Nick Weaver: Photographs of Other People

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Photo courtesy of Ryan Skut

For nearly a year Nick Weaver has released single after single giving listeners a glimpse into his state of mind at each time. In typical Weaver fashion, the songs were thought-provoking and heavy on lyrics. The culmination of Nick Weaver’s stream of consciousness is a 5-track EP called “Photographs of Other People.”

Photographs of Other People finds the Seattle native taking his art to a new level, incorporating ideas, sounds, and methods not previously touched upon in his music. The EP is produced by Sendai Mike, MEMBA, Kevin Boris, and Nick Weaver himself.

Nick Weaver talked to The Real Hip-Hop about the importance of focusing on yourself, why it’s important to invest in your sound, his upcoming tour of Germany, and his new EP, Photographs of Other People.

TRHH: What’s the meaning behind the title of the EP, Photographs of Other People?

Nick Weaver: The whole album is super-centered on focusing on yourself. Specifically on this album for me, focusing on mental health and not focusing on others. It’s kind of a literal and figurative name. If you take a photograph of other people you’re not focusing on yourself. This album is really about that – coming to terms that you really need to do some work on your own, and prioritize yourself over everybody else or you’re never going to overcome whatever it is that’s irking you.

TRHH: That’s kind of the mode I’m in these days, man.

Nick Weaver: It ebbs and flows. I feel like it just sort of hits you at different times. Obviously it’s a byproduct of getting older too. You realize that I got tons of my own shit that I need to deal with, process, and improve so I can be happier in my own life. I can’t take on all these outside influences right now.

TRHH: How much does that affect romantic relationships?

Nick Weaver: For me personally it’s a mix. It’s all relationships in my own life. That goes all the way to professional music industry relationships. I think more than anything it’s just a newer perspective for me. It’s always in the back of your mind that of course I’m always going to help people, hear people out, and listen to their problems. But at the end of the day I’m not their psychiatrist or their manager or their therapist or their doctor. I’m still just myself and I have my own life that I need to fulfill. It’s really the idea of never losing sight of that. When you’re younger you get so invested in other people’s lives. Everything else is invested in other people that you lose sight of the fact that maybe you are overlooking you own issues and maybe you’re putting your own stuff aside.

TRHH: How much has social media help or hurt your goal? I find that social media can be draining, but it’s also helpful in some ways.

Nick Weaver: There’s a good amount of commentary from myself on a few songs on the album about social media and a little bit about the strain. I think it’s like anything else, if I could I would eat Dick’s cheeseburgers in Seattle every single day because they’re amazing, but I can’t because it’s not healthy to do that. I feel the same way about social media at the end of the day. I feel like it is good, it is entertaining, and it’s vital for independent artists like myself – it’s the only way we have to really communicate with fans and make sure that they see everything that they want to see. It’s super important but at the same time you have to draw a line for yourself and be aware.

I ask myself a lot, “Why are you picking up the phone and opening Instagram? Is it to really do something important or distract yourself from the other three things you need to get done today?” When it comes relationships and how I view my friends, family, and peers, I definitely feel overall it’s a strain and a lot of times you see uglier sides of people which is something that I touched on, on a few songs on the EP. A lot of times I just have to not even look because if I want to check in on somebody I go directly to their Facebook page or their Twitter and just handle it like that.

TRHH: How would you compare this project to your past releases?

Nick Weaver: This one is crazy different because it’s got a lot of singing on it. I think that’s the first thing anybody is going to notice the first time they listen to it. Honestly, people are familiar with a lot of my older work because it’s a lot more personal and has a lot of emotional stuff tied to it. This album brings back that but it’s different in the whole vibe that it’s about a whole different side of emotion that I don’t think I’ve ever really written about – yourself first. Everything else has been written about — maybe issue I’m going through but this idea of focusing on yourself, working on yourself, and never losing sight of that, that’s that overarching theme.

TRHH: Was it a concerted effort to make this project more melodic?

Nick Weaver: Absolutely, and a big part of that is just that I love all types of music and I think creatively I was hitting my own wall with what I was doing. I’ve been doing Hip-Hop for a long time now and I needed to do more than just write 16s, write hooks, and write verse after verse and bar after bar. Introducing singing really made it a lot more fun for me and a lot more interesting. I found my attention for the songwriting and song creation process went way up when doing that. It’s been a lot of fun, man.

TRHH: The last verse of “What You Doin’ These Days?” is excellent. You’re going at Trump supporters. What sparked that verse?

Nick Weaver: Thank you. That verse is pure and simple – it’s a product of the times. That verse touches on everything that I have been feeling and seeing. That’s another kind of duel name for Photographs of Other People, it’s this sort of examination of society where it’s at. There are pieces of that slammed in and out of the album. Both What You Doin’ These Days and Soundbyte are super politically and societal critiques. What really sparked that was where we were at during that time. I understand that just because you rap about it and tweet about it doesn’t mean you’re really changing the world and going directly at the cause, but for me it’s important to reflect how I feel about that stuff in a way that will get to people. Luckily I have the ability to do that through my music.

TRHH: As a lyricist how difficult is it to come up with the correct words to fit a song and how often do you scrap rhymes?

Nick Weaver: All the time, all the time [laughs]! I can’t even tell you. I’ll write a song and sit for a few minutes with it and go, “Yep, that’s the one.” I’ll go grab a glass of water, come back, and instantly delete it. As you’ve probably have heard very many times in the writing field, just write it down. Let it flow and don’t worry about editing it in the moment, because then it’s not in the moment. That is very true but at the same time something about writing lyrics, you can put the beat on loop and write for 3-4-5 hours if you want. Then you go back and have all these concepts. Just like I’m sure you have with your writing there are songs when you write them you know in your gut instinctually that that’s what you want to say and it’s perfect. Then there’s also songs where you don’t know and then there’s stuff that you write and you hate it. For me it’s never been a super fluid process. It’s never that easy, although sometimes it does come more naturally than others.

TRHH: You were asking fans in Germany for ideas about venues to perform in. What’s the status of that and what’s your touring schedule looking like this year?

Nick Weaver: We are hoping to go to Germany in November. We’re working right now on getting the booking all in place. We’re going to hit my top 5 cities in Germany, and that’s actually my top 5 Spotify streaming cities. That’s still Berlin, Munich, Essen, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf.

TRHH: As an independent artist what are some of the ups and downs that you have to deal with trying to make it financially?

Nick Weaver: Some independent artists may have some other financial backing, but for me every dollar that goes into anything is mine. You always toe the line between how much can I do myself and still be happy with the results, and how much can I invest in whatever it may be – creative design, videography, and photography. I think the one thing that never can change is you are investing in your sound. Even if you don’t have a lot of money or hit a period where your money is low, don’t ever compromise the quality of your sound. You can find cheaper options and maybe your quality goes down a little bit, but don’t go all the way back down to when your recordings don’t even resemble what you want your art to be like. Those are just the struggles. All of us that do this stuff want it to come out as perfect as possible, but the reality is you don’t have all the endless resources. Just maintain the quality that you like and you’re comfortable with anyone in the world hearing it, and always adhere to that. If you don’t have the money right now to do it, grab that second and third job and stack it back up so you can do it.

TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with Photographs of Other People?

Nick Weaver: I want to obviously give my fans something new and different from what I’m doing, because I’m always trying to elevate my art and take it somewhere that I love and other people will love. I really hope that people listen to this and feel what I’ve got to say. I really did put a lot of thought into what I wanted this entire project to capture about my own mind. Luckily I got to work with some amazing producers with MEMBA, Sendai Mike, and my good friend Kevin Boris, who is my drummer. They really, really helped turn this into a really nice sounding project, so I’m super thrilled about that.

Purchase: Nick Weaver – Photographs of Other People

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Dephlow: Most Dephinite

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Photo courtesy of Georgia Jackson

Dephlow is one of the dopest emcees in Hip-Hop. His voice, his flow, and his lyrical content check all of the boxes for what it takes to make a great emcee. The Virginian’s latest release, “Most Dephinite” is a head-nodding happening that should heighten Dephlow’s profile in the culture of Hip-Hop.

Most Dephinite is an 11-track album released by Don’t Sleep Records. The album features Deph’s frequent collaborator Awon and is produced by Boom Beats, F Draper, and Phoniks.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Dephlow about being vulnerable in his music, the ups and downs of being an indie artist, and his new album, Most Dephinite.

TRHH: How would you compare Most Dephinite to your first solo album Deph Threats?

Dephlow: I thought the Deph Threats album didn’t start the way that it ended. I was in a different place when I started that project. I got to the point where I felt like I was done with it. My pops passed away in the middle of working on that project. It was a lot of shit going on besides that that made that project real personal. The space that I was in at that point in time was different from when I was creating this one because in a sense I didn’t have a lot of content talking about that, it’s just a matter of my mind state at the time. In doing this one it was a lot more focused and to the point. I knew where I wanted to go with it based on the production.

Basically Boom contacted me and just let me know that he was trying to work. At the time I was trying to get production from wherever I could get it from because I just wanted to stay working. He sent me a folder full of beats and the first one I clicked on was ‘No Rappers Allowed.’ That was the first record that I wrote. It tells you where my mind state was. I was hungry. I’m still hungry! I feel like when I put Deph Threats out people were paying attention because of Dephacation. This one I’m hungry because I feel like people ain’t really understanding what it is I do and where I’m coming from. I feel like I have something to prove on this album as opposed Deph Threats where I just had something to get off my chest.

TRHH: How was it different having Phoniks take a backseat on production this time around?

Dephlow: He didn’t necessarily take a backseat. When Boom sent me the folder of beats I basically went through and wrote something to all of them because it was that good. He sent another folder of beats and I wrote something to the majority of those, because they were that good. He came at a time when I was looking for production and it was perfect timing. It gave me a different vibe and it was exactly what I was looking for. Some of it was aggressive, a lot of it was just well put together from front to back.

My style is a little less formatted but the production was a lot more formatted. The blending of the two for me was just something. Every time I heard a new mix of it I was excited. I would say that it just gave me a different energy. It was a little more aggressive than what you might have heard previously when working with Phoniks. Phoniks was working on a couple of different projects. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to work with him, it was more of a situation where we had to figure out the timing.

TRHH: What inspired the song ‘My Brother’s Keeper’?

Dephlow: That’s about a true story. The little kid at the end of the record is this little dude I’m still cool with from a previous relationship. It didn’t work out. When I met him he was just turning one. I thought if I was in his life from this point forward I can be some sort of positive influence for him. On a personal level, I knew what he needed. This is five years worth of experience that I’m talking through and watching him grow up and wishing I could be the coach or the teacher, but being that the relationship didn’t work out you don’t have the right to do that.

