One half of the Dead Prez duo talks about forthcoming projects, his new book, what music he's feeling, his talent competition and more.
First up, what have you and M1 been doing since the Dead Prez release of RBG?
Not that much…(smiles). Besides developing our new website www.bossupbu.com, we have been touring, doing shows in the US and abroad in Switzerland and Venezuela. We have developed a small clothing line with Red Clay out of California. We have created Warrior Studio (ATL). We are working on a collaboration album with 2pac's Outlawz, for release in 2006. M1 has become a father of a beautiful baby girl and independently released a new mixtape called 'Birth Of A Nation'. In addition to two solo albums coming in early 2006 from M1 and myself, and the new full length Dead Prez album, I've written and published through Boss Up Inc, the book 'The Art Of Emcee-ing'. So you know, we just been chillin' (smiles).
How long did it take you to pen and have you got plans to put out any other publications in the future?
It took me about a year to put the book together but it is a life time experience. I've been actually emcee-ing for over twenty years. We are definitely going to bring more books and multimedia projects to the people. We are developing many things now. Look for quality over quantity. Animations, children's books. Expect the unexpected.
What made you decide to launch the emcee competition, and what can we expect from the free beats CD that comes with the book?
The emcee competition is about three things. 1) Promoting the book obviously. 2) The topic for the bigpayback emcee contest is reparation! And that is so we can help develop consciousness and understanding of what reparations is and is not, why we need them, who owes us, and how we can get them. 3) To challenge the 'spokespersons' of our communities (the rappers and emcees) to use their talents to teach and share information that we can all benefit from. We also wanted to help open the door to the winner so that they can use the opportunity to get exposure and strengthen their career long term.
The beatt CD is a collection of ten beats that I produced, ranging in feel and style but all of them is some G shit. Not no fillers, but real music. I included it because it's so important to have something to write to and I wanted to share with the emcees, what it's like vibing in warrior studios. The tracks are also for emcees to choose something they can feel and make a song to and enter the bigpayback emcee contest. All the specific details are available at bossupbu.com
How important do you feel it is that there's some form of text book for aspiring emcee's to refer to?
It's a must have because the game is so sour right now. Hiphop is big business but it's big pimping too. So many of our folk is in a position where all we have is hiphop. If the music don't work out, we fucked. So a nigga need all the tools we can get, ya dig? And if we as the ones who do and live this shit, don't document our art, the industry will. And the industry will always develop artists in it's own interests, not in the artists own interest. Y'all already know how Dead Prez gets down. We keep it real and we about empowering our side of the war, ya dig? If we don't share the tools with each other we are at the mercy of the merchenary-managers, lying lawyers and lame-ass A&Rs! There are real ways to develop the skills it takes to emcee for a living. This is an art just like any other and with the right practice, and the right tools, the sky is the limit. That's why 'The Art Of Emcee-ing' is important. We get into all the creative details in the book as well as business, because you gotta have both.
What other hip-hop related books do you rate and recommend that people should check out?
I like RZA's new Wu-Tang manual. And I like 50's autobiography. I think RZA is just a great mind and source of wisdom, and 50's story offered a lot of interesting insight into his rise to the top. I also enjoyed Snoop's book, 'The Doggfather'. Great reading. But none of these books is a 'How To' book with a CD. That's why 'The Art Of Emcee-ing' is the first of it's kind.
Is the relationship between Sony Music and Dead Prez now a good one, unlikely to hinder any future releases?
We are free from the plantation and we are bossin up to the fullest.
How do you feel about some of your fan base becoming alienated by the line 'slap a white boy'?
You can't please everybody.
There's lots of urban myths on the internet about what happens to a white audience member at your shows. For the record, are they welcome?
What artists and producers are you feeling at the moment?
Outlaws, Akon, 70-80's soul, T.I because of how he reppin the real side of what a baller can do for the cause with the Heal The Hood campaign, Immortal Technique, Martin Luther (singer), Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Isaac Hayes, and I'm rooting for all the artists in general to be successful. No hate at all. I love so many nigga's shit.
Is there anyone which you'd appreciate the chance to collaborate with?
Sade would be nuts! I'm open to all music styles and genres because I love the challenge of mixing this shit up and showing the versatility, singing, rapping, producing etc. I just ran into Sleepy Brown in the A (ATL). Dead Prez is doing all kind of new and creative shit. Y'all aint ready. (Smiles)
I remember seeing you on TV here in the UK years back, talking on the Steven Lawrence murder. How much do you keep up with international situations?
As much as my folk in the field keep me hip. It's really the same struggle worldwide so I know it's not a border thing, ya dig?
What did you make of Kanye West saying what he did about Bush? What rappers do you rate politically?
Kanye was a G for that! Fuck Bush. T.I and David Banner is the hood presidents right now! I do'nt rate rap lyrics by themselves politically like that. I rate niggas action. Salute to the Heal The Hood campaign.
Have you any plans to come back to Europe and perform and what dates can we mark in the calender?
Check Bossupbu.com for updates. Right now we headed to Australia and Africa.
How important do you feel it is for the music industry to embrace the internet, and where can fans check up on you guys online?
It's the most direct source other than a live show. The Sony deadprez.com site is some corporate bull. We never had anything to do with it. But the bossupbu.com site is our official hands on site and we respond daily to people who reach out to us. It's our online headquaters!
Do you have any shout out's or messages you'd like to put out there?
Be healthy, stay strapped and bossup. The Art Of Emcee-ing is available now at www.bossupbu.com