At 24 and already mutli-millionaire, Lloyd Banks has it made.
Filming music videos and celebrating his birthday at the Playboy Mansion isn’t what could be referred to as typical, and being the #2 in the current highest selling clique in Hip Hop affords Lloyd Banks an audience which few can reach.
After a very profitable and successful 2003, Banks aims to mirror what he achieved back then with his sophomore album, “The Rotten Apple” featuring guest appearances from Rakim, 50 Cent, Scarface, Mobb Deep and more.
Despite the fact that 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks and Young Buck kept the world on the up and up about Tony Yayo during his incarceration, not many people really saw him coming when he finally got released. I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect of him.
Since his release, he has taken the hip-hop game into a choke hold, and thereâ€™s no plan of letting go anytime soon. Besides his debut album, ‘Thoughts Of A Predicate Felon,’ which debuted at number two on the Billboard charts, he’s been into so much other stuff along with his G-Unit cohorts. More recently, he has taken part in the new video game being offered by 50 Cent, titled ’50 Cent: Bulletproof’. We recently had a moment to talk with Yayo about the game and the part he play in its entire conception. Plus, he went on to discuss his upcoming business ventures.
Arizona has never really been known for Hip Hop, but G-Unit’s Hot Rod is trying to change that. After being snapped up by 50 Cent, Rod went on a recording frenzy, staying at 50’s mansion and churning out his debut album “Fast Lane” within three weeks. He’s currently doing the rounds with his single “Be Easy” featuring Mary J. Blige and is set to release his debut at the beginning of 2007.
MVRemix: How are you dealing with all the pressure that comes with being an artist on G-Unit?
Hot Rod: Of course it’s going to be pressure. Pressure from me having the whole state (Arizona) on my back. Pressure from being on the west coast and being on G-Unit. It’s a lot of haters out there. A lot of G-Unit hate. I got on with a demo and of course there’s a lot of hate with that. I’m dealing with it. I’m not up thinking of it and crying every night. I’m not waking up in a cold sweat. I’m in a real major situation. I had to really get focused.
Interview by Todd E. Jones (aka The New Jeru Poet)
Regional Community Theater is known for the independent productions and extreme emotional melodrama. Using the witty aspects of these feelings, LadybiRdS is a musical group that possesses these qualities with a tongue in cheek wit. LadybiRdS is a kooky, bubbly electronic pop duo consisting of Teeter Sperber on vocals and Tyler Pursel on music. Both members were in the now defunct group, Ley Royal Scam. Pursel is also in the somewhat well known hip-hop group Gym Class Heroes (on Fueled By Ramen Records). Together as LadybiRdS, Sperber and Pursel create adorable pop tracks. Their music has a child-like sound, which could propel them into writing songs for childrenâ€™s shows or movies. Underneath the quirky and cutesy sound, Sperberâ€™s lyrics deal with heartbreak, loss, love, and change. Released on Creep Records, “Regional Community Theater” is the debut album by LadybiRdS. The LP is a collection of 12 interesting, catchy, and fun synth-pop songs. The group enlisted several guest vocalists for their debut album too. Max Bemis of Say Anything (J Records) appears on the title track and “Maxim And The Headphone Life”. Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids sings on “Cooper, Thanks For The Birds”. Justin Johnson of The Danger Oâ€™s appears on the magnificently poignant “Shark Party”. Neil Sabatino of Fairmont appears on “Lady Of Travel And Leisure”. On an extremely humid day in June 2007, I had a lovely conversation with Teeter Sperber that spanned the country. As I was in New Jersey, she was in Oregon teaching snowboarding to pre-pubescent boys. Like true Regional Community Theater, the music of LadybiRdS has the independent energy and quirky love of homespun fun. Although local theater can sometimes be ridiculously dull and cheap, LadybiRdS has brought something wonderful new and poignant to entertainment.
MVRemix: What goes on?
Teeter Sperber: Hello Todd E. Jones! How are you? This is Teeter Sperber, full time spaz. I am hiding out from all the kids! I work at a summer snowboarding program in Mt Hood, Oregon. I am responsible for making sure 12 wily 9 year old boys make it onto the mountain this morning in one piece.
MVRemix: Tell us about the debut LadybiRdS album, ‘Regional Community Theaterâ€™, which was just released on Creep Records.
Teeter Sperber: Well, ‘Regional Community Theater‘ is super poppy. Tyler and I made up a new genre name called Indie Electro-Duff! Itâ€™s like a more street version of Hillary Duff or something. We made it in a punk house basement in suburban PA. It took a month and it was super fun.
MVRemix: Favorite song on the ‘Regional Community Theaterâ€™?
Teeter Sperber: The title track, ‘Regional Community Theaterâ€™ is my absolute fav, because I love, love, love the way Max sings the word ‘bestâ€™. Also, the melody that Ty wrote for the chorus, kind of makes me want to cry, in the best possible way. That song is extra-personal because it’s about Ty and my former fake-not-fake mall emo band, Ley Royal Scam. Also, how we sort of imploded because we started off as a joke. We were forced to become ‘realâ€™ and just couldn’t get along. I really dig how in the beginning, I go, ‘Haha, I had no idea!â€™ in my scratchy chipmunk-style voice. While recording, I came into the song at the wrong bar and they caught me messing up on tape.
MVRemix: How did you get involved with Max Bemis of Say Anything for the songs ‘Regional Community Theaterâ€™ and ‘Maxim And The Headphone Lifeâ€™?
Teeter Sperber: Well, interestingly enough, before the release of Say Anything’s record, ‘Is A Real Boyâ€™, myself and my best friend were hired to write voice-over sketches between every song for the record. It was a sort of a Max Against The World type theme with Stephen Trask of Hedwig the Angry Inch. We worked together on it for a long while. Max was super young and spazzy. At the time, I remember he would make lots of nervous facial ticks, kind of adorable style. Unfortunately, the project ended up not working out because our lawyers kept butting heads over ultimate ownership of the work. But Max and I remained really good friends, in spite of it all because he’s rad and I’m obsessed with his Mom. When Ty and I decided to make a record, Max was the first person I asked. He was instantly down.
MVRemix: One of my favorite songs on the album is ‘Shark Partyâ€™. What was the inspiration behind this track? What is it about?
MVRemix: How did you meet Tyler Pursel and eventually form Ladybirds?
