T-Ray – The Unkut Interview Part 3
Thursday August 16th 2007,
Filed under: Crates,Features,G Rap Week,Interviews,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by:

Courtesy of Elemental Mag via SLurg

The final chapter…of course I’ve saved the best ’till last. T-Ray covers working with Big L, Nas, Cypress Hill and Milano, and fires back at Mike Heron.

Robbie: Then you did “Yes, You May (Remix)” and all that stuff with Finesse.

T-Ray: Yep, and that was Big L‘s first time in the studio you know. What happened is that I had another beat that Finesse wanted me to loop up for him. I didn’t like the way the beat he wanted sounded. I had brought a bunch of records with me, and I said “Yo Finesse, I got somethin’ right here man. I’m actually thinking about hookin’ it up, it’s supposed to be for Biz but if you want it I’ll give it to you for this, ’cause it would work perfectly for this”. So basically, I hooked-up the beat right there in the studio. That final is not even a final, what people hear on that record – that was just a rough mix! I made that beat in about 30 minutes in the studio. Finesse went through his book of rhymes to figure out what rhyme he was droppin’, and Big L came in and I said “Yo, kick me what rhyme you wanna do”, and it was his first time in the studio so he was really green, he was new, and he kicked me his rhyme and it was like “Oh, this is great!” Percee was actually supposed to come down and be on that, but he didn’t end-up makin’ it.

Since he was on the LP version.

Yeah, I was tryin’ to get him on it with them, and basically that’s how it came about. I just threw that beat together, that’s why in the chorus when it goes to the [does the horn part] there’ nothin’ on it! I intended to throw some more shit on top of that, but Finesse had a deadline that he didn’t tell me about. So he just ended up sending it to his A&R or whatever and they just pressed it up and put it out! And later everybody was like “Yo, this is a classic!” and everybody was freestylin’ on it – like any radio show you’d turn on, they were freestylin’ on that instrumental.

It was so raw, it was great.

Yeah. What you hear on that record is what it sounded like after an afternoon in the studio – and that’s the rough mix. I keep a picture of Big L on my mixing board every day. He called me and he wanted me to bring him some beats – this was long after the first record and shit – and he lived way uptown. I had a brand new Land Cruiser at the time – and I had my family with me – now listen to this, this is still me, still that naïve country boy. I took my whole family with me, my wife and my two little kids – a little boy and a little girl. Now they’re in the backseat in car seats, I drive up to fuckin’ meet L in front of his buildin’ –

Was it 139th and Lennox?

There you go, exactly. I go outside his building, call him up and his mom answers. He comes running down, I’ll never forget, he had a big fluffy coat on – I think it was red – he leaned into my window, we kicked it for a minute and it was just like “Yo, thanks for coming out T!” He couldn’t have been more cool, this man could not have been as innocent, as happy… it was just a moment of us talking about beats, rhymes. No gangster, killer, fuckin’ drug dealer shit! I mean in his rhymes he always talks a lotta shit, I’m just saying though – at that moment the essence of who he was, was just a young man who loved rhyming, who loved beats, lived in not the best area – but not the worst, either. I give him the cassette, I pull off – I don’t get two blocks down and two or three undercover cop cars pull me over, forcing me off the road! Not only forcing me off the road, but four or five cops get out with their guns drawn, pointed right at my head.

With your kids in the car? Damn!

My kids are in the backseat, my wife is next to me, and they’ve got guns pointed at my wife from her side, pointed at my head! These guns are loaded, man! This isn’t no fuckin’ TV show! You know what they said to me? “What are you doing here?!” I was like “What am I doing here?! What the fuck are you doing with this gun pointed at me? I’m a producer, that’s a rapper, we’re talking music – what the fuck are you doing?” Then I roll down the backseat and I’m like “Can you lower your guns so my children don’t have to deal with this?” Then they said “Just last week, seven people were shot right on that block! That kid that you were talking to is a known cocaine dealer!” I’m like “Man, will you shut up! That is Big L! We’re trying to become famous!” Just what you hear him rapping about. I forget the name of the song, I just put it on this new mixtape that I’m working on, it’s him with Fat Joe

“The Enemy”?

Yes! He’s rhyming about how these Federals won’t get off his back – that is the fucking truth! I never really got the full low-down on why he got killed, but those cops and all that fake bullshit that’s going on in the world – that had a lot to do with it. There was no reason for that man to die. That’s what I keep trying to get out, ’cause I normally don’t even talk to people about anything. People gotta wake-up to this shit. Just like how Puffy can develop an image and you’ll think “He’s a star” because he portrays it like that, if the cops start thinking of you as a criminal, it’s the same. Neither one of them is the truth, but it depends on what their perception of you is.

That’s how they treat you.

The sad thing in this country is that the stereotypes are still getting fucked-up, and hip-hop is being a part of continuing those stereotypes. Like L, he was rhymin’ about real-life shit, ’cause I experienced it with him! When I left, they pulled me over! They had guns to my head! If he had that happening to him every day… off that one incident – I was ready to kill somebody. So if someone did that to me everyday – forget it! Another kid I used to always deal with, who never got out, was AJ Domain. I’m telling you, that kid got beat-up every other day by the cops. I couldn’t believe it. I was on the phone with him, at times, when cops would just jump him, man. On the phone with him!

Hostyle from Screwball lost an eye thanks to the cops over there. Which reminds me, I interviewed Mike Heron a while back. I take it you guys didn’t really get along?

Mike is just a dick. Mike thinks he knows something more than anybody. Jerry’s a great guy, and Jerry’s real. He’s sincere, he’s been always puttin’ out records so you can’t question him, he’s for real. He’s really connected to the streets, he really knows the artists, he’s a real independent label. Mike… and again I can only go by what I experienced with Mike, but I’ll tell you real quick. I got a label deal through Warner Brothers that could’ve opened the door to hundreds of hip-hop artists. DJs, rappers, producers, up-and-coming executives… so many opportunities were there for us. Warner Brothers were opening the doors fully to me, and the first artists I tried to sign – but we couldn’t get our deal done in time – was Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples, Planet Asia. I wanted to lock-down the LA underground hip-hop scene and help that turn into a full scene. I wasn’t able to get those done because my deal with Warners wasn’t done yet, and they ended up signing [elsewhere] before I could get ‘em. So I signed Milano, I signed him off hearing him on a cassette, I didn’t even see him or nothin’. I heard one verse, and signed him.

