Hollars and Dollars Exclusive Interview: Alexander Spit
When the “Until Next Summer” Mixtape came out, I was bump’n that like all the time in my car. The mix is full of good vibes and good raps. I always get nervous when I’m interviewing rappers via email because I feel like I might have forgotten to put the extra “p” in the word “rapper”, then I’d be askin them “at what age did you start raping?” Seriously though…I got to meet Alexander Spit this summer when I was down in L.A. at The Hundreds on Rosewood and he is definitely a nice guy.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in Los Angeles and lived out here until I was 10. At that point I moved up to the Bay Area when Pops got a new job up there.
When I finally graduated High School I packed up and got my own spot in San Francisco. I moved from one rundown apartment to the next for a few years, enjoying every minute of it until I made the move back down to LA about 2 years ago.
When did you start rapping and how did you get into it?
I started rapping around the age of 11 when me and the homies thought it would be funny to make a mixtape about the girls in our school and the dudes we hated on. We’d meet up at a kick it spot with a tape recorder and a boom box that we’d play instrumentals off of that were from CD singles we’d cop from Tower Records. We’d play the instrumentals off the boombox and get close to the speakers wit the tape recorder, and spit immature freestyles and hope all the levels were good. Whatever got recorded we’d put on our mixtapes without any edits. Slowly but surely this evolved into us finding recording and beat making software. Once I got my hands on that I was hooked and been making raps ever since.
Who are some of your influences now and influences while growing up?
I’ve always been drawn to folks that did shit differently. Whether it was musically, the way they carry themselves, or any other trait that strayed away from the formula of the everyday norm. So growing up I was into any music that had the underlying them of “Fuck the System” or “Be Different”. To this day I’m still influenced by those kinds of artists and people. I’m influenced by artists and things that are really authentic and ain’t been tainted by ambitions of fame or big budgets. Luckily, a lot of my peers are these people so I stay surrounded by the folks that influence me.
I know you made the beats for the album “Open 24 Hours”. Would you say that the beats influence what you say or talk about on the track, or does the words you write influence the beat?
It changes up from time to time. Lately I haven’t been able to write unless I have got a beat ready. The mood and feel of the beats I make kinda dictate the concepts and themes I choose to write about. But, I stay writing all day long even if it’s just a line or an idea that comes to mind. Sometimes those little ideas spark entire songs and everything.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? What get’s you in the creative mode?
Most of the inspiration I get comes from experiences I have in my own life. Because of that I end up making songs about a lot of the people I meet and come across. But in general, inspiration can come from anywhere. Everybody knows that and I think that’s how it is for everyone.
I usually get in a creative mode when I’m experiencing some fucked up shit. When life is real good and peachy I’m usually focusing my energy and attention on enjoying myself and the company around me. When shit hits the fan I’m usually left with nothing but an urge to express myself and get that mess off of my chest.
I was trying to find some information on NRML Ave. I finally found the answer when you explained it on On Blast!. Can you briefly tell us the story behind that?
NRML Ave is the street I live on in a little apartment with my homies Brick Stowell, DJ Skeet Skeet, Bago, and Jen Karigen. Its also where I make all of my music out of the studio in my bedroom. It’s a kick it spot for all the homies. It aint really anything craze and none of the people who live there treat it that way. I think folks just aren’t used to people living together and being creative and having fun.
In the homies video, the crib was mad packed. Is it constantly like that?…and yo, you seriously got a recording booth up in that closet?
Yeah there’s usually always some homies at the crib. I smoke a lot of weed so I got my folks coming through all the time to sesh with me. Everyone at NRML obviously has they own friends and we’re all pretty welcoming people, so while I’m home it’s normal to end up hanging out with someone…and yes, my recording booth is in my closet.
I think that the crew of homies you roll with have some of the best names in the game. DJ Skeet Skeet, Casey Veggies, Jay Ughh to name a few. If you could have an alter ego, what kind of name would you pick?
I’mma just stick wit Alexander Spit. The name is good already.
The Rap game is getting younger and younger and the quantity of people doin’ it is becoming greater and greater. You think the availability and the accessibility of “Rappers” is helping the progress of Rap/Hip hop, slow’n it down or helping it grow into an even bigger genre?
Hip Hop ain’t really in any desperate need to grow and reach new audiences. It’s already a huge genre and I think kids are getting they hands on it younger and younger. The whole availability and accessibility of Rappers has kinda slowed down it’s “progress” I guess. I hate ranting about “back in the day” cause I’m still young.. But “back in the day”, Rappers were only known if they were actually good and had talent. Today you can be known by everyone with talent never being discussed at all. It is what it is though. If folks don’t like the game, then they should shut up and make the best music out and learn how to get people to believe in them. If they aren’t doing that then they just gotta deal with it cause otherwise they just sound old and bitter.
What can we expect from you in the upcoming months?
I’m dropping my third music project “These Long Strange Nights” on the 27th of October along with my first Photo Zine inspired by the project. In addition, to that I’m producing an album from my room mate, Bago, a female songwriter that we plan on dropping within the next few months.
Everybody get off the Internet and go outside and meet someone.
Hollars and Dollars Exclusive Interview: Shad
Hollars and Dollars got to catch up with Shad for this exclusive interview. Shad’s been shooting up the charts with his tracks from his latest cd “TSOL” which you should definitely pick up if you haven’t done so yet. Also, if you have not seen him perform, go check him out. He always puts on a dope show. He will be rolling into Calgary with K’Naan on September 27 at MacEwan Hall so get on it!
