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  The Life of Dove ~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

Archive for November, 2008

Dovestory: Legend of Phoenix (aka Slimkid Tre of Pharcyde), 2001

November 30th, 2008 |

Since I recently posted up the 2001 interview with the then war-torn Pharcyde, I am following up with the follow-up to that feature. This is an article I did on Slimkid Tre, who had changed his name to Legend of Phoenix at that point.

I couldn’t really connect with him during the convo. People who use too many metaphors when they speak make me itch. I love weirdos, but I think there is a fine line between being eclectic and just being full of yourself. Either way, I gave him the fair chance to speak his mind on the break up of the group, his music, etc…

The happy situation now (let’s not say “ending”) is that Brown and Imani are still doing their thing under The Pharcyde name, and Tre and Fatlip teamed up this year for their single “Ay Yo My Man” (video below -- you be the judge!). They made a new website with blogs and all at FatLipandSlimKid3.com - and they’ve donned themselves the “Ruffin & Kendricks of The Pharcyde”… bless their hearts.  Read on… 

Phenomenon of the Phoenix
by Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

Legend of Phoenix, aka Tre ‘Slimkid’ Hardson, is in search of making his immortal mark in music. After spending nearly a decade with The Pharcyde, Tre has ventured out on his own to pursue his own identity. With an eight-piece band backing him under his new moniker, Legend of Phoenix, he is stepping away from the past with confidence that his future will fulfill the vast inspirational urges he has always possessed.

In the late 80’s he was seeking success in entertainment as an energetic teen, first with dancing, then with emceeing. Tre recalls the pleasantry of early years with his former Pharcyde partners Imani, Romye and Fatlip. The friends spent nearly five years shopping for a record deal when they landed at Delicious Vinyl, and after releasing their first LP Bizarre Ride II in 1992, their fame came quickly. Tre says of the notoriety “I think we were open arms with it, we were struggling to survive. People were recognizing we had the musical talent. When you’re that young the recognition is great. When I look back and listen to the first record, I look at the footprints in the sand and I’m proud of that. I’m proud of our accomplishments.”

There have been many reports regarding the breakup of The Pharcyde, and Tre admits that there were several factors that contributed to his leaving the group. “I’m sure it can be said I left for financial differences. We didn’t really get along with our record label. We were given the opportunity to do solo deals somewhere else, our management worked it out. I wanted to do a side situation for the longest time – some things that maybe it’s not right for me to put on a whole group, the way I think or believe, to explore the live instrumentation. The Pharcyde may have been down with some of it, and some of it they may not,” he speculates.

After having a repertoire of nearly 80 recorded songs, the constant rejection from Delicious Vinyl’s staff became too much for Tre to cope with. “We kept getting told our shit wasn’t good enough. The label kept turning things down. It was just a huge argument. Getting away from that allowed me to love music again. It allows me to build a better foundation. I’m 30 years old so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have that foundation.” When Tre left the group he signed a short-lived deal with actor Forest Whitaker’s independent label Spirit Dance. He later started his own label, Flying Baboon, with partner Tatiana Letvin.

He is fastidious in his selection of artists to work with, even if they don’t meet the approval of the general public. Tre’s need for self-preservation is key, and he refuses to dilute his inner peace with anything that discomforts him. “We’re put on this earth to be all that we can be, not half of it. You can’t help that you are who you are. I’m not going to extinguish my light because someone else tries to keep me underground. Even a little status is light. Do you want to be controlled by people or do you want to be you? I produced Brian Green’s record, which a lot of people gave me shit for, but I don’t give a fuck – that’s my best friend. I wanna do a lot of different things. Who knows? I might even write a country song now,” he laughs.

Tre’s step-father was a ‘starving artist’ with an affection for Hendrix, so Tre grew up with an appreciation for the struggle involved with creative freedom. Tre realizes that the changes he went through with the Pharcyde have affected him in ways that he will always carry with him. “It’s called growth. All of these terms are part of the nourishment of the fruit. The past is the past and you’re moving forward and doing new things.”

A focal point in his journey to self was changing old patterns. He began reading avidly, and cites Conversations With God by Donald Walsh to be the book that started “peeling the potato”. Other works he credits with life realization are The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Milman and Soul Love by Sanaya Roman. “I feel like I’m a late bloomer. Imani’s been reading this type of stuff for years. Before I was like ‘whatever’ to meditating and vegetarianism. I only eat fish and vegetables now.”

Tre studies the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, and recently began taking classes in Kundalini Yoga. Legend of Phoenix is Tre’s venture into an art form he calls “expressionism”. He describes it as “just being you and not caring about what people think about you. If you worry about things you’re going to tailor things to fit people around you. It’s about releasing all things.” He, alone, is Legend of Phoenix, but says that his eight-piece band is an integral part of his creative angle. His independent work has brought him a sense of peace and satisfaction.

“It allows me to be freer in my mind about my direct business – it’s so powerful, from me educating myself about knowledge of self. When you hear it you will be elevated by it, and that’s not an egotistical way of saying that. I’m confident and it will radiate. I hope it takes layers off of people’s shells and helps them unveil they’re true spirit. My work is of the all.” Tre explains that his thought process never ceases “I have songs in my head and I can’t sleep.”

Tre assures that although some bands have trouble keeping instrumentalists excited about their music, his group stays attentive and involved. “My band members are great musicians. I don’t have to keep them excited because it’s the love of what we’re doing that makes it work. The people in the band may change, they may stay – but they are a blessing.”

There has been some adjustment from performing with pre-recorded tracks to having a live band. “Things that are programmed sound straight and tight, whereas playing live you can hear the changes. But there’s a certain magical energy {in live music}, a vortex opens up. It’s like hearing Sly Stone – it’s just a good vibe. Live music is more vibey and won’t have the solid hit that programmed music has.” Tre expresses a love for The Roots, both professionally and personally. “The Roots set it off for me,” he relays affectionately.

Current plans for Legend of Phoenix include a show at the Temple Bar in Santa Monica on February 16th. They are also working to set up a gig with Miles Long, a band formed by Malcolm Jamal Warner. The enigmatic group ‘3 7000 9’ shares the Flying Baboon site with Legend of Phoenix, and Tre has recorded with the hard-driving band. Tre is also open to take his act overseas for some dates. One project he’d like to do in the future is a collaboration with the Foo Fighters.

