Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Interviews,Not Your Average,Print Work,Steady Bootleggin',Video Clips
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Normal service will resume shortly, when I drop the Percee-P interview. Until then, here’s a re-up of my Breeze Brewin interview I did for Modern Fix last year:
As demonstrated over memorable yet sporadic appearances over the 90’s, lead Juggaknot Breeze Brewin is remarkable in his ability to deliver verses that are immediately rewarding but still reveal new angles after repeated listens. The Juggaknots aren’t a one-man show as siblings Queen Herawin and Buddy Slim more than earn their keep. As music keeps getting dumber (and not the good kind of dumb, either), Use Your Confusion offers some much needed brainfood.
Robbie: You’ve got a nice guest-list on the album.
Breeze: I did a record with Nine, being from the Bronx, I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I did a record with Sadat X which was real cool. I lived in New Rochelle for a bit when that whole Brand Nubian joint popped off. Cats who were strong influences…and of course Slick Rick. Who wouldn’t want to do a record with Slick Rick?
Sadat’s still killing it these days.
I’m impressed that Sadat has maintained his status. A lot of guys that have been in the game that long aren’t sounding so great these days, but he’s still firing with the hot shit. He’s bugged, man. He’s a real artist. When we was doing the record…just his taste in beats and his approach was very professional but still very artistic. His flow has gotten more complex as time had gone on – more intricate – and you can tell how he’s messing with patterns and different things…there’s definitely an artistic agenda there.
You’ve got a unique flow yourself. How did you develop that, or was it a natural progression?
I wouldn’t call it natural. It comes from influences and just listening to a lot of cats. It’s just bugged… within the space of the bars, I’m trying to do a lot with it, but then at the same time, not doing too much, so that things are subtle. You wanna have punch-lines, but at the same time you don’t wanna hold the listeners hand. You wanna have it racey enough so that it’ll come by and be a nice flash, but you don’t want ‘em to miss the flash either. So just trying to keep that balance of being slick with it, and then not too overt with it – but obvious. It’s a cool challenge. If you got a good line – put it out there, but don’t say it like it’s the last good line you ever gonna have in your life!
Was the raw sounding quality on the record you guys did on Fondle ‘Em a result of the whole Elektra situation?
Yeah. We were younger cats. It wasn’t like we were against cooperation, but we were kinda beyond conformity. So it was like “Why do we need a hook here? What are you talking about ‘We need a hook here?'” and they were like “We need a hook!” They thought we were being difficult, and we didn’t really understand what they were tryin’ to do. Some of it was naive, some of it was stubborn, and some of it was sticking to our guns. I don’t think we were completely right in how we handled the Elektra thing, but taking that and going into the Fondle ‘Em thing was a blessing. It was just a different format, a different platform, and who knows? If it had went through Elektra, it could’ve been huge, but not if they didn’t believe in it.
The good thing about those Fondle ‘Em records was it was stuff that you really had to search out for yourself. There wasn’t a lot of promotion, just a good word-of-mouth thing. And now that’s a $100 record.
That still bugs me out! I only have one copy myself, so I wish I had a couple!
Was that Elektra situation around ’94?
We probably got the deal around ’93. So we were working up to it from then. “Romper Room” was done around late ’80s, man! If you listen to some of the lines on there in reference to Joey Farmer – that was Howard Beach – that was like ’88? It was bugged that some songs were able to maintain, but I think we got a little lucky. Just when we were starting out, we had our influences at the same time, for some reason or other we sounded different enough so that by the time the music did come out it didn’t sound as dated as it was.
Especially around ’93, you had everybody doing the Das-EFX/Onyx thing.
Yeah, it didn’t match with none of that, so it was like “Oh, what are these guys doing? They’re trying to be different.” We weren’t trying to be different, it’s just that we were before a lot of that.
“Clear Blues Skies” is a true classic from that era.
How “Clear Blues Skies” came about was kinda cool. My brother was like “We should do something about racism.” I dunno how he got to the “clear blues skies” – we were high a lot then. [laughs] He related it to purity, and then the whole connection to eyes being almost Aryan. How it got received was bugged, they were like “It’s a cool way to approach the topic.” There were a lotta hot racism joints back in the day. “Erase Racism” with Kane and G Rap was one of my favorites, and various Brand Nubes joints. Just to come from a different angle, I think that did well for us. That wasn’t even my favorite song on the record.
