New London, Connecticut is not known nationally as a fertile breeding ground for emcees, but that could all change with the success of 22-year old rapper, Hayze. Discovered by Demigodz co-founder Apathy, Hayze has a unique voice and delivery that piqued Ap’s interest. Apathy subsequently signed Hayze and landed him a deal with Man Bites Dog Records.
The first shot from Hayze is a free mixtape titled, The Smoker’s Section. The Smoker’s Section showcases Hayze’s range as an emcee. The release is filled with street tales, witty punch-lines, and an unabashed affinity for greenery.
Hayze spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about being discovered by Apathy, why he believes marijuana should be legalized, and his new mixtape, The Smoker’s Section.
TRHH: Tell me about the new mixtape, The Smoker’s Section.
Hayze: The Smoker’s Section is basically dope. Altogether it’s something new. You can put that on and do anything to it—a real cool vibe to it.
TRHH: What’s the meaning behind the song ‘Creep Mode‘?
Hayze: It’s just basically what I go through every day. You gotta get into a mode before you start strolling and shit and getting out there and making moves. You gotta be in the right mind state, watching out for the right shit, and making sure people don’t do no funny shit to get you. Be aware, basically.
Hayze: It’s actually crazy how I hooked up with Ap. I was in the stu recording a track for it and we had finished mixing one down. I needed a blank CD and he got a studio right down the hall from where I was recording at. I went in there and asked him for a CD, he came in and listened to some tracks. He called me the next day and was like, “I’m trying to sign you, man.”
TRHH: So how’d you hook up with Man Bites Dog, was that through Apathy?
Hayze: Yeah, Ap and Ryan are close.
TRHH: You felt like that was the right move for you?
Hayze: Yeah, definitely. The way I felt about the situation was everything was lining up crazy. I wasn’t even worried about music honestly. I was hustling before all of that. My grandma had died and it had me fucked up. I was like fuck it, I’m gonna give music one more shot. My manager took me to the studio and I met Apathy and the next day he said he wanted to sign me. I wasn’t even doing nothing. I didn’t even put out a mixtape. I dropped one mixtape a year and a half before The Smoking Section and it ain’t really do nothing—it was more or less some local shit. All this shit just happened off me going to a studio and recording, I was like, I gotta run with it.
TRHH: Who are some of your musical influences?
Hayze: Jay obviously, Pac, Method Man, Redman, Wu, Snoop, Rakim, a lot of people really.
TRHH: Ap was saying that he liked your style because it was different. How’d you develop the laid back style?
Hayze: With my voice really. I don’t like screaming on microphones. When I first started recording I was recording myself in the crib and it was usually on the late night so I couldn’t even be turnin’ up. I couldn’t scream on the mic, fuck around and wake everybody in the crib up. So I had to record low but that shit wasn’t sounding right. I could never mix my voice right until I got in a real studio. I could record smooth, it was basically like talking. It sounded right on the track and locked itself in.
TRHH: Your music is pro-marijuana. Are you for legalizing marijuana?
Hayze: All the way.
TRHH: What do you say to critics who say legalizing the drug would only lead to more incidents of cancer and vehicle deaths?
Hayze: McDonald’s is legal, cigarettes are legal, there’s all kinds of shit they put in our food that fucks our body up and leads to cancer. The cancer rates now are crazy. You’re almost guaranteed to get that shit now. It can’t be off everyone that’s smoking weed or second hand smoke. It’s obviously other factors going into that. Alcohol is legal. I don’t really understand why people hate on weed really. You can’t hate on weed, it’s not really a drug.
Hayze: Me and Ap came up with that in the studio just vibing together. It had a soulful little cut to it because the hook is real turned up. You get a nice vibe to it but when the verses drop it smooths itself out so crazy.
TRHH: What do you hope to achieve in the music business?
Hayze: I’m trying to basically never have to work a 9-to-5. I’m basically trying to take it as far as I can and feed as many of my people as I can.
TRHH: What’s next up for Hayze?
Hayze: We got the album coming out. I just been in the studio a lot lately working on a lot of music. We might even give ‘em a Smoker’s Section part 2, I don’t know. We’re looking to do some shows. We got a lot in the works.
Bay Area producer Nima Fadavi has made a name for himself crafting tracks for some of the best young rappers in the business. His unique sound has been blessed by vocals from the likes of The Grouch, Roach Gigz, Pep Love, Mistah F.A.B., Fashawn, and Berner to name a few.
Fadavi also moonlights as a DJ and aside from club gigs he doubles as Berner’s DJ for live shows. Fadavi and Berner will hit the road this summer on Wiz Khalifa’s Under the Influence tour. The tour also features A$AP Rocky, Trinidad Jame$, Joey Bada$$, B.o.B, Chevy Woods, and Smoke DZA.
Nima Fadavi spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about how he got his start producing, deejaying for Bay Area rapper Berner, and performing on Wiz Khalifa’s upcoming Under the Influence tour.
TRHH: How’d you get started producing?
Nima Fadavi: I wanna say I was in high school. I was just always involved in Hip-Hop when I was in middle school—I break danced and wrote graffiti. As I got into high school I had always had a history of playing music. I played piano at a young age and I messed around with guitar. I always wanted to be involved with Hip-Hop and having a musical background it was just kind of natural to start making beats and producing. I was just having fun with it. I kept doing it and I started taking classes at a community college. They had recording classes and when I started taking those I started noticing that you can really make a living doing this [laughs]. From there I just kept at it and kept doing it—that’s how I started.
TRHH: Would you say more of your music is live instruments or drum machines?
Nima Fadavi: Now I would definitely say drum machines. Before I would incorporate a lot of live instruments, I still do every now and then but I don’t utilize instruments the way that I used to. If I sample certain things I’ll play live instruments on top of it but a lot of the stuff that I’m doing now is a lot of hood, turf-type music and I don’t incorporate live instruments in it the way that I used to. I still do every now and then though.
TRHH: What beat making equipment do you use?
Nima Fadavi: Right now I just use Reason, before I used many different things. I used to use an MPC, a Triton, and a Fantom. I feel like with computer programs now you can damn near do everything right on to there. It took me a while to catch on to it because I don’t have the patience to sit down and learn a whole new program. Once I learn something I get comfortable with it and keep using that. It took me a while to transition over to Reason but right now I’m just stuck on Reason and haven’t used anything else.
TRHH: The Bay Area has so many different sounds and flavors, how would you classify your sound?
Nima Fadavi: I would classify it as diverse because I’ll go and work with some of the hood rappers in the Bay but then I’ll turn around and work with some of the boom bap stuff. I try to be as diverse as possible and not pigeonholed myself into just doing one type of sound. I feel that’s really what sets you apart because a lot of people get stuck doing one type of style or one type of thing. As a producer I feel like you should diversify and work with all different types of genres and all different types of subgenres as far as Hip-Hop goes.
Nima Fadavi: I had talked to Los Rakas two months before it–they’re good friends of mine. They said, “We should do something for 420,” so I played them a couple beats. I made that beat like six months before the song came out. It was just sitting on my hard drive. I had the hook that I chopped out of the Wiz verse and I thought it would fit. I played it, they really liked it so later that week we got in the studio and they knocked their parts out with D.A. Go. A week after I was on the road with Berner and we had an open eight bar verse. I played it for him and he liked it so we just knocked out Berner’s verse right there in the hotel room and sent it in for mixing.
TRHH: What kind of mics are you using to record in hotel rooms?
Nima Fadavi: [Laughs] Really whatever we can get our hands on. We have a Blue mic that we use a lot. I deejay for Berner so we’re always on the road and when we’re on the road he uses his Blue mic. Sometimes he might not bring the mic, sometimes somebody else might have a mic. It’s really whatever. As long as the recording quality is decent because we have very good mixing engineers that we work with so when we send it off to them they clean everything up and make it sound way, way better than the original recording did.
Nima Fadavi: It started over a year ago. We were on tour with Roach Gigz. He was doing support for the tour and I was deejaying the first hour and the in-betweens and stuff. He didn’t have a DJ so he asked to use me. A lot of times that’ll happen on tour if a certain person doesn’t have a DJ whoever the house DJ is for the tour or if someone is deejaying for somebody else will end up deejaying for them. I started deejaying for him and through consistently doing that we had a good relationship and became good friends. Having that good relationship we just built on that and he hit me up like, “I’m doing this tour, you wanna come deejay for me?” I didn’t have anything else planned so we kind of kept moving forward. Eventually we became closer and closer friends and just built a really good relationship together.
Nima Fadavi: I love Serato. I use Serato. I started deejaying without Serato but I mean you gotta love Serato, man. You can take your entire crate of records on your laptop, take your laptop, plug it in, and be good to go. It’s a lot easier than carrying crates of records around. A lot of people don’t agree with it but my personal opinion is I love using Serato. It makes things very convenient. At a certain point you have to understand certain principles about deejaying.
TRHH: What’s more fulfilling for you, producing or deejaying?
Nima Fadavi: Producing. I love producing more than deejaying. Deejaying, I kind of got into it through producing. It kind of goes hand in hand. If you’re producing for an artist a lot of times they won’t have a DJ for the road so I’ll just go on the road with them. I just started doing it through that and I started having a lot of fun with deejaying. I still have a lot of fun with it, but for me, producing is a lot more rewarding and more fun for me to do.
TRHH: Are you receptive when an artist turns down a beat of yours? How do you deal with that?
Nima Fadavi: It really depends. I feel like it’s gotten to the point where I’m old enough now and I really don’t take it personal. I understand that not everything is going to work out for everybody. When I was younger I’d get mad about it but now it’s like when the timing isn’t right or the beat isn’t right it’s not always going to work out. I feel like you just have to have a positive attitude and not take things personally.
Nima Fadavi: ‘Kush Jars’ was a song I did with Fashawn maybe two years ago. I’ve known Fashawn and his manager for a while, they’re super cool people. We’ve had a good relationship for a long time just being friends. Whenever they’d come into town we’d kick it. I submitted some beats because he was working on his project. That was one of the beats for the project and he sent it back after he had his hook and his verse on it and he was like, “Yo, I wanna get Berner on this song.” It was before I was even working with Berner so I reached out to Berner and he definitely wanted to do it. Time passed and nothing really ever happened with it—it was just kind of sitting on my hard drive. When we went on the 2050 tour this past fall me and Berner were just talking and I said, “Remember that song that I sent you for Fashawn?” He said, “Yeah, I never did it.” I said, “I got it with me right now, you wanna do it?” He said, “Yeah, fuck it.” So I pulled it up and somebody else had a mic on the tour so we just knocked it out on the tour bus. We sent it back to Fashawn, got it mixed and it made it on to his project.
TRHH: Who are some artists that you’d like to produce for in the future?
Nima Fadavi: There’s a lot. I’d really like to work with Wiz, he’s a good friend and we have a great relationship. As far as Bay Area artists I’d really like to work with The Jacka, that’s somebody that I haven’t worked with before. E-40, Too $hort, Curren$y the list could go on and on. Definitely Nipsey Hussle, that’s one of my top favorite artists. I stay listening to his stuff.
Nima Fadavi: I’ve been working on a new mixtape that I’m planning to drop right before the tour to kind of go on there and promote it. Me and Berner have been working on a lot of new music so we’re hoping to drop some of that before the tour as well and keep it moving. Berner has his Drugstore Cowboy mixtape coming out which is produced entirely by Cosmo who is a really good friend of ours. There’s going to be some bonus tracks so I’ll hopefully get some beats on there. We have a bunch of singles that we’re going to be dropping for free download online before the tour as well to kind of push it. I’m looking forward to it.
In part 1 of The Real Hip-Hop’s conversation with Chuck D, the P.E. front man discussed the group’s seminal album, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and his digital distribution company SPITdigital. In part 2 of A Conversation with Chuck D he details his relationship with filmmaker Spike Lee, the group’s separation from Def Jam Records, and their induction into the 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
TRHH: On Nation of Millions you mentioned Minister Louis Farrakhan on two occasions. It always intrigued me that Public Enemy had so many white and Jewish fans, when a lot of white people didn’t love the Minister and still don’t. Did anyone ever approach you and ask you why you said those rhymes about Minister Farrakhan? It wasn’t just a casual thing; you really big-upped the Minister.
