mac computer. I can record in my laboratory now, which used to just be a pre-production spot. But now with technology, I got the Mac and I record everything in Garage Band. All of the stuff on Cadillac Respect was Cubase and Pro Tools. I got another project that I’m loading into that and you should be hearing a lot more from J-Force in the years to come.

Will you always use the SP 1200?

100%. I’ll never stop using that. As a matter of fact, there was a show that I remember DJ Premier coming to and him telling Marley that the thing with me on the machine is that you could never tell what equipment I’ve used. I said to him, “Hey, Premier, it’s all in the hi-hat pattern. It’s all in the way that you sample your hi-hats and how you play your hi-hats.” He looked at me like, ‘Of course. That is the right answer.’ It’s all in the drum pattern and the rate you sample your drums, to me. Sometimes a snare that doesn’t have to be tuned down in the SP, a snare that in other words that’s sampled in real time and then played in real time on the SP is really clear and almost sounds digital on the SP even though the SP is a dirty, 12-bit machine. There’s a way to sample the drums onto the machine where they sound like Akai drums with a dirty loops. That comes with time and you have to know how to freak these machines into fooling the people. I may tell you that I hung up the SP and play you five beats that you could have sworn I made on an Akai. If I play them for you on a CD you’ll never be able to tell what machine I made them on. But I like the SP. It forces creativity. You only have ten seconds and you have to bring it home. It’s raw. That’s what hip-hop is about. It’s less. Less is more, definitely.

How’s your relationship with Marley Marl and Pete Rock today?

I haven’t seen those guys in awhile. I’m loving the Cocoa Brovaz and Pete Rock album. I’ve been a huge Pete Rock fan, of course. He’s been an influence and Marley’s been an influence. I haven’t seen Marley in awhile. I hope I see him real soon and hope he’ll stand behind the album. He had a lot to do with it. There’s a lot of treats from Future Flavas that were never available until now, including the “Self Conscious” revisit. I came up with the scratch hook. It’s an official Future Flavas record. I wanted it to feel like a Future Flavas radio show, hence the crowd and some of the sound effects. I did want it to sound like a radio show album and paying homage to the Future Flavas time because that is when I started coming up and honing the craft of beatmaking.

Those days were great. I hear Marley, through the grapevine, is trying to do a reunion show on the web. I don’t know if it’s going to be on the radio again. But I look back and I wouldn’t change a thing. It was so much fun going to the show. Sunday nights will never be the same again. I loved it. I have no regrets about that. I was just really humble. I was in the background and I wasn’t shout-out hungry and I wasn’t so much into the notoriety. I just loved watching people appreciate the stuff that I was putting forth. I didn’t have a need to really be upfront. It wasn’t like that for me. It was just about flexing the skills and quietly playing the background.

And I’m not totally happy with how I did it. I should have been more aggressive. I was in my 20s then and I was doing it for the love. There were a couple of times that I caught feelings, one being the Black Rob exclusive that Marley would rock at the beginning of a show for about a year or two straight. It was a Black Rob and J-Force exclusive and he actually shouted me out on it. That beat eventually became a beat for an AZ revisit. Anyway, Black Rob didn’t realize it. During the radio show, he was freestyling over an SP beat. He told Marley he would rock with us and he wanted something from them and that I should just play him the beat he rapped to and that was my beat. Then he looked at me like, ‘You made that beat?’ Then my feelings got involved and I didn’t really want to continue further. Rob wanted to know how to get in touch with me and I told him to get at me like he got at Marley and maybe I could have been on that album if I didn’t drop the ball. But no one really knew who J-Force was. I should have been more aggressive. There are regrets and maybe I should have shown a little more teeth. But I’m ready to do that now. I’m stronger, older, that much faster. Little things like that.

Who are your favorite artists to sample?

I don’t know if I should divulge that! (laughs) I like obscure, cruddy, 1960s rock records. I’m into rare soul from ’67 to ’72. I got a record at home by Manny Kellen. There’s just tons of stuff on that one record. Who else am I fishing for these days? I like R.B. Grieves, another pretty underground soul singer from back then. I got a ton of stuff that you’ve never heard of. There’s just stuff you never heard of. To me, I believe in not sampling the hits. Sampling stuff that fell by the wayside, that no one really took notice of, that’s the art of hip-hop. It’s not taking a Sister Sledge loop and adding drums to it. That’s not really what I do, anything when the loop is hot, the loop is hot and just throw some drums on it. The Ghostface record on Cadillac Respect is me looping The Escorts and I just added drums. Mainly that’s that.

Do you ever go back to older samples you’ve chopped and remaking the beats with your current mindstate?

Let me tell you what. I’m constantly known for sampling something on a Saturday morning and add the drums to it and the loop and shut the machine off without even saving the samples. That’s my new shit, and I’ll come back to it later that day or the next day. I’m really anal with what I save to discs nowadays. Not everything is floppy disk worthy. I’m really picky. It’s crazy. It’s a gift and a curse. But the formula just has to be so right. Timeless is what I shoot for. A lot of the stuff on Cadillac Respect, it’s from back then but it doesn’t get old.

And that’s what I try to bring forth in my brand of music. If it’s not classic material and it just sounds good for this season, then it’s not for me. It’s like how I come to the end result of my sound. “King’s County” doesn’t sound like it’s dated at all in my opinion. That could bang for ten, twenty years the way I sampled it. It’s a Glen Miller record and it was on the Hair Soundtrack. It’s so rare. I’ve never seen it at any expos. If you hear the original and “King’s County,” it will explain everything. I don’t even remember where I got those drums from but there’s a couple of producers who’ve used those drums. I left a couple of beat disks behind in my travels and I think people got a hold of them and I can tell those drums showed up on other records. I don’t remember where the drums on “King’s County” came from but the notes on “King’s County” that I chopped came from Glen Miller on the Hair Soundtrack. But I got a lot of rare records. That’s really all I deal with.

What’s next for you?

Ultimately I may do one more revisit project. I have these ideas of chop CDs whereas I would be sampling and chopping Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and Kiss. I’m a Kiss freak. And have it like Pink Floyd Meets Hip-Hop. I’m thinking of some concepts and some mash-up CDs along those lines. Other than that, if you hear track fifteen on Cadillac Respect, you’ll hear “Pink Chicken.” Those are my vocals. I rap too and if somebody steps to me with the right mathematics I would like to do an album with guests. I wouldn’t rap on every track but I would produce every track and do all the interludes. Hopefully that happens but if not, I’m fine in the background playing the beats.

Download Cadillac Respect here.

Wordsmith Journal Entry #4

 

Wordsmith Journal Entry #4

Before I get to the good news let me start with the bad or maybe I should say unfortunate news. Long story short my EX called the cops on me because I caught her in my neck of the woods with my son King Noah with next to nothing on. I mean I understand Maryland weather changes by the day, but people from my understanding it is Fall/winter right??? Well, I asked her to cover up my son because he had no coat, hat, socks or blanket on and my fear was he was going to get sick; I might be psychic by the way. I don’t think being a caring father means the cops should get a call because you’re lying on the phone telling them I won’t let you leave. Nooooo…I just wanted my son dressed properly, so he wouldn’t catch a serious cold. When it was all said and done the cops told me to go home and kept my EX for questioning because she doesn’t live in Baltimore City like I do, she shouldn’t be collecting WIC in my area and they made her at least put a blanket on King. A Day later my EX tells me my son has Bronchitis, which is his first major illness since he was born last July; I mean he hasn’t even had an ear infection, so I wasn’t happen about this. I’m not trying to put all my personal business out there, but I think part of doing these Journals are to be up front with my fans and let them know I go through the same struggles, blue collar work days and BABY MAMA DRAMA they may experience time to time. Women, you’re not excluded cause us dudes can be just as screwed up when it comes to kids as well; I’m just not one of them!

Okay, enough publicity for my EX, lol. There was a light at the end of tunnel as a promoter named Joel Hutton calls to book me to perform at a Superbowl VIP Tailgating Party this Sunday. Wowwww…say GOD is good with me everyone…1, 2, 3…GOD IS GOOD!!!! It’s a huge opportunity for me, but I was on the fence about doing it because my son King was sick and I have been playing it by ear, but since he has been back with me his health seems to be getting better by the day. I have been sneaking rehearsals in for this show at 4:45am in the morning after my workouts, basically making whatever sacrifice I need to so I am up to my normal standards of showmanship. Did I mention I am a huge Giants fan due to my father raising my brother and I on the G-men growing up. Anyways, I even reached out to my rep at ESPN to see if they can possibly incorporate me in some of their Superbowl promo since I did some major work with them in 2011. Hey, it’s a shot in the dark, but you never know if you don’t ask. Shout to CuzOH! Black and Dan Watcher for making the trip with me to Indianapolis on Sunday; it will be a memorable experience. I continue to be thankful for everything God does for me because as long as I put in the work, pray and give him the glory I’m not shocked when things like this pop up in my life. I don’t get hung up on how many twitter/facebook followers I have either because I have done some major things in my career via myself and God. I see artists with 15,000, 20,000, 30,000 followers, but I never see any music being released, shows or major steps in their careers, so FYI give the twitter trains/bots a rest and rely on real fans, working hard and God to succeed in your careers. SEE YA’LL IN INDY FEBRUARY 5TH!!!!

Okay, okay, still no drop date for my King Noah LP as I await and answer from Fat Beats. I will be shooting the video for “The Limit” on February 11th though via NU Revo online promoter Diallo. This is the first video we are shooting together, so if all goes well you won’t be seeing me hiring anymore directors to shoot my videos. I have worked with some good one’s who has given me quality work, but if you know me I am all about doing things in house. Otherwise why did I start my label NU Revolution Entertainment LLC?

I was going to drop my “Prelude to the King” Mixtape on March 5th, but I always go through Frostwire.com for my torrent releases as well. They approached me two years ago to promote my “Overdue & Underrated” Mixtape and it has been a great business partnership ever since. I never have done less than 100,000 downloads with them and they have done promo for major companies like Pixar and Disney before, so it’s an honor to work with them. Did I mention they are the number one download site for music? I know most people think its Napster or Limewire, but Frostwire seemed have wiped them out when both of those companies were going through copyright infringement problems. I might be looking at a March 12th or 19th drop date now, which I am fine with because when you’re getting people you know saying, “Hey I saw your mixtape on the front of my Frostwire program,” your making moves.

In closing, I’ll keep shouting out my team of CuzOH! Black, DJ Nominal, Strada, Capish, Professa and Diallo. Keep checking out our new blogger on Revolt Radio Sofia Topsy and make sure you hit www.revoltradio.com and send music to musicsubmissions@revoltradio.com for airplay/blog posting via @cuzohblack and @djnominal on twitter.

Finally, shout to 730 and J Pizzle for continuing to let my mouth run wild on their site, no censors needed here fella’s….!!! See ya’ll next week !

Wordsmith
Aka
“The One with the Classical Flow”

@wordsmithmusic

Interview: Willie the Kid

 

You recently dropped The Cure 2, another dope Willie the Kid mixtape. Are you happy with how it’s doing so far?

Yeah, I’m excited about it. The Cure 2 was definitely a project that I was excited about putting together last year. I did The Fly 2 and The Crates to really go in that direction for The Cure 2. It’s really an in-your-face, a rhyme-driven project. I wasn’t really looking for no radio hits or I wasn’t looking for no single hooks. I was really just trying to take it back to the cipher and the basement and we definitely got that approach, definitely.

That was my favorite part of the mixtape, just real lyrical tracks. Are those your favorite tracks to make?

I enjoy it all, man. I enjoy making stuff for the mainstream because for me, it comes natural to make that type of material. When I’m able to just go crazy and do whatever the heck I want to do, it’s therapeutic for me, man. It goes beyond making music for a career at that point. When you sign to a label and the label got certain expectations and you have things you have to do for certain markets, that’s a strategy. But when I’m making music just for me, it’s holistic, man. It’s a therapy process for me, man.

What tracks were the most fun on The Cure 2?

The most fun, I think, was picking the beats. That was probably the most fun in the process. I was getting the grimiest, most in-your-face process I could find. I went with my trustees for that and got Frank Dukes, MoSS, and getting together with all my brothers and carving out that process. That, and the artwork, putting that together.

Is it ever hard getting beats for a free download?

Oh nah, nah. Those guys are good friends of mine. Those guys, I respect their talent and they respect mine. We talk on and off the grid. I understand what they’re doing and I understand what they do. I do records for them and I never charge them anything and they send me records and never charge me anything. I think for us all, we understand that and now if I had a major release and it was dropping and I had a budget, I would definitely pay them out of being a good dude and being fair, but as far as mixtapes, I think we all recognize the power of the underground and what it means to put some good shit together, even if it’s not mainstream.

And they’ll be the first ones you’d call when you get a budget.

Damn right.

The last time we’d talked you just released the Never a Dull Moment EP with Lee Bannon and the album was forthcoming. How’s that project coming?

It’s dope. We can’t stop making the music, man. We’ve been making mad music and some of the music is so dope I want to put it out. “Drunk Ass Bitch” was really for the Never a Dull Moment but we threw that out on The Cure 2. Now we have to just sit down and organize it. We make tons of music all the time but we haven’t really started pushing anything on the project. He sends me beats and I send him songs back and we go on and on with making music but I think we have to organize what we’re doing for the project.

But it’s definitely coming out. I would say we just got lost in the sauce and the idea of making the music. We just have to get the release date and all that.

You’ve always been known for working with DJ Drama, but you weren’t on his latest album Third Power. Is everything good?

Dram’s still a good friend of mine and we still keep in touch. He’s doing what he’s doing with his career and I think I just have to keep doing what I’m doing with mine for now. I think for now, everybody, me, him, Don Cannon, Sense, La the Darkman, everybody’s found a new comfort in just going in their own direction. No hard feelings. There’s no beef, no internet blogs. Everybody just needs to work in their own space right now. We’ll get back to it eventually.

Do you want to establish yourself as a solo artist more?

Yeah. I think we never gave our solo careers a chance. We’ve always been so connected to each other for such a long time. I don’t want to say we grew out of it but we all grew into a need to pursue our individual paths. That’s what was next on the agenda for everybody.

Do you have any regrets from the moves you made back in ’06 and ’07, when you were just starting to become knowing in the hip-hop community?

I can’t say there’s anything I wouldn’t do because it all got me to where I am today. I’m not one for regrets. I think everything that happened was supposed to happen. I think being so attached to Drama and the Apphiliates and Gangsta Grillz, I think what that did was give me a platform for being able to do what I’m doing now. I think it gave me a platform. I think back then, it gave me the leverage to do this crazy shit I’m doing now.

You’ve worked with a lot of big names on Gangsta Grillz mixtapes and albums. What have you learned through those experiences?

The number one thing I learned, man, was who I am as an artist. I believe in organic, natural chemistry and an organic, natural physical process. I like to identify with the artist as a person and I think that really makes for a beautiful product. A lot of times in the past, we were doing shit because it was good for business or it flowed for what we were doing as a company, business-wise. But I think in 2011, from some of the collaborations I did, like Styles P, Cory Gunz, and Jon Connor, I think stuff like that, and Krondon from Strong Arm Steady, I think those kind of collaborations and musical projects we put together, I think they speak more to what I’m saying as far as having a true bond and a true connection with the people I’m working with for the sake of the music.

Who would you like to work with next?

I’m excited to work with some producers. I can rap for three or four motherfuckers. I want to work with the RZA, Kanye West, Havoc, Pete Rock. All the producers, man. Madlib. I want to work with some producers. That’s who I want to get with.

What does it take for up-and-coming producers to catch your ear?

I don’t know, man. I just know when I hear it. Friends of mine say I’m too picky and they’ll play me a beat and I won’t like it and a week later I will. I’m real funny about beats and I’m real particular about beats. I got to a point now where I don’t even rap on beats unless it makes me go crazy at first. I don’t believe in “grow-on-me” beats. The song magically comes together in my mind before I can write it down. That’s the kind of beats I’m looking for and I got some real good friends in the business that I can turn to for beats. Every time Alchemist sends me beats it’s always incredible. I think Al’s one of my favorites right now and of course Lee Bannon. They send me shit and it always goes. And my man V. Don out of Harlem, New York. He’s got some crazy shit too. When I get beats from them brothers, I’m straight. But I do want to branch out and make some more music with up-and-coming producers and I think that’ll come as I keep making music.

What’s next for you?

I’m about to do this project called Moment in Time. It’s going to basically be, I’m not even sure what to call it at this point, it’s going to be a package where you download a link and you get some videos, rare throwback footage and rare behind the scenes footage. It’s basically going to be an interview and music to go along with it. It’ll be like when an artist went on Rap City and they showed all their videos at that time. I’m going to give a real in-depth interview about my career and videos from throughout my career.

How’s your big brother La the Darkman doing?

Oh, he’s doing well. He’s doing really well. He was doing some dates with Wu-Tang on the Wu-Tang Tour. He was just reaching out and going back to his roots with the Clan. Him and RZA’s relationship has always been great. We got some great things coming in the future with La and RZA so check out for that.

What talent should we be watching for from Michigan next?

My man S. Class Sonny. Make sure you check out for him. He’s a friend I grew up with and he had to go away, pay a debt to society. But he always stayed in touch and when he came back, I told him all my resources would be his. He’s my friend, but I’m telling you he’s one of the most influential and hardest-working cats I know. I’m not talking about the ones that are already on the radio and known already. He’s one of the fastest growing guys. Check for him.

Interview- Awkword

 

 

For those who aren’t yet up on you, how would you introduce yourself?

I’m a writer, a Hip Hop/rap artist, an activist. I represent the people, the 99%, the working man and woman, people who struggle, people who cop new fashions or do drugs to cope with their problems. Real humans. To me, that’s what this culture is all about. I rap about shit I know, shit I been through, shit I see, shit I fear and shit I dream about. I’ve wanted to die, been in trouble with the law, graduated from college, worked my ass off. I hate the man, I love my people. I’m sarcastic, self deprecating, brutally honest, passionate, compassionate, sensitive, super-lyrical. I want peace, but I aint afraid to knock somebody head off. I’m anti-arrogance and I don’t give a fuck if you swag. I do me, and that’s exactly why they feel me.

Your “World View” project is scheduled to be dropping soon. Can you explain what it is, who’s involved and your motivation behind it?

World View is dropping in 2012, presented by DJ Booth, End of the Weak (EOW/EODub) & The Morgan Stanley Foundation. The first-ever 100% for-charity global Hip Hop project, World View features contributions from every continent, approximately 20 countries and every United States region. The album boasts production from Domingo, Harry Fraud, The White Shadow, Tranzformer, ATG and many more, as well as guest emcee appearances from the likes of Joell Ortiz, Sean Price and KRS-One. All proceeds are being donated to Guns 4 Cameras (a.k.a. Aim to Live), a 501c3-registered nonprofit dedicated to eradicating street violence through the Hip Hop-inspired education and empowerment of our at-risk youth.

Your music is very influenced by your social views and your activism. How important is it for those passions to be conveyed in your music?

My mother was an activist. I was raised an activist. I have a bachelor of art’s degree in Sociology from Vassar College. I’ve led protests all over the country as well as worked in maximum security prisons, alternative to incarceration centers, teen centers and soup kitchens. And I do feel strongly that politics are important because they affect us at the street level, in our day-to-day lives, even if we can’t always see or feel it. But politics aint everything. And ideas and songs can be political without being blatant, in-your-face, Democrat-vs.-Republican political.

Of course, my political opinions and passions are important to me and play a significant role in my music, my message and my movement, but this doesn’t mean every song is intended to be or going to come off as political.

Do you see your music as having a particular goal or is it more about communicating what’s inside you?

I make music to release, for myself. I make music to relate, for my listeners. And, less often, I make music to educate, for those who can learn from my experiences or education. I am not just a political rapper, or a Jewish rapper, or an underground/indie rapper. I am complex, just like my fans and followers. On World View and other projects, I:

Go in on current events (e.g., “Mr. President” w/ Y-Love; or “Imperialism” w/ C-Rayz Walz & Reks).
Speak revolution right to the 1% (e.g., “The People’s Champions” w/ Shabaam Sahdeeq, Punchline & Beretta 9 [of Killarmy]).
Comment on the state of Hip Hop (e.g., “Radio 2.0″ w/ KRS-One et al.).
Talk that gritty, grimy street shit (e.g., “Bars & Hooks” w/ Sean Price, The Kid Daytona & The Incomparable Shakespeare; or “Metal Music” w/ ILL BILL, El Gant, Tenacity & Blame One).
Embody other objects (e.g., blood in “Stay Spittin Stay Flowin”; or drugs in “Requiem” w/ SoulStice, Ess Vee & CuzOH! Black [coming soon!])
Share my secrets and insecurities (e.g., “Doctor Doctor” w/ GuessWho?).
Divulge on relationships (e.g., “Thank You (A Tribute To My Mommy)”; or “The Dating Game – Revisited” w/ Jade Foxx).
Celebrate with my peoples (e.g., “Cheers” w/ Whatzisface).
Attempt to inspire (e.g., “The World Is Yours” w/ Sha Stimuli; or “All My People” w/ Josh Martinez et al.)

