By Quibian Salazar-Moreno MC Serch made his mark as part of the legendary group 3rd Bass with Pete Nice and DJ Richie Rich. In 1989 they dropped The Cactus Album that featured the hits songs, “Steppin’ to the A.M.” and the classic “Gas Face”. In 1991, they dropped Derelicts of Dialect with their hit single, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, which was the last 3rd Bass album. That same year, MC Serch dropped his debut solo album, Return of the Product, and got rave reviews especially for the song"Back to The Grill"which featured a much younger and hungrier Nas. During that time, Serch was busy developing Nas and launching his company Serchlite, but he still had time to record another album. But the album was never released. Serch moved away from recording and focused on radio (he hosts a morning show in Detroit) and is now worldwide as host of VH1’s White Rapper Show. Now that Serch is garnering a little bit of worldwide notoriety, he thought it would be the perfect time to drop that 1994 album, M.any Y.oung L.ives A.go: The 1994 Sessions. We caught up with Serch to talk about the album, what he did during the 90’s, and of course the White Rapper Show and the white rappers who are mad. So what’s the situation with the 1994 sessions? Why did it get shelved and why did you decide to drop it now? The reason the album got shelved originally is when I played for Russell [Simmons], I had done the album myself, paid for it myself and did the demos with DJ Eclipse and Riz and we were just in the studio recording while everything else was kind of going on around us and I just kind of wanted to make these songs and let Russell hear it and get Russell’s thoughts and Russell was not receptive. He thought the record sounded too much like an underground New York record, but with all due respect to Russell, he also didn’t get Nas, he didn’t understand the kind of artist that Nas was going to be. So I was like, “You know what, I’m not going to focus on making music right now”, I was focusing on O.C. from 1993 to 1995, I got offered a really cool job working for Wild Pitch Records, so I became the VP of Wild Pitch and my whole attitude changed. My attitude towards making the record changed and the masters just kind of disappeared. So when I moved to Detroit to do the morning show in 2002, I moved a lot of stuff out of my house and those boxes got locked in a storage facility. When I emptied out the storage facility, I found those masters and said “This might be cool, let’s put these masters back on and see what they sound like” They were in really good condition, but some of them had to be brought back to good condition but most of them sounded amazing. It was just good to hear what I sounded like and I thought “this was before [The White Rapper Show] came out, this would be cool to put out, we should just put this record out on Serchlite.” So we started the process of re-mastering and taking it from the analog world to the digital world. DJ Mark Allen and myself spent seven months re-mastering it. . So what about that gap from O.C.’s album up until Detroit, you didn’t have any desire to record another album? I moved to Detroit in 2002 and I was working with Non-Phixion in 1996 and I started helping them put their machine together. I was helping Ill Bill, Necro, Shabach and Gortex put their machine together, helping them build their studio, and help them record their music. There are also some 3rd Bass reunion cuts on there from 2000, were you guys thinking about getting back together? Yeah, in 2000 we recorded those songs. I had a deal through Sony and I was looking to put out the third album from 3rd Bass called Ichabod’s Cranium. It was a great time being in the studio with Pete [Nice] but it just wound up where we were in two different places in terms of our schedule and we really just couldn’t find the time to put the album out. So why was there no album after Derelicts of Dialect? After Derelict and after I put out my solo album and Pete put out his solo album, I just didn’t want to do a 3rd Bass record. I was not in a place of wanting to work with Pete on going back in the studio and going back and forth with him. I mean being in a group, one of the things about being in a group, especially when you have two A-Type personalities like Pete and I, you bump heads a lot. And I wasn’t in the mood, I didn’t want to bump heads with Pete about musical stuff and creative and I just wasn’t in the mood, I wanted to make my record. I wanted to make my album, my record and do it my way. Plus I was working with Nas and had a bunch of other stuff going on, I really didn’t want to do a 3rd Bass record. Did Pete want to or was he in the same place you were? Pete had his own deal, he had a distribution deal with Sony and was putting out Kurios George and I think he felt like he was at another place as well. X-Clan came out with a new album this year and you guys had words on record towards each other back in the day, are you guys cool now? I don’t know if I’m cool, I mean I had Brother J up at my show in Detroit and interviewed him for the show. But I never understood why X-Clan had bad words to say about us. I was always disappointed by that because I knew Paradise and I knew Lumumba and we all had come from the same place. And then Brother J and those guys making diss records about us, it just never made sense to us. P and I knew so much about these guys internally and it was really foolish of them to come out and try to diss us. Because the things we knew about them would have been really detrimental to them. It would have looked really ugly. But the best way that we dealt with it was the way we dealt with a lot of stuff and that was just to let them rock, let them do them and we’re going to do us and not deal with it. That’s how I chose to go about it and that’s how I kind of continue to deal with anything real negative in my life. Whether it’s about the show, or whatever, I really don’t respond to that stuff. I really don’t get into it, I really don’t have the need or the necessity or the desire. The album is dropping on Serchlite on March 6, what else is going on with your company? In terms of Serchlite Music and Serchlitemusic.com we do a lot of consulting and a lot of brand development with ESPN on all of their platforms, specifically ESPN.com and 360.com, doing music licensing and creating content opportunities for ESPN. We deal very closely with the NFL and the Player’s Association, we supervise and produce events for a list of clients that we have, we continue to work records at radio. We’re working two records right now one by an artists named Greg Jarvis and another by a group called Dead Celebrity Status. So we’re working those records. We’re launching a section of our site called Serchlite Certified Hip-Hop, which we’ll dedicate to what we believe are the next wave of talented artists with the difference being, we don’t own their masters, we don’t own their publishing, we’re just giving them a vehicle to be heard and be seen. And with our partners at Orchard, we’re going to do digital distribution for these artists. And we just try to create more avenues for young artists. Are there any plans to record an album of new MC Serch music? Yeah, I’m recording all the time, I host mixtapes on a regular basis for local artists and I’ll spit a 16 here and there and I’m always in the studio in one shape or form. I’m currently working on a project called Peace in the Middle East with DJ Wyl E. Coyote from WJHM in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is a record of Jewish and Palestinian artists coming together to promote peace. With all the proceeds going to orphanages in Palestine and Israel that take care of children that have lost their parents in the war. I’m doing that and whenever the urge strikes me and I feel like I have something I want to say, I’m going to say and I’ll release it. Have you heard of any plans for season 2 of the White Rapper Show yet? I have no idea. I have no idea at this time. I should hope so based on the popularity but this is a whole new area for me so I’m not sure. When Lord Jamar came on the show, he didn’t seem too excited to be there. What was going on behind the scenes? We told Jamar, I said “listen, the best thing you can do, Jamar, is educate.” The thing that is great about Brand Nubian and the thing about him being a Five Percenter, he’s here to give lessons and teach lessons. And we told him, “Just go in there and be unimpressed.” And he was like, “Yo, that’s not gonna be too hard.” And it was great. He went in with a great attitude, him and Sadat, they had a great attitude about spending time with these dudes. Then seeing how shook they were when Jamar started breaking them down, it was just classic, you couldn’t buy that kind of entertainment. I mean, you can if you got cable, but it was just a great moment. On the show, you said that you and Prince Paul handpicked the contestants, was that really the best of the emcees who came to try out? Paul and I were not the only ones involved in that process; there was a group of other people that you didn’t see and we sat at a giant table. But based on the different criteria that we thought would be entertaining to watch, those were the best contestants to pick. So the selection wasn’t solely based on skills, but entertainment as well? Well, the music business isn’t based solely on skills. If that was the case then Non-Phixion would have sold 10 million records, Cage would have sold 10 million records, Company Flow would have sold 10 million records. The music business isn’t based solely on skills, you have to be a character, you have to be a personality. There’s several different levels that make someone successful. I’ve noticed that the only hip-hop heads that are offended are the white rappers, have you noticed that? Yeah, it’s funny to me. I’m actually very intrigued by the pro-White, anti-Black white rapper movement. That is particularly very interesting to me that there is a core of white rappers who don’t care about Black people, who don’t care for the fact that this is a Black music culture. This is Black music and they’re talking about eff the Black man, he never showed me any love so eff him. That movement is amazing to me. I would have never imagined meeting or talking to those people if it wasn’t for the show. But hopefully, if there’s a season 2, these disgruntled rappers will try out for season 2. What kind of experiences did you go through as a white rapper in the late 80’s and early 90’s? The thing that makes the Ego Trip guys and myself laugh so much, they’re going through an 8-week crash course of what I had to go through for 10 years. There was no way, in 1986, that if I didn’t know all the words to “F-R-E-S-H” by the Fresh 3 MCs and who were the Fresh 3 MCs, I’d get respect. And I got tested on a regular basis. I got tested as an emcee, “you got skills? Spit.” I got tested like “You ain’t really real to this, you’re just in it for the bread. Spit.” A lot of guys that want to get this kind of jumpstart, to get this kind of visibility, to get this opportunity, to be seen in the way that they’re being seen, they need to spit. Lyor Cohen (former Def Jam prez) does this to a lot of people, I don’t know if he still does it, but I know Jay-Z does it to a lot of people, “You’re a rapper? Rap.” There’s no chit-chat, you’re an emcee? Great, let me hear. That’s what you’re saying that you are. Any last words? I just hope everyone enjoys the download on March 6, I hope people really get to enjoy the music and it takes them back to 1994. I’m really proud of it, Mark Allen did a great job remixing it and re-mastering it.
Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
By: Rizoh Ever since he first stepped onto the scene in ‘98 with his cult-classic debut, The Dude, Devin the Dude (born Devin Copeland) has been dazzling heads with his self-mocking humor and southern-fried production. Now back with Waitin’ to Inhale, his fourth solo album, Devin sat down with HipHopCrack.com to weigh in on the ups and downs of being hip-hop’s version of Richard Pryor. If there’s one thing you would like to achieve with this album, what would it be? I don’t really want to prove anything. But if I can have a 4th solo album and people appreciate it, that’s good enough for me. “Little Girl Gone” touches on a heavy subject. What inspired that song? It’s the music itself. A lot of times I hear the music and it says something to me. So, I try to meditate and marinate to it. With “Little Girl Gone,” all I could hear was a message type story, something that’s not a happy story. We just added the guests (Lil’ Wayne, Bun B, Tony Mac, Tami Latrell) while mixing and mastering it. The song had been around for a while. Your style is lighthearted and entertaining. Does it ever bother you that people might pigeonhole you because of that? Not really. But sometimes, they’ll say it’s always weed, wine and women. And I don’t mind because certain things that I say tend to be accepted by some people in the game. Artists come to me specifically when they want to make open-minded songs…I don’t mind that at all. Why do you think people sleep on you on a national level? It lets me know that I still got some work to do, some things to accomplish, some things to strive for. If that’s what I want–to make myself a household name. But that’s not my specific idea of what I’m doing this for. Certain things you just gotta earn. You don’t control the tides. I love music. I don’t know where I am or where I got to go, but I still know that I got work to do. What would you say to the people who criticize the dirty south scene as a whole? Come down to H-Town and venture out to some of these hip-hop spots. You go to one place and it’ll be like a down south swangin’ and you go to another spot and it’ll be straight lyrical bashing and party-raps. There are different types of raps and different realms of it, and we always appreciated that. Back in the day, I used to record on my cassette, west coast, east coast, etc. Anything that had to do with rap that was hot at the time, we would play it. And that’s how our culture evolved. Who are your personal influences? Run-DMC, T La Rock…he was like lyrical lyrical. You know how you can just quote your favorite artist and go word for word? I don’t know one person that can listen to T La Rock as a fan of T La Rock and go word for word with him. What artists do you admire for their comical content? Slick Rick, Blowfly, Just Ice, and Biz Markie. What’s your favorite album from the Devin the Dude catalog? It’s hard to say, man. I know I had a lot of fun with The Dude album. Looking back on it, we did a lot of trippin’. There were so many thoughtful songs on there. The beat is still knocking but you have to listen to the words. Just Tryin’ Ta live was a good experience too. But i don’t have a favorite. It’s like my kids. I have four of them, and I couldn’t tell you which one I love the most. In regards to the DJ Drama/RIAA scandal, would you say that mix tapes have been instrumental to the rap game? I think they probably have been helping so much that some shit like that would go down, you know. The powers that be would rather see us out there slangin’ cocaine instead of trying to do music. It’s so powerful now, especially with DJs like that who have been putting it down and helping out artists. I don’t know exactly what went down but you have to be aware that this is our way of coming up now. Is it safe to say that you’re the Richard Pryor of hip-hop? If somebody said that I wouldn’t mind it at all, but I probably wouldn’t say that. Richard Pryor, man…he brought that comic relief. He was like an uncle I never had around. Your album title Waiting to Inhale, you’re talking about air, right? [Laughs] It could be air. It could be some good weed. It could be goodness, you know. Whatever you wish to inhale Yessir. How do you want to be remembered 5-10 years from now: “Devin the Dude the artist that________?” If they would just stop at “Devin the Dude” that’ll be cool. I just want to be remembered, man. A lot of people would say that what I do is nothing to be proud of. I just want people to remember me.
By Will “Deshair” Foskey Persia White, the actress who plays the character, Lynn Searcy on the popular CW hit, “Girlfriends” has been given the opportunity to live out her musicians’ reality, on television. The 3 part series of Girlfriends which began on November 20th, co-stars the Grammy winning artist, half of the legendary Hip Hop group Outkast, Big Boi. Persia’s character is discovered by Big Boi, who plays himself, and is hired to write music with the ATL star. “I was very excited at the chance of taping these episodes,” says the fairly energetic Persia who just stepped off the set for a break. “The writer’s of the show actually came to me with the idea. They wanted to show the arch of my character, trying to make it in the music industry, and asked me how I felt about them bringing in a celebrity that would discover my character. So they’ve chosen Big Boi to play the role of himself. What’s special about the episodes is that the song that we’re working on was written by yours truly.” “Girlfriends” have defied all odds in making it to its seventh season with continued rave reviews and “word of mouth” fanfare. Persia took the opportunity to express her thoughts and emotions on the growth of herself and Lynn. “My character and I have grown so much since the first season,” says the actress behind the character of Lynn. “I’ve changed so much as a person, because in the beginning I was more of a recluse when it came to my acting, my music and how I’ve communicated with others. And instantly, I was placed into a situation where I had to open up and not be as stubborn as I was. As for my character, Lynn and I was more of a merger than anything else (she chuckles a bit). Lynn was not willing to commit to anything, and now she is finally ready to get it together.” “And people need to realize that even with coming of age, that you’re not always ready to achieve greatness. Added maturity doesn’t happen for everybody at the same time. Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to grow up. Personally, people would tell me that I have a rebellious side. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d have any kind of continuous job, let alone being a part of something as special as Girlfriends. I had that mindset of, ‘I’m doing my thing, I’m going to do my music and be underground with it.’ It just feels good to know that I have grown up, and that in a special way, fans of our show have had the opportunity to witness the maturation of Persia and Lynn.” GIRLFRIENDS air on Mondays (9:00-9:30PM, ET/PT) on The CW and stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White and Reggie Hayes.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno It’s kind of weird watching the new X-Clan video, “Weapon X.” The last time we saw the Clan together was probably in 1992 or 1993 when they were out promoting their last album together, Xodus. To see what X-Clan looks like in 2007 is kind of surreal – they’re without the African gear, leather medallions and verb sticks, but rep with button-ups, Bluetooth headsets, and a couple of hot cars (there’s even a chain or two). The message of upliftment is still there, the protection of the red, black and green flag is in the background, and Brother J is still slick with the words. But it’s like watching someone who passed on awhile back, like Tupac or Bob Marley and coming back to life trying to fit within an iPod and Blackberry world. But Brother J and company fit in well and pick up where they left off: uplifting and teaching their people through song. The group’s new album, Return From Mecca, finds the Clan staying within their funk sound (minus all the heavy samples though), but also explore a lot of reggae, jazz, and even rock. Lyrically, Brother J hasn’t lost a step and still comes with the witty, intelligent and memorable one-liners (“My cup spilleth over, so I cleanse dirty niggas”). There are even guest appearances from folks like KRS-One, Chali 2na, Papa Roch, Damian Marley, RBX and a host of others. We caught up with Brother J at his crib in Los Angeles and got the latest on the X-Clan, the new album, the new philosophies and the history of one of the most memorable movements hip-hop in history. What spurred the return of X-Clan? Initially, after doing the Dark Sun Riders project I wanted to take the restructuring of the group a lot more seriously. We were up against the Golden era, basically needing support for conscious artists, so labels came to question our ability to sell records in today’s market. After that production project I needed more time to sit and see how to bring X-Clan back. I didn’t want to do an EPMD style reunion or a Run-DMC style reunion. To me it looked opportunist for me to do that at that timeframe. What sparked the coming in 2006 from that point, I needed time to stack my library, I needed time to study, not only the consumer but what was going on with the people as the time was changing. You come into the year 2000, there was so much fear and the world was going to blow up and you got the internet giving information overload to the kids and the parents can’t associate. We’re a voice for the people; it’s not just about me coming out with a rhyme and a beat. So we had to continue to wait until the door opened to let this second generation of Clan breathe. All this to say we didn’t want to bring it back on some “Yo, we got fresh beats and fresh rhymes, come and deal with us.” We wanted to bring it back as it is right now, which is a voice for the people. Did the return also have anything to do with the cultural aspect of hip-hop and the society we live in as well? Like a new X-Clan album was needed? Exactly, no one is addressing the key issues. We can all say “Eff Bush” and all those other things, but Bush is not sitting in our homes or dealing in our communities. We can’t just keep calling out one person. Let him do his job as the commander of the United States, we have to do our job as the people in the streets. And the little bit of freedom that we have, we have to make it manifest for us. What’s the meaning behind the name, “Return from Mecca”? The title was inspired by Malcolm X for his travels from the United States to Mecca to basically refine himself as a messenger and as a speaker. Return From Mecca for me, after a such long hiatus from the game, was basically letting people know that I didn’t sit on the sidelines, just taking notes to come back with nothing, I took notes to come back with something serious. I came back as a weapon for all the people that are frustrated with the current state of music. And not for me to be J or that, it’s just a set of balance because everything is so one dimensional. Hip-hop is universal and we’re going to listen to it all if it be simple lyrics or complex lyrics, all we’re getting right now through the radio stations is one dimension. But we have to step up our production and step up what we’re saying as conscious artists. I want this album to be an example. Just how like Malcolm