Posts filed under ‘Interviews’
This man needs no introduction, not really. Fresh Daily hails from Brooklyn and has been releasing fresh cuts for a couple of years. Founding member of the A OK Collective, he’s one MC who stands out from a crowd of your average mic slingers.
Mainly because he comes with a whole lot of bare-faced cheek and heaps of lyrical imagery. Fresh has worked with top-drawer producers such as Illmind, DJ Spinna and Exile to name just a few. Back in the day he went by the name of Ill Tarzan and was swinging his way through New York’s open mic spots. A lot has happened since: Fresh Daily, all day, every day.
In his own words: “I’m an emcee. I’m a graphic illustrator. I am Brooklyn. I am 1996 seen thru ’89 Cazals rocking a dookie gold rope chain. I am the Blackstar video for “Definition” riding in a van with Jay-Z and Slick Rick. Get creative.”
Creative he definitely is: a colourful persona with the tilted hat and dope sneaks to match…no further ado: it’s all about beats, rhymes and breasts in the BB interview.
What’s your philosophy on hip-hop? Is it all about wordplay, politics or just plain fun?
My philosophy on hip-hop always will be dope beats and dope rhymes. You know what that entails. KRS-One said “a dope emcee is a dope emcee”. That old adage rings true still. There’s obviously more to it than that. But the general gist is that. And it definitely has to be fun.
You’ve lived in Brooklyn for a long time. Can it be a blessing as well as a curse sometimes to come from a place that has brought us so many artists that have made an impact?
There’s been obviously a blessing in the sense our environments shape us in our growth oftentimes. The only down side to it possibly is the amount of dope emcees that come from Brooklyn. We definitely have an oversaturation in regards to musicians with a similar mindframe.
Can you tell us how you first got exposure as an MC? I believe you came up through a few open mic nights, what was that like for you at the time?
The NYC open mic scene when I came into it was a definitive launchpad for the careers of alot of emcees. The arena I came up in had emcees like Immortal Technique and Jin and then later down the line, rappers like Mickey Factz and Theophilus London.
How much of a rivalry is there still between MCs in New York’s five boroughs? Do you strongly identify with being a Brooklyn MC, or a NY MC? Or do you not give a damn about being either?
I’m definitely a Brooklyn MC but not out of a sense of rivalry but out of pride. I rock with all NYC emcees. Each borough of New York has SUCH a distinct flair and style and culture that rivalry is inevitable.
What are you playing on your music player right now?
Sorry to disappoint. The kids kinda ruined sneaker and streetwear culture for me. I’ve given away alot of sneakers and sold alot of deadstocks and rare pairs. I’m alot older than I look and my tastes really refect my maturity. I enjoy tonal Nike air max’s and trainers, Vans classic and Chukkas and Clark’s desert boots and Wallabes.
These days I enjoy Ralph Lauren, Sebago, Red Wing, Visvim and Sperry footwear as much as I enjoy my Nikes.
(editor’s note – to any of the brands mentioned: if you read this, pay me!)
Who do you think are some of the best-dressed MCs in hip hop history?
Definitely Slick Rick, Grand Puba, Jay-z, Kanye West, T.I and of recent, Rick Ross.
You had a car accident a while back that you talk about on your track ‘Break a Leg’ – how did that happen? Did it change your
perspective in any way?
In Feb 2008 a Suburban SUV sped thru a red light and struck me as I was riding my bicycle to the train. My tibia and fibula was snapped almost in two. It took 2 months in the hospital and 2 months to walk again. God is good though, I’m walking and running and recording. It def taught me patience.
What’s the theme or concept behind the “Gorgeous Killa” album?
Initially it had a theme musically. It had a concept. Along the way that got lost. Now it just stands as a conversational piece and a title from an observational perspective about the dichotomy of creating art while working a real job.
Your recent release “Tomorrow Is Today” has a distinct electronic feel to it – who made the beats? Do you like experimenting and take new directions in music?
Most of my music is just a direct reflection of what I’ve been listening to. Alot of the music on Tomorrow is Today was produced by either Benamin or The Milkman. There were Flying Lotus beats and remixes of other bands like The Gorillaz and Telepop Music. My new project “Mothership/LAND” sounds similar in sound but deals with more social/relationship issues.
Your work ethic: is there anything that can distract you from working or writing…big breasts or other lol?
Anyone who knows me knows I am fond of buxom women. Nothing is a distraction though. Unless I NEED a distraction.
What have you got in the works right now?
Any last words or shouts?
London MC Mystro has been around the block a few times. In fact, one of his first singles was the 1999 Deal Real release ‘Kiss that Arse Goodnight’ – a battle track that made a lot of UK rappers run home and cry themselves to sleep. That was just the beginning.
