While Global Phlowtation's albums maintained a cohesive sound, the individual members were always able to distinguish themselves when it came to their solo work. Inoe Oner is a perfect example of this as his albums, while maintaining the GPAC spirit, branched off into more abstract and experimental territory. In part one of this two part Name Science interview, Inoe speaks about the formation of Ordinary People, his experiences with the Rehab Crew and GPAC, working with Thavius Beck, his upcoming projects and, of course, Name Science!
As far as my inspirations, I listened to a lot of, like, Eric B. & Rakim, Del tha Funkee Homosapian, Too $hort, N.W.A., man, I wanna say 2 Live Crew. Also, 2Pac, Kool G Rap, Scarface, DJ Quik, and EPMD. It's funny, you might say Kool Moe Dee [laugh], you know what I mean? A lot of the old school heads. I definitely listened to a lot of them. You know, LL Cool J when he used to rock Troop, before he was Fubu. All that stuff gave me a lot of ideas as a kid and made me wanna write. Those are the cats who really inspired me to start writing. Also people like yourself - my fans - inspire me and keep my fire burning!
So, judging from your name, I'm assuming you were a graffiti artist as well?
Exactly. So, as you can tell, a lot of my friends are graffiti writers. We're not just artists in terms of emceeing. We were taggers, you know what I mean? That's how we came up. So that's where you get the Oner from.
How did you hook up with Ambush and Jon Jon?
So, funny story, Ambush used to be from a writing crew I was in called THK, which was The Highest Kings. One day I was at a bus stop, and he was there as well. And back then, you'd get sweated, like, "What crew you from? What crew you from?" So I come to find out we're from the same crew. I was like, "Ok, cool!" And at the same time - I'm from Belize, in Central America and he was also from Central America, so we just clicked. Ivan Jon came down the road when I got connected with the Rehab Crew. Before that, it was actually called the Bum Pimps. It was a click from Rehab. And, actually, Ivan Jon is also from Central America. Funny, right? So obviously we clicked. He's from a different part of Central America. Still Belize, but a different part. So we clicked up there, and, like I said, formed a crew called Bum Pimps. That's where I really started getting into music. It was over there, this place called 4 Duce Chateau, we would record music and have ciphers. It was a bunch of Rehab cats there. So it'd be like fifty dudes sitting in a room, freestyling.
Oh, so the Rehab Crew was more than just Ordinary People and Bzerkos? It was a bunch of people?
Oh, yeah man! It was huge, man! We're actually having an anniversary, on August 25th, I believe. So, yeah, it's big.
Was there an Ordinary People tape, or was it just a bunch of songs you guys recorded?
So, this is what happened. With Ordinary People, we were recording at Zagu's house back on Rollin Curtis and we'd record all these miscellaneous songs. And we were recording it to put together an album but at the same time I was recording my album as well. But we never really collected it together and put it out. So I just went ahead and released my album. A lot of those songs you hear were on 4-track. I kept a lot of them, a lot of the 4-track tapes. And I was always tellin' Ambush, "We need to release this thing!" But I didn't want to be the only one releasing it, you know what I mean? It has to be a group effort. 'Cause if I put it out, it's my project, you know what I mean? [laughs] So, to answer your question, yeah, the majority of those songs you hear, the collabs with Ambush, those were Ordinary People songs.
So on Governments Greatest Hits there's a song called "Life is Hard" that sounds earlier than the rest of the songs. Was that an Ordinary People song?
Exactly, yeah. "Life is hard and so am I." Yeah, that was Ordinary People. I remember doing that at six in the morning. I remember going to Gu's house at six in the morning and recording that song.
On Stray Bullets there are two beats credited to Eclipse. Is that Longevity from Darkleaf?
Yep. Yeah, it is. Let me just really quickly revisit that era. We used to call him Eclipse before we called him Longevity. Darkleaf, those are our peoples! We met them on some other stuff. We recorded stuff over there, as well. That dude is very talented, him and Tone (Jahli). I just wanna big him up real quick 'cause that dude is very talented.
Also on Stray Bullets there was a guy called Supa Dave. Was he part of the Rehab Crew as well?
Yeah, I dunno if you remember the Bzerkos. He was one of the original members of Bzerkos. Yeah, Supa Dave.
So you hooked up with GPAC through Zagu, right?
Yeah, correct. So what happened was, we used to go to the Good Life and I remember we bumped into Gu and he told us to go to a party. I think it was, like, a block party, on Crenshaw and Slauson, and we go over there and they're rocking the mic. And I remember telling Gu, "Yo, we wanna record, man." And he was like, "Look, come through to the house," just with open arms. And we became part of GPAC like that, after a while. They invited us to get on. But we knew Faxx, we knew Phunky Dialect. Put it like that. Before it was just Zagu, it was really Phunky Dialect. We knew everybody like that.