You’ve done a number dope joints with Harry Fraud who is blowing up crazy. How did you two initially link up?

Fraud and I met about a decade ago, before anyone had heard of either of us. We met through mutual friends Various, Werdplay and Fafu of BLESTeNATION, an Interscope-signed group that only a few years ago seemed destined for stardom. Fraud produced a couple records on my solo debut LP “See the Light”. In 2011, he and I both took big steps forward, and I am very proud of and happy for him. And, good news, we got more hot records in the works and coming soon, including one with Voli and me that is already finished, stupid crazy dope, and POSSIBLY destined for Fraud’s album and/or World View. For more on this, look out for a forthcoming feature on RefinedHype.com.

Who are some of the artists who have inspired you and who you look at as role models in the game?

As a ‘Tough Jew’ growing up, I was inspired by artists with similar backgrounds, such as ILL BILL and Remedy. As a politically minded emcee, I have been inspired by Immortal Technique and Chuck D. And as an artist, I learned a lot about the writing, recording, production and performing processes from friends Harry Fraud and Whatzisface. But truthfully, I am much more inspired by what goes on inside my head and in the world around me, as well as by philosophers, social theorists and political activists.

Any new artists that you’re feeling lately and are looking to work with?

Production wise, I would love to work with DJ Premier, Alchemist and the Snowgoons. As for fellow emcees, I don’t want to give anything away because, at this point, with World View, anything is possible, and some crazy collaborations are already quietly being cooked up.

What’s on the horizon for 2012 for you?

I’m almost finished with World View. Just a few more records to complete, and then I’ll be dropping this multi-year effort via DJ Booth later this year. After World View, I am going to spend a lot more time writing and a lot less time networking and promoting. Since I didn’t start taking this rap thing seriously until December 2009, I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. But once my foothold is fully established with World View, I plan to work on more solo records, with some of the most creative producers in the game. I plan to push boundaries and inspire these geniuses to go even further left field with me. We all know that’s where I belong.

Website

twitter.com/awkwordrap

Dutch New York Interview

 

Dutch, you’ve been dropping tons of freestyles and mixtapes. In your latest freestyle, you shout out Victor Cruz. Are you surprised by their victory at Green Bay?

I was going crazy! That’s my favorite sport and I’m a diehard Giants fan. I had to throw that in there! I knew they was going to win, but I didn’t know how. I was saying to some of my people watching the game that I didn’t know, it could have been a close one or a blowout. I didn’t know they were going to win in that fashion, 37-20.

I didn’t know they were going to have to play the officials at the same time.

Exactly! Oh, they had me sick! But it’s been like that all season. That’s why I think we’re going to the Super Bowl and are going to take it all. We’ve played the officials all season. I can’t wait!

Your latest mixtape, No Relief, recently dropped. Are you happy with how that’s been doing?

Yeah, I’m very, very satisfied. I think it’s gotten a good response. We’ve done shows off of it and I’ve done videos. The whole reception towards the No Relief project is way bigger than I thought it would be.

How have you grown on No Relief compared to your last mixtape, Katrina Flood?

When I listen to those two projects, they’re almost polar opposites because there’s a maturity in the music. I always said that when I made music, whether or not I was grown or not, I wanted the people that listened to me to grow with the music. I showed my growth as an artist and my maturity is there also. It’s different from being in the street and rapping about it or looking at it from a different point of view and looking at it as a man. That’s where No Relief is.

Did you feel like that element was missing in your earlier music?

I don’t feel like it’s missing, but that’s just me and how I make music. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to make the same type of music I’ve already made because then I’d be cloning myself and doing the same thing. That was just a natural progression. With No Relief 2, which I’m about to do, I can still go back and kick that shit, but as a fan and if you’re a fan of me and my music, I had to take a break from being super-lyrical all the time and let you know where I’m at in my life and my mental state.

How’s No Relief 2 coming?

No Relief 2 is done! Right now, I’m at the point where I’m working on No Relief 2 videos and all that crazy shit and recording at the same time. But I think I was done with No Relief 2 by the time one dropped. Before one dropped, I was done with two. With No Relief 2, it’s going to be one of my favorite projects to date.

What makes this one of your favorites?

It’s a mixture of Katrina Flood and No Relief. It’s like I took it up a notch on both levels. I took it up a notch with myself and I took it up a notch with my spitting. Everything that I did is up a notch. This one is going to be more like a mixtape. No Relief is more like an album. No Relief 2 is more like a mixtape. With No Relief, I was more in tune with my actual personal life and I was putting my heart on the records. With No Relief 2, I’m having a little more fun, going back to what I do, going back to spitting and going hard, sparring with different artists. We’re also going to kill them with our EP. Going to kill them with that.

I love the music we’re working on, but I’m a little biased.

You should love it. It’s heat! I’m loving it so far. When you hit me about doing a project, it tapped into a different part of me and a different part of music that I always listened to and that I was always a fan of. What I’ve been getting from you, 730, these are easy. These are like putting rookies against Tyson. I can do these in my sleep. This is the type of music I came up with and the type of music that made me love rap. This is easy! I can kill this! What I love about your joints, specifically, is that it’s so hip-hop. I lock in the studio by myself with these. It reminds me of Gang Starr’s “Code of the Streets” with this project, “Just to Get a Rep.” That’s the vibe I get. That’s my shit. I fucks with that!

This is the first time I’m ever talking about my own music in an interview.

I’m glad it’s with Dutch New York. That’s what I’m talking about!

Me too. We’ve got about four songs done, but we should be ready to drop soon.

Right. We don’t even have to put a time on it. Whenever that project is the best that it’s going to be, we can green light it. We’re going to keep recording and hopefully we’ll have that out there early spring.

Sounds like a plan. You put a lot of music out for free. Does that ever get frustrating?

It’s frustrating to a certain point, but even if I didn’t have any way to put it out, I would still be recording the same volume of music. I just have an easier outlet to get the music out. I work so hard on the music. It’s hard chasing people down and trying to get your music posted in different places. There’s also people that don’t want the music. Even if I didn’t have the internet, I would still be recording and I’d still be out in the streets in the middle of the ciphers. I’d be wherever the music is. It’s still an outlet. The people that want to find it, they’re going to find it on the internet, for free or for pay. It doesn’t matter to me. I love the music and I’ll do it until I don’t have a voice left. I’m doing this for y’all.

Do you see your fanbase growing?

Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s been mind-blowing to me. I didn’t expect it. When you’re in the studio by yourself and with your people, you don’t really know how many people are listening, but doing shows and seeing the amount of people that come to shows and listen to the music and know the music, it’s crazy. I did a free listening party for my mixtape and the turnout was crazy. There were so many people. I got the biggest spot I could get and I still would have needed a bigger spot. I love the people for that. I’m going to continue doing it. The people have been very receptive to it.

What’s going on with your group The Stack Boyz?

Right now we’re working on The Stack Boyz Season Finale mixtape. We have some solo projects they’re working on too. We’re deep and everybody’s nice. Everybody’s in the studio right now. Matter of fact, they’re in the studio now, as we speak. The Season Finale is going to be the next thing to go. I’m thinking about doing a StackLand concert and everybody’s going to come out and do their joints. We’re working on that for the summer. That’s something crazy to look out for.

How did you “Yeah” adlib come about?

I was doing a freestyle, a “Miss Me” freestyle, and the beat stopped and I paused and I was just like, ‘Yeah!’ The faces when I did it was like, ‘Ooh wee, what was that?’ I couldn’t even record because they were running with it. I had to keep giving them that!

I don’t think you can shake it at this point.

(laughs) No. I’m running with it!

You have a strong online presence with your music today. What else are you working on as far as the internet is concerned?

I’m trying to centralize everything through DutchNewYork.net. I’m going to send my regular emails out still but I want to centralize everything and my YouTube page is where all my videos will be. I love the support, but if you’re trying to find out anything about me, that’s where you go.

@dutchnewyork

YouTube.com/MrStackLand

Alexander the Great Interview

 

You just released The Susan Sarandon Story mixtape, which features an array of quality guests and some of your best beats. You must be pretty proud of the project.

Yeah. I definitely am. A lot of it is songs that were already out or are coming out. I just had a lot of music sitting around and I felt like people didn’t really know my body of work or they weren’t really associating different joints I did for different artists, so I just really wanted to put one cohesive thing together.

Do you think people will realize all the songs you’ve done as a producer now?

Yeah, I hope that not only that, people know me for different works that I do. I want people in California who hear about me from working with Fashawn or A1 or Omar Aura to hear about the music I’m doing with Steven King or REKS or vice versa. I’ve got stuff in the works with people in Detroit that I essentially cold-called because they had never heard my music. I’m kind of all over the place.

A lot of your songs feature more than one artist. Is it ever a challenge making cohesive songs with so many people involved?

Yeah, it’s very difficult. I don’t like to do it online. I literally like to have everyone in the same place. I would say maybe only two or three of those records on the tape, I’m just trying to think off the top of my head, were done with people in different places, saying that I may have not been there for part of the recording process. Being there, you get to add your input and you’re taking yourself from being a beatmaker to a producer, if that makes any sense.

Is it ever hard giving constructive criticism to established artists, especially with you as a relatively new producer?

Yeah, especially if you’re in a session with someone you’ve never worked with before and you admire them as a musician and you think they could have done it better or done something different or you have a different idea. It takes a certain personality but I think that the music just comes out way better and I think most people will listen to criticism, if they’re smart, at least.

What are you most proud of on The Susan Sarandon Story?

One of my favorite songs on the mixtape is “The Masquerade” by Hadji Quest. I’m really proud of that because that’s a perfect example of what we were just talking about. Hadji Quest is the homie from Brooklyn and he’s got a project coming out and Statik Selektah did most of the production on it. That song was essentially just one verse and I had gotten really attached to the beat because I played this guitar riff at the end and I arranged it a certain way. I told him we couldn’t just have one verse on there. I told him to come over to my house and we would figure out what we should do for the hook and he should write a second verse and he should write a bridge. We crafted the song around a certain structure and Statik made the cuts and the song sounds fantastic. The other thing about it is that no one’s ever heard his music before. That’s the first song that he’s released, so to have that song be the first song released and have it be a song that I’m so proud of, I was really happy with that.

And you’re doing more work with him, right?

Yeah. We’ve done probably fifteen or twenty joints, but I’m not sure how many. I think there’s only ten or twelve joints on his project that he has.

Why did you name the mixtape after Susan Sarandon?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I’ve been working on my full-length and I was going to use some of those records. But the musical direction went elsewhere, so I was thinking if I should scrap these songs or whatever and I decided to put them out and I didn’t know what to call it so I went to Twitter of all places. I asked my followers what I should call this project and YC the Cynic, who’s the homie, said I should call it The Susan Sarandon Story. So that’s how the title came about but what he didn’t know was that I was looking for something very weird and along those lines, but it also just kind of worked because I happened to go to school with Susan Sarandon’s daughter and as far as having any ties to the music or the content is zero. And it really is, you know, this is not an album. This is a collection of songs. When I put out a full-length and when I eventually get the project out, it will definitely be more of a complete project. But this is just something I wanted to get out to get people more familiar with me. I wanted to throw a weirdo name on it and let’s just run with it.

Could this parlay into a ping-pong match, with Susan Sarandon and her connection with the ping-pong club SPIN?

I would love so. I would love so. It’s funny. If you search her name, a review for my project actually comes up on the first page. Maybe she sees it. That’s some high end, snobbery side of ping-pong, right? Like people riding horses and drinking champagne in between ping-pong matches?

I don’t think it’s the kind you’d play in your basement.

I don’t know if that’s me.

You’re also working on a project with Chaundon. How’s that coming?

It’s done. It’s actually been done for four or five months. He flew out to New York for two weeks, knocked it out, went home, I got the mixes done and that’s it. It’s a good project. Ten songs.

You do a lot of work with Steven King as well. What can we expect from you guys?

He just dropped an EP called Distribution Habits. He’s of course on the Kool G Rap record with Rustee Juxx on my project. The EP was produced by myself, Harry Fraud and Statik. The album is pretty much done. We need to get a couple more songs mixed, but the LP is done. Ill Bill has a record on there. I have records. Fraud has records. There’s a Statik record that Term is on that is crazy. We actually just did a couple joints with REKS and Steven King that are out of control. That album is coming. That’s hardcore, gritty New York rap.

How’s your official compilation coming?

Good. I’m like, four or five songs deep. I’ll probably over-record, but it’s going well. You’ll see a lot of the same people on this project as The Susan Sarandon Story, but it’ll be missing a few and I’ll be adding a few people.

How do you balance which beats go for the various projects you’re working on as well as the ones you sell to artists for their projects?

Up until more recently, I have been more of going along with I’m just going to make a ton of beats and send them ten joints when someone asks for beats that I think they’ll sound good on. But lately I have been, sort of, as I’ve been crafting beats, who I would maybe try to craft this more specifically for, do that, and then send that to them. Sometimes I just know immediately, whether I hear a sample or once I start chopping it up. I’ll know, hey, this is for so-and-so.

As far as selling beats to random people, I’m really trying not to do that. I’m not trying to do the random I don’t know you-type of music anymore.

Can you take us through the making of an ATG beat?

For people who listen to The Susan Sarandon Story in their entirety, they’ll notice that the only track that has no samples is the last track with REKS and Lucky Dice. And that came about just from a guitar riff that I was playing. If you hear any guitar in my beats, it’s usually live guitar that I’m playing. So if I’m doing something that’s sample free, it’ll start with a guitar riff and then craft it around that. And those beats are always special to me so I always put a little bit more into them, I think, as far as time and self-criticism and perfection.

As far as a sample joint goes, it usually starts with the sample and I usually hear something right away that makes me want to chop it up. I’ll chop up the sample and arrange it in the way that I want or the way that I hear in my head and then start attacking the drums and just digging through drums and trying to find the right drums, which can take anywhere from a minute to 30 minutes sometimes, figuring out the right drums. And then once I have the basic structure, I might start thinking about song structure and how this would be presented as a song and how it can build and how it can move from start to finish and that process can take more time than it took to make the actual beat. A lot of times, once someone takes a song, I like to think they’re more like skeletons in the sense of once somebody decides to go in on something, if I hear changes to be made, I’ll go in after the fact and try to make it sound better. And now, of course, is the big component of bass. I like to play basslines on my bass guitar, if I can, but sometimes the samples have it.

What element does the live guitar bring to your production?

I think it adds a more universal sound. I think whether I’m playing with samples or playing guitar on the beat, I think the guitar is one of those instruments that’s sort of understood everywhere. Sometimes it sounds crappy but sometimes it can take emotional songs to either higher or darker places. The guitar is one of those instruments, it just breathes. It cries. What is it? “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”?

What other equipment do you use when making beats?

I use a midi keyboard and as far as production, I’ve been making all my beats in Pro Tools and Reason, so if I’m doing any synth work, I’ll use Reason as sort of refiltering before Pro Tools. I used to use solely the MPC and just pack everything in Pro Tools and do all the mixing in Pro Tools, but it just got to be too slow for my work ethic. It would just take too long to do everything. I’m actually looking forward to seeing this new MPC that they got, to see if it works anything like they say it does. I actually kind of jacked that move from Statik. I was making beats on the MPC and I started watching him and I saw I could get a lot more work done if I just used Pro Tools. You do lose the pads, the feeling of the pads. I do miss it, but I’m just way more productive.

What other projects can we expect from you?

Omar Aura has his mixtape coming. That’s coming soon. I didn’t do all the joints on there but me and him are doing an EP after that is released. There’s talks of other EPs with people but nothing has come to fruition. Hadji Quest’s project is coming out. Curtains has a new project coming out. I don’t know what the date is but I’m on that. I think I have five songs on that. Just a lot more of the same, just trying to get placements up and trying a lot more to do these producer-artist projects because I had a great time doing it with Chaundon.

@heroicvillain

Wordsmith Journal Entry #3

Wordsmith Journal Entry #3

It’s been a tough week on the daddy tip for me; my son King Noah has been sick since last Friday, so I am
working on little sleep. It’s hard to see an infant sick as oppose to an adult because you can only do so
much for them; mainly comfort. Not to gross anybody out, but the snot that I have pulled from this little
boy’s nose seems to gush like a waterfall. Hearing him struggle during the night while he tries to sleep
keeps my ears at peak listening volume, so sometimes when it hits 4:45 AM for my morning workout I’m
not sure if I actually slept. I mean my eyes are closed, but I am still conscious of my son as his crib is right
next to my bed. It’s been taking me a good hour in the morning to suction his nose out real good, wipe
his face down, rub some Vick’s on his chest, crank the humidifier up some more and comfort him before
I can start my morning workouts. He seems to sleep best after he wakes during the 4AM hour and I re-
clean him from the bath he took the night before. I definitely know he is sick because he went from
sleeping through the night until I wake him for us to leave for daycare to being up by 4AM since Friday
struggling to breath. Some adults are pitiful when they are congested, lol, so imagine an infant’s pain
when they don’t know how to breathe out their nose to good at this stage. In closing, no complaints on
my end, I am Daddy and I’m here during the good and bad times.

On the music tip, still no word from Fats Beats on a release date for my “King Noah” LP, but I will
keep faith in my product that it will come at the right time. I’m very proud of this album because it’s
personal, but really showcases my songwriting skills. It’s crazy I kind of look at this as my first official
release, one because I am shooting for physical distribution, which I have never had and two when I
released “Vintage Experience” it was full of old material I had written as far back as 2005 when I wasn’t
even out yet. I think I just wanted to get certain tracks out of the crates and start fresh with the rest of
my career. My standout track on Vintage was “As the Art Fades Away,” but you will see on “King Noah” I
was set out to make good music, bump the genre, is it HipHop, is it commercial, blah, blah, blah…I made
music with a message on this album. I sit and think about all the life lesson messages I put before each
track on the album and picture my son Kingston grown and listening to them; taking it all in. His smile,
his facial expressions are so vivid in my mind though I have no clue what he will look like in 10 years or
so, but it makes it so much sweeter. Okay, so that’s all I’ll say on the album again for now as I plan on
dissecting each track for my fans once a release date is in place and the countdown begins.

For now, you can look forward to my “Prelude to the King” Mixtape dropping March 5th, 2012 and that is
the first time I have released a date. My last release from the project is called “The Limit,” which talked
about warring with suicide or living for a better day. Yesterday I released “A Hero’s Welcome,” which
I wrote for all the soldiers that sacrifice their life for the greater good of our nation yearly. My pops
retired as a Full Colonel in the Army, so this track is for him, a buddy of mine named Jerry Doby and any
troops I don’t know. The beat has a nice cadence to it, the hook is catchy and the lyrics are deep and
hit home for the soldiers. This mixtape is full of life music as I really want to get my fans mind frames
in the correct mode for my “King Noah” LP. In 3 weeks I’ll be doing a double release called “Get What
you Love & Define Me Classic,” which my homie DJ Frankie Paige from Sirius/XM The Foxxhole did cuts
on. Those will be the final releases from the Mixtape before it drops on MARCH 5TH, I REPEAT MARCH

Furthermore, I will be starting my rehearsals for the music on “King Noah” and if you know me my stage
show is very energetic and I am looking to bring back some of my theatrics on this project. I’m literally
jotting down the props I will need for each song, but being mindful of keeping those props small for
travel reasons. I spent the last month and two weeks getting my cardio up to par as I will always have
an athlete’s mentality from my college football days. Right now, I am in the beginning stages of my King
Noah Promo Tour booking, but it will kick off March 9th @ Motif and March 10th @ Streetlight Records in
San Jose, CA. I look forward to hitting the stage soon and will be getting down to stage show details over
the next month and two weeks leading up to those dates.

In closing, I like to thank my team of CuzOH! Black, DJ Nominal, Strada, Capish, Professa and Diallo for
their continued backing as we move forward this year. Shout to our newest blogger on Revolt Radio
Sofia Topsy; mannnn this girl can’t write her butt off, so make sure you hit www.revoltradio.com
and send music to musicsubmissions@revoltradio.com for airplay/blog posting via @cuzohblack and
@djnominal on twitter.

Final shout to 730 and J Pizzle for continuing to let my mouth run wild on their site, no censors needed
here fella’s….!!! See ya’ll next week !

Wordsmith

Aka

“The One with the Classical Flow”

5 @ 5 – January 24, 2012 Edition (NYGz Edition)

 

5. Jim Harbaugh – No post-game chest bump, Coach? Most of the time, I like your style, the energy you bring, and the passion you’re able to share with your players. But no post-game interview? That’s disappointing. Those are some of the most interesting pieces of journalism one can see at the end of a high stakes game. There’s nothing like Jim Gray, or in this case it would have been Pam Oliver or Chris Meyers, grilling someone in hallway that’s deader than a Hell Rell and Uncle Murda headliner as the coach looks anywhere but the camera, admitting they lost and trying to be a good sport by congratulating the other team, but you know the whole time they’re wondering how long they should wait before approaching their owner and begging like Biggie for one more chance next season.

