photo courtesy Stones Throw
The following interview was conducted in Japanese by an unnamed source. We did not alter any of the questions, so they may appear worded somewhat off, but we feel you guys will get it.
The interview is split into 3 parts with Dj Romes, Madlib and finally Wildchild all taking a shot answering questions. Enjoy.
How did you guys meet hiphop?
Block parties, man. Around my corner. They would have two turntables and the DJ would spin hip hop. This was around 1983. I wanted to be a DJ so bad man! That’s how I hooked up with Madlib. I had turntables, I was becoming a DJ. And I had Madlib in Math Class with me in Junior High. I didn’t know him, but I seen him listening to headphones bobbing his head. I asked him what he was listening to, he said “Some hip hop shit.” So I told him about this radio station, KCSB – a college radio station in Santa Barbara. They had a hip hop show there since like, ’78. DJ DDZ was there then.
Who was your biggest influence when you started hiphop?
I always liked DST. That was one of the first records I had, “Crazy Cuts.”
How did you start Lootpack?
We got together in Junior High. Madlib introduced me to Wildchild. They were popping (breakedancing) partners. We started freestyling together during lunch breaks. We used to battle wack MCs. I used to rap too, in the lunch room banging on tables and stuff like that! But Lootpack didn’t start ’til like 1989. We were friends before Lootpack started.
What is the meaning of Lootpack?
Man, you’d have to ask Wildchild about that!
How did you start your connection with the Likwit Crew?
Wildchild knew Tash. Tash used to work at Footlocker in the mall we used to go to in Ventura. Jack knew him, we showed him a tape and went from there.
Do you still roll with the Likwit Crew now?
That’s a tough question. Everytime we talk, we’re down, but we’re not on the new album.
How is King Tee as an artist?
King Tee! I was a big King Tee fan when I was younger. Madlib was a big fan too! He’s a true B Boy. Always has been, always will be.
You guys are in the music business from the Alkaholiks’ first album, right? Why didn’t you put out your album EP, “Psyche Move” sooner?
Shady record label politics.
How did you meet Peanut Butter Wolf? Also, why did you choose to do a business with Stones Throw?
We met at a music convention. One of the Gavin Conventions. He had heard our Psyche Move EP on a radio station in San Francisco. He really liked it, so he got the contact number off of the record and called. He spoke to Madlib’s dad, who was our manager at the time. It just went from there. We all felt comfortable with him, so we signed to do a deal.
What is the main theme of the album, “Soundpieces : Da Antidote” ?
Hip hop, pure and simple.
How did you end up to do a promo like this? Who’s idea was it to do a promo like this?
I have to give props to Zoo York. They were the company that came up with the treatment for the video. We all liked it, so we rolled with it.
Peanut Butter Wolf is in that PV also, right? Did you ask him to be in the PV? Did you guys think of him to do a role from the begining?
Wolf and Kutmasta Kurt (who is also in the video) had so much to do with our album coming out that we wanted to show love. You know, keep it in the family.
I heard that you guys do a wild freestyle on the stage! Well, what is the most important thing on stage?
Spontaneity. Everything we do is spontaneous. We don’t plan out a thing!
Anything crazy ever happen on stage?
Oh yeah, all the time. I remember one time in Germany there was a big whole in the stage – right in front of the turntables. Well, Madlib was doing a verse and he fell right through the stage! He just finished his verse – sitting down. He’s a true professional.
Are you guys thinking about the second album yet? Any idea how it’s going to sound like?
We’re hard at work right now, doing lots of pre production at PB Wolf’s house. The next album is going to be completely different than the first one. Stay tuned y’all.
How did you start Lootpack?
Yup, I’ve been together with Jack (Wildchild) and (DJ) Romes for a while. We started breaking together in junior high. Actually, when we first started out, Romes was rapping and I was the DJ!
How did you start track making?
