How did you guys meet, and furthermore what led you to form the group Constant Deviants ?
We met at a college that a mutual friend of ours went to. Cutt would go there to dj parties and I would just come up there from Baltimore to be in New York chasing my dream.. We linked at a party he was deejaying at, I jumped up, got on the mic and the rest is history !
You guys release through Six2Six Records, the label you set up. What do you think are the pros and cons of operating through your own label compared to being signed to someone else ?
I don’t see any cons in it in this day and age for us. Maybe years ago, or maybe for someone who doesn’t have any idea on how to navigate the “do’s and dont’s” of the game, there was more value to being signed to a separate deal. In that case you’re having more taken care of for you, but of course there’s a flipside to that in what you give up. For us in our situation now, operating with our own label is the only way at this point. We have complete control over what we do and how we do it!
So what was your experience of growing up in Baltimore and New Jersey, and how did that compare with your time living in Brooklyn?
Growing up in Baltimore, it prepared me for all of life’s trials and tribulations. When I lived in New Jersey I realized how both places were so similar, everywhere has good and bad sides to it. Living in Brooklyn was cool, but by that time I had become the person I am, so it was just another chapter in the story. Like I said, I was already prepared and at this point. Your hometown moulds you, so now I can fit in anywhere I go
So looking back, if you could give one piece of advice to yourself before you started your music career, what would it be ?
Never change your direction for someone else’s vision!
And looking forward, where would you like to see yourselves in 5 years time, and what’s the plan for achieving that?
I’m cool with the fact that we have a fan base that grows organically. I would like to still be relevant to them and maybe a few others 5 years from now. Our plan is to continue to create what we do best, but we always look to put a little extra twist into the next thing, just like we did for the concept behind “Omertà”.
OK, moving onto your new album “Omertà”, you’ve applied a theme and adopted the characters of Luciano and Lansky. What inspired you to take that “role playing” approach?
It was just something we wanted to try. We like to do something different every time around and challenge ourselves. We always wanted to do something based around our Italian and Russian backgrounds but earlier in our career it was too obvious and overdone. Meaning specifically the portrayal of a mafiosa lifestyle, whether that’s as represented on film or artists assuming that persona. So we felt the time was right and ran with it. I wanted to speak on that lifestyle from a more traditional storytelling standpoint, and also use it metaphorically to compare situations. It’s like a series of short stories on one record.
Your previous album “Avant Garde” was only released last year, however we’ve heard that both were conceived during your time in Switzerland. Tell us more about that and what would you say are the key differences between the two releases other than the theme of “Omertà”.
Well they were inspired at 2 different times in Switzerland but they are totally different projects and approaches. I would say there is absolutely nothing similar about the projects other than the fact that we gave the audience exactly what we wanted to give. The projects are like yin and yang, “Omertà” has a much harder edge sonically and matches the overall theme.
M.I., tell us more about the move into acting and film production. How did you get started with that, what upcoming projects do you have and is this something you expect to do more of in the future?
It’s just growth for me as an artist. As much as I love making music and will continue to do so, I want to grow into more than that. I don’t want to live in a box, so I will continue to expand. Like, shit, I suck at painting but I do that also !! I just want to create and leave a legacy. It’s kinda cathartic. We have 2 films in the works right now. “Six2Six” the movie and “Can’t Live Without My Radio”. The former also has Treach (Naughty by Nature), Syleena Johnson and Chief Rocker Busy Bee in acting roles. We found out recently that the Hip Hop Film Festival will be screening it at the National Black Theater in New York during the first week of August, then we’re planning to release it later in the year. “Can’t Live Without My Radio” is still a bit of a work in progress, but it’s a comedy centred around a radio station.
Looking at your music and film work, who would you say would be your top three artists / groups and actors you’d really like to collaborate with if you were given the opportunity
That’s such a hard question for me because I am just an artist. I don’t pay much attention to anyone else and what they are doing. All of that is cool and I’m not being arrogant, but collaborations are in my opinion overrated. All of that said, I’m completely open minded, if someone got in touch looking to collaborate I’d be down to look at that, see what would come out of it. But I don’t have a list as such.
What’s you guys’ favourite meal ?
It depends on what day it is… Lol. I don’t think in all honesty that there’s a meal that isn’t my favorite !!! But just so long as there’s no pork.…
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
At the top of it.. Only friends and family invited!
And finally, what do you feel you’ll have gained most at a personal level from your careers as hip hop artists and running a label ?
We have had a chance to make a statement and live eternally through our art. If we left here today I feel I have had a chance to say something that resonates with at least one person and will be quoted at some point. Thanks for the love!
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