Chase: “All right. We are back with Witness. If you missed the previous parts of this interview transcript, you can go back and read it now. You can also stream the entire show with the player below, download it for free, or just keep reading. Thanks for tuning in.
Chase: “So we just played ‘Sunburn’ by Witness. I love that track! (starts singing the chorus) Nah, I don’t need to start singing it.”
Witness: “Do it man. You can do it, you can do it. If you want to handle a chorus on the next record, you want to handle it?”
Chase: “I would love that.”
Witness: “It would be great man.”
Chase: “You know what would be really cool too. I have some really enthusiastic kids in my hip-hop club song at school. We’re learning a Nieve track right now. He gave us the instrumental and the lyrics to the track and we’ve been working on it.
It’s hilarious because I have about twelve girls in my hip-hop club at school and they are all 8 or 9 and they’re hammering out this underground hip-hop song.”
Witness: “That’s incredible.”
Chase: “You know what would be cool. I mean, I’d love to do a chorus or something on yours, but knowing that you’re a beatsmith, it would be really cool if you could give us a beat and we could do an original song.”
Witness: “You know what, man? I am so down. For people listening, you heard it hear first. It’s definitely gonna happen. I’d love that. Ya know, I’ve always thought about that. It’s something cool but unless you have some kind of hook up, it’s sort of weird. But you know it would be super-cool. I’d love that.”
Chase: “My hip-hop club is basically a choir except we learn rap songs instead of singing songs. The kids really love it. At first I had a huge group and then when the kids realized it was hard work, ya know, it’s hard to learn all those words and be on time, it kind of dwindled and dwindled. Now I have about a dozen girls in it, but you know what? They’ve got such a heart. It’s so cool, especially to see young girls involved in hip-hop. It’s pretty awesome. I’m impressed with this group.”
Witness: “It’ll be really interesting to see what happens when they grow up. That’s the kind of thing that when they grow up, some of them will hold on to it, some of them might lose it, but I bet that at least one of them will be real dope.”
Chase: “All right, if we’re going to do this, hopefully you can send me a track soon because we only have a month left of school now. It would be so cool to make something happen like that.”
Witness: “I definitely will. That’s a great idea! I love it!”
Chase: “Awesome. This is so cool. I love being on this show. All the connects on here. I never even thought I’d talk to you. It’s pretty cool when you write a blog post saying, ‘I love this album’ and then all of a sudden the artists is like, ‘Hey! Thanks for writing that.’”
Witness: “Yeah, that’s crazy dude. When I listen back to this, I’ll probably wonder why I was heavily reminiscing, but I started up in this when I was 15. I went on my first tour when I was 19 and the Internet was there, but the way to set up shows was still pretty iffy.
There were a lot of ways to do it. You were known on circuits that were basically old punk rock circuits. I told you I’d tell you a story. This story is not very crazy, but it gives you an idea of what we were going through.
We had a show in Providence, Rhode Island. It was my very first tour and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just stoked to be out there. Sage Francis helped set this show up and when we got there, they said, ‘Oh, we’re sorry.’ The promoter who set up the show was fired and your show has been replaced by Gothic Pajama Party.
We didn’t know what to do, and we barely had any money. Sage Francis ended up taking us out to lunch. He had just got back from playing Paid Dues and the Wu-Tang Reunion show that year. He was sitting at the table and asking who of us were rappers. That was just so surreal because I’d been listening to this dude since I was 16.
With the Internet now, you have everything at your finger tips that you previously never had. I mean, honestly, I don’t even remember how we set up that tour. I think, at the time, MySpace was just coming up. Sage Francis told us we should get on MySpace and we had no idea what it was.
But before then, the Rhymesayers dudes were all running the circuit. I saw Eyedea at a concert, I think it was in 2000, in Philly with like 50 people in the room. And oddly enough, every single one of those people I still talk to and about half of them are either doing really well for themselves in something related to hip-hop, or some of them are MCs that you listen to now, or some of them are making beats.
It’s kind of like everyone who is in this, has an opportunity to make something for themselves. You’re right. It’s kind of cool that you can write a blog article and next thing you know we are talking about making songs with a bunch of kids.
Chase: “Yeah, isn’t that hilarious?”
