Archive for 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006

[rock the dub Interview]: Che Grand

1 Comment »

Being a seeker of fine, new music, I take pride in finding that "new shit", whether it's Hip-Hop or DnB or a hip new Rock act. It's not everyday that the new shit finds YOU... I still don't know how Che Grand found me, but I am glad he did! His Official Bootleg Import EP is how I got introduced, and now I have an EP that I will not put down. Ranging topics from the daily 9-5 grind to subway pimpin' to straight bugged out lyrics and grown man issues, the many sides of Che all point to one direction: real talk. Most dudes these days will big up that "keep it real", but need to do what Pos said and "keep it right". We catch Che on the cusp of the release of his debut album, Everything's Good Ugly, and we get undiluted commentary on the life of a traveling Hip-Hop head. Not too many Black guys can see the joy in Stereolab AND Madlib like Che (or I) can, nor can they honestly say that they just want to rap. Peep the true vigilante...

khal: For those out there that do not know about Che Grand, can you tell the people a little about yourself? Where are you from, how did you get into rhyming, what do you hope to achieve, etc.?

Che Grand: I consider myself to be from damn near everywhere! But according to my passport and newly sent green card I was born in London, England. I'd like to give a special shout out to the INS on the 11 year wait for my papers, they did a great job. Anyway shortly after my birth my parents took me to a place called Milton Keynes. We lived there till I was about 12 then we packed up everything to migrate to the U.S. Music has always been around. With all the moving and constant changes that took place in my life it was tough to focus on keeping friends. I made music my best friend and from that union I started practicing the art of rhyme. There's a lot I hope to accomplish, but the biggest thing I want to achieve right now is making my friend music look (and sound) better.

khal: Hearing your Official Bootleg Import EP, one can't help but hear the hunger in your voice. What keeps you so on point?

Che Grand: Knowing that I can always do better keeps me on point. A lot of artists will tell you that they are their own worst critic and it's no different with me. Even listening to the EP, I appreciate the love greatly when random folk hit me up to say you killed (insert track name here), that's my sh*t! but meanwhile in my head I'm thinking to myself it's alright, but wait till I do these new joints. So I'm only on point because in my mind I'm never fully on point.

khal: Checking your
MySpace page and hearing your "Import Intro" track, you seem to be very up on not just the Internet but your international audience as well. Have you toured around the world? How big is your fan base in terms of countries and nations?

Che Grand: MySpace is the world now, Tom is your Ruler, your King, President and everything! I have to give thanks though, through that site I've managed to attract quite a few fans from other countries. To tell the truth "Import Intro" was 80% concept and 20% real sh*t. For example, the Arabian cat was a joke (although they might be diggin my stuff out there, who knows) but my homegirl from Australia she was the real deal. It still blows my mind everyday to know that my next door neighbors might be playing my music so to actually know that I've got some spins overseas is the craziest feeling! Acquiring an international fan base is very important to me because I find those people to have an honest appreciation for music. It's a shame but right now in the U.S a person is more likely to rock your song because you had a specific video girl eating some ice cream in your video. I think other places in the world tend to care about the actual quality of the material. I won't front, I love a nice video jawn like the next one, but it really should be about the music. There isn't a world tour poppin' yet but I can't wait till that starts. Even though my accent is long gone I can't wait to get back to England. I love the whole
Grime culture that's going on over there right now.

khal: Your bio mentions you being banned from Sam Goody for your "5-finger discount", and you mention the infamous Soulseek on your "Gold Chains" track. How do you feel mp3 downloading has affected the Hip-Hop industry? With so many majors weighing in, do you feel there are any positives to downloading?

Che Grand: Downloading has become a real sensitive subject for a lot of folk. I wish it was around when I was younger; I would've never got myself banned from my fave spot in the mall. It has made things tough but at the same time it's made things easier. Mom used to say what's good for the goose is also good for the gander, if I do it how can I be mad at someone else for doing the same. An artist, especially if they're new, needs some sort of buzz. The 15 year old music lover living in low income housing with no job and no allowance can't always afford that new album but believe it or not he's a major tastemaker. It's because this poor kid likes my stuff and rocks my mp3's that the rich kid wanting to front like he's living the same life buys 3 copies. I need that buzz, so whatever it takes, just get the music out there.

khal: The game these days is full of a lot of different people who seem to embody the same character (the drug dealer, the pimp, the supreme lyrical genius, etc). How does Che Grand stand out?

Che Grand: I want to rap, that's all. If I wanted to sell crack I'd do that but that's never really been me. When I make music I do it with a sense of pride in who I am and what I go thru to make it, the ups and downs. I'm not afraid to show you I'm human, just a human.

khal: I noticed you speak a lot about different facets of your life, whether trying to feed your seeds or the daily grind you speak on tracks like "Work Flow". How do these experiences shape your craft? Do you find it hard to balance both?

Che Grand: The daily grind and the creative side clash a lot. It's not as hard to balance as the family life though. I just had a daughter and I love to be around her and her mother so I kinda feel bad when they can't have my attention because I'm working on music, writing or recording, I almost feel selfish at times. The job sh*t is nothing, if anything it makes me stronger, gives me more hunger. With each new 9-5 office job I get hired to, I always say to myself "this is the last one". I go in with the mind set of knowing one day I might leave and never come back. I'll never be happy at a desk all day.

khal: I'm always interested in how the environments we live in shape our creativity. I notice you've gone from London to the US, and in a few different states in the US. How do you feel these geographical changes have helped you progress? Do you think one spot has helped you mature more than any other?

Che Grand: One thing I always take pride in is the fact that I've been to so many places in my 24 years living. I hear people say all the time how they've never been out of their state and I feel sorry for them because there's so much out here in the world. I take something away from everywhere I go and it comes out in my work. Even if it's something as small a some slang from a certain spot, if I like it I'll find a way to use it, the dope thing about that is the kids living there that hear it will know I've been thru their city and it makes the lyrics a little more personal for them. The two places that have really helped shape me is Virginia and currently New York. One place taught me about community and helped me form a few friendships I'll have for life, the other is teaching me about struggle and pushing to get ahead.

khal: You've also been featured on BET's "Freestyle Friday" on 106 & Park. Do you feel as though freestyling is a lost art? When you freestyle, do you come straight off the dome or do you spit wshettens?

