I recently got the opportunity to interview New York rapper Roc Marciano, a fixture in the underground music seen for quite some time now. Coming off of his latest release, 2013’s Marci Beaucoup, Roc is primed to do it even bigger this year, and really make a name for himself among those who might not already know him. We got the chance to discuss his upcoming projects (yes, there are more than one), what he loves and doesn’t love about hip hop, how he relates to his fans, and much more. Roc gives an honest assessment of hip hop in it’s current state, as well as a variety of other hip hop related topics. Enjoy.
So – if it’s possible, for people who apparently don’t, you know, listen to music, and somehow don’t know, tell me who you are, where you’re from, and a little about what you do.
I’m Roc Marciano, I’m from Hempstead, Long Island. …and I’m an artist.
For someone who might be reading this, but really hasn’t started to fuck with you yet, give us a brief break down of where we might have heard you before – albums, collabs, etc.
They could hear me on my projects, Marcberg, Reloaded, and The Pimpire Strikes Back, Marci Beaucoup. My compilation projects that I fully produced myself. …and earlier works. You know what I’m saying? Albums I did with Busta, plenty of other projects, including my old crew, the U.N., just to name a few.
What do you think of hip hop in its current state? By that I mean, as someone who’s in it at the top of the underground scene, but as more of an observer of the mainstream shit, what are your thoughts on the game as a whole?
As a whole I think it’s in a good space for people like myself, because now we have more control. Like me, I have more control over what I’m doing, I can put the music out that I want to put out – I don’t have to change it up for a big company. I’m just overseeing my projects. You know, I can reach the people with the internet, on my own, so I don’t have to worry about things not looking right, because I already know I can gauge the interest in my projects from watching how I’m selling my stuff. Being that I run my own company, I can really gauge the true interest of my stuff, I don’t have a dude in an office telling me that I’m hot here and not hot there. It’s a good thing, actually, business wise. As far as the music, I think music is in a good space, man. You know, you have dope dudes, and you have corny dudes. Like in every era.
Is the goal mainstream notoriety and all that comes along with it?
I just try to make the music I want to listen to, so I don’t know if that makes me underground – just because I make the music I want to hear. I try to make music that I don’t get a chance to hear, you know what I’m saying? So I like, as far as like, crossing over, going mainstream? If it happened to me, it would be organic. You know what I’m saying? It would still be a record I stand one hundred percent behind, and wasn’t something I was trying to make for the radio.
What does 2014 hold for you?
I’m putting out my solo project. …and, you know, my next solo project is coming out on Decon. I got my project coming out with my boy Ka, my Metal Clergy project. I’m trying to finish up projects with Alchemist. I’m working on a lot of stuff. So I don’t know if everything will be able to come out in 2014, but that’s some of the stuff I’m working on.
With the stuff that you’re working on currently, do you have any projected dates for any of that? …or is it just, like, when it comes out, it comes out?
Yeah, that’s how I usually do it – like, once it’s done, and I feel, like, 100 percent that it’s done, then we start figuring out when is the next available slot for me to come out.
Talk to me a little bit about Man Bites Dog, what are you doing there?
Well, I’m Vice President of the label, so, I’m basically just bringing more talent to the label. The stuff that we already had – that we’re putting out, I’m just helping promote it.
Every artist wants to grow their fan base, but often times you have to sell yourself out to do so. Is gaining a wider audience a priority? Or is keeping your shit authentic a priority? Or do you have a plan to do both?
I feel like I have a plan to do both. You can still maintain your artistic integrity and grow.
So, I think if I don’t, you know – if I ignore other people that might be interested in my music, if I don’t make other kinds of records that might bring them to my music, then I’ll be hurting myself. Especially, if I have an interest in making different kinds of music. If I was trying to make music that I didn’t like purposely, then I feel like that’s reaching. I think even if you listen to The Pimpire Strikes Back, and even some of my older music, you’ll listen to moments of – even like on The Pimpire Strikes Back, I’m singing on a song. A lot of people listen, “he sings that?” you know? People wouldn’t expect that from me. I sung a little bit on Marcberg. You know, a lot of these people to think I’m just one of these dudes who just raps. I like soul music, R & B, the blues, stuff like that. As time goes by, you will start to hear more of my musical range, and different kinds of music that I like will start to show up in my music. So it might range a broad audience, if it does, it does, if don’t, you know, I’m cool with that too.
You obviously have a lot of versatility, you can rap over your own beats, you can have somebody else rap over your beats, you can rap over somebody else’s beats. I feel like a lot of people don’t necessarily think about the fact that you make a lot of your own beats, but what’s your preference in terms of all of those options? Do you prefer to have it completely your own shit? …what are the benefits to the other options?
I like – the way I do my albums is pretty much like my solo projects, where I produce like the bulk of it, then I have people come in to help on pieces that I probably – I’m not a beat maker first. I know people, like producers, like for instance, like the dudes that I work with, they don’t rap, they just do production. So, when I get their beats, I’m dealing with somebody who’s only focused on production, so their beats might have something different to bring to the table because they’re really focused on the beat alone. Meanwhile, when I make beats, they might sound, like, minimalist, a little naked, because from the time I finish up, I’m ready to rap, I don’t want to do nothing else with the beat. I’m good. So, I bring in other producers to help fill up the album so you just don’t have my sound only on the album. I have different stuff, so I can reach different people who might want to hear tracks with more thicker drums, a bass line added. Stuff that I don’t really do so much in my beats. So I try to keep that formula so I can really get my point across on the tracks I make, and then I bring my people in, whether it be Alchemist or other producers I work with. Pete Rock or Large – they can help me round the album out. Now, do I prefer to make the beats all by myself? I’m kind of like 50/50 with that. I’m 50/50 with that. It really doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m keeping my sound on the album.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet? Either a producer, or rapper.
Producers? That’s a tough one because I’ve pretty much damn near worked with everybody I ever wanted to work with. Producers. That’s a tough one, because, on the producing tip, I’ve done so much work with so many people. Primo! I’ll say that. I haven’t worked with Primo yet. As far as rappers – who would I like to work with. Damn that’s a tough one too, cause I’ve pretty much worked with everybody I like as far as rapping goes too. I’ve always wanted to do a record with Black Rob. I’ve always wanted to do a record with Black Rob. Let’s try some of the newer dudes – I like Curren$y. I would like to jump on a track with Curren$y. There’s a few – I like Curren$y, I like Schoolboy Q. Besides that, that’s pretty much it, that I can think of from the top of my head.
What are your thoughts on rap stereotypes?
Rap stereotypes, you know how life – rappers are always doing what dudes in the streets are doing, so it’s just really art imitating life. They want to stereotype rappers who just are doing like normal stuff that people are interested in in the streets – trying to get money, trying to get cars, having nice women and stuff like that. So, you know, as far as stereotyping rappers – that’s like stereotyping black culture. You know what I’m saying? Dudes came up from the streets. They know street life. People that live in the ghetto. Rappers ain’t doing nothing but what them niggas do. As far as stereotypes, for me it don’t bother me none, because I feel like, what’s the problem with liking nice cars? You don’t like women? What, you gay? We like women and nice cars. Niggas like jewelry. You come from nothing, you want to have things, because you didn’t grow up with having anything, so. Stereotypes – I welcome them. …and I’m saying like, I feel good walking around with my big ass chain on. I don’t give a fuck how you feel about it. I always wanted one. So, I made sure when I could afford things, I made sure I had things that I always wanted. Real shit.
No chain tucking for you, huh?
Nah, fuck all of that. I’m going to keep my stereotypes. I’ll keep them. But the one thing – don’t think that we stupid out here, don’t get it fuck up.
What’s at stake for you? At the end of the day, what’s it’s all for? What’s the bottom line with your music, with your art?
My music is to create a legacy – and just have something that my friends and my family can be proud of. Something that I did with my music, that I’ve left behind. To leave something behind that matters to people – help people get through their lives. That’s what it’s all about to me, it’s about contributing to the art. It’s not about how much money I can get from the art, and be like, “fuck it, I made my money”. Like nah. I want to make money, but also leave a legacy behind, something where my children can say, “yo, my pops left a mark on the earth”. …and they can – I’m leading by example, so they can do the same things with their lives. Not necessarily with music, but contribute to society. Be creative. Don’t be scared to follow your dreams, so I feel like my music and how I live is a testament to that, cause I’ve beat so many odds. So that’s what it’s about.
What would you call your legacy at this moment? Could you title it something? Could you…
It’s still a work in progress, because I feel like it’s crazy, like, I’m a veteran in the game. But it’s like, I still haven’t peaked. It’s crazy because I’m still like on the up rise. As of right now man, I feel like my legacy will be a rich one. I can’t say what it stands for exactly besides the things that I just told you that I want from my music. I just know that it’s still in progress and when it’s all said and done, I think my catalog will be very much appreciated by the hip hop community. At least, I hope so.
I want to be like Guru – like Guru and Premier. When I’m done I want people to be able to say like, “Damn, this nigga got…” a lot of niggas ain’t got one classic album. I would like, when my shit is all said and done, for motherfuckers to be like, “Damn, this nigga got like 5, 6 classics.” Shit, if I could give them 10 classics – I’ll try. That’s what I’m going for.
You’ve certainly gotten a lot of positive reception in terms of people reviewing your work. How do you feel about that? …and if you know of any, how do you feel about any negative reception you’ve gotten?
The positive and the negative, I appreciate it. I appreciate it all, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not making the music for critics. Like, it’s not for them. If that’s what you do, I ain’t make it for you. I make it for me and mine. So, as long as the people that I want to understand it, understand it, I’m fine with that. So as far as the hate and the love, it’s all good. I try not to get involved in any of it, because I don’t want any of it to change how I get in the studio and change my mind frame. I don’t want people to be like, “you know what? I’d love when you be doing this…” Now I go to the studio, and I’m just trying to do this shit they like. If I do something that people say, “Yo man. I hate this record on your album. Why did you do that?” If I still wanted to hear that and everybody hated that, but I feel like I want to do that in my heart, I’m going to still do that. But I try not to listen to any of it. I just try to stay hungry and listen to my inner voice. So, it’s like the hate and the love, it’s all welcome. It’s all welcome. I’m still going do what the fuck I want to do.
You’re so funny.
Oh really? Word up.
In your opinion, who is your fan base, and how do you relate to them?
I’m just an approachable man. I’m just regular, like my fan base. I don’t like to call them fans, but I just feel like the people who help me to continue to – I just call them supporters. As far as how I relate to them? I don’t know. How do I relate to everybody? Cause everybody’s in a different place, but for the most part – music is the common denominator, and they fuck with the music. So, obviously they can feel my pain and my story and they understand it and they want to continue to support me and help me create and continue to create. It’s all appreciated. It’s all love. I don’t know how to relate to everybody. I’m still – if you regular like me, put your pants on one leg at a time, and you like good food. You know what I’m saying? Just trying to live and enjoy life and we all relate, because I relate to people on that level. Because that’s the level I’m living on.
… you and food. Oh my goodness.
Hey, I love food.
Do you think of yourself as a New York rapper? …and what do you think New York is bringing to the table right now, in terms of what’s happening in other areas like LA and the South?
I do think of myself as a New York rapper. Obviously, I’m from New York. As far as what does New York bring to the table? What New York brings to the table is still some of the most successful artists ever, past and present. As far as musically, what we putting together right now, we have some of the best MC’s in the game. New York is in a great space. Greatest – we got people like myself, we still got all the OG’s, got my man Action out there, got my brother Ka in this thing. Hip hop is in great shape. Everybody that I’m doing music with from the East Coast, I’ll put us up against any niggas, anywhere. Why not? I’m confident. Nobody got nothing on New York. Other niggas doing they thing, but New York’s still doing they motherfucking – we doing our thing. We ain’t hurting. We always doing fine man, because I said so. I love it. I love the position we in. New York’s finally in an underdog position, and I love it.
What’s been popular recently that you can’t fuck with?
Man, I don’t even know everything that’s going on. You know mama, I’m going to keep it a hundred, I think everything is needed.
I think everything is needed. I love the South. I feel like there are so many people who are like – who want to try to put the North up against the South. Everything is needed. Everything is needed. You know what I’m saying? Even Lil B, with his strange brand of hip hop – which, I like Lil B, I’m a Lil B fan. But people get mad, and they feel like this shit, that “I’m Gay” album – all of that shit, they say. There’s room for all of it.
Do you call it all hip hop though? Some people try to re-brand certain types of music when they don’t like it or they don’t agree with it, or whatever. Do you call it all hip hop?
It’s should all be broken up in genres. Because when it’s time to hand out accolades, it should be broken up in genres, you know what I’m saying? It should be broken up in genres cause certain people deserve their accolades too, so you can’t just put all of it as – you know, hip hop. Macklemore – look at the Grammys. He’s already saying Kendrick should get that award – because there’s probably some guilt for that. …but the fact that – not guilt in a bad way, but more or less because, he’s knows he’s probably getting more attention for a project where he knows people probably put more rap into their project, more of the basic elements of hip hop. It’s not pop music at all – you know what I’m saying? He’s probably feeling like, if he gets this Grammy, it’s kind of undermines some of these dudes who really put in some work. He put in some work too, congratulations for your work too. Other dudes, shit, should get some love too. Just because it’s not pop rap – what’s the song called? Thrift Store or something like that?
Just because my album don’t have Thrift Store on it, that don’t mean I can’t get love. Another dude who have a great album but just didn’t have a pop crossover hit, should get some accolades too.
Who are you listening to currently, and how does it influence the music you make. …if it does.
Damn. When I’m making my own music, I don’t listen to much. I listen to music when I’m in the car – might bust some moves. What’s in my car right now is – I’m listening to an early G Unit mix tape. I been listening to that. I’ve been listening to Cormega – The Realness. What else am I listening to? I’m listening to Makaveli and All Eyez on Me. That’s it. That’s what I’ve been listening to recently.
When you’re listening to that stuff, does it influence your sound at all?
I’m not going to the studio and trying to rap like 50. Just when I’m driving – listening and driving. That’s really what I’m – for me, the most I would probably let somebody’s music influence me, is probably to go harder. Because I’m listening to the G Unit CD and it’s like, probably them at their hungriest, you know what I’m saying? I’m listening to Pac, and I’m listening All Eyez on Me and Makaveli – to me, in my opinion, that’s Pac at his best. So I’m just trying to take away from what a dude was doing at his best, to see what I’m supposed to do to reach my level, so I’m at my best. So that’s pretty much all I’m taking from that.
What’s something that you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview, but never have been?
Damn girl. That’s a tough question. I feel like the release of Marci Beaucoup has been helping people just wrap their minds around the fact that I’m a producer also. So, I feel like I would probably like it if people asked me more about my production.
Some people think – some people don’t even know how much I’m involved in the production. So, that’s probably it.
I did some reading and saw that you produced a bunch of stuff that’s probably going to be used, like flow over, to your next projects.
Oh yeah, definitely, yeah. I made so many beats when I was out in the Bay. I made a lot of beats. I got beats from that time when I was creating Reloaded, that was on Marci Beaucoup, that’s going to be on my next project.