Since then, Digmund Freud aka Mys Diggi has worked with the good, the bad and the wicked of UK hip hop, always injecting a good dose of humor into the music, tellin You. At the same time he doesn’t shy away from talking about serious topics as on ‘Aquarius’, a track that fits this Natural Born Spitta tight like a boxing glove.
In the Beat Bungalow interview, he speaks about his Isaac Hayes cameo on Spine TV, the music biz and also clears up a few rumors about being Australian. G’day mate…
What’s up Mystro, can you introduce yourself?
Mystro aka MysDiggi or Digmund Freud from the Natural Born Spittaz, the one your favourite rappers doesn’t want you to know about haha!! Your lyrics always have a lot of funny images and phrases in them.
Are you a story teller first and foremost?
Actually in school I wasn’t the greatest story teller/writer but I learned more along the way I guess.
I’ve always been in to comedy so the humour was pretty natural for me although projecting it in rhyme form isn’t the easiest thing till you’ve cracked the code, so to speak.
Tell us about your ‘Around My Way’ track? What’s it like around your way?
‘Around My Way’ is a single from the ‘Digmund Freud EP’ which is dropping on September 13th, it’s basically how Digmund Freud would explain how hood his area is but in a less offensive way than the normal “My hood is so gutter” type track. The video idea was to take it to the streets and see how the general public would react to it.
Are there any other artists featured on there / natural born spitters? Do you still work with Harry Love?
Yeah the featured artists on ‘Digmund Freud EP’ are Stig Of The Dump, Skandal, Sharlene Hector, Baby Sol, Ramson Badbonez & Chazelle Bingham, with production from DJ Swerve, Jehst and DJ Flip. Jargon‘s not on there but we’ve got a whole bunch of stuff to come from NBS so hold tight for that, I haven’t worked with Harry Love for a while, but I’m sure the time will come no doubt, he has production on my album I’m hoping to drop next year.
‘Aquarius’ is about the frustrations of life..is that right?
More like the reality of life, which I guess when you look at it can cause frustration sometimes.
That picture of you with the Isaac Hayes kinda look cracked me up. What are some of your favourite Hayes tracks or albums?
Haha! Actually that pic was from an episode of my on-line show with Spine TV , it’s a monthly show.
“Fuck the Taxman”: You do your own promotion and have a pretty solid DIY attitude, from what I gather. How important is it do be your own manager? Was it hard to get into that whole business side of music?
Yeah it’s very hard actually, you get a lot less sleep than usual and it also cuts in to your creative time, I did it out of necessity to be honest, Low Life had up and left us all with out any accounts owed and I just felt it was time to grab the bull by the horns myself and try it out, started a label called Don’t Bizznizz and being that Beer + Rap didn’t put the EP out properly I sorted out a digital distributor and sold the ‘F.D.T. EP’ myself.
I’ve still got a lot to learn but all I really want to do is make music so I’m hoping I can find a decent business partner so I can just focus on the main thing that creates business.
I read that you’re half-Australian and have been out there a few times to do shows. What was that like compared to the British / European scene? What are some of your favourite Australian expressions, any funny ones you’ve picked while out there?
Actually I’m not half Australian, that was something some ‘know not’ decided to put on Wikipedia for some unknown reason.
I started going out there in 04 and just built a little following enough to keep going back there and New Zealand every year, sometimes twice a year, to the point that people thought I lived there (or was half Australian come to think of it). When I first went out there it felt like it was just about to reach that tipping point where the homegrown was getting more popular than the imported US/UK material, similar to how it was here from say 99-03 sort of times.
Now the Aussie scene has made a name for itself and seems to be pretty strong bar the obvious struggles with file sharing etc. There are too many phrases to choose from but I particularly like when you ask someone a question and the answer with “Yeah, nah, yeah…” , cracks me up.
errr…What do you find inspiring?
I’m easily inspired so there’s a lot out there for me. Honestly I keep no boundaries, I’d make a song about damn near anything.
This question is a bit introspective: You’ve said you try and do something new every year. How have you changed as an artists / person since the days of ‘Kiss that Ass good night’ or ‘Tellin You’. What aspects of Mystro have we seen so far, what’s still to come?
Obviously I’m a bit older, I’ve learned that no matter how successful, older someone is they can still make mistakes so never be fooled by words. I’ve learned that the music business is exactly that, a business so it’s very important to learn the business if you want to maintain. Also no matter how good or talented you are, it’s your work ethic that gets you places in this day and age. My attitude hasn’t changed in terms of the music I make but you’ve definitely seen a progression if you’ve followed my work since my first release as you mentioned.
So barring the singles+features I’ve done over the years, ‘Music Mystro’ was the punchline / fun stuff, ‘F.D.T.’ Was the angry / hardcore stuff and now I give you ‘Digmund Freud’ which is more dealing with social issues and self help type material similar to ‘Aquarius’. I think these are the 3 sides of me you’ll come to know, after this EP it’s all about albums, I’ve never dropped a proper album yet so I class it as my debut entitled ‘Mystrogen’ .
