Friday, February 12, 2016

The Davinncci Code

Prodigy: The Genesis Album

    Delon Deville drops his 3rd and 4th singles under the moniker Davinncci Code, in preparation for his upcoming project. These songs aren't necessarily going to be on the album, but are jewels Delon is dropping building up to the album. The first, "Money in My Pocket" is a one verse joint with the signature, surreal Fortune 5000 sound, featuring some light-hearted and humorous shots at Drake: "Caught him handcuffed up with Alyssa Milano/ grinning ear to ear, lips all cherry red/ chap stick, just like the homie said." The second, "You Changed" is a tale of a woman who becomes a "prima donna" once she gets a taste of the finer things. As with the previous Davinncci Code tracks ("Rollin the Dice" and "Animal Behavior"), these new ones give a fuller picture of what to expect on the new record, coming soon..


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ganjah K presents... "Crenshaw Sunday"

L.A.'s Finest

    Crenshaw Sunday is the latest offering from L.A. innovator Ganjah K, and comes as his fifth release on his bandcamp page, following Harvest for the World, the incredible First Brigade compilation, Swaggeristic and his latest solo LP, Possession of Sales. Crenshaw Sunday is a collection of funky, lowrider tracks, mostly recorded in the late 90s/early 2000s and builds on the sound Ganjah first established on his Danksta Life album, released in '96-'97. What separates this album from its predecessor, which saw Ganjah kicking a more restrained flow, is that this collection is much more stylistic and conceptual, with KMC even busting out his signature stuttering style on joints like "Tricky" and "Say It Ain't So." It's hard pick stand outs, as the entire thing bangs from front to back, but it's a pleasant surprise to see Ganjah flowing over a Fat Jack production ("Ain't a Damn Thing Funny"), which is always a good recipe. "Dre's Anatomy" is a very tight concept record, with Ganjah tying various Death Row/Aftermath artists into a unique voltron-esque metaphor. And while everything on his bandcamp page is worth checking out (and supporting), I highly recommend picking this one up, especially for those who have been fiending for more Ganjah K material for all these years! Don't sleep, and stay tuned for 3 tha Hard Way, featuring DK NoDeal and Dutchman, and The Ganjah K Chronicles mixtape, coming soon!







https://www.facebook.com/keshaun.mcclendon?fref=nf
https://www.facebook.com/Ganjah-K-New-Unreleased-Volumes-To-Be-Announced-Soon-170665303036716/?fref=ts
http://ganjahk1.bandcamp.com/
https://ganjahk.bandcamp.com/releases
https://soundcloud.com/ganjah-k

The Product of Americanna

"Animalistic, cannibalistic behavior..."

    Delon Deville drops the second single from his upcoming Delon Davinncci project, "Animal Behavior", which sees him returning to his conscious roots, pulling back the curtain to expose government and corporate corruption, racism and police brutality. Delivering the message with brutal, nihilistic undertones, the sinister synths provided by Deville's producer alias, Fortune 5000, acts as the perfect backdrop. While the project's first single, "Rollin the Dice" was a hustler's anthem, this new track is more indicative of the direction Deville is taking with the new project, the more message-driven subject matter being a nod to his Atom 12 persona. Rather than revisiting that era completely, Deville has updated the formula, and delivers a fresh, new approach. Stay tuned to beetbak for future singles and info on the full length album, coming soon.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Delon Davinncci presents... "Rollin the Dice"

"Walk a mile in these shoes..."

    San Diego veteran Delon Deville (formerly Shamen 12 of Masters of the Universe) has spent his entire musical career thinking outside the box. Never being one to settle on one style, Delon is constantly creating new sounds and concepts. From his spaced out 12 Kommandments tape, to the tales of poverty and struggle on As the World Burns, to the surreal compositions found on his Nightmares EP, Deville is a hard artist to pin down. After last year's heartfelt "If Worse Comes to Worse" and "The Catchup", a tight freestyle track over a Drake beat, he unleashes his latest single, "Rollin the Dice (Allergic to Soap)", a hustler's anthem dedicated to the grind: "Up before the roosters/ stoned like Medusa/ every step, every maneuver/ organize like the Yakuza." Taking on the moniker Fortune 5000 behind the boards and rhyming under the name Delon Davinncci, this joint is a preview of his upcoming, and as of yet untitled, new album. Building on the sound he crafted on his insanely slept on Parafenelia record (available on bandcamp here), the beat is smokey and soulful, conjuring images of night time cruising, a young hustler in deep contemplation. Don't sleep on this gem and stay tuned for updates regarding Deville's upcoming album.





   And if you haven't already, make sure to check out this in depth interview I conducted with Delon a few years back, where he describes his early years as a houser, the formation of D.N.A, the stories behind his many solo projects as well as some his trials and tribulations:





Friday, January 22, 2016

Silence Never Sounded So Good

Inarticulate

    Tommy V. does it again with his latest offering, an instrumental project entitled Silence Speaks: Volume One, a collection of old songs, dusted off, revamped and combined with some newer recordings to form TV's first professionally pressed cassette! Tommy's trademark "dollar bin delectable" style is present here, but this project sees him exploring further off the beaten path and experimenting more with instrumentation, as he has done since his Fresh Produce CD back in the early 2000s. And while there are the fun, light-hearted moments that are to be expected with any TV album, this tape is actually very emotional, at times gut-wrenchingly so. The vocal features by Ceschi, Riley Lige, Child Actor, and probably most interesting, Myka 9, add a layer of complexity to the production, creating a very unique listening experience. Dedicated to his mother (R.I.P.), the tape is appropriately subtle and beautiful, and at times somber. Tommy has come a long way since his earliest handmade tapes from the 90s and this is yet another chapter in the evolution of a unique and innovative artist! Tapes are still available on Fake Four's bandcamp page, or you can go with the "name your price" digital version. Don't sleep on this very cool project. I'm already looking forward to Volume Two!



https://www.facebook.com/thomas.valencia.58
https://www.facebook.com/tommyvmusic/?fref=ts
http://fakefour.bandcamp.com/album/silence-speaks-volume-one
https://soundcloud.com/tommyvmusic

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Kayer presents "Rewind a Decade"

Truly Blastin'

    Rewind a Decade, by Bay Area emcee Kayer, is the latest album from the underground artist who was part of 90s Portland group Forgotten Dialect, as well as Sub-Level Epidemic in the Bay, and is a compilation of tracks recorded between 2003-07. Aside from being a dope listen front-to-back, the album is notable for featuring a slew of interesting guests, from son of reggae legend Keith Hudson, known as Stressnotic, to P.E.A.C.E. of Freestyle Fellowship, DJ Vinroc. Jungle Brown (Camp Lo affiliate), Eddie K., Luna Angel, DJ Icewater, and probably most exciting, Project Blowed legend Spoon (of Iodine)!

 
    Kayer is a true school artist, with roots in the graffiti culture and a rap career that extends back to the 90s and that comes through very clearly on this record. A dedication to the the culture and positive, forward motion are central themes here. And while the album has contributions from several different producers - Vinroc, Cosiner, Stressnotic, Ian McKee and Jaz Jetson - and songs that span a 5 year period, it sounds cohesive and flows together nicely. With concepts that range from asserting his veteran status, to reminiscing about hip-hop's golden era, to overcoming hard times, to fun, party rhymes, the record stays varied and interesting, feeling more like a proper album than a collection of tracks. And, of course, the tracks with Spoon, Kayer's friend and mentor, are standouts, especially considering how little Spoon material is out there.




   The compilation is available on CD and wax (and digitially) and looks fantastic with artwork by Blaine Fontana and layout by Kayer himself. Even if you aren't familiar with Kayer's work and pick this up for the Spoon verses, I think, like me, you'll end up listening to and digging the whole thing. Stay tuned for future releases from Kayer, including the original version of "Metro Illness" and more!


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Reign of Independence: An Interview with Quaesar of Rime Fytahs

KillaRimeZaar


    Quaesar debuted as part of Rime Fytahs, alongside the late Haewhyer (R.I.P.), in the mid-90s and has been putting it down since, with a dedication to the true school: a focus on lyricism, styles, raw beats and respect for the culture. He also takes DIY to a new level - following in the footsteps of Afterlife Recordz - handling all aspects of his craft, from rhymes to production to artwork. He even put together Beetbak's Wild Style inspired logo. In this interview, Quaesar discusses his roots in hip-hop, the formation of Rime Fytahs, The Cola Crew and Sea Serpents, as well as his work ethic, inspirations and plans for the future. If you enjoy this interview, hit him up on Facebook or check out his site to order Rime Fytahs complete CD discography!

What were your earliest experiences with hip-hop and what inspired you to start rapping yourself?

    I would have to say more on the terms of Beat Street, Style Wars type of stuff. I was a young kid, about 5 years old when Beat Street dropped and during that time you had Michael Jackson out so you had a lot of pop influence, so I was real into dancing. When I saw break dancing I was fuckin' blown away. My cousins were a little older so they kinda schooled me on it. I was messing around with them, doing routines with them, which really got me into the whole culture. The whole graff scene is really tied into that too. I was influenced with the graffiti right away. There were older cats who were already on the tag tip. They weren't really bombing like they do now. It was more you tag your name, your crew, you know? And where I grew up, it wasn't the nicest neighbourhood and a lot of us kids didn't have parents to guide us. We'd be hanging out in packs, by ourselves. We'd go out jacking graffiti supplies, getting my name up, getting caught by undercovers, stupid shit like that.

    As far as influences, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill. "Brass Monkey" was actually played on the radio. It was underground, but because it was new, the industry was giving the genre more of a chance, whereas now it's been twisted into a whole big commercial machine. Back then, it was more about expressing your feelings. It's kind of changed a lot, but when I was into it, it was more on that tip. Slick Rick, "Children's Story", Dana Dane, even Fresh Prince, Public Enemy, X-Clan. Like, even though X-Clan were more, I don't wanna say black power, but if you weren't educated, you'd kinda interpret it that way. It was personal empowerment that I got out of it. I'd be bumping the fuck out of X-Clan [laughs]. When I was young, since I first started break dancing, at like 5-6 years old, I'd be wearing headbands, a headband on my wrist, on my knee, tucking my pants into my socks [laughs]. And my mom bought me this big-ass ghetto blaster - they call them boom boxes now - and I could barely carry it! My neighbourhood, there were more chicanos, and I'd be going around bumping Dana Dane and all those cholos would be staring at me like, "Who the fuck is this kid?" That's kinda what I did. I tried not to follow the norm. That's the tip I was always on.