Let’s start with a little background information. When did you start
getting into music and who did you start out listening to?
I liked music as long as I can remember. My sister and I listened to the radio and watched Much Music all the time so we listened to everything… grew up on hip hop, alternative, pop….
When did you begin writing and producing your own music?
In undergrad. I started playing with a couple different groups and then moved into more solo stuff towards my 4th year.
What goes on in the mind of Shad during the process when making your
songs? Do you begin with a beat and work around that or do you have an
idea of rhymes that you wanna spit and work in the music that way? Or
is it dependent on each track you produce?
Yeah it’s different with each song. Sometimes a track will inspire me to write something, other times I’ll just have an idea or an experience that will make me wanna write before I have any music.
Your thoughts on “Music vs the Internet”. Obviously the internet has
it’s positive and negative effects on the music industry. But from an
artists perspective it has produced some useful avenues for getting
ones name and music out to the world in a much faster way. Have you
found this to be true compared to, say even from the time when you
first began releasing material?
I’ve only been an artist in the internet era so I can’t say definitively whether its been good or bad for my career. It’s kind of a case where I’m here so I can’t complain. Maybe I would be better if there was no internet, I also suspect I might not have a career at all if it weren’t for the internet. But I dont know for sure either way. What I can say is that I think that the internet is good for music overall. I think it creates a situation where artists can have more control over what they make and how they go about their careers and I think that leads to a healthier situation creatively. People can make music that’s more unique and personal if they want to. People can still make great, big, pop albums too. You have all these options now and I think that’s good for artists and good for audiences.
Do you think that social networks and the use of the internet has
bridged the gap between established musicians and upcoming artists?
Have you found it opens more doors for collaborations and more room
Again I cant say if there’s more or less potential for collaboration with more established artists pre-internet vs now because I never made music in that time, but collaborating overall is much easier because you don’t have to be in the same room to work together anymore. That being said, because people can send files back and forth, we rarely actually sit in the same room and bounce energy and ideas back and forth. So in the end, there’s probably more collaborating going on but some of the feel isn’t always there.
Is this how you hooked up with Smalltown Romeo for the “Boom Ha” track?
Yeah, we knew each other prior; the Smalltown guys had booked me at their club in Calgary and stuff. One day they sent me the track, I was into doing something different and fun so we sent the files back and forth and did it up like that.
You played a dope show when you were here. Did you go anywhere fun on your
stop in Calgary?
Not really unfortunately cuz we were in the middle of tour. But I was there for the Junos a couple years ago and had a good time because we had more a couple days there as opposed to tour where you’re just in and out.
What’s life like on the road for you? Any highlights from the recent
tour you would like to share?
I had my sis on the road with me this time, that was great. We live on opposite sides of the country now so getting to spend more time with her this summer was awesome. Otherwise life on the road for me is pretty chill. i watch a lot of tv in the van… otherwise its basically hotel-drive-soundcheck-show-repeat.
I love the positivity of your music and the pureness of your sound.
It’s hard to find artists who express themselves without using
explicit language in their lyrics, which leads us to a rather broad
question. What’s your opinion on the current state of Hip hop?
I get asked that question a lot. I think with hip hop growing so much and there being so many sub-genres and scenes as far as music, dance, etc that exist – not to mention all the different scenes all over the world – I don’t think you can really comment on the state of hip hop on the whole anymore. It’s just become too big of a thing with too many different sides to it. For example, over the last couple of years there’s been a big resurgence in the battle scene. I think there’s been more of a premium of lyricism in the mainstream as of late too with artists like J Cole and Jay Electronica breaking out. You have artists like Kid Cudi and Drake also that have a moodier, more melody-oriented sound. It’s really tough to sum it all up.
What’s the meaning behind the title of your new cd TSOL?
I like how it feels. sounds like an acronym for something big. Something that’s hard to put into words. That’s what its about for me. It’s about the things you cant just state plainly.
Did you have a concept or a theme in mind when creating the album?
No, i was just trying to make songs that were meaningful and positive. Trying to give the people that support me some good music.
Listening to you freestyle is so dope. It’s a skill and an art. What goes through your head while your freestyling?
Nothing! That’s why its fun. You just go and you try to entertain those people in that moment with just a beat and a flow. That’s the essence of hip hop for me.
Direction for Shad in 2010 and on?
Got a tour opening for K’Naan in Canada and then opening for K-os in the States.
Thanks for the time.
Hollar your 5′s!
First 5 things you do when you get up in the morning?
1. Go back to sleep
3. Check email
4. Check phone
Top 5 Things you need while on the road touring?
3. Laptop charger
4. Phone charger
Top 5 places to eat? (Canada or anywhere else you’ve been)
1. Roxton (Toronto)
2. Swan (Toronto)
3. Sha-lin noodle house (Vancouver)
4. John’s place (Victoria)
5. The place with the roti in Peterborough. Forgot the name.
5 things your really into right now?
1. A tv show called Eli Stone
2. A book called the Big Short
3. Kid twist battle videos
5. Trying to be better with money
5 things you can’t live without?
3. Cranberry juice
4. My sister
5. The internet (which includes music and tv… that’s probably cheating.)
Hollars and Dollars Presents: An Interview with The Kid Belo
Here is an interview with TKB; The Kid Belo. I know many of you know him, or at least heard of him cause he’s done so much great work and plays a big part in the art scene all over. He is such a dope artist and a dope guy.
