from allergies right now. It's kind of a pain in the ass.
a few years since your last solo album
I know. It's
been too long.
excited about Mo' Mega?
Yeah, I really
am. I'm really looking forward to it. It's another chance to get some
thoughts and ideas out there. I get to go out on tour again and bring
the music live and direct to people. It's cool. It's also going to give
me the opportunity to perform songs I couldn't do on the I, Phantom tour.
It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm just really, really looking forward
happy with how Mo' Mega turned out?
been a process of me really growing with the records. It's like when you're
so close to the making of a project, you can't get perspective on it.
I guess I'm a very sensitive person overall. There might be a million
things going through my mind and I'll be thinking about how I felt making
the song instead of how the song came out. Sometimes I judge the song
based on how I felt. Now I've had a healthy amount of separation time
from this record because I turned it in in March. I've had time to sit
with it and step away from it. There are some days when I don't even listen
to it at all. I feel like I can comprehend the record now and I'm real
happy with how it came out.
your inspiration for your single "Brothaz"?
in Darfur was really a huge thing. I feel like a broken record and I always
feel like I want to give people something different in every interview,
but it's really hard for me to get around the fact that I'm addressing
a very obvious plight that exists in black communities here in America
and comparing them to situations overseas. There is so much disarray in
communities everywhere and the government and other communities completely
ignore it. It's just something where I was like, "Hey, let me shed
some light on it. Let me just reiterate the fact there is an emergency
situation for young black people in America." It should be treated
like an emergency.
see things getting better?
hope so. I hope that the black community collectively responds in a positive
way and gets their hands on some money. I hope a good deal of money goes
into the black community especially for education. There is definitely
a damaging effect to not having good schools you can access. If you have
teachers who don't even want to go to the school because they're afraid
of some of the kids, the kids who want to be there won't get the education
they deserve because of the teachers. I think there needs to be an effort.
All these rich black basketball players and actors need to form a coalition.
If you're making over $500,000 a year, you should help out on building
a prestigious school or something. Everyone should start with one community
and build it up like that. I haven't done a lot of research on it and
I know it's not going to be easy with zoning laws and everything. There
are all types of things that can go wrong, but maybe it's worth the effort.
Maybe it's worth 5% of your income to just go into a black community,
maybe do two communities a year, and just go into the city and create
a stronger educational system with a stronger support system for minorities
and build a stronger future for minorities. So much self-esteem is built
through education. If my parents did not send me to a great school, I
would not be where I am today.
ever get frustrated the majority of your fans are white?
to not have diversity. I love my fans, but I'm just like, "Where
are the rest of them?" Not only do I write music specifically aimed
at the black community, but my music also has a universal scope. It's
not like someone can't relate to "Brothaz" just because they're
not black. It's just out there for everyone. I have a lot of songs just
talking about the human situation on earth. I definitely don't just try
to target one community. I make music for everyone. I made "Live
from the Plantation" for everyone who's ever had a bullshit-ass job.
I don't know what I have to do to change it, but I hope that it does change.
The music is out there and I have to figure out with my label what we
have to do to diversify the agenda and diversify the people buying the
leaving Def Jux?
I have no
plans of that. I have no plans of that at all. We have to figure out our
contractual issues. We're going to take our time and make sure everything's
going where it needs to go. That's my family. It's my sixth year rolling
with them and I obviously have a lot of respect for what's going on over
there. Maybe I have to do some research on my own as to what I have to
do to diversify things. I just have to get all the things taken care of
that need to be taken care of. I need to make sure I'm in magazines that
reach out to different people. Maybe we need to look at promotions for
the tour. There are a lot of things that need to be reinvented and looked
at. I have to balance my own energy because it takes so much for me to
keep my career afloat. It takes so much energy just to keep this thing
going. It's almost like I have to do double the amount of work. I have
to promote to the white community and also go into areas of color and
make them aware on my own.
listening to "Fries," I'm guessing you're not going to McDonald's
We all have our vices, but I avoid that shit like the plague. We have
our dark moments on tour, but we usually try to fuck with the Cracker
Barrel because you can get that home-cooked feel. Sometimes it's two in
the morning and dudes are starving and we might have to drive through
the night. It's happened twice in the last three years where cats have
to fuck around with some McNuggets.
