DJ Paul Interview (Three 6 Mafia/Da Mafia 6iX)

da mafia 6ix

Written by Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

DJ Paul and Three 6 Mafia’s influence on modern rap music is more prominent than ever. From “Street Goth” being the latest fashion trend to rappers liberally borrowing the Mafia’s iconic rapid-fire flows, screwed vocals and purple drank obsession. Of course the Memphis legends weren’t the only ones to drink cough syrup and rhyme over dark production, but they undoubtedly played a huge role in putting Tennessee on the map and bringing the South to the mainstream.

Founding members DJ Paul and Juicy J helmed an empire after rising from humble beginnings slanging tapes at local stores and schools. The pair met while DJing in local clubs and later brought Lord Infamous, Koopsta Knicca, Crunchy Black and Gangsta Boo into their crew. Paul Beauregard used his passion for horror films to inspire the group’s trademark menacing sound that included references to the occult, heavy violence, drug use and all of the other cool stuff that would make a conservative’s head spin.

Thanks to lucrative distribution deals they released dozens of albums, kick-started several solo careers including that of Project Pat and Lil Wyte as well as making films and clothing. In the mid 2000s members began going their separate ways, which Paul attributes to their sudden fame at a young age, excessive drug use and money disagreements. One of the most classic chapters in Three 6 Mafia’s history is the group beating Dolly Parton to win a 2006 Academy Award for their song “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” off the Hustle and Flow film. They are the second rappers in history to win the award after Eminem. Seeing the awkward expressions on a mostly white audience and hearing the group shout out George Clooney for showing them love is PRICELESS.

After their win the group featured on Jackass 2, Paris Hilton’s New BFF and also had their own successful reality show Adventures In Hollywood, which wasn’t renewed. Around 2009, Juicy J and DJ Paul went their separate ways to concentrate on solo work. If you’re reading this article it’s fair to assume you already know Juicy’s affiliated with Taylor Gang and has rebranded himself for the tripster generation. DJ Paul’s not slacking either, he’s releasing three projects within just weeks – the Clash Of The Titans mixtape with Drumma Boy, the joint Black Fall EP with Yelawolf and the Mafia 6iX mixtape, featuring a re-formed Three 6 Mafia sans Juicy.

I called DJ Paul while he was running around preparing for a well deserved week trip to the Caribbean island Aruba. He was kind enough to give me almost an hour of his time despite there being a million more questions I could have asked. He also seemed more humble and friendly than a lot of other less successful artists I’ve spoken to. Instead of talking about his relationship with Juicy, which you can read about in every other recent interview he’s given, we chatted about his musical beginnings, flamethrowers at The Gathering Of The Juggalos, Pimp C, getting five members of Three 6 Mafia back together and him not knowing what an Oscar was when he first heard the news of their nomination.

Three 6 Mafia is known for rapping about darker themes like horror and the occult, but you actually grew up performing in the church.

Yeah, I did actually (laughs). I used to play church music on the organ like Amazing Grace and different stuff and Lord Infamous would sing it.

Was your obsession with horror films a rebellion against your Christian upbringing?

No, no, no. Hell no. I just liked horror movies. It was nothing rebellious. I just liked horror movies and horror music. I guess everybody does when you think about it. I just probably liked it a little more than other kids.

What made you get into horror?

I don’t know, just as a kid with my sister and family watching Jason and Friday the 13th and all those movies growing up. We never know how we get into that kind of stuff, it could be friends, parents and older brothers and sisters, whatever. My older sister, I know for a fact, was always into scary movies cause we used to watch them a lot with her.

How did your family feel about the dark content matter? Juicy J’s dad is actually a preacher isn’t he?

Yeah, he’s like a missionary so he goes to different countries to preach. But nah, our parents didn’t trip or anything because they know how they raised us. They knew that we weren’t devil worshippers. They knew we were raised good. It was just a show you know, like Robert Deniro or Al Pacino or something like that. Well maybe Robert Deniro, Al Pacino might really be bad (laughs). But you know it’s just for show man.

Were there any protests or people trying to stop your shows because of your demonic lyrics?

No we never had a problem with any of the weird shit that follows with the cult or any of that. I guess the people that are into protests and stuff like that never got a wind of us or our songs because our songs that are on the radio that every person hears don’t have anything like that. Those are the album cuts.

Did you ever get curious and actually experiment in the occult?

No, we just made those songs about it, but it was nothing that we were into. We weren’t devil worshippers or anything like that for real. We just made records.

You were DJing around local places like Club 380 and that’s how you met Juicy?

Yeah Club 380 and some other places, that’s the first place I DJed at back in the day. He was a DJ as well, in some of the other clubs around Memphis. I didn’t want to be a DJ, I wanted to be a producer but to get into production I had to start Djing first to kind of learn the ropes on how to use the equipment and work from there.

For those who don’t know, tell us about the influence of DJ Spanish Fly?

DJ Spanish Fly was a big influence, him and the late DJ Sonny D who just passed away from a car accident about a month ago. I still talk to Spanish Fly a lot, that’s like my brother – we got the same birthday as a matter of fact. He was a huge DJ in Memphis, he’s been super super known. The thing that made Spanish Fly stick out so much is that he was the first DJ in Memphis to mix in his own songs, so that’s what made him so popular. That’s how we all got started. We would mix in our own songs in the club, especially with me. We would take our songs and mix them in between other people’s hot songs so I would play NWA, DMC, Public Enemy whatever and slip in one of my records.

Why did you decide to pursue music?

I grew up with it in the household and my family. My uncles had a popular gospel group and they used to teach me a lot about music. I was just always a fan of it, you know Michael Jackson, Prince and all that. Then earlier rap like Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim, LL, 2 Live Crew, Geto Boys.

How were you getting your music out there early on?

I was selling cassette tapes at high school. Selling a whole lot. We were making thousands. We were selling them for nothing but $4.00 but we were selling so many of them. Selling thousands and thousands of tapes and making a lot of money. Then we took that money and put it behind going into the studio to make a real album and we put it out through Selekto, and that was Mystic Stylez.

I heard you have quite a broad taste in music.

You know being a producer and a DJ, you have to listen to everything. Especially being a producer, you got to have a broader ear with your production so I listen to everything. A lot of 70s, a lot of 80s and even some 60s. I listen to a lot of techno, EDM, dubstep. I love dubstep. I don’t listen to a lot of rap that’s the funny part about it. I listen to a lot of rock as well. Duran Duran is my favourite band.

You also sample Portishead on a few songs?

Yeah, I listen to everything man. That’s a great band.

Willie Hutch is another one of your favourite artists, plus you got to work with him?

Yup, we actually brought Willie Hutch to our studio back in the early 2000s. We redid one of his songs called “Mark of the beast” and we never put it out, but it was a great record though man. We got the chance to work with him and shoot the shit and we sampled him a lot throughout and paid him off the records. We probably sampled him on two records off every album we made and the one that hit was “Stay Fly.” He passed away like five days after that record came out and that record was huge. I had two samples from him on that album as well. That song sold I don’t know, maybe 3-4 million copies or so.

What is the music that people from Memphis refer to as “Pimpin?”

Pimpin is the 70s music, the soul music and all that. That’s what all of us grew up on, we call it “Pimpin’” in the south. That’s the straight good stuff.

How is it playing at the Gathering of the Juggalos?

Is that a crazy place to perform? Hell yeah! Craaaazy. Mad house. I love it though, it’s fun. Man I saw a guy in the audience with a flamethrower shooting fire in the air. It was fucking crazy. I was like “what the hell!” I got a little nervous man.

You’ve hung out with the Jackass crew and filmed a few skits with them. What was that like?

They are my guys man. They are just practical jokers. They some wild dudes, I like hanging with them. I was asleep and knocked out drunk, and they walked in with two trashcan tops and started banging them together. I think I didn’t wake up straightaway, but after a while I finally did. It was funny. It’s on Jackass 2.5.

Why did you decide to make the movies Choices 1 and 2?

We did it just for the fun of it. We wanted to make something like Death Row’s “Murder Was The Case” but funny, not super funny, but a little funny. We went in and made a 20 minute version of Choices and it came out good so we started thinking “man we ought to make a full movie out of it. Let’s put a little money behind it.” So we went on and made the full length one and it came out and it was double platinum in DVD sales and it did really great so that’s when we decided to make Choices 2 and go from there.

You’re also quite into cooking. Did someone teach you?

Nah I just learned it when I moved out of the house and started living on my own. I had to learn how to cook because I didn’t have my mama cooking for me anymore. So it was cool man, just having a chance to do that.

How’s your range of BBQ sauces and seasonings going?

Yeah, it’s selling pretty good. It’s not even in stores, but we sell a lot of it online. We’re trying to get it into stores once I can sit down and have a chance to focus on it a little more.

Tell us about the Sizzurp drink company you’re involved in?

It’s a liquour. It’s Sizzurp liquor, but yeah I’m part owner of that.

Does it taste similar to the real thing?

Oh nah, it doesn’t taste anything like it. One of them is a purple wine, one of them is purple champagne, one of them is a purple brandy.

Cam’ron and Jim Jones are also involved?

Well what happened was we made the song “Sippin on some sizzurp.” Then Cam’rom and Jim Jones went to a liquor company with the idea then made a liquor called Sizzurp. That lasted a couple of years, then the company went out of business because I think some inside guys weren’t getting on or whatever. They closed it down for about a year, then when they brought it back they asked me to be a part of it and I came in. I’ve been knowing them for a long time, they real good guys.

Speaking of “Sippin’ on some sizzurp,” what was Pimp C like in person?

He was the best. He was super super cool man, and a real real good guy. Rest in peace to him you know, he was my brother. We did a lot of stuff together back in the day. He was real funny man, he spoke his mind about everything. He wouldn’t hold nothing back, everybody knew that about Pimp C. He specialized in that.

When he passed away, did that put you off drinking lean?

Well you know it was never proven that was what he passed away from, but I had already taken a break because I had seen a lot of people that was getting sick from it.