When consideration is turned toward the prospect of a Pharcyde reunion, Tre relies on philosophical and spiritual theory to analyze the possibility. He insists that fans of the Pharcyde should support the individual efforts of the artists in order to perpetuate the success and continuation of the art they had already appreciated.

“If the universe brings us back together then we’ll do it. David Bowie was in a group. Sting was in the Police. I’m in my 30’s now, when I was in my 20’s I worried too much. I think if the people want it that much they’ll support what is now. I love Imani, I love Romye, I love Derrick. There’s not a night they’re not in my dreams or in my thoughts. We’ve been together for a long time. We’re here to walk and to branch off when it’s time. Maybe these 4 different rivers will meet in the same ocean once again.”

Fans of the Pharcyde approaching him with questions about the breakup do not faze Tre. “I can’t deny we had magic because we had a lot of it. If I’m swayed by people’s angry thoughts and am not doing what I feel then I’m a prisoner, I’m just a slave. I love those guys, but I still have to do what I’m doing. I’m open to do other things, but I’m not open to not being able to do what I want. I answer to me, that’s all I can say. I wish everyone well, but you can’t put a lampshade on anyone – you’ve got to let them shine.”

Realizing that following his own advice may be difficult at times; Tre resolves to support his former band mates in every way possible. “What I love about all of us is that we’re straight honest – there was a time in my life that I would run from things. If I see Fatlip has a show I’ll go sit in the audience and be supportive. Those guys are my soul mates. Being a soul mate doesn’t mean you’re always gonna have good days.”

Although Tre left Imani and Romye to their own devices with the marketing of Plain Rap, he professes that the project is artistically competent. “If people take their time and listen to it, it’s really good.” He remarks that he enjoys Fatlip’s new project. “He’s an incredible writer – so is Imani.” He has had conversations with Romye, who told Tre that crowds have been receptive to the new presentation The Pharcyde is coming with, not really caring that the dynamics have changed.

“I think the Pharcyde is it’s own phenomenon. It’s beautiful to have been a part of it. The Pharcyde will never die. I’m amazed every time I go places- the oddest places -- and hear people talk about it. It’s all a blessing.”

With any luck, Tre’s trek into the wilderness of Self will progress beyond the bounds of his own introspection, and will reach out to the fans who are eager to grasp his concepts, as well as to the friends who played a role in his revelation. The carefree days of B-boying and Bizarre Ride may be over for Tre, but the Legend of Phoenix offers the opportunity for his ascension into a haven of artistic bliss.

Original link at DaveyD.com: http://www.daveyd.com/legendofphoenixinterview.html

Tre and Fatlip 2008 single “Ay Yo My Man”

Tre Hardson aka Slimkid3 aka Legend of Phoenix

Tre Hardson aka Slimkid3 aka Legend of Phoenix

Jamie Foxx is Back! “Just Like Me” f/ T.I.

November 28th, 2008 |

Jamie Foxx is finally getting ready to put this new album out! Can’t wait!

Here’s the new video for “Just Like Me” featuring T.I. – with a pretty cute ending! I just adore Taraji Henson!

Just Like Me ft. T.I. – Jamie Foxx

Barack and Michelle Obama 20/20 Interview

November 28th, 2008 |

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! I had a good time with friends, and spoke with my mom and my sister -- and of course my meal turned out lovely. Thanks to Rachael Ray’s show for the carving tips on the turkey -- for the first time I was able to clean the whole bird off with just a few skillful cuts!

In case you missed it, here is Barbara Walters’ full interview with Barack and Michelle Obama from the November 26 episode of 20/20. What a beautiful couple! He is going to be our flyest President ever!






Dovestory: Slum Village, 2001

November 26th, 2008 |

Ahhhh the memories. This is already getting fun for me, just thinking back to the times of these interviews. And this was just a few years back… wait until I start unveiling my ’80s & ’90s stories about my nights in the clubs… just no one is allowed to give this site link to my mom, okay? lol

There had been rumors swirling around that the group had broken up, but it was kind of a touchy subject. Not too long after this interview, Baatin officially left the group to do his solo thing, and well… fans know the rest. Read on!

Slum Village: It Takes A Village To Raise A Roof
by Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

When Slum Village seemingly burst onto the scene in 2000 with Fantastic Volume II, people gawked in amazement at their seasoned stage presence and their boundless energy. Their rapport with crowds on an international scale was phenomenal, yet the critics would only expound upon the prolific production of Jay Dee, while emcees Baatin and T3 were picked apart for their offbeat presentation of the songs.

Music critics have adored the stage show and the energy of the music, while simultaneously downplaying the lyrical value of the album. Fans grappled to get a copy of the basement treasure Fantastic Volume I, yet they continued to question Slum’s interpretation of Volume II. The relentless journalistic stroking of Jay Dee’s masterful beat creation has left listeners in the dark as to the more complex relationships, talents and visions of the entire group.
Fetch your backpacks for a melodic trek – destination: Slum Village.

The Foundation of a Legacy

Jay Dee, Baatin Rasool Wasi, and T3 met while still in high school and after a lyrical battle or two they ended up getting together in basement ciphers. Their chemistry was undeniable. “When we come together we unconsciously form this triangle,” says Baatin of their symmetry.

SV met DJ Dez in 1992 when he was working with another group in Detroit and spinning at club nights throughout the area. Several groups in the city formed a coalition called Ghost Town, named for the feeling that Motown left Detroit’s music scene with at that time. “We’ve been in the studio together plenty of times – kinda like a family circle – we weren’t super close but we all had a bond. I would hook up with Baatin and go to the studio. Me and Jay Dee would hook up all the time – we were very alike as far as being musicians – rap, dj and make music – there weren’t too many people who could do everything well. We was always cool and numerous times people would try to start stuff between us but we never fed into it.”

From the time the Slum Village trio made the first song to the time they were able to secure a record deal, eight years of their lives had passed. In those eight years they were dropped in and out of four record deals – more than most people would put up with regardless of professional aspirations. Their tenacity landed them on their feet with the independent Barak and Good Vibe labels. The Fantastic Volume II project had been completed and shelved for 2 years before they were able to release it in 2000.