Any last words or shouts?
Yeah thanks to yourself for reaching out to a spitta! shouts to my brother Jargon, my assistant manager Jesse Peters, also Black Einstein producer from another planet. All the twitter heads can follow me here or contact Digmund Freud on facebook. And of course all the REAL heads out there who still have a passion for their craft no matter what it is. Hip Hop LIVES.
‘Digmund Freud EP’ drops on September 13th 2010 (Don’t Bizznizz/Self Destruct Music Sent Using Universal Mind Control).
What’s in a name, what’s in a phrase? Alternative, left-field hip hop…maybe, but when the first chords of ‘The Aviator is Dead’ hit, you might feel like you’re sitting in a caravan in the middle of a volcanic landscape and all you can hear is the wind and the sound of hot lava bubbling under your feet. The man who created the album, Cloudy October, has nothing to do with volcanoes and lives in an ancient building somewhere in Portland, Oregon. He’s somewhat secretive and has had more name changes than Prince or Puff Daddy.
Sometimes, he visits the library and has a dig around his local record shops for a few good sample chops. Cloudy October isn’t in the music game for money or fame cause only art can break your heart, but Kitsch can make you rich…I was intrigued when he first wrote to me saying: “note to self: All my female cousins have become women out of no where. I decided to document this phenomenon in my song Two Rude Dudes. I had this beat for years and it always made me smile and laugh so I decided to rhyme on it…The plot takes place at my grandmother’s house in Atlanta, most the song. I hope you can find time to listen.”
The result of our chat in the bungalow is an interview about names, living for the moment, racism, and also about long-lost Thundercats action figures and library cards…
What’s good – can you introduce yourself?
This might be the hardest one to answer hahah. umm, my name is Cloudy October, sun of Carolina. I am a half-american producer/songwriter living in Portland Oregon currently. I am a participant in the arts, currently music being the main one I put most of myself into. Right now not working a nine-to-five is real good and having an opportunity to be questioned and raise attention towards my work is mighty fantastic. How are you?
Cloudy October – is it a feeling, a certain sound or just a name?
I was given the name Cloudy October because it is a time of the year in most places that people really disregard. It is a time that people are regretting the departure of summer even. I am a person who is always attempting to be in the present moment so even a cloudy day in a gloomy month cannot really equate to a bad day for me. My current title is a reminder, for me and others, to ensure anyone who encounters me, has an extra reason to accept the present moment. Or maybe even look into books that are written about being in the present moment, after our encounter.
Cloudy October – the legend, the secrecy…You’re rumored to have been born in Atlanta, had facial surgery and have gone through several name changes. what’s the best thing about having a new name, does it open certain doors? can you reveal some of your previous names?
Having a new name is great. Depending on the reason I guess haha. I think for many people, weather a name change comes from Marriage, Divorce, or a personal emotional decision, like myself, can be beneficial. I have many female friends, one being my mother, who often keep last names of men who have done horrible things. All so they can have yet another connection to their offspring. I heard that Flying Lotus used to be called the Piano Overlord or some shit. Switching names probably allowed him to break away into some new sound.
For me, being a black man without a eurocentric name gives me all sorts of extra room in my day to inform people about the importance and meaning of a name when my current title raises interest. There is so much history in our names, interesting and painful shit. I have had many rhyme names as well; Kid Hype, Kwondo The Red Eyed One, and Pineapple Jack are a few.
“born in the land of the raped and the used, I guess that makes me nameless too.” The name theme crops up again, can you elaborate on that?
What frame of mind were you in when you wrote the lyrics to that track?
Man when I wrote those lyrics I was in my usual; ‘america is racist as shit’ moods. The more I discover about current systemic racism and the recent history of racism within U.S. policy, the less american I feel. Half american actually. Most African-American names, especially last names, are often directly connected with previous ownership from the transatlantic Slave trade. Vagabondage is about homelessness from a few perspectives, and about racism as well.
To know my first given name is connected with such horrible and ignored events, that mirror the present inequalities between whites and non-whites, makes me feel as if I have never had a home or a name.
Who are some of your favourite musicians?
All of them. just kidding. Stevie Wonder, Prince, LL COol J, KRS-ONE, Busy Bee, THE COld Crush Brothers, The Treacherous Three, Run DMC, Pete Rock, Aesop Rock, Mark the Forty Five King, Marley Marl, Edan, Rakim, Poor Righteous Teachers, Musiq Soulchild, Heavy D, The Funk Brothers, Michael Jackson, Juice Crew, The Alkaholiks, Freestyle Fellowship, Hiero, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin, Fiona Apple, Zero 7, All the rappers rhyming under Native Tongues in the mid 90s. Nas. Jay Z. Eminem. I could go on haahha. so many great mutha phuckas.