What do you love about hip hop? …and what do you not love about hip hop?
I don’t love that a lot of people don’t respect the fact that it’s work. Some people are like, just to give you an example, the dude that hit you up and is like, “Yo, I want you to jump on the record,” or whatever the case may be. They act like there ain’t no business that come with that. It’s business. It’s work. When we’re in the studio and I sit down and spend some of my time to write a record for you, you need to pay me. As far as what I do love, I love the music. I love the fact that now a lot of labels have failed and stuff like that, and the internet is popping so much, we can get the product straight to the people. We don’t have to deal with the middle men anymore.
So, it’s more grass roots? You love that aspect of it?
Yeah, I love that. I love the fact that you cut so many middle men out. I used to see that when I first got my first deal. I couldn’t believe that I would see so many people who didn’t even like give a fuck. They were just in the office, they didn’t give a fuck, they just want their check. They don’t care about the music. Even still to this day, you got a lot of people working up in radio stations and doing a lot of stuff. People got DJ’s that don’t give a fuck. They just trying to please the crowd. They don’t necessarily love the music.
So it’s just all business to them. I would still make music even if I didn’t make money off it.
Because you love it.
Yeah, because I love it. Because it’s not all about the money to me.
What project do you have coming up that you are most excited about, or most focused on?
All of them. I don’t want to say I’m more excited about one more than the other. But if I had to pick, I would definitely always say my next solo project. My solo project is an adventure.
What can you tell me about it?
Oh, it’s going be – it’s going to definitely have more risk taking on this. I thought Marcberg and Reloaded were solid, and yet progressive at the same time. Different styles and different sounds of hip hop. …and I’m definitely trying to push the envelope even farther on the next one. Just as far as my solo projects, not many guests, might be two guests on it. Two or three at the most.
I mean, if you listen to my other solo albums, Marcberg has one feature.
Yeah, that’s true.
Reloaded has two.
I’m looking at your last piece.
Yeah, okay. So as far as like, this year, and this pass, I wanted to put out my compilation to show my range as producer, and, you know, just work with other people. Even with The Pimpire Strikes Back, I put homies on a couple cuts on that, but as far as like, when I do a solo project, I really try to lock it down and make sure my voice stands out the most.
What do you want people to know about you?
When you support and artist like me, you definitely – I’m somebody that really loves the craft, and put a lot of time and put a lot of love into what I do. I hate to say this is like the – I hate the term “real hip hop”, and “fake hip hop”. Like, over here, we really love this music, you know what I’m saying? We’re just not trying to make records to make money. It’s not all about that. If that was the case, I’d be rapping on trap beats. If I was just literally just out there trying to make business tracks. I’d make business tracks. I try to keep it NYC, keep it authentic, keep it true, so it’s not all about business with me. …and a lot of people in this business, it’s all about business. It’s not all about business for me. It’s all about the music first and expressing myself. It’s real, true art.
Tell me a secret.
Tell you a secret?!
Damn. You going to ask a private motherfucker like myself a secret? As private as I am. Fucking secret. Damn. A secret? Damn I hate to say anything is a secret, because it ain’t really no secret. I’m like an open book to my people. Secret. Man you’re really killing me.
Damn. A secret is I – people might think that I always drink Henny, I only drink Henny at my shows. I don’t drink much at all.
If that’s a secret then that will do.
I will let you go with that.
I will give you another one – I don’t smoke every day, I’ll give you that.
I don’t know if you consider that a secret but…
That’s a message I would like to be out there anyway. I usually only drink Henny at my shows, and I don’t smoke every day.
The kids can follow that. Don’t smoke or drink. Don’t get lost in that shit.
Everyone once in a while some shit will come along that’s new to me, that is so attractive sonically, I have to know more about where it’s from, who made it, and why I hadn’t heard it sooner. That was my reaction when I heard Homeboy Sandman’s latest project, All That I Hold Dear. But it wasn’t because I hadn’t heard Homeboy Sandman before, it was because the production of the record was so inviting, and smooth, I had to know more. I was fortunate enough to track down said producer, who goes by the name of. …well, I’ll let him tell you for himself. Enjoy!
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
Well, I’m M Slago. Pronounced Slay-go, strong a. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Been in Dallas for about seven years now. …and just producing hip hop and soul music, but primarily hip hop.
Where could we find your music, were we looking for it?
Well, anywhere, of course, the cliché – anywhere where digital music is sold. There’s tons of stuff out on various band camp pages as well as a couple beat tapes in 2013 with ProducersIKnow on ProducersIKnow.bandcamp.com. A two part, two series or two part beat tape. Of course the Homeboy Sandman “All That I Hold Dear” album that came out on Stonesthrow in 2013 is on iTunes, Google Play and all that good stuff. The vinyl is available anywhere you can get vinyl. Anyway, there’s just a lot of music out there, that’s just there for the taking, if you choose to search for it.
What’s up with the name?
It’s funny that you would ask that. Nobody ever really asked that. But, actually stole it from Mongo Slade, from the old Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier movie Let’s Do It Again. But as I moved to Texas I found out there was a guy in Jersey with the same name, and he hit me up on MySpace, cause MySpace was poppin’ back then, like “Yo man, I want to work with you.” And I’m like, “Ehhh, conflict of interest, man.”
I have a good friend of mine, Salvation, who is also a producer and engineer, used to call me Slago – he’s from Detroit. …and everybody that is familiar with Detroit knows about Faygo pop.
He used to call me that – cause I’m not a big fan of like real colorful, flamboyant stuff – I’m kind of a monotone kind of dude. …and he used to call me that. So when I found out about this guy in Jersey, I was like, you know what, I need to change my name cause I don’t really want to be associated with him. So immediately, the first thing that came to mind was Slago, and I was like, alright. We never spelled it out, like, it was never written. I just figured I’d take the ‘y’ out, or it just looks funny. I didn’t want to be associated with Faygo, although I love Faygo, I didn’t want to be associated with it like that. I just took the ‘y’ out, and ran with it that way. It’s been like that for – like since 2007 now, I guess.
So how did you hook up with Homeboy Sandman?
Homeboy Sandman did a show here in Dallas with J-Live, and actually, I’m a co-host of a hip hop show, Knowledge Dropped Lessons Taught Vol 2… that airs nationally, and they came to do an interview, and we kind of kept in contact, initially I never told him I made beats, was going through archives, and I said I had something – “a few things you can hear”, and he was like. “send’em.” …and that was the beginning of the it. We just took it from there.
What does it mean to be a producer in a day and age where everyone calls themselves a producer?
The title itself has been tainted quite a bit, but I think for those of us who are true to it, it makes you take your craft that much more serious than maybe before. I mean I ain’t going to lie man, if you put a tag on yourself in any kind of profession, you take pride in that, and that’s it. I mean, it’s the pride that you take in, if you want to call yourself a producer or a rapper, or anything else. Even if you’re a doctor, you don’t want to be called Mr. or Mrs. It’s the same kind of mentality.
What are you working with? What are you producing with? What are you making music with? What kind of equipment?
Primarily, I use – I’ve been using FL studio a whole lot and I’ve been using an Akai MPK61, as my controller. I use Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, and Reason – I use Reason, every now and again, when I get the itch, but that’s primarily it.
How does one Attack The Wack?
I don’t think anybody has ever posed that question to me before.
Keeping it real. That’s what Attack The Wack is – anything that seems suspect, that’s not 100% genuine, the fakes, the liars, the stunts, the fronts. You go in and you attack it.
I like that. I like it a lot. So, as you see it, what’s your place in hip hop?
I kind of feel like – I would like to believe that in – I feel like there’s a crew of us producers and MCs alike, that are like the front runners, and hold the flag for preserving the culture, and also helping move it forward. That’s my place, with those front runners. We been doing this, and we’re going to keep doing this, and we’re going to see it through until everybody recognizes it. …and it’s recognizable.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I’m working on a feature album with a bunch of different MC’s that I won’t spew out just yet. I will give you a hint though. I know I caught on your twitter feed, you mentioned one of your favorite rappers out of Detroit, he’s on there for the record.
It’s got to be Guilty. Don’t fuck with me, it’s got to be Guilty.
Possibly. So, working on that. I’m working on a softer side of Slago album with an amazing vocalist by the name of Keisha Hunter. That should be out this year, hopefully. There’s another album that I’ve been kind of sitting on for awhile that may be out this year. …and a couple beat tapes in the making. I’m working on a one off, one MC, one producer, kind of like All I Hold Dear I did with Homeboy Sandman, with a yet to be named MC. So we’ll see how that goes. It’s kind of in the beginning stages.
I know some producers, they prefer to make instrumentals basically, and some definitely prefer to have somebody rap over their beats. What’s your preference, and why?
I don’t really have a preference. I mean, I’m not really a showcase producer, if you want to use that terminology. I don’t orchestrate these beautiful masterpieces. I don’t do that. If I can make music that’s slow and smooth and grimy, and I guess it would be the definition I guess I do make beats for MC’s. I think the beats themselves are strong enough to hold they own if that’s where they need to be. I could put out a smooth beat if I want, and it would still be just as fresh for an MC to spit on.
Who’s your biggest inspiration musically?
Dilla. Hands down.
Well, playing off of that, who are your favorite producers? Current versus all time?
It’s funny, a guy just asked me this Saturday night.
Nah, it’s cool. It’s a new producer coming up, and we had a conversation, but I don’t mind talking to cats and stuff that’s coming up. I think I have a little bit of advice to give, I give them whatever I got. He asked me that same question. All time, of course, the common names you hear – Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock, Premier, DJ Scratch, Easy Mo Bee. But most currently there’s a lot of new cats that I’m really digging. I’m real big on – he’s a cat that you may not even – a lot of people may not even be familiar with, but Jimmy Flight. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jimmy Flight, The Montra with Senica Da Misfit, that’s his crew. My brother Illastrate is based out of Atlanta. He’s a phenomenal producer. Apollo Brown of course always keeps my ear. Oddisee always keeps my ear. Alchemist is always, in depth with his production so I’m always listening out for whatever he has coming out of the pipeline.
Do you compare yourself to any other producers? If so, why? …and if not, why not?
I try not to. Art imitates life. So, what you listen to, at some point is going come out in some capacity in what you create. What you feed yourself is what you regurgitate and what you give back to the world. So, you’ll hear some Dilla stuff. You might guess whatever I’m listening to at the moment – like someone else’s influence will come out.
How are you making a name for yourself?
One beat at a time. That’s it. One beat at a time. As it gets made and it gets out, people hopefully dig it. At some point they’ll start to recognize the sound, and look for it, and need the sound, and I think that’s what I’m most excited about seeing happen. …and it’s slowly happening now.
If you could produce a beat for any MC, who would it be and why?
I would want to work with Busta Rhymes, just because – I use this analogy with people that I talk to sometimes. Busta Rhymes was like my introduction to hip hop, so to speak. When I realized what it was, and what it was worth, and I knew the difference between what’s fresh and what’s not. Busta Rhymes was my introduction, he was like the gate keeper – and then Dilla was my cabby. Dilla took me through the city. But Busta Rhymes was the one who opened the gate. So if I could work with anybody, it would definitely be Busta Rhymes. But he had to be like the original Busta Rhymes, not the Young Money, Cash Money, Busta Rhymes.
What’s been your favorite project thus far?
I’d have to say Attack The Wack was my favorite thus far, just because it was actually my album that I put together. But the way it came together was just, it was so great. All the MC’s that are on the album are MC’s that I hold at high regard. I reached out to each one of them on a personal note, like “yo, I’m putting this together and I’d love for ya’ll to get involved.” I think out of everybody I asked, only two people fell short, and that was it. So they’re not on the album, obviously. But two people out of everybody I asked, and everybody I asked came with it. The album came out way better than I ever dreamed, and I was oh so grateful for that so peace to everybody involved with Attack The Wack.
Why hip hop? Why music?
It’s more than just music. I think that everybody has a release, and everybody has something they find solace in. Music just happens to be mine. Hip hop just happens to be my arena, you know – within that. I love hip hop music. I love hip hop culture, and I embody and live it every day. So, it’s only right that’s where I found my peace, is in making that, and creating something that’s in that image. That’s it. Like, I’ll make beats forever. Nobody will ever have to hear them, but I’ll make beats forever.
Tell me a secret…
I don’t know if this is a secret really, but I’ve never been to New York. Not even close. With some of the people I’ve worked with you’d think I would of visited by now.
I should attack the wackness of that secret.
…what do you want the world to know about you?
I mean – that’s hard. It’s like some old ass will and testament. What I want the world to know about me – I’m going to borrow from Mos Def. “I ain’t no perfect man, I’m just trying to do the best that I can, with what it is I have.” That’s it.
I was recently given the distinct privilege of interviewing rapper Big Pooh, formerly of Little Brother, and currently of, well, himself. With host of albums and projects released both with Little Brother, and as a solo artist, this veteran of the hip hop game has more than a few pieces of advice the up and comer should hear, as well as enough insightful, humorous information to make even the most jaded of hip hop heads crack a smile. He delves into the internet age of hip hop, who you should be listening to right now (besides him, of course), and his new project with producer Nottz. Fuck with it.
So, if it’s possible, for people who apparently don’t listen to music, and somehow don’t know, tell me who you are, where you’re from, and a little bit about what you do.
The name is rapper Big Pooh. Coming out of North Carolina. Been doing this for the past decade, plus, if you remember the group Little Brother. Released four albums with Little Brother, and I’ve released three, four, one, two, three, four – five albums solo, as a solo artist just under rapper Big Pooh. Worked with some of your favorite rappers, some of the biggest rappers. …and that’s me.
What do you think of hip hop and its current state? …and by that I mean, as someone who’s a key player in the more underground scene, but more of an observer in the mainstream shit, what are your thoughts on the game as a whole?
I just think right now hip hop is at a place, it’s kind of been at this cross roads for awhile now where – it’s not so much – a lot of people do the ‘bring real hip hop back’ and things of that nature, but I just think that now, what hip hop really needs is a sense of accountability more than anything. We’re starting to kind of get that, and some of the younger cats coming up who are doing their research. They know the architects, and they know the history of hip hop, and I think that’s probably what was missing the most from hip hop. I don’t really mind people who want to make dance songs, and they want to do that type of rap, but it’s room for everybody, but I think the thing that’s was really missing was the accountability, and people knowing the history of where this came from. The reason why it’s lanes for you is because the person that came before you and the person that came before them, and so forth and so on. So where the game is now, is just in the place where a lot of young kids are coming up and they understand the history a little better. A part of that falls on the older cats as well. We got to be willing to reach back and bridge that gap and teach the history of this genre of music. So, that’s just kind of where I see hip hop at right now.
What are your thoughts on rap stereotypes?