Che Grand: Wow! You took it back with that 106 sh*t! Hip-Hop isn't dead and freestyling isn't a lost art at all. I do it everyday in the shower and other random places I can find. I'm definitely more of a writer though, I don't believe in cats trying to get by solely off of freestyle raps, songs need structure. When I freestyle most of the time it doesn't even make sense, but I'll try to take the hottest lines I can remember and write them down later. The word Freestyle has varied definitions for a lot of people. For instance a dude might jot down a couple of lines real fast while hes eating his Cheerios in the morning, go to a battle later that night and spit those lines, mind you this is his first time saying the rhyme anywhere ever, it's not on any previous recording or anything. Some might say that's a freestyle, others might say it's written. I don't really care just don't be corny or I'll be that dude booing.

khal: With the work you've already put down, when do you think you will hang it up? How much success is too much success, or do you want to just stack bread until you can't stack any more?

Che Grand: 5 full length albums and I'm on to greener pastures. Conceptus Opus will be the Che Grand finale. I don't want to be that old annoying rapper that doesn't know when to shut up.

khal: What's going on with you in the future? Your MySpace page has a countdown to your forthcoming Everything's Good Ugly album. Can you let us know what's going on with that project?

Che Grand: Everything's Good Ugly will be my official debut album, I want to clear up any confusion fans of my work may have by stating that Conceptus Opus is going to drop just not yet. This project is going to be a continuation of the EP musically and I hope to take the listener a lot further into my good ugly world. 60+ minutes with my highs & lows, family, traveling,
Grey Goose drinking, misogynistic rapper with a lady viewing mentality.

khal: Once your album drops, do you plan on a big tour? Where can people go to get to know you better/deeper?

Che Grand: Right now the best way to get to know me is thru listening to my work. Get the album when it drops, the EP on iTunes, the mixtapes and just sit down with me, hear what's going on in my life and how I'm handling certain issues with my music so when I do get to your city we'll have something to talk about.

khal: Who are you currently rocking to for inspiration? Are you a strictly Hip-Hop kind of guy, or do your tastes run deeper than that?

Che Grand: I listen to a little bit of everything. I love Hip-Hop. Right now would be a good time to bad mouth the art I'm part of but I won't. I'll say that in terms of Hip-Hop as of right now I definitely rock my team Lessondary, I'm digging Lupe Fiasco, Lil Wayne, Clipse (VA!!!), Dilla forever! And all the Hip-Hop greats. I'm really a Funk type of guy; I like a lot of late 70's and 80's funk. Last week I was on another Parliament binge. For Jazz I'm on Thelonius Monk. I keep some old Loose Ends with me; Caron Wheeler's voice is so soulful. Donny Hathaway is good for the heart. I love Stereolab! Broken Social Scene is some good stuff. Madlib is damn near a god and if you've never heard of Benny Sings you should check him out. So yeah I rock everything...

khal: You're down with
Loud Minority, who also recently put out the critically acclaimed Tanya Morgan album. What advantages do you get off of being on a label like Loud Minority?

Che Grand: Everyone down with and/or associated with the label is great. I'm there because I know that the people supporting the project are treating it as if it's their own album and you really can't top that kind of love. It's an indie label so we do it all on our own, making the rewards feel that much better in the end.

khal: Where is Che Grand going to be in the next 5 years?

Che Grand: With God's grace I'll be healthy, possibly working on the third or fourth offering and working my way to that farewell show at some stadium they hold NBA championships at.

khal: Do you have any shootouts or words of wisdom you would like to drop on the masses?

Che Grand: Why be a human being when you can be a human doing. Everything's Good Ugly coming soon, thanks for checking me out in advance. Lessondary never secondary. Mid H and I'm gone.

For more information on Che Grand, peep his
MySpace page, and check out his bio over at Loud Minority. Also, peep EGU TV, Pt. 1. Loud Minority also made Che Grand's Final Countdown mixtape available FOR FREE here.

the shuffle. [7/8/06]

No Comments »

What a day. Shit, WHAT A WEEK! I mean, I complain about having to work on July 3rd, after getting kind of tipsy on Sunday blah blah blah... but that Wednesday shit, that took the cake. I made it, though. And a big chunk of my job will be done Monday. Shouts out to my TAB Group niggas.

Crazy week for news, as well. Loads of shuffle shit goings on. First, though, I just wanted to get a few shouts out of the way. Topping things off, I wanna shout out White Mike over at Darkland Recordings for letting me get my write on. Shouts out to NY, I love you for that one. I also want to shout out the child birth teaching nurses over at Robert Wood. I'm not sure that 8 hours was worth the $$, but we got (and gave) some hot info, and I appreciate it, even if that nurse Amy was all "those fruit loops played Rap music during labor". I mean, different strokes for different niggas...

ANYWAYS, onto this Saturday Night shuffle thing...

01/I'm torn with this Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes shit. I mean, I figured the shit was going to be dope, right? Then I check out this article, which is all on some "these episodes suck"... I mean, did Dave leave because that $50 Mil got to be too much for him, or did he bounce because his product was shitty? If so, I feel bad... I supported Dave (you'd get a link to my support, but The Flow is out of service for some ridiculous reason). I hope he didn't sell himself short. I mean, the shows come on tomorrow night @ 9PM. If they are wack, I'll let you flock know.

02/So you thought Buckshot & 9th's Chemistry disc was fire, even though 9th stays with the same fucking beats all the time? Well, those 2 cats are going in for round 2. I guess The Formula will stick to that same thing... for good or ill. Buck is always on point, and when 9th uploads him a hot fruity loop, it's on. I just want more Sean Price and less Phonte.

