Aug 06

Dilated Peoples Directors of Photography Preview

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Dilated Peoples talk about their upcoming Directors of Photography album in the RSE series, Finding Focus:

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Jan 31

Goofing around on Instagram

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edit: erase, erase.  we’re going to just put everything onto one tumblr:   Sorry, there’s just so much stuff to update these days, it’s hard to decide how to do it.


find us @thegiantpeach or see it on web.stagram or scary big on our alternative-not-really-formatted tumblr.  It’s a teeny look into the day-to-day, but mainly just a lot of bad photography (especially when it’s next to B-Real, Phesto, Evidence, Babu…who are killin’ it with ridiculous photos!)

We also just threw everything away and started anew on our og tumblr (that’s mainly got new products).


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Oct 20

In The Lab: 2001 Hiero x Dilated

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Stinke’s been going through his MiniDv collection.  This one features Hiero & Dilated Peoples recording “Center of Attention” at Evidence’s house in LA, 2001.  Peep Tajai, Domino, Opio, Pep and Rakaa + Evidence in the lab.

(tonight Hiero are actually at the Hiero compound with E-40…per Domino’s tumblr)

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Aug 12

This weekend – The American Beatbox Championships in NYC

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passing on the discount info from okayplayer: When you click on the LPR website to buy your tix use this code ABC2011 and tix will be $25 instead of $35!

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May 24

10 Years, well kinda…

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We started this crazy journey in ’99, but we took The Giant Peach site live on May 25, 2000.  People still bought CDs (dang, they still even made cassettes).  The site started with music & merchandise from ABB. Dilated Peoples, Hip Hop Slam, Ledisi, Quannum (and soon after Live Human, Stones Throw & Def Jux).  Many thanks to Stinke &  Meca, Colm, and everyone who has contributed to the site over the years.

Celebrate our 10 year anniversary with an extra 10% off  all day today (the 25th).  Enter the code 10YEAR at checkout (it will take it off the item price).  Thanks for the support!

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Oct 20

Dinner With Dilated Peoples (Part 2)

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dilated_court_blockphoto courtesy Block


Catching up with the other Dilated Peoples’ emcee / producer extraordinaire, Evidence, was not an easy task. He’s in the studio. I leave him a message, he calls me back from his cell phone, I miss him again, they go to Europe, he comes back but has laryngitis, then they go on tour. Now that there are several layers of “handlers” (publicity & marketing people, managers and tour managers), I’m quite surprised that I ended up just knocking on the tour bus and having Ev open the door. I’m ushered past a huge cloud of smoke engulfing the Triple Threat DJs (Apollo, Shortkut, and VinRoc) who are doing a spot date with Dilated as Reflection Eternal suddenly had to bow out of the tour.

P: What is your usual approach to production? Do you start with samples or do you have things in your head that you try to emulate?

