Hen Boogie

Hip-Hop Core: Welcome Hen... Please introduce yourself to the readers and tell us about your very first contact with the hip hop world.

Hen Boogie: First, thanks for having me. I always enjoy having the opportunity to make my thoughts heard to the world. Wow, well I guess my first experience I remember other than hearing "Rapper's Delight" was the first record I bought with my own money which was "the Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel" I purchased it just because I saw it was on the same label as the Sugar Hill Gang record. I remember when I first heard it I thought that here was something wrong with the record because I had never heard scratching before (Laughing)

But I remember playing that song over and over again and wanting to figure out how it was done. It's funny because as I say all of this I realize that I was crate digging back then as a kid. You know? Like checking out who was on what label and stuff.

HHC: Now what about your beginnings as an activist, Star Records, how you met Iz and decided to start the Dereliks?

HB: That's a pretty long one. (laughs) Well I was djing and I just really got the bug to want to make the music I heard so I saved up my money and got a Roland 626. Back then the 808 Bass sound was the thing so I would try and run the Low Tom sound through the mixer and make these wack drum patterns. But you couldn't tell me then that I wasn't about to blow up.

So I kind of just put the music making aspirations on hold and just kept spinning. This one place I would buy records at all the time called Star records basically was the hub of hip hop for years. I never expected or thought I would ever work there. But it was one of the first DJ Counter models so you had to give utmost respect to the person working the DJ counter. It was like they were the Guru of all music information, you know what I mean? So one day I hear they are hiring and I came in and the owner loved me. There I was thinking that it was because of my music knowledge but it was because I was a big guy and she thought I would look pretty scary behind the counter (Laughing) Later I find out that it was actually a combination of the two. You know what I knew and my stature. Then I found out the person I was replacing was Peanut Butter Wolf. He wasn't PB Wolf then but you know what I mean.

So as I am working there the experience is priceless you know what I mean? I mean everyone came through. Artists on labels, upcoming artists, you name it. I was the "hip hop" guy there so I got to hang out with a lot of people I don't think I would have ever met. So while I was there I got back into making music by going to studios that had the equipment I couldn't afford and working with my good friend Ed Main on music. It was a big progression from the old drum machine days but it still was missing something.

I always talked to a bunch of people and one day this dude came in who knew I was doing music said he knew of these two dudes who need music. I met them and the other guy was ok but Iz had this rap he did, that coincidentally became our first song. That blew me away. I felt bad but I got with Iz and said I could see working with him but I didn't see much of a future with the two of them as a group. He actually had only started working with the dude maybe a month before that so he didn't feel very committed to staying with him.

So we kind of just looked at how we were as dudes and we realized that we didn't really fit in with what was going on at the time and we were cool with that so we were trying to come up with a word that said all of that. So that's how we came up with the Dereliks. So we just clicked right away. It was weird because it just all came together like that you know?

HHC: As the Dereliks you released the infamous "A Turn On The Wheel... EP" which is now very sought after (I saw a copy reaching 110$ a few days ago on eBay). You released it on a quite small label, Low Self Discipline, and I was wondering if the opportunity of signing with a bigger label didn't show up? Plus you had contact with people like Peanut Butter Wolf, etc.. Same with the terrific "Change For The Bus Ride Home" album released on Sublevel... It's a classic to me and not too many people know about it.

HB: Yeah it is a trip people want to pay that much for it! I don't know man I mean I'm torn because it's flattering but I just think people tend to try and capitalize on things when it's never the artist that gets the credit or compensation for it. But man, I wish there was a record I wanted so bad to pay $100 for (laughing)

Anyways we put that out through this dude named Brandon who found out about us from a demo review from Bomb Hip Hop Magazine. He was the A&R for some label and when they passed on us he basically quit and believed in it so much he wanted to put it out. So basically what we set out to do was to put out a classic piece of material that would be a sought after item. So to actually do what you set out to do means a lot. you know what I'm saying? Especially since this music game is so hit or miss.

We definitely had labels approach us but we would have ended up like all those other groups that came out with one album got dropped and never heard of again. I mean who knows maybe it would have blown on a whole other level but I like how we did it. It just means more when you can accomplish your goals on you own you know?

HHC: What happened with Iz? What do you think of his strange 'redeployment' with Tha High? Is there any chance to see another Dereliks album one day?

HB: I think Iz and I both just got worn down by it all. We were doing a lot of big things but not getting paid for it. We would pack a club to the point that they had to shut it down for fire hazard reasons with people waiting outside and get paid pizza. We weren't very business savvy then. It made us more artistic but made us more bitter at the end of the day.

I'm trying to see a situation that Iz and I could come together on but it just doesn't seem possible. I mean first and foremost there was a lot of stuff recorded in between this time and "A turn on the Wheel" that no one heard. How could anyone understand where we would go unless you knew where we've been?

Me and Iz were like brothers. While we were doing the music he was living in my mom's house and he was like family. But life went on. I did my thing and Iz moved out and back to the old neighborhood and got with Tha High. Traxamillion who did the beats for that album and also for Kaek da Sneak's “Superhyphy" was part of our crew back in the day. We were grooming these kids and they were pretty successful for what they did. So it wasn't like Iz just went off the deep end..he was just making neighborhood music. That man has a daughter and had to feed her dude so I mean you gotta do what you gotta to put food on the table. I don't doubt he could still bring but there's been a lot alof time and space between us so I just don't see it happening again.

