DJ Kutdown & Ira Lee – Status Illete (1998)

39506270_254044965229313_1671195620532027392_n.jpg

RR: Can we speak a bit about your first introduction to Ira Lee (then known as Rubix)? You mention in Third Verse that you immediately clicked and you ran out and got a Dr. Sample drum machine and a 4 track. Can you detail that decision?

DJ Kutdown: I first met Ira Lee in 1998, in Regina SK. I was moving furniture for a company that summer. It was some sort of domestic dispute between husband and wife, so there was a security guard there. The guard commented on my yellow NYC snapback and we started talking rap. I told him I’m a dj / producer and he said his good friend is a rapper. That night I believe we linked up with Ira, and we clicked. I had just moved to Regina and left all my gear with my good friend DJ Influence in thunder Bay. So that weekend I went to Long and Mcquade and financed a Dr rhythm, a Dr sample and a Fostex 4 track. We set that shit up on Ira’s grandmothers floor and started cracking out our first demo, as, Status Illete.

RR: How many tapes were recorded during this time period? Was it just one? And what happened to them? Did you spread them around at all? What were they called?

DJ Kutdown: I think we made 2 tapes, I still have one. We let people hear it but never made duplicates.

RR: You mention sending VHS tapes of Ira rapping back to Thunder Bay, would this be material that he was working on with you? Like live versions of tracks you recorded? Or material that we would know? Do you know if any of those VHS tapes still exist?

DJ Kutdown: We would make [those] VHS tapes of Ira freestyling and me beat juggling, scratching etc to send to my friends back east. We were kinda biting the turntable TV format, there was one edition where  Mixmaster Mike had Saafir rapping in his garage over asr 10 beats and turntable drumming etc. I believe I have one of those but….. If I do it’s buried.

RR: Do you have any stories related to recording the project(s) in Ira’s basement?

DJ Kutdown: I remember those days well. Ira and his boys accepted me in and we all grew our skills together at the same time. One thing I will never forget, and still think about is Ira’s grandfather. Ira lived with his grandparents. His grandmother was the sweetest lady, she was encouraging and thought the world of Ira. On the other hand his grandfather was very racist. He hated Ira, and made it obvious. It was terrible. I would knock on the door and his grandfather would open the blinds and walk away. It was awkward, I’d sit there for 10/15 mins knocking and listening to Ira fight with him over letting a fucking Italian inside. It was nuts. He was so mean and distant to Ira, I still don’t understand how Ira made it through all that living there. I guess the massive amount of love from his granny was enough to deal with it.

Ira Lee was my best friend for a lot of years, and we haven’t talked in about 12 years. If he reads this, I hope all is well my man. – Kut.

 

Tachichi & Moves – Truth of the Trade (1998)

a0705431756_10.jpg

RR: To the best of my knowledge, you met Moves at a Hip Club Groove show at Mic Mac Mall. How soon after that original meeting did you start working together? Did any of the material on Truth of the Trade get recorded during the Little T days?

Tachichi: After I met Moves at Mic Mac Mall during an in store, I actually did a song with Jo Run. “Grab my steel” and then I actually did an album with Sixtoo called “He Who Laughs Last” we didn’t end up making copies because the Dat tape got ruined at the tape and CD manufacturers. All that happened during a year. So it was approximately a year later when we started making music. I was around 17

RR: This album is so incredibly diverse as you listen to it. You have a song like Boozehounds, which ends up being this light hearted playful song, with lots of transitions, then immediately afterwards you have The Last Laugh, which is a mixture of Vertex and OGC. Recording Truth of the Trade, what this intentional?

Tachichi: I did not do this intentionally at the time but we did want to make a diverse album when we got near the end. We just really enjoyed making music and literally had to stop doing songs for that particular album because we reached 90 minutes of music. Only a 90 minute tape could hold that so we ended it. We both wanted to have bangers with heavy lyrical content and cleverly funny stuff. That was our style then. We enjoyed sampling old movies or tv shows whether it making a beat out of them or using a sound bite.

RR: Were you able to see much success off of this record? Being pressed up in multiple formats, and how popular Halifax rap was across the country, I feel as though this would have granted you such a large audience. Especially with Sebutones, and the Anticon movement starting around that period of time.

