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 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.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview!! It's always nice to hear that Joe is working on new music, dude is one of the most slept on and under appreciated artists out there.