Hip-Hop Core: The sound and artwork of your last few releases and of your new album "Beauty and The Beat" is a lot more psychedelic than before. What led you to do that? Did you stumble upon a bunch of psychedelic rock records?

Edan: I just needed to come up with some shit to reflect where I was going in a way that I think would make it a little bit more apparent for people. But "psychedelic" is just an easy way out to explain all this shit but basically it's just trying to make the records more interesting. Concerning psychedelic rock, I feel like it's a period where, whether it's drug related or not, people were really going for it as far as the creative process is concerned. I'm not trying to spark any sort of revolution by bringing that sound in my production, I'm just trying to do it myself. I'm just making the shit I want to hear.

HHC: What did you want to accomplish with this new album? The sound is heavily influenced by soul music and sixties pop music.

E: I just wanted to prove that all these things could co-exist and unify. Like a pure hip-hop mentality, like Cold Crush or Rakim or G Rap, could sit on top of something that sounded like early Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath or Hendrix. Just find the most tasteful way for them shits to come together. I was a lot more careful this time around and everything came together with a lot more attention than with my previous projects. The last album, I was just goofing off, making songs as fast as I could and trying to make myself laugh. On this one, I was a bit more ambitious. I wanted to craft something with a lot of care and to be a little bit more conceptual with it. I used to just rap about rapping' but I gotta grow up and evolve.

HHC: By the way, this new album has a better sound quality than the previous ones. Was it a conscious choice of yours?

E: Everything is conscious to an extent. I didn't really do anything that differently as far as samples and everything. I'm using the same exact equipment on this record that I used for the other ones. You know, you go through phases… Each different sound that you can achieve, regardless of how you achieve it, is a different form of expression. I don't really care if it's lo-fi or hi-fi, I just like the sounds and the tones in the recordings to have a certain humane feel to them. When you can hear the room in a recording… Certain records have a mysterious atmosphere, a very strong vibe and it makes you almost try to picture the scenery. Like where did they record this shit? What did the room look like? What did their pants smell like? You know what I'm saying. I'm just trying to get that time-travel quality with my shit and to take you to strange and bizarre and beautiful places. The records that I here now, it's like you know the dude did it up on a keyboard in a clean-ass studio and there's no mystique or whatever to how the shit came about. So that's not really about lo-fi, it's about… pro-human.

HHC: What material did you use to get that often raw sound and those dirty old-school drums?

E: I threw a chicken sandwich against the wall and I recorded it. That was the whole process. To get that dirty sound, I'm just rubbing my hands threw sewage before I start any project.

HHC: There is a duality in your production style between addictive 90's-style melodies and abrasive early 80's-sounding tracks. Are trying to put together sounds from different periods of time that you like or does it just come out naturally?

E: I think that both of these options that you gave me represent something that just comes about naturally. I love music from all over the map and hip-hop offers you the ability to express all these different influences at once. That's the beauty of it. Hip-hop is the great unifier. A lot of people want to use it to divide but they don't know what the fuck they're doing. Speaking about the samples, let's not look at all the years. Who cares if it's eighties or nineties or sixties? All that stuff is really closely connected. It's very easy to fall into that trap and to say that something sounds like something from that particular era, etc.

HHC: You made quite an impact with "Primitive Plus". The very first time I heard it, I remember being literally glued to the speakers repeating to myself: “Damn, it's been a long time I heard something as good and original as this”. And this was partially due to your all around talent and the fact that you were the guy doing everything on this record. Why did you decide to become a One Man Arsenal (emcee/producer/DJ/sound engineer) in the first place instead of concentrating on only one thing?

E: I was an only child. There wasn't really that many dudes getting down around me. I was living in Maryland and there weren't many kids that were raw with this shit. There wasn't really a DJ or an MC around I wasn't raw either, I was still learning the basics. But I slowly started trying to do all these different things myself so that I could hear a finished song. So it wasn't really a choice, it was just my love for music and my desire to hear a finished composition that drove me towards doing all of these things. But I'm open to working with different people. It's great. If their artistic approach complements mine and vice versa, then it's a beautiful thing to get up and collab with people. It could always lead to something greater than the sum of its parts.

HHC: Speaking of sound engineering techniques, where do you love so much about reverb and static ?

E: Part of it is sort of a prankish mentality. I'm sort of playing a joke on you. But part of it is like, if a chef cooks the same meal for ten or fifteen years you gotta start to put different spices in this shit just that he can enjoy the flavour of the food. It's the same with me, I get tired of all these boring clean dry-ass fucking produced songs. I wanna splash the paint around, big time! I just want the songs to come to life. I want them to drip off the speaker. I want effects, like Das Efx shit.

HHC: On the production side, how do you work when you're doing tracks for other emcees such as Mr. Lif for instance?

E: I guess you just want to do something that you like and that they like as well. That's what collaboration is about. Hopefully, I hit'em the same way that I would hit myself.

HHC: I believe “Primitive Plus” was recorded in only one week when you were 19. Can you confirm that?