Tachichi: I didn’t press up a lot of copies myself of that album and nor did Brian. We didn’t have much money then and since I was new at this “dropping album” thing we decided to do 100 tapes at first and the fact that there were so little copies made people just want the album more! People passing it around and word of mouth made distributors want to get in and make copies of the album on CD a few years later.  Our EP on vinyl that came out in 1999/2000 was the project that probably sold the most for us at the time. It was an EP of a couple new tracks like Choplifter and Heads up and of course Boozehounds 2. Across the country and the United States we were getting more and more notice. The underground scene with Anticon and Mr Dibbs in Cincinnati helped out a lot because of their momentum at the time and they liked our shit as well. We met Dibbs thru Buck 65 and Marc Costanzo from Len

RR: Do you have any stories regarding the creation process of this record? I feel like the original Halfway House must have granted lots of stories.

Tachichi: Ahh I don’t really remember anything too out of the norm for us recording the album. We always were drinking and we were at least half drunk or drunk during the recording of every song back then. Something I definitely couldn’t do now. I mean, I could but I couldn’t execute the songs to my higher level of expectations now then when I was a younger man.

One time Cee!!!!!!!! From the Drunken Arseholes fell off of a nine foot fence and hit his head during a session when we were having a smoke break out back. But he was totally fine so we kept the party poppin!! Lol

Truth of the Trade is by far the most fun, free and relaxed while ever making an album. It’s my personal favourite. Next is my latest album “Chico’s ‘90s project”.

Thanks

Recyclone ‎– Dead World (1998)

R-9946534-1489018238-1935.jpeg

RR: Is this the first album that you recorded as Recyclone? And what made you change your name from Jon Hutt?

Recyclone: Dead World was my first Recyclone album. I changed my name because I wanted this project to be separate, more serious, more focused. When I used my actual name I was mostly experimenting, learning how to make music, how to record and find a genre that I felt most comfortable with.

RR: The whole album is so far ahead of its time. With it’s noisy, and experimental production, crazy interesting concepts, thought provoking lyrics. It seems as though this is such a unique release compared to rap released within the era. Without hearing albums like Dementia 5, and Warping Solid States, was this a big departure for you?

Recyclone: I felt that Dead World was a natural progression from my previous releases as Jon Hutt. When I was making Dementia 5, I wished that I had access to a sampler. On one track, Episodes of Constant Torture off of Dementia 5, I got SixToo, AKA Rob Squire, to help me out. I think that is why he asked me, ” why don’t you put out a hip hop album?” That was the tipping point for my decision to make Dead World. That’s why, I think, SixToo said yes to producing and recording my first Recyclone album.

RR: How many people ended up contacting Recyclone@hotmail.com upon its release? Was there much of a fanbase for your material in 98’?

Recyclone: Dead World reached people in New York and all the way to California. Dose One from Cincinnati reach out to me. I was asked to be on the second Poop Soup album. I called in the lyrics and left it on his answering machine. It was released on the album but it was scrappy and distorted. So, I reworked the lyrics and wrote a second verse which I released on Numbers as Pounded Small. There was only a handful of cassettes made of Dead World but it created a lot of interest in the indie alternative hip hop scene. It even caught the attention of Sole, who came to Halifax to do a show.

RR: Do you have any stories regarding the recording of Dead World, or the immediate promotional period of it?

Recyclone: At the time of recording Dead World, SixToo was going to school at the Truro NSCC and I was attending the NSCC Halifax campus. I’d come up on weekends, bring Rob a handful of records which I thought would make some decent beats and he’d sample them on his SP 1200. During the weekend we’d record a song or two in the recording studio in Truro above the NSCC library. It was kind of cool because recording music was a part of his course requirement.

