Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Peace, hip hop world!

You guys know the routine by now with your boy Haj "DJ 4XL" as we deliver you continuous dope interviews with some real true hip hop vets. In the tradition we always do with our releases, I bring you two exclusive interviews back to back. In the first set, we get a chance to speak with the B-X hustle-man Shorty Long and in the second part, we chat it up with the legendary DJ Mike Smooth. It was an honor to speak to these fellas right here.

The limited 200 run of "The South Boogie EP" (OLU-004) has now been completely sold out, so if you missed out, you missed out! For those of you who have locked in your pre-order, I just received the vinyl back from the plant today and will be shipping everyone's packages out on Thursday October 30th, so look for it on your doorstep soon! Enjoy the interviews below.

Conducted on October 27th, 2008 by 4XL and One Leg Up Records

4XL: When did you first pick up the microphone and who were some of your first influences?

Well I first started to pick up the mic in '87.. '88. That's when I first got started rapping. My influences, I mean it'd have to be everyone from the Kane's, MC Shan's, the Dana Dane's, the Doug E Fresh's, the X-Clan's, the Tribe Called Quest's.. You know, anything that was hot back then. You know, I'm an older cat and I was fortunate enough to witness the birth of hip hop, so to speak.. The Kurtis Blow, the Sugarhill Gang, Funky Four Plus One and all them guys.. UTFO's and things like that.

4XL: How did you meet Mike Smooth?

I met Mike Smooth when he was DJ'ing for Lord Finesse, with my man Chilly Dee.

4XL: And how did you meet Lord Finesse?

I knew Lord Finesse from the neighborhood. Finesse was doin' music, and at that time I wasn't doin' music.. I was predominantly a hustler, I was hustlin'. So hustlers and rappers used to hang out together, you know. I mean if you a real hustler, if you was like me.. I wouldn't say I was on a Nino Brown scale but I was gettin' money! I would hang out with up and coming rappers in our neighborhood.. Finesse, Showbiz, Fat Joe, you know?

4XL: When did you first decide to start Long Shorr Records and what was your vision with the label?

I started it around like '93 or '94. I felt like this was my ideology - I believe that people don't respect you unless you bring your own dish to the dinner table, you know, that's like my philosophy on life. So, okay, I can't get anyone to just make beats for me.. You know what I'm gonna do? I'mma hit up Finesse and pay him to make a beat for me. I need a video? So I paid $12,000 to get "Shorty'z Doin' His Own Thing" video done, in cash. The dude who made "Method Man" and "Protect Ya Neck" videos, my man Gee Bee.. Gerald Barclay.. I believe he's still doing videos. He did Wu-Tang's videos and I gave him $12,000 in cash. I'm talking about in a brown paper bag, just like that, off the books. You know, I've always had my own visions of being my own boss.

4XL: Were you ever looking for a major label situation or did you plan to remain indie?

Yeah, my goal was to remain indie and become my own record label. You know, own my masters, be my own man.. Get a distribution deal. See me, I even wanted to bypass the distributors! I looked at the music game like how I looked at the hustle game - cut out the middle man as much as possible.

4XL: Tell us some things about some of the other artists on the "South Boogie" EP. Let's start with Harry-O...

Wow! Harry-O! Harry-O, man, in a word: phenomenal. A phenom. Untapped talent, man. I thought he was gonna go all the way, man. Harry-O just had the style, you know? I knew him through Finesse and all the other guys that would be hangin' in the studio. You know, I met DeShawn who became Sunkiss that was down with Joe. Um, Cuban Link.. Tony Sunshine.. Black Sheep, The Legion, that's what it was. All of us used to vibe. We'd all go somewhere 15-20 cars deep, man.

4XL: John Doe?

John Doe is from the hood. He's from Forest projects. At that time, I was a little bit in the spotlight, you know, not major but just enough respect in the neighborhood. Like guys around the way would be like "Yo!", you know, I can really rap. So I'm like, spit me something hard, something intuitive.. spit something deep for me. And you know, John Doe was with it. You know, I'm puttin' cats in the studio. I'm comin' out my pocket $125 an hour, you know just blockin' out a studio for $1100, $1200 at a time, out my pocket, man.

4XL: Moet?

Moet, that's my little sister. She's another untapped talent, she's.. wow.. she's another one. And she's better than me! Her style is just crazy.. just untapped talent.

4XL: West?

West, that's my man. You know, he wasn't really into the MC game, I just did it like you know how some cats put they man on like "Come on, get on a song with me." Sort of like how Mase had his sister and all the whole Harlem World on.

4XL: Firehead?

Firehead, wowweee! Lyrical, lyrical, lyrical. Him and my man Joe Sexx was out of Millbrook projects. As a young teenager, I grew up in Millbrook projects and as I got older, I started hangin' out and hustlin' with dudes. Firehead, Joe Sexx and Buckwild.. We all come from the Millbrook projects area.

4XL: You obviously had finished an album's worth of material. Why did this stuff never come out?

Well man, I had the Kurt Cobain syndrome, which a lot of artists suffer from. When I say that, I'm not exactly 100% sure how the story went but I had heard one of the reasons he killed himself was because he felt that his music wasn't good enough.. and this was a platinum selling artist! But he wasn't happy with his product and I'm one of those guys. I'm one of those atypical peoplem, like "Do it over! Do it over!" I like just sat there and tore my verses apart, like "I don't like this and I don't like that." It'd take me 2 or 3 months to finish one song before I'm like "You know what? I'mma say my verse, I don't want to hear it. Don't play it back for me, I never want to hear it again." But then I'd hear people say like "Yo man, you is hot, you was doin' your thing!" I'm like "uhhh, thanks a lot", cause it wasn't nothin' to me, I really didn't feel it like that.

4XL: Interesting. So how did things change when you ended up gaining attention with the video being played on BET and Video Music Box and ending up in The Source magazine's Singles File column?

Oh, yeah, The Source.. I still got the clippings somewhere! But yeah, I used to walk up and down the street and cats'll be like "Yo, that's Shorty Long right there!" The same cat I am now is the same cat I always been. I go anywhere by myself, I move by myself. You know, I'd sign a few autographs and kept it movin'. I'd go to the club, walk to the front, they let me in right away.. You know, I'm like "OK!" Once again that rapper lifestyle, I was already livin' that cause I was a hustler. For me back in those days, let's say I was making $150,000 to $175,000 year for my pockets. Now that was me. Now my block might've been grossin' a million or something a year, but for me, I would take 10 percent of that right there for my pockets, after I paid all my expenses, you know whatever.. I still go home with like $150,000 a year, which was great back then! You go back to the 90's, I was a superstar in the hood! I put in maybe $75,000-$80,000 of my own money into the rap game and you know.. I've made like $15,000! (laughs) I was doin' the Michael Bloomberg thing, way back then where he spent 80 million to become the mayor of New York and pays himself a dollar a year, you know? Let's just put it like that, yo.

4XL: Shorty, my man, I appreciate the interview and thanks for filling us in on all these questions.

No problem, man. Listen, Haj, it's a pleasure. I'm honored you guys would interview a dude like me. Thank you, brother! Peace.

Conducted on October 25th, 2008 by 4XL and One Leg Up Records

4XL: What were some of your earliest hip hop experiences coming up in the Bronx as a DJ?

Most of my experiences were right there in the projects, you know? We had the blue courts, we had 146th park.. Like Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five, some of the Cold Crush and other groups, they all came through our projects whether it just be to see some of their family or just do the block parties. We had a lot of block parties on that block as well. The history of that area right there is crazy.

4XL: And that's in Forest Houses?

Yeah, that's Forest! That's Forest projects right there.

4XL: Everyone knows you from the classic LP's with Lord Finesse. How long have you and Finesse known each other?

That goes back to the early 80's. The exact date I couldn't even tell you, but we go back to at least '83 or '84.

4XL: I see you handled a lot of the production on the Shorty Long "South Boogie" EP. When did you start making beats?

I mean actually, I been doing beats since I been DJ'ing. The first beat machine I had was the Dr. Rhythm and this other beatbox machine.. small little beatbox type machine, but I forgot who made it. But I been doin' the beats as long as I've been DJ'ing, you know?

4XL: What kind of equipment did you progress onto, like for the beats on this Shorty Long EP?

Most of that was the SP-12, the 950, and um.. and there was one other keyboard I had used for that. I think it was a Yamaha. The exact model I can't recall.

4XL: Besides Shorty Long, who were some of the other MC's you were producing for around that time?

Yeah, you know Finesse.. Harry-O, who is on the first album with Finesse. I had this female artist, she never came out but she did a lot of shows. She was on the independent circuit, her name was Sex-Ty. I did some stuff for Traylude from Ironclad, that's Tito from the Fearless Four.. that's his group. J-Force, I met J-Force by accident cause he was lookin for a remix for his single "Bullseye" and I had met him off that 90.3 City College radio station because I also used help out there on the DJ tip. So I met him up there. You know, I didn't even like the song, I told him I didn't really feel the song. But surprisingly, the remix that I had did for him he liked so he pressed that up and released that. That was like around the mid-90's, something like that. He did a lot of work, he had started working with Marley. He did work for the House of Hits. He did some joints.. He started gettin' more into beats. So he was selling Marley beats and doing beats for Lords of the Underground out there as well.

4XL: I remember J-Force, that's some interesting info. So tell us what Mike Smooth is up to musically in 2008?

Really at this point, I'm just focusing on my sons. They got some projects and some things that they want to put out. So I'm working with them and helping them do that right there. Me personally, I don't really have no direct projects I'm focusing on outside of my sons.

4XL: Fill us in on your sons' project.

It's called Elite Squad. They based out of Harlem.. it's about 4 members. It's just real crazy because the 4 of them come from different areas but they all met up in school. So what they doin' is basically bringin' what they got in their areas to the music. We don't always record together but most of the songs we're putting them altogether collectively as an Elite Squad production type of album. I mean basically, for my son, it's more like I told him that with the people I been working with, you have to really come with it lyrically cause that's what people are really gonna be payin' attention for. So you can't be comin' with the half steppin, you know, and kinda cheatin' on your lyrics. You really got to put your work in on your lyrics, you know, read that dictionary and get some new words and pick some words out you know! So I took him down to the DITC party at SOB's last year, you know, introduced him to everyone that was out there at the show. He was just like ecstatic. I introduced him to O.C., to Andre, Grand Puba and all of them and I was like listen, this is who you really competin' with. That way you know, where you have to be mentally. You grew up listenin' to me playin' this music in the house but now this is where you want to be next year, on this stage performin' with these guys. I said it's good to be popular on the radio, but you still need to have that longevity, cause hits is just that - it's a hit one day and next day they forget about you.

4XL: Yeah, that's what's going on nowadays. Cats seem to have forgotten about focusing on skills and get caught up in all this street cred and rah-rah type stuff.

But if you really listen to it, 9 times out of 10, half of the shit they talkin' about they ain't living. They haven't lived that life. It's like, I can't believe what you sayin' cause it just dont fit you type of situation.. and guys walkin' around gettin' punked and gettin' slapped and you talkin' about you the biggest dude on the street? Real live niggas on the street ain't gettin punked like that, they punkin dudes like you. Like back in the day when me and Finesse was doin this, we aint have no large entourage. Reason we didn't have no large entourage was because 99 percent of the time, if I didn't know the promoter, Show knew him.. or somebody in our extended crew knew us and knew what we stood for. You ain't just gonna be runnin' up on us and think you gonna get away!

4XL: DITC definitely has a lot of respect.

The respect is first.. but they knew.. they ain't just gettin' at us like that. Cause they know what we about! They know it's gonna be some shit. If you come with it, it's gonna be somethin! So it ain't nothing, we done too many shows where we had little incidents and the same way you brought it is the same way we gave it to you. And I'm here to talk about it cause that's the way we are, that's the way we live. That's just the realness.

