Craig G – The 730 Interview

craig-g-the-730-interview

I Rap and Go Home is a genius concept. It’s what most rappers do. Spend a decade-plus interviewing MCs from all walks of life, and one quickly finds that life onstage and on the road is nowhere near as glamorous as it seems. Save for the few at the top of the pyramid, underneath that rare air is a host of MCs who were once there, so close but never made it, and those who have no shot at making it but haven’t realized it yet.

Fortunately for Craig G, he’s one that’s been to the top of the pyramid thanks to many seminal moments in hip-hop, from dropping “The Symphony” as part of the legendary Juice Crew to battling the freestyle champ Supernatural live with no theatrics. In between those moments and after, Craig G has embodied the spirit of hip-hop, crafting quality songs on his own terms and representing the principles that hip-hop has and should stand for at all levels.

In this exclusive interview, the Queensbridge product talks about his journey over the years, why he raps and goes home now, what it’s like to enjoy his passion on his own terms, his new project with Nottz, and the long-awaited Juice Crew reunion.

I’m definitely feeling the new album, I Rap and Go Home. If you look at your last album title, Ramblings of an Angry Old Man, it seems as though you have a sense of humor with how you present yourself.

The bottom line is that I’m not talking it that serious. Listen, I mean, of course the new era of hip-hop is not to my liking and of course that may not change, but at the end of the day, the way I see it is that I can’t not be just me. So I have a problem with it and I’ll discuss it but with the Ramblings of an Angry Old Man album, it was more about ageism. We’re not playing physical sports. Just because I may be in my 40s doesn’t mean my mind isn’t sharp. Calling someone an “old head” is disrespectful. So instead of beefing about it, I tried to do something comedic, like I’m the guy that’s shaking my fist. But you know, I just talked about how it’s not really about the artists. It’s more or less the machine to me as far as what these artists think is the standard and that main issue with me is just trying to sound like someone else. That was totally forbidden in hip-hop when I came up. That was called “biting.” You understand what I mean? So I just tried to make light of it.

Now as far as I Rap and Go Home goes, that is more about me being in this business thirty-plus years, feeling like I just display my art and then I go and live a regular life because I never really had that chance. I learned a few years ago that you can’t give everything to the entertainment business. What about your own life? What about going home and cutting your grass and paying your bills? Even with Ramblings of an Angry Old Man, I was still talking about issues. Sure there’s people popping Molly and moving weight, but that represents a small chunk of life. I wanted to talk about something other than that. And sometimes that makes you perceived as an old man.

It doesn’t sound like you feel old at all though.

Listen, I don’t feel old at all. The bottom line is that if you’re upset with what I’m talking about because you can’t relate to it, then maybe it just wasn’t for you. And what’s wrong with that? Does it have to make me bitter and a hater because I’m talking to people my age that have the same issue I’m dealing with? No, it doesn’t. So Angry Old Man was a joke to me. Really? I’m angry? No, I’m not angry at all. Life is decent. It could be worse. I’m not upset. I’m sitting on my porch with my vape. It could be worse. (laughs).

And you said, you never got to live a normal life. What is normal for you compared to your lifestyle as an artist?

Well, I mean, back then when things were popping at a pace that maybe it is for these new guys, I was doing shows and in the studio all day long. I didn’t go to my prom and I didn’t go to my graduation because I was working. I was 17. It was things that, you know, a lot of maybe, and I don’t consider myself a star, but famous child people lose sight of and that’s what happens.

I started as a child. My first record came out when I was 12 years-old. I just wanted to realize that at some point there was a regular real life out here and I had never, from day one, got into this business to become rich or become a millionaire. I just wanted to make a living.

But at the same time, when you’re working for yourself, there’s a lot of dedication and a lot of things you can’t do. The minute I slowed down in the business, around, say, ’94, I was having a child and I was like, Yo, man, I’m not going to be on the road doing 40, 50, 70, maybe 100 shows a year and not take my son to school. I just wanted to have a regular life and having a regular life doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice being an artist.

Do you have a regular job?

Fortunately, no. Fortunately, no because I was fortunate enough to never give up my publishing and the independent game is good to me. If I can put out an album and sell five, even ten-thousand albums, I make money. See, my thing is a New York City cop starts at $32,000 a year. I make way more than that and I live on my own terms. So fortunately, I don’t have to have a regular job, but I’m actually looking at the very moment in investing in some businesses and starting a business so that I don’t have to rely on hip-hop because that sometimes takes the fun out of it. So no, I don’t have a regular job, but I will have a business and it might be something that you wouldn’t think I’m involved with but I can say I don’t have to do this show or do this because it’s not going to make enough money. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop making music because I can still do things on my own terms.

The game changes when you need the money.

It stops being fun. Yes.

Were you reaching that point where it wasn’t fun and you weren’t getting what you wanted?

When it reaches a point, and again, this has nothing to do with doing bad, to be honest, it has to do with not preparing myself better that you’ll rely on a show to pay a bill and then the show gets cancelled. And that’s something that happens and it fucks up your month. That’s not good. I started to rely on the money because it was consistent and it’s still consistent but it’s never consistent because it’s the entertainment field and anything can happen. It wasn’t that it was less fun, it was just that I wanted to be free from it where I could create.

These may be weird examples for hip-hoppers, but Will Smith and Mos Def can do what they want because they have another source of income. They can make an experimental album. Maybe not more so Will Smith, who’s my man. Shout out to Will Smith. But, like, you can experiment. I like alternative rock. I like all types of different music but I have to cater to a certain fanbase because that’s the fanbase I created. And I have to rely on that for my bottom line. But the same thing is being that I was involved in a couple of classics that I have a track record of releases that I can make enough money to start something else and that’s where my mindset has been because I’m getting older. I may want to make records ‘til I’m 80. Who cares? Why should you care that I’m this age and making music?

Do you find people care about that?

I feel like just in any release I’ve made or anything, that’s a big part of it. Why should you base an album I made in 12 months off my whole career and immediately start saying that he’s this age and this and that. No. Every album is different for me. That’s why I don’t do an album every year. I do an album every couple of years because I have to live life. That’s what gives me things to write about. But the difference is that no one says anything it Sade but she does the same thing if you think about it. She just makes music when she feels like it and that’s what I want to do.

And it’s way more than a two year delay with her.

Yeah. And it’s so organic. I’m not into rushing things. But you also have to understand that it’s the generation and it’s not necessarily the generation’s fault. When we came in, the information and things weren’t moving as fast as they are now so people’s attention spans are not as long as they could be. When I grew up, we had five TV channels and I should be in my rocking chair saying this like an old man, but it’s true. Everything moves at a lightning pace now and that disrupts people’s attention spans. Remember working an album for a year? Remember guys putting out an album and not even going gold or platinum ‘til, like, the next year?

The slow burn of an album with three and four singles.

You only get that with albums like Beyonce now.

And that’s because she’s the one calling the shots. But at the end of the day, it’s not the people’s faults. It’s just a problem with too much information coming at one time and that may be something we never will be able to change. If people feel like that, then I’m really not speaking to you and that may affect my sales and that may not put me in the realm of what people think is successful, but that’s another thing. Who are you to tell me what my idea of success is? Say you’re getting $5 an album and you sold 10,000 albums. Someone on the sideline is saying I only sold 10,000 but maybe I want to make $50,000 and that’s successful to me. Just maybe. Who are you to tell me that?

Especially if it’s your name and you built it up.

When hip-hop started, there were no templates or “you should be selling like this guy and if not then you’re not successful.” You know, the beautiful thing about me and I won’t even act like I did it on purpose but a bulk of my real money, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars from hip-hop came, and I wasn’t allowed to touch it because I was only 15, 16, 17 years-old, so what I did was I got together with my family and got a house. From that point on, when I left Queensbridge and did that, I made it. Anything after that is a bonus to me.

That’s a great investment.

I still have ownership in it and I’m looking to buy another one now. And I’ll even go into the numbers now. The house cost $120 and it’s worth $4 or $5 now. But maybe that was my idea of success. Just maybe.

The reality of life is you could want everything but how many people actually achieve having everything? Do you sit out of having something because you don’t have everything? Is that what you’re supposed to do? (laughs) That’s the dumbest shit in the world to me. So what that I’m not doing Madison Square Garden but I can do a club that holds 500 people and 400 come and we charge $15 a head. How much did I make a night? $2 g’s? You mean I’m making $2 g’s after thirty years rapping? And there’s something wrong with that? If I can do that 50 times a year, that’s $100,000. There’s 365 days in a year.

Let’s be real. See, expectations got too great and you know, it changes everything. I’ve never had expectations. I just like rapping. You feel what I’m saying? And that’s why, even though it’s not popular to talk about the things I talk about, I still do. You know why? Because I have convictions and I’m not looking for everything. I always say this all the time – I just want my lane. Just give me my little lane. I’m not really concerned what the Futures of the world are doing or any of those guts. That’s not disrespect to them. Just give me my lane. So don’t get mad at me for not thinking of the lane you think I should be thinking of. That’s the dumbest shit ever. I thought this was America, people! (laughs)

I know a lot of what you say is tongue in cheek. How do you balance saying that without your fans thinking you’re grumpy and out of touch?

You know what’s fucked up to me about that? It’s that I just come from an era where there’s nothing wrong with talking about gangster shit and there’s nothing wrong with talking about anything we talk about, but there should be a portion of anything that you do that should be educational so if you’re not the artist that may have heard my song and didn’t sign a foul record deal, then that’s who I want to reach. Anybody else, I wasn’t really talking to you and I feel like you should appreciate that I’m warning people about bad record deals. it’s not that I’m bitter at this point. I’m really not.

Do I think it sucks sometimes? Of course I do, but everybody feles that way about their job sometimes. But at the same time, I’m just trying to hip people to the game. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Don’t get happy because you signed a $3 million deal for 45 albums. You don’t really get $3 million and they drop you after the first album and you owe them money. Actually, the playing field is level. You don’t need a fucking record deal. But to the game, that would be hypocritical for me to say that because I don’t know what your idea of success is and if it is, then by all means, go try to get one. It’s a sinking ship, man. It’s a sinking ship. Selling records and steaming, you can get streamed for a million times and get a check for a hundred dollars.

Do you mess with Spotify?