Well, I read on your site that Haewhyer actually battled Taboo before he was in Black Eyed Peas. Is that how you met Haewhyer, through dancing?

    Kind of. We kinda of clicked up because we were on the same tip, graffiti, break dancing. We could speak the same language. It was the same frequency. Right before I met up with Haewhyer, I was in the streets. My moms was a heroin addict. My pops was locked up for strong arming small mom & pops stores. He eventually got caught and was doing time in prison, so the streets raised me. Eventually my mom didn't have a place for me to stay. It was this little shack in a mechanic's yard that she was staying at. Her boyfriend was a loser too, an addict, and he wasn't trying to get her out of this fuckin' shack and then he tells me, "You need to bounce." But where the fuck am I gonna go? So I'd just go to the park and sleep on a park bench. I'd sometimes try to catch the bus 'cause it'd run 24/7 and I'd hop on the bus and sleep on there. That's how I got known because I was tagging up the bus. I'd practically live on the bus.

    When I was sleeping in the park, I eventually got real sick, like sick with the flu. So I went home like, "Hey mom, I'm really sick." So she let me crash out and during that time, whoever her boyfriend was at that time, he got caught for warrants, so he was locked up and a homegirl from the hood came there and was like, "You guys gotta move. Come live with me." She eventually pulled us out and moved us to Rosemead. And as soon as I met up with Haewhyer in this other city, it was on. I wasn't trying to sleep on a park bench anymore. I wanted to take more control of my own life. I'm not 14-15 anymore. I'm 16-17. All these questions came into my life.




Do you feel like that structure that hip-hop provided you, that it kinda saved you?

   Oh, definitely! I mean, I'm one to speak off experience. I'm not trying to glorify anything. I'm not even trying to put my moms down because she was a heroin addict. I love my mom with all my heart. She died of breast cancer when she was forty years old. I tell people, while I was watching people jump from the Twin Towers, I looked to my side and my mom is dying of breast cancer. I was fucking numb at that time. I didn't see nothing in front of me. I didn't hear nothing. I was just like a robot. I had to try to get to school and stuff. I'm not trying to glorify any of this shit, like, "If you wanna be hip-hop, you gotta be a thug and sell drugs." You ain't supposed to do none of that fuckin' shit! If you're hip-hop, you're supposed to get out of that shit! Especially new motherfuckers talking about pimping bitches. Get the fuck outta here! I'm from the streets, born and bred and fuckin' fed. My pops wasn't there. I don't have no brothers or sisters. My mom wasn't tuned in. When my mom passed away at 40, I was like 23 years old. I don't have nobody to go back to. I can't just go, "Hey mom, can I borrow a couple bucks for gas? Can I rest my head here because I can't afford $1300 for rent? Can I get something to eat? Hey pops, how do I treat a woman? How do I even tie a fucking tie?" A lot of those lessons, I learned through hip-hop. There's a song by Black Sheep called "Black With N.V. (No Vision)" and Dres just breaks it down, drops a lot of knowledge. I guess you take what you need out of it. There's a lot of stuff now, you could fall for the superficial aspects. Even KRS had that song, "Love's Gonna Getcha." If you're stuck to the superficial side, you're gonna be, "Yeah, it's all about selling drugs!" If you don't listen to that message, of course that's what you're gonna do. I was lucky enough to be conscious enough to acquire the lessons of hip-hop rather than the curses. 'Cause even though it's hip-hop, we still curse because we're frustrated. Sometimes you might be like, "Fuck the cops." But that doesn't mean you should go out and start shooting cops. I remember when N.W.A. dropped "Fuck tha Police." And people say the reason why there's gun violence is because there's guns. It was like the reason there's gun violence is because of hip-hop. Nah, it's not like that. Start taking the good out of things, instead just taking the negative. Especially if you're in a negative situation, your job is to get the fuck out of that situation.

    Watch, here's another example I can give you: a lot of people don't want Donald Trump to be president. Well, are you gonna get your ass up and vote? 'Cause if you ain't gonna get your punk ass up to vote to make sure he's not president, then you need to shut the fuck up about it. Change your situation through action or shut the fuck up.

Well, I think a good equivalant to that, in terms of hip-hop, is people need to vote with their wallets and support the music they love 'cause if we don't support it, look what happens? The cream of the crop should rise to the top but it doesn't because people just download everything for free.

    Exactly. Man, I could go off on this shit forever [laughs].




You mentioned KRS-One, and of course he really represents the true school, and there's the classic picture of him rapping into a headphone, but you and Haewhyer actually rhymed into a karaoke machine at one point, right?

    Yeah, that's actually true. We started off, you remember those old computer microphones that looked like a wand? I started acquiring several ways to record, throughout the years, ever since my mom bought me a ghetto blaster - the shit had a record button on it, so even when I was young I was beat boxing, spitting dumb little freestyles, spitting other fools' rhymes. You don't realize it, but you're learning structure. You're learning schematics. You don't realize it because you're just having fun as a kid. It just fell into play. When I went to Rosemead and met up with Haewhyer, I met a couple cats who quote-on-quote flowed or whatever. I'm making little cheap songs with these cats and it's coming out real cheesy. I never even recorded on computers. Wavelab? What the fuck is this shit? I'd never even had a computer but you gotta know in your mind what to do. I was showing them how to make loops and make beats. And they're like, "How do you know how to do this? You don't even have a computer!" "Dude, you know how to do it. It's in you." I wasn't that on point, just getting the gist.

    So I borrowed a tape from one of these cats and it was some dope underground shit. We had walkmans back then. I was cruising, walking through the hood playing this tape. So a few days later, one of these cats is like, "Hey dude, Bobby wants his tape back!" And I'm like, "Who's Bobby? You're lending out shit that don't belong to you?" So that's how we met up. It was like, "Oh, you're Bobby? I had your tape. You flow?" And we started flowing. Then it was like, "What am I doing with these cats when we could be doing this?" We were so hungry to rhyme and put our shit on a medium. And we were messing with this DJ but during that time, he had a vice and he was up there smoking speed and doing dumb shit and giving up his resources, so we just ventured off to ourselves. We saw the equipment we needed but we didn't have the money to do it. At one point, we did fuck with the karaoke machine. "Fuck it, I'm gonna buy this keyboard from Radio Shack." Down the line, we weren't too satisfied, so I bought a sampler, an SP-202, and that helped us make better beats.




You did most of the production on those early Rime Fytahs projects. Did you do all the beats for Us Against Them too?

   Yeah, I did all the beats for that tape, yeah.

When did you start going to Project Blowed?

   Probably like '98-'99ish. The thing about Project Blowed, there was a cafe called the Good Life Cafe. A lot of emcees would go there. There was a particular system there, one of the rules there, you can't cuss. It was a little difficult to get certain messages across unless you encrypted them in a way, you know what I'm sayin'? So when Project Blowed opened, that was a contrast because you could cuss. So there were a lot of ups and downs in the beginning. So it closed down a couple times and we got to go when it was quote-on-quote re-openening, in like '98-'99. We were already Rime Fytahs, and one of the homies was like, "You guys gotta check out this spot!" We kinda knew about it, through the music. We were already bumping the music. But we weren't able to get ourselves out there until homie actually drove us out there. We'd just stay in the den banging out music. People'd be banging on walls like, "What the fuck?" So that's what kinda got us out more. We found the balance between production and getting ourselves out there.

A little bit later you hooked up with Mass Murder Productions and formed C.O.L.A. Can you talk about how the Cola Crew came together?

   Basically me and Haewhyer, we had a certain relationship where we felt for someone to hold the title Rime Fytah, they couldn't just be able to rhyme. There was a lot tied into it. It was deeper. And we're starting to acquire more of a network of emcees and we need an outlet for them. So we started with the Sea Serpents. We kinda split it up like, "These are the guys who can freestyle." Then the guys who write rhymes down, we can have a separate unit. It was small, so it was easy to do that. Then there was the D.A.T.A. crew and they made good music. And then, of course, Mass Murder, which is based outta Ontario, it came together really fast and we realized we needed a structure in order for us to establish the who's who of what, you know? So we started Creators of the Lost Arts. It's just like an umbrella for everybody but nobody is obliged to do anything. Rime Fytahs might wanna do this, but D.A.T.A. might not wanna do that.

 
   It was a way for us to open up opportunities. A lot of people come to me for advice and stuff. It's more like a coalition. When you come to C.O.L.A. you learn certain knowledge and gain certain intel into how to be an underground artist. Granted, after you learn it, it might be like riding a bike and you're like, "I never needed an elder to help me take off my training wheels." That's how people might think after they ride the bike. But people need to learn those certain independent, underground artists' techniques. But no one is constrained. Everyone is free to go and do whatever the hell they want. But someone might be like, "Oh, this person shut me down! I'm not gonna make music no more." I know how hard it is to get out there. People lose loved ones, get in car accidents, lose their jobs. I want to be there. Those are things that I wanna be there for, to support my crew, so we can keep doing what we love.




Listening to your stuff, I catch moments where it sounds like there's a strong CVE/Hip Hop Klan influence in terms of your musical approach, but also the whole DIY aesthetic. Am I right that they're a big influence?

    Hell yeah! Definitely. During the initial part of my emceeing, before I met Haewhyer and before I was on the street, I was writing a lot of material, my own material, just in my own world. During this time, a lot of my family members were doing drugs and crazy shit and I was like 13-14 years old. I didn't want to be like that, so I'd be at home writing my little rhymes. During that time, you had Cypress Hill coming out. You had The Chronic coming out. Everything that was coming out was on a label. There was no such thing as underground then. If you heard an underground tape, you'd assume it was a demo tape that they'd send to a label to get signed and re-do it. Now, there's so many generations in it, people can't even fathom that mentality. Now everybody's an independent aritst. They don't really get the gist of it.



