you doing man?
good homie. I'm just out here in Southern California, the land of the
sunny skies and drive-by's.
you feel about the way 'Grandmasters' came out?
pleased with the record. Me and GZA just tapped into the energy we bring.
It's a real dark record. It's just straight lyrics and beats. It's based
on the four elements of Hip Hop.
the album come about?
We got together
in '97. We were already homies. Me and RZA were doing a song. I had GZA
direct a video for the song, called "Third World." We kept in
touch. We did a song for the next "Soul Assassin" record. People
in both our camps were telling us to do a record together because we had
good chemistry. It was just a matter of time. We waited a few years, and
now I have this situation with Angeles Records, so I told him, "let's
just connect homie." He put a couple weeks aside, came out to L.A.,
and we just banged this shit out.
you want to give GZA to work with?
sound is really, without thinking about it, my music just comes out real
dark, dusty, and grimy. When we talked about it, we said "let's keep
it like that." We wanted to keep that mood, the atmosphere, don't
overproduce a record, and let the lyrics shine. We didn't want to overproduce
the record, we really wanted to keep it simple and tap into that era from
the early '90's, we both love that era, and we wanted to keep it right
you guys work together?
We're both professionals. I gave him some beats, he wrote some songs in
New York. Then he came out here and went through my beats. Some of the
beats he picked, I had done from '96 to '98. I didn't have the actual
tapes for it, we had to loop the DAT's. There's a couple songs with just
loops. We were like "let's just keep it raw." Some of the most
classic shit is a loop, like EPMD's "You're a Customer." We
just wanted create a mood and it wasn't about all that other shit.
feel like a lot of records are over-produced?
When I produce,
I like to tap into what that artist is. When I work with B-Real, he smokes
weed, so I'll tap into that. GZA plays chess, so I had to tap into that
and bring his personality out through everything from the album cover
to the song titles. Everything now is all cookie-cutter. Major labels
will tell you that they need something for the radio, video channels won't
play your shit unless it's on the radio
I came into Hip Hop with
a punk rock attitude with a real Hip Hop attitude. Everything was "fuck
you, fuck R&B, fuck these R&B hooks." There used to be a
word called biting. You couldn't bite man. You couldn't use nobody's words,
you couldn't use their musical style, you couldn't use their loops, you
couldn't dress the way they did, use their slang
and there was something
called "being wack." Now if you tell somebody that they're wack,
they tell you're a hater. No, I'm not a hater. You have to be accepted
into this. Back in the 80's they didn't know what they were doing as far
as record promotions, now they got it down to a science. Everything was
built on respect and honor. This record is straight from the heart. We're
not trying to follow nobody or chase these smoke and mirrors. This is
good music. This is just real shit like Pink Floyd and Iggy Pop, some
atonal, dark, alley shit.
were talking earlier, you said you think people listen with their eyes
and not their ears
watch videos all day, and they see styles. Once they get enough of a style,
they move on to the next region. They're looking at the music these days.
Everyone's so caught up on what people are wearing, their chains, and
a guy's haircut. They really do man. Everybody's too busy listening to
music with their eyes these days man. I can't blame these kids though
man. A lot of motherfuckers think they're in charge and they're doing
something, but in reality they're really sheep. Nobody wants to think
of themselves as being a sheep, everyone wants to think of themselves
as bosses. But really homie, y'all ain't bosses. You're chasing trends.
When I first came in, I said I would never be a trend-chaser. Any trend
that comes and goes, I don't chase it. I do what I do, that's why I've
been able to be in this game for 18 years still making hit records and
being able to move through it. If you start chasing trends, you're always
going to have to play catch-up and trying to catch the next trend. I refuse
to play the game like that. I want to bring something fresh to this game,
bring ideas to this game, and bring something new and innovative to this
Hip Hop game and keep it moving.
ever think you could be richer if you did conform?
I am rich. I've sold over 16 million records and done over 350 shows.