Yet and still you know he’s not going to need that guidance any less. You just hope that he gets it from someone else who has the same game, or at least as much of something to offer him other than Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto and shit. If he’s six right now this ain’t what he would be listening to. We hung out and I see that he likes all of the shit that kids like. This ain’t his lane yet, but one day just like everything else it will come full circle and he will hear his year old self on a record and he’ll understand what it is I was trying to get across. Hopefully he will carry on that sort of intent.

TRHH: Is the song ‘Round One’ related to this song?

Dephlow: It’s basically tied in to My Brother’s Keeper. It’s the same situation, but now I’m addressing the relationship. This is separate from the kid. This is the relationship in that same situation. It’s all written from experience and if it’s not personal experience, it’s something that I’ve seen my OG’s and people close to me go through. I’ve added pieces in there. When I played those two records for people close to me some of them were in tears, some of them had goose bumps. That reaction you know is genuine because there is a physical reaction to a sound or words and thoughts that you put together. I felt like those two records in particular were tired together and those who needed it or those who understood would instantly get it – they would feel it.

TRHH: I find in Hip-Hop that different people like different things. Some people like the beat, some people like the flow, some people like the content. I listened to Jay-Z’s album and I think some people don’t like it because of the music, but a lot of people do like it because of the vulnerability and the substance. I think we can trace it back to 2Pac, which we talked about two years ago. While he’s maybe not technically the greatest rapper, but his passion and substance is what touched people. A lot of your rhymes are witty and have punchlines and stuff like that, but how important is it to you to touch that nerve with people?

Dephlow: When you think of a 2Pac and you think of the fact that you can’t kill 2Pac, even though he wasn’t the best lyricist of all-time, you can’t kill who he is. I don’t even speak in the past tense when I speak about 2Pac. I speak about who he is because he’s still here with us, because of the fact that he made a mark and he said some things in casual conversation that people still quote. People still use his words for motivation or a way of contextualizing something that has happened. We live in an age now where everybody has an opinion. Everybody can make noise about whatever they want to make noise about, so when you say something about yourself that may be something that people can use against you, and at the same time you’re doing that you’re offering that strength to somebody else who is dealing with the same issues. In a perfect balance of how we live I guess it’s necessary to do as an artist. I haven’t listened to the Jay-Z album but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told people that by the time he gets to the point where we understand who he is outside of being a hustler, it’s going to be too late. People will have already made up their mind about who they want him to be. He’s just that guy, you can’t be anybody else.

People reinvent themselves all the time with how they say things, but what they’re saying doesn’t change too much when they’re not really touching those nerves. On certain records like “Song Cry” he did, but he ain’t a social media guy and he’s not wide open and neither am I. The only way you can do that sometimes is by adding those records that really reflect who you really are and hope that it helps the people who it’s intended to help – the criticism be damned. If you didn’t get it, it wasn’t for you to get. That’s the great thing about having independent artists like the team of people I’m working with. We’re going to give you something that you don’t actually have to buy into. You already know what it is when you listen to it, you just have to take the time to hear it.

TRHH: Speaking of the people you work with, on the song ‘Blood’ you work with Awon. Your verse touches on a lot of different things. What’s the message behind that song?

Dephlow: When you look at how we live, especially here in America, and all the little shit that we covet and we don’t want to lose, and kill and die over, there are other people who are actually being killed and worked to death in order to obtain the shit. What I’m saying is when we buy into that we buy into somebody else’s misery. And we contribute to our own. None of this shit really means anything at the end of the day. That diamond ain’t as rare as they tell you it is. It’s a good marketing scheme. That big ass gold chain that we want to rock is basically rocking a few souls on our neck. Them Jordan’s we put on our feet, a whole family is working to put together some shoes that don’t cost shit to make that we kill each other for, for no fuckin’ reason. The status shit that we do, all the shit that we buy, where they’re taking the resources, whether it be human or natural, and exploiting the people who do it.

We want to take trips to Dubai and front like we’re royalty, or whatever the case may be, and when we get there and see all of the shit that they built, but what you don’t see is the people that built that shit. When you go to the Dominican Republic or wherever you go on your vacation and you don’t see the natives on the beach with you and you’re not asking questions like, “Why is this like this?” or “Why are the people who work here the darker they are they get exploited more and have less freedom?” While you’re enjoying yourself, having a good time, and taking pictures for the gram, there’s some motherfuckers suffering. It’s all tied in to the fact that it feels good at first like, “Oh shit, this production is different from the message.” That’s exactly the parallel that we have in real life. The production is different from the message or the product.

TRHH: I saw you speak online about the support you’ve received worldwide. What are some of the hurdles you have to leap over being an independent artist and how important is getting support from the listeners?

Dephlow: In my situation I hit a window of opportunity where Soundcloud was still a platform where a lot of people were trying to find music. I found a window through there when it was still a viable option to get it out. Because where I’m coming from I wasn’t able to build the pieces to start from home and move outwards – I did try. Nobody from where I’m from does that, even though everybody knows who Pharrell is, who Timbaland is, and who D.R.A.M. is. These are all people who are from the same place, but had the same problems. In the situation now where the internet allows people to get it wherever they are, to have that support worldwide and for people to actually show it by purchasing your music and asking you to come to where they are to perform, it reminds you that it’s worth doing. It’s worth continuing to make music because it is appreciated. Certain places in America, especially where I’m at in Virginia, seem to be some of the last places to really embrace the type of music that I make or the type of things that I do.

It’s not really about me. I’ve always been the type of person who has championed the basics. Regardless of what people feel like about Dame Dash I know he knows what he’s talking about. So when he says, “Get your merch game right and perform,” I always wanted people to look at like you don’t need whoever the local DJ is to host some shit where you gotta pay him to go and perform. We can do that ourselves, get the building and let’s make it happen. Nobody has bit on that idea but I guarantee you whoever does is going to win. These kids are figuring it out. 18-25, they’re working together to make it happen. Eventually Virginia will have a culture, but for me to get embraced from so many different places I need to see that – it keeps me motivated.

TRHH: Who is the Most Dephinite album for?

Dephlow: It’s really for me. This one is, “Alright, I said what I had to say for right now and if I never make another album, so be it.” I really don’t like the way this shit is headed in terms of either side of it – creatively or the way the business side works. Really it’s just for me to be able to say, “I said what I had to say, I offered something to the culture, and hopefully the people appreciate it.” I gave the type of effort that I would want anybody who has a major backing to have and not just take advantage of their opportunity to make money. I really just want to be able to say that at the end of the day in time either the people will understand what I was trying to say. On Deph Threats I said a lot of things on that album before they transpired and when it came to pass I didn’t have nothing else to say.

I didn’t want to tell you, “I told you so.” All I want to do is say, “What do you want to do now? Are you ready for the next step?” That’s where I’m at in the point of making music – what do I want to do now? I had another plan the whole time. All of the videos that people see are the videos that I produced and that’s where I want to stunt. Your Benny or your Hype, or anybody else started with that. Ultimately I want to tell our stories where they need to be told, on film, short stories or documentaries. Whatever I can do in order to try to further this shit the way I feel like it needs to be represented and address some of the issues. I might talk about them in my rhymes, but it’s nothing for me to really sit down and discuss tight jeans with somebody like, “Why you got those on?” Really talk about what’s going on with who we are and who want to be more importantly.

Purchase: Dephlow – Most Dephinite

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Ill Camille: Heirloom

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Photo courtesy of CRUSH

In early 2017 Los Angeles emcee Ill Camille released her sophomore album, Heirloom. The album is an impassioned and cohesive piece of art in which Camille bares her soul with exceptional emceeing. Heirloom is easily one of the best releases of 2017.

Heirloom features production by DJ Battle Cat, Paperboy Fabe, DDotOmen, MMYYKK, JLbs, Nate P, Quamie Yae, Rick Hughes, Mndsgn, Like, Iman Omari, Critikal, Sigurd Lauritzen, Los Angeles King, Tuamie, Mark Knoxx, Devan “D1” Hooker, and Georgia Annel Muldrow.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Ill Camille about her purpose for picking up the mic, why Europe embraces Hip-Hop acts differently, and her latest album, Heirloom.

TRHH: Why did you title the album Heirloom?

Ill Camille: Well, that wasn’t the first name for the album. I changed the name to Heirloom close to the time that we actually released it. I was initially going to roll with the title “Illustrated B-sides.” In 2012 I dropped an album called “Illustrated” so I felt like this album was the B-side to that. Battlecat hit me up once he started hearing things in completion and he was like, “I think this album is a little bit too personal and introspective for you to give it such a mixtape sounding name. I encourage you to sit down, take a couple days and think about making a name change.” Literally the next day I just came up with. It was random and it just stuck and felt right, so we rolled with that.

TRHH: How was this album different from Illustrated?

Ill Camille: It’s been five years and in that amount of time so many things have happened. I’ve grown a lot just as a person. My communication is different. The way I express myself is a little bit deeper and I’m a little bit more transparent. It’s going to come out in the music for sure. I am who I am, but I felt like there was a maturity there that wasn’t present on the other album.

TRHH: What inspired the song ‘Home’?

Ill Camille: Georgia Anne had sent me a batch of beats a long time ago and that was one of the ones I always liked, but I couldn’t think of anything. Right before the album was getting done there was this need for me to travel. I just wanted to get out and explore. I had been in L.A. so long that I felt stifled and wanted to get out. I was getting all these emails from people from different countries telling me how they listen to me and I’m like, “Damn, I never even been to your country and you’re taking me in like we know each other.” The saying “home is where the heart is” I feel like a little piece of my heart is everywhere in places I’ve never been. That’s why I did that song. Damani Nkosi, who is the feature on the song, he always travels. That’s what he’s known in my city for doing – he’s a traveler. He told me, “You’re going to get this need to travel and once you travel it’s going to come across in your music,” so I wanted to do a song foreshadowing me traveling eventually.

TRHH: Have you toured outside of the country yet?

Ill Camille: I just got back from a month long tour. I was in Berlin for a while, I was in London, I was in Stuttgart, and I was in Amsterdam.

TRHH: What did you think of Europe?

Ill Camille: I thought Europe was dope. They embrace music in a different way. They take it all in. They’re going to buy your album, they’re going to sit through all of your performance, and they’re going to dance. I’m not talking about a head nod, I’m talking about a full-fledged dance. If they’re rocking with you they’re gonna show it. They don’t have the reservations we do here when it comes to music. It was so much love there I kind of wanted to stay another month. I thought it was dope.