    So during this time, the way I grew up, with the major influence of my family, gangs and shit, there's a prison influence in my family. Prisoners utilize everything around them to make it an art. You have prisoners that know how to make picture frames out of Camel cigarette boxes. You got prisoners know how to make clocks out of wood, all this stuff. So when my uncles would get out, it'd trickle down to me, so when I was a kid I was always into how to make something out of nothing. So when I was writing rhymes I was always like, "I'm gonna do my own music." I had this picture in my head. So one day - I don't think it's the cassette I borrowed from the homies - I think it was a cassette I got from my homegirl Rebecca. She knew some of the guys in the Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. This is kinda pre-Psycho Realm, these fools were trying to be Cypress Hill's openers, you know what I'm sayin'? So she knew them and she was like, "Oh you wanna be flowin'? Let me take you to these fools crib." But they went to get high and I was just kinda standing there in front of these turntables, not doing anything [laughs]. All that shit was just coming together and when I heard this tape, it was just full of fuckin' hiss. I had just finished buying Midnight Marauders, Pharcyde, "Passing Me By." And the beat production, it was coming back to more of a vintage sound, a vinyl sound. And this song came on, "Are you ready for the vibe? Are you ready for the flow? Are you ready for the Kaos Network, Project Blowed?"

Nice.

    And you had people chopping, even like JJ Fad. They'd chop, but not through the whole verse. It kinda pumped me up 'cause I wanted them to keep going! So I was writing my own shit that was like that, so when I heard Blowed was doing it, I was like, "Hell nah! There's other fools doing this shit?" I was like, "This is what I want to hear!" I want to hear that cheesiness, where they just grabbed a Casio keyboard and make that shit. This is the shit that I want to hear. It was like a breath of fresh air for me. So once I heard that, I found where I fit in. So they were definitely an influence. Everybody from the Blowed, Puzoozoo Watt, fuckin' Medusa, 2Mex, Riddlore?, the whole CVE crew. When I lost Haewhyer too, I had my own particular style, so I felt I needed to incorporate him into my style too. A lot of the shit I do, like lowering my voice, that's paying homage to my boy.


I'm glad you mentioned the chop style. I spoke to Syndrome about this, and Imperator as well, about how you had people chopping, like you said, JJ Fad, and you even have guys like Kool Moe Dee rapping kinda quickly in the early 80s, and Jay-Z & Jaz did "The Originators" in the late 80s. What do you feel was the Good Life's role in regards to the chop? 'Cause it already existed, so would you say they adopted it as their main style and took it to another level?

   Yeah, I think it's exactly that. I think it was their stylized form of delivery. During that time, the style of delivery was very structured. Boom-boom-snare, "here's a flow, here's a flow," boom-boom, punchline. The Good Life, and later the Blowed, was so stylized. It really was exactly that, a Kaos Network. There was chaos but it was so stylized. It didn't have structure, it had its own structure. You hear Myka 9 bust, look at Innercity Griots or To Whom It May Concern, "Be advised they'll come," the style is so different. Then, on top of that, being able to freestyle, being able to freestyle and chop. Anybody can freestyle. In fact, freestyling was invented on the east coast. I mean, if you want to go even deeper, it probably goes back to like, jazz musicians, but when it comes to the west coast, there's so much more. Like... [Quaesar spits a dope freestyle]

[laughs] Nice!

    The thing is, you're communicating with street people. 'Cause me, as a street kid, I have to be able to spit fire. I can't afford to be a slow thinker on the streets. In order to survive, you have to be a quick thinker. And if you're getting down with cats? You have to be able to think fast and spit it fast and freestyle fast and absorb it fast and understand it fast and kick it in fast. Some people, I can understand, they don't get it. I don't mean to bruise egos - I know people want to say they're hard - but you're probably not from a certain demographic. That's usually what the case is. I'm not trying to put anybody down, but that's the way it is. Some type of music you may agree with more. I just happen to agree with this music more. I just clicked up to Afterlife, Hip Hop Klan, CVE. It's like, we're from the streets but we have a college education, so I can either smack you in the face with my books... [laughs] We weren't trying to gang bang. We had to walk through gangs. What do you do then? Do you bow down? Do you succumb to the crack? Do you succumb to the prostitution? Nah, it's easy to do that. Anybody can pop pills, fuckin' shoot up heroin, pimp prostitutes, sell their own pussy. The hard motherfuckers are the ones who don't do that shit. The hard motherfuckers are the ones who get their families out of that shit! So when these little boy toys try to act hard, I can see right through that shit and I don't fear motherfuckers like that. They don't even have the mental capacity to survive a motherfucker like me. They want you to be scared. "I'm covered in tattoos. I've got my head shaved bald." That's the same reason there's a cop car around, to remind you not to steal. This is something I was told: "Real motherfuckers don't have to show off. Real motherfuckers just gotta to show up."

I really like how you kept using the Rime Fytahs name after Haewhyer passed, kinda like BDP, and included verses from him on more recent projects. Do you feel like Haewhyer is still present on those albums, kinda like how it said "overseen by Scott La Rock" on the BDP albums?

    Aw, hell yeah! All the time. There's certain things that happen where it puts a smile on your face, like, "This motherfucker is still here." How certain things come together. The whole spirit of it. I mean, it's a little bit different now because I'm older so I've changed. I'm a lot more patient. Letting people slide or get by. Some people might even feel safe because of my patience [laughs]. That's why a boa constricter lets you get real close. The closer you are, the better it is for me. So I still use the spirit of Haewhyer, but now we're so much in unison, you can't split it up anymore. It's just all one now, if that makes any sense.

One of my favourite albums from you is Raw on Tape which doesn't have much info online. Is that a recent one? I thought I caught you saying 2012 on one track.

   Yeah, yeah, that's a more recent CD. Raw on Tape, I kinda reverted more back to a Rime Fytahs, Us Against Them, original type'a style, the scheme of making my beats - I returned to that. And also, that being said, we used a lot of samples. And on Raw on Tape, I used a lot of samples. That's the reason I released it for free on the internet.

Is that why the song titles are taken from past Rime Fytahs albums?

    Exactly. I wanted to put it together in that way. I was trying to bring it back and pay homage to stuff we already did. I actually have Raw on Tape: Side B coming up, which should even be a little bit nicer than the first one. 

The most recent Rime Fytah's project was Prescribed America. I read that you were inspired to do that album after working as a pharmacy tech. Can you talk about that experience and the concept for that record?

    When my mom was still around, I was actually taking myself to college out here at L.A. Trade Tech. During that time I was taking nursing. I was studying to be a registered nurse. I was in the medical field. After my mom passed away, I started working. When she passed I had to pay my own rent 'cause I was living with my mom and her friend. I couldn't stay there anymore. So I started working as a student nurse and quit school just to pay my rent and shit. So probably from '99 I was going to Trade Tech.

    Recently, I started working manufacturing pharmaceuticals. Not a pharmacy tech, but manufacturing pharmaceuticals. We would make blood thinner at this company and shit, and there was just a lot of shit I'd see. Not only from nursing, going through that field, but also tying into the pharmacy field. They're two different fields, in a way. The way it all tied in, I was able to bring out this Prescribed America CD.

   
    And believe it or not, during the time I dropped that album and I started working as a pharmacy tech, I had not realized it but I had an ulcer in my stomach and I was bleeding internally. I was getting real sick. If anybody's ever been shot, that's basically what it felt like. You're basically just losing a lot of blood. You have a real bad headache. For me, about a week went by and it was getting worse and worse. I'm pretty sure if someone gets shot they feel it in a second [laughs] but this shit took about a week to progress. I started getting real pale, waking up with headaches. I couldn't get through the day almost. It was hard walking up stairs. I mean, your blood carries oxygen and if you lack blood and your body and your organs lack oxygen, your muscles need oxygen to move. I wasn't putting it together. I'm saying it now, from my medical standpoint, but at that time, I was a patient. "Aw, this isn't happening to me" mentality. I had to lay down and shit. I couldn't breath. I had to walk up stairs and lie down.

    One day it got so bad, I started dry-heaving. I was like, "Fuck this, babe, you have to take me to the emergency room." They said I was pretty close to having my organs shut down because there was so much blood loss. They couldn't believe I was able to walk in. I had to get like six different blood transfusions. I had to take Nexium to close my ulcer up. I got pretty close to dying, you know what I'm saying? It took me a while to recover, believe it or not. Your organs are like sponges that absorb blood. And when you take all the blood out of these sponges, the oxygen, you can't just put water back into a sponge and it'll be back to normal. You have let the blood soak into your organs for them to function properly. I honestly had problems with my lung capacity. This right here is some exclusive shit you're getting. A lot of people don't know, they're thinking, "Why isn't Quaesar's show up to par?" Sometimes it's hard to put air in your lungs. My tongue, I couldn't fuckin' chop sometimes. It was because I was recovering. It wasn't until a couple months ago that I feel like I've fully recovered. So I apologize to anyone who felt my live show wasn't up to par, but I was at a low point health wise. And even relationship-wise, 'cause while I was doing bad, people close to me started trying to take advantage of me. But it was a blessing in disguise because it showed me who was really true to me. I'm glad it happened, in a way, because now I know who's real and who's not real.



Do you have any upcoming projects or plans for the future you want to mention? And I also wanted to ask if you're gonna be on that BullySquad album Syndrome and Casper are putting together.

   Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm on there. I sent them a bunch of verses [laughs]. I got some shit I'm working on with my boy Skruf One. That should be dropping pretty soon. I'm also working on another Rime Fytahs, but I'm taking my time 'cause I want to have more hands on it. I want it to be like more listener friendly, in a way. I don't like to make too many drastic changes on my Rime Fytah projects. I like to keep it consistent. But I'm gonna get somebody else to mix it down, do a couple other touches so it sounds a little more up to par in terms of production, to keep my fans happy.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jean in the Front Row: An Interview with Jean Powe

Jean in the Front Row

    Without actually having performed at the Good Life and without being a rapper or producer, Jean Powe has still had a great enough influence on the Good Life movement that she is known worldwide by fans of the west coast underground, most recently through Ava DuVernay's This is the Life documentary, but, largely due to a classic CVE tape being named after her, Tray Loc's solo debut, Jean in the Front Row. Jean gained a reputation for always being present at the Good Life, front and center, showing her support. She clearly saw something special in a movement that has finally gained some of the recognition it deserved in the early to mid-90s. 

    Jean's story took a tragic turn, when she was misprescribed medication which lead to her developing Steven-Johnson Syndrome, a skin condition which can cause facial and tongue swelling, rashes and shedding of the skin. Jean remains positive, however, and she and Imperator are in the process of wrapping up a documentary about her and her journey, giving viewers some insights into her condition and how it has impacted her life. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her experiences at the Life as well as her struggles with SJS.

What was your earliest experience with hip-hop and what was some of the first stuff you really got into?

