I'm glad to be alive.
Image" is about to drop. Before we get into the album, what do you
want to tell people about it?
I love Hip
Hop. I'm an aficionado. The minute I was able to do anything about Hip
Hop, I was doing it, whether it was rhyming, breaking, or producing and
engineering. The album is about what I feel in Hip Hop. It says what I
really don't like going on in commercial Hip Hop at the moment. I talk
about how I feel it should change and go back to what I love. That's what
I wanted to put on the album. Hard beats, real lyrics, and songs with
some meaning and emotion behind it.
your state-of-mind recording "Spitting Image"?
I had the
feeling of not really being appreciated by the industry and knowing that
as much as one tries to be creative and be different from the average,
it's not appreciated in the industry.
happy with how the album came out?
with how the album came out. The name of the album is "Spitting Image."
That's a reflection of me. It's where I wanted to go with it, where I've
it shows all of the different elements of what I bring to the
table, musically and production-wise. I mixed the whole album and designed
the cover myself. One of my homies did the type on it. I'm really happy
with how it came out production-wise. I cover all the bases on it. I rap,
I sing, I do my thing.
is this album?
So, so overdue. I spent a lot of time playing the background for a lot
of cats, from Jean Grae, Pumpkinhead, Thirstin Howl III
to mixing, I got my credits. Obviously they were appreciative, but I don't
have much to show for that other than that I was able to put my touches
on their album. It just came to the point where I felt that it was time
for me to do me and do the things for myself that I did for everyone else.
I hope that people like it. It's definitely very different. I kept my
raw lyrics from the past on there with the wordplay and trying to be witty
and have ill concepts. I also tried to do new things, like the singing.
There is some singing on our old Brooklyn Academy records. It's some things
that I've done before with a little twist. Jean Grae's on there, Pumpkinhead,
Sean Price, War Bixby, Will Tell, Oddisee did a track
very happy with it.
this album for?
this album to my cousin Moraima Rivera, who died of a brain tumor last
year. The title also refers to family, like "his son is a spitting
image of his father." It's dedicated to my fans, my wifey, and people
who made me happy and who pissed me off. I wanted to see what I could
do and I did it on my own.
your inspiration for "All a Game"?
DJ's in Hip
Hop doesn't really try to break artists or records anymore. There were
always different groups. We had hardcore artists like Rakim and Kane,
then De La, then Tribe
it was dope that there was a variety in Hip
Hop. It kept it fresh and new. Now, it's bullshit. They're recycling rappers.
You have all these clones and drones out there that all sound the same.
I don't even know who's who anymore. Everybody has the big houses and
the bling bling and all that bullshit. Bling bling has always been in
Hip Hop, but there was also creativity, originality, and versatility.
I just don't see that anymore. I don't see anybody striving to be different.
I see everybody trying to be like that next cat that blew up. Everybody
wants to be the next Jay-Z or Jadakiss or 50 Cent. Not every rapper should
try to be one of those dudes. It's sickening to me. That song is me speaking
on how everybody is full of shit in the industry and how labels are scared
to take a chance on something original. Fuck the labels and fuck the artists
that are trying to be like somebody else. And fuck anybody that disagrees
Brooklyn Ac been up to lately?
I think everybody
has branched out and been trying to get their names out as individuals.
We've been doing that for awhile. We were always a crew, but we always
did our own thing, too. I think this is the year that we'll really get
those albums out there. We're all doing what we have to do. This is the
year that everything is going to come together. We have about four or
five albums done and ready to go. We feel that if we can establish ourselves
as individuals, then when the time comes to put out our albums together,
it'll just be that much stronger.
the group come together?
For us, I
sought out a lot of the cats on some battle shit. That's how I stepped
to them. Not to brag or anything, but I pretty much burned Pumpkinhead.
At the end of the day, my whole philosophy was, "If you can't beat
'em, recruit 'em." So we started Brooklyn Academy. The way the industry
is now, it's better to have a crew behind you because you never know what's
going to pop off. For the most part, as an artist to create, you don't
really need much of a crew. When everybody's nice, then it creates some
really cool competitiveness that pushes everyone to be a better artist.
loyalty is there in Hip Hop?
