Lem creates light, elegant, poignant, ethereal, and soulful electronic music. His music is softly cool like the thin water rolling over the wet sand as the wave moves back into the ocean. Hailing from Fukuoka (Japan), he was born under the name Goro Tanaka. Although he is not well known outside of his home country, people may discover Lem if they are lucky enough to stumble on someone playing his music. Other fans may have to seek out his work. Lem describes his art as electronic folk music (or '€œFolktronica'€). Like a theme for an enlightening dream, Lem'€™s music is beautifully subtle and elegantly romantic.

Finderpop / Cassette Vision Label released Lem'€™s debut EP, '€œLoosing Summer Set'€. The Japanese-based label is home to other unique artists like Apartment, Mountainbook, and Ajisaikippu-de. Independent in both business and spirit, Finderpop / Cassette Vision Label started out releasing CD-Rs. These days, they have a handful of artists, a budding following, and a catalogue of official CDs & DVDs. The label'€™s growth was fueled by the unique quality of the music.

In 2005, Lem released his first full-length CD titled '€œPut A Lem In Your Pocket'€. The beautifully romantic songs possess hushed vocals and subtle melodies. The album is perfect theme music for Sunday mornings, summer afternoons, or tender encounters deep within the night. Instead of attacking the listener, Lem'€™s music slowly rolls around the listener like a pleasant aroma. The opening track, '€œFrom Small Lem'€™s Space'€ includes the album'€™s thickest drum track (which still may be considered soft to the typical listener). The cool ease of the hip-hop groove makes the song instantly appealing. The inviting intro track also perfectly sets a mood for the LP. '€œStory Of Surf For Young People'€ enchants the listeners by using melodies created by graceful vibes and dreamy acoustic guitars. '€œAM 5 Kate (Sweet Mix)'€ includes guest female vocals from Babo (from Seisyun Mid Night Runners). One of the several songs that include vocals, the romantic singing is gently dominated by the musical melodies. The light electronic rhythm creates a futuristic new-age atmosphere. The album'€™s superlative final track, '€œPut A Jonathan In Your Pocket'€ is a poignant song which could be played during the ending credits on a romantic film. Through charming melodies and soft rhythms, '€œPut A Jonathan In Your Pocket'€ paints an audio scene of a beautiful Summer day. Although the album may take some time to be fully appreciated, the LP possesses a magnificent exquisiteness reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, Enya, Kahmi Karie, Mazzy Star, Opal, Dead Can Dance, and Massive Attack. In the songs that include vocals, many of the words are difficult to discern. Like the music of My Bloody Valentine, Lem'€™s vocals are woven deep inside, not on top of the instrumentation. '€œPut A Lem In Your Pocket'€ by Lem is a beautifully subtle and relaxing album. If you find Lem'€™s music in your pocket, consider yourself charmed.

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
LEM: '€œI love The Velvet Underground.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about this new album, '€˜Put A Lem In Your Pocket'€™.'€
LEM: '€œMarch 3rd 2005 was Lem'€™s first album release. This album is my image scenery.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the title, '€˜Put A Lem In Your Pocket?'€
LEM: '€œIt'€™s from a title of a pocket nude book from the 60'€™s.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are your favorite songs on '€˜Put A Lem In Your Pocket?'€
LEM: '€œ'€˜Loosing Summer Set'€™, '€˜AM 5 Kate'€™, and '€˜Put A Jonathan In My Pocket.'€™'€

T.JONES: '€œHow is this album different from your previous '€˜Loosing Summer Set'€™ EP?"
LEM: '€œI made this album as a single-theme record. There is a connection in all music there.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song took you the longest to do? Why?'€
LEM: '€œ'€˜Am 5 Kate'€™ because I did product with a friend from Tokyo. I live in Fukuoka.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe shortest? Why?'€
LEM: '€œ'€˜From Small Lem'€™s Space (Intro)'€™ because it'€™s short music.'€

T.JONES: '€œOut of all of your songs, which one do you love the most? Why?'€
LEM: '€œ'€˜Put A Jonathan In My Pocket'€™ because it'€™s a very personal song.'€

T.JONES: '€œDoes the name Lem have a special meaning?'€
LEM: '€œI like word'€™s sound and brevity of Lem.'€

T.JONES: '€œMost songs are created by you alone. Do you enjoy working with other musicians?'€
LEM: '€œIf there is an opportunity, I want to try to do it by all means.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen making songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written lyrics and themes, or do you write to the music? What is the creative process like?'€
LEM: '€œI begin to make it with a guitar. There is a time when I make it from a rhythm tracks. I write lyrics to the atmosphere of music last.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about Finderpop / Cassette Vision Label. How did you get involved with them? How are they different from other labels?'€
LEM: '€œI sent it to see the demo recruitment. Label production is handmade meets myself. I give priority to intention of an artist enough.'€

T.JONES: '€œMusically, who are you major influences?'€
LEM: '€œFishmans, Nick Drake, Boards Of Canada, Madlib, Galaxie 500, Cornelius, Tortoise, Jim O'€™Rourke, Brian Wilson, The Pale Fountains, Four Tet, Prefuse 73, The Books, Elliott Smith, The Pastels, Jonathan Richman, Yo La Tengo, and Morrissey.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was it like growing up in Japan? What kind of kid were you?'€
LEM: '€œFour beautiful Japanese seasons created my feelings. It was a romantic childhood.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€
LEM: '€œPlaying a guitar by loud sound.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has your live show evolved?'€
LEM: '€œExpression of feelings.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho would you like to collaborate with in the future?'€
LEM: '€œThe Books.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player or on your turntable recently?'€
LEM: '€œ'€™Evolution fight'€™ by Cyne and '€˜Rideau'€™ by Tape.'€

T.JONES: '€œExplain the song '€˜Put A Jonathan In Your Pocket'€™? That is one of my favorites'€
LEM: '€œI love Jonathan Richman'€™s '€˜That Summer Feeling'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œAbortion '€“ pro-choice or pro-life?'€
LEM: '€œI'€™m against an abortion for oneself.'€

T.JONES: '€œDeath Penalty '€“ For or against?'€
LEM: '€œAgainst.'€

T.JONES: "Where were you on Sept. 11th (The World Trade Center Terrorist Attack)? How did you deal with it? How do you think this event has affected music? What was Japan'€™s reaction?"
LEM: '€œI knew it in news of TV. I felt terrorism close for the first time. I felt importance of a daily living some other time.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association time. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Let It Be'€™. Okay?'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
LEM: '€œI Wanna Be Adored!'€

T.JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€
LEM: '€œMadchester.'€

T.JONES: '€œMy Bloody Valentine.'€
LEM: '€œA wave of a moment.'€

T.JONES: '€œMomus.'€
LEM: '€œA writer of the shy middle ages.'€

T.JONES: '€œRide.'€
LEM: '€œAn early singles jacket is so cool!'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Roots.'€
LEM: '€œNative.'€

T.JONES: '€œFelt.'€
LEM: '€œDenim.'€

T.JONES: '€œBlur.'€
LEM: '€œNeo mods!'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
LEM: '€œA poor mouse.'€

T.JONES: '€œYour vocals are very low and drowned-out. It adds to the atmosphere of the song. Was this intentional?'€
LEM: '€œIntentional. It is not accident.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think music industry (in general) needs these days?'€
LEM: '€œAn anti-commercial.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'€
LEM: '€œYes.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow are audiences from other countries different from Japanese audiences?'€
LEM: '€œOverseas, people accept me.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some major misconceptions that people have of you?'€
LEM: '€œThere is not the popularity that much.'€

T.JONES: '€œIf you could re-make any song, what would it be?'€
LEM: '€œ'€˜Say Yes'€™ by Elliott Smith.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow do you pick the tracks that end up on the final album?'€
LEM: '€œI demand a flow of the music that a feeling is good for myself.'€

T.JONES: '€œYour bio describes your music as '€˜folktronica'€™. Would you agree? Did you ever hear the Momus album called '€˜Folktronica'€™?'€
LEM: '€œYou may invite me to each personapilia. I have not listened to it.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you want to be cremated or buried?'€
LEM: '€œCremated.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you want on your epitaph?'€
LEM: '€œGoing zero.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is in the future for Lem?'€
LEM: '€œI want to make the sound that is a more personal sound.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny final words?'€
LEM: '€œSee the distant cloud. Then, you feel so proud. Blessing approaching, it will come with sting.'€


Interview by Todd E. Jones aka New Jeru Poet

NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
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Mr Greenwedz and G Riot

The music of Mr. Greenweedz may sound slightly out of place from the other music released on the record label, All Natural Hip-Hop. Although he creates music with very different vibes and sentiments, he shares a love for creativity and individuality with everyone in his crew.

Based in Chicago, All Natural Hip-Hop is run by Capital D (of the group All Natural). After becoming enlightened with the Muslim religion, Capital D makes a serious effort to release positive, respectful, and socially conscious hip-hop. Every single LP from All Natural is usually spiritually positive while including some kind of socio-political statements. The label includes artists like Daily Planet, G.Riot, Iomos Marad, Rita J, and others.

Member of the label'€™s super group Family Tree, Mr. Greenweedz has always walked his own path. His road was parallel to the label'€™s road, but just a little off to the side. Although he is socially conscious, Greenweedz creates psychedelic, sensual, and conceptually fun hip-hop. While Capital D'€™s music may promote strict discipline, Mr. Greenweedz wants the listener to get loose and trip out on the musical freedom of hip-hop.

Before a full-length album was released, Mr. Greenweedz remained a busy hip-hop artist. His prominent contributions are evident throughout All Natural'€™s catalogue. He has been on all of the Family Tree albums ('€œPlanting Seeds'€ & '€œTree House Rock'€). He contributed a stellar verse on '€œThe Essence Of J. Rawls'€ LP. He rocked his performance on '€œTransformations'€ from Capital D'€™s solo '€œInsomnia'€ LP. He also became the emcee for the band, Liquid Soul.

The seeds of creativity let branches of The Family Tree span across America. From Chicago, Mr. Greenweedz hooked up with G.Riot, a producer from Colorado. On All Natural Hip-Hop, Mr. Greenweedz & G.Riot released 2005'€™s '€œG-Strings'€ LP. G.Riot'€™s signature production added to the high-quality level of All Natural Hip-Hop'€™s music '€œG-Strings'€ maintains the tradition. As a duo, Mr. Greenweedz & G.Riot share a unique chemistry reminiscent of Gangstarr (Guru & Premier) and Eric. B & Rakim. The producer and emcee both maintain their individuality with hardcore hip-hop expression. Although '€œG-Strings'€ may not fit in with the typical LPs released on Capital D'€™s label, the love for originality and unique hip-hop is prevalent.

