Friday, November 10, 2017

Inoe Oner on LA2theBay Radio

One spliff a day keep the evil away...

    The mighty Inoe Oner from GPAC and Name Science posted up one of his recent sets on LA2theBay Radio. "Bum Pimpin Mix 1" features laid back vibes, a couple smooth joints from Zagu Brown and Name Science tied together by some smoked out reggae. Stay tuned to to hear future sets from Inoe and RoachtheDJ.

   Also, check out this unearthed Name Science video, for "N.S.", from their sophomore Where is Name Science, and make sure to subscribe to Inoe's channel for future gems.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Beetbak Tapes presents DK NoDeal "Folk Hop Blues"

Folk Hop Blues

    While DK NoDeal (formerly DK Toon) never completed his now legendary Folk Hop Blues album in the 90s, he revived the concept and completed a 12 track album in 2013, which Jack wrote about a few years back:

    This [record] is spare, and straight to the point.  Beats are minimal (as in less is more) and rhyme styles are direct and more boom bap than Dk's usual soul-inflected stuff.  What's dope is that despite the combination of such angular and hard-hitting elements the album is quite restrained, and sober, and poetic; which seems contrary to the styles and tools used to create it.  You'd think with the beats and heaviness Dk would be inclined to thug out, but It's really a mature and elegant work, actually - The folk, the blues, and the hip hop are all present.  It makes me think of Jacob Lawrence's Migration work, with it's combination of historical reference, solidity, and maturity.  It's evident that Dk is speaking from a moment in his life that is a high water mark, and he can see his past and future laid out with some clarity.  It's introspective and weighs in on life's accomplishments and which roads to take in the future.  And Dk presents that with dynamic styles that evoke primary colors and strong lines.

   Beetbak Tapes is very happy to announce we will be releasing this long awaited album on limited cassette on November 1st. Pre-orders are up now, and will help determine how many copies we will be pressing up, so if you are interested in this project, you can order a copy here. The album features production from DJ Fat Jack, Touch Tone, Keyz & J Classic. Thanks in advance to anyone who purchases a copy or helps spread the word! As with The Beetbak Tape (2 copies remaining), DK has generously agreed to have all proceeds donated to Jean in the Front Row.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pseudzero - Closed Caskets (Afterlife Megamix) Mix-CD

Our friend Pseudzero at TIL.INFINITY has just released his Afterlife Recordz Megamix as a very limited Mix-CD.  54 minutes in length, this very amply represents one of the most essential yet underrated movements in hip hop.  He also released a sampler on soundlcoud of said megamix at

Check it out and purchase at the Vulgar Website or on Bandcamp!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Beetbak Tapes presents Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints feat. Aki Kharmicel

"I mean, shoot, there’s a lot of people that use the word love in vain"

    Beetbak Tapes' second release, in conjunction with Release Aki Kharmicel Records, comes in the form of soul group Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints (featuring Aki Kharmicel), the brainchild of San Diego veteran Kennuf Akbar. "It’s kinda like Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pendergrass, but it’s a little rawer and a bit edgier than Harold Melvin," Aki explained to me. "I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding about love and human sexuality. There’s a lot of misinformation being projected in the mass media about that experience, and I was just letting myself be guided by that experience." So while NaturalLawOfAttraction seems on the surface to contrast much of his earlier work in content, at its core, the message is the same, which only reveals Aki's ability to weave creative concepts into the natural of evolution of his production without breaking the thread that ties his albums together.

      The acquisition of a deceased uncle's 45 collection led to the birth of Aki Kharmicel, a soulful raptivist, in the spirit of the late Stokely Carmichael, which quickly spun off into modern soul group Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints. Aki Kharmicel goes back in time to the 70s... but really Aki is lightyears ahead. In fact, he's albums ahead. The Nocturnal Scientist's vaults are deep and recent songs by AKBARSUN, Aki&theWildOutPosse, and A.K. & the B.P.s are glimpses of albums worth of music that remains unreleased, which we hope to remedy with this, the first in a series of Akbar tapes through Beetbak. What makes Aki's work enduring, though, is that regardless of what gets released, Aki continues to grind out albums, riding a creative streak strictly for the love of the music.

    Aki's recent DameRejects series channeled the Rap-A-Lot era in rawness, while careful listens revealed an unapologetically puritanical message. Aki echoed these sentiments in regards to his soul crooning Aki Khalaq persona: "I mean, I’m still the rawest dude doing a love album. It’s probably gonna be the hardest, rawest love album you ever heard in your life." The album veers from reflection to boasting, sweet nothings to shit talking; Aki Khalaq croons to Zora, only for Aki Kharmicel to follow with some boastful raps. This juxtaposition of styles and subject matter, along with the always topnotch production, results in an album that is too good to remain unreleased. So check out the latest from the Nocturnal Scientist on Beetbak Tapes. This album is not being sold digitally, so scoop up a copy of this grape cassette (a digital download will come with purchase of the tape), or hit up Aki for CD copies. Summer is winding down but it's always sunny in Akiville.



     A BIG thank you to anyone who bought The Beetbak Tape! We were unsure what to expect but due to the positive response, we're gonna keep going, so stay tuned for the next handful of releases on Beetbak Tapes: DK NoDeal's Folk Hop Blues, Inoe Oner's Master Relm (20th Anniversary Reissue), Aki "Hurt" Kharmicel's TheDameRejects Part 1: Refuge from Refuse, and Massive's Dark City (20th Anniversary Reissue).

Monday, August 7, 2017

David and Goliath - The Scepter and the Sword

The King and the Giant

I fell in love with hip hop full-tilt in 1991.  It had been building up for a while by that point, but ’91 broke the dam.  I was in middle school, and when I heard “By the Time I Get To Arizona” for the first time, it pushed me over the edge into hip hop appreciation head first.  With Public Enemy as the sounding board, I then branched out, forwards and backwards, and across the map.  Ice T and Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Naughty By Nature.  Cypress Hill, Gangstarr, Digable Planets, the Native Tongues.  Artifacts, Boot Camp, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep.  And each new tape I picked up just made me more excited to cop the next one.  Hip hop was vibrant, it was fresh and progressive, it was building and growing; each artist and producer had unique style, and identity, and crazy visions.  To my young ears the music was limitless.

There are things that happen with the passage of time, and with age:  Looking back on the landscape of my life, from the midway point of an almost 40-year-old, I see the gradual and inevitable shift I’ve taken from active participant to spectator.  I’ve moved away from the city and it’s frenetic creativity, my family and I now live in the woods, and I do my best to show my three young children those things I’ve discovered throughout my life, that I feel are important, and want to pass on.  I play them music whenever I can.  They've danced to Blowout Comb.  Inner City Griots and Project Blowed.  Kingdom Crumbs and Colored People's Time Machine.  Apocalypse ’91 has definitely still been on rotation… my crazy children know all of these albums.  And recently, I’ve introduced them to a new one I feel is more than worthy of inclusion in this elite group of classics:  David and Goliath’s The Scepter and the Sword.  

I’ve been fortunate to have been listening to this album in its various incarnations for a while now.  It’s inception began way back in 2013, when a particularly face-slapping track from rapper/producer Dawhud and rapper Ace-One caught the attention of the one and only DJ Premier.  The track, “Battle Anybody”, which got a lot of airplay on Primo’s “Live From HeadQCourterz” program, is a slouchinginly self-assured, boot-stomping show-stopper of a track, and acted as a catalyst for their creative energies as a duo.  By 2015 a full-length Dawhud and Ace-One (collectively known as David and Goliath) album was born: a raw, heavy-ass, two-headed monster of a record, with production handled by Dawhud and the Beatminerz.  Although Dawhud hails from the Pacific Northwest and Ace-One is from Indianapolis, this album was full-on Brooklyn, circa '95.  As Dawhud called it, a "Tims and baseball bat video" of an album.

