Posts tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Ill Tarzan swings again: Fresh Daily interview

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.

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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?

Drake’s “Thank Me Later” and Flying Lotus’s “Cosmogramma”. 2 Hungry Bros & 8thW1 “No Room For Dessert” & Homeboy Sandman “The Good Sun”.

I read that you’re a connoisseur of street fashion and a bit of a sneaker addict. How many pairs of sneaks have you got and what are some of your favourite fashion items?

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?

Currently I’m promoting my latest project, “Mothership/LAND”. I’ve got 2 videos out and more coming. (peep here: “In The Stuy” and “Thanx“) 

Any last words or shouts?

Shouts to BenAmin, Pacool and Jinesis.

thanks; (download the A OK Winter Fresh Mixtape)

August 12, 2010 at 15:04 Leave a comment

Burning strong: reminiscing with Freestyle of The Arsonists

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.

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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.

That old question about influences: what kind of records, artists and styles of music have left an impression on you…when did music first hit you?

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.

I heard that the first tour you ever did was with Wu Tang. That must have been crazy – what was that like for you as a young artist?

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 settnfires@aol.com.

Feel free to comment on my pages. I respond to everybody!

thanks;

May 27, 2010 at 20:17 Leave a comment

Trip to Coney Island: Access Immortal talks Brooklyn

Hailing from Brooklyn, Access Immortal gew up with a steady diet of New York hip hop. His own sound stays true to his city and is refreshingly honest – his group is Project Gotham, together with DJ Ruckspin.

Here’s a flash report from Gotham City…
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1. You’ve worked with a lot of producers – what do you look for in a beat?

I like beats that speak to me and make me feel like I’m makign a song that can stand on it’s on, even outside of an album. I don’t want to make a song someone is going to forget about in a week or something generic that sounds like a throw away track the moment you start writing it.

2. The video for ‘Everything I Know’ was shot at Coney Island – why did you choose the location? Have you got a special connection to the place?

I just wanted to do the video in a place that made people think Brooklyn, and New York in general – Coney Island has that history that goes back like 100 years. I used to go there as a kid a lot of times and things have changed but people still like to hang out there, at least on the boardwalk in the summer so it still reminds people of old New York
3. What music did you grow up listening to? any artists / albums that come to mind?

I grew up listening to artists like Big Daddy Kane and Krs One as far as hip hop when I first took an interest in Hip Hop and Michael Jackson was big in music in general, and I rocked with just about whatever sounded hot back then. I used to dig reggae music too, people like Shabba Ranks who was that dude back then. When the 90s came around I got into West Coast artist like Dre, Snoop, Mc Eiht and East Coast people like Boot Camp, Nas & Wu-Tang

4. What about your releases so far: what can you tell us about ‘Birth of a Dream’, ‘Shades of Reality’ and ‘Last Summer in Brooklyn’?

My first album Shades of Reality had a real dark, underground feel to it and it was very personal and dealt with a lot of stuff from my past as far as topics. Last Summer In Brooklyn was like a follow up to New York Yankee with that street feel to it and collab-heavy cause I didn’t want people to feel like they were getting a solo Access album. Birth of a Dream is the start of me and DJ Ruckspin as Project Gotham and a whole new sound for me and hip hop in general that doesn’t fall in the usual area that hip hop gets thrown into.

I wanted to make a group producer/MC album like what I grew up on with Gang Starr and show that dynamic and chemistry you can have by making a whole album with a sound that’s consistent through the whole project.

5. Tell us something about yourself that a lot of people might not know…

I prob don’t even like the type of music people think I do lol. I might be one type of artist but I don’t listen to the things a lot of fans probably do and I like what I like, regardless of who it is or what category it falls into. I don’t judge anyone based on what they did in the past, anyone can make one good song at least, no one is 100% bad all the time.

6. Any last words of wisdom / shouts?

Like what you like and don’t be afraid to express your opinion even if it doesn’t fall in line with what everyone else is saying.

Too many people only like something or hate something or someone because everybody else does and that’s lame. Most people live their life following the leader and would be a completely different person if they actually stayed true to what they like and not what’s popular.

Shout out to Ducky Dizzle and The Strange Birds Crew. Check out her podcast she does every week, hot music you should be listening to and be a fan of cause it’s dope. Peace to Karniege, Verse Essential, Emaze, Fess, Medinah Starr, Poison Pen, Introspect and all the fans out there that have been supporting since day one and pick up the new album Birth of a Dream.

thanks;

May 7, 2010 at 08:21 Leave a comment


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