Sunday, September 9, 2007

Buckshot interview

XXL: So, you have a new album coming out called the Formula, right? How is it different from The Chemistry?

Buckshot: Uh, [because] it’s called the Formula [and not The Chemistry]? (laughs). It’s a whole different time, it’s a different scene. It’s just different, you know what I’m saying? It’s a reflection of what needs to be said, and it’s my manifestation. I’m trying to show people that I’m actually greater at what I do than what is perceived when I come up with concepts and stories. The things I do lyrically on this album aren’t easy. That’s the whole point of hip-hop, to do what’s not easy, you know what I’m saying? When you do what’s easy, it’s like, where’s the spark in that shit, you know what I’m saying? What makes this shit worthwhile if it’s so easy? That’s kind of the reason why I do it.

XXL: And how has 9th Wonder’s production changed on this album since the last one?

Buckshot: It’s just different, you know? His beats are different. I’m not really sure how they are, but they are. They just feel different, they sound different. They have a more sinister energy to them. Some of them are commercial joints.

XXL: You said they ARE commercial?

Buckshot: Yeah, the commercial joints are commercial, and the ones that are not commercial, are not commercial. It’s just different reasons for what people view as commercial. Like, I got this one joint with Talib Kweli, and it’s not a commercial song, but we [also] know that it’s not a quote unquote, freestyle kind of thing [either].

XXL: And besides Talib, who else can we expect on this album?

Not too many people, you know? I just work with people who really want to work with me. I don’t go out of my way to buy features. (He says about four other people, but for the life of me, I can’t really hear their names) There are these cats who work with 9th on there. But other than that, there are no other features on the album.

XXL: Okay, that’s cool. So I hear you’re making a new album with KRS-1.

Buckshot: Yeah, yeah, we just signed KRS-1 to Duck Down, so he’s on my label now. And he has an album that we would call something, but I don’t know if he’s going to call it that, so I don’t want to give it no title out. But me and him, we’re going at it hard. And as far as production wise, we’re really going in it. It’s going to be, people look, when I produce albums, I’m a Quincy Jones type of producer first of all. I don’t just play the MPC drums, you know, and stay behind the scenes. I’m actually somebody who produced this. With all respect due to Puffy, he’s a producer. People don’t consider him that, and that’s unfortunate for them, because he’s a producer. And he’s living and getting paid, and he gets props and respect even though a lot of people don’t want to give it to him. You know what I’m saying? Again, I’m a producer in that form, when I put this project together, all my knowledge goes into it. All my knowledge of what works, what doesn’t work, what’s criteria, what’s not criteria, so I attack it like that.

XXL: You’ve been in the business for a really long time. I mean, the early 90s. But the fact is, the business has changed a lot since then. So, I guess the question is, what elements of it do you like right now, and what elements don’t you like?

Buckshot: I like the fact that, you know, people are more public with their opinions and point of views, and it’s more accessibility to things. I like the fact that there are more opportunities, avenues to make something happen. So, I like the fact that rap and hip-hop is worldwide now. We’re in Germany, you know, I’m big in every other country…except for America. But that’s how it goes for every artist and all the talent because it spreads like a cloud, you know? The cloud is not going to be as thick as it was when it was in the area that it first originated from. You know, that’s the purpose of a cloud, it travels. So anybody with common sense knows that a cloud is never as thick as it was in its original state. And everybody knows that, everybody knows that. So I think that’s a blessing for me. It’s the fact that I’m in this area, and I’m doing this. And I sit back, and a lot of people, and a lot of rappers that’s known, you know, they fail to realize one thing. We are known, and the bottom line is that we have such a small sense of mortality in life and have done one thing that a lot of people sit in their crib and don’t even know what it feels like to want this so bad. Like, I know the feeling because I’ve never reached that level or that plateau, but I’ve reached a level of somewhat being big. But I also know the other level. I also know what it feels like to sit at home and feel like everybody else is big, and they’re popping, and you want to be in that position, too. And you’re working hard to be in that position, but you just can’t reach it. I mean, that’s something that I want to touch on. There are certain key things that I always look for, and certain things that make more sense to me, and there are things that don’t make sense to me. There are a looot of rappers out there, a lot, man, and they just cash their check and sit at home and sleep. I’m not like that.