Chuck D: Yep. In the middle of R&B which was Reagan and Bush, which was crack, guns, and drugs in the black community, Minister Farrakhan was making very sharp statements about how we look at preventing some of this. So when it came down to naming heroes and naming people who were speaking for us but were not illuminated I just thought it was necessary to do so. I was a follower of Minister Farrakhan for six or seven years prior to that. I remember being in the basement of Hank Shocklee’s mom’s house, we had Spectrum which was our mobile DJ unit, and Hank came down to the basement with Minister Farrakhan’s album. He actually made a statement at Jack the Rapper in 1979 and those are the same vocal excerpts that we used on ‘Terminator X to the Edge of Panic’. It came from that record. It was a no-brainer to go in that direction because we already had members of the group that were in the Nation. At the time the Nation was actually going through a second renaissance and I also felt that in the direction that the Nation was going at that time to counter against all the stuff that was all of a sudden accepted in the black neighborhood what Minister Farrakhan was actually breaking down was prophetic. Especially at the time after Minister Farrakhan offered his protection of Rev. Jackson when Rev. Jackson called New York “hymie town”. That thing spread into, “These Muslims don’t really feel good about Jewish people,” and it went into an ugly place that was fueled by media. The media was less responsible than they should have been. They should have been a liberal and well-rounded voice instead of guilt by association.
In ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ and ‘Bring the Noise’ I name-checked Minister Farrakhan in a rhyme. My plans were, okay because of the media you say this person is this or that and you say you dig Hip-Hop and they say we’re the next best thing which coincidently we are signed by Rick Rubin, our publicist is Bill Adler, and our management is Lyor Cohen, it would be really interesting for you to try to edit this out when you try to kick the lyrics to your favorite song [laughs]. It was really interesting seeing young Jewish kids into that after “How low can you go, death row, what a brother know/Farrakhan’s a prophet and I think you ought to listen to…” It sounded great to them. It was like “Wow, do I really want to say this guy’s name?” It was a good challenge as a writer and also it was a good challenge as a Hip-Hop head to see if you want to complete the rhyme in the verse and you think it sounds good, this should be interesting. Especially in ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ “The follower of Farrakhan..” Even people that might not believe, they found it difficult to edit it out on their own. They didn’t have the ability of casual Hip-Hop listeners today to fill in the blanks and compensate for what’s not there with some trickery. And lord, don’t have an eight and seven-year-old screaming it in the household. ‘Bring the Noise’ covers a lot of bases in the third verse because Yoko Ono and Anthrax [are mentioned], my good buddy Scott Ian, he’s Jewish as well. We just wanted to knock down some of these barriers and the hype that was out there.
TRHH: I asked Scoop Jackson a few years ago why fewer mainstream rappers speak on social issues today and he said it was because leaders like Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are older and not in the forefront like they used to be. What’s your opinion on that?
Chuck D: You raise good points, bro. You ask some good questions. I dealt with thousands of writers, literally. I’ve always thought that to be out in the forefront right now with the Minister who is 79, and Rev. Jackson who is in his seventies and Rev. Sharpton who is in his sixties, who is really the young buck out of everybody, there comes a time that they do so much front work that you have to say who is following up with the new leadership? Is the new leadership on the front-line? Where are they at? Because we as artists didn’t dictate the movement, the movement was already there dictating itself into the accountability of us having to write those songs.
Just like James Brown, the movement of “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” didn’t start with James Brown just coming off the top of his head. The movement at the time put pressures on a lot of situations so there had to be dialogue by the music so to speak. It’s the same thing with what we did at that time, there was a movement that we reflected and we dug into it. I think there are a lot of movements across the world but I think the United States artists are so propped up by the corporations that are sending them into so many different areas that their grass roots approach is nonexistent. And the disdain for leadership is evident. But they have a disdain for leadership but a love for money which is unprecedented [laughs]. Artists from my day, yeah of course people wanted to get paid but they didn’t give up their art to get paid. Today in order to get paid people give up their art. That’s kind of alarming.
TRHH: Why did this change? I know it’s leadership but it’s also in the music.
Chuck D: Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. I thought it was harmful because it allowed radio stations to not be independent, own their own playlists and all that. You can no longer negotiate with a local radio station to support a label be it a independent or a major. And all the stations get bought up by three or four different ownerships therefore the record company continued their relationship doing whatever it took to keep those records on the radio. And it seems like those records that were quote, unquote positive, those artists gave their white bosses the hardest time. Not meaning that they intentionally went to their white bosses and said “I’m going to make these records and you’re going to sell actually them,” I think it was one of those things where “We are going to actually make these records and if you don’t come right with us we’re going to go up in the office and straighten you out.”
They didn’t really get so much of that from the gangsta rappers because they kind of thought that the gangsta rappers had beef with each other. And also brought that beef on wax with each other and then later on brought that beef into real lives after wax with each other. The casualty usually was going to be those guys that were squabbling like that. They had to deal with an X-Clan telling them, “No, this videographer is not going to fit the theme of the song. We are not dealing with him.” They were less impressed and really put a lot of pressure on white executives at the time. White executives came to the table with a real quiet ghetto pass [laughs]. They had permission to only do the right thing and then leave it alone and don’t touch it. The one-sided aspect of Hip-Hop is they can get bought out a lot easier. They get pacified a lot easier. They don’t have to be accountable to anybody but the people they were getting the money from.
TRHH: I wanted to ask you about Spike Lee. You have a history with him. Obviously ‘Fight the Power’ and you were supposed to do something with Malcolm X…
Chuck D: That’s right, sure enough we were supposed to do something with Malcolm X. I remember being on the corner with Spike and Dr. Khalid and Spike would not show the film to Dr. Khalid Muhammad who was coming to view the film for the Nation. Spike held his ground and said, “I can’t let you in and watch the film.” I had to go in there, watch the film for placement and I felt really uneasy. Khalid would give that look and he had his head bald and gleaming into the sun, it was hot, and he had a suit on. Spike had his Knicks shorts on and it was a classic moment. I was like, “Oh boy, I’m just going to opt out of this movie because I don’t know what kind of political statement to make here.” It was just a classic moment.
Chuck D: Well the purpose to get me motivated to finish it, yeah. Deliver this record and go! I delivered the record and very soon we were in a digital space releasing a MP4 of ‘Swindler’s Lust’.
TRHH: It was fast. It was like 98-99, right?
Chuck D: It was like the summer of ’98. We delivered the first digital single. The early summer of ‘98 was He Got Game. Def Jam had just been going through a welcoming committee to a lot of music and a lot of labels so it was very easy to be the one group to get lost in the sauce. It was a very enjoyable project doing He Got Game as far as where the music can go, it was a joy to do like Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes on a Denzel Washington acting flick. I think I did my best writing on that album, ever. I’m into sports and I think I wrote some metaphors and verses that no one else has been able to come close to, blending basketball and Rap across an album. I really put my foot into that album.
TRHH: I thought it was great. It was another one of those things that they really didn’t support. Did it have one video or two?
Chuck D: It had one video. It was ideas for a second video but you know I never got mad at Def Jam for not supporting it. I was very realistic, Sherron. They got 50 other acts; it’s reminding me of a big cruise ship with a lot of people on deck. I was asked at that time to do the Smokin’ Grooves tour and Public Enemy was asked by promoters at that time can we lead a whole all-Rap package to go across the United States. Up to that point in 1993 we had went through the genre of supporting everybody else and toured and toured. After we played with The Sisters of Mercy and especially U2 we had to take our touring to another level but Rap music and Hip-Hop needed somebody who was accountable and responsible to get in all those other buildings from East to West. That was the need of the headliner. The headliner dictated what insurance would actually be paid. The headliner also dictated how many people were going to be in the seats and what promoters were going to be involved. We just knew that once we got on it buildings would open up so we played on Smokin’ Grooves in ‘98 on all-Rap package. The next year it opened up for the Hard Knock Life tour and then Eminem, whatever that next tour was.
Chuck D: Yeah, Up in Smoke. Something had to come through to open those buildings. That’s why they asked me if I could do it because Public Enemy had some tenure and we had an accountability record with buildings in populations and they wanted to be able to trust that. It’s a funny thing because when you talk about this business and you talk about what actually is promoted and projected across this business and then you want to also talk about buildings with insurance rates those are two different stories. They’re not taking somebody who is unproven to come in their building so that headliner has to be really pristine on that tip.
TRHH: I remember going to that Smokin’ Grooves tour and Black Eyed Peas was the opening act. Look at how far they’ve come.
Chuck D: Yep, they sure were.
TRHH: Gang Starr, Busta, Cypress, and Wyclef, that was a heavy tour.
Chuck D: Yeah and I’m glad that we brought it around. We’re very fortunate that we can be involved in that. We shot our video with my man Chris Adams in Chicago at that time, ‘Do You Wanna Go Our Way’, that was the last video Terminator was in. I think we played at the Amphitheater.
TRHH: [Laughs] Yeah it was old, man. The sound was bad.
Chuck D: Yeah, I’m pretty sure Howlin’ Wolf was in the back somewhere in the dressing room talking about, “Y’all goin’ on yet?” I was shaking my head when we were there. It was my first time in that stadium. I would always hear about it and it looked like a gigantic chicken coup [laughs]. Somebody said, “Oh yeah, animals used to come through here and they used to have the zoo here,” I was like, wow.
TRHH: Yeah, that’s the old Amphitheater. They used to have wrestling and boxing there. I think Ali fought there.
Chuck D: Well I’m a sports fan so I look at Hall of Fame’s a little different than somebody that might be cavalier about it. We never got a Grammy, we never got awards and stuff like that probably because when we started out the category never existed. We were always on the outside of mainstream or whatever that’s worth. So when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame came around I said the only way that Public Enemy can make it is we can’t be that group that broke up. We put together 25 straight years. We never broke up. People may have thought we broke up. They say “I don’t ever hear you on the radio,” but you ain’t never really heard us on the radio [laughs]. If I robbed a gas station then you’d hear about me all day. In the millennium Flavor had his TV show and that’s all you’d see. You ain’t going to see the rest of us on his TV show. I do lectures and you ain’t going to see Flavor actually lecturing anywhere. Everybody is a sum of parts that was scattered all over the place. So we always kept the mission of when we come together we will pick up where we left off.
I kind of look at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a situation that had to recognize our tenure and although I agreed with Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five getting in in 2007 after their first year and Run-DMC in 2009, and the Beastie Boys which I was personally asked by Adam Yauch to deliver their presentation, I was honored this year by the amount of people I’ve met along the way. My wife is good at letting me know that there are people that sacrificed and died before they could get their reward. We just lost Mr. Bobby Rogers from The Miracles who was also being honored last year. My wife is very sharp. She’s like, “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, there are so many people that are not in and there are so many people who are so gracious when they’re recognized that you have to honor that.” It’s a great way of putting it.
TRHH: What does Chuck D and Public Enemyhave coming up for 2013?
Chuck D: I think one of the biggest things that I’m going to try to do like I did with the Hip Hop Gods tour is trying to provide the opportunity to our peers and our structure for classic Rap music and Hip-Hop, to structure some organization and the longevity that we’ve enjoyed, trying to see the same things across the board for many of our peers.
TRHH: Yeah, he’s entertaining. I told him this so I have to tell you, my formative years were during the golden era of Hip-Hop. I’m 12, 13, and 14 years old and KRS-One, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Geto Boys, Ice Cube, and you kind of raised me. Just by listening to your music it shaped me into the man that I am today. You had a very positive influence on my life that goes beyond entertainment and I just wanted to say, thank you.
Chuck D: I appreciate it and I’d like to say thank you. When you named those aforementioned names I feel the same about those people that you named. It’s like for somebody that’s into Rock & Roll naming Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis. You know Elvis is one of those guys. He’s not thee guy. He’s not the king and nobody else counted. Rock & Roll is Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash–all those people are legends. I feel like when you named Rakim, KRS-One, Ice Cube, it’s like, wow. That’s an awesome array of giants that I’m happy to call my peers or they call me a peer. It’s like, yo man, it’s unbelievable. I don’t know how to feel sometimes. I’m really a fan, so often I feel like I’m on the outside looking in at something else.
TRHH: Well, you’re amongst the giants. Congratulations on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It makes me proud as a Hip-Hop fan.
What more can be said about Chuck D? He’s an emcee, a songwriter, producer, author, innovator, and now he’s a Hall of Famer. Chuck D and Public Enemy will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this month in their first year of eligibility—it’s a well-deserved honor.