E: Different things trigger production. I would just say more than any one thing or one idea I have, certain moods or times dictate my production. My favorite thing to do is to wake up at like 6 or 7 in the morning before everybody, take a shower, get dressed, and make beats-early before everyone’s up. Somehow I feel I have an edge on everybody while everyone’s asleep-you know what I mean? Or everyone’s going to work and I’m already ahead. Those beats are usually my energetic beats because I’m up in the morning. I usually get a cup of coffee or something so I’m up. For the other type of beats that I make on the road or at night time, it’s usually emotional type-stuff. I can channel feelings-like if I’m lonely or something like that, I’ll make some moody shit. If I’m having relationship drama, I can make some shit like that. Honestly, I can channel it. The only thing that’s different about what I do than a musician is that I don’t play my music, I sample. The only catch is that I took piano lessons when I was a kid, so I can hear melodies and I can hear what’s in key and what’s not. For my production techniques, I usually start with the drum; like a high-hat and a snare just to set my tempo and I find my music. If I’m doing a remix, I already have someone’s vocal. I’m singing their vocal. My job as production is to do the best job of enhancing vocals. I’m not looking to make the superstar beat and outshine the rapper, that doesn’t do any good. I want to enhance the rapper and make the song better. So if you hear my instrumentals sometimes, they might not be the hottest instrumentals, but once put the rhyme to it, they make the hottest song. A lot of people don’t understand that. It’s more than just the beat. Those are loose techniques of beats. As far as technically, like I said, high-hat and snare is usually my start and then I’ll start searching through records. I think it’s all good if you find a big piece of music and you loop it. I’m not really mad at that. As long as you possess the skills to chop up the music as well and you know how to innovate. Sometimes, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. Don’t do too much sometimes. But if that’s the only thing you know how to do is steal someone else’s music, then I don’t look at you as creative-you know what I mean? In a lot of my music, I’m taking random hits, bass tones, noises, sounds, piano stabs, licks and combining, making my own tapestry, my own collage. Really innovative, like if you’d see a serial killer would type out each letter from a different magazine and make out this crazy sentence, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Some people could just take a whole word and create, but I take each letter from a different place. I do some serial killer shit.

P: Do you have certain rules like “you can’t sample the same person twice” or are some things more legitimate than others as far as how and when you can sample someone?

E: No, cause the greatest thing in the world is, “Yo, I know that record, but DAMN, listen to how he flipped it!” That’s the dopest shit. Taking something that’s right in front of someone’s face and doing it totally different. It shows that you have a keen ear or you have an edge up as far as the way you listen to music. I sample from obscure things a lot because in today’s game there’s so much stuff that’s been you know, take a James Brown for instance-anybody is played out unless you’re doing it just the way I said, like “Damn! This sample has been right in front of my face for ten years and I know the song, but I’ve never thought to do it like that.” If you’re going to take some known shit, do it like that.

P: It always seems like everyone finds the same thing at the same time and then everyone’s got the same beat. How does that happen?

E: Because producers are all doing the same thing. We’re all going to record stores. People in record stores see kids buying the same record and then the next time they recognize a kid got a sideways baseball cap, the record store owner is like, “This record is hot. I seen Pete Rock over here buying it the other day.”

P: Now it’s $25.

E: Now it’s $40. Last week it was $.50. Now that Pete Rock bought it, there must be something on it, so you’re going to want it too…so here it is. So some other kid will flip it at the same time and then it’s a race to see whoever gets out first. It happens all the time. It’s happened to me plenty of times. It happened to me recently-Pharoahe Monch just used the same loop I used for “Triple Optics”. “Triple Optics” has been an underground record for a long time. It’s just luck of the draw. Did he hear my shit? Maybe, maybe not. Did I hear his? No. We both came out with it, so there it is.

P: How about Babu? Does he ever come with a particular thing like, “I want to scratch this in” or whatever?

E: Babu brings a lot of elements to the table. Having a DJ in the group is probably one of the best things that’s happened to us. He vibes with me while I’m making the track and he gives me ideas on enhancement. I could make a piece or a sketch or something, but he comes with the highlight; the final background touch that just makes it all pop into 3D. For “Eardrums Pop”, a cut on our album, I just had that beat and we were trying to think of a chorus. I had a line “Watch your ear drums pop” in the verse and he was like, “No, no, no…I know such and such said that on this one record-he said that same line. I want to get that acapella and cut that shit up.” And it just became classic like that. Babu…he brings a lot to the table. And making beats. He makes beats for the crew too. He made “Service” (#7 on the album) and he made the beat for “Soundbombing”- a lot of people don’t know that.

P: I have to check the credits more carefully.

E: No, they didn’t write the credits on that song, so a lot of people don’t know.

P: I went through and did a discography-which goes on forever, and I’m sure I’m missing hella shit. Do you remember when you did everything?

E: No, I don’t remember all of my stuff, but if I wanted to know, it would come back.

