Sunday, November 30, 2008

Something Illa Comes This Way

To say that the late, great, James Yancey, better known as J-Dilla was part of music royalty (if there ever existed one) is probably not the most appropriate analogy for a man of such unearthly talents. That said, since his untimely passing, and given the nature, or rather structure, of the abovementioned royalty; it’s without saying that Illa-J, his younger brother would ultimately take his place as his likely successor.

Twenty-one year old Illa J understands the scrutiny that comes with his brother opening the doors for him- naysayers are quick to suggest that he entered the game with a silver spoon in his mouth. Still it is no fault of his that he happens to be a Yancey. A songwriter, rapper, singer and producer all in one, Illa-J has come full circle- never could he imagine adding his own touches to tracks that were made around the same time he knew his brother had made the big time (Labcabincalifornia anyone?). I recently caught up with Illa-J, who now calls Los Angles home; although, Detroit is where the heart is.

Eldorado Red: First things first how are you enjoying that Cali weather? I’m out in New York and it’s raining out here.

Illa-J: I definitely love it out here… like as far as the weather youknow coming from the D where the weather is always unpredictable it could be snowing today and raining tomorrow… so I am definitely loving it (Laughs).

Eldorado Red: Now since we are on the topic of Cali, it’s kind of interesting that you reside out there, why did you opt to relocate?

Illa-J: I feel I’m closer to my brother out here because this was where he was last and and when I seen him out here he was happy so I definitely wanted to come this way.

Eldorado Red: Iight, now yesterday was a big day what are your feelings about Barack winning yesterday’s election.

Illa-J: That was definitely… that was probably one of those most amazing things ever I’ve ever experienced. Like just to be here and see it with your own eyes it’s crazy cause’ there was a time… like there are people that didn’t make it to see this day and they were there when Dr. King was speaking and I’m sure they’re smiling down now. I don’t know it’s just good to be a part of history, I voted early and it was a good feeling. It’s definitely a big event in history but now is the time to move forward with progress.

Eldorado Red: I am an avid basketball fan, I don’t know what your feelings are about the sport but what do you think about the addition of Iverson to the Pistons, is it an upgrade or downgrade? If you don’t follow basketball you can skip that question.

Illa-J: Well basketball is my favorite sport, but music has always been in me … but as far as my first love it’s basketball. Some people are skeptical about it but I definitely think he’ll be able to work with the system. And coming into the Detroit locker room you have no choice but to be a part of that whole team atmosphere. I know it’ll work well and I’m quite interested in seeing what happens.

Eldorado Red: Is your adopted moniker a sort of tribute if you will, to your brother? I mean there is a lot of semblance with J-Dilla.

Illa-J: I mean yeah pretty much when I was coming up with a name…at the time I was trying to get into music academy. At the time I didn’t have a name I was just making music and they had a long application to fill out to get into it youknow it’s like a music workshop or whatever. When it got to the artist part like artist name I didn’t have a name at the time so I called up my friends sister and we made up a bunch of names for like 20 minutes then [we] hung up. She later called back with, “Illa J.” I thought it sounded nice. I wanted to pay tribute to my brother I mean that’s my brother youknowhatimean I can pay tribute whenever youknowhatimean I rep Dilla for life so I don’t care If I change my name to J-Dilla 2 youknowhatimean that’s my brother.

Eldorado Red: (Laughs)

Illa-J: And I’ll rep that forever cause’ he opened the doors for me. I know a lot of people are like “oh his name is too much like his brother’s.” I don’t care that’s my brother youknow that’s my hero so it’s whatever youknowhatimean. I’ll rep my brother for life so anybody with anything to say about that, “It’s Dilla for life Yancey Boys let’s go.”

Eldorado Red: Now what comes easier to you singing, spitting, or making beats?

Illa-J: Well as an artist I see myself as… I’m a singer, song writer first that’s what I was going to do first. I was just going to sing and have my brother produce for me and as far as writing I’ve been writing all my life I’ve been writing poetry like since I was 8 and then eventually I started just youknow… at some point you make a transition and then you start writing songs. And once I got a sense of the song structure that’s when I really started to hone my craft and as far as the spitting part that pretty much came from like… I’ve always been writing stuff I just didn’t necessarily know how to deliver it and once I found my voice in it that’s when that came into play. But I definitely see myself as a singer, songwriter first.

Eldorado Red: Okay. Now you mentioned people smiling down when we were talking about elections. I am sure somewhere in the heavens your brother is smiling at you. Did you feel any added pressure recording over his unheard beats for this albums’ entirety?

