Matter ov Fact: We’re all right. Everybody’s spread out right now. Everybody’s back at school or working and it’s hard to get us all in the studio all together, but we were able to get some stuff done over the holidays.
How did Fab Nickel form?
E-Pillz: The group, as a rap group, was not first. It was friendship first. Matter ov Fact and G Grhymey are brothers, Blezzed and B.Cliff are brothers and then you have me. We all lived in the same complex and over the years have become more than just a crew. We’re a family. We’ve been down since way back, but the rapping started, I would say, in ’98. It was just something to do to be funny and make fun of some cats in the neighborhood. We were doing it over instrumentals and then we wanted to start doing it originally. We started with crappy keyboards and recording the songs on cassette tapes. It was all off-beat and everything but we eventually stepped it up to where we are today with Pro Tools, official mics and so on.
Do you guys wear baggy blue and yellow shorts and call time-outs at inappropriate times?
E-Pillz: We have to call time-out in this rap game right now. I don’t care if it’s the wrong time. It was just the fourth quarter too with people dropping bullshit albums. I don’t care, man, I’m pulling a C-Webb on the rap game! Time out! You also can’t have your shorts too tight, so we keep the trend going with the baggy shorts. As far as any other comparisons, if you want to say we’re a tight-knit crew, that goes without saying.
There’s not a huge market in the O.C. (845, NY). Is that difficult for you guys?
Matter ov Fact: It gets difficult. We try to supply the people with that genuine music. We’re trying to show the people what we’re doing and if they don’t like it, we just keep it moving to the next man. We’re not concerned with what these fake hip-hop fans think. A lot of fans don’t know much about anything and they’re just a bunch of video-watchers. We make that real music and we’re not going to turn away from that because somebody disagrees with what we’re doing.
What’s the most important thing you can do to get heard today?
E-Pillz: As far as getting heard, what we do is we’re trying to develop a label right now called On Our Own entertainment. Even if we don’t develop that, it’s the motto we live by. We’ve done everything on our own, by ourselves, from the beats to recording to rhymes. So it’s a must we get out there and promote ourselves.
Matter ov Fact: When we say On Our Own Entertainment, I was just talking with E last night about how a lot of these rappers who get signed are like babies and the label has to do everything for them. The only thing they have going for them is the ability to rhyme. If a label were to sign us, we could do everything our damn selves. I would rather have an E-Pillz beat than anyone else’s any day of the week. We have a decent setup in the studio over here and if we have to make our own album covers and videos, it’s not a problem. I guess we just live by the motto “On Our Own.” We don’t rely on people to get things done for us. We do it ourselves.
E-Pillz: We also have a connection with Digga from Six Figga Entertainment. We saw him at the Garden State Mall once years ago and I decided to send him an email and I asked him if I could send beats. He said, “Sure.” Next thing you know, I sent him beats and I’ve been down with him as a producer ever since. We’re tight now and I’m proud to say we’re down with him. I was scared at first to say I had a group because I felt we weren’t ready. I showed him our album Mark Our Words and surprisingly to us, he was feeling it. He definitely has our back and he’s in our corner. His brother, Shameek is in our corner too. He’s an A&R at Six Figga. We’re building connections and hopefully that will help in the future.
What’s the scene like in the 845?
E-Pillz: There’s no where to really be heard. To tell you the truth, we’re not lazy either. It’s not like we didn’t try to go out there. We really did try to see what’s going on, and it’s not much. A couple people throw a couple showcases here and there. The people who show up at those showcases are definitely jaded by the images that are being portrayed. There are a lot of fake gun-busters and guys who call themselves idiotic names such as “Young Coke Cooker. Everything always has to start with “Young”! From this point on, I’m Young E-Pillz! Nobody’s doing that. We would show up to those things and feel like we can’t be affiliated with that, but at the same time we have to get the name out so we have to take the L and be affiliated with mediocrity in our area and that’s horrible. Upstate is getting brainwashed and you have a couple dudes who think they’re doing their thing but they’re just cookie-cutter dudes whose minds are molded into what they think they should be. That’s sad. We have to step it up. The college scene is good though. We have to get involved in the college circuit.
