|So what I get from this is,
that up until now, someone who likes one Def Jux
release, can buy all Def Jux releases and the chances
are good that he likes 'em all. But that might change
in the future.
I don't really feel that way: I actually feel that
if anything we are going to take that trust that
we have now, that we built over the last couple
of years, and bring people to different kind of
music. I think that the stuff that we've released,
has been pretty varied in sound. But that's not
what I mean.
What I mean is that we are going to release records,
that we believe fall into the category of the type
of quality that we look for in a record. In terms
of sound and in terms of different types of characters,
and different personalities and shit like that,
it's going to expand. I think if anything, we want
people to go out and trust that the shit is dope
and give it a chance, because of what we've been
doing. And that's the goal. The goal is that people
give new artists a chance, because of a brand name
that we've managed to put a lot of weight behind.
And I think we will continue that.
Because when you bought one of our joints, the very
least you know, it's going to be sick. It's going
to be a dope record in some way. It might not end
up being your favorite Def Jux record, but everyone
has their favorites.
heard the advance copy of the Murs record, I assume
that this is going to be the first 'surprising'
Murs' album is a different vibe, it's a different
bunch of producers. I love that about his record
and I wanted that type of record. Although there's
also the same type of producers. Like I do a couple
of jams, Blockhead does a joint, RJ is doing a joint.
But he also has a lot of his own producers, a lot
of people he works with. And so it's just a different
Murs is much more straight forward, is much more
just a character. And he's just hilarious. The thing
that what I like about Murs is, that he's just brash.
But you can't really argue with what he's talking
about, because it is just him. And he doesn't give
a fuck, whether or not you agree with what he's
saying, because he has his own set of experiences
Also you know, Shock G did a joint; it's the return
of Humpty Hump and Shock G.
mentioned that you plan on pushing your album again
a little bit. So we should be doing some pushing.
Now, as you have heard, played and performed the
album a few more hundred times, how do you feel
about it today?
it man. I'm proud of it. Honestly, I feel good about
it. It's a photograph of a frame of mind that I
was in. And I think it was accurate. And I'm excited
to get working on my new album, which is going to
be different. But I'm pleased with "Fantastic
Damage", because I know I put my heart into
that shit. And that's all I can really ask of myself
or anybody that I'm working with: Just put your
best into this shit. And it's kinda impossible for
you to feel bad about a record, if you did that.
And if you still feel bad about a record although
you did that, then maybe you shouldn't be a musician.
But you know, you always pick apart shit and blah
blah blah, but at the end of the day, I think that
it's a good reflection of where my head was at.
And for me it was what I needed to do. It's gotten
a great response, it's done well in the stores.
So I'm not doing a full fledged push on it again,
but what I'm trying to do is just; we have so much
room. A label at our level, which is really pretty
small, has so much room to keep moving and keep
tapping into different people who still have no
fuckin' idea of what we are doing. So that's what
I mean when I say 'push again'. We still wanna keep
reaching people a little bit more with the music
that we've been doing.
you think that the instrumental version of your
album, put out as "Fandam Plus", can appeal
to different people than the vocal version?
definitely. I know it does. And that's why I've
been doing these releases, because I think that
the instrumentals themselves can bring people in
that maybe find the lyrics too confronting or too
harsh or too much to handle. It's one thing to make
a rap record, and it's another thing to make a record
of music. And there are a lot of people that can
get down with music. As opposed to the amount of
people that can get down to rap. I know there are
people that can't stand my voice and the way I do
my shit. And those might find it much easier to
listen to some production. I even heard people who
told me that they've now gone back and gotten the
original version. But the instrumental version just
clicked with them easier. And then they were interested
in hearing everything else.
My attention with doing this label is to expand
rap, you know what I mean? Just expand a little
bit on the type of stuff that we do, expand the
fanbase and get people interested. And get people
introduced into this world, that may not have been.
And also to satisfy the people who have been down
with it from day one.
That's why I do the instrumental versions, because
mostly, honestly, just as a reward for the people
who have been supporting us. Because just as a fan,
I like it. That's why I always bought 12"es,
because I want the instrumental, I want the accapella.