XXL: So…

Buckshot continues: And the bad side that I don’t like about it is, you know, I was listening to Stretch and Bobbito on the radio yesterday, and I remember that there was a time that it was not only me, but a time when people would run to their radio station, run to their RADIO, and be home at 9:00 on a Thursday night because you knew that that radio station was coming on. It was kind of like the Apollo. When the Apollo was coming on, people would run to their crib to watch it. But you don’t do that anymore. It’s not even like that anymore.

XXL: Well, because of the internet.

Buckshot: Huh?

XXL: It’s because of the internet. People can just hear it there.

Buckshot: Well, yeah, the internet does that, and…you know.

XXL: So what would you attribute the resurgence of the Boot Camp Clik to over the past two years?

Buckshot: What would I what?

XXL: Well, I mean, why do you think you guys are getting big?

Buckshot: Why did we get big?

XXL: Why are you getting big again?

Buckshot: Oh, oh, oh, well, we’re just putting in work. In that sense, yeah. We’re just putting in work.

XXL: What about Sean Price, too and the popularity of the group?

Buckshot: Sean Price having the popularity of Boot Camp? Well, that’s because he’s putting in his work! Look, everybody’s doing a lot of work, but when you see Sean Price in XXL now, that was huge for me. That was huge. Sean Price is just doing his work, man. There are very few rappers, you know, who put in work like Sean Price. And he’s putting out tapes, and mixtapes, and this after that, and these over here, and these over there. Nobody’s putting in work like him, you understand? I don’t know, man, it’s like Sean Price deserves the recognition that he has.

XXL: And Boot Camp Clik actually has a new album coming out called Casualties of War, right? Can you tell us more about that?

Buckshot: What, the Casulties of War? You know, what’s funny about that is that a lot of people know and consider that another Boot Camp album. And it’s something that we are…the Casualties album is a few songs that we recorded, the casualties, the definition of that, is the fact that there were a lot of songs that didn’t make the [last] Boot Camp album, but they were good…to us, and we still wanted to use them. So, we did that to make sure that we put out an album that had that selection on it.

XXL: And so, when can we expect the next official Boot Camp album to come out with new tracks?

Buckshot: Um, soon, real soon. This project right here [the Casualties album] is something that we really remixed.

XXL: What would you say your responsibilities are day to day at Duck Down Records? You know, like Dru-Ha does what? You do you do what?

Buckshot: I mean, it’s harder now because we don’t really have an official office, so it’s harder. Uh, I would say that, look, my role at Duck Down now is a little harder. I think all of our roles are harder because we don’t have an office. But we are dealing with Cornerstone. And I say that we don’t have an office because even though we do have an office, we actually do have an office, an office where we operate in. But we’re used to operating in a self-contained place. But the thing is, it is useful that Dru-Ha IS the vice president of Cornerstone Marketing and Production. And that means that, you know, people can really get a sense of his promotion and activity, you know what I’m saying? And people get a sense of actually what he’s made of and why Duck Down has stayed in the game for so long, you know? Buckshot is a producer. You know, I produce, and Dru-Ha does the day to day, but it’s still just so hard because we both do everything. Dru-Ha does the same thing I do. He just doesn’t do the production on the pieces that I get. And without him, I wouldn’t make the decisions that I make. You know, I’m just as good on the marketing campaign, promotional, you know, re-sales, it doesn’t really matter. P-O-P. I been doing the intern thing before I started, rhyming, rapping. So, I was working for a record label. I was doing marketing and promotional before I started rapping. So, it’s kind of a funny thing how me and him work, and that’s why we have worked together for so long. And that’s the reason why we’re still together, because what we have is not only special, but what we have is real. It’s not like we were put together, like, you put him there, and he’s the white boy and he does marketing, and I’m over here, the black man who does production. That’s just not the truth. I mean, that’s my family. He means much more to me. That’s just my homey, that’s my businessman, that’s my family. You know what I’m saying? That’s my fam, that’s my dude.

XXL: Will there be another Black Moon album?