    In the 80s, Alex, my whole world was dance, the club scene. Wherever the DJ and the dance floor was, I was there. I was into rap, but just the music, not the lyrics. Hip-hop didn't come into play until the Good Life. I'm glad I was introduced to it! Prior to that, I was groovin' to Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye, The O'Jays, Prince, Barry White, Luther Vandross, N.W.A., Heavy D, Debarge, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Too $hort, KRS-One and Shalamar, just to name a few. I love all music, really. I go from R&B to rap and The Wave, all in the same day [laughs]. It really started at the Good Life though, in 1990, '91, then ended up at the Project Blowed. That's where I met all the artists I know now. There's so many of 'em. I guess it's all the ones that you know too. Imperator, Ellay Khule, J-Smoov, Freestyle Fellowship, Hip Hop Kclan, Riddlore?, P.E.A.C.E., Myka 9, there's so many of 'em. I can't wait to get back to the Good Life to chill with everybody one more time.

How did you first get introduced to the Good Life?

    The owner, Janie, and one of my classmates, which is her sister, Deborah Scott Moore. I used to come there to see her and she told me about Thursday nights with Bea Hall and her son, R Kane Blaze, and I just started coming and I was just going ever since. I want to give props to the owners of the Good Life, Ifa (Janie) and her husband, Phillip Walker, and thank Deborah for inviting me!

Were you blown away by what you saw?

   Yes, yeah, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was really good that all these young people were really coming together like that. It gave them a chance to get out of the street life and come together with the positivity like they were.

What was the vibe at the Life and can you describe the experience of being in the front row?

    The vibe was always cool. Once or twice there was a chill in the air, but it didn't stop the show. Being in the front row I was able to be up close and personal with folks. Seeing everyone perform and feeling the music, that was it for me. Thursday at the Good Life couldn't come quick enough. I lived for it! I don't know who gave me the name Jean in the Front Row. Maybe J-Smoov or Tray Loc. If I'm wrong, correct me! If I came in and someone was in my seat, they respected me enough to get up and let me have it. I was thankful! For one, what they didn't know, I needed total reconstructive knee surgery and it would be screaming [laughs]. J-Smoov took me to the hospital, had it done and the rest is history. I really miss those times, hanging out there with Shaydi, Q Storm (where you at?) and Rosetta.

Were there any artists in particular you'd get really hyped about if they were performing?

     No, I liked everybody. I don't like to single people out. I enjoyed everybody. The most memorable was meeting Biz Markie and Fat Joe.

What do you think were some of the reasons the Good Life became this hub for creativity?

    I guess all the different artists all being able to come together like they were. Bea Hall really made it possible for everybody to come together like they did.

When you first saw the Jean in the Front Row tape, were you surprised, or did you know Tray was going to be naming his album after you?

    That was a surprise [laughs]. It was funny, especially the caricature of me [laughs]. The caricature was funny to me, but I didn't mind though.



[laughs] It was a very flattering picture.

    It was [laugh] but it really fit Tray Loc's style of music. I liked it.

Did you attend the Project Blowed at all?

    Yes, I went to Project Blowed also. We left the Good Life and went to Project Blowed. My Project Blowed experience, as opposed to the Good Life, was cool. Both clubs were cool. Project Blowed was more loose and no limits. You could curse on the mic whereas at the Good Life you couldn't. Nothing wrong with that. And if you wasn't good, you'd get booed! I really didn't like that 'cause everyone deserves a chance on the mic. You never know what that does to a person! Blowed drew a much bigger crowd and it was a great joint. Big ups to Ben Caldwell for doing that for the youth.

When were you diagnosed with SJS and can you explain to people who may not be familiar what it is exactly?

    Ok, for the people who don't know, Steven-Johnson Syndrome is a major allergic reaction to any antiviral medication and the reaction, your hair falls out, your skin blisters, because it burns you from the inside of your body to the outside of your body. Your face swells, your eyes swell, your throat. It affects your mucus membranes. Some people are blinded and left with cornea damage. A lot of people I know have these eye problems. Some people die because it damages your organs. I was lucky. For me, I had the swelling of the face and eyes. My throat was so swollen, I couldn't eat for three years. I ended up with a G-tube in my stomach because my stomach was toxic. I went from 136 pounds to 89 pounds! I was dying.

    First of all, I was bit by a spider in 2007, but it had nothing to do with the spider bite. An intern, I found out later, misdiagnosed my spider bite as shingles and gave me Acyclovir, 800 mg to take five times a day. Had I known better, I wouldn't have took it but at the time, you go to the doctor, you think they know what they're giving you, so you take it. And as I took it, instead of feeling better, I started feeling worse, like I was dying, which I was, but I didn't know until I got to the hospital. If I didn't get to the hospital when I did, I would be dead today.

I did some research before this call and saw some pictures of people with pretty awful blisters and rashes. Is your condition not quite as bad as that?

    Well, your skin, it's chronic. It doesn't go away. You don't look like those pictures anymore, I did look like those pictures, but not as bad because I got to the hospital in time. It was very painful for years. I had the G-tube in for three years. I couldn't eat solid foods for three years. I had to be fed through a tube. Oh, it was awful! And you're left with chronic itching. You skin itches and still falls off, just not as bad as it was. One thing about it, all my burns have healed. My skin is back to brown. From laying up now for eight years, my body has atrophied. My hands are completely closed and my toes are folded over. I have to have assistance turning, sitting up, I have to be dressed. I used to have to be fed but a cousin of mine had an idea: he took a spoon and a fork and taped them to chop sticks so now I'm able to feed myself. And I can go out, but I have to have a village to get me out and get me ready.

Can you talk about the documentary Imperator is putting together about your struggles?

    Well, basically what I just told you. I told him the same thing I'm tellin' you. We've done three shoots already. I have two more to go, I think starting next week. We were supposed to meet a couple weeks ago to shoot at the beach but I didn't have a village to get me there, so we had to cancel. He just gave me a benefit September 24th, which was really nice.

***

    To get some additional info about the upcoming documentary, I spoke with Imperator, who is the mastermind behind the project, and he was able to give some good insights into the motivation and concept for the documentary.

    At first, I just knew Jean as "Jean in the Front Row" from being at the Good Life. We spoke in passing a little bit. We didn't hang out or anything like that, but I knew her, and I knew Tray had songs and CVE and others would mention her a lot in there. For years, I had heard she was bitten by a spider and something had happened to her and she wasn't doing too well. So for years, I thought about doing a documentary because I felt [the reality of what had happened to her] was an injustice, and maybe it could get her some exposure so someone could help her out.

    So time passed, and it was just a thought I had, but I reconnected with Jean about three months ago. I went to her house and saw her situation, that she was bed ridden, so I said to her, "Why don't we go ahead and do the documentary?" I told her what it would consist of. I went out and got a camera and a friend and I sat and came up with about thirty questions and we just asked her, "When did it happen? How did it happen?" How does she feel? What makes her happy and sad? So we recorded that but it still needs to get edited. It's currently on hold because we want to get a professional, someone in the industry, who's willing to speak on it to give it some more credibility. Due to some personal turmoil in my life, I haven't done anything for about three weeks, but we're planning to pick it back up. One issue is it may be hard to get some medical professionals to speak on this condition because it could harm their reputation. I'm trying to do some real research so we can do it properly, and I'd really like a real medical professional to speak on it.

For those who have enjoyed the Jean in the Front Row tape, and since it's currently available as a free download, please consider donating the money you would have spent on a copy to Jean's Gofundme account and stay tuned for updates regarding Imp's upcoming documentary about Jean's struggles.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Demons & Angels: A History of the Beat Cave

The Roach Hoetel

    The Beat Cave was a crew, as well as a studio, created by Roger Lovett (aka Roge One) in Whittier, California that became a retreat for the emcees who would hang out there. It originated as a project co-produced by Roge and DJ Roach in 2001-2, The Roach Hoetel, notably featuring raps from EX2's Origin, but later evolved into something different once Roge set up a studio in his garage and honed his ability to make beats. A project featuring Roge, Roach and AWOL, entitled Demons & Angels was released years later, in 2012, and features a slew of emcees, all of whom would drop by to hang out at the Beat Cave. I was able to piece together a history of the Beat Cave, gathering comments from Roger, Roach, Massive, Syndrome and Regret, all of whom described the Beat Caves' laid back atmosphere and fond memories of what they considered a place to relax, lay back, smoke some good green and make music.

Roge One: It really started back at East Ridge Terrace Apartments on La Mirada and Leffingwell. It started with Save One from LSD. It was rough times for me then, but I was trying to get out of the rough times and I ended up selling some drug money to get an MPC. We started hanging out and making beats, and Save introduced me to Roach. It's funny, the first night Roach came over, we went to get some beer and as we walked out, we see cops walking in each direction. It looked like they were headed to my apartment. I was growing some plants at that time. So I called my roommate and he said the cops came and busted them all, so I ended up going to Roach's house that night and we just listened to records for about four hours. It was crazy. My roommates ended up going to jail. We sorted it out a couple days later because they didn't have a search warrant, stuff like that. So no one got in trouble, but that's how the Beat Cave began in Whittier, California.




Roach the DJ: I met Roger after finding out that a couple of my friends were making beats on an MPC, and I found out it wasn't their MPC. It was Roger's. They were all roommates. So I had to get down to it and say, "Well, I wanna record beats on this MPC so I need to meet this guy, Roger, you know?" So my friends Save and Calm - we all have connections to the same city and we ended up being part of the graffiti crew LSD - introduced me to Roger. That's how I started talking to Roger. I told him, "I've been making tapes, but my tape deck is broken and I've been starting to record on my 4-track, but it records on zips and pretty soon it's gonna be outdated, you know? It's already giving me problems now." So we had a friendship through my experiences trying to record.

Roge One: I straightened up my act, stopped messing with the hard drugs, just stuck with the weed. I moved to another apartment and started getting with Meno. He's another cat who EX2 used to always go to. Meno's done a lot of great stuff in the studio. So I hung out with him a lot, learning how to create music and bring it to the computer, how to do MIDI stuff on the computer and all that. From there, I met my wife, then we moved into that house that became the Beat Cave. By that time, I had started getting more knowledge of everything so I built that studio then. Through Roach, I met AWOL, Massive, Gel Roc, Ab Rude used to go there. All those types of people would come to the Beat Cave.



