Sean Price – Duck Down video featuring Skyzoo & Torae
Restless Films and NahRight Present One Shot video series.
Directed by Court Dunn.
Sean Price – Duck Down video featuring Skyzoo & Torae
Restless Films and NahRight Present One Shot video series.
Directed by Court Dunn.
Conducted by May Blaiz
For those of you who know and for those of you who should know, General Steele along with Tek – collectively known as Smif N Wessun – released a #1 Rap Album, selling over 300,000 copies. This was Dah Shinin’. Remember the powerful uplifting anthem that would brand New York’s concrete Brooklyn “Bucktown”? The trumpet intro followed by Steele’s first verse… “I walk around town with the pound strapped down to my side…”
Little did he know at the time, a 1975 blaxploitation movie was already out there featuring Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Thalmus Rasulala and Tony King, named what else? Bucktown! “It took about 5 years later, around 1999, when we seen the movie and we realized that something was out already”, Steele mentions.
Inspired, General Steele samples dialogue from this film, in “Welcome to Bucktown”, the first official release off the Bucktown USA imprint. With the goal to portray life in Brooklyn through his eyes and through the eyes of a number of Brooklyn emcees and producers, he states, “I didn’t try to copy the film or the soundtrack, but the concept and feel of it. I was able to relate to what they were going through with the police and with their own comrades and I wanted to depict that vibe & energy with the songs and the artwork.”
In an interview with MVRemix, General Steels shares the making of the soundtrack, his thoughts on modern day Brooklyn, social media outlets such as Twitter, upcoming projects and a sneak peek into what we can expect from his Bucktown USA imprint.
MVRemix: “Welcome to Bucktown” is your first official release for the Bucktown USA imprint. Can you tell me a bit about the making of the soundtrack? You stated at one point that Bucktown is a modern day Brooklyn. Can you describe what that means?
Steele: Smif N Wessun started with “Bucktown”. So, it was only right. I think that it’s important that artists speak about what they know about. Whether it’s from experience indirect or direct. Having direct experience with Brooklyn and me saying that Brooklyn is Bucktown and then having indirect experience travelling throughout the states and saying “Wow, there’s a Bucktown in Chicago. There’s a Bucktown in L.A. There’s a Bucktown in Texas. There’s a Bucktown everywhere. Everywhere is Bucktown” You know what? This ain’t right. Let’s pull it all together, and say OK, this is what we’re dealing with, what is this thing we are dealing with?
Before you listen to the album, it asks you, “Do you believe in God? If you do, then you in the wrong place”. If you come into a sort of place, you’re gonna need more than God sometimes… most times. God is not going to get you through, or whatever Savoir you may believe in or may not believe in. A lot of work has to occur with the individual that’s willing to step into the arena.
Music sometimes has a visual aspect, and if it doesn’t, then we don’t get it. It’s just rap. We are trying to incorporate that feeling of what you get when you listen to Curtis Mayfield or Barry White, without saying we are going to take all of these tracks and make these over. It’s been a long time we’ve been able to listen to an album as opposed to just saying that, “I like this album, this artist and I like these 3 tracks”. So now you have an album which we choose to call a soundtrack due to the question that you asked initially. I want you to feel full. Hopefully you can get into the whole story of knowing why music is an intrical part of our day to day.
MVRemix: You stated that you wanted artists and producers who fit the cast, artists who could carry that 70s energy naturally through their personal contributions.
Steele: As a 70s baby, I was brought under a certain kind of vibe, a certain type of music which fuelled what I’m doing right now. So I have to give credit to something of my birth, into the industry. What’s so great about the 90s was that some people chose to call it “the Golden Era”. You had such diversity within that that you could be a regular person and still listen to a Kool G rap, or listen to a political rap or a hard core rap without somebody saying that you are hard core, political or that you are this or you are that.
We had a time in that era where we can just listen to music and just say that I like this tune. And because we put so much restrictions to that now, some people are saying “I don’t listen to hip hop because hip hop is this” and they haven’t even experienced the full scope of it, they just listen to what’s on the radio or what’s being shown to them on BET or MTV and we all know that what’s on BET or MTV and the radio stations don’t really represent what’s going on. It’s too vast for them to cover that.
MVRemix: So when you did the album and you approached Brooklyn emcees like Shabaam Sahdeeq, Smoothe Da Hustler, Buckshot, Sean Price, and producers like DJ Revolution and Da Beatminerz, did you approach them first with a vision?
