G-CLEF DA MAD KOMPOSA
[The Essence Of A Soul Kid (Interview)]
Published Date: 10th. July. 2012
Conducted By: Dark 7 Invader & The Reccollectah & Solo
Original Link Here
Special thanks to G-Clef and Chambermusik Staffs.
In the late nineties fans could feed their Wu-appetite with the first Killa Bee releases from the likes of Sunz of Man, Killarmy, Shyheim, … However, these releases didn’t suffice to quench the diehard Wu fans’ legendary thirst for more Wu related material. At the same time there were a lot of crews with loose ties to Wu Fam or affiliates on the search for distribution but seemingly way too underground to spark interest from the main labels or maybe they just preferred to put it out themselves? Whatever the reason, with the digital revolution/distribution yet to take place in the early noughties, there was a gap waiting to be filled. It only took somebody to see and realize this …
Late 2004 saw the birth of Chambermusik, an online movement that did notice and tried to fill the gap first, rapidly evolving to an independent online store specializing in underground hiphop and wu related artists finally getting a shot at some kind of distribution. Over the years Chambermusik has expanded and evolved towards a successful business catering all kinds of needs in the underground hiphop be it distribution, mastering, production, videos, etc … The Chambermusik seemed to have slowed down lately but it appears this was in preparation of some big changes and a new direction according to G-Clef, the founder of Chambermusik. Recently we were approached by G-Clef himself for an interview to shed some lights on these upcoming changes. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to discuss the history of ChamberMusik and G-Clef’s impressive and varied artistic adventures as a musician, MC, producer we agreed to do this long overdue interview. As we all know, over the years G-Clef and his Chambermusik movement had both their devote followers and obstinate adversaries, so love ‘em or hate ‘em but you will be interested in what he has to say, and maybe you not just congratulate his or their contribution to the game but will acknowldedge that this movement is here to stay and will continue to grow.. Enjoy!
I like to say thanks first and foremost for taking the time to answer these questions, highly appreciated, and will also point out that nothing will be altered, edited or changed when this is published online.
Wu-International: Peace G-Clef, how are you ?
G-Clef: Doing wonderfully, and glad to do the interview.
Wu-International: Besides being an MC, musician and producer you are mostly known as the founder of Chambermusik. Let’s get straight to the main course. You recently announced on Facebook that “Chambermusik had been quiet for a reason, we are working on some big things for 2012”. Can you please share with us what those are?
G-Clef: We have been laying low for a few months for very purposeful reasons. First of all I personally needed to take a break, as Chambermusik has been running on full steam ahead since 2004, non-stop. I finally took a vacation, as well as working behind the scenes to get a better situation, business-wise. There will be a few really big announcements coming this year. I will list three of them now, and more information should come to light in the next few weeks/months.
1) Chambermusik Records is now officially engaged in a distribution deal with EMI, which, for those who aren’t aware, is our first MAJOR distribution deal. We will be announcing some releases soon, but I still cannot speak publicly about that.
2) Chambermusik Special Products, which handles our more independent “street albums” is now being distributed by Traffic Entertainment Distribution.
3) Chambermusik Artist Services will be merging with video director Joshua Ramirez, and becoming a new company called Jack Nine Films, which will be providing top quality video for artists, as well as branching out into full-length films, commercials, and various other media.
We are also working on a couple of other big deals, but I am not able to speak on them as yet until they are official.
Wu-International: First major distribution deal l with EMI, thought you already had distribution deal prior to this? what do you mean by major distro deal, please break it down for those of us who do not know much about that side of music business?
G-Clef: As I said, we first had distro with Koch (e1), then FatBeats Distribution, and now EMI. E-1 is what is called an Independent Distribution company, same with Fat Beats. EMI is part of the 5 major label system.
Wu-International: So With CM Special products going through Traffic, does that mean the CDs will be professional pressed cds and not in house cdrs?
G-Clef: The bigger releases are always professionally pressed. If an album projects that it will sell less than 500 units, then there is only the professional CDR option. Any physical release is set by manufacturing houses at 500 minimum pressing.
Wu-International: Thanks, now that we know what Chambermusik has in store for the near future let’s take a look back at how it all started. You started the label in 2004. What sparked this initiative?