Illa-J: No not really cause’ honestly even if my brother was here he would be like, “What’s pressure? Just do your thing.” I definitely didn’t feel any pressure or anything. When I’m in the studio I’m in my own world. I honestly don’t even like anybody really to be in the studio with me; it’s just me and the engineer.

Eldorado Red: From the Alien Family skit I assume you play instruments; which do you play?

Illa-J: I play bass guitar and the piano. Technically my first instrument was the piano but that’s when I was younger and at that time I didn’t finish through with it maybe I felt like I was forcing it youknowhatimean. And it’s like even books and stuff… I’m reading stuff now that I would not have been interested when I was in school cause’ I felt more forced and now I’m just reading through it and I feel more youknowhatimean I’m in control of what I’m doing The bass is the first instrument I picked up. I always wanted to play bass but I never got a chance to play it and after my brother passed I hit up my mom like, “Yo! I need a bass.” The piano came back on September 13th 07, I remember that date cause’ that was the first time I saw Stevie Wonder perform and when I came back from that I started teaching myself piano; that’s how much it inspired me

Eldorado Red: That’s whats up, now what was the first song you heard on the radio or saw on TV that Dilla was involved with?

Illa-J: The Drop video back in 1995…All the tracks on this album [Yancey Boys] were made around 95, 98 so it’s crazy I’m sitting on the couch watching the Drop video not realizing that some of the tracks he’s [Dilla] is making during this time I would be recording for my album 13 years later. It’s kind of overwhelming when I think about how everything came full circle but definitely the Drop video the Running video… I remember when Woo Hah!! came out, I know he did a couple of remixes. And then of course The Light and the Janet Jackson track that’s when I realized he was really doing it for real

Eldorado Red: What prompted you and when did you start taking music seriously? I guess I can’t really say what prompted you since you’ve always been surrounded by music but when did you start taking it seriously?

Illa-J: Well like you were saying I pretty much always knew I would do music at a young age. I knew at some point whether it was the business side or I’d be an artist myself I knew music would take over. While at college studying athletic training I started seeing music start to take over. I was in class and stuff and I’d be writing songs in the back of class and then like the music would just start to take over day by day and at a point I would skip class and go to the music building to write songs and stuff.

Eldorado Red: When you were in class did your mates know who you were?

Illa-J: I’ve always been a real quiet kid so I never really talk, honestly I didn’t want to be the dude like, “Hey my brother did that track” youknowhatimean.

Eldorado Red: (Laughs)

Illa-J: I would hear kids talk about tracks like when Vivrant Thing came out, my and I would hear people talking about the song and they’d be like, “His lyrics is cool ,but the beat is crazy.”

Eldorado Red: (Laughs)

Illa-J: …and they would be beating the beat on the desk but I wouldn’t say nothing. I would kind of shy away from that stuff.

Eldorado Red: Apart from the obvious (Dilla) who else has helped influence your sound?

Illa-J: I got to say Al Green, Marvin Gaye, like those are two of my favorite song writers of all time. Later on, I got into Prince. I liked Prince early, but I didn’t understand his music at that time. Prince is on another level the more I got an understanding of music the more respect I gained for prince. You can probably say that’s my favorite artist right now. I listen to a lot of song writers and producer and bands cause’ I like to listen to how the music is orchestrated and how song writers mess with the different sound chords and put it together. Right now I’m just reading books on songwriting and just bettering my craft. As a producer and songwriter, Pharrell from the Neptunes is actually… he’s probably one of my favorite producers.

Eldorado Red: When it’s all said and done how do you want to remembered musically? I’m sure you don’t want to be remembered as J Dilla’s little brother, younger brother?

Illa-J: Well no in all honesty at the end of my career I want to be known Illa-J. As far as a connection with J Dilla youknowhatimean like I mean of course he opened the doors for me. Honestly it started back with my pops opening the door for us to do our thing. But he [Dilla] opened a lot for me … that’s my brother we represent each other youknow that’s my brother at the end of the day when I sing I reps for him when he do something it represents me cause’ that’s my blood. As long as I continue to stay with my craft and keep the right mind set and stay focused then eventually people will respect me for that. At the end of my career if anything I just want people to know that that when I do my music I do it from the heart and it all comes from my heart and I put my all into it.

Eldorado Red: Spoken like a true musician now you got any shows lined up for the east coast like in New York.

Illa-J: I am gonna start touring next year; I’m not sure exactly when but definitely …of course I got to hit up New York go to Brooklyn get some Junior’s cheesecake youknow (laughs)

Eldorado Red: Don’t believe the hype …

Illa-J: Don’t believe the hype? (Laughs).