Buckshot: Yeah, definitely. There will definitely be another Black Moon. And it will be real soon. And, um, me and E (Evil Dee) just came from doing a show in San Francisco, and Black Moon, we’re going to do our thing, but you know, it’s crazy. I was reading the 50 article yesterday, you understand what I’m saying? And I’m not going to say I’m the same because I’m not trying to capture a vibe. But when…it’s just funny because, it’s far more often that black people, our people, my own people, that make more of a big deal of why they won’t do certain things. Or like, they’ll say, ‘you have a car, so why do you take the train still?’ Like, so what? Am I not supposed to? My partner Juwan takes the train all the time. Rob Stone, head of marketing and promotion for Cornerstone Marketing, he’s worth millions of dollars, and he takes the train ALL the time. So what’s the problem? But black people, a lot of them, they’ll be like, “Oh, oh,” but that’s because we want to cut ourselves off from that sense of poverty that we came from, but at the same time, I’m reading this interview, and I’m just like, “Wow.” People hear stories that and like, this person makes $300,000, and this person only makes La La (?) I mean, people hear numbers like that and they wish that was them. But people don’t recognize that when they’ll be flying high until winds hit the kite.

XXL: You actually struck upon a good point that I wanted to talk about with the whole monetary issue. The industry right now is in a slump, and ring tones are making more money than records.

Buckshot: Why not? I say, what’s wrong with that? I keep hearing people mention that, like, ringtones…I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t it?

XXL: Well, for someone like me, that doesn’t matter. Ringtones, that’s fine and good. But what do people like you in the industry feel about that? I mean, record sales aren’t like they used to be.

Buckshot: That’s not our fault. Whose fault is that?

XXL: Well, I’m not saying it’s anybody’s fault. I’m just saying, how do you deal with it?

Buckshot: It has to be SOMEBODY’s fault. Because when you look at that, fault becomes the reason, and reason brings understanding. So we really don’t need to start questioning it, you know what I’m saying? You know what, hold up. We’re the reason why we don’t sell records anymore anyway, so why are we all asking ourselves the same question? What do we do? Where?...Ringtones are good, you know what I’m saying? Word. It’s just crazy.

XXL: Okay, that’s fine. So, realistically, what would you say the goals are for Duck Down for the next couple of years?

Buckshot: Putting out different rap artists, like now, I have a coalition, and my coalition is not the same. I fucked with a lot of people. Like now, like I said, I have KRS-1, Lost Cause (?), Black Moon, Smif-n-Wessin (Can’t make out who he’s saying), Raheem…all those are the groups that I got so far. All those groups are very, very important to me. The reason why I reach Sha Much (?) is because De Sha (?) worked with the Outlaws. What’s very, very important is that there are a lot of record labels out there, but if you’re not in XXL or Scratch, then you’re not in the game. I’m just keeping it real. Black Beat, BET, somewhere.

XXL: Since you guys have been in the game for so long, a lot of the younger listeners might not know who you are. Do you feel and urge to reintroduce yourselves to them? Or does that not really matter to you?

Buckshot: It’s funny when people say that or ask that, because what are you supposed to do? Keep re, keep re, keep reintroducing yourself? It’s all about what I do for BCC, right? It never really was about trying to reach out, and being like, oh shit, I’m losing my fan status, I gotta do that again. I’m just so caught up in life that I don’t know. I’m so caught up. Because I have a lot of things that I still want. I can’t be concerned about certain things like that, because fame without money is hell. There are a lot of great rappers who are living in hell, because ask yourself. If some of these rappers aren’t on the radio, and aren’t on TV, than how are they making money? They’re going through hell and torture. Rapping is a curse sometimes. It can be a curse. For real.

XXL: I think a big part of that is because the music has changed quite a bit since the 90s when you were really big. So what do you think is so different about rap music today than rap music in the 90s?

Buckshot: The fact that, ah, everybody is trying to shut the rappers down, and there’s nothing you can do. [These days] you can get on, and get recognized, but you’re not going to be a star, you’re not going to be that one. And that one always comes up doing something that nobody else has done. A lot of rappers, and lot of folks are saying that we’re going to start selling singles again. They’re saying that singles will be the things that sell records, because think about it. Really, really think about it. If Mims don’t do something in the next few months, we won’t even know “This is Why I’m Hot.” He has another record that’s out right now, [called] “Like This,” and I don’t think that it’s wack, but I seriously don’t think it’s going to get the response that “This is why I’m hot” got. They’re big for that moment. But that’s what people want to do. They want to be the franchise boys right now, and then people will be like, “Well, we already have a franchise boys, and they’re the Shop Boys.” And then what you going to do? When the franchise is over, what are you going to do? Are the franchise boys going to break up and go solo? Are there going to be a new franchise boys?