G-Clef: In 2004 we didn’t even consider it a record label yet, that came later. In the beginning, Mowie Kei and I had the idea of creating an online radio station via live365, just for fun. Once we decided to make it a Wu-Tang/Underground Hip-Hop station, we attracted a young group of fans who joined up with us. People who were active online with past Wu-Fan type sites, people such as Cno Evil, Rod da God, P the Rebel, Intouchable, and Sho da Abbot. These guys, mainly Cno, were adamant that a new Wu-Tang type website/forum was needed. And so, the concept of uniting all these leaders in their own right was established as what soon became the Chambermusik Movement. The name Chambermusik was suggested by my past intern from Soulkid Records, Jesse Scherr. These guys had the issues with Wu-Tang Corp, not me. I didn’t actually really know much about that site at the time, but they all felt a balance was needed, and so I organized them all, based on my experience in music business. First it was just a forum, then a full website, then suddenly we made a store and began selling CDs! I would say we weren’t really a label back then, but eventually through the store we became a sort of boutique online label.
Wu-International: Did you have any experience with what it takes to run a label, online store before CM started?
G-Clef: Yes. I had run my own record label, Soulkid Records from 1995-1998. We released vinyl only back then. From 1998-2003 or so I ran a CD-based label, Yalloppin Entertainment, which mostly released Jazz and Swing music.
Wu-International: How did those initial years go? Would you say you well knew what you were doing from the start based on your previous experiences or was it more a “learn-as–we-go” evolution?
G-Clef: It was a combination of both. We were pioneers on the internet so that aspect was definitely learn as you go, but I also had the foundation from the music business as well as the great tutelage and inspiration to “DIY”, from the late Weldon Irvine, who was once my manager.
Wu-International: Not sure how true this is but the label started off mainly based off the Wu-Tang movement, it seems it has expanded beyond that now and it’s not specifically catering to just Wu artists, was this your initial intention or was it something that developed this way?
G-Clef: The music we first began to release were mainly artists either loosely or deeply associated with the Wu-Tang movement, I would say mainly ex-killa beez and present killa beez. It happened very naturally, but I was always guided by this small group of young dudes, my early Chamber-team, who knew exactly what they wanted to hear. I was just smart enough to listen to them! P the Rebel would tell me, hey, lets reach out to Producer Falling Down. Cno Evil would tell me, we need to put Warcloud out as a real release, etc etc. Next I connected with Buddha Monk, and he had a whole catalog and stable of artists under him, so one thing led to another quite naturally.
Wu-International: Do you remember the first album/artist Chambermusik contracted to sell back then?
G-Clef: My memory is not great but I think the first releases we ever did were with 71Raw and Falling Down’s Untouchable Soldiers. So you see initially it wasn’t really about who was “Wu” but more about a certain sound the fans felt was missing. You know, that raw, dirty, grimy sound.
Wu-International: Some albums sell more than others, e.g. one would assume the likes of say Warcloud re-releases were popular, and what would you say were the biggest selling albums over all these years?
G-Clef: As far as the online-boutique days, to date, our top sellers were The Zu Ninjaz and Warlcoud’s two classic street albums.
Wu-International: Which album in CM’s catalogue are you most proud of and why?
G-Clef: I am most proud of my own Lost Secret album of course because I worked very hard to make it perfect, but outside of my own album, I am very proud of Sha Stimuli, My Soul to Keep, because I worked on a lot of the music, recorded it, mixed it, and mastered it, released it; and it was a classic to Hip-Hop fans all over the world. That to me is success, and represents the artistic business model of what Chambermusik Records wants to bring to the world. Good music, high-quality, with some depth – not just the usual crap release.
Wu-International: Your investment in the underground seems to pay off, getting noticed by bigger labels, resulting in a distribution deal with Koch entertainment distribution in 2008. How did this come about?
G-Clef: When we built up a catalog and a name for our brand, we knew it was time to take it to the next level, so we solicited a few distribution houses, and Koch was where we ended up. At first Koch wanted us to partner with Babygrande, but that didn’t work out, so instead I partnered with Eric Bayruns, who is still my business partner today. Koch later became E-1 Entertainment Disrtibution.
Wu-International: Had you foreseen such a distribution deal when you started?
G-Clef: Maybe in the back of my mind I wanted to run a label again, but at the time I was taking it one day at a time, trying to piece together a new business model, and we sure did that. With the radio, forum, store, and artist services, everything just worked well together. Honestly, that was a more profitable business model than dealing with Koch was!
Wu-International: Why did you choose to go with Koch as opposed to other distributions as one can assume you had more than one offer?
G-Clef: We had a couple of offers but Koch was the best one at the time.
Wu-International: The recent project from Cappadonna was distributed via Fat Beats and not Koch, so is it safe to say you no longer deal with Koch and when did you start working with Fat Beats?
