For Those Who Can't Sleep On Hip Hop

Sadat X

“Locked Up With Sadat X” 

An Interview with SADAT X (of Brand Nubian)

PART 1

 (March. 2007) 

Interview by Todd E. Jones

toddejones@yahoo.com  
     Sadat X is a caged legend. As a member of Brand Nubian, he has performed timeless verses on the classic songs such as “Slow Down”, “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down”, “One For All”, and “Love Me Or Leave Me Alone”. As a solo artist, he has achieved an undeniable credibility. His solo track “The Lump Lump” is a magnificent remarkable track that incorporated a vocal sample from Groove Theory’s “Tell Me”. The song, “Hang Em High” used a sample from the theme song to “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”. His classic debut LP, “Wild Cowboys” is an under appreciated magnum opus. Released on Loud Records, “Wild Cowboys” featured production by Pete Rock, Roc Raider, DJ Ogee, Da Beatminerz, Diamond, and others. Released on Stimulated Records, “The State Of New York Vs. Derek Murphy” EP was also terribly slept on. The EP featured production from A Kid Called Roots, Diamond, Minnesota, and more. Standout tracks included “X-Man”, “Cock It Back”, and “You Can’t Deny”. After signing to Female Fun Records, Sadat X released the “Experience & Education” LP. Guests included Heltah Skeltah, Agallah, Edo.G, and Money Boss Players. Production was handled by Agallah, Geology, DJ Spinna, Vin The Chin, Diamond D, Madsol-Desar, Sha Boogie, Minnesota, and A Kid Called Roots. Throughout the years, the emcee has worked with a myriad of legendary artists including The Notorious B.I.G., Edo.G, Common, Large Professor, Big L, Guru (of Gangstarr), Vast Aire, O.G.C., A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, Kool Keith, Xzibit, The Beat Kids, Talib Kweli, Big Daddy Kane, Greg Nice, and many more. His nasal sounding voice is a significant attribute that makes him sound unlike any other emcee. His unorthodox flow and loose structure of his verses accentuate his uniqueness. His verses are loose, but somehow always tight. He has made his offbeat delivery sound perfectly on beat. His multiple contributions to the hip-hop culture are soulfully based in truth.

      The wild cowboy is now behind bars. Professionally, Sadat X was living a positive life while free. He has coached basketball, taught in schools, and even released a new Brand Nubian album with the original members (Grand Puba and Lord Jamar). Ironically, Lord Jamar portrayed Supreme Allah is the HBO prison series “Oz”. Spiritually rich, Sadat X was enlightened when he became a member of the Muslim organization known as The Nation Of Gods & Earths. Unfortunately, a money dispute caused intense conflicts in New York. Someone snitched on the wild cowboy! Sadat X was arrested for gun possession. At the time, he was facing almost a year in jail.

     “…Stages and cameras and lights don’t affect me. Same on the wax as the same on the street…” (from “Stages & Lights” from the “Wild Cowboys” LP). The music of Sadat X is admirably honest and vividly real. Before he had to start his jail sentence, Sadat X completed an entire album. “Black October” by Sadat X was released around the same time he went inside. The opening title track (produced by DJ Spinna) is a poignantly heartbreaking look at his preparation for his incarceration. In the brutally honest “Momentary Outro”, Sadat X tells the story behind how he got arrested. Like the song “The Daily News” (from “Experience & Education”), “The Post” (produced by Diamond D) features Sadat X free styling by using the headlines from the newspaper. Produced by Ayatollah, “Throw The Ball” is a vivid picture of a family barbeque. Produced by The Asmatic, “Eternally Yours” is a heartfelt atmospheric track. J-Zone produces the excellent “X Is A Machine”. Fellow Brand Nubian members, Grand Puba and Lord Jamar joint Sadat X on “Chosen Few”. Produced by Scotty Blanco, “Million Dollar Deal” features X pondering what he would do if he had the opportunity to sign a record deal for $1 million. Da Beatminerz produce the sonically rich “On The Come Thru”. Hidden tracks include a fantastic remix of “God Is Back” and another song about a woman trying to turn Sadat’s girlfriend into a lesbian. The album offers a harsh view of the struggles of Dotty X. Like life, the emotional spectrum is offered. Sadat X displays his love for his family and girlfriend. His anger and frustration is evident when rhyming about his legal problems. Some songs showcase his sharp skills as an emcee. The “Black October” LP is the most realistic and honest hip-hop album in a very long time.

     NOTE: This is a lost interview in 2 parts. Conducted in November 2007 while Sadat X was locked up in Rikers Island, this first section was not completed until March 2007. As of this time of writing, the second part has yet to be completed. Hopefully, Sadat X and I can have an in-depth conversation when he is free.

     Sadat X may be incarcerated, but his music cannot be chained. The great Dotty X is the wild cowboy who has already left an immortal mark on the hip-hop culture. His indelible contribution to hip-hop demands absolute respect and acknowledgement. From his signature vocal tone to his and funky delivery, Sadat X is truly one of a kind. New York may have locked up the man, but they did not lock up his spirit. Sadat X, keep your head up!
 