I mean a rap stereotype is like any other stereotype, to be honest. If you don’t take the time to do the research, which most people don’t, then that’s all you think of. It is what you see. What’s put in front of you, I say. That’s kind of how it is, so most people, all they know is what they hear on the radio and what they see on TV, so that’s what they think it is. When that’s far from the reality. I know, me personally, I don’t smoke. I don’t talk about women crazy. I talk about relationships in my songs, but they’re not really a bunch of misogynistic records, and things of that nature. So, a person that sees me, and I got tattoos, and I look the part, but when you actually listen to my songs, you’re seeing something different. You know what I’m saying? So it’s just, like I said, one of them things where rap stereotypes is the same as any type of stereotype, unless you take the time to do the research yourself and gain the knowledge, you’re going to believe what’s put in front of you. Most people believe what’s put in front of them. When what’s put in front of them don’t even represent of even 25% of what’s really out there.
Speaking of what people see, what people hear on the radio, what people see on TV, and what not. …do you think someone has to go that route? That sort of stereotypical route to reach mainstream audiences? Do you think that’s necessary?
I don’t. I mean I tell young cats when I work with them all the time, to make it in this business, it’s a few different routes you can take, but it all depends on you. …and what you’re actually trying to achieve. Obviously, if you think this the lottery and you’re looking to get rich quick, you’re going to take that route, if that’s what you see as successful. But that’s the problem with a lot of people, is that they allow others to determine or to define what success is to them. They don’t really define what success is to themselves. So, I think you definitely can be successful on the mainstream level by doing you. Then even defining what mainstream level is, like why the kids go wild when I tell them a guy like Tech 9 actually made more money than a lot of their favorite rappers last year. They’re wild, like, “what do you mean?” Like, “yeah, he’s getting more money than your favorite rappers, so…” It’s just a thing of, a lot of people get mainstream fame confused with success or wealth, when that’s really not the case a lot of times. So, like I said, it’s about defining what success is to you and moving on from there. Then from there, you can have some type of success, but you don’t have to necessarily give into what you think people want to hear instead of just doing what is true to you.
What does it mean, in this day and age, to be a rapper, when everyone calls themselves a rapper?
It definitely doesn’t mean what it used to mean. I used to tell this joke all the time. We had this inside joke where we’d be like, you go and tell somebody, you know, some older person – they ask, “What you do?” and I say, “I make music.” and they say, “what kind of music?” Anytime you say you’re a musician, they automatically assume, for an older person, that you play an instrument. So, they’d be like like, “What do you play?” and I say, “I don’t play anything, I rap.” “Oh yeah, my nephew, or my son’s friend JJ from around the corner, he rap too.” At that time, it really came where it was like everybody raps, you know? Everybody’s a rapper. So, you got to kind of weed out the guys from around the corner, from the professionals. I call myself, I started to call myself a professional, and a lot of people say, “what you mean? I mean if my man, he rap too, he’s a professional.” I’m like nah, I’m a real professional. I’ve actually been on these dates around the country, around the world. I’ve had my CD in stores. I’ve been in buildings where millions of dollars come through because of this industry. It’s a difference. This is not the JJ from around the corner. So, I mean to be a rapper is kind of – like one of them things now is like where you hear “yeah I’m a rapper too.” I’m like, ahh, okay. That whole thing has been watered down because so many people, as I eluded to earlier, they look at it as a lottery. It’s like “yeah, I’m going to get on TV and I’m going to make a lot of money.” They think it happens overnight, when most of the people they see on TV, it took them the better part of 10 years to get where they actually are at this point. It’s just one of them things where perception has turned into reality. So people perceive things to be one way, and they believe that’s really reality.
We all know in this day and age the internet plays a huge role in music, especially I feel like hip hop almost more so than other kinds of music. What role do you think the internet plays in hip hop? Specifically in regards to you, and in general.
I always said that the internet was a gift and curse of music, especially for this genre of music, the hip hop genre. The gifts is, you’re able to cut out the middle man, so you can go directly to those that support you. You can feed them directly. They can support you directly. You can talk to them directly. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s kind of what artists should be using the internet for. Like Talib Kweli, his new album, you had to go to his site to get his new album. Not iTunes, not Best Buy. You had to go to his site to get it, and that’s dope. You really find out who really rocking with you and who not, through that course of action, so that’s one of the gifts. Another gift is it allowed you to not have to go through the archaic channels of having to come out on the major labels. So you know that was a gift. But there’s a lot of curses that come with the internet as well. Now there’s no longer any type of quality filter. You can just start making music tomorrow and put something out, and it can become big, not because it’s good, but because it’s so bad that people would, instead of playing albums, pointing people in the direction of something they like, everybody points people in the direction of something they laughing at. That joke can be turned into something that gets out of control, and then you have people trying to mimic that joke now because they saw it succeeded on that level. So you have things like that popping up, and you have people who, in turn, become lazy. I think they believe the internet is their way out, so they don’t have to do the other things that come with becoming an artist. You’re going to have to a show where only 10-15 people are going to show up. You’re going to have to put out records and try to get people in your area to listen to your record. They think that, “I’m on the internet. I can get the whole world to listen at one time.” It don’t work that way. So the internet, it definitely helped and assisted, but with all the good stuff it’s done, it’s definitely done a lot of harm to the culture as well.
I know as a single women, I’d be pissed if people constantly asked me about an ex-boyfriend. It’s like, I’m not with that person anymore, stop asking about that shit. I don’t care how good a couple we were, we’re over. So. …do you get tired of being asked about Little Brother? Especially in terms of drama around Little Brother.
I mean, no. It’s one of them things we definitely, I think – it gets frustrating for the simple fact that people would rather pay attention to that, or focus on that, as opposed to things I’m doing currently. I know I can only speak for me on this front. That’s probably the most frustrating thing that comes in to play. I mean, it’s definitely a compliment, to some extent, because it lets you know that – or you hope that you made that type of effect on people, that they never want to forget it. In musical terms, that’s dope. That’s probably one of the biggest compliments you could have, but when you’ve continued on, and with being apart, and you’ve continued on, and people still want to focus on that, that portion of your career, that becomes very frustrating from time to time. You know, and then as far as just the negative, the drama or whatever, I tell people – and they just think answers are going change, but I tell people all the time we’re a family. Even though we may not talk, we may be estranged, that’s still family.
What happens inside of my family going to stay inside of my family. I’m not going be the one that who tries to get a little 5-10 minutes of fame speaking about the drama that went on inside of the family. When I know when that 5-10 minutes is over people are going to forget about me. I’d rather they come and holla at me because of a dope song I put out, or a dope video I put out, or an artist I helped develop, as opposed to being on for 5-10 minutes of gossip. That’s super wack to me. So, that’s the only really frustrating thing about the continued questions. I’ve definitely learned and do a better job now of ignoring a lot of the questions. I was just having fun with it, as opposed to trying to continuously say the same thing over and over again.
I find that when people have a really deep attachment to either a musical project or a group or a musician or whatever, it’s really hard for them to let go. They can’t put shit in perspective.
Nah. It’s crazy, me and my man was just discussing that, in life, people expect you to grow, mature, develop – but in music, they expect you to stay the same forever. It’s like that’s just damn near impossible if you’re really an artist. If you’re just somebody out there cashing checks, you can just do the same thing over and over again. But if you’re a true artist, you can’t stay the same because as you change and mature and develop as a person, your music would change and develop with you. It’s crazy how people look at it. They still want me to do things as if it’s 2005, or 2003 all over again. I’m like, “dude, that’s eight years ago.” I was in my early 20’s, now I’m in my mid 30’s. It’s impossible. Impossible.
It breaks down to the fact that a lot of people feel like, as an artist, one, we’re not humans. …and then two, even though we’ve given so much, they still feel like we owe them. “I paid this amount for your album so you owe me whatever I want.” It’s like, nah, it don’t work that way. It’s not what this experience is. I think that’s entitlement, and one of the curses of the internet age is entitlement. Now they feel like they entitled to all their information all the time. Back in ’93, ’94, we was just happy to get whatever information we got.
I mean, I ain’t feel like Wu Tang owed me an explanation when they decided, in 1997, they were goning start making all these solo albums and wasn’t gonna put out another group album for awhile. They didn’t owe me no explanation, you know what I’m saying? It was the information that I was given, and it’s like, “hey, this is what I got.” So, that’s another curse of the internet age.
See, that’s what you think. I was sending Ghost Face letters like, “hey what’s going on?”
So the Purple Tape – always been a favorite of mine. I love Black. I love you. Such a good collaboration. What’s your favorite project of yours so far?
I don’t even know. I’ve released – and it’s not that I believe it’s my best project or anything like that, but I think Fat Boy Fresh Volume 3 is probably my favorite project. Not because it’s the latest, but I think it’s because of the fun I had when we were making it, like The Listening. I was able to get a little of that back making this project. All of my other projects I made, I had an intention. I went into with some sort of intent. I was trying to prove something to somebody, or myself. I was trying to make records that felt like this and that, I was under certain restraints. So the Happy Birthday Thomas, that was me, the producer the Mighty DR, my DJ, my new engineer. That was just us in the room, having fun, making records, and I hadn’t had fun like that making records since we made The Listening. It just brought me back. I think the album brought me back to that time because that was innocence in making music. Once you’ve been exposed to the industry, you lose that innocence. But, that was just fun – that collaborative effort in the studio, doing records, collaborating on making records better. I think that was probably my favorite project to this day, was that record, for that reason.
What does 2014 hold for you?
I mean, there’s more music. Me and Nottz, we’re getting close to finishing up our collaborative album. We’re trying to actually finish it up by the end of this month, middle of next month, so it’s finally about ready for release. Our colleague had another EP come out late in the year, and I signed a two album, two project agreement with Mello Music Group, home of Odyssey and Apollo Brown. So, we’re getting those projects ready. I’m actually in the process of trying to sign my first artist, production wise. So, we trying to get that settled and once we get that settled then I’ll be getting him ready to go. Ready to come back and do something special for everybody.
Who influenced you? Initially, and currently? …and what are you listening to now that still influences you?
That’s a funny question. Actually, these days, I don’t really listen to as much music as I used to for different reasons. But I still listen to people I was listening to coming up. I still go back. I actually prefer to go back and listen to older albums. It’s almost like studying what made them great in my eyes. So I go back and listen to old Nas albums. I go back and listen to old Roots albums. I listen to old Mos Def albums. I think I spend a lot more time doing that than anything. Last week I was listening to a bunch of old Erick Sermon, just to hear what he was doing production wise, and what made it special. Why was I attracted to it? So, I spend a lot of time doing that, and that is really what has influenced me lately, is just listening to them older records and figuring out what made them special.
So nobody new? Nobody new you’re fucking with?
I mean I fuck with some new cats now. Everybody know I fuck with Kendrick, been fucking with him for a minute. School – the whole TDE movement. Fuck with Smoke DZA. Just some of those new cat like that, I definitely, when they put stuff out, and I try to peep it. I mean for the most part though, I’m an old listener. I try to keep up. It’s hard for me to keep up really. There’s so much music coming out. Like on the daily, people be asking me, “yo, you heard this?” Somebody asked me you heard the Chance The Rapper joint yet? …and I was like “nah.” He was like “What?” I don’t listen to music like that. Even like artists like J Cole, I didn’t hear of him until the mixtape he put out before his first album came out. That’s when I first listened to him. Big Krit, I didn’t hear him until his first mixtape. Not his first, but his second or third mixtape is when I really started with Big Krit. So I don’t listen to a lot of when people come out. That shit is just damn near impossible for me. So I definitely try to keep my ear to the street and check for the new cats, but I know I’ll end up hearing about them a little later, like most people.
What do you love about hip hop? …and what do you not love about hip hop?
I think what I love about hip hop the most is, for me, it’s a release. I mean, with the freedom, love, expression. It’s almost like therapy for me. I’m able to write down things that I’m feeling, things that I’m going through. Then have people that I don’t even know, and never met, relate to a lot of the same things. I think that’s what I love about hip hop the most as an artist, is being able to express something, and strangers, essentially, are able to relate to that story that the artist is telling. One of the things I hate about hip hop is, well, now, the sense of entitlement. People don’t think they have to pay dues. Once again. because perception has become reality. Everybody thinks things happen overnight, and because I rap, I’m supposed to be rich and I’m supposed to be on TV and things of that nature. Just that entitlement, it ruins careers before they even get a chance to start because you feel that as soon as you write your first verse, you’re supposed to be famous. Like I said, a lot of these cats, they be working for the greater part of 10 years to achieve their dream, but you never hear of them until they emerged, as opposed to when they first started. But everybody thinks that, if I start tomorrow, by Monday I’m supposed to be famous. That’s one of the things that I really dislike about hip hop.
What do you see as your place in hip hop now?
I think I’m beginning to see my place. It was real cloudy for awhile, I really wasn’t sure, but I think my place now is just more as an elder and really helping the younger guys start their careers in the right way. A lot of cats, they get up on stage and perform. I think my place now, I’m really seeing that my place is becoming – helping others achieve their dreams. Helping others getting on the right path career wise, as far as music is concerned. I think that’s where I’m probably going to have my biggest influence in my lifetime in music – is going to be helping others as opposed to being in front of the camera or on the mic. I think it’s going be behind the scenes.
What do you think one can do to keep themselves stay relevant, but also authentic in this genre?
Well, I think as an artist it’s about connecting with – once you find out who you are, and you stick to who you are, I think it’s just about finding ways to connect with your audience. Sometimes your audience ain’t going to be a million people, it may only be 10,000 people, but you got to find a way to connect and find who those 10,000 people are. That’s the whole point, I mean, I ain’t going to front, it took me a long time to even realize that. “Yo, I just got to find out who my audience is. I got to find out who are those people that – who are those people I speak for? Who are those people I’m speaking to?” …and find them. Find ways to connect with them on a different level. Once I do that, I’ll always be good. Like, I’ll always have some success in music. That’s the key to it, is just finding who you’re speaking to and who you want to speak to – and find them and then stay connected with them.
So that begs the question, who is your audience?
I think my audience is people who, you know, young professionals, people who grew up with hip hop, but they don’t feel at home partying with the 20 year olds. …but they’re not over the hill yet. Like, they still got the flavor, they still got the style. It’s just they’re grown up now, and I think that’s who I speak to. Because those are the problems that I address, those are the problems that I have, and those are the problems that they have, because we’re the same age. So, I think that’s who I speak to – I speak to the young professionals. As opposed to trying to attract the kids, or definitely not over the hill either, but it’s the young professionals that actually act and recognize and realize they’re young professionals. …and know, like, “I can’t be in the club turning up every Friday and Saturday”, right? Those are the people I speak to.
…what’s a question that you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview but never have been?
I don’t know, I’ve been asked some wild shit before. I don’t know, I mean it’s one of these – for awhile I’ve been getting the same questions. I could have just wrote all the answers down on a piece of paper and handed them over, see what I’m saying? …and do interviews. Every once in awhile I get a thoughtful and in depth interview, like this one. People tend to cover a lot of things of – I really don’t know.
Thank you for that compliment. I hope I’m not boring you to death!
