Written by Rafael Martinez
Unbeknownst, to the club going, finger snapping, ay bay bay hollering hip-hop fans, El-P is the architect of one of the biggest independent movements in hip-hop. El-P helped launch Rawkus Records in the minds and hearts of backpackers as part of the legendary trio Company Flow. When his relationship with Rawkus soured, rather than sign with a major, El-P stuck to his indie roots and formed his own label Definitive Jux. In the past seven years indie artist like Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif , RJD2 and Cage have found a creative safe haven in Def Jux. While successfully running the label El-P has continued to develop his solo-career as emcee and producer, recently dropping his sophomore project I’ll Sleep When Your Dead. As reluctant as he maybe to take the title, El-P is a hip-hop mogul on the indie grind.
RAF: I know your touring in support of the album, how has life on the road been treating you?
El-P: It’s been good man, I’m a little exhausted, but I’m managing.
RAF: So everyone seems to have different ways of describing your music and production. It’s been called spacey, futuristic, Bomb Squad-esque, how do you see your music?
El-P: Well I really don’t man. I’m just a kid who grew up in Brooklyn, who fucking loved hip-hop all his life. I just don’t do it. Same way I don’t like to review other peoples’ records.
RAF: Aight (laughs), all your albums you paint this bleak picture of the world highly authoritative and sterile. Where do you see the world in a hundred years?
El-P: I couldn’t even imagine that – hopefully some sort of state of rebuilding, because I think we are headed for some sort of crash. But I couldn’t even imagine the world a hundred years from now. I am still trying to deal with New York City right now.
RAF: I wanted to get your thoughts on the Don Imus and Oprah controversy. I think while everyone is making this outcry, asking hip-hop to create a positive message, yet I know if hip-hop brings a political or empowering message I guarantee they would want hip-hop to return to the bitches and ho’s talk.
El-P: Well you know I agree, but I think the people who are rejecting the bitches and ho’s thing are not the corporate people (laughs). The corporate people love the bitches and ho’s thing. The people who are actually getting offended are actually and legitimately offended by the shit. On that note I am sure this will not make the article I do kinda feel like that whole thing let’s put more curse words on the reversal list and the bleep out list is kinda of like putting a band aide on an open jugular. It doesn’t really seem to be getting to the root of the problem. Its just kinda of funny to me everyone was supporting this shit until the second someone gets offended. I don’t get it. It has been offensive to so many people for so long. Why now all of sudden?
RAF: Let me ask you about your production process and when you sketch the new album are there certain images or feelings and emotions you couldn’t translate into music?
El-P: Well you know it’s getting easier for me. The more I learn about music, the longer I have been in this business, the longer I have been a producer – the translation becomes easier from what is in my head to my hands. Which is why I kinda feel this is my best record because that translation has become quicker, easier and a lot more accurate. For me I am never satisfied, I never think I am good enough, I never think the music is on point enough and I never think I am at the point where I want to be musically. But it’s not because I’m beating myself up or hypercritical. It’s because the more I see, the more I learn and get involved in music, I love it. I have been putting records out since 93, so I am just now starting to really understand what the fuck it is I am trying to do.
RAF: In the same vein are there certain things you feel shouldn’t put a record?
El-P: Well you know usually when I run into those situations – I force myself to put it on a record (laughs). Because those scenarios that are too honest or that your scared to put on a record that reveal something about yourself more than you want to, usually, that’s exactly what you need to be putting on a record. It seems like people are much more willing to put bullshit and lies on a record. That is exactly what I don’t want to put on a record. The stuff that is easier to put on a record, the stuff that won’t expose me and not make me feel uncomfortable that is the shit that needs to be left on the editing floor.
RAF: Going forward has it ever crossed your mind to complete flip the script and change the signature El-P sound? Similarly to DJ Shadow’s last album The Outsider where he concentrated on hyphy music.
El-P: I kinda follow my own heart – I don’t involve the fans, in the creative process. The fact is I do a lot of other projects outside of my record. This is only my second solo record. I’ve done jazz albums, film scores, producing rock records, doing rock remixes. So I don’t really feel I need to make some overt statement about my capabilities as a producer or flip anything. All I feel I need to do is follow my own shit. What the fans get when they follow me is they get a direction they get a confession from where I was at last time.
RAF: So the new album you have some rock collaborations Trent Reznor, Mars Volta and TV on the Radio, considering a lot of the rock/rap collabos have been so fucking awful, do you feel like its picking up a loaded gun?
El-P: I wasn’t afraid to do it, I was cautious about the way that I did it. Because of how tragically fucking bad it usually is when people do it. The thing is I am actually cool with these people. There is actually some sort of relationship there. Its not some bullshit – there is a real respect between everybody on the record. So I just kinda figured out a way to do it. For me I had to bring them into my world and not make it about the collaboration. I brought these people on because I heard parts on the record that I thought would be cool to have them on. Not because I wanted to create a record and they were willing to do a song with me and I made a song around that. I all ready had all of these songs and I just treated it like a sample. I looked at it like the art of sampling. Name me one classic hip-hop record from the 80’s to the 90’s that didn’t sample directly from a rock record? Shit, I’ll give you money. Basically to me it’s an extension of the whole breakdown and reconstruction of a genre, that’s what hip-hop producers do. For me if I found what Mars Volta sung on some record, I would have sampled that shit. A lot of people do the overstated collaboration, the collaboration should never be more important than the song, the idea.
RAF: Yeah I agree your approach as sampling is probably the best. I don’t think I have seen a rock/rap collaboration that was truly organic, where there was no tension.
El-P: I don’t think your right, I understand why you would say that but I treat it as sampling but they where genuine collaborations. I weaved into my music – I took the stuff apart I played with it. But there is a lot of common ground man – it’s not that big of a deal. Especially when you listen to Trent Reznor, to me he is not the biggest leap production wise. It is a leap to a degree. But most of that leap is in the minds of the people who define the genres from a critical stand point. When you listen to this dude’s (Trent Reznor) drums, that’s why a lot of hip-hop cats like Nine Inch Nails because of the bass and the drums – the shit is just savage. With Mars Volta – their structure, the effects they use the way go about there shit isn’t so impossibly different from some of the approaches I have taken. Most of the leaps and hurdles that have to be overcome when you do something like this is a) the way people perceive it and b) just making the shit sound good. It requires some thought and I knew I could pull it off.
RAF: So how do you feel your first solo album Fantastic Damage and I’ll Sleep When Your Dead relate to each other?
El-P: This record was written from the prospective of someone who’s been alive and shuffling around New York City for five years in the midst of all this bullshit. It really was about struggle. One man, one physiological prospective. Trying to wake up everyday and function like everything is still cool but everything isn’t necessarily cool. I think that’s the reality of New York right now. Shit man we are trauma victims a lot has gone on since then that has really sucked some of the soul, energy and life out of all of us. Whether or not we are admitting it, people are fucked up right now. I was fucked up personally, I’ve been through a lot of shit and this is what this record is about. It’s not about being afraid of the future or anything like that, its literally me trying to survive and walk through this city and still maintain sanity and life. A lot of my friends didn’t do that and didn’t survive. As far as future albums I don’t have a grand vision I just try to take snapshots and make it the most genuine shit possible.
RAF: I know you from Brooklyn, I was born and raised there myself and live a few blocks away from the Atlantic Yards project. This is gonna change the borough completely. Where do you stand on this?
El-P: I am pretty worried about it to be honest. I am not looking forward to it. The neighborhood I live in is going to be greatly affected by it. I am not going to front. All my life I have lived in Brooklyn and it’s always been a refuge, some sanity – in comparison. It didn’t get the Walt Disney makeover like Manhattan did.
RAF: It’s been about 7 years give or take since your record label Definitive Jux started. Back then did you see the label where it’s at now, are you happy with its direction?
