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.

"Dope Man"

'€œPrison Train'€
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Hot Karl

Individualism within hip-hop is a double edged sword which is appreciated by only true music lovers. Unique artists like Kool Keith, MC Paul Barman, Subtitle, Eminem, Del The Funky Homosapian, Pigeon John, Lyrics Born, MF Doom, Andre 3000, and Common, all have their own personal attributes that help define them. These little (or sometimes big) eccentricities pigeonhole them into the alternative or underground hip-hop category. Even the accessible yet wonderfully peculiar artists like Q-Tip, Little Brother, Slum Village, and Cormega have inimitable traits that earn them respect but separate them from the mainstream. All of these individualists remain successful because people from every race and origin can relate to them.

As a business, the hip-hop industry wants to sell records by riding the bandwagon on other people'€™s styles. How many people bit off Busta Rhymes'€™ videos, Eminem'€™s shock value, or Jay-Z'€™s image? For an artist to be considered a success, their image must help sell millions of records. For an artist to be truly respected, they must be honest to themselves and to the audience. The unique artists (mentioned above) were honest with the listeners. This honesty on the microphone is a magnificent display of their love for the hip-hop culture. Those false rappers could learn a thing or two by watching the film, '€œCB-4'€. Even if you do not like Eminem'€™s music, you must respect the fact that he honestly portrays himself and injects his real life into his music. As hip-hop evolves, the larger the variety of personalities will rock microphones. Out of all of these artists, the emcees who rhyme from their hearts and are true to themselves will earn respect.

Hot Karl is a perfect (and extreme) example of how an emcee does not have to play the role of a ghetto fabulous drug dealing floss pimp. Straight from the suburbs of California, Hot Karl is a skilled white emcee who loves hip-hop. He knows where he comes from and who he is. This white guy wears glasses, has an odd voice, and looks more like a clerk at an indie punk record store than a hip-hop emcee. If you do not know what his name means, look it up on the Internet. The legendary, Ice-T inspired Karl'€™s name because he '€œshitted'€ on people with his rhymes. Although Karl'€™s music is extremely comical, he is very serious about being himself and refuses to pretend he is someone else just to sell records.

True hip-hop lovers know that skills are skills, regardless of race or origin. Hot Karl proved his skills on the Power 106 radio show with The Baker Boys. With astute humor and sharp satirical edge, Hot Karl'€™s talent won over both Black and White audiences and caught the industry'€™s attention.

The industry bugs crawled all over Hot Karl. Mack 10 (from Westside Connection) actually offered him $50,000 cash in order to sign him to Hoo Bangin Records, but Karl declined the offer. Eventually, Interscope Records signed Hot Kizzle after a lavish period of wining and dining. The hype ignited, the funding was approved, and recording sessions were purchased. '€œYour Housekeeper Hates You'€ was his unreleased debut album that included collaborations with Kanye West, Redman, Mya, Fabolous, and many other big names. Some thought Caucasians were trying to take hip-hop over too! Interscope Records was the home for the other great White hope, Eminem. Could the label handle two white emcees? While Eminem'€™s image was crazy, humorous, and violent, Hot Karl was more clever, literate, and quirky. Could the mainstream accept or handle an honest emcee who could be your next door neighbor? After spending an enormous amount of money, Interscope Records considered Hot Karl to be a novelty act and shelved his album. Luckily for Karl, money rolled in by writing for Sugar Ray and O-Town. While most emcees would buy cars or diamonds, Hot Kizzle invested in an art gallery in Los Angeles. Karl'€™s Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight is named after the year '€œYo! Mtv Raps'€ debuted on television. In true hip-hop style, Hot Karl became an entrepreneur. In the style of an individualist, he became an entrepreneur in his own way.

In 2005, BBE Records / Headless Heroes released Hot Karl'€™s '€œThe Great Escape'€. Hot Karl finally received a chance to create an album his own way. Filled with hilarious skits and fun songs, '€œThe Great Escape'€ LP offers listeners an escape to the conformist hip-hop forced-fed to the masses. MC Search (from 3rd Base) contributes a timeless performance on '€œLet'€™s Talk'€, a brutally honest yet witty song about how labels treat artists. Since Karl does not come from the projects, he does not rap about guns. Produced by 9th Wonder (of Little Brother), '€œI'€™ve Heard'€ is a poignant track that mixes self-examination and inner thoughts about the industry. Deeply personal, '€œI'€™ve Heard'€ has a bittersweet honesty that must be respected by the hip-hop world. Since he is not into diamonds, he'€™s not flossing. Instead, Karl raps about the 80'€™s, Los Angeles, ugly women with hot bodies, the music industry, and the vast suburban wasteland. With production by Mayru, C-Minus, Jamey Staub, Ali Dee, and 9th Wonder, '€œThe Great Escape'€ offers a refreshing, humorous, and honest slice of hip-hop from an untypical emcee.

Hip-hop lovers love the songs about murder, drugs, diamonds, cars, pimps, sex, and the ghetto, but a little escapism is essential. Hot Karl is in the minority of emcees who are bringing something completely different to hip-hop. Love him or hate him, you have to respect the fact that he is being himself. Hot Karl has finally escaped from the mundane bullshit and used truth to find the beautiful essence of hip-hop.

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
HOT KARL: '€œNothing, man. I'€™m just working this record. I'€™m trying to get people to hear '€˜The Great Escape'€™. I also own an art gallery. That'€™s where I am now.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you end up owning an art gallery?'€
HOT KARL: '€œWhen I got that Interscope money, rather than just buying comic books and Play Station games, I actually thought that I had to buy something, so I could at least make it somewhat official. So, I got really into the underground art scene in L.A. and opened up an art gallery. It'€™s called Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight and that'€™s the year that '€˜Yo! Mtv Raps'€™ premiered.'€

T.JONES: '€œThat'€™s the name of the Blueprint'€™s solo album too.'€
HOT KARL: '€œYeah, the guy who did the art for that is actually coming up here.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat kind of art is showcased in Gallery Nineteen Eighty-Eight?'€
HOT KARL: '€œIt'€™s mostly underground. I don'€™t deal in abstract art or anything like that. It'€™s more pop-ish.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite painter?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI'€™d most rather talk about that than my favorite rapper. Contemporary wise, like in my ballpark? As far as old stuff, I was a film student in college, so I never got into old stuff or put art in my apartment. The extent of my art is in the affordable $1,000 to $5,000 ballpark. I like Rosco. As far as new school, Chueh. I like people doing pop stuff like Sam Florez.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of Klimt or Van Gogh?'€
HOT KARL: '€œIt'€™s obvious that all of these guys got inspiration from them. All of these guys are pretty much art school grads. They are all somewhat inspired by the older guys.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite hip-hop movies?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI love '€˜Krush Groove'€™. I think it'€™s a freaking great movie. I still think it'€™s great. Rick Rubin plays himself, L.L. is still young, and it takes place in a dorm. There'€™s so much ill shit in that movie. It stands the test of time, unlike those 80'€™s movies like '€˜Disorderlies'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œSpeaking of 1980'€™s, what is your favorite John Hughes film?'€
HOT KARL: '€œMy answer would have to be '€˜Sixteen Candles'€™, only due to it'€™s good commercial appeal. Now you watch it, and my girlfriend loves it. There are other ones too, really weird ones. Isn'€™t '€˜Trains, Planes, And Automobiles'€™ a John Hughes film too? There are movies even outside of the Brat Pack shit too. Obviously, I love '€˜Ferris Bueller'€™s Day Off'€™ too.'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about '€˜The Great Escape'€™ album.'€
HOT KARL: '€œYou mean we can'€™t talk about other shit? (Laughs). You know, I went through a lot of shit. I'€™m on like my 3rd record deal now. At this point, I just want to be heard. I'€™m not stressing about what will fit on the radio or what will be on the new Clue tape. I'€™ve been through that already. It didn'€™t fell comfortable for me and it didn'€™t work. At this point, my whole goal with Hot Karl was to create something that felt like you were talking to me for an hour. I'€™d rather you just get the idea of you hanging out with me. I wanted that to come off in the record. I wanted to hit all of the genres that I was excited by or I grew up listening to. I also wanted to incorporate some of the people you haven'€™t heard from in a while, at the same time. This means MC Search and Dave Gosset and even, Justin Warfield. People like you and me think, '€˜Where is Justin Warfield?'€™ That'€™s something we would talk about when hanging out.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you get involved with Headless Heroes?'€
HOT KARL: '€œHeadless Heroes is owned by BBE. We deal with the same infrastructure.'€

