Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Interviews,Not Your Average,Rap Veterans,The 90's Files,Video Clips
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Following on from Part 1, Pudgee explains his involvement with Main Source‘s “Live At The BBQ”, his shelved second solo LP, the importance of The Bronx and dealing with the deaths of Tupac, Biggie and Left Eye.
Robbie: On the intro to your album, the Trackmasterz seemed to include a larger crew than just Poke and Tone. What happened there?
Pudgee The Phat Bastard: In all these years, no one’s ever asked that question. That’s dope. Alex Richberg kinda handles all of the business. It was Alex, Poke and Tone, and Frank Nitty. Musically, they were connected, but as people? There was always a separation. Alex Richberg was more of a family man, he had his wife and kids, he wasn’t really a hang out in the club kinda person. Frankie was really into making his tracks and being in the lab and not running around doing too much of anything else. Poke and Tone were more of the playboy/front men. I don’t think they ended up hating each other. Oddly enough, Frank Nitty, who did my album, his cousin is now my mailman! Tone was responsible for finding Foxy Brown, she lived right next to him, she was like a little sister to all of us. She was in the studio sessions for the Give ‘Em The Finger album as a 12 year-old girl.
Did they introduce you to Kool G Rap?
No. At a party for Salt ‘N Pepa that they had downtown at this billiard room, Tragedy was there and his DJ. I became real close with Tragedy and his DJ.
Right, that was Joe Fatal. So Fatal and I ended up hanging out with Large Professor and hanging out with Kool G Rap. We actually went to his house.
What happened between you and Fatal to make you guys fall out?
Fatal was very supportive to me as an MC. He listened to my stuff, he brought me to G Rap’s house. I remain offended by the things he said. Fatal called me in the middle of the night from the studio with Main Source, Nas and Akinyele in the other room. He said he really wanted to be on the song, and he asked me for lyrics for the song. I sat up on the edge of my bed, clear as day I remember it, and started freestyling lyrics to him. I got to a point where I couldn’t come up with anything else, and he told me, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll finish it”. He told me later on that Akinyele finished the last few lines. It’s confusing to me, because Fatal wasn’t a rapper. Fatal was a DJ. This was a personal friend of mine who introduced me to people and made sure I was getting records, but when you find out that I’m telling people that I wrote your rhyme, you get mad?
It’s confusing, because you wanted me to be known for my artistry, you call me when you need help, I help you, and he approaches me and says, “Don’t tell anybody else you wrote my rhyme, or I’m gonna cut your face”. I was more affected at the fact that he was so disillusioned that I helped him, and he felt what he was doing was right. It’s a place of utter disgust for me. The truth is the truth. He wasn’t a rapper, he wasn’t a rhyme writer – he was a DJ. For him to now stand on a different leg and say, “Nah he had nothing to with that”, is crazy to me. That record wasn’t anything to me, I wasn’t on it. I thought Main Source was incredible, Paul is dope. I don’t know what Fatal’s deal is. I don’t know why he can’t give me my credit. I’ve heard some of the things he’s said, and that’s unfortunate.
He was saying something about you walking around with a dummy in your mouth. What was that about?
A pacifier in my mouth? I’ve got a picture with me and Tupac, at a party, with a pacifier in my mouth. I don’t understand his point. I don’t get it. He ruined a friendship. I don’t think men talk about men the way he does. I’ve got grown-ass kids and I don’t raise my kids like that. I’ve got to keep it moving.
Were you happy with Giant Records?
Oh no. They were an R&B based label. They had Jade, they had Color Me Badd. They had Lord Finesse at one point, he also left them. I left them because I felt they didn’t know what to do with me. I didn’t see anything substantial. I asked to be released and then Queen Latifah helped me get off the label.
What about the King Of NY album?
That was for Perspective/A&M with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They were starting their own label. Amazing musicians in the way the understood my artistry, but they didn’t have the people or the machine to make my records happen the way they should have. I had DMX on the album, I had Ishmel from Digable Planets, I had M.O.P, Funkmaster Flex, Royal Flush – I had them on the album because they were friends of mine. The label reps were doing a lot of the work, and I asked for a release after the first single. The label started to lose it’s own footing. They had Mint Condition, they had Sounds of Blackness, they had Outsiderz and Young Zee, they had Rufus Blaq, but it wasn’t like a Def Jam where they could use other people to extend themselves. After I dropped “On The Regular”, I asked Terry and Jimmy for a release, and then they convinced me to do “Money Make The World Go Round”.
Plus you had sample issues with “Think Big”?
Layla Hathaway and the mother were saying that we were cursing too much on the song. But Dr. Dre replayed that same sample for Snoop, and it was cleared. I guess it was because we actually sampled it, because whenever you’re clearing a song there are two sides you’ve got to clear, which is the publishing and the mastering side. Big was my dude, we did all those records with other people together. Artistry-wise, he just respected each other.
How did you meet Biggie?
Brooklyn, because my best friend lives out there, my cousins live out there. I can’t remember the day I met Big, but I knew him a long time. Going to the club, going to the Tunnel, nothing business related.
The review in The Source criticized you for sounding too much like Biggie for some reason.
I know this is gonna sound terrible, but I didn’t listen to Biggie like that. If anybody that I fashioned myself after, it would be a Kool G Rap. The Slick Rick, Dana Dane, he had a little bit of comedy in his voice? I didn’t like that. I liked Big when he was rapping hard. He was a dope rapper, but he wasn’t an inspiration.