Of course I do. I get statements.

Do you look at that as a means of income or as a tool to get your music out?

That’s all that is. Look it up. You can Google it. You can search it. My guy Aloe Blacc, who made “I Need a Dollar” and “The Man,” one of his songs got streamed 50 million times and he wrote it with four people and he got a check for $5,000. You can look that up readily and find it. So you can’t rely on that money.

The fact that they made it into sales, I guess if you’re concerned about sales to that degree, but hey, I’m not in this looking to go gold anymore. I’d be happy if it happened, but I’m not into this for that. Listen, I’m talking to my people and if enough of them are into it and want to buy the album and I don’t lose money, then I won.

Do you also look at it as a way for people to hear the music and increase show attendance?

That’s another way. In this day and age, sales are shrinking. Hey, if I could put out an album and in the worst case scenario make $25, $50 g’s and do another $20 g’s in shows, then hey, I made $70 g’s in a year. And I’m not bougie like that. It doesn’t have to be an arena. If a show is paying me $750 and I can go away for a week and a half and come home with $10 grand, and you’re not making that a week, then don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong.

I don’t’ do much either. I go to the studio. Oh, you need a verse? Give me $500. And if I do five or six of those in a week with the shows, then of course I made $10 g’s. So if you’re not doing that, don’t tell me what you think I should be doing. No.

I appreciate how candid you are about that, especially with shows and your show fees.

Here’s the thing. There are murky show promoters. There are janky promoters, of course, in many areas, but I never envy their job. You can book Chris Brown tomorrow, who’s a hot artist and for some reason, people may not come. Their whole job is based on fate. Listen, to me, there are people who go to work at McDonald’s and slave over a hot oven for $300 a whole week and you’re going to give me $750, maybe a g, maybe $2g’s, maybe $3 to rap for 35 minutes after I’ve been in this that long, and I’m not trying to down the price. You can charge what you want. I just charge what I need to make for my bottom line.

If you weren’t rapping right now, what kind of businesses are you interested in?

I can’t discuss that because my girlfriend, my fiancé, has very good ideas and we’re talking about stuff like that. I don’t want to discuss it but I have some very good ideas that take a minimal investment. And I’m not looking to even get rich off of that. I just want a sustainable income. That’s all. That’s all you want.

Did what you learn in the music business apply to other businesses?

No. No. Because God forbid, it’s a retail business. You’re dealing with fate the way you want people to come and get your product, just like hip-hop, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a guarantee. So you know, you can apply certain rules, but it’s two different animals. My thing is whatever you’re doing should determine what you, yourself want out of it and if you listen to outside chatter about what you should be doing, you should ask yourself what you want out of it. And that’s not to stifle what you’re doing but everything should be organic.

With business, if you push too fast, you may overspend what you’re making and lose your business. And it’s the same thing with the indie game. I’m constantly being bombarded with why I didn’t do physicals for I Rap and Go Home. Well, we pressed 3,500 of Ramblings and we sold 2,000. Guess who had to eat the 1,500? Business, man. Business 101.

I’m going to do vinyl but right now the vinyl plants are backed up because vinyl is so popular, but we’ll get to that when we do. Right now I’m working on five or six songs that didn’t make the album and adding in the extra songs as a special release for whoever buys the album next. We’re actually in the midst of working on that now.

You’ve also described yourself on the album as a homebody. Do you prefer not going out?

You have to understand if you have been having to go to events or even clubbing on your own though the ‘80s, through the ‘90s, through the 2000s to 2016, it depends on the individual but if it’s not work, then it feels like work. Why would you work at a store that sells food all day and then go home and talk about food? That’s what it is with me and that’s where I Rap and Go Home comes from. Listen, I still love the touring and the lifestyle and all that, but I’ve always been a loner since I was a kid. I watch shows. And in the reality of my tax bracket, to go out for something that I’m not getting paid for unless I love it very much is going to cost me money.

Do you remember when music started feeling like a job?

It doesn’t feel like that all the time because I still love performing. I still love creating. The hobnobbing and talking to people about the same thing I talked about last week is not going to create any business, that’s the tedious thing for me. I don’t have to be an industry guy to want to make music and sell music. Do I really have to? Who made that rule? I can’t go home? Does it really offend you for my personal choice to not be interested in the after-party?

It shouldn’t be anybody’s business.

Maybe I made some turkey chili and I can’t wait to go home to eat it! (laughs) As funny as that sounds though, doesn’t that sound crazy to you?

Yeah. Everyone from your era is supposed to love rapping and be hip-hop all the time.

I can be one with the fans and all that, but why can’t I have a cut-off time? Why can’t I just want to go home and have some peace and quiet? I’m 43 years-old, my g, I’ve done it for 30 years-plus. Do I still have to or can I be an adult? Just saying. That’s all. I mean, other than that, I don’t have no complaints. It may seem like I come across as a complainer, but that’s just because the music that I love, the skill level completely vanished and that’s my thing, and that’s not even necessarily the artists’ fault.

I just feel like if you’re going to have crap rap, then the balance should be there also. I really appreciate all of the classic hip-hop stations now because why wipe out the history of a bunch of great music? Just because Lil’ Whoever is rocking now does that make “Peter Piper” by Run-DMC less of a great accomplishment, even if I talk about it? Like, the generation gap happened when instead of having disparaging thoughts about something you don’t know, we wanted to know more about it. Nah, nah, I don’t know nothing about Cold Crush. Let me hear something. Versus Nah, I Don’t’ want to hear that old shit. That’s my issue. Special Ed is not great because Young Such-and-such is rocking right now. Really? Why are we destroying our own history? You know?

I know what you mean. I know there’s not a huge demand for the history of hip-hop right now.

But think about it. What other genre of music does it? I’ve heard stories about the BET Awards how a young guy didn’t want to rock with an older guy. I don’t know who the young rock guy is, but he’d kill to perform with Guns-N-Roses. It’s like a divide. Don’t hate me for liking what I like and don’t hate me because I like something else.

Like with the Pete Rock thing. So he thought it was wrong to talk about having cocaine in your veins next to a kid. That was just his opinion but why does it have to be fuck him and he’s old because he feels that way? It’s like the minute you have a problem to another generation, you’re just hating. Do you have a kid? Do you want your kid standing next to a nigga saying they have cocaine running through their veins? Do you really want your kid to be around that? Did he diss the man’s’ music? No, he just said he didn’t like what he said in front of that kid. We’ve gotta do better than that. But he’s “hating.”

It’s a crazy divide, man, but it doesn’t bother me as much as I’m talking about it. Like I said, I’m not talking to y’all guys. I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the people who came up with me. I’m catering to my fanbase, whatever that is. I’m catering to that. And as much as you may not agree with it doesn’t mean other people won’t feel that way. Just dismiss it. Ignore it. It costs you nothing, pay me no mind.

There’s a lot of vets still releasing quality music besides yourself, like Sadat X. Have your hardcore fans stuck with you through the years?

I may not be as much as the guys that have a problem with it, but I’m still working, so apparently so. That’s all I wanted to do, was work. It’s not work when it’s something you love as far as performing. That’s not work. The music part becomes tedious and the expectations that people put on you becomes tedious. And no I’m not settling. Maybe, just maybe, hey, I’m not mad at Young Little-Whoever. I had my shot and I thrived on that shot.

But don’t get mad at me because I still want to do it. I’m not in your fucking way. You feel me? Let me do me. And if doing me has my opinion on the quality of originality in music, if you don’t feel offended by it, then don’t have nothing to say about it. If you are offended by it and you’re still making money, don’t have nothing to say about it. It’s not affecting you. But the people that feel the same way as me, that’s paying my bills, so leave me alone!

You worked with Vapor Worldz as the only producers on the album. What was that like?

There’s a few dudes and these are guys that are just friends of mine and with every album I make, it doesn’t start out that we’re making an album. We’re just hanging out and the beats come on and we just start recording and when we look up, we realize we got seven or eight songs and want to finish it up. That’s how it works. But I like the one producer aesthetic to a certain degree because a lot of the greatest albums in hip-hop history were…

One producer. Save for an album like Illmatic, which started to change that.

Yeah. I actually read an article where they said it destroyed hip-hop. But if you’re going to do that, at least he had a bunch of the top, top guys. But I mean look, it’s what you feel like. But I think it’s a more cohesive thing and that’s why after I already started it, but we’re going to finish it up, but I’m doing an EP with Nottz right now. We actually have three songs recorded and I’m just going to go down to Virginia and sit with him and finish it up. I like that aesthetic and that’s how I came in the game. Who knows, I’ll make an album with different producers, sure, but I’m comfortable in that zone. I believe I Rap and G Home, musically and cohesiveness wise, it’s one of my best albums in awhile because it all flows in one direction.

It worked well for you and Marley too on Operation: Take Back Hip-Hop.

Yeah. We kind of threw it together but I still like that album. I shouldn’t be held to one thing but I’m doing what I like and nothing stays the same with music. I feel this one way now and I’ll fele another way another time. Musica has always been that I feel this way now and I hope the people who are feeling that way will rock with me. I don’t think everyone should. That is narcissism to the twelfth degree. Oh, you’re hating. No, you just didn’t get it. Fine. Okay.

That’s good news about Nottz.

He was on my DMV album and we talk every now and then and we just decided to do it and he started sending me tracks and I started recording them in New York. But at the same time, I feel like I need to go down to him and just work. And we don’t have any expectations around it. Let’s just make some good music and everything else should come with it.

I always loved your work with Premier on This Is Now. Do you see yourself getting back with Premier?

Well, Premier’s a busy guy. That’s the only problem with that. Premier always has eleven, twelve projects on his plate. It’ll happen naturally again, like that happened. It’s never forced. I’ve known Premier since he got into the game and he’ll tell you that. I have tons of respect for him. But once again, even with your career, you can’t say, “Well, Premier’s busy so I’m onto going to do anything.” if it comes around, it comes around. You’re putting all your eggs in one basket in that sense. He’s a busy guy and a tremendous producer and I have tremendous respect for the quality of his music and the work he’s done with me but it’s not going to stop my music.

If you look at your last few albums, you’ve had great guest appearances. Why do you think you can do that?