is also about if the government wants to wipe out the population, all
they have to do is put a slow-releasing death medicine into the McDonald's
food. Obviously my song is very extreme because cats are keeling over
in the parking lot. But if motherfuckers were keeling over a month later,
they might not even know why. A million people served would be a big dent
to the population. The second verse is where I'm waking up in an insane
asylum. America is the predominant country at the forefront of the world
and a lot of people never leave America because our culture makes you
feel so much like you're on top of the world and you're 100% right all
the time. We're a country based on intimidation and a lot of the things
we're involved in are very cult-like and very unhealthy. We're living
out our attempts to play God. Out of all the living things, we're obviously
the ones who aren't living in harmony with nature. That's why at the end
of "Fries" I say what I do. We're basically all looking the
liked about Mo' Mega is you can go from "Fries" to "Murs
is my Manager" and get a completely different vibe.
For me, "Murs
is my Manager" is just a much-needed bugout. It's in the middle of
the album. There are five songs before it and five songs after it. Murs
and I were bugging out one day, and dude was on some shit like, "Yeah
man, I'm going to manage you." I regularly get really sound advice
from Murs on a lot of things. He's from the Bay Area and they're really
on their grassroots grind. He started out pressing up his own CD's and
sat outside Amoeba Records and sold his own shit. I have a lot of respect
for the Living Legends because they really came up on some real independent
shit. When I did Sleepyheads, he advised me on how to do that and he linked
me up with the guy to manufacture my CD's and we've done other business.
That's how the whole management issue came up. That's why he was calling
up asking for a verse from Eminem but we didn't have no dough and we would
need it by tomorrow. It was just some wiling out shit. We had the perfect
beat for that and it just fit that part of the record.
go about balancing the sarcasm with the educational element of your music?
I think that
all those things are so much a part of me that it's just very natural.
This record was going to be a comedy album at one point in its conception.
That was the way I was rolling. I wanted to make a comedy record. There
are a lot of really funny jams that I recorded that aren't on this record
that I'll probably put out later.
of beats did you want from El-P on Mo' Mega?
He did every
cut on the album except for "Wash It Up," "Murs is my Manager,"
and "For You." I just wanted him to do whatever he felt comfortable
with. It was really a collaborative effort between him and me. It's not
like I was going to him asking for certain tempos and things. I wanted
him to feel he represented himself on this album. He would send me some
drums for me to lay down any verses I had prewritten, and then I ended
up having that verse from "Fries." That first verse I had is
a couple years old.
you doing that at a show three years ago.
Yeah. I had
that one for awhile. I had that one verse and I was assuming it would
never find a home. I hate to waste verses, especially that verse. I felt
that was a very visual verse and is obviously very out there. I wanted
to have that out there somehow. I'm just glad it got out there on this
you want Mo' Mega to be different from I, Phantom?
I think the
biggest difference is I didn't make this a record that is as conceptually
strung together as I, Phantom. I think I'm going to go back to that concept
for my next project. I have a few ideas already. I think with I, Phantom,
I was hiding behind characters and it was hard to tell which songs were
personally about me. A lot of people asked me what songs were about me
and what songs were about the characters. People had their assumptions.
This album is just me being ultra-personal. I figured I had a four-year
hiatus and I wanted my fans to know exactly what I was going through and
to see how tough it is to live up to your own standards. One of the biggest
things holding me back was my standards.
was a great conceptual album.
just glad that it had the success that it did. When I passed it in to
the label and gave it to the publicist to send out, cats didn't really
say anything. There was a very eerie silence. Of course I understood it
because it was my record, but the publicist didn't understand which way
to work the record. Once people saw the liner notes, they were like, "Oh
shit, there's a method to the madness here." I think that record
could have come off as not relating to anyone, but luckily people connected
with songs like "Live from the Plantation." I think that was
the main song people connected with from the album. Some people liked
"New Man Theme." "Success" was another song like that.
