As HHK previously reported, ethemadassassin is getting ready to drop his upcoming album “Soul on Fire” on 17th September 2013. I’m delighted to premier a single from the album titled 80’s and 90’s which is the second leak from the project. The single has been produced by UK’s “Sci Fi Stu” and ethemadassassin speaks about what many will consider the golden era. ethemadassassin has also answered some questions as part of an exclusive interview which speaks about the upcoming album, his personal favourite tracks, and his upbringing and roots. You can listen to ethemadassassin – 80’s and 90’s and read the exclusive interview below.
HHK: Firstly can the HHKMag readers have an introduction please?
E: Peace, my name is ethemadassassin, pronounced “e the madassassin,” all lower cases, no spaces, fix your faces…I’m one half of the duo Veteran Assassins, one-fourth of the crew known as Circle Of Steel, one-seventh of the clique known as The Ninth Floor, and one-sixth of the collective known as Team Bastard, and I’m 100 percent me…
HHK: We understand you started performing during what’s commonly known as the Golden Era of hip hop. How did you start out in terms of getting shows & being involved in the rap battle scene, and how did you put together your first recordings in these days?
E: Back in those days, the battles just started out in school lunchrooms, school hallways and bathrooms…I developed a reputation of being good at it and I just kept going on. As time passed, people would throw me in battles whenever and wherever there was another emcee to go against. once I started taking rhyming seriously, I would enter battles and contests at skating rinks, clubs, the block, wherever…but it was different back then cause everything was off the head, nothing pre-written, so you had to just be sharp with your freestyle. Once I started taking song writing seriously, I put the battles on the backburner and started focusing on becoming a performer. Some cats in the neighbourhood had connections in other cities with club owners and would get my people on local spot date shows with touring acts. One of my first “official” shows was with my first crew, Many Heads of Knowledge, opening for The 69 Boyz. I had to sneak in the club to perform, because I had gotten kicked out of line for arguing with security on whether or not we were on the bill…and I was drunk. After that, I figured it would be smarter to just throw my own shows…that were when I was in college. My name spread fast and soon enough, it got to the point where people would find me and ask me to get on shows across the state and a few out of state spots too.
My first recordings were done in my man Paydaye’s bedroom. He had two technique 1200 turntables, and a mixer that could sample for 8 seconds and he had a 4 track Tascam machine. he would loop breaks out of current hip hop songs off the vinyl and we made songs off of them, rhyming either into a cheap ass microphone, or into some sony Walkman headphone speakers he rigged to work as microphones…you know how 50 Cent used to make his mixtapes, by jacking a known beat and then making a brand new song out of them? That’s kind of what we did…but in the early 90’s.
HHK: For new artists starting out in the “internet” age, how would you compare the benefits and drawbacks to when you started out until now?
E: The internet is the great equalizer in the music business now. Artists don’t have to have a record label present their music anymore, artists can do it themselves and not have to pay anybody back because they signed a bad contract…only problem is figuring out how to get these millions of internet music fans to hear YOUR music…and get them to spread the word about you.
HHK: You spent most of your days in North Carolina. But you also spent time in NJ before moving to LA. Tell us why you relocated?
E: Actually, it’s the other way around. Without getting into too much of my personal life, I spent most of my days in North Carolina, but from age 0 to about 17 I spent most of my non-school days in NJ, so that state was a big part of my formative years growing up and in hip hop also. I just recently relocated to L.A. because this is where all the business that I wish to get involved in exists. you’ve got film here, you’ve got music here, you’ve got art, you’ve got a lot of money here. Plus, this area is one of my biggest fan bases. I had been visiting Veteran Eye consistently ever since he moved here from NC in 2007, so once we formed the duo in 2010, it just made sense that I move here. The ironic thing is I had planned on moving here early 2000’s, but I got “sidetracked.”
HHK: There appears to have been resurgence in interest happening in the States at the moment for 90’s hip hop culture, whether in fashion or music. Have you witnessed this also and how would you say it’s making an impact for an artist with your kind of sound?
E: To be honest with you, I’ve noticed the resurgence in fashion more so than music. I don’t really follow trends too much in any arena, so music being one of the biggest things in my life, I just like who I like. it just so happens that a lot of the music I bump in the whip doesn’t fit today’s description for “mainstream” urban music. I listen to a lot of the heavyweights and greats, but I also listen to newer artists…only if I like the music though, so I’m kind of in a musical bubble. Music is something I have to physically participate in listening to though, so that’s how that bubble is created. But fashion is something I can’t help but see, and in my opinion some of these kids look crazy as hell, because some of the fashions they rocking now are fashions I hated when I was growing up. At the same time, my moms didn’t like my 9 inch high top fade either…it’s the cycle of life.
