Years To Build – DJ Ivory of the P Brothers
Saturday December 25th 2004,
Filed under: Interviews
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With all this talk of kids jumping on the ’88 rap bandwagon, it seems strange that nobody has bothered to ask DJ Ivory his views on the whole phenomonen, considering his two Hear No Evil mixes seem to have had a such a large impact (I somehow managed to resist calling this piece “Speak No Evil”, as it was just too predictable). I spoke with him in September, and he had a lot of knowledge to share after twenty years in the game. Together with Paul S, the P Brothers have released the Heavy Bronx Experience series, worked with Cappo on his Spazz The World LP, teamed-up with Donald D for The Zulu Beat CD and most recently dropped a single featuring New York hard-rock Iman T.H.U.G. Combine that with years of putting it down with DJ sets around accross the globe, and there’s no doubt that these guys have been puttting in some serious work.

Robbie: When did you first catch the hip-hop bug?

Ivory: The end of ’82, beginning of ’83. Kurtis Blow came over early and played in Nottingham. When hip-hop first came to England we were 13 year old kids, picking up on it quickly – breaking and everything. Rock City was the first hip-hop club in Nottingham, and Rock City was the first local crew, they went on tour with Grandmaster Flash all around Europe. Because of that, we used to get a lot of people coming to the club, like Bambatta and them. The first time Bambatta brought the Zulu Nation over and played at our club here – which was unusual you know ’cause these sort of people just normally went to London, we’re like two hours away – that the first exposure we had, when “The Message” came out, Malcolm McLaren with “Buffalo Girls”.

R: So when things were really starting to pop off. Because I didn’t really start hearing stuff until ’87 so I feel like I missed out on a lot of the really good early stuff in a way….

I: I dunno, cause to be honest with you, me and Paul were talking about this the other week….we were saying that by the time we heard hip-hop here it was kind of over in the Bronx. That whole era of breakbeats being cut up and everything was coming to a close, and the things that we heard like “Planet Rock”, “Al’Nayyfish” and all those kind of things, which were the first kind of songs that we heard, was a completely different science to what hip-hop actually was. So what we were hearing, y’know things like Captain Rock and Aleem “Release Yourself”, we thought that’s what it was, and that was completely different to someone cutting up two copies of “Catch A Groove” and rhyming on it-

R: So it was more of the radio/club kinda sound?

I: No, it was just different. Electro and everything is a big part of hip-hop, but that’s everything that we heard. All the early mix tapes from over here were all that kind of tempo – 120 beats per minute, electro and drum machines. The first thing that we heard that was really like “hip-hop” was probably Spoonie Gee‘s “Love Rap” and Double D and Steinski‘s “Lesson Three”, just for the fact that it was breakbeats and that kinda thing. We were just talking about how this and saying how strange it was that what got us into hip-hop is completely different to what hip-hop actually is. It wasn’t really until ’87, when you’re saying you got into it, that we really knew about breakbeats and the early sound. The tapes that we got of Afrika Islam‘s “Zulu Beat” show, we didn’t get ’till ’86, ’87, and that was a completely different sound to everything we’d heard-

R: So that kinda opened up your eyes-

I: Yeah, it was like James Brown “Give It Up and Turn It Loose” mixed with “Planet Rock”, and then maybe “Johnny The Fox” in there, it was like “What the hell?” This was different to anything that we’d heard but that was actually it! That was the proper hip-hop!

R: Like the park jam flavour.

I: Yeah, it was strange. For the media – it’s easy man. To have someone spinning on their head to fast music and everything, that’s easy to latch on to. But it’s very difficult for them to promote someone cutting up two copies of “Johnny The Fox” and rapping over it.

R: Because there’s no gimmick aspect to it.

I: Exactly.

R: Since you touched on the media, I was just thinking back when I started listening to stuff, NME magazine used to cover a fair bit of hip-hop….they used to have some pretty hardcore articles, like things with Just Ice

I: The first ever picture that I saw of Ultramagnetic was in NME

R: Yeah they used to have the Westwood chart-

I: Yeah. They had a picture of KRS-One with Scott La Rock…they had dungarees on. When they were first hitting with “The Bridge Is Over”, there was this picture with Ultra, all of them, in the background…and I’ll never forget, it said “Scott La Rock and BDP with Ultramagnetic” like it was part of their crew! They also had a big feature on breakbeats in there, about 1986, they had a four page article on Downstairs Records and that kind of thing.

R: That chart used to have stuff like “Wrath of Kane” before it came it and you’d be just fiendin’ for it.

