Tag Archives: Big Pun

Big Pun Remix Tape Part One Album Stream – Brenx

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Netherlands-based producer Brenx respectfully pays tribute to Bronx legend Big Pun with this well-executed collection of largely worthwhile remixes.

New Joint – Big Kahuna OG & Fly Anakin

Big Kahuna OG & Fly Anakin – “Rain N Sun Freestyle (RIP Big Pun)” (MutantAcademyRVA.BandCamp.Com / 2019)

The two Mutant Academy members flip a timeless interlude from Big Pun’s debut 1998 album “Capital Punishment” for the closing track on their “Big Fly 3” EP.

New Joint – Bodega Bamz

Bodega Bamz – “Terror” (@BodegaBamz / 2018)

The Rotten Apple emcee gives props to Fat Joe’s Terror Squad on this piano-laced cut off his new project “P.A.P.I.”.

New Joint – Maffew Ragazino

Maffew Ragazino – “Killer Ben Fleaux” (@MaffewRagazino / 2016)

The Brooklyn emcee blesses a classic from the late, great Big Pun.

New Joint – Maffew Ragazino

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Maffew Ragazino – “Killer Ben Fleaux” (@MaffewRagazino / 2015)

The Crooklyn wordsmith blesses a Big Pun classic whilst continuing to finish work on his forthcoming “Eight Million Stories” project.

New Joint – D.I.T.C.

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Show & A.G. ft. KRS-One & Big Pun – “Drop It Heavy – Buckwild Remix” (DITCEnt.Com / 2014)

Buckwild gives a 1998 Bronx classic a thorough sonic overhaul with this dope track from the new Diggin’ In The Crates remix album.

Old To The New Q&A – Majestic Gage

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Born and raised in the birthplace of Hip-Hop, Bronx emcee Majestic Gage takes his craft very seriously. It’s that same dedication to the art of lyricism which led to the 28-year-old wordsmith being recruited by NYC’s mighty D.I.T.C. to stand as one of the crew’s next generation of artists (alongside A-Bless and the now sadly deceased Tashane), building on the classic foundations set by the likes of Lord Finesse, A.G. and O.C. with genuine raw talent and a true love of the culture.

Having already recorded with established Diggin’ In The Crates affiliates D-Flow and Milano as one-third of Barbury’N, Gage has also been taking his own steps to showcase his skills, recently dropping the solo track “Fair Warning” produced by Harlem’s Ty Ahart.

With heavy involvement in the forthcoming D.I.T.C. compilation and his own projects on the horizon, Gage is determined to earn his props and respect the old-fashioned away, by displaying authentic microphone techniques rather than relying on gimmicks or being forced to embrace popular trends.

Here, the BX resident discusses his initial forays into rhyming, being co-signed by legendary producer Showbiz and his thoughts on New York radio.

What are some of your earliest Hip-Hop memories?

“My earliest memories of Hip-Hop are just hearing it around the house. My aunt, my mom’s younger sister Keisha, she used to always play Hip-Hop and I’d be hearing songs like Audio Two’s “Top Billin'”, other songs by Rakim, and I just used to walk around the house and listen to them. I used to think that rapping was cool, but at that point in time I never thought about actually doing music or anything like that. I mean, I was real young around that time, about seven-years-old, maybe even a little younger. So Hip-Hop was just something that I would hear in the house that I thought was cool and I used to rap along with the lyrics and I’d see the videos on TV.”

Although you were obviously very young at that point, did you have any awareness that the music you were hearing actually started in the same borough of New York that you were being raised in?

“I wasn’t aware at that age that it had happened in my borough like that. But, I used to watch “Beat Street” all the time (laughs). That was one of my favourite movies when I was little. I used to watch that movie over and over and over. Then, as I got older and a little more into the music, I started going back and listening to a lot of the older stuff which gave me some of the history behind the music. I mean, my mom wouldn’t even let me listen to the new stuff that was coming out, like when Biggie was first coming up and artists like that. She would not let me listen to that stuff due to the content of the music (laughs). So I used to listen to a lot of older artists like Kool Moe Dee, Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and stuff like that. In fact, listening to KRS-One on “South Bronx” was actually how I really found out that Hip-Hop started in the Bronx (laughs). Looking back on it now, that was kinda fortunate for me, because I got to hear that stuff first and to know where the music came from. Plus, like I said, I was watching “Beat Street” and seeing the break-dancers and people putting graffiti on the walls, which was all just intriguing to me. But I still wasn’t actually rapping at that time. It was just cool to me to see Lee and them get down at The Roxy (laughs). I must have watched that movie about a hundred times.”

So being exposed to that older material helped you join the dots between what had happened in the 80s and the newer artists who were coming out at that time in the early-90s…

“Exactly. It was just fortunate for me to be exposed to that older music before I really heard the new stuff at the time, rather than starting to listen to the music where my era started in the 90s and then having to go back.”

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So when did you actually start rhyming? Was it something you made a conscious decision to pursue or did it happen more naturally?

“Man, I remember this like it was yesterday. I was nine-years-old and I was in the fourth grade. It would have been around 1994. It was the beginning of the school year and my teacher gave us a homework assignment where we all had to go home and write a rap about ourselves. Then, when we came back to school on Monday everybody had to say their rap in front of the class. Now, my step-father used to rap back in the day, so when I went home I got him to help me with the rhyme. But aside from that, I’ve always had music in me anyway as my biological father is a musician and plays guitar. So anyway, my step-father helped me write this rhyme and I memorised it, even though it was probably only about six bars long (laughs). So I went to school on Monday, I said the rhyme in front of the class and everybody went crazy (laughs). That was a real rush and it was something I’d never felt before in my life. I mean, I was a pretty shy kid and I wasn’t someone who talked a lot or anything like that, but doing that in front of the class just made me feel some sort of way and I just couldn’t really explain it. But my teacher liked the rhyme so much that she brought me down to the second grade class and they all sat down in a circle around me and I said the same rhyme in front of these second graders and they were going crazy again! That feeling just came back (laughs). So, after that, I was like, ‘That was pretty ill.’ So what I started doing was, my step-father had a bunch of rhymes that he’d written back in the day….”

Was your step-father someone who was known for rhyming back-in-the-day or was he just doing it more as a past-time with his boys because Hip-Hop was so prevalent in the Bronx?

“Nah, he wasn’t really known for it. I mean, he was around people like Showbiz and them back in the day being from the Bronx, but he was rhyming just to rhyme. He didn’t put anything out or really do anything with it. I can’t even remember the name he said he used to rhyme under. But he had a whole bunch of rhymes written down and I used to go home from school and just read them. Then I started changing little words in the rhymes and I would learn those. But what happened is, after a certain amount of time, all of my step-father’s rhymes ran out (laughs). Now, I would change the words in his rhymes, spit the rhymes to my friends and everyone would be like, ‘Whoa!’ So when they eventually ran out, I had to start writing my own rhymes (laughs). I started rapping with my older brother, who had been writing rhymes before me. He was the person who put me on to people like Biggie and 2Pac. So we were writing our raps together and making little tapes to let our friends hear. Then, as I hit my teenage years, there weren’t really many people rhyming in my junior high-school, so my first ciphers were in my neighbourhood with some of the kids around there…”

Were you confident about your skills at that time or did it take awhile before people started saying that you were nice?

“Okay, so it was 1998 and I was about thirteen-years-old. I had mad raps already that I’d written and different song ideas. So this was around the time DMX had put out “It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot”. I remember, it was night-time and me and my boys were on our way to Harlem. We were walking down the block in the Bronx going past this restaurant called the Shrimp Box. One of my boys was like, ‘Yo! That looks like DMX!’ and I was like, ‘Nah!’ Now, we used to play games like that if we saw someone that looked like a celebrity. So I thought that’s what he was doing. We went across the street and my man Shawn was like, ‘You should go in there and rap to him, yo.’ Man, I was scared (laughs). I was petrified and was just like, ‘Naaah’ So Shawn said, ‘I’m going to go in there and talk to him.’ So he went in there, came out and was like, ‘X said that you ain’t no real rapper if you can’t go in there and rap to him.’ So I sucked up all my nervousness, went in there, gave DMX a pound and he was crazy cool. He was in there with his wife and a couple of his boys, I spit my rhyme for DMX and he was bobbing his head. Now, the whole situation was crazy to me because this was when DMX was at the height of success and he was right there in the Bronx. He called his manager right there on the spot, but he never picked up. But that’s when I really started thinking, ‘Okay, I’ve really got to get on this music thing, because if DMX says I’m nice then I must have something.’ I mean, X was one of my favourite artists back then.”

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That must have really been an incredible moment for you as a young emcee to be given props by one of New York’s biggest artists at the time…

“Yeah, definitely. What was funny though was when I went back to my ‘hood and I’m telling people, ‘Yo, I rapped for DMX!’ everybody was like, ‘You’re lying!’ I was like, ‘Yo! I rapped for DMX on Third Avenue in the Shrimp Box!’ He autographed my dollar bill, so I showed them that and they just told me it was fake (laughs). But that was dope though to meet DMX like that. But it was after that, when I went to high-school, that was when I started to have my first battles. I’d only ever been in ciphers before and had never really battled, but people were telling me that I was nice so I was kinda itching to battle. I’d seen people battling before and always wanted to test those waters. So once I got into high-school, it was on (laughs). I remember a kid approached me within the first two weeks of starting high-school, he just walked right up to me and was like, ‘Yo! You wanna battle?’ It was just me, him and his man, nobody else was even paying attention and we just started going at it. We ended-up getting escorted out of the hall because everyone had to go to class, but I felt like I’d won so I was telling people that I’d battled him and that I ate him (laughs). Now, I wasn’t knowing that this guy Dave was considered the king of battling in the school. So, I was in the gym one day and he came up to me with mad people and was like, ‘You said you ate me? Let’s battle right now!’ We battled each other everyday after that (laughs). Every time he saw me, we battled. So I would go home and write my little raps because I knew he was going to come looking for me the next day. That went on until he gave me my respect and was like, ‘Okay, you’re nice.’ But that whole situation really helped me sharpen up my skills.”