What do you do when you’re not in the studio, the Action Office II? what can you tell us about your studio, what’s it look like in there?
I have the very typical, 5000-dollar home studio that took me years to slowly acquire all the gear to complete. It’s like an adult vintage dorm of sorts I gather. Being that I live in a very old building, it has its charm. I am surrounded by organs, chord posters and sheets for curtains. There is really never a time when I am not in the studio. I had a huddle with three other Portland artists recently who, like myself, make no money with music but work more on music than we do for other people. That’s that Portland Oregon shit for real. If I ain’t at the Action Office II, I am usually doing a show, hanging with Mr. Jeigh, or hanging out at the Library or at 99 cent Records.
Who did the cover art for the ‘Aviator is Dead’? Is it a concept album?
My brother Nicholas Graham of Sheetfort via Pinball Publishing, built the whole design. He did an excellent job. We are really proud of it. It looks so so good. For a debut, this album makes rappers bleed for days. You should see the blood trails around the city here.
When I hear the term ‘concept album’ I always think of more elaborate efforts, like Edan’s ‘Beauty and the Beat’ or any Rupert Holmes record. I don’t think ‘The Aviator is Dead’ is a concept album. I do feel that it is a small album with a great concept. Aviation in hip hop is somewhat dead because anyone can record music and over saturate the already over saturated market. On the contrary, the Aviators, the Pioneers blueprints are so available using the same tool that also makes music kind of suck, the fucking computer. One can choose to study up and come correct, or regurgitate and ignore the present moment with some nostalgic bullshit.
I was never really into the A-Team. I would like to see some more of it to see what its all about. Now Thundercats…Super into them as a kid. I still remember losing my Mum-Ra and Lion-O action figures after a ‘show and tell’ in the first grade. Come to think of it, this is the first time I have come to the realization that they may have been stolen, thanks Beat Bungalow.
What have you got to tell about Portland, Oregon – what are your favourite places to hang out?
Portland has many of the same negatives any city has. but the positives are kind of one of a kind. FOr a person who is aspiring or already and artist, its a key place to be. Many spots to live at for cheap. A transit system that would be beneficial even in a larger city, so no need for spending money to use and maintain a vehicle. There are many cool spots to chill at and so many live shows its ridiculous. I like to hang out at 360 vinyl, 99 cent Records and the Library for sure.
Anything else you’d like to say?
I just want to say thanks again for this opportunity. Its a first for me. Normally I only do local radio interviews. Also I would like to remind all who like anything regarding myself to download my debut album ‘The Aviator is Dead’ for free.
Please keep in mind that joining the mailing list of an artist you think is dope is almost as good as buying his or her shit. Also, If you want to make sure I eat, I am on itunes and amazon and damn near every site you can think of and will be on Pandora in a few months.
Last but not least I would like to mention that I am about to make what I foresee as being an incredicle second album before the year is through. stay tuned, pretty please.
Mark Mace Smith is a performance poet who lives in the North of England. As you would expect from a poet, he’s lyrical and also pretty witty. In fact he’s so lyrical that he’s performed at many poetry slams across Britain, including at Glastonbury Festival. He also enjoys classical music (sometimes), makes short films from his bedroom window and does percussion. All of this is part of Thud Dub, his own style of ‘dub poetry’. Some Thud Dub paintings are on display in a laundrette in Whalley Range, Manchester. If you’re in the area and need to wash your smelly undies, drop in and have a look…here’s what he thinks about life / music – awfully deep with a touch of Zen.
What was one of the first sounds you can remember hearing? How did it make you feel?
My early years were full of reggae and classical music. My family had four classical music box sets from Readers Digest. Beethoven, Schubert, Bach and Chopin. I know we preferred the Chopin and Beethoven but I’m sure the others got played because we were a family who would not waste anything. My dad also had some seven-inch singles including some reggae that he had cut of his own. I know that these two genres have greatly influenced my taste in music.
However, the first sound I can clearly remember hearing was my first word. “Fitzroy”, he is my brother. I remember this because of the fuss everybody made when I said it. I guess I decided there and then that I’d like to be a performer of some sort. I felt important for, as the last child of six, I rarely felt anything other than ‘in the way‘.
How and where do you enjoy listening to music: at home, on the go, at a gig?
There is a time and place for everything. Even music that I love can annoy me in the wrong place or time. Particularly on adverts or covers. (Nina Simones ‘Aint got no’ or Run DMC’s ‘Walk This Way’ for example). If I listen to a new album, which an audiophile insists is awesome, I will take it in on a long journey. The five hour megabus from Preston to London is a great way to truly absorb new music, or on a long walk around my local park. I don’t listen to the radio for I can’t really suffer dj’s (Guy Garvey is OK) and I detest all adverts. I enjoy live music (and live TV) because you don’t quite know what you are going to get and it is good to see the artistes being forced to (re)create, somewhat adrenalin driven and fear filled.