Just mutual respect. That’s all. Mutual respect and not asking for much so when you do ask, it’s like, Well, this motherfucker doesn’t ask me for a lot so I got him. Listen, the general purpose of life is people will help you if they see that you’re self-reliant. You understand what I’m saying? It’s not hard to ask when you’re already still doing your thing and there’s respect. That’s all. And they can ask me the same.

What does it take for an MC to earn your respect?

Catalog. Skill level. And being true to themselves. That’s it. It’s not rocket science. Because even some of the bad music, hey, if you’re just being you, I can’t knock that. Who am I to knock that? But don’t think that I hate you or I’m hating because I don’t like it.

You’ve never had the desire to put on new artists or to build a label. Has that never been an interest of yours?

I’m just sour about the business and I don’t want to be a babysitter when things are rolling. The business is not good. Yeah, he may have talent, but a lot of people do not share my perception of what it may be, so you may get an artist that is very talented and he wants more than you think is success already because some people have a tendency to want more and more and more. But if you don’t have to get a job and you make a living from rapping, then I’ll take on that person, but I haven’t met that person yet. I don’t even know how to engineer, so I’m just an artist.

And if you think about this in the grand scheme of things, how many artists have successful artists? Not a lot. Not a lot. There’s the Dre’s, the Puffy’s, and the Jay’s, and that’s about it. Even Ludacris, who is successful, had problems with his artists. I’m not babysitting nobody. If you listen, you listen, if you don’t, you don’t. What am I going to do? You’re another grown man?

You know how I encourage it? Hey, if I like your stuff and you holler at me and you pay for my time, I’ll do a joint with you. I don’t do records with people I think suck. See, we’re in a society where you give somebody a million dollars and there’s always going to be somebody who says, “Hey, why didn’t you give him a million and one dollars?” You can’t be in the business to please people.

“Business” is the bottom line there.

Yeah. Business fucks up friendships. Why would I want to go that way. I started out being someone’s artist. I’’m good. Perceive it as selfish however you want. Hey, I’ll help you however I can, but I gotta help me as an artist and it’s not fair to you.

The business hasn’t always been straightforward with you too.

Yeah. Or most people.

Have you been able to maintain your friendships through the years, especially with your Juice Crew family?

Well, we’ve had rough patches, but we got over it. It’s like anything else. In the grand scheme of things, if you made history with people, whatever little bullshit doesn’t affect what the fans think of you. Listen, everyone has to grow up and everyone has to humble themselves at some point. That’s the bottom line. We’re going to do this reunion in December and we’re going to work on seeing what happens because it’s selfish to think about it for us, but there are millions of fans that love us as a unit. And when you think in the grand scheme of things that we’re all healthy and older and wiser, hey, let’s rock. I’m just happy to be a part of history. That’s all.

And you’re feeling good about this reunion show?

It’s going to be great because this is what the people wanted. This is what I get asked about constantly. So We’re going to give it to them. So let’s work it out and do it right. December 29, B.B. King’s, December 30 in Jersey, and from there, we’ll work on some more shows. But it’s a start and I’m just happy it’s a start. And everyone’s involved.

Was it easy to get everyone on board?

Even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t tell you. But it wasn’t hard, to be honest with you. It was just a matter of time. There’s really no disagreements at this point. It was just a matter of logistics because everyone was still working on their own. So everyone gets together and agreed on a number and we go to work. These things become harder than they should be and they’re really not. I’m just glad it’s happening.

Everyone’s done their thing outside of the crew, but do you think you’re stronger together?

This is what people wanted. They never got to really see this so of course it’ll be stronger. Units that created history together should be able to work together so everyone will work and be happy and do a professional show for the people to show how we feel about it. It’s not that serious but let’s do it for the fans.

When you do a show today, are you bringing back your old techniques?

I’ll be completely honest with you. It all just started coming together and getting confirmed so we haven’t discussed how the show’s going to be. And listen, me, personally, I don’t have any expectations. We’re going to go display the music that people heard us doing when we were coming up. Expectations kill shit, man. It should be like this. It should be like this. Let’s go have fun and give the people what they want. That’s all.

You know naturally the next question is if you’re working on new music. Has that been a bridge you crossed yet?

Let’s see. That’s all I can say about that. It’s not as easy for one person to discuss what seven other people are doing. Feel what I’m saying? I don’t speak for any of the rest of my crew. I’m just saying how I feel about it. So all I can say about that is we’ll see what happens. I hope so. But we’ll see what happens.

How do you feel when your old albums are collector’s items and selling on eBay and Amazon for really high prices?

It means that I did something right for the people who are purchasing and feeling that it should be sold for that. When I did that, I never knew that after all this time that some records would be revered. I was just doing music. It was just the natural order. Hey, I want to make some good music. Hey, these people still like it after all this time? That’s great. I didn’t make it thinking people would rock with it thirty years from now. I just did it because it was dope. This will be dope. Let me do this. That was all. Expectations, man. Oh, this is going to be a classic. No, you don’t determine that. The people do. Oh, this is going to sell… No, you don’t determine that. The people do. How ‘bout, Yo, I just did it because it’s a quality record to me and I hope people feel the same way. And if you don’t, thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting it.

How has your creative process changed over the years?

It’s never changed. I do it when I feel like it.

There’s no urgency there?

I write a verse a day just to exercise my mind but it has nothing to do with selling records or making records. That’s just me loving to create, you know? That’s all that is.

How do you decide what verses will make the album and what will come together as songs?

I have to make the song and take a few days to listen to it and then make my decision. That’s how it works.

When you write, how does your mind work and how do your thoughts become a verse?

Just my natural feelings. If the beat gives me a certain way, I’m going to talk about this and it matches with the beat, then my natural feelings will just come out.

Do you always write to a beat?

No. I don’t have to. Sometimes an idea just overtakes me and I just start writing. I might not even finish the rhyme. I’ll just write down the idea and go back to it. Or I’ll write something and hear a beat and go finish it.

Can you switch the beat for verses you’ve written?

Of course. Sometimes the beat may dictate that. It’ll be like, Oh, this is perfect for this. But I won’t force it.

Do you spend a lot of time on revision?

I may change a line or two here. But yeah, the way it comes out is the way it stays.

How many verses, if you were to estimate, have you written throughout your career?

No clue. Absolutely no clue. And to me, numbers and quality are two different things, so I can’t think ;like that because there’s tons of verses I never used. I just do what feels right, man, and doing what feels right doesn’t involve numbers. You dig what I’m saying? it doesn’t involve numbers. You just do what feels right.

Are you your own filter for what feels right or do you have people that you trust to tell you?

I have people that I trust. I’m going to listen to reason. I’m not stubborn. But as a songwriter, sometimes you’ll write a song and it came out just the way it was in your head. So I don’t need any cosign because I had the idea in my head and it came out the way I wanted.

With how much studio experience you have, is it easy for producers to work with you?

I’m not willing to not take direction, especially if I respect you as a producer. But if you have a track and you tell me you want it about this topic, I’m going to give it to you and when I do, if you don’t like something, I can change it. It’s not that serious because I can write. It’s not just my song. So if you felt like I needed to say this word different, hey, you know, sometimes I get so deep into it that I might not know I said something off, so of course you gotta take direction.

What newer artists do you respect right now?

I mean, there’s a lot of them, man. I don’t want to lose anybody out, but what I will say is this – one of the things I learned from Ramblings to I Rap and Go Home is that you can complain all day about the state of hip-hop but at the same time, do a disservice to the artists who are out by not bigging them up. So off the top, I can’t go by names but there’s tons of artists I love. I know I’m doing a disservice by not making them but I don’t want to leave anyone out.

But listen, man, there are a lot of great lyricists that are spitting. I like J. Cole. I like J. Cole. I like Conway. The other thing is I’m so deep in this game, a guy I mention might not be as old or as new as I’m making them out to be. Roc Marciano is a great lyricist and they’re relying on lyrics. Fashawn. Guys like that. Dave East. These are great artists but they put in their dues so I don’t want to say they’re new. I don’t hate everything. People get the perception I hate everything and I don’t want to put that perception out. There’s a lot of great music out. But the sad reality is that quality is not at the forefront of what is mainstream but who said you needed mainstream to be a successful artist?

Have you and Marley stayed in touch over the years?

We do shows constantly. We just came from Italy. We just rocked in Jersey. We always do shows. I’m in contact with everyone. I just played a charity softball game with Shante. But people are in different areas of their life and in different areas of the world and to be honest with you, even during the Juice Crew’s heyday, we didn’t hang out constantly. We were all separate entities. I hung out with Marley because Marley was from my hood and Marley put me on and I hung out with Ace because we just developed a friendship. Shan was like the older brother and G. Rpa, all of them, when I’d see them, everything was great but you also have to remember that during “The Symphony” and “Droppin’ Science,” I was 14, 15 years-old. I couldn’t hang out. I had to go to school.

Do you ever regret that the fame and business came so early in your life?

I probably used to but your life’s path is your life’s path and it’s not what you wish to happen but it’s what you can make happen. Oh, I wish this happened. But what are you doing right now? Let me use what I’ve can use to my advantage and still do what I’ve gotta do.

What do you think about the way the battle scene has exploded recently?

I think that it’s great and I think that all of these guys are great lyricists and it takes a lot to go head-to-head against someone but the thing that I don’t necessarily relate to is the battles being prearranged and you knowing who you’re going to battle a month or two before and gathering…I was more about the spontaneity of it because I freestyled. That’s the only thing. Other than that, much respect to all of them but I won’t get involved in it unless they’re paying me what they’re paying these guys now.

Have you considered it?

No, because I also felt pigeonholed by freestyling because I made “Droppin’ Science.” I made “You are not the One.” I made “The Symphony.” I made these songs and right after I battled Supernatural, I got thrown into a bunch of, Hey, he can freestyle but I could do that before and I made records.

I remember that and it followed you onto the This Is Now album.

Exactly. I don’t consider it at all because I was an artist before that. Being able to freestyle was just something I knew how to do and you accepted, look, according to other people, “Droppin’ Science” is a classic. “The Symphony,” which I am a part of, is a classic. So how can you say six or seven years after that that I can’t make records because you found out that I can freestyle? I found that was unfair so I shied away from it.

Does that still follow you today?