X came back from Mecca as a refined and more universal messenger, so do I. If we learn all this history then we have to learn how to use it in some time frame to be true and living people. Listening to the new album, I didn’t hear much reference to white people in terms of cave men and polar bears like on To the East Blackwards. Did you just grow up or has your outlook on race changed ? It wasn’t necessarily a case of growing up or saying something wrong, I was speaking from a perspective of where I was learning from. I was learning that our culture was being compromised and we were being placed as cave men. But it was our indigenous race that we know was so great for building a lot of the Wonders of the World and we were never given credit for that. As a youth studying, that made me angry. And all of the people that were calling us primitive, evolving from an ape type of thing, were actually probably the pre-historic beings themselves. So whoever that maybe, whoever twisted up our history books, if they be white, black, green, whoever they are, I was pointing them out. Simply, about the thing with the polar bears, because this was an issue at one time, I think Eminem had brought it up in Rolling Stone Magazine. My thing about stating the polar bears and the gorillas, if I was a polar bear in the artic region, I have to play my position. I can’t play like a gorilla in the jungle and swinging vines. And neither can I be a gorilla playing post in the Artic. So if we understand who we are, we can play or positions accordingly. So it was basically for Black people to understand, stop trying to play white, and for white people to understand, stop trying to be Black and we’ll get along that much better as people if we understand out roots and who we are. We have more to build on if we understand our culture. But at face value, it looks like “He’s calling us polar bears”, but I’m calling myself a gorilla. No one says the other side of it, they just take the offensive side. Well, I’m just trying to come up with a metaphor and tell people how to play their position. We have role playing happening in hip-hop. All the sudden when you push your hat to the side, you’re acting Black. Why is it acting Black when you twist your hat to the side? And if I wear my hat to the front and pull it down like a trucker, then I look like a white boy. We have strange stereotypes in hip-hop. I wanted to end all of that. Ending it means to approach it, so in that song I tried to approach it as nice as I could. You really don’t tackle the race issue at all on the new album, is that on purpose or are you just beyond that now? The thing is, I never really wanted race to be an issue. I wanted energy and spiritual upliftment to be the issue for X-Clan. It was twisted through the media that we were just all about white and Black. The time was very heavy with rioting and racial violence and stuff like that. So we’re coming out in African garbs with the sticks and the whole nine. And symbolic from where we come from it looks like pro-black is saying only-black. And that wasn’t the case. I was saying if you wants these hoods to be better, Black folks need conditioning. They don’t need any conditioning from the outside, they need conditioning from the inside. So I’m here to improve that so you can stop holding your pocketbook when someone Black walks by or always feeling that someone Black is going to be overly aggressive. Look at the TV, every Black character is an overly aggressive person. Very rare do we take on the role as the builder or the patient person of peace, so I just wanted that to change as much as I could possibly put out energy-wise. So in this album, my thing was, like I said about Malcolm, coming back from Mecca you have a more universal perspective of things. Everything I did on that album wasn’t right or wrong, I just addressed the moment and what was happening on the streets. And how me as a young messenger wanted to relay that anger on the streets, but there’s also a peace that exists. And if we can get past certain things we can get to the peace value. I don’t know how easy it’s going to be, because my ancestors have been trying for years to get to the peace, but it takes all sides. So on this album I’m trying to unite culture because hip-hop culture is so divided right now, it has so many subcultures, that a lot of the audience for X-Clan is scattered. If I don’t create a universal album to bring the magnet out and draw these people, I’m going to lose. If I come up with face value points and they continue to misconstrue, it’s always going to be, “X-Clan is one of them super-Black radical groups, very political,” that’s the only label they can come up with. I don’t speak about politics and stuff, brother, I speak about how the system affects the people. That’s the only label of controversy and political they can name when they hear my music, but I’m trying to get away from that. X-Clan and KRS-One had differences back in the day and it was squashed later on. How important was it to have him on the new album? It was very important for, in my eyes, to have two spokesmen of movements to come together to speak about what’s on their minds. Before any illusionary beef or whatever the case the people have made us to come to, it was me saying to another leader, he being in charge of the Temple of Hip-Hop and myself coming from the movement of Blackwatch and the spokesman for the X-Clan Millennium Cipher, I thought it was a good thing for molders of men. When I say molders of men, we assist people to find their destiny in life. We don’t tell people what to do. So even as an emcee, we’re giving people an option of survival when we speak as men of knowledge. I thought that was stronger perspective than a beef. I never had beef with KRS-One, I admire KRS-One. We may have a difference of philosophy, about how we handle things. But I never had a beef with KRS-One. The media made it a beef and made it a bigger thing that it was. We could have just sat down and came to a term. He could have told me straight up and down like, “Hey, you might see me as trying to unite all races at one time, but I’m about the progression of Black people first, or the progression of the minority.” There are more people oppressed than just Black people, all culture has been oppressed. Even cultural white people have been oppressed brother! If you’re a thinking person or a patriot, a lot of your feelings have been hurt when your troops are being sent over to get slaughtered. A lot of feelings our hurt when our neighborhoods and our states here in the United States of America, haven’t been taken care of first. And we’re sending money to all kinds of other nations. So I’m relating to everyone who is in pain right now in oppression. We were talking about it back then, but ain’t nobody safe brother. There’s a lot of angry white people out there right now who are taking our side with this activism. It’s never been different. With X-Clan it was the same thing. When I say cultural people, I mean all races homie. You don’t need to have blond dreadlocks to be a cultural person, you can look as geeky as you wanna be, a computer nerd or whatever and believe in what is right. Freedom and equality has no color. Even back then with the X-Clan that was an issue, our appearance and our direct way of spinning it always put people in fear. If my drive does it, that means it’s penetrating, my point is penetrating and I don’t apologize for what’s real. Compared to the first two X-Clan albums, you really didn’t change up your flow that much on the new album. Was there any pressure to try to do so and try fit in with hip-hop today? Nah, there’s no pressure. When you acknowledge a gift that you have, you don’t put it in competition with other things. I don’t come out here saying, “I want an album like Game” or “I want an album like Xzibit” or whatever. I want an album that fits my style and I tell cats that I rhyme to be timeless. I write to be timeless. When you hear an album from yesterday, 1990-91, and you hear this one now, it all makes sense because you can use it five years from now, 20 years from now, 100 years from now. It’s lessons of survival, it’s lessons of research, it’s lessons of upliftment and enlightenment. That’s what’s timeless, more so than the flow. I’ve changed up my flows in so many different ways now because I have new production; I’m not depending on a sample to carry me anymore. The maturity of this album is that now when I feel something, I can play it over, I can hum a tune today and go over to any of my producers labs and get it out of my dome and put it on wax immediately, or CD or whatever it is. That’s the difference between yesterday’s album and today’s piece. Was there any hesitance or anxiety of creating this project without Professor X? Well, here’s the thing, the project was going with or without Professor X, and I don’t mean to say it in a rude way. It’s just that I think the original foundation of X-Clan was not clear to people. X-Clan came to the Blackwatch Movement years ago as myself and Sugar Shaft. We were managed by Professor X and our production was guided by Architect. Because when you come off the street, you have a raw talent and you don’t know how to write in bars, your music theory and your knowledge on how to structure and compose a song is very low. Most times, if you’ve haven’t been studying all your life, if you’re not a prodigal son like Prince or something and you’re just rhyming to compete and keep your name in the hood and become a legendary hero or whatever. But when we came to the house, X-Clan was only two members and it was going to be extended to all of our people in Brooklyn, similar to what have Wu-Tang would be. Several boroughs coming together as a clan. But we felt it would have been a better thing to have mature men involved, moreso than adolescents trying to find their way and growing in the game, we have people who have been here managing groups and managing clubs that are historical in hip-hop. Professor X and Architect have been that. By bringing them in the group, it instantly brought a another generation that doesn’t listen to hip-hop to our group. Because with mature music, it’s one thing, but when you have mature men who lived the era of that music with you it makes an adult say, “Wow, I know Lumumba Carson, that’s the son of Sonny Carson, I’m familiar with that one. What’s this group here?” Then they pick it up, “This is the kind of hip-hop I like, you got Roy Ayers and George Clinton.” They started seeing the music that we dealt with and the message we were talking about and we were hitting them like Curtis Mayfield or Isaac Hayes. It wasn’t like rap music, it wasn’t like “Aw man, somebody is competing with KRS-One or Public Enemy” it became a classic situation for us. I don’t think people got the history right because Blackwatch movement meant so much more to us than what the X-Clan meant to the mainstream. The name X-Clan was broadcast as part of the Blackwatch movement, which was much more powerful. All of that to say that the foundation of X-Clan was never made clear on what influenced us to be stronger. We came there with raw talent but we got our sword sharpened to be a definite weapon for freedom fighters and activists in hip-hop that didn’t feel like doing the latest dance or ego trippin’. They wanted to talk about some real raw activism. Now can we do this how can we get down how can we organize ourselves, they were looking to the Clan for that.