I have particular morning music: classical, easy reggae. Afternoon music: funk, upbeat reggae and music with intelligent lyrics. In the evening, if I’m having a beer, I like it loud and bass heavy but If I’m writing, which can be at any time of the day, I like nice soft mellow tunes. I’m particularly keen on Ivan Campo at the moment. I often listen to new versions of my own tunes when in the bath. You get a lot from the acoustics, there is a certain purity, and if I ever need to skip a track when I’m having a bath, risking getting my CD player waterlogged, then I know that it just isn’t chilaxing enough.
You use words to make poetry, in what way is music also poetry? How do the two art forms relate / connect with each other for you personally?
Music is not poetry but poetry can be music. But it isn’t. Yagetme? The right combination of words, acapella, can make you dance. A composition of notes can make you think deeply, as poetry should, but the words, or images or emotions, that are created are not specifically designed by the composer to create those images, emotions or words, that you experience.
Poetry is direct. Music is like an enveloping mist. You are in it but you don’t perceive all of it at once. What you get from it is only what you perceive of it. There are many ways to interpret Wordsworth’s Daffodils but you can’t really go beyond the words and word sounds. There are a thousand and more ways to interpret Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro‘. (which I am currently listening to).
It depends on how you feel. Those daffodils will always be fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Figaro’s marriage may inspire you one day or leave you limp the next. Music can be in the background whereas poetry can not. For me, personally, I’d rather create an emotive piece of music than an emotive poem. The latter is restricted to my emotions. The former can be experienced in a multitude of different emotional ways by the audience. And music can also just be there without any demands on the consciousness.
What’s so great about rhythm and percussion?
The heart’s beat is a human beings first perceptible sound. In fact, now I come to think about it… I remember, as a foetus, holding my breath so as to try to synchronise my heartbeat to my mothers heartbeat which was pulsing at a half time to mine. Then I’d kick her belly and try to shock her into doubling up her heart rate so that we both pulsed to my rhythm. It was great fun for a while but then she made me leave.
Why do people talk of ‘the sound of one hand clapping’? Does that mean anything to you?
Zen Buddhist monks send their students away to contemplate the concept of “the sound of one hand clapping”. They send them away partly because it is important that their students learn these things for themselves but mostly because students are bloody annoying. If they return, without the answer, unenlightened, they are admonished in some way, sometimes with a big stick, and sent away to think about it again.
And again and again until they achieve enlightenment. However the enlightenment they may eventually receive is not from an understanding of what the sound of one hand clapping actually sounds like. Their enlightenment comes from the depth of their meditation in pursuit of the answer.
It is when the mind is clear of all pursuits, focused on one thing, centred on a concept that mortal man would believe is beyond earthly knowledge, (the sound of one hand clapping), then the true awakening of The All is experienced. The sound of one hand clapping is the same sound as creations heartbeat. Of existence itself! Possibly.
I recall sitting on a mound, on a hill, at Glastonbury festival in the early nineties, with Lucy (in the sky with diamonds) and Aretha (Green) listening to many drums being played and awaiting the sunrise. There was one huge drum and loads of smaller drums and chanting and whistles and instruments and bongs, pipes, chalices…
That huge drum held the beat, in fact it seemed to hold EVERYTHING together. Every other drummer could play whatever the heaven they wanted but that one huge drum held it all in shape, maintained the form of the rhythm and it did not stop regardless of many a false dawn. Drums are the heartbeat of music, of life.
For my heart is my drum and I will endeavour to do whatever the heaven on Earth I like as long as I do not cause it to stop beating. Perhaps, indeed, our hearts make the sound of one hand clapping. Discuss.
What did you think when Pete Rock said he was the dopest producer on the mic? Probably that it’s not that easy to do both things well in your very own, unique style. Fast forward nearly 20 years and imagine yourself in sunny Florida. It’s the home of rhyme and beat afficionado Synopse who hijacked underground radio as a member of the Paradox Unit, a collective of MCs, DJs / producers. The posse consists of TzariZM, Nemo aka IMAKEMADBEATS, J Freedome, Midaz The Beast, Rugged, Relz One, Intelx, Ponce, Phantom Shino, and Vis Major who formed Doxside Music. If you’re a fan of that gritty boom bap, it’s pure listening pleasure and the group also make pretty funny videos…
What’s up Synopse, can you introduce yourself? where are you from?
Yes, wha gwan. Shout out to Beat Bugalow for the interview. The name is Synopse, formally known as Synopsis, so you might find songs floating around of mine with that name also. I’m a Hiphop MC and Producer. I use the term MC loosely because I don’t really consider myself one, but for the sake of describing what I do on the mic I’ll use that term. I know a lot of people who MC for real, and will eat other MCs food, but me? I just like to make music. I live in Orlando Florida, but I was born and raised in Toronto Canada. I’ve lived in both cities for the same amount of years, so they are both home to me.
