I think it’s great that you and Tame One recorded an album together. How did the idea come about for Parallel Uni-Verses?
The idea was all Tame’s. We’d been kind of linking up off and on since ’93. We’ve always known each other. With this last time I had contact with him, it was on MySpace and I was trying to reach out to him because he had these mixtapes out and they was hella dope. They were more like albums and original material. He had, like, three of them out at the same time and I felt that dude was a beast.
I reached out to him and told him I admired that and he was seen at a few of my shows. Every time I tried to hook up with him, for some reason I couldn’t see him. So we finally made stuff happen. We were touring together and we were rolling together. He brought up this project that we’re working on now. He wanted to do it and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ That’s pretty much how it manifested. He already had the Parallel Uni-Verses concept ready. The whole concept is his. I just pretty much followed his lead.
Was the boom-bap production his idea too?
The production, that more or less has to do with parallel thoughts and how the album actually became an album is parallel thoughts. The type of music that it is, I don’t know, to me, the old boom-bap beat is really just a back beat. Kick, snare, kick, snare. It’s like rock or something. Rock has the same kind of back beat. It’s pretty basic, just something that you can follow.
Are those your favorite kind of beats to rhyme over?
I like nervous beats, man. Like fast, nervous stuff, like Public Enemy. Like P.E. Something like a “Night of the Living Bassheads.” That’s a real nervous beat. Slick Rick’s second album, all of it is damn-near hella nervous.
Do you make those beats for yourself?
When I’m on the production, I make beats like that. But I make all kinds of stuff. Right now I’m doing a score for E.A. for this Skate 3 video game. I’m actually scoring a level. It’s pretty intense.
When I talked to you two years ago, before The Eleventh Hour came out, you were getting really heavy into music theory and production. Have you stayed on that path?
Oh yeah. That’s just my regular mindstate. I’m creative. I’m always trying to think of something new. But at the same time, I try to look at how the older cats did it too and try to learn from that. A lot of times it’s already been done in a different form so I look for the blueprint and then try to make a new blueprint. Hip-hop is hella important to me and I just feel like dudes have kind of played ourselves out, like it’s not that important anymore to people and I think that has a lot to do with how we handle ourselves.
I think the industry has a lot to do with it too but ultimately, I think it was us. We got more greedy and we got more money than people could conceive for doing it and then people lost their minds. Now we just got lazy with the art. Now it’s not even about you. A lot of what I’ve been trying to do is figuring out how I can convince people that hip-hop still has value in music in general. Right now the average person is probably looking at general music and they’ve gotten fooled so many times from so many different exploits that it’s like, ‘Whatever, man. Who cares?’
Movies are like that too now. I’m not saying that it’s not an artistic statement anymore, but to get it out to the mainstream where everybody’s seeing it, that’s a feat now. It’s all blockbuster smashes that they’ve already predicted you’ll go see. It’s to the point where a lot of people I know either copy or bootleg movies or they don’t even care about movies at all.
Do you think that can also come with age and stuff not being as new as it was when you were younger?
Me, I’m the type of person that don’t believe in things happening just because you got older. I feel like there’s a reason behind it and I feel like why things aren't as tight as they were when we was younger, as soon as we come out with something that’s tight, everybody’s trying to figure out how they can capitalize off of the project and make money off of it. of course it ain’t as cool anymore because it’s not even what we used to like.
So we get bored and we come up with something else that’s cool. Then the same thing happens. I mean, it takes awhile for something to peak and figure out what’s horse shit, but then they can see a noise getting louder somewhere else and they think, ‘Okay, I think I can make some money off of this. Okay!’ It’s happened so many times in our history and people are wise to it and they’re just like, ‘Whatever.’ Anything that you do’s gotta be a joke That’s why people look at the mainstream like everything they do has gotta be fake like every corporation. I get mad at that sometimes because you can’t really say that. You gotta do the knowledge and see what is fake and what is real. You can’t just say that all of it is fake. That’s being prejudice. I feel like that’s the reason though.