They collectively have mixed feelings about the role that Motown and the city of Detroit played into their difficulties. Baatin explains “I would say that as far as the network…it’s very difficult to be discovered – for a long time no one really took us serious here. Motown was just funny. The whole Midwest was not taken seriously. I’d say 40% because of Detroit – 30% because of the industry. – You had to go to NY or something”.

Regardless of the rejection from the city, they still love their hometown. Motown’s recent induction of Hip Hop to its repertoire says a lot for Detroit artists putting the city on the map. Baatin and T3 are fastidious with their representation of Detroit. “We are among the many groups who like to represent our city. No one has really come up and represented except Eminem – a lot of people have made it – I’m not sayin any names – but won’t rep for Detroit”, a fervent Baatin remarks. T3 adds, “Detroit is comin’ up, it still has a long way to go.”

Hometown Harmony

The group’s decision to shoot their latest music videos in Los Angeles sound stages as opposed to utilizing their own cityscape had some natives up in arms. Baatin expresses regret over not being able to film either of the features in Conant Gardens, their first choice for the production. He is adamant that the location in no way reflects their feelings toward their home. “The reason the videos were shot in LA was because the sun was shining a little bit more there and we needed the light – because of the budget and time frame we needed to get it done.”

He elaborates further on his love for the local scene, “I represent Detroit to the fullest – the whole culture, the techno – the sound that has inspired people for decades. I represent. It’s like a culture here that’s so underground, not many people know about it, there’s a dance here that goes with the techno scene. The communities of music are separate so it makes it easy for us to make our own sound – to sound different than Eminem or Kid Rock. You have artists who use the same producers in their city and there is repetition. We are in our own zone. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Delving further into the current state of Detroit artists and Slum’s future plans to work with them, admiration is warmly expressed by all for newcomers Elzhi, D’wele, Phat Cat, and Baatin’s sister Marie. Dez also names D-12, Royce the 5’9 and Obie Trice as personal favorites. Jay Dee will be working with D’wele on his solo LP, and D’wele is reciprocating with production on Jay Dee’s work. T3 has taken on the formidable task of management with Elzhi as his first client. Elzhi already has his project in the works along with collaboration on Jay Dee’s upcoming solo LP.

Baatin also cites Juan Slate and Dorothy Ashby as two of his all-time admirable artists from the D. Of course they are often asked about their feelings and relationship with Detroit’s resident bad-boy Eminem. Baatin says with a smile “We definitely like him – that’s fam. Back in the day we had demos from him – we would exchange demos – he was innovative even back then.”

In December 2000, angry headz in Detroit issued a press release nationwide to boycott radio station WJLB, due to the station’s lack of support for Hip Hop music. Demonstrators staged a peaceful protest outside the station on January 19, 2001 with the guidance of music pioneer Chuck D. Although Slum Village had minimal knowledge of the boycott at the time of this conversation, they do acknowledge that a lot of radio stations have issues with supporting the art form. “I don’t know if I support it or not, but I don’t fault people for standing up for what they believe in” T3 states thoughtfully.

The over-commercialism in Hip Hop has been a major topic of discussion over the past couple of years. Headz have looked on in disappointment as some of their favorite emcees have appeared in and done voice-overs for commercials hocking anything from clothing to cereal. It is controversial in that while we want to see our rap icons come up, we don’t want them to sell out. Fans seem to have taken well to SV’s recent decision to do three spots for Lugz footwear.

Baatin has mixed feelings about the ins and outs of doing commercials, and when asked if he thought it was good for a group’s career to appear in one he remarked “Yes and no. Yes, because it’s a way for you to get out and be heard, to get exposure. No because a lot of people tend to go to far with it – to go outside of their boundaries of what they would usually make just for the money or the exposure.”

T3 adds, “It can’t hurt. It’d be different if we were doing liquor commercials. People have made positive comments – we’re still Slum regardless.”

Fantastic Voyage

Considering the ambiguous reviews of Fantastic Volume II’s lyrical content, SV has had their moment to reflect on critique, and concur that there is no need to let it get to them. Baatin sedately explains, “I don’t deal with it. I just let it go. People are gonna judge, critique, criticize anyway. Everyone in the world can’t love you. There has to be a balance in nature – you have to have cold with hot and winter with summer. I just stand back and watch and let people judge what they may. I guess they are free to. When we get mad and we wanna get our point across we don’t want to be held back. I accept it.”

Dez has also had his share of being under the microscope, having been the group’s DJ while on tour. “I try to be fair and reasonable” he says, “I feel like most people are really just on the outside looking into the situation so they don’t have anything to go by but what they’ve seen. You can’t take anything too much to heart. I felt like I came into this situation and did what I had to do and made it work.”

Furthermore, Baatin feels that a lot of people didn’t understand the vibe on Volume II. “80% of the music we made on the Volume II album was right on the spot, spontaneous – 15 minutes we got a song – it was more of a feeling album. A lot of people judge or critique the lyrics, but we wanted people to feel again instead of just concentrating on metaphors. We went into sound octaves and different rhythms. We did a lot of those songs before we even got a deal. It was more or less flow.”

Their individual talents are innumerable, creating a constant cornucopia of flavor. Jay Dee and Baatin tickle the electronic ivories, and Jay Dee plays a bit of bass as well. Baatin has been practicing his percussion skills, while Dez is polished in most Latin percussion instruments. T3 is more of an SP1200 man, but doesn’t limit himself in experimentation.

Baatin professes that they all remain open-minded about the possibilities of learning more about music. “If I pick up an instrument and I don’t know anything about it I’m probably going to be more creative with it since it’s the first time I’ve ever picked up this instrument – I think a lot more cats are doing that these days. I can play what I hear in my head, I can hear a chord and play a sequence. We pretty much mess around with a lot of instruments.”

The vocal stylings of Slum Village are deep rooted in the church. Baatin and his sister grew up singing in the choir, as did Jay Dee – who will be improvising some soulful strains on his new solo LP. Baatin’s gravelly-satin voice goes into detail about the crossover of emceeing and singing, “Old Dirty Bastard can sing, ironically. Pharaohe Monch sang on Organized Konfusion’s first album. {Emcees} have this phobia about what people will think of us – I want to sing to show people the versatile side of emcees. Mos Def wasn’t afraid to step out and show his singing abilities – D’Angelo was an emcee back in the day as well.” Baatin’s solo album will include singing mixed with his poetic vocals as well.