P: How do you decide who you’re going to work with? I’m sure there are a lot of people saying, “I want Evidence on my track, and for awhile you were on everyone’s track”. What is your process?

E: A lot of people would just call me. They’d get my number somehow, and be like, “Yo, I wanna do shit”. I really just work on vibes sometimes. Sometimes I’m real stoned and reclusive, and I’m like, “Nah, I’m cool right now”. Sometimes I’m really feeling hungry, and I’ll be like, “Yeah, let’s do it right now”. Sometimes it’s been about the money, sometimes it hasn’t. Some experiences I’ve been very excited to work on, some I’ve had to drag a little harder to get there. At this point when you’re looking at all these shits (the discography), I was in my room hungry as fuck-trying just to get known…no matter what. Working with anybody I could. I was just hustling real hard. It just so happens that turned into popularity somehow. I’m just trying to ride this shit out.

P: How do you balance being both a producer and an emcee? Not a lot of people even attempt it, let alone do it well.

E: It’s hard because my motto is like, “Don’t be the jack of all trades, be the master of one”. Find one thing and do it well. Alchemist, Joey Chavez-all my people…that’s what they do, they find one thing and they run all the way with it. Which is what I wanted to do with emceeing, but it just so happened that being around all those people, I got so influenced, I had to do it. I had to make beats myself. As an emcee, no one can tell you what you want to rhyme on more than yourself. So honestly, it’s like being two people because it takes up twice the time, and there’s like twice the sacrifice. There’s digging and all of the production elements and really studying people’s shit. It comes with that aspect of it-production values: cueing, learning the equipment; just turning your mind into a computer. And there’s the other side of it that just wants to hear a beat and rock free. It’s hard, it really is. It’s the hardest task I’ve come upon is doing that. And then to be honest, being on the road and being a performer as well is like…there’s a studio emcee, but then there’s a true emcee who goes out and holds down the party, you know? Rocks it. That’s a whole other thing thing in itself. Doing all three, I have to say that, I’m tied up-straight up. Booked all day long.

P: And still you have time to do remixes…

E: But more importantly, I want to have time to have time for my girlfriend or have time to go to the beach, or go get a a cup of coffee and chill out. Or whatever I want to do. It’s hard to do this and have a life at the same time. One this is going to have to sacrifice a little.

P: (laughing) Your life is already planned for the next eight months.

E: Straight up, straight up. It’s not even funny, it is… You’ve got to commend Babu too…with a wife and a kid. It’s hard.

P: You’re workin’

E: We’re workin’. People don’t know. [They think] you’re on a tour bus and you get to smoke weed every day. You drive around the country. Nonononono.

P: I know just from trying to get a hold of you guys.

E: It’s fucking psycho. It’s what I love, but it’s work. And if I didn’t love it, I would have quit this shit a long time ago.

P: What do you look for in an emcee?

E: The biggest thing I look for in an emcee, more than anything is their cadence; the way they hit the beat. A lot of people write really amazing shit, but they give no respect to the beat, they don’t consider it at all. They just want a 4/4 drum count and they want to rhyme over it when they want to rhyme over it. It’s all about not where you put your words, but where you don’t. It’s all about knowing where your breaths are and where your pause is. And really taking the beat…there’s a kick, a snare and a hat. Rhyme on that shit! A lot of people don’t…they want to just go on top of it. They just don’t pay attention. I respect people who hit the beat right. Who just hit it right; who make it funky. A lot of people aren’t funky. I want to be moved. It’s audio stimulation-that’s what you’re doing here. If I’m not stimulated by the audio that’s presented to me, you haven’t done your job. I don’t care how dope your thought is or innovative or how dope your voice is even…it’s like I really like people who know how to keep it funky.