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Pharoahe Monch has been ripping mics for over 15 years, first as part of lauded hip-hop crew, Organized Konfusion, and then as a franchise solo artist on Rawkus Records. He released his debut album, Internal Affairs, in 1999 and followed that with a national and world tour in 2000 and 2001 as part of the Spitckickers. But then Monch disappeared. His label, Rawkus Records merged with MCA Records which subsequently folded, having most of its artists end up on Geffen Records. The label politics stalled any follow-up albums that Monch was planning. Although he was hard to find, Monch appeared in spurts by doing songs with Mos Def and Nate Dogg (“Oh No”), Styles P (“Life”), and recording his own singles (“Agent Orange”). He even managed to stay in the news with rumors of him signing with Shady/Aftermath Records. Last year Monch finally secured a deal with SRC/Universal Records and plans on dropping his long-awaited sophomore album, Desire, in March. HiphopCrack.com caught up with Monch to get the official word on his hiatus, the new album, and his controversial video for “Guns Draw.” What should people expect from the new album, Desire? Production-wise, we got Mr. Porter, Denuan Porter, The Alchemist, Lee Stone, Black Milk and I produced three cuts myself. And I just think, to describe it it’s real soulfully based, funk, political record. Are you singing on it at all? Definitely. Some of the music, which I think people will get when they listen to it in terms of why vocals are placed where and how it moved me. When did the singing start to play a part in your creative process? I did some for Internal Affairs and when I did, I pulled it off the record because it didn’t fit. It’s something that was always there. When you listen to the “My Life” record with Styles P or the history of the Organized Konfusion stuff, like “Black Sunday”, a lot of the stuff on the Equinox album, even on the “Oh No” record with Nate Dogg and Mos Def, I incorporated a lot of vocals like that. The video for “Gun Draws” isn’t censored for television and instead you released over the internet. Why did you decide to go that route instead of shooting for MTV or BET? I really can’t answer that question in terms of why it would have made the video better. I think things of that nature is why artists like myself who haven’t even gone Gold before, and keeps a certain edge or a certain integrity is why I have a valid place in the market place. But the response has been just incredible, I don’t know how much these stations would have played it and I don’t know if would be getting to people in Sweden and the U.K., if that makes any sense. The violence is actually needed as a ‘going in the complete opposite direction’. People have been desensitized to it and I needed to shock them to get my overall message across. I needed to do it how I wanted to do it, such a would be script writer, that I wanted to do it in that style anyway. The song itself is reminiscent of “Stray Bullet” off of the Organized Konfusion album, Stress: The Extinction Agenda that you dropped in 1994. Why did you decide to broach the topic again? Yeah, I was calling it a Part 2, but it’s more like a spinoff. But because I know it would be a challenge to do that, and people don’t usually do that in hip-hop. I want to stay out of the box and stay doing what people don’t expect you to do. And it was a big challenge for me because “Stray Bullet” was really respected. So what have you been up to since Internal Affairs dropped in 1999 until now? Why so long for a new album? The main thing, the hiatus was because of label politics and working on getting off of the label, the Geffen situation. That was the biggest reason for the hiatus. But mostly I went on tour, got a publishing deal, write records, produced records. I wrote two songs on the Diddy album and tried to stay busy here and there. But most of it really, was just enjoying my time off and not being involved in the hypocrisy and the BS, to be quite honest with you. It felt good, but its back to work now. There were rumors you were signing to Aftermath/Shady Records, was that deal close to being done? Definitely. The contracts were in the bag, but due to a lot of label overrides and what have you, it didn’t go over well in terms of the transfer of me going over from Geffen to Shady. Did you get to record at all with the Shady Records crew? Yeah, all of the Mr. Porter stuff on my album was going to be a part of that project, definitely. Are you still down with the Spitkicker crew and planning on any tours? Yeah, definitely. Funny you should ask, I just met with Kweli’s manager last night. And we were going over some tour dates for this Spring. Of course, everytime there is an interview with you; everybody wants to know if there will ever be an Organized Konfusion reunion. Will there be? And the answer to the questions is……. Who knows what the future holds! Do you still talk to Prince Po, O.C. and them cats? Yeah. And I just spoke to O.C. a week ago. The hot topic for this season right now is the statement, “Hip-Hop is dead”. What’s your take on the whole situation? It’s obviously not dead, and I don’t think it was meant to be literal. There are definitely aspects that hold true in terms of culturally and the different things that were implemented and aspects of hip-hop that are missing. But for the most part, what does Nas call the brand of music that he’s putting out? And what do I call the brand of music that I’m putting out? You know what I mean? So by virtue of that, I understand the statement but I don’t take it literally. Who do you think is upholding the standards of hip-hop right now? The one album that I’m blown away by now, is the Georgia Anne Muldrow album. She’s a jazz balladeer singing over Jay Dee, Sa-Ra and her own production. Do you have a mixtape or anything coming to holds people over until the album drops? The mixtape is out now, called the Awakening and you can get it from Clinton Sparks.com. What’s the next single and video? “Desire”, the title cut produced by The Alchemist. But the next video I;m going to do is going to similar to Gun Draws, kind of that feel. I also did a remake of Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome” so I might do a clip for that. Why did you name the album Desire? Because that’s what I had to have to get through the industry BS. It was just the desire to continue through all the politics in the industry and the waiting and everything that goes on as well as a lot of everyday life stuff, that’s why I chose that title. Did you ever feel like throwing the towel in on this rap stuff? Never that. I think it’s apparent for the most part, and I think it will be apparent by virtue of why I waited so long to uphold integrity and just be patient shows that it’s not about… I could have put things out here and there but I didn’t. It’s not about king of New York or the commercialization, it’s something that I really love to do. If I didn’t love it so much, then I wouldn’t have a waited so long. I would have put my own records out. So what do you hope people get from this album? It’s really layered man, it’s like one of them records that implements itself and something you can buy into. I think you’re going to want to get the t-shirt and involve yourself in the whole vibe. I think it’s just not a good album that you listen to and you’re like “Yeah, that album is good, I like number 14, 8 and number 7” I think people will learn the titles, and I think when you go on a road trip, you’re definitely going to be like “Don’t let me forget my Pharoahe CD…” That’s about it. Anything else you wanted to mention? Just thanks to the fans for being patient. I know I’ve been stalling and pushing the dates back, but it’s for a good reason. I think they’re going to appreciate the record.
