“I’m a rapper that’s coming after corporate America I ain’t rapping against my brother I’m not coming against my man I’m not gonna say ‘Fuck this rapper’”
In the debate over the state of New York hip-hop most criticisms amount to blaming the region for being “too soft” and filled with hometown DJs constrained to a payola system that has unfairly pushed tasteless southern rappers to the top. Nationally speaking the auto-tune is on trial because the successes of T-Pain have become a trend in a number of rap singles making some cry that it is a bastardization of Roger Troutman’s memory. When pop-free purists like Buckshot who became a VIP of New York City’s underground rap circles for the stark boom-bap poetics of Black Moon and the development of the Duckdown brand rightfully critique the rigormortis of lame chart attempts the typical charge of covetous ageism disappears into the credibility of his dual occupation history. The ‘90’s brought about the formation of his various crews like Boot Camp Clik and Heltah Skeltah but in the 2000’s he has worked in collaboration with 9th Wonder twice and now the Blastmaster. It is something on the order of déjà vu when Black Moon sampled “My Philosophy” for “How Many MCs” and now both artists have performed the latter song most recently on the popular Rock The Bells Tour. “Robot” is their first proper song and video from their hip-hop directive Survival Skills and they do make fun of all the autotune biters without malice but with frustration. Buckshot clarifies that the gripe is about upholding the essence not attacking individuals because rap’s dark history of violence never gets replicated in the white-collar corporate world. But corporations have never had a problem making war on the community, which is how hip-hop started when the Bronx became victim to urban blight. In this interview Buckshot gets to the core of Survival Skills, his new entrepreneurial ambitions, hot emcees under 30, bio-civilization, working with KRS and the ongoing Rock The Bells tour.
How did hip-hop get to the “Robot” stage that you and KRS are referring to in the song?
I don’t know because it’s really messed-up the hip-hop game is messed-up not to the point that everybody’s robotic but most people wanna be robotic it’s like right now me and money brown are right here just grooving to me it’s about being human and we’re in the terminator stages I feel like I’m John O’ Connor because even though I’m here to stop the terminator I’m a part of the creation of them as well.
Because the technology we have can either be helpful or harmful and that’s the balance of life the yin and yang that’s the balance of everything goes through harm and help so when we use the internet technology to help us it’s also gonna harm us because we’re creating this technology to become more convenient and the more we get convenient we get comfortable and comfortable causes consciousness and anytime something becomes conscious to make a decision. There’s certain sites out now that they call bing.com the sites that they call decision sites. So once we start to give the computer the power to decide it can decide and once something can decide it has a choice once something has a choice it can either go with you or against you and that’s the whole summary basically of the technology the real-life stages we’re living in right now .
You’re kind of vague about how hip-hop got to this stage but what needs to be done to get it out of that?
We can’t get out of that it’s not about trying to get out of that it’s about trying to maneuver it so that it works for us it’s not about getting out of it we can’t reverse back we can’t go we can’t say well technology get rid of that that’s what’s hurting us that will come in a few more decades when this civilization is gone because of the bio civilization has taken over we’ll be taken over by the bio society. The reason why this is true is because bio genetics bio technology is one of the fastest growing industries right now so this is not even some spiritual this ain’t some prophetic or some fake psychic channel and garbage this is straight up and down if you wanna see the future know how business is ran you’ll understand the future because you’ll see what’s coming.
So it’s not the autotune that you and KRS have a problem with it’s the way it’s being used?
That’s the message we put in the song ‘This ain’t a diss to nobody’s art because Africa Bambaataa really gave it a start when we first started figuring out what could we use as far as technology and as far as being innovative stuff like that we came up with different ways to do things we’re the same people who turned banging on tables into drum machines so we’re very innovative and influential me and KRS I came up with that concept because every time I turn on the radio seems like everybody just wants to sound like you know the same thing I said robot so people can start to understand where we are at. Once you start taking away the individuality of a person once you take away the individuality of the human then you become robotic. There’s this saying and it is a very famous saying ‘You can be like everybody but if you be like everybody you’re equivalent to being nobody cuz you don’t stand out.’ And that’s the reason why you turn on the radio you be like ooh that Kanye? that’s Wale? Wait no is that T-Pain who is that now that’s Dream? You’re like damn why does it all sound the same but it all sounds cool it all sounds good because the first one was programmed for your mind to like or your mind likes it so your mind programs yourself to like that sound so it don’t matter what it comes from or who it comes from like karaoke go to karaoke night you know that ain’t Aretha Franklin singing it but you’re clapping and singing along anyway because her music is programmed in your head already.