G-Clef: We released about ten albums with E-1 (Koch), but I personally ended up losing about 20K on the venture, at which point we mutually parted ways. My partner Eric Bayruns got offered the General Managership of Fat Beats Distribution, so we naturally brought the label there as well. This was in 2010.
Wu-International: What is the difference between Chambermusik Special Products and Chambermusik Records?
G-Clef: Chambermusik Special Products are generally smaller releases, legal mix-tapes, street albums…often artists who want to release their own stuff. Chambermusik Records are full-length releases that ship to retail, internationally distributed.
Wu-International: What is the difference then between Soulkid Records and Chambermusik records and are they both under the same distributor?
G-Clef: Soulkid Records experienced a comeback for awhile with Fat Beats Distribution. We re-released “G-Clef’s Jazzy Breaks, Vol 1” on vinyl, as well as Lost Children of Babylon – Zeitgeist on CD and vinyl. These releases were part of a different deal than Chambermusik Records. The only Chambermusik Records release we ever put out with Fat Beats was a joint label venture of Cappadonna’s The Pilgrimage. Thus, Chambermusik Records never officially signed a distro deal with Fat Beats.
Wu-International: Any sub groups, side labels etc that are linked or affiliated with the label that you like to share with us please?
G-Clef: Well, initially we released Buddha Monk’s catalog from Duck Down Records via Chambermusik Special Products. These included all his albums, plus the Ninjaz and Manchuz. More recently, we plan on releasing DJ J-Love’s music under the Chambermusik Special Products deal, giving him a home for his label as well.
Wu-International: What is the requirement or rather what does it take for CM to sign artists or put out their album?
G-Clef: The general answer is: Chambermusik is becoming a full service distribution entity. We obviously cannot put out every artist on every level, but we can provide some distribution for any artists interested in putting out their music, which has always been our goal from the beginning. At very least, we can release your project online, digitally and physically. Retail releases take a bit more legwork, and planning, as well as a buzz or sales history.
Wu-International: What would you say have been the biggest challenges for the label since you started off?
G-Clef: Label-wise, the biggest challenge is of course money. When we started out with the online model, every artist was making a profit, so it just clicked. Once we delved into the slimy world of dealing with distributors, some releases were not recouping, and it’s VERY hard to explain this to most artists. When we were totally indie, everyone was my best friend, then suddenly, when you start having to tell artists they are upside-down (in the red) they flip out and now I am “The Man” LOL!
Wu-International: The complaints we have read on different forums about CM were mostly on the quality and format some of the albums were released, (CD-Rs), I guess most do not understand how limited the resources were when you first started out, something the deal with Koch has enabled you to rectify perhaps? however would you like to address some of the complaints in regards to this issue and possibly others please?
G-Clef: Haha, all those complaints are ancient by now! Put it this way, when we first started making CDRs for artists, I had a SONY rack duplicator that made one CD at a time. Our first improvement was Buddha Monk having a CD tower that made 7 CDs at once! We were so amped! He used to pick up the masters at my crib in Queens in person, then come back 2 days later with stacks of CDs yo! You couldn’t tell us we weren’t balling! So did they look like shit initially? Of course they did, but we always strove to improve quality over the years. Currently, our in-house CDs are the same quality as something you would get from discmakers. We use card stock covers, full color laser printing, and we even have a shrink-wrapping machine now. And to answer you, yes, full-length releases are always professionally manufactured.
Wu-International: The company seems to have expanded into the digital market as well, how well is that doing in comparison to physicals and do you feel this is the way forward for most releases taking into account mp3’s for instance can be gotten and shared easier and lacks the same value as a cd, what’s your take in all of this?
G-Clef: My take is that CDs or vinyl will always be sought after by real collectors, but those who just want to hear the music will buy digital, bootleg it, or go for the streaming subscription model, like Rhapsody or Spotify. If streaming royalties could be worked into something more reasonable for artists, then I would say that is 100% the future. This would end bootlegging, period, because the music is so available and affordable by the consumer. Listeners should be aware that Spotify pays almost nothing to artists and labels, while Rhapsody has worked out a more fair deal.
Wu-International: A popular feature you had was the Chambermusik Radio, how active is it recently and do you think online radio is as popular as say how the radio stations used to be back in the early 90s?