Steele: Absolutely. I picked all the tracks first. I picked the producers and said “I think I can hear Buckshot on this track”, “I can hear the whole Bootcamp, this is a Bootcamp song”. And certain producers provided me with the mood as is parallel with the track. As opposed to giving you a track and saying “here’s the beat, rhyme to the beat”, we say, “here’s the scenario, improv to the scenario”. That’s what we try to accomplish. Most rappers already do this but sometimes, unfortunately, rappers get so engulfed with their character that they forget what they are actually doing. People be knowing though. We say they fake, or we say they real.
MVRemix: So with the album, the soundtrack, I should say, what is your message? What do you want the listeners to get?
Steele: That you have an option. It’s always good to express yourself, so long as you have the forum to civilly express yourself, you should utilize that. We have the Patriot Act 3. We don’t want to have Patriot Act 7 where everybody gotta be silent and if you talk in public you’re going to jail.
Now we have something that’s called hip hop where we can basically express ourselves. I can be talking to somebody in Africa today and then be talking to somebody somewhere else in the world tomorrow, through my affiliation with hip hop. It’s a political structure, as well as cultural structure, as well as a social structure. Big up to Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc.
We do our part when we add on to it and we have to make sure this thing keeps going.
MVRemix: You’re last song are “Things are Getting Better”. Tell me about what that means.
Steele: I want people to know that it’s no secret that Brooklyn has a notorious history, but at the same time it also has a beautiful history. Within the struggle comes great accomplishments, comes great benefits, great glory and if you’re not willing to struggle with it, you’re not willing to receive it. If you thought that Bucktown is crazy and that people are dying, there’s guns, weed and Timberlands and ronchy people who don’t care ‘bout nobody, there’s a different side to that. Things are getting’ better in Bucktown says that if you real and willing to go through things, you ultimately will see the benefits of it. It’s a struggle, it still is.. but like Talib Kweli says… It’s a beautiful struggle.
MVRemix: I want to talk to you about Bucktown USA. Can you tell me about the birth of that?
Steele: People who are familiar with Dah Shining and for those who watched the movie, Bucktown, you’ll see it’s all about overcoming obstacles. Some that you saw, some of them you didn’t and that’s what we do basically in life. We can identify with that if not so much, the pimps, the pushers, the players, and the gangsters…it’s not so much of that, that’s basically the positions that people play, they’ve got mad positions. So the outcome of that is who’s going to withstand through the storm. That’s really what it’s all about.
With Bucktown USA, I ask, you really want to keep going forward in life? You gotta be willing to work, to go through certain things. Some people go through things and say “Oh my god, that’s so hard, I don’t know I can’t do this. I can’t go through this.” If that’s your vibe, then hey, that makes it better for the rest of us.
MVRemix: So you have some films that you’re also working on.
Steele: Yeah. “Band of Brothers” is a docudrama about the Bootcamp Clik. We are working on the album right now. We’re also taking tracks, you can print that! We need tracks. If anybody wants to be a part of history, it’s the story of Bootcamp. I think people are going to enjoy this because it’s not really a rap story, it’s a story about friendship, about the ups and downs and a little romance, but not much. It’s really about friendships and how important friendships are.
MVRemix: You’re branching off into Bucktown USA, doing interviews, television work, how does this impact the day and the life of General Steele?
Steele: I think that as we go into more of the information age and technology is expanding, you have to give. So for example, for the people who know about Dah Shining, what more can I give them? I can bring them to my house, through technology. I can literally say, “You want to come eat breakfast with Steele? Tune in with me at 9am Central and we can have breakfast together” through the technology. The power is at our fingertips.
I mean, we from the hood but we didn’t know that we have stuff in tune with the refugees from Stockholm , the refugees from Africa, from Russia, they from everywhere. They just regular kids, just like us. I really appreciate the fact that like, I’m from Brooklyn. I don’t know the struggles of other people. But when I can say what I’m saying and then other individuals can identify with me because they had a similar struggle, this just empowers me even more.
MVRemix: What are your thoughts on social media, like, Facebook, Twitter?
Steele: Twitter is cool, but it’s more local, it’s like one big party line. Facebook is more personal, more global. I was reading that Twitter, I don’t want to misquote but, it was speaking about how it just makes people feel less emotion, less time to respond. Everything is quick, quick, quick, quick, quick!!
It made me think about music, like the microwave era we live in. Everything is fast. Like, we don’t even want to hear nothing. If you hear Bob Marley havin’ a jam session in the studio with Peter Tosh, he was just jamming cuz sometimes you didn’t have tracks in the studio, you have a jam and everything you did, you had to speak through a microphone. If you hear one of those tapes right now, you hear the involvement of each individual person and each individual instrument.
