Thursday, July 7, 2016

Global Phlowtatin': An Interview with Nairb Jones

Irb Jankinz

     Following my interviews with Zagu Brown, Sach and Inoe Oner, I had the opportunity to chop it up with another GPAC alumni, Nairb Jones aka Irb Jankinz. Not only did he come up with the name Global Phlowtations Artist Committee, as well as drop the incredibly dope and very slept on The Herb Session, he has never been afraid to explore outside the box, having over the years produced for singers as well as worked with more street oriented rappers. In this in depth interview, Nairb breaks down his early experiences as an artist, the GPAC era, his more recent work under the moniker Irb Jankinz, as well as his opinions on the state of hip-hop in 2016.

Can you talk about your earliest experiences with hip-hop and some of your inspirations in those early days?

    My dad was in a group with Rudy Copeland, so I was always around music. Playing the alto saxophone, the trumpet, drums, coming up, music was always in my house. From singing to rapping to break dancing, all that. This was a long time ago. I was little, pop locking on my street. You know, the music has always been there, the dancing, the whole culture. I was always good at it. Not to toot my own horn but I was always good at it. One of my boys, Mike, he had turntables and shoot, we would just bring the speakers out to his driveway with the cardboard, and just go at it, you know? This was in the 80s, you know what I'm saying? This is when I lived in Pamona. Hip-hop was always there. Dancing to Club Nuveau, to "Pee Wee Dance," it goes back to then. You know, it never went nowhere.

    Coming up from there, I came back to Inglewood and I was dancing with a group called Rainbow Tribe. This was before the whole so-called gay thing with rainbow colours and whatnot. But it was Universal Rainbow Tribe. We used to kill pretty much everybody on the dance floor. This was before I was even rapping. I was break dancing. I mean, I was freestyling by, like, the eighth grade, but I wasn't good. I wasn't killin' it until I met my boy A1. I knew his older brother from high school. That's Ezam from 2000 Crowz.

    So me and A1 used to just freestyle. Everybody would get in the circles at school and we would just cut their heads off. We started this group, Natural Wonders. I knew Absolute already from dancing. My boy Cabora, he lived around the corner so we all used to just dance and then Cabora knew Absolute from Westchester High School. We'd go to his house because he had turntables. We'd be dancing in his living room, just practicin', gettin' dope. I wasn't even rapping at that time. Then I linked up with A1 and it was really A1 who took me a little further into freestyling. Him and his brother went to school with Aceyalone and them and they was cool so they were already in it, freestyling. So when me and A1 linked up, we gravitated with Absolute. At that point, we were just digging in the crates. There was this one dude named Milkbone. We would get on the bus and take our records and tell him, "Yo, we want this drum and this break." So we were kinda producing without even laying a hand on the equipment. Milkbone made some dope stuff. So we'd come back and we'd have these songs already done. We was already on our own, doing our thing. We were hungry for it, taking our lunch money and buying records, putting this music together. Still doing little bitty mom and pop shows, little performances and freestyling. Mind you, I was still dancing too though, going to the clubs. A lot of people could say, "Yeah, I remember Nairb back in the day dancing. He was a dancer first."

When I talked to Zagu he mentioned Natural Wonders and said you guys had a pretty deep archive of music. Do you have a lot of stuff in the vaults from that era?

    Well, I don't have any of that stuff. This is before I was an organized guy, because I wish I had that stuff. What happened was somebody broke into Absolute's house. I had this tub with discs with all kind of beats on there. Absolute had his discs in the regular floppy disc package. So they ended up taking his keyboard and my discs in a big case. So long story short, a few members of the camp came to me and thought I had stolen the equipment. Number one, I don't steal. I don't have to steal. Worse come to worse, I'll go to other producers, but I don't have to steal, let alone in my own camp. So it got a little grimy with that situation. Come to find out, it was somebody his big brother knew. Basically they lived in a crip neighborhood and one of the crip homies tried to sell it to one of our friends and it had our Natural Wonders sticker on the bottom. That's how they knew it was ours. So when they got back Absolute told me, "Yo, they found out Shawny Mac stole the keyboard." I'm like, "I told y'all. Y'all got at me like I really stole!" It's crazy because Ezam was the one who got at me like I stole the equipment! I'm like, "Dude! I don't steal. Straight up. I don't have to steal. I have my mom and father in my life. I wasn't raised like that. I had two grandmothers and two grandfathers and we don't get down like that. We work hard. C'mon, man! I'm not gonna steal from my people. Let alone steal at all!" So that's what happened to those recordings. I don't think I ever had them burned on any CDs or anything. Like now, I have everything from when I started being organized. I wish I would've been doing it back then because now, I have a hell of an archive. But I don't have a lot of that older stuff. I don't have much 2000 Crowz material that I wish I had. Because we did a lot of songs.