G-Clef: As someone who dealt with underground radio in the 1990s I can definitely provide some insight here. If you wanted to promote your record in the 1990s, you had to do what is called a “college radio” tour, traveling from state to state, promoting as you went, for free, and you had to be at the station on time, to be on the air live. Imagine that! Well, we did it all that way back then, busting our asses to actually show up at a specific place at a specific time. Nowadays, you can do your interview anywhere, anytime, and in any format. It’s way easier now and there are a ton more outlets for promotion. At the same time, we now have a glut of too much crap rap music all over the net, it’s just flooded with amateurs now. As for Chambermusik Radio, it’s still broadcasting but admittedly we have been too busy to nurture it like we used to. However, we are planning something new with it soon. Anyone interested in getting onboard, let us know!
Wu-International: Once of chambermusik’s mission was to bridge the gap between the streets and the internet, with so many other forums and social network popularity do you still feel there is such a gap between the streets and the net?
G-Clef: Yes that was our first mission, but I believe we achieved that goal some years ago. Now there is almost zero gap between the streets and the net. Every artist has a Facebook page, a twitter account, etc. They can speak directly to their fans. I do however believe that this has vastly changed many of the artists directions. When we started out, I would try to explain to the artists: “look, the fans want to hear you sound like THIS, not do some psuedo-commercial 50 Cent type shit!” They didn’t always believe me back then, but look around now, artists get very direct feedback from their actual fans online, so the sound has changed if you notice! More artists are going back to their roots, to what made the fans buy their music in the first place. We were prophets but now the prophecy has come to pass.
Wu-International: Chambermusik waged war on online bootlegs sites back when it started off and eradicated and maintained for a while but it’s a very difficult war to win, how are you weighing on that regards?
G-Clef: Haha, shoutouts to Ill Will the Bootleg Killer (member of our team) for doing a great job in trying to reign some of these bootleg sites in for awhile, but yeah, you nailed it. It’s almost impossible now to eradicate online bootleggers. Like I said, when streaming subscription services finally work out a fair royalty rate, the bootleggers will be out of luck. Noone’s gonna mess around getting viruses if they can just pay $10 a month and get everything, 24-7. Not to mention, the end of needing Hard Drive space for all that shit. I want to say something here though. I want fans to pay attention. There are two main forces on the net when it comes to music: content providers and tech. The tech people like Google spent millions of dollars on a massive misinformation ad campaign and succeeded in manipulating many of you sheep out there with the anti-SOPA act movement. Don’t believe everything the tech sites try to tell you! Content providers are not ALL major corporations, but those tech giants ARE huge conglomerates who just happen to know how to better handle internet communication, after all that’s their job! Next time this comes around, and it will, watch carefully to see who is telling you what. Digital Distribution is TECH, while labels and artists are CONTENT. Of COURSE tech sites don’t want to pay for content! But being paid for intellectual property is all of our right by law.
Wu-International: The site was active in conducting interviews on a regular basis, it’s not so much the case now, have you stopped doing interviews (If so, any reasons why?) or just not had the time to do one?
G-Clef: Yes we lacked the time to do them after awhile, plus lets face it. Our interviews are audio, and some up to an hour in length. People just don’t have the time to sit and listen like they used to. That, and live365 decided to end long single song broadcasts. For instance, we can’t play DJ Toshi sets anymore as single songs, nor can we play interviews without chopping them up as individual short “songs”.
Wu-International: Speaking of interviews, you recently expressed your displeasure on our last interview with Hell Razah and what he said about Shabazz, considering you have been there and probably had worse cases than us (Y-kim interview where he was dissing the whole Clan that you conducted), one would have hoped you especially would have understood that the site is merely acting as a forum and do not hold account to what or how artists wish to express themselves, we spoke about this already but still would like you to express your whole take on the situation and how best we would have handled it?
G-Clef: I have been on the receiving end of artists’ anger yes. The major difference between a Y-Kim interview and the Hellrazah one, is that Razah is obviously impaired due to his health condition. This is the reason I objected to it. Yes, I realize you gave Shabazz every chance to speak but didn’t you notice he declined to do so? And this is the unspoken reason: everyone knows this is a sad and unfortunate situation and exploiting it was a mistake. I don’t think you desired to exploit it, but perhaps you could have left all that insane ranting against Shabazz out. I know both of these guys for years, but I know Bazz very well since the 90’s. He is the person who brought Razah to the Wu. He is a very giving, loving person who did nothing but try to help others, Razah especially, and the favor was not always returned. So for Razah to blast off non-stop like he has been doing shows a person who is not well.