I was a DJ before I was a producer. I had all of my pop’s old records. He hit me with the JB’s with the “Soul Clap” bass line on it.
Doing it to death, right?
Yeah, “Doing it to Death.” All scratched up! My dad had everything – jazz, soul. He was down with (famous LA arranger) HB Barnum.
Would you say you are influenced by him musically?
He used to always take me to the studio. I was mad young, just chillin’ up in that atmosphere. My dad taught me my musical sense. But my uncle too – John Faddis. He’s played trumpet on mad records all over the world. Back in the day he schooled me on music to listen to. He’d make me tapes – all jazz artists.
Who is a producer you look up to?
David Axelrod. PERIOD! He has such a heavy sound. Even when it’s mellow. He’s one of Quas’ favorites too! His scope as a producer.
Do you think producers have the scope like that in hiphop?
Yeah. I always looked up to Pete Rock and Large Professor on the SP 1200. Muggs too. The first Cypress album is so dope. The way he flips the sound. You could use the same records with the MPC 2000, but it ain’t going to sound the same. The drums come out punchier on the SP. I got the SP 12 in about 1990. Then I moved up to the SP 1200 in like ’92. I picked up the MPC last year.
What is your favorite musical instrument?
Fender Rhodes! I’d rather be playing the Fender Rhodes, no doubt! That’s my favorite instrument on all the old jazz records. PB Wolf bought me one three months ago. I thought I’d want to make tapes for myself. Now, I have about four albums with Yesterday’s New Quintet. See, I record a song into the Roland VS 880, play along with it for a while. then I take out that track and add my own drums. Some songs I keep in their original form, some I totally flip. Change the rhythms on some of them.
So you catch the melodies and chord progressions by ear?
Yeah, and I do it different too. Play my own notes around it. I get some of the melodies right, some I make up in my head. Then I have to add drums. Heavy drums, like on them Axelrod records.
Reaction has been great. The legendary pianist, Weldon Irvine gave you props!
Man, I was shocked. I had a dream about that.
I woul think you listen to all kinds of music…What is your biggest influence, though?
Steve Kuhn. Mad Sun Ra! Mainly I’ve been listening to old jazz. I’ve been buying mad Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef. But you have to like all types of music, especially if you’re a DJ.
“Elle’s Theme” EP is doing well in Japan, now…Is the Yesterday’s New Quintent album coming out soon?
I’ve done mad albums – probably over 200 songs with YNQ. Some are Fender Rhodes based, some have Clavinet, Vibes, Wurlitzer, Electric Bass, Electric Guitar, Kalimba – man, I’ve used every instrument I can. Wolf and I have to go through and pick out an album right now – but it’s hard for me to stop recording!
Some say Quasimoto is Madlib. Is this true? Who is Quasimoto?
All the stuff happened four or five years ago. Off a mushroom trip. See, the story’s always different. Basically, Quasimoto is my alter ego. However you want to see it is cool with me.
You two rarely rhyme about the same topics.
Oh hell no! I have a family. Quas ain’t got no family. He’s a bugged out guy! He gets input from wherever – Sun Ra, the devil, phony people comin’ up to him, bitches asking for money, stupid ass record store owners.
Sounds like Quas is always angry!
Nah, he ain’t pissed at me. We just hang out and do music. He accused me of getting a big head though – when I did remixes for J-88, Planet Asia and all that.
Everyone writes about “The Unseen” LP like it was a conceptual whole.
Nah man, nothing I do is like that. I just do what I feel. Don’t really think too much about it. Quas is usually whatever I want to do. I just bug out, use something somebody might have already used but flip it different. Lootpack, I mainly show Jack and Romes beats and they pick ’em out. And they have a certain idea of the sound that they want.
How’d you get into hiphop?
My uncle got me into listening to hip hop records. He was like 21 at the time. He would play records like Sugarhill Gang. That was one of the first records I heard and wanted to save up money to buy. This was around the time that Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” came out.