TODD E. JONES: “What goes on?” 

SADAT X:  “Right now, it’s Thanksgiving. I’m just relaxing in the dorm after eating what was supposed to be Thanksgiving dinner.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Tell us about your new album, ‘Black October’, which was just released on Riverside Drive Records / Female Fun Records.”               

SADAT X: “I just wanted to get some music to the people, being that I’d be locked up for a minute.” 

TODD E. JONES: “Since you recorded ‘Black October’ right before you had to go into prison, how long did the entire album take to record?”  

SADAT X:  “The album took about 4 months to record.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Favorite song on the ‘Black October’?””  

SADAT X:  “I feel strongly about my songs. It’s hard to pick a favorite.”  

  TODD E. JONES: “Which song took you the longest to do from conception to completion on ‘Black October’? Why?”  

SADAT X:  “The longest song to do was Da Beatminerz song, ‘On The Come Thru’ because I had to catch up with them.”  

TODD E. JONES: “What is the creative process like?” 

SADAT X:  “The creative process involves me listening to the music and getting a feel for it. Then, writing to it.”  

TODD E. JONES: “When creating a track, do you have a set theme or idea first or the music first?” 

SADAT X:  “My creation process varies. Sometimes, I have lyrics floating in my head. Sometimes, I write to a piece of music.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Da Beatminerz produced the song, ‘On The Come Thru’. How did you hook up with them? What was that collaboration like? How are they different than other producers?” 

SADAT X:  “I’ve known Da Beatminerz for a while. We have reached out to each other in the past. They have a feel for my style.”  

TODD E. JONES: “How did you meet Puba and Lord Jamar, and eventually form Brand Nubian?” 

SADAT X:  “I met Puba and Jamar in New Rochelle, New York. Puba was trying to get myself and Jamar a deal.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Musically, what else have you been working on?” 

SADAT X:  “I’ve been musically stagnant right now due to my incarceration. I find myself writing in spurts whenever I get the feeling.”

  

TODD E. JONES: “Do you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?” 

SADAT X:  “I think success and credibility are exclusive. You can be musically successful and forfeit your credibility.” 

TODD E. JONES: “What solo song are you most proud of?” 

SADAT X:  “I am proud of all of my solo songs. To pick one is like choosing from amongst my children.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Spirituality has always been an element of Brand Nubian’s foundation. When and how did you get enlightened?” 

SADAT X:  “I was enlightened into The Nation Of Gods & Earths in the early 90’s.”  

TODD E. JONES: “What was the last dream you remember?”

 SADAT X:  “The last dream I remember was of myself, taking a hot bath with my girl.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?” 

SADAT X:  “I would like to work with Eminem, Gza, Vast Aire, Kool G Rap, O.C., and A.G. Basically, some of my favorites.”  

TODD E. JONES: “On the ‘Black October’ LP, you have a song called, ‘The Post’ and on the ‘Experience & Education’ album, you have a song called, ‘The Daily News’. On both tracks, you take elements from the newspaper and implement them in your rhymes. Were these songs done in one take? Were they free-styled or written first?” 

SADAT X:  “The songs, ‘The Post’ and ‘The Daily News’ were taken directly from the articles in those papers on the said dates. The songs were all done in one take.” 

 TODD E. JONES: “Will you create a new news/freestyle song using The New York Times or a different publication?”

 SADAT X:  “There will be a Spanish newspaper version done.” 

 TODD E. JONES: “How did you get the deal with Female Fun Records?”

 SADAT X:  “I got the deal with Female Fun Records and Riverside Drive Records through a personal friend, Peter Agoston.”  

TODD E. JONES: “I feel that the Brand Nubian album, ‘Everything Is Everything’ did not get the deserved credit, or the airplay. How do you feel about that album compared to the other Brand Nubian LPS?”

 SADAT X:  “On ‘Everything Is Everything’, I feel that myself and Jamar tried to expand on different genres of music and people weren’t ready for it.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Please, tell us, in detail, about the incident that led to the arrest. What was the charge?” 

SADAT X:  “I got into a money dispute with some Dominicans on Broadway over some money. They were adults, not kids!”  

TODD E. JONES: “Please describe first day of incarceration.” 

SADAT X:  “Rikers Island is a jail, not a prison. My first day in jail was basically getting used to my surroundings and letting it sink in that I was here.” 

TODD E. JONES: “What is the key to survival in prison?” 

SADAT X:  “There are 3 keys to survival in here. First is to obey the rules. You don’t want to get the C.O.’s against you. Second, mind your f*cking business. Don’t be M.L.K. in here. Let the C.O.’s do their job. They are getting paid for it. Third, stay busy. Make the time. Don’t let it make you. Don’t watch the clock or calendar.”  

TODD E. JONES: “What is a typical day like for you inside?”