4. Victor Cruz – Another monster game from my new favorite Giant. #YoungWhales showed up and killed it, but did you see how tired he was at the end of the first half? I’d be pretty tired too after his huge first half, but homie, if I gotta send you some five-hour energy, let me know and it’s as good as overnighted.

3. Eli Manning – Is he a semi-decent quarterback in the eyes of football fans everywhere now? Saying he’s all right or that he keeps getting lucky is almost as disrespectful as saying Pete Rock found some nice samples or Large Pro pulled a couple bangers off. I’m not sure what else Eli has to do to prove he belongs, but despite how terrible Indianapolis was this year, I think the argument can be made that Eli is more valuable to the Giants than Peyton is to the Colts.

2. Vernon Davis – Nice work, my man. Thank you very much for your well wishes to the Giants, saying during their halftime against Green Bay that you’re praying to play them. Well, you got what you were praying for, and, despite your two touchdowns, one of which you probably stepped out of bounds for, it probably wasn’t the best thing you ever prayed for. Firing Mike Singletary, probably a good one. By the way, props for one of THE WORST touchdown celebrations, standing on a TV cart looking like an out-of-place b-boy with no one to challenge. I half-expected Alex Smith to break out some cardboard and break out some windmills.

1. Tom Coughlin – I’ll admit, I’ve been on the “Fire Coughlin” bandwagon so many times I got a yearly pass to save on fare. A few losses to teams the Giants should never lose to, like the Redskins, are all it takes to try and run the ruddy-faced curmudgeon out of town. I’ve never seen someone who can look so miserable winning, but I am thankful he’s not my pops. Could you imagine giving him a birthday present? “Hey, thanks, it’s exactly what I wanted. But there’s a crease on the packaging that shouldn’t be there and the wrapping paper, the comics? Really? You tried, but you need to do better.” Hey, the old man has silenced his critics until the draft.

Shabaam Sahdeeq Interview

 

You’re one of those MCs who stays working. It seems as though there’s never a dull moment with you.

Yeah. I feel like if I stop moving, then hip-hop is over. That’s why I put out this new song that I got called “Crank.” It’s kind of like the movie, where if you stop moving, then your heart just stops. If you stop moving, you die. I feel like I gotta keep going. I got some things to bring to the table that people should definitely check out.

Your new album, Relentless 2, has a KickStarter page to collect funds for marketing. That’s a great way to raise awareness and support.

Definitely. It’s adding marketing dollars. I could use those things towards different things, little radio campaigns and all that. I put things out with my label and in conjunction with other people, doing the little digital stuff. But I’m just trying to combine the old ways and the new ways also. Because some people, they concentrate just on the ‘net and the free downloads. I believe that if you combine both forms, if you still make hard copies, if you still concentrate on merchandise and shows and you still do stickers, like back in the days, and just combine the old and the new, it would just make more of an impact. I was just looking for people to contribute marketing dollars. I don’t think I gave myself enough time. I only made it 30 days. I should have made it 60 days. And I probably should have made the money lower, too, so that I could definitely use it towards something. But it’s worth trying. Everything is worth trying. If you don’t try, then you’ll never know what could happen. This year, I’m trying everything, as long as it coincides with what I’m trying to bring to the table. It’s all good. It’s definitely a way to, just like the name, kick start a project. All the people that hit me up on the ‘net for verses and other stuff, somebody should be able to contribute $5, $10, $15, whatever. But the people want what they want and they move when they want to move, so you just move with it.

It’s gotta make you feel good to see some support from KickStarter.

Yeah. I’m definitely trying to raise awareness because I run into people overseas and they’ll tell me they didn’t know I had all this out and the last thing they remember is Never Say Never or wherever they stopped and at what point they stopped hearing my stuff. It’s really about raising awareness that the stuff is actually out because that’d be the thing. A lot of artists, they have mixtapes and they have songs out but other people in other places and countries don’t know if it’s out if it’s not being promoted and for an underground artist, there’s only a few ways. There’s the internet or you’re touring. There’s only a few ways and you gotta try everything to get it out there.

How is your next album, Relentless 2, coming?

The project is done. The project is done and mastered. I’m just trying to figure out new, creative ways to promote it. I have other mixtapes out and they got good responses and they got good downloads and people supported it, but every project, you’re trying to do at least a couple notches better than the last one. And I want more people to know that it’s out, so even things like SXSW, even if I’m not in it, I’m gonna go this year with merchandise and go to different festivals and just show up with my merch and just raise awareness. The response for Relentless 2 has been good. I put out a few leaks. I put out the leak with Rock from Heltah Skeltah. I put out another one, a video called “This Is” and another song called “Crank.” The response has been good on all three of them. So now it’s just about bringing it all home. I got a few shows up and down the East Coast and I’m doing Europe at the end of March. Everything should be good. Everything’s going to be tight. I’m just trying to get it warm because I have another album that I’m trying to drop at the end of summer called Keepers of the Lost Art. Relentless is the appetizer for that.

You’ve done so many guest appearances that you were able to compile them into a compilation, The American Classic. Is it easy for you to collaborate on your own projects when it’s time?

Everybody looks out, for the most part. There are some people, where their schedules are so hectic, that it’s hard to get them to do it if they’re not getting paid, but for the most part, everybody that I’ve done stuff for has returned the favor. That’s the current climate right now. If you got a name that people check for, you could barter. You trade services. Sometimes I do verses and songs for different producers and they hook up websites or artwork. They trade. Same thing with the MCs. I might hook them up with a video producer and they hook me up with a verse. It’s a community. The more we stick together, the better things look.

For the most part, the people you see on my project, I know them and I’ve sat down and had conversations with them and built with them. It’s not like an internet thing where I just hit them up and they magically just do a verse for nothing. I know the people, aside from maybe one or two people that we caught a vibe on Facebook or something. For the most part, I know them. Sadat X, Steele from Smif N Wessun, Hasan Salaam, they’re all friends of mine. That’s what makes the music real to me.

What is it about you that allows you to pull off so many collaborations and have them work?

I don’t know. It’s a couple things. Artists might look and say, “Okay, if I do a joint with Shabaam, he’s gonna promote it and he’s going to make sure he does what he can to make sure it gets out there. It’s not like we just did a song that I’m going to play for my friends. It’s going to get out there somehow.”

People respect the grind and I respect other people’s grinds too. You might see me at a show and talk about doing a joint and if I respect your grind and I know that you’re doing your thing, I want to be a part of it and I’m not going to charge you nothing, especially if your name is up. I want to be a part of your movement and I want you to be a part of my movement. We each get a piece of each other’s fanbase. And if I’m on your CD, I’m going to make sure I promote your shit too. I’ll let people know I’m on this. That’s how I get down. I’m fair. Whoever’s on my project, that’s who I’m cool with.

Do you still have fans mentioning your older music and following your older stuff?

Yeah. There’s a lot of fans, they get familiar with my new stuff and they check for my older stuff. There’s some fans out there, they just want to hear the retro sound and they just want to hear my older stuff. It’s crazy, because at the time, I didn’t think of it like that. I didn’t think that people would still be excited about it, like 10-15 years later, but I feel like some people are more excited about it now than they were when it actually came out. But it is what it is. I’m fortunate to have come out in the Golden Era and I’m still doing it now. Some people gave up. I don’t know. I guess ‘cause they couldn’t see the money out of it.

But I love hip-hop. Some people got pottery, I got hip-hop. (laughs) Whether I’m working a job, because I’m a barber and I go to school. I work at a hotel. I do different things, but I always juggle it and I still do my hip-hop too and I make a good amount of money. It’s like, if you love it, you’re in it for the long haul. It’s like jazz. It’s the same thing as jazz.

Before there was an age boundary with rap, where it was a young man’s game, where once you were out of your 20s, people figured you should stop rapping, but realistically, how can you put an age barrier on rap when people have been listening to rap for, like, five generations now? That’s five generations of hip-hop listeners. There’s people’s grandparents that were listening to King Tim III. You can’t really put no age barrier on it. That’s why I named this series Relentless, because I’m not going to stop. And every year I learn more and I learn better the aspects of the business part of it and not just the music. So you know, hopefully it’ll be like jazz. We’ll still be touring the States and Europe and wherever they like it.

My aim is just to make timeless music that people will be able to check out years from now and be like, ‘I like this.’ My demographic is 29 to, like, 35, but I could appeal to the younger people too because it’s like, I don’t think there’s really no age barrier. I just don’t make childish music. I don’t make music to get silly to. It’s more thinking music, it’s more driving music. I’m really not too much on the party side. I could make party records, but I’m not in party mode 24-7, so I appeal to the people who like to think and the street element also.

Besides Relentless 2 and Keepers of the Lost Art, you’re working on some collaboration albums. Can you give us some insight into those?

I got a limited edition 45 that I’m coming out with DJ Spinna. It should be out in two, three weeks. I’ve been messing with Spinna forever. That’s like my brother. My vibe and his vibe are just trying to keep it classic. He did “5 Star General” with me that had Eminem on it and he did a lot of other classics. We did the Polyrhythm Addict album that came out in the ‘90s and the one that came out in ’07. We’re trying to continue that and we might be dropping an album called Midlife Crisis on BBE. The 12” is kind of like the lead-up to that.

And I got another project that I completed with a new artist named Eddie B and another guy called H Fraud. H Fraud really does a lot of production for French Montana and Lil’ Cease and a couple other artists that I like that are more mainstream. He kind of reached into his other element to do the album with me and his artist, Eddie B, who’s an ill lyricist too. Our album is Crossfire. We got Maffew Ragazino, Poison Pen and the Incomparable Shakespeare. More newer cats. We got Chace Infinite from Self-Scientific. It’s a different album. It’s still that underground flavor though. Straight lyrics. Something that you pop in and smoke to and drive to and listen to and rewind it, “He said that.”

I got a couple other projects, like The Closers, with Red Eye and the two producers in Thoro Tracks. I’m just trying to stay busy. I’m going to keep some of them under wraps but The Keepers of the Lost Art, Relentless 2, the album with DJ Spinna and Crossfire with H Fraud and Eddie B.

What’s it like working with Spinna today?

Spinna is a rare, rare dude. He’s really a DJ. He’s the essence of what I think about when I think of a DJ. That’s who I think of. His house, where he lives in, he has a whole ‘nother different apartment that has wall-to-wall records. Shelves, actually like rows, like you could go down rows like a supermarket (laughs) of records. He’s a producer and he’s a DJ. Working with Spinna is like working with a hip-hop Simon. You mention a sample and he’s going to go find it. It could be an accapella and he’ll run down the aisle and find it. He might have the test press of it! Working with him is definitely classic, classic material and the project with me and Spinna, I’m going to be telling more stories than anything. Definitely more story-oriented because I feel like that’s missing in hip-hop too.

But the 45 that we got coming out, there’s a song on one side and there’s a story side called “Motion Picture.” We cut up that Royal Flush record and he’s killing it. There’s definitely a lot of scratches and a lot of fly shit in there! (laughs) I’m excited for a 45. I never had a 45. It’s a little baby record with the cover and everything. Collectible! Only 500! Only 500 are being made! If it was done in time, I would have offered that on KickStarter as one of those incentives, but KickStarter is basically a test for me. I wanted to see if it could work and it worked for some people but what works for others might not work for you. Now that I put that up, I see other people wanting to go to KickStarter too. Hey, whatever. I’ve seen it work for Ras Kass though. Ras Kass, he turned up a lot of money. That was good.

Do you think you’ll do another Polyrhythm Addicts album?

I want to do a reunion album but it’s hard to coordinate five people. Apani is a mother now, she just had twins. Same thing with Tiye Phoenix. All our kids together is like a whole football team with subs! (laughs) It’s hard to kind of coordinate five people, me, Spinna, Complex, Apani and Tiye Phoenix. That would be a fly album. With all of us, that would be an incredible album, but making it come together is harder than it seems.

Are Tiye Phoenix and Apani still rhyming?

Yeah, they’re both still rhyming, but after you’ve been doing this for a certain amount of years, some people feel like they get to a crossroads and they either stay focused on rap or they focus on work and mouths to feed. Me, I’m in a different zone. I still do my grown man business. I still got two jobs and I still go to school. I just finished school. I just feel like I could handle it. I can’t give up on hip-hop. There’s people out there that still want that real shit so I’m going to keep going. As far as them, I don’t know what their plans are. They’re both still rhyming. I just don’t think that it’s a priority for them to come out with stuff regularly. It’s on them. They’re my sisters and Spinna and Complex are my brothers. Whenever they’re ready, I’m down. There’s not going to be any blockage from me.

How do you hear your music evolving as you keep recording?

Well, it definitely is changing, because, as you become a parent and you get older, your topic range changes a little bit. Your whole perspective changes. It should change. I see myself growing as far as getting more with the business aspect of it and rhyming in my age bracket. (laughs) It’s less wilding out and it’s more grown men business on it. I still got that street element to my music, but it’s not about wilding like before. It’s more contained. I’m open to describing other, different topics. I’m going to get more into stories because I feel like that element is almost gone.

Are you hitting the road soon?

I should be out in Europe in March for a couple festivals. I’m doing an East Coast tour. I think touring is important for artists because some people don’t realize what you have going on until they see you rip a stage. Last year my appendix burst and I could hardly walk in Europe. I was dragging my bag around the whole tour. I had 175 stitches. I had to clean it, change the bandage, rock the show, go back to the hotel, take mediation. I’m in this hip-hop shit for the long haul.

@shabaamsahdeeq

Stu Bangas Interview

 

Stu, you’ve been busy working on a lot of different projects, from the full-length LP with Blaq Poet to working on Copywrite’s new album God Save the King. What was it like working with Copy?

It was pretty easy to work with Pete. He’s a real talented dude. I’ve been listening to him probably since I was a freshman in college. I know what type of beats he sounds good on as far as the tempo and as far as what type of vibe on the beats that he would gravitate towards. I sent him a ton of beats and he took a bunch and maybe out of every seven or eight, he picked, like, two and then recorded on them and sent them back. I wasn’t in the studio with him but he would send them back and it was always pretty crazy what he came up with. I pretty much sent him all of my new shit that I was making and he picked the ones that he was feeling and he laid them down. It all came out pretty good as far as I’m concerned.

When you send out beats, you have your idea of what artists would sound good on and they have their own ideas. Do you feel like Copy picked the best beats or did you have others you wished he’d taken?

There were a couple of them that when I make them, I think, “Oh, wow, everyone’s gonna want this one” or whatever. There were one or two that he said were crazy and he planned on using those and I was excited to hear the finished product but he didn’t use those. There were a few of those. But of the ones he picked, I’m pretty happy with the way they sound. It’s a good mix of him picking ones that I really felt strongly about.

Is it a little intimidating sending music to someone that you’ve been a fan of for a long time?

At first it was. It’s like, ‘Oh, wow, what if he doesn’t like my shit?’ He was hitting me up on Facebook and it was cool. We were going back and forth but the first time I sent him, like, fifteen beats and I was wondering about what if he didn’t like any. But then we did a freestyle for HipHopDX and it came out good and then we did another one. Then there weren’t any inhibitions at that point.

The “Workahol” beat was something I hadn’t heard from you before in your other productions. Did you feel like that was a departure from your usual sound?

Nah, it was different. It was a different tempo. It was a little bit slower. I talked to my partner in crime, Vanderslice, and he said I always do beats that sound like you could murder somebody to. I tried to branch out with Copy since he’s not talking about killing people and robbing people. There’s nothing wrong with talking about that. But I was looking for different types of vibes and that’s one of the ones I came up with.

Did you surprise yourself at all with that beat?

When I made it, I knew someone was going to want this and he said right away that he wanted it. As soon as I sent it out, ten minutes later, he said he needed this. When I heard the sample and then as soon as I started chopping it up, I knew it was going to be pretty good.

I love the gritty, dirty Stu Bangas sound but also hear your production growing. How do you see yourself maturing as a producer?

I’m becoming more than just samples and drums. That’s what I started with, just chopping samples and chopping drum breaks. And now I’m trying to get more into different types of synths on the beats and trying to make the overall sound quality bigger and better and trying to get some major label placements. There’s a couple of guys talking to me and Vanderslice who shop beats to major label guys. If that happens, good. If not, no big deal. I just do it because I like to do it and working with talented artists. That will continue, going forward.

I just want to keep on making dope music. I figure the rest will take care of itself. I’m not too concerned with chasing big names. I just want to make dope music. The other stuff, I’m not concerned with.

Is it a challenge getting beats heard with how many producers are out there today?

Not too much. There’s a lot of competition, but you just have to catch the rappers at the right time. I get pretty good feedback and I just try to pay attention to what guys are working on stuff. That’s what the internet is good for. I know what guys are working on projects and I’ll send something to them. I’ll put certain things aside for guys when I know what they’re looking for, specifically.

You and Blaq Poet did an album together, Blaq Poet Society, last spring. What was it like working with Poet on that?

It was pretty crazy, man. I’ve been listening to Poet since he was on Tommy Boy and Screwball and “Who Shot Rudy” and all that stuff. I never thought I’d be working with him. Working with him was good. He’s a nice guy. He’s pretty straightforward. That project was kind of like my baby and it came out how I envisioned it, as far as the whole horror movie theme to it. Putting it together with him and Vanderslice was like a dream come true and being thoroughly involved in the process of making the record.

What are you working on next?

Vanderslice and I linked up with a label out in Virginia called Man Bites Dog Records. We’re putting out our producer record called Diggerz With Attitude. It’s all our production. We’ve got Roc Marciano on it. Alchemist is rapping on it. Evidence, Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz is on it, Poet’s on it. There’s a bunch of other guys. So we’re doing that and we’re almost done with a whole record with Smiley the Ghetto Child. We’re almost done with that and that’s all me and Vanderslice’s beats. And we’re about halfway done with the Wais P record and me and Esoteric are about a quarter of a way done with the whole record. And I did a joint for Ill Bill’s next solo record that’s out this way and I did one for Vinnie Paz’s next record that has Mobb Deep on it, and I’m super-excited about that because I’m huge fans of those dudes. I got a few records on Chino XL’s project and I already heard back on that. I’m just trying to make beats and get them on other people’s records and I’m always looking to do more projects.

Can you take us through the making of a Stu Bangas beat?

First, I find a dope sample and lately, I’ve been so busy with my nine-to-five and I got a kid now so Vanderslice will hook me up with some samples. I would say 80% of my samples come from him. He’s the best dude I know at picking samples. I’ll trade some stuff with him for some samples and after I get some stuff I like, I’ll probably just throw it in Pro Tools, the part that I want to use for the beat, and then I’ll add some synths and bass over it, speed it up or work on the tempo and find the right drums I want to use for it.

What equipment do you use?

I’m still using the MPC 2000XL. I don’t think I’ll probably ever switch from that. I’m too comfortable with that system itself and then I got a Korg keyboard I just got that’s pretty sweet. I have a Micro-Korg that I’m still working with to put stuff over the samples and Pro Tools to record.

I finally figured out where you got your email handle, Thornton Melon, from. Shouts out to Rodney Dangerfield.

Back to School! (laughs) That’s like a classic movie. It’s really cheesy and campy but that dude really cracks me up in that movie for some reason.

Do people usually get that reference?

Nobody ever gets it. I was sending Jaysaun beats a couple of years ago and he was asking me who the fuck was Thornton Melon and I told him not to worry about it, it was a long story! (laughs) Nobody ever gets it.

 

5 @ 5 – January 19, 2012 Edition

5. Mitchy Slick – One of the gulliest new school left-coasters has his own iPod and iPad app! Yes, it’s true, now you can enjoy Mitchy Slick whenever you want. Normally I would be against rappers having their own apps, but in Mitchy’s case, I’ll gladly make an exception.

4. Dutch New York – Has anyone else been paying attention to Dutchie killing it? His mixtape No Relief is fire, as are his freestyles. Some of you may remember a track I produced for him last spring called “Til They Put Me Under.” Now that No Relief is out, Dutch and I are working on a project together. We’re about four songs in and it’s sounding crazy, and as my own hardest critic, you know this isn’t on some old school Source five-mic ish.

3. Last Emperor – I’m about to start putting his face on milk cartons. Where is this guy? One of my favorite albums is his only one, Music, Magic, Myth. Tell me this isn’t fire and J Pizzle will have to smack the Soulja Boy out ‘cha.

2. Mike Beck – It’s a tragedy that he’s not around anymore, but thanks to the efforts of Suge White, his music is still around. Not my favorite music from Mike Beck, but dude could spit and it sucks he’s not here.