Today we live in such a modern microwave age, that you just want to hear all that shit put together, quick. “Put it together for me. I don’t have time to sift through it.” We gotta make things fast. It gets kinda crazy where we gotta make music and people don’t want to hear it, so you gotta make something that people want to hear because we know they don’t already.
MVRemix: So you like the touring and meeting people?
Steele: I love meeting people, cuz just when you thought you knew everything, you meet somebody and then you’re like wow.
MVRemix: So, what’s in the future for BCC? Any upcoming tours?
Steele: We’ve been doin’ a campaign called Tribute to the Classics where we do a live show. Black Moon and Smif N Wessun performs with a band. Sean Price is still touring promoting the Heltah Skeltah album and we gonna be making some dates for Welcome to Bucktown where we be doing what I like to call a “broadway play”. We will be doing different things with the show, coming up this year. There’s a Bootcamp album, that I spoke about earlier. There’s also a KRS/Buckshot album out right now. The album is done. They are working on the next level on that. Heltah Skeltah, Ruste Juxx, Torae, Marco Polo is out right now. B-Real album is out right now, DJ Revolution. I don’t know any record label that has as many records out right now other than Duckdown.
MVRemix: I understand that Smif N Wessun is coming out with one as well?
Steele: Yeah, I was going to get to that. That is classified information. I didn’t want to reveal that but since you brought it up…
MVRemix: Is it true that Pete Rock is the only one producing it?
Steele: We’ve been kickin’ it with Pete. We just makin’ sure everything is taken care of, red tape and all finalized.
MVRemix: Why just one producer?
Steele: I think that as an artist, we want to make it meaningful and sometimes when you get a whole bunch of producers you kind of get away from the picture. There’s one producer for the album. Like when we did interviews for Dah Shinin, the only producer that worked on the album was Da Beatminerz. I’m not sayin’ anymore, next question.
MVRemix: Do you have any last minute words for your fans in Canada?
Steele: I love you Canada! I look forward to seeing you guys very, very soon with the entire Boot Camp. In the mean time in the between time, check us out and stay tuned on www.duckdown.com
You can also join us on www.bucktownusa.com and if you just want to see some footage of what’s goin’ on here in the Brooklyn side of things you can go to www.mogulus.com/bucktownusa or www.mogulus.com/bucktownusatv. You can see 24 hours of footage interviews. I have a television show with Cynical Smith. We going on the 5th year and we want to keep the hip hop culture going.
Be on the lookout for the documentary that we are working on on the assassination of Malcolm X. We are doing a day by day documentary on one of the individuals who was convicted on his participation in the assassination and he’s saying he’s innocent.
He’s trying to get exonerated and we doing the documentation of the whole process. It’s more than hip hop, so stay tuned. Salute to everybody out there.
Buckshot: Survival Skills Interview conducted by Max Cossette
Buckshot is one of a kind. His theories on subjects like technology, spirituality and the music industry are in-depth and heartfelt. His record company sells millions of units annually, yet his living conditions consists of “a one bedroom and a cat.” This man has big ideas and big plans, but staying “human” is important. His Hip-Hop empire is growing; Duck Down records boasts a powerful roster of youth and experience.
MVRemix was able to have an informative chat with this underground hero.
MVRemix: What does Survival Skills mean to you?
Buckshot: Survival skills are about having what it takes to make in the ring. It’s about knowing how to stay alive. KRS One has been an MC for 20 years, he know’s what it’s all about. It’s a cutthroat industry sometimes, so you need the right tools. This record is about showing we’ve got what it takes. It’s about presenting our reality as we’ve seen it .
MVRemix: How has KRS one influenced you?
Buckshot: I used to work a summer job and I’d listen to KRS-One on my boom box every day. He’s one of the greats. His biggest influence on me has been subliminally. His intricate words had a profound effect on me. Just being a fan of his in the past and coming up on a guy that like. I had a song called breath control, he had a song called breath control too. I was influenced by his breath control. KRS-One has a lot of science behind a tight game, I’ve always been a fan of his. He’s always given great things to Hip Hop.
MVRemix: “Robot” is an awesome song and video. Great dancing by the way.
Buckshot: I was always a dancer. I came up doing that.
MVRemix: You Break?
Buckshot: Oh yeah.
MVRemix: Any tips for young B-boys?
Buckshot: Always look to the past for good moves. Go check “breaking”, “B-Street”, “Breaking 1” and “Breaking 2”. Look to the past to find inspiration. Know what’s out there, what came before.
MVRemix: Knowledge is the fifth element isn’t it.
