Check out this chat with Dead Prez affiliates A-Alikes, talking about their past and forthcoming material, linking with the UK's Baby J, performing live, the state of the industry and lots more.
Who are you guys?
We are the group A-Alikes, from R.B.G. Same camp that brought you Dead Prez… P.Red aka Ness and A.Black aka K.
How did you guys hook up and what's behind the name?
We linked in Tallahasee Florida on the grind… We met through mutual friends and shortly there after started building, which led to making music together… A-Alikes means people of like minds… A Alike, B Alike, C Alike… I eat, you eat…
Where abouts are you from and how do you rate your immediate local hiphop scene?
We met in Tallahassee, we live in NYC, Brooklyn. There are a lot of people that come from all over the country, all over the world to NY, to do music, so it's a melting spot. You got ya battle rappers with the punchlines 'n' shit like on Smack DVD. In brooklyn I see a lot of mcs gettin' on some revolutionary shit. Seems like the streets is starting to get into saying something in your rhymes more than just 'I'll pop ya top off' rap.
What projects have you released so far and what do you consider to be your finest material?
Music or projects is like children. You don't really have a favourite or a best. Every project has its unique strength. 'Live Or Die' produced by Baby J is a good album but so is 'Kill The Middleman', also produced by Baby J. Our upcoming album 'I Eat, You Eat' is going to make an impact 'cause it's different from what's out… but still relevent and hot….
How did you hook up with UK producer Baby J and have you plans of collaborating again in the future?
We hooked up with Baby J back in '98, through Dead Prez. Stic' had told us 'bout this producer from England that had sent him beats that he thought we would like. He had a record he was putting together called 'Birth' and invited Dead Prez and us to be on it. We been bangin' ever since. We got 'Kill The Middleman' which drops Jan '06 in the UK and Europe and we going to continue collaborating and making moves with J… He's a soldier,not just on some music shit but also on some movement shit. He puts in work. Guerillas stand up!
Have you heard much hiphop from the UK and what were your opinions?
We love UK hiphop. At least the shit we heard. Yogi, Moorish Delta… It's still raw shit. In the states, most people can't get past the accents but my dudes be saying real shit… and real recognize real…
What artists and producers do you currently rate and what were the last great albums you bought?
I haven't bought an album in a while. I got some bootlegs of albums. I like Young Jeezy shit, the Smif n Wessun new record is hot. Um, I'm waitin' for that next Dead Prez, the new Biggie duet shit got some hot beats…. the M-1 new album is hot, and our shit of course. 'I Eat, You Eat' coming soon.
Are you signed to a label, and if so, how did that relationship begin?
Kaseem Big Kas at Nervous Records had got a CD of ours from a friend of his last year. When our paths crossed at this club, Speed in Manhattan, he remembered us from the CD. PMD (Parish from EPMD) had a record with Nervous last year and we were both performing on the bill on the same night. We tore it down that night doin' how we do. Mad energy, burning dollars, a lot of 'fuck the police', 'fuck George Bush' energy in the air. Lets just say, it caught his attention.
Have you ever considered chasing a contract with a major record label?
We got a joint venture right now with Nervous who's distributed by WEA so it's similar to a major label. If the situation make sense then we moving forward. If not, fuck it…
What do you feel is the best and worst aspect of the international hiphop climate at the moment?
The best is the love and understanding of 'real' hiphop. Outside the US, hiphop that deals with politics is still popular. Spots like Cuba, Columbia, Brazil, UK, Soweto, Tanzania, and even Canada be more receptive to music that means something. The worst is the US be pumpin' all that bullshit out to the world like we out here living in some video, so sometimes the world be thinking everybody over here deaf, dumb, and blind.
How did being featured in The Source magazine's 'Unsigned Hype' section progess your career?
It helped 'cause we was grinding. 'Unsigned Hype' has a history so it put us in good company. Biggie, Mobb Deep, CNN, Eminem…. If we wasn't
grinding though, it wouldn't have meant much….
What are you feelings of the current state of the magazine and their hate campaigns against the Shady Records clan?
That's politics. Well, everything is politics. The Source aint doin' too good right now based on decisions they made. They chose to speak out against Eminem and Shady on a creative/artistic level and it's affecting their bottom line 'cause Eminem is one of the biggest selling artists in the world. Then it's connected to 50 and with 50 being the biggest new artist, it really tied up a lot of shit for The Source… add into it that Interscope, Shady's parent company and the biggest selling label right now aint fucking with them on the advertisement tip, and The Source got an all out situation. Not to mention all the other dramas. I mean, we grew up readin' The Source, so it would be nice to see them keep it goin'... The Source made millions of dollars. The hood could use some of that money to put back into some real hood programs.
How did you hook up with Dead Prez and how has that relationship benefited your development in the creative and buisness sides of hiphop?
We came up from Tallahassee together. We've been homies beyond music for years and we still bangin'. When you heard Dead Prez music, what you were hearing was a community of like minded individuals coming together. As far as how has making music with Dead Prez benefited our developement, you can say we gained overall industry experience. When brothers got signed to Loud, we got to see the major label machine up close. Dead Prez aint your average rap group so we also got to see the resistance that this type of music brings. We livin' 'n' learnin' 24/7, 365. You know, Stic produced 3 songs on our upcoming album and both M and Stic are featured on our album. R.B.G. 4 Life. Brothers from another mother.
Have you guys ever been a part of any other elements of hiphop like breaking or graffiti?
Used to tag a lil something. Everybody in the hood used to pop or something back back in the day, but nothin' too serious. Just the mic mostly.
How often do you get the opportunity to perform and what goes down at a typical A-Alikes live set?
We burn dollars, burn flags, feed off the crowd. You definately going to hear 'fuck the police', 'middle fingers in the air'....You know, stuff like that.
Do you guys do much freestyling and how would you rate your skills?
We nice. We communicate clearly. Check the album when it comes out. We'll let you be the judge.
Have you guys got any plans to come to Europe to promote the new stuff with Baby J?
Any promoters looking to bring us over there, please get in contact with our manager Supreme. His email is email@example.com We would love to come to the UK and do what we do.
How important do you feel it is to put the work in to become established in scenes other than the US?
Anywhere where they listen to real shit, we tryin' to have music there. These borders are man made. Our people is all over this globe.
So to recap, tell us about the new material, what's on it and when it drops
'I Eat, You Eat', the new album featuring Dead Prez, Bilal, Poppa wu. Production from Dr. Period, 4th Disciple, Saukretes etc. That'll be in stores March 2006.
Do you wanna make any shout out's or drop some promo messages to end this on?
The whole People Army, R.B.G., Guerilla Nation, AMD, The Gods, Earth and all the children of the universe. All my people in the struggle to get free from this oppressive system. Lets get free. Aint none of us free 'till we all free. Free all political prisoners. Salute goes out to all the street tribes out there organizing. All our A-Alikes on the grind. Oh yeah, cop that 'Kill The Middleman' album produced by Baby J. Oh yeah, and fuck the police or in code, F.T.P. A's Up!
Check out the official website http://www.aalikes.net/