Public Enemy burst onto the scene in the mid-80’s with their Def Jam debut, Yo! Bum Rush the Show. Chuck D’s prominent voice matched with Flavor Flav’s high-pitched interjections was a match made in Hip-Hop heaven. Chuck and Flavor alongside Professor Griff, DJ Terminator X, and the S1W’s made testosterone filled music centered on the plight of the black man in America. Sonically, Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad crafted a sample-heavy sound that was previously unheard in Hip-Hop.
Public Enemy’s sophomore album, Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back is what really turned the group into rock stars. Almost every track on the album was single-worthy and today songs like ‘Bring the Noise’ and ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’ are woven into the fabric of Hip-Hop. Nation of Millions is arguably the greatest Hip-Hop album of all-time.
The group released four more critically acclaimed albums in the 90’s before leaving Def Jam Records to lay the groundwork for independent digitally downloaded music. Chuck D recently helped to start the digital distribution company, SPITdigital that released P.E.’s last two albums, Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear On No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything. P.E. is also set to embark on the Kings of the Mic tour this spring alongside other Hip-Hop heavyweights, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, and De La Soul.
I had the extreme pleasure of talking to Chuck D about PE’s classic album, It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, what goes into a live Public Enemy show, and his digital distribution company, SPITdigital.
TRHH: I saw you perform in December on the Hip Hop Gods tour. What did that tour mean for Public Enemy and Hip-Hop as a whole?
Chuck D: House of Blues! I think it was a way for us to reach out to our peers to make a statement that Hip-Hop is a performance art. You really have to mature and learn your craft really well before you can make the ultimate statement about what the art form is about. To be able to call our peers from Monie Love to Wise Intelligent to X-Clan and others was to make a statement that Hip-Hop at its purest can be educational, futuristic, can make a statement with its music, and can also tour from East to West on one coherent tour which hadn’t been done in a long time.
TRHH: I first saw you guys perform in 1990 on the tour that Trouble T-Roy passed, and the following year in ’91 when Apocalypse came out. Since then I’ve seen you live a handful of times. One thing that’s consistent about Public Enemy is you’re going to give a great live performance. What’s the recipe for rocking live shows?
Chuck D: Teamwork. All the elements are in tact and everybody is a better performer than I am [laughs]. From Flavor, to Lord, to the S1’s, down to the rhythm unit we’re all professionals. From past to present everybody knows their roles. It’s like a football team. I talked to Terminator the other night and we’re going to actually perform at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame event out here. He’s like Joe Montana and DJ Lord is like Steve Young–they’re Super Bowl champions. Everybody already knows their role and tries to fill out their role with the best effort that they can and it all comes together in a coherent way. That’s what drives us—nobody wants to get outdone by each other in their different zones. When we started to add The BaNNed as the rhythm unit alongside DJ Lord it was almost like a studio on stage. That really enhanced Flavor even more so because people were just buggin’ out that Flavor could get down and be in his element. Not only did he create the hype man position but he also brings so much to the table by playing instruments, so I think he really enjoyed that transition. Really everybody else is the best professional that they can be and all we’re worried about is giving the best effort and make sure that people have never seen what we deliver.
TRHH: Is it difficult to come up with a set-list for a show because you guys have so many albums and so many hits?
Chuck D: Yeah, especially when it comes down to a transition of albums where you know a lot of people in the crowd if they picked up your latest record and they sat with it for 4-5 months already, those are the people that are going to be disappointed that we didn’t do any new cuts. You’re going to have an outer ring of people that come to your event that are like, “I ain’t seen PE in twelve years. I ain’t trying to hear what happened over the twelve years. I wanna hear ‘Bring the Noise’, ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’, and ‘Fight the Power’” Then you got a contingent of people that are like, “Yo, I been following them for the whole 25 years and I wanna hear them new joints that I’m diggin’.” It’s a good problem.
You gotta give everybody a taste of things. You know you gotta do your classics and slip the new joints in in a great position. I’ll make a new head go, “What the fuck is this?” Make an old cat go, “Yo, what the hell is this?” Your cats that actually support you currently say, “Wow, they spanked this new joint and I saw them do ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ on the first joint,” so that’s being entertained for a good hour and a half to two hours with the full spectrum. You can’t be afraid of not taking all your new cuts and implementing then within the line-up. You can’t be afraid of leaving some things off on the side. I think the person that epitomizes this the most that we learn from is a guy like Prince. What is Prince gonna really do? I mean, damn, Prince is going to come to the table and the only thing you can do is sit back and hope you hear one of the songs that you like the best. You’re going to like it because Prince is getting down. He can really do anything. We learn a lot from the masters when it comes to making a set-list. How to make something where people are like, “I didn’t see them do ‘Black Steel’, but you know what, I’m good.”
TRHH: I think I saw you guys in ’02 with Blackalicious…
TRHH: It was a cool show and on that tour specifically I remember you kind of touched on every album. That was real enjoyable for me. That was dope.
Chuck D: Yeah, like I said I’m the least gifted out of everybody in the crew so I kind of bring the most issues. I don’t have the ability to remember songs well. I’ve never had writers block. I write ‘em good, I record ‘em well, and I perform ‘em well when I know ‘em.
Chuck D: SPITdigital is where the plan is to create artists to have a DIY plan to be their own label. I started out at the top of the century in the digital movement helping aggregators form and develop such as the Orchard in 2004 and TuneCore in 2007. The aggregations companies were able to go into iTunes and later on Amazon and other distributors of digital music. The aggregator is the one that comes in and encodes and inspects. You gotta go through the aggregator to get it to the digital stores. After 2009 we started forming our own company. But we had to actually get clearances with the number one digital distributor of music in the world, iTunes, which is 93% of the market place. So we kept delivering SPITdigital for two years and it had certain glitches in the system. We finally got accepted in April of 2012 after many go-overs and redesigns.
We wanted to make a statement with the two Public Enemy albums that there is a long tail to digital music that’s here to stay. We feel that it’s a perfect component to Rap music and Hip-Hop the way that we go about it. We record quick, deliver quick, and are able to perform it. It was really a boutique situation for digital distribution and to this day it’s our most adventurous project. Being able to go to people and say, become your own label, even a lot of the cats in the ‘90’s that recorded on DATS and released an album or two on CD and then got caught up in the one-sided distribution of the industry, we’re inviting them to come back and reestablish their catalog. We have what we feel is the best service custom deal. It’s not like it’s Chuck’s thing, no, we feel this is the best service that you can do to get yourself involved with becoming your own label in the millennium.
TRHH: You mentioned the two albums that you released within months of each other in 2012. What was the reason for dropping those albums so close to each other?
Chuck D: To make a statement with what we are with SPITdigital. To say that it was an impossibility to do something like that in the analog days and it was an impossibility to do it even as of two years ago. We wanted to make this digital distribution statement. For the longest time the biggest thing that they used to talk about was having our own distribution—it became this thing. When we finally got our distribution and we were unable to recognize it as such this is what I called my wake up call like look, you screamed for your own distribution for so long become your own label and get with a digital distributor where you can go directly into the fold. It’s a slow argument because people are still stuck in some of the last century.
TRHH: I saw you Tweet that ‘I Shall Not Be Moved is your favorite Public Enemy song of the last ten years. Explain why that song is your favorite?
Chuck D: I just like the way that it came about and I just like the way that I delivered it where it became easy for me to remember it. I really think ‘Harder Than You Think’ really happens to be the record that was the easiest for me to make. I really enjoyed doing that record as well and it might be number one because it had results that were very rewarding [laughs]. It became a Summer Olympic theme, our first top ten record ever, and it just keeps growing around the world. It’s probably like seeing a child grow up to be a President or a leader of something—totally unexpected. ‘I Shall Not Be Moved’ was one of those records that was fun to do and fun to perform.
TRHH: ‘Harder Than You Think’ is my favorite public Enemy song of the last ten years but when it dropped it was kind of slept-on…
Chuck D: Yeah, but also Sherron it was one of those records that was stuck in the transition of the realization that it’s not gonna be CD’s for long. We’re moving into the digital phase and it was caught right in the middle. There really wasn’t a clear-cut way to market it in the United States as an independent. We got involved with TuneCore on that album which really was the significant boost into selling that record in the digital realm. The whole album was moving through the digital realm at the beginning of that and it was doing numbers that were different from the CD era. We had a bunch of those albums that were delivered in record stores that were picked and followed but it was a different time. One thing that we’re totally in is the digital era. We’re body deep in it right now; it’s no doubt about it. If they go to the store they’re going to get a CD on the backburner. Black folks in the community were like, “I still want a CD,” but as of the last three years that era has closed with smart phones and tablets. That was the final death nail to the CD being the dominant “I gotta get it in the hood” format.
It was slept-on but the people that came to our performances had a great time seeing it and they asked, “What the hell is this? It’s off what album?” So the album had a rebirth. So what it is Sherron is it’s not so much a Public Enemy statement, it’s a statement of the configurations that have now formed in the market place. There is a long tail of digital music that hasn’t been determined, understood, or seen. Where you no longer come out with an album and your race is against how you get it out of the stores as a purchase up against the realm of returns. In the digital realm there are no such things as returns. In retail there’s returns because there’s always gotta be turnover inside the record stores. The thing about it is when it comes down to P.E. we recorded in a transition stage. I think it’s good that everybody understands that we’re body deep now into digital. Not to say that analog disappeared. We released the last two albums on CD but they’re on the backburner. Oh yeah, by the way, they’re not like the thing you’re trying to get to the market place on the first day of release. Where it sits in the rack and whenever people get around to it if they see it, fine.
TRHH: I’ve bought all of your albums and I’m a big CD person. The last two albums were the ones that I couldn’t find at Best Buy [laughs]. I’m ancient in that way because it was the first time that I bought an album off of iTunes. When you can get me to use iTunes things are definitely moving in that way. I’m a little behind in the times but I’m getting there.
Chuck D: That’s alright, you’re behind in the times but if this was the turn of the last century you just would have rode the horse just a little bit longer before you got that Model T Ford.
TRHH: [Laughs] Exactly! Man, it took me a long time to get on CD’s. I was carrying a bag of tapes around and a Walkman for a long time.
Chuck D: Oh yeah, most definitely. That was the plan. We wanted to make a ‘What’s Going On’ of Rap music and we set out to make it with those intentions. We knew what Rap music had in the album format. We know what was at that top. We knew there was Escape by Whodini, Run-DMC’s Raising Hell was the pinnacle, and you had albums here and there that were a collection of singles. We wanted to look at the art form as an album format. So we were really the first to look at the album format in the same way that rock groups looked at their albums. We wanted to look at the album format the same way the Beatles looked at Sgt. Pepper, the same way Earth, Wind & Fire looked at Gratitude and That’s the Way of the World. We took it on and we had a sensibility of what it took to make an album from an album standpoint and leave the singles as something that peppered it but didn’t saturate it.
I have to admit we totally 100% knew that we had to make something and we were making something very special. It was easy to make something different and you had the latitude to do so. There weren’t a lot of the artists that had reign of the studio in ’87 anyway. You had to be something special to get an album done, period. Being with Def Jam through CBS at the time before they became Columbia then Sony, the green light of Def Jam doing albums was already set with LL Cool J, Radio and especially the Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill. We could actually go into the studio on the heels of those records and go in uninterrupted and create an album for albums sake. We really weren’t judged by our singles. We knew we had to make some singles that kind of popped off of it but we definitely made that album for albums sake, which was the first statement in the making of a Hip-Hop album with some different tentacles to it.
Sherron, case in point, we didn’t want to make a record that went cut to cut. We wanted to put some different interstitials as they say in the television world. We wanted a live effect like Gratitude from Earth, Wind, & Fire. I had a tape of where we just played in London to a raucous crowd so we interspersed that between the cuts to show people we had a live element to us. We had to get it all out in one album. We didn’t make our video until deep until the second cut of our album, which was ‘Night of the Living Baseheads’. We had to get our whole story out in a recording. We’re something to see live, our point of view is this: We will not make the same record twice. We will go from this extreme to that extreme sonically, and visually we will come with something different that will equally blow your mind. That was how we set out to do that and if it didn’t work we hedged all our bets on it to work.
Chuck D: It was totally pressure but we already made up in our minds that we weren’t going to repeat ourselves twice. If It Takes a Nation is a fastball right down the pike, trust me Fear of A Black Planet is a curve ball that’s looping like you wouldn’t believe. It was, don’t throw the fastball, throw the curve ball.
TRHH: That’s the feeling I got when I listened to it. Come to think of it, no Public Enemy record is similar.
