a living legend's soul plan
interview - tadah the byk

We talked to Lord Finesse under the gray sky of Zürich for about an hour. And as longer as we talked, as more people gathered around us, to listen what the Funky Technician has to say. It developed more into a conversation, than a interview, in that Redl from Primitive Lyrics also participated.

I have to say I'm biased, because you're a member of my favorite crew, the Diggin In The Crates (D.I.T.C.). I'm always wondering if Organized Konfusion is a part too.

Lord Finesse   Naw, not Organized, they down, but not like that. We got O.C., Big L, Fat Joe, Diamond, Show & A.G. and Buckwild.

What happened to Mike Smooth?

It's nothing like we don't get along. When I first started this rappin', Mike had a regular job. At any time that Hip Hop got rough, Mike would go back to work. I can't do that. This is my bread and butter. I kept with Hip Hop and he kept with his regular job. He still does work with me here and then. We still cool.

Can you make a living out of Hip Hop?

You need more than one thing when you're doing this rap thing, you gotta expand: rap, producing, djing. Just rap is a little bit of money. You can make a alright living, not no incredible living, unless you're a superstar type rapper and sold about two million records, while underground rappers like me maybe sell a hundred thousand to three hundred thousand. Don't be fooled by the videos and the magazine articles, everything you see that surrounds hip hop.

What else did you expand to?

I'm about to open my label, might open a store, doing mix tapes, doing t-shirts. I do it all.

What do you prefer, producing songs for yourself, or for someone else?

Either one. Producing for yourself is cool, because you know what you want to rhyme to, whether you wanna use soundtracks or vibes or whatever. For other people it's cool too, when they come and want you to produce they stuff and you can give them your sound, your style. So I think producing for other people is a little better, to doing your own stuff.

Is it also like that you get another creative input to your sound?

I mean, with other people it's expanding. With other rappers, they sometimes like stuff I'm not messin' with myself or they can rhyme on stuff I couldn't, they flip stuff I wouldn't like and make it sound dope. That's the difference. Because everything ain't not made for me to rhyme on, but with other people, you can just give them about anything. Not nothing garbage, but you can give 'em any kind of music. Some rapper like the dark grimy stuff, some like the pretty stuff, with the vibes and the fender Rhodes, some just want some funky beats you know. So if you work with anybody else, you can give all types or variety of stuff.

What was the most amazing guy to work with?

Biggie. Because there was something about him man. We did "Suicidal Thoughts". He told me he heard that beat, just the beat. And he went "yo, I got this incredible idea" and I laid the beat [for him] and I ain't hear it [the final song] until the album came out. And the concept that he added to that beat was so incredible. To sit there and talk about suicidal thoughts, and the way the beat goes with him talking, is on point like that.

Do you often don't hear the lyrics that will go with your beats?

No, that was the first time, that I never heard the lyrics before the release. I did another joint for him that never came out, with him and Sadat X. It's called "Come On Motherfuckers". That was dope too, that was real dope.

Will it ever come out?

I don't know. I got a copy. But I gotta say, Big L is incredible too, not to take anything away from Big L, he's off the hook. And O.C. I worked with O.C. on his new album. I did the title track on his new album called "Jewelz". And again he took a beat, that was going to be an interlude to my new album and he flipped it and it was real dope.

I guess you wouldn't mind a huge break through success.

I wouldn't mind it. If I would do a record and it became a success, that's one thing. If I'd get a hit, it would be the formula that made me. I wouldn't do crossover bullshit to get a hit. It's like people make a hit and then they do all that crossover bullshit. When you go gold or platinum or double platinum, you get a fanclub, that wasn't really your fans, but they like that particular song you did. That's how you go gold and platinum and double platinum. See and then after the album drops, artists will make records and try to cater it to the new fans, that really didn't give a fuck about you before the hit. I wouldn't cater to them, I would cater to the same underground fans as ever. I wouldn't mind selling from 500 down to 100 as long as my same fans my loyal fans bought it, I would be happy.

So you're not going to mess with R'n'B blends in the future?

Naw, I got some R'n'B stuff, but the way I use R'n'B is different. I don't use it in a commercial way, but in a Soul way. I do it from the heart. Like the joint with me and Roy Ayers ["Soul Plan"]. I'm into stuff like that, that deals with soul when you hear it, you go "that shit is smooth, it's dope, it's soulful". I wouldn't just loop up something to rhyme to it, because it's a loop. I'm into real Soul / Jazz stuff, like Herbie Hancock, Cal Jada, stuff like that. I love music: whether it's rock, whether it's jazz, alternative, whether it's whatever. If it's dope, it's just dope to me.

How did this happen, this collaboration with Roy Ayers?

One summer, me and my girl, we went to see Roy Ayers in this park, Bryan Park on 42nd street and 6th avenue, 'cause I collect a lot of Roy stuff, "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" and so on. Out of all the artists I collect, I really like his stuff. You know some [artists] got a collection, but you got maybe one [dope] cut here, one cut there. Where Roy, he's just bad all around, you know what I'm sayin'. The performance was like incredible man. He did like a ten minutes version of "Searching", he was just playin, and it was real dope. I wanted to work with him. We hooked up and we did that song ["Soul Plan] and I think that was like one of the highlights of my whole career, to work with a veteran like him. To tell him how much I enjoy his music. And if the man upstairs let be, we may gonna work together again. When I listen to old music, I like the sounds, the fender Rhodes, the Wurlitzer, the drum percussion, the vibes. So it's like when I did the song with Roy, I didn't wanna do it on that new synthesizer bullshit.

Do people appreciate those who they sample?

Me, myself, I appreciate the music I sample like that. But what I really got to do, is get a lot done: strip the track down and take the vocals off and really go over the track. I can't talk for any other rapper. I know artists like me, Diamond, Show, we love music. Some other producers probably do it just for the hit, you know.

And do the original artists appreciate the new versions?

It depends. I know Roy does. You got some artists, that still work, like Denise Williams. I think they appreciate the artform of rap. And you got people who just don't want you to fuck with their music, like Anita Baker. She don't want nobody fucking with her music, no sampling, no nothing. I can appreciate that. But the only thing I hate with stuff like that, is if you don't want nobody to mess with your music, then just don't use hip hop to try to stay popular. But she's not, she's a very talented, incredible superstar.

continue to part 2...

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