Interview With The Legendary @LordFinesseDITC!

Ori­gin­at­ing from the birth­place of Hip-Hop; The Bronx, New York, pro­du­cer and rap­per Lord Fin­esse began his career dur­ing hip-hop’s golden era.  In 1989 he and then part­ner DJ Mike Smooth signed to Wild Pitch Records and had sev­er­al hit records.   He went on to form under­ground crew ‘D.I.T.C.’ (Dig­gin’ In The Crates), whose mem­bers included hip-hop legends A.G & Show­biz, Dia­mond D and Big L.

As rap­per he is prob­ably best known for his 1995 clas­sic ‘Hip 2 Da Game’ and his pro­duc­tion cred­its are end­less.  With such a firm place in hip-hop his­tory it was an hon­our to catch up with Lord Fin­esse for a chat about his cur­rent pro­jects, his legendary col­lab­or­a­tions and his thoughts on hip-hop today…

Q. Thanks for tak­ing the time out to speak to us Lord Finese!  Let’s start by talk­ing about what pro­jects you’re involved in at the moment…

Well, we just fin­ished up the SB1200 pro­ject, which comes out some­time in July.  Then after that is the Under­b­oss pro­ject, new rhymes, new beats, new all that!

Q. So the SB1200 pro­ject is first?  What does that involve?

I’m basic­ally reawaken­ing the SBS1200 pro­ject, you do have a wave and a surge of artists who love that sound, they call it the ‘awaken­ing’ sound, the stuff I was doing back in ’95/’96.  Those beats, that feel, I still have all my SB1200 discs, everything I used to cre­ate any­thing I ever did, I still have those discs, those are like my mas­ters.  I’m sit­ting on about 70–80 mas­ters that have nev­er been released beat wise, and to go in here and take out a batch of 13 joints and touch them up and put them out there to give people like a sound lib­rary of that SB1200, of that feel from the 90’s, let people vibe to that and see where it goes from there.

Q. You’ve done extens­ive work through­out your career as both a pro­du­cer and a rap­per.  Do you prefer being in the stu­dio or in the booth and on the mic?

I love music, I prefer being in the stu­dio.  Doing music gives me the chance to do all kind of things, in

Q. Com­ing from the Bronx, the birth­place of Hip-Hop, what was it like being around when it all star­ted?

Well Hip-Hop is a cul­ture, I grew up look­ing at the cul­ture from the out­side jams, to the graf­fiti, to the break­dan­cing, to the DJing, to the MCing, y’know when that star­ted evolving, Hip-Hop…to look at that…to see them cut­ting breaks and grooves and mak­ing a cul­ture out of the whole thing, it was def­in­itely some­thing I wanted to be involved in.  It’s like, I can get into this and there’s no money required, no super­powers or noth­ing, I can just be a cool dude and put vocab­u­lary togeth­er, or rhythms and grooves and be accep­ted and be a part of some­thing that was so sig­ni­fic­ant to the way of liv­ing at the time.

Q. It must have been a great time to be around!

It was incredible…to watch it slowly evolve from the 80s into the 90s, and the things that slowly came about dur­ing that time up until the 2000s, the music, the groves, everything about it, it was, and it IS phe­nom­en­al.

Q. A lot of what we hear on the radio today labelled as hip-hop, is so dif­fer­ent from the ori­gin­al sound and has moved so far away from the ori­gin­al eth­os of the move­ment.  How do you feel about the state of hip-hop today?

I just think they’re tak­ing out the hands of the people and the cul­ture and it’s become such a mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar industry.  Rap…y’know, it’s not talk­ing about hip-hop, they say it’s hip-hop but it’s more cor­por­ate, so you really focus­sing on a rap act.  Any­time you telling people you don’t need the cul­ture to be a star, or you don’t even need to know noth­ing about the cul­ture, just do these records over these beats and these grooves and gim­me my club record, gim­me my radio record, that’s NOT hip-hop, you can say it’s hip-hop but that has noth­ing to do with a lot of the cul­tur­al part of hip-hop, y’know?  It’s more cor­por­ate.  That’s a lot of the argu­ments now days, where you get those true pur­ists who love hip-hop and know it from the ground up and you got people who like rap and they like what’s going on with this new gen­er­a­tion, and it always becomes a debate, and y’know, some people say, ‘well y’all don’t OWN hip-hop you tryn­na say what hip-hop is’…but I don’t debate nobody who knows hip-hop and under­stands hip-hop from a cul­tur­al aspect, then when you get in the game and become whatever you wan­na become, I have no choice but to respect you cos at least you know what you’re get­ting into, at least you know the found­a­tion.   People who don’t know the found­a­tion, I can’t respect you and act like you’re doing hip-hop when you don’t know the evol­u­tion of hip-hop.  How can I respect you and say ‘you’re doing hip-hop’, that’s like a per­son say­ing ‘I wan­na be a doc­tor and all I know is cough medi­cine and band aids’…NO, you got­ta study, you got­ta learn your art, it’s the same for whatever occu­pa­tion you get into.  Hip-Hop just hap­pens to be a gen­re that you don’t have to study to get into, it’s easy to get into, but it doesn’t mean…as a pro­fes­sion­al of your craft…you shouldn’t research where it come from, the evol­u­tion of it all.  It’s not like rock’n’roll, or coun­try, or jazz…if you jump into rock they want you to be edu­cated on what you get­ting into, you can’t get into rock and not know Bruce Spring­steen, or the Eagles or Paul McCart­ney, you just won’t be accep­ted, peri­od.  Hip-Hop is the only gen­re where they allow that to hap­pen and it’s cool and there are no con­sequences behind you not know­ing the cul­tur­al part.

