Here’s an interview sent in by Pawel Kumiszcze, which was first published in a Polish magazine late last year:
Finsta is who you might call a hip hop veteran. The Bushwick born MC & producer has been creating music for over 15 years always staying true to himself. It’s a little known fact that he made his first steps as an original member of Black Moon but his formal introduction to the world happened a couple of years later when
he emerged on the scene as a solo artist with “Finsta Baby”. The solo act status didn’t last long. Soon Finsta joined forces with Bundy and together they made a name for themselves releasing quite a few singles and performing all over the globe during the 90’s. Unfortunately, one thing they haven’t managed to accomplish is an album. The good news is that Finsta Bundy is still in effect so who knows, maybe they will let us feel the high once more.
Pawel: How did you get into music and what led you into Hip Hop?
Finsta: I was always in band classes since junior high school and growing up, there was always music in the house. My moms had some dope 8 track tapes like The Drifters and Gladys Knight & The Pips. As far as hip hop, I would hear joints at block parties like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Busy Bee, Treacherous Three, plus there were cats in Bushwick that would be rocking the mic with the DJ. I officially got into hip hop when I met Evil Dee in high school. Before that I was playing the sax, singing on my church choir, and trying to make gospel songs.
Since you mentioned Evil Dee, how important was his role in your career? I remember reading an interview where he said he got you a deal.
Evil helped me get my first solo deal, after I left Black Moon, with a label called CRACD Records. It was a label owned by an old school MC called Gucci Man and his partner Chuck. At the time it was just me. Evil co-produced my single “Finsta Baby” which was actually the first Beatminerz release. Outside of that the only role he played was as a friend. Black Moon had came out afterwards so I pretty much had to learn the ins & outs of the business by myself.
So you were actually a part of Black Moon?
Yeah, I was actually an original member. We started out as High Tech (which was actually the name of a store that sold clothes in the hood) before we changed the name to Black Moon.
At one moment you were in Black Moon and then suddenly you were a part of Finsta Bundy. How did that happen?
I left Black Moon when my daughter was being born and later on went solo. I knew Bundy from around the way. He had a set and was actually a dope DJ and was ill with tricks on the set so he became my DJ, he was writing rhymes then as well. We did a show in North Carolina around ’93 and Bundy came from behind the set and rocked rhymes with me on stage. From then on we became Finsta & Bundy. A little while later we dropped the “&” and made it Finsta Bundy.
I want to talk about the Black Moon situation for a while. I don’t know if you’re aware of it but there’s a story floating around that Buck didn’t want you in the crew because you got more recognition at that time and he told you to leave.
I was never asked to leave by anyone. Truth be told, when the demos were being shopped Buck got more recognition and I was told I needed to rhyme more. Still, at that time the group wasn’t making as many moves, so with my daughter being born I had to leave and get a job.
How would you describe your relations with Buckshot?
Me and Buck are cool. I still call him every now and then.
I’m still wondering about one thing. You returned in 91 with “Finsta Baby”. Black Moon still didn’t have a deal – that happened in 92. So theoretically you could join the group again or not?
“Finsta Baby” actually dropped in ’92 and by then it was already established that they were the group and I was a solo act. There was no problem though because we were all cool with each other.
The time went on and Black Moon became one of the most known and respected groups. What I’m trying to understand is why there’s no connection between you and Black Moon although you were once a part of the group. You can only hear it from some ear-to-ear whispers. Now that you say you were all cool, I don’t doubt that but on the other hand I don’t get why for example weren’t you featured at least on one of their tracks. It wouldn’t be a big thing for them and you could get some more attention.
I hear what you’re saying. I can’t say why I didn’t get a cameo on any Black Moon joints. We were cool but I guess we were travelling on different roads then. I’m kinda cool with not being on a BM joint because it puts me & Bundy in our own position. As far as reaching a wider audience, I would say without big commercial success, videos or cameos, we’ve been able to reach just as many people and places. Who would’ve thought I’d be getting interviewed by someone in another country? I wouldn’t have seen it coming. It’s been 14 years and I’m still making music, independently, I guess we were doing something right.