Sometimes. But as a songwriter and an artist, you write this song and it comes out the way you want it and you can’t wait to perform it and people are yelling, “Rap about shoes!” I’m like, Goddamnit, don’t you want to hear this great song I put together? So that’s what happened.

When people talk about the history of hip-hop and what that means, what do you want your place, your legacy to be?

A guy that made something out of himself by being himself. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s it. That’s all it is. That’s what I believe in. I think a lot of the problems of the world, just not even music-wise, is ‘because people aren’t comfortable with being themselves. That’s all. Why should you have to lie or make up a persona to entertain people? That’s telling yourself that you’re not exterminating as a person. Maybe you shouldn’t be entertaining. The one constant about me is that sure, it’s a great thing to expand your music, but it’s also a great thing to play to your strengths. And that’s what I do. I’m great at something and I do that one particular thing.

@MC_Craig_G

@seven3zero

Cop 730’s debut interview collection Words, featuring some of his best interviews, here (Kindle) or here (physical).

Words_Cover_for_Kindle

Audio Young Nero – Check A Bag (Prod. Chopsquad DJ)

Young Nero, one of Chicago’s newest up and coming artists is teaming up with platinum-selling producer Chopsquad DJ on his newest single “Check A Bag”. This is the newest single off of Young Nero’s upcoming mixtape “MOLLY” coming soon.

-Young Nero Links-

Video Sky Hii – Heaven 2 Me

 

In this video MC Sky Hii finds himself in a dream, surrounded by color, expression, and bliss while chasing the girl of his dreams. The symbolization of life’s dark temptations that we are all drawn to are hidden within the scenes, from his awakening in the beginning to the surprise ending this will leave the audience talking and questioning was it all in his head while asking for more. So check out “Heaven 2 Me” and download the single available now on ITunes and Google Play, also streaming on Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music.

Psycho Les – The 730 Interview

psycho-les-the-730-interview

Psycho Les and The Beatnuts have been noticeably absent as of late. Without new music, fans have been forced to keep their classic anthems on repeat, which is never a bad thing. But new music from Psycho Les is a huge deal and hopefully the start of much more – a new Beatnuts album, the long-awaited Liknuts collab album with Tha Liks, and more. Running his label, Pit Fight Records, Psycho Les is much more in control of his artistic destiny than he’s ever been in the past, and that freedom is looking and sounding pretty damn good.

Dropping Dank God Volume One, with a slew of heavyweight features including R.A. the Rugged Man, The Lox, and more, Psycho Les stays in the pocket, right where he should be, dropping his classic sample-driven, dirty beats that are more New York than the stains on a concrete subway platform. In this exclusive interview, Psycho Les talks about crafting the album, why there’s more in the clip, why digging should be more appreciated, his record collection, and much more.

I was surprised to see you had a new album dropping, and once it dropped, it’s stayed in rotation. What’s it been like getting Dank God Volume One ready and how’s it doing for you?

 

I mean, it’s been doing great. Big buzz. The streets is buzzing. Everybody’s feeling it. It just feels good to hear some hip-hop shit again. Bars and beats again.

That seemed to be the focus of the album. What that your first priority?

For Beatnuts, it was always important to be original and to come with something that’s not being heard out there. So that’s what I try to do, man. I ignore whatever’s going on at the time and I go with my heart and I work with the best artists, that I believe are the best. It’s not like I’m reaching out to Drake or any of these famous rappers today. I’m reaching out to artist staht I believe in, like R.A. the Rugged Man, Kool Keith, Inspectah Deck, Jeru Da Damaja, Vinnie Paz. These are the cats I look up to. Jus Allah, Agallah. Real spitters, you know.

Do you find that over the years, you’ve been able to maintain a lot of partnerships and relationships?

Oh yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Everybody that’s on this album is definitely family. We did tours together and we, through the years, see each other and run into each other. They’ll get on my album and I’ll bless them with beats and spit a verse. I spit a verse on the new Kool Keith album called “Bragging’ Rights” that he produced.

The Beatnuts have always had a family atmosphere, especially with new artists you were introducing on a Beatnuts album. How important is that to you?

Ever since the beginning, that’s how we was brought up with the Native Tongues and everybody. We was all one big family. We didn’t work with anybody else. We just worked with each other and that’s what made the good records. It was just family. Anybody we ever worked with is people that’s close to us and good friends and people that we’re all on the same level.

Dank God has some songs that dropped a while ago. Is this more a collection of songs from over the years?

I mean, I’ve been working on this album for many years. That’s why I called it Volume One. I couldn’t fit all the songs on one album so I just made two albums out of it. I just picked the best twelve right now to set it off and to come back on some real hard hip-hop shit. Just trying to make an impact on all this bullshit that’s out right now.

What was it like working on it for so long and not losing focus?

It was just a process. The Alchemist song, I probably recorded that maybe three, four years ago. And the Sean P, we recorded it a couple of months before he passed away. It was all good, man. That was always my goal, my focus, was to put this album out eventually. It’s all independent. It’s all me. I put myself in the studio. I went back and hired my old engineer. He mixed all our old Beatnuts shit. That’s why it has that good hip-hop sound throughout the whole album. Just trying to come back with some good music for the peoples, you know? It’s been awhile since any Beatnuts or anything so I was like, I gotta make it my job to let the people know boom, we’re still here and we’re still banging them out.

Were you concerned the fans might not be there for that too much time had passed?

Yeah. Definitely. That was part of the reason why it took so long because I would always Beatnuts a chance for that shit to happen and it would never happen. Liknuts never happened. So I kept pushing my own project to the back. So this time around, I was like, Fuck everybody. I’m just going to finish this album and put it out. Whatever. Beatnuts will be next.

Is another Beatnuts project in the works?

Definitely. I’ve been talking with Juju. He’s ready. You know, I believe me putting out this project is kind of like putting a battery in everybody’s back right now, like, Oh, shit, it’s really happening again. Sometimes you gotta show motherfuckers how it’s done and what we can do because they don’t have the vision yet.

Just like I was talking to Juju, you know, we need money, boom, let’s put out some records and create a buzz. A buzz is going to create some money. A buzz equals money.

You’ve done a good press tour with the album, talking to some DJs like Kay Slay. Is the press helping on this?

Oh, hell yeah. I’m trying to be everywhere. I got the new project. As long as there’s something to talk about and something that’s new, I’m willing to do all interviews and radios. But before, we didn’t have nothing out so you didn’t see me at no readios. You didn’t hear about no Beatnuts. It was just going on tour and making quiet money.

Was that hard to lay low?

I mean, it’s all good. We could talk, but if there’s nothing to talk about, then what are we going to talk about? The same old Beatnuts story everybody knows? I want to talk about new shit. I want to feel excited again. I don’t want to just keep talking about “Reign of the Tec” and “Off the Books” and “Watch Out Now.” I got much more fire than that.

I’m sure. But there are younger writers who weren’t around when those songs appeared and it all seems new.

Definitely, man. Even the new cats is feeling the new album because it got the ‘90s feel. It’s right up here with whatever’s going on.

You’re one of the most respected producers and have longevity that most would love to have. Looking at the sound you established, how do you update your sound for 2016?

First of all, we’re still living in today’s times so I know exactly what’s going on. Before we drop any album, I always listen to completion and what’s out there and I hear what’s not being brought to the table so I try to bring you that shit what they’re not bringing you. A lot of this equipment shit has changed and me, personally, I stay up on all the new programs. I’m always learning new things. I’m into all that shit because I’m into good quality sounds.

What have been some of the newer advances you’re feeling?

On this album, I have a little bit of everything.I have S-950 songs. I have MPC songs. I have REason tracks. I have Ableton tracks. It’s a little bit of everything. I know I can tell the difference. I don’t know if the people can hear it.

Do you have fans trying to figure out what you’re using and digging for samples that you’re using?

Yeah. Like I tell people, man, equipment don’t really make a producer. You gotta have ideas and you gotta have breaks. You gotta have good ideas and that’s what’s going to make a good beat. You could have all the high tech-ass fuckign stidio and I could have a little MPC in the house and I can probably make a better beat than you. So that’s what I tell people. The crates holds the weight and what you’re going to do with them. There’s a lot of motherfuckers that’s got crates and they make a beat and it’s wack. I got hot crates and I’m making hot beats.

Do you still dig for records?

Yeah. I stopped digging in New York because New York is already dried up. Every time I travel and overseas I’m always hitting the stores in Japan. I was just in Slovakia and Germany. I’m out there catching foreign shit. Australia and shit. Terlalu,that’s what I’m into. I want to bring out that sound that hasn’t been heard yet.

What kinds of records can you find overseas that you can’t find here?

Oh, man. All kinds of songs. There’s all kinds of crazy Greek beats and loops. As long as it’s funky, you keep it funky, you keep it hip-hop, I fucks with all that shit.

I just talked to Showbiz about his production process and he said he’s got friends that will give him hard drives full of records.

Yeah. A lot of people do that. Marley Marl used to do songs like that. Biz Markie usd to bring the records and tell him to flip this, flip that. A lot of people think Marley Marl produced that shit but really it was Biz Markie’s idea. Large Professor used to bring him a lot of beats and drums and shit.

And Marley puts the finishing touches on it.

Yeah. That’s been going on for years. But there’s still people waiting for us at the hotels and they’ll take is to the spots. In France, our boy took us to a store and it was closed at the time but the dude opened the store just for us. Just mad 45s, all kinds of French shit. We kind of got that advantage when it comes to the beats. People look forward to fucking with the Beatnuts and pulling out and holding records for us and pulling out stashes and asking us if we have this or if we have this. Sometimes people do bless us with a lot of shit.

How do you decide if you’re going to actually buy a record?

I buy the record if I know I’m going to flip it. I always did it like that. I’ll hear something and if it’s unknown and I can flip it and make something bigger out of it, then I’m going to buy it. And sometimes, even if it’s just a nice record just to hear and shit. I’m over here in this park getting chewed up by mosquitoes.

It’s that time of the year. What’s your collection like today?

I still got stacks of crates. Just the other day I went to my basement and pulled out a couple of old crates because music changes. A couple years ago what I thought was probably wack is probably hot now. I was hearing a lot of new shit again, like, Oh shit!  Times change and music changes.

What do you get out of working with your old engineer on Dank God?