Massive: It was like a camp where some of the members hung out with Roge at his spot, but they were kinda into other things. Like, AWOL was always into art and graffiti. They had this skateboard company - I think the company was called Soundclash - where they were putting hip-hop artists on these skateboards that AWOL and some of the guys were promoting. So in the Beat Cave they had this studio with a wall of skateboard decks. Everybody kind of met at that spot. It kind of had been around for a while. If you have a studio and I just came over there to hang out with you all the time, then other producers and beat artists, they start hanging out over there. Then you're making beats and sooner or later we're putting together a project.

Roach the DJ: We recorded a couple beats for my project, which was Roach Hoetel and I figured, "Well, he's giving me original beats so what I'm gonna do is bring in my samples as a background to his beats and give it a hip-hop feel." So that's what I did. We had a project by me recording it, then later on, he evolved and said, "Well, I wanna have control of recording my own beats." So he got savy with computers and he was using Cubase, I think it was. We just started to say, "Ok, let's just bring people in and have them record. We already know AWOL and we know Massive. Let's bring in the rest of our homies." And that's how our project (Demons & Angels) got created. And in between The Roach Hoetel and Demons & Angels, Roger was refining and learning how to record, which is why there's a gap between those two projects. I only made like 20 of [The Roach Hoetel] for a small tour. That's Pugsly on bass! Pugs (R.I.P.) was Tobesko's cousin. Origin was the first MC the Beat Cave recorded. He is an OG EX2 head.




Roge One: The Roach Hoetel was actually recorded pretty much at the original apartment, and also at Roach's house. We did that before we got into the computer stuff. It was basically just a little 4-track and an MPC. Just a mic in a closet, man. Real raw stuff [laughs].

Massive: I don't know how long they had that concept for the Beat Cave. The reason we called it the Beat Cave was beacuse it was Roger's garage, and it had this big ol' neon flourescent light. It was a big ol' garage converted into a mini studio, but it was always dark like a cave in there, so that's where it came from.



Roge One: When I built the studio, it just had a cave feeling. There was one night where everyone was over and I just thought it was like the Bat Cave. So I said, "It's the Beat Cave" and everybody liked that. It was a place for everyone to just come and relax, not worry about nothin', just kick back, you know what I mean? At the time, I had hurt my back so I was just on worker's comp, so anyone could come over at any time. We had a fridge with beers in there. We were smokin' a lot of weed, of course. Massive used to come over a lot and hang out. He's a very humble guy. We'd just vibe out, write lyrics. We'd make beats together. Everyone could just come, smoke some weed, drink some beer, close the garage, not a care in the world, man. It was a good time, brother.

Massive: The Beat Cave was kind of like a retreat for me. At the time, when I moved from L.A., I moved to Orange County to just get away from everything, you know what I'm sayin'? And between L.A. and Orange County lies Whittier. So instead of going all the way back to L.A., most of the kids from that camp lived in the Whittier area. See, there's two types of emcees. There's the Good Life emcees, then there's the kind of weirded out emcees, like AWOL and those guys, that do that different kind of hip-hop. It's hard to even put a name on it. They all hung out in that section of Orange County, Whittier, Azusa, Santa Anna, I almost want to say the Inland Empire, but it's going back east where most of 'em hung out at. Roge's place was the central spot to hang out at, and to be quite honest with you, you'll find a lot of these hip-hop studios were centralized around who had the weed [laughs]. If you had to grab something real quick, you'd go see Roge.


Syndrome228: Roger is a good dude who I met through Roach when EX2 was in our prime. A few times I went to his place when he would have parties and saw Massive, AWOL, Roach, and some others, which was a dope group to chill amongst. I never recorded with him, but we worked on some beats a couple times. He is good fam, for sure!

Roach the DJ: I was always able to jam with Roger. We'd record ourselves and have fun. He'd freestyle and me and my friends would freestyle. That's when I knew we needed to make something happen. We were having too much fun, so I felt, "Let's get something going on." After he moved out of his apartment, he got a pretty good job and a home, so he had the space to create a studio. We had all our friends who were willing to hang out and record. We'd all get together and have fun, smoke. He also had a lot of good smoke so people were willing to come to him, you know?

Regret of EX2: I don't think I ever tracked there. I only went there to get bomb green! [Roger] had a huge flat screen on the wall in the living room, had fuckin' MMA on PS3 with wireless controllers. Dudes would have tournies. First time I'd seen that. Roger had sick beats. Element tuff underground grimey!

Massive: Roge got a couple of drum machines from me. Once he started running those drum machines, he started making some really cool beats. He had a nice little set up in his garage. The nice thing was, you could go over there, hang out with him, watch a game, have a beer, listen to a beat, throw down a verse, and that's kinda where it was at. It's kinda like if you had a garage and we came over every day after work, complain about our jobs, our wives and shit [laughs], you made a beat, you had a vocal booth in there, we threw a verse down. Everybody you knew that was in the industry came through to get a sack but they also came and chilled. It was different then regular dealers where you get it and got the fuck on outta there. It was different with him. You'd sit down and chill. There'd be three or four of the homies that you know that rap. They in there, kickin' back. Roge would play a beat. You'd lay back, get blowed, relax. It was a really drama free type area, you know what I'm sayin'?

Artwork by Elika LSD/CBS

Roach the DJ: After realizing that Demons & Angels was taking too long to be released, I searched to see if anybody had posted any works by Beat Cave, linking my Roach Hoetel project. I found a few videos with another project by someone else called Beat Cave. So I pushed the project after talking to AWOL. I asked why he didn't want to push the LP. He said the track with Ab and another contained touchy samples. So I put those on Soundcloud as outtakes. After a year or so I knew AWOL didn't mind if I put it out on the strength that I wouldn't use his production company or name. So Handshake Tony was the code name to the Demons & Angels LP. We also started calling ourselves the Beatcavers to give us a personalized identity. AWOL was Handshake Tony, I was Fist Pump Bobby and Roger was Firm Grip Roge. The world slept on the Beat Cave. Real underground shit.

Roge One: We started off with a little Tascam 4-track, then I transitioned more into computers. Meno really helped me with that, as well as this guy Jazzymattnasty, Matt Mendoza. He was Meno's apprentice at the time. He started coming to my house and help me get everything straightened out. Then we brought in the MPC and a MIDI keyboard. One time, a guy, he was a drummer, he brought me a raw CD of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin, in the studio - no one had heard this CD - a whole session of him drumming! Just raw, in the studio, Jon Bonham drumming. And that's how Demons & Angels was created. Next time you listen to it, just listen to those drums, dude! [laughs] Everyone was lovin' it, man! "Pocket Full of Dreams" and "Change" were two, off the top of my head, where those drums were used.




Massive: I think the Beat Cave is one of those quiet secrets that is allowed to continue when the opportunity presents itself. Like Roach, Roach is like a secret bank of amazing talent. He even grew up in the industry so he knows untold artists. He's probably one of the closest cats to me. In fact, he really kept me in touch with everybody else, man. There was a point where I really fell off the grid, getting away from all the negativity in the scene and the only person that kept my ties with everybody was Roach. The dude is really talented. He's got hella skills on the turntables. He's traveled around with AWOL. He's met a lot of emcees and producers, and he's a generally good guy! He's the one who connected me with Roge and everybody. When AWOL would come around, Roach would come with him. The crazy thing is Roach was so young, I never really noticed him until he got older. Then once everybody started releasing records, it was a different vibe. AWOL and Roach used to invite me to their parties and I would perform, which really helped keep me in the scene.

Roge One: People would come through at different times. Sometimes AWOL would bring people. Roach would bring' em. Massive would bring 'em. It was different situations but it was pretty much open doors. It's funny, at the end there, it was getting close. The wife was getting a little upset. We had a one year old daughter and we were in there pretty much five days a week [laughs]. So it got a little rough and that's kinda what ended it. I had to go back to work to support the family because, of course, family comes first, and I had to work on my marriage a bit. I was kind of neglecting that at the time. Everything worked out. But people would bring their girlfriends there. We'd have parties there. It's funny, on my daughter's first birthday, it started off as a birthday party with kegs and a taco truck, and everyone rolled through, the whole LSD crew, everybody. It ended up being an all-night beat session, you know? We'd always end up in the studio, vibing out. It's a lot of good memories.



Massive: You got a dude that hangs out with enough rappers and started learning how to make beats, and a basic place where you used to go to meditate and get away from shit that turned into a real cool spot. The Beat Cave was one of those spots where artists hung out, got a little smoke, made some music and just chilled. The thing that shut that down was life. Roge ended up having to move, get a real job [laughs], you know? The songs we recorded that they released was a nice little project. In fact, I was speaking to him recently about maybe doing another Beat Cave record.

Roge One: I rapped on "Let's Go" (Jazzymattnasty rapped on that one too) and "Hello" with Massive. I did a little cut on "Freedumb." Most of my stuff was sticking to the beats, but I like to do some rhymes every now and then. We have a new project coming out. I'm gonna do a new studio in my new house, now that we're all settled. It's gonna be Bro Bro Records aka Beat Cave and I'll be doing some more lyrics on that one as well. Look out for it, bro!

Roach the DJ: A new Beat Cave project will definitely end up happening. Roger is deep enough into his marriage that it's solid and he can do this. He kind of stepped away, thinking it would cause problems, but now he's gonna build a shack in the backyard and we're gonna go full on.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTb_6sRRrWgU8ULAA0H-xdg
https://soundcloud.com/roach-the-dj
https://soundcloud.com/marshall-ford1
https://www.instagram.com/massdog_music/
https://www.facebook.com/Roach-The-dJ-277842538919763/
https://www.facebook.com/Massive-416258881900929/

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Name Science Rewrites History

"We came to redisover what was precious in music..."

    Sach and Inoe Oner return with their fourth offering as Name Science, following their 2006 debut, Name Science 2 the Death, their reemergence in 2014, Where is Name Science, and their Valentine's Day tribute, Sweet Science, from earlier this year. Rewrite, available in digital and CD formats on namescience.biz and namescience.bandcamp.com, sees Name Science once again travelling into the past, this time flipping various classic hip-hop beats into fresh, new creations.