You’ve said that drugs and all of you being a young age was part of the reason Three 6 Mafia broke up the first time around?

Between being young and making so much money at once and drugs and alcohol. Man that’s an explosion just ready to happen so it was bound to happen that way.

Do you still party as hard?

I party from time to time. But not like THAT. That was ridiculous. I still get down. Back then it was seven days a week. It hasn’t been seven days a week for a while.

Wow, did you feel permanently hungover?

We weren’t even really that hungover because we never went to sleep. We just stayed awake so when you stay awake you don’t get hungover.

How hard was it getting everyone back together for the Mafia 6iX project?

It was easy man, all of us were still friends for the most part. The only people I wasn’t really talking to were Gangsta Boo and Koopsta Knicca, but I had talked to Crunchy Black and Lord Infamous is my brother for real so we were in touch with each other. He was talking to Koop and Crunchy was talking to Boo and I just told them to get in touch. We talked on the phone and we just hit it off and were laughing together straight away. We went in the studio and did like 40 songs in three days.

You’ve been really busy lately. Da Mafia 6iX project, the EP with Yelawolf and your joint mixtape with Drumma Boy. Do you have anything else coming up?

Oh yeah, we released the Clash Of The Titans mixtape, which is doing real good so make sure you all check that out. Everybody loving that and um… in music there’s nothing else I’m working on. Shit I just did three projects in a couple of months that was a lot right there. Actually Clash Of The Titans I’ve been working on for a long time but I’m releasing all three of them in a month so that was a lot of work. I’m going to take a break for a week then go in and start working on this Yelawolf album. Trying to get that tight, as tight as I can get it, then after that I’m going to start working on Da Mafia 6iX full length album.

You recently released a five track EP with Yelawolf called Black Fall. Why did decide to work together?

We got connected when he came to do a feature with Da Mafia 6ix for the single “Go Hard” and he was listening to some of my beats that I was playing in the studio that had rock music in them. He was like “I always wanted to do a project with classic rock mixed with rap, and I think you’d be the perfect person to do that with.” I was like “cool, let’s do it. “ So I started sending him tracks and he knocked them out in like three days, the whole project.

Are you guys going to work on a full length?

Well, he’s got an album coming out next year called Love Story and I’m going to do some production on that.

When you won an Academy Award in 2006 you weren’t even sure what an Oscar was?

Yeah I wasn’t. It was early in the morning and Juicy woke me up and told me we were nominated for an Oscar. It was so early I was just like “oh really, ok cool” and went back to sleep. Then I was just lying in bed thinking “what’s he taking about?” Then I Googled it and I was like “oh shit, it’s the gold man” and that’s when I called him back. We were still living in Memphis at the time and we went to LA and had the meeting with the Academy. There are so many rules that they make you learn before you can even take your place in the Academy Awards.

Like what?

One is if you win, you can’t sell the award. If you do sell it, you have to sell it back to the Academy. I think it’s worth like 2 million dollars or whatever. You have to sell it back to them and it just goes back in the museum.

You damaged your Oscar statue?

I was partying and I bumped heads with Frayser Boy’s one. So now mine has a little scar on its head, it’s real small and if you look closely you can see it. I’m probably the only person with a Scarface Oscar (laughs). 

I bet you partied hard that night. 

Actually to be honest with you, I didn’t party hard because I was too nervous I would drop it or something because I didn’t have a bag to put it in. I didn’t party too hard, I just had a couple of little wines and that was it. I wasn’t on my usual vodka and all that man.

Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels Review

RUN THE JEWELS

For the annual Passionweiss Top 50 albums of 2013, I wrote about Killer Mike and El-P's excellent "Run The Jewels" EP at number six. Read the rest of the feature here. 

32 minutes. 10 stick-up kid salvos. Two great artists bludgeon the rap industry with skull-cracking rhymes, stealing diamonds while they do it. At first glance, they make an unlikely combination: the fiery avatar of old no-bullshit Brooklyn who made “independent as fuck” a war whoop, with a Dungeon family strip club connoisseur. But Killer Mike and EL-P are built tougher than the leather on Run and Paul Pierce’s jacket.

Instead of focusing on production like their first collaboration, 2012’s R.A.P Music, EL-P picks up the mic and matches his partner verse for verse. There’s an air of competitiveness and genuine friendship as Jamie and Mike swoop in like your favorite anti-heroes. This is lyrical, but there’s no preachiness or by-the-numbers wordplay. These guys have mastered the art of shit-talking and combined with some extremely listenable aggression, their wit stays cutting. Killer Mike “Shyne Po’s a ho.” His partner in crime does the cleat Riverdance on your face.

When the coolest duo of 2013 are rapping about kicking over your son’s fort and taking grip plyers to your feet, it’s hard not to pay attention. If a project makes you feel like enough of a badass to mean-mug the elderly whilst on public transportation, it’s a winner.

Note: You can check out my previous interview with Killer Mike here. 




Fall Mixtape Series

cool mixtape

By Jimmy Ness and written for Passionweiss. I organized this mixtape feature and there’s plenty of others you can check out here if you need some more good sounds.

If you live on this side of the world, the sun has vanished and you’re now undergoing seasonal depression. There’s no children running under fire hydrants or bikini-clad bodies to be seen and when it rains you watch re-runs instead of venturing to the bar. But it’s not all bad. Some of the best music is made for listening during winter and without it we wouldn’t have classic cold season albums like Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” or most East Coast 90s rap releases. For that exact reason we’ll each be posting a playlist during the next few weeks. After all, “Winter Warz” is still 100% more listenable than “Beach Chair.” I’m not alternative or interesting enough to post over 60 minutes worth of artists you’ve never heard of. Plus I supposedly have more important things to do with my time. Instead I’m sticking to what I know in the hopes that I’ll drop some musical gems upon you like manna dropping from the sky to the Israelites. If you listen properly, you might even catch Freddie Gibbs and Kanye West on the same track. If Dipset, Krayzie Bone and The Re-Up Gang coupled with the undeniably funky tunes of The Gap Band and Carl Carlton doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will. Half way through this playlist you’ll probably think “how are any of these tracks relevant to the cold season?” I don’t really know, but I’ve always felt that the grimiest of music works best in the grimiest of weather. You could also say the soulful stuff is for that classic winter feeling when you step outside and it’s raining diagonally into your eyes and the funky part is to pick up your spirits. Or you could just shut up and listen. (Shout out to Aaron Frank and Brad Beatson for helping me organize this feature)

Download link and tracklist after the jump

Tracklist

1) Dipset – “Dipset Anthem”
2) Re-Up Gang – “Bring It Back”
3) Krayzie Bone- “Heated Heavy”
4) King Chip ft Freddie Gibbs and Kanye West – “Stand Up King”
5) Big K.R.I.T ft Raheem DeVaughn – “Players Ballad”
6) Ab Soul ft Alori Joh and JaVonte – “Empathy”
7) Devin The Dude – “Doobie Ashtray”
8) Illa J ft J Dilla – “Timeless”
9) Slum Village – “Players”
10) Outkast – “Spottie Ottie Dopalicious”
11) The Gap Band – “Outstanding”
12) ThEESatisfaction – “QueenS”
13) Carl Carlton – “Bad Mama Jama (She’s Built. She’s Stacked)”
14) Sly & The Family Stone “Everyday People”

Download Link

Devin The Dude - One For The Road review

devin the dude one for the road

Haven’t written a review in a while… this one was originally written for Passionweiss.

Devin The Dude is the kind of rapper you want to hang out with. He’s a chilled out guy who usually rhymes about what he loves most: beautiful girls and the finest kush. The Dude never reached the same mainstream status as other O.G rappers during his 20+ year career, but he seems to like it that way. His introspective and sometimes self-deprecating lyrics coupled with his sheepish grin make him a likable rap everyman. Just like fellow THC enthusiast Curren$y, Devin Copeland’s seems like the kind of person who would buy you a beer instead of denying you an autograph.

Scarface has previously said that an artist should keep remaking the same album and carve a lane for themselves rather than trying to do something new. Despite that not always being true, Devin definitely followed this formula and his 8th album, One For The Road is exactly what a long-time listener should expect. The 43-year-old doesn’t stray too far from his niche laid-back vibe, yet he still knows what works. This is smoke and ride music.

Opening track “Getting Blowed” sets the scene with the extremely relaxed Houston native rhyming over a breezy saxophone about how he never goes out, but you’ll probably catch him in the supermarket with the munchies. The Dude is at his best when he’s showing some humor or conveying his humane side.


Six tracks on the album have a motivational theme which eventually wears a bit thin and “Reach For It” is a little preachy with a generic “hustle hard” message that dime-a-dozen rappers have been drilling down our earholes since the beginning of time. In contrast, Devin’s take on giving money to the homeless on “Fresh Air” works well because you can empathize and there’s no sign of the forced sincerity that plagues young rappers like J.Cole.

“I hope we don’t get too drunk,” features Devin alongside his Odd Squad group mates Jugg Mugg and Rob Quest, who you should know for their excellent and largely ignored debut, Fadanuf Fa Erybody!! The trio bounce off each other and it’s a fun listen with old school production. Compulsory weed track “Herb The Nation” also follows this retro vibe with Copeland clearly paying tribute to some of his influences.

If you were in high school when Chronic 2001 came out, your first experience with Devin The Dude was probably on the classic “F**k You” alongside Dr Dre before headphones and Snoop before trips to Jamaica. Unfortunately there’s nothing as tongue in cheek on here, instead the Houston vet delivers the break-up track “Probably Should Have” and the overtly sexual “Hear The Sound.” Both tracks are decent in their own right, but not quite as special as their sleazy predecessor. There’s a snippet during the album’s third skit for a track simply titled “F**k You Down” which has potential and the “comical” announcer says is coming out soon, so let’s hope he’s being serious.

While this project isn’t particularly innovative, it’s not trying too hard either. Devin wrote and produced most of the tracks and many of them have The Dude’s listenable charm. His topics are humble and attitude is too. It’s a rare thing to treasure in the age of self-proclaimed musical geniuses, leather pants and artists who fight their own fans.



