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Talib Kweli & El-P Recall Rawkus Records Taking A Chance On Underground Hip-Hop

Run The Jewels and Company Flow co-founder El-P is the latest guest on Talib Kweli’s The People’s Party Podcast, with co-host Jasmin Leigh. The two natives of Brooklyn, New York have plenty of history together, including Hip Hop For Respect. They were label-mates at Rawkus Records during an inflection point in both artist’s careers, making albums that galvanized an iconic underground Hip-Hop label that reached the mainstream. The two men relive some history from the mid-1990s when each hungry Hip-Hop artist found a home that was down to put out music by their respective groups. Ahead of the 30:00 mark, El-P remembers working at Lower Manhattan’s Tower Records with Co Flow band-mate Bigg Jus. Notably, some years later, Kweli recalls a job selling incense and oils outside that same Lafayette Street music store. El recalls Company Flow using Tower’s postage to ship demo materials to record labels. “We’d take our money that we earned there, and we’d go record at night,” he remembers of early songs like “8 Steps To Perfection” and others. The trio (also including New Jersey producer/DJ Mr. Len) had room on the 12″ recording. That birthed the eight songs on 1996 Official Records’ Funcrusher. “That was literally as simple as it was,” El says. “Why are we just putting a song and an instrumental on this piece of plastic? It’s gonna cost the same amount of money to put eight of these songs on here.” Talib Kweli Says The New Black Star Album With Madlib Is Done Talib brings up the years that followed. “[You and I] were signed to Rawkus at the same time. Black Star was more jazzy, melodic. We were in the same circles, in terms of crews, but sonically, not so [much]. Did you ever feel like there was a competition between Company Flow and Black Star? Because we were operating in the same spaces and sort of vying for the same fan-base, just different sides of people’s brain.” El responds with what appears to be a joke, “Nah. The only time I ever thought there was a competition was when you got to the B.D.P beat before me. I was like, ‘F*ck those dudes.’ I was mad about that one.” He is referring to DJ Hi-Tek’s “Definition” track for Black Star, which samples Boogie Down Productions’ “The P Is Free (Remix).” El continues, “I think my influences were really rooted in sh*t like B.D.P, and [Public Enemy], and Run-D.M.C., and old Schoolly D, and Fat Boys, sh*t like that, and Slick Rick—big, big Hip-Hop records with stabs. To this day, that’s kinda my thing.” Kweli then reflects, “Like, we weren’t as lo-fi as a Madlib, but it was definitely a warm, fuzzier thing that we were doing.” “For sure,” El agrees. “And that’s why it worked. That’s why we coexisted. Because, to be fair, it never felt like a competition. You were always doing your thing. The thing about that period of time, and that era, which was so special, is that there were so many people doing different sh*t. The ones that really stood one—the ones that ended up being some of the groups that we’d call defining of that era, I think Company Flow is included, and I know Black Star is, and I know there’s a couple others—everybody had their slot that they filled that created this picture. There’s a lot going on in this movement. There was. You remember the open mics and sh*t; everybody would get up and have a style, and everyone was into that different style.” Evil Dee Details What Led To The Demise Of Rawkus Records Talib continues, “For me, when I got to Rawkus, what was exciting about [the label] to me was [Missin’ Linx member] Black Attack was there, and Shabaam [Sahdeeq] was there, and Sir Menelik was there; I wasn’t familiar with Menelik, but I was familiar with Kool Keith, and Company Flow was there. Y’all established it before we got there.” “I feel like Rawkus co-opted this whole ‘independent as f*ck’ thing.” El responds, “I think that Rawkus certainly recognized it, and I think they had the ability to do something about it.” El says that Company Flow came up with the mantra while hand-designing artwork at a kitchen table using glue-sticks. It would eventually become a moniker in the late 1990s and early 2000s Rap underground. Kweli recalls being introduced to Rawkus co-founder Jarret Myer, who produces The People’s Party through then-Fugees affiliate John Forté. “I remember Jarret and Brian [Brater], these two white guys from Brown University, they came to the hood—they came to Crown Heights, and John Forté was there. Everybody was rhyming their ass off; everybody had a blunt and a 40 [ounce beer]. Everybody was trying to get a record deal, rhyming their ass off. At this point, I don’t even think that they had y’all yet. I remember John Forté being like, ‘Why ain’t you rappin’?’ I’m like, ‘This indie label sh*t? I’m trying to get to a major.'” The Reflection Eternal and Black Star co-founder continues, “A short two years later, now my girl is pregnant, now I lost my job. Mos Def [aka] Yasiin Bey comes to me, he’s like, ‘Yo, I think I’ma do a single with these Rawkus dudes.’ I’m like, ‘Jarret and Brian?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah; they gave me some money.’ I’m like, ‘They gave you some money? [Laughs] How much money they give you?’ My whole thought pattern changed.” El-P, J-Live & Breeze Brewin Rap At Fat Beats’ Grand Opening (AFH TV Video) “Meeting those guys, it was very interesting, and I think Jarret can attest to this. Basically, we were having a moment in the underground, but we had very quickly—through people like Stretch & Bobbito—we had started to get a lot of attention, just from the little music that we had put out.” An assortment of major and independent labels took an interest in the New York-New Jersey trio. “Rawkus were the ones who said yes to what we thought it should look like. We were like, ‘We want to do this, and we want to own the masters. We want a 50/50 deal. And we don’t want to promise more than one album, ’cause we don’t know how it’s gonna work out. At the time, these were ludicrous thoughts. At the time, there was no [artist leverage]. We went into these guys’ offices and said the same thing that we’d said to other [labels, and they agreed]. I think that was a really genuine place for us to jump off with that sh*t. Because if they’re in that head-space where they respect that idea, and they’re willing, also, to give us money, then these guys are serious. So when you say the co-opting of the [‘independent as f*ck’ mantra], I think what they did was they [finalized] or expanded the thought. We had the thought of ‘independent as f*ck,’ the thing that became a rallying cry in our collective. We helped define that attitude.” El expands, “There was no independent record label system for dudes like us. Either you were on a major or you just were going around to different places freestyling—Washington Square Park or Nuyorican [Poets Café]. There was no middle-ground. Rawkus became the first step for a middle-ground. [They were] the first people to recognize and say—and they felt the same way that I did, politically—’this stuff actually has a monetary future. We can actually sell this, and not take this and try and change it.'” He expounds that the label offered a step apart from the politics and nepotism of the old-guard label system. El-P and Company Flow broke from Rawkus. El launched Definitive Jux Records, another heralded 2000s imprint. Juss created Subversive, and Len opened his Dummy Smacks company. Talib, who remained with Rawkus until the label was sold, has co-founded labels, including Blacksmith and Javotti Media. While both El and Talib criticized their former label on wax at times, they seemingly look back at the imprint’s positive qualities more than 20 years after signing. 10 Things You May Not Know About Rawkus Records (Audio) Elsewhere in the interview, El-P describes Zack De La Rocha living and recording with him in the days following the Rage Against The Machine breakup. He also remembers Def Jux, and confirms that Rick Rubin is not producing Run The Jewels’ fourth album. Last week, Talib Kweli confirmed that Black Star’s sophomore album, which is reportedly produced by Madlib, is completed. Talib Kweli Rocks A Rawkus Records In-Store At Fat Beats (AFH TV Video) Videos from Rawkus Records-era Talib Kweli and El-P are available at AFH TV. We are currently offering free 7-day trials.