Future Fantasm

The studio has been a second home to SV over the years. They’ve spent quality time with various producers, and are hard pressed to choose a favorite behind the glass. “There’s only ONE producer,” T3 says with an emphatic snicker. Secondary choices are not forthcoming from his lips, however he does name Hi Tek and Dr. Dre as producers he currently admires.

As far as artists they have recorded with, Common and D’Angelo appear to be the standouts. “I enjoyed all of ‘em. I enjoyed vibin’ with D’angelo. I don’t really have a favorite because they were all different,” Baatin relates. “It was an honor to be down there with Pete Rock in our basement making beats….same with Tip. The were all beautiful.”

The road to Slum Village’s success has been paved with extensive tour dates throughout the United States and Europe. Their stage show won accolades from even the most close-minded critics and had audiences mesmerized. In the year 2000 alone they repped hard for the Good Vibe and Lyricist Lounge tours, grooved a while with Lucy Pearl, then switched gears in the fall to intensify the aptitude of the Okayplayer Tour.

“The whole Okayplayer Tour was a wonderful experience – uplifting, inspiring – for us to get a band! There‘s nothing like it! The Roots, Talib Kweli – in cohesiveness working with them was a wonderful experience” Baatin reflects excitedly. The artist they’ve most enjoyed sharing the stage with is Common. They deem their performance at the Atlanta show with Com to be the best ever. “We had a domino effect dance routine goin’ on and we didn’t even rehearse it. We {were} in sync – in harmony with each other.” Baatin’s tone is intense and joyful, as were the glowing reviews given by fans and critics who attended the Atlanta show.

DJ Dez has been an integral part of the group on the road. He has many good memories of the past year and says that people did walk up and call him Jay Dee on several occasions. Dez took most of the traveling in stride, but felt a lot of love for his own talents once the Okayplayer Tour took hold. “I think that throughout all the other tours I felt like my purpose was to come into the situation and help out, and to help tighten what needed to be tightened. They were used to Jay Dee being there – they would have to do his verses so I would just help out with background. It wasn’t hard at all – I already knew their vibe – I had DJed for shows for them at the crib before. It’s like a family situation. I think the OKP tour was the best experience for me ‘cause prior to that I didn’t feel a part of the group, and since I’m not on the albums or anything I can only take credit for the live shows. Guru and Scratch worked with me on stage – I got to do my thing aside from Slum.”

?uestlove of the Roots recently invited Dez to play percussion with him for Common’s appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Along with the upcoming release of the remix and video for “Fall In Love”, Slum Village is once again planning a tour. This time around they are keeping a hometown vibe to the show while including the people they know will accentuate their own energy. “It’ll be the Slum Village tour – it’ll be a family tree. Bahamadia, Phat Cat, Elzhi, D’wele – we’re setting up now … a lot of spot dates and college dates”, reports Baatin.

In addition to his musical musings, Baatin is also penning three movie scripts. The plots are varied in dramatic range and promise to be inclusive of the “meditative visions” that have come to Baatin in his lifetime. The first work is called “The Last Supper – Revelations” and is his perspective on what happened in the biblical times. He describes, “{There are) so many images of Christ being Caucasian. {The script} will be accepted because it’s really different. It’s about a celebration. It’s not about twelve apostles sitting at a table. It’s about how people can transcend a particular life into a new life. It’s got a Quantam Leap type feel, magical, with soul.” The second storyline is a graphic monolith telling of slave masters, slaves, and what happened on an “unseen level”. The third is dedicated solely to women and the oppression of their sexual power.

Slum is currently in the studio completing their third album that should drop this summer. There are some pending guest appearances too, including StereoLab and Sergio Mendes, which have yet to be confirmed. T3 aspires to include Common and Prince in future projects as well. Says Baatin of third album, “Don’t expect anything. Be ready for something different. I’m not going to explain the album – but this time we’re gonna be a little bit more lyrical – a lot of people didn’t feel the last one for what it was. We’re not trying to prove a point – just something different.”

We won’t be seeing a trilogy of Fantastic-like albums from Slum Village, however anything they do create will promise to be phenomenal. The Village has a strong foundation, but a little restructuring will only make their contribution to the Hip Hop market that much more valuable.

Original post on DaveyD.com: http://www.daveyd.com/slumvillageinterview.html

Slum Village

Slum Village

John Forte’ is Coming Home!

November 24th, 2008 |

It was officially reported today that John Forte’s sentence was commuted by President Bush. I’m pretty psyched for him, since I think he’s going to have a lot to offer the music community upon his return to the big city. He’s been making music while he’s been locked up, and even though I haven’t communicated with him since around ’05, I am quite sure he’s got some sort of master plan to put out his new stuff.

I first corresponded with John back in ’97/’98 when he had his music site, and his message board was quite the rage. This is the board where I first met the people who would eventually lead me over to Okayplayer.com in 1999. John also came through Seattle with Wyclef and Canibus (who eventually got stationed at Fort Lewis by my house when he joined the army – that’s a whole other story), but I never spoke to him that time.

Through my crazy posts on his music site, John and I began conversing via email – generally about music, life and a bunch of nothing really. He was funny and smart, and I was absolutely shocked when I learned about his arrest. I couldn’t even believe it!

The first time I ever visited New York in September 2000, John was the person who convinced me to make the trip – despite the fact I had just left my job, had no money and no real plans for my future. He told me I HAD to come and see the city, and he let me stay at his mom’s house in East New Brunswick (talk about a five million mile cab ride!). He was on house arrest at the time, and we spent one day watching the first season of Sex & The City on DVD with one of his friends. He made sure that I got into the city to hang out with my Okayplayer friends in Brooklyn, and it was one of the greatest memories of my life.

Because of that trip, I fell in love with NYC, and finally moved her in 2004. Isn’t it funny how your life can change meeting just one person? Much less all the dozens of people who have inspired me along the way… oh, I have stories…

I’ll be eternally grateful for John’s kindness, and I hope he finds happiness as he comes back home to his family. Finally George Bush did something I approve of!

John Forte

John Forte

Dovestory: The Pharcyde, 2001

November 23rd, 2008 |

This was my second full interview ever. Again, hitting up friends who I knew wouldn’t hold it against me if the interview wasn’t the greatest… bless my heart.

