Were you really dropped from Babygrande?
Yo, basically with Babygrande, it’s like the whole setup was for two albums. The first one was The Great Migration. When they came at us in the fall, talking about they wanted the second album, they wanted to go ahead and ask us to take a 75% cut from the advance that was already agreed upon. At that point I was conferring with my team and we were like, ‘Hell no! Why would we take a cut when you already offered this in the contract?’ They said that it was because of the state of the industry and this, that and the other. It wasn’t worth giving my heart for that cut. At that point we either take the money they wanted us to take or we walked so we walked. They weren’t fulfilling their contractual obligations so we were able to walk. They put out that I was dropped to mess up my other projects, but we walked, man.
Why would they do that?
I don’t even really know, man. I just know from speaking with some of the other artists, they have a history of being real shiesty, man, real shiesty. There’s a lot of people they didn’t pay and a lot of people they stiffed, even the artwork people who just did some artwork on the side for just a little check. I don’t know. They’re probably a little salty that they can’t make the revenue off me no more. They tried to say the product wasn’t profitable no more, which was a bold-faced lie. They’re just shiesty, man.
What would you have liked to have been different at Babygrande?
I think they could have did more, man, ‘cause at the end of the day, that’s a part of it. Something that really, really caught my attention was when we released the Wisemen album and they were releasing two albums on the same day and it was in the same genre and the same type of music. I think it was the Snowgoons that released on the same day as the Wisemen album. I didn’t see a lot of promotion around it and they said they spend this many dollars but it was really hard to see what they did from point a to point b. I definitely wasn’t happy with it.
You released some nice albums like The Great Migration and Thought for Food. Did you get the response you wanted from the fans on those projects?
Yeah. I definitely feel like the fans appreciated it and connected to it and I feel like they supported me on it too. There was some good out of the situation because it was really good for me to build my own name and get a little following and then move on. I feel like the fans definitely supported me but I think it would have been bigger if I had the right setup.
I think your MC skills often go under the radar because you’re known as a producer. Do you feel that way?
I’ll hear people here and there talking about me being a great producer but being all right as an MC. Really, you really gotta listen to me because I do feel underrated but it’s like the words I say, sometimes people come to me like it don’t make sense and then I explain it to them and they see that I’m really talking about the same thing they’re talking about, it’s just in an artful manner. It’s work but as far as being seen as an MC, I think I got some respect now. They just gotta listen. That’s all.
How do you put your rhymes together?
It’s really just a blessing that I’ve been given. I’ve always been just real good with words. In school I hated math but give me an English essay and I’ll smash that! I’ve always really been a writer. My whole process is I’ll throw the beat on. A lot of times I might just write to the air and get my thoughts out, no beat or nothing. Then I’ll go back and find a beat that fits me well and spit my verse to it. I’ll use my vocab and try to say things that other people aren’t saying or I might say some things that other people are saying but do it in a different fashion.
As far as your production goes, you’ve been able to establish a signature sound with dusty samples and banging drums. How do you see yourself evolving as a producer?
Really, the last couple of years, I still sample but I play a lot more stuff. I’m not in the Kanye West zone where I play a bunch of synthesizers and stuff like that, but I got guys who play and they’re nice. I’m doing some collabos with them more. Really, in the early days it was breakbeats and we’d cut up a sample. Now I’m evolving more into live drums and cut up drums where you can’t even tell where it’s from. I got more of a modern sound now without as many samples. I got more live instrumentation and live keyboard and piano and stuff like that.
How important is the live element becoming in hip-hop production?
It’s like going from a boy to a man. When you start music, there’s a necessity of not having it live and not having what you need. You move through the music how you can make it. I remember when I first started out, my man Buddha had a little guitar recorder thing that you could make beats out of. I would plug it into the stereo and I would make beats manually. I would spend five minutes trying to make a whole beat. As far as live instruments I think it’s just evolving. But when I plug in the samples and do all that, once you drink from one well, you start wanting to drink from the next well and wondering what that well tastes like. Once you get to the live music, it’s the real authentic sound and it really reaches to your heart.
How in demand are your beats right now?
There’s a high demand, definitely, but it’s within the genre and where I am. I’m still being slept on, man. I got thousands of beats and opportunities for a lot of people to jump on them. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it don’t. I think people still need to wake up to my sound a lot more.
Do you feel like you get boxed in being affiliated with Wu-Tang?
Yeah, I think so. It traps you in a little bit but at the same time it helps you. It puts you in the category sometimes. A couple weeks ago my web guy was doing something to one of my pages and it had a bunch of Chinese writing in the back and we had a laugh about that. A lot of people will throw that in there on the strength of me being affiliated with Wu-Tang. A lot of people will think the music is the same way. I got a whole lot of different-sounding shit.
Do you want to distance yourself from that affiliation?
Nah. You have to let them know this is who I’ve been working with and this is who I’ve worked with in the past. They’ll know what’s up. It goes both ways.
Have you been working with anyone under the Wu umbrella lately?
I consistently got something popping with cats who are Wu-Tang affiliated. There will be a couple things out there shortly. I’m definitely working on the 60 Second Assassin album with my man M-80. I got stuff floating around there. It’s just really a matter of when it’s coming out.
Why was Thought For Food a double disc release?
