Wedding DJ for Sarnia, London, ON. Writer, Educator, Radio Host, Hip Hop Headucatorz
Lucy’Lo Interview Part 2
This is the second part of the interview transcript. You can download the entire show for free right here, stream it with the player below, or go back and read Part 1. Without further ado, let’s continue the Lucy’Lo interview. He is a DJ, producer, and member of the group 84.85.
Chase: “You described your sound before as 100% hip-hop and some people might argue what actually constitutes hip-hop.”
Lucy’Lo: “Yeah, totally, especially when you’re two white guys of middle class maybe even upper-middle class background rapping over beats that are halfway between what is normally classified as hip-hop tempo and dance tempo, which I think is bullshit any way because hip-hop comes out of disco, Disco is all 120 bpms and then things slowed down from there, well not 120 but you know, fast.
Being that hip-hop comes from samples, I have a really hard time with people saying hip-hop comes from a certain thing. A lot of ‘purists’ in Toronto want to call ‘real hip-hop’ something that happened between ’88 and ’96. I think that’s bullsh*t because things started in the early mid 70’s and got big in the late 70’s. That’s when things got started. We’re talking about disco samples. Hip-hop came around the same time as house music from the same source of tunes. Hip-hop came out of New York and House evolved in Chicago using the same samples.
DJ Hollywood and Eddie Cheeba and these guys taking disco parties and adding the MC, alongside Bambaataa and DJ Pete Jones, all that stuff.
What is hip-hop?
Who the f*ck knows? We all use these different samples. Is hip-hop horn samples or is hip-hop synthetics? It depends on what period you’re talking about right?
Chase: “Yeah, I’m glad you brought up Afrika Bambaataa there and house music because there are some early records I can think of that have that kind of sound but very few and far between until Common came out with Universal Mind Control.
I hated that album and I’m a Common fan. I don’t know it that’s my prejudice coming through, Like you said, I want that ’88 to ’96 kind of sound and I don’t want this techno kind of stuff. It took me a long time to realize that he was actually trying to throw back to Afrika Bambaataa and he was trying to have that kind of sound purposefully. He was trying to pay homage to Bambaataa, who is a pioneer of hip-hop. He was one of the original DJs there in New York like Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa and we kind of forget that, I think.”
Lucy’Lo: “A lot of people forget it and that’s fine because you know, things happened a long time ago. All this stuff precedes me and it’s going back to do research and sometimes I do forget. My personal experience and hip-hop knowledge starts in ’93. Talking about that Common song, and it’s not my favourite Common song but there’s a lot of references in there. It’s not just the beat, he rhymes in an old-time rhyme cadence too from those old electro records.”
I’m a hip-hop head from the last 17 years. I’ve been listening, deejaying, studying, and this is what comes out. I’d just honestly like to know what a hip-hop head such as yourself thinks of what we do. I’d love you to be candid, post this up, post hearing us tonight. I’d love for you to write something about what you saw. We’re not doing our full set tonight but we’re doing a half hour set and this is our take.
We’ll start out with some really weird, a little bit dark, cold sh*t but it pops off into a really big danceable tune, not poppy but danceable and you’ll see white girls sweating their asses off dancing to it, shouting words to it as songs transition. We mix our whole set through, DJing it so it’s one long thing. All these hipster kids and all these white girls with hair flying all crazy, this is who we perform to. Does that take away from the fact that this is what two lifelong hip-hop heads think of it? This is what we come out of it with and these are the people who follow us. Does that make that any less hip-hop?
Chase: “Well, we’re gonna have to wait and see because seriously I haven’t been to a party like this before. I stick to the underground stuff and I hate the way I’m sounding because I’m listening to myself and thinking, “I’m such a closed-minded jerk.” But at the same time, I’m not because I love indy-rock and I listen to country and I do listen to some pop music. I like Kelly Clarkson.”
Lucy’Lo: “What kind of country do you listen to? Because I think country, especially outlaw country is very tied to hip-hop. Like Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, is very hip-hop.”