Teeter Sperber: Ty and I met through Ley Royal Scam. We we’re instant buds. His guitar parts used to make me want to tear my hair out because they were so good. He’s the best guitarist I have ever known. I had a super bad crush on him for like 5 minutes too. When LRS would play live, I’d often drink Alize and try to make out with him on stage, but he’d never let me. The straight-up denial cut like a knife, but I was able to get over it and forge ahead! Shortly after Ley Royal Scam threw in the towel, Ty joined Gym Class Heroes and started touring the world. I moved into a small cottage on the Oregon Coast and made a solemn vow to break up with music. I had planned on not listening to anything other than Lucinda Williams again and was for sure never ever, ever, ever going to make my own music, as I was definitely still dealing with severe heartache from LRS falling apart. Even though that band was totally micro, on the grand scale of things, it was super important to me. Todd, check it! The tunes are amazing! http://www.leyroyalscam.com! Also, maybe you’ve noticed that the L, the R, and the S in LadybiRdS are often capitalized? That’s why I chose the name. Ley Royal Scam por vida! Long story even longer, he called me last October and asked me to make an electro-pop record with him. I’m pretty sure I said ‘Noâ€™ at first. And then, I said ‘Yesâ€™. Then, I went to Sayulita, Mexico for a month and a half and came up with the band name. Bam! In January, we took all month to record the album and it was only then that LadybiRdS formally existed.
MVRemix: You also have Patt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, Justin Johnson of The Danger O’s, and Neil Sabatino of Fairmont on your album too. How and why did you get all of these guests on the album? Which was your favorite collaboration?
Teeter Sperber: Well, initially, in my mind, I had wanted to call the record ‘And In Come The Boysâ€™. I was hoping to collaborate with a cool new dude on every song, most likely because I am terrified of singing and it seemed easier to hide behind someone elseâ€™s voice. But, Ty really wanted us to have our own identity as a band as well. So, we decided to stop at 4 guest vocalists. 5 if you count the kid chorus. I chose Matt of Get Up Kids because they we’re one of the most influential bands of my musical upbringing. I used to follow them all over the globe, super fan style, to watch them bring the rock. I love his gravelly voice more than anything. I just admire him a whole bunch. Neil from Fairmont had invited me to sing on their record, ‘Wait and Hopeâ€™, a few months previous. So, I thought it would be super cool to return the kindness. Justin from the Danger O’s was a given because they are also on Creep Records and Ty really enjoys creating a family vibe with the bands that are a part of the label. Plus, dude totally sounds like Sting when he sings, so why not!
MVRemix: Which was your favorite collaboration from the album?
Teeter Sperber: I’d have to say the one with Max. It was primarily because when we were done recording, we ate lots of garbagey snacks from the gas station mini-mart and drank cold frosty ones. We watched ‘DeGrassi: The Next Generationâ€™ and all talked about how we’d kill to be on the soundtrack to that show. The he played me almost every song off of “Is A Real Boy…” acoustic, as well as ‘Since You’ve Been Goneâ€™ by Kelly Clarkson. Then, we fell asleep. Best night ever!
MVRemix: What is the creative process like? Does Tyler make the music first or do you start out with a set theme or lyrics?
Teeter Sperber: Ty created all the instrumentation while he was on tour with Gym Class Heroes and I was traveling through Mexico. I didn’t get to hear any of the finished tracks until I arrived at the studio to work pre-production. I was responsible for all or most of the lyrical content, so I came in with those ready and then Ty chose which words were going to go with which song. We worked together for a week straight, posted up in a sunny bedroom with nothing but a keyboard before we recorded, working out melodies and vocal patterns and such. It was more collaborative and calm than anything I’d ever done. We had tons of fun and laughed a lot.
MVRemix: Musically, what else have you been working on?
Teeter Sperber: The main thing I’ve been doing is practicing frantically for two cover songs I want LadybiRdS to do. I want to do ‘Blackâ€™ by Okkervil River, the best band of our generation and ‘Only Youâ€™ by Yaz. Practicing entails not only singing each song multiple times a day, but also calling, texting and e-mail harassing Ty, begging him to make time for us to do this. Gym Class is super busy so we’ll see!
Since the Shabba Ranks explosion in the late 80’s and early 90’s, every so often, a “colorful” new Dance Hall king comes forth and captures our attention at the top. With a plethora of steady hits, the electrifying performer, Elephant Man, has thrown his weight in the dance hall scene and his presence is felt internationally. Signed to Bad Boy, Elephant Man intends to continuously mash up the scene with his new album “Let’s Get Physical” in stores August 14th.
MVRemix: Ele, watta g’wan?
Elephant Man: What’s poppin’ Dru?
MVRemix: I’m good, I’m good. I’m also from yard so first tell us which part a yard you come from?
Elephant Man: Okay, okay. I’m from Kingston – you know Sea view Garden?
MVRemix: Ya man. When did you first realize you wanted to be a performer and what avenues did you take to get there?
Elephant Man: Well I realize I wanted to be a performer when I was a kid. I didn’t do no more work than entertainment because…I just woke up one dayâ€¦â€¦you know Shabba Ranks lived just a couple of gates down from my gate, and we looked up to Shabba like that – you know? Then at like 14 or 15 I was like yo – this is what I want to do.
MVRemix: Of all the hits you have like “Dutty wine” to “Bad Mon Forward” – which is your personal favorite?
Elephant Man: “Pon de River”. That’s the one that started everything you know man? In America, Jamaica – all over. That’s the one that brought back the Dance Hall you know?
MVRemix: In the hip hop world, you always hear about beef between artists; Do you see beef or similar drama between Dance Hall artists?
Elephant Man: Yeah, they got beef with each other in the Dance Hall – but the beef is not for me man. I just do music to make people enjoy it you know? It’s not like you’re going to get a house or a platinum record or a Grammy from the beef so it don’t make sense. It only bring death, and violence and bad vibes you feel me?
MVRemix: You mentioned, and I read of your being neighbors with Shabba. Describe how he was a hero to you.
Elephant Man: Growing up in the ghetto, Shabba Ranks was the first big star we know. He always gave back to the people and you know – take care of the people in the community.
MVRemix: And how did he do that?
Elephant Man: You see when he would come back from the US, he gave away money and all of that.
MVRemix: Now describe your union with Mr. Sean Combs and your adjustment to the Bad Boy family.
Elephant Man: Well you see Puffy, that’s my friend from a longer time you know? And right now – we bad boys so anything goes. But we cool and everybody understand each other – and Puffy know that he signed a Dance Hall artist not a hip hop artist so you know… MVRemix: Do you take any pride or accomplishment in being the first Dance Hall artist he signed?
Elephant Man: Of course you got to take pride and know that Puffy got into Dance Hall [with me] and that was a big move. You just got to give thanks and – you don’ know – just represent to the fullest.
MVRemix: In creating songs, what’s your motivation and what are you aiming to achieve in each record?
Elephant Man: I talk about positive things and I talk about reality you know. It got to mean something.
MVRemix: How do you usually compose a song? Are you directly involved with the beat making?
Elephant Man: I’m involved with the beat making a lot because like last night we were in the studio and I ask them to get me someone who play the piano and we do songs together and I tell them put that there, don’t put that – you know? We give 100 percent. That’s why when we do songs it that good because the people around you are good and you are good at what you do. It’s not like they just say come DJ this and you get up and just DJ – you put it how you want it. When everybody put them idea together now – that’s when – boom.
MVRemix: What do you prefer as an artist; do you prefer the process of creating new songs or do you prefer to perform?
