Hip-Hop Core: Things have changed since you got this deal with GSL, you are much more exposed and requested. Did your conception of making music also changed?

Subtitle: Yeah, somewhat. I decided to take the approach to writing, producing and recording seriously instead of my old work where I just hit record and did whatever. Now I do the same thing, but on purpose… People seem to like what's going on, which is a blessing. I still have to do new things (new to me anyway) so I try not to insult the people's intelligence while indulging in my pursuits.

HHC: "Young Dangerous Heart" is marketed as your debut full-length album. Did you erase everything you did before?

S: No, although I lost 3 albums worth of material shortly before the making of that album which will never be heard. The other stuff was bodies of work, almost like a journal. This record is a definite collection of what went down in 2003-2004. It also is my first official album with a release date and all that, so it is marketed as my first. Anyone who knows what's up will know that this is my 15th!

HHC: On this new record, you've hired several beatmakers whereas most of your previous projects were self-produced. Why did you make this choice? Did it change the way you work?

S: I did it because I never did it before and also because I wanted this to be a reflection of what went down in my scene the last eight years. Most of these folks are people I met or knew for a long time and was waiting for the chance to work with. GSL thought it was a good idea to sell the record, but that's how it usually is with labels.

HHC: Except on a few beats (especially Deeskee's one), it seems that the guest producers on "YDH" tried to make beats that correspond to your identity and your flow. Have you been very demanding in your choice or did it come naturally?

S: I had ideas for producers to follow, but those were abstract, like colours and whatever. From a few of those producers like Alias, I actually got more than one beat and could only use one although both were sick as hell! In the case of Octavius, he gave me a beat and Busdriver and I did a song over it. Octavius thought that it could be better (the song) and gave me another beat to work with instead. I think that the Deeskee beat was already finished before he gave it to me, but I was all about the beat and I wanted to get him on the record, so I wasn't tripping. The same was with the Life Rexall beat and the Cockamamie beat. I had to bug and bug and bug Rexall to get him on the record in some format, and Cockamamie put that song on their underground album. Someone official needs to sign Cockamamie.

HHC: Text explanation : HHC: "Marks 03, making underground hits, although 17 people know about it". Do you regard your music as difficult to listen and understand?

S: Not really, other people do because it may have some new ideas that folks aren't used to, but it isn't as experimental as the Lab Waste album or some of the other stuff that I've been known for. I actually toned it down a few notches, which is another reason for the guests. I needed to balance it out with something.

HHC: "Most art is only out to ruin you, that's the problem with society today / They don't understand how to innovate, and it's hard not to fall for an artist who writes lyrics like "Business is primary in business" / But in art that's witless... I'm out to break the heart of a sensitive teen / Let's make it / Make out / Or make up a new scene".

S: It's pretty self explanatory with anyone well versed in art versus commerce. That last line was a play on the whole emo-rap thing which I've thankfully been omitted from. We very well COULD make up a new scene, which is what I'm trying to do. Not something revolving around me, or even hip-hop but the true underground and all it embodies, from science to food to clothes to sex.

HHC: "I'm unpredictable, I do not lead a textbook life"

S: It's true, ask any one of my friends….

HHC: "I was trying to make it very profound, very loquacious if you will, to give it some kind of depth and feel but really, it was just a gangsta rap." Can your music really be regarded as "gangsta rap"?

S: On some levels, maybe. Definitely the older stuff since I was hanging out in the "hood" doing all sorts of drugs and being up to no good in general. In the words of my mom "I was never a gangster, I just led a gangster life" A little bit.

HHC: "Art lets you lay waste to most types of convention."

S: This is also true. I don't think I need to explain it, look at the art piece entitled "piss Christ" or any of Kool Keith's work. In fact look at Dose one's catalog past 1998. Nuff said.

HHC: "Zwarte Achtegrond" is probably the most incredible hip-hop record I heard since Bigg Jus's "Black Mamba Serums". It's deep and intricate, smart and offhand in the same time. Although, It seems that Thavius and yourself built this album very "easily", just combining your forces and arranging your ideas. You found a perfect partner, didn't' you?

S: Yes to say the least. What people don't know is that I've known him and been the biggest fan of his work for eight years. I was waiting for the right moment to be able to work with him. We did a old song in 98 called Inexorable and Anonymous which was dope. It took 5 or 6 years to work together again, although he made a beat on "Delete The Elite" and two on "I'm always recovering from tomorrow".

HHC: When I first listened to the Lab Waste record, I said something like "Here are two guys who understood and analysed Company Flow & Anti Pop Consortium and who don't deliver a copy of this music"…

S: That would count for me, not Thav. He doesn't listen to any of that stuff as a fan, he's on his own trip. I, on the other hand, listened to all of that religiously ALONG with the Blowed scene/LA underground scene, Oxnard 's underground scene, the Bay area's scene and whatever else whoever else had to offer. Even down to drum and bass and Finnish hip-hop!

HHC: Black Autechre?

S: A stupid comment meant as a joke. I could have said "Black Suicide" and it would have been more accurate. Those guys are cool and all, but I wouldn't compare us to them since they are on an entirely different level. That's like saying that I'm the young Dr Dre or something. I played with Autechre in may (which was a feat in itself) and they weren't the most social of fellows. I imagine that comes with the territory or whatever, but their music was without peer and it was all freestyle! (Rob:If you read this, you never answered my MPC question!)