Chase: “That’s awesome. I was planning on doing a show about ‘hip-hop outside of hip-hop’ and I was going to touch on some of that ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’ stuff where country was kind of rap music in some instances. Hip-hop is a culture that was born in 1973 but before that there were some things that might be considered rap songs.”
Lucy’Lo: “Country came out of the blues in a lot of senses and hip-hop came out of that in a different way, 40, 50, 60 years later, but regardless, very much tied. To say they’re different because of race or different cultural formats is kind of funny. I’m a huge Lou Rawls fan. Lou Rawls is one of my primary influences, not in the way I make music, but I listen to Lou Rawls and I hear contemporary hip-hop because I hear what they’re sampling but I hear a lot of country. ‘Tobacco Road’ is both hip-hop and country at the same time. It’s off Lou Rawls Live and he gives a monologue before that says, basically there is a ghetto in every city and his from Chicago is called Tobacco Road. The way he sings it, it’s a country-blues song. It’s soulful and out of the black gospel tradition as well, so it that sense a lot of hip-hop draws from it.”
Chase: “I want to throw to that song right now so the audience can hear what you are talking about.”
Lucy’Lo: “Okay, here it is. Starting with ‘Lou’s Monologue’ into ‘Tobacco Road’ off Lou Rawl’s Live.”
Chase: “Alright, while that was playing, Lucy’Lo and I were talking about our first starts into production. I was just telling him how I used to use an AKAI sampling keyboard hooked up to an Atari. That was my first taste of production there.”
Lucy’Lo: “So, not at all the same because hard gear is different than software, but my first taste was with the free version of Fruity Loops, not even the stolen one, the original freeware version. And trying to spread things over a sixteen-step sampler. Fruity Loops would chop the sample for you so sometimes you get it in millisecond samples, sometimes you get a two second sample, and you never knew and you had to be creative.
With the AKAI sampler if you wanted a crisp sound, you had to literally spread it out over eight keys. It was the same sort of thing. In order to do a two bar loop you might’ve had to have gone three and a half or four bars because you didn’t what steps it would work through because of how it would chop. So you learned quickly how to use reverb and delay to try and make your sample work because it would chop in a way that was weird.”
Chase: “That’s why I liked using Cubase on the Atari because I could actually use the pencil tool or I could kick stuff onto this grid so that I could see it. I don’t know if I could use this gear here with the 16 pads and how I’d adapt to that because I’m used to seeing it and being able to move it.”
Lucy’Lo: “I found it aided and abetted my unusual imagination. It sounds f*cked up but being confined to the 16 steps and a very distinct time period where you can’t go beyond it because you only have the 16 steps, actually helped me be more creative. For other people, being creative is ProTools where you have a completely blank canvas. For me, creativity is being locked into a certain box and trying to work my way out of it.”
Chase: “Exactly. That’s what I liked about using the AKAI because by the time I got it, it was already out of date. This was the gear that people were using in the late ‘80’s and here I’m using it in the late ‘90’s but I made it work for what I needed to do at the time.”
Lucy’Lo: “Do you still have it around?”
Chase: “Yeah I do. I wouldn’t mind selling it actually because I need some money.”
Lucy’Lo: “Okay, well we should talk.”
Chase: “Alright, cool, cool. I like using gear because I’ve tried messing around with GarageBand and I can’t get it to do what I want it to. I haven’t produced music in some time. I’m actually writing novels and whatnot right now and that’s become my focus but I miss producing music.”
Lucy’Lo: “As an outlet, there’s nothing better, to me personally. I’m not good with words. I make music. Every love song I’ve ever written has never had words in it. That’s me.”
Chase: “I’m more of a lyrical dude. I did the beats but I was sharp with my lyrics. I guess I’ve always been a writer that way. So maybe it’s better that I writing and not producing right now. I’m enjoying writing and doing the blog and getting hits there. And it’s nice doing this interview thing now too. I’m so glad Gamma Krush brought me back into this interview thing because I hadn’t done that for about ten years too. ”