I: If you look at it, in that sort of year, there were no hip-hop magazines….if you didn’t live in New York, and even if you did, it wasn’t off the shelf. You couldn’t just go and consume hip-hop. It wasn’t like you could turn on the TV and turn to the “hip-hop” channel or just go out and buy a hip-hop magazine. It was kind of exciting. If someone had a tape from New York – you’d remember yourself – it’d be like “Wow!, they’ve got a Marley Marl tape! Please give me a copy of that” and it’d be like “No. No.” You’d be fiendin for it.

R: You’d have to beg for it. This kid went over there and came back with a few Red Alert tapes from the ’88 era, and I still listen to those to this day. They had stuff like “This Cut’s Got Flavor” which I couldn’t get over here. I’m still finding records from that era like “Oh man, that was on that tape!”.

I: It’s a combination of things really. If you look at how old you were then, everything by rights is gonna matter more to you. I look at kids nowadays that are that same sorta age, 17 or 18 or whatever, they’re listening to something like Dead Prez….Scorsayzee for example. A lot of the issues that he was touching on when we were working on him, he really thought that he was the first person ever to see things like that – the New World Order, the fact that there’s oppression, revolution –

R: Like that “Great Britain” track you guys did?

I: Yeah, but even before that. All these things like converting to Islam and everything. He felt like he was the first person to ever go through that, like “this is revolutionary”. I’m not sonning him in saying that, but what I’m saying is he didn’t realize that we’d lived through Public Enemy and all these sort of things, and when you’re 18 you’re naturally minded like that. You think revolution and “Fuck the system”, it’s just an age thing. And I’m sure before us there was others, everyone had their “Message” sort of thing. It’s just that at that age, in the same way that hip-hop’s kind of magical to you, you have a different outlook on things.

I: I see a lot of people that are into House music and whatever now, or have got kids now and are not involved in the scene, but speak to them about hip-hop – or like you said the Red Alert show or something like that – you see their eyes light up. These could be people that are completely removed from it now, but hip-hop’s so powerful that if it’s touched you at one point, you can never let it go. It grabs hold of your heart. I met someone today that I hadn’t seen in about 15 years, a guy called Delroy who used to be a deejay back in ’85/’86, go to Rock City and everything, and I was saying “Are you still into it?” and he said “Nah, not really, I’m married, I’ve got kids”. And we got talking about it, and he was saying “Yeah! We need to put on a jam! We need to get everyone there! Master Scratch, P Brothers!” and he’s talking about people from 20 years ago. He just immediately got excited and he was going “Yeah! Yeah! I’m gonna get into it tonight. I’m gonna dig out all my old tapes, my Zulu Beat tapes, and listen to them!” It’s powerful, man, it’s really powerful. If you’ve been touched by hip-hop when you’re 18, it goes really deep. You know what I’m talkin’ about?

R: Definitely. It’s a real spiritual thing…when I first had my daughter, I stopped making beats for a while, but I felt like something was missing….I just had to get back into the studio!

I: Even when you sit there sometimes and hip-hop music is so terrible, and seems corrupt and this awful thing, and you think to yourself “What have I got in common with this? This is not me, this is not hip-hop, why do I still want to involved in this?” and you think to yourself “Well, what else do I do? What would fill this void?” It’s almost like you’ve got a moral responsibility to do it right. Especially when you’ve got kids. I know that I want my son to grow up and know what hip-hop’s all about. I’m not trying to change the world with it or anything but I think if people our age just give up and say “Fuck it. It’s all 50 Cent now. It’s all down South”, then whoever had the master plan to make this all corrupt and fucked, it’s almost like they’ve won.

I: I feel passionate about it. I went back out to New York a few months ago and I hooked up with my man Lucky Strike from the Zulu Nation council….and it’s inspiring to see those guys, and they’re older gods – I’m in my mid-thirties – and they’re a generation above me, and they just do it on a spiritual level. All us older people, it’s almost our fault, because we kept everything to ourselves it’s like we haven’t handed it down.

R: Gotta teach the young dudes what’s going on.

I: You have to! Don’t get it twisted – that whole exclusiveness and having shit other people haven’t got – that is part of hip-hop. I don’t care what anyone says. That is part of the culture, and anyone who says it isn’t doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about. On the other hand, you can teach people… it’s a mentality, it’s an approach to it. You can moan all day long saying “All the rules have been forgotten…being individual’s been forgotten”…of course it has! This is nothing new, man. It’s been fucked for years.

R: It’s the computer age as well. You can just download a few programs and a few drum beats and the next thing you know you’re a “hip-hop producer”….kids don’t have to pay the dues or get the right equipment anymore. In one aspect it’s good because it gives people a chance to be creative with it, but they skip so many steps they don’t know what the hell’s going on.

