Joined: 30 Jun 2002
|Long interview with a Greece Magazine 11/4/03
interview conducted by Alex:
let's start at the beginning, how did you first get into hip hop?
"It's very simple. I was a young boy who was exposed to it by CHANCE and I never looked back. I never even listened to any other kind of music until 1996."
can you give me your best memories about the following eras of hip hop?
1979 - 1986
"Lots of break dancing. Florescent trends. Cartoons and cereal. i don't remember much else from this era. I can list all the rappers and DJs but that's not particular to me at all."
1987 - 1990
"The Run's House Tour in 1988 with Run DMC, Public Enemy, EPMD and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Guest appearance by LL Cool J. A defining moment in my life for sure."
1991 - 1996
"The Greatest Hip Hop Show concert in 1991 I think. It featured: Public Enemy, Geto Boys, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Kid N Play, Leaders of the New School, ATCQ (didn't show), Son of Berzerk, Oaktown 357 (got booed off stage...wonderful), and lots of others. I can't even remember. There were over 20 groups and they were all hot at the time. It was crazy. I breathed in second hand marijuana smoke and got VERY sick. It resulted in a 106 degree temperature and I spent my Christmas in a bathtub filled with ice. It was worth it I guess. This was a great era for me though.
1997 - 2003
"This is the time when I hit with my demo tape, radio show, band, non-prophets formed, battles were won, poetry slams were won, vinyl was released, tours and blah blah blah. It is the era of the grindstone for me. My favorite memories are of open mics."
what do you think about the current trend of jiggy hip hop? for example in greece, a "hip hop party" means watered down top 10 hip hop, and the rest is r&b
"I don't think it's a current trend at all. The R&B is inexcusable, but the jiggy side of hiphop has almost always been prevelant. Anything labeled 'hiphop' these days is usually god awful. Tacky."
you did a show in athens last year, what where your first impression of the city first of all, and also of the hip hop scene?
"My first impression was....'Woah...there is history here. This place is OLD. ' I was blown away. I saw buildings and structures that I thought were only part of mythology. I didn't get to see much of the city though because I was rushed to the show. I was late. Got into the show and the place was PACKED. The crowd was going crazy. A very good crowd in Athens. The only bad thing was somebody stole the microphone after I was done so that came out of my pocket. It was a great evening though. We stayed up all night and ate traditional food. The promoter's grandmother cooked for all of us."
how did that show come to be? it was surprising that you came here since we're not exactly top choice for most rappers(or musicians in general)?
"Well, I was touring Europe all by myself. It was a very risky move on my part but it was a good experience. I just wish it wasn't the middle of winter. Anyway, a promoter group from Athens called Stinky Breath put it all together. They were wonderful."
do you wanna tell us a little something about the scene in rhode island, since other than you it doesnt seem to get much publicity?
"It has a lot of local talent, but like everywhere else...lots of jealousy and hatred. People holding each other down. Luckily, I have close to no friends...so that means there's hardly anyone to turn into someone who can hold me down. An enemy can't hold me down. Only a friend can."
how did your connection with rhymesayers come to be? any future collaboration albums planned?
"Slug and I did a show together in 2001. He had heard about me from the Superbowl Battle. I think Eyedea showed him a tape of it. Anyway, Slug knew I was affiliated with Anticon so that kind of put a bad taste in his mouth for whatever reason. He was very curt with me when we first met. But then after the show he extended a very friendly hand to me and let me know that he enjoyed it. He then put me on his next two tours which were CRUCIAL in the development of my career. He has become one of my only real friends in this industry and I have lots of love for him and all of RSE. We always talk about doing an album together, but our careers have been going full throttle in different directions. I don't know when we will find the time to come together and do such a thing."
how about the secret services? you still a crew?
"We haven't really been a crew since 1999. It was a conglomerate of RI rappers and DJs who I grew up with. We never stayed in touch. I expected a lot to come out of the rest of the members but they got fucked over by a bunk label in Boston and we never stayed in touch."
tell us a little something about the non-prophets. since you are still the only mc, is releasing albums under another name a way to approach making your music differently, is it supposed to be in a different vein from the rest of the sage francis catalogue?
"Yeah, it does allow me to approach music differently. But it is called Non-Prophets because it is not a Sage Francis album per se. It is a collaborative effort in the truest sense of the word. Joe and I had to both make compromises and meet somewhere in the middle of each other's vision. The compromises weren't big though, and the outcome of the album is something that both of us couldn't have achieved on our own. DJ Mek put the finishing touches on it. This album isn't in a different vein than my past releases, it just accentuates a certain style that I think was prevelant on my earlier material."
also, tell us a little bit about your album with Buck 65 and DJ Signify coming out next year, how did this come to be, what's it gonna sound like?
