Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Features,Interviews,Not Your Average
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
One of the most original MC’s to emerge from the Boogie-Down Bronx in recent times is $amhill, who made his official debut on the P Brothers The Gas LP in 2008, as well as various tracks I’ve posted here and an appearance on the Counterstrike mix. Most recently he began working with Ralph McDaniels [host of Video Music Box], who directed ‘Poetic Justice’ last year. Following a difficult couple of years, $amhill kicks it with Unkut Dot Com as he prepares to release his first two solo project, The Preface and The $amhill Story, later this year.
Robbie: Can you break down the science of your name, The Almighty $amhill?
$amhill: The word ‘Sam Hill’ is another termanology for ‘hell’. Like, ‘What in the Sam Hill is going on?’ I don’t use that name as a representation of hell, because I’m no representation of Satan or hell at all – I use the name as a representation of the hell that I’ve experienced in my life on this earth. I put ‘The Almighty’ before it because that’s a direct representation of God. I put the dollar sign for the ‘S’ because money is the root of all evil. That’s why I made myself The Almighty $amhill – money is the root of everything that’s going wrong on this earth. Everything!
Where did it all start for you?
If it wasn’t for Showbiz and them niggas, I probably wouldn’t be doing this! I seen this nigga on Video Music Box, and I came outside and walked up the block and this nigga is on the corner! I never seen nobody on TV outside before! That shit changed my life forever. Showbiz and AG made me realise this shit is real. I’ve been writing rhymes since I was about 14, but I started getting noticed around 22, ‘cos I started deejaying at City College in Harlem. I was deejaying for about four, five years. This female that I know, she had a radio show there. She would let me play some of my music on the air and let me spit, and I would make promos for the show and people was liking it. After the show ended, I took a couple of law classes in 2005 when I was going through a lot of drama in my life. When I was in school I met this engineer and he let me start recording for free. That’s when I started recording some new music, and that’s when I made my MySpace page and that’s when everybody started taking notice.
How did you start working with Minnesota?
Minnesota’s from Soundview, I’m from Webster, but half his whole family is from the projects where I grew-up. I met Minnesota over twelve years ago. People was telling him about me, and we had got up. He didn’t know I rhymed, he just knew me from making beats. When he start hearing me rhyme, he just start giving me a whole bunch of beats, and he start taking me to Mos Def and his DJ – Preservation, letting them hear me,, and that’s how I got into that camp.
Was the stuff with the P Brothers your first official release?
Yeah. They stumbled across me. They’ve been working with Boss Money for years through Minnesotta. I also had been working with Minnesotta, and I guess they saw me on his MySpace, ‘cos he had me on his top 4. They just hit me out of the blue and they asked me, ‘Do you mind if we send you some beats, ‘cos we like your style’. They sent me about twenty beats, and the one that stood out the most was ‘Don’t Question Me’. It’s real slow, but I used to make beats on the tape deck with the pause-button, so all my beats would be slower than regular tempo. When I heard ‘Don’t Question Me’, it just punched me in the eye real quick! I just had to have it. When I sent it out to ‘em, they said they wasn’t expecting it to come out as good as it did, since nobody ever picks that beat.
That was a good introduction to your style.
I think so too, I appreciated it so much. It came out October 2008, and that whole year I was going through so many tribulations. I was illegally incarcerated for two months and beat the case. I got out May 7, 2008 and my friend passed away June 27, 2008. The second week of July, I went and recorded ‘Don’t Question Me’. I guess people feel it so much because there was so much going on in at that time my life and I put all my emotions in there.
What can you tell me about some of the other tracks we’ve heard so far?
The joint that’s on the Unkut mixtape – ‘The Sky’ – I produced that. Basically I just needed them to put the drums behind it. Paul and Ivory [P Brothers] helped with the drum pattern and the drops. The rest was me.
Did you produce ‘Like It Is’?
That’s Molecules beat. I was thinking about making a new version of that for the EP. Molecules from The Legion is one of the best kept secrets. I’m working with Wali World too. He’s the greatest story never told. He happens to be one of the best producers you’ve never heard. I don’t see why AG and them ain’t been fuckin’ with they fam. Wali World, Molecules and Silent Someone make some of the best hip-hop soul music from the Bronx. I don’t know if you heard ‘Bars of Life’? Wali made that. ‘Extreme Wordplay’ was by Preservation.
