The entire crew talk about having Chuck D as a mentor, their use of the internet, what made them want to do what they do and genres besides rap.
When where and how did the Impossebulls form?
TIRADE: The Bulls always existed but not in physical form. Anytime in the past when your hip hop universe seemed to be stagnant or boring, the Bulls were there. Every time some bean counting record CEO was chomping at the bit to release the usual boring shit, the Bulls were breathing down their necks. Eventually we materialized (thanks to www.publicenemy.com and Chuck D) to the unstoppable juggarnaught you fear today.
PVT MILITANT: We formed online late 1999 going into the Neo Millennium.
MARCUS J: We met at Public Enemy's website on the message board called the EnemyBoard. I guess it was sometime in 1998. Most of had been doing solo stuff for fun and decided to put together an album of Public Enemy, called EnemyBoard Album Vol. #1. From there some of us got asked by the EBs Bill Tha Pharmacizt to collab with Confrontation Camp. We did a track called "We Don't Need You", and The Impossebulls were born.
How much of an advantage is having Chuck D on your side?
TIRADE: It's not unlike being the owner of the Washington Generals and then drafting Allen Iverson. Chuck has proved invaluable in the form of mentor, advice giver and allie. Since I have been a fan since '88, Chuck's willingness to work with unknown artist like ourselves has boosted our ego's and afforded us opportunities we never would have had in a million years.
PVT MILITANT: Definitely a plus, being that he has produced/picked fruit from the tree called Hip-Hop and he's also had his share of rotten fruit, so he can easily give us a forewarning when dangers near. Also, he's well respected not only in the world of Hip-Hop, but as an International voice of reason.
DJ PRESIDENT IKE: Having Chuck on our side has clearly been an advantage. Yeah, you could say, "Oh, these cats wouldn't be anyone if Public Enemy didn't have their backs" or something, but it isn't like we just some cats off the street who dug PE and got "put on." What excites all of us is the concept of the group. This seemed different and is meant to be a message to artists/musicians and the record industry that their "rules" are an illusion. I was reading a recent New York Times article on file sharing and the recent RIAA suits and it pointed out how artists are caught in the middle of the whole thing, having little say with the music they created. Cats are living in a cave created by the industry and need to turn around and see the light…hopefully people will be ready. But to get back to the question it has almost been as if Chuck has been at our side since before any of us even met. I say that because he and PE's leadership have paved the way for a group like The Impossebulls to even exist in the first place. It was PE's website and stance on "file sharing" that educated many of us on the subjects, and we are all forever grateful.
MARCUS J: You can't measure it. The name Chuck D almost demands that we be heard at least once. He is also a great mentor for all of us, and personally he gives me a lot of confidence.
JOSHSAM: Chuck gave me the opportunity to write for Slam, which led to involvement (in my own small way) with The Impossebulls – so for me it has been a huge advantage. I can't speak for the rest of the group, but damn getting the chance to appear on the same show billing as PE and to rap with Chuck – that's not an advantage but it is dreams come true.
When do you feel the internet/hip-hop thing will blow up on a huge scale?
TIRADE: I don't know if it ever will or not. The powers that be seem to be hell bent to keep the archaic systems firmly in place. It's just like any other revolution, you need the masses behind you to topple the overseers. With some bangin' beats and a little luck this will blow up big.
DJ PRESIDENT IKE: Well, I think it already has "blown up" from a certain perspective. The fact that so many people download music on the internet is a sign of major change. I mean less than 10 years ago this discussion would have sounded crazy to a lot of people. But if you're talking about everyone buying their music via downloads it is going to take time and new business models because people are so accustomed to things the way they are. When I think of a huge scale I think of access, not necessarily economically, yet. In other words, if I want to get a specific Black Twang track and I live in the USA I shouldn't have to order it on import. I want to be able to get it right away. When Napster and Audio Galaxy were at their peak you could get stuff like that, so ideally the internet/hip-hop has already blown up. It just hasn't developed into a plausible situation for profit, yet. I hate to use Plato's cave allegory again to describe the situation, but sometimes when you live in a cave it's hard to face the light, one needs to adjust to it.
PVT MILITANT: 3 – 5 years. Because most fans of music don't have access to this revolutionary technology (Mp3) as of yet, but when they do become more aware of it and utilize it, they will realize that all good music is not driven by the record companies, but that there is a movement underground that surpasses most of these contemporary hook oriented Songs.
MARCUS J: With Slave Education. Seriously, it could be next week, next month, or next year, I don't know, but when it does The Impossebulls will be there.
C-DOC: I think that it is already in the process of "blowing up"...if it wasn't, you wouldn't have the RIAA scrambling to bring lawsuits on the masses to keep the powers that be in power.
