definitive jux
posted: 12-09-04
interview : tadah
Okay, please introduce yourself.
I am Despot. The rapper to end all rappers. The Napoleon of this rap shit. A walking rap megalopolis…on wheels…walking.
Any crew affiliations we should know about?
Only crews I am officially down with are Lo Lifes and Level X…muhfucka.
Level X? Who dat?
Level X is a crew that was founded by Many Styles a while back. It was basically just a bunch of kids who you would see outside of every hip hop event in NYC starting huge ciphers. I got down with 'em when I became friends with Many and been down ever since. Current members are me, Many Styles, Phobia, Reason, and Logic.
Any crew album planned? Or what are them guys doing by themselves?
No concrete plans for a crew album at this point, and who knows if it will ever happen; I would like for it to happen. Many has a whole album done that he's shopping around and will hopefully come out in the near future. Reason has been working on solo shit and working with many as well, not really sure what logic or phobia are up to.
Now Lo Lifes? How did you get down with them?
I been rockin' Lo for years and years. A few years back I linked up with Hy-Lo - who is an original Lo-Life member - through my boy Mey from Queens. After I met Hy I met a few other original cats like Rahb, Bagz, Flash, and whoever else and eventually I became official and have been reppin' ever since.
Do you guys have club meetings where you eat sandwiches and discuss new dress codes?
Ooh, too bad. So what involves being a Lo Life then?
Stayin dipped. Robbin' Lo whenever possible. Wheelin' and dealin'.
Any news on the Lo Life's music you can share with us?
Where are you from?
Forest Krills. Cop Killa Queens. Born and raised. 22 years in the same apartment. Hell's Gate is the block, gee.
How is life there?
It is trife. As Mobb Deep once so eloquently put it.
And that's a good thing? Not what Mobb said, but the other thing?
I'm not sure what you're asking me here; is the fact that it is trife a good thing? Yes and no? I feel like comin' up in that neighborhood and watching it progressively get worse and losing a friend or two has shaped me as a person and taught me a lot. I wouldn't have had it any other way.
What do we need to know about you?
I am hopelessly obsessed with kicks and vintage Lo; that means Polo, you fuckin jerks. I spent much of my early days hurting people with my hands on the mean streets of Queens and walking around with a giant radio and giant pants. At that time, I was known on the block as 'Puff' because I was a very young kid and I smoked a lot of weed.
This was before anyone gave a shit about P Diddy. Therefore, I am the original Puff. I no longer do any drugs because I have completely lost my mind and I am scared of losing more of it.
What would you like to tell us about you, that we probably don't care to know? (smile)
Look…if you don't care, I don't care either. Whatever guys. Uhm…I am miserable and self loathing.
I know you're working on an album, right? Tell us about that.
I am indeed working on an album. So far, not very much of it is done as I am a full time college student and professional hustler. The majority of the production will be handled by Blockhead - of Blockhead fame - and the guests look something like Masai Bey, Vordul, Breezly Brewin, Aesop Rock, and LoDeck? The album will document and elaborately discuss the goings on in the minds of cockroaches and the proper place in this world for Tupperware.
You say the time's not there, but is the motivation there?
The motivation is definitely there, and I am positive at this point that this is what I wanna do with my life. I am considering taking a 'break' from college to work harder on the album and maybe do some shows and shit. I am starting to feel like I'm wasting my time at school anyway. But they have chipmunks here.
How did you hook up with Definitive Jux?
Through mutual friends. I have been hangin' around the whole NYC rap friends coalition for a long time, spent a lot of time sitting in a chair in Bobbito's Footwork, did some open mics here and there when open mics didn't suck quite as much. Did some little shitty shows here and there when those shows didn't suck quite as much. I think the bug first got in El's ear when I did that joint with LoDeck on "Euphony". Then somewhere down the line I handed him a CD with two joints I did on it. And those became a single.
That's the Definitive Jux 12" "Homesickness" I assume. You also mentioned the track on "Euphony", which would be "Cynical Bastard". Anything else you've done?
There are a couple of other things I have done that I would rather not talk about. If anyone stumbles upon them that's fine but I'm not gonna encourage you. I have been doing this shit for a long time so there are some skeletons in the closet here and there.
Def Jux has established itself to be one of the big indy labels. What do you think the significance of the label was and will be?
I think Def Jux is an incredible label for a million reasons and it's really the only place I am interested in putting out my music right now. I think it's the first label out of NYC - or out of America - or in the world - that is completely run by cats who are well versed in all this rap shit and have a very good grasp on the business end as well. The comradery among the artists and the staff on the label is incredible and they actually make me feel like someone might give a shit about all this shit I am spewing out.