TRHH: The word that comes to mind when I listen to Heirloom is “warm”
because it just feels warm and soulful. How would you describe Heirloom?

Ill Camille: Heartfelt. That’s where I try to do music from first is the heart. Everybody’s got one so I feel like if you touch the core of people it’s going to go. If I talk to you on that level then we’re really having a conversation and that’s all music is. I think my music is heartfelt, whether I’m talking about something positive or negative, it’s coming from that place first.

TRHH: On the song ‘Almost There’ you say, “So much dialogue about balling and currency/That being a broke Negro can be discouraging.” How do you think the love of money in Hip-Hop has affected the culture?

Ill Camille: Man, that’s like 80 percent of the conversation it seems like. That’s the focus. Let me say this, to an extent I almost understand it. For black people that’s where we find a lot of our value is in money, because every day we’re devalued. As soon as we acquire some wealth or anything of that nature we sort of exploit it because that’s the way that we feel good. In that way I understand it, but when that becomes the focal point and the end goal it just takes the “Hip-Hop” out of Hip-Hop to me. I’m just trying to get back to the point where we’re storytelling, talking, dialoguing, and having a good time. I want to hear that stuff too on a record. I want to be able to understand you on your record, too. I just feel like so much money talk muddies everything.

TRHH: The song ‘Renewed’ was very touching and relatable. Was it difficult for you to write and record that song?

Ill Camille: Yes. That song was recorded in 2014. I did it one time and there was a part where I was writing in the booth as I was going along I just felt like however it came out was how it was going to come out. It was difficult to do it in the first place. To even think about me having to put those things down on paper for me made them real. I didn’t want to talk about it but I had to talk about it, because that was the only way I was going to heal from it. I did it in 2014 — that was the first take. I never re-recorded it. By the time the album was coming out that was the last song we got to because I couldn’t really listen to it either. It’s still hard for me to listen to. We had to listen to it to check the levels and get it sonically intact. We just added music around it. That was a hard song to do.

TRHH: I read an interview you did where you touched on questioning if you should even keep pursuing emceeing. How do you feel now about your standing in Hip-Hop?

Ill Camille: I feel like that’s my job. I don’t control how long I’m going to be an emcee. For right now while I have momentum and God is putting me in places that I’ve never been and getting my music in places where it’s never been, that’s my job. I have to fulfill my duties until I’m assigned otherwise. That’s all this is, is an assignment. It’s a responsibility to be an emcee. I gotta walk in it and I gotta own it, so that’s just what I’m doing. Right now nothing else even feels remotely right or natural to me, so I know this is what I’m supposed to do. Before I didn’t have confidence in myself like that, I didn’t have confidence in my support system either, and I didn’t have confidence in God that this was something that I should be doing. When my mentality about all of those things changed and I became more assured you start seeing how it’s actually supposed to play out, and it’s playing out.

TRHH: What’s next up for Ill Camille?

Ill Camille: I’m just going to continue to do a lot of shows. I got some more videos I’m about to drop to keep the Heirloom movement pushing forward. I made the album 16 tracks for a reason, because I wanted it to live for a while. That’s the focus but I’ve already started working on a couple of other projects, two of them being collaborative projects with two of my favorite producers. That’s what’s going on right now and shoot, that’s it!

Purchase: Ill Camille – Heirloom

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Chris Rivers: Delorean

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Photo courtesy of Star Rios

It takes bravery and skill to attempt to walk in the shoes of a legend – especially when that legend is your father. Chris Rivers has done just that. The 23-year old son of the late, great Big Pun has blazed his own trail in Hip-Hop while doing his father proud.

Chris Rivers is one of the most respected young emcees in Hip-Hop. He’s shared stages and mics with some of the games greats and has mastered the art of freestyling. Rivers can also get it done on wax and his latest release “Delorean” is proof of that.

Delorean is a 21-track album released by The album features appearances by Oswin Benjamin, Jarren Benton, Dyce Payne, Lydia Ceaser, Whispers, S.E.A., Lil’ Fame, Derez D’Shon, Jean Dash, Styles P, and Sheek Louch. Delorean is produced by NaCion, Unleash Musik, Sol, K-Ill Beats, Anthony, Superb, Excel Musik, Melks, Dune Deal, Silent Jay, Data, Khardier Da God, and Rod the Producer.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Chris Rivers about living up to the legacy of his father Big Pun, what it takes to maintain happiness, and his new album, Delorean.

TRHH: Why’d you call the new album ‘Delorean’?

Chris Rivers: I’m pretty into sci-fi and I’m 23 but I do have an old soul. I’m into new stuff as well and that’s what this project has. It’s got those old school flows, that passion, and that delivery but it also has that new school style and fun-ness to it. The ‘Back to the Future’ reference made sense when you’re bringing the past to the future musically as well. Plus, I just geeked out a little bit with it.

TRHH: The single ‘Lord Knows’ has a great vibe and a positive message. What inspired you to write that song?

Chris Rivers: That one was pretty dope. It was 2Pac inspired. If you listen to it, it has a bunch of 2Pac song references. We knew the movie was coming out soon and the anniversary and all of that, so it was definitely inspired by him. I would say the most specific song that the whole song was inspired by was ‘Brenda’s Got a Baby’ but we wanted to put a positive twist on it. That’s why we have more of that uplifting feel to it. Me personally, I grew up without a father so I got to see my mom as a single mother struggle with kids and I got to see my sister do the same thing. I definitely wanted to give a story from the perspective of something that I’ve been through and pay homage to 2Pac at the same time.

TRHH: How old were you when your father passed?

Chris Rivers: I was 6 years old.

TRHH: Do you have any memories of your father?

Chris Rivers: Yeah, not too many because I was young when he passed. I do remember situational stuff. I remember being in the studio a lot and playing in the arcade. We lived in the studio for like months at a time while he was recording. We were in a lot of hotels. I remember he was a prankster. He would pour water on anyone who would fall asleep. We’d hear a gunshot downstairs and run down there and a person would be laying there with ketchup on their head. He had a sick sense of humor. I remember little things but not too much.

TRHH: N.O.R.E told me a story that he came by the house to see Pun one day and your dad had you and your sister boxing…

Chris Rivers: Yep.

TRHH: You remember that?

Chris Rivers: Yep. He used to have us boxing. He trained my older sister so she had hands. He didn’t train me because I was a boy and he figured I was a little tougher. He threw me in there to fight her and I was punching like a 3 year old. I was throwing mad punches and out of nowhere she would catch me with a crazy haymaker or a combo that he taught her and I’d get knocked down. I probably got knocked out three times before I learned how to duck. I definitely learned the hard way but I still enjoy boxing to this day. He left an impact on us with that.

TRHH: Did you feel any added pressure getting into Hip-Hop being the son of a lyrical giant?

Chris Rivers: Oh yeah, definitely. In the beginning I would say I did more so than I do now. I started right after high school. I was 17 at the time and that’s an age where you discover who you are as a person and as an artist. I definitely felt like I needed to live up to his name, his legacy and the pressure of what people would expect of me, because I am going to be held at a higher caliber. Along the path of my career I established myself as an artist, I’ve learned myself as a person, and I’m more comfortable with who I am and my artistry. I don’t feel as much pressure to live up to his name, I more feel pressure to create more for myself, craft my own legacy, and live up to my own standards. I don’t feel as much pressure to be like him or live up to people’s expectations of what they think I should be because I’m his son. I’m more comfortable now, so I don’t really feel it too much.

TRHH: ‘Old Thing Back’ is really creative song.  As a young emcee in the game do you think it’s important for you and your peers to be knowledgeable about the music that came before you?

Chris Rivers: I appreciate that. To a degree. I’m not saying you need to quote every song from the 80s or 90s, but I do think it’s important to know where the music that you got inspired by came from. It helps you to get a perspective and realize who was successful in that time. Certain music is timeless so if you want to be significant and still known 10-20-30 years from now you gotta see how they did it and learn from the past. A lot people respect you a little more if you do know a little bit – the real Hip-Hop heads. I do think it’s important.

TRHH: The Abundance skit stuck out to me. It’s an astute observation from such a young man. Do you believe that happiness is sustainable?

Chris Rivers: I do think a general happiness is sustainable, like overall how you feel in life. To actually sustain it that’s what Buddhist Monks do. They really practice peace and peace brings happiness. With peace there is no chaos, and chaos brings a lack of happiness. I do think happiness and love is just an emotion that is induced by certain things. When you have more control of how you feel and how you react to the world around you, you can sustain it for longer periods and have a better overall emotional state.

I don’t think the actual raw hype of happiness is sustainable, because as human beings we always seek bigger things. Even if I maintain a level of happiness that works for me right now I’ll get used to that level of happiness and try to get one that’s even more than that to satisfy the current state of happiness that I have. I think ultimately, perspective wise the way humans are I don’t think we can continuously hold on to it, but I think we can put ourselves in places where we overall feel better than we’d like right now.

TRHH: Do you have a favorite song on Delorean?

Chris Rivers: I do like some of the fun ones like ‘Bag’ and ‘I Got Too Much’ but I really like the intro and outro a lot. I like ‘Delorean’ a lot and ‘Brightness’ a whole lot too. I would say one of them.

TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with Delorean?

Chris Rivers: I really want people to finally see me more for who I actually am. I feel like a lot throughout my career I’ve been pushed and pulled and kind of unsure of the steps I wanted to take. I’m still not at my maximum potential, but I feel like this is the most unique project and I feel like it’s going to be received well. I hope to extend my demographic and have a bigger fan base through this. I really want to get the message out there of who I am and I think people will receive it – I think it’s going to be good.

Purchase: Chris Rivers – Delorean

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From The Vault: Warren G

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Photo courtesy of Warren G

Five years ago on this day I started this very website. After years of interviewing artists for other outlets I wanted to start my own thing and showcase artists that I felt represented the culture in a proper way, thus

When the websites that I’d previously written for vanished all of my old content was gone. I decided to re-publish many of those old artist interviews in the “From the Vault” series.

On the 5-year anniversary of it’s fitting that I dig into the vault and present to you my interview with Warren G. Warren is without question the nicest person that I’ve encountered in Hip-Hop. He’s also the first big name artist that I ever interviewed. What better way to celebrate The Real Hip-Hop’s birthday than with the purveyor of G-Funk, Warren G.

I spoke to Warren in September of 2009 as he was preparing for the release of his sixth solo album, The G Files, and a subsequent tour. Warren G and I spoke about The G Files, his time on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club, his favorite producer on the mic, and his big brother Dr. Dre.

TRHH: The new single from The G Files is called Swagger Rich with Snoop Dogg — tell me about that song.