Wu-International: Prior to the interview Razah already put out songs addressing his fall out with Shabazz, so we picked up on that, are you then saying if we were playing songs on the site for instance, and played this song where Razah dissed Shabazz, should we also be held account for this?
G-Clef: There was no fallout. There was only Hellrazah slowly recovering from a crippling illness; a beloved artist and friend who is now in a wheelchair, learning to write, read and speak again. You can play what you want, but I heard enough of that one song you are talking about to know I wouldn’t play it. Not because it’s dissing Bazz but moreover because that is not the Razah we know and love musically. As tastemakers, we have a responsibility to keep the integrity up. Playing a record made by a mentally impaired artist before he’s ready to really make music again is a disrespect of the artist as well in my book.
Wu-International: So let’s go back to that Y-kim situation which had people like Popa Wu and Method Man responding to what he said, it is a common feeling that you were gearing him on from the interview, what’s your take on that and that whole situation?
G-Clef: I have never tried to push an artist one way or the other in interviews. People started to perceive me personally as being anti-wu, which is ridiculous. What the fans needed to recognize was that all these artists who were doing business with us were mainly “formerly wu” so of course they are going to be bitter or regretful in some ways. Trust me, what many of them said on the air was nothing compared to what they would say off the air. And, as you saw, we invited Popa Wu to respond to Y-Kim’s interview, which he did, and then Y-Kim was mad at me for that! You can’t win sometimes…. I will also say this again, as I have before: I have absolutely no anger nor bitterness toward Rza. I always had a positive experience around him in the 90’s, even beatboxed for him once in a cipher when Infamous Mr. Savage was battling E.L. Fudge on the set of the 4th Chamber video shoot!
Wu-International: Thanks for your input on this by the way, CM has had its share of fallouts and beefs or rather misunderstanding over the years, we were also recently attacked by Dlah of Hellkeydoe from our recent interview with Popa Wu, we know he recorded a song addressing issues with you and CM a couple of years back, has this issues been resolved and if so how?
G-Clef: Yes, DLAH decided he hated me and Chambermusik once upon a time. Back then I would encourage him to build on his own and not necessarily rely on “Wu”, which is what I tell all younger artists. I don’t really get with the whole “I’m down with Wu” thing, post 2000. I guess he didn’t like that advice or something, so he attacked us. But, that beef was squashed a few years ago, and I have nothing against him now. Recently he even told me my advice back then was right.
Wu-International: Your fallout with Wu-Tang Corp and possibly Ringz is not a secret, is that something you would care to speak on as to what started it and your current relationship with Ringz or Corp?
G-Clef: My only problem back in 2004 with Wu-Tang Corp was that they banned me shortly after I posted a few things. That was it for me. Later on, like 2006 or 7, I think there was some dialogue between Ringz and I, as well as another guy who moderated the site, but I really don’t know Ringz well. The last time I heard from him is when he got really angry that we pull down an ad for his album on our front page. He was mad at Babygrande at the time or something. So he goes in on us for promoting and selling his CD? Pretty riduiculous I think… I personally don’t think that site is relevant anymore. I know people will say “oh G-Clef is a hater because his forum is dead” but the reality is, I don’t focus on the “forum” anymore as a relevant format. Facebook has replaced the forum as a discussion center, plus the “blog” format is where it’s at nowadays. Wu-Corp should become a blogsite like that other one that’s around now, which seems to do well. What Wu-Tang fans also don’t know, is that years back Power called us into 36 Chambers, Manhattan for a meeting to discuss Chambermusik becoming the official Wu-Tang site. It didn’t end up working out, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for Power. Divine was there too. At the meeting it was totally clear that they did not consider Wu-Corp to be official in any capacity. I will leave it at that.
Wu-International: As far as we are aware, Wu-Corp is official, how would you explain the intro RZA did on the site (Which I hope you have heard) where he called it the only official website, and was there any particular reason the deal to turn Chambermusik into an official site didnt materialise?
G-Clef: Yes, years ago Rza gave Wu-Corp permission to change from whatever their old name was, to Wu-Tang Corp, I think based on Cilvaringz’ personal agreement with Rza, whatever that was. However, as things developed later, I was definitely called in for the meeting with Power about perhaps spearheading their online resurgence. In fact I was actually given permission to announce that the site and radio station would now be official Wu, but I asked that they get back to me to make sure there was a decision to pull the plug on Wu-Corp. I didn’t want egg on my face. They said they would get back to me but it never happened, so I just kept it moving..
Wu-International: Thanks for all those answers, now let’s move to G-Clef the artist, What is the meaning of your name and do you have any other aliases you go by?