Buckshot: You better believe it. KRS-One said it. Knowledge Rein Supreme Over Nearly Everyone. You’ll always have people that feel that way. At the end of the day, health, stamina, damage, it’s what it’s all about.
MVRemix: Are you a spiritual person?
MVRemix: How did it come into your life?
Buckshot: Just as a kid. I grew up with a father who had knowledge of self. He was intelligent; he was wise, you start to pick up on those things. As a teenager I gained knowledge of self. And from that point on I studied everything from Islam to Sufism, anything dealing with spirituality.
MVRemix: Do you follow any spiritual tradition?
Buckshot: No, I say my thing is more universal. I’m a universal person. I believe that the creator is all of us. I believe that the creator is both the male and the female. I believe that the male and the female coming together is the creation force of life. Anything born can only be born from a female, and anything birthed can only be birthed from the male. It’s like what came first the chicken or the egg? And that’s the best part.
Hip-hop is about respecting who you are. That’s what hip-hop is about. When hip-hop started, we took nothing and made into something. Everybody had their own version. That nothing was being turned into something. There was a point in time when everybody adopted the same style. They felt that “this is hot when he did it, so I’m gonna do it”. But it’s a failure because then we all become robots, like how I said in the record.
Unfortunately you’re watching and your part of the generation that’s introducing the terminator. You’re a part of the T1 generation. You will see the T1. You will see the first bio-robotic companion. You’re already part of the 2nd life, which has avatars and such. You’re already in the matrix. You will be part of physically seeing robotic forms, people walking around that aren’t actually human, but are humanoid.
Everyone wanting to be a robot is about everybody willing to give up their human rights in order to be relevant to something that only lasts for the moment. Which is a thumb’s up, a “yay”, a praise or an acknowledgement.
MVRemix: Heavy. Any thoughts on 2012
Buckshot: My personal gut instincts and everything that’s guided me up to this point, is telling me that 2021 will be the year we have conflict with Korea. The leader’s going to die and the military going to take over. This is going to bring the UN and the world in a new way. Soon there’s going to be a world dollar. We’ll all be united in as a global country.
MVRemix: Sounds positive.
Buckshot: Yeah, but there are people out there working to remain in power. There are forces out there, you might call them the illuminati. They’ve talked to me and they don’t like me very much. They said they don’t like how I don’t play poker. They’ve got their rituals, under ground power.
MVRemix: Play poker, like deal with the devil?
Buckshot: You could call it that, they want to me engage with them. But I’m not down with excessive power or wealth. Wealth can really change people. When you people get rich over short of amount of time, they’re suddenly into all kinds of weird new experience
Have you heard about these homosexual parties? I’m friends with some black business people who got rich and they all got into these parties. They used to be heavy, now they say they’re all on salad diets. I’m not saying any names, but somebody out there’s knows exactly who I’m talking about. Now they get together and have these freaky parties.
MVRemix: Well to each his own I guess.
Buckshot: I don’t know about you, man, but I dig girls. Women. But it’s true, if that’s what you like go for it. I’m not hating on anyone. But the money can change people. They get to a point where they have everything they’ve ever wanted, so they go for any experience, especially if it’s cool at the time. It’s like sucking some dude off one day, then it’s like “boring, okay what’s next?” Some people get so big and then try to get back down but they can’t.
MVRemix: So it’s important to stay humble.
Buckshot: I call it staying human. I think that I’ve lived on this earth many times already, but I don’t believe in reincarnation. Without being aware of those past lives, how can you believe in reincarnation? I do believe in karma and powerful energy. I think my past lives have been becoming more enlightened and I’m here to continue that.
MVRemix: What’s the difference between independent and corporate labels?
Buckshot: Corporations have a board of directors and investor that make decision. Often they are tapped into the music game, but more often making money’s the most important thing. Being independent and having an independent company means me and the artists get to make all the decision.
People always wonder about my net worth, but no one knows. We sell millions of records, but no one needs to know what I make. I’m making money, I couldn’t survive otherwise. I couldn’t do all the things I do. But nobody needs to know how much I make. Some cats live in an eight-bedroom apartment just to ay they do. You ask them about it and they say, shit I just leave that room empty. I think that’s hilarious. I used to sit in my big backyard and just laugh at the excess.
You get some cats that say they have an independent label, but it’s just a sticker. Nothing more then the word “fantastic” on a bottle of spray. But they’re all working to make something, so it’s good.
MVRemix: Has your success brought good things back to your old neighborhood?
