Chopper City Boyz – Interview

chopper city boyz

Starting off, a lot of people know your background BG, but what about Gar?

BG: Music, really chose me, I ain’t choose it. It was just something I would do just for fun. It was a talent that I didn’t look at as a talent at first. I used to be free styling in elementary, beating on the school desks and getting put out of class when the other kids were doing work. I preferred writing raps because it was just something that I always liked to do.

Gar: Music really wasn’t an interest of mine to tell you the truth. I was the type kid growing up, that did all kinds of things. I went school, hustled, played ball and more. But by BG staying two houses down from me at the time, I was kinda familiar with the whole studio thing. He’s like a brother to me, and in the effect once Juvie left Cash Money, BG went on the road with him to promoting his own album, he asked me to come out with him to be his hype-man. From that point on, we had recorded tracks in the studio together and later he asked me did I want to be apart of the family and I was like good lets get it cause we was like family already because we knew each other personally.

So it’s fair to say that BG and Juvie were influences on you, but are there any others by chance?

Gar: Ahhh. but of course, rappers like 2Pac, BIG, Eightball, MJG and Scarface are some of my others. I came up listening to what everybody down here come up listening to. New Orleans had shit on lock. Cash Money and No Limit Records were like the biggest influences on me from a label standpoint.

What about you BG?

BG: 2Pac, Scarface, Geto Boys, UGK and Soulja Slim are some of my big influences. I was into a lot of bounce music that’s true from New Orleans like KLC and Lil Slim.

Individually, how would you guys describe your style of music?

Gar: I mean I just call it ‘G-A’ you know, it’s authentic. I rap about what I do what I’ve seen or what I saw, so I let y’all pretty much describe what the style is but as long as it’s authentic it ‘G-A.’

BG: I define it as real, rough, rugged, raw, hood and ghetto fabulous.

Did you expect to have such a good response from your “Bubblegum” record?

Gar: I’ma keep it all the way “G” with ya shorty. I’m excited but I know how this shit go. One day your hot and one day your not, but at the same time we came out making quality street music and we had streets ringing. So the response, it really don’t have me trippin’, but I know that the record has potential because we used to making street music. This time around though, we wanted to switch it up and go with a female driven record.

BG: Honestly, I just wanted to try something different with the Chopper City Boys because this is my second Chopper City Boys album. The first one I put out on Koch and this one is coming out through Asylum. They already certified in the streets and my street credibility is ‘A1′, so you know the album off top is going to be G’d up and soldier down. But I just wanted to try something that was more female friendly, radio friendly, more clubbish but still have that street edge.

The name of your new album is “Life in the Concrete Jungle.” What does the name of this represent to you guys?

BG: Man, because Chopper City is another name for New Orleans. In New Orleans ain’t nothing but a jungle once you land at that airport. It’s like lions, tigers and bears. You got to cut the grass because the snakes in there. If you can live in New Orleans, you can live anywhere. It’s a straight up jungle down here and we just living life in the concrete jungle.

Gar: Life in the concrete jungle. New Orleans is a jungle and as humans you know, we compare em’. You got your snake ni**a, that’s your no good ni**as. You got your gorilla, that’s your ni**a that will do whatever.

Snipe: You got the beast in the east and gorillas uptown.

BG., why did you decide to push the group album before your 11th solo album?

BG: It was just the timing with Atlantic and with Asylum. I’m signed to Atlantic and Chopper City Boyz signed to Asylum, so it’s all about the right time. I want to go so hard though, you know by it being my 11th album, it means so much to me but I feel comfortable with putting the group album out first and setting a tone and then coming with mine.

Is it true that you’re linking up with the original Hot Boyz members for a new album?

BG: Yeah, the Hot Boyz reunion is most definitely in effect. I’m on board, Juvie on board, you know Wayne on board. I think the world has been wanting to see it for a minute now and even though we parted ways, we never had any problems amongst each other as a group. It was just bad business on the executive part of it, but we’ve shown that we can stand on our own two feet.
and still work together.

As proud natives from the N.O. you guys represent the energy coming from out the city even through the rebuilding at Katrina. While making this album did Katrina help to motivate some of the content on this album?

BG: Most definitely, Katrina being one of the biggest disasters, it made history. Our city will never be the same, but it always be in out hearts and it’s going to always come out in the music because we gotta live with that for the rest of our lives.

Other than Bubblegum, what else can we expect to come out?

Snipe: We’re going to let the fan base let us know what the next single should be.

Do you guys have a favorite record on the album?

Snipe: Every single one of them because I put my heart into it.

Which producers did you guys work with on the album?

Snipe: Production wise we got, Joe the CEO that produced the single Bubblegum. We got Bass Heavy, Cory from Detroit, Chauncey the producer and a lot more.

Gar: We working with a lot of producers that’s hungry from New Orleans and a lot of producers that’s just hungry from any Chopper City in their own state.

Who are some of the featured artists on this album?

Snipe: We got BloodRaw from CTE, we got Lax from the D Boys-from old Cash Money days, The Show from Mannie Fresh’s label Chubby Boy Records and ALFAMEGA from Grand Hustle Records.

Gar: We got Rocko, Straight Shot and Lil’ Dollar on the joint.

What do you think is the key to longevity in the music industry?

BG: Really and truly, just keeping it real with myself and staying consistent. Rapping is just my way of opening up and I’ve been putting people in my business my whole career. Like from my drug addiction to everything that I’ve been through with the criminal justice system. I just like to tell my story and people like hearing my story. A lot of people can relate to it.

Snipe: I mean you just got to stay afloat. You have to pretty much stay in game constantly, give ’em that street as much as they want it.

Gar: The thing is man, you gotta stand down point blank. Come out the same way you went in with the same mu***f***ers that’s real.

As a group, what are some of your goals? Do you have any aspirations outside of music?

Gar: See me and Snipe, we came up with a goal to both have solo deals by the end of the year. But it don’t matter, one of us or none of us, but that’s our goal with this rap shit.

BG: If it makes money, it makes sense to me. I could be an actor, I want to own a real-estate company. I want to own a couple of clubs. I want to open up a pharmacy. It’s a whole bunch of things that I want to do, but rapping is where my heart is at. That’s where my heart is at before the business is concern. I want to do a whole lot of different things for when I’m ready to hang the mic up.

How do you guys feel about current Hip-Hop right now?

Gar: I love it. Hip-Hop is right were it needs to be.

Snipe: It’s just a new era right now.

What is that era?

Snipe: It’s more dancing on the scene right now. Its all about club songs, but we got a whole lot of theme joints. This fact alone makes it easy for us to say that we got swag at the ass because we can switch into any lane.

Gar: Right now, the whole rap game done moved around and went from the west coast, to the east coast and now the south. We gotta hold that shit up. Florida is just beating the rap game over the brain right now. It’s a lot of smoke that’s about to come from New Orleans and they say Hip-Hop dead but Lil Wayne just did a mil in a week, so Hip-Hop is what ever you make it.

A lot of people know who guys are already, but for those who don’t – what do want yor new fans to get from ‘Life in the Concrete Jungle’?

Gar: Our core fan base already know what to expect but for the new fans if they listened to the first album and compared the two, they would say this album is more mature. You can see the growth and development, but from the both of us as artist, they can expect that street music that we make all the time. It’s quality street music.

What do you think your fans would be surprised to know what you do in your off time away from music?

Gar: Look at your window, we in the hood. We do the same thing y’all do man but y’all put us in this position and keep us in this position so we appreciate y’all as much as y’all appreciate us.

Snipe: We ordinary people just like you.

BG: Well I’m into politics. I’m following the Presidential Election between Obama and McCain. I spend time with my kids and just chill. I’m the same person I was before all this shit and I’ma be the same person after.

To date, what is your biggest career highlight?

BG: Let’s see, that word ‘bling, bling’ being in the dictionary really threw me off. For me having a word inducted into the dictionary is crazy, especially coming from where I come from and having the whole world saying ‘bling, bling’ that’s one of them.

Where do you guys see yourselves being in 5 or 10 years from now?

Gar: Successful. If God see the same, Barack Obama will be the first black president and that’s enough motivation for us to keeping working hard.

Snipe: I can’t see myself being no where but more successful than where I’m at now. I’m trying to reach a mark that a lot of people ain’t reaching for.

BG: Opening the doors for other young and upcoming artists that have dreams. I want to put people on and give those in the hood with talent a way out once I’m a hundred million strong, not even a hundred million strong, 20 million strong. I want to reach back out and help other people because I feel that’s where I feel blessings come from.