At that time in the late-90s, Bronx rappers like Big Pun, Fat Joe and Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz were really holding their own against other NY artists like Jay-Z, DMX and Nas who were starting to make mainstream noise. Were you looking up to BX artists like that as a young kid or did their success make them feel a million miles away from where you were at?

“I mean, Lord Tariq and them, as young emcees we definitely looked up to them. I’d never actually seen Tariq or Money Boss in person because I’m not from their section of the Bronx. Tariq was from the Soundview area and I’m more real southern Bronx, around about the 150s and the 130s. But I did used to see Fat Joe back then. Joe used to have his store on Third Avenue, right next to the Shrimp Box where I met DMX (laughs). This was when he first came out with his 560 clothing line and he opened up his store in the Bronx. So, Fat Joe used to be up there all the time and I remember Shyheim used to come through as well. I remember seeing Big Pun up in there one time as well, but this was before Pun had even come out. I just saw this big dude up in the store and thought it was Fat Joe’s brother (laughs). But Joe was from Forest which isn’t too far away from my projects, so he used to always be around the area.”

So how and when did the link with D.I.T.C. happen?

“I hooked-up with D-Flow first. My man Dunn Dee had known Flow for years because our project buildings aren’t too far from each other. So Flow and Party Arty used to be in my hood all the time and they knew my man Dunn Dee who I used to rhyme with and then he actually ended up managing me. I put a mix-tape out called “The Landlord” around 2004 and while I was working on my second mix-tape project, Dee let D-Flow hear the first one. He came to my hood and I guess he liked the mix-tape because he was like, ‘Yo! You should come to the studio and record.’ So the first time I went there me and Flow actually did a song together. It wasn’t even planned or nothing like that but he heard what I was doing and was like, ‘Yo, I’ve got something for that too.’ The song actually came out dope (laughs). So I just kept going up to Flow’s studio to record and then after awhile he approached me and my man Dunn Dee and told us that he wanted me to be a part of Get Dirty. Flow broke everything down to me and told me that he still wanted me to do my music the way that I was doing it, but that I’d rep the brand and all that. I was definitely cool with it and I met Party Arty and all of that. Arty was crazy cool and he treated me like a brother from the gate. Both Flow and Arty really treated me like family from the jump.”

Did you have to get the official stamp of approval from Showbiz?

“The first time I met Show, I’d gone to the studio with D-Flow to record. We’d gone down to D&D, which is now HeadQCourterz, and that was the first time I met Show. He didn’t really pay attention to me at the time because he wasn’t even really there for that. I just gave him a pound and that was it, y’know. But then Flow kept saying that he was going to tell Show that we should do a group and he was telling me about Milano. But anyway, Flow kept saying that he was going to tell Showbiz about me. So, I waited patiently and it was probably about a year after that when Flow took me down to D&D and let Show hear my music. All three of us were sitting in the room listening to my music and Show was saying that he liked it and that he also really liked my concepts. That was something that I always tried to do, have concepts, because I can rap all day but I really wanted to show people that I could actually structure a song. So anyway, Show liked the music and it was on from there. But the first few times we went to the studio after that, we didn’t even record no music, we were just in there having conversations and building. That’s what I like about Show, the fact that we didn’t just jump straight into the music, we were in there having conversations about everything from just life in general to Hip-Hop and whatever else.”

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Considering at this point you were starting to mix with some real Hip-Hop legends, were you fully aware of the legacy that Diggin’ In The Crates had already created?

“Yeah, I definitely was. I mean, I used to see A.G. around my hood and I already knew that he was a legend because the older guys around me were putting me on to the music that Show & A.G. had already put out. I always thought they were dope, Show with the beats and those drums…”

It’s almost impossible to talk about Showbiz without mentioning drums… 

“Exactly (laughs). So to have the opportunity to actually work around people like that was just so dope to me. When Show first told me that he liked my music I went home and I was just so happy (laughs). I went home to my girl like, ‘Yo! He liked my s**t!”

When you then started recording with D-Flow and Milano as Barbury’N, did you feel a lot of pressure considering they were already established and respected, while you were a new name to a lot of people? 

“I definitely felt that pressure but I liked it though (laughs). I knew that people really weren’t expecting anything from me because most people had never really heard of me before. You had Milano, you got D-Flow and then you got this kid Majestic Gage and I knew people were going to be like, ‘Who’s that?’ But I feel that whole situation really helped me get better as an emcee and it really let me showcase my talents alongside two already respected lyricists. I’m just really glad that both Flow and Milano let me work with them on the Barbury’N music like they did because they were already veterans and they really didn’t have to let the young boy into their circle. So I really do thank them for that.”

Barbury’N – “Living At Still” (D.I.T.C. Entertainment / 2011)

Lyricism is obviously something that’s very important to you, but what keeps you on that creative path of putting so much effort into your writing considering how quick people are to accept simple, throwaway rhymes today?

“Number one, it’s just because I love to be super lyrical, y’know. That’s the era I came up in when dudes were just super nice. You had to be nice. That’s just something that I’ve always stuck to regardless of what the climate of the game might be. But also, I keep doing it for people like yourself who’re still checking for it. I do it for people who still want to really listen to lyrics. So I don’t mind going against the grain with my music and swimming upstream because I feel like the game’s going to come full circle and it’s going to get back to being about people’s skills. But that’s why I still make my music like that, because I know there’s still people out there that love to listen to music like that. That’s what I love to listen to. I mean, I understand that not everyone can be lyrical. But I have the ability to do that, so why not put my best foot forward every time and deliver that, y’know.”

Also, with the Diggin’ In The Crates affiliation and lyricism really being at the heart of the music the crew have released over the years, you really have an obligation to carry on that tradition…

“Definitely. The core D.I.T.C. fans won’t expect anything less than that. So I definitely have to deliver on that aspect. I mean, sometimes I think it was destined for me to land in this position with Diggin’ In The Crates because they’re such a staple of the Bronx. Obviously, Big L was from Harlem and O.C. repped for Brooklyn, but the original members like Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Showbiz & AG, they’re all from the Bronx, so I definitely think it was meant for me to be here.”

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Recently there’s been a lot of discussion around New York stations like Hot 97 not being totally supportive of underground New York artists and Old Man Ebro’s Minors / Majors comparison has generated a lot of feedback. What are your thoughts on that?

“I mean, I tell people all the time, the climate of the game is so different now that you don’t need stations like that to win. You don’t need Hot 97 to win. You don’t need Power 105 to win. I mean, it’s great to get your records played on there and it definitely helps, but you can still get your music out there without them. Plus, the deejays up at those stations, they can’t really choose what they want to play, they get told what to play. I mean, I run into people all the time that say they don’t want to hear the same ten or twelve records all day. But as far as the artists here in New York who do still cater to that traditional sound, they’re coming up and it’s through others means of winning aside from the radio. Dudes like Action Bronson and Joey Badass, they get radio spins now but they put that work in themselves so the radio had to take notice. Then you’ve got other artists like Spit Gemz who’re doing their thing. I mean, the radio situation is what it is, but as New York artists we can’t lose our identity through trying to follow trends because trends only last so long, y’know. I just feel like we shouldn’t be making records just to get them played on the radio. I mean, we’re at a point now where some dudes have hooks that are longer than there actual verses (laughs).”

What’s the status of the forthcoming D.I.T.C. compilation project that was announced last year featuring yourself, A-Bless and Tashane?

“All the music for that is done. I mean, A.G. and Show have got some other things that they’re working on and obviously they announced the remix album project with a variety of producers working on there. But the compilation is definitely still in the pipeline and all the music is done, all the videos are done and everything. A.G. is on a bunch of joints on the album, but it’s basically just focusing on the next generation of Diggin’ In The Crates. Show and them didn’t want to take too much of the shine away from us by having everyone on the album. But I do understand that when some of the fans see that name Diggin’ In The Crates they do want to hear the original members. I do get that. I read the comments on the Internet and everything. But this compilation project is about those same original members passing the torch to us so we can continue that legacy. I mean, a few years ago you had people talking about the generation gap in Hip-Hop and how some of the younger cats didn’t respect the artform and how some of the older cats weren’t giving younger artists a chance. But now that gap is actually being bridged by what D.I.T.C. are doing, some of those same fans who were talking about that generation gap don’t want to accept the music. But this isn’t something that you see happening a lot, with respected older artists putting out talented new artists and really embracing what they’re doing. But those negative comments didn’t surprise me when I first started reading them. I mean, Showbiz prepared us for it early on and he told us that there would be people out there who didn’t want to accept us as part of Diggin’ In The Crates. So when I started seeing those comments, I was just like, ‘Show said this would happen a looooong time ago.'”

Everyone really represented in that D.I.T.C. cipher video that was released last year with A.G. and DJ Premier, but it was definitely sad to hear about the passing of Tashane not long after that…

“Yeah, definitely. I mean, it was so dope to put that video together. Myself, A-Bless and Tashane all had a really good relationship already because we’d been recording songs together before we actually did that video. We were all just hungry. So for the three of us to be around Premier, Showbiz, O.C., A.G. and Lord Finesse, it was just dope for them to let us rock out like that. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I can remember Tashane joking around like, ‘I ain’t got my rhymes, son. Let me hear what you got?’ I was like, ‘Nah, son.’ (Laughs). But Tashane was just super talented and creative. He was passionate about everything he did. Even when he was just talking, you could hear his passion when he would just speak. That was just him. Everything he said, he meant it, although he was also a joker as well. But when it came down to that music, he was definitely on it. So him passing was definitely a real loss.”