Read on as Mista Kay Himself catches up with the man himself.
When did you start painting?
Who did you look up to when you first started painting?
What was the most memorable work/collaboration you had the chance to work on?
Your opinion on the city’s art scene. Has the scene changed in Calgary since you started?
Its easy for people to see just the glamorous side of things…what are some of the hardships you have faced in your career as an artist?
No matter what route you take, your always gonna have haters. Stay in the street scene too long and people say “it’s already been done.” Leave the scene and people say “you ain’t underground no more” or “you ain’t keep’n it real.” What’s a good way to balance your path as an artist?
Innovation vs. Consistancy. In your opinion, is it better to be always about the new new or to consistently pump out good material?
Your direction in 2010?
Hollar your 5′s
First 5 things you do when you wake up?
2. Wake my iMac
3. Take a piss
4. Wash my hands
5. Grab some cereal and eat
Top 5 things you can’t live without
2. My family
3. My closest friends
4. My studio
5. My quiet time (space)
5 dope things about Calgary
Top 5 places to chill/Eat in Calgary
3. Tubby Dog
5. Habitat (again, a few more would suffice!)
5 things your thankful for
2. The gift and ability to speak
3. My parents, brothers and sister who support me
4. My massive support group and fan base!
5. And the fact I’m still breathing and able to enter your world somehow!!!
Hollars and Dollars Exclusive Interview: 88-Keys
Yo, this is a big interview right here! Hollars and Dollars got to chat with the very talented 88-Keys for an exclusive interview! If you ain’t never heard of 88-Keys, you better get on it and check it out! You can get his album “The Death Of Adam” on iTunes and pretty much anywhere else where they sell music. 88-Keys…super nice guy, super real and it was a fun interview. Read on kids!
MK: I read that you took classical piano and violin as a child but you wanted to take up the drums more than piano and violin. What was your experiences with piano and violin, and what made you want to take up drums?
88: What actually happened is my dad signed me up for classical piano…I took one lession, maybe two…maybe two…and I ditched it after that. So I wouldn’t even really say I took lessions…I took “a” lession or two and that was that. I didn’t like it, I just thought the piano was for girls…little did I know.
MK: Did you end up going back to learning piano after that?
88: Nah…nah I wish I did…but I never got around to learnin any instruments besides the Alto sax in Junior high school.
MK: So did you actually take drum lessons too?
88: Nah, I wanted to take lessons because right next door to the piano lessons that I was going to was the drum lessons, so I was trying to like sneak into that class but I needed my parents consent and my pops wasn’t tryin to hear that.
MK: So where did the name 88-Keys come from?
88: The Large Professor gave me that name in the freestyle when we first met. Back in the day, I use to work on a friend of mines Sonic ASR keyboards…and I believe that’s around the time that keyboard just came out. It’s a sampling keyboard, so I still wasn’t actually playing any music on there like…note for note. I was like sampling through there. So while I was sampling, Q-tip brought him over to the crib to buy some records from John Ferrero who I was working for…he was one of the biggest record brokers on the East coast at the time just like in the mid-90′s. Probably between the early to mid-90′s… So Q-tip came over, and he brought the Large Professor over with him and the Large Professor…this was his first time come’n to the crib and meeting us so he heard the loop that I had looped up on the keyboard on the Sonic ASR-10 and he just started freestyling to it, then he called me 88-keys. So i figured if I ever get into the business, you know, that’s the name I’m gonna go by since I got it from the living legend himself.
MK: So like you were just saying, you have gained experience behind the scenes making beats and producing for a lot of reputable people. I’m sure you’ve gained a lot of experience from that aspect of the music industry. So when did you decide to step into the artist aspect of the industry?
88: I decided to do my own album because I was just tired of the whole beat shopping game. I hadn’t shopped beats for about 3 years or so, or maybe even longer than that. Because again, that side of the game was getting so tiresome to me, so I decided that I knew someone who was goin to buy my beats and actually use them and try to use them well. And that someone was 88-Keys! So i just decided to save beats or give myself beats and then one thing led to another, then I wound up making an album that was you know…critically acclaimed and all that…
That’s pretty much how it happened…and as far as me rapping on it, I didn’st start rapping seriously until like a month before the album came out. All the raps that I had on the album, I planned on doing it just for stage show purposes only. The album was suppose to be mainly instrumental with a few features on it. Then I started spitting the raps with Kanye because I was telling him about my stage show idea and he listened to one and a half raps that I had and he was just kinda like floored that I got so much better at rapping from the last time he heard me, which was a few years ago you know…like messing around. So it was his suggestion to put my raps on the album, then I debated with him on that because my album was already done, it was mastered for the second time . It came out to my liking, how I wanted it, all 21 tracks and stuff. We were going back and forth and I’m arguing with him in his multi-million dollar home, like totally forgetting what he did for Common, John Legend and Consequence and stuff like that, and like actually forgetting who he is in the industry and that he has the touch and stuff and I’m just arguing with “Ye”…as oppose to arguing with the guy at the top of the food chain in music right now. Then eventually…eight hours later, he convinced me and I sat and thought about it and I was like, “Man this guys my best friend, literally my best friend, so he’s gonna have my best interested at heart, so you really can’t fail.”
