Filed under: Beantown,Steady Bootleggin',Wu-Tang Is For The Children
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
Second release from Every Hero Needs A Villain, which is available with two bonus tracks if you order through iTunes.
Second release from Every Hero Needs A Villain, which is available with two bonus tracks if you order through iTunes.
DJ 7L, Esoteric and Inspektah Deck really stepped it up this time, as both this bundle package and the track listing of the second Czarface album demonstrates. A full length comic book, t-shirt, tape, stickers, coloured vinyl are all included if you want to go all-in. The good news is the comic is included with the regular CD and vinyl versions too.
Editor’s note: The following interview was conducted by Bill Zimmerman in 2007 for the now defunct print edition of Modern Fix magazine prior to the release of Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Vol. 4: The Hip Hop Jazz Messenger. This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Guru’s passing.
On April 19, 2010, the rapper born Keith Elam died of complications from cancer at 48. Hip-hop lost one of its Golden Era notables. What remained were questions about Guru’s association with Solar, his late-career producer and business partner in the label 7 Grand, whose motives were questioned by the rapper’s family and former collaborators. Shortly after Guru’s death, Solar released a letter purportedly written by Guru and critical of Premier. Guru’s family labeled it a fake; Solar defended the letter as “what Guru wanted.”
The self-proclaimed “king of monotone,” Guru possessed one of the most unmistakable voices in hip-hop. Honest and authoritative, he delivered music over three decades, most notably in Gang Starr with DJ Premier as well as through genre-bending Jazzmatazz solo efforts. What follows are excerpts from an unpublished interview with Guru and Solar in 2007. It’s a snapshot of Guru’s late 2000s, post-Gang Starr career. It shows two men focused on making their own lane and taking creative chances in the leadup to what would be Guru’s final Jazzmatazz project. Despite all the drama and confusion that would ensue, Guru made a mark on hip-hop. That’s indisputable.
Bill: Guru, one the previous Jazzmatazz projects you were working with multiple producers. What was it like just sticking with Solar on this one?
Guru: Actually, the only one with multiple producers was the third one (Street Soul). The first one (Vol. 1) I produced, the second one (Vol. 2: The New Reality) I produced and then the third one multiple (producers). Actually, after the third one I said I wanted to go back to working with just one producer because I left like the third one – even though I had like a lot of big name producers – it came out more like a compilation than it did an organic work. It’s still one of my favorites joints, but it was something about the cohesiveness of one producer bringing everything together. After teaming up with Solar – first of all when I first started hearing his music that was after we were friends already for two years. Then we decided to do the label. We were introduced six years ago – he took me to his lab so I could hear some tracks, and it was crazy because it was almost like he read my mind because I was looking for a future sound, a new sound for myself. All my favorite artists are able to do that – to recreate and renew and then reinvent. So, when I heard his tracks, I was like, “Oh, man.” I was blown away and actually took some stuff home right then. Our first release came out in 2005 on 7 Grand. That was called Guru Version 7.0 The Street Scriptures, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. That was just the introduction to this new chemistry. Now, at this point, the chemistry is just more intense, so this album is definitely proof of that.
First single from the second Czarface album, Every Hero Needs A Villain, due this summer.
DJ 7L sez:
First leak from the new Czarface record is “Deadly Class” featuring Meyhem Lauren. Been a fan of his for a minute, we linked up a few years back at the BAU release party which was around when we were working on the new Czar album. I think Eso and Deck have never sounded better I really can’t wait for the fans to hear it. This song was recorded at the mid point of the album and remembering hearing it and was like “man this keeps getting better”. Eso added that chop at the end with iphone battery line that to me is just genius with the sample. This is just the leak, more info music, art on the way!
At one point liner notes were nearing extinction on rap albums, but thanks to the fine work of people like Brian Coleman and the crew at Get On Down, they’re currently experiencing a renaissance of sorts, giving aging, bitter rap fanatics such as myself the perfect excuse to bang on about the first Ultramagnetic album in day-to-day conversation. Most of you would have read Rakim Told Me/Check The Technique by now, so you know that copping the Mr. Coleman’s third tome is mandatory at this point. He took some time out last weekend to trade war stories from the trenches of the hip-hop interview battlefield and discuss the trials and tribulations that go along with such in-depth work.
Robbie: Was the ‘Classic Material’ column in XXL your first published work?
Brian Coleman: I started that column in 1999, that was Elliott Wilson’s idea. I had been writing for XXL before that. I started, I think, in the second issue. I wrote for them until 2004. That Ultramagnetic chapter in Rakim Told Me started as a piece I did for XXL and then I expanded it greatly over the years. In ‘98 Ultramagnetic was supposedly reforming so everyone was like, ‘Oh, we should talk to them about that!’ I had been writing a little bit before that, I’d been writing for URB, The Boston Phoenix, I wrote for this magazine called CMJ, it’s basically the trade publication for college radio. I was a hip-hop columnist there, it was cool because you could write about a lot of indy stuff.
Pete Rock produced lead single from Ed’s next LP, After All These Years, dropping 9 September.
Another sure-shot from this Boston duo. Please address DJ7L as “the Greek god” from now on.
