Interview : Blougou et dEtEcT, april 2001

How do you feel about all the dissing going on about Anticon?

It used to bother me, but the more sure I become of myself as an artist and the manner in which I express things...the further I go with my art, the less I care about what I leave behind, so it doesn't really bother me anymore. In fact I'm in a confortable space with it right now, but every once in a while, I'll read a review where somebody is mean..I mean, I don't mind if they say they don't feel it, but sometimes somebody will be mean and you're kind of like aarrrg, and it's not supposed to bother you, but it gets under your skin.

Yeah, that was especially true a year ago.

Because nobody had heard us at that time. Everybody was saying they're this, they're that, I wouldn't really know but I don't like it people have heard our music and of all the records we've put out, there's at least one song that someone likes. So now they'll say, yes, some of their stuff's cool, but most of it is kinda queer. It is definitely calmed down. And the whole Sole El-P thing is absolutely dead at this point. We're trying to make friends.

Anticon has a strong identity. Where do you fit in?

I used to try and do the business, but now I do art. That's why I'm doing cLOUDDEAD, and now I'm doing music full time, that's all I've ever wanted to do, you know.

What do you answer to those who find it childish how you'll always try to experiment?

Basically, they're just trying to act grown up. The thing is that I try to do very serious music and in order to pull that off and to have people believe that I'm being serious, I need them to know that I'm joking in between the seriousness. It's imoprtant to be childish and to humour myself. When you listen to gangsta rap, you know that they're not always like that, that sometimes they hugg their mother. And the whole experimental stuff is because I have undeclared add, I can't pay attention, so the more bored I get, the more I'm gonna experiment, and that's all it's about, I gotta say.

We always ask you this question, so here it is: do you think Anticon is hip hop?

We're insiders. The misconception is that we're outsiders doing hip hop, that we're from the suburbs, people don't even fact check. We grew up on hip hop, completely influenced by it. It's the first music that gave us chills, that inspired us to do something besides getting in fistfights and go to school. And then from that though, we've become really liberal in what we enjoy and what we let into our music, so I let in everything from afmous dead poets to indie rock to electronica. Anyone who's not gonna use everything around him is gonna die.

You're also really close to Mush. Who do you feel closer to?

The whole thing is that Anticon can't pay everyone's bills right now, so we try to sell our paintings to the hightest bidders. It's not that much of a business relationship with me and Mush, because Robert Curcio, the guy who owns it is a really good friend of mine and has taught me lightyears about business and holding myself and doing interviews. Anticon is my posse/label, but I do records for everybody, whether that be Big Dada, Mush, you know...I sign for products, basically by the painting. It's worked to this point. Robert wanted to do experimental urban music..that's pretty cheezy...I wanted to hook Robert up with a real nice roster of artists, and unfortunately the only guys who are productive enough and high caliber enough, well a lot of them are on Anticon. I got Aesoprock, Labtek, Radioinactive and some other guys who I love and who I know need money and exposure, and Robert is a great business man

Now that Aesoprock is on Def Jux, will you still be doing stuff with him?

He's great people man..and the whole point of me putting him on Mush was to see him go somewhere else. Yeah, we'll be doing shit, i mean next time I get to New York.

When we look at your various releases we can see that you've been on conventional and less conventional beats. How do you choose them, and where will we be seeing you next?

Nowadays, when I hear a rap track, like bassline and drums, I can't feel anything to it. I'm like, what do you want me to do with this? A cover song? I've done enough rap songs, and sometimes I'll hear a very simple beat that will inspire me, I mean, sometimes I'll sing with just a guitarr, if that's what I wanna do with a poem. Basically, it's all about being ecclectic and feeling it, you know. I don't wanna half ass any music, so in that sense you have to be totally inspired by that music.

This means we could still hear you on a DJ Mayo track or a Moodswing 9 track?

Yeah, totally. And Controller 7 and I are working on a song right now that's just drumbreak. It's 180 bpms, it's just nasty fast rapping. I mean, there's that too, and it's not very musical, but I'm doing that cause it's a different thing. And the new cLOUDDEAD stuff is like really beautiful music, very melodious.

And Circle was anything but melodious.

Yeah, exaclty. Well with Boom Dip what we wanted to do was an ecclectic project that had a heavy metal track and a harmonica track...a little bit of everything.

You've been very active lately. Will releases slow down a lil?

We've learned, especially with cLOUDDEAD and with the new Them stuff, well we used to do all these records because we didn't know what would happen next, we kept changing. Everybody was like " I wanna start doing this, I wanna do polyrythm, I wanna rhyme, I wanna not rhyme", and now I just wanna take my time on the music. I meet guys that spend a year on 3 songs, and there's something to be said for that, although sometimes you do one take, and it's loose, and that's the way it's supposed to be and it sounds the best that way. Basically doing quality control. But yeah, it's going to slow down, but increase in quality.

What about that new Them?