Chuck D: That was the goal. Very few people and very few journalists especially have figured it out. You don’t know that your first two or three albums because you’re making two or three records. But it’s something if you’re looking over a twenty-five year period you say, wow, these dudes went on this side and totally abandoned it. We know that this area is hot but we’ll leave it to everybody else. We’ll try to challenge the road of what you won’t like. It takes somebody who is kind of crazy or a group of people who don’t really give a damn to take that road. I think Outkast came the closest in Hip-Hop out of mainstream groups to take that approach of making you go, “Huh?” They never made the same thing twice and they never made stuff based on if people are going to feel it or not. They were like, “This is what it is and we’re going to make you feel it.” I admire that from Outkast a whole lot.
Pittsburgh is not only the home of stoner rap with acts like Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, it’s also the home the politically charged emcee, Jasiri X. X is known for writing topical tunes that touch on issues that affect the black community. ‘Free the Jena 6’, ‘Trayvon’, and ‘What if the Tea Party Was Black’ display Jasiri X’s creativity and his compassion for the oppressed.
Jasiri’s rhymes led to a recording deal with Wandering Worx Entertainment. Jasiri’s first release for Wandering Worx hit retailers this week and is titled Ascension. Ascension is produced entirely by Canadian producer Rel!g!on and showcases the sentient Jasiri X in addition to the spitter.
Jasiri X spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about his desire to be respected as a lyricist, working with producer Rel!g!on, and his new album, Ascension.
TRHH: The last time we spoke in 2010 you said Ascension was coming in early 2011. Why did it take so long to finally release the project?
Jasiri X: [Laughs] We wanted to do it right and make sure we had the business part of it down. We wanted to have the videos. We shot six and two of them have been released—we have four in the chamber. We just wanted to make sure we had the full push. We wanted to get a distributor on board to get it to iTunes and everywhere so people would be able to have access to the album. In hindsight I’m kind of glad. As we kept making more music the album got better. I’m in a much better place in my own personal life than I was in 2011. I think it shows in terms of how I’m writing the stuff I’m writing. If we would have dropped it in 2011 it would have been a much different album and I don’t think it would have been as good.
TRHH: You released the Rappers on X mixtape last month. Why’d you release that so close to the release of Ascension?
Jasiri X: People know me as this guy who deals with politics and current events. I wanted to give people an idea that I can really spit on this mic. I can go in. I kind of wanted to share that with people. Rappers on X was a compilation of features that I’ve done with other artists. It’s kind of a perception thing like, “I see Jasiri X with Sadat X. Oh, he’s with Mac Miller, Planet Asia and Ras Kass.” It was also to show people that as an artist that I’m beginning to be recognized by other artists that are established and well known. Also, I can spit with them as well. The idea was to inspire people to say, “Hey, this is good; let me see what this album is working with.” Hopefully it worked [laughs].
TRHH: A couple of the songs on the album don’t have the socially conscious themes that we’re used to hearing from you. Is it difficult for you to not speak on specific topics and just spit?
Jasiri X: Nah. I wanted it to be a real album. A couple of projects that I dropped whether it was American History X or #TheWholeWorldisWatching those projects were more like compilations of the current event stuff that I was doing. I wanted to create an album that had a theme, but also create an album that shows more of me as an artist. I always have a lane to speak on something that happens. As I was writing the album Trayvon came so I could speak on it. This album was almost therapeutic in terms of exploring myself as an artist. I think it gives people more of an idea of who I am. It’s like, “You’re speaking on all these politics but why? What drives you? What motivates you?” I think this album helps fill in some of those blanks.
TRHH: You mentioned how on the mixtape you had a lot of guest features but on Ascension you kept it to two emcees, Brother Ali and Rhymefest. Talk about how the collaborations with those two guys came together?
Jasiri X: Rhymefest was actually one of the first established artists that reached out to me. It was through a mutual friend. Rhymefest has been very politically active in Chicago. I think he saw what I was doing with community activism and decided to deal with me. This is a guy that’s behind some of the biggest hits in Hip-Hop. The Kanye that you hear on Cruel Summer is choreographed by Rhymefest. It was cool for me to build with him and we did a few songs. The song ‘By Any Means’ is closest to the political Jasiri X. Rhymefest set it off when he wrote his verse on the day Steve Jobs died. I wrote my verse on the day Troy Davis’ sister passed away. It’s a pretty hardcore song.
Brother Ali just hit me on Twitter one day and told me he liked my work and if I needed anything to holler at him. I hit him back like, yo can you hop on this album? I sent him the track to ‘Pillars’ and he smashed it down like he does. Brother Ali is one of the coolest, most humble, dopest dudes in Hip-Hop. We shot a video for the song and the brother came out the day before his tour. We shot the video on skid row in L.A. at night. We were holding torches and doing all types of illegalities [laughs]. Brother Ali was cool and I got a lot of respect and love for that brother.
TRHH: Was it strategic to have Rel!g!on produce the entire album?
Jasiri X: Absolutely. The thing about Rel!g!on’s production is he doesn’t have a signature sound. His beats are so diverse and that’s what so good about him doing it. We wanted to go back to that time in Hip-Hop where there was one producer and one rapper. It gives it more of a synergy. He’s not just throwing me beats. On certain songs like ’21 Forever’ he’ll say, “I have a concept for this,” and he’ll guide me through that process. Nowadays in Hip-Hop a lot of times it’s one rapper and twenty producers and it can lead to a project that’s not as cohesive.
Jasiri X: Rel!g!on sent me the beat and said he wanted some real conspiracy type stuff. That was one of the earlier songs that I wrote and at the time Minister Farrakhan had done three lectures in a row and the topic was called The Wheel. I wanted to explore it in a Hip-Hop way that’s why the hook is clips that talk about the reality of what they call UFO’s. I have my own footage that I personally recorded. It wasn’t good enough for the video but I’ve seen these objects myself when I was in Miami, Florida. I thought it was an interesting topic to explore. It’s the last track because it kind of represents literal ascension. It’s Rel!g!on’s favorite song on the album. He loved it and said we gotta do a video for this. We went out to the Mojave Desert and shot an incredible video with CGI and everything. It’s just me basically saying, these wheels exist. All these other countries are saying it and Jimmy Carter to Buzz Aldrin saying it, to different footage. It’s just me saying this is something that’s’ real.
TRHH: I love Minister Farrakhan and he’s been a huge inspiration to my life but for most of his critics outside of the Jewish community, that’s the one thing that people question, the wheel. They say, “What’s he talking about with these wheels?”
Jasiri X: It’s funny. Maybe back in the day before YouTube and cell phones but it’s so much evidence now. It can’t be that many weather balloons in the sky. An article just came out in Huffington Post where in Amherst, Massachusetts all these people saw this thing in the sky and the Air Force said, “Oh yeah, we have this plane.” The people were seeing this thing move very fast and it was silent. The Air Force said the plane that they had was a huge B-6 that was big and loud. Even the people writing the article said it can’t be true. One of the people that I have on that song is the former Governor of Arizona. He was Governor when the Phoenix Lights appeared over Arizona. This is a Republican Governor who is a former Air Force pilot and he’s saying, “Unless somebody can give me some information that’s different that has to be a UFO.” I just think too many people have witnessed it, seen it, wrote about it, and videotaped it at this point to just dismiss it. France and Brazil have opened up files about it.
TRHH: I think it’s because the Minister speaks in detail about it. A lot of people are like, “Hey, I saw something and I don’t know what it is.” I think people are more comfortable in ignorance than in him giving details about what he experienced.
Jasiri X: That’s somebody that is talking about his own experience. I was driving real late one time and I was listening to this interview with this woman who had written a book about people in the military’s experiences with seeing UFO’s. I don’t know who is in the wheel. I’m not trying to say it’s this person or an alien. I just know what I saw and I know what evidence is being presented. That was what she was saying, she said, “When it comes to unidentified flying objects I’m an agnostic.” We can’t at this point deny the existence of these. Do we know who is flying them? No. But you can’t deny the existence of them.
TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with the new album?
Jasiri X: The album is called Ascension and the concept of the album is if Hip-Hop is dead where does it go? It either goes up to heaven or down to hell. The concept of the album was to raise Hip-Hop to a higher lyrical, spiritual reality. I’m hoping the album can bring Hip-Hop up and I hope it was achieved whether it’s production or lyrical. I tried to create an album that had a lot of spirit to it—the frequency was spiritual. I hope to raise Hip-Hop up to a higher level.
Chicago is a breeding ground for socially conscious artists. From Curtis Mayfield to Common musicians from Chicago’s inner-city entertain as well as educate. Chicago is a city where Operation PUSH and the Nation of Islam have its home base and the influence is heard loudly in those who aren’t afraid to speak out against injustice.
Enter Add-2, an emcee from Chicago’s south side who holds nothing back when speaking on the plight of the black man. Add is not afraid to call out the powers that be or of holding up a mirror to the black community. Add-2, born Andre Dijuan Daniels, has spent the last eight years delivering mixtapes with verses that make you think. The latest mixtape, Save.Our.Souls, is another dope chapter in the Add-2 book and the best is yet to come.
Add-2 recently spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about his musical inspirations, the solution for Chicago’s rampant gun violence, and his latest mixtape, Save.Our.Souls.
Add-2: Originally I was at a place where I started to look at society and the way that everything was structured and I felt like we were at a crossroads where we could do something to help ourselves or we could let it get drastically worse. I kind of see it getting worse so I felt the urgency to speak out because if not they’re not going to hear it from anybody else. Everybody is waiting for the next Martin Luther King or Malcolm X and we can use these inspirational figures but we have to understand that the change starts with ourselves. That’s why I titled it Save.Our.Souls because I’m not trying to make myself out to be the person to do it. I’m trying to say I’m in it too and we have to be the people to save ourselves from ourselves.
Hip-Hop can be a tool for that because we’ve made everything negative popular. So why can’t we do it in a way where we can inform ourselves about ourselves and maybe spark a change within our listeners minds? Music is the most powerful tool that we have and if we can’t use that to at least show them a mirror of what’s going on we’re doing them a disservice. I never wanted to be one of those artists who waited for the right time to say things—say it now. Say it when it’s not convenient. That’s why I really wanted to take a strong stance with this album and put it out there because we’re at a point in life where we’re on this self-destructive path and I don’t want to see it. I have younger cousins to take care of and I want them to grow up in something better than what I did.
TRHH: Why do you believe the negative is celebrated over the positive?
Add-2: I think it’s American culture. We have a tendency to praise celebrities. Unfortunately growing up we praised stupidity in school. The people who were intelligent we looked down upon while the people who were in the back of the class and didn’t want to learn were the cool kids. In American culture it progresses that way so once we get older a lot of people still haven’t shaken all of the shackles that we had when we were younger and immature. In Hip-Hop specifically, it’s still growing. Hip-Hop is not as old as other genres of music. We went through our rebellious teen phase where everything was sensationalized, and it still kind of is. We haven’t found our way to a calm stable point. Hip-Hop is still finding its identity and its place so we’re trying to get balance.
As far as the negativity goes, it’s always been in our neighborhoods, it’s always been something that we gave power to. Things like guns and gangs we always looked up to because it’s what we lived in. Once we get into Hip-Hop it’s natural that we translate that into the same type of culture. We looked up to that when we were on the streets so people are going to look up to in the music. It’s just a reflection of what’s going on. I wish it were different. I think we can make something else where it doesn’t have to be completely positive but it’s reality and giving them both sides of the coin. Telling them, “OK, I hustle but here is the other side of that hustle,” as opposed to what we’re giving them now which is, “We’re making money and everything is all good,” and it’s not that way. There are people whose parents are on the drugs that they’re talking about selling. There has to be a conscious about that. I think I’m more a fan of trying to give people reality and if Hip-Hop did that more it would give people better insight opposed to this lie that we’re telling them.
TRHH: Who are some of your inspirations in music?
Add-2: I listened to a lot of music that people wouldn’t necessarily think I would. I listened to Do or Die and Three 6 Mafia. When you’re from Chicago that’s what you hear. Once I got to high school I started listening to Common and Kanye. I was always a big Jay-Z fan. People like that gave me more balance. If I’m rapping fast you can tell that’s Do or Die. If you hear humorous stuff, that’s from Kanye. I try to write songs that are conversational pieces, that’s Jay. I try to give a little balance to everything. The backpacker dudes would get turned away from certain things that I didn’t want to get caught up in. The club rappers didn’t like certain things about the backpack rappers, so I wanted to find a middle ground between that.