He’s dope.

The next person that I thought of after that – well actually, before that – was V.I.C. Now Vic I had known goin’ all the way back to The Beatnuts. I was down with The Beatnuts the day they decided they were gonna start rhymin’. They just made beats. I remember Les lookin’ at me and sayin’ “Yo T, this shit ain’t nothin’, man. You need to rhyme with us”, and Vic complaining ‘cause the Beatnuts weren’t showing him enough light or some shit. When I went to Vic’s house, he was living with his moms, his room was down in the basement. He had a decent mixing board, and he really knew how to get things to sound really good, but was mainly doing dance stuff and shit like that. He was into hip-hop and he’d tried to do some independent label type shit, but he wasn’t really a beat person. So I walk in – and you’ve gotta remember, I’m going in there as somebody who had damn near ten years in the game, and that was in the early nineties. Probably ’92. We’ve been talkin’ about beats and all that, and I walk in his apartment, and he had one crate, and there was about ten records in it. I said “Yo, where are all your records, man. Where are your beats?” He said “That’s them right there.” I’m tellin’ you the fuckin’ truth! When I got done with Vic, people were looking at him like he was one of the beat guys, because we rolled to every convention, we went down to Virginia looking for beats, everywhere we’d go. I would be looking through crates or through bins right next to him. “Yo Vic, you got this?” “No, I ain’t got that one” “Yo, that’s got a beat on it.” When I got the label, I thought of Vic, ‘cause I knew Vic had always wanted to be known, other than the underground. I didn’t look to “who’s the next star who’s I can put some gold on, and next thing I know he’s gonna be somebody”, I went to somebody who didn’t have shit! He didn’t have no money, still living in the basement of his mother’s house, still don’t have no fuckin’ records like me, but I love the way he hooks-up beats. I love Vic’s beats, and I always have, and I always respected him because I like his taste. But the truth is truth. When I met him, I put the fuckin’ heart of the beat science in his brain, and when I fuckin’ got on with the label I called up Vic. He’s like “I’m probably gonna put out this 12”” I’m like “Fuck a 12”, man. You know what? I’ma give you a fuckin’ budget.” I gave this motherfucker a half-million dollars. You listen to those numbers. I didn’t give him fuckin’ 5,000 do the typical shit, I gave this motherfucker half-a-million dollars. I told him “All I need you to do is do the record you’ve always dreamed of, Vic”. You know what that motherfucker did? He panicked! Now he couldn’t talk about it, he had to do it! The motherfucker took two years, and didn’t have shit done!

Originally, the concept was we were gonna take the name Ghetto Pros and turn that into a production team. He was talking about bringing in No I.D., which I loved, but then after a minute VIC was like “No, fuck No I.D., I don’t want him there.” I brought in Al – Alchemist. I had produced Alchemist back when he was in The Whooliganz! You ask Alchemist, he’ll tell you, man. He’s always said it: “T-Ray’s one of my inspirations”, because when he was a rapper I told him he could be a producer. When he was a little 14 year-old kid, rappin’. When he decided he wanted to be a producer, he moved to New York and I hooked him up with everybody I knew, and I told him exactly what he needed to do. He had not broken yet, and I told Vic “Yo, Alchemist needs to be one of the Ghetto Pros”, and he was on some hatin’ him shit “Nah, fuck Al!” You see what I’m sayin? Vic wanted it to be what he wanted it to be, but Vic couldn’t get it done. Finally, after about two years, I started yelling at him every day “What the fuck? You gotta get this shit together! Damn, I gave you what you wanted in life and it’s just like you’re sitting on it. You shoulda had this record done in two months, fuck two years!” He started getting so down about the fact that I was giving him a hard time about it, that he decides to join with Mike… as though Mike was gonna come in and save the day or somethin’. But what Mike did is he started calling me up, yelling at me! And I already told you how I am, I couldn’t give a fuck about somebody yelling. I’ll stab you in the fuckin’ heart! I’ll fuckin’ cut your whole fuckin’ head off! So I just told him “Fuck you! Who the fuck are you calling? I gave this motherfucker half a million dollars, it’s two years later and I only have about three fuckin’ songs! Fuck you! Do you know how to make a beat?! If you know how to make a beat, go to a fuckin’ studio! Fuckin’ make some music you lil’ bitch! Don’t talk your bullshit to me!” He was working at Rawkus – that’s why he thought he was somebody, ’cause daddy’s rich money from somebody else was payin’ your fuckin’ bill, and you feel powerful because you’re around some wimpy white motherfuckers that you can yell at all day, and you think ‘cause I’m fuckin’ rich now in Malibu, and I’m white and country, that you can talk to me? Bitch, I’ll fuckin’ knock your teeth down your fuckin’ throat! I’ll cut you a new asshole! What the fuck are you talking about?! I let him fuckin’ have it, and the motherfucker never fuckin’ stopped. He fuckin’ ‘caused so much havoc, and never fuckin’ made a fuckin’ beat! He couldn’t even get it done! [begins yelling] It got to the point where I had to fly Vic out, give him the fuckin’ loops, loop it for him, tell him the fuckin’ concept, have my fuckin’ musican guys to come in and play guitar and keyboards on his shit so it would be more musical… I gave him a whole style! Actually, the style that I helped create for him – that’s his style now! But the thing that really frustrates me about these guys, is that in the course of their bullshit, they caused me to lose my fuckin’ deal with Warner Brothers. Mike was just a fuckin’ hot-head who wanted to run his mouth. After the fact, you know what he did? He went and bootlegged the shit, and fucked me more! The real deal is – Mike Heron is a bitch who, next time I see him, is gonna get knocked the fuck out!

So how did you get from producing underground hip-hop records to making deals in Malibu?