How did you KRS end up working together?
Kept doing shows kept rocking shows and I said ‘Yo man we let’s do an album together so that way when we doing a show together we can have a whole album’s worth let’s give them a show on the road you do all your stuff I do all my stuff and we combine our fans and music let’s make an album together so that our fans and our music are already connected and he said ‘Word let’s do it’ and I said ok cool. The hardest job for me I had to bring the beats to the table I had to be the one who brought production to the table it’s not an easy job because KRS is a very dope emcee and he’s a complicated emcee because he don’t rap about money he don’t rap about being rich but he don’t rap about being broke either he don’ t rap about praising material but at the same time he don’t rap about sitting around doing nothing so it’s like okay you know I gotta match his our criteria of music has to match our energy and you know I found It through the grace of god I found it. Through god’s blessing he brought me Havoc he brought me Black Milk I like to say they because to me god is male and female it was brought to me in that way in such a light that I felt well ok let’s just do this.
How was it working with him in the studio?
You know what I got this mindframe that I’m a General first before any rapper or CEO or fame or anything I’m a General that’s the one thing that I use that’s the one thing dominator that conquers all fear or any anxiety around me because when KRS is on that mic I love it I’m a fan I’m going crazy I’m like you know he’s spitting some hard fire you know how am I going to come behind that I hope my shit don’t sound mad standout because he’s so loud he’s so vocal but then there’s that General side of me that come in and go shut the fuck up I don’t give a fuck who’s in that booth do your job get in get out handle your business I don’t care if it was Elvis and everybody else in the booth you better get in there and do your job no one has to tell me that my spiritual self tells me that so I just go in and listen to my heart and I give it my best and I say this is what I’m bringing to the table and I hope that people like it and when they play it they like it and you always nod your head.
How has Rock The Bells been for you?
Incredible you know anytime that I get with KRS it’s we always have fun because we do this like kids and I say that because I remember being a kid I remember that feeling of just you know you just do this you just wrapped up in this world of trueness like when you get onstage you know your family your life you know who you are you’re conscious of everything when you get with somebody like KRS who thinks the same way it becomes just like a brother as opposed to oh another rapper coming in with bodyguards you know with the dark shades we give each other a three second handshake we get onstage and bring our rap world together it’s not like that. It really is like that’s my older brother I didn’t grow up with him but we became so cool that it’s like and then we both understand that when we get on that stage it’s all about going so far in that you just you just blow-up the world you just save a country everything that goes through all of those people’s minds go through your mind when you’re on that stage.
Are there any hot emcees under the age of 30?
Yeah there’s a lot of them there’s a lot of hot emcees under the age of 30. Anybody that um is tricky, metaphorical, witty, talented, political and their characteristics is really visual that’s what makes a good emcee cause people have to realize a good emcee is somebody who can entertain a crowd and that’s the master of the ceremony why it’s called an emcee because you’re the master of that ceremony that’s being gathered you’re the one glueing everybody together if you lose their attention you’re not a good emcee if you keep their attention you’re a good emcee. Every good emcee does not follow the same criteria Doug E. Fresh is a good emcee because he can master the ceremonies can he rap lyrically as good as KRS One? No. Can he hold down a party like son? Yes he can so a good emcee doesn’t mean you have to be a dope lyricist but you have to have all the components together you can’t have one there’s no such thing as one I’m rich I’m dope I’m metaphorical none of those things can be just one thing.
Can you name a couple?