P: What if they’re abstract…

E: Then I’m not the person to work with. I’ll give you an example…Aceyalone. He can do anything. He’s one of the most incredible gifted people. And he heard the type of beats I’m willing to come with and he was like, “All right, I’m gonna come straight up on your shit and I was like, “What do you mean?” and he was like, “I’m gonna hit it, straight up. Your shit ain’t meant for me to flip it on.” You listen to it and he’s like [Ev starts to rhyme], “This microphone is mine, whenever I hold it, I transcend time.” He’s funky with it! He was like, I’m providing the funk. And he was like instead of me going against the grain, I’m just gonna be…Some people are like, I’m gonna be a trumpeter and try and stand out . He’s like I’m just gonna be a bass guitar and enhance it. Big up to people like [Acey]. I like working with Defari a lot, obviously Iriscience. Cause these people are obviously not too concerned with getting flashy and they say complex shit in simplicity, and that’s the hardest thing to do, I think.

P: That’s why I think Dilated as lyricists, you guys are underrated as far as what you’re saying.

E: Even if it’s just a battle rhyme, we’re conscious about it and every word is thought out. I don’t rhyme “dope” and “cope”, and if I do, I’m gonna have some shit in between there where you’re going to be like, “wow”. A lot of people think that they’re fresh or they know that they’re fresh and because they’re fresh whatever they write down is gonna be fresh, and that’s not the truth. In Dilated, we crumple up our rhymes twenty times before it comes out right. At least I can speak for myself, I do that. I want it to be right. Even if it’s just some shallow-ass shit. Straight up.

P: But it’s gonna sound right

E: And there’s gonna be content. Like battle rhymes, all I’m saying is “I’m better than you”, but I’m gonna say it in a really fresh way. Simulated you somehow, make you want to hear it again.

K: What are your favorite remixes and if you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

P: “Shut Em Down” remix by Pete Rock. That’s the first time I understood that you could keep the same lyrics and make a whole new song. Also, “Jump Around” by House of Pain, the Pete Rock remix. He could just take a whole mood and flip it completely. Premier did a remix for Fat Joe…[he says all the lyrics before we chime out “Success”! ] That remix right there was just incredible to me. That’s one thing I do. When people have acapellas, I spin my own beats under it sometimes and I just wish I could call the artist and be like, “I took your shit to the next level, man”. Let me go do it for real. I just did a Beastie Boys remix with Babu, and that was a really dope experience for me. I feel like that’s exactly what I did…I put an Evidence stamp on it and made it mine.

P: How did that come about?

E: Tick, my man at Grand Royal.

P: Tick!

E: My man. They let people remix their shit. People from Buckwild to Kut Masta Kurt to Erick Sermon…all kind of people remix Beastie Boys. Muggs was one of the first people to do a dope remix. He (Tick) was just calling me one day and was like “It’s your turn” and I was like “What do you mean?” I spent three days on it, me and Babu. I did the remix and Babu came in and put the finishing touches on it. It just came out ill.

P: Who else would you like to work with?

E: I’d like to work with Jeru the Damaja. I’d like to work with him a lot, I really respect the way he rhymes. I want to work with Bahamadia, I’ve already talked to her, hopefully it’s gonna happen. I would like to work with Saafir, I’d like to make that happen. Xzbit, Tash…the whole Alkaholiks click, but Tash especially. I want to work with J-Ro too, but I’ve been talking to Tash for a long time.

P: What is the Dilated/Liks relationship?

E: We’re just down. We’re down with Project Blowed, we’re down with Soul Assassins, we’re down with Tha Alkaholiks. We’re kind of just the bridge. Like at the release party, Aceyalone was rocking on one song and Tha Alkaholiks were rockin’ on the next, and Defari was on the next. We’re just bringing a lot of people together. B-Real was on the next song. It’s just weird. Those are just people off the top of my mind. We got to work with Erick Sermon, we were produced by him, recently. We did a remix on some next level shit. He was one of my favorite producers. The Lady of Rage, I’m into her. I’d like to work with her. She’s dope. I just want to do some hip hop shit. I’d like to work with maybe even like Snoop or Kurupt or Too Short or King Tee. I actually got to work with King Tee recently. Do something for somebody who’s really big, but just be responsible for doing the B-side that had no pressure of blowing up. Like was just strictly hip hop for some Fat Beats heads or whatever. Just to show that the beats were really important. You could take someone’s vocal and put it over my track and take it to a whole ‘nother place. Take it to the ground. And Buckshot…I’d like to work with Buckshot.