M Will Interview (Marley Marl's son)



By Jimmy Ness and originally published for Potholes In My Blog

M.Will is the son of legendary producer Marley Marl, one of rap’s greatest beat-makers, and he’s been entrenched in hip-hop since birth. When Marlon Williams Jr visited his dad’s house on weekends, it was a hive of musical energy, with rappers showing up constantly. Whether to record in the House of Hits home studio or to do a show on Future Flavas, which was broadcast on Hot 97 and one of the first internet radio shows.

If you’re picturing legendary artists snatching pieces of toast out of M.Will’s hand or drinking milk straight from the bottle, you’re probably not far from the truth. Craig G, Common, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Evil Dee, J Dilla, Jay-Z, Black Thought, Raekwon, A Tribe Called Quest and many more recorded in the house. Despite being surrounded by famed artists and a multitude of talent, M.Will says his upbringing was balanced and it didn’t scare him away from making his own music. The 20 year old has recorded at least half a dozen beat tapes including 2012’s As Above So Below and definitely has his own sound with influences from Alan Parsons, Dexter Wansel, Kanye West, the esoteric and golden age hip-hop.

We talked for almost an hour and M.Will gave thoughtful answers about growing up around music, living with his dad’s legacy, cultivating his own sound, his first production credit with LL Cool J, turning down working with Joey Bada$$, and too much more to list. 


You started playing piano at five years old?

Yeah, that’s about correct. My school was an elementary school as well as a graded music school. It was really cool, I liked it a lot.

You use a lot of piano loops in your music?

Oh yeah, I think piano and keyboards in general are one of the greatest inventions or instruments that humans have ever done.

You’re also classically trained, but didn’t enjoy the music at first?

Initially when I was really young, you always rebel like “oh this stuff sucks,” but it gave me the integrity that I needed to understand the full spectrum of music and it’s just really something I enjoy to this day and I have a great appreciation for it. I didn’t know as much about hip-hop or popular music or anything else besides what was immediately in front of me.

Who enrolled you in the music classes?

I think essentially it was my mum’s idea, but my dad saw that I was pretty interested in music at a really young age and just being around the House of Hits and around keyboards, I was always really fascinated by them.

How was it being in a family where hip-hop was such a large part of your life? What was your childhood like?

It was really balanced. There was a time for everything. There was a time for hip-hop, but there was a time for practicing and just doing different activities, so it was pretty structured. There would be a time to enjoy good music or when music was going on, and that was something I really appreciated and admired about my upbringing that I guess it was very balanced and structured. The premise of course was hip-hop that was something that would never go away so it was just like what else do we have to take care of?

What are your earliest memories of growing up with rap music?

I grew up in Flushing, Queens and that’s when I was old enough to understand everything. Around elementary school I remember just cool cars and loud music – BMWs and just hearing some good music like Biggie Smalls or something. Like okay, there’s something going on, there’s a powerful force here, just something way beyond my comprehension. I never really even quite understood what my dad did until I was like seven or eight years old, it was just something we were so submerged in. It was like, this is life and we are just living before it gained some sort of definition.

You were growing up while Future Flavas, the first ever online rap radio show was being recorded in your house. There must have been a lot of energy in the air, at the time.  

Oh my gosh, I was so fascinated but I never knew how powerful what was going on was, it’s the ripple effect of the things that would go on from there. The topics that were being discussed, it was always up to date, always on the money, on everything that was going on. It was fascinating just to know so many people were connected at the point. I could never fathom the concept during that time period, it was way before everything is now like how the internet, you can’t live without your computer. This was during that transition and it helped propel the understanding that we have now with music and the internet. It was totally ahead of its freaking time. It was so sick.

I’m sure you saw all these famous artists that were always at your dad’s house, but they seemed more like extended family or uncles rather than big celebrity musicians.

Exactly, we were all living simultaneously - I was just the young one growing up. We would share the same food, hang out and pass around homemade cooking. It was just the real deal, the human side of everything behind the mystique and behind everything else. It was just a real normal human experience – emotions, frustrations and happiness. It was really cool.

Were there any artists that your dad was particularly close to or who were always around the house just hanging out?

Yeah definitely, Pete Rock lived just a couple of miles out and he would be over all the time, like forever. That was always really really great, that was someone who I saw literally as an uncle. It was always them two just hanging out all the time that was a really great friendship and companionship to witness at a young age. Aside from that, Craig G was around a lot, a bunch of different artists. You know just constantly, so many I can’t even name, people would be around the time. Callie Ban he’s the man, Aisle 12, these were just some of the familiar faces I remember seeing all the time.

Do you still see these people around or not so much anymore?

My dad has such a wide social circle you know. Occasionally yeah, you’ll see them all the time at certain areas and at events. Just recently they did a really cool reunion with Pete Rock and I up was there and got to hang out. That was really cool, see how it was when they were doing their thing together. My dad’s always doing something, he’s a freakin superstar, it’s ridiculous this guy just runs around and does shows forever and he’s damn near pushing half a century. He’s always just out there [laughs] it’s awesome. It’s really cool.

J Dilla came through to the station once didn’t he?

From my understanding, yeah. Him and Pete Rock were really tight. That was the first time ever Pete Rock was breaking Slum Village records and Busta Rhymes records and Tribe records, and the station was just a real taste of where you could find the goods.

Big L’s number was also written on the wall at the studio?

It’s so crazy, the House of Hits itself is so remarkable with all the relics and just everything that’s ever come through there. It was right above the vocal booth, I think they were scheduling Big L to come through a couple weeks before he actually got killed. It was in the works, about to happen because I think Lord Finesse had made the call because he was on Future Flavas for a short time before it occurred and it was in the motion. At that time period, man there was so much hip-hop coming in and out of the crib.

Did Wu Tang ever come through? Because I know GZA was affiliated with the Juice Crew for a while.

Everytime we see Wu Tang they show mad love. I’ve seen Raekwon, I’ve met him a couple of times. He just shows mad love, he’s so embracive. I know that Raekwon, RZA and the GZA have been on Future Flavas before. They’ve definitely passed through a couple of times. I know that ODB has definitely been in the House of Hits. I recently met his son and we kicked it for a bit and that was mad chill. I love the new generation because they’re carrying on the legacy. I’m really good friends with TJ Mizell as well. (Jam Master Jay’s Son)

Rock music respects its legends and a big part of the culture is playing homage to them, but rap tends to pay less respect because it’s a young people’s game. How do you feel about that, being a young dude but growing up around all these veterans?

I just think that it’s just a natural thing that comes with time, we’ll hold onto certain records and things because they become the soundtracks to our lives. I just think that’s how rock has been able to maintain because it has such a resonance to its fans, I think hip-hop will get there, for the past 20 years it’s definitely gaining in prestige. I really see hip-hop getting the prestige that jazz music did, when it gets older I will become something really monumental a lot more than we can even fathom because it has touched so many lives.  

You starting producing when you were around 12 or 11 years old?

Well, yeah I guess. For fun I made loads of little tapes and stuff, here and there when I was really young. Sometimes my dad would just record me fucking around on a keyboard or something. I’d go up on weekends and that’s what we would do, that would be our bonding time because I was always really into music. By the time I started really cultivating sounds and doing things like that, it would probably be around 11 or 12, I think I was like 13 or 12, I had an iBook or something and I was just fucking around with GarageBand.

I heard that your dad told you early on not too mess with hip-hop too much. Why was he less encouraging early on?

You know, just as a parent it’s always one of those things like “I did all of this so you don’t have to replicate it.” Just as a parent it’s their perspective that they’re busting their ass to make you not do what they had to do, because they want you to have it whatever way. It’s just like a parent’s concern. I hear about my friends telling me things like that all the time in different situations and that’s just how it was with me. My dad was like “I want you to be a doctor, or lawyer or a surgeon” when I was really young and I was like “screw that, I want to be the man!” But I’ve grown up and matured, and definitely seen all the different revenue streams that come from hip-hop. My dad was just very much like “nah you don’t want to be in the spotlight, you want to do it up right and have it wholesome.”

Listening to your music, you’re definitely trying to do something different than what your father did. You can hear the odd sample or influence, but you’re definitely trying to carve your own path.

Oh yeah, for sure. There’s definitely I feel, a certain perspective or edge that comes from my understanding of music because in any way possible I like to do a little tweak or whatever it ends up being, just a creative tangent from a song I already love. I love sampling so much, I appreciate the art. It’s essentially a musical collage, and if you’re able to really execute it well, it’s totally just reinforcing the original song. What more as a music lover can you do?

Your first production credit was “You Better Watch Me” on LL Cool J’s album Exit 13 that you made with your dad. You guys were actually just having fun and its placement was a surprise?

Initially that’s how it came about. I wasn’t actually in the studio with LL while it was happening. But the beat itself me and Dad made together, really one of my first new trials when I think Reason 4 came out. I was using Reason 3. We were just fucking around like “this is so cool, look at all these new things.” We were like little kids in a candy shop just going crazy over this new stuff and we just ended up making one of those beats and next thing I knew, dad was like “yo, check it out.”

You also have a production credit on the joint album between your dad and KRS-ONE. For those who don’t know, tell us why their collaboration was such a special moment and what it was like being around in that process.

It was a big deal, even just for my dad’s life story and everything that it incorporates. It was a really really monumental period, I remember that really vividly. I was turning 14 at the time, becoming of age and really grasping bigger concepts. It was a really important monumental thing just because you know, my dad jokes around about it all the time but that whole “Bridge War.” I still get pissed off when I hear “The Bridge Is Over” just because he’s talking about my dad. It’s huge. It’s a big thing and something we’ve always appreciated and celebrated. It’s so funny, one of the first things that from ear I taught myself to play was the “Bridge it Over” before I knew what it was and my dad was laughing like it was real real funny and I was like five and he’d be like “Don’t ever play that in Queensbridge.” It’s engrained in our collective story so to see that come together was like really awesome. They were always friends outside of the whole shit, but it’s a big deal because there’s always resentment that can exist after you put some shit on wax like that. So there’s always something but it was awesome. I know they did a couple of sessions upstate and a couple of sessions in LA but they really did it up nice.