El-P: I am constantly busting my ass, as we all are to ensure that it is a better label at all times. As always I think it is a work in progress. But yes I think we got a really good thing going and it’s mostly because of the amazing people who work there and because of the artists we work with. It’s been a fun ride – I still feel it’s got a lot of places to go. As long as it continues to make sense I will fuck wit it. I am sure one day eventually I will walk away from this whole business, you know and just do music. But in the meantime I have the opportunity to help cats help create a career for themselves. It’s definitely something I enjoy. From day one we constantly try to make our shit the tightest shit, the most transparent, the best independent label on the planet. I don’t know if we can claim that but we are up there.
RAF: It seems to me with Def Jux people have generally two reactions they either love or they don’t fuck with it. Does this bother you?
El-P: Well I think there are people out there who make up their minds on shit based on stuff besides the music. There are perceptions that have come, based on magazines that there is some sort of unifying theme or factor to all the music that is put out on Def Jux. Anybody can like our music or not like our music, but to say you don’t like any music on the label, even the music that has not even come out yet (laughs). But I kinda feel that’s the mood and vibe of fandom right now – people just draw hard lines. When I grew up people listened to rock ‘n’ roll or hip-hop, but a lot of motherfuckers listened to both. Now its I listen to this type of hip-hop or this type of hip-hop (laughs), its pretty ridiculous, I think anyone over the age of like 29 looks that at that whole attitude as silly.
Written by Kim Reed
Okay guys first let me introduce Ben, talk about funny! This guy knows funny. His standup certainly isn’t for kids but nonetheless he is hilarious. I got the opportunity to interview him and just laugh. I tell you no lie, he is grateful for it all cause he can do it all! I’m telling you guys, Ben Glieb is an all around comedian. Check him out on Myspace.com and right here in this interview…
The Source: Hi Ben, it’s Kim from The Source, how’s it going?
Ben: I’m good, how are you?
The Source: Am good, first let me take the time to thank you for doing this opportunity.
Ben: You’re welcome!
The Source: What’s going on, what’s new?
Ben: Am here in Atlanta kicking it in my hotel room, on the internet, waiting on my show tonight.
The Source: How is the show looking tonight?
Ben: It’s looking real good. We got all kinds of people rollin out to come check out my stand up, fans of the show and fans of my act.
The Source: I would love to experience that, hopefully I will one day.
Ben: Where do you live L.A.?
The Source: No, I live in New York.
Ben: I may be doing some colleges out there.
The Source: I will defiantly look out for that. You started off doing hidden camera?
Ben: Yeah man, I started off in college, doing my own TV show called “The Gleib Show” that was hidden camera and news pieces and sketches. I also started doing standup when I graduated college, shortly after that, real quick, I met success in the L.A. standup scene and then I sold my show “The Gleib Show” to National Lampoon Network for like colleges across the country. I did my thing there, the show was hidden camera
The Source: That’s great. So how did the “Wedding Crashers” piece come along?
Ben: It was actually some good luck of mine. A good friend of mine who was on “Punked”, Owen Benjamin went to audition for it. He went in and so happens the casting director asked if he could recommend anybody else for the show and next thing you know…
The Source: That was a good lookout for you and an even better friend!
Ben: Yeah pretty crazy question to ask for someone who wanted the job himself. It was a huge looking out.
The Source: What was the best standup u did and where?
Ben: I like to perform on TV, I like to do the “Late Show”, that was great; you get to perform for a million people at once. It’s better than 200 people in Iowa, but as far as gigs… I don’t know. I like performing a lot, I like performing for ethnic crowds. I love performing at Latino nights, they go nuts. Performing in L.A., there were a couple nights I performed on the comedy two’s show at the improvs and I been on line up’s like in one night Dave Chappelle, Dane Cook, Sarah Silverman all in one line up.
The Source: Those are all really great comedians, being in that atmosphere what was it like for you?
Ben: It’s incredible; you grow up watching these people. It’ s pretty crazy watching these comics and all of a sudden you’re a colleague of theirs and you’re doing the exact same job and I follow these people. They say it’s hard to follow great people, and I followed all these people. I followed Chappelle, I followed Dane Cook, and it’s all the same time an incredible honor but it also legitimizes you like crazy. You work your ass off at the little workout rooms and open mic. Build to a certain point where you’re playing the big clubs and you stop and realize how far you’ve come. A lot of the times I’ll end up in the line up with all these stars whom I looked up to and that’s when you can’t help but take pause and look around and be like damn this is how far I’ve come already and I barely getting started and it gives you like this crazy fuel to keep going.
The Source: Do you have any major inspirations that led you to this point in your life, to allow you to pursue your goals and dreams? Who are the top three people that you can honestly say they’re the reason I’m going to do this.
Ben: Top three people have to be George Carlin, just a genius prolific comic. He comes out with an hour every year. Brilliant passionate shit! Eddie Murphy, I love Eddie Murphy, delirious and raw and all these amazing movies. Like I don’t just want to do stand up I want to act and write, direct, and produce and stand up. I’m already doing all that stuff. I had a movie last year with Charlie Murphy called “Bar stars”, and Eddie Murphy showed how to be so funny, brilliant less comedy but so charming and likable on camera. Then you get a big film career from it and become one of the top names in comedy. Third is probably Johnny Carson, because I always liked talk shows too.
Being able to put people to bed with just great talk show, where you get to introduce people to their favorite stars and chat with them. I think maybe I want to end my career in 30 or 40 years from now hosting a late night talk show. Johnny did it with such charm and humor.
The Source: Since you want to pursue acting, produce and direct, would you star in your own movies? Will you use big names?
Ben: The answer is simple I would like to do both. (Laughs) I’ve already written and directed my own “The Glieb Show” for Lampoon and we sold that to Fox last year. Lauren Michaels was producing it. I got a few scripts in the works for movies I want to direct and act in. I wrote them, but until I get those scripts polished and get a lil more “cash’e” in the industry, I’m very happy to just get parts in films with people I admire, you know? Being in the movie with Charlie Murphy was very legitimizing for me. He’s hilarious for real.
I was up for the lead role in a dramatic film where I was gonna playing this crazy, homeless guy who witnessed all this tragedy in his life. I got called in for that. Some people seen me on Wedding Crashers and you wouldn’t think from doing hidden camera comedy you’d be seen at that but, as much as the industry can be bullshit, there are some quality people out there who can recognize talent and can maybe spot something that you believe you can bring to the table. I didn’t get that movie but I got the call back and they were considering me.
I never even thought much about dramatic acting. Basically I just want to maybe seize those opportunities and just keep bringing my comedy and my performances to larger and larger audiences. For me it’s about getting people a chance to relax and take a load off, smile, and kick back. This world is so stressful these days. If I could make people think a little bit great but, if I can just make them laugh, that’s my #1 goal. That’s all I really care to do is just give them a chance to kick back and take their minds off their problems for a minute.
The Source: I’m pretty sure you met many people in the industry, who were the most inspiring to meet?
Ben: That’s a good question. Chappelle. He’s an icon in comedy. At the time his show was on the air and he was probably the #1 comedian in the country. I went up to him at the laugh factory and I thought he wouldn’t care to spend ten seconds with me and he was so humble I told him I loved his special and that I love the jokes he told about how he was with his kid and he was looking at his kid and said ‘you came from my balls man” I told chapelle that cracked me up and he was so touched by my compliment you could see that it meant a lot to him that I really appreciated what he did.
He looked at me and was like awe man really thanks you so much for saying that. That was a great lesson to learn for me. I also met Elton John and that was cool. He was about to go on stage to receive the lifetime achievement award. That’s a pretty self centered moment you’re getting an award for what he’s done, and I asked him if I could take a picture with him backstage. He was the nicest guy. He was like yeah of course let’s find a good backdrop and make sure you like the picture. I was like man this guy got his priorities right… I will take time out enjoy my fans.