When Dead World was released there wasn’t much promotion of it. I literally sold it to friends and Rob gave it out to his friends in the hip hop community. It was released on my record label, Ant Records and we had a few orders for it because of our website and photocopied catalog.

mcenroe – the ethics EP (1998)

a2816865957_16

 

RR: This was the first P&C release that was pressed on CD. Everything else was cassette. Was this release looked at as a major progression in the label at the time of recording it?

mcenroe: It was… the label was on hiatus for about a year before the ethics EP. Farm Fresh was dissolving, I wasn’t producing Mood Ruff or Shadez any more, and I was finishing school. I came up with the songs for mcenroe at that time and was influenced by all the indie vinyl that was coming out all over the place, like Fondle Em out of NYC, and wanted to get my music to that level. I knew I had to press vinyl to do it, so I pulled the money for vinyl and CDs together and it was the start of a new era for P&C. It showed we were serious and it solidified the crew going forward.

RR: On The ethics EP, the only feature you have is Spoof, from Frek Sho, why not feature any of the Farm Fresh guys on the EP? Or any other cats that were associated with P&C like the Mood Ruff guys? or Different Shadez?

mcenroe:  I was still friends with everyone, but I was no longer producing Mood Ruff or Different Shadez. They were doing their own thing and I would throw them a beat or two here and there but we were no longer family. As for Pip, he was not around at the time I made the ethics EP. I believe he was out of town. I also wanted to reinvent myself to a degree, so I think I probably wanted to avoided doing a track with him, at least subconsciously. When the record dropped, Spitz from Mood Ruff seemed to think the lines on “What Have I Done” were disses at Pip – but they were not! We went on to work together on fermented reptile as soon as he got back in to town and had refocused on what he wanted to do with music.

After the years of rivalry with the Frek Sho crew, it was kind of a big deal to do a track together, and I always got on well with Spoof.

Hunnicutt, my DJ from Farm Fresh, is on the ethics EP and was my DJ live when I performed those songs…

I think I was influenced by Doom when I made the ethics EP, and I like how he did everything and didn’t have many features, at least on the 12 inch singles he was putting out. I think I wanted to keep it minimal.

RR: Is this the first record that you started using a Mac to make the beats? Emissions wasn’t recorded the same way was it?

mcenroe: Yes, this was the first record that was mine that I used a mac to make the beats. I did a few beats for Mood Ruff for their Night Life Types record on the mac, and I think I did a track for Shadez on the mac, but this was the first Peanuts & Corn release that used a Mac. I recorded the beats and mixed them to DAT, then took them to a studio and recorded the vocals – recorded the entire record in one evening, and mixed it a week later. Unfortunately we put this sub bass on the tracks when we mixed and it really muddied up the mix of the original beats, and the record was never actually mastered with any compression or anything – what was released is basically just the mix to DAT.

I am trying to do a remaster of the record, but ideally I would re-do the mixdown – unfortunately I don’t have the stems from the original mac used to make the instrrumental mix, so I am trying to rebuild them from the original sample files. The ethics EP is the record most in need of a remaster – although I can’t stand about half of my vocals, to be honest. I must have also been influenced by Company Flow or something, with how I try to squeeze to many extra syllables into some of the lines. UGH.

And regarding emissions – that record was made 2 years earlier using the old setup – an Akai S01 sampler, an 8 track ADAT (and a 4 track) and a bunch of rented instruments including an upright jazz bass, organ, acoustic guitar, etc. It was made around the time we did the Farm Fresh “Treherne” stuff, as well as the second Mood Ruff tape.

RR: Do you have any stories regarding either the recording of the release, or the promotional period following it?

mcenroe:  The ethics ep was the only P&C release recorded in an actual studio – I traded website design for 2 days of studio time. So I recorded it in one evening at Private Ear Recording in Winnipeg and mixed it a few days later. Although that experience was fine, I decided to do future recordings at home and never went back to a studio.

I pressed 500 copies of the vinyl and 500 CDs. I think I borrowed some money from my parents to fund the CD and got a small grant towards the vinyl. I sent it out to quite a few DJs and place, and managed to get some interest to sell it online through Sandbox and eventually Hip Hop Infinity, which both ended up moving quite a bit of P&C over the years.

I ended up playing it out for a while and recruited a young rapper named John Smith to do my backups, DJ Hunnicutt was my DJ, we played it out quite a bit.