You’re also quite a big fan of progressive rock? How did you get into it?

That’s for sure. I’m a big fan of music in general so I like classic or prog rock a lot because of its depth in music and inclusion of themes that are so much better, I don’t know. I’ve always really appreciated progressive rock or progressive anything for that matter. I’ve always grown up around the classics in elementary school, there were a lot of The Beatles and The Beach Boys going around. There was a really eclectic bunch of adults that were teaching my school so I’ve known about The Rolling Stones. I’d say I got into it myself after I went to high school.

Do you feel these different influences make your music more interesting?

Definitely, it’s like a microcosm to life. You have so many different flavours going around, taking little gems here and there and making something new is really fun.

What made you focus on the esoteric for As Above So Below?

Oh man, I’ve always been into that kind of stuff just given my life and things that I have experienced. It’s just really really fucking cool, it fascinates the shit out of me. I love history and I’d love to be a professor of hip-hop or some shit one day and I just think the stronger you understand the power of certain knowledge you can time travel kind of. You’re reaching the same thoughts and the same frequencies that were thought of not too long ago, you go back into time and look into how amazing certain buildings or structures were and it really wasn’t that different. I think that’s why I’m interested in older music too, these guys were geniuses and we just need to remind ourselves of that all the time, of Frank Zappa or my man Alan Parsons. I think it all correlates in that regard.

You also dedicate an album to Dexter Wansel?

That’s one of the funkiest keyboarders, dude is just the man.  I just really really took to his music when I came across certain songs. Hip-hop is a lense for me, I see a lot of my favourite songs and I see what they sample and look into the original songs. I think how I got into the Dexter Wansel stuff was The Cool by Lupe Fiasco, which was a song that I really like and it was produced by Kanye West and I just found the original sample from that. I started listening to a lot of untouched gems and stuff that was on the internet or YouTube like “oh my god, this is some of the most potent shit I’ve ever heard.” I just love it, the whole Philidelphia sound and everything that came out of that era was just so righteous, they were playing their asses off and I love it.

Tell us about your Supreme Team DJ mixes on Soundcloud.

It’s homage to the 1980s radio of Mr Magic, the world famous Supreme Team of Newark, WHBI as well as Kiss Fm and the whole radio rivalries. How blogs essentially became what radio was in terms of breaking records was really what I wanted to allude to and just never forget how powerful someone like a Frankie Crocker or some of these really awesome DJs were.

Because your dad is so renowned and he’s a pioneering musician, is he also one of your harshest critics at times?

I’d definitely say he’s one of my toughest critics by far, by absolute far. Especially more recently, in the past couple of years. It’s good though, I know he’s involved and I know he gives a shit and I know he’s really really listening which is great. Like hyper listening and I know he likes it which is cool. We go back and forth making beats sometimes, but I know there’s things I’m able to do that are an extension of what he wants to do.

Does he still listen to a lot of new music? You know there’s a stereotype about hip-hop legends as grumpy old heads who hate everything new.

That’s so funny. I think somewhat because my dad, he’s in his own kind of world in that regard only in terms of the music that he plays and the stuff he’s around. He knows what works, he knows what the classic “make you want to get up and dance records” are and he holds tight to that. He’s definitely really open to new things, but he’s always recultivating things and remixing songs that have been out for eons. Doing his own thing. I guess I can see that, but I always put him onto new things and he doesn’t quite get it until it gets a big nod from a record company or aside from that, but he’s pretty open with new stuff.

I’m sure he can appreciate the more lyrical guys like Kendrick Lamar or even Nas is still making great records.

Yeah, of course he’s up on that, but even Kendrick now has a huge nod from Interscope. I was talking about Kendrick when he was K.dot when we both had our music put up on Kevin Nottingham at the same time. It was just one of those things where I would have loved to have been like “yo, dad let’s bring this new guy from Compton, I hear he’s really dope, bring him to the studio.”

I read a Tweet where you said “I think it’s corny when some people’s parents have vendettas against my dad and they use their kids to try set up traps in the music business.” Is this something that you encounter, people are that petty?

Yes, all the time. There will be something that pre-dates me but I’m the one that has to deal with it or some sort of “oh well your dad was a jerk to me.” Something stupid and it’s like whatever, holding onto a grudge of one little small nothing that really wasn’t that big of a deal. They look for any kind of reason to see you in a negative light. I encounter that sometimes. There are people who still work in the industry to this day that hold their grudges, they could still be at Def Jam or anywhere.

You’re trying to stand on your own as an artist, but your dad is a legend in the game. Do you ever get tired of talking about him, where you want to be known as yourself rather than as Marley Marl’s son?

Yeah for the most part, that’s every angle or selling point that’s ever used. Everybody who I’ve ever worked with like that, it’s always the huge huge sell point. Initially, no one is supposed to know, my early releases I’d just drop them on my own and not even really care. But it’s not something I can escape like alright I’ll take it for what it is and still try to do my own thing, it’s always going to be there because it’s in my name, I can’t do anything about it.

What’s next for you?

Well, I always have my hand in a lot of projects. I’ve been really tied up with a lot of different things. We put together shows in the city, I’ve been doing that a lot, just throwing parties or shows at Webster Hall or somewhere downtown with some of friends just really doing some cool stuff. I’m trying to get into the technology world with music and help cultivate some cool things with enhancing the music experience.

I’ll always have three, four, five projects lined up, I’m definitely dropping something really soon, a beat tape that is just a by-product of all of these other great activities. That’s really how my music comes to be, As Above So Below is a perfect example as all of that stuff is a by-product of my life experiences at that time so I’ve got to make it tangible in some way.

Who would you love to work with?

It would be really cool to work with Q-Tip, if I had to pick a favourite producer without a bias I’d say in terms of the hiphop aesthetic that I really appreciate the most it would definitely be Q-Tip. God bless the dead, if I could bring Dilla back I’d love to work with him. Pete Rock I still haven’t worked with and would love to. Another rapper that has unfortunately passed on, Charizma from Peanut Butter Wolf and Charizma. That’s like the dopest swag right there. And of course Nas. Large Pro. My friends Ratking. I’d love to work with Stevie Wonder or some shit. I’m a big fan of Robert Glasper, Thundercat, Flying Lotus I love that shit. I really really really like Thundercat and Robert Glasper.

Joey Bada$$ is pretty cool, but I turned down being a member of Pro Era because they didn’t want to set me up right. They wanted me to do like five gigs for free on some real sucker shit and I wasn’t really bout it. But you know, that’s still a homie. We still hang out aside from music and shit. We got a close circle.

Is there something you’re trying to achieve with your music in particular?

I’m not sure, I guess it’s a little ambiguous but I think as long as you’re able to get something from it. I mean, I’m putting so much stuff into it. Everything from knowledge to just some cool sounds but as long as you like something that’s what I’m cool with. I think I just want to preserve and teach what I know as the truth or what I know as reality from my perspective and hopefully I can help create and cultivate an enlightened culture through hip-hop or music in general. Sun Ra is my dude and I really love what he stands for and I feel like him and I are on the exact same frequency in that regard. I know we have the same birthday but just in terms of the power of music and what it can do for humanity. It’s a great, great tool and I want to help cultivate, refine and make it as best as possible.



Noah Goldstein ( Audio Engineer for Kanye West, Jay - Z, Nas, Ryan Adams) Interview

kanye west audio

By Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss.

Since graduating from Philadelphia’s Temple University in 2006, Noah Goldstein has engineered, mixed and occasionally produced for Nas, Jay-Z, 2 Chainz, Snoop Dogg, Patti Smith, The Mars Volta and Ryan Adams.

But his most interesting client might be Kanye West, who he has worked closely with since 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. He was there when the tracks were laid down for Watch The Throne, Cruel Summer and most recently Yeezus. It’s his responsibility to protect material from leaking and Jay-Z even shouts him out on “Who Gon Stop Me” during his final verse.

Due to privacy obligations regarding the recording process, he was unable to answer any questions about the making of Kanye’s albums. Noah only gave this interview hesitatingly, as talking about any of the artists he works with could jeopardize his career. Luckily, we did still find plenty of stuff to discuss: his love of 2 Chainz, David Bowie quotes, recording with Nas and his thoughts on the role of the engineer.

Is it true you decided to get into this business after seeing Dr Dre on Behind The Music when you were 17?

Yeah, that and I was a DJ for a long time. Since I was 16 until about 25, I DJed. I was always into music and when you DJ it sort of becomes part of you. You start listening to the music really closely and finding the details in it and reading about your favourite records and how they were made. There’s a lot of things to learn. It was just like, I want to make records man. 


Tell us about the early days working in West Philly, I heard those were pretty rough times.

It was, it was. I mean basically when I started I was like 19. When I was engineering, I got my start in a studio in a really rough neighborhood and it was not uncommon to stop the track and hear gunshots on the mic. But it wasn’t all bad either. It was a great learning experience and made me realize how there were so many different facets of the music industry. I left there and moved to this other studio that was much more rock based and it was a really nice place, very comfortable and that was how I started to learn to make more proper records. Then I left there and moved to Iceland for a little while because I was really into Bjork.

After interning in Iceland you got a job at the famed Electric Lady studios in New York, built by Jimi Hendrix. How was that? That’s an amazing place to start out.

Exactly you just said it, amazing. I got super lucky getting in there. It’s really hard getting a pay-check in a New York studio.

How was working with Patti Smith when you started there? That’s such a big start, you must have been nervous.