T.JONES: '€œDid '€˜The Great Escape'€™ come out the way you wanted?'€
HOT KARL: '€œYeah. The thing is, at this point in the game, I'€™m not stressing. There are songs on there that definitely needed to be on the record.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite song on '€˜The Great Escape'€™?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI will always like '€˜Butterface'€™ because it is so different from the other stuff on the album. It also represents what I have been doing in hip-hop for the past 10 years.'€

T.JONES: '€œFor the 9th Wonder produced track, '€˜I'€™ve Heard'€™, you write about how he didn'€™t want you on the track. Tell us about that.'€
HOT KARL: '€œEddie, who works close with Little Brother through BBE, helped out. 9th Wonder'€™s beat CD came to me while I was putting together this record. I thought he was so ill. I had the same feeling when I heard the Kanye West'€™s beat CD 5 years ago. I had the same feeling. I immediately began writing all of this shit. Eddie called him to see if the beat was sold. He was ready to sell the beat to Hot Karl and we sent him a CD with a bunch of music. I think the MC Search song was on there. 9th didn'€™t like it. I don'€™t hate on him for doing that. I'€™d do the same thing if I was a producer. I'€™m not offering him a ton of money. 9th didn'€™t really feel it. Eddie told me, '€˜Don'€™t worry, I'€™m gonna work on him!'€™ I didn'€™t want that and I was ready to go to someone else. As I hung up the phone, Eddie gave me a weird inspirational sentence when he said, '€˜Well man, that'€™s what you'€™re gonna run into.'€™ I just hung up the phone, heard the beat CD again, and thought '€˜That'€™s the shit that I needed to get out.'€™ All of that shit needed to get out on that record. All of that stuff has not been addressed on record before. There are things on that record that I haven'€™t told people, like the thing about Timbaland or anything else.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen I talked to you before, you remarked about Kanye West'€™s comments about George Bush. What did you think about his statement about Hurricane Katrina?'€
HOT KARL: '€œYou know, my girlfriend'€™s father was there in New Orleans. He'€™s apart of FEMA. He'€™s a doctor and he'€™s out there on emergency services. I decided that I would not make total opinions about it because I'€™m not sure what to trust. I'€™m waiting till my girlfriend'€™s father gets back. What Kanye said seems somewhat true. He'€™s pretty extreme about it, but there'€™s got to be some truth about what he said. Doing it at a telethon is pretty tacky. Why did he do it in such a weird situation with Mike Myers next to him? He kind of sounded like a 6th grader doing a book report, rattling off the stuff so nervously. The guy says what he feels. Sometimes, it bothers me how egotistical he comes off, but at other times, I know that it'€™s really him. Before he was famous, we did a song together. It was before he even did '€˜Izzo'€™ for Jay-Z.'€

T.JONES: '€œWas the song you recorded with Kanye West created in the studio together, or was it done via the mail?'€
HOT KARL: '€œNo, in the studio. He didn'€™t even have a car yet. He took the subway. He wasn'€™t mailing any beats at that time. We actually became friends after that recording. When he came out to L.A., we'€™d go see movies and stuff. My manager, at the time, was trying to sign him to Capitol Records. Even when he wasn'€™t famous, and people didn'€™t want to hear that he was a rapper, Kanye was rapping 24/7.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of Kanye West'€™s new album, '€˜Late Registration'€™?'€
HOT KARL: '€œKanye will always work because of his beats. It'€™s funny. On his first album, the beats under whelmed me. I didn'€™t feel them at first, but the lyrics really got me. Now, on the second one, I'€™m really impressed by the beats, but I think that his rapping is too breathy. I lose a lot of the punch lines. That'€™s how I meant Kanye. His rap sounded like that. He lost punch lines. It wasn'€™t because he had bad breath control. He has amazing breath control. I just think that he thinks it'€™s better the more breathy it is. It'€™s that Ma$e syndrome.'€

T.JONES: '€œSome people think that when emcees start producing, their music suffers. Do you agree?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI think that is what happened to Eminem'€™s career. His production is horrible. It just sounds like a bad Xzibit song. It sounds horrible, but he would put it out and everyone would like it. All of his hits are Dre'€™s hits. Kanye too. All of the hits are Dr. Dre hits. The world loves them. The world loves Kanye.'€

T.JONES: '€œOn your EPK, Mack 10 talks about how Eminem has raised the bar for white rappers and has made it difficult.'€
HOT KARL: '€œI love that. Mack has been a friend of mine since college. He just drops so many gems of knowledge. It'€™s painful being around him. He says so many amazing things. I had nothing to do with the EPK. It originally started as a documentary. When Mack says that, it'€™s true. Even in this new Southern craze, Mike Jones comes out and then, Slim Thug, and then, Paul Wall. It'€™s funny because Paul Wall may end up selling the most of records. It'€™s funny because they aren'€™t really being compared to each other. That'€™s a weird thing. I'€™m being compared because my voice sounds similar in a broad stoke. I couldn'€™t hide my real voice. That'€™s one of the things I went through with Interscope. I could really make my voice deeper and address this kind of thing or I could be me and come off how I know I sound. As for the comedic thing, Eminem hasn'€™t been funny for years. I haven'€™t laughed at something he said for at least 3 years. No matter how much I could talk shit about Em or how our careers crossed or didn'€™t cross, all I know is that his music was great until his last album. That last album was God awful. I don'€™t know how or why it happened, but it didn'€™t even sound musical.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen Mack 10 offered you $50,000 cash to sign to Hoo Bangin Records, why didn'€™t you take it?'€
HOT KARL: '€œHe'€™s such a nice guy, but I didn'€™t take it just because of all of the horror stories that I'€™ve heard about the business. I didn'€™t want to be in a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony contract situation. Not only that, I didn'€™t see where I fitted in with Hoo Bangin'€™. At the time, The Baker Boys, the guys who I was getting on the radio with, said that they were getting many calls for me. They told me to ride it out for a second and see what comes up that may be better than Mack. Still, Mack 10 has always been my friend, so he never took it personal.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you think wealth changes the quality of music.'€
HOT KARL: '€œI think that will change in 10 or 15 years from now, when hip-hoppers hit the end. The people who have bad taste in 70'€™s music still pay for every Aerosmith concert even though they are shitty and they haven'€™t sounded good in 10 years. The point is, the fans have loyalty. In hip-hop, there is no loyalty based in that kind of stuff. When I was in college, I would go to parties where Big Bad Hank was performing for $500 bucks. Pharoahe Monch is probably the best rapper of all time and the guy can'€™t get a fucking record deal!'€

T.JONES: '€œTell us about '€˜Your Housekeeper Hates You'€™, your album on Interscope Records that never came out.'€
HOT KARL: '€œIt was originally called, '€˜Your Housekeeper Hates You'€™. When I left Interscope, it became '€˜I Like To Read'€™ so I could put it out. I put it out independently. That pretty much has everyone who has ever been famous on it, ever. It has people from Grace Kelly to Redman (laughs). Everybody from Redman, Fabolous, DJ Clue, DJ Quik, Sugar Ray, Mia, and Kanye West.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was it like working with Redman?'€
HOT KARL: '€œCool! We actually ended up doing two sessions together. For the first one, he was really jet lagged. He was dead asleep. We were calling him '€˜Dead Man'€™. He was literally asleep in the studio. When I came in and hour later, he was awake and writing. I thought he wrote a really funny verse. It was really good. I liked it a lot. Two days later, my manager got a call from him. It was literally Redman, not his manager. He said, '€˜Yeah, man. I gotta redo that verse. I don'€™t feel it.'€™ That was cool of him. He didn'€™t just want to get his money and run. We set up another session where I came late. When I walked in, his verse was done. The 2nd version is cool. Technically, it'€™s a better rap, but he was much funnier in the first one. I'€™ve been looking for that version for a long time. Redman doesn'€™t do any vocal tricks or pocket writing in the 1st verse. He does in the 2nd one. In the second verse, he was all over the place with different techniques. It'€™s great because as another rapper, I can see all of the ad-lib stuff he did. Technically, I love it but at the same time, I'€™m always laughing at the first version, where he is talking about looking at white girls'€™ boobs and makes references '€˜How High'€™. Either one is good. Working with him was great. He'€™s one of my favorites.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat about Fabolous?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI stand by the fact that Fabolous has his best verse ever on my song. It took him twelve hours to write it. I never dug Fabolous, but I thought that the guy was nice. He was nice to me all the time. My label, at the time, really wanted him on the record so, I went for it. I think he delivered a fucking phenomenal verse. As much as I can'€™t listen to any of his other music really, the verse on my record is amazing. Technically, it'€™s amazing! Both Redman and Fabolous were pretty hands-on.'€