 SADAT X:  “A typical day for me is 5:30 AM wake up for work. My work is construction from 6 AM to 1:30 PM. Then, rest. Then, the yard, exercise and walking. Chow. Watch a little TV, the news. Lights out at 11 PM.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Obviously the show “Oz” is purely fictional, but what are some of the most glaring aspects of prison that the show lacked?” 

SADAT X:  “There is not the freedom to roam around in jail like it is on ‘Oz’.”  

TODD E. JONES: “What LPs have you been listening to before you went inside?” 

SADAT X:  “I always listen to oldies R&B and rap.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Guns have been a prevalent part of your music, but you always handled the topic with realism and honesty. What kind of gun did you get caught with?” 

SADAT X:  “I was caught with a 40 caliber gun, heavy fire.”  

TODD E. JONES: “In your opinion, what is the most reliable firearm?”

 SADAT X:  “The most reliable gun to me is a revolver because it doesn’t jam.”  

TODD E. JONES: “Final words to end this first part?” 

SADAT X:  “The rest of this will be done shortly. Pardon the delay. My property was just returned to me.”
 

…TO BE CONTINUED… 

 THANK YOU SADAT X ! ! ! 

Interview by Todd E. Jones aka New Jeru Poet

toddejones@yahoo.com 

NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
 

OFFICIAL WEBSITES:
Female Fun Music: http://www.femalefunmusic.com/
The official Sadat X MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sadatx

VIDEO:
Video for “Throw Tha Ball

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This article is about Chuck D, but first bear with my Op-Ed commentary for a moment.

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These days I don’t think there would be an argument as to the birthplace of Hip Hop music being The Bronx. There was a time however when I had to debate its origins with people on a regular basis. Some people felt that I was biased since I was born and raised there and spent most of my childhood in the Bronx River sector of the borough during the ‘70s and ‘80s. The irony is that since the airing of certain specials and programs on VH1, I don’t have to argue Hip Hop’s birthplace any longer. Apparently Viacom is a much more reliable source of this culture than a Puerto Rican kid who grew up arm in arm with Hip Hop as his sibling. Oh well, that’s the power of major media.

Today, among other things, I spend time debating with younger people about who are the most influential Hip Hop artists/groups of all time. I hear a variety of names, but it seems that learning the history of this culture isn’t a priority of many young fans. Sure, they’ve heard of the golden era artists and the forefathers of Hip Hop, for the most part ala VH1. Many of them have never heard the actual songs and albums other than a few standards that for the most part are played on mixes or are sampled. Regardless of what anyone says, my top two most important Hip Hop groups of all time are Run DMC and Public Enemy. This isn’t to take anything away from classic groups such as Cold Crush and The Furious Five, those are without a doubt staples and the foundation of Hip Hop, but my top two choices, I feel changed the landscape of this genre from what was once called a passing fad known as “rap music,” and today is a billion dollar industry called “Hip Hop.” Those terms themselves are very ironic, but I guess that’s another discussion better left for another day.

Back to Run DMC and PE: Run DMC truly brought the genre to an international audience like no other group before them. In fact, they were the first, acknowledged rap superstars. Public Enemy were also international music stars, but more importantly, they gave Hip Hop music a purpose. Run DMC were no doubt positive influences, but PE provided a platform. Their powerful lyrics and political messages lead a revolution that incited and excited people of all races. Front man Chuck D’s one of a kind vocals demanded that people to take notice, and people from all walks of life did so. Over two decades later Chuck D is still an innovator whose voice commandeers attention. Those with keen eyes and ears are still focused on the man in the crosshairs whose immortal words, “the rhythm the rebel…” echoes through the headphones and speakers of every true Hip Hop fan that ever hit a play button.

Today Chuck D has just embarked on his 57th world tour with his comrades the S1Ws, DJ Johnny Juice, and of course Flava Flav- who in recent years has turned into a reality TV celebrity- thanks to VH1 shows such as The Surreal Life, Strange Love, and Flavor of Love. 20 years in Hip Hop is far from a small feat, the number of artists in general who have sustained a two decade career is a short list, never mind those from within the fickle world of Hip Hop. The question is- how relevant is Public Enemy today? Well, if the content of their most recent studio albums, “Rebirth of a Nation” (2006 Guerilla Funk Records) and “New Whirl Odor” (2005 Slam Jamz), is an indicator, then PE is as relevant now as they were in 1986- in some ways even more so. How can this be? Well in the ‘80’s it was very difficult to find Hip Hop music that was far off the track of its roots and original essence- originality, positivity, and creativity. Music during that era, for the most part, was an uplifting force for kids of the inner city; giving them an alternative to the blight that was surrounding them daily. Today, the namesake that was created to help youths focus on something positive is now a force for negativity, misogyny, violence, drug abuse, materialism, and an instigator of stereotypes about minorities.