HHC: You've just toured all over Europe for your last solo album. What did you learn about European public? Did you meet interesting Euro artists?

S: What I learned about the European public was too much to list in a interview, but I can say thiS: Unlike the states, folks out there really respect music as a whole and are willing to support it if their monetary funds let them. Even if it doesn't, they will spend their last welfare money on a show! I've talked to people from every walk of life over the last 3 months and it's made my musical world smaller and smarter in scope. I met lots and lots of extremely talented artists and was fortunate to work with more than a couple of them. You'll be hearing the results of that in the near future as well.

HHC: You'll soon release a project with Daddy Kev via Alpha Pup Records. What can we expect?

S: A more refined record in the vein of YDH and Weekend Science Experiment. I don't want to give too much away as far as collaborations or whatever, but it should be out of hand and control. It's also in book form with the intro/outro being bookends and the different producers being situationist themed backdrops for my first person narratives and instruction manuals. All over banging beats of course!!

HHC: Why do you think respected west coast underground cats such as Busdriver, AWOL, Ricci Rucker decided to join the Alpha Pup roster and be "overseen" by Kev?

S: As far as AWOL and Bus, it looks like a matter of picking up where they left off with Celestial. I don't really know Ricci, but his work speaks for itself and I imagine that he also wanted to be a part of the AP family, while having a house that respected his creativity. Kev is a genius of the highest order and so is Danyell, so that's a match made in heaven right there. When dealing with them, you already know that you are being taken care of.

HHC: Why did you?

S: I always wanted to be a part of the Celestial Records camp coming up, especially since ½ of the people I hung out with were already on the label. The music coming out of there was unparalleled in it's scope and approach. I frequented the L.A. Konkrete Jungle in it's heyday and was as immersed in that scene as humanly possible without actually being put on. When that ended, I was already over the current state of affairs in my community, leading me to go on hiatus. I then hooked up with GSL and went in a different direction than where I was heading prior to that. It was a much needed direction, as I soon found out. When Kev approached me with the idea of Alpha Pup, I had to say yes! At first people were hating, but as everyone else can see, it's Alpha Pup's world whether we live in it or not…

HHC: What are your feelings about the evolution of Project Blowed affiliates and the whole west coast underground scene?

S: Mixed on a good day, not fit for print every other day but I'll do my best to explain…When I first got into all of the music in the early 90's, that stuff changed my life. I could finally relate to someone off the radio. Here were scores of emcees and producers who were from the ghetto (in most cases), either gangbanged or was very close to someone who did, or never did and were still around it--not talking about it! It was a refreshing idea that lasted for 7 years. Very few people who were on board with that whole manifesto then, still subscribe to the same beliefs. Drugs, money and the lack thereof along with the industry, were the blame for lots of icons in the making getting their enlightenment cut short. I was no exception to this, I was able to pull out quicker than some. What saddens me now is that you have lots of "elders" not leading their community in any particular direction, yet demanding the respect and tribute of a person on the same par as a Coltrane or Fela. At one time, that wouldn't be asking a lot considering what we as a state and it's inhabitants had to go thru in order to get to a place where a Good Life or Project Blowed could even exist without being burned up, shot up or even raided by the police. Now you look at the record books and all of that seems forgotten, or at least dwarfed in comparison to the "new L.A." that is being represented in magazines and on T.V. or whatever. And the really weak thing about that is that no one is trying to come with an unbiased account of what REALLY happened. Like the whole "who bit who" argument hasn't been settled, and frankly I think that it's a moot point with the whole U.K. grime scene blowing up. Those dudes are styling out of control and I know for a fact that NONE of them has heard of a Project Blowed, Good Life or anything of the type. They may know about Jay-Z and Twista and Bone. Bone is the closest they possibly got to Blowed until Abstract Rude did a show opening for Dizzee Rascal…

HHC: Tell us about B.E.A.R. recordings…

S: Business Espionage Audio Recordings : My attempt at making things right. Eliot Lipp (from Hefty Records) Leo 123 (from East Dev) and myself made a label in the vein of a skateboard team. We're dropping all of our underground stuff here, both old and new on every format possible. We have solo records from all three of us, Adlib, No Can Do and a couple of other surprises on CD and vinyl. We also have more where that came from, but you have to stay tuned.

HHC: What about a West Coast Workforce album?

S: I'm still on the fence about that one. Last year, the idea was presented to reform the group due to the "overwhelming" response of supporters abroad. We can't even sit in the same room and work on a song. We can't even decide on who is in the group! That will have to be a work in progress.

HHC: And this announced 2nd Lab Waste record?

S: We're already 2 songs into it. Thav is finishing his solo record and since I don't have to produce anything for the Alpha Pup record, my best beats can automatically get submitted for this project. GSL is dropping it in the states and everyone involved is really stoked. We're going to do a pirate tour this fall/winter in Europe.

HHC: Something to add?

S: I'm working on a new record for b.e.a.r. under my real name. It's called "Trunk Bomb" and an e.p. will be out in October on vinyl. Other underground reissues like "Lost Love Stays Lost", "Lone Path of the Vanguard" and whatever else is being fabricated into 3D. Finland is the best kept secret and go read a book and listen to a song. That and thanks…

Interview by Kreme
September 2005

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