Al’ Tariq aka Fashion – The Unkut Interview, Part Two
Continuing my interview with Kool-Ass Fash, we discuss him leaving The Beatnuts, meeting Kanye West, forming Missin’ Linx, getting beat-jacked by Dr. Dre and his ill-fated experience signing with Dante Ross.
Robbie: At what stage did you decide to do a solo album?
Al’ Tariq: While we were out on tour doing The Beatnuts joint, we were doing a show close to home at a school, maybe in Long Island or some shit, being on stage and then somebody started heckling us. Talking shit, ‘Yo, you fuckin’ aargh!’ I finally look and it’s Juju. Then he comes and hops on stage and joins in on one of our songs and shit. I was so mad, and I could never understand why Les and Peter Kang didn’t get mad with this dude. I had a few serious run-ins with him.
Video: Positive K Performing Stand-Up Comedy
I was directed to this in the comment section of my Pos K interview last year by hotbox but forgot to post it. Take my wife…please!
Al’ Tariq aka Fashion – The Unkut Interview, Part One
The artist formerly known as Fashion aka Kool-Ass Fash took some time out to discuss the ups and downs of his career as both a soloist and as a member of The Beatnuts. This first part focuses on his early days, revealing that the Intoxicated Demons EP could have been completely different had fate not intervened, his thorny relationship with Juju, subliminal rhyme jabs between the Native Tongues and how recording the Street Level album was absolute hell.
Robbie: What made you want to rap?
Al’ Tariq: I wanted to rap at an early age, growing up in The Bronx. The first time I heard Spoonie Gee [starts reciting ‘Spoonin’ Rap’] I wanted to do it bad. I always sang and act and wrote plays and movies at a young age, but what made me think it could be real was I went to school with a young gentleman named James Todd Smith. We attended this school called Christopher Robbins Academy, we were both in ninth grade together. I had gone down to North Carolina to live for two years with my family and sister. I was down there in the fall, my brother came to see me, he was like, ‘Look at this record that Jay made.’ I couldn’t believe it. That was the moment. ‘He did it? I could do it!’ When I heard ‘I Need A Beat’ it was the fall of 1984. At them times, I was rhyming but I wasn’t out there rhyming with everybody. It was something I did on the low. Basketball and girls was all I thought about. I wanted to be an entertainer anyway, but rhyming was probably the fourth or fifth thing on that list. I had other pictures for what I thought I was gonna be at the end of the day.
Download: Grandmaster Caz – The Grandest Of Them All LP [Ced-Gee Version]
Photo: Joe Conzo
Back before rap magazines and the internet, I heard a rumor that Grandmaster Caz and Ced-Gee were working on an album together. Needless to say, my young mind was blown at the possibility of these two rap geniuses teaming-up. While we only got a couple of Tuff City singles from this meeting of minds, it turns out that they did in fact record an entire album of material together in 1992 before Aaron Fuch‘s decided that the material ‘wasn’t commercial enough,’ according to a piece that Dave Tompkins did on the ‘You Need Stitches’ single. Tuff City eventually released the vaulted material on a couple of compilations, so I thought I’d assemble it all together to paint a picture of how Caz’s 1992 LP, The Grandest Of Them All was originally intended to sound before The Mighty Maestro was recruited to remake it. ‘I’m Gonna Freak You’ deserves a special mention as being one of the most amusing sex raps ever recorded, while ‘I’m Rich’ is flossing at it’s finest. I’ve also included the earlier records they did together, just on the general principle that everything Ced touched during that period was amazing and Caz still had some gas in the tank despite being part of the old guard by this point. Bronx brilliance at it’s finest, albeit in poorly mixed, unpolished form.
Download: Grandmaster Caz – The Grandest Of Them All [Ced-Gee Version]
Ghostface Killah feat. Kool G Rap, AZ & Tre Williams – The Battlefield
The second single from 36 Seasons, featuring two CRC-approved veterans of rap.
Lord Finesse – The Unkut Interview, Part One
At long last, I got around to interviewing the great Lord Finesse officially. I’m also deep into completing the first proper book of Unkut interviews, so I’m saving the second half of this piece for print, along with a whole bunch of recent follow-up interviews that I’ve been doing. That being said, I didn’t want to hold back everything, so I had to drop a chunk this discussion with the Funkyman to keep your ears ringing until the print edition is released in early 2015. Lord Finesse needs no introduction, as he’s the man who built on the punchline foundations laid down by Big Daddy Kane and paved the way for the next generation of MC’s. We kicked it about his experiences with record labels, his love of the SP-1200, plans for the future and the and the infamously misunderstood Mac Miller lawsuit.
Robbie: Did you feel like you were prepared when you started making Funky Technician?
Lord Finesse: C’mon man, you can listen to that first album and it was dope, there was structure, but nobody was telling me, ‘You should do sixteen bars here, you should do sixteen bars there!’ I was rhyming forever on some of those records.
Nothing wrong with that!
[laughs] Most of that album was written while I was going to the studio or the day before. Some of it was freestyle stuff, but connecting it and doing it all together I had to write rhymes around some of the stuff and make ‘em songs. If you listen to the battle with me and Perc you’re hearing a nice amount of Funky Technician in that ‘89 battle.
So they were your stock battle rhymes?
When it’s time to make records you take ‘em and you re-craft them for the record.
Did any labels try to make you compromise your sound or image?