Oh nah, nah. You don’t really realize, when people asking you things that make you think, and make you comment with in depth answers – you don’t really realize. Time doesn’t – you don’t look at your watch. You don’t look at the clock. You don’t, “Oh God, she asking the same shit over and over again.” Cause I’ve done some interviews where I literally gave no longer than five words per answer because I was tired of the people. If you can go on the internet and pull up my Wikipedia page and find all this shit out, the interview sucks. There’s nobody doing this interview. When you ask in depth questions and you really try to figure out – because, seriously, the questions you ask and the answers I give are supposed to go a little more in depth to who I am, as well as whatever angle you’re trying to approach it as. That’s something you did, or are doing, as opposed to somebody else who’s just trying to get stock answers and shit.
I appreciate you saying that. …and I get it, trust me, because there’s nothing I hate more than reading an interview and having that same feeling, “I could have just Googled this shit. I didn’t need to read this interview to find this information out.”
Yeah, that’s the worst shit ever. I read interviews, and I was like, “c’mon man!” Like, it’s a shotty ass interview.
So, no question that you wanted someone to ask you?
You’ve talked a lot about younger artists, or people that you might be taking a mentor role with, like, rep for your people. Who should we be fucking with, besides you, of course, right now?
Oh, yeah. Definitely should be listening to my man Scolla, from the RLES. Let me see, my man J Pinder, from out of Seattle. My man Lute, from out of Charlotte, North Carolina. My man King Mez, from out of Raleigh, North Carolina. My man, he’s not rap, he’s R & B, he’s soul, my man Eric ‘Blakk Soul’ Keith from out of Tacoma, Washington. That’s at least some of the people that I definitely have a working relationship with, kind of a big homie status with them. So, definitely some of the people we, you know – I would encourage people to go check them out. They are talented, not just cause I’m saying they’re talented. They’re really talented people. They all got something different to offer and I think – and they all – I’m not sure how old Scolla, is but they’re all pretty young, in their mid 20’s. You can hear the mid 20’s in them, but you can also hear the maturity in them as well. Check all them cats out.
…what advice do you have for new kids coming up, trying to make it, trying to do this?
I think that – I just tell them like, what I tell most of the young cats I encounter is you got to make a choice. When you first start, you got to make a choice. You got to figure out, do you want to have a career? Or are you just trying to hit it big? Having a career, you can still hit it big. That’s my biggest thing, is they need to figure out which one it is they’re really trying to do, cause having a career, you build yourself differently. You’re not chasing that one hit. You’re going out and you’re building, organically building a foundation that hopefully is going to be there to support you for years and years and years. That takes a lot of work. That takes a lot of effort. That takes planning. That takes timing. That takes help. So, in doing that, you need to figure out who you are as a person and what you want to represent. I say this, like I heard Pimp C say in an interview a few years ago before he passed, and he was like, “how people first see you, is how they will always look at you.” So you can’t come out trying to tear the club up, the next time people see you, and you trying to preach righteousness. The first time they heard you was tearing the club up, so it’s pretty hard to make that change. So be very wise on how you introduce yourself to the world, because that’s how they always view you.
Tell me a secret.
It wouldn’t make it a secret, would it?
Yeah, it would make it a told secret.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh man. I don’t know. Shit. Oh – I had Ashley Simpson’s first two albums.
I don’t know if you want me to print that. Honestly.
I really don’t care.
I’m going to let that marinate for awhile.
I don’t know how I feel about that, but I’m going let it go.
It’s one of them – you hear a jam you like, so you buy it.
What did you hear that you liked though?
Oh my God, I can’t even remember, I haven’t listened to them in so long. I know for the first album I think it was probably the first single, or the second single from off that first album. I went and bought it. …and on the second album I think I went out and bought just cause I had the first one so. I had a that, I had Vanessa Carlton’s album, and I had uhh. What’s that other white girl? I don’t know. I hear it, and if it’s something I like, I go buy it.
So what you’re saying is that you love terrible pop music? That’s what I’m hearing from you.
Yeah, I definitely do love some terrible pop music. But hey, I love some terrible rap music too, so it’s all the same.
I get that. I do too, trust me. …what do you want people to know about you?
Oh man. I think what I probably want people to know the most is that I’m a hard worker and I put my all into my craft. I’m a pretty funny guy, a cool guy, or whatever.
…oh I ain’t cool?
Not after that secret, you’re not, shit.
Nah, I think it’s just other facets of my personality besides my music. You know, I love sports and uhh, and then I love music. So that’s probably what I want people to know about me.
There are many producers I love, for a lot of different reasons, and you may look at this guy as just one of them. …and you would be right, he is one of them, but what he offered up in this interview was something that gave me respect for an artist I already had a lot of fuckin’ respect for. Enjoy.
So, for people who may not know, which seems unlikely, but whatever, tell us who you are, where you’re from, and a little about what you do.
I go by the name of Marco Polo – producer, originally from Toronto, Canada, now residing in Brooklyn, NY. I produce for people such as Scarface, Pharoahe, Masta Ace, Large Professor, Boot Camp. I’ve released many of my own albums including Port Authority back in 2007, Double Barrel with Torae and eXXecution with Ruste Juxx, and now the Stupendous Adventures Of Marco Polo on Duck Down Records dropping this Tuesday (TODAY! COP THAT!).
Mmmm, Canada huh? That sucks. I mean – nice! So, given that producers aren’t always the ones getting notoriety over the tracks they create, tell us where we might have heard some of your beats?
The biggest song I have to date is with Masta Ace called Nostalgia – one of the singles off Port Authority. The video got like 1.2 million views so that took on a whole life neither of us expected. On Double Barrel people might be familiar with the self titled track, or Hold Up feat. Sean Price & Masta Ace. …or Party Crashers. With Ruste Juxx, you might be familiar with our single Nobody – had a video out recently. Or Rearview – you know, I’ve done a lot of work with Duck Down and Boot Camp and Heltah Skeltah.
So, you do some hard ass beats. The albums with Ruste Juxx and Torae were straight up and down grimy. Even though I know you vary it, especially with your solo shit, do you feel like that’s your strength, making these really sort of aggressive beats that work well with a really aggressive flow?
I definitely have a knack for making some hardcore street shit. Which is funny because when people see me or meet me in real life, I’m like this skinny white kid from Toronto – then they hear my music and they’re like ‘WOW. You’re music sounds like a monster truck holding a knife with a gun and a genrade.’ – it doesn’t match up. You know? It really depends on how I’m feeling that day, that’ll dictate what type of beat I make. I definitely love that sound, I really did two albums back to back of that type of hardcore, aggressive sound with Double Barrel and eXXecution and I really got it out of my system. Now with Port Authority 2 which I’m working on, it’s gonna be definitely more of that, but definitely a mix of some other styles too. I like to try and be as versatile as possible. The drums are always gonna smack you in the face – that’s one thing I never really stop doing, but you might have the melodic, more storytelling beats, or some more mellow shit mixed in with the real dark, grimy street bangers.
Who are your favorite producers? Current vs. all time.
Currently – well some of these guys aren’t brand new, I consider them to be part of the new school. DJ Khalil, who’s definitely not new, but he’s definitely on a major label getting the shine he deserves. Jake One, Kev Brown, those are some of the newer guys that really – when I hear their stuff I’m like ‘wow, I need to go make some beats’. Truly inspiring. Then you know, the legends – I feel like a broken record because I say the same people all the time but I don’t eve care like – DJ Premier is honestly like number one to me of all time. That’s just a personal preference. Then there’s all the legends like Marley Marl, The Bomb Squad, the Beatnuts, Large Professor, Pete Rock, and of course, J Dilla. The whole diggin’ in the crates – you know, Buckwild, Diamond D, Showbiz, Lord Finesse. I was raised on that East coast sound.
People say you chop a sample like Primo – I can see it. …how does something like that make you feel? I’ve read Primo is a huge influence of yours, and, you know, you just said that so…
Yeah, I’m a Primo fan boy, which is weird, because he is one of my best friends. At this point, it’s crazy having my number one influence being a regular acquaintance. I have to step back sometimes – it’s hard not to just be a fan. I’m definitely influenced by him. I’m totally fine with giving him his props – cause he deserves it. You know? Everyone’s so concerned with being cool – not dick riding. It’s not dick riding, it’s paying homage to the greats. He’s the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing now. He definitely inspired me to learn how to chop samples and really freak shit, you know? Every day I learn something new so, if people give me props on that, it’s much appreciated.
So what do you have on deck? I hear there is new shit comin’ soon, tell me about it?
The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo dropping June 29th (TODAY! COP THAT!) on Duck Down Records, and basically, that album is a collection of real solid material that I have in the stash. It was all stuff recorded in between the last four albums that might have missed the album deadline. It might have been a remix, or a b-side, was only released on vinyl or not realeased at all – I put too much work into this stuff for those songs to just sort of slip through the cracks so. I wanted to compile them all, get them properly mixed and mastered and put together a project that kind of documented all the music I was doing in between albums, cause it’s good stuff. And for the humble fan base I have, they have the opportunity to get it all in one shot now – and really have everything I produced. I’m excited to give it to the people, and all the artists on it are great. I’m lucky to have the outlet with Duck Down to be able to put out projects like that, so definitely you should check out that.
Then I’m working on Port Authority 2 right now – everything’s going into that album, which is a pretty big task. …because, when you’re not dealing with just one MC it kinda slows the process down, and I have like, instead of one MC, I’m working with 45.
I’m not saying it’ll be that many, but it’s a ton of artists and I’m trying to do more posse cuts on this record. You know? I wanna change it up. I don’t wanna make Port Authorty 1 again – I did that. I wanna use that concept, that vibe, and take it to another level. It’s gonna involve a lot of work, because I’m proud of the first one, but I have to literally shit on that one with this new one.
(intense laughter breaks out)
If you’re not gonna get bigger and better, then there’s no point.
Okay, you have the shit with Juxx and the shit with Torae – who’s another MC that you would love to team up with?
Masta Ace. …I been buggin’ the crap outta Masta Ace to do an album with me – I think that would be really special.
It’s definitely something that could happen, but not any time too soon. He has some projects he’s working on and me as well. …but that’s someone I’d love to do an album with. Besides that – there’s just a lot of MC’s I’d like to work on an album with. Roc Marciano is another guy that – we’re supposed to do an album, but it’s just all a matter of timing. I gotta do Port Authority 2 so, that’s gonna take me a minute. …so before I can even think of another project, I gotta knock this one out.
I’m just gonna throw in my bid for Sean Price – cause your beats and his verse sound amazing together. …just throwing that out there.
You know I actually just spoke to him today over e-mail and I got a beat on Mic Tyson – you know, he’s a really picky dude. That’s family. Just for the record, of course I would do that in a heartbeat. Sean knows the deal – I’m ready.
I’m just sayin’. …that’s what I’m laying in bed at night thinking about – that collab, so, if that ever goes down.
Next time you see him in person you tell’em!
Definitely. (…never gonna happen. Retraining orders and all.)
How do you feel about radio hip hop? Do you wish it was something it’s currently not? Is it not even on your radar?
Ummmmm. …well, if we’re talking about commercial radio, there’s not a ton of it I can relate to – doesn’t mean I hate it, it’s just my opinion, I don’t connect with a lot of the stuff I hear on commercial radio, especially in New York. Especially knowing all the types of hip hop that are made in New York, it would be nice to hear more of a balance. I think there’s room for everything – there used to be room for anything. With the Vanilla Ice’s, and the Young MC’s, you would still hear A Tribe Called Quest. It would be nice to get more of a balance. But then radio could also mean college radio, where there are shows dedicated to playing really underground, independent stuff that I make – they definitely help get my name out there and show a lot of support so. …yeah.
How does Port Authority compare to Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo?
The Stupendous was not an album that was created to be – like all those songs were made in different times. …like, people wanna call Port Authority a compilation – but I disagree, because Port Authority, to me, is an album because I recorded everything with a certain project in mind. If you were going to throw the term compilation around, the Stupendous would be more of a compilation, because it’s different time periods. None of those songs were meant or planned to be all together on an album, it just ended up that way – and that’s exactly what it is. A bunch of songs that are really dope that I compiled together to give to the people. The Port Authority albums are crafted to all flow together from song to song. It’s like one listening experience that was meant to be that way – everything will connect.
So, the name of the site is yourtasteinmusicsucks.com – now is your chance, tell the world (or at least the assholes who read this site) who you think makes garbage music.
(laughter breaks out)
WOW. …you know what? I’m gonna have to pleas the 5th on that one.
I’ve never been big on being a negative person. All I can do is focus my energy on – if I hate something, I take that energy and put it into making my music extra dope. So, all I can say is, if your music is wack, then step up your game, but I’m not gonna mention no names.
Tryin’ to throw me under the bus!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very opinionated person and, you know, but. …there’s a difference between opinion and hate. I try not to hate anything, that’s just a wasted emotion.
I feed off of it a little bit. Nah, kidding. …sort of.
It’s fun, I’m not gonna lie.
What do you want the world to know about Marco Polo – the beat maker, not the explorer.
I guess the first thing I want people to know is that I’m a fan. Every day I’m trying to learn and study where it (hip hop/music) came from, where it’s going, and how I can be part of the future. You know what I’m saying? I definitely keep in touch with the internet and peoples comments on my music, and I see people calling it throwback or old school, and that kinda bothers me a little bit because I’m not trying to take anything back. I’m not trying to resurrect the 90’s or the late 80’s, I’m just trying to be myself and take influences from that area and move it forward into 2010 and beyond. It’s almost like being influenced in that area with my personal updated twist on it – with my little stamp. I’m definitely trying to move things forward while paying homage and showing respect. It’s really important, even with the young kids now, to do your research, you know? I didn’t grow up in the park jams in New York, I was like 3 years old, so obviously I can’t be faulted for that, but once I got into hip hop and started listening to it, I made sure to go back and do my research and see how it started and where it came from. I’m still learning. It’s really important, and not even just for hip hop but for all the genres, cause if you, if you look back into all the beats – I know I’m going on a tangent right now so pardon me
Don’t worry about it. …you’re good
You have to, you know – all the producers that I looked up to, they’re open minded to all genres of music because those are the samples they used to create the sound that have made classics. So, you talk to someone like a Marley Marl or Primo – they’re big rock n roll heads just as much as funk and soul and jazz. As a good producer you gotta be in tune with all genres of music – new, old. You gotta absorb that energy and find the sounds that you love and incorporate them into your own style and be unique. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing because we always have that, that’s already there. Don’t worry about what they’re doing. What are you gonna do that’s gonna make you stand apart from them and do something unique? We gotta Primo, we gotta Nottz, we gotta Dr. Dre, what are you bringing to the table?
So, I was fortunate enough to catch producer Jake One one fine evening, and I took full advantage of it and asked him like 54.9 million questions. …dude not only makes incredible beats, but honestly, he has a very realistic and down to earth view of hip hop, and is kinda of a fly interviewee. Check this shit out.
In case there is anyone in the world who doesn’t know (that would be looking at my site, I mean, c’mon, this is for my real niggas only) – can you introduce yourself, tell us who you are, and what you do?
