Everything is good,
just grinding, in the lab. Feeling good about the year so far and the future.
Who is Big K.O?
Big K.O. is that
dude from NYC that came up in that boom bap era of Hip Hop and for me, it's
just about trying to bring back an updated version of that sound. Some shit
that you would love in '95 but sounds 2005. New, crisp, clean, dirty, and rugged.
off in the battles, can you talk about how your first battle went?
I was a newbie
in that area, it was like '93. You couldn't just go cop a DMC tape to see how
those dudes get down. You had to stay tuned and really pay attention to the
cats that were killing it on the radio. Your routine had to come from within
you because there was really nothing to look at. I grew up listening to cats
like DJ Riz, Clark Kent and Pete Rock, and basically that carried over into
my first battle. I didn't win, but it definitely let me know that I had the
talent to do this. And there were a lot of legendary DJ's in that battle, and
it just felt good to rub shoulders with those cats and get my respect. That
was a good start to my career, that's really how I came into the game, through
DJ battles like DMC. Those were good experiences.
How has it changed
from back then?
It's changed a
lot. Now there's titles for it. Now there's "turntablists," et cetera.
But you know back then, it was just DJ'ing. When I first started battling, that
was when juggling was being introduced. Now there's battles where you have categories
for all of that. You have scratching, juggling, a team category back then
it was nothing like that. You just got a minute and a half to do your thing.
I'm blessed to see how it's grown, I mean, now it's worldwide. There's kids
all over the world who buy turntables before they buy a guitar. There's superstar
DJ's now, like Babu. He can cross over and do production, and get mad respect.
It's changed for the better though, it's a good thing.
Would you ever
really out of the loop, as far as the battling scene. I don't think I'd ever
go back. But I just judged a contest at the Guitar Center, and there were a
lot of talented cats, I was impressed. I got on, did some shit, and I still
had it on that tip, and it felt good. But I'd rather do the judging thing and
let the kids do what they do. You might hear me cut on a record I produce, but
that's it. Battling for me was never about the money, and I'm in a position
now where I got the grown man thing popping, so I need some money for it. There
wasn't a lot of room to grow within that. I mean, you win DMC and you get a
jacket! Hopefully most DJ's use that as a stepping stone to be a jack of all
trades in the industry. I respect it, but I don't see myself going back to it.
Where do you
see the future of DJ'ing going?
much further can it go?. When I stopped, in '96. I was in the first annual ITF
Battle. It was the X-ecutioners versus the Scratch Pikelz. To me, that was the
epitome of how far it could go. Those were the two dopest crews on the planet,
and that was straight warfare. What I saw that night is still boggling my mind
10 years later. I'm sure the boundaries can be pushed much further than that,
but as far as I'm concerned, I saw an atomic explosion that night. I would just
like to see those turntablists bring that cutting and scratching back to the
radio and mixtapes.
How do you approach
a record that someone wants you to scratch on?
The records that
I cut on back in the day, it was mainly me vibing with the producer and artists.
It depends on what the producer feels is enough scratching for the records.
Some records, you can't' go crazy with double clicks and flares and shit. Some
records, that won't fit. Most of the records I cut on, I was going by the producer's
input. I did a lot with Buckwild, and he'd tell me what was too much or not
enough. It's a lot of vibing with the artists as well. You have to bring your
flavor to it, but not dominate the hook. It should just complete the song.
What did you
learn working with Buckwild?
When I was making
the transition from DJ to producer, I had the best learning experiences any
cat could have, because I was on records that were produced by legends like
Buckwild and Lord Finesse. That DITC sound, that boom bap sound, that's the
NYC sound. That underground stuff for me was like college, just learning a lot.
Buck must have done eight or nine singles for the label, and I cut on them all.
I got to experience going to his crib, listening to how he puts his shit together,
his beat tapes, how he mixes, how he gets his drums to smack. I remember being
in Lord Finesse's house, back in '95 when I first got my SP, and seeing Lord
Finesse doing some shit with the timing correct. I thought he was Jesus walking
on water! It was just a real ill learning experience. And I learned a lot from
cats like Domingo as well, watching them in the studio. I was a teenager just
absorbing everything. So when I made that transition to full-fledged producer,
in like 2001, I was ready, I had studied with the best and it was time to get
How is the production
game treating you right now?
game is lovely. But the simple fact is, like anything in this business, you
have to be built for it. It's hard for certain cats to make beats and then be
critiqued on them. But I come from that battling background where I'm used to
going on stage and being judged. My advice for anyone coming up is to get an
A&R or someone that has that ear where they can honestly critique your tracks
on what people are looking for. But the production game has been good, I've
been having an ill year. I've just been getting beat CD's out and working on
the next one. You have to keep working constantly man.
How was it doing
a track with Yayo and 50?