XXL: So, in the end, what do you want to be known for? What do you want Black Moon to be known for? Boot Camp Clik?

Buckshot: I want to be known for as the dude that held his own block, and that’s what we are known for. (I can’t make out almost the whole conversation here). Me and Puffy actually came up with the whole Street team idea at the same time, but Puffy got the props for it. I didn’t get the props for it. Who am I? I’m [just] a little thug. I mean, but obviously, the whole street team idea came from us, because people would look at Buckshot and say, “Here he comes with a bunch of dudes on the street.” Puffy had a lot of dudes, [too], but they were wearing shiny suit outfits. I brought the whole street nigga mentality. I would roll with my street teams that would promote me and myself. That’s all I had. You know, and I’ve had lots of opportunities. Like, I was supposed to sign with Dr. Dre, I was supposed to sign with Jay-Z after I was on the radio with FunkMaster Flex, and I can’t tell you why I couldn’t. When I’d actually go there—[there’d be] silence. And I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it’s because I’m not good enough when I actually come to the table, you know what I’m saying? When I get to the table, they’re all like, “Ahhhh, I changed my mind.” Sometimes, when I was willing to make that sacrifice for my team, my team was like, “let’s do it,” but it never happened.

XXL: Okay, fair enough. So, I know that Boot Camp just got with KOCH right now, right?

Buckshot: Yeah, KOCH just bought our shit. They bought our label out.

XXL: I know in the past, your relationship with KOCH hasn’t been all that great, so why did you guys get back with them?

Buckshot: KOCH bought our label, we didn’t get back with them. They bought our label out. We’re not getting back with KOCH. But it’s all good, though, you know? KOCH is my label. I was actually going to get with Universal, but Universal isn’t doing so well right now. They’re not. When it comes to making that paper, they’re definitely not doing it right now. But I’m trying to see if KOCH can do what they do, and I’m willing to stand behind them for a minute, you know what I’m saying? But right now, I’m saying that besides Universal and besides Warner, who’s out there? Def Jam is owned by Universal. So it’s like, talk to me here, who’s left, and what’s left? And that’s why everybody and their mother ran to KOCH. And you know, I mean, we know what we have now, and KOCH has adopted my concept, which is, go get a veteran, and go give them a shot. And that’s what they do. Again, I feel you, I’m a model for the legions. And even KOCH took my idea, and that’s why I don’t get no props because I don’t come out with that. People will be like, I come out with that, and I’ll say naw, I’m not going to say anything. But now I’ll say fuck that. You shouldn’t be so humble. You gotta speak for yourself or someone will walk right over you. That’s what I’m known as, a model for the legions. And that’s why I came out and signed KRS-1. And people will ask, why didn’t I sign some new hopes? Why didn’t I sign a Cassidy? Why didn’t I do that with Duck Down? Why did I get KRS-1? You know, a veteran in the game. You know, these are people who can’t make records now. And [record companies] aren’t going to sign the OGs. And then you have Large Professor? People were like, what’s wrong with you? Why would you get these people? But my whole thing is, that everybody who put out a record before in the rap game, and is not getting shit now, come on over to Duck Down. That’s my whole shit. It’s hard and it’s real. People who put out records five or ten years ago and can [only] sell 2000 records today, I’m going to give you $2000, you see what I’m saying? Everybody’s going to give them credit for what they sell. I won’t say names, but there’s a famous duo, and one of them who went solo, he dropped off, and while the other guy didn’t really pop off, as a group, they still never really dropped off as a group, but when they went solo, they flopped. But now, obviously, time went by, and as a solo artist, he wants to get back with the group one more time. And like, they want $100,000 in cash for a record, but we’re like, dude, get the fuck out of here. You don’t recognize the rap game, and you’re not in the rap game, period, and that’s why a lot of people don’t get back in the rap game. Cause listen, motherfuckers be thinking that this is 1990 something where there are budgets like 400 Gs, 400,000 thousand dollars on the table. Now, you’ll be lucky if you get 50 [dollars?], homey. And that’s for a whole project, my dude, so I’m going to leave it like that. I want people to respect Duck Down as a label that’s up and coming, man. Actually, a label and a marketing company, because we’re nice at that marketing. And I just want people to recognize that.

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