MC Serch tried to claim a lot of times that he found Nas or some shit. For instance, Big L – I produced his first appearance, but Finesse really had Big L. It was Finesse’s session and Big L was coming down, so I ended up producing his first session because I was doing the track, but it wasn’t like I discovered Big L. I didn’t discover Nas! He had just come out on “Live At The BBQ”, but when I was producing MC Serch I was doing a song called “Back To The Grill Again”. It was just MC Serch with Chubb Rock, and the track was just so fuckin’ happy – at that time, happy tracks were kinda cool, but that track was really happy – and I liked more darker tracks, but Serch wanted to use that track so I was cool with it. But then when I heard Serch and Chubb Rock I said “Damn, both of these guys kinda have passed their prime, so I need some new blood on here. Someone who’s more street.” So I called up every unknown MC at the time, including Percee-P, including Nas, including Akinyele and a few others, like maybe four or five others. The original version of “Back To The Grill Again” had maybe eight rappers on it. I told ‘em “Whoever does the best is gonna get on the record”. So we did a whole version with Akinyele and everybody on it, and Nas just destroyed it! So Nas, in a sense, won the position and he got on the record. It was literally a recording battle. When we got done, I went in the booth with Nas and I said “Yo Nas, I gotta get on your record”, and he didn’t have a deal. So I went in the next room and I was like “Yo Serch, we gotta call some people, man! This kid right here – this is the future.” And he was like “You think?” I’ll never forget it, because he just did not get how powerful Nas was. He was a rapper and he just didn’t get it! Sometimes rappers compete with each other anyway, so maybe that’s what it was. He didn’t open himself to see Nas’ true talent, so I called up Faith Newman at Columbia Records, I said “Yo, I got Nas in the studio, he just killed a verse on the Serch record, you basically need to sign this kid.” And she’s like “Oh, I’ve heard of him! I really want to link up with him”, and fuckin’ MC Serch went behind my back and did a production deal with him. So that’s how Serch hooked-up with Nas. Serch never knew Nas, he didn’t know “Live At The BBQ”! He didn’t even recognise after the fact that Nas was that great. What he recognised, was that once Faith Newman wanted to sign him, that there was money to be made. He did a production deal with Nas and claimed that he got the record deal, when I was the one that called-up Faith and hyped her and told her “This is it!” I just didn’t know about the business at that time. It was because of moments like that. I produced G Rap back in the day, “Take ‘Em To War” and all that.

Of course, I forgot about that.

That’s the first time people saw B-1 and those guys, and Grimm was rhymin’ on it after he’d been shot. G Rap is the realest. I’ve never met nobody more real than G Rap. You know what? Nas, Pun, Raekwon, all of them owe their styles to him. All of them! He’s like the Muddy Waters of hip-hop.

Definitely, I agree with that.

I’ll tell you something I did for G Rap back in the day – I think Stretch Armstrong actually bootlegged it – there was one called…it later got called “Hey Mr Mr”, but it was originally called “Don’t Interrupt Me When I’m Whippin’ On My Bitch’s Ass”.

He’s talking some real ignorant stuff on there. That’s a great record.

When I was doing that for him, I was like “G, nobody wants to hear about you beating on some girl’s ass! We need ‘Men At Work Part 2’!” Right? That song didn’t even make it on his Triple XXX album. I think that’s one of the most violent records ever.

So I got down with Muggs for a minute, and things didn’t work – see, I never really understood the business. This business is a real rip-off. Sometimes people are ripping you off, and in the business they say “Oh, that’s normal” [laughs], “Oh, they’re supposed to take your credit”, shit like that. A little bit of that was going on in the Soul Assassins camp, and I didn’t feel that. I was from the days of “what you do is who you are”, and if somebody takes credit for what you do then they’re bitin’ or robbing you.

Alchemist was talking about that recently.

For me just to get my proper credit on “I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”, I had to give ’em the beat for “When The Shit Goes Down”, and I had to give ’em the beat and the bassline for “Insane In The Brain”. I didn’t get no credit for any of that, but I didn’t care, because I was a fan. But then he took half my publishing on the song, so I was like “Fuck!” But that’s neither here nor there, that type of shit goes on in the game. What you kinda learn, is that in the beginning when they were ripping people off, is that every person that’s coming up in the game has to get ripped off. It’s almost like an initiation to the fuckin’ game. Then you learn the rules of the game, and it’s a cut-throat, snaky business.

All the rock records I was doing, they were mainly out in California, so I just said “Fuck it, I’m gonna move to California, see what that’s about”. It was sad to leave New York, and to feel like New York had fallen off, at least for then. I feel like New York is coming back, but it was really dead at that time. So I flew my whole family across the country, moved to the top of a mountain out here in Malibu. All the way to the fuckin’ top, on some Moses shit. I mean twenty minutes, straight up a mountain. No neighbours or nothin’, just rattlesnakes, coyotes and nature.

That sounds good. So were these projects paying more than the hip-hop stuff you’d worked on?

No, they was probably about the same, sometimes even less, but the hip-hop opportunities were just all fake. The difference was, I can go in the studio with some pop/hip-hop thing, with some rapper who really doesn’t know how to write ‘cause so-and-so’s writing his rhymes for him, and be in this fake environment with A&R’s telling you “We need a club banger” – or I could be in the studio with these hard rock guys, who got the same mentality as Kool G Rap. Up drinking vodka ‘till fuckin’ morning, doin’ drugs all day, fuckin’ shootin’ guns, beatin’ the fuck outta people… mainly because they’re so fuckin’ hurt by the world. One of the guys was the son of a preacher. He had God and the devil at war, 24 hours a day. It was like watching Armageddon walking around.