I: True. The only thing that annoys me – and the P Brothers – is the skipping of steps. I’m down for anyone getting decks early or being able to make beats early, but just do it to yourself until your ready. I don’t understand how people can hear stuff and think to themselves “This is so amazing that I’m gonna put a record out now”. What is it that your hearing that I’m not? Not to disrespect anyone personally, but you don’t immediately pick up a tennis racquet on day one, and on day two you say “Right, I’m gonna play Bjorn Borg now.” You wait until your good enough. You practice and practice, and maybe you’re the best in your school after a while, but you’re not going to step up to some guy who’s a Dan at tennis and say “Right, I’m gonna battle you now” until you’re ready. But in hip-hop it’s completely different. GZA came over a couple of months ago, and everyone is trying to get on stage like “Yeah! Let’s battle this guy!”.

R: [in disbelief] Oh no.

I: I thought “What are you doing?! Do you know who this guy is? Have you ever listened to Liquid Swords? Have you ever heard that shit? And you’re getting up there on some “1,2 buckle my shoe” shit?”

R: They’re stepping up on some 8 Mile shit like “Yo! You’re a homo!”.

I: Fa’real, exactly that. And the same with deejaying. Play your position, homeboy. Wait until your ready. I’m not going to discourage anyone from either getting into it, or battling, I’m down for both those things. Particularly when it comes to releasing records, don’t put a record out if you’re not ready.

R: That’s like the whole American independent scene. Everyone that puts out a record, it’s like their first song is a record.

I: You’re as much a part of the problem as you are the solution when you’re doing that. When I walk into a record shop, – for the first time ever since a few years ago – I’d rather someone came up to me a told me what the hot new tune was, instead of trying to be in the shop and find it. I had too many days of going in and saying “What’s out?” and the guy says “Oh yeah there’s some good stuff out”. Go through about 20 records and think to myself “What the fuck is this shit?” DJ Hungry and MC Big Teeth or something…I’d rather I didn’t even go in the record shop and someone told me “Oh my god, have you heard the new Ghostface?” or whatever, and then go and get it. I’d rather be introduced to it now, rather than for the sake of trying to keep ahead. It’s depressing, like when you go to a bad hip-hop jam. You come home with you’re head in your hands thinking “Why am into this?”.

R: Especially if you shell out dough to get in.

I: Yeah. All you wack people stop putting records out….

R: Speaking on equipment for a minute, I know you’re rocking the MPC, but when you first started getting into the beat science did you have any really ancient equipment?

I: A lotta of the early keyboard samplers we used to fuck about on. As far as owning stuff, I used to use a studio called the ACA Center, the Afro-Carribean Center, a local project kinda place. They had an S-1000 when they first came in. But as far as seriously getting into it, it was the MPC for me. I was lucky, ’cause I was kinda broke around those times, and my wife just bought me one. And I thought “Wow”, that was it from there really. Paul’s got an MPC as well. The thing about the MPC is that if your a deejay and you have a certain mentality and a certain approach, when you hear something it needs to be instant. The thing with those modular samplers like the S-1000 is there’s a lot of fucking around involved. The same with computers. With the MPC, within hearing what you want to use, you’re in there and it’s on pads…it’s instant and you can have something going within a matter of seconds…the basis of it. Once you’ve got the idea in your head, you can have it at your fingers. It’s more spontaneous. I think for people who are originally deejays, it’s absolutely perfect.

R: So then do you mix into a board or do you track into computers?

I: Most of the stuff you’ve heard [the Heavy Bronx stuff] we mixed through an analogue board. Just used some old valve compressors to help with the sound. There’s a guy called Mark Gamble, an engineer extroidinaire who’s really, really underrated. He’s a genius – the Paul C of Nottingham. He’s an old electro guy, and he actually made very early House records as well so he’s got a good ear for music. His equipment’s incredible, he’s got a lot of the very early keyboards that came out and everything. We mix down in his studio, and he just changed over about six months ago to a digital desk, so we’re just experimenting with that at the moment. We weren’t very happy about it at first, but there’s quite a few advantages to it to tell you the truth. The Iman Thug track we did was done on a digital desk, and that sounds rawer than most of Spazz The World.

R: With Hear No Evil, that definitely made a big impression, and a lot of people are coming out with these ’80s CD’s all of a sudden. Do you think that people are riding the dilz? Or is that just the evolution?