This early version, although bearing some alternate universe-resemblance at times to the finished product, might as well be an entirely different album.  Dawhud is an all-but self-professed perfectionist, and with edits and re-edits, re-recordings and new material, The Scepter and the Sword continued to evolve.  Becoming more sonically and thematically cohesive, the album coalesced into one brilliantly coherent and confident; adding participants, spawning the aptly titled mixtape Something’s Coming, and eventually eschewing the Beatminerz tracks until a later release.  With Dawhud's intricate and full production featured exclusively, through trials and tribulations the album moved forward until its release in July 2017.  

And the product is sublime.  Look up the definition if you’re unsure of what it means exactly.  It's the perfect balance of craft and wild spontaneity, of humble artistry and classic hip hop bravado.  As a young kid, consuming tape after tape, chasing after each artist and each release, on through the 90’s and as an adult into the new century, The Scepter and the Sword stands out as a beacon; an album that remains true to the art while simultaneously advancing it. Here, in 2017.  

This album, and actually quite a few others in the last 12 months, have signaled a sea change in hip hop, a return to detailed, powerful production and dedicated lyricism.  But nothing I’ve heard yet has grabbed me like this.  To say it's solid, and full, and beautiful in its intricacy and depth, doesn't do the album justice.  It’s lean, no filler, no skits, no weak cuts, just a double lp's worth of beautifully crafted songs - each as satisfying a listen as the one that comes before.  There are heavy, HEAVY beats, the kind the push against your rib cage, and underneath them flow these incredible gems dug up from crates, of horn sections, vocal samples, pianos played like percussion instruments, and fuzzed-out basses.  Complimenting the music, Dawhud and Ace-One’s lyrics and raps are the best either have ever laid down.  Trading rhymes, alternating verses, and pulling out line after line of fresh new Rhythmic American Poetry, they easily stand aside peers (yes, PEERS) such as Masta Ace, Sadat X, and Rock from Heltah Skeltah (who all just so happen to appear on the album).

The Scepter and the Sword is a record that is years in the making, and only released in the last month, and is surely going to become more revered as time goes on.  It's an incredible achievement; it's the most exciting release I've heard in a long time, and gives me hope for a new revolution in hip hop.  Head over to Dawhud's site Illin' In the Basement or his Bandcamp site to pick up a copy (I copped the cassette-shaped USB drive, but the limited double Vinyl [with bonus tracks] is truly a thing of beauty). Black wax is available through Fat Beats.  Listen, dance to it like my children do, and be excited for the future!

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Dame Rejects Experience


   Aki "Hurt" Kharmicel just dropped the final part in his Dame Rejects trilogy, TheLastChapter aka ChickensComingHomeToRoost aka HurtPeopleHurtPeople. Familiar themes from the first two installations are present here, with a new emphasis on the pitfalls of selling out and crossing over. Since his earliest projects, Aki has depicted a man versus the world; a righteous individual trying to walk the straight and narrow path in a corrupt world, and this project is no exception. He creatively flips the concept of pimping, so prominent in hip-hop, on its head. He boasts of his righteousness being a light that blinds the wicked - the shit talking throughout the album juxtaposes the puritanical message. While not deviating from the core message of his earliest work, Aki has managed to conjure memories of the classic Rap-A-Lot records, an impressive feat. This very lo-fi offering pays homage to the independent, home-grown hip-hop we all fell in love with, and captures the spirit of the music that went "underground" in the late 90s, when a clear divergence between mainstream and independent was made. While my rap heroes sell out or cross over, one by one, diluting their sound to broaden their fan base, riding on autopilot, or delving down the rabbit hole of failed experiments, Aki never disappoints, and his love for his art shines through on every project.

   With several more projects in the pipeline for the near future, including the debut Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints LP, Natural Law of Attraction, which will be jointly released by Release Aki Kharmicel Records and Beetbak Tapes, Aki is steadily dropping jewels with no sign of letting up. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Beetbak Tape

Bring That Beat Back

    The digital version and pre-orders for The Beetbak Tape are now available on our Bandcamp page. The tape is just under 70 min. long and features tracks by several of the artists who Jack and I have interviewed on beetbak, plus a handful of related artists. All proceeds from this tape, digital and physical, will be donated to Jean in the Front Row, who I have also interviewed on this site and written about here. Any support and assistance in spreading the word is greatly appreciated by Jack and I, and, of course, Jean as well. We hope people enjoy and support this tape because we have several other projects lined up for the next couple years; reissues, unreleased and new projects from some of the artists featured on this compilation. A huge thank you to anyone who supports and to all the artists who submitted songs, beats and drops out of the kindness of their hearts to help raise some money for Jean and make a cool compilation for the readers of the this blog to enjoy!

The Beetbak Tape - 2017
A01-Beetbak Intro
A02-Napom, Supherb & Marc tha Murderah "I Want the Paper"
A03-Eclipse & Orko "Age of the Last MC"
A04-Aki&theWildOutPosse "CustomMadeTargets"
A05-BullySquad "Blastit"
A06-Bomedybeats Interlude
A07-Name Science "Trying Days"
A08-A.K.M. of Cypha 7 "Fuck the Police"
A09-Zombie619er "R.O.T.I.M."
A10-Labjaxx "Settings Anonymous"
A11-ThEX2 "Writers(Ryze)"
A12-Massdog Music Outro

B01-NautilusInk Intro
B02-Android Masters "Space Ogeez"
B03-Jahli & Labjaxx "Motion Moduate"
B04-DK NoDeal "Blk Baby Boy"
B05-Aki&theWildOutPosse "TroubleMyWay"
B06-Asia/MsKiddo "Skadipp(KillBill Vol.1-2 Trailer)"
B07-Imperator "48 Bars Out the Blue"
B08-Bomedybeats Interlude II
B09-Syndrome228, Quaesar, BigMass & RoachtheDJ "2Mex Live-A-Cation"
B10-Aki Khalaq & the Blak Prints "Red&BlackRoses"
B11-Bomedybeats "Space is the Place"
B12-BigMass "Struggle Through Life"
B13-Ownworld Syndrome Outro

A1 produced by JackDevo762
A2 produced by Smach Gordan aka Napom
A4, B5, B6 & B10 produced by the "BigHomie" Ak
A5 & A11 produced by Debit aka Syndrome228
A6, A9, B2, B8 & B11 produced by Koobaatoo Asparagus
A7 produced by Diabase
A10 produced by Sloj
A12, B9 & B12 produced by Massdog Music
B1 produced by NautilusInk aka Memphisto
B3 produced by Ill Primitivo
B4 produced by Fat Jack
B13 produced by Sloj, Labjaxx, Flexx & Liquid

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ak & Asia

Kill Bill Vol.1-2

    Regular readers of this blog are likely familiar with San Diego emcee Asia from her guest appearance on Zombie619 and Koobaatoo Asparagus' Android Masters tape. Now she is preparing to release a full length solo album, under the alias MsKiddo, which will be entirely produced by beetbak favourite Aki Kharmicel aka the Ak. Aki recently posted up a teaser for the album, which can be streamed on his Soundcloud page and purchased for a buck on his Bandcamp. Stay tuned for updates and a full write up for the album.