88: We met at the baseline studios back in 01. And at the time he was like pretty excited to meet me because I was the producer of one of his favorite albums at the time Black on Both Sides. At that time I remember seeing his name on credits on certain albums and stuff, but I just didn’t know his music. So he’s running down the list of stuff that he’s produced, and all the things he’s ghost-produced, and I was like “Nope, never heard of it, nope, never heard of it…” cause these were all album cuts, and these were albums from artists who I never purchased their music. I like them as artists, like Foxy Brown…I think she’s a dope rapper, but I never bought her album. So he’s running down the list and stuff, and I’m like “nope, uh uh…sorry, never heard of it…” and then he mentioned “The Truth” by beanie Sigel that was my favorite song out at the time so once he mentioned that I was like “Ahh man, you dope.” And then he was telling me that he was gonna be a star and Im like, “Ok…” you know that kinda came out of nowhere. I thought that was wierd…then hes all “Cause I rap…” I was like “Ok…cool…whatever…” then he starts spitt’n me some raps and stuff. I only had like 2 raps in my catalogue at the time back in 01…I wasnt really trying to rap so we went back and forth a few times, like 3 times, and he was like really really dope, but I had no idea that he was gonna be as dope as he is today. Eventualy the studio was shutting down and we were all goin back to our respective homes, you know places to retire and it turned out that we both lived in Newark, New Jersy and we caught the same train home then the next day he came over to the crib, you know I invited him over to my crib the next day we hung out all day and the following day I went to his crib and hung out all day…we basically been hang’n ever since.
MK: You mentioned that you originally wanted to just make a cd of beats. When a cd comes out, I’ll usually go through a cd once and then I’ll put it on shuffle. But with your cd, it’s obviously a concept cd, so I totally enjoyed listening to it from start to finish. Why did you go about the cd this way?
88: The whole thing is actually delivered to me from the man upstairs. And I don’t mean the upstairs apartment in my complex. The whole thing, it all started from me making this one beat which eventually became the song “There’s pleasure in it”. The very early version, you know when I first started chopping up the sample, it was like really annoying sounding…it sounded dope but at the same time, it sounded annoying. I couldn’t get most of the words out of the sample. Every two bars, it was the same “pleasure…pleasure….pleasure….” but it was something about the groove that I liked but it was annoying. So i was thinking, “How can I add some honey to this medicine?” You know, to have people digest it better. So I was thinking about all the stuff that gives me pleasure…then I was like “Oh okay…the vag…” So i decided to give that song…you know even at it’s early stages…that concept. Just the song. So that the very next record that I picked up and that I chopped up the samples, it wound up pertaining to the same subject matter. And that’s when I felt like god spoke to me and was like, “Yo, this is what you’ve got to make the album about.” So I scrapped up all the other beats I was working on for a album, up until “There’s pleasure in it” and the second song I just started my album off with those two beats. And then for the remaining two years plus, I was just like crafting that album and stuff like that.
MK: You solely used the MPC for this album, is that true?
88: Ya pretty much, everything you hear is me chopping up beats…chopping up old records on my MPC 3000. And also on the album, if anyone picked up the physical cd copy, they’ll see the credits, my boy LeRon Thomas plays trumpet on about seven songs. He’s Bilal’s trumpet player. So I got him playing live trumpet and on a couple songs here and there, all in the actual songs themselves, my friend Winston Nelson…we all call him Wince, he plays the keyboards on there. And at the end of each song, like the segway, which is the part that tells the story leading up to the next song, I play live bass and Wince plays accoustic piano…let the drums rock. We try to recreate each song from the way I heard it, from my perspective. But other than that, everything else is just sample chops. I say about half the album is just straight up MPC 3000. Well, the whole album is straight up MPC3000, but there’s no sound modules, or I didn’t do anything on Pro Tools or Fruity Loops or what have you. It was all old school chops
MK: I did read that you said I went from being a beatmaker to a producer on this album. And now that you’re explaining it, you were working with people playing live instruments and what not, and that is a complete different experience musically as well. So what were some of the things that you gained as far as experience, from that aspect….working with live performers?
88: Just learning how I wanna work with live musicians. And now I actually invite live musicianship to my productions, when I feel it’s needed. Just to add a whole other level of dopeness to the songs. There are two cases in my career where I had censorship issues. Earlier in my career, and in order for me to get paid for those tracks to make in onto the album, I had to figure something out. “Oh we can’t use the sample”, and they would tell us that at the last minute, so I’m like “what am I gonna do?” So between managers and A&R’s or reps suggesting, “Oh just get a keyboard player to do that, and its not as easy as gettin a keyboard player and have them play the sample over…cause I got caught up where the end product did not come out anywhere near as fresh as the samples came out at all…nowhere near. To the point where I got pissed off where I would rather tried to have switched the beat out and go through the whole sample clearance issues as oppose to just trying to figure something out and do something that is not sounding right just to get a back end cheque of x amount of dollars. To me, at the end of the day it’s not worth it cuz to this day I can’t play those…I won’t say which songs those were cuz I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way, like I don’t like the artist…but me at the production end tried my best earlier in my career. Till this day I can’t listen to those songs. I refuse to listen to those songs….those two songs. But now, if I’m doing a project and they specifically ask me not to use samples, I already know what I’m going to do, and how to do it, and how to get it done, and how to make it sound as fresh as possible. I may even still use samples, but then chop it up way differently or I figure out ways around it and work with the musicians to do it. And my go-to musician really is my man Wince.
