Interview with Double A.B.
1) Double A.B. what’s good? You got the album Media Showers coming out. How does it feel to have the album done and are you satisfied with the album?
Whatup fam! yea we got the new album Media Shower dropping on Sept. 18th on Man Bites Dog Records. It’s like pregnancy--it’s been stressful getting everything together but feels really good to be about to give birth to such a work of art. I am more than satisfied with the album-- I think it’s the best work either I or my producer Dub Sonata has ever done.
2) The album is produced by Dub Sonata just like the previous album The Diesel. Would you have done anything different with this album?
Dub produced the majority of my last album, The Diesel, I think 11 of the 15 tracks. It was only natural that we make it official and do this new project as a "Double A.B. & Dub Sonata" album together with him providing all the production. There are always little things you would change or do different when you listen to your music--ten years later I'll listen to an old song and get a new idea about what I should have done on this part or that. The important part is refining it to a good enough level where you're happy then knowing when to back off and let it out into the world....
3) How has your music evolved since you started making music?
My music has evolved through the different times and recording techniques. When we first started we were recording on 4 Tracks onto Maxell tapes, with the beat 2 tracked and 2 remaining tracks for vocals. There was no such thing as a "punch in" because you could never make it sound seamless. It forced me to write verses I could spit in one take without needing to pause for breath, and I still carry that technique with me today. The content and style of my music has shifted up and down over the years but I keep one ethic in mind--I make music for myself, that I would be a fan of as a listener. When I stop worrying about other people's opinions and satisfy myself first, ironically that's the music that other people seem to latch onto the most. They can probably feel the sincerity.
4) Are you willing to sign with a major label or stay independent?
Major label or independent label doesn't matter much to me. The music is what I care about, and getting that music to the public in the most efficient fashion. I like the level of creative control at Man Bites Dog Records and I feel like it’s a good home for us right now.
5) Tell the world where you rest your head at?
I was raised uptown Manhattan and currently rest my head in Astoria, Queens.
6) Has growing up in New York City and attending the public school system influenced you musically?
Growing up in the New York City public school system influenced me tremendously. It’s how I got my first introduction to hip hop, its where I learned to hone my craft. It also taught me survival skills. New York has such a wide range of artistic and specialized public schools too...It’s that perfect blend of nurturing diversity and hard knock life that gives birth to the best artists in the world.
7) How does it feel to work with artists such as Nature, Vast Aire, Cormega and C-Rayz Walz on the Diesel album?
It was a blessing to work with artists that I am a genuine fan of on The Diesel. Nature and Cormega are both Queens MC legends. Vast and C-Rayz both emerged out of the same NY underground scene that birthed me as well. Working with them just felt really natural.
8) Has being in the Blaze Battle and MTV rap battles opened doors for you?
Being in the Blaze and MTV battles definitely opened some doors for me. It was my first real recognition beyond my immediate circle. It’s also a double edged blade because once people find out you are a "battle rapper" they want to pigeonhole you and assume you can't make good songs and albums. I'm proud of my battle past though...my focus now is making timeless music.
9) What was one of your most memorable live stage performances?
One of my most memorable stage performances was when we rocked the Million Marijuana March in Battery Park, downtown NYC back around '99. We had a live band called "The Masters" that got very popular upstate where I went to school. We did a bunch of benefit shows for NORML which culminated with this one in Battery Park, where at least 10,000 people had to be in attendance. My boy Alaska was sick and couldn't rock with us, but had brought his friends, some rappers from Philly that he wanted to go on with us. So it ended up being me, Vast, my man Bill G and these two kids from Philly we didn't know. One of the Philly kids dissed Sprewell in his rhyme, when he had just been traded to the Knicks and was a hometown favorite. The crowd was really thugged out--I remember looking out and seeing a sea of kids dressed in red gang colors. They got mad and started throwing shit on stage and what not...Someone from the crowd snuck to the stage and somehow got handed the mic by one of the kids. We didn't know if he was down with the Philly kids or not--Then that dude passed the mic to someone else, and next thing you know there was a line forming by the side of the stage and OUR show had turned into an open mic. By the time I realized what was happening a few kids had already got on-- I tried to do damage control and confiscate the mics from everyone who wasn't crew. It was chaos. One kid who I took the mic from before he could rock went behind my back and acquired one of the other free mics. He started rapping and trying to diss me. He didn't know it but he actually saved the show for me-- I had to again forcefully cut off a girl from rapping after him so I could get my rebuttal, but the way I verbally ripped him to shreds in front of the packed crowd was epic. The thugged out crowd LOVED it... they even started throwing Phillies, Dutches and bud onto the stage. It almost turned out better than a regular show for that particular crowd.