Oh fuck, yes. For real. Patti Smith man, come on that shit is crazy. That was the first session I ever did at Electric Lady, I had never been in there before. So I got hired and during my interview while I was sitting in the studio he said “I’ll give you two weeks to get acclimated before I put you on a session” and “I’m like okay that sounds great.” Twenty four hours later he was like “I’m hiring you but I can’t give you that time, I need you here in the studio for the Patti Smith mix session.” So I’d never been in the rooms before ever, it was completely new for me and working with somebody like her – she’s like a punk rock goddess. For me, I love Patti Smith’s music so I was super amped. I got in and Emery Dobyns this engineer, super awesome guy, he was like a year older than me and made me feel like everything was cool. Every time I was fucking up he was like “Nah it’s cool, I got it don’t worry.” She was like the nicest person ever and she was also very tough, just how you expect even though at the time she was 60. It was nuts, but it went really well. I would work with Patti again for sure.

You went from Temple University to working with some of the world’s most famous artists in just six years. How does that feel?

Oh man, what can you say? Living the dream, you know.

Tell us about the first time you recorded with Nas.

That was cool. Nas was like one of my all time favorite artists. He was an extremely nice dude and extremely skilled on the mic as everyone knows. It was a super chilled session, I never really get nervous when I’m working because that doesn’t really help with the session to be nervous, but I was definitely like “holy shit, it’s fucking Nas.”

What was it like recording something as racially charged as the Untitled album? Was there tension in the studio, how was it being involved in making a project like that?

I didn’t work on a lot of the album. I worked more on the mixing and everything toward the end. But I’d say when you are in a situation like that, everyone understands what the message is and everyone that’s going to be in that room is open minded enough to appreciate it. There was no tension in my opinion because everyone there is about the cause.

You’ve worked with Jay-Z and Nas, two of the most respected MCs of all time. What were the differences between their sessions and how they write?

You know what, I should not answer that one because that would be disrespectful of their process for sure.

I read that to stop any album leaks, the draft versions of Watch The Throne were kept in fingerprinted copies locked in suitcases?

(Laughs) somewhat true. Not entirely true, but we kept them close for sure.

Were you the main person in charge of looking after the album? That must have been a 24 hour job. Were you nervous?

I mean, everything in the music industry is a 24 hour job. Was I nervous? Yes, but at the same time I look after files for every client that I work with. Yes, it was incredibly demanding and I really need to do a good job, and I did the best I could. It’s also like once you’ve worked in this business as an engineer, that’s part of your job – looking after people’s files and making sure nothing gets out to the best of your human abilities.

You worked on 2 Chainz’ album Based On A T.R.U Story and I heard you think he’s one of the best rappers around?

Ah he’s super fucking cool man, I love 2 Chainz. That’s all I can say about him, I love 2 Chainz. He’s the shit. I appreciate his raps. I just think he’s super clever. I like his style.

What’s your favourite 2 Chainz song that you worked on?

I gotta go with the one I worked on the most “Birthday Song.”



What do you think of the video?

Fuckin’ hilarious, it’s amazing. You can tell in his videos he’s got a sense of humor, definitely.

What’s he like as a person?

Absolutely nice guy. Hilarious. I don’t know him super well so I don’t know if I should comment on personalities because I don’t know him like that, but I do know him well enough to know that he’s very funny and very nice, at least to me. Cool guy.

How was working with Ryan Adams?

Man, Ryan Adams is the shit. I loved it, we had a really good time making Cardinology. It was really fun. I’ve talked to him since then and he is like a really really good guy. I haven’t spoken to him in about maybe a year, we kept in touch for a little while after that record was over, but you know I moved into a different genre. But yeah, one of my good friends works with him sometimes.

You’ve done a lot of pop/rock and rap music, are there certain principles you take from one and use with the other or vice versa?

You know what, there’s like one quote I know that my old boss Phil told me. If not I’m mistaken he told me a story and it was David Bowie who said it to him, and it’s seriously like the best principle. It is “Turn up the good shit, turn down the bad shit.”

How creative can you be as an audio engineer? Are you essentially just following orders or is there room for creativity?

I just think it depends on the people that you’re working with and how much they trust your instincts and what their doing, and what they’ve created. So I think it really does depend on your client, if people are more hands on or they just want you to be the technical guy that gets shit done. It really varies between client to client just how much you do.

Ali from TDE is earning a name for himself and Kendrick Lamar has shouted him out on several records. Do you think there’s room for audio engineers to get a little bit of recognition or do you think they’ll always be the silent partner?

I think more so now than before, engineers are kind of being noticed more. Maybe because there’s so many people that record in homes and what I gather is that people that record in homes have realized that it’s not easy to make records that sound the way they do on the radio or like their favorite album. So when they are sitting there trying to do it themselves they realize that it’s a difficult process. It’s something that takes practice, work and dedication just like anything else you become good at it. So I think that’s why we’re hearing how Drake shouts out 40, Kendrick and his engineer, even 2 Chainz and his engineer KY, Jay and Young Guru who is an amazing engineer. To answer your question, I think there’s more room for engineers to be in the spotlight but at the same time, most of us don’t have that kind of mentality. We’re not looking for that. Hence the reason, I don’t really care about doing interviews for the most part. I’m not really looking for it.

It’s more about doing a good job?

I don’t really care about being in the spotlight, it’s always been about the music. I just want to make the best music possible, that’s it.

Jay Z also shouts you out on “Who Gon’ Stop Me” doesn’t he? [“Extend The Beat, Noah”]

Yeah, that was cool.



Did you actually extend the beat, was it planned?

I did extend the beat earlier. It was planned.

Why is your production often uncredited?

It’s not about getting the credit as long as the song sounds good.

Obviously you’ve worked with a lot of big names is there anyone you would have loved to work with or that you see as a musical idol?

Oh man, I wish I could have worked with Otis Redding when he was alive, that would have been awesome. I’m open to a lot of different things. I love all kinds of music and I’m really happy where I’m at right now. I’m not looking for other people, I’m really happy with what I’m doing right now.

Do you have a favorite song that you’ve worked on?

Oh man, that is a hard question. I don’t know, I don’t know. That’s an incredibly difficult question to pick one song. I don’t have one particular favorite in reality. I like lots of different ones for different reasons. Any song that I’ve worked on pretty closely will remind me of a moment in time. It might just remind me of something that happened at that moment so it will be sentimentally my favorite. I don’t know.

When you did the soundtrack to The Man With The Iron Fists, did you work directly with RZA?

Briefly, yeah. He was a really nice dude to work with and it was crazy meeting him for sure. He’s one of idols. I mean Wu Tang is my favorite rap group of all time. I’ve also worked with Raekwon, who was also the shit. I mean come on Cuban Linx!

You worked with Big Sean early in his career and now recently too. How do you think he’s changed as an artist?

I think every artist, Sean included, as they keep working and especially when they start performing more live that’s when they start coming into themselves. Honestly he’s always been awesome. I think Sean’s a great rapper, he’s a great personality and super charismatic. I think he’s only getting better. With performing live, his shit is tight now, not that it wasn’t before but he just keeps improving.

Does each person you work with write completely differently?

Yeah, to each their own you know. Each person has their own process and we just try to respect that process as much as possible.

Discovering Mobb Deep's The Infamous


mobb deep beef
Here’s the first part of this feature I organized for Passionweiss. 

No matter how much of a music nerd you are, there are albums that you’ve inadvertently skipped. Whether it’s due to age, oversight, or just plain ignorance, even classics sometimes slip through the cracks. “The Corrections” is a recurring feature intended to remedy this oversight. The idea is simple: the Passion of the Weiss staff writers listen to an album they should have heard but somehow haven’t, and write about the experience of encountering it for the first time in 2013. 
  
“An eye for an eye, we in this together son, your beef is mine.” Modern day Mobb Deep view their friendship much differently than their younger counterparts did on their 1995 classic The Infamous. Havoc and Prodigy have been fighting since last year, but recently “buried their differences” to capitalize on the duo’s 20th anniversary with a new tour and album. Havoc was the most public with his anger and recorded a diss track as well as claiming that Prodigy had sex with other inmates while in prison. As Bun B said on Twitter, some things you can’t take back once you’ve put them out there.

Not everyone will admit it, but many music fanatics have a gap in their knowledge – that one album they never got around to hearing and find a way to avoid when it comes up in conversation. For some unknown reason I’d never listened to Mobb Deep’s early work. Illmatic, Enter the 36 Chambers and Ready to Die were close friends of mine, but me and the Queensbridge duo had never been formally introduced. This is strange considering how intertwined these four groups are. Nas and Havoc went to school together, Mobb Deep toured with Biggie and they frequently collaborated with Wu Tang.

My twisted perception of Mobb Deep was as squabbling brothers rather than legendary East Coast pioneers. I incorrectly considered Prodigy, now 38, to be a has-been who was eternally bitter over former rival Jay-Z’s success. He couldn’t seem to recover from Jigga putting pictures up at Summer Jam 2001 of him dressed as Michael Jackson. Instead it appeared that he pacified himself by pretending Hova was a member of the illuminati, rather than just a smart businessman.

P’s output with producer Alchemist is solid, but so is almost everything the former Whooligan is involved with. Mobb Deep’s work with G-Unit was uninspired and nothing I heard stood out as particularly special. But in 1995, Prodigy and his partner Havoc made one of the best albums I’d never heard.

Kejuan Muchita (Havoc) met Albert Johnson (Prodigy) at 14 when they attended the High School of Art and Design together. The duo formed a crew called the “Poetical Profits” and after changing their name, released a debut album at the age of 19. Juvenile Hell flopped commercially, partly due to their label not putting any marketing behind it. When Mobb Deep tried to make a second album, Havoc claimed in a 1995 Ego Trip interview that producers had started sending them throwaway beats. “They probably felt like, Yo, Mobb Deep – they kinda weak. We was like, fuck it man. I ain’t gonna stop… Ain’t nobody stopping my show.” Havoc, who had minimal beat making experience, was forced to produce the majority of their entire sophomore record. The duo even considered forming their own label if their second project flopped. Mobb Deep were backed against the wall, but determined to succeed and The Infamous was their stunning counter-attack.