03/Yo... did you guys hear about Bobby Brown being a true nigga? Apparently, there was a big Essence Festival that went down... all of Black Hollywood must have been there, and this big New Edition Reunion went down... well, not surprisingly, Bobby Brown had his own set... and went OFF! What did they expect? Did they not know that Bobby was an addict? That's like me getting surprised about T.O. not getting along with his current management.

04/How was your July 4th? Were you supporting the troops? Declaring your love for your great country? How do you feel about the fucking bin Laden Unit being disbanded over our nation's holiday? Yeah, this story got NO play, for obvious reasons... Ibn Laden was the fucking reason we decided to blow shit up, and all of the sudden we have bigger priorities? Something ain't right...

05/Ken Lay died. The question is... will this corrupt, embezzling bastard reappear in the future on some "gotcha, bitches!" type shit...

06/The NBA has been playing musical chairs ever since the big Draft. I'm really intrigued as to who will try and acquire Allen Iverson, though.

07/This nigga Tyrese, oh I'm sorry... "Black-Ty", is really out there sucking dicks to get his "rap" project some clout. With niggas like Method Man and Snoop Dogg co-signing his abilites, I guess I must go cop his joint, right? Yeah... give Meth some strong enough weed and he will blabber on about anything. And Snoop? Isn't that nigga selling Cadillacs for a living?

08/First off, how come no one told me Jose Canseco was trying to play baseball again? And how does ANYONE have the balls to try and get traded after one game?

09/Didn't Michael Jackson hate Eminem? Why is he trying to get Em to work with him on his new album? Why does MJ have a new album coming anyways... shouldn't he be defending his own ass from lockdown -- again!??!

10/Yo I hadn't heard the name Jellybean Benitez in fucking YEARS! Who knew that he owned Big Pun's recordings... and didn't think about putting an album out until recently? Ya boy eskay is right though --- let DJ Green Lantern work some magic over those lyrics.

11/Did you guys know that Gil Scott Heron had HIV? And who knew he was in rehab... well, he skipped rehab and this week got some time for it. I guess there's 1 revolution that won't be televised... come on! You knew that was coming!

12/For all the music nerds like myself, peep this week's SoundScan... check the lack of Rap/Hip-Hop in the top10... then check how little Mobb Deep moved... PS Nappy I owe you that sixer... Cam ain't even gone half way to gold!

13/The Internet has been going nuts this week over the news that Stacey Dash is going to be in Playboy very soon. You can't hate on that.

14/My sister-in-law first hit me with this story, so I thought it was bullshit, but it's on your Internets, so it must be true: males with a lot of older brothers are more likely to become gay... apparently. I'll play Captain Obvious for 1 question... what about gay guys with NO brothers? How do they become gay?

15/Shouts out to Ice T. I love how he has the stones to go on Hot97 and profess his love for his white wife. I mean, my wife is white, and I love her. I hate black females who have to hate on the fact that I married a white woman. It reminds me of the Richard Pryor joke... "Never divorce a white woman in California" is how I think it started... and with the reaction some black females in the audience made, Rich then replys, in a mock black lady voice, "you should never marry a white woman... fuck your feelings", or something of that nature.

16/Being Black in LA must be a trip... I have no words other than why the fuck is this not a bigger piece of the regular news?

17/I love how Justin Timberlake is dropping a new album this year. I just don't know how I feel about "SexyBack", his lead single... I mean, I loved his last album... but this just doesn't move me. We'll see. I've listened to it all of one time...

18/I spent some time back in April dissecting the Suge Knight/Death Row woes briefly, and this nigga happens to come back into the limelight now... I say he just puts out one last Death Row Greatest Hits box set and just pays off the druglords who funded Death Row.

This week was all over the place, eh? Shouts to London, wanna send my blessings and well wishes to all the families mourning 7/7/06... until next week, keep it grimey.

Friday, July 7th 2006 playlist

No Comments »

Rough week. Having to get drunk Sunday, work Monday, then get drunk on Tuesday to come back and work Wed-Fri... too much, much too much. Only thing kept me awake aside from the thoughts of my unborn was beats. Lots of them. On the mixes tip, John Rolodex has come out of hiding and put out his Fuck The System vol. 2... just released today. Peep it, nasty nasty bidness. And yes, he does look like a mix between Bubba Sparxxx and Haystak. In any case, onto the playlist...

Odds and Ends:

01/Alix Perez & Specific "Just Memories" [horizons music]
02/Gremlinz "The Thorn" [renegade hardware]
03/The Fix "Nostradamus" [13 music]
04/DJ Krust "Bad Intentions" [full cycle]
05/Ed Rush, DJ Trace & Nico "M.D.M." [no u-turn]
06/Outkast "The Mighty O" [?? -- first Outkast track I've dug in ages]
07/Tha Dogg Pound "Heavyweights" [doggystyle/koch]
08/Pharoahe Monch "Book Of Judges" [getting up ost]
09/J Dilla ft. Common & D'Angelo "So Far To Go" [bbe]
10/Clipse ft. Pharrell "Mr. Me Too [jive??]

Word. Reviews coming soon... if I get the stones to do some stuff tonight. Not really in the mood... soon come. Enjoy the weekend!

America The Ugly


Figured, to keep with this non-July 4th air that's going on, I'd flex some of these ideas in a musical mp3 meltdown...

[note: these files (except for #6) have all been uploaded to yousendit this morning... they are there for 7 days or 100 downloads, whichever comes first... if/when these files die, they will NOT be reuploaded. if you are an artist who created one of these tracks and want them to be taken down, let me know. they will be taken down ASAP.]

#1: Pharoahe Monch "Book Of Judges", taken from the Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure Soundtrack. Monch rocking his style with a big rock-background underneath.

#2: DJ Shadow "Donald The Merciless", from a special 7" that came out last year (part 2 of Shadow's "GOP Rogue's Gallery" series), with an ill Donald Rumsfeld picture disc. Just peep it... he's got Cage on the mic on this one, too [shouts to Krylon Don from Zilla's Island for that ID].

