For pictures, exclusive video interview and original article check out USD Radio
To raise a child on hip hop, it takes more than a couple of artists. It takes a Slum Village. For most hip hop aficionados, there is no denying that this group, with their incorporation of feel Motown beats and tastings of booty techno, is must in any iTunes library. Originally formed in 1996 by childhood friends Baatin, T3 and J Dilla in Detroit, the group has managed to stay together through difficulties surrounding band members, record labels and the ever changing landscape of hip hop. If you don’t recognize them, you might be familiar with some of the beats J Dilla has made for other artists such as Common, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, just to name a few.
Slum proves to be one of the most resilient and persistent acts in music, with T3 continuing the legacy of the group with Dilla’s younger brother Illa J (you can start calling him John Regal from now on). We had the privilege to sit down with them at The New Parish in Oakland, CA to talk about their history, thoughts on the current climate of music, and even a little preview of things to come from the members, both collectively and individually. We got to say, they are some of the most humble and easy to get along with guys we’ve met and it was a pleasure getting to know them.
Check out our interview below, with the accompanying video:
USD: So for those who don’t know, who is Slum Village? T3: Uhh, that’s a long question, but let’s just say that we represent Slum today. But I’m T3 and that’s Illa, or John Regal now…
USD: You changed your name, transitioning? IllaJ: The John Regal character was already there, but IllaJ was what started it off. I’m kinda just morphing into John Regal, but I’ll always be IllaJ.
USD: So how did you get started? We know that you worked with Tribe and sort of the Native Tounges? T3: Ehh, really it was QTip that started Slum Village’s career, you can say that. You can say he had a big part. The story is we gave our first demo to QTip, who put it on J Dilla, with The Ummah. That was J Dilla’s first foot in the door as far as production. Also, Tribe put us on tour on a college run. That was a big thing for us because nobody gave us that opportunity cause we were just guys from Detroit. Not only that, but once we did Vol. 1, QTip is the one that circulated it to everybody. That’s how we got all of those features on Vol. 2, D’Angelo, Busta Rhymes, etc. USD: So being from Detroit, how has the city shaped your career and what does it mean to you? T3: Detroit is everything. We grew up in the East side of Detroit. You know it was urban, but as most urban places, Detroit has soul. Then there’s Motown, all of that. I think that it’s the reason why we gravitate to the type of hip hop we do. USD: Yea and I read in an interview that techno is a big part in your sound too? T3/IllaJ: Definitely, techno is a huge part of our sound. USD: Over here in the Bay we love techno as well! T3: Yea, our’s is more booty though. Does Oakland does Booty? USD: You can say that, a little different but definitely there’s booty going on. (T3 and IllaJ laugh) So Villa Manifesto came out last year. What was the process like? And we heard that it might be your last album together, no! T3: It was a tough process, I tried to incorporate all the members of Slum. Even the member who aren’t here. It was a task making that album. A lot of drama and controversy. USD: So it was a labor of love? Or love and hate? (A few more laughs) T3: There was a lot of love and hate going on. But now we’re doing mostly solo stuff. I have my digital EP out and Illa had his EP that came out, as well as Yancey Boys a couple years back. USD: Planning any new projects coming up? IllaJ: Ya, got my John Regal project, finishing it up. Working with 3, on a little secret project… USD: Oh, can you give us a little info? T3/IllaJ: Ahh, cant tell you that, stay tuned. USD: Haha, ok ok. So Any advice or tips for upcoming musicians or people trying to get in the game? T3: The key for me loving an artist is that each of them must do a song that I wouldn’t have done or I wouldn’t have thought of. That makes me respect the artists. That’s in all genres in music. Now music is so… ehh… My other advice is if you wanna be an MC, ok, it’s really simple nowadays. It’s about how much you put out, more so than the quality. If you can build yourself a fanbase than anybody can kinda be an artist. You won’t be the biggest artist, but you will be somewhat of an artist. USD: So it’s more about networking yourself? You think talent is second to that? T3: Talent is way second now. You have so much software now, it’s easier to make beats and sing now if you couldn’t sing. IllaJ: It’s always changing. You’re gotta learn to take ideas from the past, yet stay futuristic, but at the same time be current. It’s like a balancing act. USD: For sure. So anything else for our listeners? T3: You know what, go to school. Get your knowledge up. Haha, but yeah, just please support the projects. T3, Illa J. We love ya’ll.