I’m the same underground guy in rock that I am in hip-hop. Ozomatli, I produced their first album, with Cut Chemist as the DJ and Chali 2Na as the rapper. Imagine if you had the Incredible Bongo Band today? That’s how I felt when I met them. This is when I was not really feeling hip-hop, so I was trying to stick to my roots, and I said “Yo, I wanna make a record that feels like those records, like the soul bands or the soul/funk/rock bands that had percussion and guitars, Sly and The Family Stone type of shit. That’s what I did with Ozomatli, I did that on their first album, and that was a big, big record. Right after that I produced Santana, and Ozomatli was his favourite band. I had Clive Davis call me up with Carlos, like “You’ve got to do this for us”. I went in – killed it – got to be a part of that album that sold like 30 million albums.

OK, now I see why you’ve got your own tennis court!

Exactly. I got a Grammy off of that. Then, all of a sudden, Warner’s looked at my whole history, from hip-hop to rock to all this, and they just said “T-Ray, you need a label!” Of course I said yes. So that’s how I got to that position of getting a label, is from doing all forms of music, keeping it hip-hop no matter what I did, and being really true to what it is I am. So that’s why there was big lapse in my career actually, is ’cause I was dealing with Mike and Vic for a couple of years, having to babysit them on a daily basis.

So you’re back to square one.

The only good news about it is that right now, Beatdown Recordings is more focussed, more real – we don’t have the same kind of money backing us as we did, so it’s gotta be more street, more hard. It’s gonna take us a minute, but what we’re about to do is we’re gonna just bring hip-hop back where it’s supposed to be. I’m working on a real bugged-out side-project with Ill Bill and that whole family. I’m actually producing a record with Bill and a few other people. It’s gonna be all my production, and it’s gonna be way the fuck out. [laughs] This is gonna be some next level hip-hop being born again. This is Public Enemy – but not that style – that kinda energy coming back. I just recently won another Grammy for Ozomatli’s new album that I did. Other than that, I‘m working on new Milano shit, because when they fucked-up the deal, Milano’s deal got fucked up. That’s why he went from having a moment where he was about to break – to just disappearing. Milano’s actually goin’ in with Showbiz, working on some new shit with Show, so we got that whole relationship back together.


T-Ray Interview Part 1

T-Ray Interview Part 2

Lord Finesse feat. Big L – Yes, You May (Remix)

MC Serch feat. Chubb Rock, Nasty Nas & Red Hot Lover Tone – Back To The Grill Again

Cypress Hill – I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That

Cypress Hill – Hits From The Bong (Remix)

Milano – “That’s Milano”

Kool G Rap – “Hey Mr. Mr.”

Kool G Rap feat. MF Grimm & B-1 – “Take ‘Em To War”

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82 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thats Beef! Mike Heron just got served!

Comment by step one 08.16.07 @

bangin’ interview

Comment by wax 08.16.07 @

word, dope interview. he sounds like a rugged motherfucker. i got that white boys “hardcore is it not” 12″, they rock dope mullets on the cover. props to Unkut and T-Ray.

Comment by dj forcefed 08.16.07 @

yes u may remix was so official o my god. b-side of party over here i bought that just for the a side the i heard big l and it was a rap. that was on warner i think. wow. t ray is stil that dude

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.16.07 @

T-Ray is that”other”white wonder,that HipHop owes it’s salt to.I don’t give a fuck that he lives in Malibu,he paid his dues,through Big L,Finesse,Serch,Double XX posse,Artifacts,Supa Cat remix,Cypress Hill,Loved his sound then,love it now,Damn!!! I LOVE THIS SITE!!!!!!!

Comment by Roger Jones 08.16.07 @

yeah i always took serch for a semi bitch, t-ray isn’t gonna have any problem blowing up with his record label, i wonder if hes working on some new non phixion with ill bill, on some old new new shit, i always thought ill bill did his shit on psycho logical or uncle howie, go figure, maybe some new la coka nostra, like they need anymore, a new album every 8 seconds and shit, good wrap up Robbie, keep keepin it real

Comment by gstatty 08.16.07 @

dope interview.

t-ray was always too underrated.

i think i heard that ghetto pros lp that mike heron bootlegged. wasn’t it the one with big l “them games” and some beatnuts joint on it?

anyone remember what else was on that or got a link for it.

Comment by dredscott 08.17.07 @

Dope interview, as always, Robbie.

Comment by Mr Lawson 08.17.07 @

Great stuff Robbie, as always. T-Ray’s got some good shit to say. However, I love the comments you receive just as much – ‘yeah, I always took serch for a semi-bitch’ – who are these guys? Whatever MC Serch did or didn’t do, he’s MC Serch, he was at LQ and down from day dot whatever his faults. You’re a guy with an internet connection gstatty, i’m sure you could teach him a thing or two!

Comment by Drewhuge 08.17.07 @

Great interview. T Ray is the man, and I’m glad he got his just due.

Comment by Mike G 08.17.07 @

HA! T-Ray the poor mans BuckWild, gimme the later’s beats anyday..
DredScott that bootleg got a heap of shit on it, but got that Beatnuts track and a decent but short MC Quick, sorry, Joell Otiz track too.

Comment by Don P.M.ES 08.17.07 @

I picked up doubles of the Blaq Poet ” We gonna Ill “, 12 inch……This 12 inch seemed weird because I had never seen the beatdown logo, and the malibu address puzzled me a little bit…………Now it all makes sense…..I remember hearin about T. Ray in the song “Diggin In the Crates”, when Showbiz shouts him out………”Take em to War”, is one of my favorite beats of all time………….So many motherfuckers used that beat afterwards, no one was fuckin with David Axelrod like that at the time…………….If kidz don’t know their Hip Hop history a lot of heads will be written out of the books, and that’s a shame……….Most heads hip Hop production heroes stop at madlib, jaydee, or premier, and there are so many unsung production scientist…………….Good interview, but T.Ray don’t expect brothers to feel sorry for you because of the scrutiny you faced during the P.E. { Black revolution era } ……Imagine how we feel on the daily. Keep doing your thing…..