Mr. Greenweedz has finally completed something that he can call his own. Although his solo LP, '€œWhoritculture'€ has yet to be released, the artist is astute enough to appreciate the fact that he has creative control over the art form he loves. A lover of literature and music, creativity is his addiction. Mr. Greenweedz is not one of those stereotypical dreadlock Rasta emcees. He is a true individual who is high on the addictive opiate of music.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œI'€™m chilling, man. How you feel? Problems are like assholes, we all got them.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about your album '€˜G-Strings'€™ on All Natural Records made with G. Riot.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œIt'€™s kind of a double entendre, you know? G for Mr. Greenweedz and G with G.Riot. G! G.Riot has such a unique sound and I wanted to put a unique flavor over it. I wanted to create a new sound called '€˜G-Strings'€™. Our sound is unique in a sense that a lot of people are not putting too much melody in hip-hop nor are people being challenged to think when it comes to the rhyme. I'€™m not saying we are really do something that different, but I'€™m trying to give a little bit of something of the old mixed in with something new. I definitely wanted to have an erotic undertone. That'€™s not the driving force, but music has to establish a mood. Music has to have that sexy quality to it. I want to make that music that just makes people feel good. I think I have that influence too. You have to have emotion in music.'€

T.JONES: '€œAs opposed to the other albums released on All Natural, '€˜G-Strings'€™ has many drug references and a loose attitude towards drugs. How do you feel about drugs? Do you experiment?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œHmm. I have. I'€™m definitely around a lot of people who do. When it comes to Lamb Spread or herb, I'€™ve had that in many different forms like cookies and brownies. I'€™ve done shrooms, which I don'€™t do much. Man, when I did them, it was cool. You can look at it two ways. You can look at it as an extreme connection or paranoia. If you drink too much, it'€™s extreme. Whatever you do, you have to have balance. I haven'€™t done anything else outside of that. I just kind of wanted to touch on that realm. I get into a lot of cats like Carlos Castaneda. I like to get open.'€

T.JONES: '€œLike myself, you are a lover of literature.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œI read literature. One thing I like to do is translate literature into hip-hop. Literature allows you to go deep. The author takes the characters as deep as the author wants to take them. Emcees lay stuff out for you. They give you a blueprint. You can interpret songs many ways. Take any of the Native Tongue records, especially Jungle Brothers or De La Soul. Even Kool Keith. You go back to those records years later, and you finally get what they meant. I want people to get that from me. I'€™m like that anyway. That is what makes music timeless. I don'€™t want people to hear this record and say that it was meant to be played in 2005. I want people to go back to it and hear it like it is something new and fresh.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe '€˜G-Strings'€™ album is very loose compared to the other All Natural releases. Since Capital D is a strict Muslin, did he have problems with some of the album?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œLet me just say that I did receive some. I had to pull sport. They had to drop the record anyway. Let'€™s put it like that. One reflection, you had both ends. Since Cap D underwent a new birth into Islam, he'€™s pretty much about keeping the music a certain way. I don'€™t want to say clean, but maybe more direct or positive. He definitely wanted it to be positive or political. I didn'€™t want to do that on this record. I wanted hip-hop to be fun. I have a lot of situations in life. I'€™m from the West Side of Chicago. I'€™ve dealt with depression, not as far as me being depressed. I'€™ve just seen everyone sad. Everyone wants to talk about problems. It came to a point that it became preachy to me. I just wanted to take a different direction completely. I didn'€™t want to do anything similar to the Family Tree record or an All Natural record. This was also because G.Riot was producing my record.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat did Capital D think of '€˜G-Strings'€™?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œHe didn'€™t like the record. I'€™ve known Cap for years so, that wasn'€™t the Capital D who I'€™ve always known. I think everyone finds their way. I think that he found his way and I have to find mine. Todd, I thought that was a real intriguing question.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is it like working with G.Riot?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œG.Riot has a doctorate in creative writing. He has 2 MSA'€™s in creative writing. I would not have done the project any justice if I came to it so straight forward and linear for a person who is asymmetrical as G.Riot. I'€™m definitely an asymmetrical cat. There is nothing symmetrical about me. My lochs are all uneven.'€

T.JONES: '€œIndividuality is important in hip-hop. These days, many emcees are being honest to themselves and not playing a role.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œAin'€™t that what hip-hop is in a way? Integrity. There are cats out here who are on this positive tip, but the integrity is not there on the records. There are people who are on negative stuff, and the integrity is not there. That is why groups like Public Enemy came. They were timeless. N.W.A. came. They were timeless.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you think credibility and success are mutually exclusive?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œExplain that to me. Do you mean that they can'€™t have both? Well, yeah, they can have both. You have to just reach that audience.'€

T.JONES: '€œSuccess is relative anyway.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œIt is. There are a lot of cats in the industry who are successful. They used that formula for success and came back to doing music the right way. Definitely, nowadays, it'€™s so cookie cutter out there. People expect something. They expect you to give it to them. At the same time, there is that audience out there who wants to be a cult. They want to be up on something first. You can reach that audience. I have a chance to do that by touring and making music that I believe in. That'€™s the dope thing about All Natural Inc. They have allowed me to make as much music as I could make.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you hook up with G.Riot?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œThrough Capital D, actually. He came to my wife'€™s dorm back in 1994. Back then, she was in the University Of Chicago. We hit it off immediately. G.Riot told me that he would get up with me and he did. He wasn'€™t even producing then. He started to tell me about how was doing beats. He had an ear for it. We encouraged him. That'€™s the kind of brothers we are. None of us discourage anyone else. He immediately got it and knew what he was trying to do. He wasn'€™t trying to do what someone else was doing. He definitely looked up to No I.D. and Dug Infinite, but he was trying to put out his own sound that he believed in. We clicked immediately. I'€™ve been traveling back and forth to Denver, Colorado. We get up and record. Especially if I have a show in Denver, I make sure that I get up with him to record. We'€™ve been cool for a while. One thing that G.Riot did for me, he opened me up to Miles Davis.'€

T.JONES: '€œMiles Davis and Bird aka Charlie Parker. They don'€™t make them like that anymore.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œYou know what is crazy? There are hip-hop cats like that. If we really recognize it, we are, in a lot of ways, like them. We are always trying to recreate our own sound. What I learned from Miles Davis is have integrity, believe in what you do, feel good about it, and don'€™t over-think the music. That was the approach I took. I'€™m not trying to do what Cap or All Natural did. I'€™m not even trying to do what Family Tree did. That'€™s why it'€™s a solo record. It'€™s supposed to be me. We are supposed to give the consumer something different.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite song on '€˜G-Strings'€™?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œI love '€˜Rex Cortez'€™. I love '€˜Carlos Castaneda'€™. I love '€˜Rex Cortez'€™. I didn'€™t do that song for shock value. I wanted to see if people would pay attention. I wanted to see if they could listen to a song all the way through or just experience power words. Listeners don'€™t listen, they just hear. Words come at them. Then, they feel that they get the song. Then, they are offended. They are only offended because it is something that they wanted to say.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen you go into the studio, do you have pre-written rhymes or a set theme? Or, do you write to the music?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œI hear the music first and write to the beat. I definitely have a mental rolodex of ideas like some Terminator shit.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the last incident of racism you experienced?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œWell, I experience it everyday. I don'€™t let it really bother me. One that comes to mind is a year and a half ago. I got a D.W.I. by this Asian cop. I was driving a Range Rover. He stopped me and gave me a sobriety test. He said that I failed it when I didn'€™t fail it, but I had herb in my system. I was trying to get to a certain destination. I was cooperating with these cats, which you should never do. Plead the 5th Amendment every time. You have that right. Use it! He pulled me over and fucked my stuff up. It was crazy to me because we are all in the same boat. I had a lot of incidents where that happened, but that was a memorable situation.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you on the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How has it affected the music industry?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œMy birthday is the 10th of September. The day before my birthday, me and wife were in Havana, Cuba. We flew back on my birthday and we were going to leave the next day for Nassau, Bahamas. We were supposed to leave at 3 pm. We were watching TV that morning and obviously, everything happened. It did make me resilient. I knew exactly what was going on. I called the U.S. embassy, so we weren'€™t going to be stranded. Got a hotel and got 4th off the price. I had a bunch of Cuban cigars. I took it in stride. It was tragic to me. One thing that I did learn was that nobody learned anything from it. The pop is eating itself.'€

T.JONES: '€œThat'€™s also a name of a band, Pop Will Eat Itself.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œI know. I like saying that phrase. It is. The new Negro is Muslim now.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player in the last couple of days?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œA lot of reggae. I'€™m really feeling that Damian Marley.'€

T.JONES: '€œThat Ky-Mani Marley joint on Afu-Ra'€™s '€˜The Body Of The Life Force'€™ LP was dope.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œHe'€™s my man. We'€™re actually doing a tune together.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat emcee/group would you like to collaborate with in the future?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œI'€™m doing it. I'€™m hooking up with Jungle Brothers right now. We'€™re setting up a tour and starting a Family Tree & Jungle Brothers album. Chuck D is someone I would love to do something with. To clear the air, John Popper from Blues Traveler. Me, him, and DJ Logic are doing something. All the Marley'€™s too. Me and the Marley'€™s are cool. We play Madden all the time, when I'€™m out in L.A. I mean, Prince and James Brown are two other artists.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association time. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say '€˜Flava Flav, you may say '€˜Clock'€™, '€˜The Surreal Life'€™, or '€˜Crack'€™. Okay?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œSure.'€

T.JONES: '€œCapital D.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œBrilliant.'€

T.JONES: '€œIomos Marad.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œTalented.'€

T.JONES: '€œJay-Z.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œGolden.'€

T.JONES: '€œDead Prez.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œResilient, determined.'€

T.JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œWonderful.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œDon'€™t know who they are.'€

T.JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œForever.'€

T.JONES: '€œPublic Enemy.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œTrendsetting.'€

T.JONES: '€œJimi Hendrix.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œRidiculous.'€

T.JONES: '€œBrand Nubian.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œFlavor.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œThe devil.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat can fans expect from Mr. Greenweedz in the future?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œFirst of all, I don'€™t consider them fans. I consider them counterparts or family. I don'€™t know, man. I'€™m just doing what I'€™m doing everyday, evolving my sound, and evolving my rhymes. They will expect dope music from me regardless. Whether they think that it is dope or not, it'€™s something I felt good about. Whatever you hear from me, it is something I feel good about.'€

T.JONES: '€œFinal words?'€
MR. GREENWEEDZ: '€œJust do you. Do you. As long as you believe in what you are doing, it doesn'€™t really matter what anybody says. It isn'€™t even about believing. It'€™s about what you subscribe to, your faith, God, and Jah.'€

Thank you

Interview by Todd E. Jones (aka The New Jeru Poet)

NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
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Prince Po

Revolutionary music can empower both the individual listener and the masses. A musical uprising can be inspired by an eccentric emcee with his heart and mind in state of balance. Whether inspiring actual physical movements or innovative music, revolutionary music moves people on a fundamental physical or mental level. Formally of Organized Konfusion, Prince Po is a true eccentric emcee. With a microphone in his hand and a slick attitude within his heart, Prince Po has moved listeners in spiritual, physical, and philosophical ways.

Organized Konfusion instantly sparked a mental revolution in each listener. Fans first heard of the duo when they released the '€œJudge Fudge'€ single and their self-titled debut album. Featuring O.C., '€œJudge Fudge'€ has an energetic beat and wildly innovative flows by the emcees. Formed by Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po, Organized Konfusion truly gained critical acclaim with their '€œStress: The Extinction Agenda'€ album (Hollywood Records). Their anthem-like single, '€œStress'€ has helped to empower listeners to challenge their own mental demons. '€œCrush! Kill! Destroy stress!'€ was chanted repetitively over rugged drums. Prince Po'€™s opening verse gained him worldwide attention and helped to make the track a classic hip-hop song. '€œPain! Stress! My brain '€“ can'€™t even rest / It'€™s hard to maintain the pressure on my chest'€¦'€, Po rhymes with a both confidence and vulnerability. The album included other songs like '€œMaintain'€, '€œBlack Sunday'€, '€œBring It On'€, and '€œWhy?'€ featured mind-blowing flows and emotional lyrics. The follow up Organized Konfusion album, '€œThe Equinox'€ (Priority Records) featured many skits, which weaved narrative tale through the LP. Creative concept tracks had thoughtful lyrics that fans would only truly understand after multiple listens. The song, '€œInvetro'€ was told through the eyes of an unborn child. The aggressive track, '€œHate'€ has Prince Po rhyming through the eyes of a White supremist. Although the album gained critical acclaim, many fans were devoted to '€œStress: The Extinction Agenda'€.

Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch broke up Organized Konfusion and walked their separate paths. Signed to Rawkus, Monch had a major hit with '€œSimon Sez'€. While Monch was in the limelight, many fans wondered about Prince Po. They did form their management group, Nasty Habits. After many years, Prince Po finally released his debut solo album '€œThe Slickness'€ on Lex Records. With a beautiful packaging design, '€œThe Slickness'€ is an undiscovered gem of a record. Production included Madlib, J-Zone, Jel, Prince Po, and others. Guests included Raekwon, J-Ro (of Alkaholiks), MF Doom, J-Zone, and more. The innovative concept tracks were accessible, but they still possessed an emotional core. Produced by Prince Po, '€œBe Easy'€ can almost be dubbed mellow sequel to '€œStress'€. Produced by Madlib and featuring Raekwon, '€œThe Bump Bump'€ is an up-tempo track with a thick, bouncy rhythm and catchy chorus. Other tracks like '€œLove Thing'€, '€œSocial Distortion'€ (with MF Doom), and the title track all prove that Po has what it takes to be a solo artist. The European label, Lex Records released the album with limited distribution. The only problem with '€œThe Slickness'€ was that the album was hard to purchase in America.