My name is Jake One, I’m a producer from Seattle, Washington. …I really pretty much make beats – I DJ a little bit, but, that’s pretty much my thing, makin’ beats.
…where might we have heard you?
I’ve worked with a variety of people – some of the bigger names would be 50 Cent, De La Soul, Scarface, you know, pretty much everybody on G-Unit. I have my own album called White Van Music that I did in 2008, and then this year I came out with an album with Freeway called The Stimulus Package.
…you didn’t mention DOOM!
Yeah, I’ve worked with DOOM a lot.
…I’m a little DOOM obsessed.
So, White Van Music. I gotta be honest, that name is a little. …it sounds like a sexual assault in the making kinda. Like, what’s up with the name?
The first song I ever did in high school with a friend of mine – we did, he was talkin’ bout his white van or whatever. So, I dunno why, I just call all my beat tapes White Van Beats. …and then eventually I just ended up putting that for my publishing, when I first started putting stuff together professionally, and – for whatever reason I decided I wanted to call it that. But there’s really no meaning behind it at all. It’s funny though, people came up with a lot of interesting theories on the shit. I guess, to me that was cool. You know, people in the car that I’m riding with – they think it’s White Man Music. They came up with that one.
(intense laughter breaks out)
You know, I think it’s good that it created some kind of random made up stories. Imma come up with some new ones – even better.
You had sooooo many people on that shit. …like, you had 50 million features on it. How did you do that? Was it super dope working with all those people? (yes, I actually talk like that) …like, I can’t even imagine.
You know, some of the songs were done for some of those artists records, and they didn’t get used for whatever reason – album never came out, etc. Some of them I did specifically for the project, so, it was just a long process. Some of the people I reached out purely just to work with on this album. Freeway, I actually reached out to him. We did maybe like 3 or 4 songs – he ended up using one of them on his album and he ended up giving me a couple for mine, so, that was actually something that just happened from doing the album, which was cool. DOOM – I think I’d been working with him already. I think he was actually doing a song – I was trying to get him to do a song, and, he’s notoriously difficult. I sent DOOM some beats for this project, and he ended up rappin’ to all of them. So, we had these songs, I ended up getting the Trap Door one – I think Get ‘Er Done was the one he originally did for me, and then he ended up using all the other ones on his album.
It’s funny cause I haven’t listened to the album in a minute, so I don’t even remember – I know M.O.P.’s on it, Keak was somebody that when I was living in the Bay that I worked with. We did like a ton of songs together so that was uh – you know, a lot of the stuff I just had.
It’s random, I mean. …you’ve got like, everything from Royce (da 5’9) to Young Buck. It’s an odd mix.
It is. I thought, to me, the thing that was gonna tie it together is I did all the beats. So at least that was consistent in sound. Because, there’s definitely like, people – you know, for some people, they just didn’t wanna hear some of those rappers.
But I personally – it was all people that I like. I kinda wanted to show I could work with all those people and make it my shit, you know?
So you and Free. …just put out The Stimulus Package. I think it’s super hard. I think it’s super ill. Is it going the way you thought it was gonna go? Is it getting the reception you thought it was gonna get? How you feelin’ about it?
You know, it’s kinda hard to say cause, you know, the reception has been all positive.
Which is good. …we’re not selling as much as I wanted but, it’s still going, and I think it’s something that’s not gonna die. It’s not something that’s gonna die in like, the next 2 months or whatever – I think it has a long life in it. I think the one thing we didn’t do was make a hit song, per se. But, we weren’t really trying to do that. I think that might have held us back from getting some more shine out of it or whatever, but I’m really happy with the record. No matter what happens Free’s gon’ be family forever – we’re always gonna work on whatever it is. You know, the future. He’s already workin’ on a new album right now, and we’ve already done a bunch of tracks for that.
So you went from G-Unit to Rhymesayers. What’s up with that? …how’s that working for you?
You know, it’s funny, I did a bunch of songs for G-Unit, but I was never actually signed to them. I never got like a monthly check from G-Unit, so to me, I never really felt like I was that much apart of it. I was doing beats for it – I did a lot of beats, and it was great to be a part of it on that level, but, it wasn’t like I was really in the studio with those guys. I didn’t feel personally attached to it. Rhymesayers, you know, I actually know all those guys personally, have relationships with them, so it’s just a different kind of thing. I feel way more invested in it, you know? And I get to do what I want. …like, there’s definitely things I did on there (Rhymesayers), it’s not like I could have sent that beat to 50 and he would have been on it. …though you never know – he surprises me sometimes with the stuff he raps on. I just, I wasn’t really thinking from that mentality.
Favorite producers? …current and all time.
Current, I’d say DJ Khalil. It’s crazy cause we’ve done – we’re about the same age, we’ve worked with a lot of the same people comin’ up so, he’s always been a good friend of mine. Just seeing him grow – it’s just crazy. He’s just making some amazing shit. I think what’s dope about him is he’s really got his own sound. …these days that’s kinda rare, so, he’s got his own sound AND it’s actually dope.
Let’s see, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League I like a lot – they’re from Florida. Do a lot of the Rick Ross stuff. Just super powerful – I dunno, it just sounds like some shit you just wanna run up some stairs too or something. I dunno, it’s just very inspirational kinda music.
Nottz, he’s an incredible producer to me. …he’s been good for a long time, so he’s even somebody, when I first started tryin’ to do the G-Unit stuff, and stuff in that realm, he was kinda one of my role models as far as that. Because, you know, I’d buy like whoever’s album – that I didn’t necessarily think was that great, but he would have like one dope song on there, you know, like whoever it is, some commercial – he was doin’ it on that platform, but then he was doin’ stuff on Fat Beats. …you know, everything. And that’s kinda how I try to approach my career.
Okay gimme one all timer.
Yeah, ALL TIME.
There’s so many were dope to me, I mean, Dilla. Jay Dee was like – he definitely changed my whole viewpoint on how even to make beats, and the rules and stuff. To me he’s the first guy to have the hard East coast drums but like, musicality – he’s kinda West coast in a way to me, the way he plays bass lines and stuff, so he kinda just combined a lot of shit that I like.
Dr. Dre – before I even knew what producing was I was loving the stuff he was doing. There are so many people like that, like, it’s weird to listen to it now, I know what they’re actually doing. …but back then I just listened to it for the music.
It just sounded good?
Yeah! It just sounded good to me for whatever reason, and, it’s weird now – I feel like I know too much sometimes. I appreciate things in a whole different way I guess.
So who’s one MC that you feel like just MURDERED one of your beats?
Hmmmm. …probably Elzhi. Elzhi, he’s, he just got his own shit. He just – like, I’m not into like, rappers that have super lyrics and all that shit. For the most part, Idon’t even really look for that, but he’s just so fuckin’ good. …and shit. Like, everything has a meaning, and the flows are really impeccable. He’s definitely one.
Yeah, people love El. …people REALLY love El. It’s kinda, I dunno, it’s kinda surprising, but people just love’em.
Yeah, I mean. …he’s just gotta put out more music, that’s what I always tell him.
(laughter breaks out)
He’s not like, you know – the rappers now, they’re putting out like, you know, something all the time to keep them hot, and he just doesn’t really do that. It kinda – you know, he’s gotta catch up and get more things out. BUT, in the same way, the stuff he’s doin’ is not something you’re just gonna write in a day. You’re not gonna go in and do four songs (in a day) rappin’ like he does.
Right. Quality over quantity. …absolutely.
Which I – I’d rather somebody give me five good songs than one hundred mediocre ones.
I really like how Free raps on my beats – I just think we have a good chemistry. Somethin’ a little different. He always, on the flow side of things, does something really unorthodox, which I just appreciate.
So, what are you doing now? …what’s on tap for you?
I’m working on White Van Music 2 actually. …other than that, gotta record I’m working on with Brother Ali, which is getting close to being done. Working on Freeways next album – don’t know what that’s gon be, but, workin’ on it. I mean, there’s a bunch of people I’ve given beats too, and they might have a couple songs on their album by me. To me that’s just kind of like side hustle stuff – I’m really more interested in doing these things where I can have – something a little more – bigger involvement.
One producer one MC?
Yeah, producing the whole thing, or at least being part of the whole process. Actually have an album that I’m working on with Mayer Hawthorne right now – it’s probably like my favorite shit I’m doing right now.
Oh WORD? Doin’ a little r&b type thing?
Yeah, it’s more – yeah, it’s like some. …it’s like the music I grew up on; Cameo, SOS band, it sounds like some of that kinda shit. Or at least that’s what I want it to sound like.
So he’s not doin’ his DJ Haricut thing or his Athletic Mic League thing?
Nah, he’s just singin’. …it’s turned out really good so far. Hopefully we can finish it up and get it out – he’s just SO busy. It’s crazy. It really is crazy seeing all this happen for him.
That’s dope though, it should be an interesting combo.
It definitely is. …when people hear it they won’t think I did it – for sure.
Oh really? Is it like super soulful or?
Yeah, and it’s not really hip hop. …I mean, it’s hip hop in a way – it has the drums and stuff, but, there are no samples in it and stuff like that.
Okay, so, who is the MC that you would like, literally, smother a kitten to have them rap over one of your beats?
At this point – man that’s hard. …it’s crazy like, all the people I’ve said before I end up working with. So, I think Jay-z is the only one that I really want to work with and never got the chance to do anything with. But I don’t even know if that would mean as much to me know – per se. Right now, it’d probably be Rick Ross. I really think Rick Ross is – I dunno, I get a lot of shit from everybody but, I just like the way he sounds on the beats.
Rick Ross is really hit or miss. …like, I think that’s what people – you know what I mean?
You can’t take everything he does and like – like anybody, you know? I just try to take the stuff I like from somebody, and he is consistently making stuff I like. He is, he really is. …and actually, I think he’s on some real rapper shit too. I think he’s very underrated on that side. He’s trying, you know? It’s not ‘My chick bad’, ‘dog, cat, hat’.
Takin’ shots at people huh?
In the trap – you know what I mean?
No, you know what I mean? That’s a whole different style. …they’re not trying. That’s a whole different style of music down there. And that has it’s place – when I got out and I hear it, I like it, so. …but, it’s not something I’m necessarily gonna zone out to and like, analyze.
You know – Ross does his thing on some tracks, people just get caught up in his personal shit. …I think that’s half the battle with him.
And I think, at this point, I really try not to let that shit factor into whether I like anything.
OKAY?! …it’s so stupid, what does that have to do with it?
What does it really matter?
You know, making music is genuinely like your creating some sort of fantasy – whatever it is. No bodies ever done all of what they talk about. …and if they are, for the most part, their life isn’t interesting enough to talk about.
You know? …truthful about everything.
So, you’re like. …a white guy from Seattle. Has that ever been a problem for you?
I would say being from Seattle more than being white makes it more difficult. But, you know, there’s definitely people I’ve met, artists, that are definitely surprised that I’m white. That definitely happens. But – I don’t think that necessarily held me back or anything. I’m not the kinda person that’s just gonna try and be what you want me to be, you know? Like, just to impress a rapper or whoever it is. …that’s just not my thing. But uh, Seattle, we haven’t really had much history with hip hop. It’s crazy, cause now we got multiple people that are doin’ good stuff. So, its definitely changed. But you know, we do have people like Ish (Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler) from Digable Planets – he’s from Seattle, and like, you know, to me he’s had a great career. …and still doin’ good shit.
And then you have like, the producers Tha Bizness, who are from Seattle. …people probably don’t know that. But, they’re making hit songs so – it’s startin’ to change a little bit.
The name of the site, Your Taste In Music Sucks – tell me honestly, who’s music do you think is garbage?
Like, in rap?
It’s weird because – it’s hard for me to say it’s garbage, to me, if I don’t like the beats, I just don’t listen to it. So there’s a whole group of people that I think people think – that I hear and like a lot of my friends like or whatever it is – I just have no interest in it. The music just doesn’t do it for me. You know? So, I will definitely listen to Rick Ross before I listen to Lupe Fiasco or something – ALL DAY.
You’re the only other person that I think I’ve ever heard say something like that! …I’m not a Lupe fan either.
I acknowledge him as a good rapper.
So do I…
He just doesn’t do it for me for whatever reason. I can’t say he’s garbage though – no. I think he’s good, and he has songs I’ve heard that I think are good, but as a whole it just doesn’t capture me. I think I’m into people that just have more of a character. I grew up listening to a lot of Bay rap, and – In the Bay everybody’s just such a character. You know what I mean? Just in general.
Who are you tellin’? …that’s my home.
Like, that part of it to me makes it interesting or not. I don’t want to hear something that’s just average. You know? That doesn’t really do it for me.
Alright well, since you brought up the Bay, who are some of your favorite Bay artists?
I mean, 40 – obviously. 40’s the king. I really probably grew up – like, my prime Bay favorite shit was like the early 90’s shit. That’s the stuff I was listening to back then so, that stuff for whatever reason just has a special place in my heart.
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww! We love you too!
The Click, all that stuff, I still listen to it – B Legit, you know, I know the words to all that shit. I think it’s just that music that you listened to when you were younger and you just associate it with that time or whatever. I mean, everybody does it for whatever they were into at that time. But, you know, even now, I feel like Turf Talk is one of the more underrated dudes out there, period. I really want to see him make it – cause I just think he’s dope.
What’s your favorite track of yours?
Favorite track I’ve done – hmmm. I don’t know, everybody would probably say Rock Co.Cane Flow. …that’s the one people most come up to me about or ask me about. Ummmm, I would probably say the song Home on my album just because of what it meant to me. Just to be able to do a song like that – when I started those were the guys I looked up to and, you know, was around, so doing the song with them, it kinda was dope. …and, you know, after all these years I thought that was dope.
Imma Trap Door fan just to throw that out there…
Trap Door was made with a guy from the Bay actually. …my boy G Coop did the instruments on that one. Actually, I think we did that beat down there.
I LOVE THAT TRACK. …instrumental or with the DOOM verse – that shit drives me crazy.
Yeah, DOOM – you know DOOM is pretty much gonna be good on whatever because he’s such a – he’s just so left field. He’s always gonna say something – I remember when he sent me some of the songs from his album, I’m looking at the e-mail and I’m like, Ballskin? Like, yo, that’s what you’re callin’ the song?
(unabashed laughter breaks out. …for several minutes)
Like, who’s gonna call a song Ballskin? You know what I’m sayin’? Like who does that?! But him, you know?
Nah – for sure, people either totally love him or just do not get it at all. …and, I don’t know, I’m just one of the one’s that loves him.
He’s an individual. …you know?
That’s for sure.
…okay last one – what do you love about hip hop?
What do I love about hip hop? You know, I – it’s weird because I was talkin’ to some kids the other day in high school, you know, and we’re talkin’ bout like hip hop or whatever. …I just think I associate hip hop as part of my energy, so I don’t even look at it like that. It’s like the music that I’ve loves – you know, basically my whole life. You know? Since I can remember liking music. So like, everything in my life I can associate with a time in hip hop. You know? Even now. To this day. But, when I hear something that I really like I still get the same feeling I got when I heard fuckin’ Sucker MCs, Jam Master Jay – back then. …and I still get excited. As long as I still get that Imma still keep doin’ it. You know?
