Masta Ace and EDO G. talk about their new album together, why it got pushed back and why you shouldn’t boycott A&E for the delay.
Your new album A&E just got pushed back as a result of a cease and desist by the cable channel of the same name. How did you find out about that?
EDO G.: Last Wednesday I got a call from the label and they were saying that A&E’s lawyers had called up the label, serving a cease and desist because they had seen the trailer and a little promo that we had did for The First 48. That’s how I had found out.
Masta Ace: I was on the practice field. I coach high school football and I don’t answer my phone during that time, but when I looked at my phone I had 20 texts and emails. Everything had unfolded already and I didn’t know what was going on. I had to read 10 emails and go back and forth to find out what was happening.
EDO G.: The first thing Ace said to me was, “Are you serious?” Yeah, totally serious. It’s not a big to do, but we didn’t think anyone would be coming after us. We consider ourselves to be under the radar a little bit and what we do doesn’t hit the mainstream, but this apparently went right to them. WE had just put it up on Monday and I was on Masta’s ass like, ‘Yo, I need to see that trailer everywhere!’ I guess he had started doing some more blasts and we got hit that same day.
That must be a good sign that people are looking for you, if you’re looking for a silver lining.
EDO G.: I took it as a good omen because this early, the record wasn’t even out and this type of stuff is happening. I didn’t look at it negatively. I looked at it positively, like this album is going to make some noise and do some good work.
How did you guys even get the idea to come together for a project?
Masta Ace: We had collaborated on a bunch of different records. Edo was featured on my album A Long Hot Summertime and I was featured on his album on “Wishing.” There were three or four other records that we wound up being on by coincidence and people asking me to be on something and then asking EDO. We wound up on four or five records together and people were telling us that we should do a mixtape together. We had four or five records and EDO wanted to turn it into a mixtape but the whole mixtape idea kind of blossomed into more of an album when he was able to find somebody that wanted to fund the project and when the funding came to the table it began to feel like more of a reality. We recorded the first 10 songs and then we had to make a decision at that point if we wanted to continue with the project or just leave it alone when some label stuff fell through, but we were so excited about the way the records sounded at that point that we decided to keep going with the project and just take it by the reins and keep going with it. The result is Arts and Entertainment.
“Little Young” is a pretty entertaining song from the album, where you look at the rappers with “Lil” and “Young” in their names. How did you come up with the idea to do a song about that?
EDO G.: I came up with the concept and I had had it in my mind for awhile but, you know, I didn’t have the right beat to really go with it and, you know, I shot it to Ace and Ace loves doing conceptual records from his previous work. He had to get a feel for what I was trying to do. I did the verse in Boston and sent it to him and did all of the “Littles” and told him to hit all of the “Youngs.”
Masta Ace: I just need to hear… I wanted him to lay his verse so I could hear how he wanted to attack it and approach it. Once I heard his verse I got hyped because I love doing concept records. I was excited to hear where he was going with it and I jumped in it with both feet, laid it down and then went back and redid it becuae I didn’t name as many “Youngs” as I did on the song that you hear now. I probably named about half as many but I went back and added some more names just to make it more spicy. But Ed came up with the concept and he laid down the groundwork by laying down his verse and I just followed him from there.
EDO G.: It was all about the right timing and the right beat. Shout out to M-Phazes for the right beat. I don’t think we could have done that without the right beat. Everything just kind of fell into place.
Masta Ace: I agree.
Current but not bitter
EDO G.: Yeah, that’s definitely an accurate take. There’s no reason for us to be bitter. We’re still touring like it was ’91, ’92, ’93. We’re still putting out albums and we’ve both continued to do what we love to do and to do it at our own pace and liking and we don’t have any ill will or any ill feelings towards anybody that we mentioned in the songs. It’s actually more of a fun record as opposed to being a diss record.
“A&E” is another concept record where you guys are naming words that start with either “A” or “E.” What was the writing process like for that one?