I would say
little to none. At the end of the day, cats basically do them. You can
help them out and you can get them to where they want to get to, but they'll
forget how you helped them and they won't reciprocate or appreciate. That's
been my experience. Nine times out of ten, the only reason people come
back is because they need something. The people that I run with show loyalty
because it's a crew on a music level but also on the streets. We help
feed each other in real-life situations. Cats do show loyalty because
there is a street code that we follow that says, "Don't shit where
you eat." We've been loyal and kept it real with each other. I won't
mention names, but some cats that we came up with rode the coattails of
Brooklyn Academy and then when they got to the level they wanted to get
to, they pretty much forgot where they came from. I base loyalty on individual
people. I can't really group it. It's a cutthroat industry. There's a
limited amount of slots. There are a whole lot of people, especially in
New York, that are trying to fill those slots. A lot of people will dick-ride
to get to where they want to get to and then forget where they came from.
It's just the nature of the beast, I guess.
you learn musically from your father, famous salsa singer Ismael?
My dad is
an incredible dude. Musically, he's an amazing singer. He's very passionate.
When he sang, people felt him because they could feel the emotion behind
him. They could feel what he was singing. I think I picked that up from
him. He was always singing whenever we'd be in the car or anywhere. I
actually found out later in life that he was famous in Puerto Rico for
battling over there. Hip Hop thinks we made this up, but my dad was doing
this forty years ago. People came to Puerto Rico to meet up with him because
they heard he was ill at it. Whatever one singer ended with, the other
one would have to start with. They were basically dissing one another.
On a personal
tip, he's just a great person. He's a very giving person. He gives to
others before he supports himself. I think I've picked up on that, too.
He's an incredible dude.
you see Hip Hop borrowing from salsa music?
You see a
lot of it in reggaeton. I don't know if salsa has had that much of an
impact on Hip Hop. I know Pun definitely borrowed from salsa and incorporated
it into his music. He's probably the only cat that made it happen and
did it well. Certain cats have tried to sample songs and intro's, like
Peter Gunz. It's been sampled. I'm probably one of the cats that will
do it. I'm doing a Spanish album. My dad was in the studio with us getting
drunk, like father like son. (laughs) Salsa hasn't had that much of an
impact on Hip Hop, but I feel that by the time I'm done with it, it will.
father listen to your music?
He was actually pretty impressed with my album. He didn't have a full
understanding of what I was doing until he came into the studio with me.
He used to shit on me like, "Hippity hoppity bippity boppoty."
I think he has a new appreciation for it because of me. That's cool.
next for you?
to start touring. I'll probably go on tour in May or June with the Beatnuts,
Sean Price, and some of my crew. I just have to get the name out there
and make sure the first release off of Brooklyn Academy Records does well
so I can keep putting out albums and what I think is dope Hip Hop. Hopefully
this will set a standard for the label and my album will open up doors
for the rest of my camp. We're talking about putting out a Brooklyn Academy
album later this year with all of the original members: Pumpkinhead, Medaphaor,
Icon, and Will Tell. We're also working on a Wordamouth album. I'm trying
to put this website together and we're working on a clothing line. We're
getting the whole merchandising thing together. My album is the springboard
for everything else. For all those Brooklyn Ac fans out there, definitely
come out and support at the shows so we can continue giving you what you
working on an album with War Bixby. That's coming along nicely. Look for
On the business
side of things, I'm trying to be the CEO of Brooklyn Academy Records and
do more production and choruses for people. I'm doing a chorus for Jedi
Mind Tricks right now. I'll probably be touring with them later this year
also. I'm recording with a lot of cats that I like and respect, like Non-Phixion,
the Beatnuts, and Sean Price. I'm trying to get out there a little more
and get my name out there as a solo artist. By the end of the year, I'd
like to get the group in the studio to do a Brooklyn Academy record. We
have a lot of joints that we'd like to release later this year. We also
want to do a Wordamouth album. We might also release the Zooty Zoo album.
That was our name before we became Brooklyn Ac. It's vintage, dirty music.
You'll also be seeing some video on the website.
you want to say to everyone?
I want to
thank all of my fans, first and foremost. I know a lot of y'all have been
wanting for us to do something and to get out there and tour as a group
and pick up on that sick-ass Brooklyn Ac vibe. It's been awhile since
we've done some full-fledged releases, and we still get the same love.
That shows how loyal the fans have been. The industry hasn't been loyal
to us, but the fans definitely have been. They're what keep us going.
I got an email from a fan that told us how much he loved us and how we
changed his way of writing. I've gotten a ton of those over the years,
and that feels good. That's the reason I keep going. It's not about money,
or else I would have quit a long time ago. Brooklyn Academy has the best
fans in the world.