Buckshot: Definitely, I’ve worked on some good projects, but it’s the one on one that made the differences. Just being part of the community. I don’t like the idea of being famous. I like being cheered for at concerts, but that’s cause I just did something good. Getting props for things you did in the past is funny, cause I’m already onto better things.
MVRemix: What does the future of hip-hop look like?
Buckshot: Mm, that question is always tough. It’s gonna stay. As long as there are haves and have nots, there will be hip-hop. We’ll always represent ourselves. We’ll always make something from nothing. It doesn’t matter if Rap music fades from the mainstream; it’s now a global movement. All over the world it’s growing. Wherever there’s poverty, you’ll find hip-hop. It’s the voice of the underground.
MVRemix: Supporting young rappers is important to you isn’t it?
Buckshot: Hell yeah it is. They are the new generation. As Hip Hop evolves they are the ones that are going to carry it into the future. Just being a fan of his in the past. Coming up on KRS-ONE in the past and influencing each other.
KRS-One & Buckshot – Robot video
KRS-ONE & BUCKSHOT ‘MAKING OF DEATH OF AUTOTUNE’ MUSIC VIDEO:
KRS-ONE & BUCKSHOT take you behind-the-scenes of their upcoming video for “ROBOT,” directed by Todd Angkasuwan. KRS-ONE & BUCKSHOT’s “SURVIVAL SKILLS” album in stores September 15th on Duck Down Records.
KRS-One & Buckshot with Immortal Technique Studio Session video recording Runnin Away produced by Black Milk from the album Survival Skills
At the very core of the Hip Hop art form, removing the money, flare, jewelry, and fancy marketing schemes, is the ability for an MC to rhyme. Taking it a step further is then the ability for that MC to showcase his/her talent publicly in front of a large audience and WIN THAT CROWD OVER. Duck Down Record’s artists Buckshot, Rock of Heltah Skeltah, Naledge of Kidz In The Hall, Torae, Skyzoo, Steele of Smif N Wessun and members of Team Facelift gathered at Union Square Park in New York City and started a classic Hip Hop Cipher demonstrating the embodiment of what it means to be a true MC.
General Steele “NO SLEEP TILL BUCKTOWN” featuring Boot Camp Clik, Ruste Juxx, The Representativz & Young Coke
General Steele calls in the troops! “No Sleep Till Bucktown” features Louisville, Top Dog & Rock of Boot Camp Clik, along with Ruste Juxx, The Representativz & Young Coke.
DL Link to “No Sleep Till Bucktown”
General Steele of Smif N Wessun “Welcome To Bucktown” in stores tomorrow
NYC Album release party, Wednesday, May 6th at DROM (85 Avenue A between 5th and 6th street)
Doors Open at 6PM
FREE ADMISSION UNTIL 10PM
$10 After 10PMM
DJ EVIL DEE (Black Moon)
Phil Anastasia – Symphonies video featuring Inspectah Deck & Sean Price from new album The Outfit LP
SMIRNOFF SIGNATURE MIX SERIES PRESENTS “I Got Cha Opin’ ’09 (Smirnoff Signature Mix)” by Buckshot + Kardinal Offishall
“I Got Cha Opin ’09 (Smirnoff Signature Mix)” by Buckshot + Kardinal Offishall, the third and final song released from this year’s Smirnoff Signature Mix Series, is now downloadable for FREE at http://www.SmirnoffSignatureMixSeries.com
The Smirnoff Signature Mix Series is part of the brand’s ongoing commitment to foster and promote both established and emerging musical talent. This is the second installment of the acclaimed program, designed to bring together respected artists in the hip hop community to recreate clearly original versions of iconic hip hop songs with a newly-mixed interpretation.
Buckshot teamed up with Kardinal Offishall to put an original spin on his memorable underground hit, “I Got Cha Opin.” Also in the mix, legendary artist Nas teamed up with Marsha Ambrosius, formerly of Floetry, to rework his Grammy-nominated single “If I Ruled the World”; and Nice & Smooth joined musical forces with Pac Div to create a new interpretation of “Funky For You”.
The previous available download, “Funky For You ’09 (Smirnoff Signature Mix)” by Nice & Smooth and Pac Div, is still available on the site. Today marks the debut of “I Got Cha Opin ’09 (Smirnoff Signature Mix)” by Buckshot + Kardinal Offishall, and be sure to keep checking the site for exclusive videos and content, and the other singles.
To download the tracks for free, http://www.SmirnoffSignatureMixSeries.com
And though we want you to download the track, please make sure you title the song correctly:
“I Got Cha Opin ’09 (Smirnoff Signature Mix)” by Buckshot + Kardinal Offishall