 

You mentioned Ezam was part of 2000 Crowz. Is that how you got down with them?

It sorta kinda did happen like that because Ezam, his group was Race of Spades. Chapter 12, Mood Controlla and Ezam. It was them three. That was A1's big brother. So A1 kinda put me up on Giz and Zagu. Zagu lived in West Covina at the time so I didn't really link up with him as much in the earlier days. In the beginning stages, Zagu wasn't there. It was Giz because it was Gizmo's house in the jungle. We called it 48-12. All the O.G. groups who first started the Crowz was there. Phunky Dialect, they damn near had a deal! They were writin' and doing some stuff with Adina Howard's manager. And shit, they were the only hood, underground cats sponsored by Adidas. These dudes was gettin' boxes and boxes of shit. Hats, beanies, stickers, shoes, shirts. So we a underground group but we were doing shows and we were laced, rockin' Adidas! So that's kind of how that came about, it was through A1 and through Ezam and then that kinda made the nucleus which was Phunky Dialect, Race of Spades and Natural Wonders. We were the O.G.s who started 2000 Crowz.

    With Phunky Dialect, they had a W30 keyboard. Foeteen was one of the main ones doing beats. Faxx too. All of them were putting in their input, really. But this is when we would all go to Giz' house, the 48-12. You had to be dope to be in Crowz. 'Cause we was battling each other damn near every weekend. You get in the cipher, you better be able to swim or you gonna drown. Ain't no holes barred. So we trained each other like that and we just got dope. There wasn't no club or show we did where any out of towners or even local artists - I don't care if it's Alkaholiks, Pharcyde, Rass Kass - they knew about 2000 Crowz. Xzibit used to come through there before he got big. We had a big buzz in L.A. You couldn't say nothin' to the Crowz in no disrespectful way because we'd embarrass you and call you up on stage.



You were saying you came up with the name Global Phlowtations and that it came from a rhyme you wrote. Can you talk about that, and do you remember what the rhyme was?

    You know what? I don't remember the rhyme nor do I even remember where that rhyme book is! That's how long ago it was. Being respectful to the Crowz, I left on my own, due to some stupid drama, dealing with a female. One of the Crowz, his sister was basically best friends with my girl. Some shit happened with me and her and now people are all up in my ear, and it's like, "Mind your business when it comes to my personal. Just stay out my business man." So, long story short, she moved out of my apartment and after that, there was some bad blood between me and a few of the brothers. So I said, "You know, I ain't got time for this. I'm not gonna be the divider, you know, half of you lookin' at me funny, half of you are still my boys, all over a female. I have love for my crew, but I'm not trying to be a divider. That's some girly shit." So I stepped off and since me and Zagu had linked up in the streets big, that brought us a little closer too. Going to spots, freestyling, trying to get shows, you know? Still to this day a few of those dudes I don't even talk to. I might speak my mind nowadays but back then, I just let it be what it was. Fuck it. I ain't got time for that shit.

    But the name, my book was sitting on the coffee table - this is when we first got the GPAC spot, cleaned it up - and Zagu seen it, and he was like, "What's this?" I was like, "Oh, it's just a verse I wrote." And he was like, "No, Global Phlowtations. That's dope!" After people started coming on, I put the Artist Committee on there: Adlib, Sach, Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E. - P.E.A.C.E. was really GPAC.

Really?!