What’s the last album that’s come out that you thought was amazing?
I don’t know. I don’t have to be amazed. I just have to be entertained. I’m not looking to be amazed. Sometimes things that are amazing to me, I don’t really like listening to all of the time. Like, to me, Frank Zappa is amazing. Everything he do, to me, is amazing. But he’s kind of heavy sometimes and I don’t want to be that heavy. Cam’ron’s Gangsta Grillz is the latest thing that I’ve been listening to heavily. That’s like every day all day. Suga Free’s album was the last album that I had been playing every day, all day.
It’s just nice to listen to something where you can agree with every word he’s saying. He also does a lot of stuff that other rappers would be scared to do. He’s kind of beyond just a rapper. That’s another reason why I like him.
Getting back to Parallel Uni-Verses, did you link up to record it or did you send the verses back and forth?
We just sent verses back and forth online. Me, I don’t need to be in the studio with somebody. I would probably do a better job if I was just left to my own devices than if I was in the studio with somebody. That could actually hinder my project. If I’m left to myself, I can do the things that I want to do and I just do it. That’s the way we did it, man. He sent me what he had first and then I built off of him. And he didn’t explain what he sent to me. He just assumed that I would know what to add and that was tight to me, because I do know. I don’t have to be explained to and the more specific you get with music, the less you could be creative with it because you’re putting more and more parameters on it and how it has to be.
But if you allow some space for it to breathe and to give it some room, you can be creative. That’s what we did. I had a general idea of where he was going with his lyrics and then he did the same thing for me. He listened to what I did and then he added to that. On the album Tame is rhyming about things that he doesn’t usually rhyme about. He talks about stuff that you don’t usually hear from Tame. If you know Tame, you know he has more on his mind than what he raps about. He’s a pretty intelligent dude, but if you only go on his raps, you might think he’s one-dimensional. But if you listen to what he’s done with other people, you’ll have to think if that’s Tame or not. On this, I built a lot off of what he’s saying and he built a lot off of what I was saying. If you listen to my music, you might think that I’m one-dimensional. That’s how we came together with it though and it kind of sounds like we were in the studio together.
And Tame has more on his mind than what he raps about. I guess a lot of rappers are like that. When I get on the mic I’m usually talking about a personality defect from somebody that I don’t like and I’m usually going in on them the whole time. But when you’re working with somebody, then you get to express yourself in different ways, depending on what kind of relationship y’all have. Me and Tame have a pretty cool relationship and we talk about all kinds of stuff and it leaked through into the raps. Me and Tame, sometimes we actually send each other rap emails, like it’s a whole verse but it will be about whatever it’s about. Wherever he’s at at the time, that’s what it will be about. But I like that though. Those are the types of raps where I feel like you’re expressing yourself. There’s a thing about it, trying to get to the core and just the true element of expression. You can’t always get there all of the time. I feel like with this album, we got there but you can’t really try to get there because when you try to get there, it runs away. Once you start chasing the money the money starts running.
Do you feel like you’re where you want to be because you didn’t sell out for the money?
I feel like I’m in a pretty good position but I’m not satisfied. I want hip-hop to be as great as it was. I remember this one program, I think it was Arsenio, and they were praising Rakim. It was jazz cats, older cats, but they were reading or reciting Rakim’s rhymes like they were poems. That’s how they was coming, putting him in that light. I remember that and that was in the mid or early ‘90s. Now all you hear is negative criticism of hip-hop. I’m not saying there’s no positive influences out there, but it’s not like that now. It’s a commodity now.