1. Everyone survives party at 40/40 – I get emails from this guy a lot about the parties he goes to and how he interacts with celebrities. Normally I don’t read them in their entirety, but sometimes they’re entertaining, usually for their consistent quality of being in awe of d-grade reality TV stars and washed up celebrities on their way to becoming d-grade reality stars. Slow news day today, so I read this email about some guy going to a party at 40/40 and seeing Jay-Z in its entirety, and I’m grateful I did. Love the closing of the email. “Uneventful night – no gunshots or arrests even thought (sic) the booze was flowing.” Hemingway would have killed for a line like that! How do you think the conversation with his mom went when he got home?

- Did you have a good time tonight?
- Eh. It was kinda boring.
- Sorry to hear that.
- Yeah, no gunfire. No one died. It sucks. I even stayed ’til the end just to see if anyone would get shot.
- Well, hopefully someone got arrested.
- No, not even arrested! I was really, really hoping too.

You know it’s a bad night when you go somewhere and you don’t get to witness gun shots or arrests.

5 @ 5 January 18, 2012 Edition

5. Paula Deen has diabetes – I know, I know. Shocking. When your philosophy of cooking is doubling the amount of butter, sugar, or both, only bad things can happen. Last year I tried to surprise wifey by making her Paula Deen’s hot chocolate, which is basically a bar of pure chocolate melted in heavy cream. By the time it was done melting and simmering, it poured from the pot like a heavy maple syrup that would have satisfied Bubbles’ worst cravings. Interesting, too, how Paula’s repping for the diabetics now when her cooking causes diabetes. You can’t switch from Team Obesity to Team Diabetes just like that. It’d be like a rapper going from a corrections officer to rapping about selling drugs.

4. Crooked I – Is everyone on Crooked I’s team illiterate? From his rhymes, he’s a really smart dude, but I’m guessing he was never yearbook editor in high school. Peep the show flyer and look for the one glaring error. Unless it’s a new member of COB or Crooked I just got down with Sesame Street, I don’t think there’s a Croooked I, although that could be the Coookie Monster’s outcast brother.

3. Meyhem Lauren – Is there a better example out there of hard work paying off? Dude’s been on his grind for a long time and it’s finally paying off. I’m really excited to hear his work with Buckwild, especially for an album, and Just Blaze. Props to the homie J-Love for recognizing talent early!

2. Dr. Dre – Has it been figured out who wrote his verse for “Popped Off,” his collab with T.I? I’m guessing it’s Eminem. And did he really say “Girl, I hope your vaginal/Has endurance, ‘cause it’s about to get tragical.” What does that even mean? I’ll be the first to admit I never had a ton of game, but I’ve never told someone that it’s about to get real tragical for them and I imagine if I did, they would have immediately started scanning the apartment for the best exit. I can’t even see the guys on Maury who shave “Not the Daddy” in the back of their heads using a line like this at Applebee’s karaoke night, so it’s a little disconcerting to think that someone who’s a doctor has an outlook like this.

1. Planet Asia – I know it’s a little soon to be saying this, but I think I’m liking PA’s new album Black Belt Theatre even better than Pain Language, his collaborative album with DJ Muggs. Like Pain Language, there’s a consistently dark mood that occasionally lifts but never goes away, and it’s an album that probably never would have been possibly had Pain Language never came out. Definitely an album worth checking when it drops.

Copywrite Interview

 

You have a new album dropping, God Save the King. It’s a great album, same dope lyrics but definitely a shift to more spiritual lyrics. What made you include more spirituality in your lyrics? Was it both of your parents passing?

It actually wasn’t. I’ve been saved since I was 16. I never didn’t believe in Christ. I was just too selfish and caught up with trying to prove to the world that I could rap. In the back of my mind I think I had what most Christians have, which is this plan to do what I want to do for me and then I’ll catch up with God later. That was always my plan, which is an ignorant plan because you don’t know when you’re going to die. I almost quit rapping for the Lord when I was 17. It’s not really anything new, it’s just that I couldn’t run from it any longer. I think there was a point in high school when I was spazzing out on Jesus tracks. It’s definitely nothing new. People that really know me know that it’s nothing new. I just couldn’t run from it anymore. The things I was caught up in before, like going out, wilding out, getting wasted, random chicks, it wasn’t…It made me feel guilty and it terrified me. It wasn’t fun anymore and I just couldn’t do it anymore, man. It didn’t do anything for me anymore but worry me. I just had to do what I had to do for me, but you know, man, I just try to be the type of Christian that God wants me to be. I don’t judge people, man. I’m no better than anybody else. If you judge somebody, first of all, that’s not what we’re here to do. The world is messed up, basically, dude, and that’s why I’m a Christian. I’m not better than anybody else because I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian because I’m a total mess-up and I need Christ in my life. That’s it.

When did you feel like you didn’t have to prove you could rap anymore?

On Life and Times [of Peter Nelson], after all that stuff started and I lost my mom and I lost my Grandpa and dealing with the loss of Camu and seeing all sorts of people dying and seeing how fragile life is, because my mom died out the blue, man. She didn’t have any illness. She just died out the blue. My sister went in her bedroom and saw her dead laying in her bed. Life is fragile and I used Life and Times as therapy, which is probably, I’m sure that’s what it sounds like. Dude, I don’t know, man. It just got to a point where it’s like, people know what you do. When I was making Life and Times, I made it a point to try to help other people who were going through pain with my music because I could relate to them and I figured they could relate to me. I figure I’ll be the voice that speaks for them and I’ll make some music so they can say, “Hey, there’s somebody else that’s going through what I’m going through. Now I got some theme music to help me through my painful day.”

Have your fans responded the way you wanted them to?

Yep. Exactly as I hoped they would. The magazines, exactly as I wanted to. It’s funny, when XXL gave me the XL rating, the review is almost exactly verbatim what I was hoping for. So everything came out right on that album. I feel like it’s a little bit slept on, but hopefully when this one drops people will go back to Life and Times and The High Exhaulted too. I feel like people slept on it but it’s all good. It’s to be expected, man.

How do you feel hearing your older music today?

I like it. I feel like it’s good for the time it came out. I feel like my flow could be more refined. You know, you just look at it, like I’m sure you look at old interviews and wonder why you did it like that and if you knew what you know now you would do it like this. It’s like, ‘Why didn’t I know back then to do it like this?’ But it’s dope. It’s raw. I’m proud of all my work, except the only song I made that I hate is “Let Me In.” I can’t stand that song. I knew it was a filler when I was writing it and I hate that song. But yeah, man, I’m proud of every song I’ve done. There’s nothing I listen to and cringe when I hear it. I’m happy with High Exhaulted. I’m happy I made it. It represents a time in my life when everything was carefree and I was just trying to show people I could rap.

I remember talking to you a few years ago and you said you hated that album and couldn’t listen to it.

(laughs) You know what? I guess that’s probably because at that point, so many people only had that to reference to. I definitely don’t hate The High Exhaulted at all. I don’t know. Maybe I was over-exaggerating, trying to prove a point. I’m really proud of High Exhaulted and happy I made it. I just wish that I would have made it more well-rounded and more concept songs but it’s not like I learned anything new after that. I knew how to make an album, but I just was being stubborn. I just wanted to show people that you couldn’t F with me on the mic. I made countless metaphors and meanings and it wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t like I could only do that on two or three songs. I could do it all day and I wanted to show people that I knew exactly what I was doing and that I could do it all day.

Do you still feel a need to prove yourself to people?

No. I feel that need. I feel that need often. I’m about to do a song with Chino and [Planet] Asia and Bronze Nazareth. I have to write my verse today and they’re all beasts on the mic. I feel like when you let your guard down you stop being as nice as you can be. Even when I’m writing emotional songs or conceptual songs, you have to be as sharp as you can be. I’m my own worst critic and if I don’t like the first two bars I won’t record it. I’m OCD with my writing. If I don’t like the first two bars I won’t record it.

Does it take awhile for your albums to come together?

Yeah, man. It all depends. If I’m clear-headed and if things aren’t going all crazy in my life then I can sit down and focus. God Save the King has been done since back in August, it’s been finished, but we just had to wait for it to get a proper release. We didn’t want it to come out in the fourth quarter with so many albums coming out and so many independent albums, like Torae and Evidence. I feel like my album would have got overlooked because there was so much heat dropping, so I just figured to wait for the new year. But it all depends, man. I’ve been writing for so long that I know exactly, not to sound cocky, how to eliminate the filler and get exactly what I want to say on paper.

Speaking of longevity, we’ve been doing interviews for eight, nine years at this point. What’s motivated you to keep going and not give up?

I guess I really like it, man. It’s just a part of me. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a major part of who I am. I abandoned wanting to be a cartoonist for rap and I don’t know, man, I really like doing it. I’m always eager to get better at doing it. I feel like I can always get better, so I don’t know. I think I make pretty decent music, man. I think I’m one of the lyricists that picks good beats. I don’t think I pick horrible beats. I just like doing it, man. I like putting together sounds and putting together new patterns. I’m always writing down ideas or emailing myself ideas. I just have so much stuff that I want to put out in rap that I don’t see people doing.

Where does God Save the King stand in your discography?

Dude, honestly, I feel like it’s my best album. I feel like everybody says that when they put out a project, but I really do. If I were to describe it to somebody I would say it’s High Exhaulted meets Life and Times. I consider everything that I’ve done before kind of like college. All the stuff that I’ve learned and all the mixtapes that I’ve done, The Jerk, High Exhaulted, Life and Times, I applied it all to this album and I finally, I don’t know, man, I feel like I just figured out what I was doing on my last album in terms of making an album and putting the tracklisting together and knowing how to make an album and knowing how to finesse an album. A lot of the songs on there are raw. It’s not a lot of…I mean, I feel like Life and Times is a more mature album than this. This is a lot of clowning around and raunchy metaphors. I’m talking about spiritual things in songs too. This is my favorite joint. This is the joint that I’m most proud of, for sure.

It sounds like you’re okay with balancing raunchy punchlines with spirituality.

It is what it is. To be real with you, I wrote all those songs and recorded all those songs before I decided to make a change in my life. It wasn’t until May that I decided to make a change that I couldn’t live like that anymore, and I made it into music. I know a lot of my fans are the way they are. A lot of my fans dabble with drugs and they run around and wild out. That’s the kind of person I was and can be on any given bad night, so I guess that’s the kind of people my music attracts. But maybe it will take my raw songs to get them to listen to what I have to say about the spiritual things.

I’m always going to destroy the mic, no matter what. I’m me. I’m not just, over the night, turn into a person that’s not me, but it is what it is, man.

Was “White Democrats” a jab to Asher Roth?

Nah, man. What we were doing, when Nas and Jay had their beef and got together and squashed it, they called it “Black Republicans.” Me and Mac had our differences and squashed it. Shout out to Mac, real cool dude. We called it “White Democrats” and wanted to see if anybody gets it. I know why you said it, I said an Asher Roth line and he said one. Personally, I said it because I needed something to rhyme. I was just rhyming and I think he was just rhyming too and playing with words. But it’s always fun to jab at people that you, at one point, had an issue with. But it’s no big deal. If I saw that dude, I’d buy him a matzo ball or something.

What music inspires you today?

Oh, man. If we’re talking about hip-hop, it’s gotta be, like, Jay. It’s gotta be, like, Biggie. It’s gotta be newer cats like Jay Elec. It’s gotta be Royce. It’s gotta be Crooked. Crooked, to me, is maybe my favorite. There’s some Christian MCs who are incredible, Shai Linne, Timothy Brindle, Eshon Burgandy, and Believin’ Stephen. I shouldn’t have to say “Christian MC” before their names but I guess that’s so cats can find them a little easier. If we’re talking about rock, it’s Radiohead. I really want to make an album that sounds like a Radiohead album, but with rhyming. Doing with rhymes what they do with instruments.

Where do you see your music going in the future?

I have no idea, man. I have no idea. All I can say is I’m going to keep it as honest as possible and keep it as new and fresh and not try to do what everybody else is doing and try not to do what I’ve already done.

Is the O.Dot crew still around?

Nah, dude. Tage, from Megahurtz, is about to drop a solo. He’s got Oh No on production. It’s incredible. People might just wake up when they hear this. Jakki is still doing stuff. Dom, I guess he really doesn’t care too much about music. Catalyst doesn’t really care too much about music. I mean, bro, Catalyst is a mind-blowing MC. Everybody in Columbus always nags him and bugs him about why isn’t he doing anything. He doesn’t care. I try to get all my friends motivated but I can’t make them want to rap. We’re all together, man. They just don’t care. They really just don’t want it.

It sounds like you’re putting more a focus on MHz in the future.

Yeah. I’m focused on who wants to make music and more on myself. To be honest with you, I’ve said in some interviews that I don’t care about rap. That’s maybe an exaggeration. I care about rap, but it’s maybe not the first thing on my list. I’ve done it for so long and I know it’s going to be there so I don’t have to force it to be there. It’s like me saying that I care about my hands. I don’t know that my hands are always going to be there but I’m going to wake up with my hands and ask about what I’m going to do about my left hand tomorrow. It’s going to be there. I don’t know, man. It’s cool. I’m trying to work with who wants to work and Tage is super-motivated and we’re about to do this MHz with RJ and Jakki and Tage and we got a few Camu verses in the vault. We’re trying to do something real, real, real crazy. Real innovative. Try to do something that’s not too standard in hip-hop.

I think fans will really appreciate that.

Yeah, man. We’ve got, like, ten songs done. The songs we have are really, really, really dope.

You haven’t been in any lyrical beefs lately. Are you staying away from that now?

I tried to squash beef with everybody who had a problem with me or I’ve had a problem with in the past. That door is still open. I don’t harbor or hold grudges. Cats out there who I may have had an issue with ten years ago or five years ago, or whatever, we should just squash it and make some good music or just squash it. I’m not the type that wants to have beef with people. I guess that’s the Christian in me. I want to make peace with everybody I’ve always had a problem with over some dumb music. Life’s too short for all that.

Anyone in particular that you’d like to squash it with?

Yeah. Like, really, truthfully, Cage and Apathy. Those are two cats that we’ve had our very small differences in the past and it’s not because I want to make music with them, necessarily. It’s because, bro, we’re all humans. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be at peace with each other. Those are probably the only two cats. And you know it’s on mind if I’m going to say it in an interview. You know it’s heavy on my heart if I’m going to say it in an interview. I’ll take the blame. I guarantee I had something to do with it but I’ll apologize. I’m embarrassed at things I’ve done in the past and I’ve acted immaturely. I feel like those are two talented brothers and I would like to not have any stupid ill will between any of us.

I feel like there’s a misunderstanding and people think I’m a different way than I am. People think I’m a super-jerk but when you rap, you become a super character and you become an exaggeration of yourself in certain songs. You take a thought and you exaggerate it to the tenth power. You take all of your egotistical, jerk thoughts and you put it to a verse but that’s not how a person is in real life. I could see how cats don’t want to come first because they think they’re going to put out their hand and you’re just going to leave it hanging. But I don’t think any of us are like that. We’ve all been in this game for over a decade. Obviously we’re all doing something right. There’s no reason we should all be enemies.

Honestly, we should have some kind of union in underground hip-hop because there’s a lot of labels selling our underground albums and we’re not making any money off it but somebody is. Like, I still see The High Exhaulted in stores and I’m not getting paid for this. Somebody is. All the underground artists who know each other and can get a hold of each other should form some sort of union and make sure that we can all get paid from our old albums but we can’t do any of that if we’re all too busy beefing with one another and we can’t get along and we think somebody hates us. It’s not like that with me, man. I’ll sit down and squash it with anybody. After I lost Camu and certain members of my family, I don’t hold onto any of that. Life’s too short.

 

5 @ 5 January 17, 2012 Edition

 

5. Common and Drake beefing – I know, I know, they’ve supposedly squashed it or whatever. As soon as they admitted they’re both dope at rocking ribbed turtlenecks, the beef was gone. Fellas, there’s enough ribbed turtlenecks for both of you and you both could pull off Gap ads if you wanted to.

4. Forkast – Check our audio page for this cat if you don’t know about him. Dude is the truth!

3. Copywrite’s God Save the King – Finally got around to listening to Copy’s new album. Love the original sound it has. Dope beats, really dope rhymes and a surprisingly more spiritual side of Copy. I spoke to him over the weekend and one of the things he said that stands out is that he’d like to squash his beefs with Apathy and Cage, not to make music but just to squash it. God Save the King is definitely the most mature and spiritual Copy we’ve seen, but not to worry, he’s still killing it on the mic.

2. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – It’s over, rappers. Please stop acting like you care and go back to doing whatever it was you were doing before January 16th. Being “conscious” one day a year and dropping a song with the word “dream” somewhere in the title does not a revolutionary make.

1. Pay your bills – If you’re a record label that owes money, pay your bills. Unfortunately, it sounds like that’s the nature of the business.

Wordsmith Journal Entry #2

Wordsmith Journal Entry #2

My job recently told me I can no longer pick up extra hours, so I had an extended break dating back
to last Wednesday. Some might get mad over a development like this, but I stayed positive and just
said, “God must have other plans for me.” Why do I say that, well I am pretty much a single father and I
actually needed the extra time with my kids along with devoting more time to my Music. God seems to
have a way of working things out for you whether you’re aware of change or oblivious to it.

On the music tip my “King Noah” LP was finished a month ago and like I stated in the last journal I am
awaiting Fat Beats Records ruling on the project and a drop date; preferably April 24th or May 1st would
be nice. I’ll keep my fans updated on that as right now I am printing up flyers of the cover, which is very
dope. It was hand drawn by a buddy of mine overseas named Gab Gato and it features my son and I gold
plated in Egyptian designs. In my opinion it will be one of the most heartfelt covers released this year
and really embodies what the “King Noah” LP is about. Since I have mad time to talk about the album I
will leak more and more as I drop these journals for my fans and family. Other than that I will be kicking
off my “King Noah” Promo Tour in San Jose, CA on March 9th at Motif (Shout to DJ Rowbot of KSJS 90.5)
and then rocking Streetlight Records on March 10th, so all my West Coast fans don’t miss my show; the
theatrics will be back!

Before I get to the release of my album I’ll be dropping my “Prelude to the King” Mixtape at the top of
March. I am undecided on a DJ cutting up the project because to me the music is important for my fans
to hear clearly. I do have the support of long time collaborator’s 2 Dope Boyz as they will be presenting
the project for me; shout to Joel aka Shakes for the assist. 3 weeks ago I released a record from the
mixtape called “The Limit,” which touches on suicide and reaching breaking points in your life; check it
out here http://soundcloud.com/wordsmith/wordsmith-the-limit-produced and purchase it on ITUNES
if you really like it http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-limit-single/id494071930 (Quick promo never
hurts, lol) Anyways, I feel like I am moving more towards real life music that the common individual can
relate to. I have to thank the hardships I am currently going through and writing the “King Noah” LP for
reviving this in me. My next release is called “A Hero’s Welcome,” and my inspiration for this record
came from the fact that my father, Tony Parker, was in the Army for over two decades and retired as a
Full Colonel; something still uncommon for an African American in our day and age. I grew up around
the Army life, so I really needed to touch on it and let the soldiers who sacrifice their life daily know it
doesn’t go unnoticed. I believe it has a catchy hook and strong lyrics that will grab the listener like “The
Limit” did. I want my fans and family to hear the angle I am coming from on this mixtape as it all relates
to real life and will really prep you for my “King Noah” album.

Besides the music I am releasing setting up the correct promo for both of these projects is key to me and
I am somewhat in a dilemma. I’m currently signed to OMEG Management who steers the careers of
people like Chris Bosh, Cobra Starship, 50 Tyson, 2 Pistols and more. On the verge of a major radio
campaign for my first radio single, “On My Job,” from the “King Noah” Album my manager had a relapse
with his Leukemia; something he has been fighting for years. I’m not trying to put his business out there,
but he is only 36 with a family and it hurts to see good people be struck by such a brutal disease. I mean
I seen my mother deal with Cancer and loose her mother and one of her sisters over it throughout my

life, so this is an uphill battle for him. I will admit I feel wrong sometimes because I am so close to my
goal that I want God to heal him so he can live a fruitful life, but also so he can get me over the hump in
my career and get me the national attention I believe my music deserves. I feel in considerate on that
tip sometimes because I am like a machine; no matter how bad things are in my life I keep it moving and
I have to realize everyone isn’t built like that. Through prayer I left that situation in God’s hands and
have complete faith it will come to fruition when I need it most. In the meantime I have been talking to
PR companies, something I have never had in my career as I always do my own promo with my NU
Revolution team. Shout to CuzOH! Black, DJ Nominal, Strada, Capish, Professa and Diallo for their
undying faith in me. It’s crazy to think I had up to 15 people on my label doing various things at one
point just to realize numbers don’t always mean a great output. I would rather rock with a small group
of people that exhibit the same drive I have daily to make it in this industry. Sorry, I went off on a small
tangent there, but back to business. I am also reaching out to some radio promoters because I have
some great singles on my album that need to be heard by the masses. Only problem is I don’t have the
machine behind me like a major label artist. Truth be told, I rely on the money I spend each year via my
NU Revolution Entertainment LLC. Label and the Government is so kind to return a nice portion of it
through taxes; the so kind part is me being smart by the way. Artists, take note of what I said right there
and make sure your handling your business correctly because that’s how I build my yearly budget for
projects. I have to press on with my career and if OMEG comes back into the picture great, but I won’t
allow myself to have regrets because I sat idle during a rough spot in my career.

