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

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 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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