Filed under: Flushing's Finest,Interviews,Killa Queens,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Neek The Exotic has been known as the hyper-energetic understudy to Large Pro for his entire career, but this year he’s decided to branch out on his own two with the release of his Real Deal Hip-Hop EP in a couple of weeks and the Hustle Don’t Stop LP to follow. Battling poor phone reception, I managed to piece together the following…
Robbie: What are your first memories of hip-hop?
Neek: Oh man, when I was growing up, most of the big DJ’s were coming out of South Jamaica, Queens, where I’m at in Queens, because they used to bring the big speakers out in the park and have park jams. They only did that in Jamaica, Queens and the Bronx and Uptown – Uptown they would cut the whole street off and put ‘em in the street! That’s how that was.
When did start rapping?
I was around 12 years old, man, when I started actually wanting to rap. I was good at reading and poetry.
Which high school did you go to?
I went to John Bowne with Large Professor.
Who was in your old crew?
It was me and Large Professor, then we had my man Van, my man Cee-Lo and my man JD and Lenny. Nas used to live in my building also, he used to live upstairs on the seventh floor. His first child, his baby’s mother – Carmen Bryan – I grew up with her. We’re childhood friends. I knew Nas also through Large, but once he moved to my building we were hanging out all the time. MC Serch used to come by and Nas used to play him some of my stuff and try to get him interested or whatever the case may be. We had some good times. AZ used to come by, it used to be cool. Busta Rhymes used to come by, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Lord Finesse – me and Lord Finesse made a mixtape one time, a straight mixtape, just me and Lord Finesse. Everybody used to come by.
Did that mixtape ever come out?
Nah, that was just something that we just did personal, but it was dope.
What can you tell me about Vandamator?
He’s a childhood friend. He’s actually the brother of Carmen Bryan, Nas baby mother.
Is he still making music?
Yeah, he’s out there in California right now. He lives there right now.
Was ‘Fakin The Funk’ your first time on a record?
Yeah, 1992. Me and Large grew-up together, we knew each other since we were ten years old. He had a group that he formed called Main Source, as you know, and they got called to do a song for the soundtrack for the movie White Men Can’t Jump, and he called me to come do a song with them. So I went to the studio and we did ‘Fakin’ The Funk’.
What happened between the ‘Exotic’s Raw’ single and ‘Fakin’ The Funk’?
To be honest with you, at that time when ‘Fakin The Funk’ came out, I was incarcerated. So that’s why a lotta people never got a chance to see me perform or promote. Everybody always wondered, ‘Who was that kid on that song?’, because I wasn’t here.
Except for that Yo!MTV Raps performance…
Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Doctor Dre – that was dope. That was live on television so that was my first time ever doing something like that. I ain’t been on television like that since! [laughs] At least not live like that, anyway. That was a dope experience.
When you got out, you put out some great independent records. Who was the guy who produced ‘Pump Ya Fist’ – Yusef Lateef?
His father is a jazz musician. His father’s name is Yusef Lateef. He’s a friend of mine who we grew-up with from the neighbourhood also, so he did that particular track back then.
On the back cover of Back N Necks you had a shout-out to Joe Flav, saying ‘Thanks for lending me $1,500’.
Ha! Yeah man, he was a friend of mine who actually helped me put the record out, and he sung the chorus on ‘Motherfuckin’ Man’. That was to get me out there and let people know I was back in the game.
What were you doing between when you put the singles out in 1999 and the LP you did in 2003?
Once I finished putting out the singles I was getting my show game together. I was actually with the Lost Boys at that time, on the road with them for like a year, and I was their opening act, performing ‘Exotic’s Raw’ everywhere.
Your first LP was on Hi-Rise. Was that your own label?
That was Large Professor’s manager at that time, his name was Kenny. It was his label, Hi-Rise Entertainment.
Did you get a good response from that album?
No, not really. It kinda just came and went.
Because it wasn’t promoted properly?
Definitely. That’s the only thing I can really see, ‘cos there were a lot of bangin’ tracks on there. It wasn’t like I was with a company that had a lot of money behind them, so it was different.
Where does the expression ‘Backs ‘N Necks’ come from?
I don’t know, man. It’s like the Incredible Hulk shit or something. Maybe it was some of the beer I was drinking, too. Back in them days I was drinking 40’s of St. Ides. Oh boy, I don’t know what the hell we was thinking about as young kids, man.
You’ve worked with Royal Flush a lot, did you grow-up together?
We grew-up together, he’s a little younger than me. When I first started, Royal Flush was my DJ. He wasn’t even rapping at the time. Me and [Mr] Cheeks also know each other from little kids, even though he’s from South Jamaica, Queens. I had family out there, so we knew each other since we were kids too. All of us are friends from way back. Mic Geronimo also, he grew-up with us too.
I notice Large isn’t on the new album. Is everything still cool with you guys?
We always gonna be cool, that’s my brother. But my whole time of doing this music, everybody has always heard me with Large Professor, they never heard me by myself. So everything that I’ve ever done has been with Large Professor, because he was my friend and my brother, and I know he had the dope production so I just stayed right there and never reached out to other producers, besides Yusef Lateef, but he’s also a childhood friend so that’s kinda different. I wanted to go a different route on this one and get out of that umbrella with Large Professor and show people that I can do things by myself too, that I’m my own artist and my own brand. That’s why I had to do a solo album myself.
What can you tell me about the new single?
It’s produced by Altered Beats from France. That’s my whole Paris family, with Altered Beats, DJ Modesty, Altered Pro, it’s a whole team. Music, video, graphics, they do it all. When I heard the beat for ‘Get The City Warm’, I couldn’t do nothing but get ferocious on it! It was so hard and so raw, uncut, rugged. He really blessed me with that.
How would describe Queens?
I would describe it as a beautiful place. It’s very diverse, you have a lot of different ethnics that live there. For instance, in my neighbourhood, in Flushing, Queens, I live around Pakinstanians and Indians and Chinese and Koreans and African-Americans, so I live in a very diverse neighbourhood. You have a lotta different races that live in my neighbourhood. Flushing in particular is my diverse than any other part of Queens.
So you have a lot of good food there? A lot of different restaurants?
I wouldn’t say that. We have a lotta restaurants, but they ain’t all good! [laughs] I’mma keep it real. But we’ve got enough of ‘em. We don’t need no damn more!
What makes Queens MC’s different?
Queens is more flashy. We talk a lotta more flashy stuff than the rest of the boroughs, and it’s always been like that. Brooklyn has always been more on the gutter side, like M.O.P, they was just, ‘Grrrrrr!’ Queens was more…LL Cool J ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’, Run-DMC. It was a different element. We always wore something different and something flavourful.
What’s your best solo track?
I would have to say ‘Letter To Ma’, because my mother’s still alive and I got a chance to make a song she could hear.
Unkut’s Top 5 Neek Tracks Without Large Pro:
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