T.JONES: '€œMany of your songs have concepts, stories, or themes. When creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Or, do you write to the beat first?'€
HOT KARL: '€œProbably, 50/50. For example, on '€˜The Great Escape'€™, all of the Mulholland Drive stuff came to me when I heard Ayatollah'€™s beat CD. He had a song with a sample, (singing) '€˜Lonely girls'€™. We couldn'€™t clear the sample, but that gave me the idea. Especially since I'€™m living in L.A., I wanted to do a track about these girls trying to be famous. That was where that came from. '€˜Butterface'€™ was pretty much me, Ally and Normal. We knew each other since we were kids and we were doing those raps since 6th grade. We just updated them. Ideas sometimes come and go. Sometimes, the beat will inspire them. Other times, I like to have them when I walk in.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some producers you would like to work with in the future?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI would love to work with Prince Paul because of how much influence he has had on my career and my life. I loved Da Gravediggaz record so much when I was a kid. Gravediggaz, for me, was the pinnacle of hip-hop. Obviously, Rza means a whole lot to me. I almost worked with him during my Interscope days, but it never worked out. I guess it is pretty cliché to say DJ Premier, but I would love to work with him. There are people on a much smaller scale too. I wouldn'€™t mind working with Blockhead. That guy has great beats. I don'€™t think it would work well as far as personalities, but there are people who make great beats and they are all over. 9th Wonder was great too.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some emcees you would like to work with in the future?'€
HOT KARL: '€œPharoahe Monch would be a great answer to that question. I always loved Chino XL. His best stuff is his freestyle stuff. In real life, I stole so much from him. That'€™s why I hate it when people talk about the comparisons between me and Eminem. I didn'€™t start that shit. If you want to be really technical and make fun of me, say that I sound like Chino XL because I stole a shit-load from him. I'€™d love to bring back Grand Puba. One of my goals is to bring him back into the game. I'€™d love to see him working again.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you during the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack? How did you handle it?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI was actually here. My manager and Bubba Sparxx were actually in New York. I was concerned about those guys. I don'€™t have too much of a connection except for the emotional one. Having family there and work there, made it hard. I was there for the blackout, which was also a scary experience.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are your thoughts about the U.S. involvement in the Middle East?'€
HOT KARL: '€œIn any other time, even in the 90'€™s, it was definitely a more noble cause. But, now, at this point, we are dealing with so many things at home and so much stuff. I hate to bring up the hurricane, but even beyond that, there are homeless epidemics, drug epidemics, and things like that. Home is definitely more important at this point.'€

T.JONES: '€œEuthanasia. Are you for or against it?'€
HOT KARL: '€œTotally, probably. That'€™s a good question! I'€™m probably for it.'€

T.JONES: '€œAbortion. Are you pro-life or pro-choice?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI'€™m definitely for it, especially being such a confused 25 year-old. God forbid I get into a position where my girl is pregnant. It'€™s kind of creepy. God! I just put out an independent rap record that has a song about girls with hot bodies but ugly faces!'€

T.JONES: '€œYou have been labeled as an emcee who creates comedic hip-hop. How do you feel about this label?'€
HOT KARL: '€œMy whole thing is that I'€™m a rapper who makes jokes, but I'€™m not a joke rapper. I understand how shitty reviewers would call me the Weird Al of hip-hop but I don'€™t do parodies. I like being funny. That'€™s one of my goals. If I were to sit down now and write a rap album like they just gave me a record deal, a lot of the funny shit would be gone. It'€™s not a funny world that we are living in right now. At the time I got the Interscope deal and even the Headless Heroes stuff, I felt funny. That'€™s who I am and that'€™s what comes out. That'€™s my thing. I'€™m more post-modern than I am comedic.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is your favorite part of your live show?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI think it is those first 40 seconds where people don'€™t know what to expect.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has your live show changed?'€
HOT KARL: '€œSo little. It'€™s so fucking embarrassing. I'€™ve been doing the same shit since I'€™ve been 13. The song I did when I opened up for Ice-T was a diss song against Another Bad Creation. They were so bad. The lyrics sound exactly the fucking same. It'€™s so embarrassing, especially when I get the Eminem comparisons. If you could listen to me when I was 13, I'€™m rapping the same way, literally, since I'€™ve been a little kid.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat about your evolution as an emcee? How have your skills improved?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI'€™ve probably have gotten less technical on purpose. The rap I like is punch line driven and extreme storytelling. When I was a kid, I tried to keep up with everything that was going on. When people started to do double rhymes or same word rhymes, I was trying to live up to that, when I was 15 or 16. Once I hit the record deal shit, I didn'€™t care anymore. I didn'€™t care if I was technical or what people thought about breath patterns. I just cared if I was getting my point across and if I was making people laugh.'€

T.JONES: '€œIs that your dog on the cover of '€˜The Great Escape'€™?'€
HOT KARL: '€œYeah, that'€™s Finnigan. He'€™s 2 years old. He'€™s a miniature pincher.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some major misconceptions that you think people have of you?'€
HOT KARL: '€œIt'€™s so funny that I get this nerd rap thing a lot. The truth is, I don'€™t really see it that much. I understand that I'€™m dorky for the hip-hop genre. At the same time, if you come to my shows, you won'€™t see dudes with pocket protectors and shit.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the last incident of anti-Semitism you experienced?'€
HOT KARL: '€œGod! Wow! I don'€™t get it that much. To be honest, there were some incidents at Interscope that really bothered me. There were just some little things said here or there. That was probably the last time I was super offended, as far as directly to me. There are things that happen all the time. As far as directly to me, a couple of things were said at Interscope that didn'€™t excite me much. Since I was in a position where I was under their power, I couldn'€™t really say shit. I did say some things to get it off my chest, but I couldn'€™t do anything about it.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was it like recording '€˜Let'€™s Talk'€™ with MC Search from 3rd Base?'€
HOT KARL: '€œGreat! God, he'€™s been my hero since 2nd grade. I was thinking about whom I wanted for the song. Eon from The High And Mighty and I have always been close. I thought Eon could do it. But, even though I would love to have Eon on it, my dream would be to have MC Search do it because of the history that MC Search went through. He went from being one of the era'€™s greatest rappers to being a behind the scenes guy. He was in marketing and even the A&R man at Wild Pitch. Now, he'€™s the morning guy in Detroit.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat has been in your CD player recently?'€
HOT KARL: '€œRight now, I'€™ve been listening to the new Cage a lot, which is a great record. Also, the new Little Brother, '€˜The Minstrel Show'€™ is pretty good. I don'€™t love it, but it'€™s good. BBE helped with '€˜The Chitlin Circuit'€™. That'€™s good. Doesn'€™t he even do Jay-Z'€™s breath pattern on one song? Also, the Mars Volta record.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat non-hip-hop do you listen to?'€
HOT KARL: '€œI love Mars Volta, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Kenna. I rock 80'€™s a lot. Whenever I DJ, I only play 80'€™s records. I listen to a lot of that shit.'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. I am going to say the name, and you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said '€˜Public Enemy'€™, you may say, '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Fight The Power'€™. If I said, '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say, '€˜Revolver'€™ or '€˜Yoko Ono'€™. Okay?'€
HOT KARL: '€œOkay.'€