Ok guys, any parting words before we close out?

BG: I say it all the time, you keep it real with me, I’ma keep it real with you, and all my fans know that. I feel that’s how I survived and lasted in the game for so long, by just being myself and keeping it one hundred. I appreciate everybody, who appreciates me and what I’m doing.

Ali Vegas – Interview

ali vegas

Tell me your whole inception into music. When did you first become interested and how did it all begin for you?
Ali Vegas: I was interested in music at the age of six. I started out writing poetry, but my poetry was so prolific that my older brother told me to say it over a beat. So when I went to go and put the beat behind it and said my part and he said that’s what I need to be doing. He got me hearing the rhyme and that’s when I fell in love with it.

Growing up, who were some of your strongest musical influences?
Ali Vegas: Wow… people like David Ruffin, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cook, Curtis Mayfield because they’re sound was good, but their stories would be deep.

At what point did you decide that you wanted to pursue rap on a professional level?
Ali Vegas: When I turned 12, that’s when the game chose me more so than me wanted to do it and that was I when I got brought up to TrackMasters.

It’s been about 9 years since the ramblings of Ali Vegas from Hip-Hop patrons carried much volume. You’re back and stronger than ever it seems. Give us an idea of what you were doing behind the scenes before the spotlight hit you once more?
Ali Vegas: You never go to war unless you got ammunition and in this business just when think you can get a rest, it gets even more hectic. I wanted to make sure that I took the time off to make sure that the ammunition was there so that I can put out song, after song, after song and album, after album, after album. I was in the lab making record, after record, after record. I preparing to make sure that I got quantity and not just the quantity, but quality to match the quantity.

What about the mix-tapes your where doing?
Ali Vegas: That was just music that I do. I would keep in touch with a few DJ’s and play them records and they would be like ‘you gotta put this out.’ I was just making music because I love making music. It was never about anything else, but when I got sat down they was like ‘you depriving the listeners of good music if you just make music because you want to make it, you know should let the world hear it,’ and that’s when I started coming out. That’s why some the mixtapes and most of my own mixtapes have original tracks on them.

How would you describe and/or define your style of music?
Ali Vegas: I don’t know, it’ kinda weird because it’s unorthodox. It embodies all aspects of music. It’s not backpack, it’s not trendy, it’s like all of that in one. I made my style to be like my favorite basketball player, Scottie Pippen. He could shoot the three, put the ball on the floor, go to the rack… basically do it all, so that’s how my style of Rap is. I really can do it all. It’s nothing in music that I can’t do.

Your new single, “That’s Nothing” is getting some serious buzz. Did you expect such a cool response??
Ali Vegas: I expected it. I really just wanted to show the teachers that the students appreciate the foundation that they built.

Your new release Generation Gap 2: The Prequel, what does the name of this album mean to you?
Ali Vegas: Bringing back before the beginning, that’s how I called it the prequel instead of the sequel. I just wanted to bring them back to before the beginning – before it all started. This album has songs with a reggae feel, R&B feel and a lot balance. It just tells the story to what made me want to rhyme.

For Generation Gap 2, what’s good about this album compared to the first?
Ali Vegas: The maturity level, I raised it. Number 2 outweighs number 1 of course because I’ve grown since then, but number 1 was just raw talent. It was kinda like a scientific test, like here – ‘just put’em a booth, let’ em out the cage and let’ em rip.’ Number 2 is the “know-how” album. I know what to do and when to do it. I know when to turn it on and when to turn it off. So that’s just the difference between them.

As a songwriter when you sit down to pen your rhymes/songs, where do you draw your inspiration(s) from?
Ali Vegas: Life… everyday life whether it’s something that I’m going through or somebody on my block is going through something and they come to me for advice.

In terms of production, who did you work with? How involved where you in the creative process?
Ali Vegas: I wanted to work with students of today and tomorrow and the teachers of today and yesterday. So production wise – I worked with DJ Premier, LES, Cool & Dre, Scott Storch and other students of the game such as J Nice, Midi Mafia and more. They are teachers of today. So I just really wanted to blend it, I really wanted to blend the production between the students and the teachers and just let the people know how it came about. How we got to today, you had to go through yesterday to get to today and I had my hands on everything during creating the album.

Any highlights, special guest artists or favorite tracks?
Ali Vegas: As far as artist, I did the same thing that I did with the production. I just wanted to put the students and the teachers on the same project. I worked with students of the game such as TRL, young TRL who is a 14 year old phenom, Siamese Twins, Golden Child, ‘phenomenal reggae artist, you’ll be hearing a lot from him.’ I put them on the same project with some of the illest teachers like AZ, Nas and Styles P. I worked with Akon, Rakim and others.

What’s the next track we can expect to hear?
Ali Vegas: Well the next song single will be “Blow Your Mind” featuring Sammie. It’s for the girls and the fellas at the same time because it’s a million ways to blow your mind. While Sammie serenades the ladies, I’ll give the brothas some truth on to how to have a relationship with a girl without sex being in the equation. It’s got a nice 80’s and Debarge “Rhythm of The Night” feel.

Let’s discuss longevity in this business of music — What do you feel has been, and will continue to be the key to your success? What will keep sustaining you in this grueling industry?
Ali Vegas: I been prepared since day one because I lived in a single parent home with my mother and a younger sibling. Overcoming that and being able to stand tall through the times and having to go out and make a way for the younger siblings at the same time taking care of your older siblings that might be in a bind, it’s been a grueling since day one. All of that showed me that it has a lot to do with me; it has to do with me because it’s all-apart of Gods plan. He has been preparing me for this since day one. What ever comes your way, just deal with it accordingly and that’s what I do with music… accordingly. I deal with it accordingly. I look ahead and I still look behind because that prepares me for the problems and the achievements that’ll come when I keep going forward. That’s all I do is analyze yesterday, keep part of it with me today and look forward to tomorrow.

Do you have any other aspirations, even outside of music?
Ali Vegas: I want to give the generation of tomorrow a more better chance than the generation than yesterday and the generation of today had. I just want raise the level of thinking, the level of integrity in music and just show that being a nerd is aright. That’s why I like Pharrell because he made the nerd cool. So many people growing up especially where I come from, view the nerd as the bad thing to be and I just want to say to people that being smart is aight. Being intelligent is good. You ain’t gotta be dumb or standing out on the corner all day just to be cool. I want to show them that they can be cool even when they’re smart and it’s a time and place for everything. That’s my main thing that I want to accomplish through music.

On a more serious note, would it be fair to say that you are happy with the current state of Hip-Hop music?
Ali Vegas: I feel like it’s right were it needs to be. I feel grateful for it because it’s a perfect setup for an artist like myself.

Are you happy with it though?
Ali Vegas: Yeah, it’s nothing wrong with it because it’s the same state of Hip-Hop when Whoodini was out, and when Rakim and others came along. Same way it was when 2 Live Crew and Luke was out making shake your bottom music and all that. So it’s all the same, nothings changed just the plays. The game and the music is still the same. The only thing bad about the state of Hip-Hop now is that there’s no balance.

Since everyone either knows you already, or will become familiar with you after seeing your videos on television and music on the radio, what do you want people to get from your music?
Ali Vegas: I just want them to realize good music is out there. I’m working on making that “member when” music again like the way that LL and Run DMC and others did it, that’s what I want them to get. It’s good music out there and they need to support it or stop complaining.

What would these same people find you doing in your spare time completely away from the music?
Ali Vegas: They would find me reading, writing, chilling with my family, working hard on my music, playing dominos and spades.

To date, what has been your biggest career highlight?
Ali Vegas: I would say me performing with Dougie Fresh, Dana Dane and Jungle Brothers. That was definitely one of them and I guess the utmost would be – being around today.

Some of us remember the beef you had with DJ Clue and Fabolous. What was behind it and has it been squashed?
Ali Vegas: Our families live on the same block; it’s just a brotherhood. In Hip-Hop it’s a brotherhood just like growing up under the same roof with any of your siblings. Your gonna have disagreements, not see eye to eye all the time and have arguments. Its just part of the game, its competition in the most competitive sport around – rap music. It was just friendly competition. We got over it, made up now we here today.

Coming from Queens, what’s your relationship with Nas?
Ali Vegas: Nas was there when I got signed. He was there when I was 12 years old getting my deal. He told me the some things to do and some things not to do. It’s times we keep our distance and that’s just the way it is, but we good. The relationship between us is there.

Looking ahead, say 5 or even 10 years from now, where do you see yourself?
Ali Vegas: Accomplished and being able to look back and say wow… ‘I accomplished mostly everything I wanted in the course of ten years.’