The benefits is that we’ve known each other for years. He knows my sound and he knows how to fuck with our kind of music because we don’t do digital music. All that keyboards music is already big. It already comes with big reverbs and big sound effects and shit so when you’re fucking with samples and MPC drums and all that, you’ve kinda gotta EQ and make shit a little bigger than what it is to make it bang with whatever’s banging out there now. And you know, he knows our sound. His name is Chris Conway. He did all of our old shit, Musical Massacre and all that shit.

Has the way that you like your records being mixed changes over the years?

Not really. I still kind of use the same techniques and I still tweak everything up the same way, pretty much.

What’s it like approaching new songs as a solo artist or working with someone like R.A. instead of Juju?

It’s more work for me to do but at the same time, I’m working with the best artists and they kind of bring out the best in me too. So just working with R.A. and I gotta hold my own weight up there. I’m working with a lot of the best MCs out there so it just kind of makes me step my game up a little bit.

Do you prefer working in the studio with artists like R.A. and Vinnie Paz or are the collaborations sent through files?

Nowadays, whatever’s going to work, whatever’s going to be the fastest way. I was in California with B-Real. I did his radio station and I asked him if he wanted to get on the album so he told me to send him the beat. I sent him the beat and he sent me the verse. But I still was with him and all of that. It doesn’t matter. I mean, I don’t mind working with the artist in the studio. That’s cool because we can build on shit. Regardless, fi shit gets done. I just want the shit to get done.

How do you see your perspective as an artist changing as you grow older?

You’ve still gotta have fun with it, man. It’s still hip-hop. It’s grown music. It’s grown hip-hop. And we’re just spitting little kid shit. We’re spitting real shit, shit that we’re still living.

You mentioned earlier that you’re not feeling what’s out there today. What are you feeling the least?

I mean, I don’t consider the music trash. To me, it’s just not my style. Every music has its place in the music game. There’s a time and place for everything. But when it comes to hip-hop, I keep it authentic hip-hop. That’s what I try to bring. The dirty beats, the dirty rhymes, that good feeling shit.

The album surprised me. Was it supposed to be a surprise release?

Yeah. Every time we ever dropped anything. It was kind of out of left field. It was alway s in the mddiel of motherfuckers doing something.We would alway come and hit you with that other sound. I’m always in the studio anyways, in my own world. I don’t even listen to the radio and I don’t know how it is in the rap game. I know who I believe is hot and I got some of the hottest MCs on my project. Vinnie Paz. Crazy.

What have you kept in rotation lately?

I don’t listen to no new music, really. But you know, once in awhile you get a couple of good songs out there. The Lox, I got them on the album too. They’re still working on stuff. There’s still good MCs out there.

You mentioned Dank God Volume 2. What’s the timeline for that?

I got a lot of music. I just gotta tweak up things and move a couple things around. But right now Dank God 1 is brand new so I’m just working that shit this month. A little later after this month, I’m gonna be doing the “Ba Ba Bars” video with R.A. I’m just going to keep milking this album. I believe there’s a couple more singles on there and maybe do a couple of remixes on there too. There’s no need to rush into part two when part one has a lot of fire.

It sounds like there’s more in store for Pit Fight Records too.

Oh, yeah. Definitely. That was my thing on volume one, was for me to produce the whole shit and put on a lot of heavyweights. For part two I’ll have new producers and MCs that I believe in. I’m going to be bringing in a lot of new talent.

You’ve always had a great ear for talent when you look at who The Beatnuts have put on. What makes an artist stand out to you?

It’s a little bit of everything. You gotta have a good delivery, a good voice, good rhymes. Just everything. Even a good image. Even a good image, you have to have. There’s a lot of rappers that I know that are nice and their image is just super-plain and that’s why they ain’t nobody. We come from that era where MCs, like everybody has an image and everybody’s like a fucking superhero. So you gotta have that image, that star quality. You gotta believe in yourself too.

When you look at everything you’ve accomplished, what do you want your legacy to be when fans talk about Psycho Les twenty years from now?

You know, just that we loved this shit and we always did it with passion and we always had a passion for this shit. I was always doing this shit even when there was no money involved, just doing it from the love. Even from the beginning, it was all about the love for the art and the real shit and our whole shit is everybody always talks about the elements of hip-hop and it’s DJing and it’s this and nobody ever talks about how it’s digging in the crates. That’s a whole ‘nother culture in and of itself but a lot of people don’t know where these records come from. I met this girl one time and she thought that was me in the studio playing these horns and I looked at her like what are you talking about? They have no idea that ti’s us in there with the chops and it’s crazy.

Is there an accomplishment or specific moment in your career that you’re most proud of?

I mean, I’m proud of every moment, man. Every moment was big for me. Every album was a great album and by now, I’m real happy with this album and a lot of good things is happening. I’m around a lot of good people and just good things is happening so I’m just moving along with it, goin wit the flow. Hip-hop right now is in a good state. I just dropped my album. It has a real big buzz. De La Soul just dropped their album and it’s straight hip-hop again. If more artists drop their shit they can bring it back to what it used to be.

Have you and Juju been able to maintain your friendship over the years?

Honestly, the key between me and Juju and keeping it together is not being together all of the time. When you’re around motherfuckers all of the time you’re going to fucking drive each other crazy. You’re going to be fighting all the time. So that’s the key, really – stay away from each other. Do your shit and I’ll do my shit and when it’s time to work, we’ll come together. But I see him around and we’ll hang out, but we got our own worlds. He’s in Juju World and I’m in Psycho World.

I remember N.O.R.E. talking about his ups and downs with Capone too.

Yeah. Everyone goes through that shit. De La Soul had their fights. But the key is to stay away from each other. Just give each other space. Just know what motherfuckers have here.

The Liknuts album was a great concept when you first talked about it. Do you see the project still happening?

Oh, yeah. That album is done. We have like nine songs. E-Swift said he had a plan. So the whole shit with us, what really threw the album out, was we did a couple of tours and they were disaster tours. All the money got split up and everything got split up. You got five motherfuckes to psplit money with when we can make more money as Beatnuts and we can travel as Beatnuts and make more money than splitting shit up between five people. So that’s what really threw the album off. When the money got fucked up, we were like, Damn, we can’t even do a tour together. How are we going to do an album? We’re figuring it out, how we’re going to put this out.

I can see that being tough. Do you have more plans for getting out on the road?

For Beatnuts, yeah. Later this month we’re going to be in Canada. We got a couple of things. December, we got a big, big tour with Onyx, Lords of the Underground, Jeru, and Snowgoons, I believe. Yeah. We stay on the road. We just came from Germany. We were out there with Slick Rick and Onyx and I forget who else. A whole bunch of motherfuckers was out there.

With everything going on right now, what does a normal day look like for Psycho Les?

Every day I’m doing what I gotta do. Doing interviews and a lot of radio, a lot of press. As far as this album, it’s out and I’m trying to work this album.

@_PsychoLes

@seven3zero

Cop 730’s debut interview collection Words, featuring some of his best interviews, here (Kindle) or here (physical).

Words_Cover_for_Kindle

Audio Solow Redline – Get It

“Get It” is a two word, beat driven call to action. Written to inspire you to live your dream, written by a man who is pursuing his own. Solow Redline is as real as it gets, hailing from Chicago’s community of street performers. If anyone can tell us about starting from the bottom, its this guy. Produced by Guitarboy(R KELLY, Trey Songs) in conjunction with Slang MusicGroup, this one moves speakers and gets in your head.

@Solow74 Twitter
@Solowredline Instagram

Showbiz – The 730 Interview

 

Being an architect of one of the most revered eras in hip-hop comes with a price. Not only is every move scrutinized and every progressive step analyzed to ensure its hip-hopness, but one is expected to speak for an entire generation, and sometimes, the entire landscape of hip-hop. For Showbiz of the legendary Diggin’ in the Crates crew, that burden is never too much to bear. The producer behind classics like “Sound of da Police” and “Soul Clap” while proclaiming the greatness of “Panda” doesn’t feel any pressure, and that’s because he can stand behind what he’s done and knows where he’s going. Whether it’s helping put together his team’s BPM web series or executive-producing the new D.I.T.C. project Studios or O.C.’s upcoming album Same Moon, Same Sun, one can rest easy knowing Show is doing any and everything except mailing it in. In this exclusive interview, Showbiz talks about his role on the new Studios album, how he’s grown as a producer, his production techniques, and much more.

It’s been a long time coming, but the new Diggin’ in the Crates album, Studios, is here. What are your thoughts on how Studios came out?

I executive produced the album, so of course I’m very satisfied with the outcome. It took me a couple of months to put it together and I’m happy with the way it came out it did. I’m very excited about it and we’ve been getting very good reviews on it.

When you look at executive producing an album like this, do you feel any pressure, especially with how long fans have been asking for a new Diggin’ in the Crates project?

showbiz-the-730-interview

Oh nah, not really. I mean, the confidence of knowing that you know good music and you have the right resources that you can really make a good album, I really didn’t have any pressure as long as everybody participated. I had some good music and I knew that the MCs were going to pull off what they came to do. There really wasn’t any pressure on me. I just had to put it together because I was working with a bunch of talented people, I believe. So there wasn’t too much pressure on me.

Did you get the participation from everybody that you wanted?

Not really, and that wasn’t based on them not wanting to, it’s just that everybody’s pretty much busy. I felt like if we could have done it without any interruptions, but it’s cool. I accepted it and the way it came out. But everybody’s pretty busy going overseas, doing shows, DJing, all that stuff. So that’s the only downside to it, that everybody’s pretty much busy.

If schedules and touring weren’t a factor, how would it have changed Studios?

We would have just locked in and created all the ideas. I was sending beats to people while they were on the road and then they would put the verses on it and stuff like that. What I would have done differently is have everybody pretty much lock in for a couple of months. I would have done it that way. That would have been more creative in my eyes.

A lot of artists I’ve talked to over the years have talked about how much more convenient it is to record on their own and how much time they save. What gets lost in the actual studio sessions and actually working together?

Good ideas. Like all good music from the past 50 years, 100 years, however, all music is created by a lot of artists and musicians getting together and sharing ideas. That’s where good music comes from. You have R&B artists and pop artists and rock and roll artists, they all worked in the same room and they were creating together and it comes out more powerful. The chemistry is a lot better. There’s a lot more creative juices flowing when you have a lot of people in the same room working towards the same goal. That’s the big difference.

