Peace Praverb! Thank you for this interview my Brother! My name is junclassic (one word all small letters like ee cummings and dead prez) is an emcee/businessman/CEO/beat maker (wouldn’t call myself a producer just yet) college graduate/hood dwelling people person with a good heart and a great sense of humor. I am one half of Dynamix with K Sise, one half of Undercurrent with IV The Polymath, one third of Mode 7 with Jazz Spastiks and a member of The Khemlab. I was Born, Raised, and Still Reside In Southeast Jamaica Queens aka Southside, New York City.
Describe your upbringing in Southside Jamaica, Queens. What is the craziest thing that you witnessed?
Growing up in Southside was real interesting. In the early 80s there was a lotta innocence in da hood. Kids played football on every other street all thru the day. One block would challenge another block. Then we’d go inside on Saturdays at 3 to watch Kung Fu on channel 5 and then come back out for more football. Going to the comic book store was as much of a thrill as going to the movies back then. Everybody used to chill outside regardless of the season. Camaraderie was strong back then. Once crack came in 86 everybody became more aggressive and selfish. I remember walking down the street as a 8 year old kid and seeing Ds screech up on a dude and cuff him before pulling vials out of his pocket. Seen a lotta ill shit. Police surrounded my man’s crib like he was OJ Simpson. He was 16 at that time. Seen em run up in a known hustler’s crib and they brought out the whole fam in cuffs…including his mom. That bugged me out. Seen two niggas scraping with them shits they used to lock the steering wheel with. The Club that’s it! One nigga had 2 of these shits and the other cat had one of em. This was in Flatbush, Brooklyn in 94. Backstreets of Ocean Ave by Parkside off the Shuttle train. Crooke Ave. I Shoulda KNOWN! The Damn Street Is Named Crooke Ave! Anyway, One Nigga hit the other one in the chest with The Club. While this occurs in the Middle of Crooke Ave, Some Dude calmly walks out the Crib they were Scraping in front of. I’m directly across the Street. Dude pulls out a 9 and starts letting off. My man who was with me jumped behind a van and said “Get Down Nigga!” I just stood there directly across from the dude and watched the 9 discharge. I was literally seeing the front of the barrel glow with every shot. He let off bout 4 shots and the niggas never stopped scraping! Dude just walked back in the crib…
You have an extensive discography, would you mind sharing it with the masses?
Lets see…Fuck Giuliani 12″ wit K Sise and JQ in 99. Shock n Awe 1 & 2 wit Dynamix in 2002 & 2003. Put out my debut album 2 Much Aint Enuff in July 2007. Overqualified my 2nd album dropped in October 2008. Late Nites and Early Mournings my 3rd album dropped Obama Day, January 20, 2009. First mixtape Southside’s Savior dropped July 2009. 4th album Imaginary Enemies dropped September 2009. Second mixtape Mornings Was HashBrowns dropped September 2010. There’s mad individual songs I just threw out to the public for the fans but couldn’t name em all if I tried.
Speaking on Southside’s Savior, describe the direction of the project and the benefit of working with Dub MD.
Shout to my G Dub MD! It was a pleasure working with Dub man. I got acquainted with Dub MD through my man Cy Yung, who did a Madlib Tribute mixtape with Dub called Medicinal Libations back in Early 2009. Cy asked me to hop on 2 tracks. Dub dug what I did. I asked if he would get behind my first mixtape and, to my surprise, he was hype about it. He really supported the mixtape. Got the ill ass artwork and even got me a few beats. I had never done a mixtape. When I think of Mixtapes, which were a Huge inspiration creatively when I started doing this in the mid 90s, I think of Legends like Clue and Ron G. HipHop exclusives and R & B classics were what Clue and Ron specialized in, respectively. So that’s what I sought to make with Southside’s Savior, hence the jacking of “Mama Used To Say” and “Everybody Everybody” as well as grimey jackings like “Ready” and “2nd Childhood” and originals like “Google Game” and “Livin In This Dream”.
You have collaborated with a variety of emcees and beatmakers. Describe your working relationship with Monsta X and when did you guys decide to become a group?
X aka K Sise is my Brother. We met at NYU in 98, put out F Giuliani in 99 and formed Dynamix in 2000. I Came Up With The Name Dynamix Cause I Felt Me and X Balanced Each Other Out. He Was The Skinny Fiery Leo Wit Long Ass Dreads and I Was The Braided Up Chubby Mello Cancer. We Wrote Songs, Ripped Stages and Been Thru the Industry Bullshit Together. I’d Trust K Sise With My Life. Plus He A Nasty Emcee. One Of The Smartest Dudes I Ever Met. K Sees Shit Before It Happens. And He Keep it 100 24/7.
How did the relationship with Monster Island Czars originate?