Ok. Let’s get back to Finsta Bundy. Dropping the “&” from the name had it consequences. I’ve noticed people taking you for one MC or coming up with some other funny theories.
It was funny. People would call me Finsta Bundy like Bundy was my last name. I think it was because I was pretty much the only one people would see at parties and events. Bundy wasn’t much of a party-goer so people rarely saw us together. I remembered somebody joked and said I was pulling a Humpty Hump (since Shock G was Humpty) and trying to get two checks.
Over the years you’ve released many twelve inch but never an album. If you look back at those times, has there ever been a chance to release one?
Around ’98 we started recording an album at D&D studios with Da Beatminerz but it was never completed. The people putting out the record claimed they couldn’t afford to finish it.
Are you talking about the people at D&D or from some other label?
Bundy & I were making records with Tape Kingz at the time, formerly called Big Willie Records. They were cats out of London that pretty much put out all the Finsta Bundy records.
Yeah, I remember now. They put out some interesting stuff besides your records from the likes of Ron G, Mr Cee, Shadez of Brooklyn. How did you hook up with them in the first place?
If I’m not mistaken, I met them by chance while I was working in a record shop downtown Brooklyn. I already had “Finsta Baby” out and they heard of it. From then, one of the main cats came from London and met up with me and Bundy in Bushwick.
What happened with the recorded material at D&D?
It pretty much went unheard outside of the few joints I leaked on the web. I think it was a joint called “Cactus” and another title I forgot. We got the reels from the session so there might be a chance for you or fans of FB to hear some of the songs in the future.
That’s good some good news. I wanted to ask you about this crew Dysfunkshunal Familee. What was your connection with them?
Dysfunkshunal Familee were cats from the same hood we would vibe and make joints with. Actually, our DJ Primetime used to be their DJ.
DJ Primetime – that name does ring a bell. Didn’t you release a mixtape with him? It included some of your previously released tracks.
Yeah, we had a mixtape that was out and we basically took it with us to sell in Germany & Japan. The tape had songs we released on 12″, some freestyles and demos.
There’s this EP from 97 “Bazzaro Presents…”. How did that come about?
Bazarro was part of Dysfunkshunal Familee so doing joints with them was just a matter of walking a few blocks and throwing down a session.
That’s why I asked about them. By the way Bazarro sent me Dysfunkshunal Familee’s demo album and it features a track called “Feeling Da Highs”. It seems like you were an inspiration to them.
We were always hanging with DF, so a lot of times we would vibe off each other. Whether they would list us as an inspiration? You would have to ask them.
Other than that Bazzaro EP you made few guest appearances like on a 12” with Lady Apache.
The Lady Apache joint came about because she was on Nervous and Evil was doing the remix. He asked us to get on it and we jumped on it. With DJ Krush, it was through Ken “Duro” Ifill that we were connected. Krush asked about us and since Duro knew Evil we were able to connect.
I recall also a single with Da Germ featuring you and Lin Que.
Yeah, that joint was called “It’s Useless”. Germ is crazy. He used to have me hooked on a computer game, it was one of those building a city type of games.
Sim City? Anyway, have you met him recently? I know that during those days we speak of he was travelling back and forth between Germany and the States.
It was before Sim City, but anyway, I haven’t seen him in awhile.
One more I want to ask you about is “War & Position” with EZD.
EZD was a cat who worked at D&D studio. Mr. Walt did the beat. It was released but I don’t know where or how many pieces sold.
What was going on with you after 98. Did you take a break from music?
I didn’t really take a break. At the time I was doing Neva Say Neva Wednesdays/Beatminerz Radio on 88hiphop.com. I was doing parties in NY as well as DJ gigs with Evil. Around ’99 I was out in Germany with my boy Harvey Dent aka Anon and I recorded a few unreleased joints out there. In one way or another I was still doing music.
More unreleased tracks? Damn, you were haunted by bad luck. Was there a time that you had enough and wanted to call it quits?