    The album opens with "Love You Name Science", a track they debuted on Huskey Radio, that sees Inoe and Sach kicking some rhymes from their past over a flip of Tribe's "Keep It Rollin'" beat. Next up is a cover of a Gangstarr classic, "N.S. Will Manifest", a very tight transformation of a familiar track, Sach and Inoe's unique flows taking the song to unexplored territory. "Experiment's Lament", a Sach solo, pays tribute to the Fat Boys, and sees Ill Pages waxing poetic over a smooth, jazzy instrumental (originally crafted by Pete Rock?). "Biopic", as its name suggests, is a tale of their respective pasts, specifically about falling in love with hip-hop, over a very dope, cinematic production. "Livin Large" pays homage to Ed O.G.'s "I Got to Have It", and is a tale of a financial come up, courtesy of Inoe. "Bass for N.S." flips an Isaac Hayes jawn also utilized by D.O.C., Spice-1 and, probably my favourite, X-Raided, and proves that classic breaks never get old, especially when re-done by artists with unorthodox flows, such as our hosts. "N.S. on the Blow Up" takes a Roy Ayers break used by Smif-n-Wessun and RBX, but the tribute here is clearly being paid to Chi Ali, even going as far as to include a vocal snippet from the original track. The record closes out with probably the most familiar break, a remake of "Nobody Beats the Biz", and a "killer verse" from Inoe: "Rollin' blunts in front of the church/ immersed in the smoke/ take another toke/ I'm a demon to deacons/ my tribe walks the perimeter late at night/ we're hungry coyotes, chewin' through rapper's arms/ gnawin' on the bone/ bloody microphones." Sach closes out the proceedings with a verse from his Seven Days to Engineer project, coming full circle.

    When it comes to Name Science, I don't need to convince you to pick this up. Their name is a brand you can always trust, and any time they release a new project you are guaranteed quality, lyrical complexity and innovation, even in this case when the source material is very familiar. Rewrite takes you back to a time when you would blind buy an album just based on the artist, without feeling the need to check out a few songs first, and appropriately enough, that's exactly the way it is with Name Science in 2015. You can cop the digital version on bandcamp, and the digital and CD versions are both available on namescience.biz. Don't sleep!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Prince Bell of Fresh Air: An Interview with Joe Dub

Talksicology 101

    After debuting with his Average Joe tape in '95, Joe Dub went on to launch a hugely prolific career, releasing projects as part of S.F.S.M., Full Time Artists, Record Players, Rockstar Industries, Painkillers, Lovebomb Soundclash and more, as well as several solo projects, cementing his position as a west coast O.G. and holding at least one 4-track classic under his belt, the fantastic Noise Pollution. In recent years, Joe's focus has shifted mainly to production, having most recently handled sole production duties on projects by Ellay Khule and Gel Roc. With a new solo album on the horizon, and several side projects in the works, Joe took some time to chop it up with me about his past, present and future.

What was your earliest experience with hip-hop and what inspired you to start rapping yourself?

    When I was probably about seven or eight years old - the neighbourhood I grew up in, in San Francisco, there was this rec center - and one of the adults who worked there was hella into hip-hop. This was '82, '83. He was always just bumping tapes and I can remember one day being in the office with him and some of my friends and he busted out a turntable and started scratching. Back then there wasn't slipmats. He was using a paper plate instead of a slipmat. He kinda showed us how to scratch and shit, simple-ass cuts, you know, nothing fancy. That was kinda my first real introduction to all that shit. Then one of my buddies, Jason, his older brother Mike, in about '85, '86, his parents got him two turntables and a Realistic Radio Shack mixer and just started buying him records. And he was getting doubles of everything. You know, "P.S.K.", "Gucci Time", "The Breaks". So, you know, we were just learning how to juggle. It was hella funny. Just these eleven year old kids matching up beats and shit. And then later in '86, probably in December, another friend in my neighbourhood, this kid named Tom, he got a Casio synthesizer, one of the small ones, like 36 keys or something, but it had a sampler on it. But you had to sample through the microphone basically. So you had to play something out of the speaker and sample it through the built in mic. So we made like a 90 minute tape of us rapping and shit. It's really fuckin' horrible. My boy Tom is a dope-ass rapper on there. I sucked. I couldn't rap on beat, nothin'. But it was original raps, jacked some beats, made some original beats. You know that thing, you'd call P-O-P-C-O-R-N on the phone, like you know the alphabet on your phone? It was like 7-6-7-something, and you'd call and it'd give you the time. "At the sound of the tone, it will be 7:21 and fifteen seconds." There was this other one you called but it just had this loud shriek, like some Bomb Squad/Public Enemy shit and we sampled that. It's funny, I still have that tape. 

   We called ourselves the T.P. Boys which sounds hella stupid but the neighbourhood we gew up in was Twin Peaks, you know? The tape was called Freak in Motion. I don't know why we called it that, two eleven year old kids. That was my first shit. Then in San Francisco at the time, I was going to public schools with kids from H.P. and Fillmore and Lakeview, so there was already in elementary school kids bumping hella rap and rapping, so it was already all over the place. So by the time I got to middle school, then you started meeting fools from all over the place, and fools are battling. That's when I first started battling fools. Then high school became more serious, you know, doing real shows, not just talent shows. And that's where I met all the dudes I ended up fuckin' with, the Street Music dudes, Alex, all those dudes. And I have a lot of influences. I have hella influences from back then, still to this day [laughs] I listen to all that stuff from that era and feel blown away.

Yeah, I've heard you pay homage to guys like Rakim and Just-Ice in your lyrics, and I've read you say how much you love the Back to the Old School album and Mantronix in general. Is that some of the first stuff you really got into?

   Yeah, see, I'm the youngest of five - I have two sisters and two brothers - and one of my older brothers' best friends was a DJ. They were probably about five, six years older than me, about sixteen, seventeen. Eric, who was the DJ, he'd drive us around, to the movie theater or whatever and he was always bumping shit, like U.T.F.O. That's the first time I heard Mantronix, in his car. But yeah, Mantronix is the shit that changed my fuckin' life, man, 'cause it was so futuristic. Like, the splicing and they used the roll button on the Roland. I had never heard anything like that. It was just such a different sound than "Rock Box" and Kurtis Blow. It was a different sound from Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel and them. It was like, "Oh shit! What the fuck is this?" No disrespect to anybody, people talk about Dilla, and no hate towards Dilla whatsoever, but Mantronix is the most influential producer in hip-hop to this day. He's the only producer who's had a hand in every generation. Mannie Fresh admits that shit, that there'd be no Mannie Fresh without Mantronix. And you can hear it. Then there was the glitch shit for a while, the EDM, what the Low End Theory kids are doing. All that shit derives from Mantronix, all these years later. Mantronix blew my fuckin' mind, man! That's probably where I first got interest to make beats. T La Rock, "Back to Burn", Lyrical King, Just-Ice, Back to the Old School, all those Mantronix records are fuckin' stupid, man. Some of the best fuckin' productions, to this day. You could put it up against anything today and that shit'll still knock.



A lot of your production has a strong 80s vibe. Would you say that all goes back to Mantronix and that's you paying tribute to that? Do you think it's nostalgia or do you think there's something inherently great about that era that makes it better than what came later?

   I mean, it's not necessarily that it's better. I mean, there's good shit from every era. But I think with that sound, the 80s sound, it was just so much more forward thinking back then. I'm not saying fools now aren't, but you hear that stuff and, yeah, it was rough around the edges and there was stuff they hadn't quite figured out yet, but all that shit is all still being applied now. Fools are still using the same drum machines and trying to make these spliced sounds, which goes back to Mantronix and the Bomb Squad. Not many people really sound, to me, like they're going out and doing some new shit. I like Slow Motion Soundz, the guys who produced G-Side. They're some cats out of Alabama. That's some current shit I really do like. But yeah, I think my beats sounds like that because my golden era - if you want to call it that - goes back to that time. So my beats are inspired by that, but at the same time, I grew up in a house with seven people and everybody had different taste in music. I listen to jazz from the 50s onward, R&B, reggae, modern rock, metal, classic rock. So it comes from everywhere. When I sample, it's coming from my personal record collection. It's shit I buy to listen to. I listen to my records. I don't just buy them to sample them. And there's a lot of different directions I'm going in. But that era definitely plays into my production and rhymes as well. There's a lot of more recent influence on my rhymes as well though.



You mentioned that you went to school with Chaz and Corey, and Alex, who has obviously been your main collaborator over the years. Can you talk a bit more about how you started making music with those guys and the whole S.F.S.M. era?

    Shit, I went to six or seven different high schools, but I was lucky because I got to go all over the city and meet a bunch of different people. Freshman year, I went to Washington, which was a high school where Charlie and Jesse from Street Music both went. A lot of Frisco rappers from that era went there. I went there one year but didn't really click with any of those dudes at the time. Sophomore year, I went to Sacred Heart, which was a Catholic school, and that's where I met Alex and we hit it off from the jump 'cause we were into the same shit, 3rd Bass, P.E., BDP. And at this school, there was a lot of racist-ass people, you know? We kicked it naturally but we automatically got bunched in. We got called hella names. It was some bullshit. It was a fucked up-ass school. The good thing about it was I met that fool. Anyway, I ended up getting kicked outta that school and ended up at McAteer. A lot of rappers went to that school too. About '92, '93 a buddy of mine started kicking it with Jesse from Street Music and was like, "Yo, you should kick it with this dude. He's a dope-ass rapper." So we connected, hit it off, and formed a crew called Who Cares? which was me and Jesse doing all the beats and our homeboy Henry was the DJ. We probably did three or four albums, like 60 minute tapes, all original stuff. We'd sell it for $5 to homies. We did that for a minute, then Charlie and Corey were homies of Jesse's so we all started kickin' it. We all had the same equipment. We all rapped. Charlie and Corey did Word of Mouth. We were doing so many songs together so we thought, "Fuck it." It was their shit first but we all started kickin' it. We started doing shows together. Everybody knew everybody from high school, but I didn't really know them until I started kickin' it was Jesse.

So were your appearances on Defiant Ones the first thing that really got officially released?

   Ummm, nah, let's see. Me and Jesse did a few songs on various local comps in S.F. There was a compilation from the local Zulu Nation chapter. Like some voting shit, you know? "Vote no on Prop This." Just some shit to get the younger crowd involved in the political process. So we had songs on stuff like that, under the name Who Cares? I guess later in 2006-7-8, there was a group in Reno who called themselves Who Cares? which is whatever. But we never really released anything under that name. We just did some shows in Frisco. If you really look online you might be able to find some of those songs. But probably my first release was Average Joe, which was my first solo tape. I think we did the song that was on Defiant Ones before Average Joe but I think it came out after.