By: Will “Deshair” Foskey On November 29th, Mississippi native David Banner was honored before 500 lawmakers and 200 students for his tireless efforts standing on the frontline after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc through the Gulf Coast a little over a year ago. The Black Caucus of State Legislators celebrated its 30th Anniversary by presenting David Banner for his humanitarian work throughout his community with a Visionary Award. In a conversation between colleagues, David took the opportunity to express his gratitude, his disappointments and his victories as he sat down for a crisp haircut. We both know that positive news is often swept under the rug, so I wanted to give you this opportunity to talk about the amazing night you’ve just had in your home state of Mississippi. David Banner: For the most part, the Black Caucus which consists of the black leaders in Congress, assembled in the state of Mississippi for the first time and rewarded me with the Humanitarian Award for all of the things that I have been doing from giving out scholarships, I’ve always had special outreach programs for children, and the personal time that I put in during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was physically in the trenches with the people who affected by the different atrocities. You’ve taken on an important role in the eyes of the urban community, when you were one of the first people to answer the calls of those who were in distress after Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. People are looking towards you as not only a role model, but also as a leader. How do you feel about taking on that type of role? David Banner: I tell people all the time that one of our problems in the Black community is that people send our leaders to us. For example, who elected Jesse Jackson to speak on behalf of black folks… not any of us? So we have to be very cautious of who we call our leaders. It also happens that a lot of people try to step up to that role of being a leader when they are not ready to handle the responsibilities of the role. So for you, it’s more of just being a vessel to express the plight of the urban community. David Banner: Yes, it’s more of being a vessel. And if it’s my calling to be a leader, than I’ll be that. I’m definitely not running away from that though… On Jay-Z’s latest album, he has a song called, “Minority Report” which is based around the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Have you had a chance to listen to it? David Banner: I’ve bought Jay-Z’s new album, but I’ve only listened to it once so far, so I can’t really give an accurate assessment on the lyrics. When I first listen to an album, I’m listening for the beats and the hooks. Well he stated lyrically: Sure I ponied up a million but I didn’t give my time / So in reality I didn’t give a dime or a damn / I just put my money in the hands of the same people who left my people stranded. Just hearing those lyrics, can you tell me how you feel about Jay talking about his actions…? David Banner: First of all, I’d like to say that it takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, especially in our generation. I honestly feel that it’s not everybody’s position to have done what I’ve done. I feel that a person with the influences of a Jay-Z is more effective in the board room. Jay-Z is more effective sending in a million dollars. Regardless of what I say, that is more powerful than me handing out a box. It’s funny that we’re talking about this, because I’ve had a conversation with Jim Jones along these lines. Jimmy talked about how there was a difference between you giving away 80 pairs of your own shoes and artists with the stature of a Jay-Z or a 50 Cent calling up Reebok and telling them to send out 10,000 pairs of shoes. As much as we might want to feel like we’ve done something bigger on an emotional level, I’d much rather that my people have 10,000 pairs of shoes and I’m not there, compared to me being there and only being able to hand out a few boxes; I hope that you can understand that. Emotionally, we can go at it, tick for tack, but I’d much rather that a person of that stature cut that check. So I respect Jay-Z for the decision he made. I would like for you to talk about some of the good things that you have going on in your life right now. David Banner: Everything happening in my life right now is positive. I would like for everybody to know that we have an opportunity after God blesses us to set our hopes so high, and understand that once you get to a certain level, there is no failing. Four years ago, I was homeless, so everything in my life now is positive. I got a show coming out on the Cartoon Network called, “That Crook’d ‘Sip”. I got my first movie that I just completed called, “Black Snake Moan” starring Justin Timberlake, Christina Ricci and the magnificent Samuel L. Jackson. I just finished producing a song for Chris Brown. I’ve submitted some music to Britney Spears, and it’s looking like they are going to accept the submission. Everything in my life is positive right now, I can’t lie to you. I’ve just won this amazing award and even though there was some negativity surrounding me receiving the Humanitarian award, that negativity brought exposure to the dedication to my community that I’ve been putting in all along as a philanthropist. I’m currently working on my fourth album on Universal, my fifth major release and ninth album overall, including my Independent releases. There are not too many people that can say that they’ve released 9 albums and are still relevant. But I’d like to leave a message with for the fans. One thing about our generation and the younger generation that we need to change is that we need to give our artists a chance to grow. Our artists are not going to be the same person as when their first album was released. You’re not going to like every song that Snoop released; you’re not going to like every song that Jay-Z released, it’s just impossible. My mother told me that being a visionary is a gift as well as a curse. The gift is that God has blessed you with a higher level of understanding that the average person doesn’t have. But the curse is that you can see so far ahead of people that you disconnect from them, waiting for them to catch up with you. So give your favorite artists a chance to grow and in return, grow along with them.
By Will “Deshair” Foskey 2-time 2007 Grammy nominee and clearly 2006’s out-of-nowhere, breakthrough artist Chamillionaire is readying his March sophomore album release, “Ultimate Victory”. In 2006, Koopa brought home a list of awards as well as a Platinum plague for his debut album, “The Sound of Revenge”. He was also crowned the biggest selling Ringtone artist ever in 2006, with 3.2 million Ringtone sales, certified by the RIAA as the first multi-platinum Mastertone artist in history. In our conversation (12-20-06), Chamillionaire talks about his new album which is still in the works, his lack of feeling vengeful in ’07 & why his feature on 20/20 that was based around his 2006 smash “Ridin” (Racial Profiling) was cancelled. Honestly, after the year you’ve just had, is the “revenge” part of your movement over with? Chamillionaire: Yes, definitely. I’m glad that you’ve asked that question because it leads to the title of my new album, “Ultimate Victory”. I spent this past year working so hard, trying to get my revenge that I didn’t have anytime to enjoy it. So I’m through with seeking revenge, I just want to enjoy life now. There’s wasn’t much publicized on why 20/20 backed out on featuring you on their show to talk about profiling… now that some time has passed since then, would you like to speak on the reason why you feel that your segment was cancelled? Chamillionaire: Originally, I was told that the feature was cancelled because the slot was already filled. But to me, the cancellation just happened to quick, like right before the scheduled taping. What people don’t know is that they’ve prescreened me before the interview through a phone call. I was asked questions about racial profiling and if I was ever a victim of racial profiling, so I said, “Yes.” Then I was asked to explain the incident. So I went into details about those incidents. I told them about how a cop pulled me over and told that I had warrants. After that he said that if I give him money that he’d let me go. So we drove to an ATM, I took out the money, gave it to him, and he let me go. I knew that I didn’t have any warrants in the first place, but that was also the day that I just got my car painted (the paint would change colors in the light when you look at it), plus rims on it. He was driving in the opposite direction when he decided to slow down, take a U-turn, pull me over and threaten to put me in jail for something that I didn’t do. I also told them about the time that the cops thought that the vehicle I was in was stolen. So they took me out of the car, threw me to the ground, stepped on my face pressing it to the concrete with guns to my face. They found out that the car wasn’t stolen so they let me go. After I told those two stories the representative was in disbelief, asking me if things like that still happened today. Maybe they thought that if I was interviewed for the show that people would think that I was crazy – I don’t know. So I hear that you have a new album dropping in March… speak on it. Chamillionaire: I’m actually in New York right now, recording on the new album. Last night, I recorded a song with Kelis called, “I’m Not a Criminal” (which was just released on January 16). At the moment, I don’t have much to say in regards to the album because we’re still in the political stages of it, trying to get music cleared. I have a song with R. Kelly as well, but I can’t promise that I will be able to get the song cleared by the label at this time. So I am still in the creative process for “Ultimate Victory” but it will consist of street commercial music. On this album, I’m the A&R, the administrator, the executive producer – I am doing it all, because I feel that I know what hot music is. In the industry you can get caught up in a lot of politics with people trying to tell you how to do your music. I feel that “Ridin” ended up doing so well because it was the closest representation of who I am. So if people loved that, I feel that they will love me for just being myself. Even though I worked with a lot of the same producers from my first album, you will see on this album that I’ve expanded my reach working with producers like Kanye’, Just Blaze, J.R. Rotem, but like I said before, I can’t say which songs will make the album quite yet. What statement best defines 2006 for you? Chamillionaire: Hard work really pays off. People can talk about the hits, but they don’t realize how much hard work I really put into this year. I went on tour to every nook and cranny in this country, from small to large venues. I went overseas, then I came back to the states for more tour – then I went back overseas. I was pushing myself to the limit; going platinum was not easy. www.Chamillionaire.com has relaunched before the turn of the year with a special gift to his fans – “The Mixtape Messiah 2” can be downloaded in its entirety.