So what can people expect from you next as a solo artist?

“I got music, y’know. I could put out a project tomorrow if I wanted to. But I don’t want it to get mixed up with the D.I.T.C. compilation. I’ve got some songs that I want to release, so I’m going to be putting those out with some visuals just to keep feeding the people something. Then, eventually I will be dropping a project. Hopefully that will be sometime this year. I just really want to be consistent with putting the music out because nowadays people can forget about you real quick. But I’m not going to put just anything out for the sake of it. I definitely want the music I put out there to really leave an impression on people. So this year, I really want the people to be able to get to know me better through my music.”

Ryan Proctor

Follow Majestic Gage on Twitter – @MajesticGage

Majestic Gage – “Fair Warning” (Majestic Gage Music / 2014)

Old To The New Q&A – A.D.O.R. (Part Two)

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In this concluding part of my interview with New York’s A.D.O.R., the veteran wordsmith talks about working with Pete Rock on his classic 1992 debut single “Let It All Hang Out”, major label drama with Atlantic Records and getting drunk with Mount Vernon’s infamous YG’z – check Part One here.

So was your debut single “Let It All Hang Out” recorded as part of your original demo package after you’d signed with Untouchables Entertainment?

“So this is what happened. I signed with Eddie F and he was talking about putting me in the studio with Pete Rock. I’m like, ‘Okay, this is cool.’ Pete was doing his thing at the time and really had some special s**t going on. So they gave me a tape with about eleven or twelve Pete Rock tracks on it and I started sifting through those beats and what became “Let It All Hang Out” was on there as an instrumental. So I started writing to it. I actually had some lyrics already that I wanted to use for the track. The thing with me was, I wouldn’t always write to tracks. I’d write lyrics and then I’d find tracks that they felt good with. So anyway, we recorded “Let It All Hang Out” and Eddie F put it in a package together with some other artists he was working with, like the R&B group Intro, to start shopping to labels. I really liked the record but I was thinking to myself, ‘Is this the one?’ But I started playing it to people and everyone really liked it. I started getting such great feedback from everybody and all of a sudden there were people at labels saying they wanted to sign me. RCA wanted to sign me, Atlantic and I think possibly Columbia as well.”

So there was definitely a lot of interest in you?

“Yeah, man. I remember Eddie F had a showcase at his house one day and he had all the A&Rs there from Atlantic, RCA and Columbia. They were all there at the house and Eddie had me, Intro, Donell Jones and some of his other artists do a showcase for all these A&Rs and then afterwards they listened to some of the other music I’d been making. The Young Gunz, the YG’z, were there as well….”

I was going to ask you about the YG’z but I don’t want to interrupt the story so we can get into that afterwards…

“(Laughs) Yeah, yeah. So basically what happened was, we were all at the party and everything went really well. Now the reason I mentioned the YG’z is because they were like, ‘C’mon A.D.O.R., take a shot of this alcohol to celebrate, baby!’ We were right in the middle of Eddie F’s kitchen and they were like, ‘Take some of this, man!’ I was like, ‘Yeah, f**k it, we’re doing it, baby!’ (laughs). So I drank half a glass of this green alcohol stuff and that was it for me, bro. I was f**ked up! I threw up all over Eddie F’s kitchen. I was just uncontrollably vomiting all over my s**t. I had to leave the party. My boy had to drive me home and I had to take all my clothes off in the car and just put a towel over myself (laughs). But anyway, after the showcase went so well Eddie started feeling like Atlantic Records was the right move and then Sylvia Rhone wanted to have a meeting with me. So I met with Sylvia and then after that I remember getting the call telling me Atlantic Records wanted to sign me.”

How did you feel when you got that call?

“I was happy as s**t when it first happened because I’d achieved my dream of getting a record deal. Plus, I was signed to a major label which was a really big deal for me. I felt like I’d really achieved something as a credible non-Black Hip-Hop artist to be signed to a major label. It made me feel like I’d done something right with the music I’d been making and I was ready to make some history.”

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Digressing for a second, what do you remember about the YG’z?

“They were like my brothers, man. We were cool. They were really involved in the streets, man. I had some funny times with those dudes but then some crazy s**t happened as well. I remember one time there was a concert we were all doing together, I think Method Man was there, and I remember the YG’z had gotten into some beef with some cats from Black Moon’s camp. Some of those kids from the YG’z were just real street kids, but now we were in the music business and you really needed to be able to separate the two. But those cats were just really deep in the street and that’s what they were about. I don’t know exactly what happened at the concert but I know it definitely wasn’t anything positive. But the YG’z were good dudes, though. They were just products of their environment and were trying to figure out what to do with their lives, y’know. I mean, I would run into them over on the Southside of Mount Vernon before the music thing, but then we became more involved with each other once we were all signed to Untouchables. But I had some cool times with them.”

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“Let It All Hang Out” was definitely one of the defining singles of 1992. Why was it credited as being a ‘Pete Rock Remix’ on the label?

“”Let It All Hang Out” was not a Pete Rock remix. It’s an original A.D.O.R. / Pete Rock record. There is no Pete Rock remix of “Let It All Hang Out”. That was some politics with Atlantic wanting to say it was a Pete Rock remix on the record label because that’s what Pete was really becoming known for. So the Pete Rock ‘remix’ of “Let It All Hang Out” is just thirty seconds longer than the original version that we recorded together. That’s the only difference. It’s the same record. I mean, at that time, Pete Rock really wasn’t doing that much outside production with other artists, it was all about his remixes. But we made that record together in the studio. I mean, I was there in the background when he was doing all that other s**t as well though. I remember when Pete and CL played “They Reminisce Over You” for the first time in the offices with Eddie F after they’d just come back from the studio. I remember everyone was just so excited when they first heard that song and everyone knew straight away that it was a great record. But me and Pete have a weird relationship, man. We really do. He shows me love sometimes and then there were times when he didn’t…”

So after Atlantic released “Let It All Hang Out” was the plan for you and Pete to do more work together in the studio?

“I mean, we made “Let It All Hang Out” together and then Pete was supposed to make more records with me for my debut album, which was part of the deal with Atlantic. Me and Pete had a great chemistry together and people definitely wanted to hear more A.D.O.R. / Pete Rock records. But what happened was, Pete started having some issues with Eddie F and Untouchables when “Mecca And The Soul Brother” was coming out on Elektra, which was some behind-the-scenes stuff that really wasn’t any of my business. But that started leading to Pete not coming to sessions. There were times when we were supposed to be working on my album and he didn’t do it. Pete wouldn’t show up or didn’t know if he really wanted to do it. So that really made my project hard. I mean, “Let It All Hang Out” came out literally two months after I got all messed-up at Eddie F’s house at the showcase. Atlantic signed me, we did the paperwork and they scheduled a video shoot. “Let It All Hang Out” was coming out as my first single and I had no other records done yet. I mean, usually back then, you’d put out a single and then the album would be available about two or three months later. Now, if that had been the case with my album on Atlantic, my s**t would have blown-up. If “The Concrete” had been ready to follow-up the single, it would have blown-up! But what happened was, my project was getting f**ked-up because I couldn’t get in the studio with Pete. I couldn’t get any more records made with him for my album. Atlantic Records are saying they want to hear an album. Eddie F starts putting me in the studio with other producers and we’re making some records here and there but Atlantic want to hear more records with Pete Rock…”

So were Atlantic saying they didn’t want to release an album from you unless it contained a certain amount of tracks produced by Pete Rock?

“I wouldn’t go that far but it was definitely something that they expected to happen when they did the deal. So I’m thinking, ‘Oh s**t! I wanna make my album!’ because Pete Rock is out of the loop now. But this wasn’t Pete saying, ‘F**k A.D.O.R.!’, it was more Pete saying ‘F**k Eddie F!’ because of the problems  they had together. Plus, he had his own thing going on with Pete Rock & CL Smooth. But I don’t really know if he loved me like that either, because some of the cats he was around were on some real righteous Nubian s**t, so they could have been like, ‘Yo Pete, what’s up with this white boy?’ That was just stuff I had to deal with back then. So my album project is getting stymied at exactly the same time “Let It All Hang Out” is out there blowing-up. It took me two years to deliver “The Concrete” album to Atlantic Records after I’d gone out and found other producers to work with, like with me and Diamond connecting and making some good records.”

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So did it almost feel like you were starting over again when you dropped the K-Def-produced single “One For The Trouble” in 1994?

“See, I busted my ass to get the album done and was working directly with my A&R at Atlantic. I wasn’t really getting that much support from Untouchables. I was getting some support, but Eddie F was on some other s**t. I was on some different s**t musically to Eddie F by that time. But it took me two years to put my debut album together. Most labels would have dropped an artist by that time, but “Let It All Hang Out” was so powerful as a single that people still wanted to hear more music from me, so Atlantic stuck by me and kept giving me more money to go in the studio and make records. They kept paying the producers and I was putting the record together myself. I got with K-Def, Ski, Diamond D, Sam Sever, Trackmasterz and we were making good music together. I mean, I really went through an apprenticeship of the music business putting that album together and working so closely with Atlantic.”

Were some of the producers you approached for beats surprised that you weren’t working with Pete Rock considering the success of your debut single?

“No, no. I mean, the producers I was working with were happy because they were getting paid major label money and we were making some good music. They respected me and I respected them. I remember being in the studio with cats like Ron Lawrence, Clark Kent and Diamond with people like Big Pun coming through…”

Pun was in the studio with you?