"Friends and Neighbors" was probably my favorite song. I was
trying to get twenty stories wrapped up into one on that song. That's
a very personal song. I really like "Iron Healer." I considered
that a masterwork because it took so much out of me. It required a lot
of separation for this record so I could live down what people were saying
about it and stand far enough away from it so I could finally feel like
it was time to make something completely different.
you ever think about shooting a film for I, Phantom?
something that was being kicked around for a little while. I wanted to
do a video movie for it where we shoot a short video for every single
song. Things weren't right so we opted not to do it.
happy with how your Perceptionists' album Black Dialogue did?
Well, I think
all of us in the camp felt like it should have done a lot more, but ultimately,
it was rewarding to get together with two of my best friends and make
a record. I feel there are 20,000 other people out there who would buy
the record if they were exposed to the album in the right light. As a
group, we couldn't get our act together to really put our full force behind
the record. Fakts One dropped out of the group before our first tour started
so it was kind of hectic and I know it didn't go as far as it could have.
cool between you and Fakts today?
just don't talk as much because I don't know if he's even into the music
anymore. I was telling Ak and Fakts to come to Jux and they [Definitive
Jux] have their act together. It was an opportunity I was able to provide
for two of my best friends. It's hard when you have goals and aspirations
and you're trying to work out the kinks and someone drops out from the
beginning and takes a completely different route in life. We had been
on the road together for the past seven years.
and Akrobatik do some more work in the future?
That's something I have to talk to my manager about, but we're planning
another album for 2008.
is the live show to Mr. Lif?
I think especially
in this age of digital downloading, the live show is an artist's biggest
asset. They can listen to your music, but there's nothing like being at
the venue watching the show. I personally do not know too many artists
who can rely on label money and not tour and be financially stable. It's
a very important thing. I always try to make sure people enjoy the experience
when they come out to my show.
you be doing right now if you weren't rapping?
be learning how to build houses or a goalie in the NHL.
you have to do from here on out to make sure Mo' Mega is successful?
a couple things. I've gone over to Europe to do a press tour. I went to
Paris, Berlin, and London. I sat in the hotel lobbies and just talked
to as many press people as possible. I just did interview after interview
after interview. I was telling my girl one thing is that overseas, people
are more open about asking me about songs influences and long-distance
relationships and things like that. I don't know if cats are uptight about
sexuality over here, but it's funny to me. I know people are clearly not
ready to hear certain songs from me. They're clearly not expecting it
and they probably don't want it. When you make political music, it's a
dangerous, dangerous thing. People really try to castrate you. I don't
know. It's weird. I've been fighting to stay out of this torture box where
I'm confined and can only move certain ways. That's why I did Black Dialogue.
I have songs about relationships and I'm way more into that than I am
into watching CNN. Maybe me and my lady will watch CNN together, but there
are a lot of things I'd rather do than that.
I'm in a
long-distance relationship because I'm a musician and I'm always on the
road. Even if I'm living in the same house as someone, we're apart and
life gets compartmentalized. If I go out, I may come back for a couple
weeks and there's a lot of pressure on my partner and me to show and prove.
We maybe have one week to completely remind each other why we're in this
relationship and why we love each other on top of what else we have to
do. If you don't like those songs, I challenge you to leave someone you're
intensely attracted to for three months and then see how you feel.
you want to say to everyone?
a long, amazing ride for me. I've been doing this for nine years. I can't
say I've appreciated every moment because it's easy to get bogged down
once you realize the reality of the business. When you go on tour you
have to think about a lot of things and there's a lot of pressure on making
records, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I've really
been blessed in that regard. Although I'm a nine-year vet, I feel like
this is my first record. I'm hungry like that. I feel like my whole approach
is savage and brutal. I feel like I have to kick in the door again. When
you take a four-year hiatus, you have to come back. On every track I have
a sound that's different from everything else. I'm looking forward to
the future and addressing issues we're facing and I can't wait for the
shows. Come look for me. It's like a big party. I appreciate everyone's
Mr. Lif's single "Brothaz" free: http://www.definitivejux.net/mp3/brothaz.mp3