4XL: Word up! That concludes the interview, Mike, and thanks for taking the time out to speak with us.

Anytime, man. You got the number, you know! Anytime...

Thursday, September 25, 2008


DJ 4XL & One Leg Up Records present:


PRE-ORDERS available NOW!

Peace world! I'm proud to announce that the One Leg Up saga continues with the fourth installment of the series and yes, as promised, I am taking this next one uptown to the BX for OLU-004. One Leg Up Records, in conjunction with the legendary DJ Mike Smooth, is proud to excavate vintage unreleased material from longtime D.I.T.C. collaborator; Shorty Long!

The Bronx native Shorty Long hails from the same Forest housing projects area that produced Lord Finesse, Mike Smooth, Showbiz, Diamond D and Fat Joe. Like his esteemed neighbors, Shorty was also inspired to write rhymes and record tracks; first doing so in the late 80’s. Around 1993, Shorty Long decided to put up his own money and start the indie label; Long Shorr Records. Connecting with Lord Finesse for production, he recorded the 12” “Shorty’z Doin’ His Own Thang” which was released in 1994 and became an instant underground classic. With write-ups in The Source, vinyl spins on Stretch and Bobbito and the accompanying video getting played on video shows everywhere, Shorty Long looked to continue his promising start. He did this by re-connecting with his old friend, Mike Smooth, and adding him as a partner in Long Shorr. From there the duo collaborated on a follow up 12”, “You Know It’s Good Baby” in 1996. While various other songs were recorded during this time, including collaborations with several D.I.T.C. crew producers, nothing was ever released. That is, of course, until now….

One Leg Records has connected with Shorty Long and DJ Mike Smooth to finally unearth these sessions and the gritty 90’s Bronx sound is again brought to life! As he did on his original 12”, Shorty connected with D.I.T.C.’s legendary producers, as well as many of the BX’s finest talents of the mid-90’s era. The songs feature production from Showbiz, Buckwild, Mike Smooth and Ahmed (who some might know originally as DJ Timbalan and then later with Born Lordz). Vocal appearances from John Doe (of Diamond D fame) and Harry-O (of Lord Finesse fame) round out this EP, making it an essential for both D.I.T.C. collectors and fans of the rugged Uptown sound of the mid-90’s! The Bronx was represented properly on this project and why it has never seen the light of day until now is beyond me! Well, One Leg Up has recovered, restored and mastered this 7 song EP to finally be shared with the world. As usual, this record is limited to only 200 pieces in continuance with the limited nature of our series. This vinyl EP will never be repressed or re-issued at a later time, which holds true for all One Leg Up releases. Please do not delay in reserving your copy - get your pre-order in immediately.

Remember, as part of OLU's "Heavy Pieces" series, this is the 4th release out of 5 total limited releases we are putting out in this set. Things are STILL only getting better as our “Heavy Pieces” series is about to conclude!

At the end of the series, upon release of the next and final title, we will be announcing and giving away a FREE bonus record (OLU-LTD1). This extremely rare and exclusive bonus record will ONLY be available to purchasers of all five of our releases in this series. It will be of the same caliber and quality as any regular OLU release. This is my way of showing love back to those of you who spend hard earned money to support projects such as these that would otherwise be impossible to release. In order to qualify for the free bonus wax, it does include the requirement of having purchased the sold out OLU-001, OLU-002 and OLU-003 titles as well. I want to thank everyone that has been keeping up and is locked in for our grand finale. OLU plans on making quite a splash and cracking your domes with a banger of a conclusion!

Ordering information and snippets are posted below.


01. "Purple Rain" *
02. "Ain't Nuthin' New Under The Sun (feat. Harry-O and John Doe)" *
03. "Say My Name" **

01. "Be Alright" ***
02. "What's Criminal?" *
03. "South Boogie" *+
04. "Crime and Corruption (feat. Moet, West and Firehead)" *+

* produced by Ahmed
** produced by Show
*+ produced by DJ Mike Smooth
*** produced by Buckwild

SNIPPETS of all 7 tracks on the EP can be heard here:



- Pre-orders are being taken NOW. Get your order in and reserve your wax.
- Limited to only 200 copies, this collector's EP will not be repressed. Once they're gone, they're gone!
- The EP comes in a standard black jacket with black & white sticker at top.
- Price is 80.00 USD plus shipping & handling fees.
- These records are sold on a first come, first serve basis.
- We are accepting payments worldwide with PayPal in US currency.
- Records will be shipping the week of October 27th, 2008 from New York City, USA

To PRE-ORDER now, send an e-mail to: OneLegUpRecords@gmail.com

In the subject please write: PRE-ORDER: OLU-004

Provide the following information in your e-mail:

1. Your PayPal e-mail
2. Your full name (first and last)
3. Your full shipping address, printed as it should read for the postal carrier in your region
4. Quantity
5. Shipping option (choose from below, either REGULAR or EXPRESS)

Price per copy is $80.00

REGULAR SHIPPING (no insurance/tracking)
For shipping without insurance or tracking provided, please add:

$7.00 - USA [USPS Priority Mail 2-3 days]
$8.00 - CANADA [Airmail Parcel Post 7-10 days]
$14.50 - UK & EUROPE [Airmail Parcel Post 7-10 days]
$17.00 - JAPAN & AUSTRALIA [Airmail Parcel Post 7-10 days]

Add $2.00 for each additional record if purchasing multiple copies.

EXPRESS SHIPPING (with insurance/tracking)
For shipping that includes insurance and tracking details, please add:

$20.00 - USA [USPS Express Mail next day]
$25.00 - CANADA [USPS Express Mail Int'l 3-5 days]
$32.00 - UK & EUROPE [USPS Express Mail Int'l 3-5 days]
$30.00 - JAPAN & AUSTRALIA [USPS Express Mail Int'l 3-5 days]

Add $3.00 for each additional record if purchasing multiple copies.

Please verify carefully that your shipping address is 100% correct to avoid any shipping errors.

After your e-mail is received, we will send you a PayPal invoice with the proper total. When your payment is complete, your copies will be reserved and in queue to be shipped the week of October 27th, 2008.

Make sure to get your pre-order e-mails in to us as soon as possible as this record will sell out quickly. In the event that we have sold out all 200 copies, you will receive an e-mail notification that all copies have been sold and you will not receive a PayPal invoice.

PLEASE NOTE: Our shipping prices only reflect our cost and are not inflated by any means. Please keep in mind that the US Postal Service has raised their rates due to the rising cost of gas. We have done our best to keep costs low and prices as fair as possible based on the amount of capital required to make a limited 200 run vinyl release and ensure that the artists involved are compensated while maintaining the highest level of quality for our product. This is a very special project and no shorts have been taken whatsoever in making this EP a reality.

Any and all inquiries regarding this release and/or purchasing questions can be directed to me at: OneLegUpRecords@gmail.com

Thanks for your continued support.

Best regards,

-Haj "4XL"
One Leg Up Records '08
Mike Smooth holdin' it down for One Leg Up in the '08!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Peace my peoples...

I'm back with more treats from the One Leg Up movement! In honor of the latest One Leg Up release, Lord Digga "The High Plains Drifter" EP, I got a chance to speak with the Diggaman himself. This is definitely one of the longest interviews I've conducted. Digga has been a part of a lot of interesting and legendary things throughout his hip hop career. Take the time out to read this interview in full and I guarantee you won't be disappointed if you're a real head like me. Lots of interesting hip hop trivia type stuff discussed in here.

One Leg Up is still taking pre-orders for the limited 200 press EP, which will be shipped August 29th. Copies are moving fast, so the order slots are filling up quickly. Make sure you don't miss out on this vintage 90's vinyl EP, especially if you're in line for the Heavy Pieces series giveaway.

For more info on ordering a copy, please CLICK HERE. Get one while they're still here.

Conducted August 8th, 2008 by 4XL and One Leg Up Records

4XL: What got you into hip hop?

I got interested in it real young. Growing up in a different area.. in Miami.. in Opa Locka, you know rap wasn't the thing where I came from. So when my mother, who lived in New York, used to come to down and visit.. She used to bring records like, "Listen to this and this is what's goin' on in New York!" This is like late the 70's, early 80's, right when hip hop was brewing. The first record I remember hearing probably was Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.. "The Message".. or Treacherous Three.. something like that. It was a mixture of different stuff.

4XL: So you're originally from Miami but moved to New York at a young age?

Yeah, I ended up in Brooklyn.. in Flatbush.. in 1985.

4XL: What prompted the move? Was it a family thing? Tell us how an Opa Locka boy ends up in Flatbush.

The Opa Locka boy was gettin' into a couple things he wasn't supposed to be doing! I basically outgrew my grandmother's blessings. She wasn't prepared for me hangin' out late at all times of the night and not coming home. But a lot of it was kinda ironically due to music because I wanted to hang out with my older cousins. They had the music over at their house. They had the mobile DJ set and shit. So I used to wanna go over there and I didn't come home a lot, but I was thinking since it's my aunt's house and that it's my cousins', I didn't feel I needed to come home. Mind you I'm really young at this time. My grandmother used to get mad about that and you know as time went on, I got older and she thought that she couldn't handle me as much so I got shipped off to Flatbush.

4XL: You said your mother lived in Brooklyn, so did you ever visit New York much prior to the big move?

Not too frequently, but I did make attempts to stay in New York at certain points. I was going to school up there, but it was like elementary school for like half a year maybe. I was occasionally bouncin' back and forth and then eventually I just stayed down in Florida because I liked it better down there. You know, I'm comin up here to New York and I'm seein' buildings I can't even feel, I'm like "Yo, fuck this shit!" I was used to bein' in the sunshine, seein' beaches.. Lake Okeechobee (laughs).. So I went back and forth between elementary up through junior high and then stayed put for awhile in Miami until I got shipped off like I said.

4XL: How long did it take you to adapt to the Brooklyn way of life?

It took awhile. It took like my 2nd year in high school after being on the football team up here and shit. It took like those 2 years to try to, you know, snap out of bein' in Florida mode and shit.. and feel at home in Flatbush.

4XL: How old were you when you first started actually writing rhymes?

Probably like 15.

4XL: Did you rhyme in high school or have a rap group?

No, I was only doing the football thing and I was, I guess you could say I was a breaker. I don't really like to use the term breaker, cause I didn't have any floor exercises or floor shit.. I guess I was more of a popper. I was more into that than rapping at the time. I was writing but at the same time, I was still into the dance aspect of just the whole hip hop culture. That was my connection moreso than the rappin' shit because I had to get into learning how to make tracks. At that time, I wasn't making any tracks. You gotta understand, I had to learn.. just trying to write a song to somebody's beat that's already someone's song.. I didn't have no instrumentals or no shit like that. So I didn't know nothin' about all that. That was the frustrating part like "Yeah I like that beat but they're rhyming on it." I couldn't learn how to block out whoever was on that song so I could write something down. So I had to learn how to write without tracks. That's why writing was like on the backburner cause I was still dancin' and shit.

4XL: When did you decide to start taking rap seriously and actually keeping a notebook with rhymes?

Probably around the time I got up with Ace. Like right around that time. I was still in high school at Sheepshead Bay High. He had graduated already. He was about 4 years ahead of me.

4XL: Did Masta Ace already have his debut album "Take A Look Around" on Cold Chillin' out around the time you started getting up with him?

No, really just "The Symphony" was poppin'. The Marley Marl "In Control" thing had happened, but the album hadn't come out yet. So around the time "The Symphony" was poppin' off was when I started hangin' around with Ace and them.

4XL: Were you already pursuing to write rhymes before you got up with Ace and crew?

I was writing rhymes, but now I could concentrate on really writing stuff. I was jottin' down little shit but you know I didn't have any tracks or nothing that I could really sit there and you know, listen to a beat and just write some shit. So when I got around Craig G and Ace and them it became different. Now, you know, there was a DJ around who cuts records, so now I could sit there and listen to this nigga Steady Pace cut records in Ace's little room and now I could write. Like "Yo, make a tape for me cuttin' up 'Impeach the President' or whatever.." Then boom! I got some shit.. I could go to the crib now and write. So that's how it started.