Interview: Slim of 112

slim of 112

With the success that his group 112 has had in the past years, it is no different that his success as a solo artist will be the same. Currently Slim is working on his solo album, “Loves Crazy”–he had a few moments to talk about music and life.

How would you describe and/or define the style of music that you create and perform?
Slim: It’s very classy, polished and a mixture of hip hop and R&B, but it definitely has swag. My music comes from everyday life and everyday experiences. The title of my project is Love’s Crazy and I say that love’s crazy, because love makes you do some crazy things. I’m talking about the good and the bad, but because I’m so optimistic and because God made love, when it goes bad i always try find the good in it. It differentiates me from other solo artist and when you listen to my lyrics, you can see what I’m talking about.

Do you have any favorite tracks you like from this album?
Slim: Right now I can’t really say there’s a favorite track; it’s like asking me which kid is your favorite. What I do believe is when an album is made; you should just press play and let it play till you hit rewind, you never wanna fast forward. This album is about setting a mood. If you are in a relationship with a significant other and you don’t have anything to say, this album is for you. Its going to do all the talking for you, it’s like a manual. If you’re trying to set a very good vibe, this album is for you, let it use you.

What do you think has been and will continue to be the key to your success?
Slim: Solid music, the fact that I know I’m a role model and keeping God first. That’s all I pretty much do. I’m a child of God and whatever he wants me to do I just let it be done. Music is a big way of touching people, that’s how I got everyone’s attention. It all has to do with longevity, and if you think about it 112 as a group, that’s the perfect example.

What would you want people to know about Slim, that they won’t get from the records?
Slim: I think that I’m very touchable; I’m very open and honest with a lot of things. When you listen to a record I say it just the way everybody feels it. I had a lot of fun with the single out now called “So Fly”. Its not a record where I’m just looking in the mirror glorifying myself, because that’s just not me, but is sort of like an anthem to people.

What does Slim do on his spare time, that’s completely away from music?
Slim: A lot of people that knows Slim know I have three boys and they know I’m very involved with them. I’m like a coach, daddy, pastor, I’m everything with these boys. Other than just music, I don’t really hang out too much unless I’m getting something done.

What keeps you focused?
Slim: The fact that I’m now a CEO and running my own situation. I know the potential of it and I know that I’m trying to be the next Puffy or Jay Z. so I’m trying to get my label off the ground which is “M3 Production”. That is definitely what keeps me focus, so I’m juggling the positions as a CEO and I also signed myself as an artist, so I have to be focused.

As of today what has been your biggest career highlight?
Slim: It might be this move, moving over from being an artist to controlling my own destiny, being a young CEO and partnering up with Asylum. It just feels good to speak to people like Joey Manda, and know that they actually believe in me and my potential. I definitely appreciate the Grammy’s and stuff 112 gave me, but this right here seems like I’m starting all over again and I’m starting from the ground up and I love doing that. It’s just like another one of my investments. I just want all the young artists out there to know that there are so many other avenues you can look at, but I chose to do it this way. For Asylum, this is actually their first time signing an R&B act, so it’s a great feeling. It’s pressure, but its history. I mean, pressure has been there all of my life; every time we put out an album with 112, we paid our bills on people opinions. I love pressure, because it either breaks the pipes or makes diamonds, and I definitely feel like I’m a diamond in the rough right now.

Is there anyone out there right now, that you would love the opportunity to work with and why?
Slim: I would like to work with Lupe Fiasco, great artist. I love his swag, and I love what he talks about. He’s a very complete artist and I definitely I hope I can find an artist like him to sign. A producer I would love to work with is Pharell. Also, I would love to do a duet with Babyface or El Debarge

What can we expect at one of your concerts?
Slim: Being entertained. The great thing about Slim is you get your moneys worth; because Slim has all of the 112 record. It’s like I’m shooting a movie and you’re in it and by the time you sit down it’s like I’m taking you on a voyage starting in 96′ and by the time you look up its 08′. It’s 12 years of strong music, you’re growing up and going through all the changes and at the end you’re like wow, I really got my money’s worth.

What would like your fan to take away from this album both creatively and lyrically?
Slim: I want them to know that Yes, they’re hearing slim through a solo project and and they will hear an incredible songs. I’m definitely going into the true essence and roots of R&B. I’m kind of walking the fine line of what is going on right now, but I haven’t abandoned my roots of R&B which I called the golden days of R&B (The 90’s going into 2000). The people that are 112 fans will not be disappointed, you’re going to hear the “Cupids”, “Were Done” adn “Can I Touch You”, because I love those kind of ballads, but then for the interludes you’re going to ask me why i didn’t make them into songs. It’s crazy!

I also want people to know that they’re growing with Slim, from being a young artist to a CEO. I talk to a lot of people on the road and they say they really wish R&B would go back to what it used to be. So if you support this record you’re supporting a movement that will help bring this kind of music back.

Are there any last thoughts that you would like to leave with us?
Slim: I just want to let all the fan around the world know that Slim is coming and thank you all for being very supportive. Also 112 is very much still together and you will definitely be hearing some more from us. Right now we are writing another chapter in our lives, the legacy to what is 112. If you look at the history of 112 you see that there is always a period of about 2 to 3 yrs before your hear a record, we do that on purpose, so all you 112 fans do not be worried, its all love.

Slim getting ready for Germany:

Dante Thomas

Dante Thomas

If you haven’t heard Dante Thomas’ story firsthand, you might not believe it. Could Salt Lake be any further from New York City? It’s not just night and day; it’s almost heaven and hell, depending on where you are from. But one eighteen-year-old took on the impossible dream only to make it possible.

The story starts in Salt Lake, lands in Port Authority of New York City, only to find him back again doing press in said city talking about his career with one eye on the past and one on the ever so bright future.

Is this trip to New York City better than your first?

Whoooooooo. To say the least. (laughs) Sometimes I’ll walk around the same areas I was at when I first came to New York and think, ‘Man, I’ve come a long way.’

I’ve been to Salt Lake and the differences between that and New York City is night and day.

That’s the truth.

What gave you the nerve to say the hell with it, I’m going to New York?

You know what? If you are starving, you are going to find food. Music was my food and I wasn’t going to get fed in Utah. There are no record companies in Utah.

You could have joined SheDaisy.

(laughs) Country music is big there and so is rock. R&B isn’t.

What made you decide on New York and not California since it’s a lot to home closer?

When I graduated high school, some of my friends where going to college, some the military, and some were even getting married. So I knew none of that was for me. So I was working in this Italian restaurant washing dishes, and one night I went home and was looking at my cds and they were all either being recorded in New York or their record companies were in New York. I knew right then that New York was the place for me. I bought a one-way bus ticket the next day to New York, went to my job and gave them my two weeks notice, and then went home and told my family. My mom asked who I knew in New York and I told her that I knew this kid named Joe in Brooklyn. Actually I didn’t know anybody, but if I would have told her that she wouldn’t have let me go. So the two weeks came, I spent two and a half days on the bus, and ended up in New York’s Port Authority.

Getting off of anything in New York is scary.

I know. It was like the Fourth of July. So many lights, people, cars, walking and talking. I was blown away. The energy was amazing.

It has to take some serious confidence in yourself to take that risk. Who or what gave you that?

Truthfully it was my mom. My mom gave me the strength. Before I was born my mom was coming up in the ranks as an opera singer. She met my dad, had my sister and had me. So she kind of gave up her dreams for the family. As I got older, I played football and baseball, music became more important to me. It was just this thing I had to do. I always did it but I never got as into it until I got older. What happened was I finally told myself that my future wasn’t here and that it was in New York. You never know what role you are supposed to take. Your life is what you make of it. So I took that step. You have to take that step.

Is your mom living through you now?

Vicariously. (laughs) She loves everything. She tells me every time she hears me on the radio and every time she gets on the web sites and reads messages from fans who say how much fans they are and how much I inspire them. She tells me how proud she is of me and now she knows it was right to give up her career.

Is it weird that all of the sudden you are going to take on the role as a role model?

You know what is funny is that someone asked me if I was ready to be a role model and I asked them, ‘Is anybody ever ready to be a role model?’ No one is ever ready, but do I have something positive to give back? Yes. I’m a believer in leaving this place better than how you found it.

Is it funny to get people asking you for advice on how to get started since your story is just full of luck?

What works for one might not always work for others. I would never suggest someone just go to New York. If I would have known then what I know now, I probably would have never did it. But it was the not knowing that made me do it. It wasn’t a safe thing to do. I could have been killed, kidnapped, or whatever. That is reality. It was god who guided my path. It was a humbling experience.