Also, check out the latest sneak peak of the upcoming D.A.M.E. (Destroying All My Enemies) album, entitled "untitled(Slowly)."

Sunday, May 7, 2017

10-19 the Numberman Meets the Ak


     10-19, of San Diego duo Parker & the Numberman, just dropped a free project entitled Solus-Superstes, produced entirely by the Ak (aka Aki Kharmicel). The short but sweet record veers in many directions, the production having a strong experimental edge, with 10-19's deliberate, chanting flow pulling things together. 10-19 explained the concept for the record on Third Degree Burns Mixshow: "Solus superstes means 'sole survivor' in Latin. Sometimes you get to a certain stage in your development where you feel like you have to make it happen for yourself. Nobody's coming to rescue you. You're the sole survivor out here. That was the perspective for the project." Peppered with a couple vocal cameos from Moodswing King and AKBARSUN and some surreal interludes, Solus-Superstes is a potent record that demands repeat listens. The project is streaming on Aki's Soundcloud and available for download on 10-19's Bandcamp.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Aki at the Hurt Lounge


    Aki "Hurt" Kharmicel returns with the second installment in his Dame Rejects series, entitled Heart2Hurt aka Spoils. Like it's predecessor, Vol. 2 is a collision of styles, a very colourful collection. The "BigHomie" Ak's trademark sound is present, but much like Refuge from Refuse, the production takes twists and turns through different sonic territory, with an underlying smooth, soulful vibe permeating the EP. A superficial listen will get your head nodding, but a careful listen reveals many layers, showing and proving Ak's tender love and care in crafting his art. In the same way an author of fiction creates a world that draws the reader in, "Hurt" draws the listener into a world that has depth, allowing Aki to put forth various different concepts and approach topics from different angles while sticking to the script. Underneath the deceptively smooth vibes, shots are fired at a former cohort, laying claim to the style he pioneered: "Niggaz knew Ken 'cause I had the blueprint." The lyrics are raw and unfiltered, with no holds barred, something that has made Aki's music all the more genuine and endearing. Heart2Hurt is another solid offering from the Nocturnal Scientist, a compelling piece of music in a time when generic stagnation is the norm. So step into The Hurt Lounge, grab a chair and listen to the soulful vibes of Aki "Hurt" Kharmicel...

   Also, check out this new joint featuring fellow San Diego emcee 1019 theNumberMan, posted on Aki's Soundcloud. Both Aki and 1019 were recently featured on Third Degree Burns Mix Show promoting their upcoming collaboration SolusSuperstes, which will be dropping soon and will also be featured on beetbak.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Danksta Life: An Interview with Ganjah K

Lieutenant KMC

    As the late great Guru once said, when it comes to hip-hop, it's mostly about the voice. Combine a dope voice with top notch lyricism and you get another class of emcee. Add to that the complex vocal stylings of the Good Life and you have Ganjah K, possibly the most underrated and slept on rapper on the west coast. This is largely due to a lack of material being available. Other than his Danksta Life album and a handful of guest features and soundtrack appearances, the only thing most listeners had heard until recently was a God awful dub of Harvest for the World, which only whet the appetites of heads fiending for more material. Fortunately, Ganjah came through and over the past few years dropped several albums through his Bandcamp page, taking the first step in claiming some much deserved recognition for his innovative styles and contributions to the art form. I had the opportunity to chop it up with KMC about his past, present and future in this in depth interview.

I wanna start at the beginning. Can you talk about your earliest experiences with hip-hop and some of the early influences that inspired you to start rapping?

    I would have to say my first experience with hip-hop was when I heard the Sugarhill Gang, "Rapper's Delight." When I heard that, I thought it was so dope, and it seemed to speak to the common person, to the point where I thought, "That's something I could do!" That's what inspired me to start. But when I first started though, I started as a DJ. I started mixing records and got two turntables. There was this Belizean cat who stayed upstairs at my cousin's house who had this massive DJ system. He had these big ass speakers. It was a little ass apartment, but he had these massive speakers. Then you'd go to the back of his room and he had all these records and he had two turntables and a mixer, and I was really awed by that. I was really young, like ten or something like that. He was mixing these records, Jamaican funk and all these jams and shit. I was like, "Damn! I could do that too! I wanna do that." So since that was something I seen happening in action, I gravitated towards that at first. Then later on, I was hearing rapping from artists like Cool J and, you know, different artists coming out at that time and it made me pick up the mic. That was around junior high school. 

When I talked to Sach, he said he felt you really found your style and came into your own after you started rapping at the I-Fresh. Can you talk about how that came about and that whole era?

    I can't put my finger on exactly how I met Ben [Caldwell], but we became pretty close. He started this thing called I-Fresh and we'd perform up at Southwest College, at different radio stations. He had that same spot where Project Blowed is being done right now, that was I-Fresh. We'd go there and put on acts and do our thing. Sach was one of the artists who was there. We had Deryl with the Curl and Tuxedo Tee. We were all just in Leimert Park, getting down on the mic. That's when I started battling and stuff like that. I have never lost a battle. I did pretty good at the I-Fresh. Me and Ben became very close because he really believed in me, as an artist. When you see somebody believing in you, and when you start winning battles, you start getting more confident. So that's probably why Sach felt that's when I found my style. That's basically what it was. It was just understanding that, "Hey, I'm a pretty dope emcee!" [laughs] I started realizing that.

   In junior high school, that's when I really started winning battles. That was a thing back in the day, you had to hold down your school. If you called yourself the rapper of the school, you had to hold it down! Anybody who comes from anywhere to check in to the school that raps, you had to take 'em out. If somebody came from another school, you had to take 'em out. Anybody who went to that school, you had to take 'em out. So that's when I started really becoming who I was. They used to call me Pee Wee Jam because my voice was so high at the time, but I used to kill people on the mic.

So how did you end up going to the Good Life?

    Well, before I went to the Good Life, I met Myka 9 and Acey. We were workshoppin' together. Me, Mike and Ace, and Jup - Jup was in and out of town - but me, Mike and Ace would get together every day. I mean every day. I actually met Mike and Ace through Meen Green. He wasn't a rapper at the time, but he just knew both of us and he knew we all rhymed hard. Then since we met, me, Mike and Ace, we was thick as thieves ever since. 'Cause, see, I had my own group, The Chronic, which was me and Bombay.

Well, I know a lot of people actually thought you were part of Freestyle Fellowship because you were on the cover of To Whom It May Concern... But that was just you guys hanging around a lot?

    Well, actually, I'll give you a wild story. The first Freestyle Fellowship was me, Mike and Ace. We were all solo artists but we entered a rap contest in Compton and we wanted to all enter together, because we all kicked it every day. We wanted to enter that contest together, so we said, "What're we gonna call ourselves? We'll call ourselves Freestyle Fellowship."

Wow! That's crazy.

     Yeah! [laughs] See, Sumbi, he was me and Bombay's DJ. That's why I'm on the album cover [of To Whom It May Concern...]. We were supposed to have a song on there. But John (Bombay) was always workin' at the time so we were never able to get a song on To Whom It May Concern... But Sumbi, he was me and John's producer. So, of course, I introduced them to Mike and Ace. But the first Fellowship was me, Mike and Ace. We entered a contest in Compton. Then after Bombay died, they had signed to Island Records and they asked me if I wanted to come on in. But I think I was still grieving. I didn't want to enter another group because I felt that was betraying him. I kinda wish I had joined them, because I was one of the originators of these styles anyway, but I just felt I'd be betraying John. He had just passed away. So I decided not to do that. Sometimes I regret that, but you never know, man.