I: I’ve got mixed feelings about it. I can’t have exclusive rights to that kind of thing – music’s not like that – but for us ’88 is in important year. I was 18…it was a beautiful year. But at the same time, it’s just one small piece of what we’re all about. I’d say the Zulu Beat mix that we did is more how I approach hip-hop – mentally – than Hear No Evil. I stand behind the Hear No Evils 100%, there’s nothing on there that’s wack or on there because it’s rare, it’s records that I like that didn’t get recognition. It started off as that funk thing like I was saying before, part of hip-hop is the whole break beat thing of “I’m gonna take the labels off, play shit you haven’t got, I’m gonna take you out.” You know what I’m sayin? That was the attitude. It was around the time people started talking this and that about Paul C and everything that really didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. I’m thinking “You’re ten years younger than me, what do you know about Paul C, you wasn’t there when Critical Beatdown came out.” On one level it was good, because new hip-hop music was a little bit wack when I put those out, and a lot of people were really into it ’cause that was their era, but songs that they hadn’t heard. That was the main thing, and then there was the fun aspect of not putting track titles, but it kinda blew up into this weird kinda monster where all these Ebay kids were running around, talking this and that, just buying up shit by MC Fudge and DJ Sissorcuts or something that was complete wack-

R:…just ’cause it was from ’88.

I: Yeah, that wasn’t the object of it, man. It was just a small thing that turned into this weird, nerdy thing that’s so far removed from we’re all about.

R: The train-spotting record collector.

I: Yeah, that whole thing is just so wack! It’s really fucking gay shit! So we took a step back from that. It kinda left a weird taste about that era, when that’s on of the most beautiful eras. As far as I see it – and this isn’t some big-headed shit – I did that, if you wanna put out one of those type of things and beat the Hear No Evil‘s, please go ahead and do it. I’ve put that to bed. That’s done, and we’re moving on. If you really want to know what we’re about, rather than buy any of our records, buy The Zulu Beat.

R: Word. That was the next step up.

I: That was the spiritual one for me. I love making beats, I love doing that shit, but if we never did nothing else and someone said “What would stand behind? what’s really The P Brothers?” I’d say The Zulu Beat. I think that’s the most beautiful thing we ever did. Although it’s a dedication to the Islam show – the whole selection and the approach, the breakbeats and the type of hip-hop we’re playing, that’s really us. That’s what we’re all about.

R: So you’re working on the album The Castle?

I: We’re working on two at the moment. One called The Castle, one called The Gas.

R: Is that gonna have some New York kids on there or is more of a Nottingham style?

I: What we’ve recorded so far is mainly New Yorkers. We’re doing something with Milano right now, and provided it comes off, we’re about to do something with Smiley The Ghetto Child as well. We’re not getting crazy rich off what we do. The whole reason we put out records in the first place was because there weren’t that many records that we wanted to hear. We were fed up. It’s unusual for people to start making records at our age. You should be 18 and just firing, but at least we’ve got a lot of experience and knowledge to put into our records. 45 King is old, man, but he’s on fire. His whole mentality with deejaying is incredible. 45 King really puts it down now days, and his beats are still firing. He sent me over a home video he did, where he filmed himself cutting up beats in his crib. This video’s incredible, man. He really cuts up beats nice.

R: Cutting up 7’s and that?

I: He cuts up 7’s really hardcore. He’s got none of them in covers, he’s got a whole tower of records like they mean nothing. I’m not into that whole 7 inch scene at all. I think that’s the wackest sort of thing, this whole “million pounds for a 7 inch” sort of thing – it’s bullshit. People would have a heart attack if they saw my 7 inches – they’re all glued onto Grease albums so I can cut them up….but he’s got them in a whole tower, like a Scooby-Doo sandwich kinda thing-

R: [I piss myself laughing]

I: – cutting them up, throwing them down, put the next one on. 45 King is really sick, he’s an inspiration.

R: As far as production, everyone always says “Marley was the man” but 45 King and Ced Gee were doing even more hardcore stuff. A lot of people seem to forget that.

I: Yeah. Marley’s a complete genius, you can’t overstate that…

R: Of course. But he’s not the only one.

I: Exactly. Marley wasn’t really fucking with horns the way 45 King was. He’s the horn genius. You couldn’t have had the first Showbiz album and stuff like that if it wasn’t for 45 King – end of story. It just couldn’t have happened. It was the precursor to it.

I: When you’re in New York, it’s a completely different ball game. It’s more real to them than you know. All this nerdy bullshit is a million miles from what’s going down. The Zulu’s are putting on Thursday night jams again, people are coming out, they’re educating the kids, no matter what it looks on the surface of New York, a lot of them are not into this down South, 50 Cent and all that – they’re going out and having proper jams again representing the whole culture. They may get only a few hundred kids out there – which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s full circle again really, and it’s really spiritual. The Zulu Nation anniversary this year is gonna be something special, the 31st anniversary.

R: So you’re a Zulu member?