T.JONES: '€œPharoahe Monch.'€
HOT KARL: '€œSo underrated.'€

T.JONES: '€œEminem.'€
HOT KARL: '€œConfusing.'€

T.JONES: '€œCommon.'€
HOT KARL: '€œConsistent.'€

T.JONES: '€œKanye West.'€
HOT KARL: '€œConfusing. I have to say it fucking twice but it'€™s the same confusion.'€

T.JONES: '€œWu-Tang Clan.'€
HOT KARL: '€œIcons.'€

T.JONES: '€œPhife Dawg.'€
HOT KARL: '€œSidekick.'€

T.JONES: '€œCody ChesnuTT.'€
HOT KARL: '€œHomeless. That'€™s the first word that comes in my head.'€

T.JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
HOT KARL: '€œSuperfly. Obviously, Superfly but still, funky.'€

T.JONES: '€œDel The Funky Homosapian.'€
HOT KARL: '€œGod, there are so many words! I would choose Ice Cube'€™s cousin.'€

T.JONES: '€œNecro.'€
HOT KARL: '€œShockingly Jewish.'€

T.JONES: '€œAtmosphere.'€
HOT KARL: '€œImpressive. The guy has had a great career.'€

T.JONES: '€œBlueprint.'€
HOT KARL: '€œI don'€™t know any of his stuff. I do know some of the stuff he did with Aesop. He'€™s talented.'€

T.JONES: '€œJ Dilla.'€
HOT KARL: '€œGreat drums.'€

T.JONES: '€œJay-Z.'€
HOT KARL: '€œProbably, the greatest of all time.'€

T.JONES: '€œMy Bloody Valentine.'€
HOT KARL: '€œDon'€™t know anything about them, and that'€™s super embarrassing.'€

T.JONES: '€œEnya.'€
HOT KARL: '€œMuzak.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe Stone Roses.'€
HOT KARL: '€œWho'€™s that?'€

T.JONES: '€œHappy Mondays.'€
HOT KARL: '€œAm I missing out on something?'€

T.JONES: '€œOasis.'€
HOT KARL: '€œInsane, nuts.'€

T.JONES: '€œMethod Man.'€
HOT KARL: '€œNot consistent.'€

T.JONES: '€œPrince Paul.'€
HOT KARL: '€œThe creator. He created the skit! Pioneer.'€

T.JONES: '€œRedman.'€
HOT KARL: '€œSleepy. That'€™s really the only thing I can say, because he slept in front of me for about an hour.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
HOT KARL: '€œSuper confusing and hurtful. Shocking.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow is '€˜I Like To Read'€™, your self-released version of '€˜The Housekeeper Hates You'€™, different from '€˜The Great Escape'€™ album?'€
HOT KARL: '€œAt the time when I was at Interscope, I was put into the category of urban rap. I was being put in with Clue and all of those guys to put out a record. There'€™s nothing wrong with that. I grew up with that, but at the same time, I don'€™t live there. That'€™s not my shit. I liked working with Fabolous, but I don'€™t own his record. I would have felt more comfortable with people who I listen to, or even some friends of mine. Some of my friends are so musically talented that I would have liked to have incorporated them into that CD. For the old record, I was never able to be comfortable on the tracks. That is where '€˜The Great Escape'€™ is different.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen you were with Interscope, did you feel forced to do certain types of songs?'€
HOT KARL: '€œYes, very much so. Like on the Redman and Fabolous song, I have a line that says something like, '€˜Go get em, rappers say stupider lines than Ralph Wiggum.'€™ When I said that, everybody was like, '€˜Who'€™s Ralph Wiggum?'€™ My manager, at the time, wanted me to change the line so it would be about Star and Buck. They were trying to get me to get rid of all the lines that they felt were not urban. It'€™s just sad. They don'€™t think that there are any rap fans who watch The Simpsons. It'€™s depressing.'€

T.JONES: '€œWould you ever do non-hip-hop music?'€
HOT KARL: '€œUm, no. I know that a lot of people go through that evolution. Everlast went through that evolution. That'€™s what is probably happening to groups like Lexicon. For me, not really. I grew up with hip-hop so much that I would only want to do things that were deviations of hip-hop. I would never do something that is completely un-hip-hop. That'€™s just not me.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song made you fall in love with hip-hop?'€
HOT KARL: '€œ'€˜The Gas Face'€™ and '€˜Roxanne, Roxanne'€™. Yea. '€˜Roxanne, Roxanne'€™ was the first hip-hop song I'€™ve ever heard. '€˜The Gas Face'€™ is the first hip-hop song that I knew all the words.'€

T.JONES: '€œIf you could remake or cover any hip-hop song, what song would it be?'€
HOT KARL: '€œThat'€™s funny. I would love to do a new version of '€˜Self-Destruction'€™. I don'€™t think that I would cover it word for word because that wouldn'€™t work anymore. But, that kind of we are all in the same gang '€˜Self-Destruction'€™ thing is something that needs to be done. It especially needs to be done in this hurricane situation. We need a song that says what is going on and how we are neglecting so many people. We need the '€˜Heal Yourself'€™ movement, which was Krs-One'€™s movement back in the day. Those are the kind of things that I would love to put together.'€

T.JONES: '€œMayru and C Minus do production on '€˜The Great Escape'€™. How did you hook up with them?'€
HOT KARL: '€œC Minus was part of The Fantastic 4 out here. They are on a hip-hop show on Power 106. He was always a friend of mine through a radio show he was doing on Power 106. I wanted to work with him because he was a good friend of mine. At the time, he was Korn'€™s DJ. He was doing some really far out shit for hip-hop. I wanted him to do a hip-hop track for me. Mayru and I were hooked up through mutual friends. He'€™s fucking amazing. Now, he'€™s too big for me. I think he'€™s working with Dr. Dre'€™s camp.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you still go to clubs?'€
HOT KARL: '€œNah, no way! No way! But, I did for a fucking while. It'€™s funny because that is where all my funny stories came from. Performin
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Hasan Salaam

Revolutionary spirit is an essential element in the foundation of hip-hop culture. As a movement, hip-hop has infinitely revolutionized advertising, fashion, the music industry, art, race relations, education, politics, etc. While most emcees obsess about earning wealth, a rebellious spirit exists. Behind the diamonds and cars, emcees speak their minds and express themselves from their hearts. While other musical genres promote free expression, hip-hop has accomplished a world wide multifaceted revolution. A slew of revolutionary artists from the golden era have inspired contemporary revolutionary emcees. Without Krs-One, X-Clan, Public Enemy, and Tupac, we would not have Dead Prez, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, or Immortal Technique. Like all revolutionary movements, the ideologies are passed on from generation to generations.

2005 ignites a brand new generation in revolutionary hip-hop. Straight from New Jersey, Hasan Salamm is a deeply spiritual Muslim emcee who wants his music to spark change in every listener. As a man, he feels that he was born to create music. As an emcee, he has the powerful delivery of Chuck D, the racial love of Mos Def, the instructional attitude of Krs-One, and the anger of Immortal Technique. He just released his debut LP ('€œParadise Lost'€) on Day By Day Entertainment. '€œParadise Lost'€ was produced by DJ Static of Stronghold, Rugged N Raw, Mike Marvel, & Shy Money from the Dream Team, and Salaam., The album features somewhat unknown guests like Baron of Red Clay, and Hicoup & Sundiata. These somewhat unknown contributors give the album a refreshing vibe. A true activist who loves his people, Salamm has opened the door for his musician friends by putting them on the album. The album'€™s diversity comes from the variety of topics. Regardless of variety, every single track on '€œParadise Lost'€ is deeply rooted in the spirit of revolution. Some songs have an intense spirituality ('€œEternal Life'€, '€œHezbollah'€) while some are political ('€œBlaxploitation'€). '€œThe Drinking Gourd'€ is an honest look at alcohol addiction and '€œBoom Bap'€ is a hard look at hip-hop. The revolution may not be televised, the movement will be musical in nature. Creating the revolution'€™s soundtrack, Hasan Salamm has joined the hip-hop people'€™s army and is looking to recruit you!