What do you hate about hip hop?
I just think that there came to a certain point where everything is just looked at as a hustle. …and people are just doing things purely on a financial basis. Albums are getting made in a way – just for what people think is supposed to be a hit. Or, you know, following whatever the trend is. …and they’ve always done that, but there just became this elusion that you could get rich if you made beats or rapped – and I think it’s changing because people are not getting’ rich like they were. …so, I think in the next couple eyars you’ll see more people doin’ it from a truer place. And, you know, to me it’s like, Gucci Mane, the songs he makes – that’s probably really from his heart. You know? That’s probably really what he fucks with.
…but it’s a problem when guys that have no relation to what Gucci Mane raps about, or even, you know, his music or whatever, decide thst instead of doin’ song like Jay-z they switch to Gucci Mane. “We need a South song cause Gucci Mane’s hot.” …and that’s when shit got kinda fucked up. When everybody just blatantly was like, ‘Oh, well, the South is hot so I need a South record’ or ‘I need a weed record’, or ‘I need a song with Neptunes on the hook because everything they got is noticed’.
You know, it just gets generic. …like anything. To me hip hop is not about that. It’s supposed to be some shit that’s fresh, you know? Like, just in that word – and, it’kinda, you know. …it’s definitely changed on end, but I still feel like there’s people doing innovative shit. So. …it just might not be the shit that’s selling tons of records or whatever.
What do you want people to know about you?
I don’t know, I don’t usually think about that shit. I make music more form the prospective of a fan then as like somebody that – you know, like I’m this figure and people need to fuck with what I think or, you know, needs to be able to convince people to like what I like.
I think I’ve done my whole career just trying to do stuff that I like and, you know, my ear is hope in tune with all these people. …which, if it isn’t then fuck it.
I’ll go get a job or whatever – you know? That’s life.
First of all, for people who are stupid and don’t know, can you introduce yourselves?
KG: Yo what’s up, my name Khujo Goodie.
CG: Hello, my name is Cee-Lo Green.
GG: Hello my name is Gipp Goodie.
TG: Hello my name is T-mo Goodie
…thank you very much.
Tell me a little bit about how you got started.
KG: Well. …we got started because we was influenced by hip hop all over the country. From the West Coast, to the East Coast, to the South West, you know what I’m sayin’? From all the way to the bottom.
We got our chance with Outkast. …and after that, Soul Food, Still Standing, World Party. …and now.
(they all laugh. …I, consequently, feel left out)
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. Was that the beginning?
CG: It was.
…what’s in the works now? Another album?
CG: Definitely another album. …actually right here in Frisco, we just did our last show of this tour, so we’re proud to have, you know, accomplished such a feat. For 10 years we moved collectively, then we reunite and – we come, and see, and conquer.
That’s a good policy.
CG: Yeah we’ve been doing pretty good, and I’m very proud of this past month’s worth of work. It’s like, here we are in Frisco, where we got nothin’ but love.
…so do the good mostly die over bullshit?
CG: They still die over bullshit.
CG: I mean. …I don’t know, I seen a couple people die recently from instances other than bullshit, but a great deal of it’s still bullshit. There’s a few of us still out there dying honorably. We always say, don’t die – die for a cause, not just because. You feel me? Don’t deem yourself expendable. …good God. Where is our self esteem? You know what I’m saying? You know, you either just didn’t have it to begin with, or it’s been taken from you. …and uh, I see the system tryin’ to defeat us, and here we are man, just like, continuing to the strong. To be sane. That’s quite a feat to accomplish.
On that note, did you hear about Guru?
GG: Yeah, we heard about Guru. He’s in a coma right now.
GG: He had a heart attack.
CG: I didn’t know that. Oh man. …last time I saw Guru we was in New York. We was at the Common Sense concert and I had gone there with Foxy Brown. Me and Foxy hung out, and we went to the concert together. …and I bumped into Guru. Damn man, like – I’m such a fan of Gang Starr. It’s crazy cause I was just lookin’ at Do The Right Thing – no, no, no, no, Mo’ Betta Blues, the other day. You know what I’m sayin’? And then on MTV2 they was doin’ a marathon and they played Jazz Thing, which is one of my favorite records from Gang Starr. It’s a well put together record.
That’s news to me. I’m so sorry, I consider Guru to be a friend, he showed me a lot of love, and we just gon’ ride with him. Good gracious.
It was a tough thing for people to hear.
…okay, how do you feel about hip hop in its current state? Specifically Southern hip hop – how do you feel about the Weezy’s, the T.I.’s, the Gucci’s?
CG: Wait a minute though. As a journalist, let me first ask you a question. Then we can dialogue about it. What do you – define the current state of hip hop. Like, what do you think it is?
How do I feel about it, or how am I defining it?
Okay. …how I’m defining it is just what you’re hearing in the mainstream right now. What’s getting radio play, stuff like that. Stuff that’s popular right now.
CG: So has music kind of gotten to a point where we like it, but we don’t love it no more? We used to LOOOOVVVVEEEE it. Right?
Depends. To me. …it depends on what it is.
CG: Well that’s my answer too. I guess it just all depends. There truly is a time and a place for everything. What do we got to complain about? People are being expressive, active and shit. …and we are reacting. I mean like, when that happens, you can’t argue with that, that’s living proof right there. I ain’t mad.
How do you feel about the fact that a lot of those people, the T.I.’s, the Gucci’s, they’ve been influenced by you. Like, specifically they’ve stated, ‘Goodie Mob, it came from them’.
CG: Well that’s just natural law of order because we came first. You see what I’m saying? You can’t help – and the same goes for us. Everything and everyone that came before us is a part of what we do, is a piece of what we do. I wanna say this one time, my homegirl, she’s a biophysicist, and she was tellin’ me that atoms have memory, and that we’re all made up of microscopic atoms basically. She was sayin’ with each birth, there’s not an explosion of new atoms in the atmosphere. We are all regenerating and recycling the same atoms. So like, everybody that ever was, is a part of us. Who’s ever returned gives us the essence we have. You feel me? We can’t help but be derivative of each other. That was the point I was tryin’ to make. …we cause each other. And that’s great. That’s awesome when you think about it.
Who are some of your personal favorites? Not necessarily in hip hop, just in general. What are you listening to? …like if I look in your MP3 player, your 8 track player, whatever it is, what am I gonna hear?
TG: I still listen to a little Bob Marley, a little Steel Pulse, a little Lady Gaga.
(laughter breaks out)
Bad Romance? …alright.
TG: You know what I’m sayin’? A little bit of everything. I’m rollin’. …I got about a thousand CDs.
CG: What about you Gippy?
GG: I think uh – I still like Ice T. Ice T, Public Enemy.
CG: You definitely OG with Ice T.
GG: Poison Clan, Luke Skyywalker.
KG: You’sa OG.
GG: Uh Magic Mike.
CG: …you IS a OG man.
GG: Like, new artists, we listen to T.I., we listen to Gucci Mane, you know what I mean? We listen to MC Breed. …still like some of that No Limit. Cash Money still doin’ they thing. Shout out to them, they still doin’ they thing, holdin’ it down for the South.
CG: Since we are in San Francisco lemme say Sly And The Family Stone is an all time favorite.
CG: Haight Street. You feel me?
CG: See, you don’t know nothin’ about that.
(laughter breaks out)
CG: It’s all good. From Earth, Wind, and Fire …this is a cool way to think about it, we have listened to everything from ABC to R.E.M. Right? Everything from Billy Joel, to Billy Idol. Does that make sense? …but that’s damn near everything.
It comes through in your music though.
CG: I know.
…last question. What do you want the world to know about Goodie Mob?
CG: I think the least of what we would want to do, that we consciously would want to do – cause a lot of things that have happened to us have been kinda compelled. You know what I’m saying? Like, I can’t believe that we’ve done some of the shit we’ve done. Then after I check it out, I see how we could have done it, but still can’t get a gauge or a grip on the way its affected people. Know what I’m sayin’?
So actually at the very least, we just want people to know who Goodie Mob is or was at all. In the least bit, if it cross your path at all, that’s enough. That’s a start.
…people already do (know who Goodie Mob is).
KG: …to know that they was some Southern Pioneers that trendsetted a lot of stuff that’s goin’ on in Georgia right now. You know what I’m sayin’? That damn near influenced the whole world.
Seems like that’s already happened.
CG: It’s funny cause that shit don’t be soundin’ like what we do, but we influenced it. You know what I’m sayin’?
KG: It’s like your kids (music). …they ain’t gon’ all act the same way.
CG: They DAMN sho’ ain’t. …they ain’t. Okay what’s the next one?
That’s it. That’s all I got for you.
CG: You got one more.
…alright. Lemme see. Ummmmmm. You would put me on the spot like this. This is my first live interview.
What’d you like about San Francisco?
CG: The crowd tonight?
In general. The crowd tonight – just being here. Did you get to spend any time here?
CG: Nah, we just flew in today. In time to go and speak on a panel – we spoke out about violence, social services, and things of that nature. We can’t help but to be conscious of that so. It’s like, gat damn, before you know it, it’s right up on your front door (these issues), you know what I mean? It’s like, why would you advocate or glorify some shit you do not want at your front door? You know what I’m sayin’? You feel me?
…and that concludes by interview with the Goodie Mob. All I am going to say is this: Recognize a legend when you see one. Goodie Mob are definitely legends, and it was an honor and pleasure interviewing them. …I wanna thank T-Mo, Khujo, Cee-Lo, and Big Gipp for letting me annoy and/or interview them! Peace.
There are a few key players is this thing we call hip hop that greatly influenced who I am, both as a person, and as a listener. E40 is truly an architect in the design that is my musical taste, and has been a fixture in my life since before I can even remember. If you can relate to what I’m sayin’ – this ain’t for you. …but if you can? Enjoy!
…so, just in case there is anyone out there that doesn’t already know you, can you introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from, and a little about what you do.
My name is E-40. I’m one of the oldest, newest rappers in the game. Still relevant. Still current. Still gassin’. Started off independently doin’ my own thang, makin’ a name for myself by word of mouth. Makin’ great music – me and my family the Click. The music spread throughout the soils of America. Got signed with Jive in 1994 – got started off in 1988. Between the 1988 and 1994 gap I was doin’ independent music, sellin’ tapes out the trunk of the car. You understand me? With a one stop called City Hall Records, and music people, and that was our main hub – they collected a lot of orders from all across the globe, all across the country, all down South, Midwest – not too much of the East coast, but some East coast. They was fuckin’ with me. Then what happened was, the name rung, and then I got one of the best deals in the rap game in1994. Signed with Jive Records – they were in a bidding war with Def Jam – every label there was. Def Jam, Jive Records, Capitol, Priority, E.M.I., every label there was. I stayed on Jive Records for 10 years. You know I could go on forever. …you know that right?
I stayed on Jive Records for 10 years. I got off of Jive Records in 03’. …after that I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I ended up signing with Lil Jon, who’s my good friend to this day. We did BME Records, through Warner Brother Records, and was on records with Warner Brothers until last year. Everything was good – and now I got my own thang through my son Droopy label, which is Heavy On The Grind Entertainment. It’s back to the independent grind – in a good way though. We got major distribution from E.M.I. The reason it’s a good thing is because I’m already famous and that was the main reason for me to sign with those major labels – to push, and to be famous, and to get known so that people know that my music is available. Now my music is available and ready to go. March 30th, Heavy On The Grind Entertainment, got that E-40 Revenue Retrievin’ Day Shift and Night Shift, two albums. In stores in 8 days (now 6). HELLO.
Okay. …lemme just take a minute to say, Imma huge fan. I’m from the Bay, born and raised, and I came up on your music. I was singin’ Sprinkle Me long before I knew what Sprinkle Me meant. How does it make you feel when you hear shit like that? That people consider you part of their life, musically speaking.
It makes me feel good. You know, it’s a trip because it’s the younger and the older people – they all got love for me. You know? They all got love for me, and it’s beautiful. God put me on this earth to do music – I started off in the band in 4th grade playin’ drums. A lot of people don’t know that. Me and B-Legit, we were playin’ drums, all throughout high school. You know what I mean?
That’s why I’ve always got a passion for music, it’s not just no ‘get up and just do this’, I been wantin’ to do this from day one. So, it feels beautiful to be able to let people hear what I got to say.
What’s the new double LP lookin’ like? Is it a double LP, or two albums you are releasing at once? The two tracks I’ve heard from it are bangers. What should we be expecting for this project?
It’s two separate albums with two barcodes. Both of the albums coincide with each other. What I mean by that is – it’s a theme to it. Revenue Retrievin’ Day Shift, and Revenue Retrievin’ Night Shift. Which, you got your day time activity and you got your nighttime activity. So at night time, you already know, off tops, you got your – you know. It’s club bangers, you know what I mean? It’s hustlin’. It’s drive by’s. It’s struggle. It’s everything, you smell me? Day Shift – it’s real, with everything that goes on in the day time. You know what I mean? 24/7, we hustlin’. …and when I say hustlin’, I’m not talkin’ about illegal hustlin’ either. It’s not only just that. When you revenue retrievin’ you workin’ every day, you just, you know, tryin’ to retrieve your revenue.
I feel that. …trust me.
(laughter from both parties)
It’s two separate albums. So, side by side in the stores on March 30th.
We always hear people from the South like T.I., Weezy, Gucci, or NY, etc, on the radio, on MTV, basically getting a mainstream/national response. Why do you feel that hip hop from the Bay isn’t on the same level as other locations? Why does the Bay, which has done a lot for hip hop, not get the notoriety other places get?
I don’t know. This is nothin’ towards none of the people you named, cause I got respect for them, but there’s just something about Bay music – when we come with a song, first of all, we way head of our time. You know? The industry has taken a page out of our book for many, many moons. You smell me?
We ahead of our time. When we come with somethin’, they label us like ‘aww, that’s just regional. That’s just Bay shit.’, and that’s been from day one – since we first started. It ain’t just the Hyphy movement or nothin’. It’s just – you won’t have Mobb Muzik goin’ strong. Mobb Muzik. All that shit, it’s just – they just – that’s the Bay. That’s regional (they say). NO IT AIN’T. …whenever somebody else do it – whenever another city do it, ‘it’s worldwide’. It’s like man. C’mon man. What you want man? It’s just – we get hated on, but we the ones that came up with all the lingo. We came up with – we the ones that made up the word player hater. That came from the boy Filthy Phil out in RichmondCalifornia. You know what I’m sayin’? That’s right there in the heart of the Bay. We came up with so many words – people name they rap names after us. You know, just from me sayin’ one line on my song Rappers Ball. Me and Too $hort. When we say “E Feezy, Too Sheezy”, it’s been names named after that. You know what I mean? We got people – actual real rappers names named after that. …and that’s not they fault. That’s just game recognizing game. But I’m sayin’ it ain’t just the fact that, you know, we just get looked over and I don’t know what it is about us. Maybe it’s just – I don’t know. I don’t know, maybe it’s because we too ahead of our time. Sometimes it takes – when you’re too ahead of your time, sometimes it takes a long time for the rest to catch up. Make like Heinz, and catch up.