Well, like you said, you were one of the originators of those styles and fortunately you did release a record in 1991 on Wild West Records where you are styling like that. That was also a record where you and Bombay were credited as The Chronic, again, in '91, before the Dre album. Can you talk about how you hooked up with Wild West?

    That was through MC Torche - he was a graffiti artist in junior high school - we used to call him Gumby. He started rapping after junior high school. 'Cause see, Marc the Murderah, me and Napom, we all went to high school together, you know what I'm sayin'? But I was the only one really rapping at that time, I believe. With Wild West, when I reconnected with Gumby, he was going by Torche and was working with Wild West. He told me to go up there and meet them, so that's how that came about. We did a few songs with them. That's how I believe I met Bird. Bird did a lot of production on my demo.

Did Bird also produce the original version of "Scud Missile" that was on your demo?

    No, the original version, me and Bombay wrote it, but before we were able to record it, he passed away. Then Matt (Mathmattiks) from the Earthquake Brothers, he did a beat and me and P.E.A.C.E. - 'cause P.E.A.C.E. was part of First Brigade before he was part of Fellowship - we did "Boomin' Scud Missile." I went out to see him last summer and he doesn't have a copy either. I wish I had a copy of that. He did John's parts. That song was really me and John going back and forth. He'd say a line, we'd say a line together. When we performed it at the Good Life, we tore it down! It was over with. Me and John was like the coldest west coast Run-D.M.C. you ever heard. We'd come in, "BOOM! A scud missile." We'd be going back and forth stupid! He'd say one line, I'd say one line. We'd come together, "Three blind mice, three blind mice, see how they run!" It was just ridiculous. That was my brother in rhyme, man. I still to this day miss John. I was just in my room recording, thinking of old rhymes he said. I was recordin' them over some beats Fat Jack gave me. I was recording that just the other night, some real old rhymes!

    So getting to the Good Life, this is the way that I remember it. I was talking to Mike or Ace about it at the reunion and they seem to have a different recollection than I do, but this is how I remember it: when we were getting together at Ace's spot, he said he knew a little cafe where people were busting, and was like, "We should go up there and see what's up." So we started going up there. Then the Good Life was born. We started going there and doing the styles we were doing at the house, mixing in jazz, playing with the microphone like it was a trumpet, you know, doing styles like that. All that came from using our voices like instruments. That's kinda where it derives from. If you really listen to what we're doing, it's like we're playing an instrument but doing rhymes with it. Then, all of a sudden, a lot of people caught on to it, and everybody started doing their version of it. That was the whole underground movement, how it was born.

Well, you were part of the Good Life, but you were also doing stuff with RBX and Tha Dogg Pound, which is the other side of west coast hip-hop, so you had your feet in both those lanes.

   Yeah, that's true. See, Mike actually knew Reality Born first. I didn't know RBX. Mike brought him into the circle. He had this song, "Every day I fight a devil." It was so dope! The song was just ridiculous. So when I got to meet him, we became cool. He had this DJ called Create.

    A funny story, me, Mike and RBX were doing a show in Vegas at the Thomas Wright Center, right? So we're in the van, me and Mike, going to Long Beach to pick up RBX. And we're waiting in the back of the van like, "What is takin' this motherfucker so long?" So when he finally gets in the van, we're like, "What the fuck?" And he's like, "I was just battlin' my cousin Snoopy. I had to show him what's up." We're like, "Man, we're trying to do a show. Who the fuck is Snoopy?" So we drove out there, performed in front of all these students. The Thomas Wright Center was packed. But we didn't know the little dude he was talking about battling was Snoop Dogg!

    I got so many stories. We was at one of those hip-hop functions, like a summit type thing. RBX was like, "Why don't y'all come over and meet my cousin. You know, Dre and them, Snoop, whoopty whoop." So we like, "Alright, fuck it!" We went over, me, Mike and Ace, and met all those cats. Me and P.E.A.C.E., they really liked us, so we started kickin' it with them a lot. We all became pretty close. I got pretty cool with Dre but mostly it was Snoop and Daz, and Kurupt of course, he came from the Good Life before he got into the gang banging and all that shit. He got a lot of respect at the Good Life.

   I know one time [laughs], me and P.E.A.C.E. went to Kurupt's aunty's house in Inglewood. We wanted to get in our freestyle so much, we were just freestyling at the table at two in the morning. His aunty kicked us out and me and P.E.A.C.E. had to find our way home from Inglewood. I just seen Kurupt this year actually, him and Warren G. It was good seein' 'em. I was tellin' Kurupt how proud I was of him. He was like, "Ganjah, we just gettin' started." He was treating me like a star.

So we kind of talked about this off the record, but for the readers, there's a rumor that you had an album prior to Harvest called Season of the Chronic but that was just a single song from your demo, right?

    Yeah, it was a song called "'Tis the Season" by The Chronic. If I remember right, it was, "Tis the season, welcome at your own risk, to the fortress, the First Brigaaaaaaaaade! Chronic!" I dunno, I think Bird did the production, or it might've been one of the Earthquake Brothers. Freestyle Fellowship was there. They helped us on the hook. So that's probably how people mixed that up and put that together and thought it was an album.

   I have another story, I had a song that me and Matt did. After John passed, Matt from the EQB did a lot of my earlier shit. I had a song called "Hip-Hop You Don't Stop." I was performing at Guadelupe's and Treach from Naughty By Nature was there. I was performing my song, which was a tribute to hip-hop. "Hip-hop, hip-hop, you don't stop!" Then I hear "Hip Hop Hooray," right? So I always thought, since Treach was there, there was some connection, but I couldn't put my finger on it. So I'm at The Gavin watching Diamond D perform, just by myself in a crowd of people. Then this guy starts coming toward me, through the crowd, and it was Treach. He reached out and shook my hand. We didn't even say nothin'. He just shook my head. And we kinda both knew what it was about, you know what I'm sayin'? And he left and I haven't seen him since.

So your first album then was Harvest for the World. Did that album get shelved when Pallas folded? Is that what happened there?

    Yeah, basically. That basically sums it up. It got shelved, not once Pallas folded, but once the CEO of the label got fired, and they got a new CEO of the company. There was a guy from Japan who actually funded the label, but a guy named Jerome, they put in charge of everything, including all the artists. That was me, Muhammad, which is Phoenix Orion, they had Alien Nation, and Supernatural was part of that label as well. That's how I met Supernat and we became like brothers. I was actually in New York when Supernat had that battle with Craig G. I was at a photo session. Then when I got done, he was like, "Ganjah! They set me up!" I was like, "What are you talkin' about? Calm down. What happened?!" He was like, "Maaaan, I was up there for a freestyle exhibition and they got Craig G!" I was like, "Craig G from the Juice Crew?" He was like, "Yeah, man! He started dissin' me! It was like he knew it was gonna happen. He had lines ready!" I think that was like the first battle he ever lost, so he was hotter than fish grease on a Friday night! [laughs]

    So when I'm back in L.A. he calls me up like, "Ganjah! I got that motherfucker back, man!" I think it was Supernat's birthday. He was like, "I was walking around New York and I found out he was doin' a show and I went up there and smashed the mic! I got that motherfucker back!" [laughs] That's my guy, Supernat. We was just talkin'. I introduced him to the Good Life and that's how he became cool with everybody out here.

