RR: To the best of my knowledge, the original release of this was sold by mail-order only if they got the address from another One Rock Release (Possibly The Book of Daniel?) What was the idea behind this?
Dan-e-o: I hate waste. I actually can’t stand it when I see people in restaurants return half-eaten plates of food. So when it comes to my music, I really can’t stand the idea of recording songs for nothing. At least, that’s what I felt back in 2000.
These days, plenty of songs I record never see the light of day – nor should they. But when I completed The Book of Daniel, I knew there were songs recorded for Dear Hip Hop I didn’t want to waste. So I simply burned them to a CD and offered them for free to anyone who mailed in their receipts for their purchases of The Book of Daniel.
Instructions were provided in the liner notes of the album. I ended up giving away 50 or so CDs. In retrospect, it was a lame idea. They were unprofessionally designed CD-Rs with unmastered tracks on them.
RR: Revising this album over the years, when we finally get the most recent reissue in 2017, for Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later, outside of the few noticeable additions to the track list, how much had changed from that original shoddy recording you sent out via mail?
Dan-e-o: Shoddy recording is right! Not only is the new album professionally mastered, but there are a number of changes that were made to the track list.
“Dear Hip Hop” is now the first track on the album, as it should be. This change was made when the Dear Hip Hop album was mastered for a vinyl release by France’s Sergent Records in 2014. It only made sense for that piano loop to kick in the second the needle hit the vinyl.
On the “shoddy” version, the “Dear Hip Hop” track was placed seventh. The idea for that was a “save the best for last” kind of thing. The sequel “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” came right after it as the eighth track. For the vinyl album, “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” starts off Side B, making it the sixth track overall. I kept the same track listing for the Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later release.
Of major note is the fact that “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” only featured Grimace Love on the old CD-R version. The original recording also features Choclair and Frankenstein. That version appears on both the vinyl album and the Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later release. Chocs and Frank were originally omitted because, at the time of the old release, Choclair was signed to Virgin and, on the advice of his manager, I decided not to get into it with his label about featuring him on my project.
In addition, a bonus track called “Jackin’ 4 Beatz (T.O.)” with Nish Raawks was on the original CD-R release. It’s not on either version the new album. Included on the new album, in its place, is “Danish” with Nish Raawks, which appeared on The Long Awaited… and the Korry Deez-produced “Dear Hip Hop (Remix)” which I forgot even existed until it was located on the DAT tape during the vinyl mastering session. The vinyl album was actually going to include the instrumental for “Dear Hip Hop” until the remix was rediscovered.
And then, of course, four brand new songs were recorded for Dear Hip Hop: 20 Years Later: “League Of Legends” featuring Thrust, Maestro Fresh Wes, Moka Only, Big Kish & Eternia (a Scam-produced all-star posse cut which served as the first single), “Rap Essentials” featuring Mathematik & Deuce Deuce (an ode to the compilation of the same name that launched our careers), “Spit” (a quasi-tribute to J Dilla featuring his brother, Illa J) and “20 Years Later” (another incarnation of “Dear Hip Hop” featuring Kitchener’s Fraction & Cable).
RR: Was this album made in direct response to the love you had gotten from the Beat Factory tape?
Dan-e-o: To be honest, no, it was already in production. The Rap Essentials Volume One liner notes reveal that I was going to release a Dear Hip Hop EP.
Since it never came to fruition as intended, I released the shoddy CD-R along with The Book of Daniel. But most of it was done before Rap Essentials Volume One came out. Only “Dear Hip Hop (The 2nd Letter)” hadn’t been completed yet as it was conceived while on the Rap Essentials tour with Choclair.
RR: Do you have any stories associated with the recording of this album, or the immediate promotional run of it?
Dan-e-o: Yes, I actually almost gave up on “Dear Hip Hop”. After writing the lyrics to Scam’s beat, I went to his house to work on arranging the track. During the session, Scam told me I was rhyming off beat. He explained that I kept starting my verses at the top of the piano loop instead of on the downbeat or the “one”.
My 17 year-old mind was confused. For some reason, it took me a while to understand what I was doing wrong. So at one point I was like “fuck it, I don’t want this beat then”. Thanks to Scam, who continued to encourage me and get me to be on point, “Dear Hip Hop” came to be. It almost didn’t happen.