Filed under: Features,In The Trenches,Interviews,Killa Queens,Not Your Average,Steady Bootleggin',The 90's Files
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Photo: Alexander Richter
Name: The Mighty V.I.C.
Affiliations: A member of The Beatnuts until the Stone Crazy album, worked with Godfather Don as the Groove Merchantz and later formed Ghetto Pros with Mike Heron.
Claim to Fame: “G Rap used to live around my block, and I gave him the loop for ‘Truly Yours’. I remember playing the actual 45 to G Rap – he came to my basement, he heard it and he was like, ‘Yeah! Let me get it!’ And that’s how ‘Truly Yours’ came about. It’s funny ‘cos [DJ] Polo went around tellin’ everybody he gave the record to Marley.”
Current Status: Worked on Joell Ortiz’ The Brick: Bodega Chronicles and a track for his shelved Aftermath project (which is set to appear on Dr. Dre’s long awaited Detox album), and recently produced some cuts for Butta Verses. Provides musical scores for various MTV and E! Network programs such as Pimp My Ride, Punk’d and My Super Sweet Sixteen, and is developing his own music library company.
In The Trenches:
“I knew Ju-Ju from The Beatnuts for a very long time – not through music but through mutual friends. He knew I did music but he thought I did just dance stuff, and I used to invite him over to my house and tell him, ‘Hey, you should come on through and stop by. I’ve got a little studio’. He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever’. But then he heard the Smooth Movement record [‘The Adventure’, which V.I.C. had remixed] on the radio – he had no idea it was me. So he goes to the record store looking for the record and he went and bought two of them. Then he shows-up at my place later on, ‘Hey! I didn’t know you did this record!’ I said, ‘I told you a long time ago – ‘come to my house’. He came over and that’s when I really started getting into full-force digging. It was kind of a trade-off – he didn’t have a sampler at the time – finally, he’s like, ‘I wanna get me a drum machine’, so I had an MPC-60 and he got an MPC-60. He was showing me how to chop beats and I was showing him how to use the machine. This is around 91, 92.
I met Kurious Jorge at a party, through Powerule, that Gangstarr were performing at. I wasn’t officially a member of The Beatnuts yet, but this guy Kurious Jorge came over and was waiting for Juju to play him some beats. He was like, ‘Do you think he’s coming? What’s going on?’ He was waiting there for about an hour, and Juju never showed up. So I ended-up playing some beats for him and that’s how ‘Walk Like A Duck’ came along. That’s when I became a member, they were like, ‘Are you gonna be part of this?’ and I say, ‘Yeah’. You may not know that I did that song, we never really separated the name with a member by saying, ‘This member produced it’. I also did ‘Mansion and a Yacht’ and ‘Uptown Shit’.
I rhymed on the [Beatnuts] EP and the album after that, but Juju wrote those rhymes and it took me about two hours to spit ‘World Famous’. When I first started rhyming it was like, ‘Man! Oh my gosh! Your voice is good!’ Then about an hour later, the excitement had left… another thing was, Jorge wrote the rhyme for me first, then Juju is like, ‘I don’t know….I want it to be more about beat-digging’. And who not to do a beat-digging rhyme better than Juju? So he rewrote it right there. When Fashion came back [from prison] I kinda stopped going to the sessions – I don’t know if he felt I was trying to take his spot in the group – obviously I wasn’t – but someone had told me that he was talking behind my back, saying that I was just trying to use them. Their road manager – Ric Man – he used to tell me, ‘You need to start coming back to the sessions. There’s really no direction – they’re just drinking, smoking a lot – a lot of work doesn’t get done. It’s becoming more just hanging out’. I’m telling you now – I did the A&R job that the A&R was supposed to be doing during Intoxicated Demons.
When Al’Tariq [Fashion] was recording his solo record he was a Muslim for about two seconds. He brings this little rug to the studio. ‘OK, fine. You’re gonna go in and pray in one of these rooms at a certain time? Then you go ahead’. Now the guy had his rug – I didn’t know he was in that room – I knocked, I didn’t hear anything. He’s getting up, and when I open up a puff of smoke comes out of his mouth. It’s dark in the room, but I saw the smoke! I’m like, ‘What happened?’ He’s like, ‘Oh no, nothing’. He thinks I didn’t see – he’s smiling and I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re either practicing religion or you’re not. You like to bring ya little rug in there and pretend you’re gonna go pray, and meanwhile you’re smoking weed! Which one is it?’ It was pretty hilarious.
The Groove Merchantz wasn’t like a production team where we had to do everything together, it was just a fun thing, like, ‘Let’s just do some beats together’. We got to do some remixes for House of Pain, for Nas…it’s funny ‘cos I get these cheques that say ‘Groove Merchantz’ on them from BMI and stuff like that, and it’s like, ‘OK, I can’t cash these – I don’t have a bank account called Groove Merchantz!’ [laughs] I’m tryin’ to get in touch with ‘em – ‘Listen, it doesn’t exist! It was just a name that I was using!’”
Five Essential V.I.C. Beats:
The Beatnuts feat. Grand Puba – ‘Are You Ready?’
The combination of a dope break and a killer cameo make this one of the stand-outs from the flawless ‘Street Level’ album.
Missing Linx – ‘M.I.A’
Problemz, Al’Tariq and Black Attack rock over a catchy loop later made famous on Dr. Dre‘s ‘The Next Episode’.
Kurious – ‘Uptown Shit’
The Magician and his CM crew get rowdy over this breezy sure-shot.
Nas – ‘One Love (One L Remix)’
Although nothing was ever going to top Q-Tip‘s original recipe, V.I.C. and Godfather Don give it an eerie, tension-filled reworking, complete with an ill Sadat X hook.
Big Pun – ‘Boomerang’
The perfect melancholy backdrop for Punisher’s poetical terror, this sample was later utilized by Madlib for the first Quasimoto project.
Bonus: Smooth Movement – ‘The Adventure’ [New School Jazz Mix]
C$Money & DJ Chase ‘Ladies Can I Have Your Attention’ (an early V.I.C. production) is available through the Stones Throw store.
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