If you’re a kid and you see people around you and they’re trying to rap, that ain’t even dope to you anymore. It’s like, ‘Rapping is played. Everybody raps. Okay, you can rap. So what?’ Before, if you was a rapper, you had to have skills. Seriously, nowadays they’re like, ‘Say whatever.’ “Scratch my bootyhole.” You could say that and probably make a hit song out of it where before you had to work for years. I wanted to be regarded in a certain light because that’s how I look at it. I still look at it the same way and I’m sure Tame looks at it the same way. You can’t be a toy walking into the game. I feel like everybody who’s really real with what they spit feels the same way. There’s also a lot of politics going on and people don’t think what something somebody is rapping about is positive. It doesn’t matter what somebody is rapping about. That’s their expression and who they are. Kool G. Rap didn’t always have a positive expression but he’s raw and he has skills. That’s who he is! There’s politics involved though. That’s what I’m saying.
Can you make better music without a producer there?
I’m not going to say that. I will say I’m able to mobilize and make things a lot faster than when I’m with someone else. When you’re with someone else you have to click with them. I’m not going to say that I can make better records than if I wasn’t with Prince Paul or Dr. Dre, because I don’t know.
And it’s just whatever’s available. And honestly, to tell you the truth, a lot of producers out there, they’re not checking for me. I’m a homebody. I don’t be out and about that much, so maybe they don’t know. But people ain't banging down my door to fool with me. That has a lot to do with it. I work with whatever’s available and a lot of times, my creative drive is greater than a lot of people’s.
I’ll have albums done in a week as far as writing is concerned and making beats too. In a week’s time, I’ll have an album. And it won’t stop. I’ll have another album next week. I don’t even look at it as albums anymore. It’s just a continuing project. Zappa has this idea of a greater project that encompasses his entire life and he tried to collect everything he ever did into this project and that’s kind of how I look at it, like the same songs. I just try to perfect it. It’s like a scientist working on a theory. That’s cool, but let me try putting in this element this time. It’s kind of the same concept you’re building on. It’s like musical perfection or whatever you want to call it. I know a lot of other artists maybe aren’t like that, like it ain’t their greatest concern. That’s another reason why I’m always working by myself.
From listening to the promo of Uni-Verses, it sounds like you and Tame had fun going back and forth.
Tame is a fun dude. I like fooling with Tame. He’s a cool dude. He’s always been. He’s always been hella cool. Yeah, it was fun, man, but he’s the type of cat that can have fun with it. Even though his situation ain’t the best with where he’s at, he’s cool with it and that ain’t gonna stop what he’s doing as far as hip-hop is concerned. And he’s not that jaded. He writes all the time. That’s how he expresses himself. We have Sidekicks and he’s always writing his lines on the Sidekick and it’s fun to work with somebody like that because that’s how I am. I’m always writing rhymes because that’s my form of expression and if it wasn’t hip-hop it would be something else in writing because that’s pretty much what I am. There aren’t too many people like that so when I find somebody like that, yeah, it’s like, ‘Oh, okay!’ It’s a challenge and it’s somebody else that’s raw too and they can produce a rap instantly and they got books of raps too. You kind of feel like, ‘Okay, you’re not the greatest.’ It kind of makes you get motivated.
Are you satisfied with Parallel Uni-Verses as a whole?
Satisfied? I’m rarely satisfied. I always think shit can be better so at a certain point, I just gotta step back and say, “Okay, it’s done” because I can keep on working on something forever. I’m a perfectionist. At some point I gotta step back and say it’s done. I like what we did though a lot. A whole lot. As far as the response that we’re starting to get from it, I honestly didn’t expect much as far as responses because I feel like a lot of people are jaded and they’re not even checking for stuff no more.
I was surprised when I got to New York to go to the label and people said it was hella tight. I was like, ‘Okay, people are digging it!’ I guess I’m sort of jaded. To me, hip-hop is like an expensive hobby at this point. I don’t see people making a profit off of it or being really interested in it. I’m not doing it for a profit. I’m doing it for myself. This is something that I’m trying to zero in on right now.
I want to take that core hip-hop, from the ‘90s and ‘80s, and take that from where we just left it sitting there. We could have done more with sampling but we just did it the easy way, rapping over popular records and making money. But you can do hella stuff with samples. Imagine if you took the concepts of Marley Marl and took them even further, like Pete Rock, for example. He still does that. That’s what I want to do and I’m pretty much on that page right now, just trying to be real like that. I’m trying to make it interesting, where if you weren’t there back then, there’s still something you can get out of it because I’m still updating it and not making it retro. I don’t know what you would call it, but it’s still hip-hop and new as well.