"Buck and I have noth known Signify for a long time. Signify had a vision for an album and he wanted me and Buck to be part of the project because he felt we were the main people who could carry through that vision. It is very dark and moody. Weird even. Not something to be playing DURING the part, but after the party...while everyone is crashed on the floor. Lights dimmed."
what do you think of def jux and their independent formula and success?
"I think they capitalized on the current situation very well. El-P is the mastermind of that whole outfit, and it helps that he had such a strong following from his Co-Flow/Rawkus days. He took a huge chunk of that audience and ran with it, then expanded at the appropriate time using all the correct resources."
do you think that anticon will be able to break into the market the way def jux has, do you want them to?
"Anticon, as most know by now, don't have similar goals. It almost seems like they shoot themselves in the foot on purpose sometimes. They do not pander to the crowd. Finding a happy medium between art and business seems to be difficult for a lot of them. I commend them on all they continue to do because I think they are creating music that is going to be relevant for ages. They are not trapped in the box of 2003. They ALWAYS operate outside the box of whatever year they are living in, avoiding the current trends, refusing to conform to what is normally accepted. But by doing things in this manner I do not know if they could ever reach the popularity Def Jux has, nor do I think they want to."
since sole had some beef with el-p, were the feelings shared as a crew?
"Well, that was in 1998. It leaked a bit into 1999 and has continued to echo into each following year for whatever reason. I can say with certain confidence that nobody in anticon gives a flying fuck about this anymore. Nor does El-P."
i just interviewed necro a couple days ago, so i was wondering what you thought about him?
"I think he is a very funny and quirky person."
can you explain this line for me "I'm less wack than Mos Def's pitiful incense vibe"? have you got beef with Mos?
"Pshhhh. Hahaha. You are the first person to ask about that line. Congrats. Mos Def is an actor first. Lover of his own voice second. Host of Def Poetry Jam third. A rapper fourth. He just screams of being false. That's what I get out of it. But he is the best. And maybe one day I can share the screen with him like Marky Mark. I am not jealous...I am serious."
your song "makeshift patriot", along with company flows "patriotism" and mr. lif's "home of the brave" are among the most scathing yet realistic depictions of post 9-11 America, do you think you managed to raise awareness to what a sad state of affairs the world is in right now?
"In general, no. Within the pond where people are able to hear me, yes."
what was the general reaction to this song, in america and abroad?
"Overall, positive. Some servicemen had a few bones to pick with me though. Eruope was eating it up though. Which made me feel dirty."
have you seen any change in the attitude of people towards you (as an American) when you're overseas on tour?
"No, it's always been the same."
as far as personal politics, you're straightedge, a not so common ideology in the world of hip hop, but i guess that guarantees you want be rhyming about cristal huh?
"There are no guarentees."
are you familiar with the hardcore/punk straightedge scene?
"Yes, I am. Unfortunately."
what music do you listen to outside of hip hop?
"Classic Rock and punk. A little classical."
You're writing a book, what's it gonna be about? what inspired you to write it?
"I am just compiling all of my journals, essays, lyrics and thoughts onto page. I have no idea what will come of it, but it will not be a novel. Perhaps I will write a REAL book at some point, but that's not in my cards right now."
Have you ever made a video for once of your songs? if not how come? and will you in the future?
"No, I haven't. I have gotten many offers from people to do a video for me and it always seems like none of them know what they're doing. They scare me. I am very close to my music and if someone attaches a false visual image to my audio I will freak out. I won't be able to handle it. I will make a video when someone shows me visuals that match what I am doing on the audio side of things. I know those people are out there."
How's fatherhood treating you? you're gonna have to change theat "sage francis, devoted son, father to none" line now arent you?
"I'm not a big fan of kids. I think they suck."
to finish this off on a cliche question can we get a top ten mc's list?
"I will exclude myself from any and all lists since it should be quite obvious that i reign supreme. Rakim at his best is the absolute greatest rapper to ever touch a mic. KRS and Nas at their best live somewhere under there. Chuck D wasn't technically great, but I don't think anyone used the tool of hiphop as effectively as him. Anyone else falls well below these people."
how about a top ten hip hop album list?
It Takes a Nation of Millions
By Any Means Necessary
The Great Adventures
Paid in Full
King of Rock
Balloon Mindstate or De La SOul is Dead
Long Live the Kane
either License to Ill or Paul's Boutique
Tribe's 2nd or 3rd
there are so many. I can't do this.
Tue Nov 04, 2003 11:59 am
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