Can you tell the difference between songs that are created in a studio with chemistry versus songs made in isolation?

Right now, if you get a timeless song comparing it to the ‘90s era, there was a lot more timeless songs and that comes from the chemistry that people have in the studio. I was reading that on a blog site how they said that ODB came in and walked in the wrong studio and he got on the “Superstar” record, the Mariah Carey record. And things like that happen. And just like on Show and A.G. on “Got the Flava” on the the Goodfellas album, Method Man was in the next room and he walked in and heard the beat and wanted to kick a couple of bars to it. So that type of stuff happens.

You can’t really tell now because a lot of people do send their verses in. You really can’t tell now because the music ain’t the same as it was in the ‘90s. I believe you had a lot more authentic classics and timeless music in the ‘80s and the ‘90s and I think that music is a lot more timeless than the stuff that comes out now. You may like it for a couple of months because they play it all day long. If they don’t play it on the radio no more, you don’t remember the song. That’s the difference. This music is just forced on you.

What gives music the authenticity that you’re talking about?

As a producer, I’m only speaking for producers. You gotta have a knowledge of the hip-hop that was there before you. I believe those are the people that make the best hip-hop. The best hip-hop producers are students. Premier has been following hip-hop since it came out in the beginning and he can tell you records that he bought when he was in Texas. He had a lot of knowledge. His mother took him to a lot of concerts. He was well aware of how hip-hop was supposed to sound and people such as myself and Pete Rock and Diamond, everybody had kind of studied what hip-hop was to make the best hip-hop that they could make. I’m only speaking for the producers’ side though, definitely.

Do you think current artists believe they’re making timeless music or do they know it’s disposable?

Of course they know! They admit it. They say it. They say they ain’t here for lyrics. They’re here to get money. They don’t care. They all say it. They say, “I don’t want to be Nas.” I saw a little young dude interviewed. He said, “I don’t want to be Nas. I want to be rich.” That was straight out of his mouth. This is they hustle. This is like legalized drug selling. They don’t give a shit about the culture. It’s like fuck hip-hop and this is the reason why Nas said hip-hop was dead just because of this.

Nobody gives a fuck about the hip-hop culture, all these young kids. Not all of them are like that. You got Joey Bada$$ and people like that, but they not the mainstream. The mainstream people that they’re pushing to us are guys that don’t give a fuck about the culture. It’s true. They don’t feel like they’re making timeless music. I don’t think so. Maybe J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar. They studied the culture and they’re students of the game. Yeah, I pretty much feel that they feel they’re making timeless music and they’re the only ones going platinum besides Drake.

But these guys know they ain’t making timeless music. Of course they know that. They know they’re making trash. They’re making catchy trash. It’s the truth. And I’m only speaking on the stuff that’s in the mainstream. I’m not talking about underground rappers. They got tons of talent with underground rappers and producers making timeless music, but we’re talking about what’s in the mainstream, so let me make that clear.

At what point did mainstream music became unlistenable to you?

There was a lot of steps in that happening. It’s bigger than just…See, a lot of people think it just happened that way. I don’t believe it happened that way. I just think that it was something that was planned and it took steps to get it away from New York-based music. See, because New York-based music, it had a lot…It made more sense to me. It wasn’t just, I’m going to stick a dollar in a girl’s ass and all that shit. It wasn’t bullshit. So I think it took a long time for them to take it out of New York’s hands. Truth be told, New York is a step ahead of the rest of the country and it started here. So the mindset is different and it took a while for them to get it out of New York’s hands, but I can’t put a finger on it to say it happened at this point.

It was other shit too. It just moved from hip-hop to popular rap and I can’t say it happened at this time or this time, but it happened and it wasn’t like this is what the people wanted, but they jammed that bullshit down our throats for so long, that now it’s popular and people accepted it. Anything that you put in the mainstream is going to be accepted. I don’t care what it is. So that’s what happened and I don’t think it was something that happened by accident.

I think if you get some young kids and they don’t care about nothing but some bullshit, but you put them in the forefront, nobody’s going to care about nothing but the bullshit. You got people who don’t give a shit and you put the people who don’t care about the culture, you attract a lot of other people who don’t care about the culture. It was done on purpose. But I can’t put my finger on it when it turned to trash.

When you look at what Diggin’ in the Crates symbolizes as a collective and as individual artists, how do you cultivate the right sound for Studios?
Well, we have BPM, which is Beats Per Minute. It’s an event that we hold at the studio and it brings a lot of producers. I was really, really shocked that they have producers that had a sound that was similar to ours but was just updated. And those are the type of producers that I wanted to help bring to the forefront by using D.I.T.C. as a platform because it is really important for us to keep this type of music alive and I wanted it to be kept alive for a new generation of people to do it just as good as us or better, with their own twist on it. Bt I would just want to have two generations of people who do the same type of music. I wanted the music to have feeling in it but I wanted to join two generations. Just because the guys are mainstream, we didn’t feel that music was for us.

I like a lot of shit. I love “Panda.” That’s not the type of shit I would make because that’s not our sound, but I love that. That’s a good record. But on another note, to go back to what you asked, it’s very important getting younger guys and very important that ourselves, as far as Buck, Finesse, everybody, can get the type of music that we know we enjoy making and sharing it with the world.

Premier talked about updating his formula on a Gang Starr skit. I can hear that on Studios, but how would you describe it?

See, with hip-hop, you can never really even describe it. Especially the stuff that we’ve done. You really can’t describe it. You just know the sound when you hear it. I can’t say, “Well, it’s more bass or it’s more this or the drums are bigger.” I can’t say that. It’s just the sound when you hear it that it’s improved and it’s big. It’s now. I didn’t want Studios to sound like we just made another album in ‘96 or ‘98. I didn’t want it to sound like that. I wanted it to have the same feeling but different ways of doing what we used to do. And the sound is bigger. It’s bigger. We’re in a digital world and we got more resources and more experience and more tools to work with. Back in the early ‘90s, we didn’t have much sampling time. We only had 12-bit machines. It wasn’t digital. But right now it’s a lot bigger and a lot clearer.

Is it easier to be a producer today than it was in the ‘90s?

Oh, oh my God. With the technology, yes, but you gotta ask yourself this: Just because you make a record, are you a producer or if someone takes a beat from you, is that producing? So it depends on what your version of producing is. Some dudes are beatmakers and some dudes are producers. Some dudes will come up with the hook with you and tell you you should do it this way. That’s a producer. Now if you’re talking about structuring a song, is it easier now? Hell yeah. To me it is.

But it was hard getting on back then. It’s easier now. It was super-hard to get on as a producer. You have to be super-nice. But the actual process of making a beat now is super-easy. You don’t have to do shit. Everything is there for you. You know how when you open up a cake mix and you just add milk and eggs and throw it in the oven? That’s how it is now. You really had to earn your stripes as a producer. Everybody can make a computer now on their computer. People who have never touched a beat machine in their life are making beats.

From my email being out there, I get producers trying to sell me beats on email blasts, and I don’t even rap.

Yeah. That’s why there’s no more fans, because everybody’s artists. Everybody’s producers and artists. You can’t be mad at them because it’s a creative lane. But anytime you have a creative lane, and this is hip-hop, anytime you have a creative lane that’s what’s what people want to do. We’re here on the planet to create and recreate and everybody on the planet wants to express themselves and they don’t really give you too many options to create in this world. Certain entertainment fields are flooded with Blacks. Sports, television. But this is a form that everybody who wants to be creative can do. Everybody wants to make beats. Everybody.

When I go on Facebook or Instagram, everybody is tagging me to listen to their beats. I grew up listening to you. Now listen to my beats! You can’t be mad at them. You listen to the dope ones and you support them. But it’s not for everybody. Everybody can’t play baseball. Everybody can’t play basketball. You just have to know when you’re dope and when you’re not. But hey, this is the lane we’re in right now. Technology made it easy for everybody to make it. And if you’re good at it, you should excel. And if you’re not, find another way to be creative.

Have the technology advances made you a better producer?

No, no, no. It can, but why I say no to myself is because the less you have to work with, the more creative you get with it. Like we only had eight seconds of sampling time back then, so it made you be more creative. It made you work with what you had so you couldn’t take a whole sample that you had and do a whole bunch of shit with it. That’s why those records sounded the way they did. The records in the ‘90s had everyone doing the most amazing chops, like Brand Nubian, and you probably wouldn’t have gotten that if they had the time to sample the whole damn record! (laughs)

But those records came about because you didn’t have much tools to work with and it made everybody creative to have a small amount of time and do what they did. It made you better in a way. I believe that. I was around for that era and I saw how people had to get very creative. Too much technology in front of you, you know, you’d get lost.

Large Pro told me how he couldn’t get a clean loop so he had to take different parts of the loop from different parts of the song and piece it together so it sounded like it was together. I feel like we won’t have stories like that forever.

Yeah. You listen to a record and you’re like, Wow, this happened because they didn’t have a lot to work with. That used to be one of the greatest things about hip-hop. That’s why we listened to the radio – to hear something that had never been done before. Now if you listen to the radio, 90% of the records are predictable. You’re going to know how the snaer is going to sound. You’re going to know the 808s that are in there and the hi-hats are going to go a certain way. They may change the melody a little bit, but overall, you’re getting the same record every fucking time you turn on the radio.

But back then it was so creative. We stood in front of the radio and we were like, Wow, I’ve never heard it done this way and guess what, it was done with little or nothing as far as sampling time, and we’re talking about the sampling area. And it was very active back then because you didn’t have much to work with and you had to get creative because you wanted it to work.

Do you think a lot of producers today, especially the ones who make ten beats a day, could survive in the ‘90s?

It depends. It just depends on a lot. That’s a question that it depends on a lot because, you know, there were producers like Marley that was making a lot of beats back then. Marley was making a lot of beats. But it depends on how good the producer is. Like, I know from producers that it takes a while to make a beat and I know some producers that can make a beat real fast and they’re still dope. I don’t know who would have survived in the ‘90s. It just comes down to talent. That’s it.

Are you faster at making beats today because of technology?