-by Charles “CZA” Sweet II
You know her from Sirius Radio’s “Cipha Sounds Effect” morning show. What you don’t know is that behind the angelic voice and scathing remarks she has had more of an influence on hip hop than the majority of rappers in it. Look in the rolodex of your favorite rapper and you might just recognize the name, and if you don’t, be sure to recognize the talent. Don’t let the soft voice fool you; this lady’s about her business because this is more than music.
Q. Tell us about how you got to where you are today.
A. I believe it was a combination of skill and luck. I interned for Wu-Tang Management and TVT records amongst others and when I finished school, I went to work for Wu-Tang Management and during that time, I actually had Eminem open up for Wu-Tang at a show in Staten Island and so that’s how I met his manager, Paul Rosenberg. Ever since then, we’ve been cool and he hired me to work at the clothing line and then he hired me to work at the radio station. I didn’t have any experience doing radio but they figured they would give me a try because I had a lot of connections in the industry. They thought I had a good personality and sometimes it’s hard to hire someone who’s already in radio because they have a set way of thinking and he [Paul Rosenberg] was like, “We’re going to mold her.” to fit the position that they wanted me in. Then they gave me the big speech about me being all sensitive and touchy about things. Even now people are sensitive and touchy about everything when it comes to like race and women. It’s at a really different climate right now. They thought I was going to take offense to every little thing, but I’m not like that. I think a lot of times people say things that they think would shock me but nothing really shocks me, so it’s funny to me. Trust me; I can come back even harder. I appreciate the fact that women who listen to the show like me because they think I represent for the ladies. When people say something that they think would offend me, I’ll just turn it around and make them look and sound stupid.
Q. What do you see yourself doing post-Shade 45? What’s next for you?
A. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Doing my blog on Myspace has helped me out a lot so I would say that it has helped me out a lot that I can express myself that way and people will go and read it and leave feedback. It helped me realize that whatever I want to do, I have a built-in audience already for that. I want to write a book, and when I do, I know that there will be people who’ll know about it and I can promote all over Sirius. I have to take advantage of that. That’s my goal for the year, to write a book. A book like The Devil Wears Prada, I read that book and I feel like I could write a book better than that if I sat down and put my head into it.
Q. Would you ever do regular radio?
A. (Pause) Yeah. I would think so. I mean, there’s more money because we don’t have commercials, but with regular radio you get the benefits right away. People know you locally. With Sirius it’s different because it’s all spread out internationally. It’s not very often that I go somewhere and someone knows who I am. I appreciate satellite radio, and some people who do regular radio say that they couldn’t see me doing regular radio because I don’t watch what I say. I’m kind of an uncensored person and there are a lot more restrictions and regulations on standard radio. I might get fired, but I’d definitely try it.
Q. You have double duty as you do another show—supposedly a more risqué one. Tell us about that.
A. I have a show on Monday nights, it’s a female show—really a sex show and we interview people and get all into their personal lives. It’s me and Mia Rose, the music editor over at XXL. It’s called “Lip Service” and we really get the dirty, deep secrets out of people.
Q. Who have you had on the show?
A. We’ve had Gloria Velez, Carl Thomas, Tony Yayo and a whole bunch of other people. What makes our show different is that we have a bartender—Stoli sponsors it and everybody gets drunk. We had Nas’ baby mama on there, Carmen Bryan. Swizz Beats, Paul Wall, you know, just a whole mix of different people from different areas of the entertainment world.
Q. Hear any really crazy stories on the show?
A. Paul Wall. (laughs) He told us about how he jerks off all the time on the road, so much so that he got the name Jackmaster P. It’s some funny S—. He said he does it like 15 times a day. We had a dominatrix on one day and a guy got butt a—naked in the studio and she whipped him. She even put clothes pins on his testicles! It was so funny. We had callers that said they were into it. We had Fabolous on, and what we’ll do is bring in a couple King magazine girls or some video chicks and make them feel awkward. Gloria Velez told us about some of the things she would do to guys and we called up Joe Budden and we’d ask him how she was in bed and he wouldn’t answer. He was trying to be all cool but we could tell he was sweating bullets.
Q. Do you stream the show anywhere or is it subscription only?
A. We sometimes post up clips of the show on the Lip Service myspace page and we change it every week. Speaking of which, check me out at www.myspace.com/angelayee
Written by Dasan Ahanu
How often have you watched a music video and wondered where did that dance come from? Been at the club and left watching as a song comes on and everyone but you begins doing their version of the latest steps? You don’t have to feel left out anymore. MTV premiered “Dances From Tha Hood” on Sunday, June 17, 2007 @ 8:00pm. “Dances From Tha Hood” is hosted by dancer and choreographer TWEETIE and Executive produced by Sway Calloway, Sean Lee, Dave Sirulnick and Ocean MacAdams. A half-hour hip-hop special, it mixes the energetic vibe of a straight up basement dance party with fun instructional segments and user-generated videos of kids at home trying the latest hip-hop dances themselves.
TWEETIE has worked with with the likes of Jay Z, Destiny’s Child, N’Sync, Mya and Angie Martinez, just to name a few. She is a dance instructor at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the Peridance Center. A native of the Bronx, TWEETIE used her experience at the Fiorella LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts and as part of All Stars Talent Show Network to catapult her to success. She can also be seen as a featured dancer in the Stride Gum Campaign and also appearing in the NIKE Women spring/summer collection and in the new IPOD commercial featuring Wynton Marsalis. Recently capturing national attention on the Oprah Winfrey Show teaching Gayle, Oprah, and the audience the latest dance moves, TWEETIE has prepared herself for her second major project with MTV. I was excited to talk to TWEETIE about her new opportunity.
I first wanted to ask you how did the show came about? I know you previously completed a short series of the same name for MTV mobile media, and I wanted to find out how that translated into the half hour show?
Hmmm, well Oprah helped. It was really great because it actually gave them push to say that I think we can really turn this into a show. That was really good. Working with Sway, who is my executive producer, and Sean Lee, they really realized that this girl is really good. I think they saw the Oprah show as well and they were accepting that we really needed to do this. I think that is what MTV were looking for because they kinda don’t have a show like this. Basically, I’m giving them that street credibility that I think MTV needs. That’s what I’m coming in on.
I wanted to ask you about that appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. How was the experience? Going from having Gayle King in your class to having an opportunity to be on the show, how was that as far as opening up doors for you?
Oh my God, first of all that was amazing. I need to thank Gayle I don’t know how many times. That was really overnight. She came to my class that Monday at Alvin Ailey (American Dance Theatre) and by that Saturday I got an email asking me to be on the show. Ever since then it’s been non-stop love. People stop me in the street. They try to do the old man, which is one of the dances I taught on the show. They stop me on the train and they just smile at me on the train. I have a tattoo of a tweetie bird on my arm so they point at it and they go, “That’s tweetie, I know how to do the old man!” I mean, I went to McDonalds and it was really really late at night. It was like 11:30 or 12 at night because you know those fries, they be calling. Right. This lady and her daughter, she said that, “I just finished talking about you like a block away” and she seemed so emotional and so happy about it. I’m proud that it brought a lot of opportunity, but I also realize it wasn’t just me on that stage. It was me and the whole community, it was me and anybody who ever dreamed of being on the Oprah show or just talking to her. They felt like a part of them was on that stage with me and if that’s the feeling I give off, that’s amazing. I’m gonna try and continue to do that.
Speaking about the idea of the community being on stage with you. I know part of the show allows viewers to send in tapes of them doing the dance steps. How important was that element allowing the opportunity for viewers to be a part of the show?
Well, because I am an instructor and a choreographer I know they are going to want to know if they are even doing them right, to know if they have a chance to get seen. I think it’s a good idea because I need them to interact with me also. I can personally go online and comment on them. I’m a teacher and I want to know if they are getting it in. I really need to see it. It’s not like it’s a gimmick, I really enjoy going online and seeing kids or anyone put videos up on the site. It’s almost like I’m teaching class, even though they aren’t in the same room as me. You know, I still teach my classes and it’s good to know I can give off a feeling that will make them try it after watching the show and put it on the site. It feels good to have that interaction with people.