We have so many investments, our portfolio is spread wide. I've never
had to conform. All the records I had that blew up on radio did not sound
like radio records. I think that if I didn't have success early, I would
have second-guessed myself and maybe thought I had to do what the other
people were doing. My whole psyche would have changed. I built my own
institution. When Hip Hop was just getting here, I was traveling the world.
When motherfuckers were worried about the East, West, South, I was looking
at Hip Hop as a global market. I was pushing music globally. I wasn't
concerned what a few fans in New York or an internet nerd in Tacoma, Washington
was saying. I wanted an international market, and we are international.
feel like you get the respect you deserve for everything you've accomplished?
From my peers
and people that know, yeah. From people from the outside, probably not.
The game is fucked up. When I came in, the groups I respected produced
their own albums, EPMD, Ultramagnetic, Public Enemy, N.W.A., they all
produced their own albums. Do you see where I'm coming from? All of a
sudden they started judging producer's merits on how many beats you have
on someone else's record. I gave Ice Cube beats, I gave KRS beats, I gave
the Goodie Mob beats. But when you're trying to sell beats, you're standing
with ten other producers trying to sell that nickelbag. When you walk
into the studio and there are 15 other producers, nah, that's not my game.
I like to own my shit. I like control of my shit from the first beat being
made to the video to the t-shirt to the promotion. I own my shit, so I
get my checks for the rest of my life. I've always been about ownership.
I've sent beat tapes out, and they'll say they don't want my beat and
then it gets replayed. After a few of those, I said "fuck that"
and created my own cult following. You're not going to be the youngest,
hottest fucking stud your whole life. If you have that cult following,
you'll have fans forever. I look at bands like Led Zeppelin, The Doors,
and Black Sabbath for my inspiration. I don't get my inspiration from
rappers, except for the ones I mentioned earlier. I want to be a legendary
band, timeless, like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones.
are you feeling today?
lot of good shit I like right now. I definitely like 50 Cent homie, that
motherfucker can rap his ass off, fuck what else is going on. I like T.I.,
I like Bun B
I like Lil' Wayne right now, he surprised me with his
new single, I was like "damn, homie's coming with it right now!"
I like Saigon, Tru Life
you know Tru Life's speaking a lot of the
shit I'm feeling right now. I'm from New York, and I came to L.A. when
I was 17. I've been back and forth my whole life. I used to come back
to New York and they were laughing at gangbanging. I used to wear khakis
and t-shirts, and they were like "you look like a trash worker, you
can't come in the club, those are sanitation clothes." To see New
York, where everyone used to look to it for motivation, and now everything's
flipped and New York is using other motherfucker's slang and they're on
other motherfucker's dicks. That's strange to me, and I haven't heard
anyone address it to now. I'm talking before MTV Raps I was going back
and forth, information didn't travel as fast. Then videos came out and
it traveled faster, but now you have the internet and everything travels
by the second.
signed Mitchey Slick to Angeles Records, what made you want to work with
a real businessman. He's a real gentleman. He's about his business. He
conducts himself like a professional in the studio. He's on time, comes
through, his music moves on the streets, ten to twenty thousand units
a time on the underground. He's on his business all the way to real estate.
Besides being talented, he's got everything else going too. You can be
talented but if you're lazy, I really don't want to fuck with you. So
we said "let's get together and do a project together." We got
together, and boom, we're going to put his album out February 21.
is going on with Angeles?
we have Self-Scientific's album coming out October 25, the record is called
"Change." The album is incredible. August 29, we have DJ Warrior's
mixtape coming out, the West Coast Mixtape King, he's one the Justo Award
the last couple of years. We're trying to create a brotherhood in L.A.