Unlike other rap albums that give the listener a respite from debauchery with a conscious song or r&b track, The Infamous shows no remorse. The angst of two teenagers being almost forced out of the industry and trapped in the cycle of poverty fuels the album’s hardcore subject matter. Havoc compares himself to the grim reaper on “The Start Of Your Ending” and Prodigy has no mercy for anyone who struggles with completing their prison time. From punching your nose bone into your brain to shooting at women, their nihilism is relentless.

On the outstanding “Shook Ones Part 2,” P informs the listener that “I’m only 19, but my mind is old” because of everything he`s lived through in the projects. However, just a few lines later he claims “It aint nothing really, hey, yo Dun spark the philly.” Mobb Deep were youths who had given up hope of change, they understood the hopelessness of their situation and embraced it.



Hav produced the majority of The Infamous and his rugged beats suit the album’s portrayal of their unholy lifestyle. If you’re a rap fan, you already know their stripped down sound is typical of East Coast rap in the 90s, but it works especially well here. The lack of complex production leaves room for the duo to make their threatening presences felt. This album doesn`t have the immediate appeal of catchiness, but as you hear more captivating narratives from the MCs involved it grows on you. Havoc’s beats also sound similar to RZA’s early work, which is high praise considering he’s one of my favourite humans. Q-Tip was reportedly heavily involved in the album behind the scenes and with his guiding hand, it’s probably no coincidence this is their magnum opus.

The Mobb are also joined by a small, but formidable list of guests. Nas retains his stellar 90s form on “Eye For An Eye” and his flow is impeccable. “New York metropolis, the Bridge brings apocalypse, shoot at the clouds feels like, the holy beast is watching us.” He recorded two version of this verse and it would be a safe bet to assume they were both godly. Nasir’s also joined by Raekwon, which makes the track a kind of prelude to the classic “Verbal Intercourse” off OB4CL. Rae returns later in the album with Ghostface Killah for “Right Back At You,” and my 90s rap nerd checklist is complete. Q-Tip also shows up to rhyme about personal vices on “Drink Away The Pain,” but other than the occasional verse from Mobb affiliate Big Noyd, Havoc and Prodigy solely run the show.

The duo kept their rhymes simple in comparison to Big L, but they both focus almost entirely on hardcore crime narratives and had no issue with playing the villain. Mobb Deep is also obsessed with beef. At every chance, they warn other crews not to mess with them and reiterate they are only loyal to the Mobb. Prodigy spends over two minutes threatening rivals on “The Infamous: Prelude.” He also disses Redman and Keith Murray, for their “crazy space shit,” which resulted in Murray later punching him in the face. At the time of recording, Mobb Deep were in a zone where their only concern was their own success. Prodigy thought both B.I.G and Wu Tang were cheesy when he first heard them, and he even believed Biggie had stolen some of his lines.
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The duo’s hostile style led 2Pac famously raging against them on “Hit Em Up” where he mocks P for having the Sickle Cell Anemia disease. While the two MCs withstood attacks from people outside their circle, their internal beef hurt them more- at least as far as first impressions go.
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Mobb Deep have been rhyming together since they were 14 and close friends often fight like brothers, but airing out dirty laundry is never a good idea. This is an excellent album which has aged well considering it’s 18 years old, and it’s a shame to avoid such great work because the MCs involved have let personal disagreements taint their image. There’s something to be said for protecting your legacy. Thankfully, the Infamous remains indelible.


No matter how much of a music nerd you are, there are albums that you’ve inadvertently skipped. Whether it’s due to age, oversight, or just plain ignorance, even classics sometimes slip through the cracks. “The Corrections” is a recurring feature intended to remedy this oversight. The idea is simple: the Passion of the Weiss staff writers listen to an album they should have heard but somehow haven’t, and write about the experience of encountering it for the first time in 2013. - See more at: http://passionweiss.com/2013/07/30/the-corrections-mobb-deeps-the-infamous/#sthash.xgu7JAh7.dpuf
No matter how much of a music nerd you are, there are albums that you’ve inadvertently skipped. Whether it’s due to age, oversight, or just plain ignorance, even classics sometimes slip through the cracks. “The Corrections” is a recurring feature intended to remedy this oversight. The idea is simple: the Passion of the Weiss staff writers listen to an album they should have heard but somehow haven’t, and write about the experience of encountering it for the first time in 2013. - See more at: http://passionweiss.com/2013/07/30/the-corrections-mobb-deeps-the-infamous/#sthash.xgu7JAh7.dpuf

Wu Tang Interview - U God

U-God-w.jpg

By Jimmy Ness and originally written for Passionweiss.

Lamont Jody Hawkins is better known by his rap alias U-God, but it’s the “Four Bar Killer” nickname that has defined his career. Wu Tang’s mastermind RZA treated each member of the iconic group like a chess piece and used their individual strengths in a specific way while recording their early work. Unfortunately for U-God, this meant that his gruff voice was used sparingly and he often had to make the most of spitting a quick four bars before it was someone else’s turn.

Hawkins, who never had a fully produced RZA solo album like several other members, has often expressed his bitterness at being delegated to being a pawn in the Wu strategy. He left the group in 2004, recorded this documentary, and attempted to sue RZA for $170,000.

However, childhood friends often fight like brothers and the members have reconnected. U-God rejoined Wu Tang shortly after leaving and his 2009 solo LP “Dopium” was well received. Hawkins also released the new album, The Keynote Speaker on July 23, while Wu Tang is embarking on a 20th Anniversary tour during the next few months. 

Despite his reputation for a bad temper and history of being unspoken during interviews, U-God was relatively guarded over the phone and he gave many one-word answers. However, we did chat about his introduction to rap, being around Ol’ Dirty Bastard, stepping away from the “Four Bar Killer” title and of course the new Wu Tang album.

When you first got started you were beatboxing for Cappadonna?

Yeah that’s true. I’m a superb beatboxer. Superior beatbox specialist heh heh. I still do it every now and then.

Who is Scotty Wotty? He’s on some of your most recent solo work and Ghostface famously mentions him on “Nutmeg.”

Well, Scotty Wotty was like my mentor in rhyming. He knew me since I was a baby, he was the first dude in the hood who was really nice, who was close to us and could really rhyme. I came and got him back, came and found him and dug him up and put him out there. But you know, he’s still got it.

You also knew Raekwon since you were children and your parents were friends?

Yeah, his mother and my mother lived in the same building in Brooklyn, East New York. We all migrated over to Staten Island at about the same time.

Is it true you were playing with a loaded gun and nearly shot him when you were kids?

(laughs) I can’t believe you said that man. Yeah, yeah little kid stuff. Wow, I can’t believe ya’ll are still talking about that.

Your uncle helped introduce you to rap?

He used to go to Harlem World and bring me back little tapes of the battles that were going on back at the stage when I was a little kid, and you know, kind of got me into hip-hop.

You went to jail for almost three years around the time that 36 Chambers was being recorded, but before that you put yourself through college for a few years off drug money?

That’s right. I studied Business Management.

Was there a point during Wu Tang’s earlier years, where you suddenly thought “wow we’ve got something special?”

Yeah you know, in the beginning when we all started doing it. It wasn’t when we blew up. I already knew what my brothers were capable of doing before we became Wu Tang. I had a pre-determined, pre-meditated situation where I already knew. It was like a business.

There’s an interesting quote from you where you said “I can talk about Wu Tang, but don’t let me hear anyone else talk about them. That’s my family.”

Exactly (laughs) no comment on that.

ODB remains one of the most unique characters that has ever existed in hip-hop. What was it like being around him?

Well you know that’s family man. He might be Wu and ODB, and wild and stuff, but to me that’s my brother man. It ain’t nothing. It’s like Meth, that’s my family too but people be going crazy when the see the dude, and I be like tsk maaaan that’s my fam. It’s like he’s special, but he’s not that special like ya’ll would see him. But I love my brothers man.

Looking back on your career, do you have anyone who you are proudest to have worked with?

I’ve worked with a lot of different people… umm Rick Rubin, a lot of different people. We met so many good people, it’s hard to even say. You know what I mean? Well, Issac Hayes. He’s a good guy man, quiet, keeps to himself. People are human beings you know. People are just regular man.

You’ve been known for having quite a wild temper, do you think you’ve calmed with age?

Yeah, yeah man. I’m not the only one that’s like that. Don’t make it sound like I’m the only bad guy. I wasn’t the only bad guy, stop making it seem like I’m the only one that’s crazy like that (laughs). I wasn’t the only one.

Your writing style has changed over time. At first your style was quite straight forward, then around the time of Wu Tang Forever your style was a bit more abstract, a bit more slanged out. And now it’s gone back to being how it was originally. Were you making these changes on purpose?

Yes, yes I do change my style up because I can’t stay the same, plus my attitude changes with my style. My process is kinda crazy man. I go through a lot because I sit still, I meditate. I don’t know, I use the lower levels of my brain. It’s just different.

You’ve spoken a lot about how you feel you are quite underrated, do you feel like now is your time to shine? Dopium was well received, and now you’re coming out with Keynote Speaker?

We’ll I can’t tell which way things are going to go or what they are going to lead to, but when I came up with “Keynote Speaker” that’s exactly what I was saying because I’ve basically come to the forefront, to step to the podium and talk to you. So you know, whatever happens happens. People like good music – they gravitate toward it. They do – they do, they don’t – they don’t, but this record right here is my Illmatic. So this is what I’m doing right now. I’m not the four bar killer anymore. I used to be, but that’s not what I’m about no more.

Tell us about the track “Black Shampoo” off Wu Tang Forever, it’s definitely a unique song.

People tease me about that record, I get mixed reviews. I get laughed at. 

A little bit of all of the above, but how do you feel about the track?

It definitely shows a different side of U-God. You switched your style up quite a bit on there. 

Okay…

Of course I have to ask about the new Wu Tang stuff, do you feel like you guys can make a full comeback with a solid record?

Well, we gon’ try baby. We gon’ give it our all.

What about the production? Because not everyone was happy with the way that 8 Diagrams turned out.