And let me tell you this, about Global Phlowtations, in terms of the atmosphere and the environment. I tell Sach this all the time as well. When I went there, there were so many dope emcees. You know how some crews, they all kinda rhyme the same and sound the same? That crew, nobody lyrically sounds the same. That's what I loved about it! You could tell distinctly who was who. So I'm gonna sit there and write - I was head huntin' for everybody [laughs]. Like everybody in there was the enemy when we was writin'. I would tell them that and they would look at me like I was crazy. But it was like, "We gonna have a problem. You just can't rhyme like that, dude [laughs]." But they respected me for that! That's exactly why we got put on Global Phlowtations. If we were just comin' there like some chumps doin' some rhymes... Like, you gotta get outta here 'cause if you know your history with Phunky Dialect and 2000 Crows, they had the Cipher Police and you'll get regulated! But we had great shows as well. Hopefully we'll be able to put it back together. Any other crew, I probably wouldn't have been able to be a part of it. We're brothers, man. We do family stuff, like BBQs, you know what I mean? That's a good atmosphere and environment to be in with a crew.
And so you would've met Adlib through Zagu as well?
Yeah, I met him on Rollin Curtis when we were recording. I think we met Orko on the same trip. We met Orko, Okito Pole, Samson, the whole crew. That's how we met.
I couldn't hear you, Ambush and Jon Jon on Phlowtations Devices. Were you on there at all?
Nope. That tape came out before we were part of Global Phlowtations. We came in the middle of Global Phlowtations, if that makes sense.
Yeah, 'cause it actually says Ordinary People are part of GPAC on the tape sleeve, so I guess you guys would've been there before it was released.
Yeah, exactly. I think that was already done when we got there. There was another album, The Nucleus...
Yeah, and I first heard you on 98' Unheard.
Exactly. So we were there for that whole duration.
And your solo song on there was "Clukery." What is a cluck? Is that like Kool Keith calling a wack rapper a duck?
[laugh] Nah, ok. A cluck is... I wanna say, like a junkie. We were part of the Rehab Crew, you know, people that's dope. You know how Rakim would say he was a Microphone Fiend? Like you fiend it. So we was always cluckin'. We was fiendin'. We were always like, "Ay, give me a beat! Yo, lemme get that beat!" That's basically what cluckin' is. We're always fiending for music.
Throughout your career, Adlib/Thavius Beck has been your main collaborator and I've always been impressed with your ability to rap over beats that most emcees wouldn't even know how to approach. Do you think working with Adlib pushed you to be more versatile as an emcee, since his beats were so complex and off the wall?
I appreciate that you said that, man. I dunno if anybody really noticed that before in terms of the way the beats are structured or just how different they were. I kinda grew up on regular hip-hop but drum & bass was big at the time as well. And Thavius, he was open. So we'd bring records to him, like, "Can you do it like this?" So we influenced each other. We inspired each other to do different things. You see what I'm sayin'? It was no problem because we were making those beats together. But they were made by design.
So what was the first album you released?
Master Relm. 1998.
And Governments Greatest Hits was after that?
Yeah, Governments Greatest Hits was after that.
On Millennium Conductor you had some songs featuring Cult Smog. Can you talk about who they were and what that was all about?
Cult Smog is me, Thavius, Ambush and Ivan Jon. And one day, I think we were at Ambush's house, and we were just recording - 'cause we were always recording - and we were like, "Man, we need to come up with a crew for this shit we're recording." I'm not sure if it was Jon Jon who came up with the name. But once he put that name into the air, everyone was like, "Yeah, this is it!" There's a lot of Cult Smog songs that were never released. I wish I was able to release those. But they were done on 4-track! [laughs] I don't have those tapes. Thavius might still have 'em. I'm pretty sure he does.
Yeah, researching for the interview I found a Cult Smog song on Ivan Jon's old myspace that was really dope! It's a shame more of that stuff didn't get released.
Yeah, man! That's what I'm tryin'a say, man! That's why I put out Stray Bullets. That's the exact reason I put out Stray Bullets.
Starting with The Hermit, you started branching off, working with other producers, and producing a lot of your own stuff. Was that something that came naturally?