I know about Average Joe 2000, Man or Myth, but you had another album with that title before that?

   Yeah, this was probably, technically, my first release with Street Music. It was a solo tape I did. Beats were by me and Alex, predominantly Alex. Charlie had some beats on there. Big Shawn from Bored Stiff had some beats on there. It was solo but it was put out by Street Music. You know, me and Charlie made all the covers and copied 'em at Kinko's. We cut, pasted, glued them. The quote-on-quote label for it was San Francisco Street Music. So that was the first one, then after that, I believe was when we released The Pride, which I think was the first Street Music album I was on.


You told me a while back that Noise Pollution was recorded all over the place, but can you go into that a bit more, recording that album?

    Well, around the time I did Noise Pollution, that was after Street Music. We had already done From There to Here, which was the last Street Music album from back then. I was trying to branch off and fools were just doing shows in the local, surrounding area. I was lucky enough to meet Tommy V, who was living in the city. He's from L.A., so there was this automatic connection with L.A. Fools from L.A. were coming up to Frisco, AWOL, EX2, the Shifters, all those guys, to kick it with Tommy. So I made this connection. So, for me, it became less about blowing up in S.F. I was like, "Well, fuck this. I'm gonna spread out and let fools hear my shit in L.A." I stayed with Neila for a bit in Phoenix and was going to L.A. a lot and I just had a 4-track in my backpack at all times. That was the time everybody was hungry like, "Oh, you have a hotel? Let's go record. Let's go to this fool's house and record." I had a janky-ass mic with probably about fifteen to twenty tapes full of beats from Alex, Tommy, whoever. Whoever was there was on the song. We were in L.A. a lot. We went to some B-Boy Summits. We stayed with Ab and Fat Jack. That's where that song ("Life and Trials of an M.C.") came from. It's funny, P.E.A.C.E. was there playing video games. He was supposed to do the hook but he just ended up not doing it for whatever reason. And there was some sideways beef with Anticon 'cause Sole was there and he was mad. He wanted to get on the song but he had left the house and it was like, "You weren't there so you're not on the song." But that's another story [laughs]. And that's something I really picked up from Tommy V. We'd go from house to house to record and he was the first dude I saw just duffel baggin' it with a little mini studio in his bag, travelling all over, doing that shit. That album was really inspired by Tommy V, the way he lived and shit, like nomadic, collecting memories along the way. That's kinda what Noise Pollution was. Collecting songs with all those dudes I was kickin' it with, Brandon and all the Super Market dudes, all the Shifters, Rich from M.S.C., all those dudes, all the people who pop up on that album. It was basically like a camera. The 4-track was how we captured the moments and memories, you know? It's funny, I just recently bought a 4-track and I plan on doing that shit again at some point, bring it with me wherever I travel.



You mentioned M.S.C. and there's a song on Noise Pollution where you go, "S.F.S.M. and M.S.C." What was M.S.C.?

     Are you at all familiar with this label from Memphis called Memphix? This one cat, Chad, he used to go by Chase One - now he goes by Jones - he was part of B-Boy Kingdom but in Memphis. He became friends with J-Smoov, and did distribution and stuff for them out in Memphis. But he didn't rap. He just DJ'd and collected records. And he had a bunch of homies out in Memphis that did a tape called M.S.C. which stands for Multiple Styles Combined. Most notably - Rich is on Noise Pollution - but this dude who used to roll with Anticon, Mr. Skurge, Rich, Illogical - he passed away recently - and this dude Luke, the Red Eyed Jedi. It's a six, seven song cassette EP with a dope-ass cover. It was really dope.

On Man or Myth you talk about it being a sort of prelude to a full length called White Gangster. Was that ever actually released?

    Most of the songs pretty much were on that. It was supposed to be bigger than it was. It was sort of a joke made up over a weekend. Gino - Subtitle - was up with me that weekend. That's why there's the "Mr. Giovanni Speaks". We were just joking but we were banging out hella music. I did Klondike, Chocolate T, all that stuff I was telling you about. White Gangster was just that, just joking around. But then I realized, "Nah, I can't put out an album called White Gangster" and I just called it Man or Myth instead and released it as Average Joe 2000. So I just changed the title and made it that instead.

How did you hook up with AntiMC and end up recording Rossi Nights and Malibu Mornings?

   Yeah, that was hella funny. Again, I was at a B-Boy Summit in L.A. - at U.C.L.A., I think - just handing tapes out and me and P-Minus were there with Omid. He was there selling the wax of Beneath the Surface. So Omid introduced us and we traded tapes. I probably gave him a Street Music tape and he gave me Instrumentals At Work, I believe. I listened to it, thought it was dope, but didn't really think anything about it. Then one year later, 2000, '99, something like that, I got a call from P-Minus saying, "Radio and AntiMC are trying to get ahold of you." And I was like, "Ok" [laughs]. And I didn't really know Kamal. I knew all the Shifters but I didn't really know Radio yet. So I called them up. They were in the city and wanted to get together, but for whatever reason, the powers that be, I couldn't make it out there to hook up with them. Then later, me Deeskee, Maleko and somebody else, we rolled down to L.A. to some event Rob One, R.I.P., was DJing at. So we go down, meet Rob at the house, roll with him to the club where he's DJing. So he's DJing at this club and Subtitle comes in and I had never met Gino. And Gino just comes up, "Joe Dub, what's up?" I'm like, "What's up?" [laughs] He's like, "I'm Subtitle," so I'm like, "Oh! Ok." I had heard of him but never met him. So we're kickin' it the whole night and he's like, "Yo, we need to put you in Workforce." Through Gino, I met Ant, Ant being AntiMC. So I come to find out the reason they were trying to hook up with with me in the Bay was to record and see if I wanted to be in Workforce. Me and Matt ended up becoming real tight. We made a couple dope little projects, Rossi Nights, then the second one was supposed to be called Beautiful People but it ended up being that Unreleased EP.



You already pretty much explained how you guys came together, but could you talk about why there's only one real Workforce song with you guys as a group and why that didn't become more than it was?


   [laughs] Well, technically there's two songs. One of the songs is only me rapping though. Everybody from Workforce is on the song "Pillow Talk" from Rossi Nights. Everybody is singing on that song. We did it on purpose, like, "Dude, fuck this!" We didn't want everybody rapping on one song. What's the only song? "Louder, Damn It"?

Yeah, "Louder, Damn It."

   Yeah, there were too many egos. When it was explained to me it was supposed to be sort of like Hiero or Living Legends, like a collection of people that are all part of this group but they do their own thing. We kicked it so much and did so many shows. It sort of became this control thing for fools. Everybody was trying to do different shit. Me and Matt were on the same page. "Let's go out, get drunk, hollar at broads, make music." Xinxo was doing more rock shit. Everybody was doing different shit so it didn't make sense to do group shit, you know? I mean, we performed so fucking much. We did songs. We performed songs, but it was nothing that ever came out. We actually did more songs then that. There's got to be like eight or ten Workforce songs somewhere on someone's machine or a tape. Then there's a bunch of hybrid things, like The Citadel, which was me, Chip (Megabusive), Gino, Pablo (Liferexall), Tommy V might've been there. And we're just all chopping super hard. And this is back when fools used to diss me 'cause I didn't chop [laughs]. So Gino just looked at me, like, "Damn, fool! I didn't know you could do that." But people wanted to go in different directions and do different things. We did good shows though!



It's interesting because if you go on discogs.com and you put in Westcoast Workforce, what comes up is your beat tape, Back to Baysicks, which was released under that name. Was that you just putting it under that name as an umbrella, as a collective, or were those beats intended for the Workforce?

    No, you see, Average Joe was my first solo but I probably did 100 of those and sold them around San Francisco. P-Minus maybe sold like 10 of them [laughs]. So Noise Pollution is my first real solo project. So for some reason, I didn't think fools would know who I was so on the original tape it doesn't even say Young Joseph on the front cover. It just says S.F.S.M. real big. With the beat tape, it was kinda like that. I just put it out under Westcoast Workforce. They weren't beats for anybody to rap on. I just made those beats in like two days.

You've always specialized in really heartfelt, honest lyrics, sometimes even brutally honest, like on Pooretry, where you talk about getting older and feeling bitter. Did you set out to make that kind of content or is that just what comes out naturally when you write?

    It's just natural. Moreso now, I plan more, try to do concepts. That was never my shit though. I'd come up with a hook maybe, then just go. My first lines would always stick to the concept, then by the fourth or fifth bar I'd be, "Writin' raps on a brown bag." [laughs] I'd be back to that shit, like, "Alright, fuck it." I mean, that's just my shit. That's who I am. That's what I do. That's my contribution, my angle. But on some unreleased shit, like the Contra Band record, there's more concepts on that. There's topics and all that. But my shit, it's internal, it's personal, because that's what I know. I'm not gonna rap street stories because I don't know that life. I'm not gonna rap about ballin' and having cars because I have enough to keep me satisfied and I'm happy. I have my records and my equipment and I'm happy. Maybe some people think it's boring, but I don't make it for everybody.


Well, personally, I think that's what's great about your music. So many artists try to do everything. They want to experiment and be this and that instead of sticking with what they do well. You've always stuck to what you're good at and I don't think it's boring because you've refined your formula and sharpened your blade. Like with Talksicology, I think that's some of the best stuff you've done. It's really polished and you can really see that sound you started off doing take a fuller shape. That's what makes your music great, I think.

    Man, thank you. Dude, honestly, I agree with you [laughs]. I listen to the first shit I did, old shit from '86 with my boy Tom and obviously it's so different. Just going up the ladder, it sounds so much better to me. Fools always want me to do another Noise Pollution. I mean, I'm 40 now. That was a different person. That's one of the reasons I keep rapping. I feel like I can get better. You listen to a lot of people and you think, "Man, he was dope 20 years ago but his new shit sucks!" Naturally, don't you think over time you'd get better? If you're doing a trade, like if you're a locksmith, you'd be a better locksmith after 20 years, right?

That's the weird thing about hip-hop. Usually an artist's first two, three albums are their best then you just see this decline. I've never understood that either, why you wouldn't get better.