I don’t like when fans don’t like when I like somebody when fans go ‘You like Little Wayne? Oh you suck.’ Fuck you because at the end of the day I’m a man first so don’t tell me who to like I ain’t no fucking robot you don’t like Wayne that’s cool for you I like son because he’s very characteristic he’s very charismatic I mean he’s very uh he stands out and he’s lyrically dope and he can make hooks he know how to make choruses he’s just gonna do his thing that’s it. Red Café you know Wale these are dope emcees and I don’t like when people don’t see them as dope emcees because of certain regions if you don’t like them that’s fine but when you say ‘He’s not a dope emcee he’s not talking about la la la’ that’s what a dope emcee is a person who talks about la la la so what about motherfuckers that ain’t on the mic but they talk about la la la? Are they dope emcees too? So what are you saying? That’s why I said Red Café, Wale, Lil’ Wayne it’s hard because a lot of times people will be in my head but I will forget them and I’ll be meaning to say them later on I’ll be like damn you know uh Torae dope emcee new emcee had the privilege of signing him I sign certain artists because they are dope and then Skyzoo he’s a dope emcee he goes in he works hard he’s a grinder it’s a lot of dope emcees out there. I’m one of the old school artists that loves to give respect and give a lookout for the new kids that old guy that doesn’t do that I don’t really dig that guy I don’t really think that the guy who is like ‘ Oh the new niggas the new niggas the new niggas ‘ I mean if you was a new nigga would you be saying that? No because you’re a new nigga. You would just be going ‘What we doing now?’ So why aren’t you saying that right now? We are getting at that point hip-hop keeps us youthful but we’re getting at that point even my generation has to be the ones that’s the CEOs owning businesses taking over the corporate companies of America because if they don’t then they become a sad story they become a motherfucking rapper with more gray hair than Grizzly Adams. I got natural grays from my father and my family the way my genes is but I still give respect to everybody I don’t disrespect anybody but I do I am conscious it’s hard to say you’re being respectful without being disrespectful you know when you talk about stuff like rappers look older look old some niggas is fat and out of shape some people just look like you should just do something else please do something else it’s pathetic you’re forty something years old you’re rapping shows from state to state getting White Castle money Kentucky Fried Chicken money and you still think that one day it’s going to pop for you but you don’t recognize that you’re already in the stages that it’s supposed to pop for you.
Will there be another Black Moon album?
Yeah definitely it’s messed-up that I don’t know what provokes I kind of know what provokes that energy it’s kind of messed up because it’s just a product of trying to do everything you try to do everything that you do to the best of your ability so things have to have a timing. KRS One, DuckDown you know B-Real of Cypress Hill, Kidz In The Hall, Sean Price I mean Buckshot is the leader of all of these things so I got a lot of dedication to those things and then the Black Moon album will be created because I’m working on some stuff right now for Black Moon as we speak this whole week I’ve been working on different stuff for Black Moon and you know we’re a group that we like to challenge other groups to shows you know we come from the James Brown Michael Jackson you know O’Jays Gladys Knight and the Pips era of watching those shows be done and rocked so we bring a lot of that energy into hip-hop because that’s what we deal with today.
Is there anything you want to add?
Just the fact that again I am coming after corporate America I’m a rapper that’s coming after corporate America I ain’t rapping against my brother I’m not coming against my man I’m not gonna say ‘Fuck this rapper’ I’m not punching nobody in the face I’m not trying to do none of that shit. It’s just so fucking hilarious cause it’s so sad I say it’s sad because it’s because real people get hurt from it but when Pepsi and Coca-Cola are going after each other’s throats nobody dies from that and that’s the type of style and stuff that I’m into. You know what I’m saying I got a backpack I got a luggage series coming out and I got a backpack and people are known to call it a bookbag and I wanna revolutionize the game the same way I did with the independent label thing I’m gonna have people call it the Buckbag eventually the whole world will transition from a bookbag to a Buckbag because it’s not gonna be about Buck the individual it’s just about this product called the Buckbag that works better as luggage and knapsacks performs better than the average Jansport or Northface when I say I’m coming after corporate America I’m coming after people like Jansport and Northface and bringing the competitive energy of hip-hop to those corporations you know these are a bunch of stuck-up marties in the office that are controlling society they have no idea about this level of competition they’re used to Coca-Cola and Pepsi advertising they don’t know about direct contact they don’t know about being in the grassroots media arena Northface we’re coming after you Jansport we’re coming after you there’s nothing you can do because you don’t even know what’s coming and how it’s coming we’re not going to give you a chance to prepare just know that corporate America will not hold our communities back at first we did it with the labels now you don’t see no more labels you know we did it we accomplished that there’s major labels that don’t run America anymore when it comes to entertainment it used to be a time when that was the case MCA you know Columbia different labels and they’re all gone now so we’re gonna do the same thing with corporate America as a whole and eventually there will be people like Buckshot owning networks people like you know like Talib Kweli who has his own line of cleaning products and household products and car gadgets and things that products that the city parks department needs so they have to contract our stuff out that’s the level of where we’re going for now.