Warren G: It’s a song I put out as a feeler to get the buzz going. Swagger Rich is a record where I just wanted to try something different. What they’re playing on the radio is that electro-Hip-Hop. I just wanted to try one of those types of songs. I was like, “Who can I put on here to rock with me just to be different?” I was like, “Let me put Snoop on there.” I put him on and we put it down.

TRHH: Swagger Rich also features Australian singer Cassie Davis. There are some unlikely collaboration’s on The G Files. Tell me how the Cassie Davis and Travis Barker songs came to fruition?

Warren G: Well me and Travis we’ve been working, doing shows and stuff. We were working and I was like damn, I’m here with this guy who is an incredible drummer. I said I need to put him on my album because he’s incredible. I just got at him like, “Travis can you do the drums on this song for me?” He was like, “Yep!” I sent it to him, he put ’em on and boom! That was it, after that it was a wrap. The record was poppin’ even more.

TRHH: You always brought new artists to the forefront on your albums. Tell our readers about the new artists on the album.

Warren G: Well I have Badd Lucc, Halla, Blacc Nicc, BJ, Juney Boy, Trevor Westly, and Christian Davis. All of those guys are very, very talented. My job is to help them get a shot at possibly getting signed by a record label. That’s kind of what I do on each album. I try to give people a shot to get theirs, ’cause I ain’t greedy. If that’s what you do let’s try to get it crackin’ for you. I know you got the talent, I know you can do it. Let’s try to use my avenue and make it happen.

TRHH: You were one of the original rapping producers to make it big along with Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Erick Sermon, RZA, and others. For your money, who is the greatest rapping producer of all-time and why?

Warren G: Q-Tip.

TRHH: Why Q-Tip?

Warren G: Because he kind of reminds me of myself. He loves the soulfulness. He loves a beautiful sound. He doesn’t get too hardcore. He got that real soulfulness with a touch of jazz, and that’s kinda like how I am. I can roll with that.

TRHH: Hip-Hop production has moved more toward software than hardware recently. What equipment or software do you use when you’re making beats?

Warren G: I started out with the MPC 60. Now I’m using the MPC 5000. It’s just an incredible piece of machinery. It helps me keep my timing right. I’m able to use MIDI keyboards and my computer. You can link everything up to it. That’s what’s so good about it; you can use it as a controller also. I work with a lot of plug-ins inside of Pro Tools. That’s basically it. You get the same results.

TRHH: What’s your favorite beat that you made for another artist?

Warren G: I produced a song for 2Pac and MC Breed called Gotta’ Get Mine. That’s probably one of my favorites. That’s one of my first songs that got a shot when I was trying to get noticed. It actually was my first record to get noticed.

TRHH: That’s definitely a classic! And that song is so much more special now since both of those brothers are no longer with us.

Warren G: I know. Oh yeah.

TRHH: The single Ringtone is great. Is that a flute that you used on that record?

Warren G: [Laughs] Yeah! Yeah that was a flute. I try to be different in my production so I just put a flute on there. A flute is a nice sound that a lot of producers don’t use. It’s like a quiet storm basically. But they’re going to start using it now since they heard me do it.

TRHH: [Laughs] Was it live or sampled?

Warren G: It was done through a keyboard. My boy Craig Boogie had put that on there.

TRHH: You appeared on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club a few years back, were you able to implement the things that you learned on the show into your life after the show ended?

Warren G: Yeah! Working out and eating better. I’ve been messing up lately, I ain’t gonna even lie. But I usually try to eat pretty cool. I’ll eat baked chicken breast, vegetables, and brown rice. In the morning I’ll eat egg whites mixed with spinach, garlic, and mushrooms with lentils. I try to eat pretty cool, but lately I’ve been messing up a little bit. I’ll bounce back.

TRHH: I have to ask, did anyone really want to beat the shit out of Dustin Diamond on the show?

Warren G: Yeah, they wanted to kick his ass. Harvey [Walden IV] wanted to brutalize him. I was like wow! I thought he was just bullshitting at first but he was serious.

TRHH: He would have hurt that guy.

Warren G: Yeah, he would have hurt him pretty bad.

TRHH: People give rappers a bad rap but it seemed like the rappers are the only people on that show with good sense.

Warren G: Right! Exactly [laughs].

TRHH: Nate Dogg appears along with Raekwon on The G Files song 100 Miles and Runnin’. Can you give us an update on Nate’s health since he suffered a stroke?

Warren G: He’s recovering man. He’s recovering slow, but he’s progressing. We just gotta wait and see how it turns out. He’s progressing now. He’s cool. He’s got the best care so it’s all good.

TRHH: You were the artist that brought Def Jam back from the dead in 1994, what was it like performing at VH1’s Hip Hop Honors paying tribute to Def Jam Records?

Warren G: I mean, it was cool. It was a great thing to see Russell, Lyor, Chris Lighty, Kevin Liles, Mike, and Julie it was just nice to see them. They honored me and I honored them. To myself I was like, “Wow I sold 10 million records for them which made them 100 million dollars and put them back in the game.” I felt good, I basically felt like it was my thing [laughs]. They gave me a shot when nobody else would give me a shot. That was the result of them being real with me and I kept it 100 with them.

TRHH: You’re doing a 20 city national tour this fall. What do you have in store for fans that come and see the show?

Warren G: I’m gonna do some of the new songs off the album. I’m gonna give ’em a piece of every album I did. And just do a good show. Just rock it for ’em and have a good time.

TRHH: About 10 years ago you hit the road with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and Eminem on the Up in Smoke Tour. We keep hearing that Dr. Dre’s final album Detox is coming, is there any chance that we can get an Up in Smoke 2 in the summer of 2010?

Warren G: Well I’m definitely trying to get on that Detox tour!!! I’m on that!! I’m on!

TRHH: Can you confirm that there will be a Detox tour?

Warren G: It’s gonna have to be and I’m on!

TRHH: Did you work on the Detox album?

Warren G: Not yet. I’m just waiting on the call. He’ll be calling me pretty soon. I’m gonna go down there, work with him, and do my thing. The records I’ve heard so far are incredible. It’s real dope. He’s doing his thing.

TRHH: In my opinion he’s the greatest of all time…

Warren G: Who me [laughs]?

TRHH: [Laughs] Nah, your brother, man!

Warren G: It’s all good.

TRHH: I think Dr. Dre is going to come with something special because so many people count him out.

Warren G: I can’t wait ’till he drops it so he can shut all this bullshit music down. It’s gonna be a good record man, and I can’t wait.

TRHH: Can you give me an example of the bullshit music that’s out there [laughs]?

Warren G: I’m not a hater. It’s just some shit out there where you just say to yourself, how did this get on the radio? Man…I’m like…wow!

TRHH: Well you did the joint with Raekwon for your album, but have you heard Raekwon’s album?

Warren G: Cuban Linx 2? Yeah he’s vicious.

TRHH: Yeah. That shit is ridiculous. It made me love music again.

Warren G: Oh yeah!

TRHH: Hold On is my favorite song on G Files…

Warren G: Thank you.

TRHH: I think everyone can relate to that song on some level. Tell me what that song means to you.

Warren G: It’s basically a song for what’s going on right now. Just letting everybody know to hold on, this shit is gonna pass. We’re gonna be back to normal again. That’s it. Just letting everybody know. Even though we’re going through what we’re going through it’s gonna be alright. We go through things.

Some guys may not be able to get a job so they have to hustle to provide for their family and in the process they end up getting caught up. You just have to keep your head up. They won’t give him a job because he’s a felon. So just hold on and keep your head up. It’ll happen, you just have to be positive about it. Even if you have to work at McDonald’s, it’s something. You don’t want to keep getting locked up behind those bars.

TRHH: I appreciate you spending your time with me.

Warren G: It’s all good, man!

TRHH: Good luck with the new album, I liked it..

Warren G: Thank you so much.

TRHH: Thank you.

Purchase Warren G’s Discography:

Regulate…G Funk Era

Take a Look Over Your Shoulder

I Want it All

The Return of the Regulator

In the Mid-Nite Hour

The G Files

Regulate…G Funk Era, PT. II EP

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Mr. Complex: Forever New

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Photo courtesy of Matthew Scott Granger

Mr. Complex has had an extensive career in Hip-Hop. Dating back to the mid-90s the Queens, New York emcee has released music as a member of Polyrhythm Addicts and as a solo artist. His catalogue is comparable to his name, and his latest release “Forever New” is no different.

Released on his own Core Records label Forever New is produced entirely by Mortal 1 and features appearances by O.C., Tiye Phoenix, Truth Enola, General DV, Prince Po, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Brianna Nadeau, Caitlyn Reidel, Cole Williams, Maya Azucena, Respect the God, and Sadat X.

Mr. Complex chatted with The Real Hip-Hop about inequalities on the underground scene, his foray into film, and his new album, Forever New.

TRHH: Why did you call the new album ‘Forever New’?

Mr. Complex: Because my stuff is pretty much timeless – that’s the easy answer. I’ve been recording it for a long time. I didn’t care when it came out, it was always going to be forever new. I’m an underground independent artist and people find my music that I released twenty years ago and they think it’s new. Somebody hit me the other day like, “I’m in Jamaica. My radio station is playing your song called ‘Visualize.’ It’s dope. I put it in my top ten list.” Visualize came out twenty years ago. That’s where I’m at, everything is forever new.

TRHH: How long did it take you to do Forever New?

Mr. Complex: This album I’ve been recording for like eight years. I had started recording in 08-09. My first producer that I started doing my demos with in the late 80s/early 90s, we sort of separated. He started managing and sort of pulled me into the R&B world. He was running with CeCe Peniston and people like that. I left and started doing my own thing. I ran into him in the late 90s and he congratulated me on the work that I’d been doing. He got cancer and in 08 Pharoahe called me and was like, “You gotta call Dre, he’s about to die.” I went to the hospital to visit him and I ran into a couple of other homies from high school that started in the game with me. They had separated and went into the work force.

They were never into the music like we were. One of them retired early from being a corrections officer. He built a studio in his basement and just got nice with the beats. After the funeral I started recording. This is Mortal 1 I’m talking about. Mortal 1 learned from my man Andre Kyles, Omega Supreme. I started recording again and in light of all that I said, let’s do this for Dre. It’s been slow because he’s never been a music go so he doesn’t really care. He’d rather put new flooring down in the kids’ room and stuff like that. It’s taken a long time, plus he moved down to Atlanta, which made it more difficult. I’m just taking my time. I’ve still been working in the film world and still doing music when I can.

TRHH: I watched the video for ‘Time and a Place’ and the scenery was beautiful. Where was that filmed?

Mr. Complex: I shot that in Hawaii. Did you see the ‘Then Was Then’ video?