I look forward to letting my fans and family into more of my life, so make sure and check back weekly for
a new journal entry from me on WeGoinin.com and a special thanks to another long time collaborator
named 730 and his partner J Pizzle for allowing me to run my mouth on their site! Peace and Blessings to
all and I’ll see everyone next week.

Meyhem Lauren Interview

You had a great run in 2011, where you dropped a lot of quality music and seemed to have your fanbase grow exponentially. Would you say it was a breakthrough year for you?

Yeah, I would say. The reason is I got the solo project out and made a lot of noise running around with Bronson and hosting the J-Love mixtape. I’ve been getting a lot of love from different angles.

Why do you think more fans started paying more attention to you?

Just consistency. I always had a certain group of people but now there’s more angles. You fan base gets you and more people talk to more people and it starts to form together.

Anyone who’s followed J-Love’s mixtapes and the Outdoorsman movement knows your music, which you’ve dropped consistently for years. Was it ever frustrating putting out so much music and not getting the recognition for it?

Nah. When you put out anything, people catch up at different times. Some people jump on it right away, others jump on it later. That’s what’s happening. Everything’s happening, actually, the way I saw it. People hit me every day about records from a year ago. It’s brand new to them. It’s all out there and let people absorb it on their own time. It’s all good. People might hear something tomorrow they like and with the internet, they’ll start doing some research and find all kinds of dope material out there.

Your solo album, Self-Induced Illness, was a great album. Were you happy with how that did?

Truthfully, it moved steadily. It moves well. Whatever it was doing when it first dropped, it’s still being consistent. It’s a reminder to me that new people keep finding out about me. A lot of independent artists, they tell me, when they put something out, the first month or two or first quarter, they get the most amount of sales but with me, it’s been steady. People are rocking with us, so that’s a good thing.

You made that a double disc too. Why go that route?

There were a whole lot of people that were checking for me from the start. Disc one is all new, fresh material and disc two was half new joints, half older joints that I put out that I figured I’d throw out to people who didn’t know. It was the first go-around where you let people really get to know me.

What’s been some of the better moments that’s happened for you since Self-Induced Illness dropped?

I’ve got a lot more shows since the album dropped. A lot more dates, doing a lot more shows, which is definitely a plus, and just more love in general. The response has been good. It’s put me on a different platform, for sure. I’d been doing this for awhile but I didn’t have an album of my own. I had songs on other people’s albums and mixtapes, but putting out an album, and a double-album, I feel like people kind of understood, like, ‘All right, this cat is for real.’

What’s your song-making process like?

It varies on the topic. I don’t do everything the same. Every song is not three 16s and two hooks. Sometimes I just want to go in and black out and sometimes I want to talk about a concept that takes more time and say things clearly. It varies.

You’re working on an album with Buckwild now. How’s that coming?

It’s in the real early stages. It’s dope. It’s what you’d expect. It’s real hip-hop, classic New York sound with the beats and rhymes. It’s coming along well.

How did the album even come about?

That actually came about through Dante, Dante Ross. Dante was actually managing me for a couple of months. I would come through and I would rock shows and Dante would ask me about my management situation so he was managing me and one of the first things he told me was that he was close friends with Buckwild and he thought I was dope. I grew up on Buckwild so for me to hear that was dope! I didn’t even know Buckwild knew who I was. Me and him made everything official with him managing me and Bronson. He wanted to set it up with me and Buck and just do it. That’s how it started.

Are you recording everything together or sending files back and forth?

Well, we started. He sent me one beat through email and I wrote something crazy to that. But we’re basically doing it the old school way, going to the lab together, writing joints, really doing this together. It’s not just like he’s emailing me a bunch of beats. We’re doing it in the flesh. That’s how it’s going down.

Will we hear this in 2012?

Early. That’s the first thing I plan on dropping, early this year. Hopefully in the next two or three months, it should be wrapped.

Are you working on a solo album?

The Buckwild project, that kind of came out of the blue with Dante. But I was already working on an album called Every Day is Thanksgiving. I’ve been working on that for awhile and that’s gonna be crazy. I got some of J-Love’s best production ever and it’s featuring Large Pro and Ayatollah. Just Blaze got me on something for that project. Me and Just have been really cool for a long time. We’ve been building for when the time is right for him to help me out with something. Earlier I didn’t even want to bother him with something but with this project, he’s got me. He’s been a man of his word since I’ve known him so you can definitely expect a Just Blaze joint on that album. It’s gonna be really, really, really crazy. I’m not gonna go in too much on the features. It’s just gonna be me and a couple members from the fam. But that should be coming out at the end of the year. Look for the Buckwild project relatively soon and then I’m gonna try and end the year with this Every Day is Thanksgiving LP.

You’ve worked with Large Pro through the J-Love projects. What’s it like having him on your album though?

Yeah. This is actually the first track he’s produced for me. I’ve been on his tracks, but this track is crazy. It’s going to be in the stash until the end of the year. Hopefully I hit them with some real good projects this year. I got some shows lined up for Europe and got a lot of shows in SXSW. We’re just going to keep the ball moving.

You’ve also got a project in the works with Action Bronson. How’s that coming?

That’s also in the early stages. Me and Action are finishing it. We’re just working on it as we find time to do it. It’s not really rushed. We find time to go to the lab and knock a couple of joints out. That probably won’t be done this year, probably more like next year. We’re hanging out and it’s fun. People think we just rhyme together or we met through music. That’s my man from 12 years-old. We’re childhood friends. We’re not even looking at it like it’s a project. We’re hanging out, knocking some rhymes out, and stack X amount and put the best joints out and hit ‘em in the head with a classic.

Action Bronson’s been a part of the movement for awhile and he had a breakout year last year. What do you think helped him get noticed?

The consistency, man. It’s quality and consistency. Those are the two words to describe how to really grind and get your presence know. You put out dope projects consistently. A lot of people think he hasn’t put out enough music yet but he put out four projects last year! He was just consistently dope. How could you front on that? It was dope and he worked hard.

What has J-Love meant to your career?

I started this with J-Love. It’s been extremely valuable having him. He’s the person who taught me how to write bars. Before he was even doing his MC thing, when I first hollered at him for beats, he was breaking down how to write songs and all that. He basically put me on to the whole game. He was a person I knew before music. We hung out with mutual friends and working with people like J and Action is cool because we had relationships before music.

What’s your favorite dish from Action Bronson?

I don’t know. He’s a champion, man. I never had anything bad that he cooked, to be honest. The lamb chops are real crazy. He makes different pastas and different sandwiches. It’s cool. Me and Action got close in junior high school. Me and him took cooking for two reasons. One, we liked to cook and two, all the girls were in cooking, so we already knew what time it was. That’s the class where we really became friends. We’ve been cooking together since we were kids. It’s funny.

Will you cater your own album release party?

Why would we call somebody else?

Makes sense. What are your specialties?

I do a lot of baking and sautés. I try not to fry things too much. I’m also heavy with the lamb chops and soups. My chicken soup is crazy. The beef stew. Things like that.

The ladies never get tired of that.

Not at all. It lets them know we don’t really need them because we cook better than them anyway. They love us a little more because they know that’s not gonna keep us!

Any new dishes you want to master?

Nah, not really. But you know, I’m might just buy a new cookbook or turn on the cooking channel. I just don’t have time for anything right now.

Who are your favorite chefs?

I like [Marco] Batali a lot. I was up on Emeril early, before he got all the hype. I remember when he was in a basement cooking. I really like Batali and Emeril the best. What’s the blond guy’s name?

Guy Fieiri?

Yeah, he gets it in too. I respect his chef game.

You’re also known for your Polo game. What’s your collection looking like today?

It’s not as crazy as it was. I still got a lot of pieces. At this point, it’s almost like I didn’t lose the enthusiasm. It’s a way of life and what I wear. 90% of what I have is Polo. I still have a lot of classics. I got rid of some of my pieces because I got big over the years and I don’t like to just hold onto them. I got so many friends and family that’s into the whole ‘Lo thing that I downsized. I traded or sold it and even gave mad pieces away. I got a lot of the new shit. The big and tall collection is real crazy. I still have 20-50 of the classic items in the stash and I pull them out here and there. It’s dope.

Who is the future of New York hip-hop?

Maffew Ragazino, Shaz Ill York, Spit Gemz…Honestly, right now, this is the best up-and-coming line-up I’ve seen in a minute. You’ve got the whole Outdoorsman team. You’ve got us. I like Smoke DZA. He’s got some heat. There’s a lot of up-and-coming dudes from New York coming up right now and I’m happy to be a part of it. Jay Steele is coming out and he’s really no joke. He’s working on a mixtape right now. He’s my brother, like my physical brother. He’s got a bunch of joints with me and Bronson on them and Coroner. J-Love’s on some. Coroner’s stepping up. He’s working on a mixtape and an album right now. He’s recording like a beast. People know him for his features. He’s been on me and Action’s joints and J-Love’s mixtapes. Look for Jay Steele and Coroner to step up this year.

What’s your role in New York hip-hop right now?

Really, I feel like it’s just playing the position I’ve been playing, being consistent with it, putting out dope things. If I come across another MC or producer that I’m on the same page as I am, I like to introduce people and let’s all build towards the bigger picture.

@MeyhemLauren

Explaining Rick Ross

Here is dope piece from Slate trying to explain the phenomena that is Rick Ross and how he went from Officer Ricky to dope artist who no one cares if he is making shit up in his rhymes. I think the truth is that most fans know that there is often an element of exaggeration and imagination to much of what goes into a rhyme that does not make it less enjoyable. I have no idea if the story in Biggie’s “Warning” happened but it’s dope as fuck regardless. Same thing with Rick Ross. He’s charismatic as hell, has dope rhymes, and has ridiculous production. At the same time though, it does shine through those who have really lived what they spit which is why people like Cormega, Lake, Tragedy Khadafi etc. are as powerful as they are on the mic.

In the summer of 2008, a photograph surfaced online that showed the Miami rapper Rick Ross, age 19, dressed as a corrections officer, at a corrections-department ceremony, shaking hands with the then-head of the South Florida Reception Center. Ross had released two gold-certified albums in which he cast himself as a fearsome former crime kingpin. Born William Leonard Roberts, he’d taken his stage name from an actual drug trafficker, and he frequently referred to himself as “Boss.” He’d stuffed his hits, like the 2006 breakout single, “Hustlin’,” with boasts of crack-trade glory. The photograph threw his underworld résumé into question: Was it all a fabrication?
The rapper, now 35, initially denied it was him in the picture. Blaming Photoshop-savvy “online hackers,” he called the image a forgery, adding, “Fake pictures are created by the fake, meant to entertain the fake.” Unconvinced, the Smoking Gun dug up an old payroll record revealing that Ross had earned about $25,000 a year as a C.O. between December 1995 and June 1997. The Web site followed up on this scoop by posting excerpts from Ross’ 86-page Dept. of Corrections personnel file. Doubters were free to peruse Ross’ job application, filled out by hand, in which he listed the college he attended for a year (Albany State in Georgia), where, he wrote, he played football, studied Criminal Justice, and once volunteered to help Red Cross flood-relief efforts. Under an “Experience” section, Ross noted that he’d worked one summer as a Big Brother through the Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation department, during which time he “exchanged thoughts and ideas with middle school boys and girls” and, as “a high-school All-American,” represented “a positive role model they could relate with.” In October 2008, Ross finally admitted the documents’ validity, stressing that this didn’t undermine his bona fides as an extremely negative role model. He stuck to his story. “When I say that I’m rich off cocaine,” he told an interviewer after copping to the corrections job, “it’s because I did it.”
Something puzzling happened in the face of this exposé—the hip-hop equivalent, one might have thought, of a James Frey moment. Ross’ rap-world prestige only grew. On his solo debut, from 2006, he had seemed something like the Stone Temple Pilots to Young Jeezy’s Pearl Jam: a likable-enough instrument of record-label market-cornering. Like Jeezy, Ross commanded a gritty drug-slinging persona and matched it with a blunt, unfussy rapping style—gruff voice, magisterial slowness, abundant repetition, minimal wordplay—that doubled as ostensible proof of his authenticity. The absence of artfulness implied the absence of artifice. But whereas Jeezy had laid the groundwork for his major-label debut over several years with mixtapes and independent releases, building buzz from the ground up, Ross seemed to arrive from out of nowhere, and he was easy to dismiss as a one-hit sound-alike, rushed to airwaves to capitalize on the popular coke-rap trend.

On 2009’s Deeper Than Rap, however, Ross emerged, for the first time, as an artist worth taking seriously. Shrugging off the licit truths that had come to light the year before, he came into focus. The album begins with a breathtaking exercise in bravado: the song “Mafia Music,” in which Ross, uninterrupted by a hook and accompanied by a choir and steamrolling organs, delivers 76 consecutive bars stocked with vivid turns of phrase (“trunk full of white, car smell like blue cheese”), autobiographical glimpses (“once had a job pouring tar up on the roof”), onomatopoeia (“woof!”), twisty, alliterative internal rhymes (“paper that I’m making got her taking photos naked … dodging debacles like potholes in Jamaica”), name-droppy self-mythologizing (“Martin had a dream, Bob got high/ I still do both but somehow I got by”) and, in sideways nods to the C.O. revelations, threats to harm both cops and 50 Cent, who’d begun snidely referring to Ross as Officer Ricky. In 2010, Ross released Teflon Don, a fantastic album that doubled down on the tales of outsize, outlaw living. Drake and Busta Rhymes—more traditionally dazzling MCs than Ross—hailed it as the year’s best album. On one track, Ross sampled a Bobby Seale speech, audaciously linking his drug-dealing tales to a nobler history of struggle. Last year, Nas, as totemic a figure of classy, “golden age” rap as you’ll find, joined the appreciation society: “Rick is on fire,” he told BET. “Rick has got a strong grip on the game.”
A temptingly simple solution to the question of Ross’ skyrocketing stock, post-2008, is that great music can and will trump pettier concerns: Listeners were willing to pay no attention to that corrections officer behind the Maybach curtain because the curtain itself was so entrancingly, opulently embroidered. Indeed, opulence is key to Ross’ appeal. Making like the late-‘90s-era P. Diddy (who has shared several tracks with Ross and likened him to the Notorious B.I.G.), Ross fills videos with silk menswear and speedboat fleets. He favors beats, made by top-dollar producers like Kanye West, Justice L.E.A.G.U.E, and Lex Luger, that sound like the luxury objects they are—nowhere more so than on the aptly titled “Aston Martin Music,” in which synthesizers skip and shimmer over drums that land with a warm, full-bodied thwack.
The refrain on Ross’ first hit was “Everyday I’m hustlin’,” but on the mic, for the most part, this Boss likes to put his feet up. He’d rather let his immense charisma carry a song, intoning a set of catchy, blunt declaratives, than do much heavy lifting with his rhymes. (Two recent seizures that he suffered prompted concerns about his health, but he attributed them to being under-slept.) This isn’t to deny that he is a tremendously gifted MC: Anyone who doubts that Ross’ stripped-down rhyming is in fact a carefully cultivated technique can consult the sweatily acrobatic, double-time verse he delivered on Trina’s little-heard 2002 single “Told Y’All,” which, along with its accompanying video, offers a fascinating document of Ross before he’d honed in on the sort of rapper he wanted to be.
The luxe aura persists on Ross’ excellent new mixtape, Rich Forever, released last week. Consisting of all-new songs and featuring high-profile guests like Nas, John Legend, and Drake, Rich Forever is indistinguishable from a proper album. Ross is in top form, and never anything other than fun, whether he’s exacting revenge on a former doubter on “Holy Ghost” (“My teacher told me that I was a piece of shit/ Seen her the other day, driving a piece of shit”) or describing the unhygienic treatment of a firearm on “High Definition” (“Got the .40 by my dick, I keep pissing on the hammer”). Rich Forever’s title encapsulates the central fantasy that Ross perpetuates, the allure of which is easy to parse in the context of his recession-coincident career boost: To an over-the-top, winningly grandiose degree, while other rappers have adjusted to leaner times, he carries on as though the ‘90s never ended, inviting listeners into an alternate timeline that’s all boom and no bust. In tough times, his stock and trade, more than any other MC, is wish fulfillment.
But Ross’ success in the wake of the Officer Ricky scandal is more than a story of artistic improvement. It also demonstrates that hip-hop audiences have changed their valuation of street credibility from the requisite it once seemed to be to something far more fluid. The rise of heart-on-sleeve rappers like Kanye West and Drake demonstrates this, too, but those MCs (both of them, not coincidentally, frequent collaborators with Ross) mount their assault from the outside, as it were—emotive barbarians banging down hip-hop’s steely gates with their feelings. Ross, by contrast, fully inhabits the time-hardened gangsta template, and detonates a bomb of theatricality from inside the castle walls. It is unclear if, as Ross assures interviewers, he was once a “hustler” in the sense that denotes a drug dealer. (Ross’ lawyer has denied his ties to the Carol City Cartel gang, though Ross regularly touts his affiliation in songs.) But he is certainly a hustler as the word figures into black folk culture, denoting a trickster.
Look more closely at the comparison to Young Jeezy—the anti-rapper rapper par excellence—and it begins to crumble. For one thing, Ross crafts his rhymes with far more care and showmanship; for another, he refers to his supposed criminal résumé with cartoonish overstatements you can’t imagine coming from the no-nonsense Jeezy, who flashes handguns in interviews and has documented ties to the Black Mafia Family crime syndicate. Jeezy would never claim to “know” Pablo Escobar and Manuel Noriega, as Ross did, memorably, on “Hustlin’.”
What ultimately makes Rick Ross a more interesting artist than a rapper like Jeezy is that he illustrates the fictiveness and wild fungibility of hip-hop identity precisely as he makes the case for his rock-hard authenticity. “I think I’m Big Meech; Larry Hoover,” Ross, naming gangster icons, barks over and over again on his thundering 2010 single “B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast).” From that chorus to the Gotti-referencing Teflon Don down to his sobriquet (which prompted the actual Rick Ross to file an unsuccessful infringement suit against the rapper), Ross acts as though slipping into a kingpin’s skin were as easy as taking his name and reading from his script. The twist, however, is that in hip-hop—where the line between autobiography and fiction scrambles as in no other art form—it is that easy, provided you’re a convincing narrator. In this sense, the James Frey comparison breaks down as well. Rick Ross can call his music “true” all he likes: The slippery rules of his genre nullify any guarantee of memoir. Credibility is just another performance.
There’s a pleasing consonance to the way Rick Ross’ persona-craft jells with the classic rap-narrative of up-by-the-bootstraps striving. Rick Ross likes to call himself “self-made,” but while he means this in the sense of Alger-style ascent, it also works in the sense of Gatsby-style self-invention. This relates, more broadly, to the way many listeners daydream their own self-inventions when they listen to hip-hop—as ripe a source of vicarious fantasy as pop music offers. When the Smoking Gun documents first broke, I wondered if Rick Ross might attempt to turn the scandal into a song: A narrative told from within prison walls, say, describing life among the inmates. But such a song would have dampened and disrupted the voyeurism that marks so much hip-hop fandom. Ross needed to remain a boss. He can wink at the contract, but he doesn’t dare break it outright.

Via Slate

Killah Priest Interview

 

You’ve been on the road a lot with R.A. the Rugged Man and Ghostface Killah. How’s the road treating you?

The road is a great experience. It’s therapy for me and it should be for any artist, I think, that’s on the road, man. It’s just therapy.

Have any plans for music developed with R.A. and Ghost?

Yeah, man. Me and Ghost have been brainstorming heavy. We’ve been talking about this and that and just tactics on how to do this album and how to attack the industry and how to get music out that people will appreciate and get it heard to where people who appreciate real hip-hop music, and what I mean by that is unsaturated, unadulterated, not compromised music and how to get it to the people where they can hear it. Ghostface being the artist that he is, he has a name that can help with the movement so I’m grateful fort that and this is a brother that is a spiritual cat also.

I would imagine there’s some good conversations there.

Definitely. Definitely, man. We go all the way from the Bible to the Koran. We just build on all tactics from the galaxy to whatever. He asks that question “why is the water wet?” and “why is the sky blue?” We’ve been building. That’s my brother.

When you talk about the album, the album you’re talking about is your solo album, The Psychic World or Walter Reed, right?