Yeah, P.E.A.C.E. didn't get on no songs but he was GPAC. He was there with us all the time. Yusef Afloat. I was about to do a whole project with Yusef but we didn't get to it, may he rest in peace.

Man, that would've been incredible.

    That would've been dope as shit. I was gonna produce the whole thing. Oh, we can't forget Orah. He was a GPAC dancer. He used to dance. Kliff Right was a dancer. So all that influence, that melting pot was there. I don't think Adlib ever tried to dance. I know Zagu did. I think Kito did. My brother Rican Sun. Man, GPAC, we had it crackin' for a minute, man. My boy Samson. Ayana (Imeuswe), she was the mother of the house. We formed so quick, because after we left 2000 Crowz, they was like, "Oh, shit! They have a whole new camp, a whole new set of people." Adlib used to go to Project Blowed before he was chillin' with us and he was already kind of on the scene from Minnesota and he had an apartment and me and Zagu used to go over there, smoke, drink and we was doin' music over there too. Once me and Zagu got the spot, Adlib started coming to our spot. We stayed over at his house so it's only right we showed open arms when he came through. Now mind you, it was just a one bedroom duplex that we pimped out. If we had our female friends, for privacy, we'd go to their spot.

When I talked to Sach he was talking about GPAC headquarters and how the studio would move around the house, you guys had a lot of esoteric books. Can you talk about your memories of GPAC HQ and how that shaped the music?

    Well, that was my and Zagu's spot. Since Zagu's parents gave him the place I was like, "Go ahead. You take the bedroom." Since I always had a bad one, I'd go stay at her place. I always kept a bad one. I'm tellin' you. We had a crowd, man. We never went without. But it was nothing but art there, man. Most of us had dreads and we were cuttin' up cactus in the backyard. It was dope.
 

Can you talk about how The Herb Session came together? I'm assuming that came out after Phlowtation Devices?
   
    The Herb Sessions started before Phlowtation Devices and GPAC. It really started with the "Dippers" song (featuring Zagu and Myka 9). That energy that formed GPAC was coming from the break up and the energy that formed around it. I just kept working and The Herb Session just got done. Some of those songs, like the stuff with L.A. Zu, that was after GPAC formed.

L.A. Zu, is that Zu Tribe?

   Yeah, that's L.A. Zu, the Zu Tribe.

Were you part of that crew too?

    Yeah, I'm down with L.A. Zu too. I was producing a lot of stuff with them when I was over there too. GPAC was pretty much doing them. I was still part of GPAC but I was doing a lot of stuff with my man, Phiz Goldman. I went to Inglewood and linked up with them big time and was doing a lot of beats over there.

It was cool they were featured on the David Ruffin compilations too.
   Yeah, man, and a lot of that stuff is old material, dude. I just thought somebody would appreciate it. Why just let it sit in the garage? I'm not gonna sell it or remix it. I'm just gonna let people hear it and appreciate it how they hear it. It's not mixed and I just said, "Fuck it, man! Just let the world hear it." I had so much material, that's why there's three volumes. 

On The Herb Session, did you do all the production on there?

    Let me see... I gotta look at it again but I know Phiz Goldman did the one with me and Threat, but most of that production was mine.

I didn't catch your voice on The Nucleus album. Were you part of that project at all?

   No, see, that was probably the time period that I was dealing with L.A. Zu. Yeah, that Nucleus, I don't think I got on that.

After GPAC sort of dissolved, were you still making music because to most listeners it seemed like you just kind of disappeared?

    Oh, yeah! I did a whole Payrollers Entertainment album. I did a whole album for my little brother and my cousin, that's Young World Mixtape Vol. 1. I was working with this group Big Faces, that I started. They're kind of my family members I grew up with: my boy Killa Heez, Element, Baggz, my boy, Deli, rest in peace. I never stopped making music, to this day! To the people, they were probably looking for Nairb. See my real name is Brian which is Nairb backwards, so that's like my mirror image. They were still looking for Nairb but I changed everything to Irb Jankinz. I had to reinvent myself once again. People probably didn't know I was Irb Jankinz. I got so much material it's out of this world, and it's slammin'!

