in Hip Hop since birth. I think pops used to bump Sugar Hill Gang back in the
day. But on the business side, I got involved back in ‘89 doing street
promotions for a few local artists in New York. From there it sparked me to
start an independent record label that had nationwide distribution. We were
the only independent label from New York putting out banging West Coast music.
After the distributor went bankrupt, I was working in the College Promotions/Mixshow
department at Def Jam during the Varrick Street days. When DMX first wondered
where his dogs was at, I was helping to break him around the country. Around
this time, artists like C.R.U., Raggedy Man, Warren G., and a bunch of other
artists was out.
Shortly after that,
Cando Entertainment was born. Along with Walter Bell, the other Co-Founder of
the company, the legacy began.
How did you two get the idea of making this documentary
on Hip-Hop mixtapes?
We had just got
back from London filming a documentary for Ms. Dynamite. Shit was really crazy
over there so we bounced back to New York to work on something that was trully
“our” project. I came up with the idea while we were still in London
and we talked about it. Once everything settled down, we jumped right into it
and haven’t looked back since.
How hard was it to get in touch with all the main
actors of the mixtape game?
DJing like some
many things associated with Hip Hop is a hustle. These DJs and even the artists
for that matter are out there grinding to make a name for themselves, build
their names as brands and get to a higher place in the industry. Since “MIXTAPE,
Inc. - The Movie” was the 1st feature-length documentary about the Mixtape
scene, there was a little hesitation at first. People are used to the whole
street DVD thing that’s out right now. From the beginning we told people
this is not a street DVD but a film. This project was geared from its conception
to be something that will be around in 5 or 10 years. Once people understood
where we wanted to take it and our history in the industry, things changed.
How did your idea of the mixtape scene change after making this documentary?
getting Mixtapes for years. I thought the process was simple -- It’s definitely
a grind. A lot of these Mixtape DJs put in days and weeks of work to put out
a tape. Whether its networking with the labels and artists to get exclusives,
instrumentals, vocals or just ordering the tracks, blending and mixing, etc...
it’s a grind for these DJs.
For the unsigned
artists on tapes, Rob Love at Def Jam said it best, “Demo tapes are over.
They’re not happening any more.” It’s true. No one is fucking
with demo tapes any more for a lot reasons. Probably the biggest is that the
more their name and music is out there, the bigger their brand as an artist
becomes. Once they get to that level where deals become a reality, they have
a lot more leverage. I hate to use 50 Cent as an example only because everyone
knows the story. But, the truth is that by controlling your image, name, music,
and fan base makes you more valuable as an artist. It’s the same thing
Cash Money Records, Master P & No Limit, Ludacris & Disturbing Tha Peace
and most of them did to get their deals. Whether its a P&D or whatever it
is, they ran their shit from the start and that got them where they are.
Is there some kind of storyboard for this DVD,
like is it divided in various sections?
There are different
sections like any film. Whether it’s eventually on DVD or not, it will
take the viewers through several stories that are all different but at the same
time are all part of each other.
The mixtape game is very obscure; a few years ago, the FBI raided several
offices, yet, we see more and more mixtapes being released. do you think that
the labels have understood the importance of a mixtape?
The music industry
needs Mixtapes more than they are ready to acknowledge. Mixtapes break new artists,
help them discover unsigned talent, and increases their sales as a street promotional
tool. The RIAA as a tool of the music industry is very uninformed about Mixtapes.
Labels understand it so you would think the RIAA would — but no. Any raids
are initiated by the RIAA and in some ways, supported by the labels. That in
itself is what we are covering in the film. If the labels need Mixtapes and
the DJs that put them out, then why is it that the RIAA is raiding stores, put
people out of business and damage lives when everyone wins with Mixtapes —
artists, labels, DJs, and the consumers of Mixtapes and commercial releases?
Do you cover the legal side of the mixtapes?
The legality of
Mixtapes is something that has never been discussed before. It’s definitely
a topic we’re covering in the film. It’s something that had to be
discussed because it affects the music and artist that you listen to now and
shapes the music you’ll listen to next year.
The question I've always wondered is how does the mixtape DJ get paid when he
releases a mixtape and who pays him?
Mixtapes are a
hustle. Everything is for promotional use, right? So a lot of these DJs use
it as a stepping stone to do other things. Green Lantern is producing. He produced
one of the hottest tracks with D Block, “2 Gunz Up.” Clue? is doing
big things including the MTV gig. Ty Boogie was the tour DJ for Ashanti and
appeared on the MTV Summer Beach House last year. Flex got his show on Spike
TV. A lot of Mixtape DJs are working at labels in A&R positions and putting
out studio albums. Mixtape DJs are building their brand (themselves) and developing
a fan base. That’s probably worth more than anything else in the music
industry where numbers count the most.
Do you think some mixtape DJs can make as much
money as a relatively big artist just by dropping mixtapes?
It depends on how
you look at it. Putting out promotional Mixtapes and getting sponsored is a
good look. Jumping into other businesses is a good look. Like any hustle, its
all up to what you want to do and what you got to do to get there. There’s
definitely potential to make money. But just being a Mixtape DJ isn’t
going to do it.
What was your favorite moment in this documentary?
