JJ DOOM is what, your fourth collaborative album? There was Madvillain, Dangerdoom, Vik Vaughn – though that was with a bunch of producers – and there was the short-lived Ghostface collabo too. Is that even still happening?
“Yeah definitely. I was speaking to Starks the other day, we working on that. It’s gonna be out.”
You’ve had this process for a while now of working with other producers on an entire project, or mixing the idea up with producers and MCs. Do you find it gets easier? What’s the most enjoyable about it?
“It just makes it fun cos there’s another person there with another artistic point of view. If it’s a producer it makes my job easier, I don’t have to think about the beat and the rhyme which is kinda tricky. I can let them have their vision with the beat and then do my rhyme. Let them mix the song, see it how they see it and maybe change one or two things, but it makes it good. I love collaborating, I’m a team player. I love it when I’m working with other artists and see how they get down and exchanging ideas, it’s fun.”
Who has been the most bugged out to work with?
“Me… I’m sure everybody would agree too trust me. I wouldn’t say, I’d point the finger at myself, they all would agree, so. [laughs]”
You’ve lasted across different eras of rap. You were there in the 90s, there in the 2000s, you’re still here. How do you see rap nowadays with this perspective of the last 20+ years.
“It’s very interesting. I don’t really listen to the shit though.”
OK, but you’re still almost like an elder in the game now…
“It’s interesting how it’s evolved, it’s cool. I wouldn’t say good or bad, it is what it is. I just try to add on where I feel like it might need something. Like ‘oh everybody forgot about rhyming and catching real wreck? Well ok I’ll do that while they do the bullshit’. I wouldn’t necessarily say bullshit, but you know. They doing that, so Imma keep the other part up while they make the new one. It’s like a big conversation, everybody adds to it.”
Is there anybody that catches your ears these days?
“Well not really cos I don’t really listen to rap these days. If I listen to shit it’s Ultramagnetic. The first album, Critical Beatdown. Or Criminal Minded. Or Just Ice’s Back to the Old School. When I really need to hear something real quick, I put on the headphones and that’s what I listen to, walking down the street or whatever. Everything else… there’s other stuff from that time, I was young at that time, I was growing up so it’s memories connected to nostalgia, there’s a feeling to those songs, it reminds me of a time. So anything from that time, that’s what I would listen to. Erik B and Rakim, EPMD shit, you know?”
What would be considered the classic shit today?
“Yeah but I can listen to it anytime and I still get… I still get ideas from it, it’s still amazing to me. The way you bring bangin’ stuff today is different, it has to be new but it’s linked.”
“I’d like to encourage children to read more books. Real paper, not a Kindle.”
You have to evolve it…
“You can’t always be like an old man trying to bring back the past, you got to keep it fresh.”
So in 1998 when you spoke to Ego Trip you said ‘it’s music we’re selling, not my face’. Is that still the case?
“Yeah of course. You can’t see my face can you? [laughs]”
Ha ha true. But I was also thinking in the way you’re not all over the internet, all over social media, or trying to push shit onto people.
“I mean they got the Facebook site, but it’s more like a fan site. I never looked at this shit. I’m not on Twitter. I’m trying to get a old beeper matter of fact, a sky pager. I’m trying to go back to that, do the upside down texting. I’m old school, so I keep it to the way it was. I like to stay… it keeps me focused. I think a lot of that stuff over sensitises everything. You get lost. It’s noise, like ‘ka ka ka ka ka’. I would never even know if a motherfucker was talking shit until the damn internet. We had to go through the grapevine, ‘yo what’s his face cousin’s said…’, you’d hear about that shit later. It’s not instant. Now you’re reading about yourself, but it’s kinda weird. People get caught up in what other people think about them, so much. But what do you think about yourself? Do you think about yourself as much as what you think other people are thinking about you? So… that’s something that should be…
“I wanna make a point here. Back when we was growing up, we were able to inflect more. There was more thinking about what you wanted to do. You got your local friends, that’s cool. Maybe go to summer camp or see your cousins. But mainly you were able to grow up and know yourself first. These kids now. This whole Facebook shit, it’s cool but I think it’s over sensitising a lot of these children and they don’t have a sense of theyselves. They looking for theyselves all day long on Facebook, or on Twitter. Who they wanna be like? They wanna be like… they looking on YouTube for role models, the identity gets lost nah’m sayin? So you know, I’d like to encourage children to read more books.”
“Real paper, not a Kindle.”
Wrapping things up then. What are some of your favourite masks in the history of super villains?
What about the Bane one from the new Batman?
“I ain’t seen that one yet. I’m sure it’s ill. To me the Phantom of the Opera is always the one, the old one though. That shit looked crazy, it was scary. Then there is… of course… Anonymous, the one with the moustache.”
Oh the V for Vendetta mask?
“Yeah, it’s spooky but friendly. What does he mean, what’s his intention? It has a certain feel to it.”
Dr. Doom’s has been perhaps the most classic in terms of US Comics, in a way.
“Yeah Doom, he had the illest mask always. That was his whole shit, the mask. His face being deformed.”
The mask became an icon for Marvel.
“Yeah and for the record I didn’t get the idea from that [laughs]. I been Doom ever since I was born, my momma call me Doom so…”
It’s the same thing as Roc Raida and his crew calling themselves the X-Men back when they started.
“Right! We were all influenced by that shit, but we still kept it where we were our individual selves.”
You were using it as a way to catch attention almost…
“Yeah for sure, like ‘this reminds you of anything? He’s back!’ It’s almost like manifesting what we got from the influence of comics. Manifesting it in our own way.”
So I guess the last question would be: what does great googly moogly mean to you?
“Oh… that’s like… to me… (pauses) It’s like ‘holy motherfuckin shit did you see…’ but without cursing though. It’s something you’d say if the children were around. You know? You wanna keep it censored a little bit. It’s a funny word though. If it is a word? I guess it is a word…”
It is now.