Today, the man known for brining societal injustice and the corruption of politics to the forefront of rap music is doing more than ever. Besides the fact that he’s still bringing the noise with Public Enemy, he also is continuing his mission to be an innovator in delivering music directly to the fans with his Slam Jamz label. He first started this mission during the later ‘90s when he offered the PE album “Bring the Noise 2000” to fans on MP3 against the wishes of PolyGram, the band’s label at the time.

newgirlorder.jpgSlam Jamz has been operating for a decade and is still going strong. The label’s CD releases all have the added value of containing bonus DVDs featuring band videos, documentaries and other content. Slam Jamz also features digital only releases and also administers publishing for some of the signed artists. Chuck determines the acts that Slam Jamz will sign based on their regional viability more than their national appeal. This is because he understands that an independent label’s biggest strength is embracing their artists’ backyard. Artists are encouraged to make appearances in schools, local venues, and fundraisers, et cetera. This will allow them to build relationships and become strong members of their neighborhoods, hence growing their fan base on a level that makes sense to a small independent label. This regional brand building also brings the community back into Hip Hop, which goes full circle to what made the genre such an important force in the first place. The same can be said for radio. Chuck, who has a show on Air America on XM Satellite radio, and is also the founder of the online media site Rapstation.com, feels that the loss of community in the radio market is what has lead to the lack of public interest in terrestrial radio as an innovative medium.

When asked if traditional radio was dead his response was, “it’s not dead, but it’skendo.jpg whimpering. As far as music is concerned…the minute that all radio stations think that they can be national and broadcast from a national standpoint, and program from a national standpoint, looking for national money… it will continue to die. Radio was on its way out when TV came in. The only thing that saved radio is the fact that they realized that it can actually build a locale and adhere to local sponsors…What’s going to make a person driving in Kansas City and Omaha listen to radio in the first place? It’s got to communicate what’s around their way and navigate their whole surroundings. You also had local acts that would get on the radio from independent companies that were promoting in that area, which were able to build and synergize local businesses…That disappeared with the buying-out of radio stations…the Clear Channeling… You always had support for local artists, if radio doesn’t do that locally…it’s out of here.”

Today the front man for one of Hip Hop’s most potent groups, and in many ways the voice of a generation, is as vital as ever to the preservation of a culture that even those who seem to evangelize it don’t really understand. And what’s so hard to understand anyway? Hip Hop was born out of frustration, desperation, and inner city blight. Its purpose was to rebel against society’s ills while delivering inner city youths from society’s evils. These powerful, enlightening, and positive messages can still be heard in PE’s past and current music. So when you’re watching BET, or listening to that homogenized local urban radio station, remember, don’t believe the hype, raise the roof, fight the power, and stand for something! by IZ-REAL

visit SlamJamz.com

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CHIMAIRA-RESURRECTION FERRET MUSIC

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Cleveland’s finest were born in 1998 and since then, have set the metal world on fire. Since their first EP “This Present Darkness,” they’ve released 4 incredible full lengths, lost some band members, were dropped from their former label and dealt with possibly ending it all. By the grace of the metal gods, this never happened and thus allowed Chimaira to construct yet another classic, and breathe life into an otherwise lifeless metal scene. They also signed to a new label (Ferret Music) and allowed a former member back into the fray.

 

After their 2005 self titled album “Chimaira,” I waited in great anticipation for what was next to come from this ground breaking band. Although their last album had a bit more melodic elements to it, it was still extremely aggressive and considered by many including myself, a classic! But, with “Resurrection,” that likeness has been slightly pushed aside as the band has gone for a more brutal attack!

 

The guitar/bass tandem of Rob Arnold, Matt Devries and Jim LaMarca is fabulous, showcasing some great talent and technical ability. Chris Spicuzza’s work behind the boards is supreme as he incorporates sick samples that only add to this masterpiece. His keyboard skills and added vocals fit perfectly as they don’t overshadow the contributions of the other band members. Andy Herrick returns as the drummer reuniting with the crew and doles out some serious skills.

 

The opening track is one of the CD’s strongest tracks. It not only speaks of the tribulations they went through inside their camp, it also speaks of their split with former label Roadrunner. The chorus on “Resurrection” is one of those that will be stuck in your head all day after hearing it.

“Determination, Perseverance, Resolution…Resurrection!!!”

But it’s the lyrics and the delivery of vocalist Mark Hunter that’ll get you open with lines like:

“A wise man once said

 That which does not kill us makes us stronger

 But we were dead

 So are we now invincible”

The brutality carries over to the next track “Pleasure in Pain” and then onto the fast paced stunner in “Worthless.”. The track “Six” is a 9 minute epic track that shows the bands versatility and introduces certain musical intricacies not heard in past albums. “Killing The Beast” is a moody and unbelievably heavy number that contains an impressively versatile vocal performance from Mark Hunter, who still stands as arguably one of the most fearsome-sounding singers in metal today. Other notable tracks are “End It All”, “Black Heart” and “Empire”.