Prince Po is continues to work hard, make music, and inspire listeners. On a warm evening during the later summer of 2005, I had a very in-depth conversation with Po about Organized Konfusion, Monch, hip-hop, racism, different countries, and much more. Poetic royalty is in his blood. Prince Po is the Prince of revolutionary hip-hop that inspires deep thoughts and fierce action. Prince Po makes music from his heart as '€œThe Slickness'€ flows through the blood in his veins.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
PRINCE PO: '€œNothing much. Nasty Habits Entertainment, our new production company. It'€™s a new one made up by me and Monch. Pharoahe and I had one named Medicine Men Productions, but we found out that someone else had the name. We could have sued them but instead of going through all of that, we just made a new company called Nasty Habits Entertainment. I got artists and we'€™re developing them. We have a few producers. I'€™m coming out with a new album, '€˜Pretty Black'€™, which is my next solo album. I have new artists too. We have Touch Em Blak. GBG, which stands for Gary Blue Grass. It'€™s a Blue Grass band. I have an artist named Stone, who was in a group called Brotherman. I'€™m just trying to make it happen. I have one of the hottest producers, who happens to be a female. Her name is Jazimoto. I'€™m trying to grow, build, and get a foundation. I'€™m being creative, man.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat label is going to release the '€˜Pretty Black'€™ album?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI don'€™t know right now. I'€™m looking for the right independent situation. I'€™m talking to a few people. Penalty Records or Up Above Records may be doing something with me. It'€™s up in the air right now. I'€™m in the studio until I feel that somebody may do right on the album and get it out there. That'€™s one purpose of this interview. I'€™m trying to reach out and let the fans know that I'€™m still working. Cats wonder what happened.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat did happen? You were in Europe for a while?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI was overseas last year, promoting and doing shows for '€˜The Slickness'€™ album that I put out on Lex Records.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about '€˜The Slickness'€™ and how you got involved with Lex Records.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œActually, they called me to do a song. My man, Jemini, had a song. I produced his first single, '€˜Funk Soul Sensation'€™. He hooked up with Danger Mouse. They had a deal with Lex Records. Danger liked the work ethic we had and asked me if I would like to do a record on Lex for myself? It worked out, but there were some things I had to adjust to. It'€™s different working with an overseas label. It was a good experience being overseas last year.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat were some differences working with a European label as opposed to an American label?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œFor one, it basically comes down to money. The dollar is almost half of what a Pound is. If they spend '£50,000 on promotions, it'€™s really like $100,000 here. The value of the dollar is different. A lot of overseas labels, not all of them, but a lot of them don'€™t have a relationship with people over here in the U.S. That hinders selling records in the United States.'€

T.JONES: '€œDid '€˜The Slickness'€™ LP get promotion in the United States?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œActually, it did. The people that they hired to promote the record here, in the States, weren'€™t competent enough to get the project to where it should have been at. If it was a project that came out on Penalty Records or Traffic Entertainment, there would have been a whole different impact. It would have been a movement. The album remains a classic. They love the album. The people who know about it over here, look at it as something very eclectic.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the underlying theme to, '€˜The Slickness'€™?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œ'€˜The Slickness'€™ is about a lifestyle. It'€™s like saying you are a b-boy, but in a modern way. It'€™s a way you carry yourself in hip-hop culture. The way you wear your hat, the way you talk, and the love you have for hip-hop. It'€™s the way you walk and the way you act. It'€™s a whole style of living. Even if you take the word '€˜slick'€™ as '€˜You think you are slick'€™, or '€˜You think you are sneaky'€™, or '€˜You think you'€™re smart.'€™ But, '€˜The Slickness'€™ is how you wear your sneakers and make your pants fall over your sneakers. You want them to look a certain way. Back in the day, b-boys tied their pants to their legs. It'€™s a style. It'€™s a life. It'€™s a movement.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite song on '€˜The Slickness'€™ LP?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œ'€˜Be Easy'€™, not because I produced it, but the purpose behind the song. It'€™s for my man Matt Doo, who drew the cover for Organized Konfusion'€™s 2nd album, '€˜Stress: The Extinction Agenda'€™. He drew us in caricature form. Years afterwards, he killed himself. That was basically because of the stress and turmoil that you have to face everyday. It'€™s survival. Some people don'€™t understand that suicide is a thin line between sanity and insanity. Some of who choose not to fight any more. It touched my heart when he passed away. I wanted to do a song for that. Even when you'€™re getting money, getting your shit together, and things are looking good, some of the times you have to sit back, not get caught up in the angst, and be easy. You have to appreciate the little things that are going on in your life, instead of trying to shoot for the big ones.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song took the longest, from conception to completion?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI would say '€˜Social Distortion'€™ with MF Doom because of the process. Our schedules were conflicting. That was the main one. '€˜Love Thing'€™ too. I wanted to do a song called, '€˜Love Thing'€™ but I wanted to make the lyrics say how things are fucked up. But at the same token, count your blessings. This music thing is love. There'€™s positive energy. That took the longest to write because there'€™s so much negative shit around you. And you don'€™t want to be a sucker for the people. I know that I'€™m not a sucker, but I know that love is in hip-hop. I don'€™t know where it'€™s going, but I'€™m going to keep it in the original form that I learned about in the music.'€

T.JONES: '€œThese days, many collaborations are not recorded while the artists are together. Some are mailed in. How were the guest spots on '€˜The Slickness'€™ album done?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œThe only ones we did together were the one I did that I worked with Carla personally. I wrote all of the stuff that she sang as well. I worked personally with Raekwon too. He'€™s a good friend of mine.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was it like working with Raekwon for the song, '€˜The Bump Bump'€™?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œHe'€™s so devoted to the game. I called him early on a Friday and he was there Saturday. Much love to him and the love he has for the music. He did like 25 fucking takes for '€˜The Bump Bump'€™!

T.JONES: '€œJ-Zone produced a couple of tracks on '€˜The Slickness'€™. What was it like working with J-Zone?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œJ-Zone put in a valiant effort. We built a couple of times. We didn'€™t work in the same exact location together, but we talked and we built together. He'€™s the one who did '€˜Copycat'€™, a song I did with Jemini and Danger Mouse. J-Zone is very creative. He doesn'€™t cater to the industry. He just tries to do what he thinks is creative. That'€™s important. He sticks to what he does and he loves it.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has being a solo artist changed your approach to hip-hop?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œAnyone who understands math and science understands that what is - is what it is. I never came out as Prince Po from Organized Konfusion. I came out as Organized Konfusion and my name is Prince Po. I just had to accept that there would always be an element missing when Monch is not rhyming with me on the record. I just try to cover as many elements as I can by myself. I think that it made me grow a lot, but I was able to adjust. I realized the changes that the industry was making. It'€™s not my industry so, I can'€™t make the rules and regulations. I can realize how it is going and how it is and how I can fit in that system. It basically comes down to how to work with the elements you'€™re dealing with. I'€™m trying to make songs with lyrics that are not so tongue twisting, but still have messages. I always get my point across. It'€™s still a struggle. Monch is a very creative dude. That was my other half. We still talk, fight, and talk on the phone. It'€™s incredible how our relationship overcomes everything else, even the industry. We can support each other, do different things, and still have respect for each other. It'€™s powerful enough to give me the energy to write for myself.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhy did Organized Konfusion break up?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œWell we broke up because we didn'€™t want to hear the fans say the same thing like, '€˜You'€™re dope but you are not getting the right promotion'€™. That gets tiring. We had three albums and fans thought we were dope but didn'€™t have the right promotion. We didn'€™t want that shit to run us into the ground. People kept saying that. It was a hopeless situation, but would we would always be dope? We wanted to preserve the name. I don'€™t think the records would have been the classics that they are if we kept on throwing records out there like it was nothing. Right now, we are trying to make some moves and put out an Organized Konfusion remix album. We are just trying to make moves on another side. After we came off the road, I was tired. Besides writing, I was doing most of the business. I would say that I was doing 90% of the business. I would always sit down with Monch and discuss it with him. We did do 50/50 on everything. I was burnt out. I was writing rhymes, making beats, doing the business, talking to the labels, and building with the managers. I made sure the job got done while Monch was able to be an artist. That was cool. Monch is my brother, but I wanted to get to a point where I could be creative, make songs, and worry about being an emcee or producer. Even now, that won'€™t happen because I have a company and artists who I'€™m working with. The job will never get easier. It will always get more tedious. The difference is that I'€™m ready for it now. I had to take that break. On the road, we did a lot of shows and a lot of traveling. I was mentally and physically burnt out. Monch was like, '€˜Do I have your blessings to go into the studio and work on some material to get a deal?'€™ I was for it. His anger wasn'€™t like he wanted to go and shoot somebody at the label. His anger came out in a way that he had to show the world that he was not done yet.'€

T.JONES: '€œAfter Organized Konfusion broke up, you appeared on Pharoahe Monch'€™s solo album, '€˜Internal Affairs'€™. How did the song, '€˜God Send'€™ come about?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œHe told me the idea of a song he wanted to do. You know, Monch is very eclectic about his music. He wanted me to be on the song that meant the most to him on that album. That'€™s why he named it, '€˜God Send'€™. We really try to stay focused and count our blessings. We collaborated on the song. I had the rhyme ready and he liked the rhyme. That pretty much made it a rap. It was done just as quickly as he mentioned it to me. With this album he is working on now, we'€™re building on something. We are also building on this mix-tape that I'€™m putting out called, '€˜The Lost Scrolls'€™. I'€™ve been working on this. People have been like, '€˜Where is Prince Po?'€™. I'€™ve noticed those questions on mightypharoahe.com. They think that I disappeared. There were just a whole lot of things going on. I had to make the transition of using 2000 & 950 from using the 2000 and the Reason program in the computer. It got very digital. I had to teach myself how to use Reason. I had to teach myself how to use Windows products. I had to teach myself how to use Pro-Tools. All of that stuff takes time. I educated myself.'€

T.JONES: '€œOn the song '€˜Money, Power & Influence'€™ from Guru'€™s '€˜The Street Scriptures'€™ album, Talib Kweli mentions that Pro-Tools made producers lazy. Do you agree?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œOf course, it did! It is a lazier way to make music. It'€™s cheating a little bit because somebody programmed it to cater to the hip-hop world. It has taken out the creativity. Premier chopped samples up, showed his own creativity, and took that record to another level. Pro-Tools changed it drastically. That'€™s the whole thing. I can'€™t change the game and say, '€˜Fuck Pro-Tools! It'€™s too digital!'€™ Even if I don'€™t use it, if somebody puts me in a situation where I have to use it, I have to show and prove. I don'€™t totally agree with it because it is taking away some of the creativity. I still like sampling and I play a few things around it. That'€™s how it goes now. Pro-Tools did hinder the game a little bit and put some studios out of business.'€

T.JONES: '€œWill there ever be another Organized Konfusion album?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œPossibly, in the Fall of 2006.