Well we going to figure it out when we cross that bridge, you know what I mean? Hopefully it will come out good and we can be happy with it.

Caninus - The Grindcore Band Fronted By Two Dogs

grindcore

I wrote about this hilarious band with dog vocalists for Vice/Noisey.

Caninus believe true metal singers walk on four legs and take a shit on your lawn without asking. The New York grindcore band has recorded three albums with dog singers because a pit bull’s bark is more brutal than anything a puny human could muster. They’re not the only ones who recognize the power of animal vocals either. There’s death metal band Hatebeak, who are fronted by an African Grey Parrot named Waldo, as well as YouTube videos of metal monkeys, roosters and cats

Female duo Basil and Budgie acted as the frontmen (or frontdogs) of Caninus until the tragic passing of Basil due to a brain tumor in 2011, and the band is recording a new album in her honor. But the dogs aren’t just barking for tummy rubs, their music has a message. The group are avid animal rights activists and promote veganism, adopting homeless pets and protest pitbull misconceptions. Their song titles include "Bite The Hand That Breeds You," “Locking Jaws” and "Fuck The American Kennel Club.” 
The sweet death barks of Caninus will either send a shiver up your spine or tempt you into humping your neighbour’s leg, and both of those are good things. I spoke to guitarist Belle Molotov about rumors that Susan Sarandon is a fan, their split EP with Hatebeak, Richard Christy of The Howard Stern Show joining the band and if the dogs have ever performed live. 

How did the idea come about to use dogs as your vocalists?
 
We were all fans of grindcore and death metal bands, and we noticed one day that our dogs could growl with the best of them. We learned how to safely get them to growl and bark along to the music and Caninus was born. We got a lot of backlash that we were actually recording the dogs fighting but that's bullshit. Hasn't anyone seen the Husky that can say "I love you?"

Do you find their voices more powerful than humans?

Hell yeah. They were born to do it and the intensity is there and the dogs have an important message to get across. They can be just as uncooperative as human singers as well and can be total divas.

How did you get them pumped up to perform?


We do lots of calisthenics - we practice "give me paw", "rollover", "take a bow" and give them lots of treats. Then the rawhide comes out and the vocals just start flowing naturally.

Has the band ever played live?


There are rumors of live shows and we have been on a stage with the dogs during a live show. No one ever knows when we will play and it always has to be a surprise.

Do the dogs ever listen to the music? How do they respond?

The dogs always perk up when they hear the music and especially the vocals. It's better to see the reaction of other dogs listening to Caninus. It's like they get a look on their face like "I know what they're saying" and they get all riled up. There are some videos on YouTube of dogs listening to Caninus. Look them up.

Tell us about the concepts behind your songs.


Most of the songs concern issues that pit bulls face today. They are the most misunderstood and abused breed out there. The lyrics give the dogs' perspective on all that they face as pit bulls and as dogs. The dogs sit down and try and explain to us what they want us to say and we try our best to put it on paper.

Could you tell us about some of the other activism you're involved with?

Budgie, the last remaining singer, is very active in trying to be pet, to steal your food, and to get into the bathroom garbage to snack on dirty Q-Tips and tampons.

You guys are vegans too right?

Budgie and Basil were never vegans. They usually enjoyed a diet of Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance dog food or raw meat, fruits and vegetables.

How was working with the parrot singer Waldo from Hatebeak?


The singer was a bit of a diva. He's really loud and likes to repeat things over and over again. But overall we got along and we think it was a great split.

What do you think of their vocalist?


His squawk is no match for our growl.

You worked with Cattle Decapitation as well?


Yes, we released a split 7" with the awesome Cattle Decapitation some years ago. That was our last release. Although, there are no actual cows in the band. We were a little disappointed by that but still went forward with the split anyway.

Why did you decide to end the band after Basil died in 2011?


Technically the band is still around. We've been working on a tribute album to Basil as Budgie is still alive and doing great even at 14 years old. She misses her sister and wants a fitting memorial to her. We have a couple songs written but it's been slow going lately due to Budgie's arthritis.

Your website says you've received approval from celebrities like Susan Sarandon?


She loves us- so does Bernadette Peters.

How did you meet drummer Richard Christy, from The Howard Stern Show?


He was a big fan so we asked Budgie and Basil if he could join the band and they said it was cool. Unfortunately Basil never had a chance to meet him in person, but Budgie hopes to meet him one day.

Are there any other animals you'd like to collaborate with?

We'd love to work with the stray cats.


Dj Khaled - No New Friends ft. Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Future




By Jimmy Ness and originally written for Passionweiss

DJ Khaled should worry about new ideas, instead of new friends. He needs a crew that brings creative criticism to the studio rather than codeine. The “DJ” has used the same technique to make music for seven records- cram a bunch of relevant artists on a track with a “cinematic hook” and let the power of their popularity sell the record. Khaled’s first release Listennn…the album had an intro with over 24 guest features in less than two minutes. Who really needed to hear a song featuring Pitbull, Nas and Bone Thugs N Harmony performing together?

Seven years later, Khaled bin Abdul Khaled still hasn’t learnt his lesson. “No New Friends” sounds like a b-side to “Bitches Love Me,” and was probably made during the same session. Drake sings the melodramatic hook over traditional understated production from BFFs “Boi-1da” and Noah “40” Shebib. He mentions “Bitches Love Me” specifically during his bland raps and tries to drop a hot line by saying “If I had a baby momma she would probably be richer than a lot of you.” This line falls flat because a) It’s not very good and b) Drizzy would never just have a “baby momma.” I bet five Birdman handrubs he would be shopping for maternity underwear in the blink of an eye.

Rozay comes along secondly and grunts a tepid verse, which only women’s rights groups will bother paying attention to. Weezy also appears to drop a few throwaway verses and the cycle of mediocrity is complete. Just in case there wasn’t enough star power, an unaccredited Future pops up during the last few seconds of the track. If Khaled is so concerned with keeping old friends, he should have thrown T-Pain a scrap and let him sing the Gucci astronaut’s part. It’s not as if this song could get any less memorable.

Four of the most popular current artists, and still not a single reason to replay this track? Blame Khaled. The true reason he has “No new friends” is because he’s always shouting WETHEBEST and no one likes a braggart, especially if their claims are blatantly untrue. If all of Khaled’s music is a movie like he claims, this is definitely the Baby Geniuses 2 of rap.


Shy Glizzy: Street Poet or Poor Man's Boosie?



By Jimmy Ness and originally written for Passionweiss

It’s cool to be weird in 2013. Danny Brown is Yakuza dope boy chic, Future’s an astronaut, Lil Wayne wears leopard print jeggings and Lil B’s cat has recorded more songs than you. Nostalgic fans see the ‘90s as the zenith of rap and I’m not inclined to argue, but there’s also something to be said for this era in which artists are free to experiment.

Washington D.C.’s Shy Glizzy isn’t the most innovative or strange, but there’s something oddly fascinating about his raggedly long sideburns, high pitch and sometimes boyish persona. The 20 year old, whose name is an acronym of ‘Street’s Hottest Youngin’ and a slang term for a glock, is a relative newcomer with less than five official mixtapes under his name. There’s only a few interviews with him online, and it takes a deep Google search to reveal his supposed government name: Marquis King.

Glizzy claims to have spent much of his youth robbing people and discovered he had a talent for rap after trying to write a book during a stay in a youth detention center. While third rate crack rappers from the front page of Datpiff trade phony coke stories and clamber over each other for the next big trap single, the Southeast DC rookie distinguishes himself with tales of the underclass, a nasally twang and simple, yet effective hooks. But is he just a poor man’s Lil Boosie?

Wale nearly signed the 20 year old to his BOA label, and MMG also courted him briefly. Everyone’s favorite felon Gunplay even appeared in the video for “Busters,” but not everyone is convinced. Chief Keef and Fat Trel had him banned from their DC show last year over some convoluted Twitter beef, which is probably Mr Folarin’s fault. Glizzy, of course, used this as an opportunity to gain some shine and released several tracks including a mediocre Keef diss called “3 Milli.” Shy flashes a piece in the video, says the O Blocker sounds like he’s 40 and spits the terribad line “I’mma catch your grandmother and shoot her in her titties.”

Despite the uninspired granny diss, Glizzy is a pretty unique character and the wiry rapper occasionally avoids the ultra-masculine bravado of the traditional MC. Shy references being raised by his grandmother and mother in various songs, sometimes calling the latter “mommy.” On “I came from nothing” off the mixtape Law, he also mentions his lack of athleticism. “Lord have mercy on me. Uhh, I wasn’t blessed to be LeBron. I wasn’t blessed to have a Michael Vick arm.”

Glizzy’s latest mixtape, Fxck Rap, is also an interesting listen. There’s personal tales about getting kicked out of multiple high schools, trying PCP and the murder of his father. But Shy’s true strength lies in catchy song writing.

“Swish” and “Pilot” are pretty solid singles and the album’s production is decent. “Swish” thumps like a trap anthem should and Glizzy uses the line “Pop a model, pop a bottle,” which could be a hook in itself. He also mentions groupies who are willing to do anything for a Twitter follow, and my hope for the human race decreases.

Glizzy’s appearance on newcomer AR-ab’s track “Shoot Gunz” further demonstrates his unique presence. Though the track is AR-ab’s, it belongs to Shy. He nasally raps the hook, switches his flow and calls himself “a glock connoisseur” before his co-star intrudes with forgettable thug raps.

However, Shy’s vocabulary is limited and he relies on rapping the same word multiple times. Some of his metaphors break the barrier between funny a la 2 Chainz and straight embarrassing. Lines like “I told her I’m the shit, she say you don’t even stink,” are lazy at best and should be kept for post-jail Lil Wayne. On Fxck Rap, Glizzy admits he’s only been rapping for two years, and it often shows.