(an outbreak of laughter follows)
…you got jokes.
Light years ahead. …light years ahead.
In the early 90’s, Vallejo was hawt in terms of hip hop. Mac Mal, Celly Cel, Little Bruce, yourself, Mac Dre, etc. Since it was such a breeding ground for talent at one point, do you ever see it returning to that level?
Yeah. Yeah, there’s some young talent comin’ out of Vallejo. You know, you got yourWillie Joe’s. Yougot Turf Talk. You got the whole SickWidIt organization. J-Diggs over in the Crestside. J-Diggs makin’ a name for himself, you know. It’s a whole bunch of’em man – I just can’t name everybody from Vallejo. The thing about Vallejo, we full of rappers. You know, we full of – everybody everywhere, you know?
Why do you think that is?
It’s just full of talent man. You know, sports wise and all. We some ol’ baseball playin’, 40 ounce drinkin’ cats. That’s one thing about Vallejo, they love drinkin’.
But we – sports wise, CC Sabathia, you know, he plays for the New York Yankees. He’s one of the great players, he’s straight from Vallejo. You smell me? I talk highly about him. You know. Your boy Jeff Gordon. You know, he’s straight from Vallejo. A lot of people don’t know that, but he definitely is. You know, you got 40 and the Click. The late – R.I.P. Mac Dre. The great Mac Dre. You know, Mac Mal. You know? You named a lot of them man. You know, B-Legit, the Click, all of us.
You have such a unique style. I have heard people try and imitate it (unsuccessfully), but I’ve never heard anything quite like it. From your tone, to your terminology, to what you rap about, you’re truly unique. What is it about you that is so different, yet so easily digestible to people?
I think it’s my character. You know, me bein’ a street – I’m straight from the streets. And yeah, everybody wanna call they self from the street. But if anybody read about my discography, you understand? And know about my history, they know that I am a street mothafucka. Fa’sho. …but I’m a character too at the same time. I like to make people laugh and what have you. I’m like a lightweight comedian. I’m a shy comedian though. You know what I mean? I don’t wanna get up there and tell no jokes but, I just – you know what I mean? I was always a student of the game as well. I used to hang out in front of the liquor store and talk to the OG’s. In front of the liquor store. You know what I mean? I’m old school. The OG’s with the bottle of Thunderbird. I’d get game from them, you smell me? But um …I used to be a student of the game. Basically, you could add all that in with E-40’s character and the people I grew up on. I grew up on some cats – first of all I grew up on Too $hort music, cause Too $hort taught you how to – the way Too $hort used to rap and make them homemade tapes for the hustlers in the hood and what not. He would talk about dope fiends, getting’ money in the ghetto, pimpin’. ..yeah, he covered a lot of parts of the game. You know what I mean? It was the same as dudes out of Richmond, which is right next door to Vallejo.
We basically grew up on Calvin T and Magic Mike out of Richmond California. OG rappers from way back. You know what I mean? Them boys was woke. You smell me? It so happened that if you put them in there – you add them, Too $hort, Magic Mike, Calvin T, UTFO, KRS-1, Ice-T. …I would have to say ummm, who else, who else? I would say Run DMC as well. …and Melly Mel. …and Spoony G. You add all them people up, man you got you – did I say UTFO? UTFO. …then you got E-40. I listened to all them, you know what I mean? I just came with an element of that style. And now I have my own style. You know what I mean? I just – I can rap any kinda way. I can get on that hip hop flow if I wanted to. I can do that as well. …but I just choose to do – what I wanna do. It’s a dice roll, but it’s a good dice roll, because you’ll have people who’s gon’ love it, and people that’s gone hate it. You gon’ have people that’s gon’ think – people right now to this day think I’m one of the wackest rappers in the world. Then you got people that – the majority though, you know what I mean? That’s only a hand full. The majority though, they think that I’m one of the best in the world. In my own lane, I am. In my own lane, on some real shit, I feel like I’m the greatest game spitter of all time. I really do. I feel like nobody spit game like me, in they raps, out of 22 years.
I don’t call myself the greatest rapper in the world – cause I don’t know what the greatest rapper in the world means. Everybody got they own little – you know, categories. You see what I’m sayin’? You got some that just spit straight hip hop, that’s great. The best. You know? …as far as back pack. You know what I’m sayin’? I mean, some shit like that – and then you got motherfuckers that. Shit. It’s too many people to name to say who the greatest – I mean, I would say, if anybody was, I would say Tupac. He could tell a lot of parts of the game. He came with a lot of parts – different angles as far as he had uplifting songs for the females. He had up lifting songs like Dear Mama, Brenda’s Got A Baby, Keep Ya Head Up, you know, stuff like that. He had party songs, he had struggle songs for the hood niggas. We tryin’ to make it out the ghetto type songs. He had all type of different angles, and that’s why we clicked. I spit that kinda shit too. A lot of people don’t get a chance to see – hear that type of music outta me, because they hear what’s on the radio. They don’t know my albums – it’s mandatory I got that kinda shit on it. You know what I mean? So. …I don’t know, I could talk to you forever. I got so much to talk about, I’ll talk all day.
I’ll talk to you forever! Shiiiieeeet. I’m on a time limit, otherwise I’d be – it’s not even set by me. Trust me. I’ll be on this phone all day.
…who are you listening to right now?
At this moment? You know what? Right now, just old school music. …I’m talkin’ bout old school r&b – in real life. Like, Earth, Wind, & Fire. Like Curtis Mayfield, you know what I’m sayin’? Like, real. Because that’s the frame of mind I be in – like I can’t listen to rap all the time. You know, I listen to my artists, cause I got so many groups so – that’s where I’m at right now.
Okay, the website is called Your Taste In Music Sucks. Tell me someone whose music you think, well, sucks.
I plead the 5th.
…don’t do that to me!
But – I don’t know. Cause I ain’t been really trippin’. I don’t really know – in my ears it might be some shit – it’s some shit that a lot of people might – that I might don’t like, but I. …my words carry a lot of weight, and everything I say, these days, is documented. So I’d rather just kinda bypass that like surgery.
…when it’s all said and done, what do you want people to know about E Fo’ 0?
Just know that this is music, and I love to do it. Know that I used to – you know I had a song called Practice Looking Hard?
But now I practice bein’ silent – and that’s where it’s at. When people say they keep it one hunnid, I’M one hunnid. I’m rare like a steak. I’m a complete man, ya’ understand? I’m a family man – I’m married, I’ve been married for 19 years, goin’ on 20. I been with my wife since 1984, that’s damn near 26 years, 25 years somethin’ like that.
So that’s what it is. I’m just a dude that’s got fire in my heart, and I know about the struggle, so I go hard on everything I drop. Put 100% in everything, so that’s where I’m at. …and I’m the most humble and hungry dude in this music game. That’s where we at.
In closing, I really want to thank E-40 for taking the time out to do this interview. If you couldn’t tell already, I was pretty geeked about the whole situation. I have never spoken to a musician so animated, humble, unique, and just an all around a good dude before, I don’t think ever (sorry if I’ve interviewed you and you’re reading this, but it’s true, E-40 > you). I think that in music, we make the mistake of looking at what type of person someone is too often, instead of just looking at the music they make. Musicians don’t owe us anything in terms of the type of life they lead. …that being said, we are so quick to point out the negative, and judge them and the things they do and say. I think E-40 is a great and rare example of someone people can look at and not find a bad thing to say about, because dude is just – he’s just it. I can’t think of too many rappers that keep it as real, stay as true to themselves and their craft, hold their family down, and hold their locale down quite like E Fo’ 0. …and being that I am from the same place as him, lemme just say, it makes me HELLA proud. I also want to thank Nate Bland, who co-wrote this interview. Good lookin’ out. One luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuv! Peace.
Houseshoes. Detroit, Michigan. …relocated to Los Angeles four years ago. DJ. Producer. Heavy supporter of the Detroit hip hop scene, Detroit hip hop artists, and artists who create good music in general. Kinda the resident DJ for Detroit hip hop from 94/95, up through 2006, when I left. Carried the burden – carried the load.
Okay, so you moved to LA. …what are you doing out there in particular? Especially, what are you doing differently than you were doing here (in Detroit, where the interview took place – in case you hadn’t gotten that memo)?
Not being as burdened by the scene as I was when I was here. I went out there and just kinda lived, you know? I take care of cats that I feel need some help and support from afar, but it’s kind of a real pick and choose situation. Out there, you know, I got a baby, I got a girl – I got a family I’m takin’ care of. Basically, I’ve done a lot more traveling since I went out there. The world don’t really pay attention globally unless – the coasts are a much better platform for people to pay attention. Since I moved to LA I’ve been to Europe, fuckin’ like, 8 times and shit. Australia, New Zealand – it’s crazy, I made a list the other day of like, all the places, all the countries – fuckin’, I’ve been to like 25 countries. It’s pretty wild. In the heat of things, you know, you’re just having fun with it, but then sometimes you sit back and go ‘damn’, it’s really blessin’ to be able to see the world – not only to see the world but see the similar, like minded people all around the world who have a taste and a hunger for the shit that we do in Detroit. It’s definitely a blessin’.
Do people just like – know you everywhere?
I mean, it ain’t no Drake shit, you know what I’m sayin’? It ain’t no commercial platform – but, you know, as a motherfucker who’s basically been a one man show for a long time. …I definitely thank the internet.
So, producing? I’m a big fan of your production – I like what you did with Marv Won, I like what you did with Invincible. …what’s goin’ on with that? Are you working with more people? I heard you put a beat out that I heard on one of your mixtapes a minute ago.
A looooooooooooonnnnggggg time ago! Real talk, I ain’t made a beat in well over two years, you know what I’m sayin’? I gotta lot of shit stacked up. Just recently got a hold of some new shit, so I’m about to get back on the beats. You know I started making beats at the same time I started DJing for the most part – a couple home beats. Making good shit – I paid attention, watched, and learned the ropes, and stacked’em up. You don’t see a lot of my shit on records throughout the years because I come from the school of Dilla, where you gotta pay to play. But shit, you know – there’s definitely more to come. …the Do-Over 10” came out in January, sold out in like two days – 1000 copies, retail 18 dollas’ a pop for a 10” single, so that was dope.
I hear your doing something with Crown Nation? A 12”?
Yeah, you know the homie Quelle, his crib burned up and shit so – when real life shit happens to people I work real well under those situations to help out. Got on the horn, spread the word. Got some money up. …and a cat on twitter hit me up like ‘yo, I got a couple dollars stashed away, I wanna do a Quelle record’ – and, you know, I put out records before so I kinda schooled on him on it real quick, told him how he should do it. So basically it’s a Houseshoes presents – 7/8 joints, a couple instrumentals and really good to have Quelle on vinyl. Quelle’s definitely one of my favorite artists – one of my favorite dudes.
So what’s up with the mixtapes you’ve been co-signing and hosting? Like Marv Won, Crown Nation, etc.
Basically I’ve got a platform that I’ve created. …and I don’t fuckin’ rap – I use my platform to assist those who I respect and have love for. So Marv, Marv’s always been one of my favorites. You know, a lot of cats back home that don’t know how the machine works. How to present your shit to people, get it out, get your buzz up, so – that Way Of The Won album was something that he had been sittin’ on for a minute, and one day I’m just like ‘fuck this shit, lemme hit up Marv and put some heat up under this shit’, you know what I’m sayin’? It’s like, I hit up Frank at Rappers I Know (rappersiknow.com) – he helped me get the word out, did posts on Rappers I Know, and I put the shit out on Twitter, you know. …leaked the Blue Monday shit out on Twitter. Just pushin’ the homies shit. Like I said, I’m not an artist, I’m a producer and a DJ. I play the records. I’m trying to get the records as much attention as possible so that when I play’em they can already be appreciated. You know?
Production wise, you said you hadn’t made anything in a while, but when you were making something, who would have been the person you would really have wanted to rap over your shit? Like, who would have been your ‘I’ll fuck somebody up to have this person rap over one of my beats’?
What, like industry cats?
If you say Drake this interview is over.
I fuck with Drake – I can’t even front, I fuck with Drake.
(laughter breaks out)
Do you REALLY?
I’m not about to – I’d be really. Shit, it’d be dope as fuck to have a song with Drake, I can’t front. That’s fuckin’ – a million people that would know my name.
But uh – Guilty, Quelle, Jay Electronica, Moe Dirdee. …me and Moe Dirdee workin’ on some shit. Royce. I fuckin’ LOVE King Gordy. Motherfuckers don’t know about King Gordy. King Gordy’s a fuckin’ monster.
Yeah definitely. You gon’ see some records, I’m trying to get these old catalog beats out – keep increasing my platform production wise, so when I do drop a record with an artist, I won’t have to – it’s not gonna be as much work, you know what I’m sayin’?
So, I think, in my personal opinion, the most talent in hip hop is coming out of this area that we’re in right now (Detroit).
…it’s been goin’ on like that for 15 fuckin’ years.
BUT, my question is, why doesn’t anybody else know? Like, why isn’t it looked at as a place like New York or. . .
The funny thing is that it is – among the artists it is. Like motherfuckers know that Detroit got that shit, they scared. It’s just for some reason the labels haven’t ever taken advantage of the jewels we have in this city for some odd reason. You know, you got Em, you got Royce, but it’s a fuckin’ – such a heavy squad here in the city. That for some reason – I mean you know, cats in Detroit just really are not business minded.
Is that what it is?
Yeeeaaaahhhh – really not business minded at all. It’s just a wild fuckin’ city, and the life is heavy around here so, a lot of cats is on some day to day, week to week, month to month shit. When you deal with all that stress and drama it’s hard to get your head in a position, like – on some business 101. Shit that’s real easy to me is so far out of someone else’s mind. They’re worried about fuckin’ getting’ a couple dollars up for studio time ‘hopefully this motherfucker will give me a beat, or this guy will give me a beat. Should I even approach them and ask them to give me some shit for free or should I just fuckin’ try to stack up for a couple months – cash out’, so. You’re definitely gonna see – it’s funny man, cause in America these motherfuckers don’t know shit. It’s so cliché when you talk to underground artists, these motherfuckers don’t know nothin’. Fuckin’ rats chasin’ the cheese. …but on a world wide scale – the first time I went to fuckin’ Paris, I walked up in the club at like 10:30 and the DJ’s playin’ Marv’s joint off Sound Of The City, and motherfuckers is reciting the hook. That shit damn near brought a tear to my eye, just knowing that motherfuckers is back here and they have no idea that they gettin’ love half way across the planet.
In Detroit, there’s no support – there’s no radio support for this real shit. Motherfuckers don’t know who Slum Village is, they don’t know who Dilla is, they don’t know none of that shit. You Know?
That shit hurts my feelings – I mean, I expect that where I live at, but not here.
