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.
Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
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
Artist/Group Name: Sean Price Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): Brooklyn, NY Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): My whole Duck Down Record’s crew…Boot Camp Clik, Buckshot, Smif N Wessun, Rock (Heltah Skeltah), Ruste Juxx, O.G.C. Influences (Who inspires you? Not limited to just hip-hop): My Mother. She owned a record store, worked in a record store. Artist wise Jimmy Castor, Funky Bunch, James Brown, Barry White, Kook G Rap. Backstory (How’d you get in the game? How did the group form? What work did you put in before getting signed to a label?) Being a fan, taping the radio, listening to the radio, Red Alert, Marly Marl, Babito, Teddy Ted, Special K. I didn’t know I wanted to rap till I met Rock. From then on I knew this is what I wanted in my life. Hip Hop definitely saved my life. If I wasn’t rapping, who knows what I’d be doing. I’d most likely be standing on the corner of some block doing shit I wasn’t supposed to be doing. Current project (What are you pushing right now? What can people expect from it? Feel free to just hype your album here…why did you name the album that name? Was there a theme? Any funny stories during its creation?) The album is Jesus Price Supastar out January 30th. I named it that cuz of the Bible, in the Bible it said Jesus went through the slums and spread the word, the word is God. Im going through the hood and Jesus Price, which is me, is going through the hood spreading the word and the word is real hip hop. I did most of the recording down south. I didn’t smoke like I wanted to cuz the Justus League studio is connected to a church. I study Islam, but I’m not trying to disrespect anybody’s church. I also did a photoshoot inside a Church and people were inside praying during the photoshoot. I had one person come up to me and asked me to recite a prayer. So I babbled some verse off and told the woman to bless the God! LOL People can expect a much more intense Sean Price from my second album, but understand the album is fire. People need Sean Price in their lives. Purpose (What kind of impact do you hope to have on the game? Do you just want to go platinum or is there something more?) I don’t really know. That is for the people to decide. I hope when the album drops people go crazy and cop that shit. Is hip-hop really dead? (Wax philosophical here, break down what you think of hip-hop today or compare it to when you were coming up. Good? Bad? Break it down!) Nah. I think if Nas would had heard Monkey Barz he wouldn’t have said that. I don’t think he listened to Monkey Barz. Someone should tell Son to cop that shit. 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?): I would bring my Mom back. I would bring Pun back so we could do an album Then with my third wish I would wish for 100 more wishes and on my 100th wish I would wile the fuck out! THE SAVIOR WILL BE RECOGNIZED JANUARY 30th.
Artist/Group Name : Buckshot of Black Moon Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): Brooklyn, NY Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): The Co-Owner of Duck Down Records and lead MC for the mighty Boot Camp Clik (Buckshot, Smif N Wessun, Sean Price, Heltah Skeltah, O.G.C.). Also a member of the legendary rap group, Black Moon, known for their classic LP, Enta Da Stage. Influences (Who inspires you? Not limited to just hip-hop): Special Ed was a huge inspiration for me. Actually the first time I heard Special Ed on the mic, I knew I wanted to become an MC. I was like I NEED to get on stage and do what he’s doing. What’s crazy is I got to eventually do a track with Special Ed and Masta Ace when we collaborated to do the Crooklyn Dodger’s theme song. Spike Lee reached out to me as a fan and that was a special collaboration for me. KRS One was another huge inspiration for me as he taught me how to be a true MC on the stage. A lot of rappers have a hit song and can make some noise, but they aren’t SHOW MC’s. They don’t really have the craft of Mastering the Ceremony of what real Hip Hop is. I learned how to become a SHOW MC by watching KRS One. Backstory (How’d you get in the game? How did the group form? What work did you put in before getting signed to a label?) I was an intern at first and then actually it was 5ft who brought me into Black Moon and from there I got up with Nervous Records and the rest is history. I met Dru Ha up at Nervous Records where we things started out more as management. That eventually led to Duck Down Records and our eventually departure from Nervous Records to Priority Records. Priority is where we put on groups like Heltah Skeltah, OGC and our first Boot Camp Clik ablum. Before I came into the game I did a lot of dancing belive it or not. I loved to dance, on some real b-boy, break-dance vibe. I just loved entertaining as a kid and now I get to do it for a living. Current project (What are you pushing right now? What can people expect from it? Feel free to just hype your album here…why did you name the album that name? Was there a theme? Any funny stories during its creation?) Currently I’m pushing Boot Camp Clik’s new album, The Last Stand, which came out this past summer (July 2006). The album features the entire Great 8 and has some crazy production…Pete Rock is on there, Large Professor, 9th Wonder, Da Beatminerz, Coptic, G-Unit’s Ill Mind and Marco Polo. We named the album The Last Stand cuz we are trying to take a Stand on all the shit going on in Hip Hop. If it’s not Nas calling Hip Hop dead it’s some other bullshit, so as a collective whole we took a STAND. Sean Price is the other major project we are working right now. Son is one of the best MC’s in Hip Hop today. His new album, entitled Jesus Price Supastar hits streets January 30th. He’s got real good production from 9th Wonder and Khrysis from the Justus League. Sean will not disappoint fans following his first solo effort, Monkey Barz (May 2005). We got an artist by the name of Ruste Juxx coming out in 2007 as well. His album Indestructable is going to be a serious hood anthem. As for Buckshot the artist, I’m working with 9th Wonder again for our second release, first one being Chemistry (July 2005). Our second album is gonna be called The Formula. Duck Down is currently looking at expanding in a major way. We are close to signing a deal with rapper KRS One to put out his next album. Now that is Hip Hop!!! We are also looking at Justus League artists, Joe Scudda, Chaundon and Jossie Mo, all of whom have a solid following out of North Carolina. Purpose (What kind of impact do you hope to have on the game? Do you just want to go platinum or is there something more?) A business impact, a strong business impact. Not worried about going platinum. I want every artists in the world signed to Duck Down. Have every artist period. It’s time for people to see what Duck Down Records can do outside our core set of groups. Don’t get me wrong we are gonna continue to make Boot Camp Music, but we’re also looking to be a home for other artists as well. Is hip-hop really dead? (Wax philosophical here, break down what you think of hip-hop today or compare it to when you were coming up. Good? Bad? Break it down!) Hip Hop is not dead. Get the fuck outa here. Especially when u hear Nas say HipHop is dead and it’s crazy that he should flip on New York. It’s dead only to Nas and all the funky fans that support that shit. The marketing campaign is too hypocritical. It’s doing more damage than it’s helping. It’s pushing people like me further and further back cuz I got to fight more and more to push through the murk. Hip Hop now if u watch the videos and listen to the tracks is dudes rapping about money and more money. But that shit ain’t the case. Nas is buggin. Bottomline, he is straight buggin. I heard him on the radio talking the other day about New York Rappers and how shit is dead. So now he’s talking directly at me. Don’t get me wrong Nas is my man and I saw him the other night at the Nike Air Force One event, dude was even the one who brought me up on stage to perform with the likes of Rakim, KRS ONE and Kanye West. In a sense how can Nas speak that shit about Hip Hop and then take the stage with the father of Rap. To combat that slogan that Hip Hop is Dead I would start by first saying Nas is whiling out, like a Jeezy did. To combat that Ima say I got KRS ONE. Hip Hop started before Buckshot, before Nas. If I’m saying ima Hip Hop artist than am I saying Im dead? Jeezy said it, but more people need to say it. 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?): First and foremost would be to bring Pac back so we could eventually finish the One Nation album. I also think Pac would have taken myself and other Duck Down artists to a new level. We had a serious bond and a good chemistry in the studio. Pac flew us out to his brand new home and we were like family. We recorded closet to 8 tracks with him in a matter of 3 days. One of the best memories of that trip was a huge watergun fight that broke out in Pac’s backyard. Of course it ended up inside his crib, where Dru Ha ends up shooting a water gun all over Pac’s brand new walls. We all laughed, but I think Pac was upset! I’d also change the DJ’s. Hip Hop started with the DJ, so how is it all of a sudden that they don’t allow us to matter. U not talking about that money, I’m not playing u. It’s a style thing. But what is crazy is u got to stay up on a trend. We do a good job of trying to stay ahead of the trends and u got to evolve with the trends. BUT a DJ needs to see your movement and they got to make it more accessible to reach them. In a sense Duck Down tries to stay true to a sound and ahead of its time. It feels like u got to be negative to get a somewhat positive result, so should I start doing that shit. NAH! I’m done with being negative. Buckshot is here now as a voice and I got a lot to say in 2007 and beyond.