#3: J. Rawls "America Fufill Your Promise"; instrumental selection from one of the underground's more slept on producers. Taken from his 2003 longplayer, Histories Greatest Battles Campaigns and Topics, which touches on a plethora of issues. Good listen.

#4: Jay Dee "Fuck The Police", from the 2001 vinyl single of the same name. Yes this is the illest shit you will hear today. Yes, I still mourn Dilla. Yes, this is the perfect music for late night July 4th debauchery.

#5: Here is an interview with Saul Williams that showed up on Sway and King Tech's "Wake Up Show" out in Cali. Interesting topics brought up.

#6: Jel ft. Wise Intelligent "WMD", taken from his Soft Money album. Wise, from Poor Righteous Teachers, goes very hard on this one. Jel provides the proper boom bap to compliment.

That's all for now. Download, experience, and think about what really went down during the building of this great nation of ours. Be EZ!

food for thought, july 4th edition

No Comments »

Yes, this is one of those "anti-America" July 4th posts... fuck it though, the boy noz did his thing on his XXL column. Ill collection of well-placed songs... peep game. I don't want to jack his idea, just wanted to glorifiy some anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-everything shit.

#1: Company Flow "End To End Burners"

#2: Malcolm X speaking on race...

#3: Crips & Bloods History

#4: Mos Def "Katrina Klap"

#5: Public Enemy "By The Time I Get To Arizona"

#6: True Americans...

#7: Freedom of speech...

#8: DJ Krust ft. Saul Williams "Coded Language"

#9: Suheir Hammad from Def Poetry Jam

#10: Chappelle's Black Bush

#11: A Nigga Moment

#12: Richard Pryor in his glory


13 vids for the 13 states... enjoy your 4th!

Welcome home, Kim!

No Comments »

As you may have seen on your morning news, Lil' Kim got released from prison early today. The reasoning behind her being locked up was retarded, but what can you do. In any case, a celebration is due. Peep the YouTube finds...

#1: Lil' Kim "Lighters Up" video

#2: Mobb Deep ft. Lil' Kim "Quiet Storm (Remix)" video

#3: Lil' Kim ft. Lil' Cease "Crush On You" video (personal favorite)

Much love, Kim. Do your thing.

the shuffle. [7/1/06]

No Comments »

Bad Intentions. Some real bad intentions.

So is life though, no? Welcome one and all to another installment of the shuffle. If one of you readers knows how to cure my PC of DVD drive problems, I'd be forever indebt to you... scream at me.

Been one busy ass week! June just flew by but I think I got a good chunk of junk done... heard some good tunes, and now it's on to this ridiculous July 4th weekend... even though the 4th is on a Tuesday, and I have to crawl into work on Monday... oh joy!

01/It must be hot being rich. Well, maybe not... Warren Buffett is planning on giving his billions away. So maybe it's not great being rich, but it's great to have a philantropist foundation like Bill Gates does. That dude could save Africa with the amount of loot he has! He won't, but it's nice to think he would.

02/It's definitely NOT hot being a Backstreet Boy, apparently. You either become a drunk, put out a Christian album, or you quit. Kevin Richardson quit. I thought I cared, but then I realized that I couldn't tell you any of their names. I'm just ignorant like that. Does anyone even care about "BSB" anymore? Didn't think so...

03/Good to know that the criminal record of the Bad Boy labelmates is still going strong. Babs of "Da Band" fame(?) got arrested earlier this week on some "lemme whup that trick who talked shit at the club" bullshit. Maybe she will actually release some music in the future... nah.

04/As if Bow Wow's head wasn't already ballooning on the strength of his garbage music, this conceited prick is contemplating a fucking EARLY RETIREMENT... whaaa?!?! Slow down there, young buck. You might have been in the game since you were in pampers, but let's be serious. You're money can't be that long...

05/The Residents plan on releasing blank CDs. Seriously.

06/Word on the street is Beck has a new 'Hip-Hop'-centric album forthcoming... this article was cool, made me feel good... but then I heard this dude is a fucking Scientologist, and I felt sick...

07/Who the hell is Gillie Da Kid? The first time I heard of him was when he got bucked in Philly... now he's saying he wrote Lil' Wayne's old rhymes? Wayne is lucky, then... his new shit is WAY PAST that old ish.

08/Funny how Rush Limbaugh got off for those old drug possession charges... and now got picked up for illegally obtaining Viagara.

09/How does Dallas Austin not have a weed carrier? And he's WAY out of town to be carrying his own blow... who even knew he was a head like that?!?!

10/I thought I had heard it all, but no... wait until you get hit with the PIMP TAX!

11/DJ Quik fucked up, and now is going to be locked down for 5 months... it's his own fault, though. His dumb ass wouldn't have been in this situation if he got back to me about that interview for The Flow.

12/Gotta love the NBA... the draft went down without a hitch this week, and they got a new ball. Oh joy.

13/Ludacris' 5th (and final?) album for Def Jam is set for a fall date. With "War With God" out there masterfully dissing someone (T.I.?), it looks like it's going to be a hot one. Do you guys think Def Jam will get rid of Luda? Also on the horizon is DJ Shadow's The Outsider, which should be touching down soon. Is this album too sharp of a turn for the beat-mastermind? Beanie Sigel is also hard at work in the studio on his next LP, which won't be out until early 2007 (hopefully). I wonder why he came with that "Teddy Pendergrass of Hip-Hop" thing, though... Finally, Jamie Kennedy finally got a deal for an album... and a fucking label!? What is that all about? Thing is, now there is no reason at all to watch "Blowin' Up". Which may or may not be a good thing.

14/Lil' Kim is set to be released from prison on Monday, July 3rd. All I can hope is that she keeps it on the same lyrical content of her last LP, and she doesn't go back to that Bella Mafia bullshit. Please, Kim.

15/What's up with idiot weed heads this week? Two guys get caught in the drive thru puffing the largest L seen by these cops at a KFC... and this other sick fuck got caught digging up graves to make, get this, a bong with someone's skull.