The record really kicked off our golden age as a label, once we had the full crew of fermented reptile, Parklike Setting, and all the solo acts: Pip, John Smith, Gruf, then Yy and Birdapres, we had a few great years there.

Mission 5 – Write About Now (1998)

a4231457294_10

RR: What was your thought process in forming Mission 5. How long were you guys a group before putting out the record?

Chase March: I was a huge fan of Run-DMC and the whole aesthetic of what they did. I wanted to start a group that took it back to the basics of what hip-hop was; 2 MCs and 1 DJ on turntables. I had been rapping for years and thought it was worth taking the next step and releasing a project independently.

My brother and I both rapped and we had written a pretty good song together. I would serve as the lead MC and he would do occasional vocals. We traded rhymes back and forth in the song and were impressed. We knew we could make a go of it.

We started the group in 1997 and started looking for a DJ. We found one through a friend of a friend and hear a demo tape he had made of some scratching. We liked what we heard and invited him into the group in 1998. That year, we released our debut album “Write About Now”

RR: What was the recording process like for this one? There are tracks on this record that have an entirely different vibe and quality of mixing and mastering. A song like “People Don’t Seem to Know” for example sounds like it was recorded far earlier, or in a basement somewhere. How did you guys manage to put this together?

Chase March: We recorded the first album with a producer who wasn’t strictly hip-hop. He was a cool dude though and had a lot of heart and we liked what we got for the money. Unfortunately, when we were done the album, we got negative feedback from our first, and trusted listeners. I am glad we got that feedback, because we never released that version of the album.

Instead, we recorded the whole thing over again with another producer. The album was just about done when he had a problem with his computer and we lost all of our beats. He still had the vocals though and went to work creating new beats for almost all of the songs.

I think this producer put a vocal effect on everything he recorded back then. I wanted our vocals to sounds as raw and real as possible, so I asked him to remove it. I think this effected the mix negatively. It could have been mixed better. But I didn’t know any better at the time. I thought it sounded good.

The album was recorded in a small home studio in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. It was mastered in Toronto where we had the CDs and vinyl manufactured.

38600117_10155610367170770_2454651398248202240_n

RR: As an enhanced CD, what extra content was on it?

Chase March: The enhanced CD had photos, a bio, and a few, very short videos. It was a novelty to put out something like that and I was excited to try it. The producer of the album did all of this work for us as well.

RR: How did you go about funding an enhanced CD pressing at this time? Those things were super expensive.

Chase March: I worked a fast-food job and put all of my money into the recording and manufacturing process. It still wasn’t enough. I had to take out a $5,000 line of credit to help fund everything.

As for studio time, we did that on a weekly basis so it was a little easier to manage.

RR: Do you have any stories related to recording the album, or shortly after promoting it? There’s a video that’s around on YouTube which shows the album release party. What do you remember from that night?

Chase March: There were no venues in Hamilton at the time who were willing to have an independent hip-hop show there. I had a really hard time securing a spot for the album release party. I finally found a rock-oriented bar that would let us hold it there. They allowed us to collect a cover charge and that was the sole money we would make. We did not get a cut of the bar or any other benefits.

This venue was called The Corktown.

I remember that the regular customers of the bar were not happy about a cover charge and would just squeeze passed us. It was a losing battle trying to get money out of them. Everyone who came specifically to see us, gladly paid however.

We had a few opening acts as well. One of them was a Boys-II-Men type group, but I cannot remember their name for the life of me right now.

We had a full-size VHS camcorder at the time as asked a cousin to film it for us. I digitized this years later and put it on YouTube.

We tried to make a music video with that camcorder too. It is on YouTube even though it is pretty terrible.

It is coming up on the 20th anniversary of our debut release and I tried to organize a reunion, but unfortunately it looks like that is not going to happen.

Checkmate – Signs of War / Pimpin’ Trickin’, Politkin’ (1998)

38392471_2121035964883930_466922146904408064_n

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…

 

Hand’Solo Records – Cock Dynamiks (1998)

R-1797653-1298796151.jpeg

RR: Buck 65 and Moves come up with the idea for the album’s existence. But where do you come in? Had the project already been completed before you got involved? Or were you orchestrating it similar to how you did Bassments of Badmen?