T.JONES: "What goes on?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œPeace.'€

T.JONES: "You just released a new album, 'Paradise Lost' on Day By Day Records. Tell us about it."
HASAN SALAMM: '€œIt'€™s my first album and it'€™s an introduction to my life, knowledge, experiences, and ideas.'€

T.JONES: "Do you have a favorite song on 'Paradise Lost'?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œRight now, it'€™s '€˜Prayer Of A Sinner'€™. It was the last song I wrote for the album. It is where I am right now in my life. But, it changes due to the zone I'm in at a particular time. '€˜Fountain of Youth'€™ always puts a smile on my face.'€

T.JONES: "Can you explain the title 'Paradise Lost'?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œThe title, 'Paradise Lost' is about the journey of a man who is evicted from the garden, in religious theory. I always looked at that story as a lesson. Whether it was true or not, it tells us about all of our lives, as a whole and as individuals. Who doesn't have to deal with temptation, pain, loss, and struggle? Our ancestors were stolen from their homeland. Generation upon generation has been brainwashed to think of us as less than a human beings. We are the lost tribe, in the wilderness, on a journey to find the Promised Land, our sense of Paradise, both individually and as a people.'€

T.JONES: "Describe the overall recording process of the '€˜Paradise Lost'€™ LP."
HASAN SALAMM: '€œAll of it was recorded at Mike Marvel Studios in Jersey City except for '€˜One Life to Give'€™, which was recorded at T.M.E. in the Bronx. It took about a year and a half to 2 years to complete."

T.JONES: "What song took the longest to complete? Why?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œ'€˜Diaspora'€™ because I was reading a couple books that inspired it. So, I had to finish the books first. I also wanted the info to be on point, so I scrutinized it the most.'€

T.JONES: "What is the meaning behind your name?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œ'€˜'€˜Diaspora'€™ is the African Diaspora. '€˜Def'€™ is any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland.'€

T.JONES: "How did you get involved with Day By Day Entertainment?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI played some music for Ravage, a member of M.I.C. (Monsta Island Czars) and A&R Promoter for Day by Day. Ravage took the music to MF Grimm.'€

T.JONES: "When creating a song, do you have a set theme or pre-written lyrics? Or, do you write to the beat?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œAll of the above. It just depends on the situation. I'm always writing, so sometimes, I don't have any tracks with me. Other times, I take a beat everywhere I go.'€

T.JONES: "Favorite sampler or drum machine?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI use the MPC 2000 XL.'€

T.JONES: "The song, 'Blaxploitation' is very powerful. What inspired this track?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œHip-Hop has become a multi million-dollar industry. It gets used and abused by outside forces to the point of absurdity. Since we've been here, everything we have built or invented has been exploited with America making the profit while our people live as second-class citizens. The topic of reparations is something that politicians and lawmakers avoid. Reparations are not about money. They are about control over our own land, property, creations, communities, and ultimately, our own destiny.'€

T.JONES: "What do you think of films labeled as '€˜Blaxploitation'€™?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œSome of the films were classics on an aesthetic and social level. Some were just exploitative. These films saved the movie industry due to low cost and high returns, similar to Hip-Hop now.'€

T.JONES: "What is the favorite part of your live show?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œInteracting with the crowd. It'€™s a natural high.'€

T.JONES: "You are from New Jersey? Where are you living now? What is it like?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI was born in Manhattan NYC, but lived most of my life in Teaneck, NJ. I moved to Bayonne, NJ. Now, I'm in Jersey City, NJ'€

T.JONES: "What are some songs that made you fall in love with hip-hop?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œ'€˜Follow the Leader'€™ by Rakim, '€˜The Headbanger'€™ by EPMD, '€˜The Choice is Yours'€™ by Black Sheep, '€˜The World is Yours'€™ by Nas, '€˜Distortion to Static'€™ by The Roots, '€˜Buck Em Down'€™ by Blackmoon, '€˜Superman Lover'€™ by Redman, '€˜Chief Rocka'€™ by Lords Of The Underground, '€˜Hip-Hop Hooray'€™ by Naughty By Nature, '€˜I Get Around'€™ by 2Pac, '€˜Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik'€™ by Outkast, '€˜Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nothing To Fuck Wit'€™ by Wu-Tang Clan, '€˜93 Till Infinity'€™ by Hieroglyphics, '€˜Nothin But A G Thang'€™ by Dr. Dre, and the list goes on.'€

T.JONES: "Who are some emcees you would like to collaborate with in the future?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI am in the process of working with a lot of the emcees I respect and have wanted to work with. Who knows what the future holds? I will have to keep building and meeting folks.'€

T.JONES: "Who are some producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œDJ Premier, The Rza, KayDee, Prince Paul, Pete Rock, Salaam Remi, Ski, The Heatmakers, The Neptunes, 45 King, Just Blaze, and Kanye West.'€

T.JONES: "Tell us about the song, 'Hezbollah'."
HASAN SALAMM: '€œIt'€™s about fighting against oppression. People in power stay in power because they divide and conquer. By separating oppressed people and our struggles, it is easier for America and its allies to control a region. All of our struggles are the same. When we unite, Babylon will fall.'€

T.JONES: "Where were you during the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI was asleep when the first plane hit, but I watched the second one out of my window.'€

T.JONES: "What was the last incident of racism you experienced?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œRacism is an everyday thing in the country, but what stands out the most was a couple of months ago. I was driving a cab for Yellow Taxi in Bayonne, NJ. I was the only Black night driver at the time in a racist town. The Caucasian dispatcher referred to a customer on the phone as a '€˜nigger'€™, after she hung up with him, not realizing I heard her. I confronted her and we got into an argument about it. She explained how the customer was a friend of her husband, who happens to be a Black man, which makes the word '€˜nigga'€™ okay, as long as there'€™s an '€˜a'€™ instead of an '€˜er'€™ at the end. She proceeded to say she has '€˜mutt'€™ kids and that we should all get together to go after the '€˜Arabs and dot heads'€™ taking all our jobs. It was some ironic shit. The icing on the cake was after I quit. I saw the other cabbies sheets and I was like $200 to 300 behind all of them. Go figure.'€

T.JONES: "Death penalty '€“ for or against?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI don'€™t think that the court system is fair. The death penalty in this country is bias so I say Allah is the only judge.'€

T.JONES: "Abortion '€“ pro-choice or pro-life?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œUltimately, a woman's decision, but it should never be used as a form of birth control.'€

T.JONES: "Out of the myriad of problems we face in contemporary society (racism, poverty, war, hatred, dysfunctional families, lack of funding, etc.), which ones do you feel need the most attention?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œAll of them deserve attention. White supremacy and colonialism are behind a lot of the issues we face today. Freedom, justice, and equality defiantly have to take a precedent.'€

T.JONES: "Where do you see the United States in 10 years from now?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œBabylon will continue to decay and corrupt all it touches until its demise.'€

T.JONES: "How do you feel about the term 'consciousness rap'?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œMusic is music. Labels and terms are for critics.'€

T.JONES: "What was your childhood like? What kind of kid were you?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œIt was what it was. Some good, some bad. I was imaginative, interested in learning, sports, and all kinds of things.'€

T.JONES: "What part of New Jersey did you grow up in? What was it like?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œMostly in Teaneck, with my Mother. It'€™s a suburb with a mix of all kinds of different ethnicities. I spent time in Jersey City with my Father. The two different places gave me a different kind of perspective growing up.'€

T.JONES: "What has been in your CD player or on your tape deck recently?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œCharlie Parker '€˜With Strings'€™, Hi-Coup's '€˜Ghetto Factory Mix-tape'€™, Rugged N Raw '€˜Train Of Thought'€™, Al Green '€˜I'€™m Still In Love With You'€™, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, & Max Roach '€˜Monkey Jungle'€™, Majesty'€™s '€˜Heir to the Throne'€™ Mix-tape, Outkast, Jay-Z, and Nas.'€

T.JONES: "What do you think of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œThey should get the fuck out, plain and simple. England fucked it up after the World War I and America has just carried on the tradition.'€

T.JONES: "If you could re-make any classic hip-hop song, what would it be?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œI would rather pen a new classic to add on to the list.'€

T.JONES: "How did you get started in making music?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œ My mother gave birth to me. It'€™s part of what I'm here for.'€

T.JONES: "Who was the biggest influence in your life?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œMy mother.'€

T.JONES: "What was your last dream you remember?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œHad to do with death.'€

T.JONES: "What is hip-hop lacking these days?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œHip-Hop is not lacking to what the mass media presents to the world, as Hip-Hop is lacking. The deficiency is in that the full spectrum of life is not presented. Not all Africans in America are drug dealers or pimps. We are everything, just like anyone else.'€

T.JONES: "What are some major misconceptions that people have of you?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œThat I am a racist. People confuse some of my lyrics. I think that Caucasians are so used to not being questioned or confronted on their evils, that they take it as reverse racism. It'€™s not about Black and White. It'€™s about wrong and right.'€

T.JONES: "What is next for Hasan Salamm?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œTomorrow, Insha Allah, God Willing, more music, more shows, more ideas, and a greater understanding on how to be a better person and a better Muslim.'€

T.JONES: "Any final words?"
HASAN SALAMM: '€œPeace.'€

Thank you Hasan Salamm !