 

 This is not an album that needs to grow on you. At first listen, you’re hooked! Thru one listen you will notice that they’ve expanded their sound. “Resurrection” is, just as the title suggests, a new beginning for the group and a much superior offering to its predecessor. The uncompromisingly brutal approach doesn’t let up for the duration of the album. Please support Chimaira by visiting

http://www.chimaira.com/ and http://www.ferretstyle.com  Thanks, CyPhEr777

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DOGG POUND GANGSTAS… STILL BANGIN’

By Khalid J. Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel   

Tha Pound is droppin’ some new “Chit”…

I’ll be perfectly honest.  As a native New Yorker from the same Brooklyn hood as Biggie, I took exception when California’s Dogg Pound (made up of rappers Daz Dillinger and Kurupt) with their homie Snoop Dogg in tow, Godzilla-stomped on NYC’s skyline in the video for “NY NY”, their 1997 dis-anthem.  At the time The Rotten Apple and Cali were embroiled in a media-fueled “East/West War”; an instigated conflict that snowballed from the beef between two rival record labels:  Bad Boy and Death Row.  We’re all familiar with the folklore by now, and indeed it was a crazy time.  However, I liked Daz and Kurupt’s music since I first heard them on Dr. Dre’s timeless masterpiece, “The Chronic”, in 1992.  I also respected the fact that they actually had the stones to film the video in New York City itself.  The buck stopped in Brooklyn, of course, when unknown gunmen licked off a few shots at the Dogg Pound trailer during filming of the now infamous video.  Luckily no one was hurt that day, but for better or for worse, Daz Dillinger and Kurupt have never been the type to flee from drama. Perhaps that’s one reason why Tha Dogg Pound Gangstas (also known as D.P.G.) are revered by fans of hardcore street music to this day, moving plenty of units both independently and in conjunction with major labels.

The D.P.G. resume is rock solid.  Tha Pound has appeared on classic albums including Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle” and Tupac’s “All Eyez on Me”.  Daz and Kurupt’s debut LP, 1995’s “Dogg Food”, is certified double platinum.  They went on to release several well-received albums both as a group and as solo artists; there was a well-publicized period of time when Daz and Kurupt were at odds after disbanding.  They’ve dispersed their static, and have released two albums since reuniting: 2005’s “Dillinger & Young Gotti II: The Saga Continues” and 2006’s “Cali Iz Active”, the latter being distributed by Koch Records. Kurupt is widely-regarded as one of rap’s most gifted lyricists, and Daz, who’s become an independent hip-hop mogul, is a renowned producer; Dillinger has hooked up beats for ‘Pac and some of the hip-hop game’s other top players.  After dealing with a fair share of external and internal conflicts,   Tha Dogg Pound is still heavy on the grind, and they haven’t lost a step.  Their latest Koch-distributed album, “Dogg Chit”, is scheduled for release on March 27th 2007.  “Dogg Chit”, which is a very high-quality LP, has a much harder edge than that of its predecessor, the too-mainstream “Cali Iz Active”.  The Game, Too Short, Bad Azz, Jayo Felony, Brotha Lynch Hung and of course, Snoop Dogg all contribute bars to “Dogg Chit”; a strong album that’s soaked in the West Coast G-Funk sound that D.P.G. helped make famous.  During a recent interview, a smoked-out and very down-to-earth Daz Dillinger answered my questions regarding Da Pound’s latest project; he also weighed in on the recent war of words between 50 Cent and Cam’Ron.   

Angel: You’ve got a long catalog of hits.  What is this new joint going to add to your legacy? 

Daz: Our latest album is called “Dogg Chit”.  I’m back to doing what I’m doing.  I’m producing.  Putting the whole album (together), I produced it.  I didn’t produce “Cali Iz Active”.  But I produced this “Dogg Chit” album and it’s a different vibe.  It’s more hardcore street; what people expected.   

Angel: So what made you decide to keep the production self-contained this time around? 

Daz: ‘Cause usually, m***********s be actin’ shaky with the paper, you know what I mean? So, I make more money doing my own beats and putting my own records out, than a person who want to buy a beat from me.  So it’s like, why give them a beat when I can make the money and keep the beat.  So really I just didn’t have a lot of people to give my beats to, ‘cause I’m a loner.  I hang by myself.  So you know… the more m***********s you hang with, the more you gonna get in trouble; and somebody’s gonna do some stealin’ ‘round here. (laughs)  

Angel: Have you ever made a beat that you were like, “Damn, I should’ve spit something on that myself?” 

Daz: Yeah, I do a lot of beats like that.   Like the beat I did for T.I.; I got a beat similar to that, the same drum track and everything for my s**t called “My Life Part 2”; with me spittin’ on it.  Hold on a second…  (answers cellphone.)  That was Kurupt, he’s on his way up here too.  But you know, we’re just back on the grind doing what we do. 

Angel: Ya’all have been in every type of situation as far as labels.  What are the advantages of being with Koch Records? 

Daz: Getting paid seven, eight dollars a record.  They kick up a little bit and they got the straight distribution part.  I got like four distribution deals right now and this just adds on to the fire; another log for the fire. 

Angel: So what do you hope to accomplish with “Dogg Chit”? 

Daz: To re-establish what I’ve invented.  Like… when I did the album on So-So Def, I didn’t really get to do what I wanted to do.  I ain’t really get greazy and grimy and all that other type of s**t.  On this one, I’m doing what I’m doing.  F**k listening to what everybody talkin’ about. 