“I remember my most classic cipher ever was when it was me, Pun and Cuban Link. I was working on one of my records with Diamond in Chung King and Diamond had told Pun and Cuban Link to come down to the studio. Like, at this time when I was in the studio working on my stuff I was the famous cat who’d dropped “Let It All Hang Out” and there would be these young dudes who were coming up who’d be in the studio. When I did “From The Concrete” with Ski, which is one of my favourite records I’ve ever made, Jay-Z was in the studio with me and Ski just chillin’ in there for a couple of days while we were recording. When I was working at Battery Studios when Wu-Tang had just come out with “Protect Ya Neck”, I remember being up there with RZA, Ol’ DB and Method Man. They had just got signed to Loud and had started working on their first album. I remember when I came into the session and they were like, ‘Oh s**t, it’s A.D.O.R.!’ I remember building with RZA for hours just chillin’ and eating chinese food. So when Pun and Cuban Link came into this particular session they started freestyling and building a cipher with me. Pun didn’t even know who I was when he first came in and then once he realised, he was like ‘Oh s**t! A.D.O.R.? “Let It All Hang Out”! I loved that joint!’ We started having this crazy ill freestyle session and that was a magical moment with Pun that I’ll always remember.”

How did you first meet Diamond D?

“Well, I was running around with some of my boys who were friends of mine from the Bronx. They were emcees, K. Terrorbull and this other white boy Frank who was known as Big Red…”

This was Big Red who released “Created A Monster” with Diamond in 1995, right?

“Yes. I was with him when he made that record. We were boys for years. I mean, my man K. Terrorbull, he was my boy Will’s sister’s baby’s father. So K was always running with me and then him and Red started messing with Diamond. I went to Diamond’s crib with them, we were chillin’ playing chess and I asked to hear some tracks and we started to talk about doing some work together. Diamond gave me some tracks and we made some fat records, bro. I love the records we did together for “The Concrete”, like “Heart And Soul” and the “Day 2 Day” remix.”

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So what actually happened with the album?

“We got the album done, it had been mastered and we had the promo copies ready. But then Atlantic didn’t know what single they wanted to go with. I had all these great records on there like “Day 2 Day”, “Here Comes Da Wreck”, “One For The Trouble”, but Atlantic didn’t really know how to deal with the project. So when it came down to it, they decided that “One For The Trouble” was going to be the next single but they said they weren’t going to give me much of a video budget. So Eddie F was saying to me, ‘Yo man, they’re trying to play me on the budget for the video’ because everything was still going through Untouchables at the time. He kinda took the fact that Atlantic weren’t giving us much of a video budget personally. So he told me he didn’t want me to make a video for “One For The Trouble” because Atlantic weren’t coming correct with the budget. He was saying that after the success of “Let It All Hang Out” it might hurt me to come out with a low-budget video for “One For The Trouble”. I was kinda like, ‘Maybe he’s right…’ but Atlantic were still offering about $35,000 for the video, so I was thinking we could still do something with that. But Eddie was like, ‘Well, if you do it and it f**ks up then you’re on your own…’ Little did I know that I should have done the video, because when the single came out Atlantic supported it a little bit and it went to radio, but nobody really knew it was out so then Atlantic were saying they didn’t want to market my album anymore. That’s when they cut my album and I got dropped. At the time, WEA were going through some crazy firestorm and they had about twelve artists on their roster who had albums done, but for business reasons the company didn’t want to put money behind them to market them and I fell into that clique of artists. They had artists like Brandy coming out and that’s where all their focus was, so they dropped a whole bunch of artists which included me.”

It’s crazy to think what impact “The Concrete” could have had if it had come out in 1994 with a production line-up that included Diamond, K-Def, Clark Kent etc…

“Exactly. It was magical, man. It was incredible how we all came together as a brotherhood to work on music together and I still have a lot of love for those cats today. But also, something else happened around that same time before I got dropped from Atlantic with Eddie F which really didn’t help my project. Eddie started getting burdened with all of these artists that he had signed. All these artists like Intro, Donell Jones, the YG’z, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, me, Untouchables was our management company and our production company. So everybody wanted all the s**t that a management company is supposed to do and Eddie just got overwhelmed with it all. So he started dropping all the artists from the management side. He asked me to find new management just when my album was supposed to drop. This was all happening in 1994 behind-the-scenes. So I was still signed to Atlantic when Eddie dropped me from his management company, and the label are telling me that I had to have management for them to be able to release the album. So my lawyer started reaching out to other management cats and I had a real interesting meeting with Wayne Barrow who was Biggie’s manager  at the time and he was interested in managing me. But also I had my boy who I grew-up with, Ward Corbett, who was running around with Puff at the time. He worked at Bad Boy and had some clout so I decided to go with him. So what happened was, I got a phone call one morning from Ward telling me that Atlantic had decided to drop the album. He’d been trying to have meetings with them to talk about putting the timeline for the project together and Atlantic told him they were dropping the album and also me as an artist. So now I’m back to just being signed to Untouchables Entertainment. When that happened, I was done with Untouchables as well.”

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So that would explain why you weren’t included on the 1994 Untouchables compilation album “Let’s Get It On”…

“I was on that record originally. I’d actually made a record called “Let’s Get It On” and Eddie F told me that he wanted to use the title for the album and that song on there with Biggie, 2Pac and Heavy D. I was in the Hit Factory when they were making that record and I had a verse on there and Eddie F cut me off of it. I think the YG’z got cut from that record as well because with everyone on there it was over six minutes long. Everyone had laid their verses separately. I remember going to Quad Studios in New York for a session and Willy Gunz who produced the record let me hear the piece he’d done with 2Pac the night before. So I was supposed to be on that Untouchables album but everything was going to s**t with them at the time. So after all that happened, I saw Eddie out in the street one day and just told him that I wanted a release and that I wanted to get on with my life.”

So what was your mind state at this point considering you’d just lost a major label record deal?

“I’ll be honest with you, I was crushed when I was told that “The Concrete” wasn’t coming out. I worked so hard on that album for two years! I put so much into that album, bro. I did everything I could to make sure that album got done. I wasn’t just being an artist, I was having to be a salesman when I was talking to Atlantic to make sure I could get the budget to actually get into the studio and make the records. I had to do all of that myself. So when the situation happened with Atlantic, I ain’t gonna lie, I was f**ked-up for a couple of months. I was exhausted. I really didn’t know what was going to happen from that point. Everything had changed so fast and I’d had so many plans, that when I got dropped I really just had to take some time to figure everything out. But I mean, with the success of “Let It All Hang Out” and being signed to Atlantic Records, it wasn’t like I was starting from scratch. I definitely had something to build on.”

What was your next move?

“Well, there was this one cat who loved me as an artist. Do you remember when Noo Trybe / Virgin were trying to do some s**t? Well Mel-Ice, who used to be King Sun’s deejay back in the day, he became involved in A&R on the New York side for Noo Trybe. The label was actually out of California, but they brought Mel on to do some projects on the East Coast and sign some artists from New York. So Mel was going to sign me and I was beginning to work with him. He was doing some stuff at the time with Doo-Wop, Snaggapuss and the Bounce Squad through Noo Trybe / Virgin as well. Then in the middle of us doing all of this, Mel-Ice died, yo. Something happened to him and he got a bloodclot and died. God rest his soul, man.”

So you were back to square one?

“My life is weird man because I seem to come into contact with certain people at the strangest times. Through a friend of mine in New York I got connected with a guy called Danny Sims who was Bob Marley’s original manager. Danny Sims was starting to work with an independent record distribution company called Navarre. He was this older guy and he had such a great spirit. He made me feel like when you’re in your sixties you can still be cool (laughs). But he had all these unreleased Bob Marley demos that he’d had remastered which is how he’d got his label deal with Navarre. So under that label deal he’d decided that he was going to create some sub-labels. We connected and he asked me if I wanted to do a label with him. That’s when the independent scene was happening in the South, but the independent scene as a whole wasn’t really being embraced completely at that point. But we went ahead and that’s how I set-up Tru Reign Records.”

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How did you end-up reconnecting with Pete Rock for your debut 1997 Tru Reign single, “Enter The Center”?

“It was weird because I reached out to Pete and he came and made a new record with me. If you ask me now exactly how that all happened, I can’t remember. But Pete was down to do it. I didn’t even give him a lot of money to do it. I think I only gave him a thousand dollars or something. I don’t know if maybe Pete felt he owed me a little bit because of what happened with my project on Atlantic? But it was really magical that Pete came and did my first single for my own independent label. Plus, Danny Sims gave me some budget money to do a video and we made a cool video that we filmed in the Bronx. I put the single out and it started doing pretty good. I was getting some radio play and MTV were playing the video which was a big deal for me coming out again as an independent artist. But I definitely learnt a lot about how to run my label from the experience I had with Atlantic Records.”

When you were struggling in the mid-90s to get your career back on track did you find it ironic that your voice was being heard on one of the most successful dance tracks of the decade via the “Back once again with the ill behaviour…” sample on Wildchild’s “Renegade Master”?

“(Laughs) Let me tell you something man, that record is magical to me. The success of “Renegade Master” is definitely a blessing. It’s crazy to me to think that if I hadn’t put in all that hard work on my debut album, then Robert McKenzie wouldn’t have had the acappella to my “One For The Trouble” single to sample on what would become such an iconic track. That vocal sample of me has become like a catchphrase, bro. I mean, I haven’t received what I should have received from that record, but there are definitely positive things that have happened for me because of that record.”

You’ve also built up an impressive catalogue of work over the years…

“I’ve made some great albums on Tru Reign, like “Shock Frequency” and “Animal 2000”. My thing is now, I have a great catalogue of music and I think I’m going to concentrate on making sure people are aware of what else I’ve done after my time on Atlantic, rather than always trying to chase people by making new music. I’ve made so many good records and those records need to be heard more. I want people to know that I’m not just A.D.O.R. who did “Let It All Hang Out”, but that I also have a lot of good music that I’ve made since then that deserves to be heard.”