That's the great thing about rap, that we always
broke it up and kept giving you different parts
of it. And there are different things that you can
hear in different ways.
your work on the Cannibal Ox album, you got a lot
of compliments from 'unsuspected' places, like Elvis
Costello, Baz Luhrman who did the movie "Moulin
Rouge". Have you received the same for "Fantastic
Baz nominated "Fantastic Damage" for a
Shortlist award. Elvis Costello has mentioned "Fantastic
Damage" as one of his favorite records of the
year. So for some reason I now have a fan in Elvis
Costello. Which I find strange. Although it's official
that I can't get in touch with him.
fuckin' Elvis Costello (smiles). I tried. I just
got cocky and was like: 'let me try and call.' No.
So yeah, it's weird. But it's cool actually. I like
the idea that there are people who weren't just
peeping hip hop out, and know what I know. Which
is that just some of the most exiting shit in music
period, is happening in hip hop. And I'm not saying
my shit, but in general, Hip hop to me has always
been the most exciting music out. That's where I
feel that most of the boundaries in music have been
pushed in the last decade. That's where the most
life is right now, the least amount of rules, but
also the most amount of spirit.
one that allows the most progression.
and that just allows expression. And that's what
it is more about for me. I would never be so arrogant
as to say 'progression', because I think that just
has a negative connotation. Because whenever anyone
talks about anything, they are like 'oh, it's a
progression.' It's kinda belittling other things
going on. And it's a little arrogant. But I do think
that it's one of the most expressive forms of music.
And people recognize that. Whether or not they have
always recognized it is one thing, but as it gets
sort of in the hands of these other people, who
are respected sort of artists, and musicians in
their own field, and who you would never think would
give credit and credence to what we do; them giving
it props, I think is a great thing. Like being on
the receiving end of that thing. But ultimately
it doesn't matter to me, because it's just not the
most important thing to me. It's really just cats
like me, who is the most important to me. In terms
of cats who really grew up listening to hip hop
when a kid walks up to you in the streets, that
you've seen at shows for the last ten years, saying
he likes your record, means more to you than when
Elvis Costello says he likes your record?
so yeah. It does. Because I have to give that person
more attention. And I have to give that person more
attention when he says that he doesn't like my record
too. Those are the people that keep you in check.
Those are the people that are passionate about it.
Someone else can be interested, but it's not really
going to affect their lives, the way it will affect
cats like us.
when De La Soul said that they are not so much into
your music, that then must be somewhat troubling
really dissing. I don't know why he went out of
his way to say that he didn't understand my music,
especially considering the fact that I remember
what everybody was saying when they came out. And
I think to an extend it's clear that they had their
own personal backlash with their own music. And
maybe they are overcompensating a little. But I
don't know man.
Yeah, I was a little annoyed by that, I'm not gonna
front. But at the end of the day, what can I say?
It's like: 'alright, fine' (smiles). I've built
with Posdonous. I've had mad conversations with
him and met him many times. I've never met Trugoy.
So it's fine man. It's cool. You don't have to understand
my shit. I didn't understand your shit when it dropped.
In fact, I didn't get into De La, until "De
La Soul Is Dead". I was one of those ignorant
bastards, who was 'what is this hippie shit?' when
De La first came out. So you know, for what it's
worth, it's all good to me. Those guys had a huge
impact and effect on music in general. And I respect
them, and I was a big fan of most of their stuff.
But I can't walk around with such a big head and
think that respect is really going to click with
my music. I know what I do and I know that it's
difficult to get down with for a lot of people.
So it's not a big deal to me.
topic of movies always creeps up when someone talks
to you or talks about you. Thus it'd be kinda natural
for you to do a movie soundtrack.
looking into getting into that. That's something
that will eventually come down the line. That's
sorta one of my personal ambitions. And I am influenced
by film music. I always have been. That's how I
got into records in general, watching "Star
Wars". And "Star Wars" was the first
piece of vinyl that I personally bought.
There have been small things offered, but that didn't
fit what I wanted to do at the time. And I wouldn't
have been able to put any energy into it at the
time. But I think that that's probably one of the
things that I'll do in the next couple of years.
Hopefully. I know that I'm already getting noticed
and tapped on the shoulder by film companies and
even video game companies and stuff like that.