G-Clef: My name was given to me by an original member of Soul Kid named Prime STC. I was the madman of music because I was so passionate and played so many instruments, the mad komposa, like Don Music on Sesame Street, always searching to the brink of insanity for that last missing note! G-Clef stands for Great Classic Legacy Existing Forever. And that has always been my musical goal.
Wu-International: Heard of you first as a member of SKK member, only to find out you did stuff before the hip-hop group, can you please tell us more about your background, how did it all start for you musically?
G-Clef: I started out in the jazz world, touring with jazz greats at the age of 17. I worked with big names like Illinois Jacquet and Lionel Hampton. I have traveled to over 36 countries just from Jazz music. I am mainly an alto saxophonist and clarinetist. I also write arrangements and compose. My name is in the Encyclopedia of Jazz by Ira Gitler. I started experimenting with Hip-Hop on the side, at the same time, as early as 1986.
Wu-International: I am assuming Ghetto Philharmonic was your first group/project, can you please tell us more about the group, and how it started and if it is still active?
G-Clef: Yes that was my first signed deal. GP was a 3 man group: Myself, Lord Sledge, and DJ Spinbad, who is now pretty well-known. We signed to Tuff City Records, and released 2 singles and an album. We were the first to combine Jazz and Hip-Hop. I was the main emcee and producer.
Wu-International: Where are you from and where are you currently residing?
G-Clef: I am originally from Queens, NYC. I now live in Easton, PA.
Wu-International: Learnt you got some Italian blood in you?
G-Clef: Yes, Sicilian.
Wu-International: Anyway, back to the music, the album Hip Hop Be Bop was later re-released by you but its been released by Tuff City records previously, was there any reason for the re-release?
G-Clef: I released some alternate masters of the material, as well as some never released.
Wu-International: Thanks, what is Lord Sledge up to these days?
G-Clef: Sledge is living in NJ, doing well. He is launching his own design company, as well as working on a new photography/modeling company I believe. We are also planning some new musical collaborations soon.
Wu-International: So let’s move on to SKK, can you please tell us the origin of its name, how the group came together, full members and group’s current status?
G-Clef: Soul Kid was a phrase that was thought of by Prime STC and was originally assigned to artist Quayshaun, who was signed to Epic at the time. Prime called him “The Ill-Natural Soul Kid”, later it became the crew name, The Soul Kids, then when I took it over, Soul Kid Klik.
Wu-International: Word is the group was either meant to be signed to or was signed to GZA’s Liquid swords entertainment?
G-Clef: I don’t know what Liquid Swords Entertainment was, maybe that was later on. I was signed to GZA Entertainment in 1994, managed by Geoffrey Garfield and his brother Jay. Gza was partners with Geoffrey Garfield.
Wu-International: You completed a project that you released independently “invisible Army”, I have to say I enjoyed that album, how well received was it?
G-Clef: Invisible Army, actually, and it was originally just a bunch of 4 track demos we made back in the 90’s, as well as the singles that we had released, which were Mortal Combat, and Desperate Times b/w Spark da Mic. When I finally decided to release it, it was an internet-only thing, and I put it out a couple of years before staring Chambermusik.
Wu-International: Any reason why this never came officially (as in via a record label)?
G-Clef: I am considering doing a re-release, officially pressed. But first I need to revisit the tracks and see if I could make any improvements.
Wu-International: The album was done around 2002 and since then there has not been any group project from the group, any reason for this?
G-Clef: Well, SKK broke up in 1998 after the Gza thing fell through. As for since then? There are divisions between members. This particular group of individuals are often difficult to get along with or organize. Most of them are not even artists anymore. I stay in touch mainly with Skinslaya and Storm da Ghetto Mutant. I hear from Quayshaun now and then. I had a nice little run with Malik, but that ended. I really wanted to present him to the world, it’s a shame. I lost touch with Infamous and Blackspik, and I don’t rock with Goodfella since the 90s.
Wu-International: Personally and I think I also speak for the fans when I say they would be interested in another SKK album, how possible is this?
G-Clef: Quayshaun told me we should do one, but it would have to have some new members. Doing a full album with the original members would be next to impossible. Too much drama!
Wu-International: Thanks for that, you have had projects under different groups from Rayzd to Yalloppin’ Hounds, can you also tell us about these groups and its projects?