Can you tell me about opening up for Rakim in Jersey?
That shit was a defining moment in my life. I was the dude who thought G Rap was the greatest of all time, regardless of anybody. But there was something about Rakim that always intrigued me, It took for me to get older to realise that he was really talking about God. Ralph sent them the ‘Poetic Justice’ video and they was feelin’ it. ‘OK, let Ralph man rock. If Ralph say the nigga hot, then he probably hot!’ So I get up there and I’m doing my thing rocking ‘Poetic Justice’, and I see this kid looking at me. It’s Rakim’s son staring at me, actually kinda spooked me out, ‘cos I didn’t know who the fuck he was.
Rakim comes on and smashes it, and after the show me and Rakim bumped heads – the crowd just split open and we just walked up to each other and we gave each other a pound and a hug. He said, ‘Thank-you my dude’ and I said, ‘No, thank-you for the opportunity, ‘cos you didn’t have to let me rock for you. Can I ask you a question – did you listen to the song?’ He said, ‘Hell yeah I heard that!’ I said, ‘Really? What you think?’ He said, ‘You ready. That’s straight New York hip-hop. That shit needs to represent the East coast. That shit is crazy’. This is the greatest rapper of all time! And this man said that to me? I said to myself, ‘I gotta stay focused. I gotta stay humble and continue in my literature. I’ve got to continue my reading and gaining more knowledge.’ That’s why I see he don’t smile – the knowledge and the power of God is not joke!
What happened with that EP you were working on?
A lot of shit been going down. I was working with the P Brothers, and they called me, talkin’ about they wanted to do an EP with me on their Heavy Bronx shit. I’m like, ‘Yeah, alright’. But they weren’t talking about no money though. They didn’t pay me for The Gas joint part one, or The Gas part two either. As far as I know, them other dudes off ‘The Gas’ got checks, and I didn’t get a check for anything.
These dudes are wanting to do an EP with me and they’re not talking about no money! It got to the point where these dudes were really making it seem like they know what hip-hop was or wasn‘t. There’s times I sent them beats, and these motherfuckers would change my songs up that I sent them! Change the beat or take the chorus out – they was making $amhil music they way they want to make it, and I kinda wasn’t really fuckin’ feeling that! Like you got the say so as far as hip-hop! I felt like they was trying to make a fool of me. P Brothers told $amhil they don’t make no money off of rap, but both of those shits that had my name on it are sold out. It seems to me like you think I’m fuckin’ stupid, like I’m going to send you all this music that I made and send it out there to you to do what you want to do with it, and I ain’t got no contract or nothing. Who knows what they made off The Gas? I just stopped having contact with ‘em after a while. I guess they thinking I just live off the land! [laughs] They want to have a whole situation with me but they don’t want to give me no money! No disrespect to the P Brothers, ‘cos they helped me out – but at the end of the day, they didn’t want to pay me.
Then I’m doing this situation with Preservation, and it feels like he’s trying to play me too. I been finished the EP months ago! The EP was supposed to be me and Prez on the beats. How the fuck it gets to the point where he wanted the EP to be all his beats and only one of my beats to make it seem like he wanted to get his shit out there. I’m bringing ideas and beats and getting shot down, I’m like, ‘I’m paying all this money, I’m not getting shot down. You need to get the fuck outta here!’
I did the video for ’Poetic Justice’ and Ralph McDaniels directed it. Shit is next level now that Uncle Ralph is helping me with my situation, it’s almost like having Michael Jackson as your fuckin’ manager. Niggas is buggin’ out! They come around Ralph and they start acting like fuckin’ groupies! Now they lookin’ at it like, ‘Oh shit! Ralph fuckin’ with it! Now I gotta really fuck with it now!’ Now it gets all fucked up. The situation is me! That I built, that I paid money for! How the fuck does Preservation want to sit up there and make my situation his situation, like he’s the boss of my shit!
This nigga told me, ‘These are my songs! This is my shit!’ This is what he told me over my shit! They think I’m just a dumb MC! Prez wants to try and pull stall tactics like we’re waiting on him, but he don’t know I’ll break your fucking face ‘cos you’re playing with my money! He seen I’m fuckin’ with Ralph, so he’s thinking, ‘Let me bring my other niggas in through him!’ Once he seen I wasn’t falling for his bullshit, he said, ‘If you keep acting like this, I’mma take my beats back’. I just said, ‘Suck my dick! Fuck you and your beats!’ These niggas is not real dudes, they frauds. Preservation – do you talk that shit with Yasiin Bey [formerly Mos Def] when you make a beat for him? ‘This is my beat?’ You know what you do for Yasiin Bey? You do what the fuck he say or you get replaced, motherfucker!