How long was it before you finally hooked up with your dream?

Well the first night in New York I slept in the Port Authority, the next night I slept in a safe house for kids. I stayed there for a week and then they found me a place in the Bronx. While I was living in the Bronx, I started doing block parties for dj’s. I started doing open mic nights and that is where I started running into people and found my managers. My manager got me a place in Brooklyn, that was two years later and I hadn’t been home at all. I talked to my family maybe three times. I never told my mom how bad it was because I didn’t want her to worry. I started losing myself in my roots and went home for six months, came back, and it still didn’t happen. I went home the last time and I noticed some of my friends had lives and things are happening for them. These were people who weren’t responsible at all in school and now they are in college, they own houses, cars, and are happy. So I actually stopped singing. I quit. I went back to school to become an electrician. I was working nine to five building garage doors. So my manager called me one day and told me it was a shame that I was giving it up because he has always felt I was talented. He asked why I was giving it up and I told him it wasn’t paying my rent. That was the bottom line. He asked me to give it one more chance, that way I’d have no regrets. So he brought me back out to Jersey, six months later I’m waiting outside of the Hit Factory for Pras, and the rest is history.

Have you been writing for a while?

There was a friend I had in Utah and he was a big influence on me. He had been writing for a lot longer than me, probably since he was twelve, and when I met him I was sixteen and he was twenty-four. I was singing melodies and he told me that I should start writing my own stuff. I started writing and I just got better and better.

Do you write off the top of your head or play?

Lately I haven’t been able to sit down in front of a piano. So my piano skills have diminished a bit, but sometimes I write on the piano. A lot of times it’s an experience that I’m going through and I’ll have a melody in my head. I won’t even have words, I’ll just start humming words and it might sound like gibberish in the beginning. The melody tells me what I’m supposed to say.

Like you said before, you hid things from your mom. Now what does she say about all of this?

Well, she was upset with me, but not for long. She told me at the end of the day you had to be a man and every man has to choose his own path. My mom is very much into me making my own way. That is what my mom taught me.

Sticky Fingaz – Interview

Sticky Fingaz

in the fray with sticky fingaz!

Forget any and all preconceived notions you have of Sticky Fingaz. You may have seen him throwing his guns in the air with Onyx and acting a fool in Next Friday, but there is much more to the man called Sticky.

Lucky as I was to get him on the phone, I found it more than just an average ordinary interview. At the end we talked about books that were not only very spiritual, but extremely thought provoking. Everything does change – life, mind, spirit – and to leave one with their past would find us living there as well. Sticky Fingaz lives life in the moment and here is the moment we shared.

How long was the album in the works?

Only like half a year because I was doing two movies at the time. There was a lot of running back and forth.

Was it an easy process?

It was easy because I wasn’t doing any homework. I did everything in the studio in the moment. It was fairly easy.

You just went in there and went after it?

One day I came up with the concept of the album and then I would go there when I had a chance to work on the concepts. I was writing in the studio.

Track by track it goes from looking out at the world to looking inside of yourself.

I think if you are going to do something about something, especially if it’s an album rather than a movie where you are playing a character, on an album you have a chance to project your views and your ideology.

I came away with the feeling that you were touching on things that people don’t want to really talk about without being preachy. “Oh My God” comes to mind. It doesn’t seem like anyone wanted to tackle that concept.

Yeah. (laughs)

It’s a thing I think that everyone wrestles with, but is afraid to admit out loud. Are you still wrestling with the issues?

First, that song had three verses but I chose to give the people just two verses and hopefully they are ready for just that because the third verse was even more iller. Basically it’s like the whole world is built with followers from religions to nationalities to politics and even the concept of time. Time is something somebody else came up with. Everyone else is just following. I want to wake people up and bring them into the moment because most people are just living in their minds and their minds consist of the past and the future, which don’t exist. If you live in your mind, you don’t get a chance to experience the present.

That song gets in your head. Do you think within hip-hop people don’t expect someone to come out and really philosophize and be really intelligent with it?

I think that people don’t expect it, but they’ll accept it. People like to be surprised, they like violence, sex, and all the elements that bring them into the moment. They are so much not in the moment that when they are brought into the moment they love it.

That is the most unexpected track, but “Ghetto” does the same thing. You really need to think about when they say, ‘This is ghetto.’

They do it subconsciously and I knew that. It’s a small, subtle thing. It’s not about carrying guns. It’s about putting salt on your food before you taste it.

“Money Talks” is another gritty track with a lot of truth. It’s something people know, but don’t talk about.

It’s like they know it in the back of their heads but it’s not in the front because most people are unaware.

Do you find people still putting you in the Onyx mode and that this was your real chance to let the real you shine?

I feel like when I first came in the industry to know people have seen me as only one dimensional. They see me as ‘Onyx-bacdafucup-throw-ya-gunz-in-the-air.’ People probably never seen me smile before. I knew people wouldn’t be ready for me so before I give them Sticky Fingaz I made up the character Kirk Jones. That way I could bring Sticky Fingaz through Kirk Jones and that way people could except it a little more. That is where I came up with the whole concept of Black Trash: The Autobiography Of Kirk Jones. It’s about this man’s life and how he goes through all of these changes. And within the changes he experiences different emotions like hate, where he is talking about ‘my dogs and my guns,’ the emotions of curiosity and question when he is talking to God. And the emotions of sympathy when he is talking to his baby brother about not going down the same path or feelings of being sorry for all the wrong done to women by men, even if it wasn’t him who was directly responsible. Because Sticky Fingaz is a deep, deep person and if people see me in all twenty dimensions it might be hard to digest, so I created Kirk Jones so I could relate each dimension.

How much has your life changed since your first time breaking it open with Onyx?

First, you have to realize everything physical changes every second. It’s continuously moving. A rock looks the same as the way you left it yesterday but the components that make up the rock have moved and switched even though they look the same on the outside. Besides that, I have erased a lot of borrowed knowledge out of my mind which lets me think clearly and see the truth versus opinions. Like everything everyone has taught you is not the truth, whether it’s true or not, it’s not your truth. You can’t see reality for what it is. I’ve basically cleared off my mind to see reality clearly, allowing me to tap into other dimensions.

With “Sister I’m Sorry”, do you feel that is a song long overdue in hip-hop? Especially with all the calling woman bitches and ho’s. I’ve been waiting for that song for about ten years.

(laughs) I guess people don’t look at it in the sense of what if that was my mother or what if that was my sister.

A lot of girls I know don’t like hip-hop for that very reason. All the disrespecting of women turns a lot of women off to it.

It’s long overdue.

And not only that, the disrespecting of calling women bitches and ho’s has really become cliché and sounds almost like a parody of hip-hop itself.

I read books like Acts Of Faith by Iyanla Vanzant and it opens your eyes to other avenues. Once you see the sun, you never again look at the flashlight as the sun. If for all your life you looked at a flashlight as the sun and then once you see the sun you can never go back to the flashlight.

Do you look at life much more differently today? And do you believe in karma, what comes around goes around?

You have to look at it like this, as far as what comes around goes around. Everything you do to your body you are going to feel. I’ve come to the realization that the whole world is my body and anything I do to you or the world comes back to me. If I rip your heart out of your body, you’ll die. It’s a part of your body and you need it to live. So if I took away all of the trees, you’d die too. So the trees and the oxygen are a part of your body too, just like the sun and the water. If you take a fish out of the water, it dies. The water is part of the fish’s body too. So whatever you do to the world, you inevitably do to yourself. The world is your body.

That sort of brings me into the song “What If I Was White”. Do you ever wonder when there won’t be this issue of color?

I think right now it is an issue, but it won’t always be an issue. We are living in a time when scientists are passing religion and we are starting to make clones and shit like that. When you start to make clones, then you question what being a human is. When people tell you that they can transfer your consciousness to a whole other body, then you question what being a human is. Basically saying that you are black, white, Chinese, Jewish or whatever is really being racist towards humanity. All you are is, you aren’t even a human being, a being. You are a being like a cat, insect, or whatever. Anything else is being racist towards humanity.

Racism still makes no sense to me.

