De: Chilling, man.
Cas: Yeah. We’re in the studio going over a couple of songs for the album.
How did Tangled Thoughts come together?
Cas: Me and De went to high school together out in Seattle. We did our music thing out in Seattle and I did my music thing with Tek in Philly. We decided to get together because we had the rhymes and Tek always had the production. That was about seven years ago. We came up with the name, chilling in the studio.
Was it hard working together as a group at first?
Tek: It took a little time. Over time, the chemistry has been built. We’re artists and it’s like three minds on one body, creatively. That’s how it is.
De: Yeah. A lot of the stuff we did we got from freestyling on South Street. That’s how Tek and Cas met, at a cipher on South Street. That’s how a lot of Philly artists got discovered. That’s how we really connected. They had a bond and they brought me over from Seattle. Me and Cas packed up and rode the Greyhound when we were 18 years-old. We thought we would make it and we just really took it to the streets and tried to get our voices heard. We all have a similar vibe. It’s been a family affair from the jump. We had a never-ending freestyle session the first night we met. That was crazy. We were like, We have to fuck with each other after that.
Did you get support in Philly at first?
Tek: Woo! It was definitely difficult because we’re different. It’s difficult when you’re not the run of the mill. Philly doesn’t even support their own. We really got our respect from the ciphers. We used to go cipher-hopping. After awhile, people around the city started noticing us. We had the beat machine and the guitar player and we were just tearing away at the seams. At the same block we started freestyling at, South Street, we held it down there at the hip-hop club.
De: We had an open mic night that we ran with us performing at the end. We used to freestyle there and we ended up getting in there. Tek went from making beats that were banging to beats that were stupid and ridiculous. Then Ab Liva and Gillie and Freeway started hunting him down. We were doing all the big venues like the TLA and Electric Factory. It was like a snowball just building as we got the momentum rolling.
What is it about Philly that makes it hard to break out of and what do you have to do to succeed in Philly?
Tek: I think you have to leave Philly to succeed in Philly. It’s hard because there’s no major outlet like New York or LA. There are no major labels in the city but you have millions of emcees on every block and every corner. There’s a lot of talent. Everybody can spit. Philly has always had the dopest emcees and DJ’s, but at the end of the day, there’s no outlet. You have to leave Philly.
De: We really hit a brick wall. We put 400 of our own fans in the TLA or the Electric Factory. People were coming to see us and that’s the thing that would normally draw a lot of attention. We were opening up for name artists and we were bringing more fans than they were.
You’re also down with one of the best rappers from Philly in Kurupt. How did you form that relationship?
Tek: Actually me and his cousin Jameer are good friends back home and he introduced me to Roscoe. We kept in contact and I just got the call that Jameer was coming through with Kurupt and Roscoe. We were down from there. They loved our music. They told me to come out to LA and build. They told us we had to get our music out there. That’s why we’re out in Cali now.
What have you learned working with Kurupt so far?
De: The experience. He’s from the generation that we look up to and we grew up listening to his classic albums. He has knowledge and experience. He knows things we don’t. He’s bringing the young boys up and showing us the ropes.
How has he helped your sound?
De: One of the crazy things was that we were living in a hotel. Four grown-ass men in a little hotel room! He called me and said, “What are you guys doing?” We told him we were in there making music and he came and literally took us to all of the sessions that he had with Snoop Dogg, Daz, all of them. We sat right there and learned from them. Everyone that Kurupt affiliates with, we got an opportunity to see how they make music and we got to build with them.
Tek: One thing about Kurupt is that he is the king of ad-libs! When you’re in the studio, you better do your ad-libs right!
Are you happy with the move to Cali?
Cas: The move itself wasn’t really that hard because we were in Philly doing it with such a limit that it felt like the move was just the thing to do. Things didn’t really work out the way they were supposed to in Philly so we were like, Let’s go. We got the hotel room and we really embraced the scene out here. People are loving the sound. The music speaks for itself and the people appreciate it. Things are starting to come into place.
De: We had a song on the radio that went to No. 1 automatically in the 805. It was just a difference from when we were doing all that grinding in Philly, from passing out flyers to asking these dumb-ass labels to listen to our demo, listen to our demo. Then we come out here and get love right off the top.
Cas: We did more work here in a year here than we did in Philly in six years! It’s crazy.
I’m guessing girls didn’t jump at the idea of visiting your hotel room.
De: Our only girls were the music.