Significance of the label on a larger scale, I would say they brought out a lot of cats who were just sort of doing their thing by themselves and unsure of where they could take it and made them realize that there were a lot of people out there waiting to hear exactly what they were putting out and providing a real outlet for them. I feel like they more or less captured this whole feeling that was going on in NYC at a certain time and the various artists who reacted to it and spread it out.
Of course they branched off to some other locales after that but I think there is still a very rigid principle of quality control and a very well developed understanding of the art that guides what kind of shit comes out on this label. So I'm very proud to be a part of it.
At this point it seems like things could only get bigger and better for the label despite the criticism that is thrown around from time to time. A lot of incredible people have gained widespread recognition because of this label and now it's time to use that as a tool and make people realize that there is a lot of fresh shit out there.
What can or will your position be in the bigger picture of Def Jux?
I only intend to be another addition to the roster if all goes well. Once the album is out I will make whatever I can of that.
Tell us what you hope we'll get out of this music.
I hope I could translate my own experience somewhat accurately and people can appreciate where I'm at right now. I feel like my angle is very different than a lot of shit that is out already in that I have a certain unique experience of sitting in one place for way too long and watching it turn into hell; and simultaneously watching myself turn into a resident of hell. I hope you will all come and live in hell with me.
So how much of your lyrics is you and how much is you having a blast?
My lyrics are all me. I have never had a blast in my life.
How did you get into this lil' culture we call hip hop?
I guess it was just all around me when I was growing up. It was pretty hard to avoid. I feel like I wasn't really knee deep in it until I started makin' Stretch and Bobbito tapes every week. I think that was an incredibly important step in my understanding of all the different kinds of shit that is out there and it spawned a dedication in me that probably wasn't there before.
Would you do Dipset or 50 Cents type rap if it wasn't for Stretch & Bobbito?
I don't think it would be Dipset or 50 Cent type shit. It would be more that Queens Thug shit. Yes, 50 is from Queens but to me he's not from that same circle and doesn't have that style.
Although I feel like just getting older and growing out of a lot of things may have changed my style significantly even if I hadn't discovered 'underground' hip hop.
There's a million subgenres of rap now: what is the one most appropriate for you?
Your girl.
File sharing on the internet: I do it too, or I'll do you if you do it?
I'll do you if you do it? Chill out, money.
That's a yes, right?
Sure. To an extent. I mostly only 'share' files with my friends; sendin' shit back and forth. I'm not really too big on using any of those file sharing programs. Most of the music I have is either some shit I bought or managed to get a free copy of somehow.
What was the last album/showcase/experience that had you go: man, I better step up my skills before I step out with something again?
My single. I hate it. I hope you like it. I'm sorry.
What's there to hate?
So if not your single, what do you actually enjoy listening to right now?
I listen to a lot of Def Jux shit. And MF Doom, Juggaknots, Bigg Jus, LoDeck, old Bobbito tapes. Some weird shit here and there that is tossed at me as a result of being in college.
That weird shit being?
Various strange indy rock shit here and there and some instrumental stuff too. I don't know; whatever my girl listens to.
State of hip hop: good or bad?
Good enough for me.
Anything 'good enough' usually isn't that good at all.
I don't have as much of a problem with it as most people seem to have these days. I think there is great shit coming out on all fronts and there's really no need to bicker about how things suck.
Unfortunately, if there is any subsection where things suck more than they don't suck, it is the 'underground' and that might just be because any asshole with a computer is suddenly a rap star and has five albums of him and his friends talking about wizards, the stars, and the word lyrical.
Let's continue the 'or' game. I give you two options, you pick one:
Vegetarian or Vegan
Brooklyn or Queens
Queens, jerk.
Thugs or Pimps
Thugs kill pimps
Porn or Romantic Comedy
Politicians or Apes
Apples or apples, nahmean
Red or white wine
Fellatio or Cunnilingus
Punchline or metaphor
Do you have a website?
Why the '!'? You don't like website?
I just felt like typing an exclamation point. Back up off me. I was a professional web designer for about two years.
Hey, I remember that. You did the Atoms Family website. That was nice. Can people still hire you?
People can try to hire me. I probably won't do it though. I have definitely improved a lot since the cp records site I did. That was a long time ago. I don't really have a lot of time to dedicate to web design though. Not as interested in it anymore. Everyone does it. If I fail miserably as a rapper maybe I'll go back to it.
Shout outs and/or last comments?
Rap, please wait for me.
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