Producer/emcee Psych Major ended 2023 with the release of his debut solo EP, “The Late Starter.” Psych took over a decade away from releasing music to focus on real life. The Late Starter is a nod to his new beginning in music.
The Late Starter is a 6-track EP brought to us courtesy of Below System Records. The EP features appearances by Dagha, Reef The Lost Cauze, Snook Da Crook, Ruste Juxx, Squeegie Oblong, Shabaam Sahdeeq, MidaZ The BEAST and Young Zee.
Psych Major spoke to The Real Hip-Hop about dealing with rejection, collaborating with underground greats, and his new EP, The Late Starter.
TRHH: Why’d you title the new EP The Late Starter?
Psych Major: Geez, I’m old. It’s The Late Starter because I’ll be honest, my time on Earth originated around the same time as Hip-Hop. I’ve been trying to do this on my own, initially by emceeing, then stopping emceeing then trying to do production, then trying to produce for other people, then finding out if I have to wait on other people it’s never going to happen, to really finding all these things. At the same time, I had to take big swaths of time away just to take care of my family and I was already in a career path.
I’m old now. I finally started releasing singles or whatever. The song “Dolph Lund” has been done for about maybe seven or eight years, but it hasn’t been completed. I’ve been sitting on stuff, I’ve been waiting for stuff to happen, so, it’s really now I feel like I’m getting my own stride, getting comfortable, and getting things done. I feel like I’m really starting now, and if you notice everything I did up until now, except for what I did with Dagha in 2010, the Noise is the Trigger EP, has all been singles. So, I’m just really starting now and it’s a six-song thing — EP I guess you’d say.
TRHH: How long did it take you to get to the point where you were okay with music not being at the forefront?
Psych Major: I’m going to say you probably have this to some degree as well and everybody who still pursues this to any degree, I didn’t view it as a rainy-day project so I was really at a discrepancy because I’ve been working jobs where it’s not my heart. When I was younger I was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna blow up,” or when it wasn’t even in Hip-Hop like, “I’m going do this creative thing.” So, I wouldn’t say I’m okay with it — I think I’m okay with it now because I’m just happy with what I’m doing and end up putting it out. I put out that freestyle a couple weeks ago and it wasn’t my beats, it was over other people’s beats. It’s funny, when I started producing singles Premier was playing them, Eclipse was playing them, and I was like, “Oh wow.” And then I put out stuff that I’m emceeing on, even though I’ve never done solo, and these guys never played it again [laughs].
So, I put this freestyle out so people know that I emcee and it actually got likes. It was on this one YouTube channel and I think it got like 30 likes. I’m so stoked by that. That makes me so happy, because it’s like people who feel as much passion for this genre as I do and it’s okay. That’s okay with me. That’s recently and since that’s been happening I’ve been okay with it. Previously it was like, “Damn.” I’m not gonna say jealousy, but I feel nuts, man, because a lot of the music that I perceive as popular today or is getting attention I feel like, am I nuts? Don’t people hear what this is? Like, these people, the posturing, and the spectacle? That always was making me mad, but now it’s like I’m putting out stuff and it probably will never blow up to that level of these people, but the fact that it’s not getting tomatoes or getting death threats is cool with me [laughs].
To be honest, there will always be a part that is not okay, but as long as I’m creating and putting stuff out, then I’m okay. And to be honest, even doing this interview it’s like even staying up to 10:30 at my age I’m like, “Damn, I am gonna say the stupidest things.” It’s ridiculous. It’s like when I was in my 20s I was nocturnal, and now it’s like the opposite. What am I gonna do? I can’t compete with these young guys that are out all the time and going to these parties where they’re not even performing just to show their face. So, yeah, I have to be good with it.
TRHH: What was the process like doing The Late Starter and getting all of the features?
Psych Major: So, I had this EP with Dagha in 2010 — Noise is the Trigger. Then I did two singles with Reef the Lost Cauze and that was like 2014. At that point I had the MPC 2000XL and I made the Dolph Lund beat I’m pretty sure on that. That was done like 7-8 years ago, so I had that in the tuck. And then with Boom Bap Crack I had the Ruste Juxx verse on there for at last four or five years. At this point I started and emceeing and I had some of these beats like over the last year and they were supposed to be for a pretty big project, and of course that never materialized because I’m waiting on other people. I had this track Eso Es Todo and I had Young Zee on it. Zee and I have been in contact for years. I actually have a track on his album that came out recently, Da Bros. That track was done before he went away for a while — he had to go sit down for five years. So, that track was in the tuck for quite a while. I had him on there and then I was like, “Dag, you gotta get on this,” and of course he was like, “Yeah, let’s do it,” because he’s like me. So, that one was done and then I recently started working with Squeegie Oblong from Staten Island and he’s dope.
Eso Es Todo, Four Bridges and Submersibles with MidaZ were done in the last six months. Boom Back Crack, Dolph Lund, as I mentioned those have been done for the last four or five years, and then what happened, it’s been so long that Shabaam Sahdeeq forgot what verse he recorded. When I went to clear it with him he said, “Oh, I already recorded to that.” We actually had to re-record his verse in the last few weeks [laughs]. He did a solid and turned it around in a couple of days, believe it or not. When I got the fire in myself to really complete that, it’s been in the last 6-7 months. Some of those tracks, like I said I was just waiting for the skies to open up before I let them out or whatever, which is why I’m so old, because I have been sitting on these things like the dragon from The Hobbit.
TRHH: On the single “Submersibles” you spit a verse and also on Four Bridges. Why did you decide to rhyme on this project instead of only doing beats?