    Back to the Pallas thing, after Fab Five Freddy took over Pallas Records, they decided to start fresh and new, so they got those guys from Chicago, Crucial Conflict, and put them out through Pallas. Then that was the last of Pallas Records. But me and Fab Five Freddy became kinda cool. I dunno how he took over the label, we got dropped, and I got cool with him. I have no idea how that happened [laughs]. But I mean, I was still serving the industry. I was getting emcee money without even being out, off of hustling. I was one of the first rappers in High Times magazine.

Yeah, you also had some soundtrack appearances around that time. One of them - we talked about Bombay earlier - was a tribute to him, "When Your Homie Dies." I wanted to ask, you used a melody from an Earth, Wind & Fire song on there. Did that song have some significance, or was that Fat Jack's idea?

    That was just one of my favourite songs. That whole concept was me. I just had Fat Jack put it together. I wanted it just like that song from Earth, Wind & Fire. So DK Toon (now known as DK NoDeal), he was Lil Cartoon from 60s. So then Big Cartoon from 60s got out of jail, and he had this amazing voice. I was like, "Lil Toon, is it cool if I get Big Cartoon on this song?" He was like, "Eh, I dunno." He wanted him to himself. They were from the same set. I get that. I get the ghetto get-down. But I was like, "C'mon, man! Let Big Cartoon get on the song." And that really made it. 'Cause there was no way in the world I was gonna hit those notes [laughs]. And me, DK and Dutch did an album too, called 3 tha Hard Way.

When was that one recorded?

    That was recorded between '98 and 2001, somewhere around there. 

And you're still planning to release that one, right?

Yeah, I just don't know all the ins and outs of how to load that up, all the technical shit. Only reason I got what I got now up is because Jizzm came through and helped me out. But he's been busy doing his thing. I've got these two albums to post, plus I got two new albums. But I still have The Ganjah K Chronicles and 3 tha Hard Way. I just need someone who's hip to that who can help me load it up. Jizzm did the album covers for me too. He was able to get Harvest for the World, Possession of Sales, the First Brigade album, and I appreciate him doing that. I just gotta get these other ones out.

Well, one that did get released back in the day was Danksta Life 'cause I saw someone post a pic of the CD. Did you just press that up and sell it indepedently?

    Yeah, Danksta Life was right after Pallas folded, and the G Funk was out, so I had Danksta Life. So I put that out independently. It came across pretty cool. A lot of people dug it. Harvest for the World was really my first release. John had just passed away. Fat Jack did a lot of that one. Plus you had The Nonce doing "Green Acres," which was also part of my demo, J-Sumbi, we had Abstract doing the hook on "All I Need." It was a dope record.

This isn't really a soundtrack appearance but one of the things that really tripped me out was when I heard "Scud Missile" on The Sopranos. Did they approach you for that, or how did that come about?

     Man, I just seen that last year! I used to be in the streets too much to see The Sopranos, but I was goin' through all the seasons and I see the guys in the car, and I'm hearin' my voice, and I'm like - this is last year - I'm like, "Fat Jack! Did you know our song is on The Sopranos." He was like, "Ganjah, I dunno man, I released all the rights to my music. I was done with it. So I dunno what happened." I had to rewind it back like sixteen times to make sure I'm hearing what I'm hearing here. So I wait for the credits to see if they say my name and there's nothing on the credits, no nothing.

It's funny 'cause if I remember right, the son is playing that in his car right after they catch him smoking weed in the garage, so it's pretty appropriate [laughs].

    [laughs] Yeah, man. It was a fuckin' shock. You're watching Sopranos and you hear your song. It fucked me up, man. But, you know, I didn't get paid but whatever. It was a long time ago. It was more of a shock to hear myself on this worldly recognized fuckin' show. It blew my wig back. It's crazy 'cause nobody told me either! Like, "Hey, man, your song was on The Sopranos." But nobody told me.

    I had some other soundtrack appearances too. I was on Playing God, Thin Line Between Love & Hate, Next of Kin, Dead Homiez. We did Action Jackson. There was another movie about a little white kid and the black kid who played in Family Matters. That was one of the first soundtracks I did. So as far as soundtracks, I've had my share of those. Thin Line Between Love & Hate was due to RBX. He took me right into Warner Bros., and was like, "Look out for my boy, Ganjah K." They were like, "We got this new movie. If he can give us something for that, we can put him on that." RBX, we became pretty close. That's my dude right there.

You were supposed to drop an album called Puff Daddy back in the early 2000s on J. Sumbi's label, Beats & Rhymes. Did that album ever get finished?

    I don't know nothin' about Puff Daddy...

It was on a website he had for his label, Beats & Rhymes, and he had, coming soon... Puff Daddy.

    [laughs] It's called Puff Daddy?


    The only Puff Daddy I know is... Puff Daddy [laughs]. Maybe it's supposed to be something else? Like... puff, puff, pass? I had a rhyme about Puff the Magic Dragon. Shit, I don't remember that. Who was supposed to be putting it out? J-Sumbi?

Yeah, it was on his website, "coming soon, Puff Daddy."

   [laughs] I gotta see that.

A lot of people have been asking me if you plan to release any hard copies of these albums. Is that the plan, or are they gonna be digital only?

   Yeah, I do plan on putting out hard copies. You know, I had this box of cassette tapes. A big box. It was deep as hell. I put it in storage and didn't pay my storage fees and they auctioned my shit off. I guarantee you, if I had that box of cassettes, I would have me and P.E.A.C.E. doing "Scud Missile." I would have shit that nobody heard. I think about it a couple times a year, about what it could've had in it. But at the time, it was getting in my way, it just seemed like nothing. But God, I wish I had that box now. It had all my old shit. But, you know, that's what happens when you just take for granted that shit is just around.

    I also got offered to be part of Tha Dogg Pound, but, at the time, I just decided to do my own thing. But, you see, Dogg Pound wasn't out yet. I don't even think Snoop had done Doggystyle yet. But I wish I took that opportunity. All I had to do was get on somebody's album and shine. It would've lifted myself up. But hindsight is 20/20, you know?

On your more recent stuff, like Possession of Sales and Swaggerific, you adopted a more modern sound. I know a lot guys feel they need to stay relevant but in your case, it kinda sounds like that style comes naturally to you. Am I right about that?

       Man, it really does. I made vow to myself that hip-hop will never pass me by. I promised myself I would always be able to get whatever's going on in hip-hop. So the reason it sounds like it comes natural is because I get it. I want to get it. I don't want to be one of those old guys who were like what we were like when we were young. "Oh, you doin' that boom bap? What's that?" I didn't wanna be like that. These guys who are like, "Oh, this ain't the old hip-hop anymore!" We sound just like them. We were tellin' them, "You old school. You don't get it." Now they tellin' us we don't get it. But if I do have one qualm about the new school today, it's that everybody fuckin' sounds alike! That's the only thing I don't get. If you close your eyes, everybody sounds like one artist. He sounds like him, and they sound like them. That's the only thing I don't get. But knowing how to spit on there, it comes naturally to me because I understand it. Plus I don't listen to the radio every day. If I was listening every day, I'd probably be doper! But I hear it, at clubs when I'm out, and I get it. But back in the day, with KRS-One, Rakim, we listened every day. These new songs, I couldn't rap any of their lyrics. If you put a million dollars in front of me, I couldn't do it.