It exists because people are unaware. I was asking this old man how do you stop smoking cigarettes? He was like, ‘First off, you can’t try to stop, because anything you repress only blows up at a later date.’ Like if I try stopping and force myself a week later, I’ll be forcing myself to smoke packs back to back immediately because repressing only adds to you blowing it up. Like if you repress your money then one day you have a lot of it, then you splurge. I’ll use an example that applies to everything. You might be smoking a cigarette and driving or walking or talking and you aren’t conscious of it. The best way to quit is to be aware. When you smoke, don’t do anything but smoke it and be aware. Smell it, feel it go down into your lungs and touch the cavity of your chest. Do it slow and be there with it and then I guarantee you’ll stop smoking after a week because you’ll see how nasty it is because you are aware. Once you are aware, you can’t do bad things. The problem is that we are unconscious. That is why we do these things. The majority of people wear their watches on their left hands. If you put your watch on your right hand for the whole day and during the course of the day you are going to wonder what time it is and you are going to lift up your left hand where your watch used to be because you are unconscious. If you weren’t unconscious you wouldn’t have gone to that arm. We’re like robots. We do the same things every day and doing them over and over just makes us robots. Living in other people’s religions and nationalities makes us a robot. Believing everything that a history book says that you didn’t witness with your own eyes makes you a robot.

It is really hard to believe what you read today. There are so many lies being used as truths.

Have you been to the movies lately? Do you see what they can do with movies? Now you can’t even believe what you see today. You can’t even believe what you see on the news today. They can do so much shit. I just saw this dinosaur show and the shit looked real. The shit they can do in movies today means you can’t believe a fucking thing you see today unless it’s with your own eyes.

Like the movie ‘Wag The Dog’ where they produce a fake tv war.

They can tell you any fucking thing. That is why I don’t believe shit stink until I smell it. (we both laugh)

With all the thought that went into the album, how much do you want people to absorb the message?

I read this book called The Alchemist, it was an ill book by the way. One of the messages that I got from the book was that when you get better, things around you get better because there is only one choice, either get better or dissolve. So I wanted to get better. I’m tired people coming out halfheartedly. It’s 2001, about to be 2002, and they are still running these prehistoric rhymes. If it takes you an hour to do what you did, then stay for another three hours and open your minds and focus and do better. There are a lot of things on this album that you need to hear consciously. If you listen just like ‘la-la-la-la-la’ then there are a lot of things you will miss out on.

+ charlie craine

Jill Sobule – Interview

Jill Sobule

If you think the career of Jill Sobule ended with “I Kissed A Girl”, then you’ve been mislead. Her latest release, Pink Pearl, is an amazing piece of work. I could have filled the following space telling you why you should buy it, but instead I spoke with Jill about her new release, being a cousin of a wrestling star, and UFOs in our backyards.

___________________________________________________

How are you?

Tired, but good. A good tired.

Did you have a show last night?

Yeah. I’m the opening act for Warren Zevon, but I stick through his set because we do a song, so I don’t get to go home. We do a really funny rendition of “Jackson”.

I was reading people’s comments about that cover on your web site.

Yeah? It’s very funny.

Is Jillsobule.com your site?

Actually, a fan did it for me, but I’m using it. A fan did it, but I give him information.

That’s great.

I actually spend several hours a week talking to various people. They ask me questions and I email them back.

It’s addicting, isn’t it?

Yeah, I know. Life was much easier when I was analog gal.

Well, you know what they say, well, what I say, once you go email you never go back.

(laughs) I know.

When I first got the album, I loved it instantly. There was no need to hear it twenty times to grow on me. It’s just so strong.

Thank you.

I was wondering, because you paint some of the most amazing pictures and I can visualize everything

Awwww.

and I was wanted to know if you always had this knack for storytelling?

I think it was because I’ve always been a kind of a voyeur when I was a kid. I was kind of a loner, so I was a watcher instead of leader or a follower, so maybe it comes from there. My favorite book when I was a kid was Harriet The Spy. It was this book about this weird little girl who would spy on people and write down observations. So maybe it comes from there. Plus, I’ve always been such a reader. I think the songs are short stories.

I was going to ask if you do other kinds of writing?

I would love to, but I have such a short attention span. But I would love to try and write more than two pages.

Writing is tough. I have tons of respect for people who can write and write well. Do you write first and then add guitar later?

I would say that in general the lyrics are most important. I know a lot of writers who have the music first and then they have a hook, but I never kind of do that. It always comes from the very first word. Writing the verses always comes first for me. In general, the words come first. The music is so much easier for me, because then you have so many options with what you can do. I have a lot of songs and melodies that I just can’t do anything with.

Part of what I was going to ask was where you came up with such great melodies, because even if I don’t remember the lyrics, I can’t get your melodies out of my head. Writing melodies is another tough thing.

It is, but you know what? That comes pretty easy to me. That is why it’s easier when I have a lyric. I’d love to do an album of instrumentals. That would be good.

I’m a sucker for a good melody.

I’m such a sucker for a good melody. And I can forgive a lot of songs for bad lyrics. I listen to a lot of radio on the road and I’ve been listening to AM a lot because they have these oddball oldies songs. AM radio is great. I heard the song from the Five Stairsteps (Jill begins to sing, “O-o-h child things are gonna get easier/ O-o-h child things’ll get brighter”). It’s the stupidest lyric, ‘gonna get it together/ and get it undone,’ but I fell in love with it because you can forgive a bad lyric.

I have one too. How about “Bus Stop” from the Hollies? That is totally dopey, but it has such a fabulous melody.

It is great.

It doesn’t even matter that he is just singing about standing next to some girl in the rain, dreaming about her and her umbrella.

I know.

Are the songs about life experiences?

They are pretty much true, but I can embellish and change. (laughs)

It’s natural to need to do that though.

I take liberties, but I think what happens with every writer is that you add a bit of yourself in there.

But with your songs, I think there is a bit more than that. I think you have a bit of everyone in there.

Right.

Especially “Lucy At The Gym”. I’ve seen that person.

We’ve all seen that person. And probably every woman, and even men, have probably at one time been that Lucy. Maybe not to the extremes, but it’s just our culture.

I wanted to toss some songs out and get your first impressions. I was going to ask about “Lucy At The Gym”, but I think we’ve covered it. How about “Claire”?

Claire was a woman I met through a friend who was buying a car from her sister. Claire was an old WACK pilot from World War II. I was so interested in meeting her. She had the most amazing stories. She was a pioneer feminist even if they didn’t call her that. What was interesting about her was that you couldn’t get all her stories straight because she was losing it. That was so sad, but at the same time she was so endearing and so wonderful, but it was a tragedy that all these stories were being lost. I wanted to know them, but she was losing them too. I think it also has that fear of getting older. There are lots in there. (laughs)

[Jill’s cell phone begins to ring]

Oh, who is calling me so early? You know, I just got a cell phone for the road trip, but it’s such a pain in the ass. My life was so much better before it. Anyway, it is sad to think of all the stuff she has gone through and the stuff I’ve gone through. The Reagan years! (laughs)

(laughs)

That was definitely traumatic.

The next election might be even worse.

Yeah, I know.

I’m a little scared.

I know, and I’m in George Bush land right now.

Yeah. That guy scares the hell out of me.

And I’m supposed to be writing songs about Campaign 2000. But what do I write about? I mean, it’s also not the most exciting.

They make Bill Clinton seem like the greatest president of all time.

I know. It’s so boring.

What ever happened to this larger than life person?

There is no one. What am I going to write about? I’m supposed to start. What am I gonna write, ‘George Bush isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed’? I mean, he is dumb, and Gore isn’t very charismatic.

What about “Mexican Wrestler”?

It was one of those stream of consciousness lyrics where I don’t know where I was going with it, but I suppose it has that sense of sadness and revenge. I was thinking about this guy I had this really bad crush on and it wasn’t reciprocated. And during those teen years, you never get over that. It follows you until you are Claire’s age. You know what I think it was? Around the time I was writing it, my mom said, ‘You know you have this cousin that is a famous wrestler named Billy Goldberg?’. Now I see his t-shirts and toys everywhere. But my mom went to one of his matches just to see him because she wanted to see him and talk to him because she knew him when he was a little kid. So I guess I somehow had wrestling on my mind.

The one song that sort of stopped me in my tracks was “Heros”, because it’s so right. Like my hero is John Lennon, and I always think of all this positive stuff, but then I interviewed Julian like a year ago and

he wasn’t a good dad.

I know. Everything he said was bad about his father outside of the music.

I know. Poor Julian. For me, it was Joni Mitchell. I read interviews with her and she is like so bitter and it kinda turned me off. She feels like she didn’t get enough respect and she was dissing all these female artists.

What about “Somewhere In New Mexico”?

I had a friend who became a really hardcore born-again Christian, and my first reaction was like, ‘Aw, gee.’ I thought she must have gone off the deep end, but then there was that part of me that was almost jealous that someone had such faith in something.