Are you still in touch with anyone from your Untouchables days?

“No, not really. Everybody’s older now, everybody’s gone their own separate ways, there’s too much bad business, so that would just be like opening up a can of worms.”

What about Pete Rock?

“When I first came on Twitter he sent me a message asking if it was really me on there, but that was it. It’s weird, man. Sometimes I feel like reaching out because I think it would be special if we did another record together. I think a lot of people would be moved by that.”

So what’s your attitude towards the music industry today?

“I never loved the music industry. I loved making music. But my life changed a lot when I had my children. Instead of going out on the road and being out all the time networking, I’d rather be at home watching my kids grow-up. That’s what’s important to me as a person. I could be more aggressive with how I work my music, but I would be sacrificing a lot of other things which are very important to me. But Hip-Hop and my success in music has always been the backbone of me staying in control of my life. I get glory from my music in different ways all the time, like when my kids are showing their friends my music on YouTube. That’s magical. So how can I be mad about anything in my world, bro?”

Ryan Proctor

Follow A.D.O.R. on Twitter – @trureign1 

A.D.O.R. – “Enter The Center” (Tru Reign / 1997)

Bronx Keeps Creating It… – The Almighty $amhill Reminisces On A Selection Of BX Classics

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Those of you out there who keep your ear close to the gritty Hip-Hop underground will no doubt already be familiar with Bronx-bred emcee The Almighty $amhill.

Making a memorable contribution to the P Brothers’ 2008 album “The Gas” alongside the likes of Milano Constantine and Roc Marciano, the Rotten Apple representative has also dropped a number of impressive street tracks whilst working on various official projects, mixing his honest and unapologetically raw approach to lyricism with rugged, soul-drenched production.

Having recently released his free EP project “The Preface” via Unkut.Com, the East Coast talent is currently putting the finishing touches to his debut album “The $amhill Story” which is scheduled to drop this summer and promises more of the wordsmith’s trademark New York straight talk.

Whilst $am was taking a break from the lab, I threw him a selection of my own personal favourite tracks to have emerged from the birthplace of Hip-Hop to see what memories, thoughts and opinions they may provoke.

The Bronx is back…

Ultramagnetic MC’s – “Ego Trippin'” (Next Plateau Records /1986)

$amhill: “That s**t was crazy! What’s funny about Ultramagnetic MC’s is that them dudes is from my neighbourhood. Some them is from 159th Street & Washington and 3rd Avenue. I remember I used to see Ced Gee over there all time as a little boy. I would hear “Ego Trippin'” at the jams in the park and people would lose their minds. What was crazy though, was that dudes like Ultramagnetic were people I’d see in the community before I saw them on TV or anything like that. You’d see them around and people would be like, ‘Yo, that’s the dude from Ultramagnetic MC’s.’ So for me to then see them on Video Music Box after that was kinda bugged out. But that song was so dope to me because of that f**kin’ beat. It was just so knockin’! The drums were crazy and then that piano came in. That song was literally magnetic. It drew you to it. If you were a music head then you were drawn to “Ego Trippin'” not just because of the s**t that they were saying on there, but how they were saying it over that beat. That song made you want to move. I mean, Hip-Hop back then was like how soul music used to be, where you felt it from the inside first. What also bugged me out about that record was that when I first heard it, it kinda seemed like they were going at Run DMC with the lines about Peter Piper. I remember listening to that as a little boy thinking, ‘Hold on?! Are they shi**ing on Run DMC?!’ (laughs) It was songs like “Ego Trippin'” that made me realise that I like my music hardcore.”

Boogie-Down Productions – “The Bridge Is Over” (B-Boy Records / 1987)

$amhill: “I was a little boy when that record came out, man. That was one of those songs I’d hear when they used to have the jams in the park and everyone would bring their s**t out and plug into the street-light. But man, when that beat would come on with that piano, that s**t would be pandemonium. I had two older sisters and a brother and they would take me to the jams and I’d break away from them just acting crazy in the park taking it all in. I was young at the time and I didn’t really understand that KRS was beefin’ with Marley Marl and them, but the overall feel of that record was incredible. It was only after I saw the video on Video Music Box and then started to listen to Marley Marl and Red Alert on the radio that I realised what was happening with them.

But that song was so powerful because it was representing where we were from and it was also letting people know that Hip-Hop started in The Bronx and you’ll respect that or we’ll run right through you. With me growing-up in Hip-Hop, I had to recognise that that song was monumental. I mean, KRS was really disrespecting people on “The Bridge Is Over” (laughs).

I was in elementary school when that song dropped and rap was the consistent topic everyday that everyone would be talking about. So off of us talking about “The Bridge Is Over”, I also started to learn more about MC Shan, Craig G, Roxanne Shante and other people that were doing this music in other places. So I had to recognise that there were other people doing Hip-Hop in other parts of New York City. But from that moment right there I’ve always loved KRS-One as an emcee. I mean, he was born in Brooklyn but he’s always represented The Bronx and seeing him do that back then let me know early on that you have to represent where you’re from in this rap s**t and really be proud of it.”

Just-Ice – “Going Way Back” (Fresh Records / 1987)

$amhill: “That record is a classic. Around the time that “Going Way Back” came out the park jams were slowly dying down in The Bronx because people were getting killed and there’d always be something going on like a shootout. So the jams in the park were really getting shut down. So now you’d be hearing records first on the radio with Mr. Magic’s show and Red Alert and then a couple of weeks later Ralph McDaniels would be playing the video on Video Music Box.

Now, the thing with Just-Ice is that he was a street ni**a. He’s a dude that would handle what he needed to handle in his own way. A lot of people didn’t know that about Just-Ice then unless you were from The Bronx. But to hear him on that record talking about how he was there when certain things happened in The Bronx, Zulu Nation, this, that and a third, it really felt like he was teaching me and putting me onto some s**t that I really didn’t know about. But that record was so hardcore and Just-Ice always used to wear those leather rasta hats which he had on in the video. The part I always remember is when Just-Ice says ‘Yo KRS! What’s the purpose of you stopping me?’ (laughs).

The beat to that song was so strong and his voice was so aggressive but at the same time he was teaching me. It reminded me in some ways of someone like a Farrakhan, because he was always very aggressive in delivering his lessons. I learnt from listening to Farrakhan that if you’re not aggressive in the way you deliver your message then a lot of people won’t take you seriously. So when Just-Ice was telling me on “Going Way Back” about certain blocks and how if you don’t know what happened with this person then you wasn’t there, I had to listen to him because he was both commanding and demanding your attention. He was giving you a history lesson that you had to pay attention to.”

Tim Dog – “F**k Compton” (Ruffhouse Records / 1991)

$amhill: “That record had a major impact on me and my whole entire neighbourhood because Tim Dog lived just a couple of buildings away from me. But the funny s**t about that is that I didn’t actually know that then (laughs). I guess the older dudes I was hanging around with already knew Tim Dog from around the way and of course he already had the Ultra affiliation. But when that song came out it was wild aggressive, it was ignorant, it was disrespectful, and we loved it (laughs). We loved everything about it. But at first it confused me why he was dissing certain people on that record because I f**ked with N.W.A.. I loved aggressive, hardcore sounding s**t and at the time N.W.A. was the epitome of that type of style and the way they were coming with it was just so real. I mean, back then, as a little boy I used to think rappers like the Geto Boys and N.W.A . would really come to my mother’s house and  kill everybody there (laughs). Like, seeing the video to N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” I thought Ice Cube was going to bust through the TV screen and kill somebody. Then when Tim Dog came out and was like ‘F**k them! This is where I’m from and this is what I’m about’ I was like, ‘Yooooo! Hold on, man Who is this?’

I mean, I wasn’t taking sides or none of that, but Tim Dog was really staking his claim and it was hot! I remember buggin’ out how he dissed Michel’le like that because it was just so uncalled for (laughs). I also remember buggin’ over how he actually came on the record with ‘Awwww shit…’ I was like, ‘How do you just come on a record with ‘Awwww shit…’?’ I was a kid at the time and curse words intrigued me, I was always cursing someone out, so when a ni**a would be cursing everyone out that would be the funniest s**t in the world to me. So when Tim Dog did that on “F**k Compton” I thought the dude had lost his mind but I loved it. And it was more than just being about the fact that Tim Dog was from my block, it was about the fact that he had to have some f**kin’ balls to do what he did on that record. He went at the whole of Compton! I mean, I couldn’t be mad at DJ Quik, MC Eiht or any of those dudes for going back at him or dissing the Bronx. I mean, I liked DJ Quik and MC Eiht. Their music wasn’t getting played on New York radio at the time but their videos would be on Video Music Box and I was like, ‘Yo, these dudes have really got a story to tell.’ But Tim Dog was just like, ‘F**k your story!’ He really didn’t care (laughs).

After that I had to get “Penicillin On Wax” when it came out. I mean, everybody in my mother’s neighbourhood was listening to “Penicillin On Wax” because Tim Dog was from the block and that album was crazy! Nobody could say that Tim Dog was wack. But what I took from Tim Dog back then was the realisation that you can do exactly what you want to do with your life and not give a f**k about what anyone else has to say about it.”

Showbiz & A.G. – “Soul Clap” (Mercury Records / 1992)

$amhill: “Well, I can honestly say that Showbiz & A.G. really made me want to be $amhill even more and pursue this music. I used to hear “Soul Clap” on the radio and I remember the EP they had that it was on because I bought it. I s**t you not, I used to buy everything on bootleg back then (laughs). The bootleg man used to be up the block next to McRogers, which was my neighbourhood’s bootleg McDonalds (laughs). So the tape man would be there and sell everything for two dollars. I used to have thousands of those tapes. But I got Showbiz & A.G.’s first s**t with “Soul Clap” on there and that record was crazy to me. The bassline on there was just so breathtaking. I’d be walking to school listening to those dudes in my headphones and I loved what they were doing.