4XL: So how exactly did the connection start? How did you end up in the mix with Masta Ace and the whole Juice Crew family?

That right there happened really on the connection from the football team. Ace was on the football team at one point when he was in high school. Then, you know, he used to come back from college and visit the school and get to know the younger players and know me or whatever, and from that time we was on some hangin' out shit. One of his peoples that also went to the school had brothers that were almost in the same age group as me so they were in school still and they were comin' back to watch us play, so that's how the connection got started. Eventually I was goin' to a couple shows that he had and then it went from that to hangin' around Kane, Craig G, all of them.. It was crazy. You know that's the shit as a kid you dream about. Like cause you look at Video Music Box and all the shit that was poppin' and you be like "Damn, son!" and you see somebody downtown like "That's this dude! Yo, son I seen the nigga T.J. Swan.." You know, little shit like that you dream about as a fan. Not to say that I'm a groupie, but I'm a rap fan first before I was even an artist. I went through every phase of hip hop, that's the way I feel. Other than graffiti and that aspect or whatever, the stages that I took to get to this point I feel I paid all of those dues. From being a fan, like standin' next to these dudes.. "Symphony" part 1 video shoot.. "Symphony" video 2.. It's just shit you dream about.

4XL: That's fresh. I'm sure being around all of that during that time really inspired you to create stuff once you realized the opportunities you had in front of you.

Yeah, like I used to be up at Cold Chillin' like it was nothin', yo. You know, I owe that opportunity and that time period in frame to Ace for taking me along. He didn't have to, which was cool. Those times was cool.

4XL: How did you come up with the name Lord Digga?

That was the first name I derived at after sitting down and thinking of so many different things. But at those times, the Lord in my name probably had me being confused as some sort of five percenter or God MC or something like that. But it was really supposed to be an acronym. Nobody never really asked me so it was never spelled out with all the periods. Lord really stands for: Lyricist Obsessed with Rhyming Daily, and the Digga, later was broken down to: Distant Illustrations Going Global Afterlife. The Digga part of my name came up after I had this record, it was a movie soundtrack.. "Across 110th Street" I think where one of the cop's names was Gravedigger.. and I saw that on the back of the album cover, so I omitted the Grave part and came in with the acronym.

4XL: Explain how you officially ended up as part of Masta Ace Incorporated, with the whole INC thing. How did that concept come about?

As time progressed, I started to get more into my craft and tryin' to do certain things. I used to have a job working at ASCAP at the time and I started to meet up with people and I ran into Witchdoc a/k/a Norm, who later became my partner in Bluez Brothers. He knew certain people.. Mister Cee and stuff like that.. To make a long story short, I went through that process or whatever, and in turn, Ace started hearing a couple things that I was doin' on some studio shit and random songs I was just rhymin' on. He was like "Yo, you've progressed!".. You know, from just writing shit to never recording these things before and now to doin shit like this. It was something cool, something legitimate.. He felt like it was something. So he already had in mind to do something after the transition period between him leaving Cold Chillin' and not having a deal. He had come up with the whole Masta Ace Incorporated concept. The INC... Like remember I told you there was a classmate of his that had two younger brothers that was in school with me as well? Well, they were producing and they were doin' things on their own and he ended up using one of their records that he got on and used the shit for one of the singles from Cold Chillin'.. Matter fact, it was the "Go Where I Send Thee" joint. So he took that element.. those dudes.. plus me and this other chick at the time that they was fuckin' with first, which was Paula Perry and decided to come with this idea of The INC. It wasn't like something that we signed into, contract-wise as group.. Like "Oh yeah, this person gets this percentage" or it wasn't on paper as The INC. We just had production deals with Ace's company, so in theory it was like "Yeah, we The INC.."

4XL: So who all was in the original INC crew?

Ace, Eyceurokk, Paula Perry and myself.

4XL: Many fans looked at you as the co-pilot of The INC. How did you end up in that position?

My hunger and determination to get recognized as a legimate artist and producer was a little more than everyone else's. They just had agendas at the time that they didn't want to go forth being the head or whatever, you know, to do whatever it takes.. not necessarily to be a star but, you know, to be recognized as someone that's tryin' to give the fans good music. That's all I was aiming for, that was my goal. It really wasn't about the money at all at that time. It was just like, "Yo I want to be known for doing THIS." For doing some shit where I was recognized.. I'm already a fan, so I can't love the music anymore than I love it, but then being a part of it and contributing and making the shit grow and move onto another stage because I created some shit where, "Damn, that shit is crazy!" and you gonna be like, "Yo, what's the next stage after this? After he did that? What can he do now?" That's all I really wanted to do.. Keep my measure for a higher threshold.4XL: What happened with the Cold Chillin' situation and how come Ace didn't continue to do The INC thing over there?

I think he felt like he wasn't getting the attention that he needed at Cold Chillin' cause of Kane and G. Rap. So I think Delicious Vinyl bought out the rest of the contract and took him over there.

4XL: Where did you first begin recording and around what time period was this?

It was with my other producer, my 2nd DJ.. Ezo, who was affiliated with Daddy Rich from 3rd Bass and the Supermen with Clark Kent and shit. So I basically used to go to his crib and he had the equipment and produced the tracks there. I recorded actually in Bed-Stuy by his other homeboy who had a studio with a little 8 track. This was around '90 or '91..

4XL: Who were some of your original influences as an MC?

I was a real voice dude. I like good strong voices. The flows definitely gotta be there but the voice is number one with me. Without that, I don't even wanna hear you.. It's like fuck you.. I don't care.. Your flow could be fuckin' platinum but your voice gotta really capture me, so it was a combination of about like 6 dudes. I'd say KRS-One, Just Ice, LL Cool J, Chuck D, Freddie Foxx.. The last guy was G. Rap.. G. Rap because of just the way he puttin' together like, his wittyness at that time was like ahead of niggas' shit. You know, you had Rakim, you had certain niggas.. but his wittyness, the way he put shit together and his voice was crazy.. G. Rap is stupid! He's just one of my favorites. With all that being said, I tried to combine all those things into one. Like the nasty shit G. Rap be saying all the time and then how Just Ice used to rhyme, that nigga was like to me, the first gangster of rap, east coast or west coast. I didn't even know of any other nigga that was on that type of shit. So combine all those things together and come up with me!

4XL: Flatbush was home to a lot of hip hop legends. What was it like growing up in area so rich with hip hop talent?

That was like another inside inspiration to know that the people that were in the vicinity of where I lived, were people I considered stars in my eyes. Because like I said, me being a fan of hip hop, to be in the same area where they were at that time, was unreal for me. You know, Chubb Rock lived down the block.. you know, this guy Howie Tee was not too far from there up the block on Schenectady.. you know, Special Ed was over there on Church.. It was just like a triangle over there. It was crazy.

4XL: Then in the 90's it exploded even more with cats like Cella Dwellas, Bush Babees...

Yup.. Bushwackas too.. But really Flatbush jumped off before that, because of UTFO.. Real Roxanne was from there too. So Flatbush was like.. I'm not gonna say how Mt. Vernon was with Heavy D and Pete Rock and them, but it's kinda similar. It just shows you it's not all centered around the Bronx and Queens.

4XL: What got you started into making beats and doing full-on production?

Well it started by chillin' with my partner, Witchdoc. After I met him at ASCAP, we got into talkin' about records and shit like that and I gave him some records they were throwing out at the office.. some 45's.. these files they were throwin' out, so I gave him a bunch of records, different types of shit. He told me he was doing production and I started out just by me just trackin' with him too. Once I started gettin' these tracks and these beats, I would start to write more and start to write real songs and shit like that. It got to the point where I would just go to his house and just take shit, like tag shit.. like "Yo what are you doing with this? Gimme that shit." So it got the point where I told him, "Yo, instead of you havin' to do shit, just show me how to start fuckin' around with shit so I can bring shit over and try to sample the shit that I want to do tracks with." It started like that, like on some hands on shit. I would just watch him and see what he was doin' and then I started on a keyboard which was the EPS-16 Plus.. and I just started learning how to sample. I started diggin', started lookin' for breaks, started lookin' for different shit.. Lookin' for shit that I know niggas had used with other records of that same artist.. It started like that and then next thing you know, I got all types of shit, just ready to go in.

4XL: When did you form Bluez Brothers officially and was your first production gig the "Slaughtahouse" album?

Yeah it was. We formed it in 1992. That's when it started. Actually the first drum machine I touched was the MPC 60 cause Ezo had one and then he went to the MPC 60-II, that was like a step up from that one and Daddy Rich had one. So we started fuckin' with that and then that's how it started.. I later went on to learn how to utilize the SP-1200 after the keyboard shit cause after we started doin' more shit, Norm eventually just bought one. So then I sharpened up my skills and learned how to fuck with that. Then I started with the S-950. Norm had the keyboard, so once we got the drum machine, he would do filters with the ASR-10 cause he switched the EPS to the ASR and then I would do the tracks over at Ezo's. Those tracks were S-950, MPC and SP-1200 combos. Then the tracks that I would do with Norm would be SP-1200 and ASR combos between filters and other sounds. I was just mixin' it up, learning how to do all that shit at once. Cause I thought at some point I became nice! So I just didn't wanna dabble with just any one thing.

4XL: So how long did the Bluez Brothers thing last?

Since 1992 until now, I mean it's still in existence. It's just that Norm has other obligations to do other things. I mean he's still making tracks but he's just not really into the get-back-into-doing-music thing and I'm still going. But I mean, we're still a team.

4XL: That's good to know. A lot of people thought that the Bluez Brothers thing had disbanded at some point since you never really saw that name in later production credits, only Lord Digga.

I think at the time it was just contact-wise, I guess we just wasn't in contact with each other and I just went ahead and did the projects. I didn't want to put something on the credits that wasn't true. If I don't even have contact with him at that time and put Bluez Brothers or whatever it is, and things are gettin done, and I can't get in contact with him or whatever.. that's not gonna do me any good! So it was just like the timing factor of it.. that was just things that had to be done at that time. It wasn't that we was really "broke up" or something as a team, I just did certain solo things and production gigs myself.

4XL: So what is Norm up to nowadays?

He's still Witchdoctor.. You know, I call him Norm Bates cause that's his gov.. that's his first name, but he's definitely Witchdoctor, you know. He's doin' a couple things here and there but he's just not ready to release any tracks yet.

4XL: You guys ended up producing a chunk of tracks on Notorious BIG's classic "Ready To Die" album. How did y'all end up landing that production gig?

I'm gonna say it was great hustle and a pretty good assist to make it all connect. It was mainly due to my hustlin' with our product up to The Source magazine and being recognized in an Unsigned Hype column with the first artist I ever produced for, which was Sir Essence Don.. and Matt Life, Matty C.. was the spearhead of Unsigned Hype. So I had a repoire with him and I just had an open door to be with The Source magazine which was another time in my life and in my travels in hip hop that I felt was significant. You know, that was a major, major, major hip hop source.. Literally.. Givin' fans a lot of information and great pictures and just a lot of crazy shit. You know, a good magazine for its time, until it got fucked up! But anyway, I'm up at The Source and chillin' with the editors and walkin' around with one of my good friends Kierna Mayo, that's my homegirl. I used to be up there with Matty and fuckin' around with them and you know, bringin' tapes.. just tracks all the time to Matt.. Just bringin' shit, all the time.. One of those days I left one of them shits with him and then he goes and plays it for Big. He played it for Big and Big picked it.

4XL: Ahh, so that's how the beats landed in Biggie's hands...