I actually wanted to stop rhyming and become more of a producer. I make beats so music is always part of me so I don’t think about giving up because I feel I haven’t even begun to make the music I can make.
When did you start producing?
I started out producing, making music and around ’89 I started rhyming. I produced most of the FB singles.
I’m curious who’s idea, yours or Evil Dee’s, was it to use that sample from Donovan – Get Thy Bearings on “Crush”? The outcome is great.
That was a beat Evil gave me. I always liked that track so when he let me hear it I had to drop something to it.
After many years of recording together there was no Bundy on this 2001 single…
It was just a single project Evil and I worked on as a part of establishing Pandemonium Wreckordz which is Evil’s company.
What’s the current status of the group?
The group is still together. Our schedules have been getting in the way of us recording regularly, but we are still doing joints.
Let’s talk about the near future. You’re working on your solo LP. Tell me about that.
I have an album that’s actually done called “AFC3 (a finsta creation)”. It’s a mix of music. I originally planned to have other mcs on it but with time on my hands I just wrote and recorded joints. I got a joint called “My Pen, My Pad, My Microphone”, a dedication to all three. There’s a joint called “Smelly Feet”, which is on my myspace page. I’ll just say you would have to listen to the whole thing to understand it.
Considering that people get used to a certain artists sound, what reaction do you predict from your fans?
When we came in the game, we were just learning. I think my sound has grown so in a lot of ways it’s not the same sound beatwise. I think anyone who hears the “AFC3” album will bugout. All I suggest is when they get it, they listen to it straight through to understand the flow.
How do you want to put it out?
My thoughts were to release it independently myself as soon as I can or hopefully find a company willing to put it out.
I know you spin at a club. What does Finsta play to bring all the ladies to the floor?
It depends on the crowd. Where I spin at now, the crowd varies. I play everything, hip hop, reggae, r&b, house, rock, 80’s, and classics. I basically try to read the crowd to see what they’re feeling more. One song that get ladies partying is “Groove is in the Heart” by Dee-Lite.
What was your best DJ’ing experience?
One of the best experience was when a female came behind the dj set and flashed her boobs. I saw her from the corner of my eye but didn’t get the full view. I asked her to do it again and she did, then she put my hands on them. That was the only time something like that happened to me.
[laughing] I’m not going to inquire how it ended up. Worst?
My worst DJ’ing experience was when I had to do a house party with one turntable.
What are the most crucial things you’ve learned about the music & the industry?
One of the most crucial things I’ve learned is to make the music I feel and don’t worry about what’s hot at the time. When you try to make hits you can be influenced by what people think is good and most times it’s the record companies and radio stations force feeding the public. I try to stay true to myself and make music people can feel. I’ll admit that the business aspect is important but most important to me is creating from the soul and not for the dollar. After that, make sure your business is straight because people will use you for their gain. Oh, and being independent is not so bad.
What are your best memories from putting out music as Finsta Bundy?
Travelling and being able to perform in different countries. One of the craziest things is getting an email from a japanese female with a picture of her holding all of our singles. She said she didn’t really understand some of it but when she heard the music it made her feel good. I couldn’t believe it, I felt appreciated.
So where have you performed already?
Japan, Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, New Zealand, and parts of US. A lot of the other countries we’ve been to more than once. I’d like to add Poland to that list.
If you had to move which country out of those would you choose ? Where did you feel like at home?
I would choose New Zealand. It was cool down there. The people were cool, the food was healthy, and the music had culture. You wouldn’t here too much commercial joints unless it was a native artist, all I heard was hot undergound joints and the radiio stations playerd all kinds of music. The mountains, the beaches, and scenery were tranquillizing (am I sounding like a travel agent yet?) That would be my retiring spot.
Finsta – Finsta Baby [courtesy of Bbatson Shazam]
Finsta Bundy – Feel The High
Finsta Bundy – Sunnyside
Finsta Bundy – Don’t Stress Tomorrow
Finsta Bundy – Feel The High Pt. 2
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