Elephant Man: I like to create new songs and I like to perform. Without creating new songs you can’t perform.
MVRemix: So you like them equally?
Elephant Man: Equal. 1 on 1.
MVRemix: In the Dance Hall scene, who is doing it right now for you besides yourself?
Elephant Man: You got Sean Paul, Beanie Man, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Sizzla…
MVRemix: Has there ever been a rough patch in your career that really slowed you down considerably.
Elephant Man: Yeah – when they were spreading rumor on me.
MVRemix: Rumors like what?
Elephant Man: A lot of rumors. You know people spread rumors like wow. But God run the world so you just have to overcome the evil you know?
MVRemix: Did you ever imagine yourself to be as big as you are now?
Elephant Man: No. But I know I’m a hard worker and I knew it would pay off though. And everything I do I do it from my heart and not for the money because I love to do it you know?
MVRemix: Very refreshing to hear nowadays.
Elephant Man: Yeah man.
MVRemix: Everyone associates Jamaicans with Rastafarianism. What are your beliefs?
Elephant Man: Well, I’m into the Jesus side of it you know? I’m not a Rastafarian but [Halle] Salassie was a great king, but my God is Jesus; the Creator who made heaven and earth and the One who send Jesus to die for everybody sin.
MVRemix: So you’re Christian?
Elephant Man: Well, I’m not a Christian but you know – I go with the Bible. I can’t tell you that Salassie is God or not but I believe my God is the King.
MVRemix: What was one of your most unusual or craziest nights in showbiz?
Elephant Man: In New York at the Reggae Caravan in 2004, I was performing on stage in the stadium. Right as I was singing “Signal de plane”, plane flew directly over the stadium. Crazy man.
MVRemix: What’s your opinion about Reggaeton? Is it flattery? Does it help or hurt Reggae; does it steal some of its thunder – what opinion to do you have?
Elephant Man: Well – their doing their own thing. They ain’t stealing nothing from Reggae. Their doing their own thing – it’s a different language, it’s a different marketing, a different everything. No disrespect to them.
MVRemix: Anything you want to promote or want people to know?
Elephant Man: Well the album “Let’s Get Physical” coming out on August 14th.
6th Sense: Whatâ€™s going on out there world? My nameâ€™s 6th Senseâ€”emcee, producer, CEO, songwriter, good friend. Iâ€™m from New York. [Iâ€™ve] been doing this music thing for about eight years now and Iâ€™m just getting warmed up.
MVRemix: Why should people check for you?
6th Sense: People need to check for me â€™cause Iâ€™m not trying to give people that cookie-cutter, fast food type of music. The industry discovered ways a couple of years ago to sell records in the easiest form possible; I got something thatâ€™s actually called musical integrity. I have so many influences from so many types of good music and I draw from all of them to create something special, something that a lot of people think is missing. Iâ€™m here to fill that void.
MVRemix: What current and upcoming projects are you working on?
6th Sense: Right now Iâ€™m hard at work on my next album, Itâ€™s Coming Soon, which will be coming out on Notherground Music/Rawkus 50. Itâ€™s going to have a long shelf life. Iâ€™m feeling extremely proud of this album because I produced two-thirds of it. Frequencyâ€™s on the other third of production and Iâ€™ve got my Notherground family Wildabeast and Mike Maven guesting along with some other cool people.
After the album is completed, Iâ€™m going to give people a real extravagant mixtape. Itâ€™s going to feature a lot of people and will have a ton of really dope, yet unheard material from myself.
By the end of this summer me and producer Nicolay will start working on a whole project together. Weâ€™re gonna make some real different shit, and the most exciting thing is weâ€™re gonna create it together. I know Nicolay is known for the Foreign Exchange, how they did that album [via the Internet] across the oceans, but Nicolay lives in the States now and weâ€™re going to make something real special.
I also produced my artist Wildabeastâ€™s new album Many Levels. That album is on Notherground/Rawkus 50 as well. He is the hood hippie from Harlem, NY and heâ€™s so bugged out and so talented that when people fall in love with him, they identify with his music so much, especially this new album of his. I really urge people to check it out.
MVRemix: Tell me about the group you were previously with, the Understudies.
6th Sense: All I can say is that being in the group The Understudies was a learning experience. I donâ€™t really wanna get into it too much because the experience has been put so far behind me, but I do know that the one 12â€ that was put out still sells to this day. If the label could give us the master of the album we recorded we could put it out just for the fans to hear.
MVRemix: What happened to Freshchest Records, the label that youâ€”along with artists like CunninLynguists and Supastitionâ€”were previously on?
6th Sense: Nothing happened. [Laughs] Thatâ€™s the best way to answer that question.
MVRemix: How did Frequency link up with Snoop, Camâ€™Ron, Ras Kass, etc.?
6th Sense: Frequency linked up with those dudes â€™cause he DUMB NICE. Make sure you print that in capital letters. After Itâ€™s Coming Soon drops you could say me and Freq got 17 official joins together, but once the mixtape drops the whole stash is getting unleashed on the public. Whatâ€™s crazy as hell is that a couple tracks heâ€™s done for other artists, Iâ€™d already had recorded for a hot minute. People will get to see that on the mixtape. I donâ€™t even like calling it a mixtape, but thatâ€™s defintately what itâ€™ll be. Itâ€™s gonna be called It Ainâ€™t Over Til Itâ€™s Over. Freqâ€™s got this one joint he produced called â€œEn-why-ceeâ€ thatâ€™s currently in heavy rotation on Hot97.
MVRemix: You mentioned the Rawkus 50. How were you chosen for that and what does that entitle you to?
6th Sense: First off, Rawkus does not â€œownâ€ me in the way a label â€œownsâ€ an artist. Rawkus asked for submissions from everybody; I sent my shit in and boom, Iâ€™m in the 50. I was the first person to be put in the 50 and I was the only one who signed the deal face-to-face with the owners of Rawkus. Rawkus is putting their stamp on 50 artists that are to be the future of hip-hop. They are launching a full-out digital marketing campaign. Thatâ€™s the only end they have to hold up. The restâ€”and I mean all of the restâ€”is up to me and my camp. I am using the Rawkus stamp as a marketing move for my Notherground imprint. I know itâ€™s a really stiff answer, but I think as time moves on and as people receive the album well, the whole public will truly see what it is Iâ€™m â€œentitledâ€ to.
MVRemix: How did the deal with Scram Jonesâ€™ Beast Music production company come about?
6th Sense: Iâ€™ve known Scram since I was 15. I moved to Westchester when I was 14. Scram was in New Rochelle. We lost touch for a couple years and he hollered after I won a showcase. We started chillin and after a while I got back into the beats. Eventually, shit was undeniable to Scram and because Iâ€™ve known Scram for so long, I couldnâ€™t say no.
MVRemix: Tell me about the imprint that you started, Notherground Music.
