– How did it all start for you, coming from Detroit?
Yup yup, Detroit city. It probably started in ’95, as my homeboys who were doing rap, introduced me to it. I loved it and the story is being written right now. That’s basically how it went, and here I am.
– But how did you start doing music?
Well, I had always loved hiphop. I had a love for it so I was always dealing with it, listening to the music, really rhyming to it, you know, NWA, Slick Rick you know all of that stuff. I always had love for it. My friends used to freestyle and I was really good at it so they decided I should feature on a couple of songs and I liked the way I sounded on the records so I just kept going. That was probably in ’95, ’96. But I was really learning how to get in to it so it took me some years to really focus and clamp down on it and make that my main step.
– You were one of Dilla’s favorite MC’s. How did that happen? Did you already know him?
Nah, he heard my work, I guess by, being from Detroit, you know. Coming home and maybe hearing about stuff that was happening in the city. We used to do like a lot of open micas at this place called Lush Lounge in Hamtramck in Michigan. We used to go there and I guess I was exceptional. And one time House Shoes asked me did I wanna work with Dilla, and of course that was a no-brainer and in the same week I was in the lab working with Dilla.
– How was that? Dilla was already known, how did you feel?
Shit I felt privileged just being in the same room with him. I know he could have been in the same room with a lot of MC’s in the whole world. So for me just to be around him, I savored every moment of it.
– When did you first started bringing out music?
Well I been featured on a lot of stuff and then through the city, we, Almighty Dreadnaughtz, that was the crew I rapped with, we had a cd called “City of Trees” and we had a cd called “Point of no return”, so it was mainly building up a name in the city so to speak. It was rapping on a national level; I guess paying dues as people would refer to that as it is. Just tryna make a buzz in the city you know.
It was probably about 5 or 6 years stretch of doing a lot of open mics here and sometimes traveling out of town, doing stuff like that. Basically with the crew and then that’s when I got with Mr Porter from D-12. I started working with him. That was the first step and then shortly afterwards came Dilla.
– So you actually worked with Denaun Porter first? Before Dilla.
Yeah it was real close to being around the same time but it was a little bit before with Denaun.
– You were with the group, then you got up with Dilla and started doing songs with him. What happened to the group?
Haha, they are still around and I’m still a member of the Almighty Dreadnaughtz, that’s my crew. We are working on an album right now too.
– Oh aight, next to your solo projects.
Yeah, we always had a theory that whoever made it, when you get that chance, make sure you put yourself in a position where you can help somebody. I can’t tell a label “You cant sign me without 9 other dudes”.
– That’s a lot of MC’s in a group.
Within the group it’s a collection of MC’s, but it’s broken down in smaller groups within the group. Like 2-man groups, 3-man groups.
But yeah basically, they see I have a chance and they are well aware that my chance increases their chance. I mean I can help, I can’t hurt the situation, they are rooting for me, and I would do the same for one of them if they were in that position.
– You did a lot of featurings, guest appearances, you did the Chrome Children. This was all before you were signed?
Uhm, when I did the Chrome Children tour, I was freshly signed with Stonesthrow. Like right around that time.
– How did you get with Stonesthrow? Through Dilla?
He actually brought the attention there but when Dilla was over there, they wanted to work on some stuff and they had heard me on Strap and it kinda had sparked interest in the record or whatever and tried to do a record and after that Dilla started working on his project and he started getting sick during that time and that kind slowed down the business aspect of it in our situation. We had been in talks when Dilla was alive, about me being signed with Stonesthrow, but it just didn’t happen until afterwards. Which was late last year. (2006).
– You did songs with Slum Village, Black Milk, Sound the Alarm with the video and all. How was working with these people? Cause you were still the unsigned artist, you did all the guest appearances and featurings before, but still, how did that make you feel?
It made me feel good. Like I said, just for me to be on these tracks, they are signed to a label so there were a lot of MC’s and groups that would loved to be in the position I was in, and these people were working with me. That let me know that I must perform and carry myself at a level of any other MC that’s in the game. It just let me know I should get more serious about my craft and clamp down, do the things that I need to do besides rapping, to put me in a position where I could win in the rap game.
– Didn’t that make you eager to do your own album? Or were you still waiting patiently?
Well yeah it did. I never really stopped working, I was working with the group, I was working with Mr Porter, we were getting a record together, doin’ a lot of things like that. Lot of behind the scenes things so I stayed busy, consistently. I was building records. Even my album might be a collection of stuff that I did back then. Especially the stuff I did with Dilla. Anything that you hear that Dilla produced is basically authentic that’s on my record. He was literally there when we did it. It’s not just me two-tracking his beats making a record. I’ve always been focused on doing my record but when the time is right you know. Some people might have anticipated it coming soon, wanting the record to come out soon. But I just feel like it doesn’t happen a minute before it’s supposed to happen, as long as I stay busy. People will build up the anticipation, I’m just happy people are checking for the record and even care. Some MC’s might wait too long and their time might pass, but people still checking for it.
– But that’s also cause you still got shows to do. You are in Europe right now. You can still keep the buzz going even if you don’t got an album out. How is Europe treating you?
It’s incredible. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s just like you said, for a guy to be able to do a show without even having a record out yet, I got my own set and people showing energy, I couldn’t ask for more. They put their hands up from the front to the back, they really show a lot of energy for hiphop. It’s actually humbling in a sense, I come from the States and we might not even get that on that level at home. So when you see that, it kinda humbles you because you understand that what you’re fighting for in music, there is really an audience for that. You don’t really have to target that same audience where you come from. Everything is bigger than your city, your state.