MK: A lot of artists/musicians really utilize their connections. People get lumped into “who they know” and blow up and fade away. Many articles focus on the relationship you have with Kanye, but yet you let your music speak for itself and I respect that completly. Kanye is a big name, you have a strong relationship with him, and have even collaborated with him but yet you keep separate from that and do your own thing. How do you keep your own game without getting messed up with all the media hype and pressure?
88: I’m still low key with all this…not really by choice, but I still managed to slip under the radar. For whatever reason, like when I do a search on my name on Twitter…like this morning, there were actually 3 people who were like, “Aw, how come nobody told me this 88 keys album is so incredible. Damn, give me the late pass.” and stuff like that. I see those tweets like every two or three days. But my whole thing has always been trying to start my own brand and my own company name. I have a prodcution company called Locksmith Music Inc. which I incorporated back in 97. And my whole thing is…I know it’s gonna take time, and it’s still gonna take a long time to build a name and build my name as an artist now, and making my comeback into the industry as a producer or just a figure in the entertainment industry, but I never really wanted to ride off of anybody’s name or my association with people. But at the same time i tell it like it is. You know a lot of people…I’d say about half the people who have discovered me recently, I mean that by the younger generation now, teenagers…who just think i’m brand new on the scene…a lot of them I’d say half of them think I’m a good music artist…which I’m not. I’m not because I’m trying to do my own brand and Kanye knows that, that’s one of the main reasons why he hasn’t asked me or I’ve never asked him like, “Yo put me down…I know most of your artists blow up from it and they go off and do great things”. I know I’m gonna do great things myself, or in my own capacity. So I’m just gonna try to build my own brand. But not on some stubborn shit all “I’m gonna do this all by myself” I know I can do it, it’s just gonna take time in the industry, and for people to come around to me and where I am and what I’m doing. As far as the music that I make and the message I try to send to people.
MK: I enjoy see’n and hear’n 88-Keys popp’n up everywhere. Just saw you on Complex magazine, and like hear’n your name drop on the Big Sean mixtape with you and Mr. Bentley. I dig hearing all that stuff!
88: Thanks i do it for the people man…and for the cheque…I ain’t gonna front.
MK: How did you and Shitake Monkey end up collaborating? I asked Shitake Monkey the same thing and they said “Cragslist”
88: Oh yeah oh yeah, I read it…those guys funny as hell. I knew Chuck as a engineer from way back in the days and he always wanted to uh…work with me and mix my music. Back then I woulda liked him to mix some stuff but back then I just wasn’t a shot caller where I could say like “Ok…you hire me to do this beat…you know which ever artist hired me to do this beat and I wanna bring in my own engineer to mix it.” Like I didn’t have that pull back then. I sell a beat and the A&R sets up whose mixin the what, whose mixin the album and all that…so I never got a chance to work with him. So I felt like I wanted to do an alternative rock song for my album and at first I thought Blink 182 but then I was like “Man…I don’t know the chances of that happening.” Then I was thinking maybe I can get Fall Out Boy since I knew Pete Wence, I was cool with him from couple years ago. I met him with Kanye this one time randomly walkin in LA. I didnt knww who he was but they knew who he was and we all chilled and kicked it and we exhanged phone numbers and stuff then next thing you know it was like “Ohh ok…that’s Fall Out Boy.” So I was thinking of gett’n in contact with him and see if they wanna do it but I was gett’n too antsy to start workin on my album…I was already workin on my album, I was gett’n too antsy to actually do an alternative rock song and put that into production and stuff like that so I was like “Man…who can I get, who can I get…”. So then my manager suggested Chucks group, Shitake Monkey and I was like “Ahh yeah! I remember them…” cause I got the album and stuff like that. So I went and listened to the album again just to refresh my memory and to make sure they are worthy. And I heard the album and I was like “Ah man! Hell yeah!” I steped to them and it was all gravy. And they came together and they formed Voltron and knocked it out.
MK: Whats the next move as 88 Keys for the near future?
88: Ah man…so many things I got goin on right now. Like one is other people kinda agree with Kanye that I can rap pretty well, so I have like a bunch…a bakers dozen of rap features that I have to finish up and I’m like really super behind on all of them but I’m knockin them out this week one by one. Also gett’n back into production heavy you know where I’m gett’n back into my old ways of chopping up beats and like break back into my old routine which is uh…it’s kinda like a juggling act now that I’m married as well and I have two kids…I have a two and a half year old and a one year old. My studio is in my master bedroom so its not like I can leave for the day and work on beats and then come back and got like two or three beats made you know what I’m say’n…so it’s all a juggling act. But my wife and I are work’n out a schedule right now so I can get a lot more work done.
I’m workin on my next beat cd which I actually haven’t made in like three or four years but I’m cookin one up right now. It’s gonna be incredible. I’m starting to work with some artists production like blues albums…possibly working with Bone Thugs and possibly with Talib Kweli. On top of all that, Im starting my next album and mixtape like simultaniously. I’m recording songs and placing them wherver I feel like they need to be. I’m doin all of that right now and trying to line up a few things to hop back on the road.
MK: Weren’t you just on tour, or are you going on tour?
88: Yeah yeah, I just got off the great hangover tour with Kid Cudi. I was the add on for the East Coast part of the tour so I did about eight dates with them…me, Asher Roth, Kid Cudi and B.O.B. That run was awwwsooooome!
MK: Any last words?