Masta Ace: We got the beat from Baby Dukes out in Croatia and I came up with the idea, this concept of us just spitting mad “A” words and “E” words just to help brand the name of the group. EDO said he needed to hear where I was going with it. We had did some shows in Australia together. When we got out there I put the beat on and I had written a lot of parts. Not full verses, just parts. I had a whole bunch of different lines and once EDO heard what I was talking about, he said we could definitely do that and he got into trying to drop mad “E” words and we just had fun with it.
There’s some “E” words that really start with an “I.” Was that done on purpose?
Masta Ace: Oh, there’s a couple! There’s a couple ones that we tried to sneak past people just to see if y’all are paying attention! (laughs) I got a couple in there that are not actually “A” words too. I was trying to make it a trivia thing to see if people could try and pick out what those words were.
“Fans” is another great concept track. What are some of the biggest “don’ts” that your fans should follow?
EDO G.: (laughs) That’s a good question. There is no really “don’t” shit. Don’t grab on me. There’s a lot of male, kind of overzealous male fans at a lot of these shows with a hundred handshakes, a hundred hugs and 300 pictures. I don’t mind any of it, shaking some hands, taking some pictures and signing some autographs. I don’t mind any of it, just don’t overdo it.
Masta Ace: You gotta know when to fall back.
What’s worse, the crazy stalker-type girls or the guys that can quote records you can’t even remember doing?
Masta Ace: It’s definitely the crazy guys.
EDO G.: Yeah.
Masta Ace: You got guys that want to spit the rap they just wrote and I don’t want to be rude, but I have to go onstage and concentrate and get my game face on and you want to spit one of your rhymes to me backstage or whatever. That’s the stuff that drives me crazy. The girls are cool for the most part. They don’t OD. They just want to say hi and get a picture with you or get you to sign a titty and that part’s all good.
I would imagine that doesn’t suck.
Masta Ace: Nah, it doesn’t.
You have a lot of big names on Arts and Entertainment, from Large Pro to KRS-One. How did you decide who you wanted and then make it happen?
EDO G.: We have a relationship with everybody we have on the record and we wanted to do records with everybody that we liked. We didn’t want to do features with people who would help us sell the album or anything like that because we’re already going to sell the album. We really just wanted to reach out. Ace pulled off the KRS-One thing and I pulled off the Posdonous from De La feature. Ace got DOITALL and I ended up getting Large Pro to come to the studio on some random stuff. It really all fell into place. And Ace got Marsha from a previous relationship that he had with her. Everything that we had really fell into place, man.
Masta Ace: It was just, like, organic with the way it came about. The Large Pro and the DOITALL, that was really based on the dudes just wanting to hang out and see what we was doing. It wasn’t all about being on the record. It wasn’t all planned. DOITALL was there and he just started getting excited. He spit a verse to a joint we hadn’t even wrote to yet and we had to go home and listen to his verse and write a rhyme. Large Pro was just chilling and EDO called him up and he came through to get a couple beats off. He hung out and heard what we was doing and when he heard the “Fans” joint, he said he had something for that. He had some rhymes in his head that I guess he never used and it fit and it worked. It was really organic things, man. Really. It was nothing forced. We didn’t put anyone on there to try and sell the record. It was all real organic.
Is there a reason none of the members from your respective groups, Special Teamz and EMC, were on Arts and Entertainment?
EDO G.: We had Jaysaun (Special Teamz) on a joint that actually didn’t make the album and Ace ended up having Wordsworth on a joint as well that didn’t make the album. It’s not like it was planned out or anything like that but I think we wanted to do something where we were staying away from what we had already done. It was so easy to just fall into a nice, comfortable zone and to get all your boys and everybody that you worked with and one of my goals with this project was to stay away from everything that we had done in the past and to get in a new lane.