There has been some criticism of some of today’s dances. Some even calling it modern day buffoonery. How do you feel about the steps folks are coming up with and the negative connotations given to some of today’s dances?
A lot of the stuff may have a little something new added to it, they feel like their creating something new, but it’s recycled from when Hip Hop first started. One of the moves they have is called the freak nasty, but back then it was called the renaissance. So to me it feels like ok we’re doing this again and they may have added a little arms or a little something else, but you know I’m cool wit it. Some people may not agree wit it, but I’m like it’s what we used to do back then so what’s wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with them doing it again. There’s nothing wrong with having the music with it. Almost every song has a dance to it. Every single song and back then, when Hip Hop first started, you’d hear Biz Markie and you did the Biz. Right. When you heard certain songs you did certain moves. Doug E. Fresh, even he had his own dance going. Everybody knew the Doug E. I enjoy it. A lot of folks may not feel like it’s creative, but there are a lot of other things out there these kids could be doing. Instead they’re dancing and if that’s going to keep them out of trouble, then I’m wit that. I’m going to keep on supporting it. I love it.
Do you see this show leading to new opportunities? Seeing the success that you’ve had from Oprah to MTV do you think this show will open up new doors for dancers and choreographers?
Definitely. I definitely see more dance shows coming out but with more street credibility. There are dance shows out now but what we see on TV other people see it and are like that’s not what we’re doing in the hood. It’s stuff they’ve seen before in videos and they’re looking at it like we don’t do that anymore. I think there are going to be a lot more dance shows but with that raw essence of what Hip Hop music and Hip Hop culture is. If it opens up a door for someone else then so be it because this what we live, this is how we live. We eat, live, and breathe this all day every day. I think with this show, “Dances From Tha Hood”, it gives people a look at Hip Hop that’s not so negative. It can be made to be so negative and about these chics shakin their butts and it’s not about that. It’s for everybody. It’s for guys, girls, it’s positive, it’s for having a good time, and it’s a house party. I remember when house parties were about having fun, not about getting drunk, broken and everything. We’re just here to dance and it’s about who’s getting it in the best. I’m really feeling like a lot of dancers and choreographers have a great opportunity and you know what, I’m even willing to bring them on my show. Let them get their shine on. I’m all love to all birds.
Aight, now I see that you’ve studied multiple forms of dance. I also see that on the show you will be having different celebrities break down the dances in their videos. Is that variety and the breadth of movements that can be put together something that you are trying to highlight on the show?
Definitely. The artists that we have on the show will be breaking down their stuff to me. I love talking with the different artists because you get their opinions, their visuals as far as their concepts. I was out with Lil Mama and it’s just crazy because she’s doing the lip-gloss dance and she’s really like, “this is how it’s really done, you gotta rock wit it”. Then she’s got a new video with Avril Levigne coming out. They got a dance for that. I’m like wait a minute you got Avril Levigne to dance? So she showed me a little sumptin and they got a little exclusive dance going on with that. It’s interesting to see the artist doing their own dance to their own song. You get to see another personality from them because you always see them rhyming or singing, but don’t always get to see them get in there and get down. That’s funny to me and I enjoy it.
It’s interesting to me to see that you got started in an after-school dance program. I know a lot of people are trying to encourage more youth to get involved in the arts. I am wondering what’s your opinion on that and how your show could inspire more support for young people to dance?
Well, when I dance I call it dancing from around the way and around the block, but there is this great program called the all-star talent show network. I definitely grew up in that. We competed in it and it’s for dancers, singers, people that write poetry, people that play instruments, people that rhyme. I think more programs need to open up to the arts because it’s just not enough out there. If we can do anything to keep these focused and give them that support system, I mean it helped me a lot especially with school. Not only did I have a dance group in the talent show network I had one in my high school that we started. Even after we finished high school we continued that there and I don’t think people realize that’s a domino effect. So in these communities if you build these kids and keep their minds focused then soon they will pass that on. So when people watch my show and it gives kids a reason to feel encouraged, motivated, or their creativity just explodes through the brain I’m all for it. I hope to one day have my own dancing school and I know a lot of dancers say that, but I want to see an all Hip Hop dancing school. Usually at dancing schools you have ballet, modern, and jazz. Now I’m all for technique, I took technique in school, but I want an all Hip Hop school.
As a successful woman in Hip Hop and a woman who has a concern for the image of women in Hip Hop, how was it negotiating this opportunity and making it happen?
I definitely felt like my image was very important. I didn’t want to come out and feel like okay I’m this female and I need to show this, that, and a third. I didn’t want to have to do that. I wanted people to recognize me as a black woman of today and that yes I can handle this position and handle it professionally. Because sometimes they think she had to do certain things to get in that position and No I didn’t. I need them to know that I have skills and I need other females to see that you don’t have to take that role where you have to degrade yourself. We can make on TV to and you don’t have to lose yourself within this industry. So many females lose themselves because they feel the pressure of men or that if I do this, that, and a third I’ll get to a, b, or c. Or that they try to skip a, b, and c, and jump to q, r, and s. You know what? I had to work to get here and it’s possible. I come from the hood, I come from the Bronx and I’m still working hard at it. Hopefully it will change women who are 21 and older. Hopefully, this will motivate females who may not have a job, who have kids and are struggling, females who are going through some things, running away from home, or getting abused. Hopefully, watching my show will motivate them and make them feel a little better about themselves because for me music is my outlet. Whenever I’m going through something I turn on the music and let that negative energy out. So by watching my show, I’m hoping they can do the same thing.
Can anybody watch the show and start trying the steps you break down? Does the average person need to be in any special kind of shape?
Nah, Nah, this is for any and everybody. Anybody who has the courage to get up and get it in, let’s do it. Just like I got on Oprah’s show and you saw all those people get up in that audience and they were trying it, if they can do it you can do it to. There is no disclaimer or anything like that whatsoever. This is for any and everybody. This is for my aunt who is 67 years old and saying I need to teach her some steps. This is for the cops outside on the corner. This is for the messenger tired of taking them packages to the MTV office. This is for everybody. This is for soccer moms, agents who have clients, everybody babes.
Now how many shows in the series?
In the mobile series or the TV show?
In the TV show?
Oh, I can’t really give out that information. You just have to watch and see.
It looks like the mobile series is continuing also. Now where is the mobile series available?
It’s linked up with all mobile carriers and MTV on demand. You can definitely download that.
Now is there anything else you want the public to know about yourself and the show?
That I’m from the Bronx and I want to give a shoutout to anybody from the Bronx. Also I want to send shoutouts to the people that I’ve worked with like LL, Fergie, Ciara, and Mya. You can check me out in the new Mya video. The show airs Sunday June 17th at 8:00pm. I’m excited. I want to thank everyone who has supported me including MTV, my family, and my friends. Oh, and you will still see me in the clubs getting it in.
You can find out more about TWEETIE at www.myspace.com/birddance2. You can also visit the show’s website, www.dancesfromthahood.mtv.com. Be sure to check out the show and support TWEETIE as she teaches the world how to get it in.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Little Brother, as a group, is the closest to a living question as the world has ever seen. Are they from the south or east coast? Are they ever going commercial? Is 9th Wonder still cool with the group? The Durham, North Carolinians have an answer finally—shut up and enjoy the music. With their newest album Getback coming soon, Big Pooh took a break from their mega-busy touring schedule to talk about what’s going on with the group right now and more. Oh, and for the record, no, there aren’t any questions about 9th. Still there? Read on, you’ll be glad you did.
Q. Pooh, what’s popular, homie? We’re going to jump right into the thick of things. LB has so much interaction with the fans, unlike the majority of the artists in hip hop. Why do you think that is so important?