T.JONES: '€œAre you still in contact with O.C.?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œWe'€™re talking. O.C. is on the road with Hieroglyphics. We'€™re trying to work things out with him too. It'€™s all a family situation but with us, we'€™re not yes-men towards each other. If O.C. feels a certain way to me, he'€™s going to express it, which is something he has done. I don'€™t give a shit because I put him on a record. He didn'€™t put me on a record. He'€™s Monch'€™s neighbor before anything else. I love him like a brother. He'€™s like a little brother with me. I want him to get the best he can out of his career, make the most money, and be happy. It'€™s just that if a little brother is wrong, he is wrong. I'€™m not going to '€˜Yes'€™ him.'€

T.JONES: '€œThat '€˜Starchild'€™ LP by O.C. (on Grit / Nocturne Records) was dope.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI'€™ve heard it a couple of times. I'€™m just hoping that he'€™s happy with what he'€™s doing. Then, I'€™ll be happy with his project. He'€™s a dope emcee. He'€™s definitely creative. Hopefully, we'€™ll work again in the future. Right now, let him do him. Once he can get back home and really realize that with the talent that we have, we can make something together. I never knock him. I tell people to support him and buy his records all the time. It'€™s just that, when a little brother does something, you have to let him do it. '€˜Jewelz'€™ is not O.C. '€˜Jewelz'€™ is a cool album but it is very materialistic. It'€™s not '€˜Word'€¦Life'€™. O has to decide whether he likes jewelry, fine women, and nice clothes. I know that part of him but, at that time in the game, it seemed like everybody was doing that because that was what everybody was doing. We'€™re known to go against the grain and a lot of fans were complaining when he did '€˜Bon Appetit'€™. I think he should do whatever he wants to do as long as he puts his heart and soul into it. If he did it just to make a quick dollar, I'€™m not with it. If his heart told him to do it, I'€™m fully supporting it. He'€™s a creative dude. He'€™s a dope emcee and I love what he'€™s doing. I could love you and be away from you at the same time. I'€™m not going to sit and argue with you. I'€™m not going to keep wondering why you are mad at me, when I all I want to do is put you on a record. I know him from living next to Monch but, I don'€™t know this mother fucker. He didn'€™t grow up in the projects with me. He lived around the corner from the projects. That makes no difference to me. He didn'€™t grow up with me. I looked out for him because he'€™s a dope ass fucking emcee.'€

T.JONES: "When creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Or, do you write to the beat?"
PRINCE PO: '€œBoth ways. I'€™ve had ideas and wrote for them. '€˜9 X Out Of Ten'€™ was my rhyme. The actual chorus for that song was my rhyme for that song. Monch wanted to use that rhyme for the hook and wanted me to write another rhyme. It varies. Most of the time, I wrote to the beat and then, come up with the concept. For '€˜Invetro'€™ and songs like '€˜Black Sunday'€™, a lot of the written rhymes were from bits and pieces of little paragraphs that were written before. When the track was put together, we just put it to it.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite Organized Konfusion album?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI would say '€˜Stress'€™, but coming right up next to it is '€˜The Equinox'€™. The album, '€˜The Equinox'€™ did not get a lot of write ups. Some people didn'€™t like it that much because there were a lot of skits. I like '€˜The Equinox'€™ because of the effort we put into it. It'€™s such a different record. We even went out and ordered $600 worth of Hollywood sounds from moviemakers out here in Cali, just to put in those skits. A lot of those sounds, like the car noises, are professional movie sounds. We paid money for it. We put it together and had people come in to do the voiceovers. It'€™s like a '€˜Pulp Fiction'€™ story. Where it starts is where it ends. The album is just creative to me. A lot of people slept on it. To me, the most slept on shit or the most underrated shit, would always be my favorite shit.'€

T.JONES: "Who are some people you would like to collaborate with in the future?"
PRINCE PO: '€œJay Dee. I did work with Large Professor. I like 9th Wonder, who is coming up now. I think Kev Brown is dope. Also, Rhettmatic, The Beat Junkies, and Hershey P, who is down with Nasty Habits. Shafir. Man, there'€™s a host of niggas! I want to work with DJ Quik too. He'€™s a different type of dude. I'€™m just on some weird shit. I would like to work with George Clinton. I'€™ve got a weird, eclectic vibe of who I would like to work with. To each is own. Even if I would work with somebody in Cam'€™Ron'€™s crew, I would like to work with Juelz Santana. I like some of the shit he says. I like different styles. Everyone talks about commercial versus underground. You are only underground until you sell a million copies. Once you sell a million copies, you go commercial? That'€™s stupid! If Common goes platinum, he'€™s not underground anymore? That'€™s crazy!.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho have you been listening to lately?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œActually, everybody I just mentioned. Rhettmatic, Kev Brown, 9th Wonder, Pete Rock, some of the Diplomats. One of the dopest, who I would like to work with on something special, is Jay-Z. Even when Nas and Jay-Z had the battle, your opinion could be that Nas won, but in what perspective did he win? Nas is a certain type of emcee to me. Jay-Z is a certain type of emcee to me. They are not even in the same category. I love Nas and I got to give the brother love from the borough of Queens, but Jay-Z does a lot of collaborations while Nas doesn'€™t. To me, that takes away from someone being a dope emcee. Making a dope collaboration with somebody is where Jay-Z kicked his ass. Jay-Z can adjust and do songs with different people. That is part of the versatility of being an emcee. Nas is versatile on topics and different things to talk about. Nas is definitely intelligent on the lyrics. We will always be able to listen to his music for years to come. I like Jay-Z because he can do a song with Talib Kweli and then, turn around and make a song with Linkin Park. That'€™s a true fucking emcee! That'€™s versatility! I like a lot of the Nas collaborations but I don'€™t think he collabs as well. To me, that'€™s one thing that he'€™s not better at than Jay-Z. Everybody says that Nas kicked Jay-Z'€™s ass but a lot of people don'€™t know things. People don'€™t know that in '€˜Do It Again (Get Your Hands Up)'€™, he said some shit on there to Nas. '€˜Three cuts in your eyebrows / trying to wild out. The game is ours. We'€™ll never foul out / Y'all just better hope we gracefully bow out.'€™ To me, that'€™s just as dope as '€˜Either'€™, but you couldn'€™t tell anybody in New York that it wasn'€™t. To each is own. I like both emcees. They are both kings of New York. Fuck that one king shit!'€

T.JONES: "Where were you during September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it?"
PRINCE PO: '€œIn 9-11, I was in Southside Queens. WPLX, Channel 11 went out because it was on top of The World Trade Center. At the time, I didn'€™t pay it no mind and went back to sleep until one of my neighbors knocked on my door and told me what happened. My man G.I. Joe, who runs with Diggin In The Crates, saw the 2nd plane hit from his window, in The Bronx. I just felt the tension from everything that was going down. It was a shocker to me.'€

T.JONES: "What was the last incident of racism you experienced?"
PRINCE PO: '€œIt was when I was getting on a plane. You know the lady who checks the tickets before you walk down the corridor to get on the plane? I asked her if 1st class was crowded. She said, '€˜If you were flying 1st class, you wouldn'€™t have to worry about it.'€™ I just ignored her. If I didn'€™t, I would have cursed her ass out. I don'€™t give a fuck if you are mad about your job. Somebody else wants to do it. Your hell is somebody'€™s heaven. Who gives a fuck about what you think, your theories, or if I should be flying first class? I just ignored her, walked away, and didn'€™t acknowledge her existence. I thought it was a very ignorant thing to say, but that'€™s how the world is. I have neighbors here, in Burbank, California. When I talk with them and they ask me questions, I can tell that they didn'€™t grow up among Black people. I can'€™t be mad at them because that was just the way they were brought up. I'€™m definitely going to educate them on who we are. I'€™m going to let them know that every mother fucker doesn'€™t have to have a chain around his neck to show his worth. We'€™ve been worth a lot of money even before money came into play. I just try to walk with my head high and try to spread love no matter what color people are. Ignorance don'€™t have a color. She was an ignorant fucking lady who will be there for the next 20 years of her life, tearing those goddamn tickets.'€

T.JONES: "What are some major misconceptions that people have of you?"
PRINCE PO: '€œWow! That'€™s a good question, Todd. A lot of independent labels aren'€™t stepping to me because I was on Priority .They must think I'€™m looking for $180,000 advance. I think people have the misconception of the type of grinder I am. I'€™m into getting in those streets and selling records. The little record labels must think that I'€™m looking for a major deal when all I want to do is move units. Over the years, when people don'€™t see you, but you pop back on the scene with a nice shirt and nice sneakers, they look at you. They think, '€˜What happened to you? Are you alright?'€™ I guess that if I was wearing sneakers with holes and looked cracked out, it would be alright because I'€™m not making records, as far as them not seeing it. Over the years, I was studying sampler ands computers. I was learning the programs by myself. I was educating myself on being computer literate. This made people have the misconception that I fell off. They may think that I'€™m hustling because I look the same and wear nice clothes. That'€™s because my fans are devoted to me and I was still doing shows solo. I am still doing features solo. I am still producing. It was a blessing. When people don'€™t see you on T.V., they automatically think that you are cracked out, hungry, or sleeping in the park.'€

T.JONES: '€œDid drugs ever influence your music?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œCats smoke a little bit of greeny weed. This whole new era of E pills is cool but it'€™s not for everybody. Out here, there'€™s a saying that niggas a fizzed out. For me, I'€™m horny and want to touch something normally. I don'€™t need to take pills to do it but I'€™m not mad at anybody who bug out and have fun. To each is own, but those pills have other shit it them.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou'€™re from Queens but you are in California now?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI'€™m in Burbank, California. I'€™ve been in the valley for about 3 months.'€

T.JONES: '€œMany emcees from New York move out there to California. How is the hip-hop scene different out there?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œHonestly, there'€™s no difference, but there is more of what is, out here. When you talk about Los Angeles, California, you are talking about the size of New York state. Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland have a whole other following of people. There are so many people to reach out to at one time and in one spot. New York is definitely the epicenter of hop-hop, not just because it was born there. It'€™s not the biggest place to sell records but you have to get the '€˜Okay'€™ from New York to tell you that your record is dope. If New York thinks your record is wack, your record isn'€™t going anywhere. That is a part New York plays. Cali plays a part too. Once New York says your record is dope, you better have a dope show in Cali. If your show is wack in L.A., they'€™ll fuck with you. If your show is dope, people will let you expand more. They will appreciate your creativity and how you make music. It'€™s dope. There'€™s more shit to get into out here.'€

T.JONES: '€œDoes recording in Los Angeles have a different creative effect or stimuli than recording in New York?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI'€™m looking for any deal, not a major. Hypothetically, if someone gave me $400,000 to do an album, I would have to do half or most of the songs on the East Coast, but I would also have to do a significant part of the album on the West Coast. I'€™m on some different shit. Fuck the palm trees! I'€™m into the sun coming up in the morning, the smell of wet grass, and nature. If you wake up at 8 in the morning with the sun coming up, you get that energy. You get that vibe. It has to do with nothing else but nature. 80% of '€˜The Slickness'€™ album was written in California, at Danger Mouse'€™s house. It gave the LP a different vibe than the other shit I have done. I would definitely record in both spots. I would also record down South or Midwest. Chicago, Atlanta, or Texas. There are different vibes when you go places. People go through the same struggles. You can meet beautiful ass people everywhere. The nature, the atmosphere, and the people all make up where I am at. That is why I would have to keep it versatile.'€

T.JONES: '€œYour music has many themes about overcoming struggles. There are uplifting sentiments about getting by and maintaining through life. Songs like '€˜Maintain'€™, '€˜Stress'€™, and '€˜Be Easy'€™ help people get through hard days. The song, '€˜Maintain'€™ was especially moving for me. Was this intentional?
PRINCE PO: '€œThe main thing was that it is for cats like you. You are like the three hundredth person who told me that the '€˜Stress'€™ album helped them get through rough times. They always specifically name that song, '€˜Maintain'€™ too. That album was recorded when a lot of stuff was going on. We lost Monch'€™s father. He passed away during that time. He was a very big influence on our life. Not only was death hard, but we were also dealing with the record labels. We were struggling and arguing with the labels, and trying to satisfy the record labels. We had to make sure we could eat. It became hard. We just wanted to make a record and see how many people go through what we go through. Not everything is peaches and cream. We got a response from that record. The record shows that we went through a lot of shit. Hollywood Records had to let us go. They weren'€™t doing the full job that they were supposed to do. They didn'€™t understand the music or where we came from. They were putting all of these boujie ass people. I don'€™t give a fuck what color people are. Boujie people are Black too. We have a lot of Boujie ass Black people. Problems don'€™t have a color. You can be white, Indian, or whatever. It doesn'€™t matter who you are, you are going to get challenged and face turmoil. You have to learn how to adjust and live with people. I have white people who I have looked out for me just as well as my Black friends. Am I supposed to treat them different when they looked out for me exactly the same way? No! One of my roommates out here in Burbank is a white kid. I don'€™t give a shit what color you are! I'€™m going to tell the truth and pull no punches. You just have to have a certain type of etiquette and have some respect for each other. Accept the fact that we are all different! Black people are different from each other. We are not all the same.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou just need to be yourself.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œExactly! I grew up with all types of people but I have met people out here who are some of the best neighbors anyone could have. I actually sat down and had conversations with them. They never grew up with Black people. I can'€™t expect them to know everything or not say some things that may be offensive because they grew up in a certain part of Texas where there weren'€™t any Black people. It'€™s my job and my duty to educate them because I don'€™t want them running around thinking that all we do is say, '€˜Yo! Yo! What'€™s up B?'€™, grab our nuts, and wear our hats sideways all the time.'€™ When I see white kids wearing their hats sideways and talking tha
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Prince Po

