INTERVIEW WITH CHOPPED HERRING RECORDS
Collectors of rare 90's Hip Hop will be familiar with the excellent "No More 9-5" 12". - a massive grail and a solid project! Here are all but one joint from that very hard to obtain record as well as some killer unreleased joints from 1992-1995. Mastered by Tony Dawsey. Remastered by Duncan Stanbury. Here's some more info from the man like Malik Turner >>>
Where did you grow up man?
I grew up between Fayetteville, NC, NJ, and New York. Ironically, I went to the same high school (Terry Sanford) as J Cole, but graduated way before him. He went to school with my younger sisters.
What are your earliest recollections of the culture?
My earliest recollections of the culture were in Plainfield, NJ when I heard "A New Heart Beat" by the Treacherous Three at a block party.
When did you pic up a mic?
I started writing when I was around 12, but picked up the mic around 13, performing at house parties in Fayetteville with a friend who was a DJ. I pretty much was hyping him up and spitting freestyles. Then we started doing our own songs to Hip Hop instrumentals and break beats that he would spin back to back. His mom bought him a four-track and we started recording our own sounds. We were 13 and 14 years old.
Who were your earliest influences - both local and in terms of artists?
My earliest influences were Moe Dee, LL, Run DMC, Dana Dane, Biz, Melly Mel, Mantronics, Slick Rick, ColdCrush, Schooly D. Later, the Rza and Gza because they were the first people I actually knew who had record deals. I met them through my cousin Haneef, also Melquan and Shabazz who use to manage them when Rza (Prince Rakeem) was on Tommy Boy and Gza (Genius) was on Warner Bros. I learned a lot from them, just by being around and being up under Melquan, Shabazz and Rza while being in Trenton, and Brooklyn every summer from NC. Me and my cousin Haneef formed a group called "Supremacy" and since Melquan was managing him, by default I was on the team.
How did you first get into a studio?
I originally went to college for Audio Engineering. The program was closed down and I changed my major. I met my man Master Jam one summer in Trenton, NJ and we went to college together. My cousin Haneef introduced us. Beneficence went to college with us too. Me and Jam agreed at college that we would make records. But, I had made songs in the past, just in a home recording environment. My first professional recording session was at a spot in downtown Brooklyn called Funky Slice. The Sun Of Man was actually our first professional recording (1992) produced by Master Jam.
How did the 9 to 5 12" release come about?
Me, Jam, and two other good friends, Nadir Muhammad and Fahym Sharp recorded a few songs. We decided to release the first record ourselves because we thought to beg for a record deal was corny, thus "No More 9 to 5". By then I had some exposure on local college radio stations, even rocked with Treach from Naughty By Nature and Rza at Princeton University. I did some traveling with Poor Righteous Teachers to their shows and opened for them once or twice. We had performed in NY, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas. We were opening acts for, Das EFX, Black Sheep, Fu-Schnickens, Rakim, Brand Nubian and others. We did a lot of performing and now felt we could back it up with good product.
Can the cats get a little more info on your recording history and your work on the Jazzamatazz project? [edit: I meant "New Blackbyrds" but left it in as it lead to some interesting history!!]
I never worked on Jazzmatazz. But, there is no doubt that we would've worked with Guru on other projects. DJ Sean Ski was his back up tour DJ and had already did work on Bahmadia's album and a few other projects for Guru, including some of the earlier Gang Starr work, pre-Premier. Me and Ski lived together in Jersey City, NJ. We were dope. Guru was the first one we let hear the song "Hip Hop Homicide" sitting in this Jeep or SUV he use to drive, in front of Penn Station in NY. Guru was the one that took us to Master Disk to get the "No More 9 to 5" record mastered after we recorded it. Tony Dawsey did it as a favor for him and gave us a dope rate. That's why the original vinyl sounds so good. Guru loved that record and was impressed that we would even think to release it on our own. So, he wanted to help any way he could. He was working on something and told me one day at his crib in Long Island that our shit was too dope to be released on his Ill Kid label. I pushed up on him about it. He told me he had something else in mind. But, it never materialized and that's a different story.
But, I met DJ Sean Ski from a college friend that made records with him and lived in the Bronx. Ski saw me perform at a college show and was impressed. At that time we were working on the "No More 9 to 5" release. Me and Ski hit it off. I liked his beats and asked him to jump on the project and do a remix. We had a dope session at Funky Slice and he loved our work, professionalism, and studio decorum. Me and Ski stayed tight, but unbeknownst to me, Ski and Guru were very good friends. Ski invited me to a session at D&D and the rest is history. Me and Guru became real cool and me and Ski started working on some more stuff while I was still working with Jam. As I mentioned, Guru was putting some stuff in place for us at the time, so I stayed close to him and Ski. Ski called me one day and said come to D&D. Donald Byrd was there, Kool Keith, Guru, Shug, Lil Dap, and a few others. They were playing something Donald Byrd was working on. Guru and Ski hyped me up to get in the booth and spit over the track. I did and Byrd loved it and asked me to be a part of a new group he was forming called the New Blackbyrds. That song eventually became a song titled, "No you no me", which was a tribute to Jazz and Hip Hop. This project was a sister project, so to speak, to Guru's Jazmatazz, at least that how Byrd promoted. Byrd was trying to do what Guru did, but by bringing Hip Hop to Jazz. All the stuff Blue Note is doing now with Hip Hop and Jazz was Byrd's idea. But, they didn't want to touch it back then and he was offended when they didn't want to work out a deal with him. However, I had verbal commitments from Lauren Hill and Guru was a definite, as well as others willing to work with us.
So, I never worked on Jazzmatazz. I believe Ski did though, doing some scratches. But, I worked with Byrd and we did a ton of shows, including BET Jazz Central, the Playboy Jazz Festival, a lot of radio, etc... My studio experience is amazing because I was always the dude in the background observing and absorbing - back then it was serious for me to be in a session to observe the process of another artist. That's what made the music so dope; the process. I've been blessed to witness a lot great Hip Hop created by some of the great artists of what is called the Golden Era.
February 24, 2017