A. We wanted to create a kinship with our fans, because, at the end of the day there are about a million different rappers that they could spend their hard-earned money on and just come home with a record. We think that if the people got to know us—not the “rap” us but the real us, they would see that we’re not some jewelry clad over oiled up nursery rhymers trying to sell them on beats and hooks. We like to give something that will stick to their ribs and their hearts. We’ve got a segment we do on Myspace called “Real Rap with Little Brother”. There’s going to be more of them, but we’ve just been a little lazy lately. We’ll have some showing us traveling over in the U.S., probably get a couple while we’re in the studio and whatnot. Really we just wanted to put this out there to the fans so that they’ll be like, “They’re just like me!” It’s another way to connect with people.
Q. Chris “Play” Martin (of Kid N’ Play fame) was quoted as saying that the gangs in Durham could easily rival that of a Los Angeles or a Brooklyn. What do you think?
A. It can. It most definitely can because most people get it misconstrued because they’re thinking, “It ain’t no hard n*ggas or projects down here in the south.” That gang culture is everywhere, they got gangs here, they got projects here, and everything that is anywhere else is here. Its parts of town where you know, you go down there and they know you don’t have any business down there, you’re going to have a problem. It’s very much like any city in America and you can’t get away from it. It’s very few cities that don’t have any impoverished areas. Durham falls into the category of a city like any other.
Q. Props on the song from the soundtrack on that DVD Little Brother had featuring Big Daddy Kane. What was the event like?
A. Thanks, man that was the guys who put the movie together hooked that up. That was something that we enjoyed doing and 1. that was for the city in which we all reside and 2. it was a chance to work with a legend, someone that we looked up to, Big Daddy Kane. We actually had to re shoot because something happened to the footage on the first one. During the first go around, it was exactly how it looked: a big party, a cookout. They had meat on the grill and a DJ spinning, people playing basketball, it was good. Remember that scene in “Menace 2 Society” when they were out there grilling and dude got the girl’s phone number? That was what it was. When he had to redo it, we just ran through the same scenes in different locations. It was hard to recreate that mood, but we did it. The city of Durham was out.
Q. What do you think is Little Brother’s niche? How do they fit in the current state of hip hop?
A. I think we on the line between what people consider underground and what people consider commercial. I truly believe our music works in either group that you want to put it in. We just haven’t been afforded the opportunity to branch out there like that. It’s crazy because it’s like, no matter what walk of life someone’s from, whether they’re a d-boy or a doctor or a single mother, when they hear our music for the first time, very few people say, “Oh, this is whack.” What they usually say is, “Yo, that’s some real sh*t right there.” Our music, I think, because it hasn’t really been played on the radio, and our videos refused on that one station, we haven’t had that outlet for our music to really get out there and give people a sense of what we’re all about. If all you do is read what some critic says or read some review about Little Brother, you would believe we’re some underground group that’s talking about saving the Earth when that isn’t who we are. We aim to make real music, real records. That’s it.
Check out Little Brother on tour now and at http://www.myspace.com/littlebrother
-by Charles “CZA” Sweet II
There is a definite art form to DJing. One of the essential components of hip hop since its inception, the DJ was often the party starter, the hype man (or woman) and the best source of information as to the after party. Throughout history, no one has commanded as much respect and appreciation than the DJ, an ideal well in practice today. A prime example of what DJing is, and what it ultimately is supposed to be is DJ Mary Jane. Hailing from London, England, Mary found herself in the middle of a sonic revolution in the Drum N Bass clubs. This passion moved her to Miami where she began playing in South Beach’s most renowned hot spots and garnered a strong following that followed her westward to Los Angeles where she took up residence. Since then she has worked with such people as NBA’s own Dale Davis and has DJ’ed a large number of celebrity outings. These are the words of a DJ on the move…catch up.
Q. How did you get on the scene?
A. Basically, my best friend in England was already on the scene; already playing out and we would do a party or something and I would always get on the tables. She saw that I had an interest in this for real, so she bought me my first two records. She showed me the basics, and I fell in love with it. House music is really different than hip hop, being that there are 8 beats to the bar, you know, pretty standard stuff. Hip hop is such an unorthodox music, where you could have one track playing really slow, and the next being Outkast fast. I got into it and played some spots in London, and then decided to take the next step for my career and came out to the U.S. like 4 and half years ago. Miami is where my career really took off, you know, where it started happening at.
Q. Tell us about the Miami scene.
A. I think the first club I played at was a gay club, and I was ripping it there. After that, I played all over the place. Really all night lounges and the like. People there are so animated. So alive. I can’t really explain in words the atmosphere there. You go outside and the air is crackling with electricity. They PARTY down there, go all the way out. The clubs are open a lot later, and I find that it’s harder to get that whole vibe going in L.A. because the clubs close so early. I used to get there at 10 and go on at 11 and you could start building up the crowd there. By the end of the set, the crowd is so wild that you can’t help but feel the groove and the vibe. In Miami, you could just get wasted and because it’s such a small area, you don’t have to worry about getting cuffed by the police. You can usually walk home. In L.A., the clubs are so spread out and the people live so far away that you see cruisers just sitting outside the clubs waiting for people. There’s a lot of drama out here, as well. Promoters are scared to play some records because they’re afraid of rioting. It’s a good scene, but I preferred playing in Miami. Not living there. I mean, it’s cool for networking but I don’t like the fact that I worked in most of the hot clubs and when I wasn’t working, there wasn’t a lot of options for me to go out and party because it would be like me going back to work! You end up staying out till six in the morning and it was that crazy lifestyle that I couldn’t handle anymore.
Q. What do you think of the mixtape scene?
A. Mixtapes are an east coast thing, I think, and it’s really important to the trade of DJing. I like [DJ] Vlad; he’s doing his thing with the mash-ups and DJ Ski is holding it down out here. I’ve wanted to do another, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. K. Foxx got me into it, but time permits wouldn’t let me. I’m trying to focus on acting right now as well and I hope to have another residency in a club in L.A. by next week.
Q. What’s going on with the acting thing?
A. I’ve been trying to really get into it ever since I came down here. My friend is a really good agent and I’m going to go at it full blast. There’s so much money in acting. Three Six Mafia is acting and I want to do it too. They’re crazy and they’re show is crazy too.
Q. What do you think of all these new DUI cases going on in Hollywood?
A. I don’t know. People like Lindsay Lohan should know better. Especially like at the end of the month when the police are trying to reach their quota, they’ll just wait outside of the clubs and pick up these dumb asses as they come out. I’m like, “Why don’t you get a driver?”
Q. Is there anything you want to let your fans know about you in closing?
A. I’m a crazy bitch? (laughs) No, just kidding. Keep looking out for me on the screen and the scene. Don’t drink and drive. Seriously. These tickets are ridiculous! Hit me up at http://www.myspace.com/djmaryj
Now a seasoned veteran in the rap game, Fabolous is back on the scene with a new album and two singles that are blazing up the charts. Well respected in most circles for his flow and wordplay, Fab is looking to add on to his legacy with his new baby “From Nothin’ To Somethin’.” In this interview with HHNLive.com’s Derek Phifer, Fab sat down to talk about his new album, his opinions on the best rapper in the game, the King of New York, Stack Bundles, motivation and more. Now under the tutelage of Jay-Z, will Fab see his album sales sky rocket, or will he get Method Manned in the soap opera that is Def Jam?
Derek Phifer: What’s good Fab?
Fabolous: What’s up?
DP: Chillin’, chillin’ man.
DP: So what’s been going on with you man? Really haven’t heard much news about you up until this album.
FAB: Yea man. I had to really wait and get this situation cleared up with the switching labels and then after that I went in to record, so that was the whole time that I really took off know what I’m sayin’?
DP: Your album “From Nothing To Something” dropped in stores yesterday June 11 right?
FAB: Yea, yea.
DP: Based on those first day numbers, where do you expect your album to land on the charts next week?