How does rap not being Fab Nickel’s only hustle help your music?
Matter ov Fact: Me and E go to school and the other dudes are working. As far as us, when we’re all doing these other things, we’re thinking about the music all the time and we’re wishing that we had the opportunity to go at this 24/7. If we didn’t have to worry about these other things, we probably would have made more projects by now. It’s hard to get everybody together. When I’m at school, I’m participating in battles and I’m staying busy and keeping my lyrical fitness up. E is sending me and the rest of the group beats every day. We try to work together even when we’re not together. Everyone is always writing which is a plus.
How’s your album Mark Our Words doing?
E-Pillz: Good. I don’t want to consider that our debut album, but it’s our best effort. We made three other albums prior to this release, but we were real young at the time. But, as an official release, this is our debut and I’m extremely proud of it.
Matter ov Fact: As far as the songs being made, we have old songs where we sound like we didn’t even go through puberty yet. I guess all that old material was the stepping stone to what we are now. As far as official quality music to show the world, you could say Mark Our Words is our debut album. So far, we’ve gotten pretty good feedback from it. We’ve gotten a lot of local people contacting us saying that they met us in the mall, gas stations, etc, and it sounds good. We’re getting support and they’re being supportive. It’s good to get that.
E-Pillz: The feedback has been great and we know you’re always going to get hate with anything you put out. I think one of the biggest things to know is that when Digga said he liked it, that was unbelievable. I know from giving him beats all these years that he doesn’t nod his head to anything. When he said he liked it, that was monumental. He produced for Big L and that’s one of our favorites right there. We look up to him. When him and his brother Shameek said they liked it, that meant the most. The love we get from everybody keeps us going.
The Fab Nickel sound sounds like you have a real appreciation for true school hip-hop. Is that a conscious decision when you’re making your music or does that come through without even trying?
Matter ov Fact: When it comes to beats, it’s just natural for E to make those beats. We’re very picky when it comes to beats and music. I don’t watch music videos. I don’t listen to the radio. I’m a picky man. People always can tell that I’m a rapper because I’m so picky. When it comes to beats, we definitely like a certain type of beat the most. We prefer a certain type. When E is on the boards making his beats, he just gravitates towards a certain type of sound. That’s his thing right there. Other than that, we just can’t stand today’s sound of hip-hop. I guess you could say we’re stuck in time. That’s what we grew up on and that’s what we know.
E-Pillz: I hate to say it sounds like we’re stuck in time or we’re old school. Just because you have something to say and your beat has more elements than three, kick, clap and synth, why is that old school? That bothers the shit out of me. We just try to make good, authentic music. We like grimy beats with grimy drums and we like to show off our vocabulary. As far as being articulate on the mic and showcasing our intelligence, there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it’s horrible that people say that’s not rap or that it’s “conscious.” My favorite is when dudes say, “Yo, the streets ain’t checkin’ for that!” Naledge (of Kidz in the Hall) said in an interview that it was horrible that music with a message is considered conscious. What does that say about the rest of the music? That it has no meaning? We bullshit at times, but we always have some sort of message. I think it’s horrible that people will cater to the bullshit. When we do our music, it’s not to purposely go left. It’s just what we do and that’s what inspires us.
E, what are your goals, production-wise?
E-Pillz: I never wanted to be a superstar. My first goal is to always make sure my group has the best sounds possible and we continue to bring great music to the table. Production-wise, I just want to be known as that person who brings that sound that inspires. I get no motivation from the beats I hear today. I’m not going to be some $1 million a beat type of guy. I like that Primo still charges the same thing today that he charged back in the day. I just want to provide something that moves people and something that evokes some sort of emotion. The music doesn’t pull me in any way today. I feel nothing from it and since I have an open forum to speak, Game did a song to one of my beats that Digga gave him. Game, if you’re reading this, let me hear what it came out like. It’s the beat with the Jones Girls’ “Who Can I Run To?” sample.