Add-2: That all came from a conversation with my grandmother. When I was coming up we didn’t get a chance to talk too much about my history. We sat down and she told me her experience of actually picking cotton. She would tell me what she went through, how she had my uncles and aunts out there with her, what the feeling was like, and what the pulse was down south. I started thinking about it and of course it’s not slavery in the same sense but it’s a different format. Rap culture has become like slave culture. People are signing their lives away for record deals. They think they’re making something and getting ahead but a lot of them aren’t. A lot of them will do everything they can to get this image but they forget that they become puppets. So many artists that I talk to say, “I wish I could do what you do. I wish I could say what’s on my mind but they’re not going to put my record out.” If you’re not working to do what you want to do who are you working for? Especially if this is a job where you’re supposed to be telling your thoughts. Once I started to see that it was a constant in this industry where people were closing doors based off you either complying with what they want you to do or not it feels like this is controlled.
This music industry can control you and its voluntary control. You have a choice if you want to be involved with it or not and some people decide that it’s more lucrative for them to do that. So many artists get caught up and end up not saying what’s on their hearts and working ridiculous hours because of the pressure of the money. The contracts that they have nowadays aren’t designed for artists to really get ahead. The 360 contracts take a piece out of everything you doing, merchandise, touring, and record sales to compensate for what they’re supposed to be getting because the internet is taking the money away so now they have to get it in other ways. The work hours for an artist have changed. It’s a 23-hour job. You have to be on it at all times. You can’t just relax and put out an album a year; you have to almost be on it all the time. That’s why so many people end up on drugs because they can’t cope with the schedule. It’s draining and once they’re done with you you’re off to the side. They don’t care after that. They don’t care if your life is messed up. So what? They found a new younger person to replace you. Good luck!
TRHH: Why do you believe artists from Chicago have conscious themes in their music?
Add-2: That’s an interesting question. It’s something that people from the outside looking in always wonder. They hear about what’s going on in the city and they’re so surprised that we have artists like Common and Lupe. Chicago is a melting pot where you’ll find a little bit of everything. Even the most hood guys I know have an element of consciousness to them and are smarter than they let on. Sometimes they have to shield that in order to function out here. It’s a cold-hearted city. It’s always been a gangster city since the days of Al Capone. We’ve always respected the gang culture but at the same time Chicagoans are very real. We’ll let you know if something bothers us or is phony or fake. Chicagoans have a tendency to speak their minds as well; it just so happens that the conditions of the city breed a certain type of emcee.
We’re verse conscious. We want people to react and say that’s mean, that’s dope, or that’s fresh. We want to give people that because we come from a culture of that. It’s a big open mic scene and a performance scene. All of this stuff combined creates this type of person as far as an emcee goes and we have to be sharp. I honestly feel like the city breeds us to be this way. We aren’t idiots. We’re smarter than what we’re letting on even if we are showing our intelligence on a track. There are people that can call out a person after only meeting them in five minutes. We can do that. I’m not sure what it is about the city, but it’s all Chicago. The realness, the dopeness comes from that.
TRHH: Recently Rhymefest and Lupe both made comments about Chief Keef and artists like him. I think Rhymefest said Chief Keef was like a nuclear bomb. What’s your take on artists like Keef and the Drill rap that’s coming out of Chicago?
Add-2: Rhymefest definitely said that. I remember that article. The way I feel about it is I can’t really be mad at Chief Keef as much as I’m mad at the people behind him. At 16-17 years old that’s where some people’s minds are. He was probably raised in this element and probably hasn’t been around people that wanted better for him in a way that they were pushing him. He may not have had mentors around him. He’s a product of what he’s around. He’s 17; he’s not going to be the most responsible person in the world. I know at 17 I wasn’t. At 17 I was making a lot of mistakes, I was around a lot of the wrong people, and I was rapping about a lot of the wrong things. I know that there are some people behind who are profiting off of this. Those are the people that should be more so looked at. They’re the ones exploiting a youth in order to get more hits on a website or to get more money out of his pocket. What he’s talking about is his reality but they see a dollar out of it. They see a way to make a name for themselves out of it—that’s sad.
It’s sad that nobody has taken the time out to tell him, “Hey, be careful out here, man. You should do better than that. You shouldn’t be talking about the things you’re talking about,” or at least get his life on the right track because it could very easily get out of control. Once it gets to a point where it’s out of control or can’t be un-done then everybody talks about what they could have done. Somebody gets killed and everybody wants to come around and say we need to change. Everybody has enough time to change in between that, especially the people around him. As far as the Drill scene, they’re speaking on what they live. It is a reflection of where they’re at because Chicago is a dangerous place to be. We can’t act like it’s not happening because it is. If we want people to start rapping about something different we have to change the culture. We have to change the neighborhoods; we have to change what’s actually going on because otherwise it’s going to keep perpetuating the same things that they’re rapping about. As far as some people who are not living it they need to stop that [laughs].
TRHH: What steps do you believe need to be taken to end the plague of violence in Chicago?
Add-2: It’s so intricate that it’s going to take a lot of different things. It’s built off a lot of neglect. It’s going to start with family and community. If those things aren’t there then I don’t think any politician can come here and say anything and there is not anything that Rahm Emmanuel can enact if those two elements aren’t there. The structure of the family has to be back, it has to be better. People have to start making better decisions on who they’re starting families with. If you’re having children with someone you’re not expecting to be with and you’re butting heads that’s not going to help the child. Not being there is not going to help the child. Raising the child in a community that’s not filled with love, even if it’s not the best one, but at least if you have a sense of community where people are trying to help one another the way it was in the old school times. You had about 6-7 moms on the block and if you did something wrong she was going to get a hold of you first and then take you back to your mom and your mom was gonna get you and then dad would come home and get you again. That needs to be back, where people aren’t afraid of each other or giving each other the side eye and looking over their shoulder.
Another thing is we have to start supporting our communities instead of robbing them. Our businesses can’t even stay open because we’re too busy robbing from each other. If we make these places into places of hope, comfort, and stability it’s not going to be as bad. I guarantee you anybody who has been in jail or been in the game knows they’re not going to do this forever because they can’t. There is no life in this lifestyle. It’s unfortunate that we’re getting to the point where we’re killing the children. The news has to start out like that in order for people to even watch. Adult’s getting killed is nothing because people are desensitized to that. I honestly feel like it’s going to take a lot more effort from everyday people just saying, hi. Say what’s up to the young kids on the street and don’t being afraid of each other. Help someone who may be in need of help even if they are a felon. Help them, they’re people too and they want better. We have to be able to give each other hope in the places of despair. Not just show up with a camera when it’s a tragic event. Do it before then. Be a mentor even if you can’t offer a scholarship—offer your time—little things.
TRHH: Did you receive any negative feedback from some of your contemporaries for the song ‘Modern Day Coons’?
Add-2: There was some people who told me not to do it. There was a couple of people who even reversed it on me and said I’m the racist for bringing up these things. They felt insulted by certain images because it may have hit too close to home. It’s always going to be people that don’t agree with everything you say. That doesn’t necessarily mean that what you’re saying isn’t true. I tried to make that song as truthful and honest as possible without throwing too many shots at anybody. I wanted to be honest about what’s going on. I feel like you can’t be more offended by what I’m saying than what’s going on. If that makes you mad then maybe you should be just as mad at the image that we’re portraying. Let’s be mad at some of the music that we’re creating. Let’s be mad at the culture that it’s perpetuating. We have to be honest about it. Our hands are not clean. We used to be able to say, “It’s the media,” but now it’s not the media. We’re doing it to ourselves. If that doesn’t make you mad or feel a certain way then maybe it’s not your fight. For me I feel a certain way about it and the only thing I know is to speak on how I feel especially if I know in my heart that something isn’t right.
TRHH: What do you hope to accomplish in the music business?
Add-2: This may be a weird answer to some but I just want to accomplish God’s will. Whatever he has for me I’m happy with it. whether this is the peak or just the beginning I just want to do whatever he has set up for me to do. Sometimes I may have my own idea but I’ve been learning to tell myself to put that to the side because I don’t know if I may be a tool for him to use to better myself or better the lives around me. I may just be a sacrificial lamb laying the pavement down for someone else to walk even further than me. I just wanna be OK with that. I want to have that as my mantra. I don’t want to worry about my own goals because my goals are pretty trivial. It’s like stability, if I can get that then I’m cool but some of the other things would make me lose sight of what I’m really here for.
Add-2: Right now I’m working on a warm-up mixtape called More Missed Calls. After that I’m hoping to finish up the video for ‘Modern Day Coons’. I’m halfway done with that. I wanted to just knock it out but it’s been some hiccups. And work on the follow-up album. I’m still getting some things in order, getting the sound together, and I’m trying to really own the title of it. I’m playing around with different ideas but whatever it is I wanna own it. I’m just really trying to do as much as I can. No matter what it is, shows, interviews, features, I’m just trying to do as much as I can this year because I don’t know how long I’m meant to do this for. As long as I got breath in my body I’m trying to do as much as I can.
Losing a loved one is never easy. Losing a parent is like living a nightmare. As a young man, losing a father can be especially hard. Your dad is the first real superhero that a little boy sees. A father serves as a guide, protector, and friend. For Hip-Hop artist Sadistik his father was just that.
Sadistik lost his dad unexpectedly in 2007 and is using his sophomore solo album as a memorial to his late father. Flowers for My Father is Sadistik’s first solo effort in five years. It features production from Blue Sky Black Death and Kno from CunninLynguists.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Sadistik about coping with the loss of his father, the Seattle Hip-Hop scene, his upcoming Hops & Scotch tour, and his new album, Flowers for My Father.
Sadistik: It’s actually a pretty literal title. My father was my rock and best friend growing up. He passed away unexpectedly five years ago. This is my first solo album in five years and the first time I was able to truly address it. I named it that as a dedication to my dad.
TRHH: Was recording the album therapeutic for you in mourning the loss of your father?
Sadistik: Yes and no. Creative things in general are therapeutic for me but I don’t think it was some kind of cathartic experience. It didn’t put me at peace with him or anything like that. It was more of this is what I’m going to do anyway but I wanted to show my own personal token of gratitude for what my dad did for me throughout my life. It didn’t really fix anything but it probably made it a little more manageable.
TRHH: I lost my dad in ’09…
Sadistik: I’m sorry.
TRHH: Thank you. It’s something that never gets easier for me. Things kind of change but it never gets easier.
TRHH: How do you cope day-to-day with the loss of your father?
Sadistik: You’ll probably be able to relate to this. I feel like over time it doesn’t get better like people say. It doesn’t feel any better than the day it happened but it gets more manageable. I feel like you kind of hit a point where you just have to manage it, tuck it away, and keep whatever feelings you have as your own and do your best to handle them however you can. At the end of the day when you lose somebody that feeling is uniquely yours and you have to do whatever you need to with it. I don’t feel like things get better. I can see tragedy through more of an objective lens now. I can reflect on it better and be more appreciative of it instead of feeling shitty.
Sadistik: First of all I named it that as kind of a loose reference to the Radiohead song ‘Exit Music (For a Film)’ which is one of my favorite songs. I basically was writing about something that I think about and write about a lot, which is understanding that I’m temporary and I’m not going to be here forever. Everybody is doomed to be forgotten eventually and that’s a really difficult thing for me to accept. I’m kind of terrified of death and terrified of being forgotten even though I know it’s going to happen. It’ inevitable but it’s kind of a selfish thing that I want to be remembered anyway.
TRHH: Why do you think you’re terrified of death and being forgotten?
Sadistik: I care about things. I feel like it’s a very special thing to be alive and be able to express myself and do things. I have a very blessed circumstance in a lot of ways and it’s kind of difficult to accept that it’s temporary. In the grand scheme of thing nothing that anyone does really holds any long-term relevance. It’s difficult to take something so heavy and important and be like, “Well, it’ll be great while it’s here, but that’s all it is.” There is just kind of a constant push/pull battle with that. We’re here, be happy, enjoy it while you can but at the same time it’s kind of depressing and a helpless feeling knowing you can’t change things that you want to.
TRHH: It makes you feel insignificant, right?
Sadistik: Exactly, That’s a big motif in my writing, just feeling insignificant. When you see some amazing monument or watch the science channel or something and you realize how insignificant and small you are and how amazing that other stuff is. It’s depressing too but it’s about how you interpret it.