16/Finally, if you regularly check my blog, you know of my disgust for the Black Eyed Peas' This nugget got me cracking up when I heard it... BEP got in the middle of some bar brawl over in Germany, and will is now under investigation for his role?!?! I hope he got stomped on.

Am I mean? Well, when it comes to, I can be...

enjoy your weekend, people. 1.

Friday, June 30th 2006 playlist

No Comments »

It's been an ill week. And I have to deal with fucked up DVD drives... or a PC that's hating on the drives. No picnic. I did accumulate some ill mixes though: DJ J Period's Cornerstone Mixtape #84. DJ Eleven's Summer Madness mix (more info on DJ Eleven's mixes here). Affray's "Inception Mix" for the Summer of '06. Check out the Chocolate Swim EP for free as well. Probably some more but I can't think of them. Been on some ill ish this week, thanks to Spine Magazine and Dubalty.

01/Dubalty ft. MC Fever "Big Time Dappa" [zombie]
02/Agent Alvin "On The Run" [g2]
03/Ludacris "War With God" [promo]
04/Visioneers "The World Is Yours" [bbe?]
05/J Dilla ft. Common & D'Angelo "So Far To Go" [stones throw]
06/Alpha Omega "Mind Aura" [thermal]
07/Pack FM "Clik, Clak & Spray" [getting up ost]
08/Visionary "Jungle Rock" [digital soundboy]
09/Gremlinz "The Thorn" [renegade hardware]
10/Liquid Liquid "Cavern" [getting up ost]

That's how we do. Have a safe weekend...

[rock the dub Interview]: DJ Motive

1 Comment »

With a genre as worldwide as DnB, it's always a great thing when a dynamic new producer starts to show signs of creativity, as well as injecting a different feel and aesthetic to a scene that can breed stagnant releases. With a handful of releases to his credit, DJ Motive is one of those artists that truly tries to strike out on his own, and has been getting tracks out on dsci4, Dispatch, Soundtrax, and has his future shining bright ahead of him. khal got a chance to prod Motive with questions, and Motive, with his dry humor and honest attitude, stands firm and drops some nuggets of knowledge...

khal: Your track record in DnB is kind of short, but very impressive. How did you get into DnB production?

DJ Motive: Short but impressive - sounds like I'm a wrestler. I got into production thru the usual channels really, I've been DJing since about '97, but there comes a point for many DJs where you can't find the exact sound you're after. So you have to try and do it yourself.

khal: Australia wasn’t initially known as a spot where ill DnB was coming from, but as of late, guys like yourself, Pendulum, Shock-One, BaD RoBoT, Greg Packer and others have really started to make noise. Do you guys get together at all?

DJ Motive: I know Pendulum and Greg Packer - but all the artists you've mentioned are from Perth - the world's most remote city - so it's a fair way from my city (Melbourne). About 5 hours via plane, or about 4 days by train.We usually try 'n get together for a drink if they are in town, which is a few times a year, but we've never tried to make a tune together.

khal: Would you say there is a certain “sound” that Australia brings to the DnB scene as a whole?

DJ Motive: From an international point of view, it's pretty heavily slanted towards the Perth sound, the hyper rave sound of Pendulum, Shock-One, BaD RoBoT. On the east coast there's more of the dubwise thing, which I guess people will put me, Ritual, and Vice Versa in to that category - but we don't sell any records so no-one has heard of us.

khal: Who are some of your major influences production wise, and why?

DJ Motive: Ummm.... good question, I've answered this one a few times and I'm pretty sure my answer changes all the time. But I'd say that my influences are Jonny L, Seiji, Switch / Solid Groove, Timbaland, old school jungle especially the '96-'99 era of Moving Shadow and Metalheadz, some reggae & dub - in particular I'm really into some of Sly & Robbie's stuff, some of King Tubby's mixes, some dubstep like Toasty. Optical, Photek, Dom, Jonny L, and Boymerang stuff from '96-'99. To me, all the above have kind of got similarities in their use of bass, beat & sample that I really like - I like good production, I like fuzzy bass, spacious beats and kick-heavy production, a touch of melody (but not too much).

khal: For the production heads out there, can you break down what kind of studio setup you have?

DJ Motive: Yeh I've got a really cool set-up these days that I love working on. It's actually really cheap, entry-level sort of stuff. At the heart is an iMac G5 running Ableton Live 5.2 and Logic Express. I don't really use Logic that much tho, it's all about Ableton Live which I've been using for about a year or so. I don't really run very many plug-ins, TCNative bundle does most of it, ummm what else, Ohmboyz Delay is essential. An M-Audio Firewire card is connected to the G5, running to a Soundcraft Compact 4 mixer, and out from that are the Tapco S8 monitors. On the outboard I've got the Electrix Filter Factory analog filter, the Electrix Mo-Fx rack, which is a flange, tremolo, delay unit with overdrive, and a Focusrite Focus EQ (courtesy DJ Trace). You need some outboard, otherwise you'll have no flashing LEDs to look at, no knobs to twiddle, and that's no fun.

khal: How do you work? Are you just vibing off of instinct in the studio or do you go with a certain sound or plan you want to flesh out?

DJ Motive: hmmmm.... how do I work. Lemme see, well, one thing I do is I pre-produce all my beats. I might just do a whole day of doing beats. I master each beat so that it's sounding as loud and clear as possible.Then when I've got an idea for a tune, I just go in and choose which beat is best. I don't cut or Recycle my beats, I do them in audio not midi. I usually get an idea from hearing tunes, usually old school ones, so sometimes I'll do a DJ mix for a while and eventually, something will come to me. Like maybe I'll hear a bassline from someone's tune, and I'll try and write an answer or counterpoint to it, so if I had it in the mix it would complete the phrase, does that make sense??

khal: Definitely. From hearing tracks like that dsci4 12" from 2006 to your releases on Soundtrax, as well as the smashing "Domino" on Dispatch, you exhibit a few different styles of DnB, from the more mellow side to full on dancefloor destruction. For a genre where there are tons of styles and loads of producers who stick to one style, why do you choose to flex different sounds and types of DnB?