To me, A.G. is the epitome of the evolving emcee. From how he rhymed on Lord Finesse’s first album “Funky Technician”, to how he rhymed on his own early s**t, to how he rhymes now, you can hear that was somebody who wanted to get better every time he came out. A.G. didn’t take what he did as a joke. You could tell he wanted people to know rhyming was what he loved to do and that came across in the music. A.G. is definitely the epitome of an emcee to me.

As for Showbiz, I remember the first time I saw their video for “Fat Pockets” on Video Music Box and then went outside afterwards and saw him on the f**kin’ corner, that s**t changed my life forever. It made me realise that even with all the music stuff, Showbiz and A.G. were just regular dudes from my community. Seeing them around like that really made me follow everything they did and it let me know that I could do it to just by being me. But around that time, I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I’d be at house parties and when “Soul Clap” would come on the whole place would go crazy because that song was so funky.

I have such a profound respect for both of them. A.G.’s brother Wally World is one of my producers who I’ve done a whole bunch of stuff with. Two years ago I had about a two or three hour conversation with Showbiz in his studio. This dude I used to be cool with took me down there to meet him because I was always saying that Showbiz & A.G. were the reason why I was doing this. So I was introduced to Showbiz and we ended up having a three hour conversation about God and spirituality. He asked to hear my music and he respected what I was doing. I was telling him how I used to see him around the neighbourhood when I was a little boy and how he would have all this jewellery on and be looking so fly, and he was just sat there staring at me like, ‘Wow! Just off of me being me, this young ni**a is doing what he’s doing now.’ But I really respected Showbiz for taking the time to hear me out and to speak to me about the things that we did.

Same thing with A.G., I remember seeing him at a radio station a couple of years ago and he was saying how if something isn’t about the truth then he doesn’t want to speak about it because he’s so connected to wanting to spread the knowledge of God and that s**t literally sent chills down my spine.

But to me, Showbiz & A.G. have never done anything wack. They’ve consistently evolved and that’s what I’ve always loved about them. It would be a dream come true for me to do a song with Show & A.G. just off the strength of the impact those two men had on my life before they ever even knew anything about me.”

Fat Joe – “Flow Joe” (Relativity Records / 1993)

$amhill: “It’s funny that you say that s**t because “Flow Joe” is one of my personal favourites as well. I remember seeing when Fat Joe was filming that video. But it really impacted me because I remember when Red Alert used to play a short version of the song as a promo on his radio show with the ‘Everybody know Fat Joe’s in town…’ verse. I used to sit there and wait for that promo to come on when I’d be listening to the radio. That Diamond D beat was so hardcore and the way it dropped with the kick and the snare was just incredible to me. Back then you could buy the cassette maxi-singles with the instrumental on it and I picked that up and used to play that s**t all the time.

That s**t was so dope to me. I mean, what Fat Joe was saying on there in his lyrics was good and it was cool for what it was, but the s**t that was just so crazy about that track was that beat. The music was just so cinematic and I don’t know how many people got that same feeling from it that I did. It made me want to get into Fat Joe even more and see where he was coming from with his music. I mean, the founding members of D.I.T.C. being from the Bronx just made such an impression on me because I would just see these dudes walking around. It just made me believe that if I wanted to do this music thing then I could do it.

But going back to that track, if anyone ever asked me what my favourite Fat Joe tracks were I would have to say “Flow Joe” and “Respect Mine” off the second album. I always preferred the version of “Flow Joe” they did the video for rather than the one that was on the first album. But that album “Represent” was crazy. I remember I always wanted to rap over the beat that was used on the interlude “My Man Ski”. When I was in high-school there was a talent show and I was going to be in it and the beat on that interlude was so dope so I looped it up on the tape-deck and I was going to do a freestyle to it. But then I got kicked out of the show because I was being stupid (laughs).”

Money Boss Players – “Crap Game” (Warning Records / 1996)

$amhill: “Hmmmm. It’s like this man, the best thing about Money Boss Players is Lord Tariq and I’ma leave it at that. You can print that. The best thing about Money Boss is Lord Tariq and that’s all I have to say on it. It is what it is. I just don’t really f**k with that. I got respect for Lord Tariq and I’ve learnt that Lord Tariq has respect for me and my music and I’ll leave it at that.”

Big Pun – “I’m Not A Player” (Loud Records / 1997)

$amhill: “The original mix of that song is crazy. Big Pun was an intriguing dude to me. I mean, I never knew him personally, I just knew of him from the community. You remember the remix video where he’s riding around on that scooter? Pun would actually ride around the Bronx on that f**kin’ scooter. I would see Pun’s big ass on that scooter riding around Home Street, Boston Road, Forest Projects, I would see him do that. But the original version of that song was so crazy to me because I love soul music and the way that O’Jays sample was flipped was so dope. Then on top of that I had to respect the lyrical ability of Big Pun as well. I remember thinking how he reminded me of Kool G. Rap when I first heard him, not to where he was biting his style, but like Big L and Lord Finesse, Pun just enhanced that style and was the next generation. I just thought he was f**kin’ nice.

When Pun came out Hip-Hop was getting into some other s**t but he was still able to remain himself and keep it street. I mean, that “Capital Punishment” album was off-the-wall! You could tell there were certain tracks on there where Pun was trying to reach for that commercial appeal, but overall he did his thing on there. It always seemed to me that Pun knew what he wanted to do with his music and he did exactly that. I mean, Pun passed away in 2000, it’s now thirteen years after his death and we still haven’t had another new emcee come through from anywhere and make that type of impact to say I’m one of those next ni**as who’s going to be respected as legendary status.”

Ryan Proctor

Follow $amhill on Twitter @MoeMiller96 and lookout for the full album “The $amhill Story” coming later this year.

New Joint – Life MC

Life MC – “Pun Wars” (@LifeMC / 2012)

The Phi-Life Cypher member drops some bars over Big Pun’s 90s favourite “You Ain’t A Killer” for a forthcoming mixtape project.

The Constantine Tape…The Best Of Milano Mixtape Download – Milano

The D.I.T.C. affiliate drops this new mixtape featuring classic collaborations with the likes of Showbiz, The P Brothers and Big Pun plus material from his new crew Barbury’N – download here for a heavy dose of that Rotten Apple rap.

The B Tape Mixtape Download – DJ Total Eclipse

X-ecutioners member Total Eclipse follows-up his recent Jay-Z / Jay Electronica / J Dilla project “The J Tape” with this new dose of mash-ups and remixes featuring vocals from the likes of Big L, Big Pun and Black Moon over the production of Detroit’s Black Milk – peep the musical madness here.

The New 90’s Mixtape Download – DJ Doo Wop

Legendary mix king DJ Doo Wop teams-up with TheSource.Com to drop this digital project which, in the spirit of his classic 90s tapes, pulls together a mix of underground freestyles and thorough bangers – download Side A and Side B then slip the headphones on and zone out with the likes of Sadat X, John Robinson, Reks, Rashad & Confidence, O.C. and more.

Old To The New Q&A – Milano

Having spent the last decade blessing hungry Hip-Hop fanatics with a sporadic stream of cult classics such as 2000’s “Deal With A Feeling”, D.I.T.C. affiliate and NYC native Milano has definitely proven that sometimes less actually is more.

Whilst some artists have flooded the market in recent years with mixtapes and endless freestyles, only to be forgotten as quickly as they arrived, Milano’s considered approach to his craft has helped the Uptown Manhattan resident gain and maintain a dedicated fanbase.

Surrounded by Hip-Hop heavyweights since the beginning of his career, from catching the ear of Big Pun in the late-90s to working with esteemed producers such as Showbiz, T-Ray and the UK’s P Brothers, the Rotten Apple rhymer has consistently honed his talents and perfected his own style of observational, street-wise wordplay by combining the influences of his golden-era mentors with his own new-school flavour.

Now returning as a member of new crew Barbury’N alongside longtime D.I.T.C. cohort D-Flow and recent recruit Gage, the gritty emcee is focussed on building on his already strong foundations to leave his mark in the rap game throughout 2012 and beyond.

In this extensive interview, the man also known as Constantine speaks on working with his new crew, learning tricks of the production trade from Showbiz, and his plans to finally release his much-delayed “Blvd. Author” project.

You’ve recently introduced your new group Barbury’N to the rap world – considering you’ve always been known as a solo artist explain how the crew came together?

“Basically, I was building in the studio with Showbiz and we were talking about how we could still bring that D.I.T.C. flavour out there but try to do it in a new format with a younger generation. Show suggested that we put together a little group and I already knew D-Flow from the joints he’d done with A.G. and Party Arty and then there was a young kid we knew called Gage who’s sick with it, so that’s how we formulated the group. We decided we couldn’t just have a regular name and we were joking in the studio talking about how we kill bars and I said ‘Bars, we bury them’ and that turned into the group name Barbury’N (laughs). It goes deeper than us just looking like savages or something, it’s about how we kill those bars and really give everything in our rhymes. So the group concept really evolved from there.”

Does the music that will be coming from Barbury’N just have Showbiz on production?

“The mixtape project that we just completed just has Show on production, but for the album project Show will of course be on there and we were hoping to get DJ Premier to put something together. I’ve also dabbled in some beats myself so I’ve got two joints on there which are real powerful.”

So Barbury’N is definitely an official group rather than just a few emcees coming together to drop a one-off mixtape?