6th Sense: Notherground Music is the end all be all. As strong as an artist I am, a large part of my talent lies in the old school form of production, performance, and artist development. If Cash Money can get $30 million from Universal, Iâ€™ll take three. I really get into the nuts and bolts of it on my last verse on the new album, on a track called â€œRun It By Me.â€ It ainâ€™t underground, itâ€™sâ€¦
MVRemix: You have a bachelorâ€™s degree in Music Industry from Northeastern University. How does that help you in regards to having a rap career?
6th Sense: I just got it like two months ago. I learned a lot in schoolâ€”a whole lot. I got to work a whole lot, hands-on, in the industry and on my music while in school through the Universityâ€™s co-op program, which is rated number one in the U.S. Iâ€™d definitely recommend the program to the youngins out there who want to major in Music Industry. The only downside is being in Boston. I love New York to death, and truthfully, I was only able to push my career while being based in New York. I did two co-op terms in New York while in school. Iâ€™d love to answer that question again in a year, or even six months.
MVRemix: Do you consider it more of an aid or a challenge trying to â€œget onâ€ in New York?
6th Sense: If this was 1987 then itâ€™d be a definate aid. Iâ€™d be poppinâ€™ bottles with MC Serch at LQ or something. Shout to Teddy Ted and Special K. I mean, in this day and age itâ€™s a challenge to â€œget onâ€ from wherever you from, and more than likely cats is getting on from unheard of and new regions. I do love New York though and in the oncoming months itâ€™ll obviously be crucial for everything I do. Iâ€™ve recently spent some time out in LA and I love the vibe over there, especially the way cats move and make things happen.
MVRemix: If hip-hop was a woman, what would she look like?
6th Sense: Ha. Great question. Sheâ€™s still pre-menopausal; she ainâ€™t done yet! Sheâ€™s a slightly older woman, pretty much a MILF. Her outfit is questionable though. She got on some nice quality, professional clothes, almost a business suit, but it doesnâ€™t match, and underneath that she has a huge sweatshirt on with a big ass logo on it. That sweatshirt would symbolize todayâ€™s stereotypical outlook and musical output of hip-hop. The rest yâ€™all can piece together what it means.
MVRemix: Anything else you want to add?
6th Sense: Iâ€™ve got the new video out for the buzz single from â€œItâ€™s Coming Soon,â€ a track called â€œI Wanna Tell Yaâ€ produced by Frequency. Check YouTube for that. We got the new Wildabeast album Many Levels available now. Always check the MySpace page: www.myspace.com/nothergroundmusic. And lastly, everyone should go to my.rawkus.com and set up their own profile. Itâ€™s a cool and exciting new spot. Itâ€™s gonna be a hot summer. Big shouts to MVRemix, and like always, a big shout to my Cornerstone family.
Itâ€™s hard for rappers to stay true these days, because, to paraphrase Ice Cube, staying true doesnâ€™t pay the fucking rent. Fortunately for fans (and unfortunate for himself) Mr. J. Medeiros knows only way to do things and thatâ€™s be himself. No nicknames and no gimmicks. Like any true artist he puts his blood, sweat and tears into his work and couldnâ€™t care less about radio play or seeing his video on 106.
After speaking with him, I got the feeling that as long he can pay his bills and continues to tour the world, there is nothing Medeiros would rather be doing than Hip Hop (not rap, but Hip Hop). His song and video for â€œConstanceâ€ are look into the ugly world of human trafficking and child pornography and is suggested viewing for everyone (peep his website www.myspace.com/mrjmedeiros to see). Passion cannot be faked and with each sentence, Mr. J. exudes that passion for his music, his friendâ€™s music, hip hop, and humanity.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™m in my apartment in Los Angeles.
MVRemix: Oh okay, you live in L.A. now. Youâ€™re originally from Colorado, right.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™m originally from Colorado. Itâ€™s kind of weird, you know what, but I claim dual citizenship. Iâ€™m from Colorado but I was born of two very very East Coast parents, so I claim Rhode Island too.
MVRemix: So letâ€™s talk about this album. Youâ€™ve been busy, right?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™ve been a little busy, it comes out July 24th. I wrote this album between the first and the second Procussionsâ€™ album and I had a month to do it. Basically, we were touring 200 days a year and we were also recording our second album and I only had a month to do it, so I produced all the tracks and I wrote all the tracks, but, you know Iâ€™ve never had to produce a track that I rapped on. Iâ€™ve always been a producer even before Stro got into the game and came into The Procussions but I never did as much as Stro did it. When Stro got into the group, his production skills are amazing; to me personally I think he is an amazing producer, so he produced all The Procussionsâ€™ materials and so I was a little insecure about it [producing the album himself]. To be honest I had 14 tracks I produced and I when I recorded it all with my production, I got really insecure, so I took a lot of the tracks and sent my acapellas to my homeboys like Ill Mind, S1, Stro, Headnotic, Joey B., Omega Wattz, Marty James and 20syl from France who is an amazing producer for this group called Hocus Pocus. Itâ€™s funny though because then people would be calling me and be like who did â€œConstanceâ€, and Iâ€™d be like, â€œI did that trackâ€.
Mr. J. Medeiros: I was like what. And then they like â€œWhat about â€˜Keep Paceâ€™â€ and I was like â€œI did that trackâ€ and then it was like â€œSilent Earth?â€, and I said â€œOh, did that trackâ€. Now Iâ€™m like damn, I think I might try to put out an album with all my mixes, maybe people will dig it.
MVRemix: Yeah it seemed like you had a hard time picking beats. I think you have four remixes on there.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah man I did, I got four remixes. A lot of those things that come off as originals are actually redone, like â€œStrangersâ€ â€˜Stro did and I had originally done the track I but gave the acapella to â€˜Stro and â€˜Stro gave a whole new life to it that I liked.
MVRemix: So you said that you did a lot of this album before 5 Sparrows. It sounds a little different than the Procussions.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah I think it is different. Being in a group you share everything, you share your money, you share an apartment, you share a hotel room, you share the stage, you share the energy, you share the time in a song and you share the subject matter. Weâ€™re all different from each other and I think thatâ€™s what makes the Procussions good. I think our main focus is on the show, we do music so that we can put on a good show. We love doing live performances, we love seeing people sweat and have a good time. We do want to have content, but content is molded into the show. I think on my side, I want to do something content based and then worry about the show afterward. And there was some things that really wouldnâ€™t fit on the album.
MVRemix: â€œLittle Peopleâ€ sounds like something, from a Procussions album that could be on this album.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Actually, you know what man, â€œLittle Peopleâ€ was a song that I pushed for and wrote. Everyone writes their own lyrics but I said I wanted the content to be and then we did it and so yeah it actually is. A lot of 5 Sparrows…You know I was in this thing called AmeriCorp, which is like a domesticated PeaceCorp and I worked with people with developmental disabilities for four years and worked with Special Olympics and people who are considered â€œAt Risk Youthâ€ and did the tutoring and mentorship and worked with a womenâ€™s rights group for a little while and Iâ€™m working on this human trafficking campaign and thatâ€™s just a part of something Iâ€™ve grown into throughout life. Itâ€™s not necessarily something that…. they [other members of the Procussions] are interested in but something that they have a heart for. Like Stro heâ€™s very into music and production and he cares very much for people but he doesnâ€™t get involved on that level, and because Iâ€™m involved on that level it really forms my heart and my pen to say things off those issues. Thatâ€™s more of my concern now and, as I get older too, I get less involved in just trying to put on a good show and more involved in really trying to create a strong content.