DJ Motive: Yeah I actually don't understand how people can write their own niche style in such a niche genre like DnB. To tell the truth, it's probably because I haven't actually found exactly what I want to do or sound like. "Domino" is probably my favourite so far, I felt like I came up with something there that was mine. But generally, say if I do an amen tune or a liquid tune, I won't go back the next week and write another one just like it, even though it seems that's what the industry wants you to do. I listen to a lot of different music, I write different types of music, I DJ different types of music.

khal: From checking your MySpace page, there’s audio up for a Remix for a Big Bud tune that you did. You also Remixed a DJ Trace track for dsci4. How does this work; do the labels come to you, or do you create these remixes and then submit them to the labels? What are you looking to do when you Remix a track --- update it or recreate it?

DJ Motive: I really like doing remixes, one of my favourite things to do. Labels haven't come to me yet, I'm trying to make a name for myself as a remixer, so in the case of "Final Chapter" I asked Trace if I could do a remix. I've also done a remix of "Babylon Boy" on Shout Records - and I approached them and asked to do a remix. With the Big Bud "Children Of Jah" track, it was more that Big Bud wanted me to do one. I took a risk with that one, and turned it from a mellow, strolling reggae flavoured tune into a heavy amen & old school reese tune. An old school Dom & Roland influence on that tune. I was a bit nervous about Bud's reaction but he loves it. When I remix a track I just look at what the original track is, if it's a deeper track, I'll try and do a dancefloor thing. If it's already a dancefloor thing, I'll try and do a deeper thing. There's just no point to a remix if it sounds like the original.

khal: I also saw that you were recently in the US playing a few dates. What do you think is different about spinning for crowds in different countries? Would you play the same set for a crowd in Australia that you’d play in the US? Why or why not?

DJ Motive: Well I wouldn't change what I'd take, but I do notice that certain things go down better in some places than others, so if the crowd was to react one way then I'd keep going down that route. I think it's to do with what the local DJs have been pushing for the years prior. So it pretty much seems to change from city to city. I know that in Australia each city is different. Perth wants the most up front anthems, Adelaide love epic tech tracks, Sydney gets into the liquid and dubwise.

khal: What’s forthcoming from you? I know you have a few things done that are awaiting release… does that wait make you want to start your own imprint up?

DJ Motive: No, definitely not starting my own imprint up. You've got to be really keen on lots of hard work and very little reward if you want to start your own label. Yeh I've got some tunes that have been with labels for 2 years with no release, it's frustrating but it's just the way it is. As for forthcoming, I've got my remix of Big Bud's "Children Of Jah" coming out on Soundtrax, a 12" on Blindside called "Give Your Heart" with "After Hours" on the flip, and a remix of "Babylon Boy" on Shout Records.

khal: There was a thread on DOA that delved into the idea of there not being enough fans in DnB; basically, that everyone wants to be “down”, andt here are no pure fans out there, seemingly. Do you feel this is the case?

DJ Motive: Ok, good question. Ummmm... yeah sometimes you go to a party and everyone is a DJ, everyone is a producer, everyone is a promoter - no one is actually paying to get in and just enjoy it. But I've met some fans, and to be honest they're a bit scary, who are so into it - but they really care about the music. They're good to meet cos they remind me that people care and are listening. Nice people to visit but you wouldn't want to live there.

khal: Is this part of the reason why the scene as we know it today seems to be slumping sales wise, and arguably production wise?

DJ Motive: There really aren't many sales of DnB, but it's kind of caught in a difficult position. The art of making "listening" DnB has long since died. And the dancefloor stuff these days, who's really going to buy it and listen to it - it's not really available in a convenient format for people to buy. DnB producers are in a difficult position. Basically the only money in DnB is from DJing. After getting a decent reputation on vinyl, a DJ can earn in a weekend what you would earn from releasing 12" -that is if the label paid you - and it usually takes a year to get paid after release. Given that it usually takes about 8-12 months for a record to come out, you won't see any money for almost 2 years. So producers are writing disposable dancefloor music which gets them a reputation and gets them gigs, but alienates people who were there since the start and love the sound, the people that used to buy the music. I think that's one of the reasons why we've seen the music go the way it has. And why artistic producers have migrated to other genres.

khal: I also know you’ve put a few mixes up online, showcasing your turntable skills. Do you have anything on that front coming soon?

DJ Motive: Well I have my radio show on - I've missed my show since I've been in UK & US, but all my previous shows are archived. And there's lots of my own unreleased tracks in those sets. As for a proper online mix, it's been a while since I did the Saviour Mixtape last year, I'm in the middle of sorting a mix at the moment.

khal: Can you hit us off with a current top 10 of yours?

DJ Motive: Cambridge 4 - When Pilots Eject - Hospital
Tactile - Aldabra (Commix remix) - Dispatch
Jonny L - This Is Hardcore - Mr.L Recordings
Solid Groove & Sinden - Overbooked - Atlantic Jaxx
Motive - Stop Playing Games - unsigned
Concord Dawn - Man For All Seasons - Uprising
Bungle - Human Poison - Critical
Shapeshifter - Bring Change - TrueTone
Motive - Screw Top - unsigned
Roni Size & Die - It's A Jazz Thing remix - V

khal: If you have a day off of DJing or producing or just any type of DnB related work, what would you be doing?

DJ Motive: I'm a graphic designer by day, most days that's what I'll be doing. I try to travel when I can. I like watching football, or playing it via FIFA06. Now that I think about it I really don't know what I do in my spare time. Big up The Least Jiggy One...

Shouts to Motive for letting me pick his brain. If you want to check out more of his music, hit up his MySpace page. Peep this link for a list of his releases. There are also mp3 links to his Sound Trax releases here. "Babylon Boy" Remix, eh? Sounds sick! Big up ya chest, Motive!