Weren’t you kind of on that route with your last album The Eleventh Hour?
Sort of. I’ll tell you another concept I got. I’m having a battle with myself. Musically, I can do a lot more than what is necessary to make hip-hop music but there are a lot of purists that say that after a certain point, you can’t call it hip-hop anymore and I kind of agree with it. It’s like the blues. Blues is so simple that once you get past a certain point you can’t call it the blues anymore. It’ll still be like the blues, but updated.
I had to kind of get comfortable with myself and I kind of understand now what making beats is. You call them beats for a reason. If you’re making a beat on an MPC, it’s called a beat for a reason. It has its own world. When it comes to hip-hop, it’s more about beats. That’s the page I’m on, trying to come up with some iller beats. I can make a tight production with instrumentation and none of it is sampled and now I’m trying to bring that back to how can I make beats. We’re in an era now where beats changed the worlds and something like a funky beat might be bewildering to a cat now, like, ‘What is this?’ I don’t know if they have the musical maturity to even appreciate half of the shit I do. I have to pump my breaks a little bit. When I was younger, I wasn’t musically sophisticated and something hard caught my attention. I was like, ‘Fuck this R&B shit. I don’t want to hear no lovey-dovey melodic shit. I want to hear something hard.’ That’s where my mind is at and how I can take that concept and bring it to the future. It’s kind of like rock because it’s more about bang-bang than about musical sophistication, for the most part. Of course you could do anything with it, but if you don’t have that hard, driving edge, it’s kind of like fluff rock.
Do you think hip-hop has too many subgenres today?
Yeah, yeah, I think so. I think it’s been doing that, but I think that there is nothing being said about what it is necessarily. Once money got into the picture, it was like a pimp and a ho situation. You’re not independent.
But it wasn’t as bad as the first model for the music industry because the first model, you didn’t even know what was happening and you would just hear your music like, ‘What is this magic?’ And you would just be hearing your music somewhere and you wouldn’t be getting north. You got a bottle of whiskey for your songs. I didn’t tell you what I was going to do with your songs once I got it. (laughs) We live in a capitalistic world, Jack. I gotta capitalize off you to make my profits because that’s the way the game goes and it’s foul. Somebody’s gotta lose.
That just tarnished the whole thing and a lot of people are greedy and we live in that environment and some people don’t have nothing and once they get something, it’s different. In ten years let’s see if you’re on the jet skis and horses and all that shit you talk about. We’ll see if you still have those millions because you can’t have it blowing it right now. That’s just the real deal. I’m not even hating. Those are just lessons that I pick up from the background and what I’m going to do with the money I have, and I don’t even have more than them.
But I think that has a lot to do with shit changing and there’s not no consolidation as far as shit goes because it can be anything. It kind of just turned into more than it was. Hip-hop has turned into what the blues was. It’s a formula that’s so basic and you can build on that basic formula and make it something different. I don’t care what kind of music is popular, it still has the blues in it because it’s still based on that simple chord progression. It’s the same thing with music. If you make a beat on an MPC, it’s still hip-hop, period. Who’s not going to have a driving drum beat in their beat today if they want to be hip? That’s been going on for at least the past 20 years.
When you were asked to score the skating video game, did the company ask for real hip-hop or more experimental-type hip-hop from you?