Angel: Do you feel that the popularity of the internet has helped ya’all or hurt ya’all?  

Daz: Yeah (it’s helping), ‘cause you can go online right now and buy my s**t direct from me.  On MySpace, when you go to the Dogg Pound you can buy the music direct.  Albums that aren’t even out (in stores). (Music) that I put out just on the internet… that you can download when you put that $9 in there, instead of buying from “them”… you know what I mean?  It all helps out.  But, it’s all about how you package your stuff, what kind of artwork you gonna put on there.  That determines… if you’ve got a classic album cover and some artwork in there and it’s affordable, they’re gonna buy it.   

Angel: So how do you think west coast rap music, in particular, has changed since you dropped your first s**t up until now.  Or do you even feel it’s changed at all? 

Daz: It most definitely changed (Laughs).  Like, the state of music today is where the west coast was back when The Egyptian Lover and them… you know, Rodney O and Joe Cooley (were making records).  If you listened to that you would think that was a south beat now.  So it’s like, we’re back to the original sounds right now; 808 kicks, drums and claps and snares and stuff.  It’s all about bass, how much bass you can (add).  That’s all I’m into right now.  My whole next album gonna be with those 808 kick drums, just them sounds.  Just like how the south got their sound, I’m into that right now.  And that’s where it all started from it’s just about bass and how I put my music.  And you know, it don’t really matter where you’re from.  You got a lot of people (that) put them sounds in there.  It’s all about… you got to get with the culture.  If you don’t you’ll be stuck. With a SP-1200 or something.   

Angel: How’s the west coast peace treaty holding up? Everything all good with that? 

Daz: Oh yeah, everything’s  good, man.  We still  doing it.  All of California we still mashin’; we working together, you know what I mean?  ‘Cause usually we never work together.  So we bridging the gap putting people on and that’s what it’s about.  Now everybody else beefin’.  So we gonna let them beef while we get this money.  There’s a gap right there.  When we were beefin’, they came in, got the gap.  You know what I mean?  

Angel: So ya’all ain’t really with that on-record beef.  What’s the difference between real beef and on-record stuff for those who may not know?  Because I think a lot of people confuse it sometimes. 

Daz: They put in on record but you got to see that m**********r too.  Know what I mean? And you gonna see the world’s small.  So we ain’t really into dissin’.  We just catch a m**********r, know what I mean?  ‘Cause I could be doing a whole lot more way better than that. Unless it’s like a big beef and you getting money off that s**t, you know what I’m sayin’?  Like I’m looking at the 50 and Cam beef now.  Who you think gonna win that one? 

Angel: Aw man, that’s tough.  50 got much more power and influence within the industry right now, I will say that… 

Daz: But Cam and them got them streets, though. 

Angel: That’s right.  I was just gonna say that. 

Daz: It’s two different things, the money and the streets.  You can get a m**********r killed with the money, but a broke m**********r with a kid will kill you’re a** even faster (Laughs).  ‘Cause right now they got the little video out with 50.  And they said Cam shot his video last night.  Yeah, (Cam’s dis song for 50) “Curtis”.  I’m high as a m**********r, man.

 

Daz Dillinger

Angel: So let me ask you a theoretical question.  You and Kurupt are street n****s for real, ain’t nothing fake about ya’all.  How do you feel about artists who make great street records and gangbanging records to listen and dance to, but they don’t live that life?  

Daz: I’m fixin’ to go hang with ‘em and see what they talking about (Laughs).  We gonna see what they talkin’ about, n***a.  We gonna make it happen.  First, let’s hit the dope spot… where the weed at? Know what I’m sayin’? That’s how I do it.  When I go state-to-state campaigning like the president, and I’m on an independent mission and I’m looking for that… that’s what I do.  I hit state-to-state and I find “the weed man”.  Once I find where it’s good weed at, that’s the whole city right there.  The weed man controls the whole city, na’mean? Once I get that, then I got the streets.  And all they gonna do is say, “Dat n***a Daz was over here, man.”  And I’m coming back through to get another one. 

Angel: No doubt.  So you diggin’ the trees in NY? 

Daz: Oh yeah… my homie (*******), he got it.  I had hooked up with some Russians too… they had the s**t too.  They had it in Queens; they had “High Times” magazines everywhere.  Some black (weed).   

Angel: So I take it you’ve been to Amsterdam. 

Daz: Yeah, I been over there.  Yup.  You hit the wall and a thing lights up and it’s a whole menu full of weed.  I went to The Bulldog Shop.  That’s the name of the coffee shop out there.  Man, if I was to give up my citizenship, I’d move there.  For real.  Yeah, I’m ready to smoke now

Angel: Would you say that’s a necessary ingredient in a Daz production? Blazin’ up? 

Daz: Yeah, blazin’ up accordingly.  Yeah, I smoke a lot of weed.  I think I should make me an album called “Weed” so it could pay for all the weed I smoke. 

Angel: When you make a beat do you have a particular method that you follow? Is there a method to your madness?  