If I were a rap soothsayer, I’d say Shy has three career paths. He will improve and put out a solid project that will win him mass appeal. He could fade into obscurity or get big quickly off a gimmicky single. Being a pessimist, I’m going to assume it’s one of the last two and an early collaboration with Trinidad James might mean he’s already looking for a trend or “hot artist” to piggyback him. But Shy Glizzy shows promise, and I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

Cappadonna Interview

wu tang clan





By Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

During the mid to late 90s, Cappadonna spit deadly verses alongside his fellow Wu-Tang killer bees on “Ice Cream,” “Triumph” and “Daytona 500.” But those bars were nothing compared to Donna’s masterpiece: the final verse on “Winter Warz.”

Darryl Hill held a clinic on how to rap well. He effortlessly delivered some of the most entertaining verses on any Wu release, a huge achievement considering the quality of the Clan’s early work. In around sixty seconds Cappa Donna Goines rapped old English, rhymed a numerical code, compared himself to Freddie Kruger, put his face on a $20 bill and threateningly used the word “discombobulate.”

Cappadonna’s first album, The Pillage remains one of the most underrated releases from the Wu golden era and it seemed like he was only a small step behind Raekwon and Ghostface. Unfortunately, the Clan’s energies dissipated and his later career was inconsistent despite releasing a largely unnoticed, but quality project called The Pilgrimage in 2011. 

We spoke about the ups and downs of his career including recording in the first Wu Tang mansion, being voluntarily homeless, claims that his manager was a police informant and sharing his lyrics with other Wu members. Cappadonna also laughed hysterically while telling me about the time he almost fought a midget Kiss tribute band, so you should read that.


In the early days, local rappers including some of the Wu Tang Clan called you the Staten Island Slick Rick?

The Slick Rick of Staten Island, yup. Because that’s the style that I had, you know. I had the clothes plus I had the big jewellery. Even when I was young I was doing that. I was wearing slacks. I didn’t wear jeans until I was about 18 years old. I dressed like a gentleman with slacks and dress shirts and wore stuff like that to school. I took a brief case to high school instead of a school bag [laughs.] Book bags were disgusting to me. I didn’t want to have anything on my back, you know what I mean? I was like “I’m so fly, I’m gotta put my books in this.”

Method Man said you were the best rapper he knew in the 80s and you would use each other’s rhymes in your music. Is there a particular rhyme that we might know from the Wu albums that was originally yours?

Most of my early demos were by myself, but me and Meth did some demos. We used to hook a speaker up to the window and make mixtapes.

I had so many different lines. I can’t even remember all of them myself, but we all used a little bit of each other’s stuff. I think one of them was “life is hectic” [The final lines from Inspectah Deck’s verse on Cream] or something like that. There were a couple of joints. “Life is hectic” was a song that me, Rae and Meth had a long time ago. We all basically took pieces of that and used it in other songs like “Cream.” Meth got so many songs on his album, I probably didn’t even hear them all. We just do stuff like that. Even like “love is love.” It just so happened it was part of another song and it just went well, so we’ve got: “Love is love love, love is love love” and that’s not even my song, it’s Meth’s song. [Cappadonna is referring to the hook he uses on Method Man’s track “Sweet Love.”]

What about “Run?” You used lines about running from the police on your album The Pillage, then Ghostface Killah made a very similar song on Supreme Clientele?

Yeah, Ghost took a lot of reference from the “Run” I did to do his “Run,” and he reworded it a little bit, but basically wrote the same song. A lot of cats did “Run.” Juvenile did his “Run.” Xzibit did a “Run.” They all basically came after the captain. They took a little piece of that, it was good and they just wanted to do it over man. It’s flattering.

When you were in prison, Method Man replaced you in the Wu Tang Clan. How did you feel about the success they were having at the time?

I felt great for them, but when I was in prison I was in combat mode. While they were doing all that, I was in Rikers Island like Three Upper. They call it 374: Adolescents At War. So I was in there. Big up to all my niggas locked up. It was about survival. So when all of my dogs were popping off and on the TV, niggas already knew that I was from Shaolin. They knew that I had skills on the mic. I wasn’t going around about all that though. I was focusing on my bid and after I got out of Rikers Island, I went straight up North. I went to Fishscale, from Fishscale I went to Elmira. I was in the hub for a little while, out all night and all that. So through that whole transition I been popping darts off and watching the Wu Tang grow and watching them do what they doing. Everyone knew I was a close affiliate. I had pictures and all that, of my brothers, with my brothers and when I got back, you know I didn’t pursue no music. I wasn’t looking to get on or nothin. I felt great about everything that was going on, but I had a different thing that I wanted to do. I was a hustler, I was just a hustler man, you know?

Tell us about when you did get back in the studio with them?

At that time, studios weren’t popular like that. You couldn’t just rent them at any time. I had been in some before. Some of them were exquisite and expensive, some of them were homegrown. The majority of them were homegrown studios. So you know, that wasn’t really what “did it” for me, but it was definitely an adventure to be recording in [RZA’s] studio for the first time. We did Ice Cream and another in RZA’s first homegrown studio and it got flooded out right after that, so you know we lost a lot of stuff.

So where did you record The Pillage?

By that time we were doing fairly well, the clan was doing very well. We did that in Jersey, at the first Wu mansion. We were still fixing that up, you know, just bringing in furniture, bringing in stuff and deciding who is going to sleep where and how many beds and rooms were available. So we basically slept there. I slept there to record that album and whenever any Clan members came over it was easy access for them to just jump in the studio with me. Like I didn’t have to go flying nobody out, we never had to do that because we were always right there and everybody could just hear what you were doing and just drop a verse right there. It was the best. It was beautiful.

How was recording with Wu producer Tru Master?

Tru Master was the one that was there engineering the whole time and he made The Pillage into a successful album. Like he was 75% of that album man, and he knew what kind of tracks went well with my voice. He had a special gift for that, you know what I’m saying? Probably not only for me, but for a lot of other brothers that he did work with. Peace to True Master man. Hold your head baby, come home soon. [True Master was imprisoned in 2011 for fleeing court on assault charges.]

Tell us about “Milk The Cow?”

Milking that cow, the best way we know how. It’s just trying to feed your family, and trying to make money and survive. Trying to keep your job, trying to survive, the best way we know how and sometimes to pay that rent you gotta have two jobs. Word.

A lot of your standout verses on “Ice Cream,” “Camay,” “Maria” and “Jellyfish” have been about beautiful women?

Yeah, those verses are kinda raunchy too at the same time. I was never one to try game a chick. I would always just kind of go up to them and be like “Yo, I’ve got four girls but I would love to sleep with you tonight.”

Have you ever thought of buying the number “917 160 49311″ from your verse on Winter Warz? There’s a lot of discussion about it online. Some people even claim they called it and spoke with you.

Nah, that’s a code. Only the ones who know, know what it is. I’ll tell you, the 160 part that’s my building number. 49311, only people who mastered it, know it. It’s just a code.
[On further investigation, 917 is the NYC area code and 49311 spells out a certain explicit word if you associate each letter of the alphabet with a number.]

After your second solo album, The Yin and The Yang was released, you were voluntarily homeless and working as a cab driver. How do you feel looking back on that situation?

At the time I did it, I had a lot of different reasons but one of the reasons was to test the people that were around me. I wanted to see who would be really on my side and there was no way for me to see that because everyone would stick around me because of whatever they thought I had to offer. Once everything was gone and I was looking back, I could see who was really on my side. It was basically a test you know, just to see where I stand and it also gave me the opportunity to annihilate myself. It was kind of like it equally damaged me as much as it gave me morality and strong morals. It definitely was a shot to leg.

Did you feel like you had to give up all of the material excess?

My family started to look at my value based upon what I could do for them and not really look at me as a loving individual. So yeah, I definitely had to give that up. I gave it away mostly to the ones that clung onto it and that’s what they ended up with in the end. They ended up with all of that and none of me.

Your manager Michael Caruso was fired after it was claimed in a Village Voice article that he had been or was a police informant. Can you tell us about that?

I don’t know. I don’t know about his personal life. We did some work together, he worked for me. He was good at what he did and I hired him on those basics. I didn’t do a background check on him. I’m not no kind of agency or anything like that, but he did good work and that’s how I know him. I have no information on his past life and whether or not he was involved with certain activity or not.

Here’s a random question. Ghostface said on Jimmy Kimmel that during a tour you nearly got in a fight with a midget Kiss cover band?!
 
[Laughs] I think I remember something like that very vaguely. I don’t know what happened, but I think they were more or less mad at me because I probably walked across their set. I think the anger came because I was so tall. They were kinda upset about that and when I came in there everyone started focusing on me, but at the end I was with them. I was bouncing with them on their lil set. We were together, so in the end everything worked out and we made it peace. But they definitely wanted to penalize me for stealing their limelight.
You’ve commented in the past that not all Wu Tang members have respected your position and have tried to pay you less than equal share. This is despite close friends like Ghostface or Raekwon claiming that you’ve been an important part of the group from the beginning.

Do you feel like the members respect you now?

It’s not a matter of whether they respect my position or not, it’s just the fact that if you’re dealing with greed, you’re dealing with greed. Word, because respect is something that you’ve gotta earn, it’s not something that you buy.

How have people received your latest album Eyrth, Wynd and Fyre?

The double album is a classic right now. I call it my “miracle album.” Right now it’s 89 on the Hiphop Billboard Chart, getting great reviews, getting front pages on a couple of websites, getting five mics in a magazine. It’s the highlight of what’s going on right now. It’s the force behind the upcoming album, The Pillage 2. This is the bird that I’m creating so they will know that I’m there. I’m in the area, I’m next door and I’m ready for war.

Speaking of The Pillage 2, how is that going?

It’s going well. I’m getting good cooperation from the involved parties. It was a little tender in the beginning, but now it’s breaking off.

What about the new Wu Tang album, have you contributed yet?

Nah I haven’t done my contribution yet, but the Wu album is in the making, recording and it’s getting done. It’s popping off and more things will be popping off soon, but it’s out there.
Remember Wu Tang is forever. Witty Unpredictable Talent and Natural Game HUH!?