Jay-Z "44 Four's"

No Comments »

As you guys may have known, Jay-Z performed his 10 year Anniversary show for Reasonable Doubt (AKA his baby) up in NYC at Radio City Music Hall this past Sunday. Reports say: Jay killed it (both nights, arguably). There are links to lots of photos, cracks on (big) Sauce Money, and even talk of how he switched up from doing "22 Two's" to this new joint, "44 Four's". Spine Magazine hooked up the mp3 of this, and here's the video, courtesy of the good folks at YouTube:

Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure [review]


If you know me, you know I get infatuated with a video game for a bit and then just turn it off, for whatever reason. Most games I can just put down and leave for a while. This game, Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, is just not that game. If you are into Graf, you will be into this game. If you are into loads of action and free roaming environments, you will be into this game. If you are into Hip-Hop's 4 (5?) elements, you will be into this game. It's not for the casual gamer, but it can be. It definitely got me moving, and I'll let you know why...

In this game, you play the character Trane (voiced by Talib Kweli), a graf writer who has gotten a bit too deep into the scene. He lives in a city called New Radius (which seems to be modeled after NYC), a place where not only is graf a CRIME, but you will get stomped the kcuf out for even being SEEN with fat caps. You get drawn into the lovely intro, showing Trane today, ducking the CCK (the crew that patrols New Radius), speaking about the good ol' days. This game works just like a movie, with Trane narrating certain pieces. You get dropped at the beginning of his ascension, as a "toy", or a writer with no real recognition. You encounter the Vandals of New Radius, a crew headed up by some cat named Gabe (voiced by legendary MC Serch), who does not take to "toys" painting over his pieces. Once they embarass Trane, he goes loco and makes it his mission to get back at THEM! Along the way he forms a crew (SFC - Still Free Crew), and makes a serious name for himself, meeting tons of legends -- T-Kid, Cope2, Smith, the dude who did the "OBEY" pieces, Futura, SEEN... the list goes on and on. You pick up different abilities and techniques that help you further your progress. You go on a journey, hitting "heaven spots" (aka spots that are really hard to find, usually way up on buildings and train tracks)... it's a dreamer's true dream. I've been into graf ever since I was little, and always wanted to do what they did, but alas, my lettering sucked, even though I have a hot lil tag name. This game makes it possible for me to live out my dream...

The action in this game is fast and can be furious. You can tag with spray paint, markers, and later on, stencils and big wheat paste pieces. The game is good with letting you know where you can throw up pieces and murals, how big you can do them (the bigger, the more REP you attain), and other things. The controls are easy to pick up -- all you need is one level of practicing how to put up a tag and you will be a pro. The fighting engine is good to, with you being able to pick up different combos and "insult" moves to use on the various cats who will try and cramp your style. And the graphics? INSANE! Did you hear me? INSANE! There are spots where you get caught on camera and the whole screen morphs to what it would look like on a security cam monitor... nice, nice. The majority of the environments are free to move, and you can climb gates, ladders, walk on edges, dangle off of things, jump off walls... and all to attain certain missions objectives. The gameplay can be frustrating sometimes, but you will pick up on what you need to do relatively quickly. Once you hit a check point, you can go back to it if you make a mistake and die on a level. If you have common sense, you can get a grasp for what you need to do, which makes diving into the game very easy.

One of the strongest points in this game is the attention to detail. The click/clack of the spray can, the sounds of the slums and alley ways, right on to the music used in each scene. At times when you are running away from the law, you get a nice rock-influenced track on there... other times, you are in murky underground lairs, and the right, moody tune just accents the feel so perfectly. With heavy hitters on the voice work (which includes Charlie Murphy, Diddy, Brittany Murphy, The RZA, and others), as well as the different musical talents on the soundtrack (from Nina Simone to Pack FM to Talib Kweli and Rakim to Jane's Addiction to Mobb Deep, as well as tons of beats and original tracks from RJD2), you are treated to great aural pleasures to ride longside the beautiful visual experience. This game was obviously created to be a sort of mini-movie, and each piece makes the whole package and concept gel.

All in all, if my words don't inspire you to go out and check this game, this will: Amazon has it for $20 for the PS2. You can pay more, and you will get a package that includes tons of goodies, but it's not too necessary -- all I would really want is the Soundtrack, and well, I have no problem getting that (wink). Lovers of action and graf; Hip-Hop and good stories; art and passion... you all will find something to latch onto in this game. You don't believe me? Ask Gamespot.

rock the dub gives this game a 9.5 for attention to detail, overall gameplay, and the entrancing story.

Want more info on this game? Check out the official website. And for more graf-specific sites, check out Bomb The World, Art Crimes, Style Wars and Graffiti Warz.

Sunday YouTube Madness: Black Comedy

No Comments »

I say "Black" because I am a big fan of Black comics. I've watched everything from Robin Williams to Rosie O'Donnell (remember the old VH1 show she hosted?)... I'm a big fan of George Carlin and Dane Cook and a lot of other White comedians... but Black comedy is my shit. Pryor, Eddie, Chappelle, Rock... list goes on. So, let's check some hilarious stand-up from some of my favorite Black comics...

#1: Dave Chappelle on Def Comedy Jam (peep Martin's lil chuckle)...

#2: One of Bernie Mac's FUNNIEST sets ever. "I Ain't Scared Of You Muthafuckas", courtesy of Def Comedy Jam...

#3: Chris Rock's "Niggas Vs. Black People".. being Black, this shit is the TRUTH!

#4: Not much D.L. Hughley on YouTube (my boy D Habs thinks that his TV show killed his rep -- convincing argument); he is funny no matter what. Peep game...

#5: Richard Pryor vs. Chevy Chase on SNL... classic.

the shuffle. [6/24/06]

No Comments »

This is probably the earliest I've posted one of my shuffle posts... I supposed to be going to see some races tomorrow, so I have to get up early. I figured why not get this done now. Word up.