JOSHSAM: Don't you think it already has? Just do a search for Hip Hop online. I don't even buy Hip Hop magazines anymore because of the net. From a UK perspective the internet has opened things up massively – we are no longer limited to one rap show per week on the radio, we can converse with Hip Hoppers across the globe, we can collaborate on many different projects with many different people. The internet/Hip Hop combo is massive. From a commercial/financial perspective, its only a matter of time before someone works out how to do it with a profit – but they have a major obstacle to overcome with regards to people being able downloading everything for free. Maybe the answer is to use the net as a marketing/interaction with fans tool and then make the money by doing shows and via products which aren't downloadable – Impossebulls Cola anyone?
How/do you generate profit when much of your music is available online?
TIRADE: Any type of free advertising for us online is good for business. I'm more inclined to spend cash on a record or concert tickets if I have already heard a sample.
DJ PRESIDENT IKE: At this point MP3's are as Chuck once described it, "the new radio." Access to music that was once incredibly difficult to find or you never even heard of has been higher than at any time in history. For a short time it was better when their was HIGHLY used and centralized file sharing programs like Audio Galaxy and Napster, but this is still possible. The problem of profit does not seem to be an issue over the long term. What has to happen first is the prices for songs have to drop to rock bottom. And when I mean rock bottom, I mean ROCK BOTTOM. Right now it is obscene what people have to pay for a CD, where you may only want one or two songs. MAYBE you'll dig others, but do you want to shell out all of that doe for the possibility? Why not lower the risk and make it seem as if there isn't any risk? Apple has the right idea with offering songs for less than a Pound/Euro/Dollar per, but I think that still isn't low enough. People are still going to download songs for free. One really has to make it seem as if there is ZERO RISK. Slam Jamz, I think has a great system where they use credits. So, you buy a lot of credits for a reasonable price and you don't feel so bad about using one on an artist you aren't too familiar with, but heard is good. And when one buys things in huge quantities, there is a tendency to feel less guilty about using whatever it is, which should benefit the artist. Ideally, those places where you can get the songs should have previews of songs too, like a Real Audio file. Other helpful conditions would be increased access to high speed internet connections and computers to those who don't have them. Oh, yeah…and cut out the middle man…like those corporations who the RIAA represents, "We don't need you."
PVT MILITANT: Hustling! Simple and plain…. You have to get out there and perform to make currency; also you should have products to sell to further your gain….
MARCUS J: With all sincerity, I couldn't care less.
C-DOC: Marcus says he could care less, but I know that he has a house payment…but in all honesty, I think that what SLAMJAMZ has, as far as a credit system, is a good step. You buy 100 credits for 10 bucks…that's cheaper than the Apple thing…but I think the main thing is for artists to have to work again…stop being lazy and get out there and entertain the people. Most kats don't make shit off of CD and record sales anyway, so what is the difference? If people check us out at a show or download something and decide that they dig us, they'll support us. Because I know that groups and artists that I dig, I shell out the money for. I support those kats because I'm a fan. And I know I'm not the only one…
JOSHSAM: Merchandise, shows, sponsorship. Keep your day job.
Which producers and emcee's inspired you to do what you do?
TIRADE: That's a list as long as Rumplestilskin's beard. Way back in the day it was kats like Eric B & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Whodini, PE, B.D.P ect. ect. Now it's kats like Cannibal Ox, Gang Starr, Dilated Peoples, Kool Keith, Dead Prez, Wu Tang and tons of others.
DJ PRESIDENT IKE: Well, for me, Rakim, Chuck D/Public Enemy, DJ Premier, Paris, DJ Shadow, KRS-One, X-Ecutioners, Native Tounges, Da Automator, RZA, DJ Krush, Jay Dee, The Herbaliser, Mark Farina, Q-Bert.
PVT MILITANT: The Bomb squad of course, Chuck D, also 2pac and a host of other people who I do not have enough time to mention.
MARCUS J: Of course Chuck D, Public Enemy, 3rd Bass, KMD, Eric B. & Rakim, KRS-ONE, and about everyone from 1985 to 1990.
C-DOC: PE and the Bomb Squad were the first kats that I really listened to in order to figure out how they put their music together. Prince Paul is another producer that I dig quite a bit. But the list could go on for days…Paris, Marley Marl, Big Daddy Kane, Herbie Luv Bug, De La, Quest, Jungle Brothers, KMD, Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, Ice T, People Under the Stairs, Dialated Peoples, Outkast, Little Borther and 9th Wonder, The Roots, Son of Bazerk, J-Live, and countless others…also, classic rock and jazz kats gave alot of inspiration for my work on SLAVE EDUCATION, our new LP…
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