Source: AmbrosiaForHeads.com

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Talib Kweli & B-Real Discuss People Of Color Being Blocked Out Of Legal Cannabis

B-Real is the latest guest on People’s Party With Talib Kweli. There, the member of Cypress Hill and Prophets Of Rage tells the co-founder of Black Star and Reflection Eternal about the origins of his groups. The Los Angeles, California native breaks down Cypress’ distinction among the the handful of artists on SNL‘s all-time “banned” list. The legendary MC/producer/entrepreneur also opens up about his neighborhood ties, and how gang graffiti coined him a name that he’s kept hot for nearly 30 years. In addition to music, B-Real and Talib discuss cannabis. Apart from “Dr. Green Thumb” recalling his days rolling with Brand Nubian to Harlem to cop a legendary strain en route to New Rochelle, B-Real offers some blunt reality surrounding the booming bud business. Bun B Tells Talib Kweli Why T.R.O.Y. Is The Biggest Hip-Hop Song Of All Time (Video) At 43:00, Talib describes the efficiency of recently buying cannabis at a dispensary in Colorado. “It was so easy, and I got really good weed. I was amazed at how people are caking up on it. But the Black and Brown people are locked out of that. It’s hard for us to even get into those spaces when we took the risk—our communities took the risk.” B-Real, who is involved with Gas Co. (and wears the hat for his appearance) responds, “They have this thing called social equity, which means if you’re an offender, where you’ve been convicted of a sort of cannabis-related crime, it’s supposed to put you in the front of the line [to get sanctions]. And for most, it does. And that’s a lot of Black and Brown people that can apply and actually get some of these licenses. But the problem is, a lot of us can’t afford those. And when we try to come into the scenario, we usually come in by ourselves, independent, with not much financial backing. They make it very hard for us to exist in that market because of what it costs to actually invest in actually becoming a cannabis brand or company. Supposedly, the system is that at some point, if you can’t afford that permit, they have a backup fund that pays for it for you because they want these permits working. But the problem is, even if they give you that, you still have to have the capital to actually start the business. My advice to any Black and Brown person trying to get in the game: there’s a lot of people operating sort of the same way that the corporate structure does. The corporate [structure] is a collective of a lot of people with money, obviously. They move all their money pretty much together. So what a lot of people are doing now is they’re partnering up with people that want to invest in the cannabis game, but they’re all investing together and going in as one. That’s what our folks need to do: they need to f*ckin’ get together.” Kweli summarizes, “Collective and cooperative economics.” B-Real Details How He Developed 1 Of Hip-Hop’s Most Distinctive Voices (Video) Co-host Jasmin Leigh interjects that she noticed a Black-owned dispensary in her neighborhood becoming white-owned overnight. B-Real explains, “They’re not making it easier for us. But that’s why I say we have to sort of unify our money and sort of move together in that business to have a presence there. They’re not gonna make it easy for us. They’ve made it easy for the corporate structure to get in. It’s just that some people have figured out how the corporations move.” B-Real notes that his proposed strategy has worked, and private investors have found success without outside backing. “It’s just a matter of people approaching the right people within our community and saying, ‘Hey, let’s move in this together.’ Like you see, a lot of athletes now are getting into the cannabis sector.” Kweli draws on what B-Real says regarding Black and Brown unity and stresses the importance of that bond regarding issues approaching the 2020 election. The two veteran artists move into politics for the close of the extensive and dynamic discussion. Fab 5 Freddy’s Documentary Sets The Record Straight About A Chronic Problem (Video Trailer) Elsewhere in the interview, B-Real describes bringing in percussionist Eric Bobo as an official member of Cypress Hill. He also describes an especially significant episode of his Smoke Box involving Pop/Rock singer Melissa Etheridge. #BonusBeat: Talib Kweli and B-Real were both featured on Chris Webby’s 2015 song “Dopamine,” which also has Trae Tha Truth and Grafh:

Source: AmbrosiaForHeads.com

https://www.itshiphop.com/forums/forum/news-events/hip-hop-news/1858442-talib-kweli-b-real-discuss-people-of-color-being-blocked-out-of-legal-cannabis

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