I: Yeah. On many levels it’s regimental and you’ve got all these people saying “I’m this” or “I’m head of this chapter”. I’ve never really looked at it like that. It’s almost like religion where you have people that try to be in the church and try to be a minister and feel like they’re closer to god in that way, and then you have people that are religious in their own way. They do it from their home and they have their own relationship with god. I’m like that about the Zulu Nation. It’s a spiritual thing, it inspires me to move forward. I’m not interested in trying to make power moves like “Yes, I’m this rank in the UK Zulu Nation”. All that is bullshit, man.

R: That was the kinda thing that I was a bit wary of.

I: Like the Jungle Brothers said, “We must take on this Bambatta mission”. That’s it really. That whole mental attitude to it. The real Zulu’s know it’s not about power moves, it’s about how you spiritually feel about hip-hop, and trying to move it forward in the right direction. There’s a big movement in the States for that at the moment. You only hear things on one level through rap music that’s coming out. But even little things, like when Nas came out with “Made You Look” and all the proper, deep records coming out again.

It’s a shame with a lot of people not from New York, because they have good ideas, some of the production’s alright, but….they just can’t rap! I mean Outkast – everything about them’s so right, they’re so individual and they couldn’t give a fuck. I really like everything about Outkast, but they can’t rap! They just can’t put it down like New Yorkers. It’s such a shame, ’cause that’s how hip-hop should be…kinda weird, dress how you want…they’re really spiritual and standing alone. When everyone was really up on Outkast with the early stuff I was like “No, no, no”, but lately, I’ve thought to myself “Yeah, they’re everything hip-hop should be – apart from the sound”. The beats are alright, the singings alright, but if they sounded like Tragedy

R: That’d be some hot shit.

I: I just like the individualness of them. They are more hip-hop than New Yorkers – apart from they just can’t rap like them.

R: Speaking of singing, what ever happened to the TJ Swan album?

I: [Laughs] They made it. There are master tapes of it, I know that for a fact.

R: Ahh, crazy. I wonder if they had Kane or Biz dropping cameos on there.

I: I’ve never heard it. My boy Pritt from over here – he’s a film maker – he has made a film that’s gonna shock the world. Fuck all this nerdy, diggin’ in the crates, let’s interview so and so [puts on best Poindexter voice] “Err, what do you think about the prices on Ebay of breakbeats?”. All that’s boring. That’s dead, man. Wait ’till you see this video. It’s got Marley Marl in his house talking about the TJ Swan tapes, he’s got Ultra talking about the realness….he has got the footage that’s gonna change things. This is the hip-hop film that should have been made ages ago. He’s been working on it for ages…he came over and filmed us, before we put the first record out.

R: So is it a Style Wars for music? Is it on that kinda level?

I: Yeah. It’s got all the original heads from over here like Bizness, Cutmaster Swift…talking about when Whiz Kid came over here and DJ Cosmic Jam battled him, all these kinds of stories. It’s really deep science, the footage is incredible. You’ve got Finesse rapping the lyrics from “Halftime” when it’s on, saying “Can’t you hear it? Can’t you hear what this is? This is the best! Listen to how this kid’s talking!” Everyone’s really passionate ’cause Pritt’s a real dude, he’s really humble, not one of these guys that goes around talking all this and that, trying to prove themselves. He’s in Jazzy Jay‘s basement – they’re both really drunk – and Jay’s on his decks, just talking…by just being relaxed and chilled he gets people to really talk properly about real stuff, rather than what they think people want on a hip-hop documentary.

[Talk soons turns to Red Alerts amazing first album]

I: Moe Luv was over here recently. We deejayed with him a couple of weeks ago. It was incredible. He’s such a nice guy, but he’s really hardcore.

R: Was he playing breaks?

I: He came out with Ghostface, then went into “Trans-Euro Express”, and we were like “Yes!”. He was really skilled with his mixing. We cut-up breakbeats for an hour and a half – rock breaks and everything – and he just sat there like “Yeah!”. This is a guy, who, like the rest of us, thinks Ghostface is as good as Marley Marl, so there were no cliched records. He just played what he wanted. By the end, we blew-up the sound system in the club. At quarter to three, we completely melted it down. It got louder and louder and louder and this big sound system completely crashed.

R: Ha! Nice work. Do you tour around doing deejaying much?

I: After Cappo’s album came out we did loads and loads of shows around Europe. It’s good and everything but your in straight up and down rap clubs all the time, and it’s a certain type of crowd – there’s no girls there, people looking bummy and everything. We always give 100%, you’ve really gotta shock out, because people are coming to see you, but it was just kinda alien. We play breakbeats, reggae….what I would call a proper hip-hop selection. Most hip-hop tunes are non-hip-hop, really. It’s just the way in which you play them and your approach to them. There’s something special about deejaying…people coming up, saying “What the hell is that? I was expecting you to play Freddie Foxxx or something all night…can you write that track down?” People partying all night, but not in a cheesy way – not playing the easy party tunes – trying to challenge it a little bit and play records that people have never heard before, but sound instant to them. That’s a real skill in deejaying. It’s easy to go out there and play Sugar Bear, Ace & Action and all these things, it’s kinda tired…as good as those records are.