It's called Themselves, and we have a new EP coming out, which is half Themselves and half Subtle, which is a band in which Jel plays the SP live , and there's a keyboard player, and an electric cello player, drummer and then a horn player and I do more vocal, percussion and singin. It's experimental, but it's dope. And this new Themselves stuff is real complex, and live, and kind of natural.

What is the project you're the most proud of ?

You always like what you're doing now, as it's the fresh face. So it's definitely the new themselves, and cLOUDDEAD. It's gonna be a banger, it's gonna be dope, I'm really excited about it.

You met Sole through the Deep Puddle Dynamics project. How did you two hook up, and how did he convince you to take part in the project?

I was on a mixtape with DJ Faust, called Third World Citizens and I finally got it like 6 months later, and there was this Live Poet song, third person. I was eating french fries waiting for my class to start listening to Third Person and my fucking jaw dropped. I was like Oh my God, there's another Dose, there's someone just like me out there. That same week I got that Atmosphere Cd, and the next week-end, Dibbs had a show with the Live Poets, in Memphis. And I was like, you gotta give him Hemispheres. And that was it, we were like friends instantly. And then during that same week, we thought of that Deep Puddle idea. It was love on first sight.

How do you work your lyrics? Do you adapt to the beats, or do they adjust to you?

A little bit of both. Sometimes I'll write something that goes with the beat, and sometimes, I get inspired and write a poem, and that's what I'll fit to a beat. And sometimes I write poems that aren't gonna be songs. I'm putting them in a book soon. So now I kinda pick, some will be songs and some will just stay on paper.

The Hemispheres LP will be released again. Is it the same one, or will there be new material added?

Yeah, I added extra tracks. There's my favourite song from that era that was supposed to be a single, but never got out.

Do you know any French artists?

TTC baby !

Well, you didn't know them before you came here.

Well actually, I had this Finnish guy who brought this tape to my place, and he took the tape back and didn't know who that was. But the only reason I recognized that was TTC is because of Teki's distinct style. So when I heard the new one, the Leguman (qu(il prononce Lagoo man), I knew it was them. But I don't know any other french music. TTC is the extent of my french knowledge.

People in France compare Tekila to your style

It's dope. But if you ask me what hasn't been developed enough is to put it down stylistically and take the time to hit polyrythms and rap fast, or rap slow and just be on beat and really be concerned. Unfortunately, I don't understand the lyrical content because it's in french, but it's all about doing the whole package.

Speaking of lyrical content, aren't you affraid that french people are really missing on something when they listen to you? I mean, even american people don't understand everything you're saying.

Totally. And that's something that's difficult. Maybe this music will be taken seriously enough to be truly translated and it will transcend walkman behaviour because it is meningful. And the reason I'm alive is to write, and I hope that one day it can be taken for exaclty what it is, and that it isn't just lyrics that you can partially understand, and I worry about that all the time, it sucs. Same thing as when I listen to french hip hop or finland hip hop. You wanna get it..but...At least you can feel the energy, just like when I do the show tonight, and I can be excited about this.

And why aren't the lyrics in the booklet?

Yeah, but this won't happen again. That was just a budget thing. But from now on, we're always putting the lyrics because that's important, and we're getting even more stylistic with our delivery, so it totally detracts from the intelligibilety of the lyrics.

Sometimes, no matter how often you listen to the lyrics, you'll wonder what on earth did he mean?

I know, the whole thing too. When I read intense poets in english, all you can do is like stand in awe of how brilliant they are with words. Sometimes you can tell it's bullshit, but sometimes you can giev him the credit. For example with De la soul, I still listen to that, and Freestyle Fellowship, and I only understand now what they were saying.

And when you listen to hip hop, do you pay more attention to the beats, or to the lyrics?

Now I do both. It used to be lyrics all the time. I used to like a group just because the lyrics were dope.

Who are you feeling the most right now; lyrically speaking?

Why? He's the dopest. His new record, the reaching quiet record is amazing. But otherwise, I really love all my boys in anticon, I think they really work hard. The people I feel are the people that work hard, but I also like Sonic Sum, I really like Radioinactive, I love Circus, Awol, Busdriver, Project Blowed...

And what does that "It's THEM" song mean ?

Well I knew that people were gonna ask me if I was hip hop, and I was like, don't fucking ask me, I'm doing what I do. It's all tongue in cheek, the whole's not an ice sculpture. It's as simple as it can get without me saying is it a rap song. At the same time, even though people think it's complex, I'm mixing a little humour with not being complex.

Do you think American people pay any more attention to your lyrics?

Well, I can imagine that we get hip hop crowds that understand the lyrics less than people here will feel my energy. Even when you hear us live, the only way you can appreciate our music is if you've already heard our stuff. That's the most you can probably get out of us live, since we rap fast and all. And sometimes, people don't wanna hear fucking meaningful poetry in a club. They are really simply not in the mood. If they're drinking, they don't wanna get all sentimental.

Now that you're getting better known, will you be touring more and recording less?

Yeah. I don't think we're good enough yet. We're still working on having a good live output. cLOUDDEAD live will be the animal that it needs to be, for example, with visuals and all.