Definitely, man. It’s done. There’s nothing I will add to it. I never rushed this album, even when I had the release date of January 30th. I couldn’t rush the album now. I gave them a date and I don’t want to rush it, even if it means holding it back for a little while more. I can’t rush it out like that. I wasn’t ready and I felt like it wasn’t ready but it’s ready now. It’s ready to come in. It’s got its suit on and everything and I’m very happy with the project.

You were putting out albums at a steady rate since The Offering, and some of them got criticized for the beat selection. Did you ever feel like that criticism was fair?

Nah. All criticism is good. With The Offering, people were talking about how I had them. It’s just that predicament. When you have something like The Offering, which everybody is claiming is a classic, you’re trying to get what’s next because everybody wants to know what’s next. But I went a whole different angle. It was just crazy timing. When I did Behind the Stained Glass, which was next, I felt people might not think of it as dope as The Offering or a real follow-up to The Offering, but it was something. It was a real emotional time. I had just moved out to Cali and it was my first time working with DJ Woool like that. We just knocked tracks out and what was I going to do with tracks? We put them out. Some people liked it. Some people didn’t take it as well because they were expecting The Offering but I got that. The Offering came from a deep part but I got more deep parts. It was just The Offering. Then we went back in and I gave them a free album, The Untold Stories of Walter Reed, and that was all a download for free and it’s still available. And when we did that, DJ Woool had leftover tracks that we had done and he put out The Exorcist. Those were tracks that I didn’t want to use for Untold Stories because I didn’t think they were ready but he liked them. And then there were some tracks I recorded during The Offering, which Ryan (Man Bites Dog) put out. There was a lot of stuff and it was a lot of material. At least everybody knows I haven’t been sitting back, sleeping. But I’ve been having The Psychic World of Walter Reed as my next album and I’ve been working at it for a long time and some of it slipped out but, you know, that’s what it’s for.

It was originally supposed to be a double disc, too.

Exactly. You had “Brillionaire” that leaked out there and “Listen to Me.” I shot a video for all of those joints that leaked out because I never got to shoot any videos for The Offering. I might go back and shoot “Salvation” or “Essential” because people request those. “Uprising” did real good. Somebody put that together and that did real good.

Yeah, originally that was a double album. I don’t know if I’m still going that same route but I got three or four albums that’s ready.

You’re going the independent route here too, right?

Yeah. I gave everybody a chance with my material. That’s what happened with The Offering too. When you’re doing it independently and you have a distributor, sometimes they just get caught up and they don’t look at the passion behind it. I had Nas and Immortal Technique on there and people received it well but there wasn’t enough material there for it to get in everybody’s hands. I feel sorry for cats that missed that. If you missed it, go back and get it in your hands. It’s the same with Black August. Albums that I put my heart into, people don’t understand it but I’m always on the road and with this album, if I’m not there, it’s not coming out. If I don’t have hands on it, it’s not coming out. We had to do Black August: Revisited and with The Offering, there was a lot of complaints that it wasn’t in enough stores. The material was dope but with this one, I would rather do it myself like, “Here, you’re getting this from me.”

That approach takes more time than handing the album over to a company.

Yeah, but I got good help this time. It takes more time and it takes more concentration. It’s not just releasing it. I had another mixtape with Woool that was coming out called Castle Hop that we had to put our brakes on because I can’t just drop that right now. I can’t drop that before dropping The Psychic World.

Are you liking the independence so far?

Yeah. It’s way better. It’s hands-on and you get to really feel what’s going on. You control your own destiny. You have to come up with a certain amount and you know you get to see all the paperwork and you’re controlling it, man. From there, it’s up to the ears of the people and that’s what we work so hard for – to get to the ears of the people and to make sure that you get it to as many people as you can get it to. If you don’t like it, maybe it’s not for you, but there’s blood and sweat in this.

Where does The Psychic World stand in your discography?

Some people that heard it said I might have outdone myself. I heard a lot of different things. For me, I just think it sounds like nothing out there and it sounds like nothing I’ve heard before. There’s different elements and there’s a different mood. There’s things that’s changing and it’s me talking about different subjects. The subject matter and concepts, it sounds different. It sounds different. I would have to put The Psychic World of Walter Reed right up there with the greats.

When can we expect the album?

March. March and I plan on touring and performing those songs and doing some classics, taking it back. I just did the Rock the Bells and that gave me great inspiration for performing Heavy Mental in its entirety and just doing different tours and doing different stuff. That’s what I’m doing. It’s definitely The Psychic World of Walter Reed.

@killahpriest

Torae Interview

 

You finished 2011 with a bang, dropping your debut solo album For the Record. How’s 2012 treating you so far?

Oh, man, the year’s going great. We closed out the year with the release and we’re just kind of rolling that same momentum and energy into 2012. We have a lot of videos to shoot and songs to promote. I just came back from Europe. I’m going to get back on the road and really keep pushing. This is a special project to me and I know the shelf-life of a project these days isn’t that long but you can expect to hear stuff on this to midway through the year.

It seems as though a lot of work went into For the Record, so it makes sense to push it as far as you can. Do you feel a lot of music is disposable today and fans don’t enjoy projects as opposed to always looking for the next one?

Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. I think you hit it right on the head with the disposable part. Everybody has Pro Tools now and everybody has a Macbook and everybody has a mic. It’s so easy to create music and it also loses its value when you give it away freely. I don’t want to say I’m a throwback but I put a lot into my project and I want to get a lot out of it. When I put my mind into making an album I really want to push it to the limit. This is one of those projects I plan on working and I’m trying to get it to as many people as possible.

Do you think this is the hardest you’ve ever worked on an album?

I try to put a lot into each one of my releases. I guess it was easier with Double Barrel because I was working with just one producer, Marco Polo. On this one I had to travel to North Carolina to get up with 9th [Wonder]. I had to get up with Pete and Preem and they have hectic schedules and get to VA to get with Nottz. I definitely put a lot of miles on the car but the creative process is the same. I try to work with like-minded people who are interested in working with me but the creative process is the same. Really, it was a lot of travel, which was different with this one because I didn’t want to shoot back and forth emails and sending files. I really wanted to get in there and play records for people and try to brainstorm and come up with the best possible music. That was really the big difference with this record. I didn’t work with just one producer so I had to run around a little bit more.

Looking at this as your solo debut album, how important was it to limit the guest appearances?

Limiting the guests was just a conscious decision I made. It’s my official debut and I wanted to show that I could put together an album on my own and that I could hold it down on my own and have people just focus on Torae the MC. By limiting the guest features, as far as MCs, I felt they could just focus on what I was bringing to the table instead of focusing on the features. On my first mixtape and Double Barrel, I worked with a lot of my favorites on that, as far as MCs. People heard me on there and I’ve been on projects with a lot of my favs. This time around, I just wanted to showcase what I do and I didn’t really want to share that Pete Rock beat with anybody or that DJ Premier beat with anybody. I wanted to get out there and do my own thing.

You’ve worked with DJ Premier a few times now. What’s it like getting a beat from Preem?

The process is pretty much the same with all three records. We went down to HeadQCourterz while the beat was playing and just caught a vibe and went where the beat was taking me. I didn’t do a lot of revision and rewriting. I like to go back and see what I can fix and lines that I can maybe say something different. Usually with Preem, with his process, he likes to do a lot of punch-in. If it’s one line he wants you to hit over, he’ll kind of direct you. He’s a producer in that aspect in that he produces the record and the vocals as well. But I think every song on that album I put the same amount of effort into as far as making sure the lyrics were right, the hook was right, the mix was right. “For the Record” was actually one of the easier ones. I went back on a couple of other ones but this one, I knew exactly what I wanted to say on the beat, Preem came with the cuts, and it was a go.

You’re shouting out Rony Seikley and Jeru Da Damaja, which was pretty cool.

Yeah, man. I definitely pull my lyrics just from life and life experiences. Whatever comes to mind, really. It’s definitely just me just going. I just go in and on that record, I didn’t want to be too preachy. I just wanted to spit. I was just spitting, just saying witty stuff and catchy lines that people would latch onto. That’s just where I went with it. Not too much thought process, just going in.

You must have been playing some old NBA Jam when you wrote that.

I’m just an NBA fan. Everybody who knows me knows I love basketball. And it’s no diss to Rony Seikley, but he just wasn’t Rony Seikley.

He did better in real life than in the NBA.

Word up. Yeah, Big Ron, Big Rony Seikley.

Are you happy with the response to For the Record so far?

Yeah. Anytime you get a chance to put a project out and have people appreciate it and have it get critical acclaim, I feel like that’s a success in itself. And definitely with the climate and with how the music is now, you don’t have to buy anything and people don’t have to spend money on a project if they don’t want to. Whether I sell one, or 1,000, or 100,000, it’s a success because anybody who bought into the project did it because they wanted to, not because they had to because it’s readily available on the internet. I appreciate every sale. And I put it out myself. There wasn’t a lot of red tape in between everything. I definitely get a lot of the proceeds coming back so it’ll be financially successful anyway because of the way I set my system up.

Do album sales bother you?

Well, it’s not a bother, per se. As an artist, I always feel like any project I put out could do better than it did,. But I’m also a realist and I’m aware of the climate in music and I’m aware that I don’t really have a super-big promotional push and I’m not on a label that’s going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to push a record the way I feel it has to be pushed. I haven’t really looked at the sales. I look at the Twitter and the Facebook and the impact the records are having on the people and that, in itself, is enough for me. It’s a different ballgame. I’m not playing with the same type of advantages that other artists have but I’m taking advantage of what I have and I feel I’m doing all right for myself.

What’s your plans for 2012?

Definitely just continuing to push the album. I’ll be shooting a couple of videos and I’m also going to do a couple of remixes with my favorite MCs, because I did the album without any features. We got the vinyl release coming in February. We’re definitely going to push it. I got out to Europe and I would definitely like to get out to Asia to rock and do a domestic run. Expect to hear a lot about For the Record in the next couple of months because it’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as where we are with it. I wanted to make sure I got it out and now it’s time to promote it and push it out to as many people as possible.

@itstorae

Torae on Facebook

Wordsmith Journal Entry #1

5:00 AM…I know why am I kicking things off with a time; well its simple, that’s what time I get up Monday through Friday to kick off my days. I start with a prayer then a 45 minute as I’m training for a promo tour in March for my “King Noah” Album, but more on that later.  Unfortunately, I don’t get a chance to refuel my body correctly due to time, so an orange and a few glasses of water are my breakfast before I hit the shower. Next, I have to feed my newborn, Kingston Noah, before waking up my 8 year old Ezequiel to begin our early morning Journey.  I’m usually out of my house between 6:30-6:45 and proceed to take Kingston to his daycare location 30 minutes from my house and drop off Ezequiel at his grandparents on the way back so he can walk to school around 8:30 AM. Once this is all done I head to my job for the next 8 hours and repeat everything I just did when I get off of work to arrive at home by 7:00 PM or later.  I feed Kingston when home while Ezequiel and I do his homework. In my head I stay plotting on what I’m going to cook for Zeke and I along with the activities we can all do for next few hours before its shower time for my boys. I put my kids to bed around 9:30 PM and I use to try and stay up to 1:00 AM to work on music, but it was just too much so I tuck it in with my kids now to have energy for our early mornings. Some people may think this is a lot, but this is the norm for me and I find myself extra motivated on such a tight schedule like this. My studio is in my crib, but I find myself designating my writing/recording days now; being a good father while continuing to strive for my dream of being a national recording artist are one in the same to me. Both will show my kids their father worked hard while they were growing up and regardless of the circumstances they should go for their dreams and don’t seek sympathy from others. I accept my situation as a single father and use the motivation daily to persevere.

I took a little time to introduce myself as a person/father because it embodies who I am as a musician. I work very hard with limited time, but have managed to make some serious strides in the music industry. Last year alone I was able to license music to VH1, CBS, ESPN, Golf Channel and even won an ASCAPLUS Award for my songwriting; something I have always wanted to be known for. Now, I’m looking to embark on a new journey with my “King Noah” Album. I really wanted to do a full length project for my newborn, so it would serve as a time capsule for the rest of his life. It’s what I call a life lesson album, but I wrote it in a fashion that the average music head can enjoy the body of music. For my son Kingston, I recorded messages before each track that he can listen to over and over as he grows up and each time the messages will be mean more to him due to life experiences. I literally turned my album over to DJ Eclipse of WNYU 89.1 today, so he could personally deliver it to Fat Beats for distribution. I’m a history of Hip Hop buff as well donning over 200 tapes in my personal collection throughout the years, so dropping a project off a legendary label like this is a goal of mine. By my next journal entry I’ll let my fans know the outcome and I’ll definitely be going more into detail of how I created this project over the next few months.

Moving forward, I wanted to take some time to talk about my musical tastes and what I think I’m here to achieve before I end this first journal. I grew up in the Golden Era of Hip Hop, so I like conceptual music that stands alone from its counterparts. Today, music is so saturated and I wasn’t interested in playing follow the leader, so even my album singles are done in a way that my fans won’t say I’m straying too far from the universal music I have created over the years. Lyrically, I like to tell stories and occasionally just rhyme, but having a message in my content really makes me as a musician. Notice I said musician; I mean that because though I will always love Hip Hop I am here to make good music only. I’m not here to fit into some box of that’s commercial, that’s alternative, that’s underground. Sorry, but rapping is just the gift God gave me and my overall plan isn’t to be the nicest on the mic. I want to use my platform of music to help and provide opportunities for others in this world. I think I’m more anxious to take missions, donate money to 3rd world countries and show the world how we are truly here to do God’s work rather than flaunt the finer things in life. I just consider myself grounded and thankful for the small and big things I receive in life and my statement above doesn’t mean I’m some type of bible thumper; I just understand why I’m here on this earth and there are tons of people that need to be enlightened to that fact.

 

Wordsmith

Roc C Interview

It’s been a minute since we’ve talked, but it’s been great hearing all your new music. Stoned Genius is the new album. How did that come about?

You know, the Ox City motto, we try to keep our foot to the pavement. I’m a bit of a workaholic with music. I’m all about it. I try to keep the fans with what they need, I try not to get to the point where they ask where I am or what happened to me. I try to give cats at least a project a year and hopefully with each project they’ll see how I’ve grown and I at least try to branch out and do different things but still stay Roc C throughout the whole movement.

Do you think that’s one of the keys to your success today, not taking time off?

I think what gets me by is that people see that whatever the movement is at the time or whatever the mainstream vibe is at the time, I tend to go to the left, to go to the opposite. I think that by me being relevant, All Questions Answered came out in 2005 and I’m still here doing my thing and it’s a blessing. A lot of people haven’t heard of me and to a lot of people I’m still a fresh, new artists and to the fans that have been riding with me, hopefully they haven’t gotten tired of me because I try to give them something different each time.

Stoned Genius features a lot of talented producers and MCs, from Madlib to Chali 2na. Do you think you do better working with a mix of other artists or a focused project with one producer like Transcontinental with IMAKEMADBEATS?

I think both ways work for me. With IMAKEMADBEATS, he was an up-and-coming young producer and not too many people have heard of him and I was really digging him. Mic Geronimo put me onto him and I was just digging his whole grind and what he was about and the best thing that I could do instead of just telling people about him was to do a project and get it out so people could actually hear him as opposed to doing something that’s just Roc C, each album, I work with a lot of the same people, but each album, I bring somebody new to the table and I like the challenge of my style and being featured with the producers. Each feature, they’re all my family. I don’t just do features because someone’s hot or they’re the most popular person at the time. These are people that are family and that I have day-to-day’s with.

You’ve worked with Madlib and Oh No for awhile. Do your styles change when working with them or do you feel they adjust their styles to you?

You know, each person is different. You have some producers that are just…I’m the type of person that doesn’t tell a producer exactly what I want. I like a producer to surprise me because if you don’t, they’ll always give you the same particular sound and the same type of beats that they think are good for you as opposed to you never know what you may hear me over. I like for people to do them. Whatever you think is butta, send it to me and whatever the beat tells me to do, I’ll do. That’s the beautiful thing about it.

Madlib is known for not doing interviews, so the only time we really hear about him is through other artists. What’s it like working with Madlib?

Aw, before there was a Stones Throw, there was Lootpack, myself, Oh No, Medaphoar, Dudley Perkins, God’s Gift, a whole bunch of people. We were already working. We had studios and we were already making albums together before we ever knew what Stones Throw was. Once they came along. we were already making the music a bit ahead of the game because dealing with such producers as Kankick to Madlib to Oh No all at once and dealing with all the rappers, you really had to come with your a-game to get that one beat and get the studio time. I think that work ethic kind of groomed us for when we actually got our record deals to keep us pushing.

What was it like recording with so many talented artists before the notoriety came along?

Even back then, we all had a plan. We knew Lootpack was going to be the forefront and let them set the groundwork and then have the trickle down effect. It just so happens that God blessed it that it worked out that way. Even back then when we were doing the songs and the albums we were doing it for each other and we were our hardest critics on one another. It was like, “All right, if I can impress Madlib or Oh No with this verse and this song, now I can get in and I might get two beats and so on and so forth.” We all did the same things and if you catch someone’s attention and if it’s the right time, you might record a whole album. You’ve got umpteen rappers and not so many producers. What are you going to do to stand out to get your time? Everybody works hard to stand out and you can’t be the cliche group where everybody pretty much sounded like each other. If you go down in our group, nobody sounds the same but we all have the same tendencies and we all like the same things but everybody puts their own stamp on what they do.

Was it more fun back then?

Honestly, I still feel like it’s still back in the day. I feel like no matter how many songs I may put out, I couldn’t even tell you. I couldn’t tell you about that because I don’t look at it like that. I look at it like when I finally hang up my microphone, then I’ll sit back and look at all of the accolades, but until then, I’ve got work to do so I’m trying to turn this 15 seconds into 15 years. THat’s the mission I’m on. Back in the day, it was fun. Now, it’s just as fun. I’ve just upgraded and I’ve had to make the relationships to be heard where back in the day it was just my group who I had to keep their attention. It’s all the same thing, just a different scale.

You were around before the internet boom and are still thriving now. How have you stayed relevant?

A few things. The first thing was I was a fan of the music since day one. Prior to even getting into the game, everybody that I looked up to, I watched the documentaries and read the books and saw what situations happened to them and where their luck fell hard. Once I got to that point, I knew what to look out for and what not to do. As far as staying relevant through all the booms and whatnot, I told you in our first interview, I don’t make music for the record labels. I make music for the people who feel they have no voice but have something to say, just the average, everyday cat. That’s who I do my music for and that’s who I rep for. I think they’ve grown with me and understand that I’m genuine in my quest and supported me.

How would you describe your growth as an artist through the years?

Let’s take it back before Stones Throw. I came from the era of lyrics and beats, not so much lyrics and not just beats. The lyrics had to be as banging as the hook and the beat and everything had to be on the same level. With a banging beat and a banging DJ, your A-game had to be super, super, super. I’ve always gravitated towards artists that told stories about them and what it may be and with my music, I try to do the same thing, but at the same time, I try to keep the elements of rawness and hip-hop in it. I try to keep it rawcore! (laughs) I still got the story rhymes and all that stuff, but people say if you got good stories, you’re not a good battle rapper. They say if you’re a battle rapper, then you can’t make good songs. I try to show all of that. That’s what I think I really work hard at.

You and Chali 2na traded verses on “Bar Catchers” off Stoned Genius. The chemistry sounds pretty natural.

That’s what’s up. I’m a fan of this music and at the end of the day, I want to feel like I didn’t cheat myself out of anything and to do a song with somebody is cool, but I’m not really into that. It really has to be something that I believe in from the person to the whole situation. As far as the “Bar Catchers” joint goes, me and Chali 2na was just chopping it up one day and I was telling him, other than Jadakiss and Styles P, who do you really see going hard back and forth like the stuff we grew up on? Nobody! I told him I thought we should go in at it. “Bar Catchers” is what came out of it. A couple of blunts later, there you go! It just felt like that hip-hop feel as my homie Chino says, the Golden Era, when everything was real intense. That’s how “Bar Catchers” came about.

And you guys have a full-length project you’re working on, right?

Yes! It’s called Ron Artiste! I feel everybody has a little Ron Artest in them. The man is very intelligent all the way down to where he can let you know what it is. I thought it’d be a fun project to do because I respect him as a man, not just as a basketball player. We know a bunch of people who have a little Ron Artest in them. We came up with the theme and got some homies down. That’s how the project came about. We leaked out a song on DJBooth called “I Will,” so that’s been floating around and “Bar Catchers” is the first introduction to us. From here on out, it’s go-time. 2012 is ours.

How’s the project coming?

We’re like 25 songs deep! We’re going to keep going and shoot some more videos. You’ll probably hear a song with Krondon on it soon. That’ll probably be the first official single. We’ll probably run out with that one and you’ll probably have the album out or at least a few songs by the end of the basketball season because we’re trying to capitalize on everything but at the same time we really want to make sure everything is right and potent and catches the theme of things. We have everybody on there from Rapper Pooh to LMNO to Edo G to Oh No. I can keep going! (laughs) It’s real crazy. I think it’s something that people wouldn’t expect but at the same time, I think it’s something that hip-hop needs.