Do you have any new projects in the works you'd like to talk about? Napom told me you guys were planning to record some new stuff, and I know you have solo records in the works.

    I have probably recorded about two or three albums worth of new material because I do it here at the house. I was gonna do Danksta Life 2, of course, and I was gonna do another album called Back to My Roots, on some hip-hop shit. Goin' back to just straight melodic hip-hop tracks, you know what I mean? I have some other things in the works I can't reveal now, but it's some crazy shit in the works.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Aki "Hurt" Kharmicel Presents...

     Since he began releasing albums back in 1997, Kennuf Akbar aka Aki Kharmicel has recorded music that gives you an unfiltered glimpse into his mind. By carving out a distinctive sound, utilizing unique rhyme patterns and wordplay, and covering uncharted ground conceptually, Aki draws the listener into a world that is rich and multifaceted. Since his earliest projects, he has used storytelling - altering the pitch of his voice to represent characters and moods - to colour the proceedings and add depth to his work. Twenty years later, Aki has only broadened his array of styles and personas, and his latest project, an EP entitled TheDameRejects Part 1 (Refuge from Refuse), is a collision of many of his more recent sounds. The EP is a prelude of sorts to his upcoming full length, D.A.M.E. (Destroying All My Enemies), this EP being a collection of "rejects" from that project. But due to the high caliber of these songs, Aki has creatively spun TheDameRejects into a full blown concept.

  Not long after establishing himself as the futuristic soul man and raptivist Aki Kharmicel, Akbar quickly introduced his crooning alter ego Aki Khalaq, and his back ups, the Blak Prints. Through this outlet, Aki spun tales of doomed love, pimped up bravado and heartache, pushing the soulful vibes of Aki Kharmicel into new territory. Now, under the alias "Hurt," a reference to the bluesy song of the same name, Aki delivers this EP, which contains traces of his many alter egos. Producer The Ak, still firmly rooted in soul, also delves into funk and psychedelic sounds. Aki Khalaq grabs the mic to deliver some crooning, then falls back to let "Hurt" spit his rhymes, or talk shit, resulting in an always engaging and entertaining listen.

  While so many artists approach making music in a mechanical way, recording a product to sell, Aki is a good reminder of what a true artist is. Many of the songs and albums he records never make it to the public, but he is constantly creating, refining and exploring new styles, strictly for the love of music. While those who treat it like a job make music that is formulaic and uninspired, Aki keeps it pure and it shows. This is a high water mark for this unique artist and the balance of styles present here convinces me that Aki's best and most interesting work lies ahead of him. Check out TheDameRejects EP on Aki's Bandcamp and stay tuned for future projects.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Show Respect Here: An Interview with Jizzm High Definition

    Very few rap artists will ever have a resume that rivals the All Deadly Jizzm. Aside from being a skilled emcee, Jizzm is also a talented producer, having supplied beats for all your favourite underground (and some overground) rappers. His early albums were epic compilations featuring a who's who of the west coast underground, but more recently, like on his 2014 Publicity Stunt record, he holds the precedings down himself, showing and proving his blade is still sharp. With a new project on the horizon produced by Nick V of "Pistolgrip-Pump" fame, the HDMC took some time to talk about his long and varied history.

What was your earliest experience with hip-hop and what inspired you to start rapping yourself?

    I'll take you way back to my childhood days. I was watching Beat Street, breaking, and before that even, my next door neighbour, my best friend, who was older than me, was playing the song "Jam On It" by Newcleus. I loved the song so much I actually memorized the lyrics. That was pretty much my intro. That joint had me sold, ultimately, on the love of the music. Then breaking and popping, in my area - I grew up in La Puente and I used to play baseball, Sunset Little League - and when breaking and popping hit, everybody on my block, everybody on the baseball field, got down. They had the cardboard out and heads were taking turns busting flares, popping, locking, in that style. That early era, the 80s, cats were rocking the Michael Jackson glove with the Playboy emblems with parachute pants. It was the newest shit, you know? Back then, people were saying, rap, hip-hop - it was hard to categorize it, at the time - was just a phase, just another phase from the 80s, like duck tails, and all the other genres that were coming out.

I know back in the day you used to call yourself MC 2 Sweet. I also saw a picture of your crew at the time, U.N.I.T. Can you talk about that era a bit?

    It evolved into elementary school, where I really became an emcee. I was writing down lyrics of songs I wanted to memorize, and I was into Run-D.M.C. So I'd go to school and spit the lyrics, but I was saying the words wrong. They were like, "Nah, those aren't the words." And I was like, "Well, they should've been the words." [laughs]. That's when I realized, "Well, if I messed up their lyrics, I guess I can write my own." Early on, I was influenced by Run-D.M.C., Too $hort, N.W.A., in the mid to late 80s. That's what got me going, writing lyrics. My first emcee name, when I finally started rapping at house parties, I was 2 Sweet.

    In 1991, when I was 16 years old, my first job was working at a record store in La Puente, called Johnny's Record. While working there, I met a couple people and one of 'em was actually Hitman Julio G, who was making beats back in '91 and is now Mellow Man Ace's DJ. The girl who owned the record store, after Johnny passed away, was Mellow Man Ace's fiance. When that all went down, I also met this crew that came in to bring their record called the U.N.I.T. They were signed to Art Laboe's label, Original Sound, and also did some stuff on Moola Records and Thump Record's Volume 2 Soundtrack. I spit for them in the record store and the dude, MC TNT, liked my vibe so much he was like, "Yo, man, I need you to come out with us to do these shows."

    So at 16 years old, I was with these dudes doing car shows, for Lowrider Magazine, for like 5,000, 10,000 people. It was a big difference from my early years, rapping at house parties. So I cut my first record with them. My song was a love song, a remake of "(La-La Means) I Love You," an oldie by the Delfonics. Their song was "Peace in the Varrio," which was MC TNT and Woody. We did a gang of shows. We were performing with Mellow Man Ace, Kid Frost, Lighter Shade of Brown, Hi-C, Boo-Ya T.R.I.B.E., the list goes on and on. It was a different era. It was the era of doing car shows.

    One of the crews we performed with was Cypress Hill. What was crazy about that, before I performed with them, when working at the record store, I helped Mellow Man Ace move [laughs]. I was driving the U-Haul truck with B-Real, Sen, their homie Urn Dog, who wasn't part of the crew, but was one of their long-time homies. But I had already heard their music because they had this tape that we had at the record store that was called Cypress Hill Tribe. My joint, from what I remember back then, was "Hole in the Head." I basically let them know I was feeling what they were doing. That was before they had blown up. I think that was 1991. It was a crazy experience, meeting them back then. Then later, I was doing shows with them in 1992.

So how did you first discover the Good Life?

   Back then, I was joining every rap competition I could, on some battle shit. And back then, I was consistently undefeated. As a matter of fact, there was this rap concert in Pomona at Street Beat Records. I was the undefeated champion for about a year. Then the 13th month I didn't go, and one of my good friends to this day, Jinx, he wanted to battle, and I was like, "Uh, okay." So I ended up going back and rapping against my good friend. But I pretty much retired from those battles. Every time I won the battle, I got like $250 in store gear, which was pretty cool. At that point, out here, in this S.G.V., 909,  I was reading in Urb Magazine about this local open mic spot called the Good Life.