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Jul 19

Dinner with Dilated Peoples (Part 1)

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dilated_court_blockphoto courtesy Block


So, I’ve got to apologize for taking so long with this. First off, these interviews were HELLA long, and it took me forever to transcribe them. Although I’d been talking to Rakaa (it gets weird to call him Iriscience) for some time, it’s been hard to find time to do a formal interview. I’m doing this as part of an article I’m writing for a magazine (it’s the cover story on the fall issue of Remix-more on this later). He’s crazy busy: on the road, filming videos, studying jujistu…I finally call and wake him up one morning.

P: So, let’s just start with the whole history thing.

R: I met Evidence at a graffiti yard. I was finishing a piece, he was coming to start one. We ended up meeting each other. We had some mutual friends and whatnot. A little while later, he came into a place I was working. Where I worked was a spot called the Hip Hop Shop in L.A. They had open mics, open turntables, and everything else. You could just go in there and do your thing. I was in there every day freestyling, basically. He came in a few times and would be freestylin’. We decided to hook up and work on a track together. That turned into a couple of tracks and then the group. We got together and created a group and did our thing like that for a minute. A few years later in early 97, Babu joined the group. I had known him for awhile just being in the DJ scene…I hang out in the DJ scene. His reputation was definitely circulating wide. But he was also a really cool person. We ended up meeting and chillin’ and getting along really well. When he moved a little closer-into Hollywood to manage Fat Beats-we ended up networking and Ev slid him the record, and everything else moved from there. We linked up. He joined right before, “Work the Angles”, and we’ve been together ever since.

P: When did you first meet Ev?

R: That was ’92.

P: So when did you guys actually become a group?

R: Later in ’92.

P K: How did you come up with your name?

R: Well, initially we were looking for a name, and I had a publishing company I was going to start. It was called “Expanding Pupils” which meant “growing students”, and to me that’s what it was. We were looking for a group name at the same time, and actually the Alchemist (the producer), said “Dilated Peoples is ill. What about Dilated Peoples?” It just kind of stuck from there. It was as simple as that. What it means is people of expansion, people dilated in a sense that we’re open. Philosophically, we just stay open to change and understanding of that. Also, as a goal to do the same to others-to get other people open-whether it’s on our stuff or whether it’s to get people open in general. It’s good to be open and widen the margins a little bit.

P: I was just at the National Teen Poetry Slam in SF. It was amazing how many teens and kids knew who you were and were like, “When’s their shit coming out?”. You have totally expanded to people that I thought would not even be into hip hop, let alone know what’s up…they’re waiting for your album.

R: We’ve done our homework a little bit, and we’ve gone around and put ourselves on the line to be out there and network and be in front of the people and plant seeds. We’ve been able to meet some really beautiful people around the planet. Definitely at home, that’s where we’re at, so we make sure we try to keep everybody touched around here. The fact that the people come out and have a good time and are looking forward to our stuff is one of the most beautiful feelings. I cannot even express how it feels to be in this position. We were going to do it regardless, but to have it pay off and at the same time have it be accepted is just a really beautiful experience.

P: When you had first gotten together, you had a deal with Immortal. What happened?? You had put something out, but it wasn’t really the total representation of what you guys were doing.