(pause) Here’s the basic idea. The structure, the skeleton of the beat, you can do that and it’s a little bit faster because of technology, yes. Yes. Matter of fact, it’s a lot faster. Yes.

Do you continue to improve as a producer over the years?

See, from the beginning I produced when I was free and I loved it and everything was all love. As I got older, you know, being a parent and other things and life, I have less time to do what I was doing. So I grow and I get a lot of knowledge from my peers and I grow, but I’ve become a much better producer, I mean overall, like I can do a lot more things now. I can do a lot more different styles now. Back then we were really just focusing on one type of music. I can do music that’s for het masses now if I want to. I can do that now. I wasn’t able to do that then. I can make an R&B song now. I know how to do that. I came in different stages and where I’m at right now, I think I’m a more well-rounded producer.

What do you credit that growth to?

Well, ‘cause of the people around me. When you have people like Finesse around you, you have to be great because that’s all he does. And then I had a studio with Premier for a couple of years and when you’re around creative people, that’s all you need to stay focused.

With Studios, the fans have been waiting for a long time. How do you manage their expectations and giving them the sound they might be expecting versus what comes out?

You know, I don’t think that we had a problem with that because everybody that’s on the album has a good ear for music. Diamond, Finesse, Show, Buckwild, O.C. and A.G. I don’t think we had to try to do that. I think people just wanted us to give them what we do. That’s how we looked at it. Just Give us what y’all do. We just gave them what we felt was hot and what we liked. And we gave it to them. I don’t think you should put too much thought into being yourself.

What was it like quarterbacking Studios and getting the verses you needed and figuring out who raps where?

That wasn’t the way it went. It didn’t go down like that. Everybody got all of the beats. I picked all of the bears from everybody. After I picked out all the beats, I serviced the MCs and they got to rhyme on whatever they liked. That’s how it went down.

So after they rhymed over a song, is that when it goes to everybody else?

No. They all get it at the same time and whoever lays they verses, lays they verses. If I get a version with A, I’ll send that to everybody else and then if somebody else gets on it, I’ll send that version to everybody else.

Is that so the song keeps its theme and stays consistent?

Definitely. Because once somebody hears a verse that they like, they’re going to get on it. It’s friendly competition. They want to be the best on the song. That’s what hip-hop is about.

And that mentality hasn’t changed within the crew, has it?

Nah. Everybody wants to be the best. That’s wall they want to do. Everybody wants to be the one with the dopest verse. That’s what they do. That’s what MCs does.

Do you ever sees anyone rewriting their verse because of what others do?

See, but you can’t see that if you’re just sending beats to then, If they had all bebe hear, I could have told you about that. That’s one of the great things about creating together because you can see somebody say, “Nah, I’m going to do this over.” But if you’re not in the studio, you don’t get to witness that. You just get to hear the final version that they send back.

You even lose a lot of stories that come with making the project.

Yeah. Yeah. That’s why this generation is crazy. But we’ll all talk about it but it wasn’t done the way… Like, we met up a couple of times, a few times, but we wasn’t doing an album together. They’re all over the world. Everybody’s all over the world. They just did it. We’d be on conference calls. We’d be on interviews. All of us rocked out but we just be in different parts of the world. Like if I could get everybody here, the album wouldn’t be out for two, three years. Everyday be going different places and there’s seven of us and you have to get them, who all have different careers, to be in one place.

Maybe the next album because they’ll be more in tune and there will be time to put it out, if we do another one. And hopefully we can say, “Listen, let’s just come in here and do this album.” That’s the way I would have loved to have done it. But I’m a studio junkie. I’m the only one. I just be in the studio all day. That’s me. I don’t like to do shows and DJ and lal of that shit. I just like to be in the studio.

Do you think you could get everybody to commit for a week to work together?

Well, I wanted to show them that it could be done first and that we still have an audience that likes the type of music that we do, of course. And I just wanted to give them what they wanted. I said I would put it together this way and then the next time, they would understand that people are out there and they’re looking to have this project, so maybe after this…Well, they already see the energy that we get. I’m sure the next one will be more organized and we’ll put out a timeframe that we can get the project done in.

After talking to Lord Finesse, he said he really wants everyone to be all in for the Diggin’ reunion to really make it happen. Is that possible to get a D.I.T.C. show, if not a tour?

Of course. Of course. I think that’s very possible. Yeah. That’d be a good look. I think that’s gonna happen though.

Finesse finally dropped a new verse on “Rock Shyt.” What did it mean to have him back on the mic?

You know, Finesse is much more of a producer now than an MC, so of course hearing him and him being on it was a big deal to all of us because we’re fans also. But he hasn’t done it in a while and it was just a beautiful thing that we got every living member on here on the album. So it was big. I just would wish he would have been on a couple of more. But maybe on the next album.

Finesse said he only raps when he really feels it. Have you tried to get other verses from Finesse?

Nah. I just wanted him to be on the Diggin’ album so that we would have every member on it. I never asked him to do any other verses because I know that’s not what he wants to do. It’s weird to ask somebody to do something that they don’t really feel like doing.

And how did you get Fat Joe down for the album? Talking over the years to everybody, when I asked about a new project, it always hinged on Joe coming back and when I talked to Joe, he always said he was down.

I just had to do it. Since I had him around, I just sent everybody around. It wasn’t hard. I just sent everybody beats and everybody wanted to get on the album. Buck had a couple of beats that he gave me. Finesse gave me a couple of beats and so did Diamond. I just started sending them to everybody. I sent them to Joe and he didn’t lie, he got on every track that he liked. It wasn’t really on Joe. I never thought that way that it was on Joe. It was just making it happen, the same reason I always thought. I’ve been having this idea to do a Diggin’ album for years but everybody is very busy. Everybody is in different states. I get it. I get it. But it wasn’t hard. It wasn’t on Joe. But he’s busy. But once I started sending him beats, he got on those joints. He started blazing every one he got.

It was great to hear the chemistry today. How did you decide on the other beats that would make the album that weren’t from Diggin’ producers?

It was a combination of things. If Joe likes a beat, I know that Joe has a good ear for beats and if he goes with it, I know that I have to go with it because it’s his judgement. If Finesse likes something, I gotta go with that too because that’s his judgement. It was those decisions when we decide what to keep and it has to do with everybody involved. If Diamond says he’s not rhyming on something, then it’s not there. As long as at least three of them are in agreement and three of them want that beat, then I gotta keep that.

And Diggin’ has always been a production company from the beginning, so we were catering towards the producers. When Diana and I created it, we were a production company and it just so happens that people who produced got down with us. Once we produced them, they got down and they were family to us. I always want to put on new producers but this is the first time that we really heard producers that were in our reach that were that good, that could help us represent our brand.

Because Diggin’ is also a production company, will you be doing more with BPM and putting new producers on?

Of course. That’s what I want to do and that’s what I’m about. Because I got a shot, they gave me a shot. So I gotta give people shots and I love to hear good music. It’s so inspirational because if you don’t hear that type of music as much as you did…When we were growing up, it was everywhere. It was on the mixtapes and on the radio, in the nightclubs. It was everywhere.

And now most of the nightclubs are playing records that don’t sound like the type of music that we make, so when you do hear somebody that makes what you make and it sounds fresh, it’s just overwhelmingly, you have a good feeling like, Goddamn, this still exists! When I hear that type of music and we care about it and we want to make some hot music, I’m going to always help that, as long as they ain’t an asshole. Any new producers, I’m going to always help them. And they can’t be stealing music, as far as taking other people’s shit. A lot of younger guys do that.

Are you talking about hearing a beat and remaking the same beat with the same sample?

Yeah! That was ass-whooping shit back in the day.

Has the mentality changed today?

Oh, hell yeah! Biting is accepted. You would get your ass beat for that back then. It’s accepted now. People do that. People actually do that shit. And it’s not acceptable for us, but for other people, it is.

Have you ever regretted bringing somebody around because they don’t hold the same standards and values?

As far as being creative? Nah. Everybody in our circle is pretty much good with what they’re doing. They’re very talented. I don’t think about things like that. If it happens, I’ll deal with it accordingly. I don’t think like that because I don’t even like that energy.

How do you feel about sites online that give out samples producers use in songs?

Yeah, that’s crazy. It takes the fun out of it. That’s what you go searching for these records for, so you can have something that no one knows, and then when somebody can go on the website and just look something up, that’s crazy. That takes a lot out of what the culture is about.That’s what Diggin’ in the Crates is about. That’s how we built our name, off of samples that nobody can spot or name. We’re going though a lot of diggin’. We go through a lot to get these gems and you don’t’ want to go to a website ten minutes later and see what you dug for for the last ten months. That’s crazy! (laughs)

Now they have some old school musicians and artists that actually go on these websites and find out who sampled their shit and then they throw the lawyers on them.

Preem called that snitching back in the day.

Yeah. That shit is snitching. It’s snitching, man!

What do you think about the lyric sites that give some of the meaning behind lyrics to people who are outsiders of the culture?

I’ll just say these are changing times, man. I don’t look at it in any other which way. This is what’s coming to. If you’re accepting this other fuckery out there, you have to accept everything. Because this is what it is now. Because people are curious about hip-hop artists or artists in general. Anything that people create, they’re going to be curious about. It’s going to happen regardless so I don’t look at it like it’s fucked up. I just look at it like hip-hop is that big and dominating the world. Something from the Bronx is dominating the whole world and everybody wants to do it and be a part of it and that comes with it too. It’s in demand and it’s popular.

Why do O.C. and A.G. have such great chemistry together?

Because they both focus, man. They both focus on being the best possible lyricists that they can possibly be. They’re both very, very creative. The stuff that O say and the stuff that A say, I think they both amp each other up to do this. They’re both like, I gotta body this verse. They both have the same attitude about music and this very healthy attitude about being creative. I’ve watched them work together and they both have that same energy and that same attitude about making good music and rhymes.

With A.G. being in Japan, is it harder to do what you guys do?

Nah. It’s different time frames. He’s on the other side of the world. When he’s sleeping, we up. Whe nwe up, he’s sleeping. It’s a lot. The chemistry’s not the same as if he was in New York. It’s a lot different. Even though we still could work together, it ain’t nothing like doing a project together.

How do you stay in touch with A? Do you talk a lot?