What’s one of your first memories of listening to music the first time in your life?
When I think back to my earliest memories of listening to music a few genres come to mind. My parents are from Guyana so Soca, Calypso and Reggae were on heavy rotation in my house, but I’m also an 80s baby, so I remember listening to Michael Jackson and in fact recording myself singer Michael Jackson songs on tape haha. I also got my first record collection from an aunt when I was 5. It was an early rock n roll collection of songs from the 50s and 60s. And of course my older brother was a b-boy, so that’s how I was introduced to Hiphop. The music was really diverse.
The video for ‘More Fiya’ is pretty funny – where was it shot and who were the people who got bashed by your crew? Did anyone get harmed in the making of the video?
Thanks, our goal when we came up with the concept was to not take ourselves too serious and I’m glad it came out that way. We shot that in downtown Orlando. It’s actually just one guy getting bashed in the entire video, his name is SoyIsReal, he’s one of the directors as well. Funny thing is, when we originally came up with the concept, our intent was not for it to be him because he was a director, but he was so perfect for it that it morphed into him playing all the parts as part of the satire. Soy actually got hurt 3 times while shooting haha. His hip when falling off the bike, the back of his head when getting pushed into the wall, and his back when getting pushed on the steps.
You make beats and are an MC as well – what do you think it takes to be skilled at both? do both skills enhance each other?
There has been discussions amongst me and my peoples about this very topic. I’m not sure if there is something specific that is required to be skilled at both, but I’ll admit, at least in my case, that making beats has taken away from my skills as an MC. If I was just writing all the time I could focus a lot more on that skill. But since I make the beat, come up with the concept for the song, and then write the lyrics, I focus more on what the song will sound like, and not necessarily how dope the verse will be. But you better believe, I’ll never drop a wack verse.
The micro album ahead of your upcoming longplayer is called ‘More Fiya’ – because of the title, is it a nod to Rastafari and Jamaican culture? What can you say about the new album?
Although I was born in Toronto Canada, I’m from a Caribbean background, so More Fiya is definitely a nod to that part of my roots, not necessarily Rastafarism or Jamaica, since I’m not a Rasta or Jamaican. I’m saying I’m bringing more fiya on any competition. X:144 and I came up with that concept together. As far as the album, I’m anxious to release it to see what the reaction will be. I think there is a void in Hiphop for mature music. I’m a grown man, with grown man life issues. My thought process is not the same as a 16 year old, so I’m hoping to help fill that void with my album.
Tell us about Doxside Music – who’s involved, what’s it all about?
Doxside Music has existed for a number of years, but previously in a non- official form. The label is based on a crew that was started by several artists including IMAKEMADBEATS, TzariZM, Midaz the Beast amongst others. We decided to take destiny in our own hands and form the corporation to handle the releasing of our music, but not limited to our music.
How do you work when making a beat – do you go down the traditional route of chopping samples from vinyl and build your tracks from there? What’s your view on sampling mp3s? Do you work with live instruments?
I have about 2,000 records, so yes sampling vinyl has been a big part of my beat making history, but in recent years I’ve opened up to sampling mp3s. Some may say that’s blasphemy, but let’s face it, this is the digital age, and a dope sample is a dope sample. I haven’t done a lot of live instrument sampling, if I have It’s been me on the trumpet. But I would like to do more of that, surround myself with players. There’s really no substitute for a real instrument, which is why I continue to sample so heavily.
What are some of your most-played records when you’re listening to music in your own time back at home?
I hate to admit it, but I actually don’t listen to a lot of new music. A lot of times Midaz, TzariZM or IMAKEMADBEATS have to put me on to what’s going on. Like Roc Marciano. I remember him from the flip mode days, but if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t know how dope his album is. I listen to a lot of old music, it’s cliché but they just don’t make music like they use to. So 80’s and 90’s Hiphop. 60’s and 70’s funk, 50’s and 60’s rock and almost any era of reggae you’ll hear blasting out my house windows.
Do you have anyone MC or producer in mind who you’d like to collaborate with?
If I could pick one MC I’d like to work with right now, it would be Elzhi. When I hear him spit it’s like his brain works on a different level. As far as producers, unfortunately he passed. I would have loved to be on a Dilla track.
What’s the musical talent like in your city? Who’s got fire?
I wish people knew how much talent existed in Orlando FL. Because Orlando is home to Disney World and is deep in the south, the really talented people here go unnoticed until they leave and start making noise elsewhere. A few examples are Solillaquists of Sound, MADD ILLZ and the whole Grind Time movement, X:144 and of course Doxside artists like IMAKEMADBEATS, TzariZM and Midaz. My favorite group from Orlando right now is Grey Matter who have an album coming out later this year on Domination Recordings.