FAB: Ummmmm…I think, I don’t know, I think I might be, I came out with a big dog, I heard that Toby Keith actually came out at the same time as me, so that’s a whole different lane of competition right there. That’s Country music. Over here in the states, Country music out sells pretty much every Hip-Hop album. I guess we’ll have to see how that turns out.
DP: What kind of mark do you normally set for your first week sales to classify it as a good week or a success?
FAB: I mean, I really usually have my average; my average is about 180 (thousand). So umm, I guess if I do that I guess I’ll be doing what I was doing on my last three albums.
DP: When you started out rappin’ in the game, did you think you’d be where you are right now this many years into it?
FAB: Umm, when I started out rappin’, I just really was doin’ it for a hobby, so I never even thought I would be an artist.
DP: Do you think that you still have anything to prove as an MC at this point?
FAB: Umm, I think that I can get better and better as an MC. I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove to anybody. I feel like I can improve, even better, I can be a bigger and bigger and bigger and better MC, but umm, I don’t feel like I need to prove, if there’s anything I got to prove, I got to prove it to myself really.
DP: A lot of cats have been jumpin’ ship over there at Def Jam and complaining about the way Jay-Z has been running things. Is there any validity to the claims that he’s used all of the money to advertise his album?
FAB: Man, I think Jay-Z has his own budget. I don’t think he uses any of anybody else’s money you know what I’m sayin’? I guess a lot of things happened. Jay-Z, he’s a different artist, you know what I mean, he’s a much bigger artist than a lot of good artists, so his promotion is at a different level. I don’t compare my situation with any other artist or with Jay-Z. I’m just workin’ it and what I have to do, outside of the label promotion, I have to do what I have to do too. I can’t just depend on the label, you know what I’m sayin’?
DP: Right, right. So you you’ve probably heard by now what happened to the homeboy Stack Bundles out here the other day right?
DP: Yea, so when that type of stuff happens, does it kind of justify when dudes just leave the hood and don’t look back?
FAB: Umm, I mean, I wouldn’t say it’s justifiable for not looking back, but it’s justifiable for you…like everybody in the hood is not for your best interest. You can look at maybe Stack’s situation; he was a little too close for comfort, know what I mean? Certain things, that even I feel myself, that the hood is not capable of tolerating. Like Stacks, the way he had two cars and he was in the projects, and that kind of thing is hard for them to stomach or swallow or somethin’. It’s just like, you know, even when you come in and show them love in the same predicament that they in, it’s like maybe they still feel like you’re rubbin’ it in their face or somethin’. It’s like a hard thing; it’s like a catch 22. Like, you wanna show hood love and do everything, but then certain times you can get situations like what happened with Stack and it just make you wonder if it’s even worth it you know what I’m sayin’?
DP: Yea. So excluding yourself, who’s the best rapper in the game right now and why?
FAB: Umm, excluding myself? I would have to say I still feel like Jay-Z is a hell of a rapper. Like he’s one of the dudes, like the way he puts his songs together, metaphors, word play, flow like he’s still one of the top. You haven’t heard too many people say they haven’t heard the Jay-Z that you may have known in the past see what I’m sayin’, but he’s still like top dog, he’s still does his thing.
DP: Who’s the best producer right now?
FAB: The best producer, uhh, in my ear, I would have to say it’s gotta be between, I haven’t heard a producer in a while that could make a whole song, I would have to say between Timbaland and Akon. Timbaland and Akon are two great producers right now. I don’t think that Akon gets a lot of production credit cause people don’t know that he be doin’ to these joints, but he is definitely a problem on the beats.
DP: Yea, I ain’t even know he did beats.
DP: So what do you think it’s going to take for these New York rappers to stop going at each other’s necks and just put the state back where it’s supposed to be in the rap game?
FAB: Umm, I think they need to just make good music man. They all fightin’ over something that’s so subtle and the “King of New York” when that’s not even, that title doesn’t really even mean anything at the present time you know what I’m sayin’? They need to really focus on the bigger page you know what I mean, the bigger picture.
DP: How is “From Nothin’ To Somethin’” going to be different from the rest of your albums that we’ve heard so far?
FAB: I mean definitely good music and as far as that goes, every album, that’s a lot. My push is to make great music, but perhaps that shows a little goal. It shows different scenarios, it caters to different ears, and it’s versatile in the music you know what I’m sayin’? Like I said, with the growth, it doesn’t just go over people’s heads, it grows the fan with it, so that’s another thing it does.
DP: This far into the game, is it hard for you not to fall into the trap of rapping about your money on every track due to a lack of relevant material?
FAB: Umm, I mean certain things, even when I talk about money in a sense it’s metaphoric, it’s in different situations, you know what I’m sayin’, money is a topic that everybody relates to, whether they gettin’ money or tryin’ to make money, whether they don’t have money, it’s a similar situation to everybody, so there’s a lot of ways to talk about money you know what I’m sayin’. I never really have a problem talkin’ about money or situations of money. The title of my album is “From Nothin’ To Somethin’” you know what I’m sayin’, about what people know as the motivation of the music is to motivate people who have whatever they have to want more, not to call anybody’s anything nothing. If you have something, you should want more also, you know what I’m sayin’? I feel like a lot of people have that mindset, not in just becoming a billionaire or anything, but if you’re a journalist, you may want your own magazine one day and there’s nobody that says you can’t have it or shouldn’t have it, so sometimes motivation can be music too. Music can keep your day goin’ smooth and help your day go through easier and keep you focused on what you tryin’ to become, you know what I’m sayin, and that’s what I was tryin’ to do with the music on this album and uhh talkin’ money sometimes motivates too. People get motivated when they talk about money so, it’s definitely something that I wanted to do.
DP: I saw you on 106 & Park yesterday and this is kind of a left field question that I wanted to ask you, who do you think looks better, Roxy or Free, the old host?
FAB: Uhh, I think I would go for Free. Free is a little more curvy. Roxy is a little bit young. I just like Free’s personality, not to disclaim Roxy as a person, because Roxy is actually my friend just the same. On that kind of level, I’m probably lookin’ for Free.
DP: Is there anything else that you want to say before we wrap up the interview?
FAB: Oh nah just appreciate everybody that’s been supportin’ me on all levels, not just with this album, but for the last albums also and if they wanna holla at me they can hit me up on the myspace page http://myspace.com/fabulous Check it out and that’s pretty much it. Get that album, it’s in the stores, “From Nothin’ To Somethin’”
Written by ShaBe Allah
The increasing dominance and influence of production in the “new and improved” Hip Hop industry has increased the importance of the producer to rival and even surpass that of the artist, meaning rappers. For most up and coming rappers, the ability to afford a top notch producer is almost an impossiblity if you’re not already established or “hood rich” and just got that kind of bread on hand. If you told today’s starving artist that he/she could get a track from Swizz Beatz for less than four figures, they would say you were lying. Less than three, they would say say you lying and stupid. Well, times are changing.
SRC, Loud.com, and its online community has set to change that with its online site where you can purchase tracks from some of today’s hottest producers and production teams, including G Unit’s in-house powerhouse, Sha Money XL. One of rap’s busiest beat makers, Mr. Money rose from an internship with the late, great Jam Master Jay to molding the career of this generation’s most prolific artist. As the newest addition to the online beat store and battle ground, he discusses with TheIndustryCosign.com the pros and cons of shopping music online, what he learned about production from JMJ, and his latest projects from Money Management and G Unit.
TheSource.com: How you get the name “Sha”?
Sha Money XL: I just was up in Job Corps. and a nigga had the laid back personality, so it originally started with the “Shy” and it just stuck to me. I was a loner, so they called me “Self” originally and it was “Sha Self”. It started like that. From there, Sha Self was ringing bells. I came in the industry fuckin’ wit’ (Jam Master) Jay, Onyx and all that. Then some other producer came out, then it was a DJ Self, then another Self. It was too many Selfs, so I was like this gotta go. I don’t want no confusion. Dudes confusing him for me, opening doors for him thinking he was me when he was walkin’ in. Fuck that, man. I’m about money, I’m about to get extra large wit’ it, just fuck it. Call me Sha Money XL, nigga and this is what it is.