Thought For Food was really made before The Great Migration and I was just going to sell it myself but Babygrande wanted to pick it up and sell both volumes together. That’s how it ended up being a double disc. But the mixtape is like a smack. That’s really just a prelude to my album but with my mixtapes it’s a little different with my writing process. With my album I really sit down and I think out every line and I go back and forth and I’ll change stuff. With the mixtape I’ll go in the studio and really just put the pen to the pad and write. The mixtape is more of a fast process. The album is going to be on a whole different level but still classic.
You worked with Immortal Technique on “Payback.” What was it like working with him?
Oh, man, Immortal Technique is one of those dudes that I really respect with the movements that he makes helping people overseas. Just doing stuff with him and Diabolic, it was a blessing, man. It was definitely a good experience and it was good exposure to another crowd of hip-hop. It was great, man. I love Immortal Technique’s music. His message really speaks to me. It’s definitely ill.
Do you work better with artists when you have a message and purpose in common?
Yeah. It’s about that natural vibe that you have and the natural chemistry because you’re on the same thinking pattern. It helps when you’re with people who view things the way you view them but on the other side it takes all different sides of minds.
You brought GZA some of his best production on his last album Pro Tools. What was it like working with him on that?
Oh, GZA’s the master, man. He actually some of the beats for awhile. I would see him when he’d come to Detroit on tour with Rock the Bells and I had the beat Pro Tool’d out for him. With the “Columbian Ties” joint, really, that just came out like, ‘Let’s just use this one.’ That was a beat I sent to Dreddy ages ago. But GZA’s, he’s a scientist. He’s going to calculate it for weeks and then put the words in. He’s a legend.
Do artists like GZA make you a better producer?
I don’t know. I don’t really know if they make me a better producer because really, he gets on a beat and he goes in. I think being a good producer is working with somebody long enough to know them as an artist and to know that they might record things better one way or another. Really, as far as learning how to be a producer, I haven’t been in the lab with GZA that much to learn him as an MC, but just hearing the convos will let me know, like I should have took the drums out here or the sample out here. Either way, it works.
Last year Raekwon was talking about doing a Wu album without RZA. Do you think that will ever happen?
I ain’t heard nothing about it, no talk or anything. I really can’t speak for that, but as far as me, I haven’t heard nothing.
Would you take part in it if it were going to go down?
It depends, man. If they come to me and it’s all peace, then yeah, I’ll throw a few beats down, for sure. I got relationships with them, especially with Masta Killa. If they did an album without RZA, I would do it without any animosity and stuff. Yeah, I would jump in the ring.
Where do you see the Wu-Tang sound going in the next few years?
I just think it’s going to naturally evolve. That’s what we do, man. You can’t make the same sound forever. There’s a lot of artists out here with a lot of names and people are doing it on the underground like Fes Taylor, Inspectah Deck’s guy. There’s a lot of people. You got my whole Wisemen camp. The music is going to reflect on the sign of the times, man. What you record is going to reflect that time. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to evolve and we’re going to reflect.
What album that’s dropped recently do you wish you had a beat on?
Man, I understand he’s probably trying to reach the fans and the crowd, but we’re trying to hear it raw for 14 tracks. Let me do a Jadakiss album. Let’s do the Jadakiss album over and let’s get him in the lab and let’s give him that hip-hop sound. There’s a lot of people out here I feel I could give a nice sound to. I would like to put some fresh beats under that album.
What do you think Jadakiss’ The Last Kiss is missing? Personally I think it lacked consistency and direction.
Yeah. I felt the same way. I could definitely agree with you on that. We were just listening to that and it really sounds to me like he’s at the point where he’s trying to reach for the other fanbase, the more commercial listeners. He’s got more songs about females on there. I think he kind of, even though he’s good, he kind of stepped into another element and the people who are used to hearing Jadakiss over the old Premier beats and the grimy Swizz stuff, it’s different. That’s a question of whether or not you added to your fanbase or if you alienated someone.
Are you ever surprised by the amount of love artists get for low quality music?
Yeah, man! I’ll turn the radio on and think I’m bugging. Right now it’s all swagger and no talent, man. I’m not saying there ain’t no talented people, but I don’t know, man. It’s all about your style and not about your talent. I’ll be asking myself how they’re there and how I’m not at that point yet. But that’s the politics of the industry, man.
Is it a good time to be coming from Detroit right now?
It’s a hot spot right now and you got people doing all different forms of music right now. You got Houseshoes and people doing the East Coast, hardcore stuff and you got people who have the same vibe as a Slum Village and J Dilla vibe. I think it’s a nice mix. There’s a lot of hot talent right now.
How involved do you want to get with the up-and-coming talent?
I’ll listen to someone’s demo. I’m one of those people that will go listen. I always try to help. If I know someone can spit, I’ll want to hear something and if he’s nice then I’ll definitely put him in the studio. I’m definitely one who tries to help out because I got helped out and I definitely gotta give back.
What’s the next Bronze Nazareth project?
It’s going to be my second solo album called School for the Blind. I’m going to teach through the music, man. That’s probably going to come out in June or July of this summer. I’m working on it right now. We’re going to drop it and we’re going to keep it popping. It’s another one where I’m spending a lot of time on the lyrics. This culture is about the art and the lyrics and I’m giving them the lyrics and I’m just reflecting on what’s happened since The Great Migration. Look for that this summer. And we’re going to keep it popping. We’re going to put The Wisemen out and all their solos. The Wisemen project is coming, either at the end of this summer or in the fall. But yeah, it’s definitely coming, man. We’re out here and doing our thing and definitely working. We just got off tour and we’re staying out here. And just support these artists. This is how we get by. The music is my bread. Just support us, man. We’re going to keep bringing you this heat.