R: We never put out the album. We put out one song on a compilation. We did an album, but we decided that that was school and that was our school project. We decided it was time to go pro to take it to pro games, pro league level. We stepped out of that thing. It was a situation where we didn’t feel like for the amount of energy we were expending we were getting proper mileage. We bounced. That was kind of that. That meant taking a risk-we could have stayed on the label and hoped that everything worked out, but we left and decided to take our fate into our own hands. We figured our career was bigger than one record label, one record, so here we are now.

P: How did you guys meet Beni B?

R: Beni B? We met Beni B when Ev was producing Defari. Defari was always talking about Beni B, this cat from the Bay that was a DJ and a record collector and he was going to put out his first record and stuff…that’s exactly what happened. We liked how Beni did with Defari’s records, and he approached us. Ev had me talk to Beni, I liked what he was talking about, so we just got down and did it.

P: How is it working with people who have been your friends for a long time, like Alchemist or Joey Chavez or something?

R: It’s cool. Those are two of Ev’s best friends since they were younger. It’s not really as serious for me. Those are the homies, but…at the same time, they come in a very natural way. I listen to a tape…if Joey did it and that’s the track I want, it’s gonna go down. Otherwise, it’s just Joey Chavez, my homeboy from Venice. Same with Al (Alchemist). We see each other, we chill. I go out to New York or he comes out to LA. It’s all family. We go get ourselves a little Japanese food, a little shrubbery, and everything is good. If he comes with that hot beat, I want it. If it’s not the right beat for me…I just wish him well in his career…hopefully it will be a hit for somebody else. That’s usually how I look at things. It’s never really been a problem. On the other hand, Ev and I have known each other for eight years, so we’ve known each other longer than a lot of people have been married and businesses have been open-all kinds of things can happen in that time. When you deal with someone that you know that well, things can get personal really quick because you know which buttons to press, but at the same time, you also really realize that you’ve been together this long and gone through this much for a reason. If you have kind of self control to get things back. That’s how we’ve been able to do it: give each other our space; support each other in our solo things-we’re not trying to crowd each other. And then come together and really form and do this Dilated thing the right way.

P: How is it when Dilated is in the studio…it’s very collaborative?

R: It’s very collaborative. In a very general sense, Dilated Peoples produced this entire album. At the same time, we didn’t make the music for every track. We were very involved in picking every track, with opinions in the studio how things should go, arrangements…across the board. With full respect to everybody that worked on it, I’m not trying to take anything away from the listed producers, but we oversaw the entire album as an album. That’s basically how we always want to approach everything in a collaborative way, even if it’s a solo song for me or a solo song for Ev or whatever the case is. We still figure out how it best fits on the album or the live show.

P: It’s totally your vision.

R: It’s a vision that comes out of the democratic process of three people. It’s our agreed upon vision. We speak as one. We have one vision and one voice when we’re working together. We work all our problems out behind the scenes. Once we figure out how we’re gonna do it and how we can all feel comfortable with the idea, then we present it. We stay focused like a laser beam.

P: How did you decide who you were gonna have guest on the LP? I’m sure there were zillions of names thrown around. Did you make a conscious effort to have people that were mainly from LA/West Coast? Did it just happen that way? Did you have a a lot of discussion about who or who would not be included on the album? It feels like there are a lot of people trying to get down with you guys.

R: Do you know that feeling like when you reach into your pocket and pull out some money it’s and it’s like “Oh! yeah!” It was a really pleasant surprise, but the furthest thing from our minds when putting it together. I remember looking at the list of everybody and thinking everybody’s from or represents the LA/West Coast hip hop scene.

P: Or transplanted

R: Based out of or from, either way. It didn’t really occur to us when we were putting it together. We were planning on working with all types of people. We did a song with AG (Showbiz and AG) and we’ve worked with other people in the past, even overseas and things like that, but when it came down to pick songs for the album and what worked best for what we were doing, with the people and the time schedules and everything, this is how it was and this is how it felt-like it was ready to be served, so that’s how we did it.