Witness: “It’s a cool thing man.”
Chase: “And for people out there putting in the hustle, I tried to get a rap career popping in the late 90s, and once again before the Internet was really viable and we could use it the same ways. If you look, I’m sure you could still find that out there somewhere, Like Nardwar says, ‘The Internet never forgets.’”
Witness: “Yeah, that’s true man. There’s definitely some Witness jams in some crevice of the Internet that I hope to never see again, ya know? That is the unfortunate part of the Internet. But like you said, anyone out there that is trying to do this, they only thing I can say man, is honestly, you shouldn’t stop.
I rolled with a bunch of dudes and honestly, you get older. You’ve got bills to pay, you’ve got some many things and responsibilities. I know so many talented bands and emcees that just had to stop. But I can assure you, I can promise you, from somebody who is out here in L.A. doing something they never thought they’d do, it’s not exactly my ideal but it’s a life experience.
And it would have never happened if I stopped doing this. And along that road, I assure you, some people are going to think you are crazy. People are going to think you’re irresponsible. But if you just keep doing it and you genuinely believe you can do it, you’ll actually make it work, and everyone will think they’re crazy for not following you in the first place.”
Chase: “Well, I can think of one example, right off the top of my head. Like I said, when I was trying to come up in the late 90s, we had the message boards and that was really the only way to promote yourself. I kept seeing this name Classified all over the place.
Classified is an Canadian MC and he just put out his 12th album but it was his 11th album that hit and made him a star.
Ya know, I quit, This guy kept going on and on and on. So there’s a testament right there about what you’re saying. If you have a passion for the music and you keep doing it and can put in that work, everyone else is gonna fall off, and it might just happen for you one day.”
Witness: “It’s true. And I’ll tell you right now, there’s no such thing as a debut album. It doesn’t exist. I probably made close to 15 – 16 albums. For the people who know me and know my music, for some of them there is only one, for some of them, there is three.
But, yeah, I’ve made 16 albums worth of songs and I’m still not there yet. I’ve got a long way to go. But also, you’re a great example too. If somewhere along the road you decide you don’t want to continue doing it, it also doesn’t mean that you can’t find something that you can do in this culture.
There is something that you can do in hip-hop culture, it’s just kind of a matter of what you want to do. I know it sounds like old-school television after-school special ‘never give up – trust your heart’ kind of thing but there is definitely truth about staying on the grind as long as you can and eventually people will start to take notice. And if not, worse come to worse, some of the best writers are those who didn’t get their due until well after they’d departed.”
Chase: “The weird thing is that I’m hip-hop, through and through, to the bone, and I never, ever though that I’d land in radio. So this is kind of cool. We’re in community radio. It’s volunteer. We’re not getting paid. But I’m having so much fun.
I tell ya, I went from being a listener of community radio to this is how I get my hip-hop, to phoning in to the show as a fan, to actually running, producing segments, and doing these interviews. It’s pretty amazing. You know what else is amazing? Meeting all these MCs and talking to them.
It has been so cool talking to you. I know we have an overnight show here. And it feels like I could talk to you all night long, but unfortunately we do gotta cut this and move on tonight.”
Witness: “I hear ya. It’s been a pleasure man.”
Chase: “Yeah, we’ll have to do it again man, soon. Next time you got something out. Well, I’m sure we’ll be in touch.”
Witness: “Hopefully people will be hearing our track pretty soon, right?”
Chase: “Yeah, for sure. And when this goes up on the podcast I’ll painstaking transcribe it for the blog as well. I like doing that for prosperity’s sake.”
Witness: “And I like reading them. Even if there is an audio file, I’ll read it. It’s definitely getting use. I appreciate it man.”
Chase: “Cool. So, tell the people out there how they can find out more about Witness.”
Witness: “Go to WitnessHipHop.com There are three records you can download for free right now. We’ve got some shirts and everything in. If you’re one of the Facebook kids, the same thing. Come and say ‘What’s Up?’ Say you found this interview and say. ‘What’s up?’ and I’ll promise that it’ll be me that will respond.”
Chase: “All right. Well thanks so much. I’m sure we’ll be linking up soon.’
Witness: “Yeah, man. Cool. I appreciate it. Peace!”