Yeah, I did that whole album. I did all the beats for that album. Yeah, you know, being around Phlowtations and stuff, being around those producers. You know, we had Thavius, we had Gu, we had Irb J, we had Orko, of course Sach, it made me want to get my own equipment. I kinda got tired of saying, "Hey, could you make me a beat?" Especially when you're inspired. You could wake up five in the morning, six in the morning, wanting to record something and they're working on their own project as well. So I went and bought my own MPC and made an album. And I was on one!
And The Middle Finger EP, as well, was one of the first examples I saw of your production. That was really dope!
Yeah, appreciate that, man. Yeah, that was released on Anti-Party Records. Dude was like, "Send me some stuff and I'll press it up." So I was like, "Cool!" I did it in a couple days, like, "Here you go!"
Was the first Name Science album supposed to be, like, a one-off project?
Nah, man! When we spoke about doing Name Science, it was organic 'cause our personalities just meshed, because we love being artistic and creative. I remember calling Sach and saying, "Hey man, we need to record something." I just wanted to record. Once we started recording, you know, we bounce a lot of ideas off each other and we were like, "You know what? Every Tuesday and Thursday, let's meet up here and record." It was like clockwork. He'd be here and we'd record. And before we knew it, it was like, "Ok, let's form a crew." And we bounced some names around and I said, "Let's call it Name Science because there's a science to everything. And no matter what the name is it's going to be scientific." And that's just what it branched off into and it's been fun ever since.
That's cool you say it was organic, because I wanted to say, I feel like you and Sach are really keeping that GPAC sound alive.
I wanna say, that's very true, but at the same time I know you know your history and do your research, but if you look out there a bit further, you'll see Thavius is doing his thing still, Gu actually has some music. Last month I went to his house and he has a ton of stuff, man! He played me so much stuff! I'm like, "Bro! Just released it!" and he's like, "There's a plan." But I'm tellin' you, he has tons of music!
Yeah, he told me he had a third solo album he never released and I said the same thing, like, "Man, you have to release that!" [laughs]
Yeah, I'm tellin' you, man. It's crazy! And Okito was there too. He just started spittin' rhymes. You know, he had a notebook and he was writin'. Everybody's still on it. There's different things in life, you know, kids, bills. There's different paths everybody's taken. It's gonna come back around full circle though.
So the first Name Science album was 2006 and then you guys came back a bit later with the whole God Phoenix concept. Can you talk about that?
You ever watch the Japanese anime by the name of Gatchaman? If you look it up, it's basically this ship that these, like, Voltron members ride around in. So the God Phoenix is basically our studio, our space. So everything we do in terms of Name Science, we do it in the God Phoenix. So this is what it is. Obviously we have history in the past that we've already established in terms of being emcees, moving into the future. You know, a lot of the rhymes that we wrote back then are relevant now! We told people that back then. Those rhymes, they hold up right now against some of the best emcees. There's no doubt in my mind. That's the honest truth too! It's not no b.s. It's real. We could rock any era! Any genre, we could rock that. Because we're not just hip-hop. We're alternative. So that's basically what we were doing with Where is Name Science? Where are they? Are they in the 60s? Are they doing punk? Are they doing reggae? What are they doing? We could do anything so don't pigeon hole us and tell us we're in this one box. We're really not inside that box. We can do anything.
You've always had a big reggae influence. Is that partly from being from Belize? Is there a reggae scene there?
Correct, correct. That's basically where that's from. It's a good vibe. It's a good feel, man. I dunno too many people who don't move or shake they ass when he hear some reggae music, you know what I mean?
You did some reggae type tracks with a guy called DJ Cas on Obese God. Does he specialize in reggae stuff?
Wow. Well, that's my cousin, man! And he used to be a DJ for Above the Law back in the day.
Yeah, exactly, right? And he's brilliant. He plays every instrument there is, man. Everything from the drums to the cowbells to whatever you want. He played all that stuff from scratch. I sat there in his studio and he made that in front of me.
So in terms of Name Science, you guys are really rolling with that right now. And you have another record called Ar coming up?
Yeah, Atomic Weight. The Ar is basically a symbol for atomic weight.
So what is the concept behind that record?
We were hit up by some cats overseas to do a record. I'll give you the full story for it. Originally we were gonna do Name Science World Domination. That's basically what it is. It was basically us telling the world we're about to dominate the scene because there's nothing out there like Name Science. I know it sounds like a bunch of ego. Even if this stuff wasn't dope or fresh, it's still not the same as what they're putting out now. And so we were already doing Name Science World Domination. So what we did was, we're gonna take some of the songs we did for World Domination - 'cause we've probably got like six albums that haven't even dropped yet. We're doing albums ahead of time. That's the whole Name Science theory is that we're gonna do stuff for every era. We could drop this thirty years later. It's already done. So we said, "We'll take a few songs and we'll give it to them." Because, like I said, we've already got songs. It's no problem. So they're mixing and mastering that. That should be coming out pretty soon.