“I would say so and at the same time I’m still manifesting my solo thing. Hopefully that will give the project a little more umph as you know how fans tend to gravitate towards family-orientated crews. So we really wanted to create some buzz with Barbury’N and then we can still continue to put music out as a group but that buzz will hopefully mean that we can get a little more attention when we drop solo material. I know people are still looking out for Milano solo projects, so my plan is to drop a mixtape after this Barbury’N project and then put an album or EP out soon after that.”

You mentioned earlier about Barbury’N being the next generation of D.I.T.C. which is a tag that you’ve been carrying since you came out over a decade ago with singles like “Deal With A Feeling” – considering the legacy of D.I.T.C. is that something you’ve ever felt pressured by?  

“I just roll with it because if you’re cut from the cloth then that feeling will naturally come out in my music. I come from the essence of it and I’m at where it all began everyday so it’s not something I really have to study because it is what it is. I understand that to add on to that D.I.T.C. legacy I still have to bring forth music that’s high quality and stay in my zone but when I make music and write my rhymes I’m coming from the essence of what this music is, so as long as I continue to do that then I feel that what I bring out will be successful in giving people what they’re hoping for.”

How did you initially become part of the D.I.T.C. family?

“I knew Show through a family member from when I was about twelve-years-old and I always used to run up on him telling him that I could rhyme. Even back then, Show would be like ‘Wow! The s**t you’re saying is crazy for someone your age. You sound like Nas or someone.’ Hearing someone who was already in the game and working with some great emcees say stuff like that really kept me going. So I continued rhyming which then lead to me meeting Big Pun during a cypher up in D&D which is how I then got to do the “Where Ya At?” joint with Pun for the D.I.T.C. album. At that time I was having a lot of fun and really living in a dream world. I mean, Pun was still coming off the success of “I’m Not A Player” and his debut album so for him to say he wanted to do a song with me at that time was crazy. I was like, ‘You’d love to do a song with me?! I’d love to do a song with you!’ That feels like it was a long time ago now, so for me to still be relevant to people today and for them to love the feel of the music I make is something that’s heartfelt and it’s why I keep going whether making music is a lucrative situation or not. It comes from my heart and I think the people out there can feel that in everything I do. It’s just all about me staying in my zone, so it goes back to what I said on that joint I did with The P Brothers for their “Gas” album (laughs).”

Do you think artists today are too quick to try and please everyone rather than actually concentrating on creating their own unique style?

“If you stay in your own time capsule then nothing else around you can penetrate that. You see other artists out there making music that has a Midwest type of feel or has a Southern twang to it now and the music they came out with before wasn’t like that. I just stay in my lane. A lot of artists out there are confused right now and don’t know what to do because of all these new trends that come along. So they make music that sounds confused because they’re trying too hard to be something that they’re not just to keep up with new trends. F**k the trends! That’s all bulls**t anyway because trends come and go but some people still seem to fail to realise that. But I’ve seen artists go through that and that’s why I feel good when I come out and people tell me that my music always has that same essence to it because I just stay in my lane and make the music that comes from my heart.”

With that being said, do you feel you have a responsibility to keep that traditional New York sound alive?

“I feel that I must because I was with the greats like Big L and Big Pun and I would be doing artists like that an injustice if I didn’t come with that East Coast essence everytime that I came out. I’m trying to do my part to help keep their spirits alive and also represent the legacy of so many other great New York artists in my music. You have to do that. I might go off and do something a little different on some digital s**t, but it’s still coming from that original essence because Bambaataa was digital when he came out with Soul Sonic Force. But yeah, I do feel that I have a responsibility to keep that traditional New York sound alive because to know your past is to know your future, so it’s important for these new emcees coming up today to understand what came before them and know the foundations that they’re standing on.”

What do you consider to be the main differences between the underground scene you came up in during the 90s and today’s underground scene?

“The music now is not as strong as it was. There’s a lot of bulls**t out there, and if people keep pushing it out there that it’s the bulls**t that’s hot, then that in turn is going to evolve into there being a lot of bulls**t artists. That’s why I just have to stay in my area because a lot of the music that’s being made today isn’t really what I’m about. I mean, you have the Internet now which is really helping a lot of these young kids get out there. I can’t really hate on the new generation because they’re putting their own flavour in the music, but to me the essence just isn’t there. I mean, of course the music will always adapt and evolve, but I don’t think that should happen to the point where it’s completely removed from what it started as. So I just maintain and do what I need to do. I mean, it’s not as organic as it used to be because some of these kids are doing everything online whereas we were out in the trenches rhyming in cyphers and really having to show and prove. In my opinion, coming up during the time period that I did really contributed to me being more of an all-round artist and I feel privileged to have come up during that time and been around the artists that I was around. It was more about the actual music back then and skills whereas today it’s very much a visual era. Today, an artist can just go to store and you can have someone filming it, edit it properly, put it on YouTube and people will watch that. It’s very much about being seen constantly and keeping your name out there, but people need to remember that you still have to have quality music.”

Looking back over your career, are there any particular moments that you feel helped define you as an artist?

“The whole Pun situation was crazy when I was in that D&D cypher which started off with twenty emcees and then ended with just me and Pun rhyming, so that was something great. I remember being in the studio with Big L one time and he was someone who always wanted to rhyme. There were eight emcees in the studio with us at the time and I saw him tear up every single one, one after another. I was like ‘Wow! He just went bananas on these dudes.’ There was another time I was with L at D&D and we were getting ready to leave the studio and were downstairs. L had a session up there and he leaned out the window and was like, ‘Yo! Give me five minutes so I can lay this verse and I’ll be right down.’ I’m thinking it’s impossible for someone to lay a verse and do ad-libs in five minutes. The next thing I know, guess who’s downstairs in the car with me? I’m like, ‘Yo? You finish your verse?!’ L just looked at me and was like, ‘Yeah, the s**t is done, don’t even worry about it.’ The next day we went back to the studio and heard the song he’d knocked out his verse for in those five minutes. I can’t even bulls**t you, I can’t remember exactly what song it was, but listening to that verse knowing he knocked it out in one take, I was like ‘Yo, I really am around masters of this music.’ It really hit me then that if you weren’t striving to become a master of your own s**t then at some point someone in the crew was really going to embarrass you. From then on, I always stayed on point so that if anyone asked me to rhyme, my sword was always ready. I mean, Pun was the same way with how he approached his craft. He used to carry his rhyme book around everywhere, and he’d pull it out with all these food stains on it (laughs). Whenever I’d see Pun he’d ask to hear something and I literally had to rhyme for him everytime he asked. It had to be something new that he hadn’t heard from me before and it had to be something crazy. That was something that would keep any emcee on their toes. You had to be ready at all times…”

And back then catching a loss in a battle or freestyle session was pretty much considered the be-all-and-end-all to any emcee worth their rhyme book…

“Exactly. You had to always be ready because you never knew when you were going to have to show and prove which could then lead to opportunities. So those are some of the memories that really stand out to me when I think back. I remember another time when I was working with T-Ray, he’d just flown out to New York from the West Coast and he called me up to tell me The Beatnuts were in session downtown for their “Milk Me” album and he asked if I wanted to go to the studio with him. I was like, ‘Of course I want to go to the studio! I love The Beatnuts!’ When we got to the studio they really showed me so much love and were like ‘Yo! You wanna be on the album?’ I’m like, ‘Of course! You’re the epitome of that raunchy, hardcore Hip-Hop, I love that s**t!’ (laughs) So straight away I got on the track and did my thing. It’s moments like that and the ones I mentioned with Pun and Big L that were pivotal in me doing what I do today.”

When you look at crews such as the Juice Crew, Wu-Tang and D.I.T.C. it seemed as if everyone was pushing each other to elevate their craft because there was so much talent within each camp and nobody wanted to be the emcee that fans weren’t feeling as much. Nowadays, it seems like many artists are happy to be mediocre and because that seems to be the general standard rappers aren’t really inspiring each other to step their game up anymore…

“You’re right and unfortunately that’s just how it is nowadays where a lot of emcees really aren’t pushing themselves to keep their skills sharp. But if the overall standard is low then the bar that people feel they need to compete with is also very low. But that’s why it’s good that you still have crews out there in the mainstream like Slaughterhouse and even the members of The Lox who are still showing that you do have to keep that bar raised. I mean, when I joined forces with D-Flow and Gage to form Barbury’N, in my mind I was thinking that those are the kind of crews that we’d be competing with, so we couldn’t come with any bulls**t. So all three of us knew individually that we each had to bring our best to the table. If you’ve made some bulls**t, you’ve got no-one else to blame but yourself. I mean, a lot of artists have a lot of ‘yes’ men in the studio with them telling them their verses are crazy when they’re more likely the worst thing they’ve ever done. We don’t have anybody like that around us in the studio. I mean, even if we think something sounds finished, someone like Show might come into the session and tell us the hook on a track doesn’t sound as strong as it could and needs doing over. So we’ll do the hook again. I mean, when I’m writing my rhymes, I’ll read them over and maybe pick up on a certain word that sounds okay, but then I think I could go further into my brain and pull out a better choice of word for what I’m trying to say. So I’m always pushing myself. But it’s not like that with a lot of emcees nowadays, they’ll write something real quick and be like ‘That’s cool. That’s good enough.’ I could never be like that with my rhymes. My whole thing is about being descriptive with it to the point where if a blind person was sitting down listening to my music they would be able to see everything I’m talking about in their mind through my rhymes and really picture it. People need to get back to really putting effort into their lyrics.”

Do you think part of the reason why some emcees don’t put that sort of effort into their rhymes today is because music is viewed by many as disposable now with downloading etc so artists don’t even expect people to be listening to a track or album for a long period of time?