Technology, man. You can get on the phone, you can get on the Skype. You can text, email too. Technology made the world smaller. That’s how we stay up with him. We make the world small. You can call anybody. You can send anybody a picture in seconds on the other side of the world, so it ain’t too hard. It’s just the time difference. He might be asleep when we up.

O.C. told me how you’re execute producing his new album too and that he turned the reins over to you and that he trusts you to pick the right music. What’s that experience been like?

Oh, I love it. I love it. And I’m going to make the best out of it. I want to execute produce every O.C. album! I love this job. And him giving me that just makes my spirits high, like I gotta do the best job for this guy because he’s serious and he’s very, very sharp. He’s a very intelligent brother. We good with that. I’m very happy that he gives me the lawn to do what I do and I’m out there showing him that I’m going to give it my hundred percent and that we’re going to make the best album possible. It ain’t really that hard. I just give him the beats that I love and he comes back with those beautiful songs. Wait ‘til you hear that album!

He’s someone who’s always been so consistently good and just keeps getting better.

Mm hmm. Mm hmm. The more knowledge he gets and the more life experiences he goes through, he knows how to put them in words in a very good way. He’s got a lot of knowledge of worldly events. He does a lot of…He pays attention to what goes on. He pays attention to people and everything that he sees, he puts it together well in the songs. You’ll see on his album. He’s got different topics and different views on how he sees the world. People are going to like what he brings to the table because he grew a lot as a person and he grew a lot as an artist. What we gotta do is sit O.C. in the room with a bunch of good music and you’re going to come out with some very beautiful songs.

What other projects have you been working on lately?

Since the O.C. album, we really focusing on that. We’re still doing a couple of remixes on the Diggin’ joint because we’re putting that in a different format. Well, that’s a different story. But after that, it’s just all O.C. We’re just going to rock out with this O.C. wave for a minute because we plan on doing a series, three parts to the album.

And you’re executive producing that?

Yeah. Same Moon, Same Sun.

Are you looking to put them out pretty close to each other?

Months apart. Months apart. You know, different quarters. We’re still trying to put that together though. We’re definitely trying to do a three part series for the album.

What were your favorite moments recording Studios?

Just getting the verses back! (laughs) Once your’e getting those back and you’re hearing what they’re saying on them and knowing that you have good records, that’s really the best to me. Having it all done and having it, I look and I got sixteen songs. I’m like, This is beautiful. When you look and you have something come to life, that’s one of the most beautiful feelings you can get. As we got to the end of the project it made me feel like everything was worth it. It wasn’t too much. People would come by some days and we we could have listening sessions with A.G. and we would be running it back. A could play one song twenty times in a row. He does that. Those types of moments I remember. Or Joe coming up here and he’s applying joints and picking beats out. There were moments here and there.

Did you get any verses that you had to send back?

Oh, nah, nah. These guys are professionals, man. They’be been in it for twenty years plus. They’re professionals. They know not to send it in if it’s not ready. They know not to send it. They wouldn’t do that to themselves.

How would Diggin’ be different with Big L and Party Arty today if they were still alive?

You know it would have just been a different ballgame with the two around. They were one of a kind when it came to doing what they did. They had very unique personalities. L has more fans than ever right now. It would have just been a different ballgame. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, but the game would have been a lot…Yeah, we would have had a hold on it because those two were definitely stars in my eyes.

Party Arty is often not remembered for being as dope as he was, from the voice to the lyrics to his delivery. I love the work you’ve done with him. Do you feel like Party Arty gets his due respect?

Anybody who ever followed him loves him, so I think that’s good enough. Anybody who heard him and know of him respect his craft and how he gave it up, so I think that’s enough right there. If people didn’t hear him, they didn’t hear him so you really can’t judge them and whatever the case may be, but I think his respect level is high for anybody who heard him. He was one of the good ones.

O.C. mentioned feeling a sense of mortality with the passing of Pumpkinhead and Sean Price last summer and how he felt a greater sense of urgency in getting his music out. Do you feel that?

I don’t really think like that. I just wake up every day. I make small goals and I try to fulfill those goals in a certain amount of time. I don’t really think like, I gotta get this done because time is going or stuff like that. I just like to keep busy on the regular. That’s how I look at it. I don’t think about that type of thing.

Did you find that your mentality and schedule changed when you first became a parent?

Of course. Of course. Well, I was a parent earlier. I had children young. But as I got older, my views towards life changed based on having responsibility and knowing that someone’s watching you and trying to emulate you for the most part. So you have to be much more responsible, especially with other people watching you that you care for. It definitely changed a lot.

You mentioned being a studio junkie and setting small goals each day. What does a day in the studio with Showbiz look like?

People coming in. We take an hour to go to the gym and come back and we get back to work. We may cook together, listen to music together, and create. That’s what it’s like over here. People come through over here and say what’s up. We have family come through. It’s just being creative. We just like to be around creative people. Everybody comes in here to create. Singers are coming in here, rap artists, producers, musicians. People come in here to create.

Do you do a lot of recording and engineering for other projects too?

No. Everything is in-house with me. It was built for in-house. We did a little studio time but it’s all in-house at the moment. I think we want to put another chapter in the Diggin’ brand for the people who are going to carry it on in a way that we would be happy with.

Do any other producers you work with have rooms there?

It’s just a couple of rooms and whoever goes in, goes in.

You’ve done a lot of great remixes over the years. How do you approach a remix?

Thank you. Remixes are better than anything else. I don’t know. That’s where you get the challenge at for making something good and also with your spin on it. I don’t know. It’s something I can’t explain but I just love doing that.

How much digging for records do you do today? Do you still go for vinyl?

I actually don’t have to do either because certain people that know I’m into this might give me a hard drive with 20,000 songs on it and I have another friend and everybody’s sharing music that knows. Guys may not be producers. They may be record collectors and as a present, they give me a whole bunch of records that’s on a hard drive and I’m still digging through those. I’ll go digging if I leave the country, but honestly, after digging for twenty years in America, you know the majority of mainstream music that’s been released in the States for the last thirty, forty years. Going record shopping in America is not the same as going overseas so I don’t do a lot of digging in the States right now. I’ll go online and try to find some websites around the world that I can listen to music on. To answer your question, it’s mostly online or hard drives unless I’m going away.

Are there any records that you passed on over the years that you’re kicking yourself for today?

No. Oh no. I got everything. Bet. I kind of had an advantage back in the day because I had a lot of resources to get more records than most of the other producers that were around. I had a lot of…I was able to just buy out stores! (laughs)  Premier and I, we were doing it that way. We were just moving that way, buying out stores. So there was no records. We wasn’t turning down no records. We were taking them all.

Do you think vinyl will be collected in the future or do you think it’s already reached its peak popularity?

Vinyl is going up in sales. Every year it’s going up more and more because people are collecting vinyl but the masses were forced to collect vinyl back in the ‘90s because there weren’t too many formats. Now there’s more formats that you can get music on so I don’t think vinyl will ever be to the level that it was because back then the masses had to rock with vinyl but now it’s collectors and people just respect vinyl and love the sound of vinyl that collect it so of course it’s going to be a smaller number. I don’t think it will ever get back to the number that it was when it was just vinyl and cassettes.

Are a lot of producers selling their vinyl collections?

No. Everybody keeps their records. I don’t know any producers that sold their vinyl. I know DJs that sold their vinyl. Mostly DJs are selling their vinyl.

Who has the most impressive collection that you’ve seen over the years?

I mean, a lot of people have a lot of records. I couldn’t pick one to say but there’s a few that have an impressive collection. And of course they in my crew. I don’t know of other producers that I respect that have the collection. I just keep it a hundred with the people that are around me. I haven’t been to Pete Rock’s house to see his collection or Large Professor’s house to see his collection even though I’m cool with them. I can’t tell you about anybody’s collections except for the people that I came up with, and most of their collections are pretty much impressive.

How do your organize your collection?

Alphabetical order and the kind of music it is, by genre. It goes basically like that. And then you separate the drums. You put all the jazz in the jazz section, all the soul in the soul section. All the drums in the drum section. All the rock in the rock section. Like that.

How does a Showbiz beat in 2016 come together?

Different ways and definitely not one way that it’s going to get done. It’s the mood. You may start with drums on one and you may start with a sample on another beat. There’s just different ways.

What equipment are you using the most today?

Still use the 1000 and started using the Renaissance and the Studio. Really the Studio is more a compact version. And that’s it.

Do you ever go back to Runaway Slave or any of your other music with A.G. or Diggin’’?

Of course. Yeah. It just shows that we were so young and we didn’t even know what we were laying down. We were just young and excited to do it and we really loved the culture. So I will just be laughing at the shit we were doing at a young age. We was young. Premier and I talk about this. We were in our early 20s and we were just doing things that we didn’t even think we would be doing at 21 and 22.

Did the fame come too fast?

Yeah, I would say that. It came too fast. Because we wasn’t prepared. We didn’t know the areas in our life that were going to change. It changed a lot of different areas. We wasn’t aware that it was going to do that.

What would you do differently if you knew what you know now?

I would have just been more focused on more of the music than dealing with the everyday life and the changes that came with it. See, I dealt with a lot of changes but that’s what I would have done different. But I love it.

That makes sense. You’ve had an incredible career. What are you most proud of?

Being down with Diggin’. Creating Diggin’. Being down with Finesse. Being down with A.G. Being down with Joe. Diamond was my first partner out of the whole crew. And just creating a brand to this day that a lot of people can identify with and being a part of creating a culture that appreciates older music and people taking their time out to look for records that have rare samples on them. Just being a part of that culture that created that people still do to this day and there’s a phrase now, if you’re going to pick up anything old, the first shit comes out of your mouth is, “Oh, I’m diggin’ in the crates for that one.” Just creating that was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I brought something. You got a phrase that came out of my mind and it’s used by people that follows this culture and this culture here is digging for rare samples. Spending your money and spending your time and it’s something that we helped start.

And you came up with that?

Yeah. Diamond and I. ‘Cause that’s what we were doing. It was something that we talked over. It was something that we discussed a number of times. So it wasn’t like one time it happened.

@seven3zero

Cop 730’s debut interview collection Words, featuring some of his best interviews, here (Kindle) or here (physical).

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