Illa-J Feat. Guilty Simpson- R U Listenin'?

Illa-J All Good

Illa-J- Sounds Like Love

Nocturnal Videos: Episode 14- Give The Drummer Some


The Renaissance

Back in 2003 Q-Tip's sophomore LP, Kamaal the Abstract, never saw the light of day because of industry rule 4080, "Record company people are shady." Enter 2008, after playing what it seemed like musical chairs with several record labels, this well recognized Queens Native recently released his second album on Universal Records. The Renaissance is a beautifully crafted solo effort with accents of neo-soul mixed with abstract intelligent lyrics that could only be engendered by the Poetic Abstract.

Evident throughout this concise twelve track album, is Tip's decision not to concede his artistic interpretations, or rather visions, for the sake of mainstream success, which he already attained through his association with Tribe and the singles Vivrant Thing and Breath and Stop. Implicit in the title is the notion of a rebirth; a rebirth of Q-Tip- not very likely. Tip has always been creative residing on an abstract plane. if you will only hindered by the constrictions of his former labels. With a short list of balanced features, witness the rebirth of hip-hop as envisioned by Q-Tip.


Q-Tip- Official

Q-Tip feat. Amanda Diva- Manwomanboggie

Q-Tip- Move

Q-Tip feat. Norah Jones- Life Is Better

Big Shug: The Meaning of Hardcore

big-shug-1Boston's Murdapan native, Big Shug, is an industry veteran in every sense of the word. As one of the core members of the Gang Starr Foundation, not only did he travel the world with one of the most recognized teams within the hip hop landscape, he also made numerous notable appearances on Gang Starr works ranging from Hard To Earn to The Ownerz. With two street certified LPs under his belt, Big Shug released Otherside of the Game this past Election Day. Like his previous endeavors he enlists long time collaborators DJ Premier and Moss, amongst a slew of other producers, who together help provide the Street Champ with a musical milieu that help project his aggressive battle raps.

Anyone familiar with the street savvy Big Shug should not expect any surprises with his latest effort. To put it simply, he sticks to the script- abiding by a simple formula which combines first-rate production with gritty, authentic lyrics. Technically this should be a recipe for success; however, this aggressive and exceedingly dedicated rapper is somewhat one dimensional with his lyrical crop. Suffice to say, the production in many cases surpasses the lyricism on several tracks. Nevertheless, what Big Shug lacks in lyricism he succinctly makes up with unequivocal conviction and passion. Furthermore, on several tracks, featured artists like Singapore Kane and Termanology tend to outshine him. All the same, it would seem that this inconvenient truth hardly matters, when in fact these very rappers view Shug as the vanguard of Boston rap.

Otherside of the Game opens up with two primo laced cuts, Soundcheck and When I Strike; sadly both tracks could have been better suited for other rappers. Despite the simplicity of the rhythmic patterns in the aforesaid tracks, which in theory would allow Shug to excel; his elementary yet undeviating verses don't match Primo's patented beats. Like A Muthafucka, another DJ Premier product, is a complete waste of a beat that finds Shug rambling about nothing.

Standout cuts on this album include Primo's My Boston which finds Termanology, Singapore Kane and Big Shug paying homage to Beantown, enveloped between the bass and keys patterns that could only be contrived by Premier. Despite being outshined by Term, Shug's verse is one of his better deliveries on the album. It appears as though that Shug is better served when he spits details about his hometown, as witnessed in the Moss produced Murdapan, a tribute if you will, to Boston's Mattapan. Militant Soldiers II is another cut that finds Shug in his best form, spitting alongside Blaq Poet and Singapore Kane over Moss's timberland and army fatigue muzik. Other worthy listens include the Frank Wainwright and Billy Danze assisted What It Means and Meaning of Hardcore.

The truth is Big Shug was never ahead of the Gang Starr Foundation class with regards to lyrical dexterity. However, one cannot deny his believable passion and his disposition to being forthright, "... I got a magazine baby and a sock rag." Sadly this album plays more like a showcase for the producers with creditable remnants of Shug sprinkled in here and there. Nevertheless, this album is still worth the listen especially for fans of this Gang Starr affiliate who more or less know what to expect from Shug.