Well, this is my first real scoring project. They’re being real patient though and I’m hella thankful for that. They can be fooling with somebody else and not even fooling with me. That’s a good question, man. Honestly, the first stuff I gave them, they said it was almost too dramatic or too movie-like. I’m going into it thinking, ‘Okay, you want something like this’ and they want me to just do something that I would rap over. That’s a trip to me. That’s what I’m doing. I’m a little bit more involved than that. I’m basically making a 30 minute song and it has changes throughout the whole 30 minutes because you’re walking around and doing what you do and as you get better the music starts changing. The more you start to achieve, the music starts matching that. They came to me because they heard my Funk Man album and they liked it and they liked that I still kept it hip-hop but I was trying to move it forward and they thought that was perfect for what they were trying to do. They still wanted that hip-hop but they wanted more than just the simple renting somebody’s music out. They wanted somebody that could actually mold their shit to the game and they figured I had enough skill to do that and still keep it hip-hop.
Are you enjoying the scoring experience?
I like it, man. And I’m the type of person where I’m a quick learner and I’m eager to learn. They were telling me they liked that and a lot of times they can’t get in touch with dudes and they look at it like it’s some bread or whatever. I’m asking them what they want me to do and to explain it to me. I’m actually involved in it. They’re like, ‘Damn, this is hella cool.’ And then they get more juiced about working with me. I definitely like this.
As far as the pay goes, the pay is good and that’s a part of why I wanted to get these skills because I knew in the future, hip-hop wasn’t gonna be paying my rent no more because at the rate it’s going, it’s not gonna have no value no more. I love hip-hop but that angle’s not gonna work no more and if you want to do music, you’re going to have to know stuff about it because the basic level of music theory that I was at was not going to cut it in the future. I designed things to end up here and I definitely want to take it to movies because I enjoy working with music, period.
When you were coming up, your solo music and the Hiero music was on skating and snowboarding videos. How important was that to getting your music out?
Skating was something that I was trying to do. My theory is that we were both coming from two different types of subcultures where you can’t just be down if you don’t have some type of skills. You can’t just walk up off the street and be a skater. You’re going to have to bust your ass more than a few times and that’s how hip-hop used to be. You couldn’t just walk up and start rapping. It had a bad boy edge to it and you weren’t supposed to be doing that to adults, so it kind of made you cool to people. Other people thought you were crazy or whatever, but I’m keeping it funky. Most subcultures got something like that to them but I think those things just kind of brought that attraction.
A lot of skaters like underground music but personally I’ve always grown up around kids that skate and rockers and stoners, whatever. I didn’t hang around the cool kids at school or the cheerleaders or the jocks or whatever. They didn’t like me. They thought I was weird. So that’s not who I kicked it with. I kicked it with people who were more real about things and weren’t superficial with things. I guess that just translated to music because I’ve always kicked it with different people.
That’s probably helped me more in my career than my musical skill has because people like me and they want to be around me. It’s cool and that goes a long way when you’re trying to deal with people. Some people, you might think they’re great and whatever but their attitude is so nasty that you don’t even want to deal with them. And now the skating industry has grown to it’s popularity that now when I talk to the kids, they tell me that rapping is out and that ain’t cool no more. Skating is what’s up. That’s what they tell me and I figure that’s probably because now you can’t just be a skater. You could just be a rapper. Not to me or you, but to the average person out there in America, rapping ain’t shit. Skating though, you can’t just do that. You’re going to have to put some dedication into that, physically, and not based off nobody’s opinions. No. You’re going to have to physically be able to do something and I think that gives it a sort of value that sort of supersedes how most people value rapping now. It’s been devalued. But it helps me because I’ve never left that skill value. A lot of other hip-hop artists sold out and I didn’t. A lot of kids today, they can respect that, I guess.
Do you think that’s why you can tour whenever you want?
I think it’s because people actually enjoy my presence. I’m so sure that my pleasant approach to people makes them like my music even more, where a lot of artists might turn you off of look at you like, ‘Get out of my face. Fuck you doing? I’m trying to holla at the hoes.’ It’s like, ‘You’re a jerk. Fuck you, dude. Your music ain’t even that tight, now that I think about it.’ I just play my part and I’m just surprised that year after year, people tell me it’s the greatest show they’ve ever seen. That’s what a lot of people be telling me. They’re satisfied when they leave my show. I don’t know what they’re seeing but I’m not complaining. I might be having a bad-ass time but when I get on stage and it’s time to do it, I’m not thinking about it.