Been there.

Then I’d be listening to the Art Bell show with all the crazy people who see ghosts, angels

and UFOs.

Yeah. And it’s like I’ve never experienced anything. And I’m such a cynic, but I want to believe. And I believe what Nietzsche said: ‘There is a God-shaped hole within us.’ I want to experience something.

I’ve been there.

I just think there has to be more out there.

I do too, but I haven’t had any UFOs landing in my backyard.

(laughs) Me either.

Okay, well, I’m curious if you remember your first song?

Oh, yeah. I think it was called “Clouds”. It was something with major seven chords all the way through. It was a really sad and depressing song. I don’t remember the lyrics, but I’m sure they were like the book of poetry Jewel wrote.

Yeah?

No, I’m kidding. (we both laugh) My early songs were really sad.

Was it a long time afterwards that you actually performed?

Well, I played guitar. I was in the stage bands, but I wrote the songs just for me. I didn’t sing either. I was just a guitar player.

Where was your first performance?

I was in my third year of college and I went to Spain for one of those study abroad programs. A friend and I thought we’d just busk on the street for fun. We did it and I had the nerve to do it because I’d never see these people again. Well, a guy walked by and asked if we’d play in his nightclub, so we ended up for two months playing his club for three nights a week. I always wonder what would have happened if that guy hadn’t walked by, what I’d be doing with my life.

What were you going to do?

Well, at that time in college I wanted to go to Georgetown to study International Affairs. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to do International Affairs. It sounded really good.

Like James Bond or something.

Yeah. Exactly. (laughs) And at that time I used to think no one could make a living doing music.

I don’t think anyone grows up believing they can make money as a musician.

Well, it’s kind of true. (laughs) It’s so funny. I was talking to the webmaster and he said the way people write him stuff like, ‘Is it really Jill who writes back?’ or ‘Do you think she really reads the mail?’. We were saying that people must think I have a lot of money. I mean, I’m at the La Quinta Inn right now. (laughs)

People really believe that you’ve got the fairy tale life with the Michael Jackson money.

Yeah. (laughs) Who was I talking to? Hmmm. Oh, Warren Zevon, of course, I love him, and he said, ‘What do you mean? I didn’t it for the sex and the girls?’.

+ charlie craine

Somethin’ For The People – Interview

Somethin' For The People

Somethin For The People is made up of Sauce, Fuzzy, and Cat Daddy. Even if you don’t remember the track “Your Love Is The Shhh”, I’m certain you’ve heard a few tracks that these cats have masterminded with such artists as Brandy, Will Smith, and Adina Howard.

I could go on and on about their skills, giving more props where they are due, but instead we’ll get into my discussion with the three guys who make up this dynamic producing/hip-hop crew.

Where are you guys?

Cat Daddy: LA.

I’m in New York and it’s finally nice out.

Sauce: We were just there and it was hot and then like twenty minutes later it started raining.

Is it weird that the album has been done so long and now you are finally getting a chance to talk about it?

Fuzzy: Yeah.

Sauce: Yeah.

(everyone laughs)

When did you finish the album?

Fuzzy: Hmm. Beginning of the year.

CD: It’s been done since before Christmas.

Were they waiting for the summer?

CD: Yeah. They wanted to get a little momentum with the single before the album comes out.

How did you guys get into the industry?

Sauce: I started off deejaying and doing beats for rappers, then I slowly got into producing and playing keyboards.

CD: I started pretty much the same kind of way. When we all met in 1990, we just started working together, writing songs all the time. We got a break from Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy. Our first song and paid gig was with Samuelle.

Did you fall into it or were you seeking to produce and write?

Fuzzy: We were seeking to do it.

A lot of talented people try to get into doing that but it’s tough to find the break.

Sauce: Yeah, exactly.

Were the guys you met someone you knew or did you just meet them?

Sauce: Luckily it was someone we knew.

CD: Sauce and Fuzzy knew Tom and Denny and then I met them. We all knew them and they knew we did music. They were kind of giving us an opportunity to do something.

What is it like going from producing and being behind the scenes to having the group and being in the forefront?

CD: It is a trip because initially when we got into it we tried using being artists to promote us as producers. The deeper we got into it, especially at the label because they don’t care about promoting you as producers.

Is the producing, the label, and everything else something you do entirely together?

Sauce: Yeah. We have a production company. We just actually signed a production deal with Warner Bros. It’s a three act deal. So we are developing three acts that we have.

That is the coolest gig in the world because you don’t have to worry about doing shows for the rest of your life.

Everyone: Exactly. (everyone laughs)

Fuzzy: Once we can lay our albums to rest, we can slow down from doing ourselves and focus on the acts we have.

Is it weird going from producing this album and then needing to push it, whereas usually you are able to produce an album and then move on to the next project?

CD: Very weird. For what it is worth, that is how we did it when we first started in the business. We’d produce a few songs, turn them in, and then move into the next project. But when you are doing an album for yourself, you have to go out on the road, do promotions, take photos, and it’s just a lot of details.

The second album had a theme behind the title. Does the title Issues have a meaning behind it?

Sauce: Basically the songs deal with a lot of different issues.

Do you ever come up with beats where you are like, ‘We’d better keep that one for ourselves’?

Sauce: We are always writing and coming up with new songs. Sometimes we do have to take beats and save some of the good stuff for us. (everyone laughs) We don’t be trying to give it away.

Do you ever get artists coming in and they hear something and are like, ‘Hey, that beat is tight. Think I can use it?’?

Sauce: Yeah, but that is what happens. I mean, that is what has taken us so long in releasing our record, because we had to stop and do songs for Will Smith and Adina Howard, so all those gigs pay a lot better than doing it for ourselves. (everyone laughs)

Have you ever come up with a song or beat where you were like, ‘Damn, we should have kept that’?

Everyone: Nope. (everyone laughs)

Fuzzy: The thing is, when you are artists, you know you are going to have songs that won’t be singles, but sometimes that song that wouldn’t be a single for you could be a single for somebody else. So that is when your business mind has to kick in. We have to be very selective about what we keep and what we give away.

Sauce: Being producers, that is our livelihood. When you think about it, we have all these songs on this album and we could have probably sold each of them for fifty thousand a piece, so it’s a tough decision but you’ve got to do it.

When you are working, do you know who you are going to be working with well in advance or do you just come up with a track and know it’d be hot for someone?

Sauce: Sometimes you think about that after it is done. A lot of the time, we go in and custom do something for an artist.

How does the writing process work for the group?

Sauce: We all have different duties. Fuzzy does a lot of the vocal production and me and Cat do a lot of the music stuff. It’s an assembly line. We’ve been doing it for so long, it’s just natural.

When did you start this album?

Sauce: Back in ’98. But then we had so much production stuff in between. We finished it at the end of ’99, so that is the longest we’ve ever spent on an album.

So you had to keep coming back to the album.

CD: Yeah, but it was good because it gave us a chance to sift through the songs we had early on that were wack. (everyone laughs)

Guys, I really appreciate the time.

Everyone: Thanks.

Sauce: And enjoy that sun out there.

I know. What do I have? About five minutes?

CD: Don’t forget your umbrella!

+ charlie craine

Pink – Interview

pink

Pink’s video for “Stupid Girls” is all about how fake celebrities can be, so it makes perfect sense that not everything in the video is real either — including co-star 50 Cent.

“I live in L.A., so it’s obvious what I’m surrounded by…. I don’t need to name names,” Pink said recently (see “Pink Would Rather Fall Off A Car Than Get Glammed Up For Her Videos”), discussing how the song was inspired by how vapid Hollywood can be, and how young girls should aspire to more than their pop-culture role models represent.

In the Dave Meyers-directed clip for “Stupid Girls,” then, Pink’s surrounded by superficiality, and includes references to Paris Hilton’s sex tape, Jessica Simpson’s music videos, Mary-Kate Olsen’s boho shopping sprees and Lindsay Lohan’s car crashes. Pink reenacts them all as parody, falling off the hood of a soaped-up car and later crashing into pedestrians while on her cell phone, bothered only by the fact that it distracts her from applying more lip gloss. She shops at Fred Segal, buys a little accessory dog (touted to “stay younger longer”) and tries to throw up in the restroom after boasting how few calories she can subsist on.

When Pink’s not pretending to be these and other starlets, she plays herself, as she wonders if she should try to fit in — starting with her breast size. A special tab on her shirt, labeled “Pull in case of emergency,” inflates her breasts while out on a date. She lies on a plastic surgeon’s table with dotted lines marking other areas that could be modified. She runs on a treadmill at the gym as she tears off her clothes in an effort to keep up with the exercise-aholics next to her (with her “Die Hipster Scum” T-shirt giving away how she really feels).