Big Shug feat. Termanology & Singapore Kane - My Boston

Big Shug feat. Billy Danze & Frankie Wainwright

Big Shug feat. Blaq Poet & Singapore Kane- Militant Soldiers II


Big Shug feat. Royce da 5'9'', Termanology, Singapore Kane

So Spectacula…

76Queens native, Spectacula- not to be confused with the member of a particular flamboyant boy band-is on to something. Having adopted the moniker Spectacula, he realizes that his work needs to be as; if not more impressive than many of the greats that have helped mold his music. While he still has a ways to go, by continuously challenging himself and ensuring that his ambition surpasses his comfort level he will surely hit his mark in the game. He is one of a handful of rappers who realize that the game is meant to be told and not sold; a notion that is lost in today's mainstream. I recently sent some questions via email to this up and coming rapper to find what exactly makes him Spectacula.*

ER: What it do Spectacula, how are you?

Spectacula: I can't complain about much so I guess I'm good; but you know what they say you could always stand to do a little better.

ER: Why don't you let the readers know who you are, where you are from and what you do?

Spectacula: I go by the name Spectacula, repping Queens Village, New York City also known as Shadyville. I'm an up and coming emcee trying to follow the tradition of great Queens's lyricists.

ER: What is Spectacula bringing to the rap table?

Spectacula: I feel like I'm bringing a level of originality to the table that has been missing for quite some time in Hip-Hop. Every time I put a pen to paper I set out to do something that hasn't been done before. Sometimes I hit it on the head and sometimes I fall flat on my face but I would rather challenge myself than stay in a comfort zone.

ER: Why do you go by Spectacula?

Spectacula: Simply because it's a lot to live up to, people who are unfamiliar with my music usually want to see if I could live up to that name. It's added pressure going by Spectacula... I feel like I'm obligated to be good but I think I work well under pressure. If my name was Joe Smoe or something I could probably get away with a wack song; but being known as Spectacula I don't even think I could consider making something wack.

ER: Despite the alarming numbers, not many emcees choose to discuss AIDS in their music. You; however, devoted an entire track to this topic. Why is that? And what do you hope to achieve with the track's message?
Spectacula: Like I said before I like a challenge. I really can't understand why it's not a bigger issue in Hip-Hop. If you compared statistics more people in the African American community are affected by H.I.V. and AIDS than the crack epidemic but if you just listened to Hip-Hop you'd think it was the other way around. As far as the message of the track I just wanted to show people that they are more serious things going on in the world than the things we idolize in Hip-Hop. I'm a realist I don't expect people to go out and be AIDS activist after hearing Monster but I do hope that they have second thoughts when they view the subject.

ER: Who have been your musical influences, Hip Hop wise? How would you describe your style?

Spectacula: My favorite emcees are Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Big L and AZ. I feel like my music is heavily influenced by those five emcees but at the same time I feel like I'm my own artist. I would describe my style as personal, lyrical and brutally honest.

ER: On Goodnight you spit a lot of truths, could you speak more on the track?

Spectacula: I wrote Goodnight about a year and a half before it was recorded and actually for a while I had no plans to record it. I was really just venting about all the problems with the game at that point and the funny thing is that all the things I discussed on the song are still as relevant as they were a year and a half ago. The point I was trying to make with Goonight is that the music Industry is fucked up, especially for a new artist and it's not getting any better.

ER: On Myspace your tagline reads, "Failure is not an option I will not lose," how do you hope to achieve success?

Spectacula: The way I define success has nothing to do with Platinum plaques or millions of dollars; the type of success I'm going for is legendary status in Hip-Hop. I want people to speak my name in the same breath as the greatest emcees. So I guess the way I plan to achieve that is by continuing to perfect my craft and continue to challenge myself.

ER: Have you got any shows lined up? What is your next move?

Spectacula: The show schedule for the time being is kinda light but I should have some solid dates locked in for the top of the year. I got a show I do every month called Freedom Mic in Jamaica, Queens. Other than that I got a few mixtapes; I'm getting ready to put out Classical Muzikth with DJ Furious Styles for free download on November 17

* I have to be one of the few writers that still has to deal with the unreliability of microcassettes; email was my back up plan.


Spectacula- Ready Or Not

Spectacula- Monster

6 Minutes DJ Premier You’re On

DJ Premier, what more can I say? What more can I do? The name itself is a staple when one references real hip hop; I mean if one were to look up the definition of hip hop, more than likely Primo's picture would be adjoined to its verbal description. To put it simply, hip hop munches on a bowl of Primo for breakfast, after all it's the most important meal of the day. Any producer with any skills, heck any producer for that matter, would cite Primo as an influence. This living legend has worked with every major artist from Nas to the late, great, B.I.G. Nevertheless, one of the many commendable traits instilled in Premier is his willingness to continuously work with lesser known artists and help nurture their careers take for example Jeru the Damaja and more recently NYGz.Detroit native, Royce da 5' 9'' wasn't playing when he spit, Me and Premiere we kind of the same in ways/ we both speak with our hands in dangerous ways. Whenever you hear a Primo beat, you know exactly what it is, monotonous? Hell No! Premiere's style, highlighted by his well recognized scratched samples, has always been shamelessly imitated, but never, ever duplicated. At forty-two it's obvious that his love for this art form has not diminished, there is a visible, almost palpable, hunger for more. I recently caught up with this truly modest yet better half of GangStarr (...and that's not a knock at Guru cause true emcees don't come a dime a dozen) at a release party for his newest project, Beats That Collected Dust. This is what it sounded like...

