Avante Garde Hip Hop Constant Deviants (@Cnstnt_Dvnts)

Q. What does your name “M.I.” stand for and what is your back­ground in terms of  who were your lyr­ic­al influ­ences, what made you start rap­ping and how did Hip Hop affect you in your early years?

M.I.- It’s funny because I’m work­ing on a solo album titled “MIVMI” ( Mic’s Illest vs Mr Impossible) My name ori­gin­ally was “Mic’s Illest Con­trol­ler” and over time it was just shortened to “Mic’s Illest”. But in ’04 a friend of mine star­ted call­ing me “Mr Impossible” and I felt I wanted to recre­ate myself, so I took to the name. At this point they both exist.

My lyr­ic­al influ­ences are of course your aver­age top 10 list but mostly my crew influ­enced me..

Where we live Hip Hop is just a part of your life. I don’t remem­ber a time of my life that it was­n’t a part of it. It’s the cul­ture we live and the music is just an expres­sion of that.

Q. DJ Cutt, how did you begin your life in Hip Hop? As a bon­afide 90’s DJ, who influ­enced you to start spin­nin’ wax? Is your favor­ite DJ skill Cut­tin’?

Cutt — I star­ted tap­ing radio shows in 83–84 as a kid on my father­’s ste­reo. This was my real intro to the DJ. My biggest influ­ences at the time were the guys I heard on the radio. DJ Red Alert and Mar­ley Marl both had week­end shows on the major radio sta­tions in New York. In 1986 I bought my first turntables (no pitch belt drive) This is when I star­ted buy­ing records and DJing house parties in Brook­lyn. Scratch­ing has always been an essen­tial part of DJing and we still try to incor­por­ate it into our music whenev­er we can.

Q. For the UK heads that might not know, how did you two guys get togeth­er as a duo and start work­ing on pro­jects?

M.I. — We met at a friend’s col­lege in NY. Cutt would dj parties there and I would vis­it and get on the mic at some of the parties.  That’s how it star­ted, it was his­tory from there. We recor­ded our first demo in the stu­dio at that col­lege

Q. Cutt, you’re in New Jer­sey, and M.I. you’re in Bal­timore. Do you get togeth­er to write, or what’s the pro­cess?

Cutt — When we first star­ted mak­ing music we def­in­itely worked togeth­er a lot com­ing up with song con­cepts and ideas. When we defined the sound for us as a group, it became less neces­sary to actu­ally be togeth­er. We trust each oth­er­’s vis­ions. It’s been rare that we don’t see eye to eye on a song or dir­ec­tion. This makes it easy to still work from dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions when we have to.

Q. What is the story behind the form­a­tion of your label Six2Six Records?

M.I. — I had a deal wth Arista Records through Mark Pitts and he taught me a lot about the industry. He would always tell me “Yo M, you can do this on your own. These labels can­’t help someone like you
Even­tu­ally I began to move inde­pend­ently and star­ted Six2Six Records.  A few years later I recon­nec­ted with One Speak­er Supreme and he helped organ­ize the busi­ness side of things and here we are. Instead of start­ing a new com­pany we just stuck wth the name since every­one liked the sound of it..

Cutt — When we first star­ted releas­ing music in the mid 90’s we were sur­roun­ded by people who we thought had our best interest in mind. I can­’t say some did­n’t help us but we were let down on many occa­sions that we feel slowed our pro­gress. Six2Six lets us take our busi­ness into our hands and do this on our terms.

Q. You still release on vinyl which is rel­at­ively rare these days.  Was that an import­ant factor in the eth­os behind the label, and how do you find the mar­ket­place for it in a largely digit­al age?

M.I — When One Speak­er got involved he poin­ted out how many col­lect­ors were into our music and also friends of ours music, so we figured it would sep­ar­ate us from the norm. Plus what bet­ter format is there to listen to music on?  Our core audi­ence prefers phys­ic­al product. We don’t have to find them, they find us! We fig­ure as a record label, it is import­ant to etern­al­ize your music with phys­ic­al product.

Q. Tell us about which artists Con­stant Devi­ants have worked with in the past, and how you con­nec­ted with them

M.I.- We have worked with a lot of dif­fer­ent artists. Some industry, some artists that are less known.. Some of them we have main­tained rela­tion­ships with and some were just come and go. I don’t really like to name drop much because we feel that we stand alone. We want to build our own brand and not try to cap­it­al­ize off of oth­er artists rep!