TRHH: Was that the old school one?

Mr. Complex: Yeah, yeah.

TRHH: I saw that. I liked it. How is this album different from Swiss Chocolate Cake?

Mr. Complex: Swiss Chocolate Cake was an album I recorded in Switzerland, pretty much with only one producer. I recorded that one in 03-04 and again I sat on that for like eight years and just released it. That one was a different vibe. I really recorded the Swiss Chocolate Cake album in seven days total. This one here because I was able to take my time and work with one producer I was able to go through some beats, some concepts, and some emotions. I got the wordplay, I got some relationship songs because when you’re older you start dealing with marriage, kids, divorce, and life. I was able to put some of that in some of these songs. I have a little more conscious records like ‘Stormy Weather’ and ‘Gotta Get Home,’ And then I was still playing with having fun with Hip-Hop like ‘So Sad’ and ‘Then Was Then’ and a few other joints.

TRHH: Speaking of ‘So Sad’ on that song you talk about the lack of emcees on the scene right now. Why was it important for you to write that song?

Mr. Complex: When they cover the underground they always mention the same five artists. They say, “What kind of rap do you do?” and you say underground and they be like, “Who? Talib Kweli? Mos Def? Common? Pharoahe?” It’s the same five people mentioned all the time. When you’re in this world you know. I can name about 100 of them. It’s just so many that don’t get counted. I don’t get mentioned. It’s just the same people and it’s kind of upsetting. Not to disrespect anybody, everybody deserves it for the work they put in, but y’all could run to a few other emcees like J-Live, Shabaam, I could go on with the list. It’s the same five that they pick to be the representatives of this underground scene. I’m not even talking about commercial-wise. The people that they’re eyeing are still doing it, but there’s still artists out there making good music that are able to do it but they just don’t get mentioned.

TRHH: Why do you think that is?

Mr. Complex: Because people don’t really dig that much. When I mention that top 5 they pretty much are underground but a lot of them have had some sort of major push at some point in time that got them in the light. Rawkus put a lot of money behind Mos and Talib. Common had a bigger deal and Pharoahe had a bigger deal. These people were the best in that clique so they just stand out. It’s easy to remember them. People like Shabaam and J-Live, regardless of how many shows and tours that they put on they still won’t get that type of big play. It’s not like magically a hit happens. It does happen for certain cats and then they cross over to a major market. You gotta hit the lottery.

It’s a marketing game really to get these artists known. To make a song like ‘King Kong Love’ that everybody agrees is a good song, but I didn’t have the machine or no one helping me promote it so it could get to the people like it could have or should have. That song could have crossed over. The response that I’m getting from it is different from any other record that I put out. I never had anyone steal my song, put it on YouTube, and put their name on it saying, “featuring Mr. Complex.” I’m like, “Who the fuck is this dude?” but that happened with that record.

TRHH: Is ‘Lesbo Flow’ based on a true story?

Mr. Complex: Yeah, half of it is true. I’m a writer so I can write about pretty much anything, but I do like to take from my own life. At one point in time I was living in Bed-Stuy and I had these two neighbors who used to walk their dogs all the time. Every time I looked at the pretty one the thugged out one always gave me the ice grill, the stare down, and the mean mug. One day I did catch the girl in the store and I was like, “How you doing?” We had a nice little convo and I could see the other one looking through the window like, “You talking to my girl?!?!” That’s as far as it went and my fantasy finished up the story [laughs].

TRHH: Can you offer some insight into the ‘She Should be on the Radio’ film you’re directing?

Mr. Complex: That one I’ve been shooting it for five years. I put it on hold because I had to finish this album. When I get a minute again I’m jumping back into the film. What I need to do is find another editor. The editor that I had edited that Stretch & Bobbito movie. He got a Netflix job so now I have to find somebody else. I just have to raise some money for that to get the post done. It’s an incredible film so far. I shot over 50 different female artists from Jaguar Wright, to Res, to Yahzarah, to Kim Hill.

There are so many artists that you may not have heard of but they have a following, they have Grammys, they might have sang on some hit records you didn’t realize, or they might have been part of some big Hip-Hop groups. Kim Hill was the original singer in The Black Eyed Peas. She left to follow her solo career and got replaced by Fergie and then they blew up. So many stories are in this film and there’s so many things that these women go through dealing with this male-dominated industry. There are some crazy stories, man, but it’s coming out pretty good.

TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with Forever New?

Mr. Complex: I had a show in Pittsburgh and that was my first show outside of New York State since I dropped this album. I haven’t been able to jump out of town in a minute and I miss that. I get there and people remember from like 20 years ago. This one cat named Blitz has a big barbecue restaurant and he treated me and my people. He had big bags of barbecued ribs, chicken, greens, and macaroni. You get to the venue and people are telling you all these things about when my first record came out. It’s like I made all these, not just fans, but a little bit more when they connect with you in a certain way. I don’t really care about the money because it seems like Hip-Hop doesn’t really make the money it could or should. It’s always a chance you can get a check here or there – I got one song in a movie already. But my biggest goal is to get back overseas and tour.

I just want to get back to places that I used to go to and people remember my name. They’re like, “Complex, how’s it going with this,” and that’s all I really have besides all these records. I have one gold record. The biggest goal is just to get around. The reaction I’m getting from people on this album is insane right now. I just got 1000 followers within a week and a half on Instagram. The response every day, multiple people are saying something crazy good about the quality of this album. I’m just curious about what’s going to happen. I’m trying to make something big that’s going to inspire people my age that’s still doing the music. Some of them can’t. Some of them gave up and have to stick to their job. It’s very difficult. I’m able to survive because I do the film stuff and that’s flexible hours as well. Some people can’t leave their jobs to do what I’m doing. I understand that and respect that. I’m just doing this because I still love this.

Purchase: Mr. Complex – Forever New

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DreamTek: The Wizard of Oddz

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Photo courtesy of Christopher Sanders

DreamTek is a producer, emcee, and owner of Seven Oddities Records. The Chicago native has been a staple in the underground scene for nearly two decades. Dream recently released his second full-length solo album on his Seven Oddities labels titled, “The Wizard of Oddz.”

The Wizard of Oddz is produced entirely by DreamTek and features appearances by DJ PhilLogic, Clever One, Roy Hobes, DoomsDay, Tony Patagonia, Arken Nino, and PozLyrix.

The Real Hip-Hop spoke to DreamTek about his Seven Oddities record label, the lack of originality in Chicago Hip-Hop, and his new album, The Wizard of Oddz.

TRHH: Why did you call the new album ‘The Wizard of Oddz’?

DreamTek: Actually, I run Seven Oddities Records. There are 9-10 artists under it. I produce for all them artists. I record, mix, and master for all them artists. I do videos for them, I run the website, I’m basically the dude behind the curtain running shit over there. That’s comparable to the man behind the curtain running shit in the Wizard of Oz. We go by “7 Oddz” for short. I found out that there was a mafia cat back in the day called The Wizard of Odds. His name was Donald Angelini. I thought that was kind of cool that that accidentally happened like that. I didn’t want the album to be about the movie. I just kind of wanted to take it for what it was and apply it to myself.

TRHH: What’s the origin of the Seven Oddities name?

DreamTek: I grew up in Uptown. We did graffiti and we had a crew called 7 Crew. That formed into what was the early label in 2000. We came up with the name based off the number 7. The number 7 was always dope to us. Supposedly it’s a magical number, a spiritual number, a religious number, it’s just everywhere. We added that in there and the oddities came from the fact that everybody that was originally down, and to this day, everyone has their own style. It’s like a circus of sorts – a side show. It’s all this crazy shit going on but when we all come together we form and execute properly so it’s dope. Everybody’s got their own style and that’s where the oddities came from. Usually when you have a group of heads normally they all sound the same, they kind of go together, but it’s different over here. Everyone has their own sound and style and shit, it’s real dope.

TRHH: On the songs ‘Nobody’ and ‘Puppetry’ you take shots at some rappers in Chicago. Why was it important for you to express that sentiment on those songs?

DreamTek: Man, I feel like no one really does. There’s a couple heads that have in the city here and there, but I feel like no one’s really directly been like, “Yo, what the fuck is going on?” The Puppetry joint, is basically how it is – it’s a factory almost. Being in Chicago you can go up to Sub-T on any given Tuesday or Friday and you got 100 emcees out there and they’re all the same. Certain cats stick out here and there but you got this almost carbon copy emcee/rapper thing going on. Then you got the young heads that see the money. They wanna blow up so they all copy each other. They wear the same clown outfits but no one is directly going at them. I’ve always been that way. I’ve been against anything that was bad for Hip-Hop in my opinion. I’ve always been vocal about it and throwing it in my rhymes. I’m forever talking shit [laughs]. I feel it was necessary, especially with Puppetry, to make a joint that specifically that’s all it was about. I want some younger heads to hear that, actually. Hopefully I can get that around a little more.

TRHH: On this album you did things differently and had features on it. Why’d you switch it up for The Wizard of Oddz?

DreamTek: My previous album was just all me – produced by me, scratches, all that. I wanted to include some of the label on it. I didn’t put everybody on there – I didn’t want to flood it. I wanted to do more than just straight solo joints on this one. It was actually requested by a lot of fans. They were like, “What’s up with the features,” and “Are you gonna have anybody on this one?” just mad questions. I wanted to go that route as opposed to being all Dream. That Tek the Terrible album that I did a few years back is strictly me, which is dope. I definitely wanted it to be that purposely. I remember arguing with the fam because cats were trying to sneak on it. I’m like, “Nah,” I wanted it all me [laughs]. With this new one I wanted to showcase cats from the label on it while I’m showcasing myself because I feel they’re dope too.

TRHH: You produced everything on your last two albums; what does your workstation consist of?

DreamTek: Currently I have two of them. I have an MPC Studio at the studio and I have a smaller beat-making studio at my house where I have another MPC Studio. In the past I’ve had every MPC. I’ve always been an MPC head. I had the 2000, the 60, the 2500, the small joint – the 500. It’s just real comfortable for me. I feel like the new MP’s like the one I got and the Renaissance, I feel like they finally got it right where they mixed it with the software end of it where it’s actually functional. I don’t even have to look at the screen when I’m making beats. I can just use it like a regular MP and it does its thing. That’s what I use primarily. As far as recording and mixing and all that I use Studio One – that’s my DAW.

TRHH: The song ‘Autobiography’ was real personal. Was it difficult for you to share that part of yourself with everyone?