Comment by shamz 08.17.07 @

Funny Shit! When T is talking about takin’ V.I.C. digging with him I’m reminded of that rhyme he kicked on Beatnuts’ Intoxicated Demons e.p. (the song World Famous): “Jump in the trunk, we Audi on a mission
(Guess where we’re goin?) Philadelphia, beat-fishin
There’s always one store niggas always get stuck on
I know a lotta spots that are ain’t puttin ya up on
Find your own beats, you’re a real snuffalafagus
Lazy muthafucka, you’re always bummin off of us
You know there’s no one finer
Diggin for shit from here to North Carolina
The name is V.I.C., it’s time to dilly-dally
First I hit Texas, then I’m ‘goin back to Cali’.”
It kinda means a whole other something now huh?
I’m also reminded of what Cut Chemist said in the Scratch documentary about T-ray rippin all the record store pages out of all the phonebooks in the south… Classick shit can’t wait to read about the skinny boys… big up unkut extremely informative and hilarious

Comment by Grand Invincible 08.17.07 @

hey drewhuge, how bout this, fuck serch, yeah i said it, good for him he was at latin quarter since the beginning, last hit he had was tap the bottle and twist the cap, how about stay on topic and big up robbie, the interview, and unkut, i’m sick of readin fucking flame wars goin back and forth, and look at me, i got pulled into it by your cabbage patching ass, this is definitely the last time i comment more than once to reply to some stupid trolls

Comment by gstatty 08.17.07 @

uhhhm tap the bottle was young black teenagers….ummm…serch had a hit album produced by prince paul when alot of us were still in middle/highschool…u really can’t diss serch if u didnt make a hit record.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.17.07 @

great interview,robbie. T-Ray is the truth. $500,000 and no hit or classic records, wow. what a waste.

Comment by richdirection 08.17.07 @

Dope interview once again Robbie, I didn’t know that much about T-Ray beyond his work with Double XX. I loved those Madd Racket 12inches, never knew it was him. @ Grand Invicible, thanks for pointing that out about Chemist on the Scratch vid, I never put 2 & 2 together about it being that T-Ray.

Comment by Kin Corn Karn 08.17.07 @

ah shit i got him confused with dude from young black teenagers, 3rd bass was sick, i take all that shit back, either way serch did have a hilarious haircut back in the days, looked like the hip hop poindexter and shit

Comment by gstatty 08.17.07 @

That’s cool mercilesz,that you don’t feel like Serch should get dissed,but that’s the purpose of this site,everyone can express their opinions,and often the facts aren’t right,like Prince Paul producing The Cactus album,it had various producers,like Sam Sever,The Bomb Squad,and yes Prince Paul,so what if I don’t write hit records,I write facts”.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.17.07 @

paul did gas face and brooklyn queens the real hits off the album but yeah ur right they did contribute to the album.whatever the case serch,pete and rich were the shit so i really can’t condone dissing one of the best rappers of 89. especially since i was in middle school and watching cartoons.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.18.07 @


Comment by Zoret 08.18.07 @

Robbie, you should get a medal for bringing this knowledge into the world.

Comment by End Level Boss 08.18.07 @

now that are informations.
great interview.
G Rap is the realest.

Comment by swordfish 08.18.07 @

T-Ray’s beats sounded nothing like Buckwilds and T-Ray used a lot of loops and breaks before Buck so how does that make him the poor man’s Buckwild? you are tripping Don…Ill as hell interview Robbie and a really great read.

Comment by Jaz 08.18.07 @


Comment by dj shortee blitz 08.18.07 @

Wrong again Mercilesz!!! The Bomb Squad produced Third Base first hit,”Steppin to the A.M.,it’s cool,that’s HIpHop,we won’t all like the same things,but let’s get our facts right,so the next generation can know-the-ledge.This isn’t an angry piece,just facts.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.18.07 @

Actually, Money Merc was saying the Brooklyn-Queens was the other hit. And that, was produced by the Prime Minister Pete Nice. I guess he was nice behind the boards. But his point was, they are kinda dope. They definitely had nice beats on both albums.

Comment by turtle 08.18.07 @

i didnt say the bomb squad didnt produce am. i said the real hits…meaning ones that crossed them over to mtv fans and brought dej jam back from the dead.those would be bk/queens and gas face. most people never heard am unless you liked rap and that wasn’t that many people.3rd bass was a group that created a whole new fan base for hip hop in 89/90,thats how dope they were.the only thing was they put out weasel and it was huge but in the process they lost the fans of their triple stage/steppin/am style. cest la vie.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.19.07 @

turtle ur right pete did produce that…but damn…that beat has ppaul all over it.coulda fooled me

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.19.07 @

I agree Mecilesz, it does sound like a Prince Paul beat. He only produced on track on the Cactus Album. But, he produced four on Derelicts Of Dialect, including the title track.

Comment by turtle 08.19.07 @

Great interview, Robbie. The 3rd segment now puts Heron’s comments in a whole different light. One question; is the Craig that Todd refers to in segment 2, Craig Kallman of Atlantic?

Comment by Fosterakahunter 08.19.07 @

Once again,this is why I love this site,it’s all about opinions,when you say,”the real hits”or what crossed them over”.That’s your opinion,it’s not excactly fact,”steppin to the A.M.”,being produced by the Bomb Squad,was major back then,that video got nuff rotation,and it helped that P.E.’s production team did that track,since 89/90 they held HipHop down,not just at Def Jam.Prince Paul’s contribution’s were great,(don’t get it twisted)but they helped,not made Third Base crossover phenoms,back then..if The Bomb Squad did your joint,or a remix,or just a track,you were the shit.Just ask,Ice-Cube,Slick Rick,Doug E.Fresh,&L.L.,only real HipHop heads checked for Prince Paul,and new jacks only checked for him when De la soul was mentioned,so respect due.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.19.07 @

Dope interview once again Rob.

T Ray is a legend…if only we can see some more Milano shit now.

Money Boss Players next up?

Comment by AFFEX 08.20.07 @

Hold on…

That’s a Milano t-shirt yeah??


Comment by AFFEX 08.20.07 @

you really mean to tell me roger that white kids didnt make 3rd bass a hit.cmon thats a fact.a hit record is a record that sells not neccesarily a good one in your or my eyes.kids in utah and minneapolis werent checkin for the bomb squad or paul for that matter but bk/queens and gasface pushed them and def jam back into the game.thats a fact.what had def jam put out before that album?walking with a panther…this is 89 right here and the only dudes that were doing numbers was pe and their second album wasnt out yet.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.20.07 @

i mean the 3rd…..