88: Buy my album on iTunes!! “The Death of Adam” and also I want people to visit my website which I’m still trying to fix up a little bit. It’s called eightyocho.com and also check out my blog iheartmypololifestyle.
MK: Yeah, I heard about that polo situation…you got like…lot’s of Polo’s everwhere…
88: Ahhh yeah! One can only imagine. And the URL for that is…actually it can be found on my website as well but it’s polo67life.com. AND…most importantly my name is 88-Keys, spelt with a hyphen as everybody leaves out…that’s one of my pet peeves, but 88-Keys. The Death of Adam is in stores right now. Check it out! I’m sure you’ll like it.
Hollars and Dollars Presents: Exclusive Interview with Livestock
Check this right here! If you want some exclusive sneaks, where you be? Livestock! If you want Creams and BBC, where you be? Livestock! We at Hollars got to chat with the people behind the very successful boutique known as Livestock to talk about the story behind it all. If you live in Vancouver, you probably already been there like a million times buying Tee’s and what not. If you stop in Toronto, they got one too! But now we got one in Calgary too, so if you haven’t checked it out yet…get on it!
103-2115 4th Street S.W. Calgary
11am – 7pm Mon – Fri
11am – 6pm Sat
11am – 5pm Sun
Who all is involved in the start of Livestock?
Day one started with myself (Garry Bone) having an idea to open a new shop, day two brought along a friend Kenta Kimira and then a few days later we teamed up with our promoter friends Garret Louie and Rob Rizk. That is the OG crew.
There is not that much information on the history and background of Livestock. Tell us the history?
The roots of livestock started at a small skate shop in white rock BC called The Boardkennel. When Nike started to sell SB in Canada we were one of the first people to deal with them. The more and more I got tired of what was going on with the skate world, the more and more I was drawn towards what was going on in Japan at the time. I decided that I wanted to open another store and Livestock was born.
You recently got a review as the 3rd top sneaker boutique in the world. How do you feel about that and how do you maintain that title?
Even to be considered one of the best in whatever it is you choose to do is amazing. I think it’s something we have created and maintained by keeping a solid company. The people we have been able to work with are amazing, from the first event we ever had with Devilock to the project we did with Es and The Hundreds and everyone in between(Brknhome, Adidas, Puma, Virus, Write-left, Nike, Madfoot, Reigning Champ, Freshjive, Stussy). This is a list of the best of the best.
Many dream of starting their own Tee shirt company or starting their own skate shop/boutique. Both are tough goals to achieve with success. You guys at Livestock have managed to sit at the top of the sneaker/shop poll as well as being a “Livestock” brand of its own. There are not that many shop Tee’s that I want to represent, but you maintain a high level as a shop and as a brand.
How do you manange the brand aspect of the shop while maintaining the shop aspect of Livestock?
First off, thanks for the kind words. I think the key to any project is to not over think it and just let it happen. When you over think things you end up trying too hard and everything falls apart. I always relate things back to skateboarding and when you over think a trick you always fuck it up. You can always see through that dude who is trying to hard. Just let it happen.
It’s hard enough to run a successful business in one city let alone in a whole country. How do you manage the shops and keep up with the ever changing demand of the public?
We don’t let a market dictate to us what to carry, we show the market what we like and lucky for us they’ve always accepted it. As far as running the shops across the country we have great back end and great crew. We run our business as tight as we do our image.
How did you get started with the very popular Livestock Block Party?
This is going to seem repetitive but it was one of the least thought out thing we’ve done. A few of us we’re hanging out at the shop talking about how sick a summer ending block party would be. I had nothing to do that afternoon so I headed up to city hall and got the permits. 18 days later we shut the block down and threw one of the most epic parties I’ve ever been involved in.
Any interesting stories that resulted from the Block Parties?
There are tons of stories but whenever I think about it all I picture in my head is this………
I’m psyched about the teaming up of Livestock and Groupseven. We need more of these kinds of shops in Calgary so that people are exposed to the street scene and the fashion aspect of it all. I’m still surprised by the number of people that roll into Groupseven and ask how long they have been around for. We need more boutiques around here and more people that are conscious of fashion and street culture. What do you have in store for the Calgary edition of Livestock?
Things are shaping up now for us out there and will only get better and better on the product side. We will be bringing an art show through there later this summer and we’ll make sure that we host events and help people like the guys at Groupseven and the crew at HiFi Club to create a good scene out in Calgary.
Seriously…I’ve been following the Yeezy frenzy and have been trying to get my hands on them Yeezy’s. I was amazed you guys even dropped the whole Yeezy series in limited amounts at the grand opening. What the hell?!?! The black Yeezy’s were supposed to be all gone but you brought them back!!! You got an Yeezy stash somewhere?…Livestock is amazing…(Sell me a pair please…)
If you only have one foot and are a size nine I got your back.
I didn’t like that leg anyways…
Last words? Advice? Anything you wanna say that sounds cool at the end of an interview?
Hollar Your 5′s
Things you need to get through your day?
1. Black Berry
3. Earl grey tea
4. Fruit salad
5. An internet connection
Products to keep your eyes open for…
1. Any new car from Ferrari
2. Livestock x PUMA x ??? coming this winter
3. Brkn home and anything from the mind of Kenta Goto
4. Livestock x Adidas round two
5. Aston Martin DBS
Sites you check to stay on top of the game?