Are there any solo ambitions in Fab Nickel?
Matter ov Fact: Some members in the group, in their spare time, have recorded solo’s before, but as far as solo ambitions now, we’re all in this together. Our main objective right now is for the group to be successful. We want people to hear the group together right now. That’s our main goal. I guess you could say everybody’s focused on group material. You might hear solo songs or two people on a song, but the group album is going to have everybody on it, but not on every song. If a solo song comes out hot, then it is what it is.
E-Pillz: G Grhymey and Blezzed both did solo projects. We’re in support of everything we do, but there is nothing like making a group record. The chemistry that goes into that and having fun and the crazy concepts, there’s nothing like it. If you ever hear a solo from anybody, it doesn’t mean we’re breaking up. But there is nothing like making a group album and that’s what we’re here to do. Solos are more like side ventures.
What’s next for Fab Nickel?
Matter ov Fact: As far as our next project goes, nothing is really set in stone. We’re just starting right now. Digga might throw some beats at us. We intend to finish a big chunk of it within this next month because a lot of people have off around now. Right now we have a lot of beats in mind that we want to use and we have a lot of concepts that we want to use. We’re just focusing on getting the work done while we still have time to. Definitely next summer we’re going hard. We definitely want to get more shows and have the public hear us. That’s our main goal.
Are you looking for a label or distribution deal right now?
E-Pillz: We have no label attention right now. We’re partially to blame for that because we don’t promote that much. We keep getting better and we’re starting to realize that we can be taken seriously. I really feel like we have something. It’s just starting to hit us now like we should really start promoting this. All the days prior to this, it was just something that we put out. We haven’t really promoted anything. We’re going to look into other avenues and we’re not sitting still. We’ve been getting everything together ourselves. It’s not about the money right now. It’s our job to make ourselves known. If labels are interested, then by all means, contact Shameek at email@example.com.
Are you comfortable with where you’re at right now?
Matter ov Fact: I definitely enjoy our music. I don’t want to make music that I don’t like and I think a lot of people do that today. I just want to keep it moving. A group should be progressing and never moving backwards. I’m happy that we got to this point, but this is just the beginning. It’s a long road to travel and we just have to keep it moving. Things are going down as we speak.
E-Pillz: We’re happy to see things finally happening. This interview is a great opportunity. But we’re not completely happy. Nobody should ever be completely satisfied or happy. We’re going to keep pushing forward and we have this great music and I feel like it needs to be heard. As far as getting ourselves out there, we have to keep it moving and do what we do. I’m proud of the music and I just want it to keep getting better.
What do you want to say to everybody?
E-Pillz: First and foremost, the rap game is just really weird right now. You have a bunch of people who are in the “rap industry” who have to call themselves “game-spitters” or “hood politicians.” If you’re in the rap game, you should call yourself a rapper. Anytime you’re ever calling yourself anything other than a rapper, you’re just taking the pressure off yourself in case you ever get tested. Have confidence in yourself. People aren’t confident. What is a game-spitter? That’s ridiculous. Either you’re a rapper or you’re not. If you’re not confident in yourself, then you’re probably going to get tested and destroyed. We’re ready to eat people alive. People need to step their games up. Nas said it, hip-hop is dead, and it started in New York. We lost our identity. I don’t want to be angry at it but it’s hard not to be. I don’t want to make excuses.
Matter ov Fact: I probably bought two albums this whole year. Fab Nickel is just trying to make an album that people would want to buy and not download.
E-Pillz: We also want to shout out the whole 845, the other three members of the group, G Grhymey, B. Cliff and Blezzed, Ferb and Big Josh. A major shoutout goes to Digga of Six Figga Entertainment and Shameek for all they’ve done! We also just want to say R.I.P. to people we feel that haven’t received their proper respect like Big L, Freaky Tah, Half-A-Mil and J.Dilla.