Zagu was telling me about the early Massmen days - I didn't realize he was ever part of Massmen - were you also part of Massmen?

    No, I wasn't but, oh yeah, Fat Jack did a couple tracks on The Herb Session too. It's funny because while we were recording that - I had this manager who also managed Caution, Trent Asbury, and we was in a big studio and when this stuff happened with my ex-girl, I was at Fat Jack's waitin' for her to pick me up. And he's sittin' up on the couch waitin' for me to leave and I'm like, "Where the fuck is she?" That's a long story, I don't even want to get into that but yeah, Zagu was part of Massmen. Massmen is deep! What I will say, I can't really say I'm a Project Blowed head but we was up in there enough to be respected. Much respect to Project Blowed, those are my dudes too.

You were saying you've started a production company, Irb and Ghost. Did you guys produce all that stuff on those David Ruffin compilations?

    No, actually, that's all my stuff. I don't even think Ghost got one record on there. I met Ghost when I hooked up with my Chicago cats and they had this camp called the Payrollers. And it wasn't as underground. It was more on some funk, if you will. There were dudes rapping but it was more the street side of hip-hop. Me and this one guy, Dean, we did the whole album. Reev 30 did a couple tracks on there and mixed a lot of it and it was pretty much his corporation. So we put this album out and Ghost was one of the artists that came in the group. Ronnie was the investor who helped us finance that project to get it pressed up and done professionally. So we was able to get that album out. We made t-shirts and did shows. It was different from the underground world, I'll tell you that. I'm not saying I'm not underground anymore but like I said, my dad was a singer, I sing, so the music I was making - not knocking underground or anything - but it had more of a song format, maybe a hook, maybe some singing. It was different stuff. It's just music. I don't like to put stuff in no box anyway. I just continue to make music. I wanna make some classic stuff that ten years down the line people will say, "Yo, this dude has a whole archive of dope music," even if it's not mixed.

You were saying the David Ruffin stuff was recorded over years but what kinda time span was that stuff done over? Is that all 2000s?

    Probably from 2000 to now, yeah. 



The guy who started Bring That Beat Back, who's a good friend of mine, when I told him I was interviewing you, he wanted me to ask you this: How do you feel about where hip-hop is right now, and the direction it's taken? Do you feel hip-hop is still healthy right now or is it in a bad situation?

    I wouldn't know how to label what it is right now because my perspective on hip-hop, as far as what I grew up on, is totally different than what these cats are doing right now. So these young cats are seeing it in a different way. 'Cause, see, it's culture expression, so I can't knock their expression. The way they see the culture is a whole different way than I see it. I might say, "Dude, you're doing the Running Man right now. That's the Roger Rabbit what you doing." And they'll say, you know, "No! That's the Prep!" And it's like, "Nah, that's the Roger Rabbit, dude. I can do that way tighter than you right now in 2016." And they like, "You old!" "I'm old but I'll serve you!" And they like, "Who says 'serve' anymore?" [laughs] So the culture expression is different so I can't really knock the lane. The genre that I was from I think is weakening. And the genre that they're doing, it's them. You can't really knock a 2016 Honda. You can't knock a 1994 Honda either! It was just different times. This Honda curves a little more than this one but you can't knock Honda. It's still a Honda! 

Do you think it hurts the culture when they don't know what came first? Because how can you innovate if you don't know what's already been done?

   That's what I'm sayin'! They got a whole different view on it. We was doing 808s and 909s a long time ago so for it to resurface again, it's still the same 808 and 909 high hat - we been doing that - but the subject matter has changed. They deep in the cocaine and disrespecting girls and saying they gonna shoot somebody. We was talking about that back then too but it wasn't as big. Now it's 2016, technology is crazy, everything evolves. So they look at us as the dinosaurs of hip-hop and we look at them as the new booty of hip-hop, like, "You some new cats. You wearin' those tight-ass pants? You can't do a windmill in those tight pants!" 

[laughs]

    Get the fuck outta here! You gonna bust your pants. Get outta here with that shit. But you don't see nobody break dancing no more.