Oh no, Cali motherfuckers no the deal all day. …that’s why J (Dilla) went out there, because between Toronto and Cali, you know, they gave Slum so much love when they first got on. J was anonymous in this motherfucker – he moved to LA. …signin’ autographs at McDonalds.
If you go to a liquor store (in Detroit) and ask a motherfucker who Black Milk is, he’ll be like ‘Chocolate milk!’.
(death inducing laughter breaks out)
‘like what is that shit?’.
Fuck that – you don’t do shit for your city, you gotta make global music.
Yeah, you’re def right – a lot of Detroit music is REALLY localized.
You can spend your whole fuckin’ life tryna’ get a motherfucker two blocks over to know who the fuck you are when you got motherfuckers in Austria and Germany and Amsterdam and Paris, fuckin’ Australia that know every word of your shit.
So who are some producers that you like? …who are you favorites?
Black Milk, Quelle, 14KT all day, ALL DAY 14KT, great dude. Chanes – just produced Miz Koronas whole album, he’s real dope.
Damn, I hate that question because afterwards I always think of people like ‘I shoulda’ said him, I shoulda said him’.
You didn’t name any of the classics – that’s usually who people go for first.
Everybody knows that. Pete Rock, Premier – I try to keep up to date with who the next motherfuckers are. …ain’t no point in beating old ass 20 year old records into the ground, I’m tryna’ try to represent motherfuckers that will be playin’ 20 years from now that just came out, know what I’m saying?
I fuck with Dakim. I don’t know where the fuck Dakim is at, but Dakim got some shit. Oh yeah, this guy Dilla. …you might have heard of him. Jay Dee or some shit.
I don’t – I don’t know about that. I don’t know who that is.
My boy Paul White, he got some shit.
Houseshoes got some shit – if he ever made beats. Khalil – Khalil is a fuckin’ monster, outta LA. Of course Madlib, of cours Oddisee, Khrysis. I can’t front, I like Drake’s producer – with that emo shit. …I fuck with that shit.
I liked you so much before we started the interview.
I don’t fuck with that whole album, but he got some joints on there that I do fuck with.
That’s about it.
So you’re a highly regarded DJ, what’s it like just to do what you love? You get to play music for people for a living – how is that?
I just find good music I like and I play the shit for motherfuckers that like good music. I don’t play radio shit – like, there might be a radio joint here or there that I might like, I’ll play the shit. I’m not like ‘I’M NOT GONNA PLAY ANY RADIO SHIT’. …there’s some good shit on the radio.
Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell yeah – Fireworks! I fuck with that. Fireworks is my shit. …I wouldn’t play that shit though. That’s the difference, stuff you fuck with at the crib – you know?
What do you love about it and what do you hate about it? What is it to you besides just playin’ music?
It’s just runnin’ shit. Like, you in control and shit. Like, you got a room full of 300/400 people and they’re at your mercy. …and, you know – I mean c’mon, I get paid fuckin’ thousands of dollars to fuckin’ play a record.
Records that I LIKE.
I would gladly trade places with you.
I get paid thousands of dollars to play this shit that everybody, quote, unquote, wants to hear. I’m a big fan of everything I’ve ever played – that’s a fuckin’ blessin’.
The travel shit is kinda – it can be fuckin’ stressful. It’s fuckin’ fathers day, I’m in Detroit, my babies back at the crib (in LA) – that’s some bullshit.
So, what’s your take on the Detorit music seen? What are your thoughts?
Well, we are the best, let that be known.
It ain’t just rap shit, it’s everything. Even back in Motown and all that shit. …it’s just fuckin’ – it can be real irritatin’ knowing there’s so much talent in my city and have it go undiscovered. Unfortunately it probably will not be discovered, just due to the forces that be, and due to the machine, and what not. Cause musically and lyrically this city is so far ahead.
What do you think makes you guys so much better?
Cause we don’t give a fuck. …we don’t, you know? I’m sayin’ like, New York, New York fell off when they started followin’. That’s who everybody else looked to for guidance over the years – then you had New York motherfuckers makin’ down South records. Fuck that. We don’t do that shit. We’re gonna fuckin’ make some shit that’s gonna make your face scrunch up, it’s an escape – you know? We give you an escape from that real life shit out here. So when we do that we’re not gonna point it towards the mainstream when it’s strictly for us.
If you wanna get your shit together, ask somebody whose shit is together. …they can tell you some shit, you know? We the elders in this shit. You know? Detroit is – I call my shit humble arrogance. We’re an arrogant city, but at the same time, it’s a lot of humility in the city too. It’s real people. It’s a real regular crowd – it ain’t that funny Hollywood shit, you know what I’m sayin’? At all.
That’s why I like it.
Blogger note: There was a question here about Dilla, but given recent events with people acting stupid and reckless with regards to Dilla, it was asked that this part of the interview be omitted. …all I can say is, at least I got to hear it, and, respect the legacy people.
The name. …is it as obvious as it seems?
I used to wear house shoes all the time.
I had to ask.
What do you want people to know about Houseshoes?
Pay attention. …you know? That’s a very multifaceted statement. Pay attention as in, if I’m in your city, pay to come see me. If I got a record out, pay for that shit. If I got something on the internet, iTunes, pay for that shit. Just, listen to what the fuck I say, cause I don’t waste my breath. I speak my mind 100% – Imma very honest person. …and, you know, you might see me go on some rant shit, but within that rant is a very good point. I don’t fuckin’ wild out over petty bullshit. You know what I’m sayin’?
Ummm. …I have good taste in music. And it ain’t just with rap shit. If I tell you to listen to somethin’, listen to what the fuck I’m sayin’.
I’m the shit. Period.
…it’s that simple. You ask any of these motherfuckers man, like – I gotta big family out here. I gotta big family around the world, you know? It’s a reason motherfuckers fuck with me.
So that concludes my interview with the illustrious Houseshoes. …dude REALLY was droppin’ knowledge, shit that people in Detroit and beyond could learn from, so take the mans advice and pay attention. Also, follow him on Twitter – and check out his pod casts. PEACE!
Danny Brown, Danny Tanner, Danny the Hybrid… how would you like to be referred to? …and can you give me a brief run down of who you are, where you’re from, and what you do for those assholes that don’t already know.
Just Danny is cool with me… if you know me good enough Daniel, but… I ain’t really trippin’ on your nick names. Just don’t call me wack. I’m from Detroit, and umm… I rap. And… umm… I like video games.
I’m just a rapper.
Another rapper from the D… shocking. So, what makes you different from every other amazing rapper from the D? …or are you different?
I think… (what makes me different is) just because I am different. I mean, I’m not saying that they’re not different (other Detorit rappers), but most of them just got like a certain image or a certain style that they just have to do, you know? I think I just have to do… whatever I want. I don’t put limitations on myself, you know? Pretty much, like… say they’re a super underground, hip hop, Detroit artist… under the J Dilla influence – if they wanted to do a song with Soulja Boy, then it would be like (weird)… you know what I’m sayin’? But I could probably do it, and people would be like, ‘Aight, he’s just Danny’, you know?
Aight ‘just Danny’… who influences you? Who has helped make ‘just Danny’ the person that he is? Musically speaking of course…
I can say Nas… and then it goes to someone like Dizzee Rascal. Then like, E-40… those are my biggest influences. Wu-Tang too… that’s pretty much it for my biggest influences. …MF DOOM too.
Fair enough. So where are you right now? What are you doing? Sorry if that came off as creepy, I just like to get a feel for the random shit…
I’m in LA chillin’… watchin’ Slum Dog Millionaire.
Wait… while you’re doing this interview? …you know what, nevermind. Instead, tell me who is getting a lot of play from you right now? Wait… lemme rephrase that. Who are you listening to right now? I hear you don’t even listen to all that much rap. Which I understand, because rap sucks… but, if I were to push play on your MP3 player right now, what would I hear?
Right now I’m listening to Lil B a lot. I kinda like Yelawolf a little bit… I dunno, that’s pretty much it. I just listen to Lil B. …and I listen to Yelawolf.
I like Fever Ray. Yeah. I like Fever Ray a lot, and I like… I’ve been getting’ into Animal Collective. I liked the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s last album… I’d never heard that, and it’s extremely dope. It’s kinda old now though, and I just got up on it. And yeah… that’s pretty much it. Fever Ray though… I didn’t know how good that number was.
Enough about your idea of what’s good… In MY opinion, as much as I love Contra (and talk about it virtually every day, not to mention listening to it repeatedly), I think Head is my favorite song of yours… (I’m a girl, so sue me) What is your favorite song of yours? Why?
That’s like… a weird question. I can’t really just say that – like, if I have a favorite song (of mine). But I guess it would probably be Dillabot vs. The Hybrid. That was just like my comin’ out party, you know? A lot of people knew about me but… I got more respect and shit from off that. It was like a good look, so… it showed that if you give me a good look than I’ll knock the ball out the park. You know what I’m sayin’?
Speaking of Dilla… Considering you are on that track with him, I’m morbidly curious to know the answer to this one…Who’s the one artist you would like to work with most that you have yet to?
Wow… artist that I would like to work with that I haven’t… I always pick Jack White when I get asked that question. So I would say Jack White would be it. Most of the people I’ve wanted to work with… I’ve worked with. So it’s like, I gotta… you gotta set your goals kinda… too high. Where you can’t reach’em. That’s like on of them big, too high goals.
…okay. Favorite MCs?
My favorite MCs right now… umm… Quelle and Crown Nation, of course like, everybody else. Danny Swain… I like The Cool Kids a lot… Ummm… yeah, that’s pretty much it.
That’s pretty much it. …I didn’t say Lil B? I like Lil B a lot so… Lil B is like the new Too $hort right now to me. I’m heavily influenced by Too $hort so…
Sounding unreasonably unconvinced, I interrupted with: Lil B is like the new …Too $hort?
I really don’t like music that your parents – like, you know how hip hop got kinda soft? Like, you can listen to hip hop with your grandma and shit. There ain’t too much shock value in it. Versus like… Lil B. It’s not something you can listen to with like… an older person, you know what I’m sayin’?
A lot of people came up with Too Live Crew, and were like, ‘this shit is wack as fuck’, but after years on it, it’s like, wow, you really understand now what they did back then. It’s dope. Like, real shock value… nothin’ fake – where you talkin’ about eatin’ up babies or some shit like that. You know what I’m sayin’? Something just that simple, as a nigga sayin’, ‘I fuck bitches every time I can’.
You gotta have all of it… and I like that. I like that, because that’s what I was raised on. My momma used to tell me to cut that shit off… steal tapes from me and shit like that, you know? That’s why I say some of the shit I say… for the little kid that’s gonna piss his moms off. It’s not for the little kid that’s gonna vibe to the song with his mom. Like, cause his mom like it too. This (music) ain’t for yo’ momma. Like… you know what I’m sayin’? It’s for the little niggas. The young niggas.
Understood. …speaking of young niggas – you’ve come a long way from Cocaine Cowboys (even though you’re still pretty young)… What’s on deck for Danny Brown? Tell me about what’s in the works… projects? Collabs? Album? Burgeoning career in the adult film industry? (yeah, I read your tweets)
I’m just finishing up The Hybrid. …it’s almost done. I’ve been working with Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. He’s sort of like my mentor right now. He’s just been helping me, teaching me and shit, so… that’s pretty much it.
Who is one rapper who you really don’t get? The one that, when people talk about how much they love them, you think they’re fuckin’ crazy?
You said… a rapper that I think sucks?
Umm… I can’t really say anybody, because… like, music is music. It’s really your self expression. What you think is wack, another person thinks is good.
So, I really don’t listen to too much – a lot of new rappers… I really don’t be like, ‘that shit is wack, won’t nobody listen to that shit’, you know what I’m sayin’? I’m tryin’ to think hard, but… everything I come up with in my head, I can figure out why somebody would listen to it. Like, (I could think of) what type of person would listen to some shit like that. So, I really can’t say that. It’s not nothin’ out there that’s just so wack to me where, I cannot listen to it… cannot understand why somebody would like it.
I can kinda understand all aspects of hip hop. I can kinda understand it all… and I kinda like it all, so… That’s a good question too. I’m tryin’ to think… like, it just hasn’t been somethin’ that I’ve hated on in a while.
I remember when Gucci Mane first, first came out … I’m talkin’ bout when he came out with ‘So Icey’. I thought that was wack, but, obviously Gucci Mane’s not wack now if you look at it – what’s he’s done, you know what I’m sayin’? So… I really don’t… I can’t say that. I really wanna answer that question too. I’m tryin’ hard to think…
I interjected with …eyebrow raised in the most skeptical voice ever… Why do you think Gucci Mane’s not wack?
Because he can kinda rap… it’s just that his accent is so crazy. Gucci is one of the real ones… you know what I’m sayin’? I think that inspires a lot of people – to do good in some sense, because he came from the same shit that niggas is goin’ through, and look what he’s doing… So that might make a nigga be like ‘Man, Imma try somethin’ else…’ you know? It’s really positive, if you look at it. Yeah, he talks about his negative experiences… to show people what type of person a person can become. People can change their life… cause obviously he’s not doin’ the same thing no more, you know what I’m sayin’? He gettin’ into rapper trouble now… but that’s not street trouble, you know what I’m sayin’? So… I can’t really hate on it.
I’m really tryin’ to think of something that I hate. Like… who do I really just HATE? Like… ugh. Who fuckin’ sucks? Like… I would say somebody like Flo Rida – but then I see why people like Flo Rida too, you know what I’m sayin’?
WOW. No. …but, yeah.
I can see why people like that. That’s good fun, techno, Miami, spring break… ‘I’m white from fuckin’ Illinois, on vacation, Imma go ham on some Flo Rida right now… I don’t care what he said, the beat sound good! …I’m drunk, we dancin’…’ It’s got its purpose, you see what I’m sayin’?
(intense laughter breaks out from both parties)
I’m still tryin’ to think of somebody that really sucks. …Won-G sucks.
You don’t remember him? Did the video with Paris Hilton in it? I’m not alright with that… that shit is wack. You know? YOU KNOW? That’s my answer.
Uh… on that note. What should the world know about Danny the Hybrid? Anything at all, from the random to the completely inappropriate, to the boring…
I’m just… you know, happy that people enjoy my music. I’m just tryin’ to… you know, make people smile… that’s all. I’m just about (being) positive and being good and happy.
Yeah, I mean it feels good to make you laugh. I don’t wanna make you feel bad, you know? Even if I’m talking about bad situations, I’m still putting some humor and comedy in it, you know? You gotta laugh at the bad shit man… that’s how we get through it. That’s it pretty much.
So that concludes my interview with Danny ‘I love kittens’ Brown (you said you wasn’t trippin’ off nick names… you can’t take that back now). Hopefully you learned a little something, and will check this dude out if you haven’t already. Look for The Hybrid, which will hopefully be out sometime soon, and in the mean time, check out some of his other shit, like Hot Soup and/or Browntown. Not to mention the track he is on with J Dilla on Jay Stay Paid entitled Dillabot vs. The Hybrid. Peace!