MVRemix: I want to talk about â€œConstanceâ€. Thatâ€™s my favorite song on the album.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Thank you my brother.
MVRemix: Itâ€™s a really good song. So what inspired you to write that song?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Well, itâ€™s actually a true story. Thereâ€™s a lot of things that inspired me to write the song. Itâ€™s not just a human trafficking issue though itâ€™s defined as human trafficking. Constance was a thirteen year old girl that was sold by her father to a man who was a human trafficker who used her to create child porn and to make money off of it. Child porn is a billion dollar industry. Pornography itself brings in more revenue than all the sports combined. It is a human trafficking issue but is also something that is bigger than that. I think that we live in a man-run society, obviously, and controlled by men. Hip hop is controlled and spoken for by men…When you look at hip hop music and most of it because it is man-run, itâ€™s putting women down below themselves, itâ€™s a misogynistic tone, itâ€™s this numb feeling about what a man is….True identities are being lost….The identity of man and the identity of women and both these are being displayed in â€œConstanceâ€. Itâ€™s an important song, itâ€™s important for hip hop to do it, itâ€™s important for a male artist to speak about it because in general men are tired of the image we are being sold.
MVRemix: You mentioned that itâ€™s a male dominated industry, a male dominated world and think thatâ€™s exemplified in the â€œConstanceâ€ song and video, because itâ€™s the father selling his daughter, the man videotaping her, and itâ€™s the other guy in the U.S. purchasing that video, so itâ€™s all men causing this. It kind reminded of…Have you seen that movie Babel?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yes, following the gun kind of.
MVRemix: Yeah like, look at how we are all connected in this type of thing. We deal with our issues here sometimes, and a lot of people, including rappers, donâ€™t deal with issues outside the country.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Right…yeah I understand. Itâ€™s crazy, I feel very blessed man. When I was in High School my family was broke. A lot of families are broke but I remember we use to have to go to the Salvation Army for very basic needs, toilet paper and toothpaste and I remember my parents were split and we lived in Providence [Rhode Island] at the time, and sleeping on the floor and things like these. I never had the ability to go see the world and through Hip Hop music I was able to see the world…Itâ€™s unfortunate that kids because of their economic background or the way that they grow up, will not be allowed to see the rest of the world and the way that we are connected. Their education is not allowing them or inspiring them or the home is not inspiring them to learn to really want to get involved with the rest of the world. We donâ€™t even see things as a U.S. problem, we see things as Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, Echo Park, Watts, I mean we separate ourselves by so many different levels, how are we able to see the world? Any chance we have to reach out of ourselves, when we look at things that are macro scale, thatâ€™s when things really come into perspective. And we are all connected, the tiny things we say on our record, itâ€™s a butterfly effect.
MVRemix: Letâ€™s talk about the album some more. Whatâ€™s your favorite track on the CD?
Mr. J. Medeiros: My favorite track is â€œContstanceâ€ because it raises awareness about an issue that is really important. â€œSilent Earthâ€ I like because I like what was able to write off of the track. Itâ€™s crazy because I produced the track, and I donâ€™t really get too hyped off my own production and that was the track I really dug and so I wrote to it that day. And â€œKeep Paceâ€ I really liked because I liked the energy of the track. One thing I dug too about the album was getting to work with Bonsu. Weâ€™ve been going back and forth to France for the last three or four years and meeting up with this crew Hocus Pocus, which is an amazing hip hop group and this producer 20Syl is off the freaking hook, heâ€™s incredible. You go to his MySpace page, you see this video of him..heâ€™s like Stro, he plays sax, he plays keys, he makes his own videos, does the MPCs, heâ€™s part of an international winning DJ team, so dude is a phenomenal producer. But to have French on my album and a French producer its just a treat and a blessing.
MVRemix: Thatâ€™s on the first track, â€œAmelieâ€ right?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah thatâ€™s on the first track and he also produced â€œHalf A Dreamâ€ which has my man Marty James singing on it.
MVRemix: Is that Amelie like the movie? Is that why you called it that?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Well, actually French people didnâ€™t like that movie as much as Americans. That got a billion cool movies out there. I had a secret infatuation with Audrey Tautou.
MVRemix: [laughs] I feel you.
Mr. J. Medeiros: [laughs] Yeah man, I had something for her at the time I wrote that. Itâ€™s also a little bit off the movie, itâ€™s obviously a love song, some people might think its corny, but to me its real. Itâ€™s about someone who, through the whole film you know Audrey Tautou is trying to connect her feelings to someone sheâ€™s never met yet and thatâ€™s what the songs about.
MVRemix: So you guys are touring soon?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah man, weâ€™re going to have a tour but we are not sure how we are going to do it yet. It may be a Rawkus tour with Kids in the Hall, Blue Scholars and maybe a couple of weeks here in the states. Itâ€™s going to be a Procussions presents though, so people are going to be able to get Procussions and Mr. J if they like both of them.
MVRemix: Do you know when the tour starts?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Weâ€™re not exactly sure yet man. If people just keep up with us on my MySpace and keep up with www.theprocussions.com theyâ€™ll always be hip to new stuff.
MVRemix: I reviewed The Procussions album last year for another site and re-read what I wrote about you at the time, and I said that you kind of sounded like Zach De La Rocka but after listening to this album I donâ€™t see that.
Mr. J. Medeiros: [laughs] Yeah, yeah thereâ€™s a lot of people who say that. You know in a live show, I kind of do get that comparison. You never know about your own voice until someone tells you. We did a show with Jurassic 5, it was crazy because Charlie 2na, obviously has a remarkable voice and a distinct voice, he comes down from the green room, which is actually upstairs and far away and walks down to me and heâ€™s like â€œDude your voice is crazy. Do you realize that the pitch of your voice pretty much screens through everything?â€ And Iâ€™ve noticed that soundman have a problem with my voice too and I think thatâ€™s the relation to Zach, itâ€™s that itâ€™s a pitch that kind of goes through stuff. You know, I think it depends on the energy of the track and I think a lot of the tracks on my solo stuff is kind of laid back so I was able to sit back more. I understand you always get defined as other people too because when you havenâ€™t made a name for yourself, people use other names to try to describe you at first. Itâ€™s kind of like if you donâ€™t have your own taste yet or a name for your own taste people will be like â€œit kind of tastes this a littleâ€ or â€œa little like that. Iâ€™m trying to come into my own place. Iâ€™m not going to lie you know, The Procussions are from Colorado, weâ€™re not from Brooklyn, and weâ€™re not from Los Angeles, and we didnâ€™t grow up around the hip hop environment, we created it and thatâ€™s something thatâ€™s different. And Procussions we try to be real honest with ourselves and I try to be honest with myself for the people who enjoy our music…Iâ€™m still learning a lot, Iâ€™m still learning my voice, Iâ€™m still learning trying to define how I want to rap and what I want to rap about and it changes with time. Our first second albums are very different, and Iâ€™m ten songs deep on another album that only Stro is producing and I love it.
