Foul Monday – The Unkut Interview
After enduring a number of false starts in the music game, QB MC Foul Monday is preparing his debut album title I Hate Fucking Mondays with a number of local and European producers. Having worked with Killa Sha and Ron Artest in the past, Foul has witnessed a lot of Queensbridge rap history, and he took a minute out to explain the finer points of that thun language with me.
Robbie: What inspired you to take rapping seriously?
Foul Monday: It was actually two different forces – one that made me start rhyming, and one that wanted me to start making music. I met Starvin B in the eighth grade – he’s Irish and Indonesian, so you can imagine what that package looks like rapping! At the time he was one of the best rappers in our school, so I was kinda inspired to be that. I’m thinking, “If this kid can do it, I can do it.” As fate would have it, he was transferred over to my class and we became good friends and he helped me find an identity with this rapping stuff. When you start out, you emulate, you steal, but he helped me find my own voice. As far as wanting to make music? That came from Killa Sha and the Killa Kidz. Those were my friends from the neighborhood, at that point they were already doing music and pressing up vinyls. Making music wasn’t realistic goal until I saw them doing it, so I just strived to get better and better until folks started acknowledging me for my talent.
Big Noyd – The Unkut Interview
The longest serving member of the Mobb Deep crew not named Havoc or Prodigy is Big Noyd, who was along for the ride through all of the highs and lows that the music industry had to throw at them, as well as surviving his fair share of challenging experiences as a soloist. Currently living in North Carolina, Rapper Noyd is currently working on his fourth official solo album with his old QB buddy Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace, and he took some time out to speak in detail about his long career in the rap game.
Robbie: How did it all start for you?
Big Noyd: We all were friends first, before rap. I used to be up in Queensbridge, then I moved to Brooklyn to stay with my aunts for a couple of years. Before I left, we used to listen to rap but we wasn’t really doing it. When I came back to visit on the weekend, Scarface Twin [Gambino] was like, “Yo, Havoc and Prodigy are in the studio. They signed with 4th & Broadway and they working on a rap album.” I was like, “Get the fuck outta here! Wow…cool.” I went there just to hang out in the studio and they were working on “Stomp ‘Em Out” and I was rhyming in there, I liked the beat. I was just doing what I liked to do, my own little rhyme, and then they heard it and they were like, “Yo, repeat that rhyme again! That’s perfect for this song we working on.” I was like, “Well if anything I’ll write a new verse.” Cos this verse was on something I was working on just for myself at the time – no record companies or anything like that – I had to be about fourteen years old. They were like, “Can you write another one? It won’t take that much time?” I write faster now, but back then it took me about an hour. I laid down the sixteen bars and it was perfect – history begin.
Lushlife – The Unkut Interview
Philidelphia’s own Lushlife caught my ear in 2012 with his Plateau Vision album, which saw him realize the potential heard on Cassette City and match the quality of his production with his rhymes. Currently working on a new album with producers CSLSX, I caught-up with Lushlife over the phone while he was midway through attempting to enjoy pizza and beer at a local bar to find out what inspired him to channel “Broken Language,” his appreciation for The LOX and why drinks cost so much in London.
Robbie: Did you start out as a producer or a rapper?
Lushlife: It didn’t even occur to me that I would rap. I had been making beats and doing production for many years, and I didn’t even want to go into the world of trying to find people to rhyme over my instrumentals. The moment that I got a mic at 20 – after a lifetime of listening and memorising rap songs – something just came out. As a hip-hop fan, I was like, “This is worthwhile shit!” So I just ran with that. The MC side of it came way second.
Timeless Truth – The Unkut Interview
Superbad Solace and Oprime39 first made some noise with their Brugal & Presidentes EP in 2012, and followed-up with their debut album Rock-It Science the following year. With a new EP and album due soon, it seemed like the perfect time to build with these two brothers from Flushing, Queens to talk about music, their iconic neighborhood and the importance of dressing fresh.
Robbie: Did you both grow-up in Flushing, Queens?
Solace: We moved out here in in 1988 because my father was a building superintendent and he landed a gig right here. We were living in Corona before that and that was a dream job back in the day, so he took the whole family out here.
Oprime: He was a super out in Lefrak at the time and an opportunity popped up in Flushing. We’ve been out here ever since.
Solace: The ill shit with a superintendent job is you also get the rent-free apartment.
DJ Stitches – The Unkut Interview
The story of Charlie Rock aka DJ Stitches is a classic example of how brutal the music industry can be. As a founding member of De La Soul, only himself discarded once they signed their first record deal, he went on to score a contract with Mercury Records for his next group – Class A Felony – only to have the album stuck in limbo for two years after his MC was brutally murdered in a bungled robbery attempt. Having also been involved with records for Uptown and Ilacoin, Stitches shared a number of behind-the-scenes incidents during his extended tour of duty in the rap world, and revealed some untold Long Island hip-hop history.
Robbie: What inspired you become a DJ originally?
DJ Stitches: I’m from South Jamaica, Queens – Southside. The hip-hop scene in Queens – 1978, 1979 – I seen some DJ’s, and my cousin from The Bronx, Mixmaster TC and the Soul City Crew, he used to let me mess around on his turntables. I mighta been like eleven or twelve. Me and my cousin Blinky kinda had the bug since then, and I migrated to Long Island in ninth grade and then came to North Amityville.