DreamTek: Yeah. Man, it really was, man. A little known fact about that joint, I wrote the first two verses and the hook when I was 16 or 17. I never finished the joint. I loved it but I was always cautious about putting it out because I didn’t want people to know about me like that. I never finished the joint and wrote the third verse because I didn’t feel like I lived life enough to sum it up. I had that track forever, man. If you listen to the song you obviously know I grew up kind of crazy. Where I’m at now I’m getting married, I got the label, I got my own business going, I got a house, my sisters are going to college, everything is upside down for the better. I’m about to be 33 this year and it took me that long in life to write that third verse. I didn’t have enough life yet to wrap it up but I feel like I did at this point. It was definitely hard to decide to put it on there, but I’m glad I did, man. I let my mom hear it before and she gave me the OK on it [laughs]. I do want heads to know where I come from. I feel like that’s important.

TRHH: What qualities are you looking for in an artist for the Seven Oddities label?

DreamTek: I’ll use my homies PozLyrix and Scenic Roots as an example. When I met these heads they were doing shows and that’s where we met ‘em. We ended up doing the same show together, I forget the venue. I’d never heard these fools before. When I did hear them it was reminiscent of 90s style spittin’. They were spittin’ over these horrible beats, in my opinion, I ain’t trying to bash nobody. They were synthed out, almost like Cash Money’s early style [laughs]. The stuff they were spitting over it was raw and I thought they needed a home and the right beats. I cuffed them up based off of just hearing that and it turned out beautiful. Personally I look for originality. That’s really important to me and that’s one of the ways where we ended up having our own styles over here. Cadence is real important and the way they spit. I gotta believe what they’re saying. Just overall content, man. I know you know when you hear a dope emcee. Especially us cats that grew up listening to the older stuff – we know what a dope emcee sounds like. That’s really what I’m looking for is that essence at the end of the day.

TRHH: Who is The Wizard of Oddz made for?

DreamTek: Man, to me, anybody that wants that raw Hip-Hop. That’s really what it is, just straight, raw, uncut, Hip-Hop. I feel like there’s something on there for everybody for the most part. There’s some harder joints, there some more lowkey joints. I feel like it’s for any cat out there trying to nod their head, blaze one, and just sit back and listen to something. I feel like they’ll enjoy it – hopefully.

Purchase: DreamTek – The Wizard of Oddz

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MC Shan: Bars Over Bullshit

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Photo courtesy of MC Shan

The divide between fans of traditional Hip-Hop and fans of what’s been deemed “mumble rap” is not one of age, but of ideals. What moves you musically is what moves you – that’s fine, but what about the craft? Some members of the Hip-Hop community believe that skill still matters and one of those people is MC Shan.

Shan believes that lyrics matters so much that his first album in nearly 30 years is titled “Bars Over Bullshit.” The 22-track album finds the Queensbridge emcee rhyming over various forms of music, showcasing his versatility and reminding folks that he still has it. Shan is all about bars, not bullshit.

MC Shan spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about why there was a 27-year gap between albums, his battle with addiction, his beef with KRS-One, and his new album, Bars Over Bullshit.

TRHH: The title of your new album is ‘Bars Over Bullshit’ — what exactly is the “bullshit” that’s referenced in the title?

MC Shan: It’s just mumbling [laughs]. Songs are just mumbling absolutely nothing. That’s not a key phrase that I coined, it’s just something I identified with, with things I’ve seen on the internet. My man Prez had said it to me one day and I was like, “That’s a good title for the album.”

TRHH: What do you say to those emcees from your era or a little bit after who say, just let the kids do their thing, they’re making money and having fun?

MC Shan: Let them do their thing but at the same time there’s no substance to the music. This is what the kids are listening to. Yeah, let them make their money but don’t tell the kids to go do drugs. In my era I’m the last person to talk about doing drugs. I’m in the studio doing drugs but I’m on the record saying, “Don’t do drugs.” The glorification of it is be as thuggy as you wanna be. I can’t even say let them do it because that’s stupid. Ain’t nobody hating on what they’re doing, it’s just the message they’re bringing across — the dumbing down of America. Everything has got to be thugs, shooting, and you’re fighting over a color that nobody is even getting a dollar off. If that question was brought about to see if I’m a hater, I’m not hater. I just don’t like the message. Let them do what they do. My parents didn’t understand my music and I don’t understand theirs. That’s not the point. You aren’t saying anything.

TRHH: Nah, I don’t think you’re a hater at all. I’m with you 100 percent. I’m 41 years old. We’re from a different era.

MC Shan: If you think about it, if I don’t do what I do what are we supposed to listen to? Are we just supposed to be music-less? We’re just supposed to listen to nothing? Let them do them and we’re supposed to listen to that? I don’t have to listen to that. If you think about it people my age and your age, are we supposed to succumb to that? There is no more Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, there’s no more of that. Where is the uplifting of the community? There’s no more songs that say be a doctor or be a lawyer.

TRHH: That’s interesting that you brought that up because I interviewed Kane a few years back and he said he would never release another album and was content with his body of work, and a lot of guys from your era feel that way as well. Why was it important for you to release an album in 2017?

MC Shan: Just adding on to the legacy, that’s all. It’s not for me to make a million dollars. I just want to put some music out right now that has something to say. Each one of my songs stands for a different thing. I’m telling stories – things that people can listen to and identify with like, “Man, that happened in my life.” And I’m just spitting rhymes – freestyling – what I’m known to do. It’s a braggadocios type of thing. Hip-Hop the way Hip-Hop was originally formed and I don’t get it to where a youngster can tell me that I can’t do something that I helped create. Come on, what do you mean?

TRHH: I think it’s that idea that this is a young man’s sport, but I think that’s been debunked over and over again. It’s false.

MC Shan: I also think that’s false. I think that people say that to keep you blinded and blind-sided. They want to make you feel irrelevant because what you’re saying is way better than anything they’re talking about right now. If somebody gets a whiff of what’s real it’s going to start bringing up questions about your talent, what you’re doing out here in this industry and what you’re saying. You’re not telling the kids to do anything constructive. You’re just telling them to get killed by the police and go to jail. Sell drugs, go ahead, and be as high as you want.

Kids want to follow the rapper. If the rapper is doing molly he wants to do molly too. You’re sipping lean and got your Styrofoam cup and the powers that be are the ones that are really pushing that. It’s not so much now because the internet is out and anybody can do anything, which is still the powers that be. It’s just out there for people to soak up. The attention span is so short nowadays that if you’re saying anything that you have to think about it’s like, “I don’t wanna hear that — I just wanna rock to this beat.”

TRHH: This is your first official album since 1990. The album’s final track ‘Let’s Bring Hip Hop Back’ was released when I first interviewed you five years ago….

MC Shan: Right, I just put those back on there anyway. There’s like two of them that was put back on there. Let’s Bring Hip Hop Back, I just ended it with that one because it’s something that was out already. Some people might have heard it, some people might not have.

TRHH: Why did it take so long to release Bars Over Bullshit?

MC Shan: ‘Cause I just wasn’t in the mood [laughs]. I just wasn’t in the mood, period. It’s not like I’m sitting here starving or just trying to get some money. I’m cool. I get my royalties; I’m still getting paid off of Snow. I’m still living nice. I don’t have a house with a big U-shaped driveway and 90 rooms in it, because that’s impractical. Back in the days when I did have millions I had a four-story house and I wouldn’t go in some of the rooms in years. Sometimes I would just go in the rooms just to say I go in there.

TRHH: On ‘Wanna Be A Big Star’ you say, “All I see is a fake bunch of Ice Cube’s and G Rap’s.” Explain that line.

MC Shan: That’s another one that was out already. It’s saying that they just wanna be Ice Cube and G Rap. You’re doing gangsta rap but you’re not doing gangster things. You know G was a gangster, you know Ice Cube was a gangster, but these kids now they ain’t about that. They ain’t no real gangsters. They’re just out here following what the next guy is doing. They were trendsetters in that, these guys are just out here screaming stuff that they ain’t about. 99% of the time they get their chin checked by the street. If that’s what you’re saying you are the streets are going to test you.

I was just on the internet today watching about how many young rappers got killed in 2016. That’s real crazy. Some of them I never heard of but I’m looking at the content of their music and they’re pointing guns and playing that role like they’re really it in the streets. You ain’t really watching your head because if that’s how you’re moving you’re supposed to watch everything and the first thing that comes moving at you you’re going to hit it, period. You’re getting caught sleep. If you was really about that life ain’t no sleep, period. You don’t even let people know where you live at in that life. You got your money and put your house over here and you don’t take nobody to your house. The only time they see you is when you’re in the hood doing what you do. At night, nobody knows where your kids are at and where you rest your head.

TRHH: Did the issue that you had with KRS last year light a fire under you a little bit for this album?

MC Shan: Kinda sorta. Another thing is to just show the difference in my style and his style. We just don’t even match. There was never a battle between me and KRS. That’s one of the greatest lies in Hip-Hop ever told. Another thing is if you got a problem and that’s the way you think, when I’m in your face don’t smile in my face. We’ve been on stages together plenty of times and that’s never what comes out of your mouth when I’m in the vicinity. But when I’m not there it’s, “I took out Shan.” When I’m there it’s, “We’re cool, we’re cool, we’re cool.” The closest we ever got to do something head to head was the Sprite commercial, period. When I sit back and think about some of the stuff that he says, sometimes you’re just too much on your own. You just rattle off at your mouth. Acting like you’re the all-wise knowing Hip-Hop god of all gods. Come on, man. Go sit down and do your thing. Get your money doing your lectures or whatever.

Be the cult leader that you are. I mean, he’s very powerful with his words. He reminds me of a Jim Jones or one of these dudes that runs the occult. If House of Hip-Hop says jump off the bridge, they’re going to jump off the bridge. I just don’t believe it. Let him do his thing. That’s what ticked me on that one. If you listen to his album that he just dropped and you listen to mine it’s two different things. I do music to entertain. I ain’t trying to teach nobody nothing on there. If you get a lesson or a message out of it, that’s cool, but I’m not nobody’s teacher. And anybody who sits back and says they’ll let this man teach you, go do your own research. The same books he read is out there.

TRHH: There is a bit of an R&B flavor to the album, with some club music and a little bit of rock. Did you set out to make a musically diverse album or did it just turn out that way?

MC Shan: That’s just always been me. That’s why I could never be put into a category. If you go back to my first album and as we used to say drop the needle, the second song is different from the first song. Everything was always different. It was never a thing where you’re going to drop the needle and everything is sounding the same. I always did that, which is why I could never be put in a class of this, that, or the third. I’m either going to tell a story, do a freestyle, or do something totally off the wall. That’s just always been me – musically diverse.