Why do you think there’s such a great divide between old skool and con­tem­por­ary hip-hop?

When it becomes cor­por­ate and about money it’s hard, it’s all about mak­ing money, and the cul­tur­al stuff, the real gif­ted people are about the cul­ture versus money.  So there’s a def­in­ite divide, I just call it new wave and tra­di­tion­al blue­print.  When it comes to beats and rhymes, and lyr­ics and con­tent, that’s the tra­di­tion­al blue­print, when it comes to this new stuff right now where they don’t fol­low the rules and it’s just like this is what it is now, that’s new wave, I place it into two dif­fer­ent cat­egor­ies.  Me, I like the tra­di­tion­al blue­prints, now it’s more like the cor­por­ate versus the art, the new wave.

Q. Are there any rap­pers at the moment that you like?

I mean, I’m a pur­ist and a per­son that lives with high stand­ards of the art.  So I’m listen­ing to the beats, I’m listen­ing to the rhymes and a lot of artists aren’t the full pack­age, I might like ‘em for one thing but not for the next, it’s not like full pack­ages like when you heard Tribe Called Quest or Gang Starr and it was the all-round package…the songs, the music, the lyr­ics.  Now you might have someone who got the lyr­ics but not the beats, or got the beats but don’t got the lyrics…there’s not a lot of full pack­ages.  But if I had to pick an artist…I like Jay Elec­tron­ica.  I could say Jay Elec­tron­ica, I could say Joell Ort­iz, but y’know that’s not really the latest artist, but that’s who I respect, y’know?

Q. Over the years you’ve worked with some of the biggest names in hip-hop and some amaz­ing artists, is there any­body who you could pin­point as being the best?

(pause)…Naaaar…I mean the 3 top pro­jects I’ve been on have all been bless­ings, it’s like you said, it’s like the cream of the crop with these people…discovering Big L, work­ing with Notori­ous Big, y’know both of these artists aren’t around any­more, but they’re icons, real icon­ic fig­ures in hip-hop.  Then you say Dr Dre, like wow, to me…wow…working with him…I’m still speech­less, I’m still tryn­na grasp it, y’know? I was with him about last year this time, we was work­ing togeth­er, that’s like one of the top chefs in the world when it comes to music.  The three fig­ures Big L, Notori­ous B.I.G., Dre…I mean, there’s not too many oth­er artists that are up that far.

Q. Is there any­one that you’d still really like to work with?

I mean I can look at artists that are up as far as those three… you can think of Nas…Jay-Z…Tupac, but of course I couldn’t be able to work with him now…Eminem….those are icon­ic fig­ures that I can look at and go, may­be I wan­na work with them to add on to what I’ve done already but oth­er artists….if I had to pick oth­er artists then we goin’ into another genre…we goin’ to like Quincy Jones and Stevie Won­der, y’know…Chaka Khan, Roy Ayres…these are artists that I still wan­na work with.  People might go ‘but they older?’…I don’t care, y’know? These are people that had a massive impact on music.

If artists like Big L and Notori­ous B.I.G. hadn’t passed, do you think they wouldv’e main­tained they’re rel­ev­ance?

Oh wow…I mean def­in­itely he [Big L] would’ve main­tained his rel­ev­ance because he was so ahead of his time, but I think when you talk about los­ing people like Big L and Notori­ous Big and Tupac, these people was on top of their game!

How do you think hip-hop would be dif­fer­ent today if artist like this were still around?

Well, like I say, these people was on top of their game, the stand­ards of hip-hop would’ve stayed high, it wouldn’t be how it is now, it’s just so nurs­ery rhyme-ish now.  I think the stand­ards have fallen.  It’s crazy cos when I look at cer­tain artists…and people say they the best or they the greatest…if I place them into my time in the 90s, these artists would be nor­mal, they would be stand­ard.  Some would be good, but they wouldn’t be great, they’re labelled as extraordin­ary now because of the lack of qual­ity in music.

Why do you think there’s such a great divide between old skool and con­tem­por­ary hip-hop?

When it becomes cor­por­ate and about money it’s hard, it’s all about mak­ing money, and the cul­tur­al stuff, the real gif­ted people are about the cul­ture versus money.  So there’s a def­in­ite divide, I just call it new wave and tra­di­tion­al blue­print.  When it comes to beats and rhymes, and lyr­ics and con­tent, that’s the tra­di­tion­al blue­print, when it comes to this new stuff right now where they don’t fol­low the rules and it’s just like this is what it is now, that’s new wave, I place it into two dif­fer­ent cat­egor­ies.  Me, I like the tra­di­tion­al blue­prints, now it’s more like the cor­por­ate versus the art, the new wave.

 

Micky Roots

Micky Roots

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Micky Roots

Micky Roots

Micky roots is one of the edit­ors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visu­al artist he brings his strong know­ledge of hip hop, social con­scious­ness & polit­ic­al con­cern to No Bounds.

About Micky Roots

Micky Roots
Micky roots is one of the editors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visual artist he brings his strong knowledge of hip hop, social consciousness & political concern to No Bounds.

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