Thu, 22 May 2008 15:23:32
If any one word sums up MC/producer El-P, it would have to be:
uncompromising. From the time he first bum-rushed the unsuspecting NYC
hip hop scene in the '90s as part of seminal underground hip hop crew
Company Flow, he was determined to forge his own path in the music
business. From his staggering doomsday drum patterns, to his
sprawling flow, it was obvious he didn't show up to play the same
old game, he came to change it. He was so determined, that when the
traditional label system
wouldn¹t let him operate as he saw fit, he ran an end around on the
industry and started his own imprint, Def Jux. Now, nearly ten years
after it's inception, Def Jux stands as the premiere destination for
left-field hip hop artists.
So when UK rapper and grime superstar Dizzee Rascal needed a U.S. home for latest release Maths+English he found a welcoming environment in the Def Jux fold. So impressed was El-Producto with his new signee, that he decided to load up the wagon and join Diz on a string of dates stretching across the country. As the tour gets set to wind down, we were lucky enough to go one-on-one with El just before his final stop in the City of Angels. He gave us his take on arbitrary genre tags, personal evolution and why he's not afraid of a little fun every now and then.
Are you working on anything new right now?
I am working on multiple things, yeah.
We'll definitely be keeping our eyes peeled. How's the tour between you and Dizzee shaping up?
I think our energy comes from the way that we bring it onstage. We're a really good match. I wouldn't have even done this if I didn¹t' think it was a great fit. Plus, we've got Busdriver with us. We've also got Kidz in the Hall doing the Philly and New York dates. The show is just savage. It's just going to be high energy. I think that because people want different sounds, the shit that Dizzee's coming with fits in perfectly. I think it's going to be great.
Dizzee's sound, especially on the new record, fits perfectly with the Def Jux vibe. How did you two come together and decide to put his record out stateside?
My partner in the company has been talking to his manager for a while. When we found out the record hadn't been put out here, it just all kind of connected. They were amped about Def Jux, and we were amped about him. It just kind of happened; it felt like a great fit. At first we were like, "Really, that's kind of weird." And then we were like, "Actually, that's fucking brilliant."
Even though he started from in the grime scene, he's always had an undeniable hip hop flavor.
You don't understand, man. These dudes don't walk around talking about grime or whatever. That's just some shit that was made up by journalists. Dizzee spits. He wants to be Jay-Z. He wants to be Bun B. Because of where he comes from, he's got that different sound. That's kind of how we all are at Jux. Because of the way that I think, and the way that I come across, I have my own sound. That's the way that I look at his shit.
I feel like heads are really opening up to new sounds in hip hop, on the independent tip and even on the mainstream tip. People are just doing different shit right now.
That's something that we've been fighting for for years, and it seems like the time is coming. It seems like it's right. You know shit is fucked up when you've got El-P on Conan O'Brien. It's getting closer. With Dizzee, he made a splash when he first came out in America. I think people are really ready for his shit now. I think the country has been primed for that sound. I think Dizzee's the one who's really going to take it there.
Do you think a lot of that has to do with technology? More people are producing, different sounds are coming together, and you can get your hands on more music?
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