By: Will “Deshair” Foskey From back when he was only known as that dude who sat at the back of the bus and sang the hell out of the Coca-Cola jingle up until now, Tyrese has added a new a.k.a. to his repertoire: Renaissance Man. Oh, you must have thought that I was going to say, “Black-Ty”. Well Tyrese has been Black-Ty from the start. He was just wise enough to know what was best for his blossoming career at that time. Tyrese has done it all from modeling clothing for Tommy Hilfiger to knocking out exceptional performances on the big screen. The man who indirectly helped Morris Chestnut in bringing chocolate back (I thank you both, because my game with the ladies became that much easier) is able to adjust on the fly as if he wore the number 18 on his back for the Indianapolis Colts. His drive is unwavering, yet strategically calculated – anything less would be uncivilized. His latest musical contribution, “Alter Ego” which was released on December 5th, is currently #23 on the Billboard Top 200 charts selling 116,000 copies in its first week. For a long list of artists out there, selling over 100,000 copies in the first week is a cause for celebration. But for Tyrese, it leaves him to wonder what could have been if he was backed by his label on a higher scale. (This conversation took place a day after the release of his double album, “Alter Ego”) It has only been a day since Alter Ego hit the shelves. Have you taken any early looks at your sales so far or do you normally wait it out to know the entire first week total… Tyrese: It’s funny that you ask me about sales. I’m actually sitting down in an office in J. Records at this time. I truly believe that my fan base is like a cult following. So I’m just going to be real with you… based on my video not necessarily being #1 on BET or Mtv and based on my spot on the charts, there was a set projection on how many albums to put out there. But we’ve been getting so many calls and emails that Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart has no more albums on the shelves because my fans came through and ate up everything they had. My supply and demand was cut short from the start, so whatever my first week sales will be, I know that in my heart that more people would have the album if they were available. So right now, they are trying to fix it to make sure that it is available. But as an example, there’s like 150,000 units in back orders because of my fans that came in who weren’t able to get a copy, put there name on a list to receive it once copies made it back to the store. It’s a beautiful thing, but truthfully, I’ve been doing this for so long I’ve actually removed myself from being caught up in numbers (sales). The numbers don’t make or break me. I don’t really care about the awards, or any of that. For me, my drive is all about the passion. Tyrese has finally welcomed Black-Ty into the world. Talk about that journey from R&B star to basically starting at the bottom trying to prove to the world that you can emcee… Tyrese: I used to be a part of a rap group before I started singing called, “Triple Impact.” And as the R&B opportunity came up, I just wanted to get off the block to go and see the world. I’ve never been the one to question the order of the blessings. People say that it’s a jungle out here, but they choose to only swing on one vine – but once that vine loses its grip and falls, you never hear from them again. I am willing to figure out a way to stay creative and take advantage of the access that I have to people. So I go from one situation to the other. The crazy thing is, for the many things that I’m known for, there are so many things that I’m not known for that I actually do. I write movies, and I also run a multi-media empire called Headquarter Entertainment which is 10 different businesses under one roof. For me, there’s a lot of shit going on, but at the end of the day, the reason why I go as far as I go to spread my wings is because you’re not promised tomorrow. If you think about all of the natural disasters that are taking lives everyday; think about the fact that one of the greatest R&B singers that has ever done it, Gerald Levert has passed on, God Bless him. There were so many things that Gerald wanted to do, and that makes it even more disappointing that he passed on because there was so much more that we wanted to hear from him. There was just so much more that Gerald had to offer to the world – not just in music, he was also a great person. I’m 27 years old, so everyday I am on a mission to find a way to expand this opportunity. I was raised on these words: Every blessing taken for granted becomes a curse. The opportunity would never have been presented to you, if you weren’t supposed to find a way to take advantage of it. My career started from a 30 second Coca-Cola commercial, and I’m still here. In closing… Tyrese: To all of my fans, I just want to say thank you. There’s so many other people out there doing films; there are so many people out there dropping albums this week. I just want to say that I love ya’ll for showing up. I love ya’ll for getting behind me and believing in me. And I know that I’ve been away from the music thing for a minute because I’ve been away doing films, but when you go out and get this double album, you need to know that I gave you my best. I was not away from the music game this long, to come back and give you some bullshit. This is my best R&B album, and this is the best of me as Black-Ty. I took my time, this is a double album that is being sold as if it was one, and when you hear it, you’ll know that I gave it my best. Thank you, I love ya’ll…
By Quibian Salazar-Moreno Five years ago Redman had his biggest hit with the Rockwilder-produced “Let’s Get Dirty” and then he was gone. Well, not all the way gone. He was doing the acting thing with Method Man on the Red & Meth TV series while at the same time putting together a crew called the Gilla House Movement. Now Red is gearing up to introduce his crew to the world as well as drop a new album, Red Gone Wild, in March. We caught up with Red while on the Rock the Bells tour with Raekwon, Smif n’ Wessun and Supernatural and talked about the new album, his side projects, and what he thinks of the current climate of hip-hop from the labels to the streets. How’s the tour so far? The tour is good. I mean it’s a slow start, I guess the promotion on it wasn’t super, super great. Not too many people know about it. But hey, we’re here to let them know. Everybody wants to know when the album is dropping? March, man. It’s dropping in March and believe me, when the album drops, I’m gonna keep dropping ish. I got a whole crew I’ve been working on the last three years and we’ve been building up material. The game has been in shambles, ya know. Why did it take so long? It’s been five years since Malpractice…. It’s just business. I could have been done with my album, but this time, the way I’m going with this album compared to previous album, I got a crew now. If I had to do a regular Redman album, I would have been finished. I just had to worry about myself. But it’s different this time, I’m grown now, I got to have an entity, I got to start up a crew, because I don’t want to be rapping forever, ya know? So that takes a little time, a lot of building and plus within those three years there’s been a lot of…. Let’s put it this way, when I came out with last album, before this one, everybody who I worked with at my label, Def Jam, is gone. Really? Yeah, so just take it as a complete wash out. Everybody who I worked with on Malpractice is gone. I got new staff, new people, new bosses and between that time of people being gone and getting fired from the label, within that three years, there’s been a lot of twisting and turning. You know the label wasn’t stable, you come out with an album, they give you half a video, then you’re back to the drawing board, who wants that? So the real question is, not why did it take so long but why did it take so long for the label to get their stuff together? As you can see, with artists that are on there now, on Def Jam, and what they’re going through now for artists that dropped albums this year. You can see what’s going on. Ya’ll ain’t stupid. You see what kind of promotion my man Meth is getting, and Ghostface, you see what’s going on, ya’ll are not crazy. Then, ya’ll will be the first ones to say, why aren’t they getting any promotion? Why didn’t he do this or that? Why doesn’t he have an album out? Why? Because patience is the key. Why would you drop an album when ish isn’t right? Would you drop something at the radio station if the situation ain’t right? Would you go ahead and force something out and knowing that you’d be going back to the drawing board and do another album in a couple of months? Definitely wouldn’t, and would look at all the options. Me either. It was all for the sake of my crew, the people I work with. I just feel that I couldn’t have put all this work in and be back to the drawing board in two months, with a crew load of people on my album and it sounds good. I felt that March was the right time, Jay done dropped, the Def Jam hype would slow down, and they would need somebody to hold the label up and that’d be me. From then on, I’m never going to keep it quiet. Matter of fact, after Red Gone Wild drops in March, I’m dropping Muddy Waters 2 in November, I ain’t playing no games. During those Def Jam rebuilding years, did you ever consider going indie? Well, I did two mixtapes. I did the Ill at Will 1 and I did an Ill at Will 2 and we’re coming out with another mixtape called Live at the Bricks and the ish is fire. If you ain’t got none of those go to www.gillahouse.net. Go pick those mixtapes up and I guarantee you they will keep you busy until my album comes out. Regarding Def Jam, you think Jay-Z is doing a good job leading it? Well, I’m gonna tell you like this, I’ve never been one to complain about another man and his job. I feel like, if I complain I’m making an excuse of where I’m at. That’s one thing I don’t do, I don’t make any excuses for where I’m at because of some other man. I’m not making no other man be blockage of my money. So how is Jay-Z running the label? You got to think to yourself, hey could you do it better? And I’m like, eh, it’s his first time running a label and in the next year or so, he’ll smooth it out, you never know. I ain’t going to make no excuse for him because you know, like I said, you got a choice. If you don’t feel ish is right at the label, you can say I don’t want to drop now. Nobody forces you to drop an album. They gave me slots to drop my album, they gave me two times. They said, ‘Look, I got a window for you. I got a window for you here to drop in August; I got a window for you here to drop in November.’ I didn’t take it. So it just wasn’t right? I just didn’t take it. It didn’t feel right man. And for the cats who dropped in August, they ain’t getting nothing. I’m really pissed about my man Meth and what his album is doing. He’s not getting the right promotion, but you know, that’s the name of the game. And you know, I can sit here and say ‘yeah, Jay ain’t doing his job’, but I ain’t dropped my album yet for me to say that. But once I get out there on that road, and once my album is out, I’m not going to sit around and depend on Jay. He know it, I know it, and the label know it. They know I’m self-sufficient. You will never hear me in an interview saying ‘F*** Jay, he ain’t do the man right’. Jay is his own man and I’m my own man, I feel I’m just as big as that nigga. So maybe I can get in there, hit the road and tell him what to do. Like I said man, sometimes it just takes patience, sometimes it might take a long time for you to drop an album, but hey, why not have the patience and do it right. So what’s up with the crew, Gillahouse? Gilla House Crew, Gilla is short for gorilla. I like gorillas, everybody knows that I’m a gorilla since my first album, so I just shortened. Gilla House isn’t just a gang, it’s a movement. We’re a movement of good music. What does Gilla mean? Gilla means over the top. When we’re in the studio… put it this way, you know when you’re dealing with anybody doing any kind of work or a hobby or anything they love, you want to show it to somebody. You’ll be like ‘This one is nice, I want to show you this one’ then you get to one you ain’t so proud and you say ‘This one I’m still working on,’ Gilla is eliminating all that. It’s everything over the top. It’s like ‘Do you feel good about this song? Is it Gilla enough? Will it get the crowd rockin’? Nah, I just kind of like it—well ‘x’ it then.’ There’s no in between, no BS. Everything is off the rocker, everything has to be Gilla. And we definitely want to state that we’re not just a gang from the street because we’re from the hood. We’re a movement of good music and we want everybody to recognize that so when we do you come out, they ain’t ‘Okay, here goes another rap group with a gang of people doing videos’, nah we just want to be known as Gilla House and everyone will be like ‘We’re just going to support them because they’re going to give us some good music. So who is in the crew? The crew consists of Saukrates from Canada, and he’s been in the game for a long time. There’s Melanie, she’s an up and coming artist from Michigan and she’s worked with people like J Dilla and all the Detroit crew. Then there Icarus from Brooklyn and you heard him on my previous album, he’s banging and he’s on my new album as well. There’s Ready Rock, he’s the youngest out of the crew and he’s from Newark. He’s on my album a couple of times. Then Ellis III, E3 is from Boston but he rests in Toronto and L.A. and he’s a male R&B singer. He did something on Meth’s last album, before this one came out. So he’s doing something on my new album and Melanie, she’s an R&B artist too. So E3, Melanie, Saukrates, Icarus and Ready Rock. Also Runt Dog, but he’s locked up right now and he’s on my album and he has a fire mixtape out called Friday the 13th – Runt Dog, so check the internet for that, it’s a good purchase. That’s about it, and we’re going to be recruiting more Gilla House members after we get this first load off and that’s what it is man. So other than the Gilla crew, who else do you have on the album? No special guests man, I don’t consider these special guests but like Meth, Snoop, you know me and Snoop are always trading off verses for each other’s album so and Nate Dogg. You know I keep it simple, I don’t try to go for the big win or reach like “Oh, you got so and so, or you got so and so singing’, I just try to keep it family so I can show my fans that it’s still hip-hop going on without the special guests on every record. So I got people that’s family on there that you would not be surprised to see on there. Now, I’ll tell you what I did do different is I didn’t have Rockwilder and Erick Sermon produce the whole album. I got tracks from other people as well. Can you spill the beans? Man, I don’t like shooting names like that, that’s never been my forte. I got like five or six producers on there and you know they’re already from…. Well, Eminem did one… you know it ranges from Eminem to Scott Storch. Timbaland did one. And you know, it sounds funny for a Redman album, you know ‘Scott Storch on a Redman abum!!?!’ But I’ve known Scott Storch for awhile and I see Timbaland and these are cats that I see. So when thy give me some music, its not like they’re reaching for the big single like if Scott Storch was going to do something for Jay-Z or 50 Cent. They ain’t reaching for the big single like that; they’re reaching to give me something big that’s in a Redman sense. Because they know that Redman has a core of fans that’s not mixed with this commercial stuff that you hear on the radio. So they’re like, ‘We wanna give this nigga something that he can rock with for his following. So it’s cool, you ain’t gonna hear, ‘Oh he got the big singing single, or he got the big Scott Storch or Timbaland single’, so nah it’s none of that. It’s good and I like it. So any Def Squad projects coming? Of course, we got Def Squad coming. We got the Keith Murray project finished and it’s on the way. Def Squad is on my album as well, they help promote the push. And hopefully we can get in here with a Def Squad album, probably in the middle of next year. What about you and Method Man? A new Blackout album from me and Meth, we’ll probably be working on that next year. We need to do that now, we’re lazy. You know, the game done changed and we’re trying to keep our head above water. I just want people to know about me and Meth. We learned from a lot of mistakes, we’re not sellouts. We’re out here, we’re back in the hip-hop game and we’re trying to get everyone circling on the Red and Meth thing like it used to be. We want to get our smokers back. So if ya’ll ain’t hearing us, we’re in a tight grind right now to make the situation better. So we’re going to work on this Blackout 2 as soon as we get both our stuff together. What about movies and acting? How High 2, definitely. Matter of fact, when we do the How High 2, we’re going to promote the Blackout 2 as the soundtrack to the movie, that will be great. As far as acting I’ll do it if they ask. As you can see, for me, I do certain parts that mean something. You don’t see me all over the films but, I did a couple, put it this way, I don’t want to be just an actor. I think acting is great, but I really want to direct. I have a movie that I’m writing that I want to direct probably within the next two years after I learn more. The acting thing yeah, I’ll probably act if it’s in my own movie, but you gotta understand I haven’t played in a lot of parts. My track record of movies is pretty good, I ain’t do a whole lot of movies, but the ones I did counted. Like The Seed of Chucky, I was kissing up on the star of the movie ya know! What can I say about that? I was up with the star of the movie. I did How High and I did the Seed of Chucky and in both of them, I didn’t die early! I died in the middle of the movie so I had a pretty good run. I had offers for other movies and I read for other movies and what they see in me, they see so much talent but they know and I know, as in acting I need to learn more. Like if you turn on the camera, I can go, you know what I’m saying? But there’s certain things I need to learn about acting that I know, because I think acting is a gift. Just like rapping. I feel kind of offended to think that an actor can just come in and just start rapping and be the man, ya know? Nah, you got to put in time. So you’re working on the writing side of things then as well? Yeah, that’s what I want to do; I want to learn the craft for that. Put together nice writing teams, write my own movie, shoot the b**** and get the money. So are you still hanging around Jersey? Yup, Jersey, Staten Island in the hood, homie. You ask anybody out there in Newark or Staten Island in the hood, they always see me, nigga, this ain’t no game. All day!! Does Jersey have its own hip-hop scene or is it just kind of melded with New York? Yeah, we got our own separate thing, we don’t rock like New York cats. They know it and we know it. It ain’t no secret. Jersey cats was the the ones poppin’ off with punchlines since way back in the day, I’ve been spittin’ punchlines since 1991. Jersey definitely has its own thing and that’s what we’re here to state too. On my new mixtape, “Live from the Bricks”, I’m stating that Jersey takes a lot of heat for New York. When we out on the west coast they don’t say that the east coast is Jersey, they say that the east coast is New York. So we rock for New York, if we out there we rep the east coast. So we take a a lot of heat for New York so we need some kind of homage from these New York cats on the radio, ya know? Jersey is on a rampage right now… we don’t give a… So what’s your opinion of the game as a whole right now? I love it. It’s just making us work harder that’s all. I’m not complaining about down South, I love down South. I’m glad that they got their shine and doing wat they want to do. And I put it like this, if ya’ll are tired of the down South movement, put out some stuff that’ll make a change, shut it down. Everything that goes up, must come down. Everybody knows that. Down South ain’t going to reign forever, just like east coast couldn’t reign forever, just like west coast couldn’t reign forever. Snoop Dogg and the Dogg Pound had that west coast going on with The Chronic for three years, then it had to slow down. New York had it going for awhile and it had to slow down. Down south got it going right now and they’re going to have going for another year or so, then it’s going to slow down. It’s all about who’s going to be ready it’s time to get down. I love it, because if you notice, me and Erick Sermon are always down in Atlanta. I shot Muddy Waters’ “Pick it Up” in Atlanta. We did the first “How Can I Be Down?” conference in Atlanta. I had the tapes, I was selling the tapes and doing my own promo, everybody seen it. I had the big afro selling my ish, that was in Atlanta, that was at “How Can I Be Down?” So we always try to keep Atlanta poppin’ because Erick Sermon moved down their like 10 years ago, so we always tried to get some hip-hop down there. Everybody knows that. So we’re glad that Atlanta down south and everybody is doing their thing, so we’re not worried about it. I only say that because I know the talk in the streets and when you’re talking how you feel about hip-hop and where it’s going. That question is really about what do you think about the new artists in the game that’s evolving hip-hop and the new artists is mostly down south cats and I think its great. And if you notice, it’s coming back around to piano beats, that’s what we started with like Planet Rock, Soulsonic Force, those were all keyboard beats. And it came back right around to it, you got to dig the revolution and you got to be on your rap game to really know what’s going on. Is it really down south or is it just really coming back around? So you got ask yourself that man, I’m just very appreciative of music. So you don’t agree with Nas assertion that Hip-Hop is dead? Well, that’s Nas’ opinion. Maybe Nas feels like hip-hop is dead. For me, if hip-hop is dead we wouldn’t be able to get a dime out here. We can barely get a quarter out here anyway, but if hip-hop was really dead we couldn’t get a dime from no one. Any last words? Yeah man, I just want everybody to support the Gilla House Movement. Anybody who’s a Redman fan, support the Gilla House Movement. I’m not stopping anything, my music just got grown. And if you’ve been a Redman fan all these years and you grew with me, you understand what I’m talking about. I can’t go back talking about the young stuff I used to, I’m a grown man now. I’m still crazy but I’m grown. Just keep supporting me and what we’re doing and I’ll see you in a hood near you!