For pictures and original article’s site, check out USD Radio
Sir Michael Rocks and Chuck Inglish are back, proving that a little time away is never a bad thing with their newest release When Fish Ride Bicycles. Working with some of the crème de la crème of hip hop, Pharrell Williams and Ghostface Killah of the Wu Tang Clan, the new album has the minimalist style fans have grown to love as well as heavier beats, crunk influences and synths. Sometimes described as a group that brings the best of 90s hip hop back to into cultural consciousness, the Kids also provide a preview of what is, hopefully, to come in the future of rap. For us, The Cool Kids prove that the over-styling of radio “hip pop” needs to change, and we’d love to see more groups and artists have even half the creativity these Midwest guys posses. They go hard on “Penny Hardaway” featuring Ghostface, as well as in “Gas Station” with Bun B, all beats produced mainly by the Cool Kids themselves. We had the chance to sit down with The Cool Kids last week at their show at The New Parish in Oakland, CA. Right in the middle of putting their set list together, we found these guys friendly without any airs about them. We discussed their beginnings, new album, flying squirrels, Airsoft wars and finally settle the age old debate: J’s or heels on a girl.
Check out the full interview below:
USD: So how’s your time in Cali been so far? Sir Michael Rocks: Excellent. Top Notch man, I’ve been here in Oakland a gang of times, and it’s always a good time. USD: What’s your favorite part about Oakland? SMR : Aw man, the people. A lot of the fans are out here. The people are dope as fuck. USD: Fan of any Bay Area artists? SMR: PFunk over there. Mac Dre, of course. Thizzing everywhere this way and that way. Too Short. All the classics. USD: How’d you get your name? SMR : Kindergarten. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I always wanted my name to be Mikey. I’ve always been a big fan of Michael Jordan, you know growing up in Chicago. I wanted to change my name and I started writing it all over my papers. And they told me that I couldn’t change my name and rap came along and I found a way where I could change my name. USD: Who said you couldn’t change your name? SMR : Teachers, my mom- USD: But I bet your mom likes your name now, huh? SMR: Yea definitely. USD: I heard that you and Chuck got together through Myspace? How did that all start? SMR: Man, we really met through a mutual friend we both had, we were both producing. He kinda linked us up because he thought we should meet. I ending up hitting him up through Myspace, messaged him through that and been making music ever since. USD: Nice, so ever since then you two have been releasing mixtapes and albums. There’s your new album, When Fish Ride Bicyles, the Tacklebox and Gone Fishing tapes, among other. What’s this reoccurring theme with fish? SMR: There’s gonna be more. We’re gonna save that secret for the end of our career, then ya’ll can put it together .It’ll all come to full circle. USD: We’ll definitely be waiting for that. Speaking of albums, what was the process for When Fish Ride Bicycles? SMR : The process was us going to our road manager Rich’s house. Recording in the studio, we’d be going to his crib and just make hella songs. He’d come up with a beat and I would come in later after he cooked it up, then I’d come up with an idea, adding to each of the pieces. So that’s the dynamic, all of us coming together, putting it together piece by piece. Then Green Label Sound asked us who’d we like to collaborate, we told them and it all got started. Nothing awkward, it was great, easy to create. USD: The label you’ve been recording under is your own, C.A.K.E. What does that mean, or is that another secret we should wait for? SMR: Nah, that’s us man. Creating Art for Kids Everywhere. USD: In a recent interview it was said that you worked with Ghostface. How was that? I also read that Raekwon said it was like working in the 90s? SMR: Man– Chuck Inglish: No that interview, let me clear that up… Raekwon didn’t work with us, Ghostface did. Raekwon came and hung out with us. But you know, working with Ghostface was like sending something out to someone and seeing what they thought about it. And his verse showed us what he thought about it. It was dope. USD: On the note of classic artists, you said you both have been inspired by the “Golden Age” of Hip hop, Rakim & Eric B, etc… SMR: Yea you know that’s the music we grew up with. Our parents were younger than most people’s parents and I grew up listening to rap. Instead of Otis Redding and Barry White, I had to find out about all those artists later. My parents were listening to Slick Rick and Eric B & Rakim, Nas. That’s what I was born into. That was my first taste in music, rap. USD: You guys are definitnetly known for your style, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever bought? In the background: Shown him the Roley! SMR: Man, that’s not even the craziest. I had an iguana tank and it was like half the size as this wall. And the iguana was small. CI: The iguana tank was real, but who has fly squirrels? SMR: I do man. CI: With an all wood cage.
USD: What are their names? SMR: Ralph and Lauren. USD: So Chuck, what’s the craziest you’ve done? CI: There’s a lot of shit. I definitely went to Walmart and dropped $400 on airsoft pistols. USD: Did you use them that day? CI: Yea we got video. He shot me in the face with one! USD: Aww, how could you shoot your dude in the face! SMR: Hey we were having an all out war! All’s fair in war.