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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Growth is an essential ingredient in the evolution of hip-hop. In order for the roots of the culture continues to spread, various regions are earning their due respect. 15 years ago, Southern hip-hop was just tiny addition to the culture. Today, the South not only is respected but has influenced the world. Midwest hip-hop has the same potential and diversity as New York and Oakland. Chicago gave us Twista, Kanye West, and Common. Detroit gave us Slum Village, J Dilla, Dayton Family, and Eminem. Minnesota gave us Atmosphere. What about Cincinnati, Ohio? J. Rawls and J. Sands are an excellent group called Lone Catalysts. Hi-Tek is a producer who is '½ of Reflection Eternal (with Talib Kweli).

During this time, a minor independent label has been consistently releasing quality records. Owned by Blueprint, Weightless Records has a roster consisting of Illogic, Blueprint, Envelope, and DJ Dare Groove. His compilation, '€œThe Weightroom'€ kept them under the radar but earned them a following. Fans and the press began to take not of Blueprint'€™s unique production. Not only did he produce an entire compilation, but he produced whole albums for Illogic. While Blueprint'€™s production talents earned him accolades, he had to satisfy his need to rock the microphone. His energetic delivery and signature vocal tone separated him from the typical backpacker hip-hop. Through the years, Blueprint'€™s connections kept him deeply rooted in the culture.

While many emcees start out as members of a group, Blueprint is a member of a myriad of different groups. Rjd2 and Blueprint teamed up as Soul Position and released '€œ8 Million Stories'€ LP on Rhymesayers Records. The Iskabibbles include Blueprint, Manifest, and Aesop Rock. The groups are actually parts of a bigger group. Aesop Rock, Eyedea, Blueprint, Slug, & Illogic formed The Orphanage.

Blueprint'€™s roots run deepest in his home, Ohio. Blueprint and Manifest (a close friend from college) teamed up to form Greenhouse Effect. Originally, Greenhouse Effect also included Inkwel. These days, the group consists of Blueprint and Manifest. Entirely produced by Blueprint, '€œLife Sentences'€ LP by Greenhouse Effect featured Vast Aire, Illogic, Bahdaddy Shabazz, and Plead the Ph5th. His production talents were displayed on his instrumental LP, '€œChamber Music'€.

Blueprint ventured on as a solo artist. While fans embraced Blueprint'€™s production on Illogic'€™s LPs, and other Weightless albums, a real solo album was needed in order for Blueprint to be a whole artist. Weightless Records teamed up with Rhymesayers to release Blueprint'€™s '€œ1988'€ LP. A homage to a revered era in hip-hop, '€œ1988'€ has all of the elements of the albums released during the late 1980'€™s. Without an abundant amount of guests or various producers, Blueprint'€™s '€œ1988'€ LP was an honest statement on contemporary hip-hop. Blueprint did more than just prove that he could produce a quality album (like the albums released in 1988). His '€œ1988'€ LP made people compare the average, weak LPs of today with the classic solid albums of hip-hop'€™s golden era.

Life is like a circle and you end up where you start. Everyone goes back home eventually. After proving his capabilities as a solo artist, Blueprint went back to his Ohio roots. Manifest and him teamed up again and recorded '€œColumbus Or Bust'€ by Greenhouse Effect. Released on Weightless Records and Raptivism Records, '€œColumbus Or Bust'€ continues the formation of the signature Weightless sound. The humorous, '€œE-Thugs'€ is a much needed song about the people who act tough behind the anonymity of the Internet. Murs contributes a solid performance on '€œThey Listen To This'€. '€œStill Shook'€ is Greenhouse Effect'€™s own version of Mobb Deep'€™s classic '€œShook Ones Pt. 2'€. Fess and Blue may not be from the ghetto, but they maintain their own hardcore style. '€œFind Me At The Bar'€ proves why a neighborhood bar is more fun than a wild night club.

Blueprint has come full circle as an artist. Not only did he grow as an artist but his record label has become very successful and widely respected. The culture of hip-hop can only evolve with this type of growth within. As Blueprint brings the heat with Greenhouse Effect, he is following the blueprint for success and respect within the hip-hop culture.

T.JONES: '€œWhat goes on?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œWhut up?'€
FESS: '€œHey, man!'€

T.JONES: '€œAs a group, Greenhouse Effect consists of Manifest and Blueprint. You guys just released your album, '€˜Columbus Or Bust'€™. Tell us about the LP.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œIt'€™s been a long time coming. It'€™s a new style. I'€™m happy with it. It'€™s the first album and it feels like a brand new group.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you two meet?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œActually, this dude grew up around the corner from me, but I didn'€™t know him at the time. We went to separate high schools, but we met at college. Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you have a favorite song on the '€˜Columbus Or Bust'€™ LP?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI don'€™t think so, man. I don'€™t know. It'€™s like picking your favorite kid.'€
FESS: '€œRight, right. I like them all.'€

T.JONES: '€œMurs appears on '€˜They Listen To This'€™. How did you hook that collaboration up? What was it like to work with Murs?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI met Murs on tour. It was the '€˜God Loves Ugly'€™ Tour with Atmosphere. It was the first tour I ever went on. We all toured. Me and Murs were like roommates. We toured together. We did like 70 shows in two and a half months. We were around each other every day. We always tried to put something together after that.'€

T.JONES: '€œWas the collaboration with Murs recorded while together, in the studio, or was it mailed in?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œNah, it was done in the studio. He came to my place. He was here.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat song on '€˜Columbus Or Bust'€™ took the longest to do, from conception to completion?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI would say the one with Yakki on it, '€˜You Must Learn'€™. That may have been the longest. You know, when you are actually talking about something and you don'€™t want to regurgitate what everybody else is saying?'€

T.JONES: '€œOn '€˜Columbus Or Bust'€™, you did your own version of '€˜Shook Ones Pt. 2'€™ by Mobb Deep. Out of all of the Mobb Deep songs, why did you choose this one?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œIt started out as a show routine. We thought, '€˜Hey, man wouldn'€™t it be funny?'€™. You know, when you see a live show, rappers will go out and rhyme to somebody else'€™s beat. That'€™s pretty common in rap shows. I started doing routines where I would take that to the next step. We would re-write that verse, or one part of that, when I used it. This was so it wouldn'€™t just be me, rapping my rhyme over their beat. I wanted to make a real tribute to it, but rearrange the verses on it. We came up with the idea to do '€˜Shook Ones'€™. It came up at a show and it sounded good. We had to record it over that same beat just to learn it. Then, we kind of liked how it came out. We were like, '€˜Shit!'€™ You know?'€

T.JONES: '€œHow do you think Mobb Deep would feel about your version of '€˜Shook Ones'€™?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œThey would probably think that it was either real weird or they would feel complemented. Maybe, they would feel that we were stalkers or that we were complementing them. (Laughs).'€

T.JONES: '€œWhen creating a song, do you have the lyrics pre-written or a set theme? Or, do you hear the music first and then, write to the beat?'€
FESS: '€œNow, I try to write to the beat. Sometimes, I come up with it, but in this business and group, I write to the beat. I just find it easier and I could be more apart of the song.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œYeah, I try to write to the beat. I come up with concepts ahead of time. There would be a lot of times where I would see something, think about it, and say to myself, '€˜I wanna write a song about that'€™. I would make a little note to myself. It takes it until you hear a track that puts you in that mood before you actually write the song.'€