Where did you guys shoot the video to “Bar Catchers”?

(laughs) Out in Camarillo, there actually used to be a mental hospital that burned down. The story is when the mansions were going up, that’s one of the areas where they used to hide out at. It was a real crazy mental spot with a lot of abuse and it burned down and they say it’s a haunted spot so I thought it’d be ill to capture that effect and try to have that ‘80s, ‘90s video look to it and do something that most people wouldn’t do. A lot of people wouldn’t even go into that spot. Just to break the stereotypes and do something fun.

In the past you’ve talked about albums with Oh No and Pete Rock. How’s those coming?

It goes back to the same theory of before we had the record deals. Sometimes we make albums just to listen to with each other. That was the beautiful thing about music. There’s projects that I just give out for free. There’s albums for sale. There’s albums that i just do for myself and there’s albums that I do for the homies to enjoy and there’s albums that I do strictly for the fans. That’s the beautiful thing about it through the years is that I”m still able to create music and hopefully it doesn’t sound like the last song that I did. The Pete Rock album is done. That’s just something that we listen to amongst each other. Me and Rapper Pooh, we have an album. We’ve been leaking songs but that’s going to be an album that’s going to end up being free. The Ron Artiste album is definitely going to be out. The album with Chino XL and Oh No, the Street Crucifixion stuff that we’ve done, we play a couple jams at parties and here and there. I’m trying. I’m trying, brother.

What are your plans for 2012?

I started my Cash Roc Ent label two years ago and Fine Print Ent. My Cash Roc is for more established artists and Fine Print is for artists I’m trying to up and groom and get to that point. I’m trying to do my projects and I got the boxer Victor Ortiz signed to my label. I got Lee Bannon, a young producer from Sacramento that’s real crazy, coming out with a joint venture I did with Plug Research. I’m just on my grind and trying to be here. This is what I’ve done before I even knew I could do it. It’s me!

@rocc805

Fabolous Interview

Your latest mixtape, There Is No Competition Part 3, dropped on Christmas for free download. That’s a great present for your fans.

Right. That’s what we really hoped for, to really put out the music on that day. It’s a big day for people at home and people enjoying they selves and I thought it would be a great day to put out a mixtape and give some free music away, where everybody’s home and everybody wants to get into something. You open your presents and then you have a whole day to yourself. It’s not like people are kids anymore, so they don’t get toys or anything to play with all day. They get their gifts and they’re sitting around, waiting for something to get into. They’re watching sports or they’re waiting for the food to cook and why not have a mixtape to listen to during that time?

Christmas is a day when people typically disconnect from the internet. Were you surprised by how much activity the mixtape got on a day like that?

I got kind of like a mixtape following, so I was surprised by how fast it was. I wasn’t surprised that people wanted to check it out, but I was definitely surprised at how fast the traffic was moving. But of course, like you said, it was Christmas day, I didn’t know if people were going to be super-on it or if they were going to be with their families and gifts, but I figured they would be checking it out. This interview is after it, of course. We idd some promotion leading up to it so people knew what day it was coming out on, but we let the mixtape market and the people who go online and research free music find it instead of beating down their doors. It was a release where if you were home, you were gonna grab it. It was that sort of thing.

One of the themes that runs through TINC 3 is loyalty. How important was it for you to address that on the mixtape?

Really, that’s how I am. I’m loyal to my friends and I’m loyal to my family. I’m loyal to a lot of things. I’m loyal to the people who look out for me and for my fans who support me. You look for loyalty in return and I don’t think the game is always loyal to you. The fans are finicky at times and they go with what’s hot at the moment, even if you’ve been doing this for nine or ten years. You have to reinvent yourself every year to keep your brand fresh. With me, loyalty plays a little key into it but there were a lot of things that, character-wise, that I put into this tape, but at the end of the day, it was just supposed to be some good energy for you during the holidays. I used a lot of beats that were more uptempo during the beginning that hit you and give you more energy at the beginning and towards the end of the tape I slowed it down more. It’s just a lot of things that’s in my character that I put in my music because that’s what I expect.

You address the Plaxico Burress rumors and Ray J on “Lord Knows.” Did you feel you had to get that out there?

There was a couple of things on there. Of course the Plaxico situation, I didn’t talk about it beforehand. I wanted people to just check it out to naturally check it out. I didn’t release any joints before it. I think something got leaked but it was nothing that we broadly released from the tape. I wanted people to just go dig in and have that classic not-hearing-anything that’s on the tape from back in the days, from when you’d go in and haven’t heard anything. I still believe in that and that’s what we did there. That’s why with “Lord Knows,” I never told people I was talking about this situation or talking about that.

The Plaxico situation, of course everybody knows he went to jail from his weapons charge. I think when he came out he did an interview stating that he was carrying a gun because he had heard Fabolous and his Street Fam guys were running around and robbing athletes and stuff like that. I just felt like that was a real “throw another guy under the bus” move after you already did your time, almost snitch kind of thing. After you did your time, you didn’t have to give any names. You could have stayed a straight arrow and just said, “I did my time, it was wrong.” Not throwing another guy under the bus and shining a light on someone else and having people look at us like we’er in some kind of a bad light.

And the Ray J thing wasn’t a diss. It was just me getting my feelings out. It happened three months ago and if I was going to make a diss track it would have come out right way. It was me expressing my frustrations over the music. With Plaxico, I was more direct and mentioned his name because it was something I read in an interview. He was direct and I was direct as well.

You’ve always put out quality mixtapes and albums, but there are definite differences between the two. Do you feel that way?

I do. I have less format on mixtapes. With this, of course, I stuck to the theme of the death and killing the competition kind of thing. That was a theme that we came up with with this entire series. With the last mixtape, more so than the first. But I have less format. With albums, I think them through a lot. I want to put them together and try to make bodies of work that cater to wide bodies of ears across the world, not just mixtape fans. Sometimes the mixtape fans are finicky about that, like, “Why can’t your albums be more like your mixtapes?” But they’re saying it themselves. A mixtape is a mixtape and an album is an album. You touch different subjects on an album that you may not touch on on a mixtape. Even my mixtapes, for me, now have differences because The Soul Tape is different from the TINC series. The TINC series is ignorant energy, a whole different feel from The Soul Tape. THat was more laid back and more introspective, talking about things that you’re going trough. With TINC 3, I was talking my shit and cursing for me to get my point across and talking about situations a little more loosely than introspective. My mixtape series, my album series, are definitely different. Even my mixtape series are different. Soul Tape is not like the TINC series.

From the TINC series to Loso’s Way to The Soul Tape, it seems like you do your best when you have a focused theme to your project.

I definitely think that it helps you stay on course. Sometimes if you don’t have that course, you’re just creating music and what comes in your head at that moment. If you have a subject to stick to and something to really hold onto throughout the process of when you’re making music, you can make more sonically-together music that way. I don’t think it’s that much of a challenge. I think for me I can take something and kind of stay in that area for as long as I want.

Are there any books, films, or TV shows that inspire you to create?

Yeah, but it’s so many things that I couldn’t even name you one thing. I watch a lot of movies and sports. Occasionally you’re going to hear different metaphors from sports and movies. Those are all things that I come across and check out and what leads to certain rap lyrics for me because I touch on all relatable subjects, stuff I know other people have said and done and use them to my advantage. It’s hard for me to say one movie or TV show. Right now Storage Wars is on and maybe two weeks from now a Storage War line will come in my head. Yeah, I’m definitely influences by television and other things, other musicians, everything.

But you won’t be bidding on any lockers, will you?

I don’t think so, man. I don’t watch the show much. It’s been on for the last 15 minutes but it doesn’t look like they’re coming up with nothing. I know the objective is you open the door and see if you come up with something but I haven’t seen anybody come up with anything.

How’s your next album, Loso’s Way 2, coming?

It’s coming along good. I’m just working. It’s coming along good. I grabbed up a lot of beats, man, and am just trying to trim the fat off of that and see what joints actually stick to the album versus the ones that are mediocre and okay. So you have to trim the fat once you go in the studio now and make sure you’re putting out the right music.

Are you and Red Cafe still putting out the Bedrock Boyz project?

I don’t know. I don’t know if the project is going to come along yet but we worked on a lot of records and that’s just because we work with each other a lot. We throw records out. But we had just talked about it and it had never materialized but we have a lot of music together.

What was the best Christmas present you got your son this year?

I like the stuff that makes him laugh and makes him have a good time. I got him an Iron Man toy that shoots out Iron Man rockets and he can control his arm. He likes that pretty much. He played with that all day. I could say a bunch of other things and probably big stuff but you see the way a kid’s heart goes to his toys and he was more ecstatic about toys than anything else.

What artists are you a fan of today?

I like Drake’s stuff. For the new guys, I like Drake. I like J. Cole. I like Jay-Z. I like Wayne. I like Rick Ross. I like Jadakiss. Those are some of my guys.

You have strong relationships with so many different artists in the game. What do you attribute that to?

I don’t know. I just be me and try to be as genuine as I can. I think that’s what helps relationships build, when you’re actually genuine with another artist. They have their own fans and their own ties and their career, and you have to be able to work with them and still be able to create good music.

Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you really want to make happen?

I believe Eminem is the only person I want to work with that I haven’t at this point. And maybe Nas. Those two come to mind.

Will we hear more from your brother Paul Cain this year?

Yeah, definitely. Paul is working and he’s got a good energy. A lot of people gave him a lot of good feedback from his verse on TINC 3, so he’s back at work and trying to keep that energy up as well.

What are your plans to have a monster 2012?

I definitely have a foundation that I want to put forward a little bit more this year. We just thought it out, The Fabolous Way, in ’11, and I want to push that a little further. I’m working on another album and looking to do a mixtape towards the ending of the year, The Soul Tape 2, or maybe the fall when people are going back to school. But for the most part, that’s one of the most strongest things I want to do, is the foundation, and just get back and help people in times of need.

@myfabolouslife

Icadon Interview

 

Icadon has always one of those artists I enjoyed listening to, Unfortunately, new music from Ic stopped when he was recently locked up. Fresh out, WeGoinIN caught up with Icadon to talk about his plans for the future, working with Rockwilder, and more.

Happy New Year. After all you’ve been through in the last year with being locked up, I’ll bet you’re happy for a fresh start with the new year.

Yeah, man. It feel good. I came from the motherfuckin’ facility with 1700 niggas locked in to Times Square with two million people, watching Lady Gaga. It’s a beautiful thing!

Were you out there all day?

Nah, I wasn’t out there all day. I went out where the crowd was, probably around 11:30. I stay right by Times Square, so I’m right over there.

I heard the people that stay there all day go to the bathroom where they stand nad that it gets really nasty. Did you see any of that?

Nah, but I heard about that. People don’t want to lose their spot. It’s crazy out there. Times Square, New Year’s Eve, you see some crazy shit out there. Word.

If you have the front row seat for Lady Gaga, and nature calls, what do you do?

I’m going to find a toilet, man. I ain’t with that nasty shit, know what I mean? I’ll tell somebody, “Look, you hold this spot down. I’ll be right back. Don’t let nobody in this spot!” And I’ll go take me a shit somewhere like a McDonald’s or somewhere. Word! (laughs)

I’d be afraid to be with you in public if you chose the alternative.

Word, man. I like Lady Gaga, man, but I ain’t going through all that. That’s some nasty shit, literally.

You were gone for awhile and I would imagine being locked up is never fun, but were you able to take anything positive away from the experience?

Oh yeah, man. I turned it into a positive. Jail is jail, but I’m not going to come out of there without making something productive, so what I did is I strengthened my rap catalog, wrote some hot shit, made my flow tighter, and I wrote a book in there. I started studying real estate and finances, investments, I took some classes in there, and made some connections. You gotta take something positive from the situation.

I think God do things for a reason and I was moving kind of wild out here, kind of reckless. My pops just died, so I was going through it. I didn’t care about living. I was starting a lot of beef, fighting. I guess God thought I needed some time off to gather my thoughts and collect them. THat just made me stronger. I got my catalog up. Now the shit I’m writing is even better. I went up north when I was 16 and that’s when I started writing. I guess I had to revisit and strengthen the flow up even more now.

Do you find that what you write changes depending on where you are, whether it’s touring, home, or jail?

Oh, yeah, definitely. It depends on where you are, how your’e feeling, what’s your situation. When your’e going through the most bullshit is when you write the best, that’s how I feel. When you’re touring, you’re in different cities and different zones. Your mindframe is different. You’re spitting from a different perspective because you’re seeing things different than what’s on your block.

What’s your plan now?

I’m about to drop a few things. I’m going to drop a few mixtapes. I’m going to drop the No Jail Could Hold Me mixtape and working on the album. We have a distribution deal with Amalgam. I’m trying to get more distribution for Johnny Pump. The deal was for two years and it expired when I was in jail. At the same time, I’m just making some fire. Word. I got two pads full of fire.

Are you still working with Rockwilder?

Definitely. I just talked to him last night and he gave me a schedule already. He said he’s making some stuff for me. You know how that’s gonna be. We’re gonna get Johnny Pump jumping and get a new deal for it. We’re gonna get that jumping again and just keep it moving. Word.

Who else have you been working with?
I’m working with another kid, my young boy. He produces and sings. I’ve got him featured on my joints, he’s down with the camp and I’m on his joints. That’s Alioune Dading. I got him on the team. He’s crazy. He’s bringing out some fire for me. Rock is still with the team and shit too. I don’t think I’m going to have too many features on this one. It’s kind of greasy. I haven’t got to eat in a minute.

A lot of fans know you as Icarus and from your days with Redman. Do you feel like fans recognize you for a solo artist as Icadon?

It’s about time. Most people, they know me as Icarus but a lot of people know me for Icadon too. A lot of people know me for rolling with Redman. That’s my nigga and all that, but I got to stand on my own two. That’s why I started my own company. I gotta get this shit popping. It’s all about Icadon right now. That’s what it is.

What do you need to do from here on out to be successful and have the impact you want to have?

First thing, I gotta make this fire. I gotta make fire and let the work speak for itself and you know, keep my team behind me and keep it real. The people that already listen to me, they already know. Just make that fire, baby. Make that hot shit. Spit that shit that’s hotter than these other niggas. I’m about to work-bully these niggas!

@icadon_

Icadon on Facebook

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Icadon – Address the Game

Jpizzle’s Top 10 Of 2011

2011 was a dope year for hip hop so accordingly here are my 10 favorites of the year.

Action Bronson- Dr. Lecter
Action Bronson has had a hell of good year dropping loads of dope verses including on every track of the seriously ill Dr. Lecter. Despite comparisons to Ghostface, Action sounds like no one out there right now with references to fine cuisine, culinary techniques, and professional wrestling, Dr. Lecter is one of those albums you can listen to straight through. The raw and at times quirky production compliment Action’s flow perfectly. Sprinkle with dope guest appearances by the likes of Meyhem Lauren, Shaz Ill York, and Maffew Ragazino, and you have a winner.

The Doppelgangaz- Lone Sharks
Besides being our family here at We Goin’In, The Doppelgangaz are also the most original duo out right now. With unbelievably fantastic boom-bap and moody production and complimentary rhyme styles, Lone Sharks showed off just tight The Doppelgangaz can be. For the record, Nexium might be favorite beat of the year. It is straight up bonkers. If you’re not already up on them, cop this record now!

Cunninlynguists- Oneirology
This album straight up blew my mind (pause.) The production is utterly beautiful and inspired and the rhymes soulful, introspective, and pitch perfect for the beats. An album loosely based around the concept of dreams and dreaming (hence Oneirology, the study of dreams,) The Cunninlynguists provide the perfect content to flush out that concept. It will be criminal if this not on everyone’s end of the year best lists.

Roc Marciano- Marcberg
Perhaps no artist and album captured the aesthetic of true gritty, grimy, gully, and gangster NY rap than Roc Marciano and his Marcberg LP. With minimal and dark sample driven production and Roc’s super ill flow and rhyme schemes, this is another listen straight through album. This brings back the best memories of mid 90′s rap glory but still has a modern sound to keep itself relevant. I’m fiending for some more Roc Marciano music in the 2k12 fo sho.

Phonte- Charity Starts At Home
I am an unabashed Little Brother and Foreign Exchange Stan so of course I loved Phonte’s solo album Charity Starts At Home From the first track. With his patented blend of witty introspective rhymes, ad-libs (New Tigalo New Tigalo!) Phonte delivers the goods on this album. He’s also reunited with 9th wonder on a number of tracks bringing back that good ol Little Brother feeling. Throw in some dope guest spots from the likes of Median, Evidence, Elzhi, and Pharoah Monche, and a good time is guaranteed for all.

Wu-Tang- Legendary Weapons
If there is one thing that people of all races, religions, creeds, and stripes can agree on it’s that The Wu is fantastic! Combining most of the Clan members with hip hop all stars like M.O.P. , AZ, Action Bronson, Termanology, Sean P, and others with affiliates like Trife, Cappadona, and the criminally slept on Killa Sin, Legendary Weapons is pure raw gritty Wu greatness. Dope kung-fu flick samples and raw rhymes with little to no choruses, this is only for the hardcore. Join the elite and cop this album.

Common- The Dreamer, The Believer
Despite being released on December 20th, this album is so good that it easily catapults to the top of the list for the year. Backed by near flawless production by No ID, Common sounds as hungry and versatile as ever switching between cocky bravado and introspective conscious type raps with ease. Even over smooth production Common’s patented off beat flow sounds raw and authentic. Hip hop lives!

Jedi Mind Tricks- Violence Begets Violence
I will admit that Jedi Mind Tricks is a bit of a guilty pleasure in my view. Their albums can be interchangeable but that never stops me from thoroughly enjoying them. Vinny Paz and Jus Allah return minus Stoupe (who surprisingly is not missed) with more songs of ultra-violence with fantastic titles. Jedi Mind Tricks always gets my hyped to go knock random mothafuckas out on the street and for that I am always grateful. As always, the guest spots are great and Violence Begets Violence even features Chip Fu which is just plain fantastic!

Drake- Take Care
I don’t care who hates on me for this because this album is just plain fantastic. I’m of the view that Drake is much less rap music connected to hip hop culture and more very very well executed pop music which is fine by me. Even hardcore OG thugs like myself need a break from shooting and hustling from time to time. Drake’s signature rapping/singing on the same track style is in its full glory and I have no shame in stating that when he wants to spit, Drake can definitely spit. Not only is this album good listening, your girl won’t walk out on you when its playing either (it takes a special woman to get turned on by say Jedi Mind Tricks.) All in all, Drake shows that he definitely has some longevity in this game.

Evidence- Cats and Dogs
Mr. Slow Flow returns with another solidly dope album that shows why he is respected by nearly everyone in hip hop. With guest spots from the likes of Raekwon, Aloe Blacc, Rakaa, Slug, Aesop Rock, and Ras Kass and bonkers production from Ev himself, Alchemist, and Premier this album represents hip hop in it’s purest form. Evidence knows how craft a consistent and unified listening experience which is just a pleasure to listen to. More please!

The Foundation- Wordsmith Edition

Redman
“Whut Thee Album”
Review by Wordsmith

Redman made his debut in 1990 on EPMD’s “Business as Usual” album on the tracks “Hardcore” and “Brothers on my Jock”. His delivery on the mic was flawless, confident and exuberant when it came to changing tones during a verse. Reds sound was so different that he basically gained a fan base off of those two records. We are talking about a time when an artist had features on their albums it was a big deal; you were lucky to get two songs featuring another artist as oppose to today’s Albums predominantly carrying features to sell more records. This allowed the listener to really hone in and be excited to hear a verse from another artist and Redman took full advantage of that.
Two years later, Redman’s opportunity came as a solo artist and he releases his debut album “Whut Thee Album”, which I thought was a dope title after fans had to wait two years for a solo offering. I even appreciated the fact that Red wrote “Whut Thee Album” incorrect as it gave a glimpse to Redman’s mind frame when it came to the presentation of his music. Opening up the album with “Psycho Ward” was genius to me because it set the tone for the album and showed us that Redman has personality, acting skills and a unique sense of breaking boundaries musically. By the time the “Time 4 Sum Aksion” sample via B-Real of Cypress Hill drops you know this album is going to be amp all the way through. Those who grew up in the golden era know that “Time 4 Sum Aksion” was and is Redman’s main single that broke him nationally. Heading into “Da Funk”, “News Break”, and “So Ryff” it is quite clear Redman spent hours as a kid playing his dad’s vinyl George Clinton, Parliament and Bootsy Collins records at a feverish level. There is a sense of detail when it comes to Red sampling from the aforementioned artists because they fit so well into the created instrumental. Yes, Redman didn’t do much producing on his first effort as Rockwilder and Erick Sermon carried the load, but you can tell he had input on the funk samples used. As the “Inhale” side of the album wraps up the album seems to get darker/grittier with tracks like Rated R, Watch Yo Nuggets w/ Erick Sermon, Blow Your Mind and Hardcore. It’s like Red chose the A side of his album to be his darker moments so you can inhale his worst first.
Side B of Redman’s album is titled “Exhale” so by this time he is expecting you to digest who he is and prepare to be high as hell throughout the rest of his album; literally. Opening with “Funky Uncles” is perfect because it’s a lighter and funnier side to Redman and he plays several characters with their own unique voices during this skit. Keeping things on the light side Redman introduces himself to his alter ego Reggie Noble. Their isn’t too many artist that will mention their government name on an album much less battle him, so again Redman is showing his range as an artist and storyteller. “Tonight’s Da Night” is and will forever be a classic by Red because the story and sample mesh so well together. It was that 90’s anthem for hitting the clubs, so that should tell you how much the rap game has changed when hear today’s club hits. The following surprise is literally a surprise as the listener is treated to a remix of “Blow your Mind”, but I have to be honest it was not needed on this project. At the most it should have been a hidden bonus track and not a part of the official track listing. The rest of the album is all about smoking weed to the highest degree as Redman gets ”Sessed One Night”, show us “How to Roll a Blunt” and kicks off his series of “Sooperman Lover” stories that ended up continuing through his next few releases.
Overall, if you didn’t grow up in the 90’s there weren’t a lot of albums that openly talked about smoking weed, so for Red to make that his main focus yet dazzle us with uncanny lyrics and storytelling was a feat in its own. Red truly introduced us to his true self and didn’t create an image for the sake of being a star.