1. PLANET F1 http://www.planet-f1.com/
2. MOTO GP dot COM http://www.motogp.com/
3. Livestock Blog http://deadstock.ca/blog2/
4. Axis of Oversteer http://axisofoversteer.blogspot.com/
5. The Berrics http://www.theberrics.com/
Hollars and Dollars Exclusive Interview With DJ A-Trak
Here is an Hollars and Dollars exclusive interview with DJ A Trak. His tour comes around Calgary on the 23 of July at Hifi. I ain’t gonna sit here and put out a huge intro on A-Trak cause you know who he is. If you don’t then I don’t know where you been for the last decade and maybe you should spend some time on wiki and educate yourself. Here is the interview with A-Trak!
Hey how’s it goin?
Cool how are you?
Good good. Your all settled in right now?
Yeah yeah, I’m good thanks.
Where abouts you at? You in New York right now?
No I’m on tour right now, I’m in San Diego. I started the tour a week ago.
A week ago? Cool. Yo, I’ll just get right into the interview. So you started DJ’n when you were 13 and you won the DMC when you were 15…a lot of people spend years perfecting their skills but you crushed that into 2 years. How was it battleling it out at the DMC’s at that age?
Umm…I mean you know for me, at the time I didn’t even realize that it was that it was special or different you know, I was just like really passionate about scratching you know and turntable-ism and I would practice it everyday and I was really determined to get as good as I could and I gave it my all. It wasn’t till later that I realized the impact that it woulda had to win that competition. But at the time, I was just really just having fun and putting my heart into something that I was really passionate about. It sound really naive…and it was. I liked scratching and I scratched and I wanted to be the best at it and I was really having an awsome time doin it.
Looking at it on paper now it seems simple. It’s all like “He practiced for hours in his basement, came up and won a contest and now he’s all big and stuff…” but in reality there’s a lot more than that you know what I mean lik….
…Yeah but you know…anything beyond that is hard to really pin down and define or anything…as far as I was concerned it really felt that simple. It’s just that…in the scheme of influencing other DJ’s and what have you, then it has an effect that is way bigger than I could have ever imagined. Being the youngest to win, being the first Canadian to win…and especially the whole age thing. A lot of DJ’s come up to me till this day at shows or whatever and tell me that when they saw the video of me at the DMC’s…thats what made them start DJ’ing. I think they saw me and felt like “If this kid can do it, then I can do it.” People are always like “You probably hear this all the time” and it’s true that I hear that a lot but it’s so crazy that I hear it a lot and never get used to it…like I’m always touched because like…you know to have that impact on people, to motivate people to try something new and believe in themselves and everything is amazing.
When you entered the DMC’s, did you go in it with the intent to win or just to see how it would all go down?
I mean yeah…I wanted to win it, but I wanted to win it the same way a kid would enter a chess championship and wanna win it, but it doesnt mean that I wanted to influence a generation or anything…I just really liked to scratch.
We are pretty much around the same age. Remember when the Return of the DJ series came out? How did that affect you?
Yeah…the first one was a huge influence on me. I wanted to learn all these scratches and I couldn’t just go into a club and hear it…and ofcoarse this is pre…before the internet got…you know…anywhere near where it is now. I remember my brother went to Toronto for a weekend and he went to the record shop and bought the Return of the DJ record for me, and it was like if an archeologist finds…you know suddenly a full skeleton of some…you know what I mean?…And your lookin at it like “Wow, I can work with this for months…” and really listen to it for months and just learn all these new things. It was a huge influence for me.
Which tracks were the most inspirational on that cd?
Uh…the Babu one and the Skratch Piklz were my biggest inspirations.
How did you meet Q Bert and become part of the Invisibl Skratch Piklz?
I met Q bert in a…I was booked at a show with him in Montreal when I was 14. Basically before I entered the DMC’s, I was starting to get a couple bookings in Montreal just to go to these spots and scratch basically. This one club booked Q bert and a couple other DJ’s and I was really this new new new…super young up and coming kid, and these promoters just paired me with Q bert on the show lineup and we kept in touch a little bit. Then I entered the DMC’s and won the Montreal regional, and when the Canadian finals came, Q bert judged the Canadian finals and that was the second time I met him. And basically after that battle which I won that QBert first invited me to join the Skratch Piklez.
Once you reach a certain point in a career, you gain status…and I read in one interview that it’s weird sometimes to get people that “know” you come up and chat you up when you don’t know them. It’s especially true now a days when people are so accessable through social networks like Myspace, facebook and Twitter. What’s your impressions on these sites?
On these sites, I don’t have a problem being there. You have fans and people who are first discovering me and it helps reach more people. The only time it gets a little wierd is the Facebook chat thing when like, you can be on your computer and some person that you never spoke to says “Wassup dude? What you doin?” Like thats a little too close for comfort…but aside from that…I think its more like when someone comes up to you in person and they know what you been doin and they been reading your twitter or whatever…then its just a mental adjustment you gotta make. And even then, it’s fine and that’s why I’m on twitter and that…I realize what information I’m putting out there so…I know what I’m getting myself into…but it’s always a bit of a surprise when someone you never met starts talking to you and you mention something you did yesterday and their like “Oh yeah, I know I read that”…its a bit of a mind fuck.
There are a lot of underground cats like Wale, Big Sean, Kid Cudi that haven’t even released a major cd debut and yet they are up in the super star status. The internet is totally allowing people to get noticed and network with all types of people. There are lots of growing musicians that are already collaborating with established musicians, artists of different genres…You think these kind of collaborations and the bridging of the status gap is gonna help the creativity of music?