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.20.07 @

To answer your question,(white kids)didn’t make 3rd Bass a hit alone”.Black fans were fascinated as well by this white duo,I can’t speak for what was happening where you live,(anymore than you can for my address)but you seem to take that P.E./bomb Squad explosion a little light.Have you ever seen concert footage from P.E.’s shows?Look in the audience and see just how many white fans had on Tees and hats.And by the way,the year was 89,and a certain Westcoast group was platinum plus and about to lose their chief writer,who ironically would have the Bomb Squad produce his debut,I never said you were wrong about the hit songs by Third Bass “Merc”,but the selling point of Third Bass,was the fact that before them,only the Beasties were recognized as white emcees,and at that point,the Beasties no longer had that Def Jam sound or backing.The crossover formula was still in effect from Run-DMC’s “Walk this way”,white kids were still primed,and black kids just as excepting to another group of white rappers,(ie:Beasties)they didn’t cross third Bass over alone,we did it together.And Respect to Paul,Stetsa,and De la soul.And you Merc.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.20.07 @

That’s one dope interview

Comment by Jaypea 08.20.07 @

Roger I don’t deny black people supported 3rd bass 1st because I remember the summer they dropped and we were really into their music.However P.E didnt have an album out because black planet dropped in 90.3rd bass made really good music(unlike the beasties) and their skin color pushed them over the top with white audiences.It allowed them to crossover and get those plays that mtv only allowed one rapper at a time every summer.It seemed like mtv had a posterchild for hip hop they would blow up to superstardom every summer but then the group/act would eventually fall apart the next project.3rd bass was one of those groups.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.20.07 @

The Cactus is a classic. You cant talk about the beats on that without mentioning Sam Sever.
the real debate should be is there anything Robbie could post that Mercilesz wont turn into an argument about race?!
I know its important but this a blog about classic/underground Hip Hop.

Comment by step one 08.20.07 @

Step just post what you want and don’t worry about it. you’ll be alright.I’m just responding to Roger and not really arguing right now.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.20.07 @

I guess I’m still trying to figure out this crossover effect with the white audience at that time,and here’s why,wouldn’t the sales of Third Base have refelected that event?I mean the Beasties were the crossover to white teens,Third Bass sold like 500,000 copies from The Cactus classic,the Beasties hit 4 million,Serch with his”product of the environment”swagger and Pete with his”pre-bling”motif did anything but make a connection with(then)white-would be fans of HipHop.Those videos were popular with black fans because of the long list of favorites that guest appeared in the video”Gas Face”for instance,EPMD,RUN-DMC,etc.and a scathing Hammer diss.With the Beasties,they sported biker leathers,worn out caps,ripped jeans,and inc.rock HipHop fusion,Third Base was straight out of the hood formula,Hoodies,popular black hair cuts,kane-Slick Rick-esque suits,pimp walk,you name it,”WE”embraced Third Bass first,and made it cool to like them,just like we did everything”HipHop”back then.Like I said Merc,maybe around your way,it looked like the”burbs”was holding Third Bass up,but the sales damn sure didn’t reflect it.Respect though.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.20.07 @

thanks for the dope interview robbie. we gotta find that eight rapper mix of “back to the grill.”

Comment by noz 08.20.07 @

Oh yeah,and that”’89 Def Jam was dead”or”brought back from the dead”Comment,don’t ever forget P.E. was touring hard between each album,and use those tours to introduce fans to groups that were trying to make a name for themselves(in different regions) or who had been forgotten,like Geto Boys,Digital Underground,N.W.A.,and yes Third Bass.Def Jam was never quiet,I agree MtV would spotlight a new artist each year,but Def Jam was the blueprint that all labels that would come after would follow,they stayed touring(The Dope Jam tour,L.L.’s walking with a Panther tour,and any P.E, tour,(I was there,..here actually)but at the shows,reading Word Up!,Rapmasters,Right On!,Black Beat,and eventually the Source,I love this site because there are knowledgable brothers like you Merc.Respect

Comment by Roger Jones 08.20.07 @

I am reading the Serch interview on the Heavy Bronx site. He doesn’t claim he found Nas, but he gives the credit to Reef and Stretch Armstrong. Anyway, I would have loved to hear the verses from Akinyele. etc.

Comment by turtle 08.20.07 @

500,000 is gold and brand nubian never made gold. you do the math.who bought the cactus album?

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.21.07 @

I see your point Merc,but your helping to prove mine,when you talk about”crossover”that translates into(Beastie:numbers)even at that time,500,000 sales was the”bar”for(so-called no-sellout emcees)we also have evidence today,that groups like Brand Nubian may in fact,have sold gold numbers,but Sound scan”fudged”those numbers making it look like similiar artist at that time sold less,which led to the Rap Royalty Network started in part by Suge Knight.
I just don’t see Third Bass being embraced by white teens back then,and they only sold gold,not even just the few years,then,after the Beastie explosion,Gold was standard of sucessful artist then.Crossover?Was Hammer,Vanilla Ice,and yes..”walk this way”numbers.Math completed.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.21.07 @

Other than the Hammer, the next biggest ‘crossover’ at the time was Biz with Just A Friend. Oh, and 2 Live Crew.

Comment by turtle 08.21.07 @

Black kids don’t have money to buy records and thats why brand nubian never went gold.Brand nubian dropped a year after 3rd bass and had a bigger and longer lasting impact on hip hop and wake up was banned from mtv.You can try to convince yourself that white kids didnt support 3rd bass if you want but who was pop goes the weasel aimed at? Mtv.If you don’t sell to the majority of America you can’t have a hit record.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.21.07 @

its funny but pop goes the weasel didnt get one spin on new york radio. not one

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.21.07 @

oh excuse me when i say ny radio i mean kiss fm and bls

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.21.07 @

Well two things Merc,I never said”no”white kids supported 3rd Bass,(just not the number you think did)and second,that’s a blanket statement to make,that”black kids don’t have money for cd’s or tapes”,once again you are making statements that aren’t wrong,but they are not entirely right either,your entitled to your opinion.