MVRemix: Oh yeah…
Mr. J. Medeiros: Iâ€™m mad cause I want that to come out right now. Iâ€™m learning and I hope people will have an open mind and be able to listen to us and grow with us, because at the end of the day we are fans of hip hop that really love what we are doing and we are just trying to connect with other people as well.
MVRemix: Okay. How about that tattoo, you were on Miami Ink.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Itâ€™s Miami Ink, if you have ever seen them itâ€™s the same thing, big story small tattoo.
MVRemix: [laughs] What does it say?
Mr. J. Medeiros: It says â€œForgive Usâ€ and itâ€™s on my shoulders. It was like a seven hour project that I got done in one sitting. It was my first tattoo and Iâ€™m not going to lie there were some parts on my back, where I felt like my teeth shaking it hurt so much. Like I could feel it in my front teeth, but yo I didnâ€™t cry.
MVRemix: [laughs] Thatâ€™s good. Thatâ€™s good.
Mr. J. Medeiros: I know how that goes. Wasnâ€™t one of the G-Unit guys on there?
MVRemix: Iâ€™ve never seen the show.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Oh okay. There was one of the G-Unit guys who got a back tattoo also, and I just want to say right now for the record that he got a back outline, he didnâ€™t even get it colored in and that dude needed to do two sittings.
MVRemix: Which guy? One of the rappers?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Yeah, yeah. Who is the guy that has the song the â€œRotten Appleâ€?
MVRemix: Lloyd Banks.
Mr. J. Medeiros: Lloyd Banks I want you to know Mr. J. Medeiros from that corny group The Procussions did a 7 and a half hour sitting full color and yo man no tears.
MVRemix: [laughs]…Any last words for the fans?
Mr. J. Medeiros: Itâ€™s weird because I think Iâ€™m just starting to get my own fans and I love it. I donâ€™t mean my fans like they are product but I mean a community of people who in support of something, not that Iâ€™m a leader, but weâ€™re working together on issues that I happen to bring up and that are being brought up in the music. I want a big huge shout and love to anyone who is still digging for music, who still looks for it and doesnâ€™t rely on the television or radio and, you know, just being interested in issues. I really believe that we can make a difference if we focus on knowing that itâ€™s possible.
Unbeknownst to most, Twista’s tornado into the rap game began as far back as ’91 – and he’s still here stronger than ever. There aren’t too many rap artists from the late 80’s or early 90’s that can boast of that kind of longevity. Twista can put another feather in his pimp hat for how he’s done it; the man is on pace for growing larger with each decade. Twista has risen from his notoriety as the Guinness Book of World Record’s “Fastest Rapper” in the 90’s, all the way to his smash hit single “Slow Jams” with Kanye West and Jamie Fox. In 2007 Twista has blown his way to NYC promoting his new album “Adrenaline Rush” out in stores this August and MVRemix had an exclusive sit down with the Chi-town icon.
MVRemix: Many people may not know that you’ve been on the scene since ’91. Describe your entrance into the game.
Twista: I’m like Christopher Columbus baby – I been discovered and around for years! Nah [laughs], I won a contest to get on the radio. From that contest I met my first manager. From that manager, I met a promoter who worked for Loud Records in LA. A guy named Fade who worked at Loud heard my stuff and I was rapping all fast and shit–and no one else was doing that. We all set it off from there – that was in ’91.
MVRemix: What were your musical influences at the time?
Twista: A lot of the stuff that I used to hear in the Taverns, you know? Like that my step pop used to play. He used to DJ in this Tavern around the way. So my very first influence was him playing a lot of blues and slow jams. But the movie that started it all for me was Crush Groove. Once I seen it that was it – it was on and poppin’ after that.
MVRemix: Would you say hip hop today is on a decline or are we in a good place?
Twista: I would say we in a cocoon like stage…and when it hatches I don’t know what the fuck is gonna happen [laughs].
MVRemix: So you’re pleased with what’s coming out lately?
Twista: Man, when you stop liking things, you really got to stop and wonder if it’s really just you getting old. Once you stop liking stuff that’s usually the case. You gotta think about what you was talking about as a young rapper, you know what I’m saying?
MVRemix: I know you’ve been asked a million times, but describe your affiliations with Kanye and the with the Roc.
Twista: I met Kanye in Chicago and I would always see him. A lot of times I’d go to his house and listen to different beats and just hang out. I used watch Kanye and my other man battle all the time. Kanye always thought he could beat everybody and him and my boy thought they could beat each other so we used to sit and watch them go at it. This was back before everything. We had regular, fun, hip hop times.
MVRemix: In the South it’s hooky and bouncy, in the east we look for lyrics, what’s the Chi-town hip hop scene like?
Twista: It’s a melting pot. We got a lot of Common, we got a lot of Kanye, but then you also got people like Mickey who was down with Cash Money Records at one time. You got the street and the style element with acts like me, Crucial Conflict, Do or Die – we got our own sound.
MVRemix: Is that a good or bad thing for blowing up into the mainstream?
Twista: It does make it harder. That’s kind of the same reason why it’s been so hard for the Midwest to get in, every coast caters to their audience. Everyone has to sell something to somewhere, and everybody on the outskirts sells to the middle. But it’s hard for us in the middle to really branch out to everyone else.
MVRemix: I know house is pretty big in Chicago. Do you listen to house?
Twista: Oh yea – for sure. House is big out there and sure it influences some of the music. You don’t realize but you could blend my whole album to a house track.
MVRemix: Are there any house DJ’s you pay homage to?
Twista: Fast Eddy. That’s my man right there. We gonna work together in the future too.
MVRemix: What would you say is the secret to your longevity?
Twista: Man – Chicago is like Count Crystal Lake and I’m Jason. [The industry] tried to drown [Chicago]. Then they tried to swim threw our city like shit is all sweet then I jumped out the water all scuffed up with the blade in hand just hacking mother fuckers up. Then it’s Jason more cheese part one, Jason more cheese part 2… and then you realize, no matter how many bogus deals I get, no matter how many fucked up sound scan albums he put out, Twista, “The Black Jason of Rap”, always keep coming back.
MVRemix: Besides your Guinness Book of Records recognized fast flow, what else sets you apart from the rest?
Twista: Hmmm… [pause] Aside from the fast flow… style. Even it it’s not fast, it’s the way I’ll rap to a beat. No matter what track I’m featured on, I take the way I flow over the beat to heart. I put my all into giving them what I think they want and what I think the track needs.