    Actually, a quick story I kinda skipped over: Me and Jinx used to go to Ballistics before all this went down. Will1x, who later become of Black Eyed Peas, was pretty much the legendary emcee and we actually battled him, which is crazy. That was from the earlier era, when I was like 15 years old. We went to Ballistics, the Whiskey, the Roxy. was definitely a lyricist. Just know, we go that far back. Matter of fact, before I went to the Good Life, I went to a show at Leonardo's that is still one of my most memorable shows. It blew my mind. It was tha Alkaholiks, Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, S.I.N., which was Medusa and Koko, Figures of Speech, Queen Latifah, Naughty By Nature and KRS-One.


   So all these dudes performed at this one show. It was actually my boy Jinx who told me to roll with him because he knew Pharcyde was my favourite group. They all stood out, but to me, Pharcyde, with their theatrics, were just crazy! While they were performing, they were standing on their heads! One dude was standing on his head, and another dude was breakdancing and knocked him off his head into the turntables, and J-Swift was DJing, and was like, "Aw, we can't have you bangin' the turntables." So they stopped the music, and just body slammed him and shit, in the middle of the show! It was amazing for me to see those theatrics go down at a hip-hop show. To this day, I've never seen anybody else perform like that.

Well, it all kinda comes full circle because you've worked with Taboo from Black Eyed Peas, Imani from Pharcyde, and now you're working with Tash from tha Alkaholiks!

    It's all full circle, right? At that show, they asked if there were any rappers in the crowd. They ended up pulling up me and! So both of us spit and got cheers from the crowd. In 1993, to be able to rap in front of 500 people with all these rappers I looked up to, that was a feat for me. So afterwards, was talking to me, on the side, and he was like, "Man, this is cool, but I don't wanna do shows like this. There's only 500 people here. I wanna perform in front of millions of people, for the world." So for me, this is like a highlight, rapping in front of all these people at this phenomenal show, at this, shall I say, quote-on-quote, "golden era event." But he was like, "I wanna do shows in front of millions of people." So the Law of Attraction, he put that into action, and has performed at two Superbowls, is a multimillionaire. He accomplished what he wanted to. He had that vision, back then.

    So the same year, 1993, I rolled up to the Good Life with Jinx. We signed the list. We got on, and that was the first place where - I had rapped every place I could on this side of the street, on this side of L.A. - but at the Good Life, there was so many dope emcees in one concentrated place, so much competition. I always thought I was the illest. Now I'm at a place where everybody thinks they're the illest, but they're battling and competing with styles that are so diverse. It was like Showtime at the Apollo. When you got up there to bust, if the crowd wasn't feeling you, they'd boo you off the stage! "Pleeeeease pass the mic!" I wanna say, when I first started going there, it was like 90% black. And the other 10% was like me, Xololanxinxo and 2Mex, Sesquipedalien, Omid. From my first introduction at the Good Life, I was there almost every Thursday.

    I always thought I was invincible, undefeatable, but when I went to the Good Life, I realized the competition is heavier than what was happening out here, and the goal of every emcee was to be the best of the best. You had members of the Freestyle Fellowship hanging out there every week. I was there when Fat Joe, you know, went down. I felt like going to the Life was the greatest competition. I wanted to impress all these people that I didn't know, right? So on my second or third week, they were giving out a hat from a movie that had come out called Sugar Hill. They were like, "We're gonna give this hat to somebody who impresses us." The first couple people who went up got booed off the stage. Then I went up and busted a song I had called "Reject" and I got the hat! I was so happy, I kept wearing that hat, to the point where people thought my name was Sugar Hill [laughs]. I was 2 Sweet, transitioning to Jizzm High Definition, and I had a couple names in between. But 1993 is when I really went from 2 Sweet to Jizzm High Definition.

On your first tape, Don't Even Trip, you had a freestyle, "Nike Radio Commercial." Can you talk about how that came about?

    At the Good Life there was different contests and competitions. One night, I wanna say it was 1994, there was a competition for a Nike radio commercial. Out of that competition, they picked three people: P.E.A.C.E. from Freestyle Fellowship, Otherwize and myself. They took us to Enterprise Studios in L.A. and played these basketball sounds, beats that sound like a basketball bouncing and shoes squeaking, and they had us freestyle about Nike. We all busted and it was strictly freestyle. They were trying to do a west coast vs. east coast thing. We freestyled in the studio, they gave us $700 and a pair of shoes. I remember it was called Air Tenacity. They were playing that commercial on POWER106 and 92.3 The Beat, in L.A. It was supposed to evolve into some east coast vs. west coast thing, but when Biggie and Pac got shot, they kinda decided to do some other stuff. That was another feat that I felt we all accomplished. To be able to listen to the Wake Up Show and hear your commercial come on was extra fun. 

You've done a lot of stuff that has gone on to become considered classic. Probably one of the most historic songs you were part of is "Farmers Market of the Beast." Can you talk about your memories recording that, and who came up with that concept?

    I had linked up with AWOL and did some shows with me, AWOL and Circus. I met Circus through AWOL. I met AWOL in 1993 at a Lowrider car show. AWOL was working as the DJ for JV the Neighborhood Queen. I was introduced to him, but I knew who he was from those underground tapes floating around with that song with him and Myka 9, "And the worms are eating your brain." So we exchanged information at that show, and hooked up later. He came to my place and we recorded a song on 4-track to a beat he brought, called "Mind State." I ended up dropping it on my Illasophic Vol. 1 album.

   What happened with "Farmers Market" was Omid shot me the beat on cassette. I connected with Kamal, he came over to my crib, and we sat down and came up with that idea. The reason I had two verses on there was because initially it was just me and Kamal. We did it on 4-track. We came up with the hook, recorded it on the spot. I shot it to Omid and he liked it so much, he wanted to rerecord it in this studio over in San Pedro. He wanted to make it more of a posse cut, so he invited Xololanxino, AWOL and Circus to jump on there. It was DJ Hive's place, in San Pedro. He did the engineering. What was unique was, Circus came with his rhyme written down on a roll toilet paper, rolled out. 


    You know how long his verse is on there? 

Yeah, like half the song was his verse.

    Right. Well, his verse was like three times longer than that, scrolled out, written on toilet paper. It stretched out as long as the room. What you heard was actually a shorter version. 

Well, I had heard that the rest of that verse got used on "Any Mal and the Useless Eaters" but I had never heard the toilet paper part. That's great.

     I was like, "This dude's crazy." Which he is, man [laughs]. That song definitely became a staple of underground hip-hop in L.A. It was a very mind-stretching and creative joint.

When you were recording the stuff for your early projects - Illasophic, Archives and Show Respect Here - were you just recording in different spots, or did you have a studio where people were coming through to record?

    Illasophic was recorded mostly on 4-track at my place. I want to say I recorded the song with CVE at the CV Shack. The song Evidence of Dialated Peoples produced we did at Kutmasta Kurt's. I actually paid for the studio time to record those joints, and Kurt told me that even though he was recording with Kool Keith, Lootpack and Dialated Peoples, I was one of the first people to actually pay for studio time. That joint ended up being the single from the Illasophic album, and of course Kurt went on to become an L.A. legend.

Your Show Respect Here album really showcased your production. When did you first start making beats? 