TRHH: You have a song on the album called Her Name Was Cocaine

MC Shan: That right there is a re-write of a song that I did back in the days called ‘Cocaine.’ It’s metaphorically telling a story about a girl. You don’t know that I’m talking about cocaine until the very end of the song.

TRHH: That song relates to your personal struggles, right?

MC Shan: It directly relates to my personal struggles, but not in 2017. It was just something that I wanted to reissue again. If you didn’t hear it the first time it was out, here it go again, re-done over.

TRHH: Who is Bars Over Bullshit made for?

MC Shan: It’s made for those who listen to that kind of music. I’m not trying to get new fans. If you listened to me back in the days and you want to listen to some Hip-Hop the way Hip-Hop was formed, that’s what it is. I’m not trying to get into the box of what these kids are doing nowadays. That’s the kids’ music. Y’all do what y’all do. But if you’re of my age and you want to listen to some good Hip-Hop, this is for you. Because there ain’t no good R&B out anymore, it’s being done by Autotune singers. Even the R&B game is not the same anymore. If some of those R&B singers came out with some new stuff there would be plenty of people interested in hearing what they have to say over the years because there’s nothing for them to listen to. Nowadays an R&B song is “bend over and let me fuck you from the back.” That’s the R&B of nowadays.

Purchase: MC Shan – Bars Over Bullshit

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$hun: Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here

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Photo courtesy of FalseHype

$hun is a Southern emcee with East Coast sensibilities. Originally from Memphis, Tennessee but now residing in Houston, Texas, $hun, much like yours truly, just loves that old boom bap. In 2016 $hun (short for Marshun) released his debut project “The Rough Draft.” Soon after he began prepping for the release of his second effort.

His second release finds $hun rhyming over beats from 9th Wonder’s 2016 Zion beat tape to create an EP titled, “Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here.” The free release features appearances by J Greer, Relli, and 1.2.

The Real Hip-Hop chatted with $hun about learning from the mistakes of others to help to keep him on the right path, his desire to meet producer 9th Wonder, and his new EP, Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here.

TRHH: Why did you title the new EP, Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here?

$hun: I titled it that because it was around the time of the election so I really wanted to play off of that a little bit. All of the material isn’t me preaching about material things but I kind of wanted to play off of that. I actually had the idea for the cover art weirdly before I had the title of the tape. It kind of helped me in my decision to title it that. I played off it in different ways; I played off it with the Trump thing and the election. Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here, as in this situation that we’re all in. And also Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here, as in just trying to make it overall without getting into a better place politically — better spot for my family and me being able to support people.

TRHH: I’m in Chicago so I’m a little cut off from the rest of the country. What’s the consensus on Trump in Texas?

$hun: It’s kind of both sides. Speaking on the issues I’ve seen a lot of people go both ways. I am also speaking with mostly African-American’s or “minorities” as they like to call it. It’s a lot of hate for Trump, but it’s also a few people that feel like he can actually do something good. I wouldn’t say everybody blows him off. It’s a lot of people that feel like it’s about to be a repeat of Ronald Reagan or something like that. I would say it’s more dislike toward him than it is like.

TRHH: Are these African-American’s that think that he might be able to do something good?

$hun: It’s a few, but mostly no. It’s not the African-American’s. With the people that I’ve had conversations with it’s actually one Hispanic that saw a lot of positive in him and Ronald Reagan. I didn’t live through that era so I wouldn’t know. They had a lot of good points to make on that. For the most part the rest of the people are white people that actually have a lot of positive things to say about him.

TRHH: Why did you choose to rap over 9th Wonder beats for the entire project?

$hun: These are beats from 9th Wonder’s beat tape called Zion. 9th Wonder has always been one of my favorite producers. I’m not even from the East Coast, I’m originally from the South. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee but I’ve been bouncing around a little bit, I’ve been in California and now I’m here in Texas. I was always real clingy to the East Coast sound and music. 9th Wonder to me is the boom bap god. I’m trying to get in touch with him. I want him to hear the project.

TRHH: I love the feeling of the single ‘Get Based!’ How did that song come together?

$hun: It was just me and my boy 1.2, we actually went to school together. That’s like one of my best friends. He was with me through all of the processes. He was with me through the process of putting together The Rough Draft and with me through the process of putting together this project. We were just going through the beats on Zion. It’s not really an intro to this beat, that’s why I said on the track, “Let’s get right into it.” Soon as the beat dropped we instantly got a connection. We both felt it and from there we just did our magic. We cooked it up. People always ask me what made me write this or think of this and I always tell them the beat told me to write it. Soon as I heard the beat I just heard, “Get based, get based!” A lot of people ask me, “What does it mean?” and I just tell them, “Create your own reality.” We play off it so many different ways that it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

TRHH: How is this project different from The Rough Draft?

$hun: It’s different because I feel like I experimented a little bit more with it. I know The Rough Draft is boom bap as well but I feel like with this project I actually expanded my artistry a little more. I tried to be a little bit more unconventional. The Rough Draft is unconventional but I would describe it as normal boom bap. This one is boom bap but it’s not something a normal artist would actually put out. I feel like a lot of the beat switch ups and sample-heavy songs is something I feel like a lot of people would listen to and like the beats but wouldn’t get on it.

TRHH: On ’09 Jams you said, “OG’s that I look up to, make sure that I don’t fuck up too,” explain that lyric.

$hun: The OG’s would be the OG’s in my neighborhood that I grew up in. I just came back from Memphis and everybody was giving a bunch of love and telling me to keep pushing. They want to see me do better than what they did because at the end of the day they’re still in the hood. As a kid coming up I actually looked up to these guys. These were the people I aspired to be like. I’m a young kid in the hood so really this was all I knew. I felt like these were the gods. As I left Memphis and broadened my horizons I can look back at it and see these niggas is really fuckin’ up. OG’s that I looked up to made sure that I don’t fuck up too, so I’m going to study their moves. I’m trying to learn from their mistakes so I won’t have to make the same mistakes. That’s why I say, “Live through the ones who peeped things, so you ain’t never gotta peep game.” If you live through them you already seen the mistakes they made so you already making the right moves.

TRHH: Do you have a favorite song on Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here?

$hun: That’s tough. My favorite song would have to be Conversate, the outro.

TRHH: What do you hope to achieve with Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here?

$hun: I really wanna meet 9th Wonder. He doesn’t have to sign me to Jamla. I just wanna hear 9th Wonder say I did his beats some justice and it’s dope. That’s really what I did it for, to get 9th Wonder’s attention. I just want to fly out to North Carolina and have a genuine conversation with him and a relationship. I’m a boom bap artist and I feel like 9th Wonder is a boom bap god. That’s really what I would hope to achieve and from there just let it keep building. I’m big on short term goals to help me get to that long term goal.

Download: $hun – Will Rap 4 A Way Outta Here

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From The Vault: Redman

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Photo courtesy of Def Jam

Redman is one of the greatest emcees of all-time, period. When you factor in his lyrics, longevity, and live show his status is undeniable. From his solo work to his collaborations with Method Man and Def Squad, Red has kept a very “high” standard when it comes to his rhymes.

At the 18-year mark of his career Reggie Noble wanted to give fans a little more Reggie and less Redman. In the winter of 2010 Red was promoting his seventh solo album, Reggie, and I was granted an interview with the How High star. The album was a slight departure from his previous projects, thus the title.

I was nervous that I’d get more Reggie than Redman during the interview but what ensued was one of the best interviews I’ve ever conducted. You don’t get any more real than Redman. Enjoy.

TRHH: Tell me about the new album Reggie.

Redman: The new album Reggie is just not a Redman album. No Redman album, no Supaman Luva, and no skits. There are no tracks done by Erick Sermon. Reggie is out of the box a little bit. It’s more musical and more conceptual. I want y’all to get good music and growth from this album. I ain’t trying to show an alter ego as far as personality, just on the music. When you get a Redman album you know what to expect, this is unexpected.

TRHH: I listened to the album and I was extremely surprised by the sound of it. What made you go a different route with the beats on Reggie?

Redman: When I first did it, it was a mixtape and ended up as an album. I wanted to try something different — that was it. I was coming up with Muddy Waters 2 and I was going to take it back on that one. I was actually going to have 90s sounding beats on that one. I had a half of an album done while I was doing the Red and Meth Blackout 2 album. I said let met finish up 6-7 more songs and call it an album. If you look I only have 13 joints on there and it’s like the shortest album I’ve ever made.

TRHH: When you were making the album were you afraid that you might alienate your fans?

Redman: Not at all because it’s a movement. I want them to understand that I want to do this music as well. Don’t keep me in the box supplying one kind of music to y’all. I’m not saying that I’m trying to win or anything like that, I’m just feeling the music and I want to let loose. I just want to show my fans growth more than anything. I’m trying to prove a point on growth. I’m nice this way with a more “now” sound and with my old ways.

TRHH: The first single is Def Jammable and on the chorus you say, “I don’t know what you people gonna do without him,” is that directed toward the Def Jam label?

Redman: No, it’s not directed at anyone. It’s directed at the whole game. I’m a big influence. I’m proud of my essence in this game and how it branched off and helped other people. If I still got it in me to do it, then why not do it? I keep that fun personality in the game. We got a lot of thuggin’ and muggin’ in the game right now — which is cool. But who’s going to let people know that it’s still good to have fun and still be a thug when you want to? I still have a job to do. Yeah, I said, What you gonna do without me, I’m still on my job.

TRHH: Tiger Style seemed different than anything else on the album to me. How did the Tiger Style joint come together?

Redman: I worked with my boy Chris upstate. That’s like my brother, man and we just toss around beats. I do a lot of work that’s not affiliated with albums. I might just go in the studio and do a song. I’ve got plenty of songs that no one has ever heard, and that was one of them. Actually, I was going to mixtape that one. That was part of the mixtape I was doing while I was doing the Blackout 2 album. I gave that record to Flex and he went to town on that joint! You know why he went to town and why it sounds different, because it’s so much of the usual that you hear on the radio. That ain’t nothing but a freestyle and a hook. I don’t even have a concept on that record, it’s just spitting. You like it because it’s that food for the soul that y’all been missing. That substance, that don’t give a fuck, and that rocking without having a pretty ass hook. That’s where I come in, that’s where the fuck I come in.

TRHH: [Laughs] Was it hard doing an album without Erick Sermon for the first time?

Redman: You know what, kind of and sort of not. When I go in with E I’m concentrating on making the song on how he’s building the beat and then me and him come together on the hook. On this one I just kind of let loose with whatever I was feeling. My and my crew Gilla House did whatever we felt on the album, Saukrates, Ready Roc, Runt Dawg, Melanie, and E3. Whatever we felt on this album, we did and that’s where I left it off at.