MVRemix: In your opinion, what’s your highest achievement thus far?
Twista: Not just music?
MVRemix: Anything, anything you’re most proud of or anything that made you look back and say, ok this is my pinnacle, or anything that made you say, “I made it.”
Twista: Man… [pause] That’s a good question. Everything I got. But I think it’s when I first bought my house, and when I was able to take care of my family. Flat out, being able to pay bills and take care of my family.
MVRemix: When did you buy the house?
Twista: Man… I can’t even remember. Recently though. Just recently.
MVRemix: Was there a memorable low point of your career where you were feeling “I just don’t know”.
Twista: Oh yeah. I wasn’t always a happy Atlantic [Records] artist. I’ve been going through a lot of trials and tribulations. I been rapping since 12 and I got a deal at 18. So I grew up in the industry and when I first got a deal that’s when niggas came at me with pistols and shit, that’s when I had to run and hide for my life and shit.
MVRemix: Our publication caters to an audience of hip hop lovers, many who are trying to get in the game or just simply fans of hip hop. As a successful artist with impressive longevity, what advice would you give to aspiring rappers looking at you?
Twista: Let ’em bite in the neck 3 times and you’ll live long [laughs]. Nah, but like I said – stay youthful. Once you see the “Walk it Out” and the “Chicken Noodle Soup”, and you diss and put them in a category, understand it’s a style of music. They all blowin’ up so people must wanna hear it. So you got to figure “Okay, how can I not be into that?” But give them just a little to compromise. But stay young – try to understand all this young new music, and be smart and intelligent.
MVRemix: After the Imus situation, a lot of focus has been placed on the vulgarity of rap lyrics. What’s your take on the situation?
Twista: I think we straight. We just take a couple blows when somebody do something wrong and need somebody to blame. I think hip hop was cool and people just search around in other directions. What should be addressed was what was said. [Hip hop is] cultural music. It got huge but it’s still cultural music. That’s just how we feel and we understand it. Ain’t nobody getting mad. Don’t walk in our kitchen and tell is to turn our music down. The day my black sisters band together and say they don’t like it – then that’s when I’ll stop.
MVRemix: Your album. You came out with “Adrenaline Rush” in 1997, why “Adrenaline Rush” in 2007?
Twista: Just bringing it back. It’s 10 years later. I’m a numbers person and I like the number 7 and we coming back in 07. So it’s 07, 10 years later, let’s hit ’em with an adrenaline rush again.
MVRemix: What will we be hearing in this album that we haven’t heard before?
Twista: Slow lyrics. People heard [slower lyrics from me] before – but not in the way you gonna hear it in this album. It’s enough to make a fan say damn – he snapped!
MVRemix: So is the fast rap thing something you eventually want to evolve out of?
Twista: I want to stay me, but I definitely want to give different things and a little something new every time.
MVRemix: Any parting words?
Twista: To hear more from Twista, grab that Speed knot Mobsters album, “Nation Business” coming to you in October. To a theater near you! [laughs].
MVRemix: And “Adrenaline Rush” of course.
Twista: Oh yeah, of course. Twista the Black Jason coming out in store near you!
Having just returned from the first segment of his world tour supporting I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, before departing for the European stretch, and after what he described as more interviews in one month than Elvis had done in his entire life, El-P was kind enough to talk about live hip hop, the hype-machine, and Paula Zahn.
MVRemix: How you feeling? I know you were sick last night.
El-P: Yeah. I’ve been running around like a maniac.
MVRemix: You still out in LA?
El-P: No, no. I just got back last night. MVRemix: Is this part of the tour or what?
El-P: Yeah, it’s the tour. Doing shows – it’s getting serious, you know. We just did six shows, then we go to Europe and then I come back to finish up the tour in the States, so, yeah, it’s officially on.
MVRemix: How’s the live thing working out?
El-P: It’s great. Incredible. Every show’s been sold out. We’ve taken our whole vibe and presentation way above and beyond what I ever thought was possible.
MVRemix: So the material’s been translating well to the stage?
El-P: It certainly does.
MVRemix: Tell me a little bit about your band.
El-P: It’s great. We’ve got an amazing lighting director, sound man. He does a bunch of projection work. The shit’s ill, man.
MVRemix: This album’s so conceptual in nature. How are you approaching the whole live set-up? Track by track, or are you trying to do the whole album straight-up?
El-P: Well, you know, you pick and choose — what you think are good performance songs. We’re not doing the entire record, but a lot of the record. At this point it’s really cool because I don’t have to do a bunch of old songs from other records. And, I think the way we’re approaching the live show — the theatricality of it — we can just do the new material and get out there with it. You know, it’s definitely a work in progress, but I guarantee it’s unlike any other hip hop show out there.
MVRemix: It’s cool that you’re taking on this whole world tour right now. Do you feel like the live hip hop thing is lacking in general?
El-P: Yeah. I’m trying to destroy that whole idea. Absolutely. I think the problem is people don’t take their shit seriously in hip hop. People don’t have any sense of theatricality. People don’t invest their money into the show. See, in the rock world they say, hey, let’s take all of our money from this show and invest it into the next show.
El-P: To me, it makes so much sense. And so basically, that’s what I’m doing. You know, people don’t want to invest in the presentation — don’t want to take a sound guy, don’t want to take a lighting guy. You know, and I think most people do get a little bit more this way, rather than seeing the same shit. You know, you go, you see a few people on stage, there’s no lighting, there’s no anything, there’s no drama, there’s no costumes… [laughs]
MVRemix: Just a DJ and an MC…
El-P: And then you go to see a fucking rock show and there’s an intensity.
MVRemix: Pyrotechnics and shit…
El-P: It’s just the premise of a hip hop show, and I can’t really say it’s wrong. Most guys are just standing there rapping, and that’s cool and everything, but there are people out there doing much, much crazier shit, so, you know, if you’re trying to compete, you’re losing.
MVRemix: I’m bringing to mind the Mars Volta here. Are you bringing any of those guys, or any of your guests, on stage for this tour?
El-P: Well, no no. The Mars Volta tour put the idea in my head. I mean, when I started hanging out with them and seeing their shows, I was being like ‘Holy shit! How the fuck…’ I mean, the lighting alone… And they were like, ‘we spend every dime on these shows.’ And it made so much sense, because, you know, we’re trying to go somewhere here, but in the hip hop mentality, the indie hip hop mentality everyone’s trying to pinch their pennies so hard, and to me I’m like, look, let me put the fucking money into something that’s gonna step it up a little bit, even if it’s just a little bit.
El-P: If those motherfuckers could just buy a few fucking strobe lights… Anyway, I could talk about it forever, but that’s what I want to do — step it up a notch. You know, it’s a different type of show.
MVRemix: I’ve heard you talk in the past about the whole ‘visceral’ element of music, in terms of your approach to song writing and beat creation, and it seems to play into the live aspect too. Does that sound about right?