I might be doing the soundtrack, the score to a
video game, which will be a very, very big video
game, that's based on a movie. But I don't wanna
say anything, because it's not definite yet, it's
still in planning stages, but I've been pegged to
possibly do something that's going to be dope to
[In the mean time, El announced that he's going
to score the film "Bomb The System", an
indy flick with Bonz Malone and many others. And
the score (not soundtrack) will drop on Def Jux.]
being the leading figure of Def Jux, do you need
to do some A&R or are the albums the people
hand in, in no need for you to do anything?
get down and dirty with cats and build with them
about their records. I don't cross the line, but
I'm really interested in what cats are trying to
do. And I think that a lot of times the cats that
I work with, are interested in talking it out with
me. Obviously on the CanOx album I played a big
role. I think I played a very big role in the Mr
Lif album, even in the EP. Because we are just really
good friends, and we always build with each other
about shit. With a cat like Aesop, I just let him
do his fuckin' thing. When I met Aesop, he had two
albums under his belt. So he just kinda gave his
album to me. With Murs, it's pretty much the same
thing, except of the collaborations that we did.
So it really depends. It depends on what the relationship
is. It depends on what the vibe is. I'm certainly
not the type of cat to, infringe on somebody's ideas.
What I do do, is, if they want it, I give suggestions,
in terms of anything that I can help with. But I
do believe in trusting people. Trusting the artist.
Because I always wanted people to trust me. And
I hated to be in a situation where I had to explain
something to somebody, who clearly wasn't feeling
what I was feeling. I don't think it's ever really
like that at Def Jux. If anything, it's all on some
positive reinforcement shit.
I like to get down with cats that really think about
it. Cause everyone knows it's a team effort, and
you want everybody to come up with the best possible
thing going. But I would never, for instance, give
a suggestion what to write a song about. Or, 'why
don't you do the chorus like this?' That's not my
shit. But if somebody wants to talk about help with
producers, or sequence the album. Or an idea for
a way to bring the concept they have in mind to
life, I'm 100% down to talk about it. But at the
end of the day, it's up to the person whose record
it is, to either take my suggestion or not. I try
to be there if they have a questions and if they
trust what I try to say.
one thing that puzzles me, that labels sign artists,
because they like what they do. But then the first
thing they have 'em do is change.
in the traditional major label A&R business,
people don't really sign artists, because they like
what they are doing. People sign artists, because
they see money. They see potential. And they believe
that they can take that artist and mold it into
something else. Use the elements that they already
have and mold 'em into something that they see would
make them a lot of money. That's why I think one
of the things is that there's a lot of dishonesty.
Artists get into this situation all the time: 'what
the fuck? I don't understand. You signed me, now
let me do what I do.' And the label's like 'yeah....
that's the thing: we didn't sign you, we signed
what you could be.' And a lot of really good A&R's
can help a group find the right producer, find the
right studio, go in the right direction. But a lot
of motherfuckers would just straight up drive a
stake through your heart on some creativity shit.
And support something completely adverse to what
you would naturally do. And that type of situation
is something I will never get involved in.
you see you sign to another label again?
thinks so, man. I don't see any point. I could see
doing a project on other labels. Doing something
outside of my real solo career; my thing. I don't
see any problem with that. If someone wants to give
me some good money to do something that would be
fun to me and interesting, and wouldn't necessarily
be something that I would like fear giving away,
I'm cool with that. But at this point I kinda got
to lead by example. And if I'm not putting out my
records on Def Jux, why would anyone else?
as I know a lot of people are interested in this,
I need to ask you about what's the current status
on the record you got planned with Dan The Automator.
The last time we talked, you mentioned that it's
going to be interesting for you to see, how it is
to work with someone. I don't know how much time
you had to work on that, but maybe you can elaborate.
me and Dan are at the same place. We've had this
record on a backburner for a long time. It's something
that we signed to do, and that we want to do, but
we've been clearly doing so much; he's been busy
with Gorillaz, all his project that he's been doing.
And I've been trying to get this label off the ground,
and I had my shit.
I just saw Dan about a month ago, in Cali, and we're
seriously talking about just fucking knocking it
out at the beginning of this year. But apart from
that, it's pretty much still the same status. And
it sucks. I hate to give that type of update, as
it's pretty much at the same place it always is.
However, we really wanna do this record, we are
going to do this record, we're legally bound to
do the record. But I can't tell you yet, how's it
going to sound like. And that's pretty much where
would you release it?
a deal to release it on 75Ark, which now doesn't
exist anymore. But now I'ma do it with his label,
through MCA, or whatever it is.
have any more information. Over a year ago I did
two or three jams with him. And he's been kinda
doing his thing. AWOL. Writing, planning. Whatever
it is that he needs to do, before he really gets
into the thick of finishing his record up. But I
don't have any updates. And as you can imagine,
it's pretty hard to get in touch with him. And I
don't really wanna bother him about it. That's my
man. He's a really good guy. And I think that when
he's ready, he'll do his thing. And I'll be there
to put my two cents in.