Artist/Group Name: Black Milk Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): I’m reppin’ straight out of Detroit City Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): People know me for rolling with SLUM VILLAGE and doing most of the production for their last 2 albums. Influences (Who inspires you? Not limited to just hip-hop): I’m inspired by a lot of artist in all genres from PRINCE, MARVIN GAYE, D’ANGELO CURTIS MAYFIELD and on the beats I’m inspired by PETE ROCK, DJ PREMIER, and the g.o.a.t J DILLA. Backstory (How’d you get in the game? How did the group form? What work did you put in before getting signed to a label?) I got in the game by producing beats..the first group I produced for was SLUM VILLAGE, and after that I start jumping on projects like DIRTY DISTRICT VOL. 1 and Vol. 2, showcasing my MC ability, and then eventually put out my solo project SOUND OF THE CITY in the summer of 05 which started my buzz on the underground circuit Current project (What are you pushing right now? What can people expect from it? Feel free to just hype your album here…why did you name the album that name? Was there a theme? Any funny stories during its creation?) Right now I’m pushing my new album real hard which is titled POPULAR DEMAND. I named it POPULAR DEMAND just from me having a nice buzz right now as one of the new up coming artist in the game…its dropping on MARCH 13 on FAT BEATS RECORDS. Purpose (What kind of impact do you hope to have on the game? Do you just want to go platinum or is there something more?) I’m just trying to be known as one the artist to always put out good music consistently in the game, no matter where I’m at in my career Is hip-hop really dead? (Wax philosophical here, break down what you think of hip-hop today or compare it to when you were coming up. Good? Bad? Break it down!) Nah, I wouldn’t say its dead, but just focused on one type of hip-hop and one genre…everybody’s using the same formula. I think it’s about to change for the better real soon…hopefully. 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?): 1. For different types of hip-hop to be exposed to the masses. 2. For the people to start going out and buying records again and supporting good music.3. and for me personally do a song with STEVIE WONDER AND PRINCE…lol!
Artist/Group Name: LIFESAVAS ARE JUMBO THE GARBAGEMAN VURSATYL REV SHINES Reppin’: NORTHEAST PORTLAND aka P-TOWN aka RAZORBLADE CITY (home of the cut throats) Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?) MISFIT MASSIVE and QP Influences HI-TEK, PARLIMENT/FUNKADELIC, good music, epic films and raw comedy Backstory : I (JUMBO) started out carryin records for my dawg MIXMASTA KD, then he taught me how to mix and I started DeeJaying house parties and hole in the wall after hours spots in NE Portland. My man Vurs and I played (basket)ball together and was always talkin bout gettin down on some music, ya know. So, he was working on a song wit my best friend at the time who got shot and killed (Big Red RIP). After that gettin down wit Vurs was destiny, feel me? We been down eversince… I put out a compilation called Bomb Threat that helped give birth to a lotta cats where I’m from. I put that out on our label Misfit Records. We did guerilla marketing until we got heard. I also did some production to get my name out there. Then we was doin shows like we had a record out, like three or four a month seasoning our live show. Then Vurs went on the road doin backround vocals for Blackalicious and I got invited to do merch/roadie/sound assistant….payed dues, ya know. Then Lifesavas got our shot-double duty working and started opening the shows, rippin’ every night. That established our fan base before our record dropped. Current project The current album is GUTTERFLY. The reviews so far say classic hip-hop album. We’ll see what’s really good when it come out. People should expect to get they monies worth, that’s good business. GUTTERFLY is a phrase that my camp been usin since 92′, that’s LIFESAVAS swag, ya dig! The record is influenced by blaxpoitation flicks like the Mack, Coonskin and others ya know. Funny side story- When we were workin on the record the city got hit wit black ice on top of snow and there was no internet in the lab. I needed to download some guitar parts from Vernon Reid of Living Colour fame. I walked ten blocks wit my laptop until I got wifi signalsat a busstop for a hour and down loaded them files. Yo, I had like three pair of sweats/pants, thermals, skully, two hoodies, gloves and Tims freezin’…but I got that song done and it made the record. This hip hop right!? Scream out