Daz: I like to sample a lot of things and get an idea off of what they had… but not use what they got, you know what I mean? And play around (with) it.  You might use one-and-a-half bars, it’s all about how you makin’ it.  Then you add all that other spicy stuff.  And by the time I’m finished with it, they don’t even know it’s they’re s**t (Laughs).  It’s all about being creative with the music.  ‘Cause I can stay in my house for two days and come out with a whole album in two days.  Seriously about it.  Lyrics, beats, ready to mix in four days.  And then I’mma press it up the next day and I’m getting paid and I’mma be back at it again… another album.  This Dogg Pound album; I spent $7,000 on this album, as far as putting it together, mixing it and all that other type of stuff.  It don’t take all that money to mix it.  You got to be serious about it.  Everybody that’s featured on there, they did it for the love.  Like Too Short, Game, Bad Azz, Snoop Dogg, Brotha Lynch Hung, Jayo Felony, B.G. Knockout, Dresta.  And Jayo Felony, B.G. Knockout and Dresta (were people) I was feuding with for years.   

Angel: Did ya’all put that stuff to the side when Snoop called the peace conference together? 

Daz: Yeah, I put it all to the side.  He made a shot-call.  Ain’t nobody making no money beefin’.  Unless you Cam’Ron and 50 Cent (Laughs).  Yeah, I’m in here lookin’ at the one who started the beef, Alan (Grunblatt).  He the one who called up there first… you hear his voice (Laughs). 

Angel: So what’s good with Nate Dogg? I know he’s a frequent collaborator but I didn’t see his name in the credits on this new joint. 

Daz: On this album? Naw, Nate costs too much. 

Angel: Costs too much? That’s fam, right? 

Daz: Yeah, that’s fam.  I couldn’t find him for this album.  I was just on a mission.  Nate do his thing, everybody in the Dogg Pound do they thing, y’know what I’m sayin’? Sometimes he don’t be around where I be at.  But we all good and s**t, you know? 

Angel: What is it about you and Kurupt that make ya’all vibe so well? Ya’all got great chemistry on-record, man. 

Daz: S**t, we was making money all these years together.  Why stop? You know, we both the brains, we just got to put this music together.  And I stay on the grind.  Like right now I’m doing a movie called “Make it Rain”.  It’s an Atlanta movie I put together.  We shooting right now, it’s a stripper movie.  Bad (chicks), p***y, a**, booty, weed, everything in this m**********r.  Everybody that be in the strip club, all the real n****s that be out there in Atlanta, (they’re) in the movie.  We’re shooting it right now at (Club) Stroker’s.  So, it’s some bad (chicks) in this movie.  They showin’ nothing but pink.   

Angel: It’s a documentary? 

Daz: No, it’s dialogue.  This is an actual film… people got parts, all that type of s**t.  No documentary. Ain’t nobody else gonna put me in no movie so I got to do my own s**t.  But I’mma do it good ‘cause we know what we’re doing.  I bought the cameras and everything.  M***********s be trying to charge you all this money to do s**t.  So let me buy my camera so I can shoot my own s**t any time I want to. 

Angel: Any parting thoughts? 

Daz: I got 17 tracks on (“Dogg Chit”).  I put my all into it.  This is the second Dogg Pound album that we have.  After “Dogg Food” was supposed to be “Dogg Chit”.  Cause you know (due to) the beef and all that, Snoop put the “Cali Iz Active” (album) together.  Peace to Snoop (for) putting it together, but that album almost killed us (Laughs).  The “Cali Iz Active” song put the peace thing together, but as far as the sales and all that… it was too commercial.  Was it too commercial? It had Puffy on there (Laughs).  Know what I mean? This one got street n****s on this one.  This the one I put together.

For more info on Tha Dogg Pound and “Dogg Chit”, visit www.myspace.com/thadoggpound and www.thadoggpound.com

For more stories and work by Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel, visit www.myspace.com/blackpacino and www.supremearsenal.com

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Ayatollah Story and Interview

February 26, 2007

AYATOLLAH SNAPS NECKS WITH “SOUNDCHRONICLES: VOLUME ONE”

By Khalid J. Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel

Photos By C. Martucci

You can’t sue Ayatollah if you catch whiplash from his beats

For Shiite Muslims, an Ayatollah is a high-ranking leader who is regarded as an authority on Islamic law and interpretation. In the religion of Hip-Hop, however, there is only one Ayatollah; the man is a high-ranking production specialist who is an authority on crafting tight beats, and his musical talent knows no boundaries. Hailing from Queens, New York, the sought-after producer known as Ayatollah has forged stellar instrumentals for a lion’s share of notable rappers. Ghostface Killah, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Inspectah Deck and Boot Camp Clik’s Sean Price are just a few of the artists Ayatollah has graced with his neck-snapping beats. “The Life” by Styles P and Pharoahe Monch is one of Tollah’s most memorable tracks, topping the Billboard charts in 2002. After releasing “Now Playing” and “Listen”, his two acclaimed and successful instrumental-only albums, Ayatollah’s versatile beats once again take center stage on his latest LP, “Soundchronicles: Volume One”.