Around this time I started finding my faulted love of aliteration, which I learned later is quite annoying to all the educated journalists out there. Not that I cared, but I def think I overdid it for a while. I also spelled skills and heads with a z on the end for a long time too… but again, that Hip Hop chick didn’t give a fuck about what you thought.

Keep in mind that while I’m re-posting these articles I am changing an occasional typo if I find them, but it’s all pretty much in it’s original state. I’ve worked with very little direction for most of my writing career, so going back, I think I did ok for someone who had no clue of what was expected.

As for Pharcyde, this was all about Brown (Romye) and Imani. I actually got the chance to interview Tre later on about his music. He was kind of weird, but I guess that’s why we liked Pharcyde to begin with. At any rate, Brown and Imani gave some insight in this interview about the breakup of the group as of 2001.

I saw the guys were performing at Rock The Bells over this past summer, and I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to go. Miss you guys!

Choosing Cydes: The Pharcyde
by Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

The Pharcyde may very well be one of the most resilient groups in the history of Hip Hop music. If you would have told Imani Wilcox 10 years ago that his future would be clouded with stormy relationships between him and his partners, you would have had a fight on your hands. No one could have anticipated the growth of insurmountable tension that would inevitably send The Pharcyde on a truly bizarre ride.

Boyhood friends Imani, Romye, and Tre along with friend Robert Vincent started the B-boy dance group ‘242’ during the pinnacle of Hip Hop’s rise to mainstream credibility in the late 80’s. Robert eventually left the group to pursue dance on his own, but the teenage trio were not hindered. They later appeared as featured fly-boys on In Living Color, and then fired up Herb Alpert’s video with their technique. They put so much heart into their dancing that they yearned to make music as well, since they knew they could contribute beats that other dancers could appreciate.

Around the time they were gaining credibility on the dance circuit, Fatlip was inducted into the group and the foursome worked with J-Swift to produce a demo as The Pharcyde. They made their debut as emcees on the Brand New Heavies’ album with a delightful performance on “Soul Flower”. They retreated to the studio to create their own exquisite herb-induced explosion of Hip Hop satire and spellbinding rhythms. Bizarre Ride II was a unique approach to Hip Hop, and is now considered a classic amongst headz worldwide. The Pharcyde became an overnight success upon release of the sob-story comedy hit “Passin Me By”.

Their sophomoric effort, Labcabincalifornia, was released in 1995 after a three year hiatus. Labcabin received a decent amount of critical acclaim, but fans were not as receptive to the album as they had been to Bizarre Ride. The group had relieved J-Swift of his duties prior to recording Labcabin in favor of producing on their own, mainly due to his inability to get along with the members of the group. The sounds on the album were definitely affected by the change in production, but it could have been the beginning of problems in the group that brought about the different vibe.

Fistfights and arguments between Tre and Fatlip convoluted the creativity somewhat, but the group still managed to deliver a solid work of art. Jay Dee’s masterful skills brought forth the hit “Runnin”, and Labcabin was deemed a credible keeper for the Hip Hop audience. Performances with notable bands such as The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and the Jazzyfatnastees didn’t hurt their networking either.

No matter the terms of their success, The Pharcyde had begun to experience their woes. Fatlip was let go from the group in 1997 after he began refusing to do shows in favor of spending time alone in the studio. There have been numerous interviews and articles reporting various instances of his drug use, erratic behavior and inability to get along with the other members of the group, however Fatlip has said very little on his own behalf. The group’s third EP, Karma, stagnated when Delicious Vinyl didn’t have the funds available to distribute it. Tensions mounted as Tre vacillated between staying in the group or pursuing his solo career, even though their contract with Delicious Vinyl did allow them the leeway to do solo projects while still being a part of the group.

The Pharcyde went on to produce song after song without Fatlip’s vocals, and eventually Delicious Vinyl released Plain Rap in 2000. Before recording for the album was complete, and before there was a release date set, Tre left the group with little warning. There have been speculations and a spackling of interviews since the breakup, but the media seems hesitant to delve into the reasons behind the separation. Imani is adamant that little has been done by the media to report the ‘un-pc’ side of the story. “The press tries to make us out to be the bad guys and Tre to be the good guy. The only people who are really suffering are the fans – because they give a fuck. The least he could do is give them the real.”

With that said, we proceed with the intense honesty of the Pharcyde’s evolution. Imani’s pleasant demeanor alters quickly upon the first mention of The Pharcyde’s breakup. Even with the invocation that this article was to be about the ‘new and improved’ Pharcyde, Imani states candidly “It’s hard for me to talk about the future of the Pharcyde or go in depth with out talking about Tre”.

He recants the events surrounding Tres departure. “We’re always in the studio, Plain Rap was just difficult – we weren’t even going to put the record out, but the label had promised another label they would put it out. They were making deals trying to put a record out they didn’t even know that they were gonna get. We were in Germany and people were comin’ up to us telling us they were with our label – and we’re like ‘what the fuck?’ Tre got frustrated with all of it, but instead of sayin’ how he really felt he just rubbed us the right way – but as time went on we found out more and more shit. He couldn’t even come see us. He’d call us on the phone and tell us things. We recorded Karma and he surrounded himself with ‘yes’ men. We said ‘it’s cool but we need to make some more songs’, but he had changed and his people were treating him like the rapping Dalai Lama.”

Imani realized that Tre had been undergoing some self-awareness, but had no idea how far he would take it. “He came to the studio with a fuckin’ robe on and was bowin’ to us & shit. We were like you need to stand up straight – you need to be right before you start actin’ like you right. He’s on some ‘peace be with you’ type shit but all the shit Tre comes with is a front. He’s out in the streets pretending like things are all good and they’re not. He comes off like he’s so cool.”

One can sense sadness in Imani’s passionate recollection of the breakup. They had been, after all, friends since childhood. Imani admits that his heart was broken upon Tres departure. “Tre is a real sucka. I can’t stop talking about it, it’s so confusing. I never got an answer – I didn’t do nothin’! We never felt like we were holding him back – yet his whole excuse was that he needed to be free, that he needed his space, and I just didn’t understand. We tried to talk to him – but when we did I was like ‘ you should just leave’. He’s the Godfather of my children and he hasn’t even seen them, and they are 7 and 4 now. It’s like losing a piece of me – we were friends before the music.”