One thing I can say, this “resurgence” is cool because it helps recreate a musical balance of what the audience can choose to listen to now. when I was growing up, I could listen to Big Daddy Kane, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, NWA, De La Soul, and X Clan and not be looked at like a weirdo, cause we had choices. its getting back to that now, cause I can listen to a T.I., Jay-Z, Action Bronson, Alley Boy, or whoever, cause there’s different lanes for artists…the resurgence just means that an artist like myself can create an individual lane and keep running in it….
HHK: The single “Can’t Get Enough” has done really well on both sides of the Atlantic. Why do you think the record was such a success?
E: For lack of a better answer, it’s good music. and I mean “music.” it’s different from what’s popping in the mainstream, but it gives you the vibe of when hip hop became more musical and rhythmic…the current “ratchet” music is good for wilding in the club, but you need the other side too for balance…I’m providing balance.
HHK: We’re getting close to the release of “Soul on Fire” on 17th September. What can fans expect from the album – how would you compare the sound and in terms of subject matter, what are the issues important to you which you speak on?
E: Listeners can expect more personal music this time around. The album is my attempt to show my maturation process from a child to the adult man that I am now. The different productions are symbolic of my different thoughts during different times in my life. I titled it “Soul on Fire” because I wanted to literally share what’s in my soul this time, on record. The “fire” part is just part of my personality, so the title just made sense. it was only recently brought to my attention that Eldridge Cleaver had a book by the same name back in the 70’s….I speak on a lot of the same issues that young black males face growing up in these times, and how they’ve affected me. I can see they’ve affected others the same way, for better or worse. Hopefully I can be a lesson to others who are in the same or even worse conditions.
HHK: Who were the guest appearances and which producers did you work with?
E: I didn’t have many guest appearances this time around. I think it’s kind of hard to bare your soul and have a million guests on an album. Of course I made room for Veteran Eye, but I also got one of his producers Sherman Way, to knock out a track and a verse. They’re both on “Young and Foolish.” Sherman’s hook guy, Martin H., did the hook. Other than that, the only other guest I have is my man from NC, Buck Hennessey, on “Gratitude.” So far as producers, I got my main producer, Gav Beats (I always go to him for a banger or 2…or 7), I got Mark Wonder, aka Wonder Boy, Devaron Benjamin from Beatvault, and Akthentik Works. They’re all from NC..and they’re dope. I also got Kyo Itachi, and SciFi Stu….Stu and I have a project coming in the near so be on the lookout for that soon.
HHK: How did the hook up with Edinburgh’s producer SciFi Stu come about and what else have you recorded with him?
E: One night I was on facebook bullshittin and Stu sent me a message out of the blue asking me to get on his album. we chopped it up, and next thing you know, we did “In The Air,” for his album “From The Heaviest Heart To The Coldest Soul.” we shot a video for it and it was received rather well…..after that, he ended up producing the second Veteran Assassins’ album, “Paint The Town Red,” in its entirety. He also featured us on his “Blood” album…..check for them all on iTunes. Stu’s dope as fuck.
HHK: What is your personal favourite track from the album & why?
E: Probably “Letter To Mommy,” because it’s all the things I’ve ever wanted to say to my moms, but just couldn’t because she’d be so disappointed in me. It’s probably one of my most honest songs I’ve ever written.
HHK: What were your top 3 live shows you performed and why?
E: I really have two that stand out as my favorites. The first one opening for Immortal Technique at home in Greensboro, NC. One of his artists, Akir, is a long-time friend, so it was just a great night. packed house, home team, and I sold a lot of merch…the second, opening for Wu Tang Clan, in Winston Salem, NC, cause hell, it was fucking Wu Tang Clan…
HHK: Where can fans check for new updates and buy the album on 17th September?
E: You can stay updated with me by following me on twitter and facebook, both @ethemadassassin. be sure to do that, I have a special surprise concerning my album coming very soon….and it will be available, on iTunes, cdbaby.com, rhapsody, amazon, the trunk of my car, every damn where…just Google it, and PURCHASE it…I’m trying to do legit business over here…
HHK: Any shoutout’s?
E: Shouts to the whole NC, NJ, Cali, and everybody who listens…and thanks HHK for giving me some airtime….peace