“You’re right because a lot of artists today aren’t trying to make music with longevity in mind because everything now moves so fast. But that’s why, although my music might come in installments rather than a constant stream, I try to make sure that each installment is worthy of praise. I really zone out with my rhymes and I always like to really make sure there’s a marriage between what I’m saying and the music. I just try to bless it correctly and only when I feel that I’ve done that will I present it to the masses.”

Radio has always played a massive part in the New York Hip-Hop scene but in recent years a huge gap seems to have appeared between what’s being played on stations like Hot 97 and what people are actually listening to on the street. How much influence do you feel radio still has in NYC?

“It’s been said before, but if you turn on the radio in New York you’d think you were down South somewhere (laughs). It’s wild. I mean, God bless everyone from wherever they’re at, because every location has had their own struggles to get where they are as far as Hip-Hop is concerned. But now that the radio sounds the way it does, a lot of New York rappers feel they have to transform their sound and emulate what’s being played and that’s where everything starts to go wrong because instead of being originators we’re being followers. It’s a strange time.”

That must really be a bitter pill to swallow though for artists who’re making quality, traditional East Coast Hip-Hop to not get that hometown support from certain radio stations?

“But that’s what happens when it becomes a job to people and the politics become involved along with all the bread and under-handed stuff that goes on to make sure certain records get played. You know how the industry is. But that’s why it’s important to just keep pumping them and building your buzz, playing the game a little and getting those visuals out there for people to bite on, and then it gets to a point where the people at those radio stations have to pay attention to what you’re doing and have to support you. So aside from dropping fly, quality music you also have to show that you’ve got just as much drive and initiative as these other dudes that are coming up with mediocre music.”

Switching the subject, you mentioned earlier that you’re producing beats now…

“I thank God that I’ve acquired the ability to make quality beats. I think when you hear them you’ll flip out Ryan, like ‘Oh s**t! That’s alright. I love how he chopped that up!’ (laughs) I’m chopping samples up like a savage and Show is listening to my beats like, ‘This is crazy! That’s my man!’ (laughs) So I feel great that I’m honing in on that and really coming up with some quality beats.”

Was production something that you always intended to get involved with or did it happen by chance?

“It was always something that I wanted to get into when I had the opportunity. I had a very musical family, with my mother, my father, God bless the dead, and my brother. My father was always into his jazz, so I was hearing a lot of Thelonious Monk and music from greats like that. My brother was all about early Hip-Hop, so I was hearing all the original classics and breakbeats. Then my mother, who’s Spanish, she was listening to all the merengue, the Fania All-Stars, Hector Lavoe and all of them. So that being said, I always had rhythms and sounds in my head, so from early on I was bringing tracks that I wanted to sample to Show and asking him if he could listen to it, do what he do and chop it up for me. But while he was doing that, I was in there watching everything that he was doing and learning how to use the equipment. So it was a natural progression from me knowing what samples I wanted to use, to me actually taking those samples myself and getting it done.”

I’m guessing that Showbiz must have been quite a hard mentor when you were asking for feedback with him knowing you’d be coming out telling people he played a part in schooling you on making beats?

“Yeah, man, for real (laughs). I really took it seriously though and just really watched everything he did. Being around Lord Finesse was a huge help as well, because you know that Finesse is a master when it comes to these beats. I was in the studio watching how Finesse rock out, I was watching how Diamond D bang out his stuff, watching how Ahmed would chop stuff up. I was just in there like a quiet apprentice taking it all in, watching and learning.”

Now that you’re familiar with the production process, has that changed the way you listen to other producer’s beats when people who might want to collaborate send you tracks etc?

“Now, I would probably have to hear something that I think is out of this world because sometimes now dudes will play me beats and I’ll be like, ‘Well, I could’ve made that myself.’ So I’m not going to take a beat from someone that I could’ve done myself. It would have to be something that I think is really crazy. I get a lot of emails from dudes sending me beats and most of them will be something that’s trying to sound like a beat Showbiz or DJ Premier would make. If I want someone to make me a beat that sounds like Show or Premier, I’ll just go get it from them (laughs). But working on my own beats has definitely given me an insight, so I pick up on different things now when I’m listening to beats from outside producers and I can tell whether it was a slap-dash five minute job or if someone has really put their time in on a track.”

Getting back to the lyrics, do you have a particular creative process you go through when writing rhymes?

“Usually, during the day I’ll be out walking in the street, picking my son up, reading the newspaper, hearing conversations, and mentally I’m collecting thoughts and words all day. Then I’ll sit down at night and start putting things together. Maybe a particular word I heard that day might spark a thought, or something I’ve seen, and I’ll just sit and start zoning and creating a rhyme based around that. If I have a particular beat that I’m trying to write to, I’ll be putting rhymes together in my head during the day, thinking of things, and then when I get home I’ll jot it all down and start putting it down. I can pretty much write anywhere though. I’m not one of these dudes who can only write in the studio or something like that. I just kind of go inside myself.  If I was in some small West African village, I could just zone out and write. If I was in Siberia somewhere, I could still write (laughs). As long as I’m peaceful and calm, I can zone out and come up with something.”

You’ve definitely always been an emcee that you really have to sit down and listen to because you pack so much into your verses. You seem to have a real skill for using the streets as the context for your rhymes but then you take the listener outside of that world and give some real food for thought that’s universal and not just relevant to people living that street life…

“I’ve learned that sometimes you can go to far with it and go over someone’s head so it’s not about clubbin’ people over the head with some scholarly s**t all the time, it’s about achieving a balance in your writing so that anyone can take something from it. The thing is, when I was growing-up on my block, I wasn’t selling crack as a teenager or bustin’ guns, but that was around me. So when I started rhyming, I couldn’t say that I was doing that, so the challenge to me was to incorporate what I was seeing in my environment and write about it correctly so that I would still be respected for being street-wise and the streets would still feel me. So I came at it from a different angle just trying to be descriptive, breaking everything down so that when you listened to my music I was taking you for a walk through my environment and you would be able to see everything that goes on there. From a rat running across the street, to someone looking out their window seeing what’s going on, to someone stood on the corner doing their thing. But at the same time, I was no fool, I went to school, I studied English and things of that nature, so I still wanted to give people that proper grammar and then flip it back to the streets. I felt that if I could incorporate all of those elements in my rhymes, then I would really have something. Then once I really started to work at it I really started to move into my own zone and come with my own style that had that balance.”

Unfortunately a lot of emcees today aren’t trying to achieve that same balance though, it’s about style over substance and flow over content. In my opinion, to be considered a great emcee you of course have to have your own style and be nice with your delivery, but on top of just sounding good what you’re actually saying also has to have some substance beyond just being words that rhyme…

“Exactly, and I always bring it back to me being around some of the top emcees in the game early in my career because that was something that I learnt from them. I mean, do you remember when Big L dropped “Ebonics”? That was crazy! Those rhymes sounded incredible but there was also so much thought that went into them. So from early on, I was thinking ‘Okay, this is the level of quality that I have to maintain.’ If you played a lot of Pun’s rhymes from back then today, he could still take out a whole crew with just one verse because he used to pack so much in there with his flow, the imagery he’d use and his punchlines.”

It’s funny you should say that as I was just listening to Fat Joe’s second album the other day from 1995 and when Pun dropped his “Snatch the moon out the sky and blow the sun away” rhyme on “Watch Out” I was thinking the same thing…

“Yeah, I remember that rhyme, that was when he was still known as Moon Dog. But you can hear the hunger in that verse and that’s the way I was approaching my rhymes back then as well because it was always a dream for me to come out but I just never knew when it was going to happen. So I was always trying to write rhymes that went beyond the time I was in that I felt would still carry an impact in years to come, and that’s still how I approach what I do today.”

So what are the plans for 2012?

“We just finished the artwork on “The Constantine Tapes” which is going to be a mixtape with about ten or twelve songs. I’m also looking to finally drop that “Blvd Author” project and we got the Barbury’N album coming after the mixtape. So we’re definitely looking to get our brand out there and I’m also working with a partner of mine to get our own label Fiyah Sounds up and running. So for 2012 I’m just looking to be wherever I need to be to get the ball rolling and let people know that I’m still out here with quality music.”

Ryan Proctor

Barbury’N – “Living At Still” (Mugshot Music / 2011)

In Memory Of… Mixtape Download – Big Pun / J. Dilla

Aviles of BeAllMighty.Com pays a timely tribute to two of Hip-Hop’s fallen greats with this Pun / Dilla blend project – download here.

New Joint – Armageddon

Armageddon – “Run Away” (Geddy Music / 2010)

Taken from the Terror Squad affiliate’s forthcoming EP “The Journal Vol 1: Rebirth”.

Tales From The Darkside – Fat Joe

Joey Crack reminisces about a drunk Big Pun while promoting his new album “The Darkside”.

Shots Fired – Armageddon

Terror Squad’s Armageddon drops a quick verse for the camera.

Straight To The 90s – Big Pun / DMX / Canibus / Mos Def / John Forte

Late-90s roundtable discussion on the science of rhyming featuring Big Pun, DMX, Canibus, Mos Def and John Forte. 

Crack Music – Fat Joe

Joey Crack asks RealTalkNY why he’s not the people’s choice and explains the reasons for the title of his forthcoming 2008 album.

Now call me a hater if you want, but I did used to rate Fat Joe as one of my favourite rappers when he was making joints like these….

Fat Joe – “Flow Joe” (Relativity / 1993)

Big Pun ft. Fat Joe – “Twinz” (Loud / 1998)

DJ Honda ft. The Beatnuts & Fat Joe – “Out For The Cash” (Relativity / 1996)

D.I.T.C. ft. Big L & Fat Joe – “The Enemy” (D.I.T.C. / 1997)

But then the Don Cartagena started making tracks like this…..

Fat Joe ft. Lil Wayne – “Make It Rain” (Virgin / 2006)

Now tell me, which Fat Joe do you prefer???!!!