loud AaaaaaaaaaaaH!!!!!! Purpose Purpose or one of the purposes we do it is, to show cats it’s cool, hot or OK to be yourself dawg. Somebody will relate, somebody will FEEL YOU. Hustle smart, hustle hard… As far as goin platinum, the game changes daily man…I think a hundred thousand is platinum for a independent now. I’ll take that. This goes out to the majors who will bid on LS- we’ll give you hits, but we gone do US. So come with the bread, we already workin the career. Is hip-hop really dead? Where hip hop is…Mos once said "that hip hop ain’t no giant in the hills, we hip hop -you and me." As long as my people decide what’s classic, what’s hot and we not just accepting corporate labels telling you and I what hip hop is we good. We gotta balance it ya’ll. Three wishes 1. Get ten HI-TEK beats!!!!!! 2.Obama for President!!!! 3.GUTTERFLY on your ipod,mp3player, in your whip,in the crib, in the club, computer, mixtapes…etc.
Artist/Group Name: Pigeon John Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): Lost Angels Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): LA Symphony and the Quannum crew. Influences (Who inspires you? Not limited to just hip-hop): Bob Dylan, Q Tip and Bill Cosby Backstory : Pigeon John hails from sunny Southern California, Inglewood to be exact. It’s easy to assume his signature blend of wit, charisma and undeniable stage presence is a fortunate gift (and it is), but let’s be real. Everyone starts somewhere. Pigeon John cut his teeth in the early 90s at the legendary Good Life Café, spitting rhymes on the same stage with then fledgling, now established artists like Freestyle Fellowship, Kurupt, The Pharcyde and Jurassic 5. Good Life open-mic nights became PJ’s ritual. It was the perfect environment to hone his performance and delivery skills amongst discerning peers. Time at the Good Life gave way to time spent at local venues and in the studio with friends like Brainwash Projects and LA Symphony. His appearances on the underground classics, The Rise and Fall of… and Composition #1 from Brainwash Projects and LA Symphony, respectively, put him on the radar as one to watch In 2002, Pigeon John released his solo debut Pigeon John… Is Clueless, selling over 11,000 copies with no distribution. He followed up with Pigeon John… Is Dating Your Sister and Pigeon John… Sings The Blues. The albums garnered significant praise landing him features in Spin’s “Next Big Things” issue, URB‘s “Next 100” and Mic Check in The Source. PJ’s infectious tunes have been used by XBOX for the games “Project Gotham” and “NBA Inside Drive 2002,” as well as the major motion picture “Get Over It.” John has also performed and appeared in print and television ads for both Levi’s and Nestle Crunch. Touring the nation 8 times over, Pigeon John has earned his veteran status, using a clever balance of self-deprecating humor and confidence to rock any crowd, any stage. His boundless energy seduces crowds making ladies swoon and fellas embrace their geek appeal. Enamored by PJ’s infectious energy and raw talent exhibited on the Cali Comm tour, Lyrics Born brought Pigeon John into the Quannum fold in 2005. His Quannum Projects debut Pigeon John… And The Summertime Pool Party (his best album yet!) hit stores September 12, 2006. Current project : I’m promoting my album And The Summertime Pool Party that is out now on Quannum Projects – Representing classic west coast hip hop that has a twinge of humor, a twinge of tragedy and with a backbone (beat) of melodic hip hop. Purpose I’d love to be a legend in some peoples eyes. I’d for my music to help people and for people to look back 20 –30 years and say to themselves “Pigeon John’s run added to hip hop” and I want to own a Lamborghini. Is hip-hop really dead? Hip-hop is not dead, it’s alive and well. It may be lethargic in certain areas (namely the East Coast – the style there for the most part has not changed) but it’s certainly not dead. Hip-hop has been re-focused in new areas outside of where it started (NYC, then West Coast) and is now alive in the South and the Bay area. Those scenes may have certain different sounds that may not appeal to everybody, but it is still hip-hop. I think its time to let different scenes of hip hop shine. When I see kids in high school like 15 and 16 it reminds me that hip hop is not dead. Aske them and they will tell you hip hop that they love is live and well they don’t consider it dead at all. Three wishes 1. I wish that Phife Dog in Tribe Called Quest from when they first started. 2. I wish Fat Lip was lead singer of the Roots. 3. I wish the Beastie Boys would start drinking again.