PINK

The problem, Pink surmises, is that if we waste our time, money and energy on trying to be someone else’s idea of fabulous, we waste our potential to be something better. Our priorities are askew, our ambitions misplaced. “What happened to the dream of a girl president? She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent,” Pink sings, as she dances next to a man who looks a lot like (but isn’t really) 50 Cent.

Throughout the vignettes, a little girl sits holding her Barbie doll and channel surfs between TV shows on etiquette lessons and a political campaign (with Pink at the lectern). A Pink angel and a Pink devil appear on either side of her shoulders, planting thoughts in the girl’s head to pull her in different directions, causing her to wonder along to Pink’s lyrics, “Maybe if I act like that? … Push up my bra like that?”

Ultimately she decides, “I don’t want to be a stupid girl,” and forgoes her Barbie doll to play with a football instead.

“There’s a certain thing the world is being fed,” Pink said, “and my point is there should be a choice.”

Naughty By Nature – Interview with Treach

Naughty By Nature

Treach had been elusive for the beginning of April. He seemed to be missing in action until his publicist contacted us and informed us where he had been; it seems that Treach had married his long-time love, Pepa, from the iconic rap group Salt ‘N’ Pepa. Treach surfaced on the Ricki Lake show where I was able to get the scoop on his life, music, and future.

Hello

What’s up partner?

Not much.

Yeah. Sorry we missed you yesterday. I was on the road with my wife. I just got married.

Yeah, I know. Congrats.

Thank you.

When did you decide to tie the knot?

We did it on the 2nd [of April] in Kansas. She was on the road. We just did it spur of the moment at a tattoo shop. Our rings are our tattoos. She got my name on her ring finger and I got her name on my ring finger with barbwires around it. Nobody can cross us.

Did it hurt on the finger?

Man, that shit was like open hand surgery. I’ve got fifteen tattoos, but that was one of the worst ones.

Because it is right on the bone, right?

On da bone! (laughs)

So are you just performing today on the show?

Yeah. We are just performing some new stuff.

How is the new album?

Man. It’s done. It’s mixed, it’s mastered. It’s nineteen naughty nine! Nature’s fury! It has fifteen head bangers on there. I swear, God as my witness, when I’m listening to this I swear there is not one fast forward song on it. You have some where you like or are so-so about, but we had four years to make this album. So we picked the best out of thirty or forty songs. So it is ridiculous. It’s sick. It’s sick how hot it is.

If I wasn’t in Naughty By Nature and I heard the album and I was coming out with something, I’d go back to the studio and do my shit over.

Any plans for all the extra songs left over?

We’re gonna hit ’em back again with another album for like the holiday season. We aren’t playin’. We switched labels so we are on Arista now, so it’s like we can do what we couldn’t do on the other label. We could throw out the “Live Or Dies” and not throw out our bomb single first. So it is more of a rise, not like we’ve got the hottest shit first so the rest of the singles are cool, but the first one was the bomb-bomb. We’re giving them a climb where it just don’t stop.

Is that why you left Tommy Boy?

The bottom line was that they couldn’t afford us. They couldn’t do what we needed as far as marketing and promotions and paying for us for each album. We were too much for them as an independent label, so we just had to make a move and grow.

On top of that you hooked up with Master P. too?

Actually, Master P was sending me some scripts for No Limit films. So we had a contact like that and he gave me a ring and wanted me for me to come down because they were doing a Made Men video with Mystikal in California. So I went out there and made the video and once we were on the set and had a break we talked about us getting Mystikal on our album. We had a slot open for him on one of our songs, so he was like, ‘Alright, let’s shake hands on it. We’ll get Mystikal on your album and how about when you come down, you do something on Mystikal’s album?’ It was like, ‘Let’s do it’. We shook hands and it was on.

Speaking of films, you’ve been doing a lot of film and tv stuff lately.

I just did this film called The Book Of Love: The Definitive Reason Why Men Are Dogs. It’s the male version of Waiting To Exhale. That was directed by Jeff Burr and written by him and Eric George. It’s hilarious. I play a movie director in it. The twist on it is just ridiculous. All the men are getting dogged out by their girls. I just got finished filming Oz, the HBO penitentiary series. I’m in like three or four episodes, and another independent film called Boriqua’s Bond. It will be out this summer.

So do you want to do more film and tv?

Definitely. Tupac gave me my first acting bug in Juice. I didn’t have any lines, I was just an extra, but he gave me my first shot of being on the big screen. Ever since then, I was always looking for the bigger roles and love doing it.

It is like you can slip into a whole different mode. You are a whole different person. It is like a high. You are someone else and the way you get the high is by convincing people that you are that character. The whole acting thing is great. I love it.

It wasn’t to long ago that you guys were the new kids on the block. How does it feel now to have so many rappers say, ‘Naughty By Nature was my influence growing up’?

It is crazy, because we look at Run-DMC, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh, all of the old school, and we come out now and we realize that a lot of the kids who listened to us were too young to go to parties in ’91. They were too young to drink and now they are like, ‘I love ya’ll. Ya’ll are old school.’ (laughs) We love it. We think about it and we aren’t old school in our terms, but in their eyes we are. A lot of artists that have come up are like, ‘Yo! They out now platinum plus and I was like fifteen when ya’ll came out and my whole style just changed. I was just feeling ya’ll like that.’ It’s so much of a compliment. It’s like when we talk to the homies or the rappers who say that we can’t say enough. What we really want to say is there is no words to explain how good it feels to know that what they are doing today, they were listening to us before they even came out. Our music influenced them to keep doing it. It’s a feeling that stays with you. Some artists come up and act like they don’t know you. They act like, ‘I’m hot right now. I’m the shit. The hell with you.’ I don’t want nobody to bow in front of me or put out the red carpet. I’m the type of person, just say ‘hello’ to me or say ‘what’s up?’ We are in the same music, we are all in the same business, and we are all trying to make money and feed our families. So, I’m like, ‘I’m not hating on you. I don’t have no beef with you.’ It is a competition thing, but at the same time that it is not that deep where we can’t show love.

I mean, we’ve been out since ’91 and I don’t care if an artist comes up brand new and if they sell only one record and I like they material, I’m gonna say, ‘I love your shit. Keep doing it. You might not have came of this time, but don’t quit.’

How different are you as a group now compared to ’91?

Say ’91 we were just starting karate class, right now we ninjas. We’ve mastered our styles. It’s like we flow with the wind and flow to the beat of the earth. It’s not even a question of ‘Damn, we’ve got to go into the studio and make some shit that is hot.’ That’s not even a question. Once we go in the studio, we know we gonna make some shit that is hot. It’s just complete confidence. It’s beautiful. We are at peace with ourselves and we have mastered our styles.

You have a crazy knack for writing anthems. What should people be looking for on the new disc?

If they looking for the anthems, the classic Naughty anthems, then look for songs entitled “Holiday” and “Jamboree”. The thing that is so different about this album is that we’ve written hard-core street songs before, but the difference on this album is our hard-core stuff are anthems. From the hooks and everything. It is hard-core, but it is straight across the board anthems. We concentrated a lot on this album to make the songs, as far as what the street was gonna love, that gave them anthems just like the top forty songs type songs but we wanted to have it with no doubt that it would be off the hook. It is a crowd participation, and an anthem type tip on every song. You can feel it. If we feel the song and we feel the vibe, then we just do it. Now they are more across the board universal.

Do you have more freedom now with the new label?

A lot more freedom. With the old label they wanted the top songs. They wanted to put the singles for all the anthem type songs out, they didn’t want to put out anything that had the street vibe or different. With our new label, we are able to start off and take it to the highest point. We wanted to have just a steady climb to where it just keeps climbing.

Is there a plan for a tour?

We are starting our promo tour this month. This summer is gonna be with who’s hot and who’s out on the road. Even if we ain’t in the States, then we are overseas. We just came back from Brazil and we are getting our paper.

Lastly, what can we expect from Naughty for the year 2000 and how do you plan on bringing in the Millenium?

We bringing it in straight-up Naughty. We are doing our thing. It will be that next level of Naughty. It’s none of that fifty-fifty business; as far as Naughty is concerned, we go a one hundred percent with it.

So you are gonna raise the bar that everyone else for everyone?

Yes.

Good luck.

One Love. Alright.