Did it ever occur to you that there haven’t been enough Sesame Street themed rap songs recorded (outside of KMD‘s “Humrush”, which wasn’t about said street at all but featured Bert acting as the Human Sound Machine)? Goodie Mob‘s cut from the Soul Food album was sadly lacking in Super Grover references, while K-Otix “The Countdown” and MF Doom’s “Cookies” flip samples from the beloved program without any lyrical references, leaving Agallah’s “Crookie Monster” as the reigning Children’s Television Workshop champ, until now. Chopped Herring released an EP of L The Head Toucha demos in 2013, which featured this track which adds a whole bunch of extra “street” to said address over a sublime Vinyl Reanimators beat.
Here’s a tape of 90’s NY rap put together by my man’s DJ7L and his pal Frank The Butcher.
Starting out as a promising young DJ and producer in Boston, Joe Mansfield was responsible for the first Ed OG album and was heavily involved in Scientifik‘s tragically short career, while also producing some amazing white label remizes with DJ Shame and Sean C. as the Vinyl Reanimators. He also started Traffic Entertainment and Get On Down, while amassing an incredible collection of drum machines, some of which featured in his first book, titled Beat Box – A Drum Machine Obsession. I had the chance to pick his brain last Friday on all things drum computer…
Robbie: How did you start working with Ed OG?
Joe Mansfield: I was doing beats at the time, trying to find MC’s that were willing to rhyme over some of my tracks. A friend of Ed’s, this guy Money 1, was someone I working with and he happened to live nearby me. He brought Ed by my basement studio one day and we kinda clicked. I started making tracks for him and through that process we came up with his whole first album, pretty much.
So the Awesome Two were involved more in an A&R kind of role?
Yeah, they were more executive producers – Ted was Ed’s cousin. We would record tracks at my studio – well, my basement. It wasn’t a real studio, it was pretty primative. On the weekends, Ed would go up to New York and bring ’em to his cousins to check out, so they shopped the tracks to labels and got the record deal. I did the beats and they handled the financial end of that record. The backbone of everything was done in my basement and then I would go up to Power Play with my sequencer and my sampler and just dump everything down there.
During my road trip to Boston in June to visit the Get On Down HQ, I happened apon an incredible collection of drum machines, which I filmed for my nausea-inducing video set to MCA & Burtoozie’s “Drum Machine”. The reason that this world-beating collection of rhythm machines were on display was for a book titled Beat Box – A Drum Machine Obsession, which features a portion of Traffic Entertainment founder and noted Beantown beat maker Joe Mansfield’s personal collection.
As a veteran of the Halftime Show with DJ Eclipse, DJ Skizz has also been putting out some quality beats with the likes of Big Noyd in recent years. In 2012 he dropped the Kings From Queens mixtape, and his B.Q.E. album is out on the 17th September, featuring a varied selection of hoody rap heavyweights, with project an album with Problemz and an EP with Frank Dukes to follow. I visited his studio in Brooklyn to check the album and talk about his history in the game so far.
Robbie: How did it all start out for you?
DJ Skizz: I grew up in Boston and went to school in New Orleans for a couple of years and deejayed there at the college station. In 2000 I went to New York and started doing the Halftime Show with DJ Eclipse and DJ Riz. A couple of years later, Riz left and I kept on doing the show with Eclipse. As far as the production side of things, I’ve been making beats since around 2000. I was living in Astoria, Queens at the time, and met Big Noyd at the barbershop. He came to the crib and we banged out two songs. I got more serious about the beats and did a lotta joints for him. Over the years I connected with a lot of MC’s through the radio and Fat Beats.
New Marciano, produced by Frank The Butcher & Paul Mighty, from the former’s All Is Fair project.
Highlights of Masta Ace, Stricklin and Marco Polo performing at the Middle East in Boston on 22 June 2013, featuring “Crooklyn”, “The Symphony”, “Lil’ Young” with Ed OG, “Nostalgia” and “Born To Roll/Jeep-Ass Niguh”.
During our road trip to Boston, we dropped past the offices of re-issue specialists Get On Down to check out some of their best collector’s editions with DJ 7L.
The third release from DJ Skizz‘s BQE album, due next month. I caught some of the LP when I dropped by Skizz’s BK studio in June, and I was impressed by the quality QB Rap material I heard. Look out for my interview with The Halftime Show‘s resident DJ in the coming weeks.
Caught up with DJ 7L in Boston, where he confirmed that they’re currently working on Czarface 2.
This will be the first and last time that I post a Talib Kweli song, out of respect to Keith E. E. The GURU. Fuck that “Young Guru” guy for never changing his name, by the way.
I can’t be bothered reviewing albums anymore since everyone that’s interested has already streamed/stolen/ordered it anyway, but I will say that the Czarface album is surprisingly enjoyable. It’s fair to say that DJ 7L is in fine form here, handling the majority of the beats and cuts, while Inspectah Deck and Esoteric display a good chemistry as they share lead microphone duties. “World War 4″ features Deck over “Assembly Line”, which is genius in itself, while the production on “Dead Zone” and “Czar Rafeli” are serious stand-outs, earning this LP my coverted “New Rap That Doesn’t Suck” stamp of approval. Available now through Brick Records.
Best video I’ve seen in a while. A little comedy goes a long way…
The latest from the upcoming Inspectah Deck and Esoteric Czarface album, featuring Action “Bam Bam” Bronson. Pre-orders are available through Get On Down for the deluxe pack pictured above.
Remember when the Rebel INS joined 7L & Esoteric for ‘Speaking Real Words’? The trio are about to drop an album as Czarfaceon Brick, and this first taste has what is now becoming the mandatory Roc Marc feature.