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Pace Won & Mr Green Interview
Jermy Leeuwis (MusicRemedy) asks a question [Q]: For people who may not have heard some music from you yet... what can someone who's never heard of you expect from your music?
Mr. Green answers [A]: Some straight forward hip hop. If you like that good old hip hop you can't hear on the radio anymore you will love my music.
[Q]: Pace Won has been in the game for quite some time now. Doing his thing so long it must have been hard to get your heads together. How did you hook up and get things rolling?
[A]: Yeah it was definitely a little bit difficult. Pace has a platinum plaque hanging on his living room wall from his contribution to the Fugues album 'The Score'. To be an up and coming producer working with someone with such prestige, it was a big leap for me. It worked out because Pace simply liked the way he sounded over my beats... if not for that, this whole Pace and Green thing never would have happened.
The way it started was Pace did a verse over one of my beats for our boy Kosha Dillz' mixtape. Kosha sent it to me, and when I heard Pace's verse it was some of the best hip hop I'd heard in years. It was like Pace had improved since his early years, during which he was already amazing. Most rappers from the late 1990's / early 2000's are judged on if they've still "got It".. if they can still do what they used to. When I saw that he was actually better now than he was at his "prime", I immediately contacted him and was like "let's make more of these." As it turns out he was a big fan of the way he sounded over my beat... and he was down. Next, thing you know, I played the song to the fine people at Raw Poetix, and within a matter of weeks we were working on a full EP.
[Q]: You kept your own name instead of a name as a duo (ie, Gangstarr) making itquite long. Is this because of the way you want to present yourself (ie.,classic rapduo), Pace Won's name is popular and will gain more attention or simply just because you like it?
[A]: That's really just the way that it turned out. We discussed giving the group a name but in the end we decided we liked the idea of having our names on the album cover. This way it can be thought of as a Pacewon solo album as well as a Mr. Green solo album.
True, the groups we are compared to the most are Gangstarr and Eric B and Rakim... as far as names go we favor the latter.
[Q]: Your album "The Only Color that Matters is Green" is your first release together. To what extent have you and Pace Won incooperated lessons learned,by any previous albums, on this album? Please give examples and/or songs.
[A]: We both knew we wanted to keep it short and to the point. Pace and I both agreed that having 20 plus tracks on an album doesn't make it better for the listener. Also, we didn't really want a whole lot of different people on the album. I've seen a lot of artist out albums that feature as many MC's as possible that fail to make there mark. A couple years ago I realized that even if there are 50 amazing rappers on an LP, if the songs don't fit well together, the final product won't be solid. It will seem like a choppy and incontinuous mixtape. Pace and I are both not really big fans of mixtapes. With this album we tried to keep as few people on it as possible, we were aiming to make an album that you can listen straight through, which I think we accomplished.
[Q]: On one of your tracks Pace Won rhymes about wack MC's. Many rappers recorded about and dissed so-called 'wack' MC's. How do you define 'wack'? To what extent have wack MC's influenced your taste and career?
[A]: Well there are many things that can define wack... in most cases it simply means 'not talented' (i.e., the person's voice doesn't sound good on a Mic). Nobody wants to listen to a wack rapper, just like they don't want to hear a singer who can't carry a tune. On the other hand (like when Pace says it in our song "hip hop") he is talking about people that are into hip hop for the wrong reasons. He is saying they are wack because "they want glamour". He is commenting on how watered down and glittery mainstream hip hop has become and how much of the problem can be directly attributed to the rappers who thrive on money and attention rather than trying to keep the culture alive.
How do wack MC's influence me, I use them as a reference for exactly what I don't want to be doing. The thing about wack is, it's really a matter of taste. What's wack to me might be fresh to you...
[Q]: Which song on the album took the longest to complete? Why?
[A]: The beat that took me the longest was Hip Hop. We had originally put that song out without MC Shan but then Pace said put him in so I did. He was right about that one. It was difficult for me to get Shan's voice to work with Pace's. Once I finally did get them in the pocket the song came to life. As far as recording vocals: "She can be so cold" took Pace like 72 takes to get it down right.. haha, he made me record him for like 3 hours straight, it was killing me. It was all worth it because a couple of our biggest reviews said that they ("Hip Hop" and "She can be so Cold") were the best songs on the album.
[Q]: There is one guest appearance on your album. Nowadays there are more guest artists then songs on the album. How come?
[A]: We'll we really wanted to showcase our abilities and didn't want there to be any distractions. Also, I'm not the biggest fan of mixtapes, or at least the oversaturation of mixtapes in the market right now. I feel like the more people you have on an album, the more it begins to feel like a mixtape. Since there are so many mixtapes being put out everyday... they are much more forgettable than albums... we didn't want our album to sound like a mixtape and get forgotten. People can expect a couple crazy guests on our next album.