ER (The Man) Interviews Primo (The Legend)


Devin the Dude- Doobie Ashtray (Produced By Primo)

Royce Da 5' 9''- Boom (Produced by Primo)

Bahamadia-Three The Hard Way Feat. K Williams & K. Atkins (Produced by Primo)

Nas- Represent (Produced by Primo)

KRS -One- Rappers R. N. Dainja (Produced by Primo)

Common- The Sixth Sense (Produced by Primo)

Jeru The Damaja- Invasion (Produced by Primo)

Hip Hopera Example II

Prince Paul's ‘99 classic, A Prince Among Thieves, sets the bar for concept albums. It possesses and exhibits all the major traits; basically playing like a movie throughout its entirety. The thirty five track opus, of which there are a considerable number of skits are pure genius. They feature a stellar cast of rappers including the likes of Big Daddy Kane, Sadat X and Xzibit (Just some of the names) matched with Prince Paul's cinematic musical backdrop.

It tells the story of Tariq, played by Breeze of the Juggaknots, who needs to get some money to record a demo tape for RZA. Almost naturally he turns to his boy True, portrayed by Big Sha who lures him into drug dealing. In his effort to secure this money Tariq encounters brilliant characters portrayed by an improbable list of rappers. Ultimately, it is a musical-like story of betrayal that is propelled by interesting story telling from different crafted styles. Every single song is a part of the story as is every skit. Collectively they help the tale progress; proving why A Prince Among Thieves should be the standard by which every artist who intends to undertake the difficult task of making a concept hip-hop album should adhere to; truly "Hip Hopera" at its best.


Prince Paul feat. Breeze- Steady Slobbin

Prince Paul feat. Kool Keith- Weapon World

Prince Paul feat. Big Daddy Kane- Macula's Theory

Prince Paul feat. Xzibit, Sadat X, Kid Creole- Handle Your Time

Prince Paul feat. Everlast- The Men In Blue

Jake One- Perfect Beat Writer

The Seahawks have a woeful 1-4 record, The Seattle SuperSonics are no longer in NBA existence, and the Mariners....have always been the Mariners. As a matter fact the city of Seattle has been suffering from a championship drought for the longest; although the Seattle Storm recently won a WNBA championship- but who cares nobody really watches the WNBA. (Ladies, please don't take offense, I am sure some of you cannot name this season's recent champions) Seattle's crowned jewel per say has always been the omnipresent Starbucks. But alas, Seattle has another hot commodity it can hang his hat on- Jake One. Despite having an extensive and eclectic catalog, Jake One is still only widely known for his works with G-Unit. Nevertheless, with the release of his debut, White Van Music, on independent label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, it is as though this perfect beat writer has come full circle. I recent caught up with Jake One via telephone just days after his debut's release with one major question on my mind- what is White Van Music?

ER: Whaddup, How are you?

Jake One: I am real good.

ER: iight, you ready?

Jake One: Yup!

ER: iight, wassup with your Seahawks?

Jake One: (Sighs) man- it's a hard life youknowwhatiamsayin' (laughs). I am ready for Holmgren to get the fuck up out of there and start of fresh cause' it's just this never ending era of mediocrity that has to end. I can't even apologize for what they have done this year; I can't even come up with a reason.

ER: But you can't put the entire blame on Holmgren though...

Jake One: Man he has been year for like fifteen fucking years, at some point this is all he created, and this where we are at youknowwhatimean.

ER: True, true. So what is White Van Music?

Jake One: White Van Music started from- that was the first song I ever did with somebody in high school. We had done a song about riding around in an ol'skool kidnapper van. I don't why I just named my tapes White Van Beats. Like when I make a beat tape, I just used it as my publishing company and then people referred to it like it had some meaning. So I figured I had to use it for the album cause' it's a term that goes back from where it began.

ER: How did the name Jake One come about?