T.JONES: '€œYou just need to be yourself.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œExactly! I grew up with all types of people but I have met people out here who are some of the best neighbors anyone could have. I actually sat down and had conversations with them. They never grew up with Black people. I can'€™t expect them to know everything or not say some things that may be offensive because they grew up in a certain part of Texas where there weren'€™t any Black people. It'€™s my job and my duty to educate them because I don'€™t want them running around thinking that all we do is say, '€˜Yo! Yo! What'€™s up B?'€™, grab our nuts, and wear our hats sideways all the time.'€™ When I see white kids wearing their hats sideways and talking that way, I can'€™t tell them not to do that because they could have grown up doing that. It didn'€™t come up from Black culture. It came from hip-hop culture, which is color-blind.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about this new solo album coming out?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI produced a lot of stuff on it. There'€™s not just me though. I have Jazimoto, who is a female. My group, GBG did beats too. I get beats from The Beat Junkies, Rhettmatic, everybody. Everywhere I go, I get beat CDs. It'€™s becoming so crazy that everybody I speak to is doing beats. I would say that 60% of the entire universe is involved in hip-hop culture in one form or another. I'€™m not hating on it, but it is getting out of hand. I miss talking to people who want to be lawyers or doctors. That'€™s where it is getting a little tasteless. Everybody is doing beats. I got four beat CDs up in the Bay Area. Out of the four, only one of the shits are dope. The other three are horrible. I don'€™t give a fuck how they feel about it. The shit is horrible. But at the same time, those dudes may be able to fix a car, build an engine, or create the next invention that makes life easier. Everybody has to find what they can specialize in. Every human is a specialist, but everybody is not made to do music or do beats. Ten years ago, everybody was trying to get into the N.B.A. and play basketball. Now, everybody'€™s rapping. I may call my mom and she may tell me that she'€™s rapping now. It'€™s getting out of hand. Nobody wants to be a lawyer, doctor, or a specialist. I try to comb through what is creative. If don'€™t think it is creative, I throw that shit in the garbage. I'€™m not going to come to New Jersey and fix your car. I can change oil and take it to get a tune up, but I cannot fix a car. I can respect that. If I take it to Funkmaster Flex and he starts talking about engines, he will be the one to educate me. I know a little but I don'€™t know all of that shit. Everyone has to find where they belong and find their position in life. A lot of these motherfuckers should not be making beats! One of these shits, I threw it away and got so mad because he wasted his time going to get equipment. The music thing comes from a natural existence of where you were born.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe final Organized Konfusion LP, '€˜The Equinox'€™ was released on Priority Records. What happened with Priority Records?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œThey gave us a deal and knew that we needed promotion and attention. It was all good at first, but people started going on vacation. I realized that Master P sold hundreds of thousands of records on his own. Priority was a street record label to me. They weren'€™t respecting us coming there as humble men who wanted to do business. They only respected us when we shouted and wanted to choke somebody for not doing their job. Our job was done by going into the studio and pouring out our fucking hearts. Our job was to make dope music for people all over the world. In the middle of the project, the contract ended with the distribution situation. You can'€™t sign a contract with a record label unless you find out what their distribution is like. Two weeks after the LP came out, Priority loses their distribution deal. Then, we had to wait through the process of getting a new distribution deal to pick up. During that time, we found out that the record wasn'€™t even in the stores. Then, we found out that the head of promotions was on vacation for three weeks! Then, the street promotion people didn'€™t have anyone to guide them on what they had to do. I'€™m an artist! I'€™m not supposed to teach cats how to promote the record, what stores the record should be in, and how many spins we get on the radio. I'€™m an artist. That doesn'€™t mean I have to coordinate the other side of the project. We asked them for a release and they gave it to us. They didn'€™t do the job that they were supposed to.'€

T.JONES: '€œDid you think '€˜The Equinox'€™ LP was misunderstood?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI think it was misunderstood because people didn'€™t get a chance to see it for what it was. We did some powerful things. We did the Vibe television show. BET and MTV gave us support. At the time, record labels wanted to hire outside companies to do other shit. The labels didn'€™t want to do the footwork to get the money. That'€™s cool, because that'€™s what it'€™s all about. Get the money. When you hire other corporations to do that and your distribution is fucked up, it gets tricky. We were a group who busted our asses. We slept in the parking lot of BET because Priority didn'€™t have hotel rooms for us. We knew what we had to do. Still, artists can'€™t sell a record any more than what the record label wants to sell. '€˜The Equinox'€™ was misunderstood. It just didn'€™t get a chance to live like it should have.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat advice would you give to someone coming up in the music industry?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œGet on the grind for what you know. Nobody owes you shit! Stop thinking that just because your block told you that you are dope, the industry is supposed to let you in. It doesn'€™t go that way. You have to walk your dogs. Monch and I would actually read the back of records and then, go to the labels. You can'€™t do that anymore. You have to find a new way of doing it. Be determined and believe in yourself. If you really feel that you are dope and have something to offer the game, do it. And please, stop writing like everybody else! I heard the shit already! Come out with some shit that no one has heard before! Try to be creative and original. All that recycling shit is done with. There are 5 million rappers all over the fucking world. Give the people something different. Say something, whether it is a message, if it is encouragement, or even if you are pissed off and have to vent. Listen to other people'€™s shit so you don'€™t sound like them. Give them an ear so you can be a creative person. Do what you believe in. If you believe in yourself and have talent, go for it, but please, offer something different to the hip-hop community, so it can continue to grow. Touching Black did a song called '€˜Asphalt'€™, which is for the skaters. This is not for the motherfuckers in a Benz who like their chains. This is for skaters who like hip-hop. He just talks about how skaters love what they do. He talks about how gangsters have it twisted because these skaters have gats in their knapsack with extra clips for extra picks. You have skaters, bikers, b-boys who break, graffiti artists, and more. All of those are part of hip-hop. If we don'€™t continue to build, then hip-hop should die. Hip-hop will never die as long as we continue to do it how it was done in the first place. That means being creative and being original. Organized Konfusion didn'€™t sound like A Tribe Called Quest. Leaders Of The New School didn'€™t sound like Black Sheep. We all did shows together and broke bread together. It was friendly competition. There was love! Even if we didn'€™t have Busta on the album, we could still sit with him, break bread, smile, laugh, and talk because we were all contributors to the hip-hop culture.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou did some non-hip-hop collaborations?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œOne of my neighbors, Chaz West, sings with the drummer from Black Sabbath, and a guitarist from ZZ Top. We collaborated and did this rock song called, '€˜I Got A Right To Know'€™. It sounds a little like '€˜Why'€™ by Jadakiss. I'€™m asking these questions like, '€˜Why do I have to say that I'€™m African-American on an application?'€™ At the end of the application, it says that the company is an equal opportunity employer. If you are an equal opportunity employer, what difference does it make what color I am? Jada did asked a lot of important questions on his song. I had an idea similar to that and decided to do it anyway. It'€™s still different. In Jada'€™s hook, they are singing '€˜Why?'€™. In my hook, Chaz is sings, '€˜I got a right to know'€™. That'€™s why I'€™m asking these questions. I do have a right to know. Large Professor did the track.'€

T.JONES: '€œMadlib produced a couple of tracks on '€˜The Slickness'€™ LP. How is Madlib different from some of the other producers?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œMadlib is a very eclectic dude. This dude loves working with me. I never had to ask him for beats. He'€™d give me a beat CD with 30 or 40 beats and it was hard to pick only 2 or 3 songs from them. He'€™s a very eclectic dude. I only worked in the studio with him once. He did 3 songs on '€˜The Slickness'€™ album and I only was in the studio with him once. That lets you know something. It'€™s just weird. He'€™s not weird. It'€™s a weird situation. I'€™m usually a hands-on person when I'€™m working with producers. Also, I don'€™t like to force shit. I like things to be natural. If he'€™s naturally not working with anybody, personally except for people, like J Dilla and Oh No, let it be. In the future, that may stop. He'€™ll get his ass in the studio with me. He ain'€™t going to tell me that he'€™s a fan of my music and I'€™m a fan of his while we are playing this cute tip-toe around thing. We'€™re going to meet up. We have to get in there together, build, and feel each other out. That'€™s the way hip-hop is supposed to be.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat were some songs that made you fall in love with hip-hop?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œThe song, '€˜One Love'€™ by Whodini. Also, '€˜Five Minutes Of Funk'€™. I loved a lot of songs on Run-Dmc'€™s '€˜Raising Hell'€™ album. Spoonie G, Kool Moe Dee'€™s '€˜Feel The Heartbeat'€™. That whole park jam era when I was a kid.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. When I say a name, you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said '€˜Public Enemy'€™, you may say, '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Fight The Power'€™.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œRight.'€

T.JONES: '€œDel The Funkie Homosapian.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œMr. Bob Dobalina.'€

T.JONES: '€œPhife Dawg.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œThe 5 Footer. He'€™s a dope live performer!'€

T.JONES: '€œEminem.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œ8 Mile.'€

T.JONES: '€œPharoahe Monch.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œAgent Orange.'€

T.JONES: '€œWu-Tang Clan.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œLoyalty.'€

T.JONES: '€œJamiroquai.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œEclectic but forgotten.'€

T.JONES: '€œCommon.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œRealness.'€

T.JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œSuperfly.'€

T.JONES: '€œMarvin Gaye.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œTrouble Man.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhodini.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œJhalil. I love him to death, my brother.'€

T.JONES: '€œSmokey Robinson.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œThe Apollo.'€

T.JONES: '€œO.C.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œTimes Up.'€

T.JONES: '€œQ-Tip.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œOne of the most eclectic dudes I have ever met in my life.'€

T.JONES: '€œDe La Soul.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI love all of them, especially Mase.'€

T.JONES: '€œArtifacts.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œTouring together.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
PRINCE PO: '€œConfused and greedy.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was '€˜The Extinction Agenda'€™?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œIt'€™s basically like the new world order.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the song '€˜Thirteen'€™ about?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œIt wasn'€™t about shit. 13 was Monch'€™s favorite number. 8 was my favorite number. If you listen to the song'€™s numbers, Monch is number 13 and I'€™m number 8. We even had jackets like a football team with our favorite numbers on the arm. 13 was his favorite number and his personal song for the album. We decided to do separate songs for the album and do something different. It'€™s dope. I love that song.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is next for Prince Po?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI'€™m working on the '€˜Pretty Black'€™ album. I have an artist named Touch Em Blak with the '€˜Asphalt'€™ song. '€˜The Lost Scrolls'€™ will be out in the stores hopefully after September. I'€™m putting it out by myself if I have to. I'€™m doing this totally independent. I'€™m looking for a distribution company who thinks I'€™m worthy to work with them. A lot of distribution companies front. A lot of these independent record labels are becoming like these majors. They are becoming really funny about who they sign. Some people are still keeping real with the eclectic shit. But, some are only doing things with certain people. It'€™s getting funny style with some of these indie labels. I'€™m just trying to put out records, move people, and move units. It'€™s love. We take it back to the street. I make them run up on cats, spit on them, and just hit em in the head. DJ'€™s? Promo directors? I smash them with the shit that is supposed to be played. I'€™m working on GBG'€™s shit. They'€™re just about finished. Everybody'€™s working on shit. I'€™m working close with everybody.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny final words?'€
PRINCE PO: '€œI think the interview went great, man. You asked me some real interesting questions. It'€™s dope. You asked some real creative and different questions, which is dope! Final words? I just want my fans to know that I love them to death and I didn'€™t go nowhere! I feel like I owe them much more than records. I owe them the proof that I'€™m sitting down and doing my homework. I thank them so much for supporting me. I don'€™t give a shit about anybody else except for the people who not only support the records, but live and understand what we are trying to do. They know life is ups and downs. You have '€˜Maintain'€™ and you have '€˜Let'€™s Organize'€™. It went back and forth. I want my fans to know that it will be a long time before I am done. I have much more coming!'€


Interview by Todd E. Jones aka New Jeru Poet

NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
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Casual may be the least eccentric emcee out of the Hieroglyphics crew, but his individualism shines through his music. Out of the various members the Oakland based camp, Casual had an aggressive style but was never considered weird. In his songs, the pimp within the emcee always got loose on the microphone. Some of the Hiero crew (Del or Pep-Love) are unfairly labeled as '€œalternative'€ or '€œback pack'€ hip-hop. Regardless of labels, every single emcee of Hieroglyphics has accessible traits. Casual has always been the guy who lives next door who rhymes well. At his core, he is just '€œthat dude'€ from Oakland, California. The beauty of Casual'€™s music is that he is just that chilled out dude from Oaktown. Even though Casual is perceived as that regular guy, he brings out that slick, pimped-out side of himself through his music. He does not wear gators, floss diamonds, wear top hats, or sell prostitutes to lonely guys. He just rhymes with the same confident energy and lavish style of pimp. This alter-ego represents the pimp within us all. With a balance of style and flow, Casual has made music for the average person to mack to. He has the self-assurance of a mack without the negative, exploitative, or stereotypical style.