Yup. Big would say, "I want it!" and it wasn't even finished, like "I want that NOW!" (laughs) It was just crazy, man. Like at the time, I don't think any of us knew. Like me and Norm didn't know that it was gonna really be some crazy shit like it was. We knew the shit was ill and the dude had mad talent, but we never imagined it would be what it is today.

4XL: Speaking on Sir Essence Don, there's a record out there from 1992 on Afrocentric Records called "First Step" b/w "Live From New York". The producer credit is listed as "Lord D." Was that your very first production credit ever on wax?

That was the very first record that came out with my name on it, yup. Essence was a wild nigga, man. I thought he was really dope and had some potential, but he was just too street for his own good. A lot of rappers got on records and talked a whole bunch of mess but this guy was like actually living like that. He had so much potential but he kinda blacklisted himself out of the industry from a few incidents. At one point, he had gotten a deal with Freeze Records I think and had some kind of disagreement with them. Him and my man Q went up there on some wild shit, brought a gun and all that. He ended up actually robbin' one of the niggas from the label for his watch! (laughs) Like, straight robbed the dude downstairs outside the office and yapped the nigga's watch. It was crazy. He ended up going to jail for that. I think he did like 3 years off that charge and it fucked up a lot of shit for him in the industry.

4XL: Speaking of Unsigned Hype artists, when we met up to sort out the tracks on the "High Plains" EP, you told me a little something about helping Biggie get in the Unsigned Hype column originally. Tell us about that.

What happened was, Mister Cee had called me one night and was like "Yo, how do you go about getting in Unsigned Hype?" Cause I was like one of the first people he knew that was actually in Unsigned Hype. So he said to me, "Look I got this dude, he's ill. I want to get him in Unsigned Hype." I'm like, "Yo I know the person that's runnin that over there." Cause I chilled with him like everyday. So he's like, "Yo.. See what you can do." So I went back to Matt and said, "I got this nigga you need to listen to. Nigga's mad nice." I was like, "Yo he's my man." Mind you, I didn't know Big or know who he was at this point, but I was looking out for Mister Cee by dropping some shit on Matt knowing he would check it out right away and not think it's some kind of industry move. The game works like that sometimes, even back then. So Matt was like, "Aight yo, just give me the shit." Then Mister Cee came up there with the tape to meet us and that's how it all started.

4XL: Do you remember what the tape was like?

It was a demo basically of him doin' freestyle type shit, just spittin' verses, shit he had done down by 50's house.. the DJ 50.. 50 Grand.. He was just basically rhyming off breakbeats shit, like the shit that niggas was makin' records off of. One of the shits was like "Blind Alley", the whole break of the record like how it goes into the "Ain't No Half Steppin" shit, how Marley Marl chopped it.. but the whole shit all the way to the end, but the nigga would cut it back to the top. Biggie was rhymin' on that shit and that shit was just stupid! That was one of the more stupidest ones, because you know, I was so accustomed to "Ain't No Half Steppin" and then to hear the actual record where it came from with more bars, you know, more measures to the shit.. it's like, "Yo that shit sounds stupid!" He rhymed straight through all the way back to the cut and I was like, "Yo that shit is bananas!" So that was one of the better ones that I remember that was on there. That was crazy.

4XL: Tell us what it was like to work with Biggie.

Big was like.. he knew he was a star but he just didn't act like one. Big was like somebody I grew up with on my block but now we just doing music together, like we was the type of kids that did music all our life. And I think maybe it was only one other producer that was like that with him and that was Easy Mo Bee and he grew up in his neighborhood with him. So doin' joints with this dude was like work, but it wasn't work. You come to the studio, this mothafucka's ordering chicken wings and shit.. weed is there.. liquor is there.. couple bitches runnin' around.. Junior Mafia's in there.. It's like "Come on in, nigga, this my house!" and we in there smokin', drinkin', eatin' chicken and shit. This nigga ain't doin' no vocals and the music is playing! Niggas is in there just talkin', like it's a party, like we all fuckin' around. Next thing you know, lights is dark in the booth and you just hear that signature Big "Uhh... Uhh.. Yo turn the music up in the headphones, yo I'm ready to take one." Just like that and I'm like, "What the fuck? Are you serious?" (laughs) Niggas is high as hell smokin' the craziest dro ever, just in there chillin' and there'd be sessions and shit where niggas would come through and listen to records for samples and shit. So we'd bring records up there and we'd just listen, lookin' for shit to make tracks with. On some bugged shit though I think I got jacked for one of my ideas for the remix of my song, "One More Chance", which is ironic. Cause one day we was in the studio layin' shit, niggas was in there and we brought records and we was playin' shit and I played the DeBarge shit in the studio. Well, somebody was in there. No names, but somebody from somebody's production team was there and next thing I know.. "One More Chance Remix"! So somebody was told. Matter fact, it wasn't even them. They wasn't there. It was Puffy that was there and he must've put the order out. This must've been before The Hitmen and then.. Bom! Remix.. So one of our ideas got jacked, cause Big wanted it too, he wanted that.. He was like "Yo y'all do something with that one!" Cause we was playin' the records, he was sittin there.. just like that. We had not too long ago just finished layin' the fuckin' original "One More Chance" joint.. we had just finished layin' the shit probably like the week before. So we was in the studio again this time, it was to lay "Everyday Struggle" cause that song had just barely made the album. Cause we already had "Me and My Bitch" and "One More Chance", so he was pretty cool with us at that point, he was like good. But then we came and played that shit for him and it was on. He's like "Yo I need that!" So "Everyday Struggle" had just made the album. We was doin' the final touch ups and mixin' and shit, chillin with this dude, still. He used to call me to come chill with him when there wasn't even no sessions, I wasn't even layin' down no shit for the nigga he just be like, "What up! What up?" Cause I'd call him like, "Yo did you get that tape from the office or did you get that tape from Mark (Pitts)?" He'd be like, "Yeah.. What you doin'?" I'm like, "Yo nothin', whatever." He'd say "Yo meet me by Daddy's House." I'll meet the nigga by Daddy's House.. he ain't even driving! We go upstairs for half a second, give him another tape, he'll listen to shit and be like, "Yo come with me." I'm like, "Yo whatever. What is we about to do?" He's like, "Yo come on, I'm about to go to Hit Factory to go do some shit with Kim." So I'd roll with him to the Hit Factory and I ain't even got no sessions with the nigga! So I'd be up in the little waiting room there and Big is tellin' me like, "Roll this up, nigga, I'll be back." So I was rollin' around with him when it wasn't even no sessions. Then, on some next shit, I would run into him randomly, like before he switched up his styles to make shit blow totally, this nigga.. me and him runnin' into each other shoppin' at the same store! I backed into the nigga, pause, on some funny style shit. He didn't know I was in there and I ain't know he was in there. We ended up runnin' into each other near the fuckin' Carhartt hoodie sweatshirts section.. that's how bugged that shit is.

4XL: You also told me about Big giving you props on your rhyme skills...

Yup. One day it was some bugged shit, it was like some unexpected shit. Once again I'm comin' at him with another tape.. album is basically finished. I'm still bringin' shit. One day we was up in the office, he's sittin in Puffy's chair and the nigga is like, "Yo you know, like not for nothin man.. You be sayin' some shit. Like, yo, you are fuckin' insane! I fucks with you." And I'm just standin' there lookin at this nigga like is he serious? He's talkin' about me? This nigga's like, come on son.. the fuckin' king of rap at the time. That shit just made me think about shit in a whole different perspective. Like I said, I just wanted to be a fan of this shit and contribute but not actually see myself as being someone that's talked about by someone that I look up to, and you know, that shit has been successful. That shit was good enough for me right there. I ain't even have to do nothing else! I'm just off the strength of that in my mind. I'm like, "Shit nigga... What the fuck! I'm good money right now." So he comes to me with that shit on some real shit. I was totally shocked, that threw me for a loop.. like you're going to give me props and your stuff is all over the place, so it was really some bugged out shit for him to say what he said.

4XL: Why wasn't there any Bluez Brothers production on Big's 2nd album, "Life After Death"?

I think we were cut off at the path by Puffy. Puffy kinda took a stronghold over Big at this time and also, you know, he wasn't in the same place all the time cause certain things was happening he was tellin' me about. Like niggas callin' his crib and hangin' up, so he had to change his number every month. It was a lot of funny shit going on. He had got into that car accident if you remember around that time, remember he had the cane and all that? So he wasn't coming into New York like that. So that happened in the process of the 2nd album, he wasn't comin over, but Puffy was over at Daddy's House. I would give the tapes to Mark Pitts, who would give them to Puffy and then it's up to him to pass shit onto Big. So basically it was just on the strength of Puffy to give it to him. So if he didn't wanna do it or didn't like the tracks himself, then there you go, we don't make the album. Cause I'm pretty sure if he would've passed on whatever we had on them tapes, Biggie would've picked it, but Puff didn't give it to him. So I guess you could say that process could've been a direct hit to us because we didn't sign with Puff as producers or maybe they just wanted to go into a different direction. Puff probably didn't even listen to the shit.. heard a couple joints and was like, "Nah, I'm not gonna let him hear this."

4XL: In '95 you heated up the underground scene with two classic joints, "Sex" and "Feel It", released on Southpaw Records. Were those songs originally recorded for some sort of Delicious Vinyl project at the time?

Nah, those records weren't recorded for Delicious Vinyl. Southpaw was supposed to be a subsidiary of Delicious Vinyl. It was this guy Orlando Aguillen. He was like, "Yo give me some things I could put out on Southpaw." That was his little subsidiary of Delicious Vinyl to specifically do these things. He was a DJ as well out there so he could get records played out there and things like that. He had other DJ's, you know, he had a lot of connections. So really, that was my dude. Orlando was my dude. He gave me the first opportunity to be a solo artist in this business and let me be heard outside of me just being in The INC. I got my own personality, my own things too, so he was the first one to do it. I had been shopping for a solo deal prior to that situation, but my material wasn't really all that polished and I was still getting offers and getting looked at, but I never felt I was really ready at that time. In the process of shopping, Orlando came to me with the idea of giving him some records so he'd have a reason to pay me! (laughs) So he was also acting as my manager for a little bit, got me some situations and things of that nature.

4XL: So you eventually ended up on Big Beat/Atlantic later that year. How did that come about?

Well I was gonna sign with Delicious Vinyl, but the contract between Ace and me and with the production company had expired. So basically in sports terms, I'm a free agent at that point. I'm able to search around and look for a team. If I'm not happy with the terms that I had there or you don't re-sign me to a franchise player tag for a year then I'm gonna be lookin' at other teams and another team came about. I was shopping. So Delicious Vinyl missed out on signing me because they wanted me to sign back to Ace's production company and then he would basically be running my project. I didn't want that at the time cause his music and my music was two different things. I wanted to have my freedom and my status that I gained through doin' what we did to go in my own direction and Big Beat allowed me to do that. They gave me an all-in budget and at that time, that was really the big thing.. being able to control your own money. They give you a check and then you pay who you need to pay and you do what you gotta do. They gave me that opportunity and that's what I did. I wanted to do the Delicious Vinyl deal cause I already had that relationship with them and I think it probably would've done some shit for me cause I had forged a lot of relationships with niggas out there already and it was cool. I saw where Ace wasn't able to do the things that I was able to do, I think I probably would've capitalized more than he did by being on Delicious Vinyl. Everything was out there. Movie slots.. Everything, you know. It could've been something, but I wasn't gonna sit back and just let this dude do what he wanted to do with my money. So that situation didn't happen.

4XL: So Big Beat gave you the budget money and you put yourself up in the studio. How much material was done during that time? Was it all the material that's on this EP, aside from "Good Vibrations"?

Basically that was the start of it. I started recording the songs that are on the "High Plains" EP and that was about to become my album at that time. You know, a lot of things didn't even get laid down to tape, but that was the start of it. That's what I was spending my money on.

4XL: A couple of the joints on this EP feature an MC by the name of Logic. Who is he and what was his involvement in that project?