It was cool. My
consultant Riggs, from Shady, is a cat who I really respect. He's somebody who
basically guided me as far as how the tracks should sound. And listening to
him, my shit has become more well-rounded. He's at the biggest label in the
world, and it's good to have acess to his opinion. My first batch of the year,
I hit him with it, and I got the call a couple months later that I was on 50's
soundtrack. You should be hearing more of me working with the G-Unit camp in
How was it working
with Black Rob?
Black Rob, I'm
a real fan of his music. His first album, "Life Story," is a classic
to me. I just hope that Bad Boy gets the project off the ground because it's
been a minute since he's been out. The joint I got on him is an undisputed banger.
It's definitely going to be an eye-opener. I love Black Rob as an artist, and
he's gotten a lot of his personal issues out of the way, and he's making a lot
of dope music right now.
Proof, let me say
this right up off the bat. Proof and D-12 are some of the realest people that
you're ever going to meet in this business. I started shopping my shits like
late '01, and he was one of the first people to cop tracks from me. I met him
on the Anger Management tour, and Riggs told Proof I had fire. Proof turns to
me, without hearing any beats from me, and says "I got $15,000 left in
the budget, can you work with that?" just off the bat! He didn't hear one
joint! That's real shit. Motherfuckers are offering me bread on the strength
of who's introducing me. And two weeks later he pays me for five joints. We
wound up doing the joint "My Life." His album just dropped, "The
Search for Jerry Garcia," go cop that.
What song that
you've been a part of are you most proud of?
The one that I'm
most proud of is a joint I didn't even produce, I cut on it. It was "Metal
Thingz" produced by Ogeee and featuring F.T., Pharoahe Monch, and OC. I
feel proud about it because at the time we did it, I feel that that record really
laid the blueprint for all the under ground records that came out after it.
Tru Criminal as a label, we never went for all the props we deserved. We were
doing it before Rawkus. We were just putting out dope records out of the trunk.
It made people look at us like we were a major. Pharoahe got rhyme of the month
in the Source, we got Sureshot Single in the Source, and it sold over 100,000
copies. We're talking '96, that's unheard of. And I haven't heard an underground
joint that was hotter. That album is the epitome of DITC with Buckwild, then
there's OC and Pharoahe, and a new cat at the time with F.T.
Monch up to now?
Monch is chilling.
You're going to be hearing new music from him this year. He has a situation
with Mr. Porter (d-12). You're going to hear some crazy shit from Monch in the
working with Scarchild, why should we check for him?
You should check
for Scar, because he is going to break that stereotype that battle rappers can't
make songs. Scar has one of the most incredible personalities that I've ever
seen in an MC. His songs, his charisma, it's all incredible. He's a hungry dude,
he's not concerned with flash and glamour and all that. He's the type of dude
that can stand in the project hallway all day, bang on the wall and rhyme. He
was the Fight Klub champ for weeks straight. I feel that as far as new artists,
there's not a lot that can fuck with him. Scar's going to put that shit in the
stranglehold. Scar's got five joints with me, joints with Mr. Porter, and a
couple joints with Alchemist. He's going to be fire. Look out for Scar.
How have you
improved as a producer?
I'm always learning
something new. Every day I click my MPC on is a day that I can learn something
new. That's the wonderful thing about music, growing and evolving. I took six
months off from making beats to really grind it out. I took bass lessons, I
took music theory lessons, and it just made my chops tighter on the bass and
guitar. I'm able to play bass more accurately and hear things as far as pitch
that I wasn't hearing before because I took that time to just step away and
learn my instruments. There was a period when I wasn't doing any beats. And
that all added new texture and color to my sound.
do you have for kids?
For kids coming
up, say you're on the underground scene and you love underground music. Keep
your ear to everything open, don't close it off because it's some "major
label shit." You really have to keep your ears open to everything so you
can see what the people are feeling. And that might include listening to Z100
sometimes so you know what they're spinning. You need to know what's going on
outside your world. If you seclude yourself, it's easy to get trapped in an
era or lost in a sound. So for new cats, whether you're a DJ or producer, keep
your ear to the street. If you know what they're feeling now, it's easier to
guess the future and know what people are going to be feeling down the line.
up for you?
I'm getting my
production team off the ground with my man Big Mo, Fastlife Addiction. I got
a joint on Labba's album. I got a song out now with Busta Rhymes. I'm working
with Magno from Houston, he's on Clue's label. I'm just hitting all corners
of the US. I'm spreading that East Coast sound and hopefully helping to bring
it back. I'm working on a Big Pun remix project that's going to be fire. And
lookout for that 50 Cent soundtrack too. Plus I got my dude Little Vic. I'm
just trying to bring that boom bap back. And repeat business is the best business,
so look for more joints with people I've already worked with, and some new artists.
I'm just trying to smash them.
What do you
want to say to everyone?
Put all that petty
beefing shit to the side and concentrate on making the music better and making
our culture better. I just want everybody in the Hip Hop game to be able to
work together. . We need to unite for the music and just concentrate on making
the music better. Hip Hop is one of the greatest art forms there is, and we
have to keep it shiny and polished, and not let it get tarnished by the bullshit
that's out there.