RR: To the best of my knowledge, (ie discogs), this is the first release on Double Up Records, what was the mentality going your own route? And why not release the 12” through something pre-established like BMG or Figure IV?
Checkmate: After Northern Touch was released there was a lot of interest from various labels including BMG concerning Checkmate… however nothing concrete was presented in terms of written offers with Figure IV unofficially representing me…I felt uncomfortable with the uncertainty of that situation. I also felt I was not a priority. The offer from Double Up records to build a label around Checkmate and a unique contract felt like an opportunity for me at the time so I took it. Signs of War, which had already been recorded, was the first record.
RR: During your early days, a lot of work was being done with Roger Swan, was the 12” the first chance you got to share studio time with the man?
Checkmate: Regarding Roger Swan…I had been working with him for 3-4 years already by the time Signs of War was pressed. We go waay back…
RR: This was the follow up to Northern Touch in many ways, and due to the 12” not being that hard to come by, I imagine you pressed up a lot, and I imagine further that the record did very well. Why not press it up on more formats? (Maxi-Single for example), and why take the 4 years to follow Signs of War up with a full length
Checkmate: Really Signs of War was a promotional release…no cover, just a black sleeve…it only was released in 12” vinyl… distribution was through record pools and vinyl distributors to record stores…after that we released 3 records before the album… Longshot, These Days n Times, and Would you Die…. let’s remember there was no digital platform at the time… pressing and releasing vinyl is a very costly lengthy process.
RR: Do you have any stories regarding the making of either track? Or stories regarding the promotional period of it?
Checkmate: Signs of War/Pimpin was produced by Jeeps and Marlo… it’s the only record I did with that production team…after that the climate changed in hip hop from underground to club/radio…