Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moments of Truth Pt. 2

Outside of Public Enemy, Gangstarr was my favorite rap group. Peep my myspace handle. Their formula never changed from record to record, but it was enhanced and updated with each release.
They remain one of the most consistent duos in hip hop, even if they're taking a break from each other right now.

The first part of the interview was posted in November of 2006.

Part 2.

CRAIG: How did you get the idea to put jazz in a rap record?

PRIMO: Well, I use anything that's funky ... It ain't even about bein' funky. We have to make it funky. It could be a sample that just fits the atmosphere of what we're doin'. It could be jazz, R&B, soul, rock, classical, anything that has a that type of sound, that sounds like a Gangstarr vibe, I use. There's a lot of jazz elements in a lot of our songs, but the intent is not to try to do jazz rap or try to just use jazz samples. I use anything that just sounds fly.

CRAIG: Okay.

PRIMO: If I rub your hat, and it sounds fly, I'm a loop it. You know what I'm sayin'? Like "Just to get a rep." Good example. That wasn't jazz that I sampled, but when you heard it, it has sort of a scary type of a bass line, a haunting type of a track. The way he told a story, it went together, the way he said it, the music had that little eerie type of feelin'. Same way with "Take It Personal." They way he sounds like he's angry about situations, it's like a creepin' up on ya track, the piano sounds like its comin' out of the woodworks and shit. Oh, Excuse my language.

CRAIG: "Take it Personal" sounds angry. Was there anything you were angry about? It's a very specific record.

GURU: It's specific. I mean, everybody has feelings like that. Some people say 'don't take it personal,' I'm sayin' take it personal. If you have a so-called friend, and they backstab you, you don't feel like 'don't take it personal.' You feel like Take it Personal.' When I see you I'm gonna be be mad, so don't say nothin' to me or we gonna be fightin or whatever. I'm sayin' –

PRIMO: Like you and your man right here, if y'all believe in each other and what y'all are doin', if all of a sudden he don't come through or – Say he took the camera, not sayin' you go'n do it my man, say he took the camera, took the film, and sold it to CBS or somethin' to air, and you'd be sittin here goin', 'I can't believe that!' Instead of just sayin' "Damn!" to yourself, I'm sure you want to have feelings of "Man, I wanna get back to him, for what he did, 'cause he really hurt me here, (Primo thumps his chest.) When it's someone that you really believe in and trust, it hurts here, when they actually backstab you. And that was one opinion in the song. There were three different opinions. The second verse was about sampling, about how we hate how people are blowing the sampling thing out of proportion. We feel the same way Stet and Kane said back in the day, if we didn't bring back alive old beats, you wouldn't survive.

CRAIG: Would you consider working with R&B artists?

PRIMO: It really depends on what the song is about. The song, the subject matter the artist, it all has to go like a hand and glove.

CRAIG: Anything else y'all wanna say?

GURU: I just wanna say keep watchin'' this program. 'Cause they got the real stuff, underground hip hop at its best.

PRIMO: Be yourself, be yourself, be yourself, Know yourself. Much respect to these brothers right here, yo, cameraman too, film yourself real quick, man.

MAURICE: I got a question.

PRIMO: The cameraman has a question, hold up.

MAURICE: DJ Premier, I want to know, other than yourself, who is the best dj out there?

PRIMO: I got a few. I like Jam Master Jay, my main man DJ Scratch form EPMD, that's my boy. Richie Rich from 3rd Bass, Mister C, Grandmaster Flash, Jazzy Jay, aw, it's too many. DST, Grand Wizard Theodore, Tat Money with Kwame, Miz, DJ Alladin, DJ Muggs, Baby G from Dallas, it's so many man. Flamboyant, Plastic Man ... aw man, I know I missed some. Steve D from Harlem, that brother's nasty, Chill Will and Barry B. It's a lot of good DJ out there. Whoever I missed, I know what's up, but my brain is on the gin and tonic tip right now. Peace out and much love to all you black people out there. Peace.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Bag and a Prayer

Preparing for a live broadcast of Wavelength was a soothing ritual I relished almost as much as the show itself. Hours before we went on, I picked out the videos from my ginormous collection of 3/4 and VHS tapes. Three quarter inch tapes, if you haven't seen one, about the size of 5 subject notebook and usually encased in a hard plastic case. They were awkward and unwieldy, but very durable. After I scripted the show, I filled my official Chicago Bears duffel bag with the tapes, usually in the same order they were on my playlist.

This was a very special bag. I got it for cheap at my day job at Burlington Coat Factory. It had a plastic bottom, a side pocket and two spacious compartments with a large C printed on both ends. The videos went in the middle of the bag, my clipboard, cassette giveways, tape recorder stashed on the ends. I couldn't have designed a better bag for what I needed. Well, I guess if it was Steelers bag, it would've been perfect.

So one day I was driving in Churchill went it struck me that I hadn't brought my bag into the house after the show. I pulled over at a gas station and opened the trunk of my '76 Camaro. The bag was gone. All my music videos, scripts, equipment were now missing in action. I drove home feeling somewhat less than whole.

It didn't take me long to determine what I done. I had brought my bag out of the studio, set it down to open the car door and left in in the middle of street. I was always forgetting little things back then, but this time I had really done it.

I moped around for a few days, considering ways to get the labels to resend the videos. It wouldn't be easy, as the tapes were heavy and shipping was expensive. I thought about the cost of replacing the lost equipment and the sentimental value of some of the things I carelessly left in the street. Days passed and hopes of being reunited with my bag began to fade.

I was walking out the door one day when my mother, may God rest her soul, told me something that stopped me cold. She said she had prayed that I someone would find my bag and return it to me. I was embarrassed she had taken my pitiful case to such a high court and I wasn't even sure I deserved my bag back.

After a week without my bag and my usual swagger, I got a call from a regional vice-president of Coca-Cola Bottling. He had found my bag in the street the night after my show, but didn't have time to track me down because his vacation started the following day. Immeasurable relief swelled over me, a feeling I didn't allow myself to anticipate.

When I told my mom, she smiled and said "I told you."

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Every hero needs one

In a classic film from the 1980s, the protagonist returns home after a stint in the armed forces to find his old neighborhood in shambles. With his military knowledge, and a little help from his friends, he rids the streets of criminals and gangsters. He even gets the girl. But he can't walk off into the sunset until he gets what every good hero needs ... a theme song.

So imagine my excitement when I learned that a local rap group, The Soul of Brotherhood, had completed the Wavelength theme music. It was moment of validation for all the work we had put in over the years. We knew we were the sht, but it was good to hear somebody else say it.

Lil Roc's verses about our program stand as a historical record of who we were at that time. In under two minutes he touches on our content, our competition and the rescheduling of the Arsenio Hall show that sealed its fate.

This audio deserves some video and will get its proper tribute at some point. For now, here's our song.

p.s. Five points to anyone who can name the movie I'm talking about.

p.s.s. Answers must be submitted as comments on this post. Points are not redeemable outside of the U.S.