Logic was me when I was in my situation comin up. He was that person that I was, trying to be hungry. I was gonna to sign him and do the things I was gonna do. Like I said, he was gonna be me.. He was gonna be like in the shoes I was in coming up under Masta Ace.

4XL: What happened with the album for Big Beat and why did it not get released?

I felt that it was, you know, the common case of an artist not getting the attention they should be getting. I wasn't getting it because of the other bigger artists they had signed on their label and then, they had recently signed Ace also to a deal over there. I just didn't feel comfortable with working with them now knowing that. I don't know if they knew that we had a falling out like that, since it was recent and Ace had done some shit on my Big Beat project prior. But I don't know if they was trying to put the group back together or something. I don't know what the hell they was trying to do. But I just didn't feel that they knew what they were doing or knew the direction they were going in. They didn't know what to do with me and how to market me and some of the other artists they had over there. Once I saw that it was just like a discrepancy. I just didn't like what was going on and you know, to find out later after all of that, they dropped Ace anyway. With my situation, I didn't get dropped, I just left. I just got frustrated to the point where I refused to go into the studio and I refused to give them material and I was like, "Yo I'm not ready to give y'all material as of yet. I'm goin' to the studio, but I'm not ready for y'all to hear nothin' yet." So they was just like, "Yo whatever.." and I was like, "Whatever to y'all too." I just went to the studio when I wanted to.

4XL: So is that how you were able to control your masters?

Yeah, I had control over all of that. My masters was in my hands from the time I had the budget money to pay for my studio. That means I'm in command of all my reels.

4XL: Big Beat did release a promo 12" single containing the song "Man Digga Comin' Thru". Was that supposed to be the buzz single in '96?

No... Well at least I didn't intend it to be. I don't even know why they picked that. There was a bunch of other joints I turned in they could've picked that I thought were better, but I guess they liked that one. I didn't even know they were gonna promo that until I saw the record myself. If it had been up to me, I would've chose a different song and it might've done a lot better for me buzz-wise.

4XL: What really happened between you and Masta Ace? Tell us why there was a falling out and you were no longer a part of The INC.

Well what happened is what usually happens when you start making a little bit of money you stop paying attention to the little things that got you to the point of where you are now. Once that happens, you know, sometimes you lose sight of where you're trying to go musically. You know, you start to do music to be accepted and not do music from your original talent. Like you should be using your talent and coming up with something creative, doing it in that manner.. giving your best creative work and puttin' that foot forward instead of just doing tracks because you think that niggas in Cali is gonna like it. So once that came forward, I personally started to distance myself from the situation. I didn't like the direction they was going in. I was telling him you know, "You should put out other songs other than this and etc." That's the reason why I started shying away from the situation. Then later he was like, "Yo you're out of the group." I guess cause I was causing turmoil. I was like Terrell Owens in the locker room or something (laughs). So it ain't really matter to me at that point, cause you know I felt that without me influencing some of his stuff or whatever, the whole INC thing, it's gonna eventually die anyway. Not to say that I was the one that was holding up the group, never that, but I was a strong part of the sound. I give respect to Ace, like I said earlier, he didn't have to bring me along, so I appreciate that. But things just didn't work out in the end so it is what it is today.

4XL: When did this breakaway occur?

It was into '95 when I started to distance myself. I got the deal with Big Beat in '95 and we did a couple things but by '96 I was basically out of the group. We had done a couple of shows in early '95 and then by '96 I was done. No more Lord Digga in The INC.

4XL: I've always heard you had some sort of history with the Cella Dwellas before they got signed to Loud back in the day. Is that true?

I watched Cella Dwellas develop their style and helped shape some of their earlier shit by being in sessions with them, cause we would be in my man's basement rhymin' and doin' stuff with different tracks. So they got adapted to me on that note before they got out there and tried to get they deal. But I was a big part of their situation too because I actually shipped their first single on a DAT to them so they could do it proper in the studio to record it so that Loud Records could hear it. That's what basically got them their situation. One of those songs got them their deal, which was "Land of the Lost." I'm not gonna say it completely got them their deal, but it helped a lot. It was one of the songs that was played in the listening session during the label decision. They gave them a deal with "Land of the Lost." We had a little place we used to go all the time and hangout and which was my man Larrick's basement and he knew them. I used to come by there and Larrick used to hijack tapes from me and be over there playin' shit and they would be over there rhymin' and doin' all types of shit and I'd go over and I'm there with them. One thing led to another.. like I said, I didn't even know them at this time like that. You know, I'm off in Cali and they callin' me like, "Yo! We need that track so we could do this demo for Loud!" I didn't even know them like that, you know, just from the times being at Larrick's house, and I went ahead and did it. I sent it to them. And back then, you could master shit off of DAT. You can fuckin' go and flip some shit and master some shit off of DAT on some 2-track shit, mothafuckas was doin' that shit. So I reluctantly sent it to them.. I was like fuck it! But you know, everything worked out and we ended up with like 3 songs on their first album. So it all worked out on that situation.

4XL: Did you have any other history with some of the artists you produced for like Mystidious Misfitss and Dredknotz?

No, I never knew about Mystidious Misfitss until I did the production work for their project. I knew of the Dredknotz, but I didn't know the members of the group. Ezo, which was the same dude I told you about earlier that I was doin' production with and recording songs, was the producer and the DJ for that group. Daddy Rich had something to do with their group and whatever else because he's the one that took them to Dante (Ross) over there and he was the one that got them their situation. So they was fuckin' around on the project and they came up with the "Causin' A Menace" joint which was the single that they were doing at the time. Like I said, I had my hands on basically every drum machine then at that time, you know, SP-1200, MPC, whatever it was. Rich had the MPC too over at the crib and he said he was trying to come up with a remix for this song and that we could do whatever and we good money. So that's how it started. I'm over there fuckin' around.. did a pattern and did some kicks here, added some shit there.. and then we took some shit from Cannonball Adderly. And there you have it, "Causin' A Menace Remix", just that simple. I got full credit for it. Then later on that group disbanded. I think the main MC just left and quit and they never finished the album.

4XL: What about Lord Have Mercy? For some reason I always thought you had an affiliation with him involving the Red Guerillaz group that y'all were down with.

He was comin' over by my dude Larrick's crib too. He was affiliated with Cella Dwellas. Red Guerillaz was a group that I was just like an honorary member of. I wasn't officially a part of that group at first. I had a partnership with some other dudes in a studio we put together. It was their project. Lord Have Mercy was just featured on that single. Before Flipmode and all that, he was actually in a crew called The Moorelocks. His name used to be Rugged Raw Moore.

4XL: Over the years I've been told that you were actually in the same porno movie as Sondoobie from Funkdoobiest. Can you explain that?

I was in the same series as Sondoobie, not the same video. The series was "Dark Alleys" with Ron Hightower. I played the part of a construction foreman in a comedy kind of skit. I was like clownin' this dude comin' in and calling him all types of names and tellin' him he was fired. Ron Hightower was a fan of ours, I don't even know how we met. We ended up chillin' with him and you know he was like, "Yo you wanna be in a scene or two?" and I'm like "Yo I ain't fucking! Nigga I ain't fuckin' on camera." (laughs) He's like, "Nah I got some non-fuckin' roles for you." So next time I come out to Cali, it was like some real spontaneous shit. He called and asked what we was doing one morning and he's like, "Get down here to the set! I'm on such and such." I was like, "Nigga, I don't know how to get there." That mothafucka came and got me! Brought me over there and the rest was history. I was officially in a porno. But I think Sondoobie actually fucked, B. I was gonna get to that stage but I wanted to start out on a lower scale first (laughs).

4XL: You released the classic "My Flows Is Tight" single on the infamous Game Recordings label in '98. How did that situation happen?

That situation came about because of relationships that I had built along the way. Ironically too, on some other shit, Jon Shecter was a big part of The Source but I didn't hang with him or nothing like that when I was up there back in those earlier days. I was mainly fuckin' with Matt. We chilled with Jon and them, but you know, they was like the big wigs up there.. him and Dave Mays. So you don't really wanna chill with the bosses and shit like that. But we used to chill with them occasionally and smoke by Matt's crib or in the office staircases or whatever. But really I think me going over to Stretch and Bobbito a lot, I ran into Jon cause you know him and Stretch had some office space and shit which was Game. I don't even think it was just only Game Recordings, it was like Game something or whatever, some conglomerate, like a big Ricky Schroeder 'Silver Spoon' type of shit (laughs). Jon is one of those type of dudes. He's the modern day Ricky Schroeder. So it started like that. He knew that we had the studio out in Brooklyn, so he used to travel out there. He used to grab some purple and come out there. One day he came and I was playing some of the takes which would later become "Flows Is Tight".. it was just me rhyming on 'The Price Is Right' beat and he went fuckin' bananas like, "I need this shit right now! That shit is insane!" And just took it from there.

4XL: Was that just a single deal or were you signed for an album over there?

No, that was a single deal. We had started doing something else, but the next single was supposed to be what eventually became the joint "Who You Rollin With" that I did on Bronx Science around 2001 or so.

4XL: On some hip hop trivia shit, a lot of heads out there may not know that your younger brother is actually Stimuli a/k/a Sha Stimuli, who's been blazing the NYC mixtape circuit for years and eventually landed a deal with Virgin Records. Tell us a little about him and how he came up.

Basically he travelled some of the same roads I travelled in a sense. But his was a little closer.. like the degrees of separation was a little bit closer cause I lived in the house with him. So we kinda grew into hip hop together, even though he was younger than me. Because I got him into it by my reaction to the shit and him seeing how I would get up and watch Video Music Box or get up and watch Soul Train every morning.. and he would see just if hip hop artists was on it or not. Also, he would get to hear tracks first hand that nobody else would hear because either I didn't let nobody hear them or they wasn't ready to be heard at that point. But I still would put them on tape and bring them in the crib and be playin' them shits and blastin' them loud and his room was right next door to mine. So he would be like, "Yo what you gonna do with that? Let me get that!" I'm like, "Let you get that for what? Nigga, go to school! What are you trying to do for real? Like get the fuck outta here!" (laughs) Then basically we started goin' through our.. what you would call.. our rap karaoke nights where we was pickin' who we was gonna be and most of the time it was you know, whatever group we would see that would come on TV that was like a duo or whatever. We would imitate them and just do stupid shit in the crib all the time, buggin' out. Nice & Smooth, you know, shit like that.. EPMD, you know.. different shit. We would go through the joints and act out that shit. In a sense I just put the damn needle in his arm and just started slappin' him. I Sugarhill'ed him, like gave him the drug! (laughs) Then he started pursuing the rap thing more when he was in high school. But most people don't know that we're brothers. It's similar to Kane and Little Daddy Shane. You'd look at Shane and be like, "He doesn't look like Kane at all!" It's the same thing with me and my brother. I mean there's a few resemblances between us, but most people don't know we're brothers like that. But I'm proud of him, you know, he did his own thing. Nobody knew or really was like, "Yeah, oh well that's Digga's brother and that's how we got the deal." No it didn't happen like that. He got it on his own doing what he did with his people and that's it.

4XL: Tell us what to expect in the future from Digga. Are you working on any new music?

I'm just basically right now attempting to put together a couple of projects. I formed a group called Smoking Section and I'm working on some ideas for that project. That's in the process of being recorded right now. I'm just staying fresh and working on multiple albums, you know, I don't know which one I'm gonna put out first, but I'm doing like 3 different albums that I started recording. You know, like different shit.. sex albums, just straight adult entertainment albums. And then you know, maybe a straight raw hip hop album. You know, just different shit that I'm doing and still producing, keeping myself reinvented. I'm always reinventing myself and progressing and just trying not to be stale with ideas and just fuckin' stay creative and I think that that would put my best music forward. You know, not doin' what everybody else does. I do what I do, you know, the same thing as if it was the mid 90's. It's just now it's more refined and more polished. Same thing I was doing then, I'm doing it now but it's just, you know, 2008.. just the millenium Diggs. That's what I'm gonna present myself as like, you know, I was young then but I've grown up now, so I've transformed myself from Digga to High Plains Drifter to Diggaman so I just gotta stay fresh cause that's all I know how to do.. keep saying ridiculous shit, that's it!