I always left a Del show having a good time.
That’s what I like about hip-hop. The older cats like Slick Rick and Run-DMC, fuck it, you’re not leaving a Run-DMC show not having a good time. They were like fucking gods. They had a show and they made an impression. Now people are lazy and they don’t want to be there. They’re really egotistical and it wasn’t like that. If you was an MC, you might be like that on the mic, but dude was cool actually. You were just supposed to be like that on the mic. Somewhere along the line people actually started buying into what they were rapping about.
Do you enjoy the touring process?
All the stuff I was popping about being on the road, I really don’t feel touring that much, maybe because I haven’t stopped touring since ’91. When I first got into hip-hop, I didn’t really understand that it would entail all of that. I just liked to rap. Now I’m looking back like I didn’t realize the job entailed all of this.
To make a long story short, Tame understands that I’m not gonna want to tour for this. I just want to do the project and we’ll think about the other shit later. I just wanted to do it because that was something creative that I wanted to do, but I’m looking at it like he could use that as a jump-off of whatever. But if he needs me to do it, I ain’t gonna sit up here and be a fucking dickhead about it. I could try to endure it, but I don’t think he would try to force me to do that. But the shit we did in New York, I already told dudes that I’m not doing nothing that requires me to leave the Bay Area. So you better get used to that from right now and if it’s in the contract, I ain’t fucking signing it. But amazingly, I was out in New York and the label realized that they had me here so they got me there to do some shit and I didn’t complain about that. I’m surprised at myself that that occurred. I was surprised that I just did it and didn’t complain. If I’m in a situation, I’m going to make the best of it.
Touring isn’t easy with your health issues either, right?
It’s not. I’m just not built for that strenuous, continuous work. It’s basically 24-7, all day every day. You’re on your job all day. It don’t stop. All day you’re traveling, then you got to perform and hopefully get some sleep that night and then do it the next day and the next day. Some people love it. They would rather be out on the road than at home. That’s not me though. I would rather be tweaking sounds and mixing elements in a mix in the studio. That’s where I would rather be. That’s shit that other people probably think that would be hella boring but that’s like science class for to them and they’d rather let an engineer do that. That’s the shit that’s hella fun.
You know we can’t do an interview without asking about the latest on you, Dan the Automator and the Deltron project.
Man, I hope Dan is still willing to do it because it’s been so long and I ain’t talk to him in so long. He might be like, ‘Man, fuck you, Del. You took too long. You took too long. Fuck it.’ I doubt he’s being like that. From the last time I talked to Dan, he was being very patient because the last Deltron, I feel he kind of jumped a little bit ahead of me as far as what I was trying to do. He was trying to maximize anything. “We gotta maximize!” He’s a hustler like that and he’s trying to get his bread and maximize it and I’m like, ‘Damn, I don’t even know the lyrics like that. Can you pump your breaks a little bit? We’re on the road trying to do a show with a live band and I don’t even know the fucking lyrics!’ The lyrics were ridiculous! As a matter of fact, with this Tame project, I didn’t really think about the lyrics being performed. It’s the same thing with Deltron. Those lyrics weren’t really designed to be performed and they weren’t for sing-alongs and in so being, I can’t even sing along with that neither. Learning it is like studying for a test. I was not ready.
The next time, I said I wasn’t gonna finish the shit until I’m ready because he’s gonna be ready and want to go maximize. But I talked to him about it. Dan’s a cool dude and that wasn’t his intent. He thought I was on the same page, probably. That’s why he’s been patient this time because he hasn’t heard from me in a year, at least, but he hasn’t bugged me and I don’t want to step on his toes or nothing. You don’t have to give me that much space. You can holler. I ain’t mad at him. I got about half of that album done. I be writing some Deltron shit periodically now. Before it wasn’t in my mind and now I’m trying to get it out of my mind. I’ve been thinking of Deltron shit and I got a Deltron folder in my computer and I got stuff that’s not even going on the next album. I’m thinking about Deltron more now. It happened before I was even ready for it and now I’m starting to get more comfortable. I’m realizing that people liked it and I’m thinking about why I even did it in the first place. These are real questions to get back to the zone I was in when we first did it.