E: No, it took longer than that. I was in this basement apartment and it took me about 2 or 3 months. Then there was another period where I did the "Sprain Your Tapedeck" stuff and I ended up combining some of that with the album. Any songs that you hear on the CD that are also on "Sprain Your Tapedeck", to me, aren't really part of the "Primitive Plus" era. But it took so long for "Primitive Plus" to come out that I ended up throwing some more shit on there just to give you some different feels. But, for the core of the album, it took me 2 or 3 months and then there were some things that were like after-thoughts that I did a couple months later. I was really inspired at that point by songs like Super Kids and 'Marley Scratch' and some of the records on Pop Art, like all the noisy Marley shit. To me, that shit was just as psychedelic and stimulating as any of the rock shit. I was just feeling that stuff big time, but it's not like I set out to come out on some old-school shit. It's just the shit I was feeling when that record came out.

HHC: What was your mentality at the time?

E: It was just a lot of love for music, but wanting to hear more abrasive shit. It's not so much the melodic stuff. I've always been a melodic producer but at that point I was rebelling against my own tendencies. It's interesting that it came out as my debut, while I was rebelling against my tendencies. On this new album, you see a more natural approach to the whole shit.

HHC: Have you done any battle because your style on "Primitive Plus" was very battle-orientated?

E: My style is not so much battle-orientated these days. That's the shit I was sort of rhyming when I first came out. I don't know what the fuck I was saying, it's like I eat a word sandwich or shoot a word gun. I know that there's a little more to it than that on the first album but now I just started writing about concepts like beauty. I get a little more surreal, writing about tormented artists or about the upliftment of the world, but in my own sort of way. Rapping about torture or rapping about seeing colours and appreciating the beauty in the world. This new album really comes from appreciating the beauty that's out there, because so many people tend to focus on the negative or why shit isn't right. If you just turn off your TV and go outside and look around and think about it, you might see some shit that blows your mind. Not even on some hippie shit, but we need to be loving, be positive and just work for that greater goal.

HHC: What made you change your mind concerning your rhyming approach?

E: You just get tired of doing the same thing! At first, I think it makes sense that my mind set was more to practice techniques. Then, once you're a little more familiar with techniques and it's a little more natural to you, you want to focus on songs and concepts. The goal for me is to bring those two approaches together.

HHC: How did you get in touch with Lewis Recordings?

E: I talked to Mr. Complex on the phone and I asked him who in England I should send my shit to. This is before the record had come out. He said: "Send it to this cat Mike Lewis". I did and Mike Lewis liked it so much that he just started a label to put it out. That was a blessing. I was very fortunate for that to happen. That helped me on my way.

HHC: Why did you try to contact European countries to release your albums while it didn't even have a proper distribution in the US ?

E: I don't know, England always sort of had an air about it of being open-minded about music and about praising the more left-field artists while the US just sleep on it. England jocked it and they acted like it was that ill shit… you know how it goes.

HHC: We've seen Mr. Lif and Insight rapping on your projects and you've produced and rapped alongside them. What's exactly your relationship with them?

E: Just mutual respect. I just have nothing but good things to say about them. I'm happy to know them.

HHC: Is there any emcee who responded to your “Let's Be Friends” and called you for a dinner or a walk in the park?

E: No, but you know that song was just… You get tired of motherfuckers always acting mega-hard like "everyone is my enemy". I had enough of this shit. What the fuck you're talking about? This whole thing is about love and unification, like I said. There's a time to compete. But all you heard on record, especially these boring underground records, was like "I battle you" or "I cast a magic spell to make your body melt" and all this bullshit. You get tired of all the shit where it's just "I'm better than you, fuck you". Sometimes, there's times to just be like "yo, let's hang out". So it was a reaction to that but obviously it was a little bit sarcastic. That song, I made it in 20 minutes. It was a freestyle so I did it as long as it took to do the rhyme. I woke up, I had a bad hair and everything and I did it right there. It was weird, I just felt like doing that shit for some reason.

HHC: You've released the “Fast Rap” CD as Edan the DJ a few years ago. Do you do mix-tapes on the regular or was it just a way for you to help the young generation discover some of the lost classics of the past?

E: I do mixtapes every so often (ndlr: see "Sound of the Funky Drummer" for evidence) and I plan to keep doing them. But I don't know, I just loved that era, the late eighties and early nineties. I felt like certain cats were really excelling when it came to their rhymes. That was an apex of sorts for the era of the emcee treating lyrics like a jazz musician and really exploring the rhythmic possibilities. Cats like G Rap and Kane, just killing that. I wanted to touch on that era. I knew that there was something unique to that era and that sound. I put it together on a tape and, if anybody learns anything from it, it's all good. It's corny because when you put out a tape like that you got people thinking you're trying to act like you know a lot or you're trying to be more nerdy and outdo everybody with knowledge. I'm sick of these fucking guys. It had nothing to do with that shit, it's strictly love…

HHC: What's so special to you about the minimalist 80's hip-hop sound that you seem to love so genuinely?