Casual has experienced the complete spectrum of label issues. Signed to Jive Records in the 90'€™s, Casual released the classic '€˜Fear Itself'€™ album. After label troubles, Casual and Hieroglyphics went the independent route. They set up their independent label, Hieroglyphics Imperium. Throughout the years, Hieroglyphics Imperium has grown in multiple ways. They have a diverse worldwide fan base, a lengthy discography, and are currently signing other artists (Z-Man, O.C., Encore, etc.). With complete creative control, Hieroglyphics have contributed to the essence of independent hip-hop. Casual and fellow Hieroglyphics have found peace through this musical independence

The prolific emcee has left his signature mark on wax. He made a substantial contribution to the Hieroglyphics '€œ3rd Eye Vision'€ LP. After a lengthy break after his debut LP, Casual'€™s '€œHe Think He Raw'€ finally was released. With a different sound and style, his sophomore album maintained that confident Oakland flavor. During 2002, I interviewed Casual for the first time. He also kept busy with shows and multiple collaborations. His production was featured on the sophomore Hiero album, '€œFull Circle.'€ He also produced '€œLeroy'€ from the excellent '€œCalicomm 2004'€ CD/DVD (which documented the tour including Haiku D'€™Etat, Del The Funky Homosapien, and Zion I). He rhymed on the excellent Hiero compilations, '€œThe Building'€ and '€œThe Corner'€

In 2005, '€œSmash Rockwell'€ was officially born. The fun LP album has a macked-out feel without exhausting the vibe. The LP features legendary guests like Too $hort, E-40, and Young Zee from The Outsidaz. A Casual album would be incomplete without collaborations from Hieroglyphics. Opio, A-Plus, and Tajai all contribute to his LP. While some of the beats were produced by Casual, the production on '€œSmash Rockwell'€ is also handled by J-Zone, Dan The Automator, Quincy Tones, Compound 7 (A Plus & Aagee), Bedrock, Jake One, and Domino. In the cool song '€œStyles'€, Casual uses each verse to display his talent for rhyming. The inner-mack is let on the opening track, '€œSay That Then'€. Like all of the albums from Hieroglyphics, the music is diverse, thick, and captivating. My second (2005) interview with Casual displays a mature and insightful emcee. His thoughts about hip-hop, technology, rhymes, and the industry have an astute hip-hop edge. Some may think Casual may be just '€œthat dude'€ from Oakland. Casual may be that regular guy, but Smash is his inner-pimp released on the hip-hop world. Smash Rockwell is a talented emcee who helps Hieroglyphics lay some of the bricks in hip-hop'€™s foundation. Casual has just shown us his alter ego, Smash Rockwell. Escaping the chains of everyday life, Casual is smashing through music and rocking well.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
CASUAL: '€œChilling, chilling. I'€™m enjoying life. It'€™s a nice Sunday.'€

T.JONES: '€œHieroglyphics Imperium just released your new album, '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™. Tell us about the LP.'€
CASUAL: '€œ'€˜Smash Rockwell'€™ is my new release. It'€™s Casual at his finest. That'€™s what it is all about, basically. He'€™s a spokesman. It'€™s a little more mature. I'€™m just bringing it how people are expecting it, how people want it.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow is '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™ different from your last album, '€˜He Think He Raw'€™?'€
CASUAL: '€œIt'€™s different in a few ways. Mainly, it'€™s different because I'€™ve got more outside production. I got more cooperation and participation for this event. On my last album, '€˜He Think He Raw'€™, I produced half of the album and I had no features. It was really all done in-house. That'€™s a good thing at times, but sometimes, it'€™s a bad thing. For '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™, I wanted to have more of the people I looked up to and the people I admire. I also wanted to have current people I respect, be involved in my project as well.'€

T.JONES: '€œSome legendary emcees are on the '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™ like Too $hort, Dan The Automator, and E-40.'€
CASUAL: '€œYeah, a lot of those people, like Dan and Too $hort, are people who I have been listening to throughout my whole career. I was like, '€˜Man! I want to do a song with them when I can!'€™ Since this was my current project, I made it happen.'€

T.JONES: '€œWere these collaborations done with you and the guest in the same studio at the same time?'€
CASUAL: '€œEach was different, actually. Me and Dan worked together. Automator and I work together all the time. Me and Too $hort worked together at High Street Studios. The E-40 song was done via the mail. My J-Zone song was done via the Internet. There were different ways for different people. As long as we communicate and bounce back and forth, there are all different types of processes. For '€˜Oaktown'€™ song with Too $hort, E Mac, Richie Rich, and G Stack, everyone came into the studio. We listened to each other'€™s verses and dropped our own verses. It was the exact opposite the E-40 song.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat'€™s your favorite song on '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™?'€
CASUAL: '€œI think it is probably '€˜Styles'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œYeah, Domino produced '€˜Styles'€™. He always comes through.'€
CASUAL: '€œYeah, Domino and I have been working together for a while. It'€™s a classic combination.'€

T.JONES: '€œAs an alter-ego or character, how is Smash Rockwell different from the Casual?'€
CASUAL: '€œNot necessarily different, just a perfect person. Personally, my friends have been calling me Smash for a while. You feel me? I just wanted to present that person to my fans and let them know what is going on. Where I'€™m located, Smash is a slang term for getting aggressive.'€

T.JONES: '€œThere is a more pimped out and slicker vibe to '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™, especially on the opening track, '€˜Say That Then'€™.'€
CASUAL: '€œThat was kind of a comedy thing, to make you feel how we do. It'€™s always fun to stay pimping in a way. I don'€™t mean pimping in a derogatory way. I mean getting over any situation at hand. Someone was surprised that my album started off with me singing, '€˜You look like a pimp!'€™ I let it be how I be. I love how it is. Everybody knows what I stand for in this hip-hop thing. I like just having fun. I'€™m from Oakland, California. If anyone can pull it off, I can.'€

T.JONES: '€œOn '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™ interlude, you apologize for punching some guy out? What really happened?'€
CASUAL: '€œActually, I'€™ll tell you the real story. That wasn'€™t even supposed to be on my album. We'€™re an indie label and sometimes, things slide through the cracks. I don'€™t want to point anyone out, but I told the dude who was mastering the album, to take it out. Then, after the test press, it was on there. That was just comedy. It wasn'€™t really heartfelt. I was just trying to make people laugh. Still, there'€™s always someone out there who wants to test you because they think that you call yourself a gangster when you are not. If you don'€™t represent the most ignorant things on the Earth, people try to test you sometimes. I'€™m not a sucker, so I'€™ll put it in some people'€™s faces who actually tried to test me. They got the worst side of it. Actually, there are all types of situations. Once, I got jumped by some fools. It actually happened at The Hip-Hop Summit in Oakland. Some rappers tried to jump me. It'€™s cool because I socked them up. It'€™s on the DVD so, it'€™s really fun. I don'€™t really represent that. It'€™s just fun. You know how we get. What I don'€™t do, is represent violence.'€

T.JONES: '€œToo $hort rhymes on the song, '€˜Oaktown'€™. What was that collaboration like?'€
CASUAL: '€œWell, I'€™ve known $hort for a while. I did a song on one of his compilations, back in the day. I think that was the first time we really, really spent together. I'€™ve known $hort since the late '€™90'€™s. We were both on Jive together. It wasn'€™t hard. I just gave him a call. I had his number. I called him and told him that I wanted him to be on the song. It wasn'€™t a big deal because the fact he is a legend. I went to Mississippi in the 6th grade. When I came home, everyone told me Too $hort rocked at my house. He did a house party for my sister. Too $hort performed in my living room while I was in Mississippi. That'€™s how big of a legend he is to someone like me. We have crossed paths within the industry first. We were both on Jive Records together. It ain'€™t hard for me to talk with him. I know how to ask for a favor.'€

T.JONES: '€œDan The Automator produced one of my favorite tracks on the album called, '€˜Critical'€™. What was he like to work with?'€
CASUAL: '€œHe produced '€˜Critical'€™. That'€™s also one of my favorites because it'€™s more along those lines of something off of '€˜Fear Itself'€™. Me and Dan are also working on our own album right now.'€

T.JONES: '€œIs Dan The Automator going to produce the whole album?'€
CASUAL: '€œWe'€™re doing something more along the lines of '€˜Deltron 3030'€™. It won'€™t be strictly a concept record though. It will just be songs. '€˜Deltron 3030'€™ was one of the best albums that dropped that year.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe '€˜Deltron 3030'€™ album was one of the best albums that dropped in the last 10 years.'€
CASUAL: '€œOkay! Now, I feel that. In a piece like that, you can tell how much thought went into both sides, the production and the lyrics. Working with Dan, he brings out what people like about me. When I do songs with him, he brings that out of me. I did a song on The Handsome Boy Modeling School record. A lot of people say to me, '€˜Damn! You need to have songs like that on your record!'€™ Dan is a producer and that'€™s a producer'€™s job. The producer has to find out how to maximize the artist. That is why I like working with him. He can bring it out of you.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou appeared on the excellent remix for '€˜Calling Out'€™ by Lyrics Born. How did you hook up with him? What was that collaboration like?'€
CASUAL: '€œL.B. is someone I have known for a long time. I met him in 1994. We went to Japan together. Working with him? Music wise, I'€™m not sure. When I went to the studio, I don'€™t remember him being in the studio with me. He'€™s a real cool dude. I am looking forward to working with him again.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has Hieroglyphics changed in the last couple of years?'€
CASUAL: '€œWe'€™ve changed. All of the artists have changed in different ways. As for myself, I feel more mature, secure, and well rounded in life. That shows in my music.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhich Hieroglyphics album do you like more, '€˜Third Eye Vision'€™ or '€˜Full Circle'€™?'€
CASUAL: '€œThat'€™s a good question. I would probably say '€˜Full Circle'€™, just because that'€™s the one I like the best. There'€™s no particular reason. They are both classic records.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe '€˜Full Circle'€™ LP by Hieroglyphics had more songs that grew on me and got better with age. The '€˜Third Eye Vision'€™ LP had some tracks that instantly caught your attention. Would you agree?'€
CASUAL: '€œWhen you feel like you have something to prove, you are going to be more aggressive. '€˜Third Eye Vision'€™ is definitely more aggressive than '€˜Full Circle'€™. Each record is different. On '€˜Full Circle'€™, our goal was to make a more user-friendly hip-hop record.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat musical direction is Hieroglyphics moving towards?'€
CASUAL: '€œI think my focus is changing a little bit. I want to give something to the younger artists coming up. Around my way, we can help the little dudes get their act together. We'€™ve being doing this for 15 years. We have established a little fan base and have our company set up well. I'€™m trying to find new artists and help them gain exposure. I also want to give new things to our fan base.'€

T.JONES: '€œWere you involved with O.C. signing to Hieroglyphics?'€
CASUAL: '€œI wasn'€™t really involved in that. It was really Domino who made that happen. We just talked throughout the ordeal.'€