What do you think your fans want from you today?
What I realized is that people who want that just want something to keep them entertained. Some people are real critical, so I ain’t talking about them. I’m talking about the average person. If you do too much, they’re like, ‘Okay, you’re cool, but damn, dude, turn it down a little bit. It’s kind of loud.’ They want that excitement but they don’t want it too exciting because then they’ll be irritated. It’s kind of like a balance you have to do. I’ve discovered that you don’t have to do that much. I mean, you have to work, don’t get me wrong, but the type of effort that I be trying to put in it at some times, I have to pump my brakes a little bit. I’m kind of going overboard. I’m just starting to be a little more conscious of what the average person out there is either willing to take or willing to take because they’re important to the equation too. You can’t be a performer without people who are willing to see you perform because you have to be respectful of their tolerance level.
It’s the same way with fans. You can’t be running up asking for autographs and to sign your titty. Calm down! The motherfucker is probably kind of nervous. Me, I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. They’re fans and they’re excited to see you, but it’s irritating at times. Sometimes I can’t even see because sweat is all in my eyes and there’s a mob of people running after me.
Do you think we’ll see a new Hiero album anytime in the near future?
You know what, man? I would love to see another Hiero album. I still feel the same way but I realize that I’m getting up there. It’s not them days no more and shit is a lot more frustrating. The situation is hard, especially with the shit that we do because the value has decreased so much. You can’t eat off this shit like we used to be able to. A lot of people around me are kind of getting jaded and you got kids. I gotta do something else, like this shit ain’t feeding my kids. I’m not going to say it’s not there.
As family, we all get it. But it’s just our level of motivation is not all there at the same time like when we were kids. It was bountiful energy, just bursting and bristling with energy. Now it’s about watching kids and baby mama’s tripping. It’s a different situation now. You’re a grown person now and you got all these grown problems you gotta worry about. Me, personally, I tried to do things in my situation differently so that when I got here, I wouldn’t be tripping as hard and it’s cool.
I told everybody in Hiero that if they needed me, send me the music and I’ll finish it and send it back to you or I’ll come up with a concept and send it to you and you can fill in the blanks. I can do it. My only stipulation is don’t ask me to come to the studio because that’s what I worked so hard to not have to do. The technology is here, in the comfort of my own home. Aside from that, I’m willing to do any Hiero song whenever they want to do it. It’s just different now that we’re all grown.
But it could be possible?
Yeah. To be honest, we probably got enough but brothers are picky. A lot of times, brothers be looking at it like it's the next big thing and “The Next Hiero” album but the more pressure you put on it, then it becomes a big-ass deal, like, ‘The shit better be live.’ But if you hit them real quick with whatever it was, they’ll like it. I don’t know. I think a lot of times brothers just make it a big-ass deal but we probably got enough for a Hiero album. We were working on that a year or two ago. And we were never a group like that anyway. We were always separate groups under the Hiero umbrella and I could handle the pressure of that because I’m a solo artist. I had to go back to being a solo artist after awhile. We just didn’t have the money to all go on the road alone.
Let’s maximize the money that we got and everybody can go out as Hieroglyphics under one umbrella. The situation was good but we just started there and never went back to the original plan. I feel like now, at this point, it’s back to where it should have been where Opio’s working o his solo stuff and A-Plus is doing what he wanted to do. Now you got enough to where you should be able to do your own thing now.
Do you think your fans understand that?
I don’t know. What do you think?
I think a lot of fans would love more Hieroglyphics music.