Artist/Group Name: Aloe Blacc of EMANON (DJExile) Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): Los Angeles Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): Stones Throw, EMANON, Do Over Influences (Who inspires you? )Not limited to just hip-hop): Family and friends. Cat Stevens, Nat King Cole, Joni Mitchell, J Dilla, Nas, Blu, Exile, Georgia Anne Muldrow, OH NO, D’Angelo, Ambrosia, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, Ruben Blades, Willie Colon, Fela Kuti, DJ Rodgers, Frou Frou, etc. Backstory (How’d you get in the game? How did the group form? What work did you put in before getting signed to a label?) I started working with Exile in 1995. We made a few mixtapes with some original music on the b-sides and that helped us develop fans. Then a fan offered us money to put out our first 12" and since then we have been releasing EPs and singles on vinyl. We performed all over Southern California and toured Europe in 2005 after we released our debut LP, "The Waiting Room." In 2006 we both released solo efforts on different labels. I signed to Stones Throw and he signed to Sound In Color. My album is called Shine Through and DJ Exile released Dirty Science. This was a big year for both of us. Shine Through was received well internationally and Exile worked with major label acts producing for Mobb Deep and Jurassic 5. Current project (What are you pushing right now? What can people expect from it? Feel free to just hype your album here…why did you name the album that name? Was there a theme? Any funny stories during its creation?) Right now I am just trying to get the world to hear Shine Through. I am working on a series of music videos for as many songs from the album as possible. I am also going to complete an acoustic version of the album so that people can hear the songs in a different way. I really like to be diverse with the sound and express thoughts in multiple ways because that is really how my life is. There is always something different happening that is exciting so I just want to share that with my fans. Purpose (What kind of impact do you hope to have on the game? Do you just want to go platinum or is there something more?) I need to go plantinum. Not for the money, that would be nice, but more for the messages. I have learned over the years that I have something special to offer the world and for me to keep it to myself or try to only share it with a limited few in the indie scene would be a waste. My purpose for music is to help people celebrate life and be positive as well as spread the love. There are so many artists who have no health insurance and it is a shame that when someone gets sick or hurt they don’t have the resources to help themselves. I want to establish an organization that helps subsidize healthcare for artists. Is hip-hop really dead? (Wax philosophical here, break down what you think of hip-hop today or compare it to when you were coming up. Good? Bad? Break it down!) Hip hop is dead as we once knew it. The recent corporate focus on certain types of hip hop has ruined the culture in the commercial media and has brain washed the youth. In a way it helps to make what we do on the indie level stronger and better. I am sure that commercial hip hop will have to change pretty soon because it has eaten itself away like a cancer. When I was coming up, there was a lot of variety and what made an emcee special was how unique he or she was compared to the rest of emcees on the scene. Nowadays it seems like the commercial atists are all the same with the same tired flow and sorry beats. Come check the underground, especially LA. The heat that is coming out of LA is ridiculous but the cats bringing it are too humble to shout it. 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?): I would bring Dilla back, and if that takes all three wishes then so be it. I would bring Unity events back to LA, and if that means bringing Bigga B back then so be it. I would own a television network to give hip hop proper representation. So be it.