R: It’s better to play Sugar Bear than just play “Come Clean”, then “Who Got The Props”…that’s the kinda scene we’ve got down here. It’s like “Alright, I need the top thirty records of the early ’90’s, and I’ll just play all the hits!”

I: It’s play by numbers, isn’t it? It kinda puts you off, a bit like soul DJ’s who play Cheryl Lynn “Got To Be Real” and then “Funky Sensation”. As good as those records are, I’m like “You’re killing this record for me. Everytime I hear you play, it’s the same shit”. I try to change the records in my box every time I deejay in a different town, so that I’m enjoying it. Me and Paul deejayed in Sweden a few years ago, and we asked the promoter “What do you want us to bring? What kind of tip is everyone on? We really want to smash it.” And he was really cool, he just said “Yo, just play what you wanna play. As long as your enjoying it, cause when the crowd sees that your enjoying it, they’ll be into it.” And I thought that’s really true. If you’re not enjoying deejaying, what’s the point in buying new records or records that are big to play ’em if you’re just gonna sit there, looking stiff. A deejay’s such an important job. If you can guide people into what you feel is good music….there’s nothing better than going out actually and not deejaying, going to see a DJ who’s really good, you go home and you feel relly good about things.

R: That doesn’t happen to me much lately man.

I: It’s true. It doesn’t happen a lot at all. It’s the same as we were saying about people putting records out, these people just buy turntables – or CD decks nowdays – and suddenly their a deejay.

R: You can just connect you iPod.

I: Yeah exactly. It’s gonna get worse, ’cause you’re gonna have people who download every record that’s ever been, have no idea of what records they should be playing, but they’ve got everything there. What are your thoughts on this whole MP3/deejaying thing?

R: It’s pretty weak. But at the same time-

I: Practically, it’s good. When Jazzy Jay came over here the last time – and Biz as well – it was two CD turntables, and they didn’t have to carry two record boxes. They had everything on a couple of CD’s. How do I feel about this? Is it cheating? I know they’ve got the records as well, so….these new CD turntable decks, on one level you can do everything you can do on a turntable – every single thing – but it feels wrong. Why does it feel wrong? You can’t stop evolution.

R: If it’s a choice between having a book of CD’s or four crates of vinyl, then I can see the use, especially if you’re touring around.

I: When we’ve toured before, Paul’s got back and his legs look like bloody sausage meat, from crates bangin’ on ’em. He doesn’t work out or anything, so his body took a battering, to the point where we had to stop at airports and sit down for hours, he couldn’t physically go anymore.

R: [laughing]

I: It’s an endurance test!

R: That’s why the crates are good. You’ve gotta put a bit of blood, sweat and tears into it.

I: Heh, that’s a good way of looking at it. No pain, no gain.

We’re all having kids, we’ve got a lot on our shoulders at the moment…it sounds like a corny thing, but we’re all a part of history. Just from being there, you’ve seen hip-hop evolve. You’ve seen it from the beginning in Australia, so you’re gonna have a different view on things than me from England, which is different to a guy in the Bronx. We’re all part of history, man. You can’t blame a lotta these sixteen year olds for being wack – it’s not their fault. They haven’t lived through it. Imagine Kurtis Blow – how must he have felt about…not Rakim – because that’s an obvious progression – but something like Superlover Cee, which is incredibly dope to us, how must they have felt? Imagine how different that must have sounded to how Kurtis Blow was putting it down. Must he have thought “Hang on, hip-hop’s gone really wack! Listen to this, it’s slow, the guy’s just talking about his gold chain”. I wonder if they thought those incredible records were wack, because they had a different perspective on things throughout that age. You know how we listen to things now, you hear Nelly and just think “Oh my god, that’s the worst thing ever” and you’re looking at thses sixteen year-olds going crazy. You try and play them Ultra, man, they look at you like you need locking up in a mental home, like “What the hell is that?!”

R: Even when Ultra came out, they used to diss Run-DMC

I: – and Slick Rick, LL Cool J

R: And that seems crazy to me…how could you diss LL’s first record?

I: That’s good though, man. There’s not enough dissing. All these wack battles and things, that’s not real dissing. People aren’t disrespectful enough nowdays. You should hear a wack record and just say “That is wack”.