G-Clef: Yalloppin’ Hounds was and is my Ghetto Swing group, which blends Hip-Hop and Swing. The band was very popular during the New Swing revival of the early 2000s. Me and Sledge were heavily involved together in that movement. We released 6 albums from 2000 to 2009. Rayzd was a more experimental alternative Hip-Hop/Jazz/Rock kind of project, but was like a branch-out from the Hounds. We put out two albums out so far as Rayzd.
Wu-International: Do you find yourself creating different personalities to play a specific role within these groups? As in would you role differ in say Yallopin Hounds from Rayzd?
G-Clef: In the both the Hounds & Rayzd, I write all the music, rehearse the band, play saxophone, and sing, as well as rap. In Rayzd, I would sit at the ASR-10 too, and add on that way. Also in the Hounds you might see me dressed up in Old School Retro classic suit and fedora, while in Rayzd I would be dressed more like a Space Alien, complete with gold cape, holographic glasses, and rocking the ankh chain!
Wu-International: Anything new planned for these 2 groups in future?
G-Clef: It’s possible, either way I am definitely bringing forth some new music very soon. I have lots of new ideas right now. My business partner Eric Bayruns is going to be taking on more of the business role so I can work more on music now.
Wu-International: Last group and project was Lost Secret, I also enjoyed this project, how did you meet Metatron and how did this project come about?
G-Clef: Lost Secret was the ultimate Masonic Hip-Hop statement. We came into the game, dropped some knowledge and individualism and left it out there to grow over time. If you notice, since we dropped the Lost Secret album in 2007, more and more artists are trying to release projects similar to us. We knew this would happen, it was all prophecy, as usual. I met Metatron when he was 17 in a yahoo rap battle chatroom. I heard his voice and thought he was an O.G. Next thing I knew he came to my apartment and we started working on music.
Wu-International: It was interesting to see an almost complete line up of SKK featured on that project, how easy was it getting them on there?
G-Clef: Not easy. At all! We also added Metatron instead of Goodfella Mike G.
Wu-International: Why are you called Lost Secret?
G-Clef: Well it could hold two meanings: that secret which has been lost from Hip-Hop or mankind: take your personal pick!
Wu-International: The theme and concepts covered on this project added on to the rumours of you being a freemason, is this true? If it is would you care to share with us some of the myths or truths about freemasons and how you got involved please?
G-Clef: This is no rumor. I am indeed a Mason, and proud of it. Most of the information people are getting via the internet is false or greatly misunderstood. Freemasonry is the greatest achievement of humankind, and I am very lucky and thankful for the great lessons it has taught me as well as the fresh perspective it gives a person. What I eventually realized, is my whole life’s beliefs led me down this particular path. Metatron too is a Freemason, and Lost Secret was indeed an artistic expression of what we were feeling at the time we became Masons. How I got involved? One day it just hit me deep in my heart that I was supposed to become one. I just looked up my local Masonic Lodge one day in the phone book, and persevered until I was one.
Wu-International: Hip-hop trend these days is pretty much around mystics dark arts, illuminate, masons and what have you, do you think it’s just a trend or do you think some of the likes of say Rihanna, Jay-z that have been accused of being masons are really true?
G-Clef: I am well-aware of these trends and find them completely humorous! Rihanna is not a man, free-born last I checked, or is she? Perhaps she could become an Eastern Star some day if she worked on her personal life somewhat LOL. But seriously, Jay-Z made it very clear he is not a Mason in the song Free Mason with Rick Ross. I see no reason why someone would not admit if they were one. Lords of the Underground and X-Clan had no problem admitting it way back, so why would Jay-Z? As for all the conspiracy theory rap, I don’t like it because the rappers are too ill-informed about the subject matter, and tend to sound like idiots. These internet nerds writing about Masonry is about as corny as a rich white kid writing about the trials and tribulations of the “hood”. Write about your own true life experiences or it’s gonna come off false. Lately it also seems like mystic conspiracy is the only topic to write about. This can’t be true, can it? If so, Underground Hip-Hop will die soon.
Wu-International: Will there be another Lost Secret project?
G-Clef: We have talked about it. Both of us are so damn busy. Meta just got back from fighting in Iraq. We’ll see!
Wu-International: So any other musically groups you are in that we have not covered yet that you might want to share with the fans?
G-Clef: Nothing I can let out of the bag yet!
Wu-International: You are also a solo artist, so we have to ask if you are currently working on anything and if so please share more details with us?
G-Clef: I am putting together an album called “The Producer” which will feature various previously released and some unreleased tracks I have done with Hip-Hop artists. It will be released on Chambermusik Special Products this year. It will feature everyone from Solomon Childs to Bizzy Bone.