Comment by Roger Jones 08.21.07 @

excellent interview…that shit about him ripping the pages out the phone booth is so damn hip hop it makes me smile…had no idea he did ozomatli and santana and that shit…good for him…hope to hear more of his production in the future.

Comment by thesurgeongeneral 08.22.07 @

mtv forever

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.22.07 @

but seriously…yes white kids supported def jam in the numbers that i think, and especially 3rd bass just like they supported beasties when they where out.black people don’t have the buying power in this country to make an artist gold or platinum and they never have.No artist has ever gone gold by selling exclusively to black people.this is why they kept the faces of the artists off the records in the 50’s and 60’s and replaced them with pictures of women…they needed to sell records to everybody, it’s foolish to even suggest that black people are the target audience of the music industry.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.23.07 @

btw just got off the phone with paul and he said he produced brooklyn queens and all pete nice did was throw on an intro and def jam didnt give him his credit……i knew it….

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.23.07 @

YO, I’d like to hear from V.I.C.’s side of the story. Some of T Ray’s claims sound mad suspect. He might have taken VIC diggin’, but no way did he put him up on production. VIC’s style is a lot more musical and has a better flow. Check anything he did or any of the Groove Merchants joints he did with Godfather Don. Not T’s style, not even a little bit. Not takin’ nothing away from T Ray, but you know, there’s 3 sides to every story.

Comment by P'Zone 08.23.07 @

well djam had just put out ll in the era of juice crew/native tongue dominance and nobody was really checking for that label at that time.the two albums that were mentioned nation and great adventures dropped in 88 but the hits were from 87 so it’s kinda hard to say that was what the sound of hip hop was at the time cactus,unfinished,instinctive,and big daddy thung dropped because it wasn’t.I mean yeah we all knew what def jam was but people weren’t really checking for them at the time cactus dropped.panther album was kinda crazy and marley had to revive dudes career so maybe you get where im going with that one.as far as nwa outselling 3rd bass it’s true.But what was nwa selling?they were selling the same thing that is being sold to kids today,ignorant violent female disparaging gangsterism.3rd bass was far more lyrical and far more positive so you know whos gonna sell more.it hasnt changed today either.im sure snoop will outsell common everytime they drop an album and they came out in the same era like 92,93 but their fan bases are like polar opposites.i dubbed brand nubian and alot of kids had the bootleg but people with money don’t worry about what things cost.they buy them.

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.26.07 @

@ Mercilesz… at what point pre-Cactus Album was Def Jam in need of being brought back from the dead? They had PE’s album (which dropped in ’88) still going strong in ’89, and Slick Rick’s doing the same. LL’s album wasn’t critically-acclaimed but that was still doing numbers. I don’t recall 3rd Bass in any way “resurrecting” Def Jam or anything of the sort.

And the whole “black kids dont have money to buy albums” thing… eh, true to an extent, but the white fanbase is USUALLY the fanbase that makes up for the majority of hip-hop sales. So realistically, being white really didn’t have much to do with 3rd Bass’ success- if it did, they would’ve sold much more. PE and NWA sold more than them, and they weren’t white. As far as Brand Nubian goes, I think it’s universally known that that album was one of the most heavily-bootlegged albums of that time. Black kids had money to buy it, we just decided to cop the $5 joint off the street before the $10 joint in the store. And I should know, cause I’m one of the black kids that did it! Haha…

Comment by DANJAMANIA 08.26.07 @


Congratulations on another killer interview. Rubbing my hands thinking about who you got lined up next…

Keep on!


Comment by Dan Love 08.26.07 @

Ghetto Pros Presents 2xLP bootleg:

* Link removed by request *

Comment by Eons 08.26.07 @

“btw just got off the phone with paul”

Next time ask him if he’s down for an Unkut interview.

“Ghetto Pros Presents 2xLP bootleg”

^ Thanks for that Eons.

Comment by Robbie 08.27.07 @

no prob

Comment by MERCILESZ 08.27.07 @

Yo yo, T-Ray you a real ass dude and all of us beat heads hold you in real high regard…the same goes to Mike Heron and The Ghetto Pros (Hydra Beats was bananas!) Aside from all the rah rah between each other, just know that both of ya’ll definitely made your mark in this hip-hop shit and we all have love for you. Hip-Hop needs ya’ll more than ever right now so keep bangin out them beats fellas!

One Love.


Comment by Neil Nice 08.29.07 @

I apologize Neil, the scars from that time are deep. You’re right though……that shit is the past…..Sorry ya’ll had to hear this shit…..

Comment by T-RAY 08.29.07 @

yo T-Ray what’s up with the Beatdown Recordings site?
I tried to go on it after I read the interview and it looks like it’s canceled or something… let us know when y’all back up and running… You, V.I.C., and Mike are some of the only people still making and putting out the hip hop we were raised on and fell in love with… here’s to the beats you’ve made and will continue to make, even if y’all don’t get along, your work is a blessing, even if you think each other is wrong, from a head’s point of view what all three of you produce is 100% correct. word.

Comment by Grand Invincible 08.29.07 @

I didn’t mean to rub salt in any wounds by posting that Ghetto Pros LP. I actually found it at Amoeba the day this interview was posted and thought I would throw it up for reference since it’s been mentioned so much on here and few have heard it. Maybe it was not the best idea, but coming from a digger/hip hop scholar perspective, I had been looking for it for a minute, was stoked to find it and wanted to share it.

Big fan of T-Ray, Beatdown, Ghetto Pros, Hydra, etc. All the music you guys have made will outlast the bad blood and you all have created some of my favorite hip hop shit ever. Thank you!

Comment by Eons 08.29.07 @

“Anyway, I will be forwarding robbie cncts to Lord Finnese, Premier, Show Biz, Poet, and the members of Non Fiction.
The all have essentially the same story bout you.”

nah fuck that off Robbie, just interview them!!!!

