Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Features,Interviews,Promos & Exclusives,Steady Bootleggin',Video Clips
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Photos by richdirection
Show is Bronx rap royalty. Besides his stellar work with Andre The Giant, he’s blessed his Diggin’ In The Crates crew (O.C., Big L, Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Fat Joe) with countless classic tracks, and produced winners for legends like KRS-One and Big Pun all the way up to today’s finest such as Joell Ortiz and Milano. After I was played six cuts from the new Show & AG album, I had the chance to build with the Show B-I-Z late one Friday night to discuss the state of the music game, the importance of the Boogie Down BX and why sample-based hip-hop will never play-out.
Robbie: Is this the first time that you and AG have recorded in a few years?
Show: Definitely, it’s been a few years. Since ’99 or 2000. At this moment me and A still trying to get our own vibe back, coz I’m really tryin’ to grow, far as musically, and AG still like to do what he do also. So we’re just trying to connect in the right way, where we both feel good about it. After we do that, it’s back to putting our crew back in effect.
I guess it’s not a situation where you can try to make Runaway Slave Part 2. You’ve gotta do new stuff but try to capture the same chemistry.
Yeah, but that takes a while. Mind you, when we was doin’ our first stuff, that wasn’t just nothing we just did – that was a couple of years worth of material and we just took the best ones. That’s how sometime an album have to be made.
Did you have a crew before you got down with AG?
Yeah, I had a couple of crews! One of them was Maxwell House, and I was down with this guy named Lance Romance. My deejay name was Little Rock and Lance Romance. There’s a couple of vinyls out there, floating. They’re real valuable and they real rare.
What was the name of the song?
It was called “Brother With Soul”. Back in the late 80s, on Lance Romance Records.
I remember there was a little situation with you guys and Lords of the Underground over the “Chief Rocka” remix?
A lotta people was saying something about that, where we had beef with them. I don’t remember actually having no beef with them guys there. A record is a record – if you use it, you use it. We’ve used things that other people use, you nahmean? Who are we to beef over it? It ain’t even our goddamn record!
AG had a line about “Fake Lords get strangled with mic cords” and Finesse had a thing with that Mr. Funkee.
Oh yeah, I remember that! That’s what I remember, but never over no loops. Yeah, they had beef over that Funkyman name, I’m sure of that. But not over no loop, man. We all was into those jazz records – everybody was using stuff. Tribe [Called Quest] used what we used, we used what Tribe used…Preme used. Everybody used the same records and just use different part.
Are there many songs from the first couple of albums that never came out?
We had a couple, but I guess the label had our two-inches and we definitely don’t know what happened to our two-inches. I probably have them on cassette, but that’s about it.
From the tracks I’ve heard, are you going back to more of a loop-based production style for this album?
Since we just started dealing with each other, we’re just trying to feel out each other, musically, to see where we going with it. That’s what I’ve basically started doing at first. The main thing is to definitely find loops and have a couple of joints that chopped also.
On the Street Talk LP you were using a really minimal style…
I’m getting back into the chops a lot more now, but for a while I had stopped coz I had to switch over on machines. I had to learn the new machines, and when I first was learning ‘em I wasn’t able to chop the way I was able to on the old machines, so it takes a little time for me to get the feel of how to do it the same way.
So you used to use the SP…what have you upgraded to?
I have the Roland Phantom, and I have the 2500 and the 1000 – Akai.
That must be good not to have to mess around with floppy discs anymore.
Yeah, I know. Now we got the little compact cards, it’s much, much better! [laughs] Save a lot more memory on it and you ain’t got to worry about lugging those big floppy discs around…embarrassing.
How do you feel about that LA stuff that AG and Percee have done with Madlib and those guys?
All that’s cool. I like alladat. Anything that’s sample-driven, I’m more into. You have to be exceptional for me to like you if it’s not sample-driven.
Like all that keyboard nonsense.
That’s not really what catches my attention. If you don’t wanna clear a sample, then chop it. If you don’t wanna chop it, then I guess people play it over. A lotta people that does it right now probably really don’t have the patience to sit there and chop-up music, or they don’t have the knowledge of it, or the simple fact that they don’t wanna look for records. I guess that’s why everybody turned to keyboards now – it’s easier.