TRHH: The Michael Jackson video, Lookin’ Fly?

Redman: Yeah.

TRHH: Why didn’t that make the album? That was crazy man!

Redman: OK, well if I could have I would have. You know Mike passed. I’m a great fan of his by the way. He passed and there’s so much litigation as far his paper work and who gets what right now that I know it would be impossible to work that out. When I wrote that record it was for a mixtape too. I knew the sample was impossible to get, well not impossible but it was going to be a pain in the ass to get, put it that way. When I wrote the record I didn’t write it without the curses. When you get a sample like that you can not curse and be talking about bitches on there like I did — and I did. I just knew I wasn’t getting that at all.

TRHH: I want to go back, I’m from Chicago and I remember seeing you on the Hard Knock Life tour when you were suspended in the air, the ropes got stuck and you had to be cut down….

Redman: Yeah!

TRHH: You referenced this in the song Maaad Crew. What do you remember about being stuck up there like that, also didn’t you land on top of a guy and seriously injure him?

Redman: Ah, you did your homework, yeaaaaaaaahhhhhh ha ha!!!!!

TRHH: [Laughs] What do you remember about being stuck up there because I remember you landed on the guy and he got hurt right?

Redman: Absolutely, absolutely, I’m over the fuckin’ audience and one of the ropes popped and I was hanging out of it halfway. I was literally about to come out the harness on that motherfucker man. The harness started flipping upside down. I had to hold on to one rope and hold one side of my body up. They started wheeling me back and my man came up there with the 13 foot ladder and shit, climbed up there and tried to unhook me but that shit wasn’t working. He gave it one more good push and he unhooked me, but he unhooked the fuckin’ harness. I don’t know if he thought I was gon’ hold on to the rope. I was gon’ hold on to that rope and burn my hands and shit. When he unhooked I ain’t know he unhooked the bitch and when he unhooked it we went right to the ground, ladder, everything. Fell on his ass – he went right to the hospital. That was some TV shit to see.

TRHH: I want to go back and ask about your episode of MTV Cribs. You easily had the best episode of MTV Cribs of all-time, do you still live in that same house?

Redman: Yeah, I still got that crib. I didn’t really look at it as a big thing when I fuckin’ did it. They offered to rent me a crib and I turned that down. I didn’t wanna rent no fuckin’ crib and show off a crib I don’t know, that ain’t G. Plus I still live in the hood, too. They would have been like, “Nigga, that ain’t your fuckin’ crib!” I just had my shit. The motherfuckers told me noon they was coming through. I had just got finished coming from a studio session that morning, that’s why my fat ass cousin was sleeping on the floor ‘cause I ain’t have no other bed and shit.

TRHH: Sugar Bear, right?

Redman: Yeah. He got his ass up. I told him we had to get up about 11 so I could clean and shit and these motherfuckers pop over about 8:30-9:00 and shit expecting me to be on point. I was like, “Man, fuck it. Let’s go,” and that’s how it ended.

TRHH: It’s one of the best, man.

Redman: Good lookin’, man.

TRHH: On Rockin Wit Da Best you said, “Let the streets decide who’s nice.” Do you feel like you get the respect you deserve from the industry?

Redman: You know what, I do. I think I don’t but I do. I ain’t gon’ lie when I’m mention amongst the top 10 or top 15 I’m in that bracket. That’s good from the years I came out. I see so many nice niggas and it’s like how do we decide the nice bracket? On how many records you keep dropping, being relevant, or is it the respect? You could have all the records and fame but you might not get respect in every borough like the next rapper would. You might not give off that kind of feeling or appearance that this rapper would. Your fans might not listen to this rapper and them fans might not listen to them.

How do you really decide? Biggie passed and he’s definitely the top 3 of all-time. It’s more niggas coming out. I’m still holding the belt up in this bitch on my end. Meth still holding the belt, Busta still holding the belt, we still relevant and shit. When is that list going to change? That’s the only thing I was saying. When is it going to give some rooms for other emcees? I think Eminem is one of the top 3 now. When are we going to switch those names around? I think Eminem should be one of the top 1 or 2 now. I vote for Eminem in the top 3.

TRHH: You mentioned Eminem and Biggie, who are your top 5 of all-time?

Redman: KRS-One and Slick Rick is my first. Biggie, Jay, and Em.

TRHH: Eminem gave you a shout out on a song. How does it feel to hear your contemporaries like Eminem give you props as one of their inspirations?

Redman: It feels great. I gotta also add Ludacris. Ludacris been holding it down, too. I love Ludacris’ flow and I love the quality that he puts in his music. His quality is great. I have to add him on the list as well. Both of those guys gave me props when they came out. I hear a little influence in their music as well. I look at it as great because that’s my job, man. I’m here to influence and also educate. If I can influence somebody else in their career to this kind of work and for them to go off on their own thing and do it, hey man, it’s great. I’m doing my job. You know what, I feed back off of them. I learn shit from them. I learned a lot of shit from Em and Luda just listening to the music.

We kind of circle that love back around and they might not know it and we don’t all talk. We all influence each other and we influence newcomers. That’s our job, man. I just want to put it out there that I influence those guys and those guys are still bumpin’. You got guys that came out sounding like other people or tried to do other peoples styles, but not with me. I just influenced their personality. They had their own style. I just influenced their personality to go and do whatever and they’re still winning. Eminem is nominated for 10 Grammys and he says I helped influence him. That’s great, my job is done. I don’t want anything. Im’ma be blessed for that.

TRHH: You’ve been around for a minute. What was the point where you said, “I made it,”?

Redman: I ain’t say I made it yet because I got a lot of things I wanna do. I wanna direct. I wanna make a women’s open toe sandal shoe line. This job only opened doors for me to do more work. I got a lot of things I wanna do before I say I made it.

TRHH: You’re one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen – solo or with Meth. What makes a good live performer?

Redman: Having a voice. Most important is sounding like your record without the lip syncing. People really appreciate when you sound like your record. They don’t give a fuck if you go up there and do a half an hour, but if you go up there and sounding like your record and you’re giving it your all – moving around, showing movement, showing you’re not scared to touch the fans, that’s what they want. Some emcees gotta go up there with a lot of jewelry and a lot of shit because they don’t move. That’s their excitement, their look, and it works for ‘em. I don’t wear no jewels. I ain’t gotta do all that shit. Energy is what I’m built on. That’s what overseas is built on as well. I learned more about doing my shows from overseas than here.

TRHH: Really?

Redman: Mhmm.

TRHH: How so?

Redman: Overseas is great, man. Overseas still appreciates 90s music. You can almost go to a party overseas and deejay, and I still deejay, too. I went over there and fucked around and started playing new shit. No one was dancing. Soon as I threw on LeFlaur Leflah by Heltah Skeltah the party starts. Throw on some Black Moon, the party starts. Throw on some old Biggie, the party starts. Throw on some Fu-Gee-La, the party fuckin’ starts. Throw on some Busta Rhymes Break Ya Neck, the party is off the fuckin’ hook! Serious.

TRHH: Why do you think overseas is on a different level than we are here? What do we need to do to catch up?

Redman: We don’t need anything to catch up because overseas listen to us. I just want to state this, overseas is such a big market but they don’t know how to control their market as far as emcees. They have such a different language barrier and a religion barrier. It’s hard for an emcee from Germany to pop off in Switzerland. Whereas a New York rapper can appeal to West Coast or down south, anywhere in America. Once they get that down pat they’re going to be unstoppable. We learn a lot of shit from them as far as TV and fashion, a lot of shit people don’t know about. But they learn the music from us. That’s from talking English and trying to be like us. Which they should be trying to be like their self. Once they get that it’s going to be over. It’s going to be over. They got a lot more people. It’s crazy.

What we could learn from them right now is respecting the culture of Hip-Hop. Respecting the essence. We done turned the Hip-Hop game more into a business, which is good, but it got more into a flossy, fashion kind of thing. I know we’re in the new generation but that wasn’t really how the basis of Hip-Hop was built. It was built on grind, it was built on skills, and it was built on earning your position as being the man. Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas earned that position as being the top 3. They didn’t just have a hot record, no they was burning shit down to be the top 3! Just like in my category, KRS-One and Slick Rick, those two guys was puttin’ foot in ass to be the top emcee on my list and to be different. That’s what we need to respect, man. Just get that essence back of respect for Hip-Hop. We can learn and it’s coming back around.

Prime fucking example, Red and Meth did a show in Atlanta maybe a year ago, that’s when down south was on fire, fire. You couldn’t even do nothing there without playing some down south music. The show was just alright. We came back around this year and it was like they never seen us before. The show was off the hook. You know what I got from that? They getting tired. Even their own people and own sound is getting tired of crunk, crunk, crunk, crunk. We brought some of the fans out in Atlanta. I been in Atlanta and the only thing they do is play crunk. When the fans came out that night in Atlanta they came out to hear some Hip-Hop. Big up to fuckin’ ATL, man.

TRHH: You live out there now?

Redman: No, not at all. I got a house out there. My kid’s lives out there, but I don’t. I been affiliated with Atlanta for a long time, since ’93.

TRHH: A lot of people debate over what the best Redman album is, what’s your favorite Redman album?

Redman: Muddy Waters, Doc’s Da Name.

TRHH: It’s a tie?

Redman: Muddy Waters and Doc’s Da Name.

TRHH: Why those two?

Redman: Muddy Waters branched me from that dark ass album I had before that one, Dare Iz A Darkside. I don’t even remember doing that one.

TRHH: Really?

Redman: Really.

TRHH: That’s ’94 right?

Redman: Yep.

TRHH: That one was rough, man. I liked that one.

Redman: I know. You know what, chicks come up to me and tell me that’s their favorite album. That’s weird. Them some weird chicks. I ain’t gon’ lie, them some weird chicks. Muddy Waters brought me to the light a little bit. I was exercising, I laid off all the drugs I was doing on Dare Iz A Darkside and I was back.

TRHH: Why should fans go out and cop that Reggie album?

Redman: It’s like, why not? We got so much music out here and all of it’s sounding the same really. I love it. Some of the records stand out, but that’s radio’s fault. A lot of people say all the shit sounds the same. You want something different in the CD deck, buy something different. Buy something with some soul in it, buy something with some substance. That’s what we need, we need some substance to this music. I don’t have a whole album full of singles and “brand new music, brand new music” on every fuckin’ record. No, I got some regular sounding shit, more conceptual, and that’s what it is.

Purchase Redman’s discography:

Whut? Thee Album

Dare Iz A Darkside

Muddy Waters

Doc’s Da Name 2000


Red Gone Wild: Thee Album



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