T.JONES: '€œHieroglyphics have changed over the years in different ways. Each album and each emcee is different. Would you agree?'€
CASUAL: '€œWell, everyone has changed. We have to look at hip-hop as a whole. Take a look at any album released in the same week as '€˜Fear Itself'€™, in 1994. Look at that artist and gauge him next to me. You'€™ll see the equal change throughout hip-hop. Nas dropped one off his album, '€˜Halftime'€™ around the time. Listen to the Nas album and gauge the same amount of growth and maturity. This happens throughout hip-hop. It'€™s just one thing because you can'€™t outgrow hip-hop because it'€™s still a youth activity. Hip-hop is about rebellion and fun. You have to stay in tune with what'€™s really going on.'€

T.JONES: '€œIn the '€˜Calicomm'€™ DVD (Decon Media), Del is a little upset as he talks about dealing with personal issues. I love his music and I hope he'€™s doing well. Is he alright?'€
CASUAL: '€œI wish him the best with all of his struggles. I talked to him the other day. Now, he is perfectly fine. He'€™s just Del. It takes a lot to have that kind of energy.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some Hieroglyphics collaborations that are being released featuring you?'€
CASUAL: '€œThere'€™s a world of those. We work so much. I didn'€™t do nothing on Del'€™s '€˜11th Hour'€™ but I have so many songs. We'€™re starting to put together this next Hiero record. It should be cool. I also have collabos I made for my '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™ that didn'€™t come out, but I will make them available soon.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat'€™s the title of the new Hieroglyphics album?'€
CASUAL: '€œI don'€™t know yet. It takes all of us to put in our influence. We start our music before we start titling. I don'€™t think we titled '€˜Full Circle'€™ until we had like 30 songs done.'€

T.JONES: '€œYou also released a compilation of unreleased tracks called '€˜Truck Driver'€™. Tell us about that.'€
CASUAL: '€œThe '€˜Truck Driver'€™ thing was to hold people over. Some of the times, we just release stuff like that and don'€™t put them in all stores. You can get it on-line at hieroglyphics.com and fatbeats.com.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen creating a song, do you write to the beat or approach the song with pre-written lyrics or themes?'€
CASUAL: '€œIt happens all different ways. Sometimes, I have a rap ready. Sometimes, I have a beat to write a rap to. Other times, I have a beat to freestyle on. Certain artists do certain things. People work differently. What works for me is sitting down and taking my rhymes through the editing process. The smallest little things can make a rap worse or better. Some people talk about how they don'€™t write rhymes because their spontaneity is so tight. That'€™s cool. I understand that because I have been freestyling for 15 years. I still freestyle but you have to understand the reason why we scribe. It is because we can see things and can hear things. When we hear things, that is one kind of sense, but when you see things, that is a completely other kind of sense. I like seeing my lyrics as well as hearing them.'€

T.JONES: '€œHieroglyphics were mentioned in the documentary, '€˜Freestyle: The Art Of Rhyme'€™. What did you think of that documentary?'€
CASUAL: '€œThat'€™s bullshit! I hate that movie. How can you come to Oakland, California and not film us? They came to Oakland but didn'€™t get in touch with one member of Hiero. The Hieroglyphics spearheaded that freestyle movement coming out of the Bay, at that point and time. Maybe, it was something internal. I don'€™t know what happened. I threw that movie away because of that reason. Straight up! They are trying to be the truest, realest, and underground movie with all of the facts. But, how can you pass up a whole era in hip-hop. That type of stuff gets on my nerves.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen I interviewed you in 2002, you stated the MPC was your favorite.'€
CASUAL: '€œI don'€™t work on it no more, but it probably still is. I'€™m working on my PC now.'€

T.JONES: '€œBesides Dr. Dre and Premier (who you mentioned in my last interview), who are some producers you are feeling?'€
CASUAL: '€œEverybody! Evidence is someone I'€™m listening to right now. Alchemist, J-Zone, and Jake One I'€™m feeling.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some new emcees you are listening to these days?'€
CASUAL: '€œI'€™m feeling Saigon. I feel everybody. I'€™m not that type. I don'€™t get overexcited about anything, but I don'€™t hate on it too much either.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. When I say a name, you tell me the first word that pops in your head. So, if I say '€˜Flava Flav'€™, you may say '€˜Clock'€™, '€˜crack'€™, or '€˜The Surreal Life'€™. Ok?'€
CASUAL: '€œAlright.'€

T.JONES: '€œLyrics Born.'€
CASUAL: '€œBay area.'€

T.JONES: '€œJ-Zone.'€
CASUAL: '€œNew York.'€

T.JONES: '€œAtmosphere.'€
CASUAL: '€œSlug.'€

T.JONES: '€œDr. Dre.'€
CASUAL: '€œBishop Lamont. He'€™s a new artist signed with Dr. Dre. I did a song on his mix-tape. That'€™s why he popped in my head.'€

T.JONES: '€œMethod Man.'€
CASUAL: '€œSack attack.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Coup.'€
CASUAL: '€œ99. I did a tour with them.'€

T.JONES: '€œToo $hort.'€
CASUAL: '€œPimpin'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
CASUAL: '€œKurtis Blow.'€

T.JONES: '€œFunkmasta Flex.'€
CASUAL: '€œD.J.'€

T.JONES: '€œGrandmaster Flash & The Furious Five.'€
CASUAL: '€œKangols.'€

T.JONES: '€œSouls Of Mischief.'€
CASUAL: '€œ'€™93 Till Infinity.'€

T.JONES: '€œAbstract Rude.'€
CASUAL: '€œWhat'€™s up? That'€™s my boy.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
CASUAL: '€œGeorge Bush hates Black people, or whatever Kanye West said.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat did you think about Kanye West'€™s comments about George Bush?'€
CASUAL: '€œIt'€™s good. I applaud my man for using his celebrity status to make a stand, whether it'€™s right or wrong. At least he is taking some type of stand. Other people can have the whole world listening, but they don'€™t even speak on anything. Plus, that'€™s personal because that'€™s really happening to our people. As for using celebrity status to say something, he was on Mtv. None of the other media that would cover him, saying that. The fact that he said something that meant something made it replayed on every other kind of media. I think more artists should take a stand. Even if it ain'€™t going to do anything, it may put the pressure on somebody.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you think that success and credibility are mutually exclusive?'€
CASUAL: '€œI don'€™t think they are exclusive. It depends on how you measure success. I could consider myself as having a good rap career because I haven'€™t worked a hard labor job since I was 16 years old. I'€™m 30! That'€™s a 15 year or more career. That'€™s success right there, but if I had a pension or retirement fund, that'€™s something completely different. I am successful enough to live, work, and support my family with something that was once my hobby.'€

T.JONES: '€œHas being a father altered your approach to creating hip-hop music?'€
CASUAL: '€œAlways. It made me throw away a lot of the BS. I try to latch down at being a more serious artist. I examine myself. I ask myself, '€˜What are the things am I trying to say?'€™ Being a parent will change you by having more or new responsibilities.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is hip-hop lacking?'€
CASUAL: '€œIt is always lacking originality, but that is not because of the heart of hip-hop. Basically, all of the corporations and mainstream media affect the minds of the young or aspiring artists who want to do hip-hop. I'€™m glad I came up in the era that I came up in. Back then, the radio wasn'€™t supporting hip-hop. I had to dig through crates and examine what was really dope by myself. I wasn'€™t forced into liking a song on the radio that is played 40 times. We don'€™t let the youngsters listen to the radio. When they do listen to the radio, they hear the same song 30 times in the same day. No matter what song is or who the artist is, the song becomes hot because of that. If they didn'€™t like it before, they like it now because of the repetition. If they really want to be a rhymer, they are going to start looking up to people who really aren'€™t the top choice picks.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny non-Hiero collaborations coming out?'€
CASUAL: '€œI'€™ve been on the road lately and working too much. I don'€™t remember. Wait! I'€™m trippin'€™! I just did one with The Wu-Tang Clan on that '€˜Think Differently'€™ album. I have a song with Masta Killa, Tragedy-Khadafi, and Roc Marciano. Roc is raw.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho have you been listening to during the last couple of days?'€
CASUAL: '€œI-Tunes. I buy all of the top albums. I only buy the actual CD if I know it will be dope. Now they are making music so convenient, so you don'€™t buy the bullshit. You can turn on the computer, go to I-Tunes, and buy what you want. One problem with that is the record company has to have enough money to be featured on the front page of I-Tunes. The companies control all of that. If I'€™m an artist who doesn'€™t have a budget to get on I-Tunes, I'€™m losing out on a whole new genre of money that'€™s out here. It'€™s crazy, man! I'€™ve been buying what'€™s out. I'€™ve got everything from Little Brother to Jay-Z. I put my music on party shuffle, just to keep it cracking on my computer. I don'€™t even sit down and concentrate on the record. I just like listening to new music.'€

T.JONES: '€œAs a producer and emcee, how have you evolved?'€
CASUAL: '€œAs a producer, I haven'€™t been producing as much as I used to. Evolution in production is far easier to describe because we are not really instrumentalists. Basically, if I switch from an MPC to something else, you can tell that it sounds different. I just switched up equipment. How much you sample effects your sound too. I'€™ve been trying to put samples in my production too. Production can'€™t really go through a complete evolution at the point where I'€™m at. I feel like a master, like a 6th level black belt. I just want to take a piece of clay and mold it to sound completely different from what I'€™ve been doing. That'€™s how I view creation. The older stuff, that people are fascinated by, doesn'€™t thrill me anymore. We need to find the '€˜Fear Itself'€™ album for 2005. I want some young dudes to come out with an album today so I can admire it. I'€™m not trying to recreate myself as someone 17 years old. Now, I'€™m 30 and a whole different person now. I want people to hear that I'€™m wiser and sharper. You can hear it in the album. You can hear it in the rhymes. There is a lot more depth and more clarity in everything I'€™m saying.'€

T.JONES: '€œOn Guru'€™s '€˜The Street Scriptures'€™ album, Talib Kweli states that Pro-Tools made producers lazy. Do you agree?'€
CASUAL: '€œYeah, definitely. Technology is the art of making things easier, but all things aren'€™t supposed to be easy. You aren'€™t supposed to just turn on a computer program that has every song. That'€™s not the art of what we are doing. We are supposed to go to the record store, find the rarest record, and turn it into a hip-hop song. Computer programs now have 20 million breaks. Half of the art was simply timing. Let'€™s see if I can get this one record to go on-beat with this other record. Then, let'€™s add a drum loop from another record. The final result will be my song. That'€™s all timing. Now, they have programs where you don'€™t even have to be on time. You can play it close to how you like it and the computer will fix it. Technology is messing up a lot of things, not just hip-hop.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat'€™s next for Casual?
CASUAL: '€œI'€™m doing some videos and I'€™m about to put out a new album quick. We have the O.C. album coming out on Hiero. We have a bunch of stuff. Del'€™s coming out with a new record. A-Plus is coming out. We'€™re supposed to have another Hieroglyphics album next year. We stay busy.'€

T.JONES: '€œAny final words?'€
CASUAL: '€œThank you, Todd. Thanks for supporting Hiero. Check out Casual'€™s '€˜Smash Rockwell'€™ album.'€

Thank you Casual !!!

Interview by Todd E. Jones (aka The New Jeru Poet)

NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.
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Howling Diablos

The Blues is rooted in the universal truth of pain. As a musical form of expression, Blues was created by talented people who experienced inexorable adversity. While the average person would be incapable to survive such sorrow, Blues musicians formed a whole new musical genre conceived from their struggle. Born from the misery Blues music has connected every kind race, class, and culture. These universal emotions of pain and sadness are is the link in the musical chains that keep every single human in a type of metaphysical bondage. Although different people experience different levels of this sorrow, the feelings created by Blues music will endure as long as human beings inhabit Earth. Misery loves company. When a person is downhearted, life becomes slightly tolerable when you hear that someone else is experience similar sadness. Born from the hardship of the Deep South, the spirit of the Blues hits everyone in their soul. The Blues spirit also has haunted some White boys in Detroit named, Howling Diablos. The four members are creating their own style of Blues. As Tino Gross sings, the band moves the spirit along. Mike Smith'€™s addictive guitar work complements the classic sound of the harp and sax of Johnny Evans. Shannon Boone keeps the rhythm rolling with the drums. Acknowledging their influences but remaining true to themselves, Diablos sing about what they know with a respectful appreciation for the art form.