Memories of Fatlip’s separation from the Pharcyde do not appear to be as harshly engrained in Imani’s mind. “Everyone thinks we hate Fatlip, but we have more respect for him than we do for Tre. {Fatlip} is just crazy. Tre acted like he had it all together but he was the real crazy person. Fatlip is cool, at least he’s trying to do his thing – it’s not so easy for a crazy man.”

Imani further explains the reasoning behind their decision to let Fatlip go his own way. “Tre was the driving force behind Fatlip not being in the group. He made it clear that he couldn’t be creative with Fatlip there. Fatlip was more accomplished as far as lyrics and beats and we knew he could handle things on his own – so for Tre, we let him go to do his solo thing. He led us to believe that once Fatlip was out the group we’d become more connected. Me and Romye became closer because we were in the studio every day waiting for Tre to come around.” With regard to Fatlip’s solo career, Imani says “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. As an emcee he’s inspiring, I never front on his talent. He’s just got other problems.”

The aftershock of Tres sudden announcement that he was leaving the group, coupled with Delicious Vinyl’s announcement that they would release the 13-track LP Plain Rap regardless of the group’s difficulties, left Imani and Romye with a temporary feeling of disdain. They do, however, realize that they show must go on if The Pharcyde is to stay alive. “Tre was just a setback – we just had to go through a period of readjustment. People ask us how we’re gonna do it, and I’m like ‘what the fuck are you talking about ? You can’t be a two man group?’. I’d love to do a show and have Fatlip and Tre open for us with their own music – so people can see who’s really holdin it down.”

The Pharcyde is moving on with heads held high and dignity in tact. They do not fear the critics’ opinions of Plain Rap in the slightest, nor are they hesitant to explore new territories in the rap game. “We’re building on the sound we’ve created,” Imani explains, “Our music is innovative and creative. When we did Bizarre the label reps would come in and tell us we were wasting time. This so called ‘classic’ album… people were dissin us from day one. After Labcabin came out they were telling us how dope Bizarre was. After the EP, people were telling us how dope Labcabin was. The same people who are dissin’ Plain Rap will come back later and tell us how dope it is.”

Imani is taking the setbacks and struggles of success in stride. “I don’t get too high with a win, don’t get too low with a loss. I go with what I feel. Personally I feel that Labcabin was a great album. Bizarre wasn’t that dope to me. Maybe if I was livin’ in a big fancy house driving a big fancy car off of Bizarre I’d be more inclined to say it was dope. I dunno.”

Personal growth has been immanent for Imani and Romye. Imani refuses to allow the industry’s cruelty keep him down. He has made his living in dancing and music for so many years now that it is second nature to him. “I came into the game a 19 year old B-boy, now I’m a 31 year old father. I’ve changed. I’m not a kid now, I’m a full grown man. I look at things a lot differently now. Just because someone makes more money than you doesn’t mean they know more about the game. For the last 10 years my job has been to make music. I have a son who’s 4 and a son who’s 10, and they haven’t had to worry about anything. We always want more, but I’m not unhappy. I’m gonna take this music thing as far as I can take it.”

Recently BET asked Imani and Romye to appear on the show The Basement in a reunion type setting with Tre to discuss Plain Rap. “I told them if they put me on the show with him I was gonna come out with everything. If it can’t be real I ain’t goin” Imani laughs. The episode never transpired. There is a reunion of sorts in the Cyde’s new video for the single “Truth”. “The director of the video found a way to put Fatlip and Tre in the video even after we asked them not to …to make it look like we dissed {Fatlip}. It was bullshit. They made him a clown in the video. His label wanted him to have the exposure. In Tre’s part they made him a phoenix and he flies off. People are asking us why we did that to Tre – but {the director} presented it the way he wanted to.” Imani wants to get past his anger about everything and does what he can to maintain his mindset. “I smoke bud to keep myself calm – to keep from choking the fuck outta some of these muthafuckas – people want you to be all docile, and when you come out angry they can’t handle it.”

Shrugging off the emotional recourse of remembrance, Imani looks to the future with ambition and conviction. “We’re working on an album with the Souls of Mischief . The album doesn’t have a title yet, but the name of the group is AMP – the All Mighty Pythons. As long as I’m in the music business, I know if I want to do a solo the public will LET me do it because I’m part of The Pharcyde. The Pharcyde opens doors.”

Imani relates deeply to rhythm and blues and wouldn’t mind dabbling in some collaborative efforts with his idols. “If I could work with anybody I’d work with Sly Stone. He’s a fuckin’ genius. He is to music like Einstein is to math. My perfect band would be Bob Marley, James Brown, Rick James and Prince. My roots are in soul – I was born & raised in the 70’s,” he says with a smile.

Although he doesn’t foresee a Pharcyde reunion with the former members, he doesn’t rule it out either. He recognizes that there are bridges that would have to be rebuilt, and the difficulties would be tremendous. “I can’t see a reunion record happening because Tre is really stubborn. He has a lot to do before he could even think about coming back. I’d rather have less talented people involved, who will give their honest everything, than to have a muthafucka that don’t wanna be there – that’s just gonna hinder the process. I have respect for all parties musically. Personally there are some conflicts. I don’t question their musical ability – I question their loyalty and their judgment.

The Pharcyde has what it takes to continue successfully, and anyone who has witnessed performances on their current tour will concur. The Pharcyde as a duo is strong and still on track, keeping a direct line of transportation to their mission of success. No need to question their future, Imani and Romye know that there are two cydes to every coin, and their talent is mint.

Original story at DaveyD.com: http://www.daveyd.com/pharcydeinterview.html

The Pharcyde

The Pharcyde

MC Breed Remembered

November 22nd, 2008 |

I just got the word that Michigan Hip Hop pioneer MC Breed passed away in his sleep last night. Breed had been battling with a kidney failure he suffered a couple of months ago, and had been making new music with groups like The Bake Up Boyz. Blessings go out to his family and friends.

I remember back in the day how hype we would get when “Ain’t No Future In Your Frontin” came on in the club… my Seattle pal Sonny Bonoho just told me via Twitter that he remembered me dancing to that song back in the day. Good times.

Breed, thanks for the memories, and may your soul rest in eternal peace.