Masta Ace: Definitely. I agree with that. It would have been easy to throw Punch, Words, Strick, Jay and Slaine on a joint but to me it would have been more like a crew record and not a me and EDO record. We didn’t discuss it but actually, that’s what happened and I think we were both actually thinking the same way when we were doing the project. None of us wanted to force the crew on there just to get someone on there.
Are you guys looking at doing another EMC and Special Teamz project?
EDO G.: Yeah. You know, there’s definitely going to be future projects with Special Teamz and EMC but I think the main focus right now is the A&E album and riding this wave for however long the wave is that we can surf on it. The album’s not out yet and we got a European tour. That starts in November and we’re doing Canada and we’re going to do the U.S. We’re just going to ride the wave and see where it takes us and as this dies down, I’m pretty sure that both of us will be diving into other projects and moving.
Masta Ace: On my end, we’ve already actually started listening to and wiring to beats. I’ve already sent out a bunch of beats and tracks and guys have already started formulating concepts for songs. Certainly by this time next year, we’ll still be talking about some new EMC stuff and I’m sure me and EDO will still be touring and doing shows. That’s what you need. You need different things happening.
You’ve both done a lot of different albums. EDO, you had Da Bulldogz, have done an album with Pete Rock and Special Teamz. Ace, you had Juice Crew and EMC and you both have worked with a ton of different artists. What is it about the two of you that allows you to work with such a variety of artists?
Masta Ace: I think not being a jerk helps. Being a decent guy. Not being an asshole. That has loaned itself to us being able to work with a variety of different people because we don’t try to shit on people or be dicks to people. We just try to make good music and we blend with different types of people to make good music.
EDO G.: I think Ace pretty much summed it up. The goal is always to make good music, first and foremost. I think when you keep that goal in mind, you’re not going into it with a different mindset. The mindset is making good music first with good people because to get to Special Teamz, I went through two different groups. Me and my man Jaysaun, we had another group with someone else and then we picked up Krumbsnatcha and brought him in and did a whole album and then he went off and did his own thing and then we reached out to Slaine and changed our name and did Special Teamz. Chemistry is really important and that definitely helps. That, to me, says it all. If you don’t have the chemistry then nothing’s going to happen.
What are your guys’ favorite shows on A&E?
EDO G.: Of course it’s The First 48 and Intervention.
Masta Ace: Yeah, The First 48 is definitely the big one for me and I like Dog the Bounty Hunter too. That’s a crazy one too.
Did you lose any respect for Dog when the racist tape came out on him?
Masta Ace: I pretty much assumed he was racist anyway, so it doesn’t bother me anyway.
Are you able to sleep better at night knowing he’s out there looking for bad guys?
Masta Ace: Not at all. It’s almost like a joke to me. Some of it is so contrived that I know it’s not really real, but it’s just so entertaining to watch these people do what they do. But the racist part was assumed anyway.
Did his mullet give it away?
Masta Ace: Definitely the mullet and just his demeanor. It just comes off that way, but the mullet kind of sold it for me.
If you have to look at the racists on TV right now, where does Dog rank in the spectrum?
EDO G.: Of course Glen “Faggot-Ass” Beck, Rush “Motherfuck” Limbaugh. Limbaugh lend my balls to his mouth and Sean Hannity. You know, those three are some of the guys that are promoting this big racist agenda and trying to really stir up a bunch of racist things in America and hip-hop actually brings us all together and if it wasn’t for hip-hop, I think we would be far separated from the youth today. Everybody’s together and it’s because of the music.
EDO, did you just leave Bill O’Reilly off the list? That’s unheard of for an MC to not go at O’Reilly today.
EDO G.: O’Reilly, he’s on the list but he’s not going as hard as Rush, Beck and Hannity and I just seen the faggot-ass Tea Party people are actually trying to boycott O’Reilly now because he supports the President’s health care, so they put up a big thing trying to boycott him. I’m not down with O’Reilly, but he would maybe be fourth on that totem pole right now.
There’s a lot of pinheads out there.
EDO G.: Yeah. A whole lot.