Q. Do you have plans to col­lab­or­ate with oth­er artists in the near future?

M.I. — Noth­ing in the pipeline, but if the oppor­tun­it­ies come i am sure we will be down.. We def enjoy work­ing with oth­ers. It’s always a good way to net­work and put the pieces togeth­er. We have been focused on our pro­ject so much and we try not to fill it up with fea­tures.

Q. Since your career blew up in 1998, how do you bring that 90’s essence into your more recent pro­jects through the cre­at­ive evol­u­tion?

M.I. — It’s an organ­ic pro­gres­sion.. But the roots are still the found­a­tion.. We look to cre­ate new sounds but at the same time keep our ori­gin­al sound in tact. By no means do we want to sound the same way we did “last time “ever tho. It’s import­ant to learn and put it into your cre­at­ive pro­cess

Cutt — We have def­in­itely grown music­ally over the years, but we have kept most of our pro­cess and even most of the equip­ment the same. Oth­er than a few tech­no­lo­gic­al advances we really do it the same way we have since day one.

Q. What’s the word with solo pro­jects? Can we expect some solo works from either of you to branch out cre­at­ively?

M.I. — Yes I have a few pro­jects I’ve recor­ded this year that will be com­ing out and I am also work­ing on my solo LP “MVMI”.. That’s not to say Cutt won’t do any of the pro­duc­tion on there though. It’s just a self expres­sion. Some­times doing a solo pro­ject brings some­thing else out of you.

Cutt — Oth­er than Con­stant Devi­ants we have oth­er Six2Six pro­jects I work on. An instru­ment­al series is also some­thing that might hap­pen in the future.

Q. Listen­ing the album, the pro­duc­tion is very mel­low and the lyr­ics are hon­est and dir­ect. Would you say this is your trade­mark sound or was that the concept for this spe­cif­ic album, and how was this style developed? 

M.I.- Each pro­ject is unique, but for the most part we as Con­stant Devi­ants have a “sound”.. But as an MC I have so many dif­fer­ent ways of express­ing my thoughts. This par­tic­u­lar pro­ject has the clas­sic “Con­stant” sound but we wanted it to sound cur­rent..

Cutt — The sound for this album was­n’t some­thing that was planned. When we star­ted record­ing songs for the album there were cer­tain songs that stuck. Those records defined the album. We are def­in­itely com­fort­able going mel­low or super hard at any giv­en time.

Q. How would you describe the con­tent and sound of your new album ‘Avant Garde’ with one sen­tence each?

M.I.- Old to the new

Cutt — A nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion of the clas­sic.

Q. I notice the name of your album means ‘advanced guard’ in French. It also has innov­at­ive and exper­i­ment­al connotations…which aspects do you feel rep­res­ents that best with your forth­com­ing album?

M.I.- We wanted to cre­ate an album that appealed to the “boom bap” audi­ence and the more cur­rent sound audi­ence as well. So we tried to mesh the 2. Through the beat to lyr­ic­al con­tent and most import­antly son­ic­ally. The “sound” of the lp

Cutt — It was a con­scious decision to step out­side of what would be expec­ted of us as a group and not try­ing to com­pete with the cur­rent sound or trends.

Q. What’s the inspir­a­tion behind your track from ‘Avant Garde’- ‘I’m Still Up’?

Cutt — From a pro­duc­tion stand­point I was try­ing to cre­ate a track that had a visu­al aspect, soundtrack like feel that still had the “head nod” factor.

Q. What would you say was the most mem­or­able live show either of you per­formed and why? 
M.I.- Ii would say per­form­ing at the Afram fest­iv­al in Bal­timore in 1998. We opened up for Big Pun and Doug E Fresh. It was early in our career and we killed it.

Cutt — The Afram show is def­in­itely up there. Was our biggest show, thou­sands I think. Our first show in Switzer­land was amaz­ing as well, people com­ing from oth­er coun­tries to see US was an amaz­ing thing.

Q. Finally, when can heads up here in Bri­tain expect a tour of your new album?

M.I.- As soon as someone opens that door, we’re run­ning through it. If any­one read­ing this has any interest just con­tact us at six2sixrecords@gmail.com



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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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