So you're next solo album is a remix project called Disappearing Airplanes. Do you wanna talk about that?
Oh yeah, dude! It's awesome! I just got off the phone with Sach earlier about it. Last week the homie DJ ESP came through and put some cuts and scratches on there. Yeah, it was awesome. Amazing. You see how Stray Bullets wasn't really widely released? Only a few heads got it or got a chance to listen to it? There's a lot of songs on there that people didn't get to hear, that just passed by. But there's a lot of dope verses on there that people never got an opportunity to listen to. And they just seem like disappearing airplanes to me. They're there. You know they were there. But where did they go? So my idea was, Ok, I'll remix those songs on sort of a "Jackin' for Beats" type of thing. I got a bunch of dope beats. I wanna say they're known producers but they're not your regular producers. They're abstract producers. You won't find a Dr. Dre beat or nothing like that, nothing that's pop oriented or that you'd hear on the radio, but these are known artists. And I went hard on this dude! It's fresh! I did a remix to "Inoe One" on there, you know what I mean? There's a bunch of stuff on there that's really dope. I just got the artwork from my buddy. I'm trying to release that next month.
And I also saw you post on Facebook about a radio show, The Oner Show, is that still something you're planning to do?
Yeah, that's in the mix, man! The thing is this: I know a bunch of people are doing podcasts and radio shows. It's not about that. I want to remind everybody what a dope lyricist is. I remember when I was growing up, I listened to lyrics before I really listened to the beat. And it's reversed now. You can rap about anything now. There's no content to what people are saying in their songs. So it's dedication to dope rhymes. It's a fusion of hip-hop and reggae. You already know my background in reggae. If you listen to reggae, a lot of those artists are really dope too. They spit some dope rhymes! I can't say there's nothing I've heard on the radio or online that has impressed me because nothing impresses me that much. There's a few things out there. I don't wanna sound like an ass or something [laughs]. Like, "He just hates everything now." I'm not bitter about anything but I just haven't heard anything impressive. Have you heard anything that impresses you?
Not really. I just feel like everything's being redone. I'd rather listen to Afrika Bambaataa then Black Eyed Peas doing electro stuff. It just seems like they're doing an inferior version of what's already been done.
You see, that's the thing though. The new generation, they don't know where the history came from, or realize that's a remix of an old song. "Did you know someone did that beat in 80s?" And you play it for them and they're like, "Oh, I didn't know that!" They're not really educating themselves. They're not really into music like I am. That's not their fault. It just means I'm in a nerd with music [laughs]. That's nothing new.
So you re-released a lot of your albums in 2003 on CD, which is what I have. Could you break down the order of your albums? Was it Master Relm, Governments Greatest Hits, Millennium Conductor...
Yep, I think you're right. Millennium Conductor, The Hermit, Stray Bullet. Then you had the miscellaneous, The Middle Finger EP. There was Obese God, then the picture disc with Thavius Beck, Thavius Beck vs. Inoe One. The last thing I put out was You Deserve It. You Deserve It was more for my fans. It was an album, but it was more for my fans. This is what happened with that whole project. I saw something online where someone posted, "Man, I love this artist but it seems like it takes him two, three years to put out an album." And I was like, "What?!" I wasn't offended but I was more like, "Damn, for real? It takes some time to do some dope stuff." But really, that means they want more! So this is for you. I think when I first put it out it was free. Like, "Here, have that!"
We kind of touched on this already but do you have any other stuff planned for the future?
Yeah, man, actually I wanna jump into this real quick. The Ar album we were speaking of, look out for that. And we do the tapes and stuff, so all our stuff will be on tape. We like to have those collector's items. We like to have those gems for everyone, man. So you can put it on your wall or with the rest of your merchandise, or whatever. In terms of future projects, as well, I have an album Sach is producing called The Late Great, which should be out at the end of this year. Self Jupiter's gonna be on there. I talked to 2Mex. Zagu is gonna be on there. Okito Pole. Me and Ambush did a song last weekend for it. But it's gonna be really dope. And Name Science is about to do some big things. We're doing the Viper Room next month. We're doing the Echoplex. We're gonna put our foot on somebody's throat, let 'em know we really mean business! You better get out the way or get run over [laughs]. It's our time!
Big thanks to Inoe for taking the time to speak to me! Stay tuned for part two of this interview with the one and only Sach Illpages!