Filed under: Interviews,Print Work,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Here’s a bunch of old interviews I did for print that I never got around to posting, mainly because they weren’t really in-depth. So instead of having to hear about what ever album these guys were promoting at the time, I’ve picked out the most interesting two or three quotes and thrown ‘em all together. Look out for a series of Rap-A-Lot specials next week.
You mention Big Pun at the start of the single. Is that a Puerto Rican thing that everyone gets compared to him or was it more of a personal thing for you?
Termanology: It’s a little bit of both. Pun was one of the best rappers ever, and he definitely was the best Puero Rican rapper ever. I look at myself like I’m real lyrical and he’s real lyrical. I’m real political and he’s real political. I was tryin’ to make a comparison. I was never tryin’ to say I’m greater than him or better than him or ever will be, because in my eyes, he’s the greatest MC ever. I’m just sayin’ a lotta other cats is nasty but they ain’t gonna go platinum, and they ain’t as nasty as me and as political.
Listening to your flow and your patterns, you’re obviously a student of Kool G Rap?
Termanology: Kool G Rap really made-up the style that we all use now. We all bit it off him. G Rap made-up the rapid-fire, tongue-twister shit, and then Pun took it where he took it and then I took it where I took it, AZ took it where he took it. All of us, the guys that I just named, we are students of Kool G Rap. He started it and then we all took it and went somewhere else with it.
Do you feel New York is getting pushed out of the spotlight?
Tame One: No, because it’s the birthplace of hip-hop. Nothing’s gonna change, it’s a game. It’s the rap game, and in a game no one keeps the ball for the whole four quarters, you gotta pass the ball around. Everybody gets a turn.
That’s good way of looking at it. But are you enjoying the game as much as you were when you were younger?
Tame One: Oh hell no! By no means. The players in the game have changed. I compare it to the Saturday Night Live cast, man. As a franchise, SNL was great, but if you weren’t around for the fuckin’ John Belushi era, Gilda Ratner, original cast members…
Jimmy Fallon’s no Belushi, that’s for sure.
Tame One: The players in the game changed, so playin the game ain’t that much fun anymore.
On the third album it was more of a musical approach with the addition of live instruments. Did you get a good reaction to that LP?
Lord Jamar: From some people – they either love it or hate it. Some people are like ‘Yo, that’s the best album you guys ever put out’, but a lot of people at the time was like ‘Yo, it’s too slow. It sounds like some Cali shit. What are you doin?’ You’ve gotta grow, musically. You can’t keep doin’ the same thing – even though people might want you to do that.
In the late 80’s, guys like Lakim Shabazz were really bringing a strong righteous vibe and dropping 5% lessons in their music. Do you feel that in recent times it’s not getting enough attention?
Lord Jamar: Right. That’s because people feel like they’ve gotta do what’s already out there in order to be successful. A lot of people get into rap to stop struggling, so why get into rap to start a new struggle, by trying to say some things that might be helpful but you know that the powers that be are not gonna let that sell. So why not do the easy thing and rhyme about some cars, some broads and some guns and some drugs, and get that money! Be on MTV Cribs and all that type of shit.
Lord Jamar: Yeah. But at the end of the day it’s gonna back-fire on ‘em, ‘cause it’s too much. You’re cold to that now, so anything fresh that you hear…that’s why people like Kanye West is winning, people like Common is winning, ‘cos it’s different. Not that their music is all that conscious to me, it’s just that they’re not saying the bullshit, so it just seems conscious.
Just because they’re not negative…
Lord Jamar: Kanye said, ‘George Bush doesn’t care about Black people’. That’s not very profound, but coming from the artists that we have out there right now, and the fact that he’s up there and he didn’t have to say that – so that part of it is profound – but that’s really not that deep! We knew that already! But since nobody is saying shit like that, it was like, ‘Whoa! Did you hear what Kanye said?’
You also discovered Dead Prez. How did that come about?
Lord Jamar: I just met them one day, on the street. Just started kickin’ it. Unlike these major labels, I was able to see into an unfinished product and I was able to see the potential that was there – instead of what was there right before me – and started working with them on that basis. On the potential that I saw, rather than them bringin’ me a product that was damn-near finished. That’s what record companies want these days. They don’t want to develop artists.