Psych Major: I rhymed before I was producing. In the 90s I had kind of a group where I rhymed. We performed a few times and stuff, we had some tracks, but again I was at the mercy of other people producing and stuff. Why did I start rhyming again? I’ll be honest with you, because a friend who is pretty well-known in this scene that you cover never liked my beats. I was always sending beats, he spit on one of my tracks and he kept telling me he never liked my stuff. It got really frustrating, but the same time he does projects and the producers he used I’m like again, “Okay, either I’m nuts or there’s something else here. I’ll just start rhyming again, whatever.”
When I’m rhyming I would just do like maybe 4 or 8 bars and then now it’s like, whatever, man. It’s now at a point where I’m more comfortable with it, but that’s really what it was. I wasn’t intending to get back to emceeing when I started releasing these singles again, but it was a couple of my friends were just hating on my beats. I’m like alright, whatever. It’s either I start doing this again or what. So, as a result my future budget is better because it’s just me.
TRHH: How do you deal with that rejection when you play beats for people?
Psych Major: How do I deal with it? I cry in my room and then and try not to yell at my kids. I feel nuts. I’m not good with it. Now it’s at the point where it’s like, “Okay, whatever.” I feel, and this is my theory, is that you can build an audience by buying features and releasing music so regularly that you create impressions with people. It’s just recurring impressions. If they see you enough they start to associate you with this scene and good stuff or whatever and eventually you get on. I don’t have money! I mean, relatively for those expenditures. I mean, right now it’s just me releasing things and stuff like that. So, no, I’m not great with rejection, but it’s okay.
TRHH: You mentioned the 2000XL; what else is in your production workstation?
Psych Major: So, the reason it took me so long to connect is because I’ve had this Mac that I’m using since 2013. Then I have the Native Instruments Maschine, so I sold the 2000XL and bought the Native Instruments Maschine. I’ve just been rocking with that since 2013 — that’s it. I think Boom Bap Crack I have an analog synth on there. I was like. “I’m gonna go with hardware of the 90s and 80s synths.” And then it was like, “Yeah, no, I’m not gonna do that,” because it just took too long. It was so much work around this stuff. So, I’m rocking with the Native Instruments Maschine. You’re familiar with it?
TRHH: Yes. I’ve never used it, but I’m familiar.
Psych Major: I’m so comfortable with it now I don’t think I’m going to try and do other things — it’s crazy. I feel like with Showbiz & AG those first two albums were amazing, and then the third one on Fat Beats Showbiz was like, “Oh, I’m trying to learn the new machines.” I feel like it changed the whole structure of what I loved about them. It’s like, “I wish you didn’t do that.” But by the time D.I.T.C. put out that group album I feel like they tried to keep up with the jiggy era. Remember that one? It was Worldwide on Tommy Boy?
TRHH: Yeah, I don’t remember that being jiggy though.
Psych Major: Compared to what they were. That track “Da Enemy” on there is amazing, the track with Milano is amazing, I feel like the rest of them weren’t a part of the early 90s boom bap anymore. So, I’m not going to try and change it up. Go back and listen to that album and tell me. If you don’t feel that way, that’s okay. I’m just telling you that’s how I felt.
TRHH: The song “PVT Hudson” has a cool sample. Without snitching what genre did you find that sound?
Psych Major: Soundtracks. It was a soundtrack. I’ve been trying to get a lot of Japanese soundtracks, looking for a lot of ethnic instruments, and then trying to change the pitches and such and then getting snippets. It was definitely one of those. And that’s a different kind of track for me, that’s definitely a lot slower than my other tracks. And that was another one that was supposed to go with somebody and they were was supposed to do it, and of course nothing ever came through.
So, that one I’m not on at all, along with Dolph Lund. That one is Young Zee — it’s kind of like a sad serious tempo then of course Zee being Zee, whatever. And then Squeegie’s on it and Snook Da Crook from Dirt Platoon — the most aggressive person ever. It’s funny, I have this sad thing and then a super aggressive guy at the end of it. That’s definitely from some sort of Japanese cinema.
TRHH: Who spit your favorite verse on The Late Starter?
Psych Major: Man, nobody [laughs). I love them all. I mean this Dolph Lund track, I knew this one was going to hit people the right way forever. And I’ve had those verses — they’re so ingrained. I loved that entire song for so long, so I will say that was special because it was done before the rest of them. Aside from that, everybody’s like really great.
People have been loving this MidaZ The BEAST verse — MidaZ is pretty amazing. I mean, to have Young Zee on two tracks is amazing. He’s a hero of mine, obviously, and a lot of people in our genre, so that’s great. Ruste Juxx, amazing. Reef, I love Reef. Dagha is my dude, Squeegie’s amazing and then to get Snook, yeah.
TRHH: Who is The Late Starter EP made for?
Psych Major: Myself, because if I’m trying to impress my friends who don’t feel my beats or if I try to change my thing, then I’m being nuts if I’m trying to fit it in. If I’m making the music that I want to hear that I think is missing and no one else gets it, that’s okay, and that’s what I feel like I’m doing. But I feel like some people are getting it, but if nothing else I’m trying to make music that I want to hear that I think is lacking, and trying to talk about subject matters that I think is not represented. Not like I’m some sort of like ruling above, it’s like dude, I’m vulnerable. So, I’m going to talk about being vulnerable. I’m not going to use metaphors about guns, I’m not going to talk about hitting women, I’ve been married to the same person for 20 years. I’m not trying to misrepresent anything. So, it’s just my voice.
Purchase: Psych Major – The Late Starter