In 2005, Howling Diablos released their honestly raw '€œCar Wash'€ LP on Alive Records / Bomp Records. With thick guitar riffs and soulful singing, the album paints a gritty portrait of Detroit'€™s struggling working class. '€œPrison Train'€ is a brutally vivid story about a man sentenced to death row after his girlfriend died of a heroin overdose. The brutal honesty of '€œDope Man'€ makes listener experience the daily struggle of heroin addiction. What would a Blues album be without songs about heartbreak? Their version of RL Burnside'€™s '€œGone So Long'€ is an addictive gem about missing the one you love. Other true Blues sounding tracks include '€œBroke Down'€, '€œA Woman (Like Mine)'€, and '€œEasy Street'€. Without playing a role or exploiting the genre, Howling Diablos pay respect to the Blues while creating their own signature sound. As an album, '€œCar Wash'€ is a bare bones musical experience. Although the stripped down sound is evident, the songs never sound weak. Once you hear '€œCar Wash'€ by Howling Diablos, you will truly have the Blues if you are without the album. Regardless of where you work or how you live, the Blues will get into you one of these days. When that day comes, listen to Howling Diablos and you will release that your misery has some company.

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œThe band is getting ready to go out for some shows.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Howling Diablos just released the '€˜Car Wash'€™ LP on Alive Records / Bomp Records. Tell us about the album.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œ'€˜Car Wash'€™ was recorded in 2 sessions at The White Room in downtown Detroit, last winter between 2004 and 2005. Some of it was done at my house as well. We took a pretty straight forward approach. The band played live, there were very little overdubs, and we went for a feel. I had just finished working with Fat Possum Records and produced 2 CDs for RL Burnside, who just passed last week at age 78. So, we did an RL cover, '€˜Gone So Long', as well.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite song on the '€˜Car Wash'€™ LP?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œIt's really hard to pick, but, I'd say '€˜Prison Train'€™. The song, '€˜Prison Train'€™ just seems kind of timeless.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe songs, '€˜Dope Man'€™ and '€˜Prison Train'€™ are about heroin addiction. Has the band struggled with heroin? Have you?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œ'€˜Prison Train'€™ does get a good response live. It is about doing smack and the perils of all that. We've had past members struggle with it. Everyone's pretty clean now. I had some trouble with it when I was a teenager.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat advice would you give to someone who is struggling with heroin?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œMy advice would be to say, '€˜Nobody can control it. It will control you eventually'€™. So, give yourself every chance to find another way to live and survive.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song took the longest to finish, from conception to completion?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œ'€˜Mean Little Town'€™ started out more like a Springsteen kind of thing with a bridge and all. It just needed to get stripped down into more of a country Blues song.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat's the meaning behind the name 'Car Wash'?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œ'€˜Car Wash'€™ just came to us living in Detroit. If you look around, we have more car washes and bowling alleys than anywhere. The song is about working your gig and trying to get over.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen creating a song, do you have the lyrics pre-written or a set theme? Or, do you write the music first and then, write to the music? Describe the creative process.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI usually will have some little riff or a couple of chords on the guitar that I like. I'll start free styling vocals over that until something starts sounding good. You can tell, when it sounds natural and not too forced, it's usually on the money. I'll develop it from there. Maybe I'€™ll re-write a verse or two. I've found my best stuff happens organically and I don't beat it up too much. Like Tom Waits says, '€˜Good songs are like little friends that will come around and hang out with you if you create the right conditions. If the vibe isn't cool they don't show up.'€™ With the Howling Diablos, I'll bring in a song. We'€™ll work it over and get a good groove arrangement. Then, we try it out live. You can tell if it's going to work pretty quick. We all collaborated on some of the material.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you get any criticism for being white guys playing blues?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œNot that much really. think people can tell that we dig Blues and soul music, but we put our own spin on it, like The Stones or Elvis did back in the day. Nobody can sound like Muddy Waters or RL Burnside. So, why even try? Just do your own thing.'€

T.JONES: '€œBy the way, rest in peace to Greg Shaw of Bomp Records. How did you get involved with Bomp / Alive Records?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI had friends in Detroit who did records with them. People like Wayne Kramer, John Sinclair, Bootsey X, etc. We loved Alive's vibe and had been talking to Patrick off and on for a couple years. I sent him about half the '€˜Car Wash'€™ CD. It blew his wig back. He offered us a deal, so we went back to the White Room and finished it up. Patrick was also cool in helping us pick the right material. It has been good working with them. Greg Shaw was a visionary in starting Bomp Records.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some of your major influences?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI immediately liked the early pioneers like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and the guys that took the Blues to the next level. It hasn't really been done any better than that. I started working back to people like Robert Johnson and Son House, when Blues music had a really dangerous edge and was not to be taken lightly. I also like jazz guys with an edge, like Coltrane, Charlie Parker, etc. Later, I loved Hendrix, Elvis, The Stones, and Detroit music like the Stooges and MC5.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are the contemporary artists you respect?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œLots of people! The Clash, Ramones, White Stripes, and The Black Keys. Coldplay is hot. I also like Paul Wine Jones and Tom Waits.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player, tape deck, or on your turntable today?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI have been listening to the Junior Kimbrough Tribute CD on Fat Possum. It is called '€˜Sunday Nights'€™. Also, some P-Funk and '€˜Johnny Cash at Folsum Prison'€™. I woke up today and made a Blues mix-tape with Fred McDowell, RL, Elmore James, and others.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did Howling Diablos meet and eventually become a band?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œGary Grimshaw, the rock poster artist, was doing a show at a place in Detroit, called the Michigan Gallery. Gary asked me and Johnny Evans, who plays harp and sax, if we'd be interested in playing. That was really the first gig. We kept going after that. Mo Hollis, who plays bass, joined soon after. We had lots of different drummers and guitarists. I think we have the best line-up now with Johnny Bee on drums. He worked with Mitch Ryder, Dr. John, and Rockets. Also, we have Mike Smith on guitar. I love the way we all hit together and ride.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you doing the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected music?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI was in my car, in the morning, driving down Woodward. My girlfriend called me on the cell and asked me if I'd heard anything about what was going on in New York. I said, '€˜No. What are you talking about?'€™ She told me that she thought New York was under some kind of attack. I went in the house and turned on the TV. Boom! I flipped on the TV and it was a shot of both towers still standing, but one was smoking. I was watching as the 2nd plane came in low and hit the other tower. My mind was blown when the whole thing fell down. I was numb and thought the world was ending. It has affected music by making people realize this country is hated by a good portion of the Eastern world. Our people are dying because of that. Some things really need to change before it becomes too late to turn it around.'€

T.JONES: "What is your favorite part of your live show?"
TINO GROSS: '€œI always dig it when the groove gets down low and nasty. I love it when people are smiling and having a good time.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has your live show evolved?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œIt's gotten more energetic for sure. I love playing live. That's what it's really all about.'€

T.JONES: '€œAre there any signature songs you always play to start the concert? What about songs that you end the concert with?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œOur drummer, Johnny Bee makes sure the pace is right. We've been starting with '€˜Car Wash'€™ and ending with '€˜Elvis Lives'€™. Sometimes, we wrap up with '€˜Prison Train'€™. People love that. For a long time, we would end with something called, '€˜Go Gene Go'€™. It has a drummer swing groove. People always loved that. Now, were mostly doing stuff off the new CD. It's going good.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat pisses you off?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œDumb asses or yahoos wanting to hear cover tunes. Also, bad sound men that think they're Hitler, no beer in the dressing room, no dressing room, and sports bars with televisions everywhere. Stuff like that is annoying.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song made you fall in love with The Blues?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI'm into Blues and soul music because it has that real genuine sound. As far as what song, I think I really liked some early Jimmy Reed. Robert Johnson's '€˜Hell Hound On My Trail'€™ is about as badass as music will ever get.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat other bands were you in before Howling Diablos?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI was in a band called The Urbations, back in the 1980'€™s. I was the drummer in that outfit. It was kind of like a new-wave meets The Specials and The English Beat sort of thing with horns. We toured a lot. We were on Celluloid Records in New York City and managed by John Sinclair. He was the former MC5 manager. I became more of a free-lance guy when that went down the tubes. I played drums with everybody around Detroit and Ann Arbor, at that time. I played with Big Walter Horton, Johnny Shines, Steve Nardella, and John Nicholas. This was all for Blind Pig Records. I've been doing the same sort of thing again recently with Fat Possum Records, out of Mississippi. I just did stuff like Nathaniel Mayer's excellent new CD, '€˜I Just Want To Be Held'€™, Little Freddie King's '€˜You Don't Know What I Know'€™, Charles Caldwell's '€˜Remember Me'€™, and the last two RL Burnside CDs, '€˜A Bothered Mind'€™ and '€˜Darker Blues'€™. In between all the freelance stuff, I played a couple gigs with Dee Dee Ramone, when he moved to Detroit in the early '90s. I'm on The Romantics new CD, last year. The Howling Diablos is my favorite thing because I'm playing guitar, singing, and doing my own material on a great label like Bomp.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the name Howling Diablos?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œIt just sounded cool, like Rolling Stones, Black Crowes, or Mannish Boys. I think the Howling Wolf might have inspired it. Of course, Nolan Strong and the Diablos were out of Detroit.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are the best things about living in Detroit?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œWow! I'd have to say that growing up in Detroit enabled me to soak up some incredible music and taught me how to do my thing, because a Detroit boy can survive.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are the worst things about living in Detroit?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œMan, it can be hell. Like in any big city, you need to know where you are and why you're there at all times. I've been robbed several times. I'€™ve have had shotguns put in my face. I was at the Union Street in Detroit, across the street from the Magic Stick when a crack head came in and robbed the place. I crouched down behind a table and the guy put a cap right through it. Missed me by an inch. At the same time, I love this place and I'€™m proud to call it my home.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the biggest mistake you have made in your career?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œThat's hard to say. There's been a lot of real highs and a lot of real lows. I'd say the lows were a result of me trusting people and believing their bullshit. This is common in this industry. Getting burned. The highs are incredible. I sat in on guitar with Bob Dylan at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, a few years ago. I couldn't put a price on that. It was a real high most people will never experience.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat classic Blues songs have you covered? What ones would you like to cover?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œWe really haven't messed with too many of them because it's hard to beat the original. We did cover RL Burnside and didn't fuck it up too bad. I'd like to tackle '€˜See That My Grave's Kept Clean'€™, originally by Blind Lemon Jefferson back in '28. During live shows, we mess with a little bit of Howling Wolf's '€˜Killing Floor'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite guitar?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œFender.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. I am going to say the name, and you say the first word that pops into your head. If I said, '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say, '€˜Revolver'€™ or '€˜Yoko Ono'€™. Okay?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œCool.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Rolling Stones.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œChuck Berry.'€

T.JONES: '€œMuddy Waters.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œChess Records.'€

T.JONES: '€œEminem.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œMarshall.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe White Stripes.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œI love the drummer.'€

T.JONES: '€œMy Bloody Valentine.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œGreat name.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œBritish boys.'€

T.JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œMommas and The Poppas.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Blues Brothers.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œComedians.'€

T.JONES: '€œB.B. King.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œMaster.'€

T.JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œSoul genius.'€

T.JONES: '€œBilly Holliday.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œBlack soul.'€

T.JONES: '€œGil-Scott Heron.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œRevolution.'€

T.JONES: '€œJamiroquai.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œNice groove.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
TINO GROSS: '€œRetard.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat can we expect from Tino Brass and / or Howling Diablos in the future?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œWe're gonna keep on keeping on.'€

T.JONES: '€œFinal words?'€
TINO GROSS: '€œJohn Lennon said it best. All you need is love, baby.'€

Todd E. Jones
Interview by Todd E. Jones

NOTICE: This interview is property of Todd E. Jones and cannot be duplicated or posted without written permission.



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