Artist/Group Name: WAX TAILOR Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): NEW YORK / PARIS Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): The Others, Voice, Ursula Rucker, A state of mind, Sharon Jones… Influences (Who inspires you? Not limited to just hip-hop): So many artists, among them James Brown (R.I.P), John Barry, John Coltrane, Serge Gainsbourg, Billie Holiday, Public Enemy, Native tongue & so much more Backstory (How’d you get in the game? How did the group form? What work did you put in before getting signed to a label?) I began in the early 90’ as a rapper and beatmaker in a French crew called La Formule, (The Formula). We produced several records. In 98, I started my own label Lab’oratoire & produced breakbeats vinyls. I also produced a projected called “Breathing Under Water” with Looptroop fromSweden. I began to work as Wax Tailor in 2002. My first WT EP was released in 2004, followed by 2 12’ inches & the album “ Tales of the forgotten melodies”. Current project (What are you pushing right now? What can people expect from it? Feel free to just hype your album here…why did you name the album that name? Was there a theme? Any funny stories during its creation?) I’ve just ended my new album that will be called “Hope & sorrow”. On this album I got some hot tracks with featuring from soul sista Sharon Jones, Spoken word queen Ursula Rucker, L.A flow diva Voice, my fellows from The Others, the UK crew A State of Mind, & the French singer Charlotte Savary. I’m very proud of this album that keeps this cinematic mood I had on the last album but with more vocal tracks. Purpose (What kind of impact do you hope to have on the game? Do you just want to go platinum or is there something more?) I’m coming from the heart of the Hip hop culture, I began break dancing in 83 when I was akid, and listening to hip hop in 86 with UTFO, RUN DMC… I started rapping in 90, began to produce in 92 & all those things I did came through this culture. For this reason even If my project sounds a bit different I feel it’s a hip hop project. My purpose is not to go platinum (although if it comes, so be it !) but I just want to do my own thing to demonstrate that hip hop is large & we got to recreate it each day. Is Hip Hop Dead? I don’t think hip hop is dead. I think HH is like an iceberg. The emerged part is often the one that got no flavour. Of course I got nostalgia from the days of old when everything was fresh but on the other hand I think that HH is more open than it has ever been & that it’s like a kind of phoenix that can bring something new each time people think that it’s the end. 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?): First wish would be that we could use any sample with no fear or problem to bring back hip hop to the golden years & let us dig in peace Second one would be that 2007 gives us a classic album Last one would be to collab with rappers like Chuck D, Beastie Boys, Rakim or one of those MC’s who made me grow.
Artist/Group Name: Main Flow Reppin’ (What city you reppin’?): Cincinnati, Ohio Affiliation (What crew or artists you roll with?): MOOD, Wannabattle, 7L & Esoteric Influences (Who inspires you? Not limited to just hip-hop): Nas, Bob Marley, Nina Simone Backstory (How’d you get in the game? How did the group form? What work did you put in before getting signed to a label?) I got in the game by making a demo with my group MOOD and shopping those songs to every Label possible in NY until we got signed to TVT Records. Current project (What are you pushing right now? What can people expect from it? Feel free to just hype your album here…why did you name the album that name? Was there a theme? Any funny stories during its creation?) I am currently pushing "Flow Season" a cd I did with 7L feat. Cormega, Eso and the Grouch. I named it Flow Season because I felt that it would be my season after the cd dropped. One thing that happend that happend that was kinda funny is when Eso emailed me and said I stole his DJ. Purpose (What kind of impact do you hope to have on the game? Do you just want to go platinum or is there something more?) I want to make a lyrical impact by being a dope writter and performer without having to comprimise for the money Is hip-hop really dead? (Wax philosophical here, break down what you think of hip-hop today or compare it to when you were coming up. Good? Bad? Break it down!) Hip-Hop is definately not dead, there are just more groups now adays that achieve commercial success then there was when I was coming up 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?): If I had three wishes I would make the entire world middle class get rid of poverty. I would take Jay Z’s position as President of Def Jam and last but not least get a joint Bank account with Oprah. LOL
iHipHop Blog Team