Hmmm. The A-Team
interview was interesting — they’re hungry and determined. Speaking
with Ron G. showed a lot of contrast from the Party Tapes back then to the Mixtapes
now. Probably the best moment in the film is the interview we did with Alan
Berry. He owned two record stores in Indianapolis that did a majority of their
business in commercial album sales. He also sold Mixtapes. His stores got raided
by the RIAA along with local authorities and subsequently is facing court, jail
time and more. Its not our favorite moment in the documentary because of something
good happening. This is your average Joe in middle America who supported Hip
Hop, the DJs and everyone involved from the labels down to the streets. He’s
the face that no one thinks about but he’s more important to Mixtapes
than a lot of the DJs putting them out in some ways. He is going to bring that
human story element that no one ever covered.
We all look at
who’s touchable and who’s not. It’s the ones that are touchable
that will eventually shape what happens with this 5th Element of Hip Hop.
What's the craziest thing you've learnt while doing this DVD?
That most people
think its a DVD. It’s a film, man!
Any bad things that happened?
Probably the worst
experience has been filming in 15 below zero weather. We were filming in Chicago
a few weeks ago as part of our Midwest film shoot. We got there the same day
they got hit with a snow storm. So, we are out there filming at 8:30am for probably
about 15 minutes when things started to freeze. Ever been so cold that you develop
frost on your eyelashes? I got a lot more respect for those people do research
up at the North Pole or climb mountains like Everest.
I got that on film
Who would you say is the hottest mixtape DJ right now?
Right now I’m
feeling Mick Boogie and Paul Bunyon. Their blend tapes are crazy. Djing live,
they are killing it in the Midwest when they’re rocking clubs, blending
joints on the fly. Vlad’s tapes are bananas -- those “Rap Phenomenon”
series are classics. There are a lot of elements to a tape that make it hot.
I like tapes to have themes and some type of direction. Taking tracks that don’t
fit together and throwing them on a tape after each other simply because they
are exclusives simply doesn’t work for me.
Are we gonna see a sequel to this mixtape documentary?
Not really a sequel
as this element of Hip Hop is ever-changing. But there’s definitely going
to be some new shit coming from us. There’s a lot of projects that we’re
building off the “MIXTAPE, Inc.” brand.
The Justo mixtape awards just took place last week, what do you think
about the ceremony?
The Mixtape Awards
are a good look for this “other music business.” DJs have been apart
of Hip Hop since Day 1 and they rarely get any shine. Remember when it was a
DJ, MC and a mic that were the necessary elements? If you notice, DJs have been
moved to the back of the stage and even in some cases replaced by a DAT. The
DJs are more valuable to Hip Hop than anyone really knows. So any type of award
show that gives shine back to the DJs is going to be a good look.
Do you have some footage from last year or this
year or do you regret not being able to include it in the documentary?
While the Mixtape
Awards are important to the industry, it’s the individuals that we tried
to focus on. It’s really their stories and lives that are important to
the film and those who watch it.
Seems like you want to make a reference with this
documentary, kind of like 'Scratch, the movie', what would you say are the biggest
assets of this film?
The people involved.
“Scratch” was a documentary that opened people up to Battle DJs
& Turntablism. “MIXTAPE, Inc.” is a film that will open people
up to the struggle of the DJs, the artists, and the battle between the streets
and the music industry. This is not a Walter and Jerry film. We are just the
people to get the film to the masses. This is a film about the people who make
Mixtapes what they are today.
Are you gonna introduce the movie during festivals
like the Sundance Film Festival or maybe the Cannes festival in France?
was the goal of the film. It’s shot professionally with high-end cameras,
mics and professionally lighted. We use PAL cameras which run at 25 frames per
second (fps), which is better clarity than NTSC cameras and looks closer to
film look. We intend to take the movie to film negative and get it out there.
We’re also looking to be the first urban film brought to Digital Projection.
The new “Star Wars” episodes went Digital Projection so look for
us to be the first urban film to go the same route. We’ve also gotten
requests to have the film screened in major theaters around the world.
When is it gonna be released and tell us about your next projects?
to have the film completed by Spring 2004. In the entertainment industry, you
are only as good as the next project. We have a few different projects that
we are fleshing out for Cable TV, festivals and straight to DVD.
What do you think about mixtape DJs yelling so
much throughout a whole track that we can't even hear what the artist is saying?
Everyone has their
personal preference as to that. Screaming over a track, to a certain degree
is ok with me. Some people don’t like it at all. There’s a whole
group of Mixtapes that even put on the cover “No Talking.” But I
can see both sides of the situation. On one hand, I want to hear my music and
what the artists are talking about. On the other hand, Mixtape DJs have a need
to promote themselves and their sponsors as much as possible. Everything in
Since this is a documentary about Mixtapes, are
you gonna release an official mixtape that would be like a soundtrack to the
to pursue a lot of different avenues with “MIXTAPE, Inc.” We’re
speaking with a lot of distributors and labels about a retail soundtrack for
the film. We’ve put out an industry-only Mixtape that had hot music mixed
with sound bites from those in the film. The Mixtape was even unique in that
it featured a trailer of the film as well as a crazy funny outtake with Kanye
West, GLC and Consequence from the film.
Any last words/shoutouts?
Mixtapes are the
5th Element of Hip Hop. Believe it or not, what happens with Mixtapes within
the next year is going to change the way you listen to music and who you listen
to. It’s always going to stay street... Keep Mixtapes alive!