“I’m Gonna Kill You”, is my favorite song I’ve ever recorded. If I never make anything like that from here on in, I’m good, because that song, right there is… I really couldn’t improve on it if I tried. Lyrically and musically and song structure-wise, that’s my favorite joint.
On the new album you are continuing the Indelible’s style with the industrial tone to some of the beats, without sounding stuck in the past.
We don’t exist in a vacuum. We listen to what’s goin’ on at here and instruments come out. If I had my way, I’d buy a different synthesizer a week. You get crazy collecting that shit, and you get broke! Being broke’s the only way I’ll stop because I love a new toy. And with new toys come new sounds and new opportunities and new avenues. But at the same time, the sensibilities that went into the first record really went into this record. It was cool to get-up with some cats from that era, and some of the new cats that would’ve did fine in that era as well.
So do you sample as well as play when you make beats?
The majority of the basslines there are from the different synths, and also a lotta high-end. You’ll hear joints with a little sound here and there, they’re samples of us. And then there’s other joints where it’s pretty dominant that it wasn’t from a record, where the essence of the song came from us outright. I still love to sample, like anybody, but that’s kind of a scary business. You don’t wanna do too well, and then it’s like “Oh, I’m gonna get sued.” I’m sure hip-hop cats – if they couldn’t sample at all – they’d still make some pretty disgusting sounds. I think about cats like K-Def and The 45 King and it’s almost like an old jazz attitude, like “I know I’m not the household name, but motherfuckers know how I do, and if you wanna get your hands dirty then play with me and get down – I won’t disappoint”. It’s an arrogance that a lotta cats in hip-hop get stripped of, ’cause as time goes on and you ain’t got the hot single, for some reason you can’t put your chin up as high. But some cats still push it out there.
What are you listening to these days?
It could be Dipset to Talib Kweli. I still listen to a lotta old stuff, and that’s OK. It’s OK with a lot of other music, so I don’t know why there’s not a classic hip-hop station in the metropolitan area. It’s online and different satellite stations have it, but the time has come. Hip-hop’s been in the game thirty years – why can’t we have that? Right now you’re playing classic rock stuff from the 80’s. If you was to have a classic hip-hop station, there’d be a lot more to choose from. It’s not like I’m hating on rock, I love rock. Some of the stuff I listen to now is a lot of rock, but at the same time, hip-hop won’t be respected as a real music until it’s given the allowances of other musics. I should be able to turn on the radio and hear “J.Beez Comin’ Thru” and not want to cum in my pants because of it.
The record labels still treat it like fast-food.
I don’t know what we gotta do to get beyond the novelty stage. Why wouldn’t these radio stations respect the craft to the point where you could play the influences of the biggest artists – be it a Jay-Z or Kanye or Eminem or whoever. Them dudes know who the dudes are, and I don’t think it would be a threat at all to inundate the rest of the world with the cats that made them who they are. I should be able to turn on the radio and hear D.O.C. as much as I hear Tupac!
That Prince Amongst Thieves project with Prince Paul was a good album. Did you have to audition for it?
Nah, nah. We searched him out. When we was on Elektra, we was tryin’ to get at Paul for production or guidance, or just to pick his brain. Kim Spikes, who was the A&R there and was one of the only people who really tried to give us any support – because by the time we got up there they was gonna go that Missy/Timbaland route – she actually got our music to Paul. He had just finished the Resident Alien stuff and was on the Psychoanalysis tour, and I guess he was digging through tapes and found it and then he said he was just bumpin’ it on the tour crazy. I was at Fat Beats part-time, working nights full-time (I think I was a janitor at the time) and I came home and got the message that he had called. I went “Aight” and went to bed, because I was beat! When I woke up, it was like “Oh, wow!” I called him and I just got up with him. He had the whole joint laid out, the whole script written. Before we did any of the songs, we had to go and record the vocal clips, maybe five or six times, and then he would take that and chop it up so that he could get the right cadence and attitude. Nobody sat down there and did long monologues. So if anybody thinks that I can act, I probably fooled ‘em.
Juggaknots – “Jive Talk”
Juggaknots – “I’m Gonna Kill You”
“Clear Blue Skies” video:
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