With your first EP, you were driving around to stores yourself?
I just went to one-stops, records pools. A had a lotta people helping me. From there, we had a little buzz and then Premier brought us to Payday records. EMI was trying to get at us, that’s how I was able to do the Arrested Development – which was the first remix that I did – because the guy from EMI was trying to get me some work. We did “Tennessee”. At that time, there was a couple of labels that was interested in us. We basically went with Payday because of Premier. Patrick Moxy – the owner of Payday – was Premier’s manager.
When you guys first came out, you were rapping verse for verse with AG. Did you stop because you got sick of rhyming, or were you getting negative feedback?
Oh no, none of that! I was getting a lotta good – still to this day. But that’s not my thing. I wasn’t serious at doing it, and since I wasn’t going to be serious doing it, I’d rather not do it. I’d rather stick to what I do when I’m serious, coz I was actually doing it for fun. Then on another hand, I really ain’t wanna step on no toes, because the deal we made in the beginning was he’d be the rapper and I’d be the producer. So I wanted to stay in my place and not overstep my boundaries.
On Goodfellas, there were five or six songs that turned-up on a white label. Was that from issues with Payday?
Oh, no. We felt we didn’t want those out. We ain’t have no issues with the A&R – we never really had no problems at any time in our career with creative control. We was always basically free to do what we wanna do.
But when you guys did the DITC album with Tommy Boy you released a different version on vinyl?
That was basically the same thing. None of us was really eye-to-eye on that. I think the D.I.T.C. album coulda been a lot better, but we wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye, coz when everybody is used to being solo artists, you really have have your own creative control. So as us all starting out as solo artist – minus me and AG, being a duo – when everybody comes to the table, you have your own vision on whatchu want to do, and it kinda clashes. If everybody started out together, and then split out and became solo, it would’ve been a different story. If we was on the same page, I think it would’ve made a better impact. But what we did is just take the two versions we had – one to Fat Beats and on to Tommy Boy.
Was it a case of everyone trying to be the boss?
Not the fact of being a boss, but Diamond music is a little different from mine, mines a little bit different from Finesse. We all have different views when it comes to how you want a song done, you understand? You have to deal with a lot of different attitudes. Mind you, we wasn’t coming from a space where we didn’t have careers already. We already had careers, so that means we was already bein’ the boss of whatever project we was doing. We was just used to having the last word. So when you bring all of that together, it’s kinda hard to deal with different egos and shit like that. But it’s all cool.
T-Ray and Mike Heron had a falling out a while back. Did that affect your relationship with Milano at all?
Did you do an interview with T-Ray recently?
Yeah, that was on my site.
Oh OK, and that’s the one where he said he’s gonna punch Mike in the face?
I think he said he was gonna stab him in the heart or something.
[laughs] Aww man, that’s crazy, man. The situation just went sour over there with that, man. I ain’t gonna talk negative about nobody coz that’s not what I do.
Nah, I don’t want to draw you into that…
I mean it ain’t no problem. What the fuck T-Ray gonna do to me? Nothing. But I just don’t do shit like that.
Are you gonna be doing stuff with Milano in the future?
We talked, but we have to come to agreement on some terms. We still cool, but before I do somethin’ we better be on the same page, because sometime people don’t be on the same page and then jump into situations without thinking it through thoroughly, and it becomes a problem in the middle of the project. So me and him would have to be on the same page before we do anything.
What is it about the Bronx that sets it apart from everywhere else?
Because the essence come from here. Everybody does hip-hop in how they view it and how they feel about it. Different boroughs and different states. Different regions of the world express they self different. The only thing different about here is that we know the actual feeling and the actual essence of it, and our sound is more gritty because it’s from the beginning, It’s from the essence of it. When you talk about New York hip-hop, it has that boom-bap sound. It’s more hard, with big drums – that would be a New York sound I would basically say that originated from the Bronx. I think that’s the only thing that would kinda separate what we do from everybody else. Just having the knowledge of it, and having the privilege to see it rise and become a worldwide thing, from being something that was just done in your own town and your borough.
