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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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