T.JONES: '€œBlueprint, you are a renowned producer, but you have also rhymed over beats produced by other producers. Do you have a different approach to writing over someone else'€™s production?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œYeah. If it is a solo song, yes. It'€™s completely different. A lot of the solo stuff I do, I try to think of a hook first. I'€™ll try to be really focused with my writing and really conceptual. It'€™s not like a battle rapper style. A lot of stuff I do for myself is really specific and conceptual. On the other hand, some of the Greenhouse stuff is just us having fun and emceeing. I don'€™t get an opportunity to do a lot of that.'€

T.JONES: '€œBlueprint, were you an emcee or producer first?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI was an emcee first. We'€™d rhyme. The town has less people than Ohio State University. We were rhyming at the time, but we didn'€™t have anybody to do beats. No one knew how to do beats. No one wanted to be behind. The kids with samplers inspired me to do beats. Once I was inspired, the next day, I put a sampler on layaway at a pawn shop. I never thought that I would ever be as good as I am at it.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some of your major influences for production?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œPremier, Pete Rock, D.I.T.C. I like Dre. I like the production for Outkast. Earthtone.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some of your major influences?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI grew up on EPMD, Krs-One. After that era, Nas.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you think of albums by Nas?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œLyrically, I think he really stepped up. I always had issues on beats. I just like what he does visually.'€

T.JONES: '€œDo you do pre-production often?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI do everything. Sometimes, I use songs that were recorded two years ago. I would go back and re-visit them. I would make the beats better. My process is different. Some people would go in, drop a beat, lay the vocals, and be done. That'€™s just the beginning stage for me.'€

T.JONES: '€œIf you could remix any classic hip-hop song, which one?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI don'€™t know if I would. A lot of those songs are so perfect, I wouldn'€™t want to f*ck them up.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat about remaking a different one besides '€˜Shook Ones'€™ by Mobb Deep?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œIf I did, it would be a silly version. It would be serious. Maybe, I would do something like '€˜Cheque The Rime'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some producers you would like to rhyme over their production in the future?'€
FESS: '€œJ Dilla.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œThe producers I am motivated the most by are Jay Dee, El-P. I'€™m crazy about what Edan did on his last record. I like J-Zone.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you start Weightless Records?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI started the label in 1998 or 1999 with me and this guy from College. We started out, and eventually did some shows. We didn'€™t have any music. I started dubbing up tapes. I didn'€™t have a name. I would be dubbing tapes all week at my house. We eventually got distribution. At the time, it wasn'€™t that hard. It was just what I was doing after work. I was calling people, writing people, contacting writers, sending them our tapes, and going to shows. It wasn'€™t necessarily a label really'€

T.JONES: '€œThat Soul Position collaboration with RJD2 was dope. How is RJD2'€™s production style different from yours?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œIn the past, I would say that he is a little more elaborate. Mine is more effective. There wouldn'€™t be a lot of breaks and really musical sections. You have a song like '€˜Share This'€™ on the '€˜8 Million Stories'€™ album. That song is, as an instrumental, is amazing. It'€™s so challenging to come up with something to complement it. Sometimes, to me, I would try to concentrate on making the beat effective. I would try to come up with a 2-bar / 4-bar arrangement that is really compelling to listen to for 2 or 3 minutes. Then, I would roll with that. I think that'€™s probably the only real difference.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat music have you guys been listening to lately?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œToday, old soul records. I'€™m trying to have a barbeque on Saturday and I want to be on some grown man sh*t.'€
FESS: '€œI'€™m listening to a lot of stuff coming out of Detroit. I like Slum Village and their camp. That'€™s basically it. All of that type of stuff.'€

T.JONES: '€œWho are some artists you would like to rhyme with in the future?'€
FESS: '€œI never really thought about it. I really don'€™t have an answer for that. I don'€™t really look at music like that, you know? I don'€™t feel like I have to climb on a track with this person or that person. I have no answer. There'€™s nobody in particular, but I would like to work with people who I'€™m feeling. Of course, I like Jay-Z, J Dilla, Juelz, for his reasons. I have a range.'€

T.JONES: '€œBlueprint, who are some emcees you would like to produce?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI would like to produce for any rapper who can rhyme well but put out an album that kind of sucked. You know, people who historically have had bad beats. You know, Nas, Ras Kass, and Canibus. They are great but their ear for beats sucks. Those would be my first three. I would like to produce an album for each of those dudes who never lived up to their potential.'€

T.JONES: '€œThis Greenhouse Effect album was released on Weightless and Raptivism. How and why did you get involved with Raptivism?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI think we just needed to try a different experience. You put records out yourself for a while, but we have something brand new. We haven'€™t put that many records out in the past. The opportunity to have a bigger distribution was the primary thing.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhere were you doing the September 11th terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected hip-hop?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI think I was on my way to work. I got to work and this lady said, '€˜Planes crashed into The World Trade Center!'€™ We didn'€™t believe it until we started watching the news. As far as it affecting hip-hop, I don'€™t think political rappers can talk the sh*t that they used to talk. A lot of people had to scrap their album covers, like Paris and The Coup. Paris had '€˜Sonic Jihad'€™ or some sh*t. Rappers naming themselves after terrorists is not good. People aren'€™t really feeling that sh*t.'€
FESS: '€œI was at work as well. I was watching it on television.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat kind of work were you doing?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI worked as a computer programmer for a supermarket chain. I worked on the Unix database. I have a degree in Computer Science. I did database programming. I was doing that until I went on tour with Atmosphere.'€
FESS: '€œAt the time, I worked for a telecommunications company.'€

T.JONES: "What is your favorite part of your live show?"
BLUEPRINT: '€œTrying out new ideas, or rearranging songs so they don'€™t sound exactly like the record.'€
FESS: '€œConnecting with the crowd, talking and joking with them. If they see you having a good time they are more likely to feel the same.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has your live show evolved?'€
BLUEPRINT: "Now it's more interactive. We used to just get up there and rap really hard, but now I'm more into crowd interaction and making sure they're involved in the show and having fun."
FESS: "First off, actually practicing for weeks instead of just jumping on stage. Interchangeable sets to keep things fresh. Coming up with fly routines with the DJ. Before we just rapped without a plan and let the DJ go on what we call '€˜scratch excursions'€™.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow have you changed as an emcee?'€
BLUEPRINT: "I'm pretty much the same. I think I've just figured out how to get more personal music out of myself. It's not just battle rap and what not."
FESS: "How I write to a song? I think about how a particular song might go over in a live setting and adjust it accordingly. Also, the confidence level has increased dramatically.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat pisses you off?'€
BLUEPRINT: "Inconsiderate people."
FESS: "Women who front on buying me drinks.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat do you like to do to relax?'€
FESS: '€œWe'll since I don't work, I don't have a whole lot of stress so I'm basically relaxed all the time. But when I'm breaking from music, TV and Movies come in handy.'€
BLUEPRINT: "Absolutely nothing. I'm all for doing things that take no brainpower whatsoever, like video games or watching dumb TV shows like Maury Povich."

T.JONES: '€œBlueprint, you put out a solo album, '€˜1988'€™. How different is recording an album as a solo artist?'€
BLUEPRINT: "It takes a little more to find the direction in a group because you have to make sure the other person is able to write about the same things you are. When you're solo, you can write about anything you want without compromise, even if the other person can'€™t relate."