A lot of people stay in their own corner. The only shit you really see
coming out of L.A. is Aftermath and the big business. We're more like
a boutique. We may not be a McDonald's or Foot Locker, but we're that
bomb-ass sneaker boutique down the street or that bomb-ass restaurant
that only has ten seats in it. That's us. We decided to create a brotherhood
of the best talent out here. With everybody putting something into the
pie, it makes us stronger.
you come up with Mash-Up Radio?
slang term we use in L.A., like if you're going to go "mash"
on a fool, or I'm going to get in my ride and go "mash" you.
I had a regular Hip Hop show, but I got sick of it. Everyone has a Hip
Hop show, and some of them are good. I wanted to bring something different
because I'm known for bringing the Rock and Hip Hop. Look at Rick Rubin,
he made his mark in Hip Hop and then worked with Johnny Cash. I want to
do records with U2, Janet Jackson, Tricky, George Michael, all across
the board. I wanted to do my show different where it would be Hip Hop-inspired,
where Heads can listen and say this shit is banging and it has the energy
of Hip Hop.
do you see this going?
we're on Sirius Shade 45, Monday Night Mash-Ups. I have nine other cities
right now. We're in the midst of doing a VH1 special on it, a movie on
it. We're also working on a tour. We have a lot of shit planned for the
As a DJ,
what do you think the people need to hear?
What I did
like in the Hip Hop movement was a few years ago, kids were putting out
12"'s again. People that couldn't get heard were like "fuck
it, I'm going to do it my own." It used to be commonplace to put
out 12"'s, people didn't have albums, from Def Jam, Wild Pitch, Sleeping
Bag, these miscellaneous labels. Then it bubbled into a much bigger game,
and not everyone can relate to what the labels are doing. Not everyone's
from the hood, or from the South with gold teeth. So kids started putting
out 12"'s, and that's what we're in the process of doing at Angeles
Records. We're putting out the music we want to put out, and that's what
the game needs. It needs the kids that are brave like the Atmosphere's
and Dilated Peoples. They built their own followings, hit the road
can sell 18,000 when they drop. That's what's revolutionary to me. They're
not chasing the Jay-Z's, Lil' Wayne's, they're doing their own thing,
and that's Hip Hop to me.
is it working in the Wu fam?
like that. We're good homies man. We do a lot of favors for each other
behind the scenes that people don't even know about. We just click like
that. You meet certain people, you click like that, you meet other people,
and you don't click. It just so happens that we click.
of "soul" seems very important to you, and it's definitely important
in the Wu
what's your concept of soul?
Soul is putting
your energy forth in your music. I was never trained musically. I approach
my music sideways, I'm very awkward in my style and production. A lot
of things are off, and they've always been off. RZA approaches his music
the same way. It's odd that two brothers that never knew each other have
similar approaches, but really don't even have an approach.
the first one to recognize Infamous Mobb, are you doing anything with
Mobb was rapping for three or four months before they got on the Soul
Assassins record. I thought they were cool. My man Bigga B introduced
me to them. They came through and I liked their flavor. I liked their
unity and their sense of brotherhood.
of Bigga B, what can you tell people about him?
he worked at Loud for a bunch of years. I met Mobb through him. He brought
everybody together in this place called Unity. Everyone from every walk
of life would come together to do Hip Hop shows. He's one of the coolest
brothers you could ever meet. A great businessman and an incredible friend.
His partner Chace, from Self-Scientific, we met each other and Bigga B
was always saying "you guys have to fuck with each other" and
now we have the label. I met Mobb Deep through Bigga, and now Alchemist
has clicked with Mobb Deep because I introduced him. I met GZA through
Bigga. We're still doing things today through his touch.
proud of how far Alchemist has come?
Oh hell yeah!
Al was just a little kid banging on some drum machines, and now he's the
hottest producer in the game to me. Al took everything we showed him and
everything we gave him, and he took it to another level with honor, pride,
and respect. He always gave respect and we kept fucking with each other.
When you on top sometimes you have to pull brothers up and other times
you'll need to be pulled up. I'm very proud to see Al on top doing what
is it to help others trying to come up?