R: That’s what made “The Bridge Is Over”. If [Mister] Magic hadn’t said “Get the fuck outta here with your bullshit demo!” they would never have made – sorry, I mean “South Bronx”…

I: Exactly. Some of the most beautiful records have come out of hate. I just think people need to be more truthful. If somethings wack, say it’s wack! Don’t be like “Oh, don’t say that because the guy’s trying his best”.

R: “It’s good for UK hip-hop, it’s good for Aussie hip-hop”. That’s crap.

I: “Oh but their from England so you’ve got to support then to grow the scene”…Fuck that shit! I don’t care if it’s from Australia or Japan or anything. If it’s dope, it’s dope. If it’s not, it’s not. And tell ’em! Because they’re never gonna know. If you’re telling everyone they’re amazing, then how are they gonna get any better? I know if someone said to me “You’re stuff’s wack” I’d think “Fuck you” and I’d go straight home and make a beat and say “Check this shit out!”


The new P Brothers single, Got It On Me featuring Milano / Scriptures featuring Smiley The Ghetto Child, is out in January 2005. Cop it.

“Come On Down” P Brothers featuring Sadat X, G.S. & Eddie Cheeba (Live Hardcore Worldwide Pt. 2: The Best of the P Brothers CD)

For more about the P Brothers, check out Heavy Bronx

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25 Comments so far
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What are you fucking morons talking about? Milano has nothing to do with Outcast. Did you listen to his lyrics? Have you ever heard of Big Pun or Kool G Rap? That’s the league this kid is in! Showbiz (DITC/WILDLIFE) and Big Pun put him in the studio for the first time and Pun said “Two of the NICEST niggas unite as one” on their duet together (“Where Ya At?” from DITC album–check the DJ Premier remix!). This isn’t able retro Hip Hop….this is about REAL HIP HOP. For those of you young bucks who have grown up on Master P……WAKE THE FUCK UP!!! As far as digging goes, I agree….get off of Ebay and get in the streets. That’s a message from the KING OF BEATS! P BROTHERS are coming up.

Comment by T-RAY 02.05.05 @

milano > outkast?!

i like ivory’s tapes but honestly, his visions’ a little fucked up.

Comment by noz 12.28.04 @

I don’t like Outkast either. Then again, I stopped getting Rap-A-Lot albums after Odd Squad, so I’m no expert.

Comment by Robbie 12.29.04 @

whats up robbie

Comment by ivory 12.30.04 @

Nice interview, man. Ivory’s a bit older than me, but I came up on the ’88 hip-hop, too (I was in 7th grade at the time) and am kind of conflicted at kids now grabbing anything and everything that’s out there.

Hip-hop’s one of those things that you half-expected people to never age… I mean, really, who in 88 could have imagined Chuck D being 44 and still putting tracks out? But we’re getting older, so we’re seeing a similar split to what jazz saw in the 60s… “old folks” (anyone over, say, 27), the middle-age cats (22-26), and the new school (under 22)…

But, please God, don’t let anyone in the future EVER think Nelly was dope…

Comment by Laze 01.06.05 @

it’s not a matter of liking outkast or not. if you honestly think that outkast are ‘bad’ at rapping then there is something fundamentally wrong with how you interpret hip hop music.

sorry ivory.

Comment by noz 01.09.05 @

I have to admit that I don’t agree that “people outside of New York can’t rap” but I understand where he’s coming from.

As far as I’m concerned, groups like Low Profile, Compton’s Most Wanted, King Tee and the Geto Boys are as dope as BDP and DITC. It’s all a matter of perspective and what you grew up on though.

I know a lot of people who swear by early Outkast stuff, so they’re obviously talented, but I have no interest in them at all. I’ve never understood the popularity of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony either (although Outkast are clearly a lot better). I guess it’s a regional thing.

Comment by Robbie 01.09.05 @

A 5/5 review in Big Daddy mag for a P Brothers 12″seems as silly as claiming Nelly is real hiphop.
I do think ‘Come On Down’ by the P Brothers is a great track, but too throwbackish for my liking. Lucky for me and my musical taste I wasn’t 18 in ’88, so I also like some (very few) Nelly tracks and I don’t treat hiphop as a religion. But making those statements about Outkast isn’t going to earn you any respect, in fact they made me mad. I’m pretty sure most promotors didn’t book you for being that close-minded nor being an old-school novelty. Luckily we have people like Edan who don’t mind taking the piss out of themselves.

Comment by Willski 01.10.05 @

dog i just want ivory to hop on here and back up that outlandish statement.

Comment by noz 01.11.05 @

Come on T-Ray. Milano is nice but he’s not in the same league as Pun and them. I like Milano(rep for the slums, song on new Beatnuts album) but he hasn’t even put out an album out. when you finally put out his album and he has more material out, then you can make a better assessment.