So I think Tha High was an expression of that. It's like you find out that your girlfriend lied to you. The one you love the most, you want to go out and just take it out on all the other females for being hurt by it all. So personally I don't fault him at all for how he handled it. My coping mechanism was to close off and just make thousands of songs and never let them be heard for years. I just didn't think anyone deserved to hear it. But I can say at least he never stopped which I can't say for me you know? I mean I've been blessed that when I was ready to return hip hop welcomed me back way more than I ever expected, so I look forward to letting people hear what they should have heard long ago and what I am doing now.

HHC: In the same vein you did a bunch of shows with Blackalicious, Black Eyed Peas and De La Soul during the 90es, they all sound quite different now... What do you think about it?

HB: I hope I don't sound the same now that I did then.(laughs) I mean there's always an element of the person's original form in what hey are currently but I mean as long as you don't get stuck in one state of mind I support it. Stagnation is the worse thing someone could do to themselves.

That being said there's always something magical about someone's first piece of work you know? It's when they are the hungriest and artistically free. If you can maintain that attitude of doing your craft like no one is listening so you don't cater to what ever you think people might want to hear it's always best.

But if you had told me that one day my kids would go nuts over a Black Eyed Peas song I'd laugh at you back then. But they made their sound accessible to a wider audience and I can't fault them for that. It may not be the route I would take intentionally but if it happened and I knew I was just being me and not formula based then I'd be able to live with myself with that type of success. I mean look at Arrested development man. Speech basically sent up a prayer over a dope beat and it blew. So you can't ever really say.

HHC: Your sound is really focused on the perfect loop with the perfect beat, so let's talk about records... What credits do you give to cratedigging as a producer and dj? What's the highest price you put on a record? Any nice anecdotes about cratedigging?

HB: We'll definitely Peanut Butter Wolf because he put me on to Ultimate Beats and Breaks. It was nonchalant but after he told me about those I knew all I had to do is find all the records that weren't on there you know what I'm saying? But other than that man I've gotten so many records just given to me for whatever reason from folks who were actually there. It wasn't like I went on a hunt for the samples they found me. Most of the stuff I didn't even realize I had until listening to other tracks on the records way later. That's how the FemaleFun project came about.

The most I paid for a record was $75 for a Sun Ra record. The 12" of Nuclear War about 7 years ago. But other than that I just don't see putting a price on good music that high. I mean some of the biggest sampled classics you can find in the dollar bin. It kind of takes the fun out of it to pay all that money for something though. It's like cheating. I'd rather tell a story about how I found this record or that piece.

I still defy anyone to name all of the samples on “A turn on the wheel" though. That's what's been such a treat for me about it because most stuff on there no one knows where it came from. I like to keep people guessing like that. I did get a few offers of money to let folks know what the sources of some of the samples were. (Laughs) That between me and the records baby!

HHC: Can you tell us more about "Nobody Beats The Boog"?

HB: Best way to describe it is me bragging about some records I have. Not to be conceited but it's all part of it. It also serves as a primer to those who never heard the originals. Most seasoned diggers would know a good majority of them but I know they don't know them all. I put some extra goodies on there. But I fully hoped and expected people to sample from it because I would rather hear some good music for a change. (Laughing)

It's just a fun Cd you know. You can play it in the background or loud too. I got a person who wrote me who said she uses it for her dance class that she teaches her kids and they love it. Another person said it's like a hip hop trivial pursuit game.

It's one aspect of me and definitely not the only one but it has opened a lot of doors for me definitely. So thanks again to Peter and DJ Fisher for putting it out.

HHC: Your type of sound is quite respectful of the early 90es era in hip hop.. Do you also listen to new kinds of hh, more experimental or synthetic stuff like Anticon, Def Jux, etc? What do you think about it?

HB: I mean I am a product of my past but I don't dwell there. I do listen to all of the new stuff as well. It all moves me. I just like that people have taken the ball and ran with it. I can say though I would love to remix some of these artists just to get a different take on it. No disrespect to what they've done though.

HHC: To me you can almost consider hip hop as a kind of religion with his purists, extremists, codes, holy bibles/albums... It's like some people pledged allegiance to the hip hop lifestyle. Is hip hop in the center of your life? What importance does it takes in your everyday life? Do you ever had to do some sacrifice because of it?

HB: No not any more. I can't let it consume. There's way too many factors and other people out of my control to make it a disappointment. But it is a great method of escape for me. Music is just a sanctuary in any form and although it is a segment of my life it can never be the only thing. I would be too one dimensional.

HHC: Now tell me about your best and worst experiences linked to hip hop.

HB: Best experiences were just when it was just fun and exciting. When me and Iz were at our height and we were living the life that was just a time that I wish never ended. Before the politics and business got into it all it was great. Also being respected by your peers and people I looked up to was cool.

The worst experiences were just losing friends because of it. Also the waiting aspect of it all to see what will happen next.

HHC: What about your future projects... do you still have any ambition about a career in the music industry?

HB: I'm hoping to not stop again. I have a few things brewing. Most notably I'm composing the source and score for this film called “The Fool" out hopefully late 2006. A couple projects with O.U.O. of Zimbabwe Legit, one with Cadence of Raw Produce, and (hopefully) Pep Love from the Hieroglyphics. Lots of other surprises.

HHC: What advice would you give to young people that want to start a career in hip hop?

HB: Keep your nose clean, never stop, and don't burn bridges.

HHC: Ok, thank you very much for your answers. Any last words?

HB: Reputation is the cornerstone of success.

Interview by Pseudzero
November 2005

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