By Kevin L. Clark Being independent and a musician is akin to the South. While New York was getting jiggy and the West was gangsta-walkin’ it, the South was being heavily slept on by the majors. As the likes of Master P, Baby and Slim Williams, J. Prince, and others began to make their mark by establishing their own labels, artists were learning the business inside and out. David Banner, Lil’ Flip, T.I., and others just to name a few, made themselves legends in their regions before exploding into the national spotlight. Another emcee hoping to add his name is Boo (aka Boo Rossini). The Mississippi native who’s signed to J Records via his imprint, Royal Dollar Records, is poised to be a major player in the game with his upcoming debut album “1 Life, 1 Love” and his DJ Drama assisted mixtape – “The Drug Store”. The album set for release in 2007 features production from Swizz Beats, Mannie Fresh, Jazze Pha and others; with guest appearances from Bun B and Paul Wall just to name a few. The Southern underground kingpin, who’s been grinding for over seven years, sits down with HHC after doing countless shows and talks about the independent game versus being with a major, what he thought about Young Jeezy before the masses knew of him, and what’s behind the meaning of “1 Life, 1 Love”. HHC: Before hip-hop began to shine its spotlight on the South, what was the most trying part of being an independent artist? Boo: There really wasn’t a trying part. You know what I’m saying? I just went out and learned the business. That’s what the game forced us to do because we weren’t a New York or a LA; we had to learn bar codes, distributions, promotions, and the whole nine. People weren’t coming to the South, at that time, so it was just ourselves doing all the work. It just taught us how to work hard for what we want. The one thing I’ve learned since signing to J Records is that you’re using their money, not your money. HHC: Eventually, your hard work paid off as you were able to perform in front of the legendary Clive Davis. J Records isn’t really known for having a great track record with rappers. If the label doesn’t promote your album like it should, what will you do?</b> Boo: That’s the advantage that we have. We started in this game being independent. At the end of the day, they can’t take that from me. It’s not like they came and discovered us. We were already moving as a unit. We already have our fan-base. All they’re doing is distribution of the product. They’re just going to get it in the stores and promote it. If I had to go back to independent, it would. The foundation has already been laid. That’s why you have to look at your contract. Once, we get to the point – demo. Taking a chance. If everyone does their job, it’ll work. It’s a gamble to take the chance. There’s no chance of the album even coming out. But if everyone upholds their end then, it’ll work. That’s just like saying that Asylum, their first act broke through with Mike Jone. They weren’t really know as a company until then. So, if the gamble pays off, then it’s lovely. HHC: Another Mississippi native, David Banner, had to make his mark by producing songs before anyone, nationally, ever took him seriously as an emcee. You built your reputation from the ground up – if you don’t make a dent in the game nationally, what will you do? Boo: Really, I ain’t even looking at that. You just have to stay positive about that. You get what you put into it. At the end of the day, I’m going to do my part as far as that music is concerned. It’ll be a win-win situation when the album comes out. I have a few features on the album. Specifically, Jeezy is on the album too. You know that Jeezy and I started out together. Everybody was grinding independently. Everyone was using the same formula at the time. We were all trying to create good anthems for the street. We’d break the records in the streets. I saw from the gate that Jeezy was a hustler. He put in a lot of hard work from the beginning, he never took a short cut. Same thing with Banner, he would go out on the road and put his money and invest it in himself. A lot of people are thinking that they’re just popping out of the blue, but they’ve been on their hustle for a minute and weren’t waiting for a major to pick them up. The buzz in the street is crucial. HHC: Rappers are known as being braggarts, but most don’t live what they write about. For the past seven years or so, you’ve drop underground album after album – what kept you going and what can listeners expect with “The Drug Store” mixtape? Boo: It’s that pain medicine, you know what I’m saying? There are a lot of people going through what I’m going through. My inspiration is life. In general, I may go through some things and then, that night, will come into the studio and write about it. As far as rappers who don’t live what they write, that doesn’t hold any weight with me. A lot of dudes who got that buzz is from people knowing you from your rhymes. A lot of that comes from that. Living that life is how you got your buzz in the streets. Your reputation and your name will follow you wherever you go. You hear about it all the time. HHC: Your debut album is called, “1 Life, 1 Love”. What’s the significance of the title to you? Boo: The album is really good, it’s really family based. The title is just a universal phrase that I associate with the people that I rock with. It is a title that signifies the movement that we have. Everyone in my circle gets one love. It’s just that. I support anyone and everyone who is about making something out of themselves. I’m just giving them [the fans] my life. This album is bigger than I am; I’m trying to unite the streets. That’s what this album is about. The whole movement that we got state-to-state, we show love. I fucks with a lot of street guys that support our music. That’s how I consider uniting the streets, showing love. HHC: Every rapper proclaims that they’re from the street and tells street tales. With their being a struggle between newly christened rappers beefing with the more established ones – what do you think that you have to offer that’s truly any different from anyone else? Boo: That ain’t me. That’s not beef to me. I don’t even get into all that. I don’t cause any problems. I just try to stay in my lane. My only caution is just don’t get in mines. You have to look at that there isn’t any difference. I am just telling my story from my point of view. The dudes that go out and buy them are the ones that we’re catering to. It’s really no difference. I’m just doing me. HHC: With an album due for release, a building buzz, and a major industry co-sign, 2007 looks to be a great year for you. Good luck to you for all of your endeavors. Is there anything that you want to say to the readers of HHC? Boo: Just look out for the album, “1 Life, 1 Love.” For all those that have been following me so far, thanks for the support and continue to keep it up!
Artist/Group Name SNOWGOONS are DET, ILLEGAL, TORBEN and DJ WAXWORK Reppin’ We’re from the SOUTH of GERMANY but let me say KARLSRUHE Affiliation CHIEF KAMACHI, REEF THE LOST CAUZE (JUJU MOB) from PHILLY, JUS ALLAH & more Influences Basically all kind of music but hip-hop-wise, the sound of East Coast underground, more specifically, Philly, like JEDI MIND TRICKS. Also the artists named above and of course the old school mid-90’s boom-bap sound. Backstory Everybody started with his own experience, listening to music, doing graff, throwin a jam or scratchin and spinnin. Since everybody was doin music we just helped each other out with production…so it became a natural movement to form the Snowgoons. It took a long time to work on our connection to the artists on this record and perfect the sound quality. We’re proof that hard work pays off! Current project One thing we are very proud of it is that the album is 100% us. We are all cool with every artist and there is no made up shit like buying a verse for a big lump. We chose the title “German Lugers” cuz it stands for the powerful german handgun. We are not promoting violence but we are following the hip-hop rule to represent and strike. It was very important to give our project a main theme so catz can identify with us and our sound (also don’t mind a little controversy). The upcoming album features a veritable who’s who of today’s underground elite: Sean Price, Living Legends, Jus Allah, Chief Kamachi, Rasco, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, O.C., Wordsworth, Reef The Lost Cauze, MED, Virtuoso, Last Emperor, Doujah Raze, Born Unique, Celph Titled, Majik Most, Edo G, J. Sands, Baby Blak, Craig G, Breez Evahflowin’, Pumpkinhead of Brooklyn Academy & many more. I guess our bio says it best: “A true showcase of the Snowgoons’ raw talent as well as an homage to their influences and predecessors, German Lugers highlights the four-man production teams’ diverse range and varied aesthetic, from their roots in gritty Wu-Tang inflected beats to a fresh twist on the sped-up vocal sensibility that made Kanye West a household name.” Purpose I would say everybody hopes to sell as many record as possible, but to us it’s not all about the money. We are more out to make our name a brand. A brand for real hip-hop. We all grew up with hip-hop music so we wanna keep the old school and 90’s flavor alive and ensure that the younger generation knows the roots of hip-hop. But, of course, we are open minded too and always open to new styles. Is hip-hop really dead? A lot of heads are thinking hip-hop is about to die but as long as there are cats out like ourselves or great artists like these featured on our album, hip-hop will survive. People should stop crying about hip hop, they should start lookin’ to themselves and ask what they can do to revitalize it. There’s still a lot of dope music out there between all the bullshit. Get back to the roots and do some research. Hip-hop in 80′s or early 90′s didn’t need the internet. It was all about the communication on jams, parties and sessions. Three wishes (If you had three wishes to change anything within hip-hop, what would they be? Bring someone back to life? Get a Kanye West beat? Make snap music disappear?): We would love to see big l and big pun on stage again, working with NAS on an album and that more people appreciate the work of masterminds like PRIMO, PETE ROCK or mc´s like OC and EDO G just to name a few! One love
iHipHop Blog Team