You’ve been into this a long time! Back then, who was your biggest influence?
Hip hop wise, it would have to be Grandmaster Flash. I liked DJs, the sound you know? That was the first I remember, ever. I used to listen to more r and b. Like One Way and Kyptic Crew. 80s r and b.
How’d you get into MC’ing?
Man, that wasn’t until my freshman year in high school. Me and my man God’s Gift used to kick it together. Me and Otis met in Junior High. Ocean View Junior High School. Just freestyling.
Is that how Lootpack started?
Nah, we didn’t get serious until our second year of college.
Oxnard College. We all went there. I went the furthest, they stopped early. I didn’t get my degree though.
What’s the meaning of Lootpack?
Lyrics On Orignal Tracks, Possible Antidote Created in Kali.
Your connection with the Likwit Crew?
We’re cool. They put us down when they turned one of our first demo songs into a song on their first album. This lead to the other feature songs on each album. They were trying to help us come up. We don’t represent everytime with the ‘Liks, but we’re still cool. We’ll always be cool with the ‘Liks. They helped us out a lot.
And PEanut Butter Wolf? Why did you want to work with him?
Wolf seemed like a cool cat. He knew his music well, so he was easy to relate to. And the fact that he liked us from the get go made it even easier. And he gave us creative freedom?
What is the man theme of “Soundpieces : Da Antidote” ?
Straight MC ing, battling. We tried to come from a different aspect, but be universal. That’s what the title came from. Different sounds, as far as the beats.
Most memorable song?
I’d say “Episodes.” That pretty much sums up the album. The changing of beats with the whole crew getting down on the track. Kazi, Medaphoar, Oh No and God’s Gift were all on the album. The posse song was dope!
What’s the most important part of your live performance?
Hmm! That’s a tough one. I guess doing a different show each time. Spontaneity. We build off each other on stage.
Any crazy moments on stage?
Yeah, one time in Scotland, it was just crazy. It wasn’t even planned. It started off all these girls coming on stage, then it just turned into a big party. It reminded me of an Alkoholiks show. Lots of people, on a small stage. But it wasn’t hectic, that’s what made it cool.
What’s up with your second album?
We’re working on it as we speak. Just trying to come different with it. But at the same time, we’re trying to catch everyone off guard.
Any idea of what it’s going to sound like?
I’m going to say one word: “abyss.”
The fact that Madlib has been going through a lot of transformations lately ups the ante. I think people are expecting something off the well — like Quasimoto or Yesterday’s New Quintent.
Yup. We’re going to go at it differently. Elevate from the first album. It’s still going to be the Lootpack flavor, but with a twist.
Any people you’re trying to work with on this one?
Hopefully Slum Village, Talib Kweli, our crew no doubt, Quasimoto, Percee P and Pete Rock as well.
Percee P! Man, he was the main influence on Organized’s early sound! How’d you hook up with him?
It’s the craziest story. Our first time in NYC, Percee came up to me in the club and he asked me to buy this old battle tape he had. That’s what he does, he sells old tapes to this day. Cold Crush Crew and everything. At first, I didn’t recognize his face, because I’d only heard him on wax. So he said, “Do you rhyme?” I said, “Yeah, do you?” He said, “I’m the rhyme inspector Percee P?” And I said, “Word, I’m Wildchild, from The Lootpack.” He was like, “WHAT?”
He knew you?
Oh hell yeah! He got just as hype as I got from him. Dude, it was over! That’s why we featured him on our forthcoming video documentary, “Da Packumentary.” He kills it! He was like, “Oh man, I love ya’ll stuff!” So we’ve been trying to make it happen.
Sounds like you guys have it under control!
Yup, things are coming together. We’re tying up a brand new single, coming out on Stones Throw Records in the summer. And we’re happy that our album is finally coming out in Japan! With our video! Man, I’m hyped! I hope that we get to tour Japan sometime soon, that’s always been a dream of mine.