Thomas Quinlan: I was less involved in compiling the tracks for Cock Dynamiks. As you’ve noted, Buck 65 and Moves were the ones who came up with the idea. I’m not sure how far along the project was, or even if it had started, when I first got involved. And I became involved in the project after hearing about the concept from Moves. I dig sex raps and Halifax raps, so I offered to put it out on Hand’Solo Records and to also bring in contributors from my contacts in Toronto and Vancouver. I might have pulled a few of the tracks from those initial submissions I received, but the rest were sent to be added to those gathered by Buck and Moves. I think all of them were used.

RR: I imagine it would have been challenging at the beginning collecting rappers to commit to the idea. How did you go about doing this? And if you didn’t, do you know any of the struggles that Moves and Buck 65 would have had to overcome?

Thomas Quinlan: To be honest, it wasn’t a challenge at all. I can’t speak for Buck and Moves, but I’m sure their experiences weren’t any different from my own. And probably even easier since they had longer relationships with many of the people they were asking. But Kool Keith had already proved with Sex Styles that an album of underground sex raps could be dope. And I’m sure everyone on Cock Dynamiks was a fan of that album. Plus, pretty much everyone on the album had already released their own sex raps on their own albums, so it wasn’t something odd for them to be doing. Anyway, I just put the word out to those connections I made in Vancouver after releasing the Crystal Senate split-12” with Moka Only (and Sixtoo on the other side) and the connections I was making in Toronto as I became more involved in my own local rap scene. I’m sure a few people didn’t come through with the promised music, but it would have had more to do with lack of time and laziness than any concern about being on an album of sex raps.

RR: Can you breakdown who some of the aliases are for this record? Who is Dr. Tangent, Asscalator, SicSexEd, Ballin’ Peen and Dirty Hanes? (Uncle Climax obviously being Buck 65.)

Thomas Quinlan: Yes, I can definitely break most of that down for you. As you’ve said, Uncle Climax is a known alias of Buck 65, as is Stinkin’ Rich, which I think he may have used in this case since the lyrics for “The Bum Rap” were older raps. Of course, Stinkin’ Rich was he name Buck 65 used for rapping before switching to the name with which we all now know him. SicSexEd, who has one of my favourite songs on the album with “Pulverization”, is Tachichi. Dr. Tangent is Vandal, the Urban Camper from Cryptic Souls Crew, who is back recording music again in the last couple of years. Dirty Hanes is Fritz the Cat, who was a member of Collapsyllables at the time, I believe, but would later join with producer Recordface to form OK Cobra. Asscalator is Kunga219 of Roosevelt Tharpa. As for Ballin’ Peen, I made a promise so I can’t really give up the goods on that one.

RR: Do you have any stories regarding putting together this release? Or the immediate promotional period afterwards?

Thomas Quinlan: I’m not usually involved in the recoding process in these projects, especially with a compilation. Usually I just get a bunch of finished songs to pick through. But in this case I got to be privy to the recording process of one of the songs. I was really pushing to get Fritz the Cat on this thing. I really liked what he was doing at the time, and his freestyle skills were some of the best I’d personally witnessed. But it just wasn’t happening and we were running out of time, so one night hanging at his place he called Moves and left a freestyle verse for Moves on his answering machine, and Moves put a beat under it. It was a wild call to watch, with Derek MacKenzie getting hype in the background and the song ending because the volume of delivery was getting too loud for Fritz’s apartment at that hour. In this case, Fritz really did call it in. And every time I hear that song I remember that night.

On the promotional side of things, Cock Dynamiks received a fair amount of press for something that was pretty much pre-internet. The big ass Vice Magazine article on the compilation and mini-tour was a cool moment. And the tour was great. It was the first tour I organized, with a bunch of assistance from Fritz, and it’s the first and only tour for which I’ve been tour manager. The ride back from Montreal was almost killer. We had a small core of artists on the tour and a mix of additional performers at each location. Having Collapsyllables pay their own way by bus from London to play in Montreal was my first time to see Paul the Apostle (better known as Governor Bolts). Eternia played in both Toronto and London, and it was really nice to have some estrogen in the mix for a few dates.