It must be crazy having people on the other side of the planet checking it out.
I always think about that. How you see it grow, over the years, from something that’s in your backyard to you can’t go nowhere on the planet without hearing it or seeing it. That’s what’s amazing.
What was the most memorable show you’ve done overseas?
I would say Sweden. It was a nice big response. And Japan also. It was just love, man. My memory is not too good coz I haven’t been on the road in a long time, but the love was really there. Nice shows in Sweden…like in New York, we would see a business man that’s in a three-piece suit, and not really be into hip-hop back then – maybe now, a little bit more – but not back then, ten years ago. To see that over there, and overseas, was really crazy. That’s what tripped me out, seeing different classes of people that was into it overseas back then.
What’s the vibe like in the Bronx now? Have you got much gentrification, as far as people trying to put yuppie apartments in certain parts?
Certain parts of the Bronx are gonna continue being the same. South Bronx is not gonna change. Because it’s the Bronx, the value is not gonna change. It’s pretty much the same as it was in the 70s – new buildings, but pretty much the same, the same things goin’ on. But as far as the vibe with music? It’s not the same. The living conditions are the same but the music is not. Everybody right now in the music industry don’t have no direction of which way we should go as far as New York music is concerned. The South done came and made a big impact on the rest of the world, so now we have to reinvent ourselves as far as New Yorkers, and nobody know where that coming from. The people that’s really afraid is really trying to jump on the south bandwagon and doing the type of music that they do, but that’s not New York music, so I can’t relate to that.
I hear what you’re saying. Does anyone try to have parties in the Bronx anymore?
Can’t do that no more man. Too many gunfights! The parties all be in midtown, if you have any parties in the South Bronx there pretty much gonna get shot-up before the night is over. It’s rare.
Do you have any thoughts on what’s been happening in the record industry in the last couple of years, with a lot of major labels closing their doors?
They don’t have no direction…hey man, it’s good and it’s bad at the same time. It’s good for people who really loves and enjoy making music, so they have their own avenue to make things and to be exceptional. It’s kinda bad because it’s so political now and there’s so much money into it that people are overlooking the creative side of the music industry and just looking at the finances that can be made dealing with this business. With that much said, a lotta people is in it just for the money, and it just crushes the creative standpoint of the game. When we were in it, everybody loved to do music. You had so many different styles of music, and people were just trying to outdo each other, music-wise. Now, more people just wanna be stars. Since that happened, the major labels never knew what was hot and what’s not! They just knew to invest in it! So being right now that everybody’s about money, now the labels are scared to death! Before they would know “Well, these people know they music, and they’re gonna sell”. Now, they don’t have that edge no more, because everybody’s in it for money. So that’s why labels right now are in a panic. Not only that, with the internet is a new monster, coz once a person get a iPod, it’s very rare they gonna go to the store and buy a CD.
So how does that affect you?
The independent game is the best game to do! Let me tell you, when I was selling vinyl – when we was doing the independent thing – you press-up a vinyl for $2, $1.40, you only sell it for three. Now we do CD’s and the profits is much bigger – you’ve just gotta have your market. The independent game, like what we doing right now with D.I.T.C. Records, we just plan on expanding it and keeping that independent game the way it is, because it’s better for us. We don’t gotta answer to nobody and we can just do what we do.
Is it even worth pressing-up vinyl anymore?
Nah, it’s really not worth pressing vinyl. It’s going out the window right now. Serato Scratch and CD turntables – more Serato. Soon there won’t be no use for CD’s anymore. All you’re gonna do is MP3 the music and people is gonna get that. It’s gonna be out the door.
How can you deal with that as someone who’s outing out independent music?
The good thing about with CD’s, you can still look at the cover, read the credits or whatever the case may be, but until that day come where CD’s is obsolete – we gonna rock with this.
Show & AG feat. Lord Finesse - “It’s Up To You”
Show & AG feat. Diamond D - “Still Diggin'”
Show & AG - “Medicine”
Molecules - “Revenge”
Show & AG - “Fat Pockets” (Live At Tramps, 1999).
“Next Level” video:
“Party Groove” video:
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