4XL: Word up! Well that closes our interview. This has definitely been one of the longest interviews that I've done, but it was well worth it. Thanks for taking the time out give everyone a look into the hip hop world of Lord Digga.

Son, no question! Peace to all my fans and supporters. Diggaman 2008, out.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


DJ 4XL & One Leg Up Records present:

PRE-ORDERS available NOW!

What up y'all! Yes your boy Haj is back and I'm extremely excited to announce my latest pre-order. As promised, One Leg Up Records returns to bring you the third installment of our "Heavy Pieces" series. This time we introduce another one of our favorite Brooklyn producer/emcees: Lord Digga! As many of you know, Lord Digga was an integral part of Masta Ace Incorporated’s classic "Slaughtahouse" and "Sittin’ On Chrome" LPs, as both a rapper and producer, and a member of the production duo Bluez Brothers. From his incredible debut verse on "Saturday Night Live" to memorable features on "Crazy Drunkin Style", "The B-Side", "4 Da Mind" and others, Lord Digga was an immediate favorite to underground fans everywhere. With his combination of humorous punchlines and rugged vocals, Digga’s appearances on the INC albums always entertained. As a member of The Bluez Brothers, Lord Digga (alongside his partner Norm) was also a 90’s beat heavyweight. Having not only worked on Ace’s albums, but projects from Notorious B.I.G., Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Cella Dwellas, Dredknotz, Mystidious Misfitss and many others, The Bluez Brothers are now remembered for that excellent raw production sound that is now missing from contemporary hip hop.

Between the years of 1992 to 1996, Digga worked on his debut project, which began being conceptualized during his side artist work with Delicious Vinyl, but finally moved to Big Beat Records. Hip hop fans were initially teased by 1995’s "The Southpaw EP" on indie West Coast label Southpaw Recordings, which featured two classic Lord Digga tracks; "Sex" and "Feel It". After a big reaction on NYC underground radio in the Spring of ’95 (most specifically the Stretch Armstrong show on 89.9FM), the lane was cleared for Digga to commence finishing his debut album. Going into the studio around this time, Digga’s mindset was to create a hip hop classic.

After securing the deal with Big Beat, Lord Digga recorded several new records. Jumping the gun, Big Beat released the song "Man Digga Comin’ Thru" on a promotional single in 1996. According to Digga, this song wasn’t supposed to be leaked and the material he had on deck had greatly surpassed the label’s choice. Ironically, the single did well anyway and the underground scene in NYC and elsewhere were fiending for more! Unfortunately, label politics prevailed and Lord Digga’s project was caught up in the turmoil regarding the dissolution of Big Beat Records and the incorporation of all artists signed to Big Beat into Atlantic Records proper. Along with many others signed to Big Beat at the time, Lord Digga’s project never saw the light of day, and fans have been left to speculate for almost 13 years about either the existence of his album or how much of it was really completed...

Fast forward to 2008… One Leg Up Records, in partnership with Lord Digga, has unearthed the two-inch reels, half-inch reels and original DAT tapes from this amazing shelved project. What was discovered was incredible… A vintage, mid-90’s album of classic caliber! Gritty smacking drums, heavy basslines, filters, horn echoes, scratching and raw lyricism all contained within. Having painstakingly worked with Lord Digga to archive this music, this 8 track EP is being released in exceptional master quality. Listening to this release only makes you wonder about the impact that this project would have rightfully had if it had been released on time. Regardless, One Leg Up has brought this to the surface to be shared with a lucky few, so get ready for another mind-blowing trip into the vaults of an unreleased masterpiece. One Leg Up is constantly focused on bringing you the best of what you always wanted and DJ 4XL makes no small issue of doing that… This record is limited to only 200 pieces, as all OLU releases will continue to honor the limited nature of our series. This vinyl EP will never be repressed or re-issued at a later time, which holds true for all One Leg Up releases. I expect this wax to move the fastest out of all OLU releases, based on the sheer fact that the material is not only incredible and comes as an 8-song EP, but this unknown music has been highly sought after in the curious minds of so many hip hop heads worldwide. Please do not delay in reserving your copy - get your pre-order in immediately.

Remember, as part of OLU's "Heavy Pieces" series, this is the 3rd release out of 5 total limited releases we are putting out. Things are only getting better as our series is winding down and having already taken you from Uptown to Brooklyn, our next release (OLU-004) is going to take you all the way up top to the Boogie Down BX (and TRUST ME, you will enjoy the ride)! Prepare to stay in a perpetual cycle of head-nodding.

At the end of the series, upon release of the 5th and final title, we will be announcing and giving away a FREE bonus record (OLU-LTD1). This extremely rare and exclusive bonus record will ONLY be available to purchasers of all five of our releases in this series. It will be of the same caliber and quality as any regular OLU release. This is my way of showing love back to those of you who spend hard earned money to support projects such as these that would otherwise be impossible to release. In order to qualify for the free bonus wax, it does include the requirement of having purchased the sold out OLU-001 and OLU-002 titles as well.

Ordering information and snippets are posted below.



01. "Brand Nu Day" *
02. "Watch Ya Back (feat. Logic)"
03. "Party Jam (feat. Masta Ace & Leschea)" *
04. "High Like A Bird"


01. "Enemy Lines (feat. Logic)"
02. "Take the Cake"
03. "Word Play"
04. "Good Vibrations ['92 Demo Mix] (feat. Masta Ace)"

All songs produced by Bluez Brothers
* Co-produced by Ase One

SNIPPETS of all 8 tracks on the EP can be heard here:


- Pre-orders are being taken NOW. Get your order in and reserve your wax.
- Limited to only 200 copies, this collector's EP will not be repressed. Once they're gone, they're gone!
- The EP comes in a standard black jacket with black & white sticker at top.
- Price is 80.00 USD plus shipping & handling fees.
- These records are sold on a first come, first serve basis.
- We are accepting payments worldwide with PayPal in US currency.
- Records will be shipping August 29th, 2008 from New York City, USA

To PRE-ORDER now, send an e-mail to: OneLegUpRecords@gmail.com

In the subject please write: PRE-ORDER: OLU-003

Provide the following information in your e-mail:

1. Your PayPal e-mail
2. Your full name (first and last)
3. Your full shipping address, printed as it should read for the postal carrier in your region
4. Quantity
5. Shipping option (choose from below, either REGULAR or EXPRESS)

Price per copy is $80.00

REGULAR SHIPPING (no insurance/tracking)
For shipping without insurance or tracking provided, please add:

$6.50 - USA [USPS Priority Mail 2-3 days]
$8.00 - CANADA [Airmail Parcel Post 7-10 days]
$14.50 - UK & EUROPE [Airmail Parcel Post 7-10 days]
$17.00 - JAPAN & AUSTRALIA [Airmail Parcel Post 7-10 days]

Add $2.00 for each additional record if purchasing multiple copies.

EXPRESS SHIPPING (with insurance/tracking)
For shipping that includes insurance and tracking details, please add:

$20.00 - USA [USPS Express Mail next day]
$25.00 - CANADA [USPS Express Mail Int'l 3-5 days]
$32.00 - UK & EUROPE [USPS Express Mail Int'l 3-5 days]
$30.00 - JAPAN & AUSTRALIA [USPS Express Mail Int'l 3-5 days]

Add $3.00 for each additional record if purchasing multiple copies.

Please verify carefully that your shipping address is 100% correct to avoid any shipping errors.
After your e-mail is received, we will send you a PayPal invoice with the proper total. When your payment is complete, your copies will be reserved and in queue to be shipped on August 29th, 2008.

Make sure to get your pre-order e-mails in to us as soon as possible as this record will sell out quickly. In the event that we have sold out all 200 copies, you will receive an e-mail notification that all copies have been sold and you will not receive a PayPal invoice.

PLEASE NOTE: Our shipping prices only reflect our cost and are not inflated by any means. Please keep in mind that the US Postal Service has raised their rates due to the rising cost of gas. We have done our best to keep costs low and prices as fair as possible based on the amount of capital required to make a limited 200 run vinyl release and ensure that the artists involved are compensated while maintaining the highest level of quality for our product. This is a very special project and no shorts have been taken whatsoever in making this EP a reality.

Any and all inquiries regarding this release and/or purchasing questions can be directed to me at: OneLegUpRecords@gmail.com

Thanks for your continued support.

Best regards,

-Haj "4XL"
One Leg Up Records '08
Lord Digga here representing for One Leg Up and "The High Plains Drifter EP".. This is the man with the CRAZY DRUNKIN STYLE!

Sunday, May 25, 2008


Peace peoples!

Once again I return with another surprise treat for all the heads out there. In light of the release of The Cenobites "Demented Thoughts" EP, I got a chance to speak with Godfather Don about a number of interesting things.

Pre-orders are still being taken for the limited 200 press EP, which will be shipped on June 4th. Copies are limited, so if you haven't purchased yet, please don't let the opportunity to own one of these pieces pass you by.

For more info on ordering a copy, please CLICK HERE.

Conducted May 23rd, 2008 by 4XL and One Leg Up Records

4XL: First off, being that you're from Flatbush which has a history of incredible MC's, who were some of your main influences and were there any guys from around your way locally that had an impact on your sound in those early stages?

Well if we talk about commercial, meaning guys who were out then, I guess it would have to be that my main influences at that time was KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane and maybe a little Chuck D, just for the force or the power. So I felt at being the scientist I was, I would be putting it all together. If I could get the Kane flavor, that's all the cool stuff or the 'hot statements' as I would tell Menelik, 'the hot statements!' You know and then KRS-One had the nice strong delivery and I was really interested in that. And then of course Chuck had the power to carry the message where it needed to go. So in other words when I was starting out, I was like enamored with these guys as I am like when I play saxophone now. I'm thinking of Coltrane and thinking of stuff and be like "Damn, you're adding to this history." So I wanted to contribute the same amount to show how much I love this thing. So you would have to add things together and make something new with it to make it valid to the people in my generation. People would be like "Look man, these syllable things that Kane was doing, man this is gonna be something!" And that's basically how it was. Now locally, there was guys around. I mean when I say locally, I mean nobody that maybe broke thru on a level of a Kane or KRS, but there was really funny guys doing real nice things. If you mention one you gotta mention 'em all! Guys was doin' it before me. I was playing rock guitar before I got into emceeing and stuff. But that was the thing... Basketball, emceeing or sellin drugs.. Sometimes all three! And locally also I guess at that time I could say we had the Cella Dwellas. I used to hear about them a lot and.. Oh! Izzy Ice, man! I don't know if you remember...

4XL: You mean from Da King & I?

Yeah, from Da King & I! And also you know you gotta pick Special Ed. I guess that's my idea of local, meaning I could run into them at the McDonalds on Church and Flatbush or something and be like "Oh, yo!" But you know i never really came out and talked to them but I always knew who they were because I was always interested in their art.

4XL: Tell us about Select Records and how did you come about getting signed?