What’s the feeling in Boston like at the moment? In the late 90’s there was a lot of indy stuff coming out, with Mr. Lif, Skitzofreniks, Reks and everyone.
Esoteric: All the artists have spread their wings and gone in all different directions. I don’t think anybody from that graduating class of the mid 90’s, early 2000’s is in touch with each other lately. There’s certain people that are more prevalent and persistent with releasing their music, but there’s also a whole crop of younger cats that are coming out too, like Slaine and Terminology, that are holdin’ Boston down too. Everybody’s still doin’ their thing, but as far as a community of MC’s like it was… everyone’s hustlin’, trying to make their own records.
One thing I can never understand is when I read reviews that complain ‘so and so gets stuck on too many battle raps’. Some people actually seem to think that it’s a bad thing to do brag rap!
Esoteric: I know! Trust me, I’ve been beatin’ myself up over that for years. I’m like, ‘Who are these people that think there’s something wrong with anything braggadocio oriented?’ That’s hip-hop. I don’t understand how people could have a problem with shit like that. The kids that are turned-off by stuff like that haven’t been listening since back when Just-Ice was doin’ his thing, or any artist from that era was really puttin’ it down, ‘cos that’s the type of stuff that helped shape us. Lord Finesse, Big L, EPMD – half the album is talkin’ about yourself. That’s the essence of it.
I know you were a big Polo collector. Are you still maintaining that?
Esoteric: It kinda got a little outta control in the late 90’s. It wasn’t what it was to me, so I just kinda dropped it. I’ve still got all the old gear, but it’s tough to keep up with that shit too. The Polo designs aren’t as hot as they used to be, so you start lookin’ like an asshole.
What is it about Eiht that made you reach out to him?
DJ Crucial: When I was in high school Compton’s Most Wanted was one of my favorite groups – period. I would listen to MC Eiht every day on my way to school. Whenever we we were talking about hip-hop ‘Who’s your favorite MC?’, it’d be like MC Eiht, Nas and stuff. He was always just one of my top guys, it was like a dream to actually get to work with him. He was really cool, I sent him my beats and he liked ‘em. We met up and did the song in my studio and everything, we hung out and I even got to DJ for him that night at his show.
What’s the stupidest request that you’ve had while you’ve been deejaying?
DJ Crucial: One time I was doing an 80’s night for an older crowd – and I cut-up those records to, I grew up in the 80’s – and while I was playing a Madonna song this guy came up to me and he asked for a Madonna song. I was like ‘Are you kidding me?!?’ Who doesn’t know Madonna? It was like ‘Lucky Star’ or something! I was like ‘Wow. Do you know any music?’ [laughs] If you don’t know the pop stuff….come on! It wasn’t something hard. I was already playing it, and he was all worked-up about it, like ‘C’mon! You’ve gotta play it!’
When you were performing with your old group, you used to MC as well?
Wax Tailor: Yeah, I was an MC for ten years. From the early 90’s to 2000. In the beginning, I was writing in English. I was better in English [laughs] – but this was the beginning of French rap. In ‘88, ‘89 I was involved in rap music but we had no scene in France. We had a few rappers, but it wasn’t very interesting. The first crews like NTM, IAM – those kind of crews from the end of the eighties – they wrote really dope lyrics in French, and they’re the reason I began to write and rap in French.
What changed for you?
Wax Tailor: At the beginning of the nineties, we had a scene that was really personal. Like IAM – they had some influences in their music that you couldn’t find in US rap – but the lyrics were better than any US rap, and after that, it began to be a kind of clone of US rap. Even if it was written in French you got more and more bands writing stories like they were living in Brooklyn.
Termanology feat. Lil’ Fame & Papoose - “Watch How It Go Down” (Remix)
Slow Suicide Stimulus feat. Grandmaster Caz - “Roll Up”
Lord Jamar feat. Grand Puba - “The Corner, The Streets”
7L & Esoteric - “Reggie Lewis Is Watching” (Top Of The Key Remix)
DJ Crucial feat. MC Eiht - “Life I Choose”
Wax Tailor feat. Charlotte Savary - “Alien In My Belly”
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