Is that album something that you ever plan to release properly?
It’s on YouTube. Half the stuff I didn’t have access to, I found on YouTube! [laughs]
What happened after you left Perspective?
I started writing for people. I ended up writing five songs for Left Eye, I did five choruses on Rakim’s last album. There’s a joint with me and Shawanna from Disturbing The Peace in the first Fast and the Furious movie. I released a lot of underground singles under different names. I’m on Kurrupt’s album under the name Pat The Chico on a song called “Kurruption”. I met Kurrupt through Foxy Brown. I released a song called “History” under the name of Napoleon. My next project is called The Tracey Adams Project. It’s an R&B album from me. I’m singing on the whole album, because I feel that rapping and singing on the same album is kinda campy.
Where did you know Stretch of the Live Squad from?
He was dating Candice who I mentioned earlier, so he was always at her house. When I first meet Pac he ran up to me like, “Yo! You’re incredible!” He gave me a pound and a hug, and ever since then we were thick as thieves. When he was in jail I was writing him letters. Our friendship was more people-based than music-based. We had other things to talk about in life than what’s going on in hip-hop. No matter how much bigger than me he got at the time, he always respected that I was in the door first and that he loved my songs before he was really committing to rapping. One day I was meeting him in Queens for Queens Day, and I seen like fifty dudes walking down the walkway, and then the whole crowd just parted and he ran up and hugged me. I was calling him Moses from then on!
That must have been traumatic to lose both of them.
It was a hard place to be in. Left Eye and myself were in California, and she said, “I want to write the song with me and Pac. I want you to write my verse, because that’s the last time that y’all can be in the studio together”. We did the song, called “Untouchables”, and then she got murdered – meaning the car accident. At that point I felt that music was the devil and that I needed to leave the business. I had made enough money where I could stay home for ten years straight, working on R&B groups and rappers that I thought had promise. I was helping people to live their dream, I just didn’t want any parts of it myself. I didn’t want to be seen or asked about the business at all.
What is it about The Bronx that makes it stand out?
Growing up in Harlem, coming to The Bronx and finding my musical roots in Bronx – a lotta people say, “If you can’t get your hometown to love you, how do you expect the world to love you?” – for us in The Bronx and in Harlem, we’re definitely a little more classier than the Brooklyn people. Brooklyn people had edge. Puffy – who is from Harlem, moved to Mount Vernon – moulded Biggie into speaking about more flashy things. Biggie didn’t start out rapping like that, he was a gun-toting MC. The people up this way want to shine when you’re closer to Westchester and The Bronx. That’s what we are – flashy. The Cotton Club, stuff like that. We’re aspiring to be more affluent on that side of things. It’s edgier as you go down into lower Manhattan, and as you cross over the bridge into Brooklyn, it’s edgier. It’s a rougher lifestyle. Not that there aren’t people there who aspire or have acquired more, but it’s more of a “protect myself, protect my family” type of vibe.
Why do you think Queens had such an impact?
I think it took them a while to find the new version of what they wanted to be. It was so frequent out there as it was out here. Brooklyn and The Bronx had a lotta MC’s! We had the breakin’ crews and all that, we had The Fever up here. The birthplace of hip-hop is The Bronx, and it kinda became a virus! Everybody got the bug! You see a homeboy, you wanna fit in! Everybody’s wearing sheepskins and Adidas and Cazels, you’re like, “I wanna be in, I wanna be hot, I wanna be killin’ it!” Angie Stone being a rapper that was in The Sequence should say it all! [laughs] You’ve got a lotta people that start out with hip-hop as their basis for their evolution into music.
Being around it, you’re gonna get drawn in, because it’s such as allure. Not the jewellery, not the bar, not the shorty that you can take home that night, but the overall energy that people give to it and get from it. It’s instant gratification! You get instant gratification from spitting a crazy rhyme and people going, “Ohhh!” You go home feeling like a champ! You didn’t get any money, you don’t have a new coat on your back or new sneakers, but you’re filled with this feeling of empowerment. Everybody wants acknowledgement, and that’s acknowledgement at it’s best. Like when a producer plays a new track and everybody wants it, it’s like, “Wow, I did it!” We’re all reduced to our youngest age, showing our parents our homework.
I used to get so many records, there was one record store near me and I used to go there all the time. It’s about 25 short blocks, and as a kid, walking that by yourself? But I needed it. The NWA’s and the Salt ‘N Pepa’s used to have some dope covers every time they would come out with a single. He would have promo joints, and they had a whole set-up of shelves where you could buy the promo records that came in. Probably of people that’d never go anywhere, but it might be someone that you like! Maybe the label didn’t get behind them, but a lotta those joints was hot records! Mantronix, I got from there. Every Ohio Players record, everything I could think of. This was just a mom and pop store. Nothing does it like music! I don’t care if it’s a new car, a new house, the baddest bitch out – nothing is doper than music! Music has stopped me being mad at my mother. Music has made me go school. The only thing that could be better than that is bringing my grandmother and Tupac and Left Eye back.
Pudgee – “Money Don’t Make Your World Stop”
Pudgee feat. Lord Tariq & The Notorious B.I.G. – “Think Big”
Pudgee – “Whatever”
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