I'm trying to get into my zone -- there's a serious boatload of shuffle shizzle for you guys to get down with. I'm going to first say you guys need to make these Renegade Hardware 'Anthology' CDs a part of your life. I'm currently rocking to the 2nd of the series... Usual Suspects' "Hole Punch". Grimey.

Also, I want to shout out the Miami Heat, who did exactly what I predicted, and beat the Mavs in 6 to win the championship. In Dallas. Fuck that "referees suck" talk, this is NBA Finals ball. I should have bet took that Popeye's chicken bet...

1> Since we're one the subject of NBA ball, the New York Knicks finally made the easiest decision in the whole NBA and fired coach Larry Brown after a long drawn out session of him leading practice sessions without knowing his true role. How fucked up is that. And now, Isaiah Thomas is going to be coaching, which is something he said he wouldn't do. Do they truly think these moves are going to make the Knicks a good team? I guess they have to think that way, no?

2> On the new album front, we received word Pharrell is set to drop his solo album In My Mind on July 25th. It's supposed to be 1 disc with half R&B and half Rap... not that he's stellar at either style, but it's sure to move units... we hope? Styles P of the LOX fame is also set to FINALLY drop his follow up to 2002's A Gangster and A Gentleman, which is entitled Time Is Money. I have heard a few bootlegs of this, and he seems to have really done his thing. Tracks by Swizz Beatz and Lil Jon show him rocking different funks over different skunks. My personal favorite is "Switch My Style", where he rocks over that Tweet "Turn Da Lights Off"... hot. Album due in stores sometime this August on D-Block/Interscope (Say word!). Jermaine Dupri was talking about a rumored Janet Jackson/Mariah Carey duet for Janet's new album. Her album is set to come out this September, and he hopes to do for his shorty what he did for Mariah... we'll see. Remember I told you guys about Tyrese's forthcoming double disc got leaked on the Internets recently? He went on Allhiphop saying it was not a publicity stunt. Oh and that his movie is out. LOL dog, don't deny it. Oh, and Outkast is also going to be dropping that movie/soundtrack shit that's been sitting on the back burner for a while. I am kind of interested, but I haven't dug an Outkast track since the Aquemini album.

3> In Notorious B.I.G. news, the LAPD trial has been rescheduled for early next year. I hope Ms. Wallace's team has their game face on, b/c this will only get more difficult. Also, there is word of a Biggie action figure set to drop soon. I might have to grab one of those...

4> E. Pierce Marshall, the son of that rich old dude that Anna Nicole Smith married, died recently. Makes you wonder if his "fight to the death" stance on this whole money issue was really a good idea...

5> This one guys 10 year erection is worth $400K, at least that's what Rhode Island courts say. If you read the description of the device implanted into his dick, you'd think that this idiot doesn't DESERVE that loot for being so damn stupid.

6> I just saw the most disgusting thing on Good Morning America: Nic Lite. Just doesn't sound attractive.

7> A bit of Jay-Z news... tomorrow is the big Reasonable Doubt concert that ?uestlove still has doubts about; seems as though with beef and MCs being dead, this show will be hard enough to pull off, but apparently Jay hasn't performed a lot of these tracks live, so who KNOWS how they will come off. Jigga man is also putting a special rehersal performance tonight, I guess to get the bugs worked out. Good luck. And on one final Jigga note, the good folks over at Slate tried to figure out, now that Cr*stal is taboo, what champagne should Hip-Hop heads get down with?

8> I am tired of his voice and I don't agree with his tactics, but you have to give 50 Cent credit. He's making moves other niggas is dreaming about. Word came this week that he is in talks with Apple to put out a line of computers designed to be affordable and aimed at inner city kids. Hate It Or Love It, but you can't knock dude's hustle.

9> How many times did the Neptunes bite? This is the 2nd story... apparently, some guy says that Chad and Pharrell jacked his track from 1993 for the hit "Frontin'". Now why you gotta go and do that, P, huh?

10> Philly cops are still skeptical about what exactly happened to Beanie Sigel. Word on the street is that there was no gunfire at that time on that day on Philly... but then how did Sigel get shot? They do think that this was some kind of "warning" to Sigel, either from a drug dealer or some crew. Who the fuck knows, I just hope a good album comes out of his ordeal.

11> For some reason, the dumbasses over at MySpace think raising the privacy age level from 14 to 18 is really going to curb pervs. Sadly mistaken. Pervs still make fake accounts, you idiots. I know, I know, it really isn't their fault, but how many people have to get raped or murked before they decide to take bigger steps?

12> The saga of the Stolen Sidekick is finally complete. Homegirl got her phone back, the lil Corona Queens girl got arrested, and that dude Evan had his website promoted (loads of weird softcore flicks on there... with him randomly standing there?)... all must be well in the N Y C.

13> If you are in a bitter divorce proceeding with a famous sports star, THIS IS HOW YOU GET THEM BACK! You gotta admit, Strahan and his "firend" do look kind of fruit loop-ish in this pic.

14> Aside from the 1 More Hit documentary, the only other doc I'm waiting for is the Rick James one. I had no idea he was a pimp back in the day, but I am not surprised.

15> Being an addict must sell. How people can get on the backs of Hip-Hop personalities and shit for their lyrics, but allow fucking dope addicts like Pete Doherty to be able to put out drug addled "memoirs" is beyond me.

16> A few deaths this week... Charles Smith, one of the founders of Kool & The Gang, passed away at the age of 57. Even more shocking, TV mega-producer Aaron Spelling passed away at 83. I guess that means this weekend will be full of 90210 reruns and "Celebration" on repeat...

17> Finally, a story out of my own hometown, Trenton, NJ (We make and the world takes). This week, a 64 year old crack dealer got busted by the po-po... from his oxygen tank-equipped wheelchair. True story. My thing is, I doubt this guy has anything else to do in life, due to his situation... if they ain't giving him a job, he's just gonna fall back into that life.

17 Shots for you this week... now I'm off to do a bit of relaxing... for now anyways. Peace, and namaste.