Jake One: When I was getting ready to do my first mixtape, I think in '93 or something like that, I was trying to come up with a rap name or whatever. I was going to be JD, but there was a hell of JDs.

ER: Yeah...

Jake One: Those are my initials...

ER: What's your name?

Jake One: Jake Dutton youknowwhatimean; it's funny I actually spelt it J-A-Y-D-E-E. I used to tag that when I was in high school and youknow the real Jay Dee came a little later but I think I just needed a name and I was like, "Well there's KRS-One so I will be Jake One."

ER: (Laughs) I guess you can't go wrong with that.

Jake One: Yeah, I have been stuck with since.

ER: Iight So, Seattle is not geographically known as a city that caters to hip hop, how did you get into producing, and how has the scene transformed since your beginnings?

Jake One: I got into producing just by being a super fan more than anything. There is this dude, a good friend of mine, Vitamin D, who was doing music back in the early 90's for the group called Ghetto Children. Kind of seeing them do their thing, made me think...I wanted to try my hand at it youknowwhatimean. As far as the scene, I don't know if the music is better now than it was then, but it's definitely more unified and there's more support. When I first started people didn't like to claim Seattle as the place where they were even from. People would try to be from the Bay, whatever that was hot at the time; and now people want throw on 206 hats and all kinds of shit.

ER: Which local acts are big out there?

Jake One: Locally, Blue Scholars is probably the biggest thing locally. Obviously Mix-A-Lot; to me the person that has done the most out of here is Ish from Digable Planets. I know people don't associate him with Seattle but he went to high school here, he grew up here; and he made the classic record. As far as the scene there is a lot of guys that doing their thing though.

ER: Are you a fan of the WWE? The reason I ask because you produced John Cena's entrance theme song, how did that come about?

Jake One: It's funny because I wasn't even watching wrestling when that came about. I used to watch wrestling when I was a kid, the ol'skool wrestling. I think once they started introducing the youknow Elizabeth, people crying and the dressing room and all of that I got out of it. Somehow my manager at the time met John Cena at a radio show and gave him like a tape of beats. I honestly didn't know who he was and I was like, "Iiight, whatever." And then I got the call from him [John Cena] like, "Yo we got to clear this sample because I want this song to be my entrance music." And (laughs) they end up clearing it and the record came out and it sold pretty well. It's wild because the kids, I do workshops with kids and to get them familiar with who I am, I might play them some songs that I have done. And all I have to do is play that and they cool with me after that.

ER: What is the "perfect beat writer"?

Jake One: The whole beat writer thing is kind of like a little joke. Somebody told me I write great beats, which I just thought was hell of funny, so I have just been rolling with that. To me like a good producer has their own sound and they have something individual and unique about what they do. Like when you hear their beats you can say that has the qualities of so and so. Like when you hear Hi-Tek, you know it's Hi-Tek, or 9th Wonder or whoever it is.

ER: How did you compile the artists for White Van Music?

Jake One: You know everybody that I have worked with was either somebody...I mean I would say that 90% of the artists on the album I already worked with personally. When it came time for me to do the record I just reached out to them with a particular track that I thought they would sound good on. It was either that or someone like Freeway I reached out to because I was a fan and wanted to do something with him.

ER: Explain your process in making '04 Rock Co. Kane Flow beat?

Jake One: It's funny because that is everybody's favorite beat that I have done. I probably tried to make the beat a couple of times and it just didn't feel right. I just remember one day doing it and I had the little regular sequence. I was like its pretty hard youknow, kind of like some Busta Rhymes only five years left or some shit. I think it was in 2003 and Kanye and Just Blaze had that style where they started having breakdowns, having the powerful kicks and shit. So I kind of did that and was like that would be kind of crazy if I just slowed it down while I am doing it, and that's all I did(laughs). So I slowed it down, sped it up, and I guess no one had ever done that before, and it just blew people away.

ER: Who do you consider your influences?

Jake One: I definitely have to say like when I first started beats; my biggest influences were like DJ Premiere, Pete Rock, Dre, DJ Quik, is a big influence of mine. As I started making beats, Jay Dee was definitely a big influence, Nottz, Alchemist; there's a lot of people that have done stuff that I try to incorporate in what I do...I am not going to bite it.

ER: Are you still touring right now, what else do you have on your table, any notable production credits?

Jake One: We are just doing little dates here and there. I am just basically working on new material for next year. I am going to try to come out with a couple of different projects with different artists next year.

ER: Any more words?

Jake One: If you like the record, please go buy it. If you don't like it don't buy it. But if you downloaded it, you dig it, go spend ten bucks. I mean maybe you could smoke a little less weed that day or something.