Check out Wordsmith here

Jay-Z Gets That NPR Love

Dope Jay-Z interview from NPR’s Fresh Air. I love the almost cognitive dissonance of NPR interviewing rappers.

Jay-Z ‘Decoded:’ The Fresh Air Interview

Murs is the Man

Dope interview with Murs

Murs has always been one of the West Coast’s most distinctive voices. The famously dreadlocked L.A rapper, who started off with rap collectives 3 Melancholy Gypsies and Living Legends in the mis-90s, has worked with some of hip hop’s finest talents over the years, from Atmosphere’s Slug to producer 9th Wonder. The latter’s soulful beats provided the backdrop to fine storytelling and emotional realism on Murs’ critically acclaimed solo albums Murs 3:16: The 9thEdition (2004) and Murray’s Revenge (2006). A slew of other solo and collaborative efforts, memorably the Varsity Blues E.P (2002) saw Murs pave the way for a new kind of Left Coast rapper- a shift away from gun-toting misogyny and materialistic impulses. Murs is now married, and dreadlock-less, but he shows no signs of letting up on the music front. He’s currently busy preparing for a nationwide tour of the US (the ‘Hip Hop and Love’ Tour), not to mention a project with one of US hip hop’s most venerable producers.

2011’s turning out to be a big year for you- you’ve got married, you’ve lost the dreads and you’re touring 52 U.S cities in the next two months, something that could never happen in the UK. Tell us about the ‘Hip Hop and Love’ tour…

It’s a collective thing, with my new label mates, family, friends (TabiBonney, Ski Beatz, Da$h, McKenzie Eddy) – we’ve all been living and working together at Camp BluRoc, Dame Dash’s mansion in Upstate New York. Obviously we’ve all got our solo work but we just decided to get out on the road together for one cohesive project. You know- something people will enjoy.

You’ve also got an L.P coming out with legendary producer Ski Beatz, tell us how that came about?

That came about through working with Dame, and just wanting to do a record on BluRoc- he was just someone I’d admired for a while. He paired me and Ski together, (I’m usually the guy that gets everyone together on the road), and Ski just got caught in the crossfire [laughs]. We became friends, I’ve admired his music for a long while, and I think he’s learning to respect the music I make.

You’ve become something of a mainstay of the U.S scene now, particularly the West Coast, how do you think your sound has evolved over time?

Actually, it’s interesting that you say that because Ski- Ski’s one of the few hip hop producers whose sound really has evolved over time. A lot of people do the same thing over and over again, but with Ski, you’re like, ‘Wow, you did this? You did this too? You did this? It’s not signature, it’s just good music.

We’re also seeing another phase in the evolution of the West Coast scene with the New West movement (Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy, Dom Kennedy, Terrace Martin etc); as someone who has worked with these guys, where do you think the scene is at right now, and where do you think you fit into it all?

I think the scene…I think we’re just at our beginnings! We’ve finally got a lot of likeminded artists, and where it used to be like this divide, where I’d fill the alternative spot, it’s not like that anymore. It’s all unity; it’s amazing. I just hope to be someone these kids can look up to, set an example.

What example do you think you’d like to set? Varsity Blues saw you blend the Blues with advice to teenagers growing up, what would you say to kids now?

I’d tell them that what they’re thinking is what I think…what I’ve experienced. You don’t have to compete, if you do well, I do well. It’s good for the West Coast. It brings attention to us all. You know- there’s room for us all. Why not celebrate each other and assist each other in everyone’s success.

And what would you say to your teenage self?

I don’t know. There’s nothing I would change. I’m thankful for everything I went through, everything I’ve been through. I’ve got everything I’ve wanted from this career. I wasn’t supposed to do this – I was supposed to be in prison, dead. I’m happy that now I’m able to do charity work, change other people’s lives. I just hope it continues. I don’t think I’d tell him to be any different- going back into the past and changing one little thing can mess everything up right?

Back to the here and now: you’ve had two great tracks drop in recent weeks, ‘Remember To Forget’ and ‘Hip Hop & Love’. ‘Remember To Forget’ draws a nice contrast to tracks in the charts which glorify abusive, self-destructive relationships…

I’ve always wanted to make real, relatable love songs. I don’t think hip hop has any of those…hip hop doesn’t make great love songs. The British make great love songs: Elton John, Coldplay… But with hip hop it’s always about retaliation…’ I’ma talk about f***** his girlfriend’. Rappers refuse to be vulnerable. It’s OK to be sympathetic, if we were all more sympathetic then situations like Somalia wouldn’t happen.

And then ‘Hip Hop N Love’, that’s a track which looks back to neo-soul and Outkast and The Roots’ old releases as a sort of golden age. Have there been darker times, times when your love for hip hop has really been strained?

I’m not sure. I’ve enjoyed my whole life, and I’ve always found something to love about hip hop. There’s going to be dark days but love is about accepting the darkness. There’s going to be daylight and there’s going to be darkness. Daylight lasts this long; night this long. You’ve got to find something to love about the darkness. That’s true love.

Throughout your career you’ve been acclaimed as one of rap’s great storytellers. Tell me a funny story…

[Pauses to think]. There was a girl who jumped on stage, tripped up and fell straight back off, head first, at one of my shows. I saw her some time afterwards and she was like ‘Hey, I was the girl who fell off the stage’. [He laughs]. It’s funny how people identify themselves by something embarrassing they’ve done.

Obviously you’re kind of pre-occupied for the next couple of months – but any plans to come to the U.K? Christmas in London maybe?

Nah man, it’s so cold! I’ve been to London a few times. I was here last April and hopefully I’ll be here next April too. I played at Jazz Café and we had a great time; the crowd was lovely. Camden is like a trading post from the future though. Like a 2020 bazaar. I hope to come back to England and see a football match. Maybe have a pint in a pub and watch a match. Plus I didn’t get a chance to go to Fabric the last time I came! I hope to work with more UK artists too. And if anyone has series three of Luther…

A fan of Idris Elba?

He’s such a good dude! A great musician too. His reggae stuff is amazing; I’d love to have him on my final 9th Wonder record.

Can you give us any indication of when we might see that?

Not yet…

Via The Independent>

Sha Stimuli – “The Break Up Part 2: The Proposal (Review)

DOWNLOAD HERE =>> DJbooth.net

Released 06/06/11

 

Alone

The Break Up Part 2: The Proposal, again showcases the versatility of Sha Stimuli as he tackles relationship issues and dilemmas throughout the 15 track album. Unlike the first Break Up mixtape, this one has a more official sound to it and right from the start, Stimuli starts the album off well with the stellar opener “Alone”. The eerie, hard hitting production easily draws listeners into the world of Stimuli. As with most of Sha Stimuli’s records, he always finds ways to poke fun at himself… “I know you probably thinking what the hell is this about huh, Stimuli soft, he went the women getting route”. “The Proposal” is a smooth listen from start to finish. “So High”,”Superstar”,  & “Something About You” are early standouts on the album. “The Happening” features Stimuli speaking of consequences to certain relationship issues.

 


“No Clothes On” is the angry make up sex ballad and while Stimuli testifies he’s a lover not a fighter, the song fits perfect with the entire scheme of the album. The most brilliant moments on “The Proposal” may come with the Charli Brown produced songs “DUI”.  &“Slowing Down”. While “DUI” tends to drag a bit long (clocking in over 7 mins) but after a few listens, the record can easily become a favorite from the album while “Slowing Down” is pure brilliance and showcases Stimuli as a man changing his ways and seeing things from a wiser perspective.
To sum things up, The Break Part 2: The Proposal shines in just about every way. Sha Stimuli manages to deliver an album worth of relationship based material without sounding drawn out, forced or preachy. The overall production on The Proposal may have silenced critics who say Sha Stimuli can’t choose proper production. An album that can be enjoyed evenly by men and women is rare and Sha Stimuli may be 2 for 2 in that category.
Rating: 

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The Breakdown: The Left – Gas Mask

Gas Mask is one of the best albums to drop recently thanks to a combination of well-crafted, hard-hitting soundscapes and thoughtful, insightful rhymes. Check out The Left as they break down their critically-acclaimed album.

01 Change (DJ Soko): “Change” gives the listener a glimpse of the tone of this album – this track sets it off. Throughout the beat there’s a intermittent sample that says “Gas Mask”, even throughout the phrases in the beginning of the track before the beat kicks in. Once the beat drops, I used some samples that I had found and some that Apollo had sent to me, I made sure to request a few acapellas of Journalist’s vocals. I cut and scratched the samples for about 16 bars and the listener might notice that so of the phrases are repeated throughout. I wanted to attack it like a verse but almost like a hook too, I wanted to make sure certain phrases were reiterated and emphasized.

02 Gas Mask (Journalist 103): When I first heard the track, I knew instantly where I wanted to go with it. We needed a title track for the album as well, rather then just calling the album Gas Mask, so this song fit perfectly for the main theme of the album.

03 Frozen Ft. Kool G Rap (DJ Soko): This is one of the last tracks that was recorded for the album, and one of my personal favorites. It was an incredible honor to have a legend like Kool G Rap contribute a verse to this song. Basically, both Journalist and Kool G Rap are talking about the same thing, they just attack the concept differently, which is really dope. Both of them each flip the drugs/hustling concept in a creative way.

04 Battle Axe (Apollo Brown): Battle Axe was a beat that I initially made for beat battles and pretty much beat battles only. I could never really hear someone spittin’ on it until we started doin this project. It was actually kind of perfect for what we were going for. The original title of the beat was in fact Battle Axe and I wanted to leave it that way, after hearing Journalist and Mu destroy it.

05 Binoculars (Journalist 103): This joint pretty much came about from my own inner reflections. But living within the inner city I share those same thoughts with thousands of people – if not millions. So I wanted to address some of the problems and then shed a little light on the solutions as well. Something I felt like we all as people would be able to relate to.

06 How We Live Ft. Hassaan Mackey (DJ Soko): This song features a really dope emcee named Haassan Mackey out of Rochester, NY. This song’s pretty straight forward; it takes the listener on a journey of the environments and conditions that both of these mc’s live in. The listener also gets a little bit of glimpse at a few things Journalist 103 is socially concerned with.

07 Chokehold (Apollo Brown): The moment I heard this sample I had to touch it. There was just something big about it. When we got in the studio to record the song, Journalist spit his verses and I immediately knew what the song was going to be called, and it fit perfect with the sound. I called up Paradime and he was immediately down, especially after he heard the beat. Those two together on the mic created a classic of song.

08 The Funeral (Journalist 103): When I first heard this track, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. It was kinda different from what I was used to hearing from Apollo. So when we went to the studio, that was one of the beats we had to knock out and I hadn’t written to it ahead of time. So I pulled out two verses and a hook from the old notebook that I hadn’t used for anything yet. I started spitting and the song turned out to be a slaughter house of mayhem for wack music!

09 Statistics Ft. Invincible (DJ Soko): This song features the incredibly talented emcee Invincible. Journalist 103′s verse takes on the role of someone who’s frustrated and has been a product of their environment and feels short on options. Invincible’s verse attacks the statistics related theme as well but weaves it through a story of a young woman and drops much knowledge about reality and hardships that exist for many people.

10 Real Detroit Ft. Marv Won (Apollo Brown): We wanted a song or 2 on the album that was dedicated to home, Detroit. When I made the beat, I was going for sinister, and to me, Detroit swims in sinister character. We also wanted to get someone on the song that just screamed Detroit, without even having to say it. Add together a great Detroit mentioned intro, a grimy Detroit beat, along with 2 classic Detroit emcees, and a catchy Detroit hook, and you have the song Real Detroit.

11 The Melody (Journalist 103): This beat is what actually introduced me to Apollo Brown’s work. After meeting and contemplating on seeing if I could possibly get some production from AB, I ended up going to his MySpace page to listen to his music and the beat that wound up being “The melody” was the first thing I heard. I would listen to it over and over again. So when we started working on the album, I asked him about that beat, which had actually been used by another artist, but he was kind enough to let us get it for the project. Since the album was already gritty and hard “The Melody” was perfect to give Gas Mask the balance it needed.

12 Reporting Live Ft. Guilty Simpson: This is another personal favorite of mine. Apollo said that he immediately thought of Guilty for a feature for this song. This song reflects a few things, Journalist’s verses reflect who is, what his city means to him, what it’s like, and in a lot of ways the Detroit hip hop community in general. Guilty’s verse reflects representing for the crib, and what Detroit is basically and even though it might be grimy, that we always rep for the home team at all times.

13 Fooled For Thought (Apollo Brown): when you listen to this beat, you notice a lot of imperfections throughout. High static, lo-fi sound, record stops, and drops, etc. were all done on purpose. I wanted to make the sample and the overall song as dirty as I could get it without sacrificing the quality of the music. We decided on a quick 16 bar verse and out. It just sounded right.

14 Desperation (Journalist 103): This is actually one of the last songs we recorded right before the completion of the album. Apollo was real animate about making this the perfect album. So he sent me the track and I can honestly say, “Desperation” is one of the better tracks we did for the album.

15 Caged Birds (Apollo Brown): This song is one of the last joints we worked on. This was a beat that I really wanted to get Finale on, and so we did. He was down the first time he heard the joint, so him and Journalist combined to create an ill concept of the emcee. The hook had me sold as soon as I heard Journ spit it and the verses just flowed together.
There was a lot of passion in this song to me and the beat was screamin “set me free” on top of that. Nice.

16 Homage (Apollo Brown): I personally think that every great album has a reminisce type of song, a song that causes the listener to reflect or think back to a point in his or her life. This one is ours. I made this beat, just like most others, specifically for this album. The music, the drums, the feeling; the beat just said it all. Journalist came with a really heartfelt set of 16s and I wanted to get some feeling on the hook, so I called upon one of my personal favorite singers, Frank West. He came up with the counter melody right there on the spot and it was perfect. One of my favorite songs on the album.

17 Get In Where You Fit In (Journalist 103): This beat motivated me in so many ways. I felt like this could be the motivational song that grabbed everybody’s attention – to give hope in times of despair, and to encourage people to push towards their goals no matter the obstacles.

The Foundation: Junclassic Edition

My first instinct was to speak about my favorite album ever Enta Da Stage by BlackMoon and how it influenced me to rhyme and got me rockin’ fatigues and alla that.

But there’s an album that came out in 1999 that left an eternal impression on my existence as a NYC emcee and lover of underground hip-hop. Funny that Stones Throw is reissuing it now too.

Wikipedia says that Operation Doomsday came out in April 1999. That was a very ill time in my life. I was in school doing my undergrad thing. Writing heavy and recording on shitty equipment but recording none the less. Was getting money in all kinda ways and just living life. Rekindled things wit my first love who I fell out wit two years prior and she ended up living in Queensbridge that summer so I basically moved in wit her. Used to get bent in Da Bridge and hop to the KFC three blocks away bumpin’ Doomsday and GZA’s Beneath The Surface.

I remember one night in July my ex called me frantic saying she heard some automatic gunfire. I told her to turn off the lights and go back to sleep. That Sunday Night Marley took a minute on Future Flavas to tell brothers In Queenbridge (where his grandmother still lived I learned later) to put the AKs down and stop the violence. I was “damn a A to the mathaf*ckn K?” No wonder shortie was so mad that I told her to be easy. ‘99 was a ill year.

But ‘chea, the first thing that bugged me out about Doomsday was the production. The beats seems polished and were syrupy R&B loops but he was spittin’ some raw ass shit to ‘em. “Red and Gold” is a perfect example. DOOM set the shit off with, “I remember when/last past November when/Clown kid got pounded in wit’ the Timberland.” I thought “Rhymes like Dimes” was soo dope. Used to always get bent with the towels under the doors in the NYU dorms and chuckle to Bobbito’s part at the end. “We tricked you!”

I remember coppin’ the dopest lil’ green pager and on my voicemail I had the title track to “Doomsday” on that jawn. I couldn’t believe DOOM flipped that sade sample so well. Erybody used to ask me what song that was. I actually thought the shortie on the hook was Sade! On the Stones Throw reissue they now list her name as Pebbles The Invisible Girl. Shortie’s voice was sooo dope on that too me. And DOOM’s flow on that jawn is priceless. “She has a sexy voice sound like Jazzy Joyce.” He had them lines that were succinct, man. You had to agree with him. And the way she ends the song… and they bring the beat back…. Crazy…

When Tommy Gunn shouted out Rockaway Blvd on “Who Do You Think I Am” I lost my mind. Them’s my stomping grounds right thurr My G!! And Tommy’s machine gunn flow was unheard of from a NY emcee back then.

When I heard “Dead Bent” I was like “This is some OTHER shit!”

Even the cover had me buggin like, “Ain’t he gon’ get SUED???”

It was just raw, fam. One dude against not only going the odds, but going against everything that HipHop was at that time. Dudes was flossing Crystal wit Jigga and Jermaine Durpri. The Lox had just taken off they shiny suits as well. So half the game was Jiggy and the other half was thuggin it out wit DMX and The Ruff Ryders. DOOM ain’t fit in wit none of that. And we needed that nerdy street nigga to step up and spit some shit. Plus DOOM was doing his own beats too, with X Ray’s help ofcourse. So that Do It Yourself ethic really sparked the atom bomb that has become East Coast underground hip-hop.

I salute Operation:DOOMSDAY. It’s a timeless classic. I’ma save a check or two just to cop that expensive ass collector’s item set with the lunchbox and collector’s card set that come wit’ it.

junMaf*ckn aka junclassic 1 Half of Dynamix

Rapper With Amazing Name Drops New Mixtape

He’s from Jersey, he has an amazing name, and he just dropped a new mixtape. Frankie Bad Lungz is where its at!

Frankie Bad Lungz- You’re All Welcome 2

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R.H. Bless Sets The Weekend Off Right

Our man R.H. Bless drops a new banger for the people. Bump loud and enjoy!

R.H.BLESS Feat DUSS SMITTO X KING HOFFA(BLOCK EXCHANGE)-”RELAX YA MIND” prod by El Sheriffo

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Rapper From Exotic Land Drops Free Album

New Zealand representer and Duck Down signee David Dallas drops a free album on our asses (pause?) Download and enjoy.

DAVID DALLAS THE ROSE TINT ALBUM

Yes, I Am A Backpacker And Enjoy Canadian Rap Outside Of Drake

I’ve always liked Moka Only so accordingly I am pleased with this new song and video. I’m kind of an unabashed backpacker when I’m not listening to anything that comes out of Queensbridge.

Harry Fraud And Friends Drop Song Filled With Hot Fire Napalm Bombs

Hot Damn! This just made my afternoon. Peep this and bask in the hot fire flames that is this joint.

Sean Price x Eddie B. x Maffew Ragazino – “Don’t Try It” prod. Harry Fraud

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I Have Now Heard It All….

I’m hard to make speechless but this is just about making me bereft of words. This has got to be the most odd way to celebrate Bin Laden’s death. WTF???

HOT ROD – OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD

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Elzhi Mutilates Mics

Holy fuck Elzhi is seriously on fire. Elmatic drops 5/10 so be ready!!

Elzhi- Halftime

Dope Up and Coming Rapper Aims To Depress The Hell Out Of Us With New Mixtape

Cesar Luciano is one of my favorite on the rise new cats so I’m happy to present to you his new mixtape “The Great Depression.” Trust me, it won’t make you want to slit your wrist.

Cesar Luciano “The Great Depression” Mixtape