Here is a pretty thorough “Best of MC Breed” tribute

And here is The Bake Up Boyz 2007/2008 single “Now I Can Do That” (f/ Jim Jones) video with Breed in the cameo. The Bake Up Boyz’ album has yet to be officially released, but Breed had some features and was a mentor to the group.

MC Breed with The Bake Up Boyz

MC Breed with The Bake Up Boyz in 2007

HollieWood “No Sleep Til Brooklyn (2008)” Video

November 22nd, 2008 |

I met this kid HollieWood at J-Hatch’s Faces in the Crowd Showcase a few months back, and instantly fell in love with his energy. He has his own thing, and it was just about finding that right song. I got this video link tonight for “No Sleep Til Brooklyn (2008)” and I’m all over it!

Dovestory: Cali Agents, 2001 (The Beginning)

November 22nd, 2008 |

The original purpose of creating the Fly Like Dove blog was to go back and archive all of my written material from over the years. A lot of my articles are online, and I have quite a few print articles to scan in, so it’ll take some time. Seems like the best place to start would be at the very beginning, so here we go!

I kind of fell into this writing thing. Thanks to Lola aka Mahogany Brown and Darkstar, both fellow Okayplayers (TEN years in ’09 y’all!), I was encouraged to do some writing for their site at the time NativeMagazine.com. I was not at all confident that I could pull it off, so I decided to try my hand at interviewing some folks I already knew. Cali Agents were my first victims, and I was so nervous! Davey D ended up posting this over on his site, and it’s still there to this day.

This was two interviews made into one story… I did the interviews with Asia and Rasco via phone, and hand wrote every word as they spoke. I actually did all my interviews without a recorder up until the “lost” Uncle Luke interview from 2002 or so (which I hope to find and run).

I still love Asia and Rasco like long lost family to this day. Good people, and super talented.

Read on…

Agents of the Rhyme Game: Cali Agents
by Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~

The Bay Area has established an undisputable niche in Hip Hop geography, and the Cali Agents have been a key factor in putting Northern California on the map. The battle cry is set forth as Rasco and Planet Asia fire up their lyrical arsenal loaded with potent rhymes. With no fear in their hearts, they produce nothing but the most straight-forward libretto–aimed at wack emcees and keyboard critics.

The two first met in Fresno where Rasco was attending Fresno State University in the early 90’s. Cali Agents was formed as an idea between the two friends around 1998, and the album How The West Was One (Ground Control/Nu Gruv) was released in May of 1999. The duo toured vigorously throughout the year, sharing the stage with the likes of Bahamadia and Slum Village. City by city, Planet Asia and Rasco captivated audiences–even amidst the antics of the stage-friendly Slum Village.

The January 2001 issue of The Source named the Cali Agents’ LP as one of the top six independent records of the year for 2000. The album has sold over 50,000 copies without any major distribution.

These two men come from different angles with the same agenda – to succeed in a business that is notorious for forcing people to give up the real and go for the bling. Rasco and Planet Asia will continue to put out quality Hip Hop both individually and as a group, and have a vested interest in keeping their roots where they can see them.

Planet Asia is an emcee for the hungry Hip Hop heretic. Gripping the mic with rugged rhymes, street knowledge and a spiritual kinesthesia, Planet Asia has exploded onto a music scene that is tiring of pop-rap rhetoric and in search of a new lyrical savior. We very well may have found the new messiah of our musical matrix.

With piercing eyes and a stunningly youthful charisma that lights the room on fire, his presence alone is commanding. He is both charming and intense at the same time. Planet Asia remains affable when offstage while his almost tangible energy is consistently swirling and sizzling behind the serene stance.

His first release in 1998 was an independent work on the aptly named Heratik Records. Unfortunately independent labels weren’t offering anything then to meet his requirements for a deal. Around that same time Planet Asia teamed up with his DJ, the multi-talented 427, and things started to move quickly for him. In 1998 he was featured on Rasco’s first LP Time Waits For No Man then later in 1999 on Rasco’s EP The Birth. The year of 1999 also afforded Asia the opportunity to perform two songs for Peanut Butter Wolf’s release My Vinyl Weighs a Ton, then a feature on Sway & King Tech’s This or That compilation, and yet another on DJ Revolution’s R2K.

By winter of 1999 two more 12″ singles were released for Asia and it had become apparent that his lyrical prowess was in high demand. He worked with M-Boogie, Zion I, Dilated Peoples, Mykill Miers, and Deep Concentration 3 before the 2000 release of Cali Agents How The West Was One. The Cali Agent team of Rasco and Planet Asia proved to be a successful grounding for Asia’s career.

In 2000 he signed a deal with Interscope Records and Planet Asia’s second EP The Last Stand hit the shelves in the fall. This was immediately followed by a series of concert dates touring with Common. Source Magazine’s January 2001 issue touts Planet Asia as one of the top six “First Round Draft Picks” of 2000, and he is by no means put off by the acclaim. “I LOVE the critics, although I’m totally different than what they think”, he says jokingly. “This album should have been called ‘The Misconception of Planet Asia’.”

Planet Asia is quick to divulge that he is a Godbody – an entity of the Nation of Gods and Earths. An enigma to some, Planet Asia doesn’t flinch at people’s opinions or critique of him, whether or not they understand him. His spirituality will always find a place in his music – as he says “half and half – street knowledge with the influence of my beliefs.”

Fans revere him as a sort of phoenix of Hip Hop phonetics, for he has unearthed a raw form of lyricism thought to have been buried and forgotten long ago. Although Planet Asia takes pride in his writing skills, he firmly states that he can drop a freestyle when it is called for. “It just depends on the circumstances,” he says. Battle rhyming is an essence of Hip Hop that has been set by the wayside in recent years, but Asia will not succumb to so-called ‘stellar’ emcees wiping their mics on him. He politely refrained from comment when asked about Eminem’s recent dis of his good friends, Iriscience and Evidence of Dilated Peoples, however he was quick to speak on his own behalf. Asia quietly drops the bomb that if any bold emcee attempts to dis him in any manner on wax “They’ll have to meet me – I’m not havin it. I will beat his ass.”