Comment by the average man 08.31.07 @

I just interviewed Show tonight, but it was for his new album with AG. I already spoke to Poet a while back too, but I’m more than happy to speak with Premier, Finesse and Ill Bill.

Comment by Robbie 09.01.07 @

It seems this guy Mike Heron just jumps on everyones boat and then sinks them all. He doesn’t work with any of his friends anymore. I wonder why? You should see what they have to say about him. I would like to hear the Rawkus stories Robbie!

Comment by OHNO 09.04.07 @

“The OG production massive is quiet deep…I respect them all… Peace to Preemo, Milo, SPK, Reef, Ayatolla, 45 King, Ski, the one and only, Marly Marl, Hot Day (QueensBridge Stand Up) Dante Ross, Muggs, T Ray (the only white dude that was runnin round my projects in the 80’s)” ……from HIPHOPGAME.com

Comment by Joell Ortiz 09.07.07 @


Comment by DOC SAMSON 09.07.07 @

Todd this was some good shit. Get at me asap! Seriously………..

-Mr. Supreme-

Comment by Mr. Supreme 09.25.07 @

As I read the interview I wondered was that really TRay so full of bitterness and anger? I have known Todd for along time and in all honesty I have never known him to be a brawler/tough guy and reading his comments I gotta say I smell keyboard internet thug overtones. I also know Mike or Haitian Mike as I first met him and Mike aint playing dead up cats known to stomp a mud hole in a cat so I say this:
Todd fall back you sound retarted, I know you you aint about none of that shit. Your a nice dude or at least you were when we use to hang even if you did steal the Junior Mance loop and had me screaming at you back in the day. I love ya dude but really be you don’t point fingers and dwell on the past its negative bro put down the baggae.

I say to Mike I really hope you never run in to Todd I know what the end result will be and your gonna feel really bad after you beat him up for reals it aint worth ii.

Beyond that why air each
other out in public you cats look like junior high school kids if its that serious just loc up and throw joints and get it over with already.

Comment by Dante Ross 06.05.08 @

Oh yeah Brand Nubian and 3rd Bass beefs on the board well I produced em both and heres my thoughts:

3rd bass had a black audience initially for sure. I also produced there biggest hit the horrible Pop Goes The Weasel which was a contrived piece of shit that did get spins in New York and did get MTV love big time. They were in my eyes decent and all but no way near as important as Brand Nubian. Fuck it Chub Rock bodied them dudes on Kick it in the Grill for further proof go give it a listen.

As for the Brand Nubians they were infintely better than 3rd bass could ever be but alas they were short lived and never recaptured there initial fire at least to me. The First Puba record was also an under achiever in my eyes though it has aged better than I thought it would but I was totally disspointed with it when it was done. I felt like I had blown the biggest record of my career thus far. I still half feel like that except I’ve made way more record now so I don’t really care what happens with them when I’m done making em. I cant be attached it’s to painful when you are really.

Blacks loved 3rd Bass they had a pass for sure and were native tounge affiliates for a while even. I remember being in Chung King and playing Brand Nubian/Puba songs Who Can Get Busy like this man and Step to the Rear for Downtown Science aka Bosco Money (Chump) Sam Sever( Good Guy) and Search after Bosco played me his future frisbee and Search played me some shit 3rd bass had just done with Sam. All I can say is when I played Those Puba/Brand Nubian songs them dudes knew the power of those records and Search looked scared as fuck promptly asked me to hook him up with a beat like Step To The Rear ( It never happened) and Bosco had to leave the room cause he knew he just couldnt hang. Honestly he might have been th wakcest cat who ever got a record deal at least in my cypher I mean the guy sucked and he was a super dickhead but let me not digress.

Those 2 songs made both those MC’s rethink there whole shit and I believe it may have been the exact moment that Bosco Money and Sam Sever knew Downtown Science couldn’t compete. It was a literral changing of the guards in about all of 8 minutes.
An aside Kurious use to slay 3rd Bass in freestyles all day long when we were doing Derilicts of Dialect album and fucking Search wouldn’t let him get a feature on the record cause Pete had him signed and Search wasnt gonna come up on Jorges Career.

Regardless 3rd bass had some moments but Brand Nubian they were tremendously amazing if only for a fleeting unified moment. Jorge on the other hand was the best dude period and a lot of fun to be around I miss those times it was a lot of fun!

Comment by Dante Ross 06.05.08 @

“Bosco had to leave the room cause he knew he just couldnt hang. Honestly he might have been th wakcest cat who ever got a record deal at least in my cypher I mean the guy sucked and he was a super dickhead”

Hahaha. Bosco Money did indeed blow.

For the record, the T-Ray interview was done over the phone, so I’m not sure if it was a case of him going into “keyboard internet thug” mode.

Comment by Robbie 06.05.08 @

I Remember the WhiteBoys…They had a dope song that DJ RED ALERT was cutting up on his sat nite show in 88ish,I copped their lp and it sucked ass.
But what an interview!!!!Wow I thought I knew a lot of shit because I was there but I never knew who this t-ray guy was.What a story,Amazing interview!!!!11

Comment by DJ DAVITO 04.12.10 @

Great interview. But how much of it is true?
To me VIC has always been better than T-ray, so how could he have ever given him a style of production??
Hmmm…sounds fishy!!!!

Comment by laepoca 08.02.10 @

It took a long time for me to read all 3 parts of the T Ray interview, he is a man with a lot of good things to say and I’m not being sarcastic here. Thanks to Robbie for taking the time to present all this info to us, and thanks to T Ray for his great works.

Comment by Chris Ward 04.12.13 @

Whole interview contrasts nicely with this…cool tv show brah https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6KVQXlbAHg

Comment by M 07.15.13 @

This video showcases even better just how far removed he is from his roots/former self…..he seems almost embarrassed by it. He has to sidestep any question on contemporary rap as you can tell he doesn’t have a care in the world about it, didn’t seem like he could have gave you a current name if you demanded it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go09gJz2svc

Comment by M 07.15.13 @

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