Wu-International: Thanks for that, so you are heavy into jazz it seems, how similar or different would you say jazz is to hip-hop?
G-Clef: They are the same energy, just different time periods and cultures, but both birthed from the African-American experience.
Wu-International: A producer and MC, which is more of you or rather which do you prefer doing?
G-Clef: I prefer producing music but I also love song-writing and rhyming. I admittedly put my emceeing on the back burner, but will try to change that soon as well.
Wu-International: Fans have always been curious as to your link or connection to the Wu? I am sure just like us, everyone and probably you are tired of the who is Wu question, but since this is our first interview with you, questions have been emailed to us to ask you about your affiliation with the Wu and what you consider yourself in that regards due to your history and what not?
G-Clef: Whether people want to believe it or not, SKK was affiliated with the Wu-Tang Movement back then. Not by our choice though we were honored of course. It was just a business thing – things were just so different back then. We were at every single video shoot because Genius was directing them. We went to all the industry parties WITH the nine generals, not necessarily just the outer members. But, that association ended abruptly in 1998, when Gza and Garfield parted ways. During that time period were never trying to bite Wu. We were proud of doing our own thing with Hip-Hop; For instance we never shouted “Wu-Tang” in our music, that would have been ridiculous. It’s shocking to see how many liberties are taken with the legacy of Wu-Tang these days. How do I feel now about it? I consider it a brief, 4 year part of my musical history. As much respect as I have for Wu-Tang, I don’t rely on that to make a living. I have built project after project, and created so many lanes for myself, I don’t wish to lean on any affiliation to validate myself in the music business. I am more an Illinois Jacquet affiliate than anything else since I worked with him for 12 years.. get my point? I am a Chambermusik affiliate!
Wu-International: Thanks, what would you say your current relationship is with the generals, say RZA or GZA for instance?
G-Clef: Its a funny thing, I always thought that once Chambermusik started rolling along, I would hear from my former bredren, but the only generals I ever heard from was Ghost and Cappa, and I never knew Cap back then, he just wasn’t around when I was. I knew Ghost well back then, and he was always cool with us. While I was around the generals other than Genius back then, I wouldn’t say any of them were “tight” with us. In recent years we had only a couple of run-ins with Rza, but they were just on a business level. Never heard from Genius once since Chambermusik started.
Wu-International: We know you are close with a number of Beez as well as the likes of Cappadonna, can the fans expect some form of collabo between you or even say Chambermusik with Wu-Tang Clan in the near future?
G-Clef: Honestly I think the Chambermusik/Wu-Tang thing is of the past at this point. We made a conscious effort to forge our own lane after say about, 2007. While Chambermusik was never intended to be a “Wu” thing, maybe more of a Killa-Bee thing at one time, we definitely decided to rededicate ourselves to just being Underground Hard Hip-Hop after ’07. In the present day, we are definitely expanded beyond just “Wu” type music. I still have some projects in mind for the Wu-Tang fan however, and I want to really once and for all, give y’all a few projects that will rock your world.
Wu-International: Thanks very much for those answers, back to the music, is there anything that we have not covered that you would like to share with us please?
G-Clef: I would like to say that Chambermusik Records will try to bring the fans a new musical business model soon; what I mean is, a return to really well-produced projects that will entertain and please your eardrums, not just the usual blah albums. Stuff with actual replay value.
Wu-International: What is in store for Chambermusik and yourself for the rest of 2012?
G-Clef: Very big things. Bigger than ever before. Things that may really surprise!
Wu-International: Thanks for your time, any last words, shout outs before we end this?
G-Clef: I would like to thank Wu International for keeping the information and music alive and accurately notated. The Wu-Family tree is important to document, as it’s gradually becoming part of cultural history, and I am glad someone is out there doing that. Other shootouts are to Mowie Kei who should be mentioned for working tirelessly to keep Chambermusik going strong. Also to P The Rebel, D. Shanx, Diatribe, Pneumatic, Chopsticks, David A.B., Sam 7, Graveyard Shifter, Tha Masta, Cno Evil, Jesse Scherr, Intouchable, B. Yakin, Ill Will, Rod da God, Crowleyhead, Beekeeper, Shaolin Lord, and everyone else who helped make Chambermusik happen over the years, Salute!
Wu-International: To conclude our interview we’d like to refer to one of the SKK song titles asking: what would you say is the essence of the Soul Kid G-Clef?
Wu-International: Thanks again for your time and we wish you many success with your endeavours.
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