While Interscope is in no way pressuring him to rush into another recording session now that he’s getting positive media attention, Asia has many plans for his future. He assures that there will be another Cali Agents album, and he will work together with his clique in Fresno to put out more new music. Planet Asia, The Original Trendsetters, Kubiq, Turban, Shake and Protest – collectively known as Skhoolyard Massive – are sure to be a fierce empire of emcees in the industry.

When asked which artists he’d like to work with that his fans may not necessarily be able to predict, he named Battlecat of Tha Dogg Pound, Nelly, and Stevie Wonder. “I like Nelly’s energy” he states in a matter-of-fact tone. As for his personal life, Asia wistfully mentions that he can foresee a future filled with success – “records, children and 120 degrees of wisdom, knowledge and understanding”.
If the crystal ball is as clear as the sparkle in his eye, his future is trump tight.

To many, Rasco is the epitome of today’s dedicated business and family man. Tall, dark and handsome with a winning smile and a firm grip, he brings much more to the table than the average emcee, or what the eye can see. Early this year his record label, Pockets Linted Entertainment, released the compilation album 20,000 Leagues Under The Street which features hard-hitting songs by Zion I, Phil Da Agony, Saafir, Grouch, Encore, Epitome, Flea, and Planet Asia, along with the blazing Rasco single “Gunz Still Hot.”

The project received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Spin Magazine did a side-by-side critique of ’20,000 Leagues’ with Lyricist Lounge 2 for their January 2001 issue. They awarded an honorable rating of 8 to Rasco’s production, deeming it “refreshingly non-commercial”. The Spin critic gave “Lyricist Lounge 2″ a rating of 6, calling songs on the album “derivative” in comparison to the Bay Area project.

The past ten years have been an incredible journey for Rasco. In 1989 he was playing basketball for Fresno State University and was a dancer for the group Various Blends. The group released a single in 1995, but it wasn’t until 1997 when Rasco met Peanut Butter Wolf with Stones Throw Records and released the solo single “The Unassisted” that he began to receive props on a large scale for his emceeing skills. The praise got him excited about future prospects. He says that back then “I knew how I wanted to come out with my first record, but I didn’t know where my career would take me”.

When his first full length album Time Waits For No Man was released in 1998, Rasco didn’t have overwhelming expectations for it, so imagine his surprise when he found out that The Source named the album one of the top Independent Albums for 1998. “I was shocked actually – I didn’t realize they were going to give me that award. I was at Wolf’s house, he just happened to get the Source in the mail that day – I was flipping through it and I caught a glimpse of the yellow album cover – I was just hoping they hadn’t put me down as the worst they ever heard…. you know how they do that…” he says with a laugh.

Two years later Rasco has his hands full with his record label, several projects in the works, and fatherhood. He fully shares the responsibilities for his baby daughter, but welcomes the day-to-day challenge. “It’s harder to get things done sometimes, but it keeps me motivated and makes me work harder to take my career to the next level. I take her to the studio with me – you might be in the middle of a take and she’ll blurt something out so you have to redo it. It’s been tough but it’s helped me a lot – to be more on point with what I’m doing. I can’t relax. I have to keep going to help provide for her and make sure everything’s in order. I’m still the same person, it just more or less keeps me in line with the business side of things. Before she was around I was like ‘let me just rap’ – this way I’m not rapping before I get my business handled.”

Ironically, Rasco toured with Ed OG in February on the “Ground Control Allstars Tour” – the same man who performed the monumental Hip Hop song “Be A Father To Your Child.” Rasco was introduced to Ed OG in the summer of 2000 and took a copy of Ed’s second album with him the day they met. “It’s just weird because I was listening to him back in the day, and now we’re working together,” Rasco says with a heartfelt respect in his words.

Rasco’s second solo LP Hostile Environment will be released in August of 2001 and will feature cameos from El Da Sensai, 427, Protest, Ed OG, The Molemen and few surprise guests. He does not feel any abnormal pressure to outdo his previous work, stating, “I want it to be looked upon as a good sophomore record. I always push myself pretty hard. I’m my own worst critic, so no one could really talk about the record worse than I could. I just relax when I go into the studio. You can’t go in thinking about it – I make it for me at first, and ask myself if I’m feelin’ it. If I’m feelin’ it then more than likely someone else will be liking it too.”

Rasco knows that he’s grown and changed over the years, and his new album is certain to reflect his life in an insightful manner. He will also be working on a song with his label mate Zion I, whose previous album was honored along-side Cali Agents for Independent Album for 2000.

Rasco’s future seems limitless. His determination and sincerity have brought him through the bowels of Hip Hop’s ugly pop regurgitation unscathed, and he intends to pay homage to the classic style of the music he loves. One artist he’d like to work with in the future is Q-Tip, not because of glitzy new style, but because of Tip’s solid Hip Hop history. “He’s my favorite of all time based on his track record with Tribe – and the impact it had on me and Hip Hop in general.”

Sometimes when one is completely focused on one’s goals, the vision can fail to encompass the bigger picture. Perhaps Rasco’s only flaw is that his humble spirit doesn’t allow him to embrace the impact that his own career is making in the industry. He sets precedence for business protocol that many emcees never comprehend, and keeps a firm grasp on the foundation that he is building for himself, his family and his friends. He is truly an emcee’s emcee.

Dove
~Sheepish Lordess of Chaos~
Posted at: http://www.daveyd.com/caliagentsinterview.html

Cali Agents

Cali Agents

The Gap is the G.O.A.T. – 2008 Merry Mix It Ad Series

November 21st, 2008 |

The Gap has always stayed ahead of the TV ad fun-curve with their musical dance numbers, but I think they’ve outdone themselves this year! The full “Merry Mix It” mash-up has been circulating the net this week, but I think the individual ads are all fantastic! Which is your favorite? Take a moment to cast your vote below!

Trey Songz and Flo-Rida “Jingle Bells”

Selma Blair and Rainn Wilson “Baby It’s Cold Outside”(Kath & Kim and The Office just happen to be two of my favorite shows, so LOVE IT!)

Janelle Monae and Jon Heder “Winter Wonderland” (this is a funky blend of weird)

The Dixie Chicks and Sandra Bernhardt “Deck The Halls” (Ok, maybe I don’t like this one that much…)

Romany Malco, Jason Biggs and Freddy Rodriguez “We Three Kings” (wish they would have bboyed in this one too!)

And finally… the full mash-up!


Poll Answers