ER: I know you are cool with Doom and all is his album really coming out this month?

Jake One: (Laughs) I don't know, I did some songs for it but I don't know when it's coming out. I have been playing some of his songs at my DJ gigs, so if people come check me out they will hear a couple of new ones (laughs).


Jake One feat. Freeway & Brother Ali- The Truth

Jake One feat. D. Black- God like

Jake One feat. MF Doom- Trap Door

Jake One feat. Bishop Lamont & Busta Rhymes- Kissin' The Curb

Nocturnal Videos: Episode 13- Unreal

NYOIL, a NY emcee by way of Staten Island is a very outspoken artist. His album Hood Treason originally released in '07, and re-released in '08 under the Babygrande imprint unequivocally supports this fact. Like Styles P's, I am Black, cuts on NYOIL's album will never see the light of day on the radio despite their banging beats, and compelling message(s); safe for Y'all Should Get Lynched which people knew about because of the video and its controversial nature and verbal battery of BET and rappers alike.

Most notably when it comes to the word Nigger, he clearly takes a stance that is quite opposite from that of NAS; however, we'll save that discussion for another day. Below is a video from one of my favorite cuts on his album so...listen with a humble ear/ don't be a fucking dunce...

* This is not a CLASSIC video by any stretch; but NYOIL is a decent emcee.

Hip Hopera Example I

A concept album is vaguely defined as an album in which a unifying concept or central idea is projected throughout the albums entirety. I use the word vaguely because that is an exception rather than the rule. That said, in hip hop there have been several attempts to create a concept piece, where all the songs and skits contribute to a (by and large) singular theme. Some of these aforesaid efforts fall short because put simply, not all the songs and skits are in sync partly because they fail to drive home the suggested premise(s). In my humble opinion while the songs on a concept album are supposed to contribute to its theme, a good indication of a stellar concept album- a litmus test if you will- is if the songs can stand on their own.

Tricks Of The Shade

I don't know how many people remember The Goats, for that matter even know who The Goats are. Nevertheless, Tricks of the Shade, is a must have for any true hip hop enthusiasts. My boy Toothpick (He was called Toothpick for obvious reasons) put me on back in the 6thDoggystyle and The Chronic, I was reciting the lyrics to Wrong Pot to Piss In and Hip-Hopola. The album plays like an urban concerto; with the trio's ganja laced politically charged lyrics standing out against stellar production ushered in by Joe Nicolo (Boo Yaa Tribe). Their story tells the tale of brothers, Chicken Little and Hangerhead as they journey through Uncle Scam's Federally Funded Welfare and Freakshow in search of their mother who was jailed for having an illegal abortion. Through these characters as well their politically conscious and Mary Jane innuendo music, The Goats are able to tackle several issues including the genocide of Native Americans in pre-colonial America, police brutality, abortion amongst others; ultimately suggesting that minorities were [still are] getting the shit end of the stick. It should be noted that all the songs featured on Tricks Of The Shade do not completely contribute to the album's concept; still all the skits in which the aforementioned brothers meet some very colorful characters reinforce those suggested ideas. TURN OFF THE RADIO!

The Goats- Wrong Pot To Piss In

The Goats- Hip Hopola

The Goats- Whatcha Got IS Whatcha Gettin

Crazy Like A Foxxx

Lurking in the shadows of hip hop, there lies a man who is built like the Hulk albeit the lack of green skin. Like Bruce Banner, when his justifiable anger gets the best of him, he lets loose his rage. Fortunately for us, this liberation is evidenced through an acceptable platform, or rather outlet- the MIC. If there ever was a poster child for the coined phrase, "the industry is shady"; Freddie Foxxx a.k.a. Bumpy Knuckles would coolly fit the bill. Despite a tremulous past marred with, for lack of better words, shadiness; Freddie Foxxx has been able to steadily stay afloat even though it might have been within the confines of a self-inflicted obscurity.

Talent does not imply that one has to do everything everybody else is doing. That said it is quite clear that Freddie will continue to grow in his zone as he puts it, "...continue to make the sounds that draws me to the music." His most recent release Crazy like a Foxxxx, was not released for the love of money, "...didn't release the record to go platinum" but rather for the love of this thing called hip hop and its true enthusiasts.

ER: What it do? Should I call you Freddie Foxx or Bumpy Knuckles?

Bumpy Knuckles: Don't matter dawg, it's all the same.

ER: I will just call you Freddie then. So what's good? Where you at?

Bumpy Knuckles: I am in the studio right now.

ER: What you working on?