[Q]: When creating a track, do you have a set theme and pre-written lyrics, or do you start with an idea or the music first?
[A]: It is always different. For the majority of the album, I would send Pace beat via email and then he would record to them with Jenz at Studio 56 in Irvington (shout out to Jenz!). We did that for about 8 songs. We then went back and re-recorded most of them at my house with some changes made to the beats/rhymes.
At first we were only going to do an EP but things sounded so well that we decided to make it a full album. That's when we recorded the last 4 songs (at my studio in New Brunswick). Most of those lyrics, including "Children Sing" were written on the spot with Pace and I in the studio together at the same time.
[Q]: Do you think success and credibility are mutually exclusive?
[A]: No, there are a lot of successful artists that manage to remain credible. It is however a difficult task to achieve both. I think the artists that last the longest are the ones that focus on credibility more than success. I aim to do that but as a result I am often kicking myself for turning down lucrative work because I think my die-hard fans wouldn't like what they see/hear me doing.
[Q]: What artists are you listening to at the moment?
[A]: I don't like that many new artists right now but I can tell you some specific songs that I've been listening to lately: Nas ' "Surviving the Times", Az ' "The Format", Guru and Solar ' "State of Clarity', and Special Teamz ' "Fallen Angelz". Also I saw this crazy freestyle by a guy named Wax. He rhymes for like 5 minutes while driving.. check it out on youtube.
[Q]: Are you living the American dream? Is it anything you hoped for?
[A]: I don't know about that. Needless to say life is better here than it would be in a third world country, but it is not great for me. I am a starving artist and my life is very frustrating here in America. There are a lot of ups and downs. When things are going well I'm getting paid to travel and party in different cities all over the country (and the world). When they are going bad, haha, like now (October, 2008), I'm back home in my apartment (that I share with 4 other people) depending on family and friends to help me float by until my next tour or royalty check comes through.
To answer the 1'st question, I think I grew up living the American dream, but didn't ever realize it until it was too late. Now I am just trying to make it in a 'dying' music industry and a failing economy. No, it is not what I had hoped for. The good is great and the bad is very bad. I'm honestly starting to think that the bad outweighs the good. Still I'm not even close to ready to stop doing this.
[Q]: The meaning behind the album title "The Only Color that Matters is Green" is very accurate regarding the current worldwide economic problems. To what extent does money matter at an economic crises like this?
[A]: Money matters a great deal, it is the driving force behind most everything we as human beings do. That said, it is *NOT* the most important thing in this world. Family and friends are much more important. If the only thing you go after in this world is money, you will not have a good life.
[Q]: How does the weak US economy affect your daily life? How many houses are for your sale in your street?
[A]: Despite my last answers, the weak US economy hasn't really changed my daily life that much. Although there is enormous pressure on everyone around me, I try to stay optimistic. During the great depression the only industry that thrived (besides bootlegging) was entertainment. I'm hoping history will repeat itself in that regard and people won't stop paying to go to see concerts and movies.
As far as houses, not that many on my street are for sale, there are however a great deal of my friends and family members who are worried about losing their jobs.
[Q]: Recently, what is a typical day like for you?
[A]: I get up at about 11 a.m. and check my email hoping someone will have some money for me. When that doesn't happen I take a shower, eat some food, and start working on music and promoting. I don't like to work alone much so I'll often take a laptop to a friends house and work there for a couple hours. Many of my friends are artists like painters, journalists, animators etc... I go to one of their places and work alongside them. I just like being around the creative process. I don't have too many friends nearby that make music, I had more in the past but I found that they were getting in the way more than they were helping so I had to keep it moving. No disrespect.
[Q]: Naturally, everybody wants to know when something new is coming along. So, what will the future hold for Mr. Green and Pace Won?
[A]: We are working on a second album called "The Only Number That Matters is Won". Because of the great response we got with the 'Colors' album, it looks like the next album will be coming out on a major label. That's right, A MAJOR LABEL. Don't worry though, if it goes through, we are not going to do what most indie acts do when they go major... change our style up and put out a wack album or worse, get shelved by the label and never put out anything again. No. If this deal goes through we will be the first rap act to ever sign with this particular label, and we have no intention of changing our style. That is all I can say but if everything goes according to plan the general public will be hearing and seeing Pacewon and Mr. Green and not just the true hip hop fans.
[Q]: Final words?
[A]: Yes, keep your head up, don't let the failing economy get you down... we will all make it through this :)
If you haven't already... go buy "The Only Color That Matters is Green" if you like that good old hip hop that you can't get on the radio anymore... you will love it!
Thank you for reading,
P.S. be on the lookout for our two new singles + music videos, "I Need Money" (Directed by Evan Van Horn) and "Children Sing" (Directed By Phil Sedehi)
- update April 4thm 2011 -
I just had a new interview with Mr.Green about the follow-up album "The Only Number That Matters is Won".