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. (more…)
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.
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 Powerplay with my sequencer and my sampler and just dump everything down there. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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”.
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.
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.
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.