Okay, well speaking of local cats, there was another guy named Chubb Rock. To me he was local because I wasn't really into rap like that, I was playing rock guitar and stuff like that. It was just that a lot of people around me were rapping and I had access to making music. I was interested in it. So guys would say "Hey man put this on tape.. Loop this for me or pound this beat out on this little machine." Things like that. So once I started hearing the guys around me in the neighborhood do it, I was like "Wait a minute! I wonder..." Then came a great friend of mine named Sheek. At that time he was MC Sheek. I guess everyone was MC something back in the mid-80s. He really actually said "Hey man, Don you can do this, trust me!" He was really good, I mean he still is good. He writes still. He was like the Treacherous Three kind of thing you know, where people can dazzle you within a story... you know, that kind of emceeing, but with all the vocal tricks inside of the story rhymes. One guy that was around us said "I know so-and-so" and I guess that so-and-so turned out to be Chubb Rock. And I was like "Okay, I never heard of him, but aight!" and my man was like "Come on man trust me man!" So then the next year he tried to link me up with Chubb, cause when I went with him maybe the first few times he wasn't home. It was really local, like "Hey is Chubb home?... Oh, no? He's not here? Okay, tell him I came by." So it was like real casual. And at that time I guess he was really busy because Special Ed lived in the neighborhood and they was with Howie Tee. But you know, it was a lot goin' on at that time and Select really had something at that time. So that was something you would really look for, like Profile or Select. So my man was like "Hey man trust me.. you know Select.. Kid N Play, Real Roxanne.." So he kept pursuing and dragging me along. This was not Sheek, this was a guy named Money. Money knew everybody, he was that kind of fella. He would always be in the place. So when we finally did meet Chubb, he introduced us and I always had tapes on me. I always carried a pocket full of things I could let people hear. So he heard it and he said "Wow this is cool" and I said "Well, you know I'm just tryin' it." So he told me to just keep it up. Then one thing lead to another and I kept coming through there and Chubb said "Why don't you let me take one of these tapes up to my label and see if they like it?" By that time I think me and my friends in my neighborhood wanted me to be on Profile and had me shopping stuff there. I wish I had the stuff I left with Profile, man. I wish I had it! But remember at every label they would have a box at the door with all the cassettes and demos in it? I mean major dudes was throwin' tapes in there! He took the tape up there and then he called me and asked me to come up there. It was cool. It was the first time I was really doing something major in my eyes with music.. Not a UPS thing, or factory job you know? It was like "Oh this is a real oppportunity." So I packed up some more of my tapes I had at home and took the train up there to 23rd and 6th Ave and walked over to 22nd. I went up there and Chubb was there, Fred Munao the owner of Select was there and we just talked for a long time about what I was doing and what kind of equipment I was using. So then from those talks I did a lot of demos with Chubb supervising. There was a couple things I actually did at Howie Tee's house believe it or not. When he was working with Special Ed and he was letting me hear Ed and I was like "Wow this stuff is good, this guy is real good!" Everybody kept telling me "Ed, man.. You don't know Ed from Rogers?" But I didn't know him cause people assumed I was always into rap but I never really was. It was my friend Sheek and my neighborhood fellas that got me into it. But anyhow, so the thing with Select.. We did a period of demos at Howie's and with Questar Welch, who did a lot of stuff on Select too. That was in Brooklyn also. Then I guess came the first draft that we had of what would be the "Hazardous" album. The first draft really didn't make it, I don't really remember why it didn't go but all I do remember is that I ended up doing all the music and everything on what would become "Hazardous." And so I guess that first draft of material, I guess somebody still has that cause it was quite a few tunes. I mean, Chubb did intros on a few of 'em, I played guitar on some of 'em.. A lot of werid stuff. But that's how the Select thing happened through Chubb, through my man Money.

4XL: So once you got signed, what was it like being labelmates with artists as diverse as Kid N Play, Chubb Rock and The Real Roxanne?

I mean I guess at that time, the music that I was doing or was in my mind trying to do.. I wouldn't say was advanced, it was just a little different you know? I met Kid.. Kid was really cool with me, but Kid seems to be cool with everybody and I ended up doing some projects with Kid later on. I remember him sitting in and listening to my tapes every once in awhile and being like "Hey man, you did this music?" and stuff like that. I always wanted to meet Roxanne, but I think only one time I ran into her.

4XL: Did she look that good in person?

That's what I wanted to find out! The first thing I said to Fred Munao was "Hey man, do you get to see The Real Roxanne?" He said "Man, I can't keep her out of here man." I said "So hey, let's do this!" and it was funny cause I never got a chance to work with her. I really wanted to work with her but it just never happened. I ended up hanging out a lot more with Kid. And then Chubb at that time, he really started blowing up and at the same time I was starting to do a lot of things myself as far as production and stuff.

4XL: What type of equipment did you use to produce most of your beats and who or what got you into production and learning equipment?

Well actually being a guitar player, I had access to sampling devices. Not sampling sequencers like an MPC or an SP-12. I couldn't afford none of that stuff. I didn't have anything to program beats until after my first album. My first album, all the stuff I was fooling around with at home was just by ear.. Like listening to the records and saying "This would be nice here.." I used to write a note.. Hear another one, like "This would be nice too!".. Then write another note down. You know I had like a little tape 4 track thing that I would use with my guitar sampler which had an 8 second loop on it to just lay down the things and the different tracks that I would want to happen. And then I would take all the records to the studio once Fred gave the green light to start doing some things and just play the records.. Take the parts i wanted off of 'em. We didn't have a 1200 or anything in there! It was weird cause as I've said in the past, Fred hooked me up with a rock engineer. I wasn't crazy about my first album as far as the sound because I was trying to understand why it didn't sound like Kid N Play's record or whatever and I had a complex about it a long time because I thought my music wasn't good and that's why it didn't sound as loud as theirs. But now that I did more resaerch, a lot of the songs were long and you know the thing with wax, if it's a certain length of time the sound quality goes down and all that, so I realized that later.

4XL: Did you have any involvement with any records prior to the "Hazardous" album?

I would have to say no, because before then I was doing demos mainly just for all the guys in the neighborhood. I wasn't really rappin' all that much. I started fooling around with the music with a few of the guys around my way, one of them being my sister's fiancee, who was an excellent MC, man. You know the rest of the guys were like "Hey man I do it too, and oh yeah, I do it too!".. and you know, you have a little Juice Crew of your own and you don't even know it!

4XL: "Hazardous" was very different from your later material. What was your creative train of thought while you were making that album?

Well in my mind, I always thought that the voice is an instrument, so I knew that much. When you put your voice on the microphone and it's going with the music, something's supposed to be happening. Surprisingly, the story aspects of emceeing didn't really develop with me until later. I was really attracted to like i said, Kane, KRS and I put Chuck in the back and he was the most message oriented with a powerful voice. But what I was into was the swashbuckling, you know, just the cool syllables and all of that. I just felt that "Hey, what would happen if you just take syllables and words as far as you can take them?" You know, on beat and like pick a subject rather than a story and expand upon it, and that's how I came up with "Hazardous".. cause either I was like cool with it or this is like poison! Who's gonna touch this or who's gonna want it? It was like a joke to myself. So the train of thought was that I wanted to push the boundaries of the wordplay as far as you could.

4XL: We just put out the Herb McGruff record with the demo joints you produced for him. He had good things to say about the experience he had working with you. What was it like working on that demo with McGruff?

That was excellent, man. A lot of fun. Because I got a chance to get up close with Harlem MC's. See, I was in a Brooklyn world, so at that time everyone locally coming with stuff like Cella Dwellas and all of that stuff was in its early stages. So it was like "Ok, yeah, so people are experimenting." But these Harlem guys, they had the thing that I liked which was the interesting wordplay and all of that swashbuckling!

4XL: And they had great compounds too..

Right! They had excellent compounds, they had excellent matching syllables and extended phrasing over the one and all kind of weird things. So I said "This is attractive." And then on top of that, they had real funny stuff to say as far as street things and little stories about they man on the corner and they delivered it clear. I always appreciated those guys for that. So when it came time to work somebody from up there, my friend Wayne who lived in Brooklyn wanted to be my manager at the time. So he was like "Hey man, I'm gonna get some artists." He had a guy called Funky Monkey, I think he was from Washington. He was another good guy man, this was before Busta and he was on that kind of thing. And this guy Herb McGruff.. and he had a girl singer and I didn't really work with her too much. But when he said "Hey man, this cat Herb McGruff".. I was like "Where's he from?" He told me he's from Uptown where Wayne used to live and that he knows Big L. I said "Wait a minute!"... cause before we got to work together, I was listening to Bob's show and gettin' into that at the time, you know 89.9. He had Children of the Corn up there one time, all of those guys, and that was the greatest thing I ever heard, man. I wish I could get that from somebody! He had all of those guys up there and then when I found out Herb was one of those guys in that crew, I was like "Let me hear him." So he brought him down and he was such a cool mellow guy, like me. I expected something different cause the way I rhyme it's kinda like the way I am. So when you hear these dudes saying this stuff, you expect to see or feel a particular thing. But when I met him, man he was cool, he was mellow, he was more like an artist, it was great. So we just started buggin' out with the records and I said "Hey man, what do you think about this stuff?".. and he was like "Man, it's like whatever!" I don't know if he had anybody doing music for him at that point but I didn't really hear too many things cause I usually like to start fresh.

4XL: To a lot of people, it almost seemed as if this Herb McGruff and Godfather Don demo thing appeared out of nowhere. Nobody had really ever heard of something like this existing and especially from your stature up at Stretch & Bob's show, everyone would have assumed this material would've gotten lots of run on that show. Why didn't any of these joints get played on 89tec9 back in the day?

That's a great question! I guess Wayne was to blame for that. Since Wayne wanted to manage Herb McGruff, this girl singer I told you about and the other cat, Funky Monkey... He really didn't want the material being played.

4XL: Oh, so I guess he really had a plan for those joints...

Right. He pressed up the promo cassettes and everything. I was like "Wow, this is cool, this is great." So I felt I didn't really have the right to take it and go "Hey Bob, check this other thing I'm workin' on." And by that time, the Cenobites stuff was really taking the station up by storm. You know, everybody calling and freestyling, you know it just started a whole 'nother thing. So I didn't feel the need to keep flooding him at that point cause he would play certain things like every week. But it was mainly Wayne who was really trying to get McGruff like a real record deal.

4XL: Was there any other artists that you worked with to help produce their demos?

It was funny because I remember times where.. Well, see I don't want to name drop either.. But when I wasn't very serious about the emceeing aspect of it, as far as really trying to be an artist, a rapper, an individual force.. I really wasn't on that tip. So I didn't mind MC's coming thru and saying "Hey let me rhyme 2 verses on here".. I'd be like "Nah just take all 3 man!" You know I just used to have the tapes like that. Sometimes they would take it out the crib and people would hear it cause I'd give them a copy to rock with at their house or whatever. Then every once in awhile you'd get visitors to come by the crib and do things. It was really a loose situation. Maybe somebody that had a record out in the 90's that we all might know came thru but we probably did something and were like "You know, ahh let's not do anything with that." Things like that. I mean there were people around, but I really wasn't reaching out too much like that cause I was really focused on trying to perfect my craft cause I was also more into the production aspect of it too at that point. So I was very happy to have days on end or weeks on end where I could just be alone with the music and formulate things and try to put things together.

4XL: I know you're one of the artists that people most identify with the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito show in its heyday. One of the things I always liked was when producers went up there and played beats and had crazy freestyle sessions. What was that like at the time?

It was very creative. There were times where you would get artists maybe almost from 3 different aspects of the music at one time, in one night and they would all collaborate and improvise on some verses together.. and it might be over a beat of someone that's not even related to their genre who's up there and it would always have a creative energy throughout the place. Everybody was into beats and would be in the jazz department of the station sneaking around looking at records, it really was creative, man. When you went in there you wanted to be a producer or MC.. that's how it felt, you know? I mean, the staff used to start rhyming and everyone just wanted to be involved with what was going on over the air. A very strong creative energy. And the beat thing, when that happened.. I guess maybe Bobbito or somebody can clarify it, but I remember bringing records up there. I haven't heard of anybody doing it before. I remember bringing up records with Kool Keith one night and said "Hey man, you know what? I think a great idea would be to start playing these records and just give away some samples." And Keith said "Are you sure you wanna do that?" I said "Man, this is cool man, let me start giving away these samples." And Keith was like "Don't play that!".. and we was looping things.. It was real ill and Bob was just letting it go. And imagine me playing rare stuff you gotta pay a hundred dollars for.. just playing it clean and then Keith would start rapping over it cause he'd be mad cause he wanted to use it for his record or something, just talking nonsense! It was great, man. Then the next week, people were telling me "Yo, you know what happened on Bobbito? Large Professor came up there with his SP-12!" Everybody was talking about it, man.. I was like "Wow." I remember it really good not so much because me and Keith did it the week before, but because he did it the week after.. with a machine! So he had disks and everything and I was like "Oh boy!" I mean, but it was still cool because I appreciated that being a producer myself.