I didn’t even get that far. I went from Wild Pitch, which was a label with really no money and no promotion to take artists to the next level at the time, to being at a label with a lotta money. They got everything to take me to the next level, but they don’t understand who Finesse is as an artist! It’s like the popular gun that everybody’s talking about, you’ve gotta have the gun, not because you’re a shooter or you go to the gun range. You just want the gun because everybody else got the gun. Then when you get the gun, you don’t know nothing about the gun, you don’t know how to shoot it! You don’t know the mechanism’s of the gun so you kinda toss the gun to the side cos you don’t what you purchased! That’s how I feel when it comes to Giant. I’m there, but they don’t really know what they got! ‘This is the dude everybody was talking about! OK, we got him! Now what do we do with him?’
Buckshot – The Unkut Mini Interview
Once again I found myself subjected to indignities of a press day, where you have ten or fifteen minutes allotted to talk to a rapper who has already bored themselves to death speaking to the twenty other jerks before you and some herb always messes up the schedule and as a result that fifteen minutes turns into less than ten. Just for laughs, I decided to stay on the line and laugh at the other shitty questions from the amateur journalists who followed me, while witnessing Buckshot get progressively more confusing the more he drank and/or smoked to make the whole process slightly less tedious for himself. Nevertheless, I still managed to get a couple of interesting jewels from the former Black Moon front man.
Robbie: What inspired you start making music?
Buckshot: My uncle David was a dancer, he was an entertainer and he made dancing a big influence on my life when I was a youngster. He was a dancer for a group called Mtume, they made a record called ‘Juicy.’ I saw him on TV and I felt like he achieved the ultimate impossible and one day I was going to do that and I would achieve the same impossible. I kept going and kept going and I kept dancing. I stopped dancing in 1990 and I became an MC at that point. I always wanted to be an MC but never thought that that was my path. I always thought that dancing was gonna be the way for me. When my MC got locked-up I felt like I had no choice but to continue what we started. When he got locked-up he was like, ‘Yo, keep it going!’ I was like, ‘How am I gonna keep it going? You know what? I’mma just start emceeing myself.’ That’s how I became an MC.
Tragedy Khadafi – Free Thinkers 2
New Trag track, taken from off Pre-Magnum Opus dropping Nov 24th. Produced by Audible Doctor.
Great Moments In Rap: LL Cool J Sons Run At The Roxy
A great moment in rap – the time that LL Cool J went at Run at The Roxy:
Dr. Butcher: That was not Jam-Master Jay, that was [Jay] Philpot [the second Cut Creator] his DJ on the turntables when he was rhyming. Run-DMC was performing after him, so when he’s freestyling he’s talking about Run in that rhyme. They were walking in and that’s why he wouldn’t let go the mic – he had something to say to Run because they weren’t getting along. Then they took the mic from him and pushed him off stage so Run-DMC could perform.
Stream: Diamond D – The Diam Piece Album
Empire Music have posted the new Diamond album on their YouTube channel for your enjoyment. Here’s a re-up of D-Squizzy’s track-by-track breakdown of the album here while you listen. Available now on CD and digital.
Diamond D: It’s more or less a production LP, about two and a half years it took. A lot of tracks I didn’t even use. I had about 27 tracks but I only used 18. Some of the artists I was in the studio with, and others – because of their touring schedule and my touring schedule – I just sent them music and they sent me the session back. If the track that I give them has a sample in it that’s giving it direction then they’ll follow that. If there is no sample or concept at the beginning I just let the MC’s paint their own pictures and try to figure out how can make it connect. I use a lot more live instrumentation now. I still chop and manipulate samples, but my sound just sounds bigger now. Just using better equipment so the sample frequencies are better.
Large Professor Feat. G-Wiz – In The Scrolls
Paul Sea returns with this tribute to the legacy of Nas‘ first album, with a track from the next Large Professor project, RE: Living Legend.
Video: M.O.P – 187
This could be the line of the year in reference to popping pills:
“The whole place emotional/wake up, find out somebody Frank Ocean’d you”
Your Old Droog feat. Prodigy – Hoodie Weather
Marco Polo produced this new cut from that Coney Island dude and Snowboard P.
Spotted at Ego Trip.
Video: Psycho Les feat. Royal Flush, Tragedy Khadafi and Illa Ghee – Thunder Bells Teaser
This is the definition of Conservative Rap Coalition-approved rap. All four of these gentlemen do themselves proud with their vocal performances here.
Challace feat. Boldy James and Big Noyd – Let You Go
Killa Kidz graduate Challace enlists Bold-Faced James and Rapper Noyd for this cut from the forthcoming Paybakzdagetbak mixtape, produced by King Benny.
Video: Ed OG – 2 Turntables and a Microphone
Pete Rock produced lead single from Ed’s next LP, After All These Years, dropping 9 September.
Diamond D feat. Pete Rock – Only Way 2 Go
Second release from The Diam Piece. Will Black Rob steal the show on the LP as he did on Cormega‘s new album? Odds point to yes.
Spoonie Gee – The Unkut Interview
Thanks to Will and Aaron from Tuff City records, I had the chance to speak to pioneering Harlem rapper Spoonie Gee last week, who set the standard for street tales and slick talk on his earlier work for Enjoy and Sugarhill before he enjoyed a late 80’s comeback with Marley Marl and Teddy Riley providing the cutting edge beats. After enduring some rocky times for most of the 90’s, he’s currently in the process of recording one last project before he retires from music for good.
Robbie: Being from Harlem, in the early days before records, did you have to travel to see shows?
Spoonie Gee: I went to The Bronx, that’s the first place I saw Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. First time I seen him, I think it was P.A.L on Webster Avenue. I used to go see the Funky 4 + 1, Fantastic Five.
How had you heard about them?
I heard a tape of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Four MC’s at the time, this was before Raheim joined them.
M.O.P – 187
Fame loops up Cash Money and Marvelous‘ “Ugly People Be Quiet” for a new cut from the next EP.