That would be dope. Personally, I’m willing to do it. If there’s anybody that has the energy level and productivity level that I have, it’s Hieroglyphics. The love for each other is there but we live in separate places now. I don’t even live in Oakland anymore. I’m in Richmond. I’m not even around dudes. I’m out in the cut somewhere. Tajai moved to a different spot. It’s not as close-knit as far as our location is concerned, so that’s one thing. And then we have the responsibilities that we have. But let’s just use this technology and do it this way. But some people aren’t comfortable with that. They want to be in the studio and be physically around people. I can’t knock it but it’s harder for me because I can do it right here, write it and send it right back. What’s gonna beat that, in my mind?
That seems to be the popular way to record today.
Is it? A lot of people seem to be more analog today. A lot of people want to talk to people and do it. Me, I don’t need your physical vibe because I know that sounds hella crazy, but I don’t need to be there shaking your hand. I can get your vibe just as good through other means of communication.
What video games have you been playing lately?
I haven’t had time to play video games in the last decade, dude. I have the Xbox but I haven’t played a lot lately. And I fully upgraded my computer. I have one that Dell gave me and it’s good because it never goes online. If I spend money, that’s what I spend it on. I’ll buy the new gadget that makes it easier for me to make my music. But I got an MPC 500 and I had the MPC 1000. I don’t use them as much as the computer, but when you called I was making some shit on the MPC 500. But yeah, I keep up with them, man.
Will we see more music from you on a consistent basis?
I got more shit than will probably ever be able to be released because I don’t ever stop making shit. But my focus right now is to let these young cats feel the excitement about music that they’re not feeling. Anything that I try to do that is trying to be too retro with it, they’ll probably frown on that. I’m trying to give it to them raw, basically. I want to give them music that made me think Kool G. Rap was an alien or take it back to Big Daddy Kane and Just Ice, because you know how hard Just Ice goes back. I used to hear him rap and be like, ‘This dude is actually saying this?’ I thought lyrics were supposed to be simple and there wasn't nothing cleaner than that.
And the music was just something new and exciting. I want them to be able to get that. Some kids, they want that. A lot of kids in the skating area and that subculture, they listen to what their older siblings listen to and they don’t fool with that pop shit. They listen to what came from the ‘90s and that’s who I’m trying to appeal to because they have that interest, like how George Clinton and Bootsy did back then. They knew who wanted the funk and that real and I’m getting in where I fit in. I see who’s interested and I’m sliding in there, that way I’m not bothering who doesn’t want to be bothered with it.
But I’m doing it from a point of view where I don’t have to make money off of it. People aren’t buying records and it’s just something that’s meant to be downloaded. There’s no money in this. You can download it but you can’t download me and once you download it, you’re going to hear it and realize that you shouldn’t have done that. You’ll feel like a jerk because you’ll realize how raw it is and that it’s worth it to go buy it. A lot of cats aren’t worth it. I’m not saying I’m trying to save the world, but that’s what I want to do.
It seems like your perspective has changed a little from your interview for The Eleventh Hour, where you were more negative towards the free downloading of music.
You know what? I just got a funky attitude a lot of the time. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it is. I was kind of ambivalent about that but I knew it was gonna happen. I was just keeping it funky with you. Motherfuckers were going to download it and I was ready. I knew it was going to happen and I wasn’t perturbed about it. I’m out there too so I know what’s going on. I’ve been fooling with computers since the sixth grade, so I know how that goes. I wasn’t that mad about it but now I’m at a point where I can see how you can make people appreciate it and why they feel like it’s okay to do that because it’s like that in the software industry.
A lot of fools be trying to bullshit you and sell you some weak shit and motherfuckers are like, ‘Fuck you, I can get around that!’ That’s just the way it is. Like, make it easier for me, dude, and I’m going to respect you and then I’m going to buy it. But if you’re a bigwig dude trying to get around it, I’m going to download your shit. And that’s just the attitude. I can relate to that. That’s me too. That’s been me for awhile but I’m going to let you know, though, that this shit I’m doing, I’m not one of them. If you like my shit, you’re not going to be able to do it no more. I’m going to keep it funky.