     What happened was, from sitting in sessions with Evidence - I think it was there, at Kutmasta Kurt's - Evidence was like, "Man, anybody can make beats. If you've got the ear, any emcee should be able to make his own beats." When he planted that seed in my head, I was like, "You know what? I do have an ear. I could do it." So I ended up buying an MPC2000. I was so excited the day I bought it, I called this company that was doing Jizzm shirts at the time, called Wreckgear. When I'd do shows, they'd roll out, like 15 people wearing Jizzm shirts. They were like my team, you know? So the moment I bought the MPC, I called these dudes and told them I'd produce an album for their clothing line, and we could cross promote, right? It was just an idea off of being excited and hype. Well, these cats went out and mentioned it to a couple of magazines and it was already being advertised that I was producing an album, but I had never made beats before! So when they did that, I thought, "I better get on it!" What I ended up doing, in a matter of three months, I had six of the songs produced and recorded. I went from 4-track to recording on a VS880. The songs I had recorded, I had Mystik Journeymen, Otherwize, P.E.A.C.E. - actually the P.E.A.C.E. song we recorded with Mums the Word up at his studio - PSC from Mystik Journeymen, myself and Mykill Miers. I put those songs out as a 12" three months in. And within five months the album was completely produced, recorded and released. The album featured Aceyalone and Abstract Rude. AWOL One was actually the first person to record a song for the project. Man, Slant Eyes, Puzoozoo and Vixen from Onamonapia and my other crew, Kali 9, Otherwize, Global Phlowtations, the list goes on and on, man. I can't recall everybody off the bat, but everybody that jumped on, killed it.

You mentioned Kali 9. That's one of those groups a lot of underground collectors are obsessive about. Did you guys ever release a tape or was it just songs, here and there? I had heard of one called Zip Codes.

    We recorded a gang of songs and were planning to put out a tape, a project called Kali 9 Zip Codes. It consisted of Khynky Red, who was actually the creator of the crew, Puzoozoo Watt, Slant Eyes, who went on to be Snoop Dogg's manager, Vixen, who was Puzoozoo Watt's sister, Nobody, Noname, Murs was an extended member, Basik MC was definitely a member. I'm not sure if I'm forgetting anybody.

So that tape never got released then?

   No, it never surfaced. The side tapes that did come out were Secret Service, which was Puzoozoo and Slant Eyes. We had songs we had recorded that we were performing at shows, but we never released it totally. The group ended up breaking up in 2006, maybe 2007.

In 2009, you dropped an album called Infinite. Was that originally intended to be Illasophic Vol. 2 but it evolved into something different?

   Yes. What happened was, in 1997, I dropped Illasophic. In 1998, I dropped another solo album called Archives. Then 1999, a couple months after Archives dropped, I dropped Show Respect Here. Then I dropped another album called Unlimited Edition, which dropped, I think, in 2002. Then I did an Illasophic Vol. 2 EP, which was ten songs plus nine other songs from individual projects I was producing. Three songs were from a project for Otherwize, another three were with Medusa, and the last three was a project I was working on with a side crew, which was me and J. B. Evil. What ended up happening was I recorded like sixty songs. I was like, "Should I just take out the top twenty and call it Illasophic Vol. 2?" Or, since I already have the Illasophic Vol. 2 EP, I thought, "Let me just twist it up." So it evolved into a project I entitled Infinite Timeless Masterpieces, a three part album. So in 2009, I dropped Infinite, which is songs that were supposed to be on Illasophic Vol. 2. After that, I dropped Timeless, and Masterpieces is a project that I still have on deck right now that I'm in the process of releasing.

Your albums were obviously known for having these amazing guest lists, but in 2014 you did an album called Publicity Stunt that had no guest spots. Was that a conscious decision to have no guests on that one?

    Yes, that's a 100% solo project. Not only did I not have any guests, but, if I'm not mistaken, I believe I produced every song on the album. It was a different effort from the other projects I had done. Around that time, a friend of mine had passed away, so I was going through something. But I kept creating, and I had some side projects I didn't mention. One was called Frequency Freaks, that never really dropped, which was me, Phoenix Orion and Trensetta. We have a whole album on deck, doing joints over 80s cuts, but flipped. That's been done for years, and we're planning to release it. Another side project was the Wake Up People, which was me, Puzoozoo Watt and Xololanxino, and was entirely produced by this guy from Germany, Kenji451. We have that whole project, for free, on Bandcamp. Then another one we had was West Coast Avengers - we're in the middle of doing part 2 right now - which was me, Tony da Skitzo, and also included Orko, Medusa, Otherwize, Faxx, Phoenix Orion, Born Allah, they all came through. I also produced an album for Otherwize and another one for Phoenix Orion, PXO Futcha Flo. And I produced some tracks for the Canibus and Phoenix Orion LP, Cloak N Dagga.

I saw somewhere you were doing a Show Respect Here Pt. 2. Is that still in the works?

   Yeah, that's something I'm in the process of producing. There's a number of projects that are in the works.

I was talking to Minister Too Bad a while back and he told me other than Fat Jack and Digiak, you were the other producer he had worked with. Did you guys record a lot of stuff? I know you had his brother singing on your Timeless album.

    Yeah, I got like eight tracks with 2 Bad, that we recorded back in the day. 

Do you think those ever might see the light of day?

   If I can find the files. One I have is called "Different Infinite" which is me, Minister 2 Bad and Trek Life. We're all from West Covina. We used to get down with Mista Grimm too.

With your new stuff, you've adopted a more modern sound in terms of production but you've always kept it very lyrical. How do you feel about this new generation of rappers, and do you feel it's possible to adapt to the new sounds while still keeping true to the foundation? 

    As far as my music is concerned, I consider myself to be very versatile and unlimited. But one thing, you won't hear me mumbling. I'm not a hater. I like trap beats. I'm a fan of music. If the beat is banging, no matter what style, I can ride it. Coming from the roots of Good Life and Project Blowed, anything you throw at me, I can flip it. But I'm unlimited. I can do many styles, any style, and as long as I'm making it my own, I'ma do it. But there's stuff I don't listen to and don't like. I'm definitely not gonna get on a rant about what I don't like. You can't put a cap on it, when it comes to me. There are some DJs who are like, "I won't play that," but I have other shit they will play.

You have a new project in the works produced by Nick V of the Baka Boyz. Can you talk about the concept and any details about that project? 

   So far we have seven songs done. It features Tash from tha Alkaholiks. I have a song with Dirty Birdy and Scarub from Living Legends. I have another joint with Rifleman, Ganjah K and Mykill Miers. I have another one I'm wrapping up with Chali 2na. We're gonna get one with Ras Kass. And it's entirely produced by Nick V of the Baka Boyz. We did a song with Dirty Birdy and Scarub called "American Gangster" which is a twist on what a gangster is, which is the government who are the real gangsters. The latest single is with Tash, called "Bout to Begin," which is like the pre-game show joint. That project is dropping on the Baka Boyz label.

    I also was in New York recently and recorded an eleven song EP in four days called Paradigm Shift, with me and Nova the Wraith. It features production from myself, Omega One, Apakalips and J Turner from Soul Assassins. That album is phenomenal. It's definitely on that raw, hip-hop shit and it's an east coast/west coast collab. Another project I have is called In the Presence of Greatness, which is recorded and I'm just finishing the mixing and mastering. Then I'm dropping the Masterpieces project. It's a combination of stuff from the archives and a couple new joints I have on deck.

If people want to get at you for beats or mastering, what's the best way to contact you?

   I would say through Facebook. Hit up Robert Leon on Facebook and just message me.

Free Downloads:

  West Coast Avengers
  Wake Up People: Dark World Light