Tek: All you have to do is pull them outside. We’re in California. We’re right by the ocean. (laughs)
How would you describe how the Tangled Thoughts sound has grown from moving from Philly to Cali?
Cas: I feel like we mixed the Philly swagger with the West Coast mentality. We take a little bit from the West Coast and mix it with the East Coast. We give everybody what we’ve been through. There are a lot of differences, but there are a lot of similarities. We just try to mix it all up.
Tek: The Philly to Cali theme kind of speaks for itself. We bring the lyrics that the East Coast has always been known for and the music that the West Coast has always been known for. We’re bringing it all together.
You’re dropping a mixtape before the album. What can you tell us about the mixtape?
Tek: It’s been a minute since we’ve been out here. We had to take some time out from composing and working to put this out. It’s fire. We got Ab-Liva, Gille da Kid, Sen Dog, Gail Gotti and of course Kurupt.
How’s your album Philly To Cali coming?
Tek: We’re in the final stages of really finishing it up. We’re going through it with a fine-toothed comb. We want it to be classic at the end of the day.
De: We put a lot of time into it. They say you have all the time in the world to really make your first album a classic. Shout out to Good Hands Records for really stepping up to the plate and shout out to Gotti. We took what the veterans told us and what we learned from the Philly streets and we make it pop.
Cas: The hardest part is picking songs out. We recorded over 100 songs. We have over 100 songs! The hardest part is picking the songs we’re going to use.
What did you want the production to sound like on your debut album?
Tek: With this album and with Kurupt behind us and being that I really look up to guys like Dr. Dre, Warren G and DJ Quik, those are some of my favorite producers, I really wanted to bring out that g-funk and I have some breakbeat classics. It’s bicoastal. You can vibe to it anywhere. It’s not a regional album. You can bump this in Detroit, Miami and A-town. I just wanted to go for that classic, clean sound.
Does it ever get hard balancing the different sounds?
Cas: To us, it’s not about balancing it out. We don’t care about that. That whole “Philly to Cali” thing, that’s really us. We’ve been in the ‘hood and we’ve been in the suburbs. It’s all in us. All of those things embody us and when people hear that, it’s really not that complicated. They get it. They don’t have to try to get us. It’s really us at the end of the day.
You’ve gotten a lot of big names down with you, from Freeway to Sen Dog. How did you make that happen?
De: Off the love! We ain’t out here chipping off all these artists to get down with us. It’s a mutual respect.
Tek: Guys like Gillie and Liva and Freeway, they’re all down. I did like four or five joints for Freeway for the Ice City album a few years ago. We met Sen Dog when we were out here in the circle. And with Liva, of course that Philly history is there. Other than that, it’s basically just being around and getting to know people. They fuck with us off the talent.
Tek, what are your goals as a producer?
Tek: I’m very happy with my situation. I also have an artist Ak. I’m trying to do a whole lot of outside production. I’m trying to Scott Storch it up! I’m trying to get it on this year. I’m trying to get it popping with any and everybody. This year is going to be big. I’m looking for a lot of outlets and I’m looking for a lot of outside work. The boy Ak is coming too. I’m just trying to keep it moving.
What does Tangled Thoughts have to do to succeed in 2007 in this independent hip-hop game?
De: Heavy grind. Heavy grind. We have to go hard. We stand behind our material. This is nothing that’s a come-up. This is not something that we’re trying to do real quick. We’re not your typical run of the mill group that’s ready to just put out an album.
Cas: We’re grinding. We’re putting that work in. We’re looking forward to meeting the new people in the game. We’re going to get to connect with a lot of people and I know that we’re just going to continue to grow.
What’s your focus going to be for the next couple of months?
Cas: We’re looking to push the album everywhere we can. Tek’s also got his production. Any aspect of music and entertainment that we can touch and be a part of, we’re definitely going to do it. You’re going to hear our story.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Tek: To any of the artists looking for tracks, holler at your boy! Aside from that, this is going to be a big year for us. Anybody that’s reading the interview, stay tuned for the album Kurupt Presents Tangled Thoughts’ album Philly To Cali coming out on Good Hands Records this spring and stay tuned for the HipHopGame mixtape in the next couple of weeks.
De: I know you’re used to hearing the typical music, but sit back and listen to us. We’re not gangster, we’re not backpack and we’re not conscious. Nas says hip-hop is dead but we gave it a lobotomy.