Sadistik: I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I feel like everything I do is better now. My writing, I feel more comfortable and have my own style more. It doesn’t have to be so heavy handed. I feel like The Balancing Act had the right ideas that I developed more over time but it was heavy handed at times. It was like, “I’m sad, so I’m going to say I’m sad.” Now I don’t feel like I have to be so literal all the time. You can have your spoon full of sugar with your medicine. It can be an accessible moving song without having to be so heavy and shoved down your throat all the time. I feel way more comfortable in my skin as an artist and way more established. Things just feel more natural. I’m not second guessing everything I’m doing anymore. Things are just coming out dope quicker.
Sadistik: ‘City in Amber’ is a Blue Sky Black Death beat and I love how subdued it is as opposed to the super epic big songs. I really liked how laid-back it was. There was a freeway in Seattle called 99 that runs north and south. It was a freeway I would take home a lot and I would drive by the waterfront of Seattle and I always loved the skyline. They actually just tore down that freeway and since they were going to tear it down I started thinking about it a lot more, especially when I would drive on it. So I just started thinking about that drive and the thoughts that it sparked in my head. When I say, “I see a city trapped in amber,” the whole thing is the Seattle skyline reflecting off the water. That’s what inspired that song.
TRHH: When I think of Seattle I don’t think of a Hip-Hop identity. I’m from Chicago and we don’t really have an identity either. We have Kanye, Twista, Common, and Chief Keef—everybody is different.
Sadistik: You guys got Lupe, Cool Kids–a lot of cool shit actually.
TRHH: When I think of Seattle I think of Sir Mix-A-Lot and Macklemore. What is Seattle’s Hip-Hop identity?
Sadistik: It does have one but I don’t know if I like it. In the indie scene people think of Minnesota with Rhymesayers and the amount of talent out there. But I think a lot of people are starting to put Seattle up there as the other bigger city for that. There’s a lot of popular stuff here. Obviously Macklemore is the huge success story right now. I feel like the identity is finally going in the direction that I like. A lot of stuff that’s been popular here doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the city. A lot of it is kind of bubbly, soul samples, and rapping about rapping. I think Seattle is more of a gloomy, interesting, artsy city. It’s Hendrix, Nirvana, seasonal depression—stuff like that is super Seattle. I don’t feel like a lot of rap here sounds like Seattle but lately it’s starting to go in that direction. Blue Sky Black Death is from here, Nacho Picasso has a really good sound to fit Seattle, and Dark Time Sunshine. I feel like there is a lot of good stuff coming up that’s right on the presplits of clicking or reaching that next level. I don’t feel like part of the club. I feel like some weird outsider in the Seattle scene.
TRHH: I can see that. Chicago is very similar, too. It’s odd that the Common’s, Kanye’s and Lupe’s have the most national notoriety but the people in the streets don’t really listen to that stuff.
Sadistik: I know. The people I know from Chicago don’t mess with Lupe or Kanye. Kid Called Computer who I did that album with, he’s from Chicago and it’s just not his shit.
TRHH: You mentioned Rhymesayers, talk a little bit about Eyedea. Give me a story or anything, something that people may not know about him.
Sadistik: I think one thing that stands out to me, because obviously I was friends with him, everybody already knows that he was an amazing artist—that’s pretty self-evident. One thing that stands out to me and I miss as a friend was his sense of humor. He was a really, really fuckin’ funny guy. He had the exact sense of humor that I particularly like. It was very dry and sardonic. He was on the way to my house when he was on tour and he calls me like, “Yo man, we’re going to go grave robbing real quick, do you want me to pick you up something?” He had a very quick dry sense of humor that I miss.
Sadistik: I’m going down to South by Southwest and I’m going on tour with DJ Abilities on the West Coast. I’m excited because I finally get to show my new stuff. I’ve been performing stuff that isn’t what’s in my head lately. Actually being able to share these songs to where people are going to know what they are now, I’m really excited. I’ve never really written a song with a live show in mind but some of these songs are going to translate better to the stage. I’m definitely excited to play SXSW for the first time this year.
TRHH: What do you hope to accomplish with Flowers for My Father?
Sadistik: I just want people to hear it. That’s really what it is. I made a decision early on when I was making this album. There’s always forks in the road where I can make things more profitable or save a few bucks here and there but I decided to go the opposite way this time and not really save expense. I wanted to make this completely a creative endeavor. I want this to be something that people hear and I go, “That is my style. If you like this sound you’ll like me.” I made that decision pretty early on so I don’t really care if I make money with this. I just want as many people to hear it as possible. Signing with Fake Four has been helpful so far with that. They’ve given me a lot of tools and put me in touch with a lot of people that have made that happen more, including yourself.
Greenville, North Carolina emcee Supastition quit the rap game in 2010 citing the direction that the business was going in as his reason. He left behind a handful of albums, EP’s and promises of more unreleased music to come.
In 2012 Supastition returned to Hip-Hop with a new EP titled, The Blackboard. The eight-track release finds the artist also known as Kam Moye rhyming like he never put down the mic.
Supastition spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about his hiatus from Hip-Hop, his current views on the music business, and his new EP, The Blackboard.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new release, The Blackboard EP.
Supastition: The Blackboard is basically about me returning to what I learned when I first began rhyming. I’m going back and teaching myself the basics, so I’m re-teaching myself. It was a way of me dropping everything and wanting to be a dope emcee again. It’s the basics of what I was doing before around the time of The Deadline and Chain Letters, two of my strongest releases.
TRHH: When you left the game in 2010 you said you would be releasing music from the vaults. How much of The Blackboard EP is new music and how much is stuff you had in the can?
Supastition: Actually all of The Blackboard is pretty new. It was recorded over the past few months. I still have two or three albums of material that have never surfaced for whatever reason. The Blackboard is pretty much all new stuff. Some of the beats I already had like ‘Indestructible’ by M-Phazes and ‘Yada Yada’. I had those before I even left the music business I just never did anything with them. As I started recording The Blackboard I pulled up those beats, they updated them, and I recorded them. Pretty much everything that was written is new.
TRHH: You get real personal on the song ‘Rejoice’. Was that therapeutic for you to tell you story on that song?
Supastition: Yeah, in a sense it was. At the same time I’ve learned that you can’t work out your problems through music. No song or lyric that you write is ever going to solve your problems. It was therapeutic in sense that I learned how to step away from music and work out some of that hostility, animosity, and aggression that I may have. But when I sit down and write about it I could write about it from the perspective of it being therapeutic. A lot of times when I recorded songs I used to sound angry and bitter. That was my way of venting and getting it out of my system. I found other ways to work out the problem. ‘Rejoice’ is just telling people what I’ve been through and where I’m headed.
TRHH: What’s your life been like since you left the music business in 2010?
Supastition: It’s been a very humbling experience, man. It’s helped me get a lot of things in perspective. When you’re in the music business so many people are coming at you. A lot of people quote un quote are saying hello to you and keeping in touch but once you leave the music industry it’s almost like when you graduate from high school. You’ve known those people for years but when you move on to college a lot of those friends don’t make it into your college life. And when you graduate from college a lot of those friends don’t make it into your adult life. That’s what the music was for me.
When I transitioned out of it there was so many people that I hadn’t talked to for years. Once you take away that foundation of your friendship then it’s really no reason. It’s like if there are guys that you hang around with to smoke weed when you stop smoking weed you probably won’t hang around the same guys. If you go the gym every day you might ball with some dudes but if you stop going to the gym those guy stay away. That’s what happened with music for me. I got a 9-to-5, did a lot of studying, researching Pan-Africanism, Moorish Science, all types of things to kind of strengthen myself mentally. I was just becoming stronger as a person, man. The music industry can kind of swallow you whole if you let it.
TRHH: Did you take it personally when you stopped hearing from people that you’d normally hear from or was it just like, OK, this is what it is?
Supastition: I think initially I did. You have an idea of who is really your people and your family but once those opportunities are gone away it surprises you how many people won’t even check on you. It was a situation where my daughter was sick and hospitalized for a month and it was a lot of people that I didn’t hear anything from. It was a couple of people that I put food in their mouths and helped them feed their families that would send vague text messages more out of obligation. It was real surprising to deal with it like that.
TRHH: It seems like a couple of years ago you had a light bulb moment about the business. What advice would you give to someone who has a dream to become a rap artist?
Supastition: I would tell them a couple of things, first I would tell them to realize why you’re in it. If you’re in this business just to make money then you have to be real with yourself. A lot of guys say they’re in it to make underground Hip-Hop music but a lot of those dudes just want to make money. They have anger because the music that they make realistically will never make money like that. I’d tell them to realize why you’re in it. If you’re in it for money, then hey, do whatever you have to do to make that money. If you’re in it for musical integrity and just the art of it then you can’t really be mad if people don’t support it. The majority of people don’t listen to music for the same reason that we listen to or make music.
Another thing I’d tell them is to build a strong team off of genuine, hard-working, and selfless people. Don’t just surround yourself with a bunch of talented producers and rappers. On paper it looks great but in the end when life gets rough and people start becoming more popular a lot of those personalities will come out. If the dude had a small ego when you were coming up together he’s going to have a huge ego when he gets some popularity. I’d just tell him to get a team with more genuine people, man.
Supastition: ‘Yada Yada’ is me seeing within the past few years a lot of arrogance out of a lot of new artists. For me coming into the game you had to pay your respects to the people that were before you. That’s with anything, music, life, religion, or whatever. I felt like a lot of guys were coming out of nowhere and straight disrespecting a lot of the legends like Pete Rock, Kool G Rap, and Lord Finesse, who I consider a legend. It’s like, yo, you have to draw the line somewhere. It’s almost like people can say anything. People can come out and say, “I’m the best rapper,” and if you say it enough times people will start to believe it. To me you have to validate that. If you say you’re the illest you have to have some type of resume to back it. With ‘Yada Yada’ I was just trying to school people like, look, you gotta listen to musical integrity, be humble, and pay your respects to people. Even down to promoters and different people who want to do collabos, it’s like, look, if you know what I’ve done and you respect it you have to pay people accordingly. If you don’t you’ll end up being that $200 legend that everybody knows and respects but they can’t see paying you more than $200. That’s what ‘Yada Yada’ is. It’s basically putting a lot of things in line, a lot of things that I’ve seen, and people saying things out of pocket. It’s that bla bla and nonsense that a lot of people are talking.
TRHH: Do you think that’s a generational thing? I’m thirty-six years old and I’ve loved Hip-Hop for a long time. It seems like every three-to-four years something changes and people are forgotten. I’ve literally heard people say, “Jay-Z is overrated,” and I’m like, wow, what more does he have to do? But these people are younger. My cousins’ son said that Ghostface is wack and Lil’ Wayne is the best rapper in the world. I like Lil’ Wayne but I wouldn’t go that far! I’m seventeen years older than him though. Do you think it’s a generational thing that the respect is lost?
Supastition: I can definitely agree with you. To be real with you we’re both the same age. I think it’s a different generation. With us we did have arrogant rappers but they were respectful with it. We had LL who was very arrogant with his music. We had KRS-One who was very arrogant with his music. We had Slick Rick who was probably one of the most arrogant rappers with his music, he called people crumbs! But it was a respectful thing and he kept it within the music. He didn’t walk around carrying himself like that. I think with this younger generation, and not just in music, they don’t have an understanding or see the importance of history of anything. You can’t just jump out there and say you’re the best guitar player if you don’t know who Jimi Hendrix is or Eddie Van Halen. You can’t jump up and say, “These guys are terrible,” and then expect to get respect. It doesn’t happen in any other genre except for Hip-Hop and I think it’s because the musical history just isn’t important.
If you look at Rock musicians and see somebody like Mick Jagger. If he goes out to any Rock club do you think he’d have to pay to get in? He wouldn’t have to wait in line. Let somebody like KRS-One go to a club and they’d be like, “Who is this old dude?” The treatment is completely different and it goes back to our culture being very trendy. It’s always cutting edge, out with the old, in with the new. I think that’s what happens with our history and that’s what it is with arrogant rappers. People just embrace it. People want someone to entertain them. It’s funny, you’ll get rappers that are completely horrible but will come out and say they’re the best rapper. People laugh initially but after that it’s almost like people start believing it. You can say something a certain amount of times and eventually somebody is going to believe it.
TRHH: That’s definitely true. I can go on and on about that forever.
Supastition: [Laughs] You know? It’s our age, man. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen the change.