T.JONES: '€œTell us about '€˜The Weightroom'€™ LP.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI rhyme and produce. I wanted to do a record like Pete Rock'€™s '€˜Soul Survivor'€™, where I'€™m in control. Usually, as a producer, you work with an artist and they tell you what they are writing about.'€

T.JONES: '€œThat last hidden track on '€˜The Weightroom'€™ uses a sample from The Godfather. Did you get into any trouble about sampling?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œNah, I'€™m still under the radar. 9 times out of 10, I disregard ethics when it comes to sampling. This is in terms of fear of people coming at me. Sample it now and worry about it later. Maybe later, I won'€™t.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow did you hook up with Eyedea?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI met Eyedea in 1999 or 2000. Back then, we were doing shows. Rhymesayers were coming up. That was the tour. I met those guys through Illogic. Those guys are dope. Eyedea and I always talk about doing records. Whenever they came up to Ohio, we end up playing with them?'€

T.JONES: '€œBlueprint, you are in a myriad of different groups.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œYeah, these groups have been around for a while. Within my circle of people, we always have a bunch of different groups. As an artist, it helps you approach things differently whenever you collaborate with different people.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat is the meaning behind the name Greenhouse Effect?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œBack at the time we chose it, we just pulled it out of a hat. We had 10 other names and just thought it was cool. It is more than just the environment. There'€™s so much you can get out of it. I don'€™t think we really thought about that sh*t.'€

T.JONES: '€œAlthough your emcee names may seem obvious, are there personal or deeper meanings?'€
FESS: '€œBasically, I heard the name in a Political Science class, in college. I decided to take it. There'€™s nothing to deep.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI chose Blueprint because I wanted something that stood for the style that I think I do, which is being really good at the items that the art form is built on. Granted, I am not going to say that I do progressive music but I think that I will always be grounded in the foundation. I used to have this wack name like, Universal. One of my first shows, I needed a name before I rapped. I wanted a name where the word or words would represent a basic approach to hip-hop. I didn'€™t want something that was too far out there, that people could not understand. But, I did want it to be a little challenging'€

T.JONES: '€œKrs-One'€™s album didn'€™t influence the name Blueprint?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œNo, actually, no. I listen to that album a lot too. The day I chose it, I heard the Mad Skillz album, '€˜From Where?'€™. He said the word '€˜Blueprint'€™ on that. I had it on this mix-tape and I just loved the song. I was driving my car. As soon as they said it, I thought it was a dope name. I knew that it was going to be my name.'€

T.JONES: '€œWere there any problems or opportunities with Jay-Z coming out with the '€˜Blueprint'€™ albums?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œThere hasn'€™t been either. The people who are checking for me now knew I was going by that name before. Of course, some people who love Jay-Z and may get confused. I may have gotten some new fans.'€

T.JONES: '€œYears ago, you were named in Urb Magazine'€™s '€˜Top 100 List'€™. Did that change your career?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI don'€™t know. There are some people who are definitely checking for that magazine. Maybe, some people were on the fence or didn'€™t want to take a chance on me. Now, they are. It definitely helped but it'€™s hard to imagine exactly how.'€

T.JONES: '€œIn one phrase or sentence, describe growing up in Ohio.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œNot that different from anywhere else, just a lot less going on. There'€™s just more space. People are a little more polite.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are the 3 best things about living in Columbus, Ohio?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œBuck eyes, football program."
FESS: '€œThe cost of living.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œYeah, the cost of living is the #1 right there.'€
FESS: '€œThe cost of living is cheap. People are nice.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are the worst things about living in Columbus, Ohio?'€
FESS: '€œWinter.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œYeah, Winter. No one takes you seriously. Well, a lot of people don'€™t take you seriously when you tell them you live in Ohio. There'€™s a lot of talent here, but on a national level, there are certain places where you come from that people give you a better ear. If you say that you are from The Bronx, people love it. If you tell someone you are from L.A., people are like, '€˜Word!?'€™'€

T.JONES: '€œLone Catalysts are from Ohio too. You know them?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI know J. Sands and J. Rawls. We never worked together. Those cats are cool. Before J. Rawls was in hip-hop, I met him when I was in college. We went to different colleges. RJ Digby too. He used to go by the name of Home Skillet. I'€™d love to work with all of them.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the last incident of racism you guys experienced?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI think it was when I was in Boston, on tour. Someone called my tour manager a '€˜n*gger'€™. He was driving our bus. He was driving our bus, picking me up from somewhere. He pulled in front of somebody and turned. They yelled out, '€˜N*gger!'€™'€
FESS: '€œProbably, a couple of years back, trying to catch a cab in New York. It'€™s funny, because Aesop Rock was standing there a few feet from us. The cab stopped at us first and the guy said, '€˜No. We don'€™t go there.'€™ Then, the cab pulled up for Aesop. We were going to Aesop'€™s house. He hops right in.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œYeah, Aesop first said, '€˜Hey, they are going the same place I'€™m going! Why can'€™t you take them?'€™'€

T.JONES: '€œWord association. I am going to say the name, and you say the first word that pops into your head. So, if I said '€˜Public Enemy'€™, you may say, '€˜Revolution'€™ or '€˜Fight The Power'€™. If I said, '€˜The Beatles'€™, you may say, '€˜Revolver'€™ or '€˜Yoko Ono'€™. Okay?'€

T.JONES: '€œPublic Enemy.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œNumber One.'€
FESS: '€œHot.'€

T.JONES: '€œEminem.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œWhite.'€
FESS: '€œYes, white!'€

T.JONES: '€œSlum Village.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œSmooth.'€
FESS: '€œDope.'€

T.JONES: '€œCommon.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œSense.'€
FESS: '€œConscious.'€

T.JONES: '€œDel The Funky Homosapian.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œNose ring.'€

T.JONES: '€œJay-Z.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œRetired.'€
FESS: '€œGenius.'€

T.JONES: '€œAtmosphere.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œGirls.'€
FESS: '€œHuge.'€

T.JONES: '€œC Rayz Walz.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œOut there.'€
FESS: '€œCrazy.'€

T.JONES: '€œGangstarr.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œHard To Earn.'€

T.JONES: '€œDe La Soul.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œPlug One.'€

T.JONES: '€œEl-P.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œSmart.'€
FESS: '€œWeird.'€

T.JONES: '€œCurtis Mayfield.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œClassic.'€
FESS: '€œSoulful.'€

T.JONES: '€œGil-Scott Heron.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œBeard.'€
FESS: '€œClassic.'€

T.JONES: '€œGeorge Bush.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œ*sshole.'€
FESS: '€œ*ss.'€

T.JONES: '€œHow has the Internet affected earnings for Weightless?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI don'€™t think it hurt. It kind of made new ways to earn. We just opened up an on-line store on our website. We didn'€™t think anyone would buy our sh*t through there because everyone goes to other sites. Kids are spending money and buying stuff. We probably could have been making money for the last 3 or 4 years if we did it earlier.'€

T.JONES: '€œThe song '€˜E-Thugs'€™ is a humorous but honest track about people acting tough behind the anonymity of the Internet. What inspired this song? How did the Internet react to the song '€˜E-Thugs'€™?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œSo far, it'€™s good. We sat down and thought about the concept. It'€™s funny when you see dudes out there on the net, trying to intimidate people and acting hard. One day, we were laughing about that and decided to write a song about those dudes.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat was the biggest mistake you have made in your career?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI don'€™t know if I can say. There are some verdicts still out on some things. (laughs!)'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat are some misconceptions people have of you?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œSome people think that I am mean because I rap hard. When they meet me, I'€™m a nice dude. It f*cks them up.'€
FESS: '€œI don'€™t know. I don'€™t think people have any misconceptions of me.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat advice would you give to someone taking the independent hip-hop route?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œPut out quality product or don'€™t do it at all.'€

T.JONES: '€œFavorite sampler or drum machine?

T.JONES: '€œWhat is hip-hop lacking these days?
BLUEPRINT: '€œHonesty.'€
FESS: '€œFun factor. I don'€™t mean a party vibe but a good time.'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI think the variation is kind of gone. Some people are just biting Jay-Z or DMX on the radio. There'€™s so much copycatting, and the labels are doing that. People who do their own thing inspire a whole bunch of cats to do their own thing. It'€™s weird that people get away with it. It'€™s like fast food.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat collaboration are you most proud of?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œI would say The Orphanage, but it never came out. We did like 11 songs in 3 days but it never came out.'€

T.JONES: '€œWhat can we expect from Weightless, Blueprint, and Greenhouse Effect in the future?'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œMore music, less bullsh*t. We got this Greenhouse Effect versus Radiohead EP. We are going to put it out in November.'€

T.JONES: '€œFinal words?'€
FESS: '€œBuy the record!'€
BLUEPRINT: '€œBuy the album. Visit'€

Todd E. Jones
Interview by Todd E. Jones


'€œThey Listen To This'€ by GREENHOUSE EFFECT (f/ MURS)

REAL AUDIO Snippits:
"ICU" by Vast Aire, Plead the Ph5th, & Blueprint

"The Proper Education" by Greenhouse Effect. Cuts by RJD2

'€œBoom Box'€
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