El-P: I want to play the music that I can actually lose my god damn mind on stage with. There are only two things in this whole music industry that are actually fun: making records and performing them. The rest is bullshit. I can’t spend two years working on a record and then just come out under some hot white lights. [Laughs] That’s not happening.
MVRemix: Is it nice to get away from your second life of managing the label, for a little while at least?
El-P: Um, yeah, you know, it’s definitely nice. And it’s weird. I’m not, like, use to being self-centered. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to actually, sort of, focus on myself. It’s hard for me, like shit. Even the amount of interviews I do. I mean, it’s like, I’ve probably done more interviews than Elvis has ever done (laughing), like, in the last month. It’s pretty cool. I’m just not use to it. My life in the past five years has been so much more about the cats I care about, helping them get their careers off the ground.
El-P: But I will say that, yeah. It’s nice mostly because I have a piece of art that I’m excited about. And I also feel like, when my records come out, I get to kind of be the prototype of the working ambitions I believe in.
MVRemix: People had been talking about this album for months before it came out. I mean, the hype-machine was huge. How do you think that’s affected the way you’ve approached it? It’s such a personal album, but at the same time you’re forced to be out in the open so much. How does that affect the way you approach the material?
El-P: It doesn’t affect the way I approach the material. The material is created in a vacuum, whether or not people like it. All you can do is make music that you’re proud of, and put everything you have into it. And when you’re done with that bitch, you can put it out, and know in your heart that you used everything you had at the time. Whether or not people like your shit or hate your shit, that’s really not the point. So, it doesn’t change me at all. But am I happy? Of course I’m happy that people are responding to the record the way they are.
MVRemix: Hey, did you see that Paula Zahn thing about a month ago? It was a special called “Hip Hop: Art or Poison?”
El-P: [Laughs] No. I mean this is nothing new. It’s a question that’s been asked ever since white culture found itself faced with black culture. It’s really about fear, like, who the fuck cares if someone’s asking the question of whether or not hip hop is poison? It’s the fact they used that phrase that shows they don’t know what they’re talking about? The question is, why is everyone so shocked that people are fucking reacting right now. I mean, you can only put out one million fucking cocaine booty-rap songs before someone says something about it. And, I hate to say the typical thing — like, what everyone already thinks I think anyway — but I like MC’s, I like rap music, mainstream, underground, fuck — if you’re nasty you’re nasty. So let’s stop pretending that this shit is dope. As far as I’m concerned, the only people who should be doing drug rap music are the Clipse.
El-P: And why, you ask? But you didn’t ask. Because they’re dope MC’s. And they’ve got dope beats. And they’re better than everyone else at it. So, why doesn’t everyone else just go find another style? And people in the mainstream are reacting to this shit because they agree. Intellectually you can see that, of course, it’s kind of wack. And it does have a certain effect that people don’t like. But, that being said, they’re wrong. They’re wrong. They’re only seeing one aspect of it. I think we’re at this point where club music and club culture can again stand up and define what it means to be involved in this. And frankly, they’re going to have to. Once again we’re being asked to explain to everybody in the world who’s looking down through the most distorted lens, “Why exactly is it that we’re supposed to take you seriously? Why exactly is it that this is a positive thing?” And if we can’t answer that question and we can’t look people in the eye, then it’s only our fucking fault.
“I mention her a lot on the album, as I realised I could be depressed for the rest of my life or I could just understand that it’s a part of a life cycle, and just to keep my head up and give her her props and the life that she deserves,” he says.
Evidence utters these words two years after his mother’s death. The reserved Californian has rolled on stage for years as an integral member of rap group Dilated Peoples, but is now alone in the limelight, with the March 20 release of his solo debut, The Weatherman LP. It is dedicated to the woman who raised him on the streets of Santa Monica.
On the 21-track album, bouncing beats, ill scratches and catchy hooks revolve around the relentless Ev, who spits pure adoration for his mother. It is obvious from the opening track, “I Know,” to the final song, “I Still Love You,” who the inspiration was for the record.
“Sometimes it’s a tricky situation because I feel like she’s not physically here to hear it,” he continues. “So I think, â€˜Am I too late?’ Or â€˜Am I doing this for selfish reasons?’ But after a while, I figured out its really good therapy for me, to give her the credit she deserves by celebrating her life through this album.”
It’s possible to say Ev literally jumped at a solo release after Dilated weighed out their contract with Capitol Records in 2006. The presentation of a platform to alleviate his status as a solo artist on the hip-hop map was too tempting, as Mr. Slow Motion explained that he has never let fans get too close to his private world over some 10 years of spitting and crowd-pumping alongside, and at times behind, close friends Rakaa and DJ Babu.
“I had a line on our last album, 20/20, where I said, â€˜I wear my heart on my sleeve/I just got my jacket over it.’ That’s how I’ve always been, I put it out there but not all the way,” he says. “But on The Weatherman LP, you get to know Evidence because I’m letting you into my life and my guard isn’t up so much. I’ve shown a lot more vulnerability, so I’m not just that guy in a group; I’m establishing who I am as a person.”
Countless hours in the recording studios went into the album. The proud perfectionist claims he re-recorded each track around five times, and despite others’ praising him, saying, “This is good, we’re gonna make it, it’s the shit!” Ev would always respond with something like, “Fuck man, I gotta do this again!” Hard grinding, heart and soul, nothing less.
When asked about the creative process, he complains less about the stress and reminisces over the mad collaborations on the album that signalled “when the fun really started.” He described working on “Let Yourself Go” with Phonte from Little Brother as “incredible,” doing “Perfect Storm” with Rakaa as “really just fun” and watching singer Res do the chorus for â€˜Believe in Me” as “amazing.”
Other artists featured on The Weatherman LP include Alchemist, Mad Child, Defari, Joe Scudda, Slug, Chace Infinite and Sick Jacken. “All of these people who came through for my album came through out of love,” says an appreciative Evidence. “They’re not strangers I was put in a room with. These are people in my phone book, who are incidentally a lot of the people I’m feeling right now.”
One can only wait and see now if he can exceed the rep he gained as a soldier in the Dilated crew. In the mean time, Ev will be rapping it up with Alchemist in one-off pockets around the country. The man is unlikely to sit and stare, as he has had little more than the hip-hop game on his mind since being that “bugging” 13-year-old on Venice Beach who moved in so fatefully next door to QD3, the son of legendary producer Qunicy Jones.
That was then. This is now. Nothing’s changed, as Evidence remains “running around looking for someone to do a song with.” He epitomizes the quotes “Patience is a virtue” and “Good things come to those who wait.”
Whether The Weatherman LPâ€”and Ev’s solo career, in turnâ€”soars to hip-hop acclaim or flops at the first hurdle, two things are undeniable: A proud mother is watching over her compassionate son, and this rapper is enjoying his time in the limelight.
“Now when I’m doing my shows, even though it’s not as big as with Dilated, they came to see me and that’s a good feeling. I’m just building it up from ground zero but it’s going to be a lot of fun doing it.”