– Don’t you get spoiled? If you go back to the States don’t you feel spoiled cause you don’t get as much love back as over here?
I mean yeah haha in a sense haha, you know! Right right!
– Cause a lot of artists don’t care too much for touring in the States no more, they just keep coming back to Europe or Asia.
Yeah yeah, really. I mean if you really think about it. I am not saying people resent home but you have to think about it. If you go to a venue and people showin’ energy and all that stuff and then you go home to the place where you paid your dues and everybody knows you, and you go there and you got a flaky crowd or you know people don’t wanna throw their hands up or there’s not even many people there or whatever the case may be, it will piss you off. And overseas love for hiphop, you always have venues where somebody will try to book you. So just having that option makes it easier to be in Europe. And if that’s where its supposed to be, then that’s where we build from.
– The album. “Ode to the ghetto”. Why that name?
You know I’ve been thinking about it, come up with titles and all that. I think I even been through a phase where I over-thought it cause everybody was asking and I felt pressured doing it, so I decided to just name it after a song on the record that I like. Oh No produced it, it’s called “Ode to the ghetto”. And if you look at the collection of everything I write, I rap about Detroit a lot, it’s everything that I represent. Not saying that the ghetto is necessarily a negative thing, I think it teaches you a lot of things. My ode to it is my serenade to it, giving back to the hood.
– What are your own expectations of this album?
I expect, for people that are really checking for it, to sponge it up with an open mind. It’s not just me babbling about how sweet I am on the mic, its more than that, me dealing with genuine topics. Just open your mind. I got some tracks where I am running wild like that but not the bulk of it. I don’t really wanna be known as an MC like that.
– Yeah cause what’s up with that name “Beast”?
Beast is a term in Detroit that we’ve used since the late 80’s or something. Early 80’s really.
– But what does that have to do with you? Is that your attitude on the mic?
No, “beast” is my attitude towards that type of songs, cause that’s one of the songs where I’m running wild on. Which means like “I’m a Beast”. In Detroit when you say that, people can’t touch you or when it’s two people in a conversation and somebody says something or dogs em out like “shut yo ass up”, somebody be like “Dang, she beasted you”. It’s an expression.
– Ok back to the album, when is it supposed to be released? I thought it was this summer.
It’s the first week of October. It’s already turned in, they just doing mixing and stuff now. It’s that now, and we about to promote, put a couple of 12 inches out. It should be on the shelves in October.
– Are you gonna do a promo tour for the album?
Yeah, I am supposedly coming back to Europe with Black Milk in October. Around the time it drops and also in November.
– Talking about Black Milk, I spoke to Sean Price a while ago and he said he is going to do an album with you and Black Milk. Is that gonna happen?
Yeah it’s gonna happen. Most definitely, it’s going down.
– When is that planned?
It’s probably going to be close to the top of the year. Sometime after my record.
– Ok, so you got the solo project going on, you gotta do the promo tour for that. Then you got Almight Dreadnaughtz you still working with, then you got the album with Sean Price and Black Milk. What else you got in store?
I got a couple of more things in store. I stay real real busy. Make sure in the time that I do have, just bang it out and just keep doing my thing. Gonna put space in between a lot of stuff, people been talking about my shit should’ve been out but they got plenty of material to go to now. It’s coming up real soon where we don’t have to have that argument anymore.
– Do you have any other artists or producers that you wanna work with, that you haven’t worked with before?
Yeah yeah, I was thinking about doing something with Pete Rock, I was thinking about trying to get that going. Uhm, well you know, it’s a couple of people that I’m trying to get at. Probably Alchemist, I been talking to him, get some heat from him. I been talking to him since I’ve been over here in Europe. It’s a couple of more people I need to reach out to that I haven’t necessarily done yet but I got my eyes and ears open. Premier somebody like that, hopefully something like that can go into works.
– Did you run into people here in Europe that you thought was cool enough to do some stuff with? Did you run into people from different countries that you thought like “Hey, I am interested in working with them”?
Yeah, I did this track with this kid named J.R.(sp) he is from Germany, he is cool. I did this dope ass track with these dudes from London called Foreign Beggars (sp). I did a track with them and it turned out to be real dope, they showed me a lot of love out there too. Just a couple of people. You know a lot of people gave me music too, I really need to take time out to sit and listen to it. I have it and I WILL listen to it, I listen to all the music I get, whoever it is. If the situation is right, we can definitely work. I have heard talented stuff over this way like I said, the Foreign Beggars dudes, they had a whole album they played and it was real sick. Peace to em.
– You got anything else to say to your fans over here in Amsterdam?
Let’s smoke haha.
– Actually, how is the weed over here for you?
It’s excellent man haha. I gotta investigate a little more. I have bags of weed I haven’t even opened yet, so ask me in about 2 hours haha.
– Shout out, punchline, life motto?
Yeah, I know it’s gonna sound cliché and a lot of people say it but you know. Don’t let people tell you what the fuck you can or can’t do. Especially if you have a love for it, cause I don’t think there’s anything worse than a person that spends their whole life doing something they hate. Just to earn a living and judges a person that decides to take that risk to do something that they love. And I admire the people that do take that risk to go for what they love. Even the people that might not succeed on that level but just the fact that you made that sacrifice and took that risk is a victory in itself you know. Peace to all the achievers. Fuck all the non-believers.