On “Hands High,” you shout out some big moments in history. Are you secretly a history buff?
EDO G.: Oh yeah. I’m all over that, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel…Those are all my channels, man. I like to use television as entertainment and also as a tool to educate myself. I don’t just watch TV and get stuck watching, you know, a bunch of reality shows or something. I like to use it to inform myself and to gain knowledge.
Ace, what’s it been like coaching high school football?
Masta Ace: It’s been great, man. It’s my eighth year coaching. I coach the 9th and 10th graders on Junior Varsity and we’ve had some very successful teams in those eight years. I think our overall record is like 60-somehting-9-1. And we’re off to a good start this year. We’re 2-1 and we’re just continuing to teach the kids not just about football but about life and how to be men. And it’s cool when you get young men that you coached some years ago and they come back now and they’re, like, 20 years-old and they thank you for being there and they remember something you said that you might not remember that they’ll carry for the rest of their lives. I like doing it and I would like to keep doing it if possible.
Whenever I’ve talked to you, you’ve always been pretty calm. You don’t seem like the kind of coach to grab a kid by the facemask.
Masta Ace: I yell in spurts but I don’t really yell a lot. I will grab a kid by the facemask but it’s not to curse them out. I try not to curse at the kids and I enforce that they not curse around me because they need to learn how to conduct themselves when they leave high school and a lot of times they run around blurting out the “N” word left and right. We had a kid today that the ref had to tell him to watch saying that. We have a tradition where if you’re caught saying that, you get a smack on the back of your neck. I smack them as hard as I can. They know when they get caught to just hold their head down and open up that neck. It’s just a way to teach them to hear themselves and to just be better people when they get older.
I’m actually coaching cross country this year, so we’re probably the guys that you always see running around your practice fields. Why don’t we get the same respect football and basketball players get?
Masta Ace: Just because it’s not a major, mainstream sport. It’s like hip-hop. You got your mainstream hip-hop and you got your underground hip-hop. Cross country is just the underground of sports.
EDO G.: It’s just not as glamorous.
Masta Ace: Football and basketball are on TV. Cross country’s not on TV.
I know you got love for us though.
Masta Ace: Of course I do! I got major respect because I’m not running all that. When I played football I hated all that long distance running stuff.
EDO G.: Yeah. You gotta have respect for any athlete, no matter what the sport is. Any sport is a tough job at the end of the day.
We’ll go for a run if you guys ever come out to Virginia.
EDO G.: That’s what’s up. I need to start jogging now so I could lose this belly before we do the tour!
Masta Ace: EDO always needs to start doing some stuff but he never starts.
EDO G.: I’m coming! (laughs)
Now that the A&E album got pushed back two months, are you going to change anything besides the artwork and A&E network references?
Masta Ace: We’re working on more promo pieces and more spoofs. We just shot one for Intervention, which will be kind of cool. We’re working on our tour, which we’re going overseas at the end of November and we’re going to be out there for most of December. We’re putting that together and we’re trying to get the release party together.
What do you want this project to do for you guys?
Masta Ace: A million five.
EDO G.: In the first week.
Masta Ace: Lil’ Wayne numbers.
EDO G.: We want to top everybody.
Do you want hip-hop to boycott A&E for pushing back your album?
EDO G.: Oooh, not at all.
Masta Ace: We’re cool with those guys. We’re going to try to redo our promo pieces and see if they can improve them so that we can still put them out there. We knew that we was kind of crossing the line a little bit the way that we took the audio right off their show. We knew that there was going to be a chance that they were pissed off about it. We’re cool and we’re going to continue to support A&E and we want everyone else to as well, both A&E the group and A&E the network.
If you change your mind we can easily push the button on that.
Masta Ace: Nah, we love A&E!
Are there any channels you want us to boycott?
EDO G.: If you don’t like something, just don’t watch it. There’s a hundred channels. You could boycott Fox News. If anything, boycott Fox News. That’s for sure. That’s the only channel I would say you should boycott.