When me and
Al were coming up, we didn't have a team. We figured out how the shit
worked, we made our own demos, and made it. I saw him as a child prodigy,
and I knew he was going to make it with or without me, but I could make
his path a lot easier and show him things that he wouldn't have to go
through, the trials and tribulations and learning curves. He was 14 years
old touring with us, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Funkdoobiest, Rage Against
the Machine. We did three Smokin' Grooves. He was always in the studio
with me. We'd go record shipping. He's just a good human being man.
feel like your use of live instruments is a natural progression that comes
When I first
started, I said I would never use live instruments, but now I use it.
Whatever the project calls for, I'll do it. The GZA project didn't call
for it. If I'm doing some rock shit, I may have to. Some do better with
samples, some are better starting with instruments. It depends where your
mind is at as a musician. I come from playing records, blending beats,
learning where the breaks are. I kind of learned from DJ'ing.
you mold your music to fit the different artists you work with?
I just make
a bunch of music. I'll sit down here and make a bunch of beats in a week.
It depends who I work with. I'll let them sit down and pick stuff out.
I prefer working from scratch. A lot of times, artists may not pick something
I would pick for them. I have my ideas, and they have theirs, but it works
is it for you to stay in rock music as well?
matter to me. I come from a Hip Hop backbone. Everything I do is Hip Hop-inspired.
As an artist, I refuse to paint the same picture throughout my whole career.
I refuse to always use the same colors. I like experimenting, inventing,
and trying, pushing myself, seeing what I can do. Even if something is
out of my league, I like to try it anyways and see what I can do and challenge
myself. I get bored with this shit a lot.
still cool with Dr. Dre today?
cool as hell, every time I see him it's all good.
going to be doing anything with him?
thing in the plans is we started a Soul Assassin record, and he said whenever
we're ready, to hit him up.
Assassin" mixtape got a lot of buzz, what do you use your mixtapes
are strictly for awareness and promotion. I just want to hit my fans and
make new fans. I'll print up five or ten thousand and hand them out like
business cards. The mixtapes for me is for that. It's not a financial
thing. It's just to let everyone know about the projects we have coming
feel like the mixtape game is fucked up?
I don't know
a lot of them, but I see a few of them here and there that's all about
their ego, their benefit, and what they can do when they don't even have
skills as a DJ. They think if you get an exclusive you're the best DJ.
Motherfuckers' attention spans are so short, they hear a song once and
then it's played out. Good music never gets played out, that's why it's
classic. Just because you heard it once doesn't mean it's played out.
A lot of these DJ's are caught up. They're also bottom-feeders scouring
for peoples music, stealing it, taking it, and putting it on their tapes
like they did it. Nah homie, you're just a fucking leech, leeching your
whole shit off of someone else's creativity. You didn't write the shit,
you didn't produce the shit. Anybody can put that shit out. I don't even
have the time to do that shit, getting three dollars a tape on some bullshit
that I don't own and I won't see royalties down the line. It's a stepping
stone if you want to see it like that, but then you have to step up homie.
could choose between a rock star, Hip Hop star, or porn star, what would
Man, I just
be me. I don't need to be no star. I don't need to be famous. Just let
me get my dough and do my music and take care of the family, and I'm cool.
to be down with a lot of people in the porn industry, what's the craziest
thing you ever saw?
A gang of
freaks. A lot of bitches out of their minds.
still enjoy touring?
on you after a while. If you go out there and work hard, sleep, and get
your rest, you'll be good. But if you go out there and trying to drink
and party, it'll wear on you. I just go out there and get my money and
take it home. The first couple of tours, you'll wild out. Now I just go
out there and conduct business and get home.
you want to say to everyone out there reading this?
to say to everybody whose been representing and holding me down all these
years, thank you very much. Anybody who don't know, check it out and see
if it's your cup of tea.