Yeah completly, its great. I mean its helped me with a lot of little projects that I’ve done that started with a simple you know…reaching out from those sites.
Speaking of collabo’s, any late news on Ducksauce?
Yeah, today (July 14, 2009) we released…we did like a advanced release on the two main tracks on Beatport which is an online store really for DJ’s. It’s not the official release…the official release will be in September, but this is just for the DJ’s to have it playing in the summer. We are just kind of building over the summer and gonna work on the video and everything.
Any big plans for 2009? You got Ducksauce, got the tours goin on…your stayin real busy…
My main priority right now…we’re just wrapping up the Kid Sister album, I mean all the songs are done and I think theres like…2 mixdowns left till were finished mixing her album. I’m doing this tour right now which is a pretty big step for me cause its the first time I do like a…stage production. I have a light show I’m traveling with and everything. Yeah yeah, its like a concert…like a DJ concert which is cool. Like what I’ve done with Kanye or this…I want to expose more people to DJing and also try to push where you can go with it and what you can do with it and everything. That’s really tough to do. I also have the 2 mixtapes that came out in the spring. Infinity +1 and Fabriclive. Both are out.
And then of coarse Fools Gold the record label that’s my day to day operation…keeping the label running, getting the new releases ready, tours and events and stuff. We have a label compelations in the fall…and then later in the year…well really after this tour I’m gonna start working on an album…an A Trak album.
Its a pretty packed year!
That’s crazy you sure got a lot goin on…
And now we say our thank you’s and goodbyes but you don’t really need to read about that part…
Hollars and Dollars Presents: Exclusive Shitake Monkey Interview!
Haven’t you heard of Shitake Monkey?!?! The band is based around NYC and it consists of Electric Pete, Johnny Rodeo, and Chuck Brody. The three began by producing big acts like J-Lo and Destiny’s Child under the Sony roof but then decided to take their own musical paths to form Shitake Monkey. Now they have a great album out called “Street Beef”, they have shared a cd spot with 88 Keys on his album “The Death Of Adam”, and they continue with the production aspect working with other great artists like Santigold and Trouble Andrew just to name a few. Here is the Hollars and Dollars exclusive Monkey interview! Check it out!
When did you start becoming involved with music? Did you guys grow up playing instruments?
We have yet to start to become involved with music, though we have become started, so I would say we are about to start. We definitely grew up playing with ourselves.
What was it like working at Sony with all the Big names around? I’m sure many people would like to land a music job like that.
It was embarressing to be coming out of that private bathroom in the basement next to Sony Studio E’s lounge and seeing Jessica Simpson waiting for you to get out. Especially after a long night drinking at Flute and a bean burrito from Mi Nidito.
She liked it…Tell us about Shitake Monkey?
It’s three men that wish only to be brothers bettering themselves with games of wit and skill. And kettle bells.
Why is the name Shitake Monkey? Is there a meaning? My buddy always says “Shitake Mushroom” and then fixes it to “Monkey” so then when I go to say it, I have to think about it before I say it…Do you have that problem with that when your hyping your name or whatever? “Mushro…Monkey!!”
No. That is ridiculous, no mushrooms were harmed during the making of this interview.
I know all three members of Shitake Monkey have their own gigs and projects. What are they up to these days?
John is putting together his one man big top circus act, there is a lasso involved.
Pete is still trying to get the band back together and has been performing Shitake’s greatest hits on tour with Natalie Merchant and Michael Stipe.
Chuck is somewhere Digging a Hole.
How did you guys end up working with 88 Keys?
What was it like working with 88 Keys?
It was rough. 88 keys is mega annoying. He’s really high strung, always stressed out, and constantly snapping and yelling at us. Then he’d start crying out of nowhere and we’d have to swaddle him in a blanket like a baby. Then all three of us would have to pick him up and rock him until he fell asleep. It sucked… The breast feeding was the worst part, we still have scars.
88 Keys is supposed to be like Kanye’s best friend or whatever…Did you ever get to meet Kanye? Can you get me a pair of Yeezy’s?…no seriously…Yeezy’s?
We’ve never met Kanye but he did send us all a bunch of sneakers to the studio. I think our intern has them all.
Is there a video dropping for that collaboration song?
There is a video, but you have to follow our twitter to unlock it’s secret.
What are your plans for 2009? For Shitake Monkey and for your own production?
We’re going to start a ballclub and see if we can get some games goin’.
Any shout outs? Last words? Life advice? Anything?
I have a shout out/Life Advice/Last word…. Eddie Van Halen, sell your uzi and machete. You don’t need them, Monkey Swat will protect you now.
Hollar Your Fives!
What music are you listening to these days?
1. Shitake Monkey
2. The Remixes
3. The Album
4. The B-Sides
5. The Out takes
Things you need to get through your day…
1. 3.5 Liters of H2O2
2. 120 Grams of Dried Soy Protein, shaken, not stirred
3. 8 Glasses of Whole Milk con Dillweed
4. Half case of Monster Energy Drink or in lieu of that 2/3rd case Sparks
5. 350 Pushups, 1 oxycut, pinch of salt
A list of other “Possible” names if you were not a Shitake Monkey
2. Sea Raisins
3. Peter, Chuck, and John
4. Nick LauShea
5. ManBaby and the Sea Raisins