Any last words you want to get off your chest?
Once again I’d like to give a shout to Beat Bugalow for the interview. I have another video we are about to shoot later this month. Keep an ear out for my album ‘The Magic Box’ that will be on Doxside Music Group \ Domination Recordings. And peace to all my brothers at Doxside. IMAKEMADBEATS, Ponce De Beyond, J Freedome, TzariZM, Midaz the Beast, R.U.G.G.E.D, Butta Verses. And peace to the other Dox crew members, Relz Uno, Intelx, Phantom Shino and Aahmean Supreme.
Six years ago, parcel service dropped off a package from Canada at my house: inside was Freestyle’s ‘Etched in Stone’ LP, his first record without fellow members of underground legends The Arsonists. I played it lots, and lots…and a little more. Having been in touch with Free on and off ever since, I’ve been following his releases over the past few years. One thing I can say for sure: this man operates internationally, networking like a conference…he’s non-stop when it comes to touring and getting his message out there. In the process, this Brooklyn native has done shows and worked with everyone from Wu Tang, James Brown, The Roots, Kraftwerk…shit, even with Ozzy Osborne.
It’s not just because I’m biased that I say this: he’s a versatile lyricist who’s jumped on battle joints, done meaningful tracks, or more upbeat party bangers. Hear it, believe it – Freestyle’s done it all. He’s the MCs MC, the man who’ll carry on doing a dope acapella show, even though the sound system got sparked…
But enough of the bigging up: this is the conversation we had inside the Beat Bungalow.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into making music?
Wdup wdup! The name’s Freestyle, and I’m part of a family called The Arsonists. I didn’t get into music…Music got into me! I’ve been singing & rapping since I was a child. It just came to me naturally and I’ve been doing it ever since. Living in Brooklyn made it impossible to not be influenced by hiphop music. Friends of mine were Deejays, MCs, breakers, graff writers, etc… So it was only natural that I did my thing as well.
Music first hit me when my parents used to play records in the house on our old school record player. I explored the records and began playing them myself. I must have been 2 years old when this started. Reggae, salsa, merengue, soul, r&b, disco, etc… My parents had it all! Michael Jackson was the first big influence on me as a kid, then after that Rakim came into the picture and that made me decide to start rhyming.
How did you get started with the Arsonists? What kind of experience was that for you all as hip hop heads in the 1990s?
I met D-Stroy at an event in the Bushwick / Ridgewood area of Brooklyn on Myrtle Avenue. He was hosting and I was rapping. DJ Evil Dee & Tony Touch were there as well if I remember correctly. I must have been around 16-18 years old or so. Then D-Stroy was dating a girl and I just so happened to be dating her cousin, and we met again that way. At that time he was trying to start a crew of mcs, breakers, and friends, so he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it.
So I joined Bushwick Bomb Squad, and from there we took the core members and formed a hiphop group called The Arsonists. The early 90s were some really good times. We were trying to preserve the fun because we could feel it slipping away. So we danced and rapped in the park, on the block, on the train, etc… We maintained that as long as we could and in the meantime we recorded demos. Then came “The Session”, and the rest is history…
You’re from Brooklyn. What was it like growing up in New York at time when Hip Hop started to get big and was still in its raw form?
BK ALL DAY, BABY! Hiphop was EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it or being a part of it. It was in the streets, in the clubs, on the radio, on TV, on the walls… EVERYWHERE! Those were the days… So much fun. Hiphop kept a lot of us out of trouble, kept us entertained, brought out talents we didn’t know we had, etc… etc… It did a lot for us and it continues to do so.
It was amazing. Shabazz the Disciple brought me on the GZA tour and we linked up with the rest of the Wu along the way. This was right after the Wu album, “36 Chambers”, came out and then GZA’s album, “Liquid Swords” was coming out as well. So things were HECTIC! The fans were amazing, the stages were overwhelming, and the lifestyle engulfed my soul. I never looked back from that time on. I swore to tour as hard as I could.
Tell us more about your next album: what’s it called, what are some of the songs about? When’s it out?
I actually don’t know the name of my new solo album yet. I had a name for it, but I’m changing that because the music is going in a different direction than what the title conveyed. The name of my greek group album is “I AM HIPHOP”. My partner in that, his name is Logos Apeilh. He’s one of the illest MCs in Greece at the moment. We just released a new video for the album intro, called “Countdown”. You can see it here. Keep an eye out for my solo album. I’ll be posting news & updates about it on my website. It should be released around the end of this year.
How big of an influence was Biggie Smalls on you as one of the most famous MCs from Brooklyn?