I understand not liking outkast and saying i’m not checking for them. but to say they can’t rap is crazy. I might not think that Rob Baze was the best lyricist ever but there’s no way you can deny “it takes two” is a classic.

Comment by quimby 02.09.05 @

This article title reminded me on a song that I have been trying to track down since ’88! It come on the Red Alert show, with the Jungle Brothers hosting. It used the guitars from “engine #9” by Wilson Pickett and “Took years to build” from Rakim (Eric B is Prez). It’s two MC’s, that sound like Ced Gee and Kool Keith. They mention “1,2 is on the strength” in the song. I know Ultra were using a Studio called 1212 at the time. But the Ultra sinle that was out was “Watch Me now/Feeling It”
Does anyone know this song? Hit me at

Comment by Elphonics 11.12.05 @

The song your looking for is “Years To Build”, the b-side to “Pelon” by 360 Degrees. It’s been bootlegged recently so it shouldn’t be hard to track down.

Comment by Robbie 11.12.05 @

Good look Robbie!

I just discovered this sight today. This is hot! I’m already getting the word out!

Comment by Elphonics 11.12.05 @

yep. you said it. Outkast are the devils work. They are whack in the truest sense of the word. Same has to be said about 50 pence and the ga(y)me – its all like “ooo look at me i can write some really mediocre lyrics and some nice man has programmed a beat for me and look heres a video with girls in it”. NO ONE CARES. That isnt hip hop – is so obvious that they would all get blown away in a freestyle session… idiots. they need to go home and study Juice Crew and BDP and Lord Finesse, Gangstaar, the list goes on and on. To my mind Nelly is no different from 50 pence and the gayme – only difference is Nelly does gay ass singing in his “songs”. Its all rubbish..

Comment by derek 12.01.05 @

yeah….what ever happened to the emcees???????……..i mean a word means nothin now but a dollar sign…so that if you follow mine then somehow you poorer for it…im richer still make you getcha fill…of the bob caustic lyric i placed in ya grill…holla backwards….peace to mic handler!!.WE ARE HIP HOP!!!!….peace..

Comment by kipstashio 12.15.05 @

i saw the first cold chillin’ tour at rock city in 87 …happy days :)

Comment by Iain 01.09.07 @

i agree with some of the stuff ivory is talking about, i also agree with the outkast stuff, but to say they cant rap? come on man, they are both really good rappers, they rap in their own style and rep their area – new york rappers rap in their own style and rep their area – just because its not new york, doesnt mean its not good. I love the hear no evil cd’s but what i find really quite frustrating about ivory and the whole “heavy bronx” thing is that you are very closed minded to hip hop, there are tons of great records from all over the US, thats what makes hip hop exciting for me, different styles, sounds and dialects. The strangest thing of all seems to be the fact the P Brothers are from NOTTINGHAM!! not the south Bronx!

Comment by twix 01.24.07 @

I like his passion but am slightly confused by his attitude. Talking about hip hop and originality etc which is cool (and very necessary) and loving off Outkast for this very reason but in the same breath duke talks about how dope theyd be if they sounded like Tragedy…..? Anyways, opinions as always!

Comment by Perplexed 05.18.07 @

outkast cant rap

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.14.07 @

Trag can’t fuck w/ Andre 3000

Comment by RBi 01.27.09 @

Ivory never did back up that outlandish statement…

Comment by Guy Fawkes 07.21.09 @

.. And I don’t think he ever will.

Comment by Dom Corleone 02.13.10 @

who all is doing outkast’s production, its not like they are molding all these beats and credits don’t tell the truth. the rhymes that outkast drop are not rhythmic and are fucking random. hiphop needs to change for the better in live form before it can get better on record. all these fucking kids that claim they do beats. recreate that shit live. turntables was an expression of music when you were taking the risk spinning breaks, people now are on some programmed shit in all genres. collectively communities need to support all music. because computers have taken over. i’m tired of music being fabricated on protools .. chopping every fucking bar. even all this electronic shit has already been done. point being everything has been done, we just try to find a way to make it better.

Comment by steve 04.17.10 @

haha… AWESOME. I agree with everything these guys are saying. I used to think I’m the only one left but theres these two as well! Nice one guys, everything you said HAD TO BE SAID. There’s NOTHING close minded about these two….

Comment by Ackniculous 12.17.10 @

for somebody like me from the bay area its hard for me to read some of the comments made in this interview, the p brothers have some heavy stuff, but i just cant agree with some of stuff said in here. Its one thing to favor new york sound (as i do) its another to flatout disrespect the entire spectrum of hip hop by saying something like that.

Comment by Cole James Cash 03.10.13 @

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