Released by Soundchron Records on February 20th, 2007, “Soundchronicles: Volume One” also features renowned rappers such as Smif-N-Wessun, Sean Price, Masta Ace, Planet Asia, Cormega, Imam Thug and Tash of The Alkoholiks. The aforementioned artists drop some of their best verses over Ayatollah’s off-the-heezy compositions, making for a unique and highly-entertaining listening experience. With its thumping bass line and nimble strings, the LP’s first single, “Like A Champion” (which features murderous bars from Steele of Smif-N-Wessun), is a solid gem. During a recent interview with Insomniac Magazine, Ayatollah explained what he hoped to accomplish with “Soundchronicles: Volume One” amongst a variety of other matters. As he spoke via phone from his undisclosed, private studio, Ayatollah was actually in the midst of producing yet another banging track. For the duration of our conversation, Tollah’s unpolished-yet-killer beat looped ominously in the background, providing a head-nodding soundtrack for the interview.

“I’m just trying to do (things) my own way,” Ayatollah said of his latest LP. “(Listeners) are going to hear a lot of crazy joints on this (album). They’re going to want to hear that on (Funkmaster) Flex’s (radio) show. I’m based in New York, so they’re going to want to hear that on Hot-97. They’re going to hear joints that they would want to hear on the radio in regular rotation. Even when they buy it, they’re going to want to hear it on the radio because it’s crazy like that. It’s just undeniable, raw uncut. Who knows, I may have to make my own round up to Hot-97 and bring some pieces of material up there for them to rock. The rap game needs it right now.” “I don’t believe hip-hop is dead, I just believe it’s in a funk right now,” Tollah continued. “Because everybody’s taking from hip-hop but nobody’s actually giving back to the culture of hip-hop. Everybody’s trying to get that bread, get that check and chase the chicks. Which is fine because that’s just one part of the whole spectrum of hip-hop; it is the money and the chicks and the cars and the jewels and all that. But that’s just one part of the big story. The listeners are getting a little fed up with what they’re hearing on the radio right now. I’m just here to put some sort of balance back into hip-hop. My goal in 2007 is to bring back the balance. It’s like a one-man mission as far as producers because everybody has their own agenda. But I’m sticking to my agenda of bringing back different styles of music and different styles of rhymes and working with artists you wouldn’t normally hear on a regular basis; artists that are still nice.”

Ayatollah’s music is undoubtedly universal, and he’s worked with a plethora of artists from all regions. The multi-faceted producer refuses to be formulaic, and “Soundchronicles: Volume One” is a testament to Ayatollah’s versatility. Although New York rap music has taken a pounding from many overzealous disparagers, Ayatollah let it be known that he hasn’t soured on his roots. “I love experimenting, making the music. But at the same time, I know I’m based in New York,” expounded Tollah. “I try to feed the whole world with the music but I feel I have a core listening audience and that’s New York City. I got to supply them first. After I supply them, the rest of the world will get it. But I feel like I got a target and the target is NYC. It’s like Frank Sinatra said, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I feel that I’ve put my footprints in New York, in the ground already. I’m ready to branch out to the rest of the states, the rest of the countries. I’ve got a couple of offers to go out to Japan… go out to London; all over the place, man.”

With MIDI music equipment getting cheaper and more accessible as technology rapidly advances, many “overnight” producers have tossed their gloves into the beat-making arena. According to a seasoned veteran like Ayatollah, however, it’s not the equipment that makes the producer. “Everybody has their choice of musical equipment that they want to use. It’s all (about) what’s coming out of the equipment that the producer has,” Tollah stated emphatically. “You could have a garbage pail and make beats on a garbage pail if it sounds hot. If the artist likes it, they’ll have you come in the studio with the garbage pail and record the garbage pail banging. But at the same time, you could have the producer come in with the laptop or just a whole truckload of equipment in the studio, and he or she may make something the artist doesn’t really want to take to. But you could have the producer that comes in, like I said, with a tin can and two sticks. Make an ill drum track and the artist is gonna be like, ‘I want that’. ‘Cause he don’t have all that crazy, outlandish, state-of-the-art, out-of-this world equipment… but what he’s putting down is insane; it sounds like he’s got a rocket ship in his crib. That’s where I’m at. I’m not trying to keep up with the Joneses with equipment; I’m trying to just do it my own way.”

Ayatollah’s way is most definitely working for him. As “Soundchronicles: Volume One” marinates in the streets, clubs and rides of the world, Tollah has another instrumental album (tentatively titled “Louder”) looming on the horizon for spring ‘07. With artists lining up at his studio door like fiends at a crack den, Ayatollah will continue to serve up his potent brand of raw, rhythmic dope. Indeed, business is good.

For more information on Ayatollah and “Soundchronicles: Volume One”, visit www.myspace.com/soundchron and www.soundchron.com

For more stories and work by Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty angel, visit www.myspace.com/blackpacino and www.supremearsenal.com

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