4XL: I was a big fan of the Groove Merchantz and the tracks that you guys did. How did that whole thing start and how did you connect with VIC?

VIC was more or less after I had met Jerry Famolari from Sneak Tip at the time before it was Hydra... or maybe it was the other way around, I don't remember. But Jerry had told me that he knew VIC from the Beatnuts and at that point I loved the Beatnuts. Cause I was like "Man this is it! A producing group that raps also! This is it!" So immediately they were my creative brothers that I had never met. For some reason VIC happened to be up there with Juju so he introduced us. I went nuts, I was like "Wow this is great." And then me and VIC just kinda clicked. We was on a bunch of creative levels, like types of music or certain artists.. But actually we all clicked, it was all cool. But me and Les, we never really got to really talk too much, but he was really cool everytime I been around him. But me and Juju had lots of fun talking about music and me and VIC ended up working together alot. I invited VIC down to where I do my music and he listened and he said one day let's just do some things, we should collaborate. So I went up there to his house in Queens on the 7 train. I went after work one day and just hung out with him and was amazed at how he was able to flip the equipment and I said "Wow, you know particular techniques".. cause that was one of the one things that helped us all click, cause you know we recoginzed each other's passion for this thing. Like "Hey, I invented a way to do this!" And we started talking like that so I was as curious as VIC was as to how we would work together. So we did a couple things and I guess the first thing we actually did.. Well you know, I think we had the idea of Groove Merchantz before we ever did anything because at that time I had storehouse of material obviously and VIC obviously did too, so you know we was just kinda putting things together to see how a demo tape of presentable beats would sound. It was kinda cool. So we said "Hey let's try to get a name or something".. and it was a label I liked called Groove Merchant, where I used alot of music from and you know, he said "Hey man, we should use that Groove Merchant name!" So we put the Z at the end so it wouldn't mess with the real label. Then VIC had most of the connections as far as shopping goes, cause as a producer, he was much more well known being with Beatnuts and all that. But he had better access to people, like Fat Joe.. you know, they had access to the scene that was coming. You know, the Large Pro, Pete Rock kinda crew that was really coming. So I really hung close to those guys with VIC and we did alot of stuff. Then we got that Nas record, the "One Love Remix".. or I don't know which one was first, the Kurious Jorge joint we did or the Nas. I remember one of them being our first.. it had to be Nas cause we really had fun celebrating that cause that was our first major thing I would imagine. So yeah, we did that for awhile and then when I really started doing other things, you know VIC started doing other things. By the way, I just talked to him a couple of days ago and you know we was talking about music and stuff and I don't know I might check him out man!

4XL: We know VIC had an association with Kid from Kid N Play, who had a label deal thru RCA in '94 or so. I know you guys were involved in the Bas Blasta album over there, doing a lot of production. Tell us a little about that album and how far you guys got into it and what happened to that situation?

I remember one time VIC saying that there was a particular song I did. It was a beat I guess. I used the 'Weather Report' record or something, and he said it was real good and he had an idea about it. I said "Alright, whatever." So a couple of days later he told me the whole story, like "You know Kid is doing management now?" and I was like "Oh word? Kid?" So I came by the house in Queens again and Bas Blasta was there, I met him and Kid was there and I was like "What's up?" and that was cool. He told me the whole story and I said alright VIC, whatever you wanna do, cause by that time we had our music together. We was actually making stuff together at that point. So it was just either we are both with it or not, so I was cool with it. Kid was somebody I liked and I still respect, so that was cool and there was another guy we always had fun with.. this guy named Steve Stoute and I think they were working together. Kid and Steve Stoute. At that time I didn't know who Steve Stoute was, but then again I didn't know anything! VIC knew everybody, I was still like just weening out with the rock music at that point, really investigating the artistry of hip hop at that point. So I had to listen to what everyone was saying around me and take their word for it. That's the Bas Blasta story. We did a couple things for him. He used a lot of the stuff we did for him. We went to the studio with him maybe once or twice for that session and at least for that single they put out, I remember that. There was a couple other tunes but at the time I wasn't really working with VIC too much at that point by the time it really started coming out. I was working on other things and the Stretch and Bob scene was really jumping off, I was going up to their radio show a lot. So everybody that was involved with the Bas Blasta thing was like almost in the same neighborhood over there. So I was like "Okay, if VIC can take care of this, then I'm taken care of."

4XL: Do you know exactly where Bas Blasta was from? A lot of people don't have much history on him. I believe he is from somewhere in Connecticut?

I don't even know. Like I said, I was like "Okay, he sounds alright. I like what y'all doin'." I met him a couple of times. I think I might've rhymed on one of his B-sides or something.

4XL: Yeah! "The Rhythm"...

Yeah! That was a fun night, I remember that session very well.

4XL: That's a crazy posse cut. You, Finesse, Juju, Fat Joe.. crazy.

Right, and I think that's when I started realizing something about Steve Stoute and Kid. I mean I just started seeing it was possible to get artists together for posse cuts like this. I remember that well. That was a great place we recorded it at too.. Sound Trax.. That was on 23rd and Broadway.

4XL: Now, onto a Hydra question. Is there a particular reason why the "Status/Stuck Off the Realness/Burn" 12" was not released to the masses? That's like one of my favorite 12"s never to be!

Well, I guess the short form answer would be that there was so much more material! And you know, when you hold something for a long time with a guy like me who's constantly happening creatively, things lose their flare. So if I'm looking at one thing for like 4 months and I got another 100 things I did in that time, it's hard for me to go "Okay, let's go with the original thing and keep this right here, and the next 100 things can wait in the wing in the future to come out." I didn't really dig that kinda thing. You know, being an improvisor at heart, I always wanted what I did last night to be the thing to come out. So I mean not to say they weren't bad records cause now that I listen back on it, you know, last time I heard "Burn" man, I really liked it. I thought it was cool. I mean at least I captured what I was feeling and what I was going for with that record. I really had fun making that song. The worst time I had was making "Stuck Off the Realness" and I guess that's cause I really wasn't happy with that, just from a production standpoint. Not to say that anybody shouldn't like it.. this is just coming from the guy who made it, you know? Who is ever happy with their creation 100%, you know? So that answer is that there was so much more material coming down the pipeline that it was like "What about those songs? We got 200 more songs over here! What songs are you talking about?"

4XL: Now onto the Cenobites material we're releasing on One Leg Up. Why didn't these Cenobites joints make the first Fondle Em EP, especially since this material is on par with the stuff that came out previously?

Like I said, I used to do so much material that at the rate of creation of material you couldn't keep up with it. So what used to happen during the times the Cenobites material was being created, I used to just do tapes all the time. And by that time, me and Keith was hanging tough. He was always hangin' out in the city, shopping and stuff and I used to work right where everybody used to hang out like around 34th Street. So when I used to come out of work, he would already be out there and we would just hang out you know, go have drinks and bug out and go to the crib and do music and write stuff.

4XL: So really, the joints that came out originally were just handpicked by Bobbito?

Like, he used to play something a lot and if he didn't play things one after the other as I wanted him to all the time, I would say "Hey man, try this one." But he would be like "People like this one, we gotta play this one again." So you know, it would be maybe 2 or 3 weeks with one song and that's a long time. So when you finally put them all together, you're not really thinking of adding these next 100 on there or whatever when everybody's familiar with these 5 cool tunes. So Bob's like "Hey man, I'm thinking of putting these tunes together, you know, the ones we played all the time." So I was like "Cool." Cause things was being made at that time. Tapes were still being made at that time. So it wasn't like "Can you put these 5 more?" I would feel like if you gonna put that 5 more, give me another week, I guarantee we'll have something better!

4XL: Let's talk about the "Demented Thoughts" EP we're putting out. What's the story behind these songs and how did most of them come about? Tell us where most of the recording was done.

A lot of the tunes, they were done at my house in Flatbush, you know, the same place where Chubb would come thru and hang out.. just that same place. A lot of them were made there. Couple of them were made other places like maybe Stretch's house and, yeah Bob's house.. a couple of them was made there and I think that's about it. They wasn't big deals, just had something planned and opened up some mics and whoever was there got on. We would run into somebody in the city when me and Keith was hanging out about to come home and would be like "Hey man, we goin' here.. Yeah, we goin' to Don's house" Cats would be like "Oh yeah? Word? Can I come?".. and sometimes that's how it happened.

4XL: Now that the "Hawaii" joint with Bobbito is being released on this EP, people are finding out just exactly where the sample of Bob for the hook on The Beatnuts' "Fried Chicken" comes from. What's the story behind this being used back then, since it never was officially released until now?

What I know about that situation is, one time I think me and VIC were riding in his truck somewhere to do something and he was like "Hey man, check this out!".. and I'm like "Oh wow, that sounds familiar!".. he's like "Yeah man, it's from one of those demos, those tapes." I guess he got it from Bob or he might've even taped it off the radio. Because I remember all of them people always saying "Hey man, I listened to Bob last night. What was that? When did you hook that up?"

4XL: I know you've stepped away from the hip hop scene as of recently and you've been focusing on some different musical ventures. Let the world know what you've been up to and what to check for.

As some people probably know, I've been playing jazz music for the last couple of years and studying music really hard. I can't afford to go to school right now, but everybody in my band has degrees so they're all kind of giving me a pity case! They're like teachers giving me schooling while I'm playing with them and they're playing with me. So I started playing guitar instrumentally and not rock oriented while I was doing the last stages of my rap stuff. Then you know, I just started hanging out with more people that were just playing music. That then led to me going to the piano and studying music harder, the clarinet.. things like that. Then I just touched the sax, man.. and that was it! Once I played live music, man I realized the other thing is a job now. This is pleasure, this is the love supreme! The other rap thing was like a job. Like "Can you program this thing for me?" Okay. "Can you arrange something for me?" Okay. But now it's like "Hey, can you guys play a tune?" Sure!.. You know, you don't know what you're gonna get. But it's great, just the concept of live improvisation. To me it's very powerful and very now in the moment. The guys I play with are a quartet.. piano, bass, drums and me on saxophone or guitar, whatever I can get my hands on. I mean you know, I fooled around and the guys have made me do lyrics on certain shows you know, not anything major. More like a joke between us. Because they know about what I did now looking on the internet and stuff, cause I never told 'em. I never wanted to tell 'em. But one of the dudes is a smart alec and Google'd and did all that stuff and found me out!

4XL: So what's the name of the quartet?

It's called The Open Mind. I like to label it as improvisatory experiments in sounds.

4XL: Do you guys tour or play live? Are there any plans to release this music in some form?

Yeah we play live. We play in Harlem, we play in the Village.. The last place we played was Cornelia Street Cafe down in the Village. We played Little Branch, that's in the Village on 7th Avenue. Yeah, you know, playin' around Queens and doing things. We actually recorded the band in City College, up there and with that tape you know, I'm trying to figure out what I can make from using that tape to shop around or just get some more gigs or something for us. So yeah, that's quartet.. The Open Mind!

4XL: Word up! That brings our interview to a close and I can't tell you how much myself and all the fans appreciate you taking the time out to break a lot of this stuff down for us. I tried my best to bring you a lot of questions you still haven't been asked before because I know the stereotypical type interviews can be a drag.

I hear that! Nah, these questions were on the money, man!

4XL: Thanks, Don.