TheSource.com: Which one of the producer/contestants from the “One Stop Shop Producers Conference” won the contest and are they currently with Money Management?
Sha Money XL: Yeah, So NaNa won and the runner up, Gigalo, is with Money Management. So NaNa won and I’ve been shopping his music around. The crazy part is, the runner up Gigalo, I already placed him on two albums. He’s been placed on (Young) Buck’s album. He did “Say It To My Face” with 8 Ball, MJG, and Bun B. and he did a record on 50’s album. For some reason, the runner up made music that just connected with everybody. It’s crazy because he’s coming out as the winner right now. So NaNa, I’ve been shopping around and getting good feedback, but nothing sold yet. The guy sitting right next to him actually got tracks sold and I’m having an easy time selling his shit around the industry.
TheSource.com: How was you chosen to become a part of the Loud.com production team?
Sha Money XL: I came in the game as a producer, yanahmean? My list of records I did, you probably don’t even know I did. When you think of production period and you think of all these companies and all these producers, I come up with the Swizz and all of these guys who are more active than I am. “Poor Little Rich Nigga”, Magic Stick” and all that kinda shit. They wasn’t singles, but when you heard them, they bumped heavy like they were. Steve Rifkind knew what I was doing with producers. In my environment, I have a whole community of production, producers, and aspiring artists that wanna meet me. So having me tagged to this, you’re gonna speak to those people just off the strength of my name. I’ll stop in the street and talk to a nigga that’s brand new and give him advice, even give him my email or somethin’, listen to his music, then the next thing you know, he’s on the album such as 50. I’ve been known for taking no one and turning them into someone. You look at Midi Mafia whose on Loud.com. Their first record they gave to me, which was “21 Questions”. All they had to do was hand me a CD and their life changed ever since.
TheSource.com: Do you think that it’s still the mixtape or the online community as the best way to break a new artist?
Sha Money XL: I think it’s the online community. More of the real fans are actually just spending time online checking. Mixtapes are only based in certain regions, so certain hoods don’t get certain mixtapes. There ain’t the same amount of mixtapes in New York as it is in Atlanta or in all these other cities. Mixtapes get but so far. It’s a good form of promotion, but it’s not the finish line no more. Online just really been the real shit for the last three, four years. When we first started G Unit, niggas wasn’t thinkin’…I wasn’t even MP3ing Doo Wop or Clue joints. I was coming to meet them to give it to them. I didn’t even have the capability to email niggas four, five years ago, so it’s just crazy ’cause technology is that ill and it’s always been there, it’s just that niggas preferred to meet with you and get the CD. Now, niggas tell you to MP3 it. That’s easier ’cause you ain’t gotta spend the time gettin’ to them, but we didn’t have that. So when I came in, we was mixtape/CD heavy..floodin it.
TheSource.com: Do you feel like that’s a part of what’s diluting the game?
Sha Money XL: Absolutely. You got niggas doin’ songs with the artist not even in the studio. You look at “I’m A Flirt”. You ask T-Pain and them niggas if they was in the studio with R. Kelly or did they just get sent the ProTools and did their verse. You never know until someone answer it, but the interaction period is gone, yanahmean? It’s gone. Everybody either too busy or something just ain’t connecting. Niggas just wanna get it and go. There’s no real ‘I wanna be friends wit’ niggas’…Like Buck, he got real friends in Hip Hop that he go hang out wit’ like Jeezy. We get to Atlanta, we partying ’til five in the morning, then waking up the next day, smoke a blunt, go in the studio and just kickin’ it. It’s not just, ‘Yo, I need a verse..’ and you never see a nigga again. A nigga really keep up relationships.
TheSource.com: On the Loud.com beat site, anybody online can buy these tracks for $.99. Do you feel that lessens the worth of the track?
Sha Money XL: I mean..that’s a good question, man. I did 50’s video game, man. I gave up 57 of my beats. You count 57 beats. It takes a long time to make that. You got a stash of records that you cool to part ways with or just been sittin’ for a year and no one really hopped on it. So you had that stash too, which is still good beats and you say, ‘You know what? I wanna give back ’cause that’s the part of Hip Hop that we not doin’ that’s makin’ niggas say that Hip Hop is dead. It’s not giving back. So when I give something for $.99, I’m not even thinking about the money, the breakdown…it’s not even gonna pay a car note. I don’t even know ’cause we just starting, but my whole incentive of doin’ this wasn’t even to make bread. It’s just another community where Sha Money’s at, where I could give back to the people, have my name out there, my music out there…The new rappers in fuckin’..Tennessee is litenin’ to my music and they’re rappin’ to it and they’re runnin’ back to their hood sayin’, ‘I just did something to the Sha Money record on Loud.com.’ It spreads. Another rapper does it and if he wants to use Swizz Beats, he grabs one of those. It keeps the excitement going. That’s what I’m really about.
TheSource.com: Have you heard any artists online that used your beats, felt their vibe and personally reached out to them?
Sha Money XL: Actually, that’s what they’re gonna do here at Loud.com. I’m gonna ask everybody that rap to my beat if I can hear it. SRC, the A&R staff, Sean C. and them..they listenin’ to them as they do these records, so they tryin’ to find who’s hot out there.
TheSource.com: Who are the judges for the contest for the 100Gs?
Sha Money XL: You know, I gotta find that out. That’s a good question. I’ll find that out.
TheSource.com: Going into an important chapter in your career, how long did you work with Jam Master Jay before he got murdered?
Sha Money XL: I met Jam Master Jay in 1996. If I really tell you, the day he got murdered, I was one of his phone calls of that day. Me and him communicated. When me and Fif was poppin’, I was talking to him more after I left him than when I was with him as a producer. I hooked up with Jay in Chicago..took him to Fif. Fif was happy ’cause he hadn’t seen him in like four years. You gotta remember, Fif was his first artist. Fif was signed to him first and I was signed to him as a producer. That was in ’96 and that’s when I did all those records with him and then I met 50 through Jam Master Jay. It don’t get no better than that. Run-D.M.C., it set it off. I spoke to Jay a lot, man. Every interview, if you read, I say his name ’cause he forever lives wit’ me, man. I’m just so fuckin’ mad that they took his life over somethin’ so stupid. This guy, he was really for the game, man and Hip Hop died a little bit wit’ him ’cause he’s a legend.
TheSource.com: What was the most important thing you learned from him about the business?
Sha Money XL: What I learned from Jay is how to really make songs. When I was makin’ beats, he was over my shoulder tellin’ me what it is, like my drums. He was always stressin’ me for my drums. He was so into the hood. His studio was still in the hood. That’s why they was able to catch him. You catch everybody else in his league, they got a gate around them, security, and some more shit, yanahmean? He was still in the hood with the studio right by the bus terminal and that’s why they was able to do that stupid shit they did. You kinda try to keep yourself grounded and sometimes, it’ll backfire because you got jealous people that you can’t control their anger.
TheSource.com: As far as G Unit, what new projects is Sha Money working on that we can expect in the near future?
Sha Money XL: Right now, inside of G Unit, we’re working on the G Unit album and Lloyd Banks album. Outside of G Unit, I’m working on my new artist, Riz from Harlem, which is incredible..Buck is working on his Casual Records project, which is a compilation and a DVD.
TheSource.com: And what’s new with Money Management?
Sha Money XL: I’m getting ready for the One Stop Shop Conference again in February. I did a DVD deal with a company called D-Con. A four DVD a year deal and my first DVD is going to be Young Buck’s.
By Chasity Johnson
“Who? Affion Crockett? Oh yeah, I know him. That’s that guy that be on Wildin’ Out doing dem impressions. Dude is hilarious!”