+ charles craine

Melanie C. – Interview

Melanie C.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ll know who Melanie Chisholm is. Well, using her full name might not be fair. Perhaps you know her best as Mel C, or Sporty Spice. You might not recognize her anymore. Her hair is short and spiky and her sound is pop and rocky.

So what do you do when you get a call from a member of one of the biggest bands in the world? You try your hardest to keep your composure.

I sat and waited, trying to keep myself busy. I was agonizing over what I thought just might be a dreadful interview. Often there are rumors of big stars giving major attitudes. What could have been like pulling teeth ended up being a walk in the sun. From the start, Mel was giggling and carrying on like a kid in a candy store. Honestly, she is a kid in a candy store, and the whole world is her candy store.

____________________________________________________________________

How are you?

I’m good. And you?

Great.

That is good.

Where are you right now?

I’m at home in London. I just got in. I thought I’d work at home this evening. (she laughs seductively)

I noticed you did a mini-tour.

Yeah, I just finished, so now I’m recovering. (laughs so wonderfully that a chill runs up my spine)

You did your last show in London, right?

Yes, it was the other night. It was brilliant. I’m a bit down now and even though it was a short tour, it is always a bit sad when a tour ends. But I’ll be back on the road in (pauses and asks herself) February or March? So it won’t be long.

I was really curious about how the British press has excepted your solo album.

Well, it has been pretty mixed. They are pretty surprised now that it has come out. They had a lot of preconceptions about me. It is quite political over here and they aren’t really willing to except an album by a Spice Girl and it being quite different musically. But now it is out and doing quite well and people have seen the live show so they are eating their words.

They seem to love to hate everybody.

Yeah, it depends if you’re in fashion or not.

They just seem to hate everyone. I was surprised by something that I read about the Manic Street Preachers. At the same time they say how brilliant the album is, they’ll go on to say how much everyone hates them. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Oh my God. The Manic Street Preachers are just so brilliant, aren’t they?

I know.

And like even today I was reading something in the same publication where one minute they praise you and then they’ll say ‘They’re so old.’

It is funny because when I’ll talk to a British artist they’ll tell me that they love to come to America just to get away from the scrutiny of the press over there.

I know. I love it in America. They just give so much more respect.

I was honestly really surprised by your album. It seems that is the same with everyone.

I know. At first I was a little offended, but then I realized that I have to remember that people only know me from what I’ve done with the Spice Girls. I mean, I’ve always known what I’ve wanted to do and what my capabilities are, but no one else has seen that. So it is nice that people say that.

I think it is a huge compliment. The thing I liked most is that it is very diverse. Did you plan it to be so eclectic, or did it just happen?

I didn’t really plan the specific sound but I knew the areas I wanted to go into. Generally, I just went with how I was feeling that day. I was listening to the same thing I’ve always listened to, like the Manic Street Preachers, Blur, Stereophonics, Garbage. So I’ve always listened more to indie based rock, you know?

Right.

But I wouldn’t say that it was that influential on the record because you hear there is an R&B track on there. And I’ve always been a pop fan and I’ve always loved Madonna. So I think it is all combined.

Did each of the producers add their own sound to the album?

I think it’s funny because a lot of people were scared when we started making the album because it was so diverse. I think I chose the producers I thought would best fit what I wanted to do. Do you know what I mean?

Yeah.

That was very important to me. I also wanted a very modern sound. You know, with people like William Orbit and Marius De Vries.

I was wondering if with producers you had to adjust to their quirks?

Well, it is funny that each person you work with has their own way of doing things so they each work in a different way. And working with two people that are as different as William Orbit and Rick Ruben, but it was brilliant for me because it was such a huge learning experience. I think the album fits very well together, you know?

I have to agree.

I used Pat McCarthy to mix everything and he sort of made it all make sense.

I was curious about the writing. Did you come in with a bunch of songs?

I’ve been writing and getting my lyrical ideas down while I was away with the girls over the last year or so, but then more seriously I went into the studio and started putting things down at the end of last year. I came over to America in January and began. Sometimes I have an idea, sometimes just a theme for a song, and sometimes it comes from a drum loop and that will inspired me to write on a subject. It is quite a personal album. It is about experiences I’ve had and things I’ve seen.

You pretty much answered my next question about what inspires you to write.

I think especially over the past few years that so much has happened to me, I’ve gone through so many emotions and I was quite shocked about how much was coming out of me.

I read a handful of reviews and I noticed everyone commented on how surprised they were about how good your voice was, even though you’ve had two albums before.

(laughs hysterically) Gosh. I haven’t really had a chance to really sing in the Spice Girls, I suppose because there was always five or four of us, so a song gets split up quite a lot. I think that is one of the best things about doing your own work, is that you can get your own story across. It makes more sense when you are singing the song because you can get your own dynamics instead of just joining into the chorus. That has been the most exciting part, especially with touring. I love to sing and I love to experiment and use my voice in many different ways.

Is there a part of you that is really happy you can showcase your voice and people are gushing over it?

It is nice to be acknowledged in that way, but I’ve always sung. (gives another sweet laugh)

I had to say that the one song that I loved, because I’m a huge Oasis fan, is “Suddenly Monday”.

(screeches) Yeah! I love that song too. You know what? That is one of the best songs to play live. The audience loves that one. It goes down really well.

I have to say I really dig that song. Are you an Oasis fan?

Yeah. I’ve always loved them. I can’t wait for their new album.

They were really my first introduction into British music.

They are fantastic. You know I was just at the Q awards, you know, Q magazine? They just had their awards show this afternoon and I was a nervous wreck. I was in this room and like Ronnie Wood, Blur were there, Stereophonics were there, Travis were there. So I was just sitting in the corner going ‘Oh my God.’ (laughs)

I was curious if there was a song on the album that you enjoyed most or even one that you enjoy playing live a lot?

I think onstage I love doing the rocky stuff, but I love doing the acoustic stuff too. And at the end of the show we do a couple of numbers completely acoustically. We do “Closer” and an acoustic version of “Going Down”. That is really good fun. What is my special fave from the album? hmm. It changes from day to day really.

Why did you name the album Northern Star?

Here in England it is a play on words because I’m from up north. So I’m the northern star. It’s just a silly joke. (laughs)

Are you working on a Spice Girls album?

We are half way through right now. We’ve done nine tracks and we are going to finish off that next year because we’ve got some live dates and a big book launch tomorrow. It is a nice book actually from our tour last year. It is like a little photo album.

Is it going to be released in the US?

I’d imagine. There are a lot of pictures from the US, so I would imagine.

Since you are always working, what do you do to relax?

Ah ha. (laughs) Good question. I’ll tell you when I get some time off. (laughs) I like going to the movies or just chilling out. I like to spend a lot of time in the gym. I find that quite therapeutic. It helps to relieve my stress.

Same here.

It is great, isn’t it? Yeah. And it is great when you have your headphones on because no one can speak to you.

(we both laugh)

What would you be listening to?

Stereophonics a lot. Also Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their new album is brilliant.

What are your plans for New Year’s?

I’m going to be in America, actually. I think I’m going to be in LA and be with my family and have a little quiet celebration because it is also my brother’s birthday.

So you are going to be touring next spring. Is that going to be with the Spice Girls or solo?

Solo, to push the record. I think the Spice Girl dates will be in the summer.

Is it going to be a tour or just radio shows?

I actually want to tour quite extensively. We were thinking about maybe doing a radio tour and doing acoustic sets.

Really?

Yeah, and I want to do some little venues as well. I’m really into doing the little theatres and stuff. After doing all those big venues with the Spice Girls, it’s nice to play smaller shows.

You get to feel the intimacy with the audience.

Yeah. There is so much more energy. You can feed off of the crowd. It is actually nice when you can see the people onstage and not have to watch them on a screen.

Well, I really enjoyed speaking to you. I have to say that I really honestly liked the record. I told my friends and they didn’t believe me, but I really like it.

(laughs) They’ll see for themselves.

But I say to my friends, ‘But you like Madonna.’ And I think that this album will sort of be the same, where no matter what you are into you can enjoy this.

Well, that is the thing. That annoys me when people are like, ‘If you listen to this, you can’t listen to that.’ If it is good and you like it, who cares what genre it is?

It’s true.

It shouldn’t matter.

Sometimes I love rock, but it just gets me down. So I like to hear some music that is brighter and poppy.

I think the cool thing now is to just be able to admit that you like a band like the Manic Street Preachers and you like a bit of Britney Spears as well. (laughs)

I think that is what is happening to music now, you listen to music without a real border.

No prejudices.

+ charlie craine