Yeah, and DJing too. You don't hear scratches much anymore, which I think is pretty tragic.

    Yeah! I mean, dude, that's a formula we can't lose because that is hip-hop. I'm not gonna lie to you, I heard some record from Premier and I didn't hear much scratching from Premier. It was a west coast artist - I forget who it was - and it's funny that you say that. I could tell it was a Premier track. Like, now that you say that, I don't think Premier even scratched on that shit.

When I was talking to Born Allah he said to me, "Can you imagine if the beat box caught on like auto tune?" Which is such a good point, just thinking about where it could have gone.

     Well, see, I think hip-hop right now, the underground cats who founded this - I know I'm a factor in the underground - they better know Nairb. I know I created a whole lot of that uproar, just in the L.A. underground. We put in some work. Shit I remember Born Allah, and these cats who really laid down the pavement and I think, shit, we need to infiltrate this shit. Make some records. We don't need to bite ever but I know with our originality, we can be more creative and I know we can serve these dudes. Like now you see Joe Budden going at Drake, or Meek Mill. Meek is a spitter! He kinda infiltrated the game 'cause he was a battle rapper. He cut his hair, put a few chains on and put in a couple hooks to catch the 20th century ear. But Meek Mill is an underground emcee, a battle rap dude. But he saw what he had to do to be accepted.

    See 'cause back when, if you were a battle rapper or freestyler you had to be hard! Or you would not touch the mic. Like when the young Crowz went up to the Good Life and they said something about them and smashed on 'em? That was a classic no no. Man, we showed up about fifty deep. We didn't even go in the Good Life. We waited for that shit to be over so all them artists that came out in that damn parking lot, it was a wrap! We waited not one second until they was out. As soon as they walked out the door, we were there with the dubs up, shouting, "2000 Crowz!!"

That's one of those legendary moments that you just hear stories about.

   Man, it was legendary! There were people with cameras and blunts and all kinds of shit. You had ciphers everywhere! "What y'all talking about? Y'all speaking to artists like that?" From that point on, Project Blowed, yeah, it got Blowed alright. Like with Afterlife, something had to die, right?

[laughs]

   Them is my dudes, but someone had to die. 

So what can people expect to hear next from Irb J? You were saying you're working on a new project?

    I'm selling my house right now so my studio is all packed away but I have this project that I'm doing with my boy Ghostrider, Irb and Ghost Presents. We got an artist out of L.A., my boy Lost Soul. This project is dope! We got about twenty records and then I have an artist out here, Hitter Carter. He's from Richmond. And Lost Soul got some verses on his stuff and he got some stuff on Lost Soul's, so we're kinda meshing these projects. It's gonna be nice. Hitter also got his solo project. He got some producers, this one dude E-40 brought up. He's got 40 Keys and some of the cats out here doin' their thing. So look out for Hitter. He's a young cat. But you might have to rewind his shit three or four times. I told him, "If only you know what you talking about, it's gonna go over people's head." And he was like, "Nah, I can never dumb down my lyrics." And I have to respect that. That's your culture expression. And just talking to you makes me wanna do a whole Herb Session 2 album. Some Irb and Ghost, some of my stuff, 'cause I have a good ten solo records done, with all kinds of different vibes on it. I wanna see what's up with my GPAC brothers, see if we can do some songs. I was just talking to Ezam and he's working on some stuff, so I told him, if you need anything, let's do it. Shit man, the skies the limit.

5 comments:

  1. To all mentioned in this just know it's all hip hop love from me to you. Lets make some music.

    ReplyDelete
  2. To all mentioned in this just know it's all hip hop love from me to you. Lets make some music.

    ReplyDelete
  3. To my Project Blowed family.Y'all saved so many peoples lives,and created some dope mc's. Much love to all the og's.Long live the Project Blowed legacy

    ReplyDelete
  4. To my Project Blowed family.Y'all saved so many peoples lives,and created some dope mc's. Much love to all the og's.Long live the Project Blowed legacy

    ReplyDelete
  5. My bad g ridah produced a Mirror

    ReplyDelete