Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ask Mass: Episode 1

Massive Weighs In

    I'm very happy to present the first part in what I hope will become an ongoing feature, where listeners and music fans, as well as aspiring artists, can ask questions of L.A. veteran Massdog. The first four questions in this first episode of Ask Mass were submitted by friend of Bring That Beat Back, Erik, from Hungary (with a few follow ups by me). The final question is my own, based on a topic suggested by Massive.

1. Which artist(s) was/were the first you worked with and who did you enjoy working with the most?

    See, it depends on if you mean signed or unsigned because, to me, artists start all the way at the bottom. The first artist I ever met was a cat named RaBB, but if I just go on talent, my first artist was my grandmother because she could play the keyboard and she was the first person to ever record anything in front of me, and the first person to take me to a music store, so I consider her an artist. The first signed artist would probably be Volume 10.

And who did you enjoy working with the most, in terms of chemistry?

    Ooh, wow! That's a good question! You know what? I had a good chemistry with [Rappin] 4 Tay for a minute. He seemed like the easiest one to work with when you got his focus. Other than that, probably the easiest person to work with - effortless - was Roger Troutman from Zapp. When he came through, man, he didn't need me to do anything but just plug stuff up and he went through there effortless, doing his thing. I worked with him as an engineer. He dropped his parts and I chopped them into the beat. He used a Roland VS-880.

2. Rumour has it that you have an album from 1992 (Back to the Under Ground) but it is impossible to purchase. Could you tell us a bit more about this story?

    That cassette was printed back when Disk Makers, CD Baby, were the ones who had the bargains, so when I first got that cassette done it was at a really low, low bargain price. So I was only getting a few hundred printed up at a time and those went to just about everybody I could, you know, a lot of record labels. So the only way to get a copy of that back would be to get at the pressing company to see if they still have master copies from back then. Sometimes you can do reorders but I dunno how long they keep those.

Wow, so you don't even have a copy?

    Nah, in fact, when I moved, I had to leave a lot of stuff in storage that I just couldn't take with me, not having anybody to leave stuff with. It wasn't like everybody had storage. A lot of people were just living in apartments, like I was.


The earliest track that I've heard from you is "Fuck All My Enemies" from 1994. Is that the same type of vibe Back to the Under Ground was on?

    Yeah, you know what? That was a very fun track. At the time, I really wanted to do a solid song and I hadn't done one, and I was probably in the midst of a lot of people that were just, like, clownin' and laughin'. You know, it's your friends but they don't take you serious until you do something. So I had to do something to let 'em know I was serious. So that's how that came out. And, really, that was my first effort at doing it all completely myself.

3. Lil Juggsta is often featured on your albums and I think he's a dope MC. His track "NigguzN Blak" on the Project Blowed tape is a great track as well. Does he have other unreleased stuff in the vaults or music that you produced for him? Was he actually a member of Massmen too or simply your long-time homie?

    Man, Jug had a whole album that DJ Slip did for him. I also had an album that he and I did 'cause we had a group together and a lot of it was on CD. I have a couple of CDs now, man, but they've been roughed up so it's hard to get any quality off of them. The only other thing was, I had some DATs but as they get older, they start to wear out, get oxidized and get stuck. They might be in storage in L.A. but I seriously doubt it 'cause I haven't been able to get to it. Jug was part of Massmen and DJ Slip's X-Factor camp.

4. Being an independent artist requires a lot of effort and perseverance. What were your inspirations during the "hard times" to not give up and struggle further?

    Well, to be honest, the few handful of record sales I had went to Japan. Wasn't nobody buying my records, man. I was only getting sales in Japan. It was those few people who were buying my records in Japan. If they were spending their money, I deserved to put out an album. And then Dutch and Fat Jack and R.E.A.L., those brothers, all of them together were the little pool of artists who were still around when things were getting really dark. Those brothers kinda kept me motivated. There were still a lot of labels that were rising at the time, but they were rough labels, you know what I'm sayin'? A lot of good music came out of there but a lot of problems too. But those are the brothers that kept me alive.

5. You suggested communication between an artist and their team as a topic to discuss. Do you think in 2015, when a single person can do the job of twenty people, twenty years ago, do you think it's still important for an artist who wants to be successful to have a team, and what do you think are the disadvantages for a person who chooses to do it all themselves?

    I still think the team concept is important. There are some people who can multitask and do all the jobs. And if you can focus that well and know how much of each thing you need and can survive within that, by all means, do it. But the benefits of having a team is having people that have a different perspective, or a different view, on the issues, other than your own perspective, to give you something to think about and reflect upon. Because sometimes I may not see it the way another person sees it, or they may not see it the way I see it. So without an opportunity to at least examine their point of view, you might be losing out on an opportunity to better your own situation.

Thanks to Erik for helping to make this feature a reality and coming up with such great questions. I hope others will get involved in the future so we can keep this going. Please feel free to leave further questions in the comments. If you have any questions regarding production tips, information about the music industry, or just general inquiries, those are welcome as well!

5 comments:

  1. Hey, 1st of all, than u for this interview..
    i have a question..
    'Lil Juggsta is often featured on your albums and I think he's a dope MC. His track "NigguzN Blak" on the Project Blowed tape is a great track as well'
    which project blowed tape you mean ???

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed the interview. If you have any questions for Massive please feel free to submit them in the comments or shoot me an email at ogalexela@gmail.com.

      Regarding your question, Lil Juggsta appeared on an early version of the Project Blowed tape but his track was removed for the final version on Grand Royal.

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    2. My bad bro it was on the original not the re realise

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    3. They often make albums and we released them pulling up artist off sometimes that are not in their main circle of MCs. Job was a serious him see what he was pretty lights also street cat.

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