Bumpy Knuckles: I am not working on nothing right now; but at the present time I am kind of like working on a couple of different projects. So I got a few things on the table, some mix CDs...working on mixing this KRS-ONE record that I worked on called Royalty Check.

ER: So you still dabble with producing?

Bumpy Knuckles: Yeah definitely, everyday.

ER: So what have you done recently?

Bumpy Knuckles: Just mix CDs, like I have been doing a lot of catalogue stuff. I worked with DMC on a couple of projects; I am active, definitely active.

ER: Do you feel that if you had hooked up with Eric B earlier in your career it might have taken a different path?

Bumpy Knuckles: I don't know, and that will never be known because I never went that direction so I can't really look at it and say, "If I would have..." I am not a if I woulda shoulda person. Whatever happens is meant to happen that way, I will deal with consequences, or I thank God for the consequences at times. Eric B and Rakim was supposed to be so that's what it was.

ER: Why did you opt not to update Crazy like a Foxxx?

Bumpy Knuckles: Yeah because it would have made the album sound wack. If I would have changed the album it wouldn't have been Crazy like a Foxxx. People was asking me for Crazy like a Foxxx, I gave them 94' that was when I was in a Crazy like a Foxxx mode. I think if had changed it I would have cheated everybody out of getting the experience of what I was dealing with and how I was feeling in the time that I made the album. That's like getting a classic car and putting rims on it and doing all kinds of shit to it; and then when you go to sell its value has decreased

ER: You mentioned being in a different mode back in '94, so what mode are you in now?

Bumpy Knuckles: I mean it depends; like right now when I listen to songs I am listening with a different ear. The emcee is not as popular as the producer nowadays; I am still in writing mode. I am in a mode where I still care about my wordplay and what I am saying; I am still concerned about what comes out of my mouth and how I write it. You know if I could make people rewind the tape, or rewind the cassette or I mean saying cassette like I am from the ol'skool. If I could make people rewind the CD or hit rewind on the IPOD or whatever you listening to it on and make you say, "Yo did you hear what he said." They used to do that, nowadays they don't do it no more youknowwhatimean.

ER: Since you just mentioned rewinding tracks, could you speak on Man Destroys Man?

Bumpy Knuckles: It's really about standing to protect yourself from people who feel they can advantage of you because of your weakness that's what that song is about. Even though I put the situation the way I put it, youknow being that it is about jail and dudes coming at you in a homosexual type of way, you have to know how to protect yourself from any kind of situation that puts you in a detrimental light. That's the message I was sending out, this is how man destroys man.

ER: On So Tough you spit, do I blame it on my pops that left when I was feeding on my mother's breast? In your opinion how has the increasing case of absentee fathers affected the youth today; particularly young African American men?

Bumpy Knuckles: I mean it's bad when I child doesn't have a father figure to keep that youknowyouknowhatimean." What I was saying in the song was do I get off my ass and do something about my life or do I sit around and blame my father for not being around when I was young kid youknowhatimean. need a balance of both. Both boys and girls need a presence of female and male authority in their lives because those are two different life experiences. Women deal with experiences in life as females, and men deal with others. I think that when you [a child] are missing that information from that entity it causes the kids to have a lack of knowledge. I am not saying that a woman can't raise a man, that's nonsense. But, it is always better to have both parents there, that is if they are both level-headed and into parenting, "errbody ain't into parenting

ER: How was it like working with the late Tupac Shakur?

Bumpy Knuckles: Dope, I mean dope Pac came in the studio. Man when he walked in I already felt the energy was gonna be crazy. He really listened to the music, he didn't just do his verse and leave, the whole environment was engulfed by him. We were in there having fun.

ER: On Industry Shakedown you vented a lot of your frustrations, how is your relationship with Queen Latifah?

Bumpy Knuckles: I don't really have a relationship with Queen Latifah, I mean we cool. I haven't spoken to Dana in years. It has been years, she is on some Hollywood type shit right now. I am sure if I see her in the streets it's hi and bye. I ain't got no malice towards, I am glad she is doing well, I wish her the best. She is very talented, but I just don't rock with her like that and she don't rock with me like that.

ER: What's next for you?

Bumpy Knuckles: I think I am gonna try and get out in '09. I have been in the studio for five years, just stacking up my catalogue. I got so much music; I have just being doing so much studio work it's ridiculous. Muthafuckas might think I fell off the edge of the earth but when I come back out on the stage it's gonna go down.


Freddie Foxxx- Can't Break Away

Freddie Foxxx- So Tough

Freddie Foxxx- Meet Some Skins

Freddie Foxxx- Man Destroys Man