USD: So who won the war? SMR: We were having teams. I was on one team, and I was behind the tree and came out, had the pistol and squeezed the trigger and ended up shooting him between the nose. Once you get hit it leaves a cheerio on you. USD: Haha, well next time we’ll bring some airsoft guns to join the teams. Hey so I’ve been hearing about this super group, P.O.C. (Pulled over Bu The Cops) you formed with Chip the Ripper and Freddie Gibbs? CI: I mean it was a super group that happened, and some people form groups and never drop songs. We recorded two songs, gave it a name and those songs were dope. Unless we’re all in the same place, I don’t think we should force it. Both songs were crazy. One was Freddie’s songs and the other song was Me, Mikey, and Chip. Like we were all jamming and there was a different sound coming from all of us. So, whenever we meet up again there will be more. USD: We had a question we came up on the way here, what do you like better on your girl, J’s or heels? SMR: I need versatility. I can’t always have a girl that rocks the Js. I need her to get fly for me. I’m not trying to cop out on you or anything, but I genuinely prefer both, on different occasions. If we’re going to a family 4th of July party you can throw on J’s. USD: Which ones do you prefer? SMR: Hmm, up to number 7, wait, up to number 8. CI: 9! 8? 11, 13! SMR: I like them on little feet man. Small 13’s are the best. USD: So what about you Chuck? CI: (looks over for a bit) … I like Jordans. (smiles)
Text (for entire article with pictures & video visit: M.I.S.S ) :
Rap may sometimes be seen as purely a hardcore, machismo, “hit it and quit it” art form, but its humbler side is often overlooked. Outside listeners tend to forget that rap didn’t begin with Beamers, Benzes, or Bentleys, or champagne flowing from the sky. Rather it began with normal guys on the street with a boombox and a beat. During that time, on corners or stoops, there would likely be a lovely lady passing their way. Guy sees girl and tries to get her attention. Girl looks his way, laughs and continues to walk along. Come on ladies, tell me that isn’t familiar? These were the days when LL Cool J just needed love, and a Bronx boy engaged in friendly banter with a few fly girls. Yup – we’re talking about Positive K.
If there was ever an underappreciated ladies’ man in the midst of early 90s rap, look no further than Darryl Gibson (Positive K). You might remember him from the playful banter and sing song lyrics of 1992’s “I Gotta Man.” Much like Slick Rick and Grand Puba, Positive K utilized storytelling with easy-to-follow flow that allowed listeners to get consumed by the story. Through this he gained followers while producing hits.
Working with many early rap stars, K began with a feature on 1986’s Fast Money showcase CD. Think of it as a cooler Now That’s What I Call Music, but corny pop stars would be replaced with underground rappers. Though the label that put out the showcase was short lived, K was not overlooked. He was picked up by soon to be X-Clan (that’s a group, not a cult) founder Lumumba Carson on First Priority Music. During that time he cultivated his skills, appearing on many under-the-radar tracks like Brand Nubian’s “One For All,” his own Big Daddy Kane-produced single “Nightshifter” and MC Lyte’s “I’m Not Havin’ It.” The format used for MC Lyte’s single would prove to be a recipe for gold when K released the song he is best known for: “I Gotta Man.”
With its funny lyrics and Positive K’s persistence for the opposite sex, “I Gotta Man” is hard to not love. The hit sampled some classic records. A Taste of Honey’s “Rescue Me” and “Spread Love” by Take 6 provided the song’s signature opening notes; you also hear Junior’s guitar solo from “Mama Used to Say” and the trumpets are from Crash Crew’s “High Powered Rap.” K remained in hip-hop’s consciousness when Jermain Dupri remixed Chante Moore’s “Chante’s Got a Man.” What that song is probably most known for is the bad Mama Jamma who tests Positive K’s “mack” abilities. So who, exactly, is the girl behind the voice? (TRIVIA ALERT!) The female MC is none other than… Positive K himself! Setting the pitch high, Positive K played a little audio dress-up in order to achieve the streetwise female voice.
I guarantee “I Gotta Man”‘s fun spirit, street-smart attitude and catchy hook will keep you pressing repeat. It’s refreshing to listen to because many ladies in rap songs are either moaning or just repeating everything the man has to say. Positive K flipped that – way before many of these current rappers were old enough to drive cars – and allowed women to let guys know that it’ll take more than a smile and a cheesy pick-up line to get a “girl like this.”