E: The simplicity of it. But again, don't worry about eighties hip-hop, it goes beyond hip-hop. It goes into all forms of music, it goes into visual arts, paintings, films, books, cooking, martial arts… The whole thing is just an extension of the same thing. So don't worry about eighties. If it's all about eighties, then it's not the best way to take all of this in. When you start to look at this music in comparison to everything that goes on artistically, you'll start to see the beauty of it to a greater extent because you'll be keeping in mind all these different various things and you'll realise the diversity of the music and why it has its own special place. So yeah, I like music that came out in the eighties but I don't care what year it came out, I just care if it's good.

HHC: You liked to mimic the styles of some of the greatest emcees as best evidenced on “Ultra '88”. What gave you the will to do that?

E: That shit is just a tribute and to make myself laugh. I'm rebelling again because rap is full of these fucking asshole dudes who never really want to admit that they liked somebody else's shit. They gotta act like they wrote the book on everything. My rebellion to that is like "I'm gonna imitate you out of respect". It's entertainment, man. Kool Keith got a funny style so it's just funny to do that shit. I like paying respect to these cats because I feel like all these bitch-ass rappers who got their styles from other emcees never seem to want to admit anything.

HHC: Why did you choose Schoolly D particularly when you decided to pay homage to an emcee?

E: Because I really like the spirit of the early Schooly D records. The stuff I was doing reminded me of that stuff like 'PSK'. First of all, the reverb is turned up to 20 so I'm gonna like that. Second of all, it just seemed like he didn't give a shit. He just went in there, just had a good time and made a record without worrying about it too much. That's really the shit I was going for at that time. That was sort of the vibe of "Sprain Your Tapedeck".

HHC: Most of the time, your lyrics are full of punchlines and strange imagery. You do all sorts of lyrical gymnastics on the mic. Nevertheless, you consider KRS-One, Rakim or Melle Mel as some of your microphone masters. Why don't you write more “serious” lyrics then?

E: I do. When you'll get the chance to really hear the new record, you'll see that the lyrics are a lot more serious. When I did "Primitive Plus", I probably didn't want to say anything too serious or to be that guy blowing you away with a whole new fucking philosophy on life. I just wanted to have fun, make myself laugh and keep some rhymes. But listen to the new record. It really ain't punchlines on this shit, I think you'll see a more mature side to what I'm doing…

HHC: Where do you find all those crazy artwork ideas for your album and 12” covers (like those robots on “Primitive Plus”)?

E: Hey, you live life, you take it all in and you spit it back out the best way you know how. For the "Beauty and The Beat" cover, I figured that hip-hop's never really looked at in its majestic way. It's always looked at as some disposable shit but I look at it as a high artform. I like to cut out people's faces, to get imaginative and put them in artistic settings because I feel they deserve that sort of respect. I pay hommage to myself by paying hommage to them. I don't study so I can mimic; I study so I can know how to make something valuable that will last a long time… That's all that is.

HHC: It's fair to say that in Europe most of your fame was generated through the internet medium. How do you feel about the internet then?

E: I feel like it's good. When I was younger, I was a little more technophobic. I had a phoby of technology taking over the human legacy but now I don't give a fuck. That shit is a great tool. It allows for a lot of people to connect all over the world and that's the way we're supposed to be going, so I'm with it.

HHC: On another subject, is “Architecture” ever going to be re-released?

E: No. That shit was like a demo tape. It doesn't represent where I'm at these days. It was very early in my development. I was just learning my craft so it's just too early. You know it's even hard for me to listen to "Primitive Plus" now, I can't really fuck with that shit.

HHC: You'll be in France for a show with Insight and Dagha on April 12 th at the Nouveau Casino in Paris . What do you plan to do for this first show in France ?

E: We're just gonna do our best to give you a good show. You know we practice a lot and we're dedicated to the music so I can do things that go above and beyond just grabbing my nuts on stage and yelling at everybody.

HHC: In the past, you used to dress as a school boy, wearing a tie. Why did you decide to act that way?

E: You know, I just don't look good in a fucking Sean John. That's not me. Hip-hop needs to see people that don't all look the same. Then you can look at hip-hop for what it really is internally and not get caught up on the images. I think it's important for people to just be themselves and not feel like they gotta dress by the dress-code.

HHC: What are your current projects?

E: At this point, I'm getting ready to go out on tour. I haven't been working on that many songs lately. You might see me on the Cut Chemist solo album. I had a small cameo in this short film called "SBX". There's some of the DITC guys in it. Look out for that. Actually, on "Fast Rap", you know the bonus at the end with the little battle between Percee P and Lord Finesse, there will be footage of that battle in the DVD.

HHC: On “Beautiful Food”, you've told us all the things you like to eat but what's exactly your favourite meal?

E: I just want to eat that chicken sandwich that I threw against the wall. That shit sounds tasty.

Interview by Cobalt
March 2005

Note: Thanks to David from 2Good for hooking this up.

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