I’m supposed to worry about his crackhead friend that he wants to move into my situation? If I don’t like your friend – I don’t like him! No disrespect, but I don’t rock with son! He’s like, ‘If I don’t fuck with him then I can’t use certain music. ‘Oh, I’ll take my beats back!’ I ain’t with this faggot shit niggas is doing! If you want to get personal and emotional, then you go over there with your boyfriend and you smoke crack with him. While we moving, he was stagnating, Rob! These niggas ain’t doing nothing! All those videos I’m doing, I’m doing my own fuckin’ self! These motherfuckers ain’t put up no money and did nothing! The only one that’s helped me is Ralph McDaniels.
You’ve been having some headaches with the ladies I take it from your lyrics?
[laughs] I mention ladies a lot in my rhymes, because they’re a part of life. I’m a man and I love women – there’s nothing homosexual about me. There’s a lot of emotional things with women that touch my life – my mother, my sisters – I had a child as a teenager. With my son’s mother, I’ve been through a lot of situation, so when I express myself about women it’s very candid and vivid. I try to keep it humorous to a point also, because I’m not misogynistic – I don’t hate women.
I’ve never had a problem with women, but the type of women I grew up around were whores and prostitutes. My father was a street dude, he was a number runner. He had number spots, he was running hoes – he was the number man. He’d leave me with his bitches all the time, I’d see all that shit. My son’s mother – bitch started wanting to become a prostitute. What the fuck am I supposed to do? Ruin my life because you chose to be a hoe? I used to do all types of shit in the street to get money, I’m in the streets sellin’ drugs and this bitch wanted to be a hoe because she felt like I wasn’t doing enough.
If I’m the man I should want to take care of you because you’ve got a vagina? Fuck you and your pussy! ‘Cos when you’re not fuckin’ with me no more that’s still not my vagina! I never got that concept – why should I pay a prostitute to give her good sex? Bitch you should be paying me! Only time that bitch is talking about God is when I shove it in her from the back and I spread her pussyhole open. ‘Oh God!” Or I shoot this nigga in the fuckin’ head and he’s praying, ‘God, please don’t kill me!’ But nobody would ever say, ‘Thank-you, God’. Sometimes I still gotta remind myself to say that. People tell me I’m crazy, that’s why I don’t fuck with people.
I had a falling out with my woman and now it’s at the point where she doesn’t allow me in my son’s life. That shit fucked my whole life up. I took her to court in June for my son – I had to hire a private investigator to find the bitch! Found out I was taking her to court for my son and she went on the run! They’ve got me paying child support and I don’t have no visitation rights to see my son! But it will all come around – she’ll have to explain her whorish ways in court.
Let’s talk about the Bronx…
You’ve gotta come through the Bronx to get what you need. If you in the hip-hop game and you know you’re career is dwindling, you gotta come back to the Bronx to find some flavor. You either gonna fuck with some Bronx dudes or you’re gonna bite some Bronx flavor. Everyone is seeming to forget that the Bronx is the mecca of hip-hop. You’ve gotta make a pilgrimage at least once in your life if you’re making hip-hop music.
The Bronx doesn’t have the impact in the game that it once had though.
Let me tell you some shit about the Bronx. The Bronx got the wackest MC’s in the rap game right now! The wackest MC’s is coming out of the fuckin’ Mecca. That’s crazy! These motherfuckers just thinking they can do anything they wanna do, ‘cos they made it! They’re not as serious as the dudes in Jersey. I fuck with the underground scene in Jersey. The underground scene in the Bronx – you fuck around and get shot. In New York city, these niggas don’t applaud nobody. Even if you dead nice, they just stand there and look at you and wait for their man they grew-up with to get on stage.
The Bronx overall? These niggas is wack! You can ask anybody from the Bronx. This is why there is no unity in the Bronx. Nobody wants to come together and move as a unit like how people from Brooklyn get together, people from Queens get together. Harlem, Long Island, Manhattan get together. Everybody feel they want to be the one to bring the Bronx, instead of coming together and each one, teach one so we can make some hot shit.
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