   Yeah, I talk to a lot of fools about this. I think either fools are trying to conform, trying to stay relevant, which, fuck being relevant. Just be you! That's the most relevant shit of all. Or they get caught in a zone. I mean, I have my niche but I'd like to think I've evolved and expanded, while some fools just stay, "I have to keep sounding like that." I'm glad you say that though because I listen to my new shit, and it's not on some arrogant shit, but I feel it's best shit I've done. Like you said, Talksicology, I thought was my best shit. Like, "I figured it out!" Fools want me to do another Noise Pollution or Summer Fling. That's not me anymore.


On Pooretry you mention right at the beginning that it was supposed to be called Alive in '75 but you changed the title. Later that same year, you did drop a project with that title, Live in '75 with Factor. Can you talk about how that project came about?

   Yeah, the Live in '75 thing, I'm very particular about titles. I can't use a title if someone else used it. The homie Alex or Noel (Deeskee) will diss me about that, like, "Who fuckin' cares if someone used it?" So I was gonna use that title - I had it for hella long - then I saw some group, maybe The Beatles or someone, had a live album called Alive in '75. So I was like, "Fuck, I can't use that." So my title was Alive in '75 and the album with Factor ended up being Live in '75. But Akuma, and then later Mattre, they did this festival in Saskatoon, Canada called Summer Fling. And I laughed when they told me, but they're like, "No, dude. They named it after your album!" So I was like, "Shit! Well, I gotta go perform there then." So I hit up Rove, a graff writer from Saskatoon who started Summer Fling. I was out here in Hawaii. I flew to L.A. and was with Deeskee, recording with Khule. It was cheaper to get flown from L.A. to Saskatoon. And at that time, Graham, Factor, was in L.A. so he said, "When you're in Canada, stay at my pad." So I went there, we did a little tour, a couple little shows and that was kinda it. I recorded my verses for Famous Nights, the posse cut, maybe "So Fresh". Then I left, went back to Hawaii. It might've been for Graham's release party actually. But anyway, the next year, we did it again and Graham booked a tour, and so about two months before that, Graham said, "Let's do an album to sell on tour." So we banged it out hella quick. I recorded it here at my homie Danny's house. When I showed up there, the CDs came. We just wanted merch to sell and shit to perform. So we just did it. I think, personally, that shows, which isn't necessarily good or bad. It was some of my most rushed work. I don't really like that album. I think we rushed too much. There's some good shit on there too, but...

Well, that's interesting because I was gonna say, you've always had a straight forward, no gimmicks, no bullshit kinda flow, but on that album you were kinda chopping on there, there were some more multis than usual. I thought maybe you had stepped it up because you didn't have to worry about the production so you could focus on the rhymes.

   I think that's just coincidence. I think that was just a time I finally felt, "Fuck this!" For years, I kicked it with so many fools from L.A. and fools I hung with in San Francisco would chop and get called biters. So many fools who chop get called biters. I did it on The Citadel with Gino, but I think I just felt, "Fuck it. I'm gonna do that shit." On the Contra Band album, there's a bunch of songs where I'm hella chopping on there. I think the song with Khule I do a little bit but I think that was just, "Ok, me and Khule on the album, I'm gonna do this for Khule and shit."


So what was behind the decision to not release Contra Band? And I just wanna say real quick that I really liked that Devin the Dude song. That shit was awesome.

   Well, dude, funny story with that, Alex used to work at a pressing spot in San Francisco. So he did some records for Bushwick Bill [laughs]. He did a project for Bushwick Bill, a 12". And through the phone conversations, all the talking, working out the deal, they built up a little bit of a friendship. Bushwick was like, "Dude, we're gonna do a new Geto Boys album! Send us some beats!" That never happened, but they were tight. So Alex was like, "You wanna do a song with Bushwick?" I was like, "Fuck yeah, I wanna do a song with Bushwick!" So Bushwick was like, "Yeah, man, I got you. Don't trip! It's nothing." But we just kinda slept on it for too long - I don't know why - but Bushwick's number got turned off. I mean, we could've probably got in touch with him somehow but we just didn't. So one of Alex's homies in Oakland is a manager for Devin. So Alex felt bad we didn't do the Bushwick thing, so he's like, "Let's do a song with Devin." And no disrespect to Bushwick, but I was way more pumped to do a song with Devin. So his manager hooked it up and it was dope because I worked directly with him, not in the studio but over the phone. I was like, "I don't want a song about weed or bitches" [laughs]. I love Devin, but he always raps about weed and bitches [laughs]. So we did the concept, "Electronic World." And I'm not saying he always raps about weed and bitches, but when he does songs for other people, it's always about that. And the Pro Tool sessions for that are stupid! Are you familiar with the album where he does the Zeldar voice? "I am Zeldar from the planet Beldar." I wanted him to do that shit. He didn't want to do it because he didn't have the specific vocal effect. But he did it on the outtakes. And he did that thing where he does the scratching with his mouth and shit, like "E-e-e-ele-electronic." That album though, it was one of those things where I was sick of working with ten thousand people on beats and shit. And I just wanted to do something with just Alex producing the whole thing. So that's what that was. There was a lot of fuckin' cameos which I fuckin' hate. That's one of the reasons I'm not putting it out. Even though I've done a thousand posse cuts, I'm just over that.

Yeah, I think when it's one person you're more able to craft a song then just passing the mic back and forth.

    Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean. I've sat on the album for so long, I just can't put it out. The one thing that gives this project hope to come out is that we got Pedro Bell to do the cover art. He did a lot of the Funkadelic and Parliament artwork. One day I got a copy of George Clinton, Computer Games and I was just looking at the cover and thought, "I wonder how hard it would be to get Pedro Bell to do some artwork." So I got ahold of him and he was like, "Yeah, I'll do it" [laughs]. So that's the one thing that makes me wanna put it out.

You've produced projects for people like Neila and Maleko but my favourite is probably your project with Ellay Khule. Can you talk about how that came about and what it was like working with Khule?

    Yeah, man! Me and Khule have this mutual homie, Travis. At the time he was more of a journalist, writer. Now he's more into photography. I'm not sure how he knows Khule but he and I met through mutual friends as well. And he would always just throw names at me, like, "You should do something with this fool!" And I dunno if you know this guy, this G fool from Memphis, Tommy Wright III?

Yeah, man! I'm a huge fan of Tommy Wright!

    Yeah, Tommy Wright's the shit! So he was like, "You should do a song with Tommy Wright" and I was like, "Fuck yeah, I'd do a song with Tommy Wright!" And it never materialized. It still could happen, I guess. But he was the one who said, "You should fuck with Khule." And I didn't know Khule. I mean, I knew his music very well, but I never met him. So I sent him some beats and next thing you know, we have four or five songs, so we thought, "Well, let's just do a project." So I went to L.A. and stayed with Deeskee and we just recorded there. And we became homies, man. I consider him a brother, dude. He's done a lot of favours for me. He's bent over backwards many times. And we did a second album, probably seven, eight years ago. It's called That Was Then, This is Now. It's a thousand times better than the first one.



Aw, man! Don't tell me that!

    [laughs] The beats are way better. We got some really cool guests: Big Arch, CR, Eligh. It's a dope-ass album. It's probably one of my favourite projects I've ever produced. I really like it. It's straight Khule. Khule's doing Khule, you know? I don't know why it didn't come out. I think some of it's lost. Like, maybe he recorded at Deeskee's and Deeskee's hard drive crashed. A lot of little shit like that that monkey wrenched it. But man, maybe I'll talk to Khule about it. I just sent him a beat the other day. He just works real fast. We both like Mantronix, that whole era. That was our whole building block. The first time I met Khule, he was grilling me. Who's your favourite emcee, who's your favourite this? And we were into the same shit. He was like, "Oh, yeah! That's the motherfucker." Like the album Lethal by U.T.F.O. But no one talks about it. But we connected on a lot of 80s shit.

So we talked about Subtitle a bit. I have a vague memory of him saying you came up with the word crev. Is that true?

    Ummm, yeah, but the thing is, I probably introduced him to it but I didn't come up with it. A lot of people were saying it but really it was E-40. But when E-40 talked about crev he was talking about pussy, by the way. But we'd always have words, me, AntiMC, Sub, Pablo, we'd just say shit. "I was chillin' all in the crev" and certain words took off. If he said that, I didn't know, but maybe I brought that to him.




In the past seven, eight years, the only things I've really heard from you are Talksicology and the project you produced for Gel. Am I missing some low-key projects or is that pretty much it in recent years?

   I probably had some beats here or there. I did some beats for Aamir and Xczircles (The Escape Artists) but after the whole thing with Praise Dirt (the unreleased Contra Band project), I just felt hella discouraged. As a side note, Praise Dirt was meant as a celebratory reference to us as artists and where we reside in the grand scheme of the music industry. If you rearrange the letters, it spells Rap is Tired, meaning we felt a lot of rappers were lazy which was causing a lack of evolution and advancement. But anyway, I didn't want to put out any music. The last three or four years, I just have changed philosophies musically and now I'm just honing and refining what I'm doing. I'm doing some more percussion based shit. I'm actually working on a new album, I just don't know how it's going to end and what it's going to be when it's all said and done.



Can you talk about your upcoming project with Doug Shorts?

    Oh, yeah, man! That's the one. We have a 45 coming out. My boy Chase from M.S.C. had this idea of starting a label. At the time we were gonna call it Pink Champagne. Me and Alex have been doing R&B stuff for years. Alex has always had Moogs and Linn Drums and makes these 80s-ass beats. So we've been wanting to get some actual singers. We reached out to a bunch of singers but we got in touch with Doug and I sent him some stuff and he was feeling it, so we've got a nice working relationship. It's me and Alex, all live, and Doug's doing the vocals. It's a 45 right now but we're aiming for a year from now doing a full length. Maybe eight to ten songs. An old school type album, 30 minute album. That's the Doug project and that's kinda been the labour for me and Alex lately. I'm between Hawaii and S.F. so when I'm there, I'm hangin' with Alex and we're doing songs for Doug. The 45 should be sometime in the early part of 2016. The new label isn't Pink Champagne anymore [laughs] but there's that and then my solo project, which is just me rapping, me on the beats. I might have some singing on there, but it's all straight beats and loops. Pretty much everything I'm doing now, going forward, is not gonna be under the name Joe Dub. It's gonna be under Mianmein Ensemble/MeandMine Onsomebull. Mian means face in Cantonese, I think, and mien means mine in German. And Ensemble is sometimes spelled Onsomebull. Moving forward, it's all gonna be under the name Mianmein Onsomebull.