Master Jay got killed. I know Run-DMC was a very
important group for you.
you know. Shit. What can I say? Jam Master Jay was
shot. He's dead. I'll be honest man: I didn't cry
when Biggie got shot. I didn't cry when Tupac got
shot. I cried when Jam Master Jay got shot. Not
out of disrespect for Biggie and Tupac, but Jam
Master Jay and Run-DMC were my superheroes. They
were the ones that really set it off for me and
my life in this music. The group itself, in their
heyday was obviously the most important hip hop
I don't understand what happened and I don't really
wanna know, honestly. But he'll be missed. I don't
know what to say about it, except it sucks to have
one of your heroes die. I'm sure it sucks more for
his family than it does for me. But I do dedicate
a jam to him in my set now. Shit is weird, you know.
Hip Hop is the only form of music, where people
die from gunshot wounds.
rhymed on the Rawkus record "Hip Hop For Respect",
that protested police violence. There's now going
to be a "Self Destruction Part II", organized
by Daddy-O. So after having done a project like
this before, how much 'potency' is in a project
know man. That "Hip Hop For Respect" project
had a weird vibe to me. It seemed to be more of
a publicity stunt than a project. But maybe I just
have a bitter perspective. I wanted to get down
with it, because it was important. And I felt that
I needed to put my two cents in. Ultimately what
was behind it, was a just cause.
That was a big deal in New York, the Diallo situation.
So it was a no brainer for me to get down. I don't
really know what it did. I don't really know if
the record sold or anything. I don't know what proceeds
went to who, or whatever the fuck. I just know that
I did it for one reason: it was because I felt that
it was important. And you got to step up to the
I don't know what the potency of shit like that
is. But what else can you do? People in our position
are certainly not famous like that, but if you are
in a position where there are fifty or sixty thousand
kids that buy your record, and that will listen
to what you have to say; that's a pretty direct
communication between you and a lot of people. Every
once in a while I do think it's your obligation,
to step outside of your own ego and your own bullshit
and maybe try something beyond 'I'm dope.'
on the new album, you say less 'I'm dope', than
you say other things. And Mr Lif says more other
things than 'I'm dope' on his records. But still.
The Republicans won.
maybe if Mr Lif would be multi-platinum, they wouldn't
have. George Bush won though, I mean, what the fuck
(smiles). I mean, if George Bush won the presidency,
I was sure that the congressional votes were downhill
I gotta be honest with you, I don't really feel
that it's up to musicians. The hope is that there
are people that address things and start up conversations,
and that there are other people who hear those things,
and their conversations start something else. And
everyone plays a role. I think the best role that
someone like Mr Lif can play is writing. That's
what he needs to be doing. Because that's where
he's going to be the most affective. Sure, go to
rallies, do whatever you wanna do, but at the end
of the day, people have a sort of focus specific
thing that they can do is more important that just
to spreading yourself out and be everywhere and
every man's solution to everything. I'm not a particular
political individual. I just have a reaction to
my daily life and what I see. And I take it from
a personal perspective, in the sense of, more the
confusion aspect of it. Trying to digest information
that I think doesn't really work too well or settle
with me. But I'm not really politically active.
Someone like Zach, now he's active.
how did you end up on Nader's stage then?
called us. They wanted a rap group. They felt that
they needed more of an urban audience, and they
did terribly. Everyone took credit from Eddie Vedder
to some intern at the Ralph Nader office. So it
was probably the intern. But I did that because
at the time, I felt like if Ralph Nader would be
in the presidential debates, it would be much funnier
for me. Much more amusing, you know. It would just
be fun to see a smart man and two robots talking
And the other reason I did it was because I wanted
to play Madison Square Garden. I'm not even going
to lie. That's probably the only time where I will
ever play Madison Square Garden to a packed house.
To a one hundred percent sold out audience. Phil
Donahue introduced us. So I would have probably
done it for Bush too, honestly. Fuck it. I would
have done it for Bush, but I would have sabotaged
his whole shit. Straight up. I would have sabotaged
the whole event, man.
So I did it, because I thought: 'yeah.' Not because
I thought Nader had any chance in hell of winning,
or that I even agree with everything. I just thought
that this guy should at least be able to talk on
TV. So that's ultimately why we did it.
with that said, it's about time for you to go on
stage here. Thanks for you time.
album "Fantastic Damage" and the
instrumental version "FanDam Plus"
are still in stores.
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