Diamond D – The Unkut Interview
Growing up in Forest Projects in the South Bronx, DJ Diamond D embarked on a career as a local DJ before teaming-up with childhood friend Master Rob to form the Ultimate Force crew and release the “I’m Not Playing” single on Strong City. Following on from yesterdays detailed breakdown of his first solo album, we discussed his formative years as a music fan, his loyalty to those he grew-up with and some of his lesser known musical contributions beyond his work with the D.I.T.C. crew.
Robbie: How old were you when you first deejayed publicly?
Diamond D: First time I deejayed in public I was around 13, 14 in my projects at the jams outside. There were two DJ’s in my neighborhood – DJ Supreme and DJ Hutch. They would come outside and basically provide the soundtrack to our lives, through hip-hop. At some point, from me pestering them, they let me get on their set. To me that was the biggest deal, to be able to get on the turntables in your projects and feel the love of the people that were in the projects, basically.
Track By Track: Diamond D Breaks Down The Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop Album
Today marks ten years since I started Unkut Dot Com, and what better way to celebrate than to sit down with the original “Best Producer On The Mic” himself, Diamond D. Originally scheduled to take place in late 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of his classic debut album, Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop, it wasn’t until last week that it finally happened. We began by discussing his timeless debut, track-by-track:
Diamond D: I’mma keep it a hunned with you, I only wanted twelve songs on there. But you’ve gotta remember in the early 90′s it wasn’t uncommon for an album to have 18, 19 songs. You look at Pete Rock‘s album, Mecca and the Soul Brother. You look at De La Soul‘s first album. If it had been up to me it wouldn’t have been 21 songs on that album. But Chemistry was just like, “We gonna just roll the dice and throw all the shit on there.” I can’t say which ones I would have left off, but I can tell you I ain’t want all 21 on there! But it seems like it’s good that they did that, because I never put out an album with them again.
Non-Rapper Dudes Series – Spencer Bellamy Interview
After coming up with Howie Tee as DJ and then producer, Spencer Bellamy started East Flatbush Project and released a series of quality records on his own 10/30 Uproar label at the beginning of the mid 90′s independent hip-hop vinyl movement. Best known for being the man responsible for the legendary “Tried By 12″ instrumental, Spencer talks about the ups and downs of his experiences in the rap game.
Robbie: Can you tell me about how you started off with Howie Tee?
Spencer Bellamy: He used to have a crew called Count Disco. We were a local crew – myself, his brother and Howie would DJ – and then he had the MC’s, the Sureshot 4 MC’s, so they would do their routines. I hooked-up with him when I was around eleven years old. We played together for a few years and then we just became cool. After he cut-out of deejaying and went more into the production side of it, I would just watch what he would do. I was kinda like an apprentice, so to speak. From there, I tried my hand at production.
Sir Ibu – The Unkut Interview
Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant/Crown Heights, Sir Ibu cemented a place in rap folklore with a record called “Holy War (Live)”, which still stands as one of the rawest examples of beats and rhymes ever recorded, so much so that Ghostface recreated a portion of it on his own modern-day remake named “Mighty Healthy”. Beyond being an influential microphone god, it turns out that Ibu may also have been the first ever Conservative Rap Coalition member, as well as having an obscure connection to Australian culture. Salutes to BK Thoroughbred for connecting me with Brooklyn rap royalty and helping this interview happen…
Robbie: What sparked your interest in rhyming initially?
Sir Ibu: It was my cousin – I think it was back in ‘79. I heard him rapping, and I was like, “Wow! What is that?” So he told me what it was and then let me hear this record. I think it was by Spoonie Gee? I kinda liked that, so ever since then I just started writing. I just used to write about girls – all my raps were about girls. Girls this, girls that, just bragging about how I am with the girls. So then when I ran into Supreme – I would say was about ‘83, ‘84 – he told me, “Listen, you’re good. But you could be better if you changed your subject matter. Instead of talking about how good you are with girls, talk about how good you are on the microphone. How good you are with your lyrics and your music and your rhymes and your vocabulary. Just anything but girls!” I’m like, “Alright.” So I did it and I came back to him and I said, “How ‘bout this?” And he said, “That’s perfect! Do you wanna be part of my group?” I’m like, “Alright, let’s do it.” And that’s how I got with him and his sister. It’s interesting, ‘cos his sister – her name was Ice-T originally when we started – but Ice-T from the west coast started making a name for himself, so it was like, “Listen, you’ve gotta change your name.” So she changed it to Nefertiti.
Video: The Tuff City Records Story, Episode Four
The final part of my interview with Aaron Fuchs at the new Tuff City offices, which covers competing against Def Jam, his work with Funkmaster Wizard Wiz and the infamous “Crack It Up”, Freddy B and The Mighty Mic Masters and The Maximus Three, amongst others. Also features a random Bob Marley anecdote for good measure.
Non-Rapper Dudes Series – Joe Mansfield Interview
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.
Video: The Tuff City Records Story, Episode Three
Aaron Fuchs discusses working with Pumpkin, addresses the Ultramagnetic Basement Tapes controvery, names his three favorite Tuff City records and reflects and how the music histroy books will view his legacy.
Video: The Tuff City Records Story, Episode Two
Aaron Fuchs continues discussing key moments in Tuff City history, including working with Teddy Riley, Spoonie Gee, Marley Marl, DJ Hot Day and the Cold Crush Brothers.
Video: The Tuff City Records Story, Episode One
Tuff City Records founder Aaron Fuchs discusses starting the label in the early 80′s, his history as a music critic and the story behind some of the first records he released in the first part of this in-depth interview.