TRHH: I’ve interviewed Willie D of the Geto Boys recently and MC Shan and asked them their opinion on this. I see a lot of people say certain rappers are too old to be rapping or need to retire, but Jay-Z is like 43 and killing it! Being dope versus being wack is not the same as being young versus being old. I love KRS-One, I think he’s top 5 all-time but I haven’t been impressed with his music in a couple years. Do I think he can rhyme? Yeah. I still think Rakim can rhyme. Just because I didn’t love their last projects doesn’t mean I think they should go away.
Supastition: I think a lot of that has to do with a lot of music genres having an adult contemporary group and there isn’t one for Hip-Hop. To a fifteen-year old a thirty-year old is an old man so when you get to forty you’re damn near a dinosaur. There isn’t anywhere else for those rappers to go and everybody continues looking at them like they shouldn’t be here. I find that crazy. A lot of rappers that I grew up listening to, I don’t listen to them anymore. Either they haven’t evolved or the music has evolved more than they have. But I definitely couldn’t say these guys have no point of being here. It goes back to Hip-Hop being a very trendy thing. Everybody’s mentality is, “We’re off that.” Look at the shoes that people wear, if people see somebody wearing Jordan’s they’ll say, “I ain’t wearing Jordan’s no more,” knowing that they made thousands of those sneakers. When you go to a bar there are thousands of different drinks but there’s a certain amount of drinks that people buy. When people want to buy a dog the first dog that they look at is a pit bull. It’s just a trendy thing. People want to go wherever everybody else is going. If it became cool to like old school rappers that’s what everybody would be doing.
TRHH: It’s unfortunate and it’s just perception. There’s not a big age gap between Rakim and Jay-Z. They’re very close in age but for a lot of people they’re far apart. It’s a pet peeve of mine, man. It drives me crazy. I interviewed DMC of Run-DMC recently and a lot of people I told about it said, “That’s dope,” but some people said, “He’s old.” I’m like, “He’s DMC though!”
Supastition: Why is it when they do it its considered old but when a seventeen-year old tries to recreate their music they think it’s fresh ‘cause they think it’s retro? The originals are still here, man. When we do it it’s old but when a high school student comes out with a flat top and raps over old school style beats everybody is rocking to it. I just don’t get it. It’s like they don’t want the original.
TRHH: It’s one of those things like with Kendrick Lamar’s album. I liked it a lot but I was irritated with people’s response to it. A lot of people were acting like it was the second coming of something. This was how albums used to be. There used to be a theme. All he did was bring back what Slick Rick and De La Soul did twenty years ago.
Supastition: Exactly! If you listen to those albums or an old school N.W.A. album, the way those songs transition into each other back then is exactly what he’s doing now. I think just because it’s been missing for so long it’s like you being the best player in the NBA during the lockout when none of the good players are there. It’s like, damn, a lot of people forgot how to make albums. It’s been a single driven industry for so long. That’s why I respect what he’s doing with his project.
TRHH: I’m so glad he did it but if you’re 25 this is some new shit to you.
Supastition: [Laughs] That’s real, man.
TRHH: How much did the illegally downloading of music affect your decision to take a hiatus from the business?
Supastition: It was probably ten percent of why I left. It’s kind of like you going to your job one day and there’s this one dude who keeps constantly nagging you, bugging you, and keeps pissing you off. You keep ignoring it and going on about your business but one day he just catches you on that bad day and you just flip out. For me that’s what it was. I had been going through so much. We were facing eviction at the crib and I was like, alright, I’ll hustle up the money and get this done. I remember going on this one website and seeing my entire discography, I mean everything that I’ve ever done was out there for free. I asked the guy could he take down some of it and the blogger was like, “You don’t own your own music anyway. Your label owns it.” I was like, “Dude, you’re crazy. I own all of my music.” He said he’d take certain things down but keep the mixtapes. Then it was other things like people would e-mail me and ask for songs or the lyrics to the song and it was like, damn, it’s like we’ve given people the matches to burn down our house.
At that time I didn’t embrace it the way that I embrace it now. I started seeing where the music industry was going and it seemed like the bottom fell out. I was like, “You know what, I’m going to jump off this ship right now ‘cause it seems to be crumbling.” At the time I was doing music full-time so my perspective isn’t the same as it is now. It’s like seeing a company going out of business. You know it’s going to happen eventually, you just don’t want to sit there and wait for it. I said let me step out of this because I have to transition into, I don’t want to say adulthood, but I got tired of using my rapper logic and wanted to use some grown man logic. I have to start working and take care of my family. I can no longer depend on this.
TRHH: I think more aspiring rappers or people who are just fans should know how real it is. Another guy I recently interviewed was Cappadonna from Wu-Tang. If you remember he was driving a cab ten years ago. I asked what led to him driving the cab and he said, “I wasn’t living in reality. I was living in this fantasy world. People weren’t buying music, music wasn’t selling and I had to take care of my kids.” That’s reality. That’s more common than the Kanye’s but I don’t think people think of rappers in that way though.
Supastition: I agree 100% with what he said. Whether people realize it or not some of the relationships you build and the connections you have with people is a fantasy. It’s like with artists and fans it’s a one-sided relationship. It’s like the guy in first grade who wants to be your friend because you might have the same favorite cartoon or something. You may not know him at all but he’s saying you’re his friend. Music is just like that. People listen to your music so much they feel like they know you and then you build a bridge with Twitter that they can see everything that you’re doing. I don’t know about everybody else but my friends don’t buy albums. They definitely won’t buy my album because they want it for free. It’s like you’re building all these friendships up and taking away your aura so now people really aren’t buying your album. When I left the music there were some fans but a lot of them didn’t give a shit whether I was rapping or not. It’s a certain thing within fantasy and reality and I’m more grounded in reality right now. I know that if I decide to never do music again my family will be the only ones looking up to me and depending on me.
TRHH: How has your approach to the music business changed from when you debuted over ten years ago?
Supastition: I basically do it on my own terms now. I’m not just releasing music just to break into the industry. There was a time when I was that dude that wanted to quote, end quote, make it—whatever it took. If that meant going on tour for months and things like that, that’s what I did back then. But now if I have time I’ll release a project here. I don’t really do long-term tours or anything like that. I’ll do a show here and there and maybe some seasonal touring. I’m kind of setting my own standard and going against what the music industry tells you. I’m old enough and to the point where I can say I just want to make songs, man. I have people that want to hear my music and that’s who I make music for. I don’t aspire to want to be on 106 & Park or to be the next Nas. I just make music because I feel I’m creative at it and there’s a group of people that want to hear it—I’m completely cool with it. If my record comes out and doesn’t sell a single copy it won’t bother me. The only thing that’ll bother me is if I put my own money into it and didn’t make it back. Other than that I’m just trying to break even. I have other means of taking care of my family so music is not my first priority like it was before.
TRHH: I asked J Cole this question a few years ago. I remember watching an interview with Phonte and he said that people would come up to him and say, “You can rap for somebody from the South.” I asked J Cole if people ever said to him and he said he got it all the time. Do people ever approach you like that?
Supastition: [Laughs] People used to do it. I understand why because there was a time when it wasn’t cool to be from the South. That was the last people that you’d think would make it in Hip-Hop because people said we talked slow and wore Cross Colors and FUBU. Just the general perception of the South is what people still look at in the music industry. They used to say, “You’re good to be from the South,” and it used to piss me off. There was a song I had on Chain Letters called ‘That Ain’t Me’ and it was saying I don’t have a thick Southern accent, I don’t have tattoos, braids, or have gold teeth. People don’t realize that a lot of families from up North migrate from down South. The ones that live up North are rooted in down South. We’ve been making music and setting trends for a long time, we just weren’t getting credit for it. There is no such thing as a Southern emcee when it comes to music. People just happen to think a person like T.I. or whoever would be a Southern emcee but if we put people from different parts of North Carolina in one room they would all either talk different, dress different, or look different. I just don’t think there is any one thing that defines what a Southern emcee is.
TRHH: What’s next up for Supastition?
Supastition: Actually I have a mixtape that I just finished with a guy named DJ Eveready from Australia. It’s all of my rare collabos and some unreleased songs and like you said before, a lot of songs that were in the stash or in the vault. I’ll probably put out another EP just to keep things going. I have a producer/emcee project that’s going to be a concept album in the sense of a Prince Paul type of album. It’s a true concept album. Some people have concept albums and one or two songs are based on it. This one is about a brother born to an unfit mother and how his life spirals out of control. That’s going to be one of the biggest projects that I do this year. Other than that I’m just recording stuff and finding outlets to release music. I have so much music that I’m sitting on and I’ve been recording pretty frequently so I’m just trying to keep the music flowing for the people that want to hear it.
In late 2012 Hip-Hop super-group MHz released their long awaited full-length album. One of the groups members, Camu Tao, passed away in 2008 due to lung cancer but the groups remaining members, Copywrite, Tage Future, Jakki Da Motamouth, and RJD2 soldiered on and renamed the group MHz Legacy.
MHz Legacy is also the name of the group’s new album. The Columbus, Ohio crew invited guest emcees Ill Bill, Slaine, Oh No, Slug, Blu, and Danny Brown to get down on the album. RJD2 handles the bulk of the production on MHz Legacy but producers like Stu Bangas, Marco Polo, Harry Fraud, Surock, J Rawls, D1, Jason Rose, Rob Stern, and !llmind provide sounds as well.
Copywrite and Tage Future of MHz Legacy spoke to The Real Hip-Hop.com about their late band mate Camu Tao, the division that exists in Midwest Hip-Hop, and their new album, MHz Legacy.
TRHH: How does it feel to finally have the album out?
Tage Future: It felt good, man. Just stating the obvious but it’s been a couple of minutes since we put out something. Whenever there is a couple minutes between projects like that, and I’m talking about a couple minutes as in 2001 when we dropped Table Scraps which technically wasn’t an album, we’re talking about over a decade man. It felt good, man.
Copywrite: I’m happy with the album. We got a lot of shit on there that we’re proud of. We got a lot of shit on there that I didn’t think we’d get done and get it the way it sounds. I’m real happy with it, man. We could have nitpicked all day about it. Me and Tage are perfectionist but that’s the ill part. If anything we have so much shit on there. I know we could have nailed it down and gave the magazines their break and not have them sit through an hour of music before they went to lunch. It’s a big landmark for us. We’re proud that we all came together to make this album that we knew we would inevitably. We wanted to basically chill out, take our coat off, and kick our feet up and chill for a minute. We wanted to make a nice little lengthy album and not be in and out of the spot so soon.
TRHH: Why’d you guys invite other producers to work on the album instead of having RJ produce the entire thing?
Copywrite: I don’t know, man. One producer for a whole album has never been anything that any of us have done. I guess our taste is a little too broad to eat steak all month. Sometimes your ears crave different sounds and shit and different randomness. We didn’t go on a path to get beats from different producers it was whoever had the shit that we needed. We have Surock who is not unknown but he’s probably the least known. We have Rob Stern who did the intro track. Whoever had the music that we felt we needed we just used. We linked up with them and made it happen.
Tage Future: I agree. It wasn’t like yo, we’re going to mess with a bunch of producers. We just picked some heat. We got RJ’s production as the foundation of it. He produced the most records out of all the producers. There were other beats that we wanted to mess with because they meshed well and went along with whatever themes we were trying to do sonically. We didn’t plan to have a whole bunch of producers but it was a matter of stuff that we liked and what would mesh with will RJ’s contribution.
Tage Future: That was the first song that we recorded on the album. If you listen to the chorus Jason Rose is talking about breaking out of his metal canopy, cut the strings on mechanical me. Let me do me. Sometimes in life you got stuck in a rut or a routine and sometimes you need to break free. Sometimes it’s physical and sometimes it’s a mode of thinking. ‘Mechanical Me’ is talking about breaking out of that routine that you might be stuck in, whether it be something that you do every day, something that you experience or are a part of. It could be a job or a philosophy, but it’s about breaking out.
Copywrite: We had it easy on that song. All we had to do was walk in and rap. Jason Rose already produced it and had the hook. It would have been a great song with or without us. Shout out to Jason Rose on that. He’s a super-talented dude. Basically what it is, cut the puppet strings, be your own person and get off this fucking conveyer belt of everyday 9-to-5 shit even though it’s designed to keep us tired by the time we get off.
TRHH: You guys all live in different parts of the country so what’s the writing process like? Do you guys write in the studio together or e-mail tracks?