P: Were there a lot of other tracks that didn’t end up on the album?

R: A couple, we stay busy. A lot of it is exercise, training. And expression. A lot of it is venting. We’re really creative, expressive people, we’ve gotta get it out some kind of way. But we’re very concise when it comes time to pick what we want to put out.

P: Do you ever worry about being overexposed? How do you choose who you’re going to work with under those circumstances-when it’s someone else’s project? When someone asks you to be on a track…or is it more organic-that you’re just chillin’ with people and roll into the studio with them?

R: We have a strong discography if you look at a list. A lot of people have a lot less numbers by their name, but at the same time, those are albums. We haven’t put out any albums, we’ve done a lot of work, but it’s been really planting seeds. We haven’t fully formed yet, we’re still forming. I do recognize that I can’t spread myself too thin, and we know that we have business situations that are involved, so we can’t just do everything although we love to collaborate and work with people. Ultimately, we know when to chill, or recharge. We don’t get beyond ourselves. I don’t really worry about it too much.

P: How did you decide on Capitol?

R: It was a really unique situation. Pretty much every record label at the time was trying to talk to us. A lot of labels have had success with hip hop, Capitol isn’t really one of them, short of the Beastie Boys, and that isn’t really the same branch of the tree that we’re on. The Beastie Boys are definitely hip hop and very influential, but they were already huge and diverse in their sound when they got over there. To break a group like us…I think the situation at Capitol is a combination of a lot of things. One was that we had a nice amount of light and momentum going into the situation. And two, was that they didn’t have success in a big way with hip hop so they didn’t have a system in place that would confine us to doing things a particular way. They had a desire and a resource and a willingness to be open to ideas, and that’s what made us head over there. It’s that they were open, and they wanted us to help them develop a system, not only for ourselves, but also for the future.

P: Where do you see hip hop going in the next few years as far as like, a lot of the huge somewhat underground groups, particularly from LA, have gone and signed to majors, where do you think the next wave of inventiveness is going to come from?

R: I think it’s going to be a wave from overseas, to be honest. There’s so much quality stuff going on…I travel a lot. There’s so many ideas that haven’t been touched on, so many ways of looking at things. All it takes is for somebody to make that bridge record for it to spark. There’s stuff over there that’s happening that could really do it. I think Canada, that’s gonna happen. All of what we consider Latin America. I think just culture in general is going to be accepted more in hip hop. People aren’t going to be as reluctant to accept new ideas and new approaches in the future because they’re not going to be able to fight with success. [We have a discussion about some amazing emcees from Bosnia and talk about how it doesn’t always matter if you can understand the language they’re speaking…the true emotion comes through.]

P: Where do you get your inspiration for writing?

R: I get it from everywhere, walking around. I get it from John Coltrane’s horn lines, Jimi Hendrix, listening to his songwriting (even aside from his guitar playing) has been extremely influential. Public speakers, my teachers, church…I’ve been inspired by all sorts of things. Gil Scott Heron, Last Poets, Watts Prophets. Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, Kool G Rap, Rakim, Run DMC. I’ve been inspired by hip hop in general. I guess the best way to say it is just by my environment in general. I try to tune out so I can tune in and really just absorb what’s around me. When you travel and you go to this country and that country, and you’re seeing different color money, and different types of people and different attitudes, and you come back to LA, for a little while you get this feeling like LA is just another country, just a city in another country. When you’re looking at things that way, you get a chance to feel the culture that’s here. I’m really influenced by the LA culture, which is just a combination of just different things from all over the world, like most places.

P: Have you lived there all your life?

R: No, I’ve lived all over, but pretty much I was born in LA and I’ve always come back, regardless of where I’ve skipped out to. I’ve got a lot of love for LA, and that’s with full respect for every inch of the world, but I love the people of LA. There’s bureaucracy here and it’s a pretty conservative place. I don’t like everything that happens in LA, but I think it’s beautiful.

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