You may know Affion Crockett as the bugged out cast member on MTV’s Wild N’ Out who’s known for his crazy impersonations that range from the “West-Indian woman” to 50 Cent, but he is much more than what appears to the ordinary eye. Crockett’s titles not only include actor and comedian, but director, dancer, rapper and music producer as well.
I recently had the opportunity to conduct a phone interview with this Hip Hop Renaissance Man. Even though I was expecting his call, when my phone rang and I answered it, I wasn’t sure if it was him. For some reason, I expected Crockett to jump on the phone and start talking 100 mph, but to my surprise the voice that met my ear was that of a calm, cool, collected and laid back kinda guy. After I confirmed it was him, we jumped right into the interview.
I asked Crockett about his temperament. “I’m more serious than anything,” said Crockett. “People don’t expect it. They think I joke all of the time, but I don’t. I have different moods. I’m very straight forward, sometimes to the point that I shock people.”
Born in North Carolina to a Trinidadian mother (the inspiration for his depiction of a West-Indian woman on Wildin’ Out), Crockett embarked on his career in the entertainment industry at the tender age of 10. He entered numerous local talent shows with his brother, exhibiting extraordinary skills while engaging Hip Hop’s most aerobic element, break dancing. I asked Crockett, where he learned to break. He explained that he didn’t necessarily learn it from anywhere in particular. “As kids, we are very impressionable. We see things and we mimic them. We saw Beat Street and Breakin’ and we mimicked what we saw,” said Crockett.
Growing up as an “army brat,” Crockett and his family were constantly on the go, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. By the time he graduated from high school, Crockett is said to have attended 14 different schools. His exposure to different environments and diverse groups of people, acted as the catalyst for him to develop his skills as a professional “mimicker.” “The effect of walking into a new room of people, who were looking at you funny or making jokes about you on your first day, kind of puts you into a shell,” he explained. “So, I sat in the back of the room and just observed everybody. I wasn’t always a comedian. I was an observer.”
As Crockett’s career progressed, his childhood observations manifested themselves into side-splitting impressions, which became one of his signature acts. In 1995 Crockett’s impersonations landed him a spot on HBO’s DEF Comedy Jam. His physical comedy, along with his incredibly accurate impressions, led critics to hail him as the “next Jim Carey.” According to Crockett, he never felt like he was a comedian, so much as a comedic actor. “I impersonated other comedians’ acts and I impersonated a lot of other people. My act was so funny because it was real.”
While performing at a comedy club in L.A., Crokett caught the eye of actor/producer Nick Cannon. Cannon who was impressed with Crockett’s performance immediately casted him in MTV’s hit show ‘Wild’N Out”. For the past three seasons, Crockett has been a stand out character and an audience favorite.
Crockett has converted his success from Wild N’ Out into the MTV’s hit comedy sketch show, Short Circuitz, which he describes as “In Livin’ Color with a Hip Hop feel.” On this break out show, he portrays a range of entertainment icons including Russell Simmons, Chris Rock, 50 Cent, Jay –Z and Ludacris.
Crockett who is currently working on a film with King of Comedy, Cedric the Entertainer, which he remains tight-lipped about (It’s all good), is also preparing for the release of his solo album, Oskamill: No Apologies. As a true Hip Hop head, he has the intention of bringing a much needed balance to the Hip Hop game. “For me, it’s about being a human being. No person is the same thing all of the time. I don’t understand how you can always be gangster. I don’t understand how you can always sell drugs. I mean is that the one thing that you always talk about? Do you always gun clap and do all that? What I try to do is balance it out. I mean you’ll hear me talk about a deal going down, or how I’m the baddest rapper on earth and ‘I’ll open up your skull and look in it and put it back in and take your neck and spin it’ or some other stuff like that. They’re brag raps, so I’ll throw that in there, but you’ll also hear me talk about other stuff too.”
Although the subject matter of Crockett’s album is extremely diverse and audibly appealing, the track that catches my ear most is the song dedicated to his father. Crockett’s father, though not biological, whom according to Crockett “raised me like, he spit me out,” filled the void of a lacking male role model early on in his life. The song, which Crockett wrote right before his father’s (he refuses to acknowledge him as his stepfather, insisting that biology is not the determining factor of true fatherhood) second tour of duty to Iraq, acted as an epistle to showcase his appreciation for his father’s presence and dedication to him.
In addition to preparing for the release of his debut album, he is currently producing and directing a film with his business partner John O, which will be released under his company Uncomf’table Films.
I had to ask him what motivated him to take on so many creative roles of leadership in so many different arenas of art and entertainment (listening to him talk about everything he does made me tired). He told me that he didn’t set out to play so many roles it just happened that way. He said he became tired of people not following through on their words, so developed a “do-it-yourself” motto. Fortunately for him he was good at everything he decided to “do himself.” “I think God was like ‘Yo, I don’t want this kid to be bored so I’m gonna bless him with a lot of talents.’”
Well you heard it hear. Company owner, actor, comedian, dancer, rapper, producer, director, filmmaker… this cat does it all and then some. His ambitions and talents are sure to take him far. Although we’ve already seen a lot from him already, for some reason I feel like we’re just witnessing the tip of the iceberg.
What Do You Think Makes Up A KRS?
by Davey D
A day after KRS-One lit up SOB’s here in New York by announcing he is the new chairman of the Washington DC based fledgling television network ‘The Real Hip Hop Network’, we sat down with the Blastmaster to pick his brain on a number of topics.
First we started off by talking about the days he was homeless and how he survived living on the streets. We spoke specifically about the times he sought shelter in the World Trade Center and how he would be chased and beaten by the police. In the past KRS has made remarks about the WTC which has gotten him into trouble because some thought he was being insensitive to the victims who died tragically in the Towers. KRS clears the air about that and goes into greater detail about his early days on the streets.
KRS switched gears during our interview and talked about the importance of having cultural vision which essentially means that we should seek out people who share the same spirit and sentiments we have and go out of our way to show love, respect and build with one another. He illustrated his point by recounting and incident he and Hakim of the group Channel Live who was also present in the studio that night, had experienced after an hour of trying to catch a cabin mid-town Manhattan. KRS talked about how they stop flagging cabs and began focusing on on Black folks who immediately pulled over and gave them a ride. He acknowledged that his celebrity gave him a clear advantage in that scenario, but the concept of us doing for each other is one that can be perfected and more readily used.
Also in our interview KRS talked about flossing and having bling. He said he saw nothing wrong with driving a Bently. In fact he notes he has one, but would never want to floss in front of poor and nowadays working people who are also struggling. He said its not appropriate or necessary.
We also talked about the War in Iraq and the concern that some have had regarding Hip Hop’s lack of voice around this crucial issue. KRS who released a heartfelt song called Soldier which takes George Bush to task, spoke about the anti-war conferences he has done in the past and the reason for doing the songs.
KRS talked at length about his vision for programming the Real Hip Hop TV Network and the types of challenges he would have as one of their goals would be to unify and showcase Hip Hop’s entire culture. KRS acknowledged that Hip Hop is full of contradictions and like it or not the entire culture is thugs and scholars, ‘bitches’ and Queens and ‘niggas’ and kings. That’s our entire culture and we have to find ways to bring them all in and engage it in a mature way” he noted.
He went on to add that the new network he is heading up should engage the audience in robust conversations and challenge people from all sides. He referenced the lack of balance on Oprah Winfrey‘s recent Hip Hop Townhall Meeting. KRS said everyone was there but the strippers who are in the videos and the thug rappers who put them there. Why not include them in the conversation? he asked, our community has a right to know why someone in the face of harsh criticism and disapproval from some would still continue to do what they do.
KRS concluded that portion by talking about accountability and how a process needs to be set up so that he and others can be in step with their audience.
Finally we concluded our interview by talking about the Landmark album ‘Hip Hop Lives‘. KRS talked about how he and Marley Marl hooked up and what they hoped to accomplish with this release.
Always colorful and definitely thought provoking, KRS left no stone un-turned in this interview which is bound to get folks talking.