Tage Future: Most of the time we’re not working in the studio together unless we meet up. It varies from song to song. Cop and I have been dealing with one another for years. We’ve been friends for well over a decade. We definitely know one another’s tendencies and things we like to do when it comes to a song. Sometimes he may be the first one to write something to a song and he’ll hit me off with it and ask what I think about it. I’ll come with something to compliment his or vice versa. It’s not really a forced thing. It’s pretty easy for us because we know one another.
Copywrite: We’ve known each other for so long, man. Me, Tage, Camu, and RJ we all want the same outcome musically. Even though we all have very distinct sounds we’re like twins. We never missed a beat.
Tage Future: Three twins, man, how ‘bout that? Never thought that could happen. Three twins and two triplets! Can’t have three twins, man. We have a lot of similarities in our tastes.
Copywrite: Our solo shit is different for sure but when we all rock together it’s a different vibe. I’m more stripped down when I do my solo shit. When we do MHz shit we have more fun with the technicalities and get a little more wordy with shit. The nerd wordsmith in us comes out because we know that is what this shit is really based on. This is how it really started before we got smooth and shit. Our shit was rough around the edges and when we were battling it was like who could say the shit to make you go, “What the fuck did he just say?”
TRHH: Why do you think the Midwest has never had a dominant run in Hip-Hop despite having artists like Kanye, Eminem, Common, and Nelly achieve success?
Copywrite: No support because we’re crabs in a bucket. We get jealous too ‘cause we want it so bad. That’s how it is in Ohio.
Tage Future: I feel like it’s twofold. That’s definitely a part of it because when we were growing up in Columbus we were cool with other artists. We used to do shows with other crews but there wasn’t as much of a movement as you’ve seen in the South, West, and East. Also, I feel like it has to do with the sound as well. The sound of the Midwest is not really a signature sound. There’s a lot of different sounds within the Midwest sonically. It’s not saying that it’s any better or worse than any place else but it may play a role in the togetherness in the sound of a region. You can hear a song from the South whether it’s Houston, Atlanta, or Miami it might not sound exactly the same but there are a lot of similarities in it. I feel it’s kind of like that in the West, too.
Copywrite: The West Coast sound is the Midwest sound pretty much because the Funk is the Midwest. The Isley Bros, Bootsy Collins, that shit is the Midwest, that’s Ohio. They capitalized on the Funk.
Tage Future: I like that question. It also seems like since the Midwest did not have an identity of sound; we kind of drew from everywhere. You draw from the East, the West, and South and put your own little flavor on it. There may be more West in your sound if you come from St. Louis, there might be more East in your sound if you come from Chicago. I’m not saying that’s how it is; I’m just giving you an example. It’s a fusion. The Midwest sound is more of a fusion of influences which gives the sound a variety. I feel like that may play a role in the togetherness of a region.
Copywrite: Yeah, Jason Rose on the beat, Jason Rose on the hook. We both drew from different shit. I talked a little bit about spirituality. I have a grandma who just passed away at the beginning of last year. I think I just wanted to talk about some serious shit. That’s what the beat sounded like to me.
Tage Future: I kind of drew from just growing up. I felt like my story could relate to others whereas you grow up and go through a few things, have a few close calls, and some things that could have had you take a turn for the worst. By faith or by God’s grace you get through things or dodge bullets and now you’re here. That’s basically how my verse was and being happy to be here now and touching on some of the things you can go through in growing and developing. That’s what ‘Mass Temple’ is about, saying thanks.
TRHH: Did losing Camu inspire you guys to finally complete the album?
Copywrite: Nah, it wasn’t a deciding factor like, “OK, Camu passed, let’s do this MHz album.” In a way it was in honor of him, finally getting together and doing the shit that took so long to get done. Really it took a few months to get it done. That’s our flag, man. We’re proud of what we’ve done and we’re proud of the love that we have for each other.
Tage Future: It wasn’t the only factor. We all just wanted to make something happen. Mu was an inspiration and still is for us. That’s one of the reasons why we came together. We did the song in his honor…
Copywrite: Not to cut you off bro but my idea was to call the album Tero Smith. We were like, oh shit people might look at it like we’re trying to do it like that…
Tage Future: We didn’t want people to think that we were trying to capitalize off of Camu and him not being here. We didn’t want to give off that impression because that’s not what it is at all. That’s why we added “Legacy” to the name because we’re not precisely the same group that we were before because Mu is not here. It’s kind of like MHz asterisk [laughs]. It’s still us but we wanted to acknowledge that.
TRHH: What’s next up for MHz Legacy?
Tage Future: Definitely trying to tour.
Copywrite: Basically letting this album get heard. I feel like 2012 was a great year for music. A lot of shit came out and with that being said our shit got its proper due a little bit but a lot of shit came out so it was hard to pay attention to all the good shit. A lot of people don’t know who the fuck we are. They know a few of names in the group, but they don’t know the name MHz except for super hardcore people who really know. Super backpackers and people that know about indie rap know. We’re just trying to keep making good music and give this shit its proper course and let it be heard. We really love the record. I fuck with this record heavy. I think it’s the best shit I’ve done so far.
Tage Future: We may drop a couple more visuals for some of the records on the album and like he said keep pushing the campaign so new listeners can be put up on it.
It’s difficult to stand out when you’re in a group with larger than life characters like Method Man, Ghostface Killah, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Quietly, the least vocal lyricist of the Wu-Tang Clan, Masta Killa, has dropped nothing but quality projects. His latest album Selling My Soul is a slight departure from what you’re used to hearing from the Clan.
Selling My Soul is an upbeat and soulful album from the laid-back emcee. The album has no guest appearances from members of the Clan but finds Jamel Arief sharing the mic with Tha Dogg Pound’s Kurupt on a couple of occasions.
Masta Killa recently spoke to The Real Hip-Hop.com about his new album Selling My Soul, the evolution of his rhyme style, and the rumored Wu-Tang Clan reunion album.
Masta Killa: It’s just basically selling my music, brother. The music on this album is in a soulful chamber and that’s exactly what we’re in this business to do, sell units. Anything from the inner-self is a part of the soul. A lot of people always affiliate that title with a negative, but it all depends on how you look at it. I knew it would grab a lot of peoples attention. Just to shed some light on it and give people a different way to look at things I chose that title.
Masta Killa: That’s just taking it back to classic New York, classic 80’s Hip-Hop, just Hip-Hop in general. It’s just things that I admired being a fan of the culture like the way we dressed and the break dancing. It was a classic Hip-Hop chamber. For the younger people within the business today they might not have ever experienced a block party or a jam. It’s certain elements of Hip-Hop that made it what it is and they might not have experienced that, so it’s kind of like a history lesson for those that don’t know.
TRHH: Why was there so much time in between releasing Made In Brooklyn and Selling My Soul?
Masta Killa: A lot of things was going on between that time. We did another Wu-Tang album in that time, 8 Diagrams. We did a couple of tours. The whole music industry was being restructured. Also just testing and seeing the climate of where the people are at in general. To create something that everybody else is familiar with I don’t even see what’s special to make someone want to buy that. You can just get that anywhere. That’s’ what everybody is doing. So to see whats missing and fill the void was what I was trying to do.
TRHH: On the ‘Intro’ you include rhymes from other members of the Clan. How’d you come up with that concept?
Masta Killa: I think I was a fan of everything that I said. Just being a fan of everything that’s around me. My Wu-Tang Clan, I learned a lot from those brothers over the years. Not just because it’s my fam but those brothers have a unique rhyme style that was unheard of in Hip-Hop. So just to pay tribute back to them I said let me take something that everybody said and make it one.
TRHH: Did it take you a long time to write?
Masta Killa: Not at all, not at all. Since we’re on stage and doing shows I might could say my brother’s shit better than him [laughs]. I love their shit, as far as backing them up or coming in where I know the word is supposed to be. There’s a song from each one of my brothers or something that they said that I love. I sing their songs daily. It was simple. I just took parts and kept adding on to it.
TRHH: On the song Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ you had an entirely different flow than you do now. What led to you changing up your flow?
Masta Killa: I think I grew as far as understanding music more and how to be in the groove of a song. I strive to keep my substance potent, but flow and how you approach a track and how you mesh with it is is everything I’ve learned through my course of travel and study of music. You could be saying the illest thing lyrically and you’ll have somebody with a nice flow who might not be saying anything near to what you’re saying intellectually but the flow was so creamy the people was over there [laughs]! If I could come with a combination of both which I think a lot of great emcees within Hip-Hop was able to do like Rakim, Kane, KRS, Slick Rick so on and so forth. That’s what they had that was so beautiful that they gave us, lyrics with integrity and flow.
TRHH: How’d the ‘Food’ joint with 9th Wonder come about?
Masta Killa: I knew 9th for a while. We’ve been striving to work together for a minute. He threw a couple of things at me and we went to work. That’s just one thing that you’re going to hear from me and the brother. We have a few other proejcts and some material that we put in and you’ll be hearing other things from us also. Shout out to 9th Wonder. That’s a very creative brother right there and it was a pleasure working with him.
TRHH: That was my next question, I heard about the Mansa Musa project with Halo. Give me some insight into that project.
Masta Killa: Ummm not right now [laughs]. I’m just going to tell you I hope for it to be another smash. I’m going to put my dedication into it and I know Halo is going to do the same and 9th Wonder is going to go hard like he do. I’m definitely striving to make it another smash for the listeners and good for Hip-Hop and music in general. That’ll definitely be something that I think should be in the library.
TRHH: On the new album you have a couple of collaborations with Kurupt. How’d you link up with him to record ‘Part 2’ and ‘Cali Sun’?
Masta Killa: Once again sometimes in this bussines you might be knowing somebody forever. Through travel, their business, and your business it’s hard to get it done. We’ve been trying to get this done for years. Finally it came together. He was in my neck of the woods and we met up, hung out, and made it a party. Brothers on the west side, Dogg Pound, Kurupt, it’s been love since day one. We just had the opportunity to make it happen finally.
TRHH: Probably my favorite song that you’ve done is ‘Queen’ from the No Said Date album. That had a soulful essence, too. Was that kind of the inspiration for you to do Selling My Soul?
Masta Killa: No, I think just being a fan of music and growing up on all of that stuff. My mother is definitely going to be rocking Gladys Knight, rocking New Birth, Teddy, and Parliament. These artists were played daily in my household. Growing up on this stuff it’s all in me regardless. Having a chance to express it through my talent and artistry is a blessing for it to be able to come back around full circle and me to be able to do that.
TRHH: For years we’ve been hearing about the Loyalty is Royalty album. Is that going to be released in 2013?
Masta Killa: I think I’m going to definitely let that go in 2013. I’m looking forward to this next Wu project also. Loyalty is Royalty, I’m definitely going to let that go in 2013. Also because like you said it was a little while before I gave them Selling My Soul so I think I’m going to definitely come back within a certain time span and let that go for the people.
TRHH: You mentioned the Wu album and I spoke to Cappadonna recently and asked him about a Wu reunion album and he said he was going to hit up RZA with a plan to give each member in the Clan 10-to-20 tracks, a topic to rhyme about, and a time limit. After each emcee sent their verse to RZA he would put it all together like a puzzle. Is there a specific way you’d go about recording the next Wu-Tang Clan album?
Masta Killa: I think I would let The Abbott be The Abbott really. The first five albums out of my camp is all RZA right there, which made individuals successful to the degree that they are. I’m going to let him do what he do [laughs]. I’m going to do what I do and I’m confident that that’s going to be what it’s supposed to be. It’s really never failed, really. If I got The Abbott in the chamber I’m not even worried. I’m just going to come and make sure my rhyme books are sharp.
TRHH: I don’t know if you know Donwill from Tanya Morgan but he told me, “I didn’t check for 8 Diagrams ‘cause them niggas was fighting with each other at the time.” He wanted Wu to be Wu, you know? I know there was a lot of stuff going on with Ghost at the time. Is the climate right for everybody to come together and do this now?
Masta Killa: Right. I’ll say like this, brother, in all families, even in our personal families there are times when you might have to give somebody some space. My brother, my sister, my uncle, my aunts, my father, whoever! Real family goes through real things. Sometimes a little space and distance is healthy. Intelligent men are going to come together and solve that in their own good time. I’m confident that that’ll happen. I do understand that it does reflect on the creativity of the music. That’s felt within the music because those are all vibrations. I’m in my right frame of mind, brother [laughs]. I’m feeling good and I can’t wait to get it on personally. I’m going to bring that energy to the table and that positiveness will travel throughout everything. To me, I think it’s going to be a positive look.