10) How was it working with Scram Jones on the Blaze and Amused Mixtape?
Scram Jones has been around our clique for a long time. He has an A-alike mentality to this hip hop shit and it was a blessing having him host Blazed & Amused for me.
11) Give a synopsis of “The Diesel” and “Media Showers” albums.
The Diesel was very much in the tradition of New York gritty street rap. My particular style is very conceptual so almost all of my songs always have a very definite topic--topics on The Diesel range from a song about all the crazy neighbors in my building and the crazy shit they get into, to a dedication to my best friend who killed himself when he was 16. Media Shower's soundscape is a little different. It is more experimental and futuristic. Many of the beats were originally going to be on Dub's instrumental album so they aren't arranged like a normal rap beat with 16 bar verses and 8 bar hooks. The concepts are wild too--I rap about everything from the space-time continuum and the origins of life to grotesque stories of drunken car crashes. The album is very unique to say the least.
12) Who are the guest appearances on this album?
Media Shower features appearances by Cannibal Ox, Evidence, Sean Price, Scram Jones, Rhymefest and Roc Marciano. With the exception of Evidence and Roc Marc who the label reached out to, these were all artists that Dub and I had connections to or had worked with on other projects. It’s a blessing to have them all involved.
13) You signed with Man Eat Dog records. What made you decide to sign with that label?
I met the good folks at Man Bites Dog through my man Vast Aire while he was recording his last record with them, and like I said we just clicked and felt like they were a good home for the project.
14) What do you think about the state of hip hop nowadays?
The state of hip hop is crazy nowadays. A LOT of new artists are coming out the woodworks particularly due to the internet and the way the game is structured now. There are a handful of fugazi artists who have gotten a lot of burn in an industry that would not have let them in a few years back...that said, the doors are open to many different people now. Because of the music industry's collapse from the top on down many of the old ways of doing things are out and an artist with a new approach has a good chance of getting seen and heard. I think now artists have a lot more freedom to be themselves and really go in their own lane, and that will do nothing but help us and our project.
15) What do you think is the difference in the independent scene now opposed to ten or twenty years ago?
The difference between the indie scene now verses 20 years ago is all about the computer. Now it is mp3, internet, and blog driven whereas back then it was about vinyl, a good stage show and word of mouth.
16) What advice would you give to artists on the come up?
I would tell artists on the come up to just do what you love and be consistent. Consistency is really the key nowadays. You can put out a hot record--but can you keep doing it like clockwork? Every year? Every 6 months? it’s something I strive for more in my own work.
17) What’s next for Double A.B.?
The next step for me is just ensuring that everything goes well with the release of Media Shower Sept. 18th, and just rocking the fuck outta the shows I got coming up. Next after that will probably be this Chrome Ninja Series EP that I got with my brother Vordul Mega on the horizon....
18) Where heads want to get at your music?
My music is available in stores and online-- the easiest way to cop it is just by going to iTunes. Pick up my 1st album "New York Minute", my last "The Diesel" and most importantly my new joint "Media Shower" on Sept. 18th. Also make sure to go to Youtube and check out our video for "Lord Knows What" with Roc Marciano, as well as my other vids we got up and rocking....