“I Gotta Man” wasn’t the only single Positive K released. After the hit, he produced the three more singles off his debut album The Skills Dat Pay Da Bills. There was the aforementioned “Nightshift,” “Ain’t No Crime” and “Carhoppers”(which used the same formula as “I Gotta Man”). But as Gangsta rap’s star began to rise, Positive K’s began to dim. Throughout the years, he has stayed busy. Still on the success of his debut album, Positive K appeared on the Beavis and Butthead Experience CD with the song Come to Butthead. The track is hidden on the cd – check your dusty CD shelves for that one! He also still operates his own label, Creative Control – not to be confused with the later-founded media company of the same name. Most recently he began his comedy career, and a few years ago he appeared on Nas’ nostalgic 90s remix Where Are They Now.
Text (for entire article with pictures & video visit: M.I.S.S ) :
WooHah! This week M.I.S.S. will be rockin’ with one of the best, Busta Rhymes. The Brooklyn-born rapper (originally Trevor Smith Jr.) has been gracing the airwaves with his witty lyrics, larger than life personality and signature rapping abilities for more than 20 years. One might even say he is the king of collaborations, laying down tracks with artists such as A Tribe Called Quest, Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson. Unlike many 90s rap superstars, Busta has been able to forever stay current, continuing his career by releasing albums and working with newer artists like Diplo and Tiesto.
Busta’s career started not as an individual, but as part of the classic crew Leaders of the New School. He met other band members Charlie Brown, Dinco D and Cut Monitor Milo after moving to Uniondale, Long Island from his native Brookyln at age 12. It was a difficult transition from rough and tumble Brooklyn to the quieter suburb. A break came when they were chosen to open for another Long Island group, Public Enemy (who had just begun to get big). During this time, Trevor Smith had been rapping under the name “Chill-o-ski.” But Chuck D (being the OG that he is) called it “corny” and suggested Smith change it. From then on he was known as Busta Rhymes, taking inspiration from Vikings receiver George “Buster” Rhymes.
In 1991, Leaders was the only hip-hop group on Elektra Records 40th Anniversary CD (with the song “Mt. Airy Groove”). That same year they joined the collective Native Tongues. The song that propelled them into popular consciousness was A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario.” Though they had had success with their debut, A Future Without a Past, the guys began to fight. Most agree that it was the shifting focus of the music industry towards Busta, and at no time was this more evident than on an appearance on Yo! MTV Raps. The group can be seen arguing over what member Charlie Brown describes as Busta’s hogging of the stage. Check out the performance right before that infamous interview below:
The group broke up shortly after that. In 1996, Busta released his debut: the platinum album The Coming. Critics praised it for the lyrics. Stephen Erlewine from Allmusic described, “Busta Rhymes has never had such an impressive showcase for his rhymes as he does on[the record].” The album itself debuted at #6 on the Billboard charts and the first single, “Woo Hah! Got You All in Check,” reached #8 on the Hot 100. It would also be the first Grammy nomination Busta had received; he has now had 9 nominations. The Coming had collaborations from many artists, including Zhane on the album’s second hit, “It’s A Party.” (Reminisce With M.I.S.S. on Zhane here)
Busta’s stardom did not stop there. Since his debut, he has released a slew of other albums and singles, each with its own personality and theme. Throughout the years, Busta has been praised for his individuality, never allowing current trends or phases to get to him. Most would be familiar with his signature dreadlocks, which had been growing since 1989. Proving that he is ever-changing and can’t be put in a box, Busta shed the locks in 2005 during a video shoot.
He has never been far from controversy either. In and out of courts for various reasons, longtime friend Chuck D says of the artist, “Busta has been dope for the long term… but you can taint your long term by making short moves” (Vibe Magazine).
What Busta does best is give his fans (and listeners in general) lyrically impressive tracks with visuals to match. When other rappers decided to go flashy and street in the mid-90s, Busta flipped that trend and presented his own interpretation. Seen in such videos as “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See”and “Gimme Some More,” Busta gave pop culture an alternative to club scenes. He created cartoon-like storylines, utilizing video editing software to give his videos life.
Another theme he likes to use is the concept of the future. His third album E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front was taken from the movie Deep Impact. Peep this classic Hype Williams-directed video with Janet Jackson:
Some of the artists we feature in this column haven’t made music in a while, but what’s different about Busta is that he continues to make music and present his point of view. He is known for his talent for spitting rhymes at speeds most rappers can only dream about. Younger music fans were introduced to Busta with his speedy 16 bars in Chris Brown’s song “Look At Me Now.” The song has received much attention, spawning thousands of fan videos trying to emulate Busta’s part. Even Justin Beiber hopped on the train, reciting the entire verse at a recent concert in LA. So here’s to you Busta Rhymes, for proving that one really can stay in the game in the brutally competitive, ever-changing landscape of hip-hop .