Biggie was an influence on hiphop, not just Brooklyn MCs. I’d say he influenced me very little. He showed me that someone like him could make it, so that gave me that little push. My style and rhymes don’t come from him at all… I’m influenced by Rakim, Public Enemy, Michael Jackson, Kenneth ‘Babyface” Edmonds, other music genres, movies, life, etc…
I know you’ve travelled a lot and taken your music to new places, Europe etc. What are some of your favourite places?
I’ve been everywhere except Africa, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, China, Russia, and most of South America and the Middle East. People think I’ve been everywhere, but as you can see I have a bunch on my list that I still need to touch. My favourite places was Brazil. My favourite places in Europe are Sweden & Switzerland. Brazil is AMAZING… If you haven’t been there, I recommend you visit it at least once in your life. The people, the beaches, the food, etc… It’s GREAT.
What does Hip Hop mean to you, are you into other aspects of the culture as well?
I started as a breaker, MC, then graff writer. I tried to DJ, but I wasn’t good at it, so I stuck to rapping. Hiphop means everything to me. I’d die for hiphop. It’s the voice of the youth. There’s no such thing as a world without hiphop now that it exists. It has too much to offer, therefore there’s no way it could disappear or die. It will continue to evolve and expand. There’s no other genre as diverse as hiphop.
What do you make of US Hip Hop at the moment, the tracks that make it big in terms of sales and the development that’s seen Hip Hop become a multi-million industry?
Hiphop in the states is kinda fucked up right now… I mean, it’s good that it’s doing well as far as sales and stuff like that goes. But the fact that really good stuff doesn’t get to see the light of day is sad. That’s the part I hate the most. A lot of people complain about what makes it commercially, but I personally think that can be blamed on the labels and the fans. The majority of the masses are ignorant, so they rather digest stuff that doesn’t take any effort to swallow.
The labels know this, so it’s basically supplying the demand. It only makes sense… We just need these labels to put money into real music, music that has real talent behind it, so the masses can get accustomed to eating healthy music. I’m glad hiphop is now a multi-million dollar industry though. Without that, it wouldn’t have survived.
It’s ironic that a few years ago Nas made an album called ‘Hip Hop is Dead’. Would you agree: is it a dying art form, or not? Is there too much media hype with some artists?
Na… It isn’t dying AT ALL! It’s strong and growing. What Nas meant is the 4 elements part of hiphop, the real side of hiphop, lost its steam in the states. Otherwise, you see real hiphop flourishing in places like Europe. Hiphop’s tentacles are long and wild. They’re everywhere and there’s no stopping it. There’s definitely too much media hype on some artists, but that’s due to the labels paying for this promotion. Once they’re promoted like this, the fans eat it up and it becomes its own monster.
What music are you feeling at the moment, any peeps that you think are good listening to?
D-Stroy, Jise, Q-Unique, Shabazz the Disciple, Snowgoons, Eternia, Looptroop, Ludacris, Diamond District, Ill Bill, Little Brother, Lupe Fiasco, Fabolous, Eminem, Slaughterhouse, Drake, etc… As you can see, I’m pretty much not too limited and I keep an open mind and ear. Some people may hate on some of the names I’ve said here and others might not have heard of some…
What about Battle Axe Records, the label you’ve been working with? It’s based in Canada and they’ve released some great music in the past. What’s it been like working with them?
The Axe released my first album, “Etched in Stone”. It was dope releasing my album with them. I respect what they’re about and they had some really good artists on their roster. I was honoured to release my album through them! It was a good experience.
It’s too bad that they stopped releasing other artists, besides Swollen Members. I hope they come back! I’ve linked with too many mcs/producers to list… If you really would like to know, you can see the entire list here
To name some names: Arsonists, Looptroop, Shabazz, RZA, Gravediggaz, Papoose, Ma Barker (Kool G. Rap’s wife), Omen (Flatlinerz), Curse, Torch, IAM, Logos Apeilh, etc…
What do you do to chill out and in your spare time, do you get much spare time?
Of course I get spare time! I’m a PC gamer, so that takes a lot of my spare time. I fix, build, and maintain computers. Been into computers since the mid 80s, and on the internet since the early 90s. Yes, I am a dinosaur! I love world travel. I love the great outdoors, so I do things like camping, hiking, etc… I love helicopter rides. That’s my new hobby when I travel to new places. I’m big on movies, so I’m always watching something when I find the time to, be it in the theatre, on my laptop, or on the nice HD flat screen in Big Lou’s crib. (Big Lou is my best friend. Wdup, Lou!)
What else are you planning for the near future, any new projects coming up?
Album in Greece, new solo album, and another group album which will be a surprise…Then another 2 albums next year as well. Busy, busy, busy!
Anything else you would like to say to people?
Make sure you stay tuned. I have a lot coming up…and tune into Arsonists Radio
If you’re trying to book me or contact me for a collaboration, hit me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to comment on my pages. I respond to everybody!