I met MF GRIMM in 2004. I was working in real estate and he needed an apartment. Random occurrence. Next day I told him I did music and gave him the Shock N Awe series. He dug me and K Sise’s lyrics but said we need better beats. Hooked us up with Ravage The Meccagodzilla. We did a banger wit Rav and that was all she wrote! K Sise and I Got Inducted into The Monsta Island Czars Collective in August 2004. Appeared On GRIMM’s American Hunger triple CD as well as two songs with MIC off Mo Doogly’s Weird Stories in France on 12″ Vinyl in 2006. Made The only lyrical appearance on Ravage The Meccagodzilla’s well received Instrumental Full Length Erroars in 2008 on the track “Gabarah”. Put out Kong’s official debut CD Shackles Off on my label Classified Recordings on June 24, 2008 and received mention in XLR8R Magazine in September 2008. Left Monsta Island Czars November 2010 with K Sise. Dynamix Still Shining.
Before we continue, I wanted to express the ultimate respect for obtaining your Graduate degree. How beneficial has education been to your career?
Thanx for that P. school has been a gift and curse. It’s a gift in that it helps you to obtain a good job or at least a decent salary, depending on what you got ya degree in. however, them school loans can drive a nigga insane (That’s number 1). Having a degree and going on interview after interview and not landing the job while still having to make them damn Sallie Mae payments every month can make you wanna hurt something (That’s Number 2). Then you got these “street dudes” who look at you a certain way cause you went to college instead of Clinton or el Mira. But I’m proud that I finished school. It’s allowing me to not have to depend on music to eat. And that’s a blessing like a mug. I have seen hard times. I was unemployed for 17 months. I tried to sell cds in front of Fat Beats during October 2009. That was one of the hardest things i ever tried to do. I watched the ogs of cd hustling be out there for two hours and not make one sale. If you depending on rap to eat? ya fanbase gotta be crazy. Plus I had some ill experiences in college. Documented a good bit of it on a track called “Life and Debt” on my first album 2 much ain’t enuff. College made me well rounded. I can converse with an adjunct professor about American hegemony one minute then hit the block an vibe with a red-eyed killer about where the best bud in the hood the next minute. College made me universally confident and comfortable regardless of where I’m at.
The thing that caught me as a listener was your grimy and emotional delivery. Did you have to practice consistently to sharpen your delivery?
Hell yea p! I didn’t like my voice when i first started recording. But as I progressed i just started spitting the shit harder and harder. and running around in the street in the late 90s spitting wit niggas… at niggas… you had to sound raw! Cats got hype when I spit some raw shit man. I used to love the rush I got off hustlers and 9 to 5 cats 10 years older than me wildin’ out off my shit. Pretty girls feeling my voice and shit. and I think I gotta weird voice off jump. The shit just projects in a strange way to me. But I got compliments on the sound of my voice from men and women so if it sound good to y’all I’m good. Plus my favorite emcees all had memorable voices… Pac, Big, Method Man, Jadakiss is a huge influence, Doom, Nas, Buckshot and Royal Flush from Queens.
Describe your writing process.
Depends, if the beat is crazy then I like to play the beat, get right to it with the book open, and see what the beat tells me to say. Sometimes I just have a line or two in my head and write without a beat. Lines run thru my head all the time. Plus, I take the utensils I write with very seriously. I use fancy ass “journals” for rhyme books. Papermate blue ink is the best ink. It’s crazy yo. To this day I get inspired to write whenever I get around journals an shit in borders and Waldenbooks. Is Waldenbooks still around? oh, and a hard ass beat make me wanna write. More than anything! In 96 clue mixtapes made me wanna write. Pusha T’s mixtape make me wanna write. Lil Wayne makin me wanna write right now, he’s killing every single verse he on.
One of my favorite songs from Southside’s Savior is “Google Game”. Describe the concept of the song to the masses please.
Glad u dig that p! Huge shout to my G WK from Mexico! fam had beats! Met homie thru Myspace in 2008. Heard the beat and lost it! “Google Game” is about having a mini novel of Google pages. I was gassed off the blog and website love I was getting in early 2009. To this day I go thru every page of Google to see if and where my music is bubbling at. So my Google game is strong. And, on one of my rare occasions, I’m on some competitive shit in that song. I-be-every-where-you-never-there type vibe. But specifically regarding internet presence.
I think that it is cool that you also make beats as well. Have you been cranking out more beats recently?
Actually naw fam. i haven’t made a beat since like 07 if i’m not mistaken. I started November 05 and by November 07, I had 500 plus beats. Then i just stopped making em and focused on running my label Classified Recordings LLC and writing songs. I wanna get back to the beats but right now I got a full plate lyrically. Then again after seeing how “Lion On My Arm” (a production I did for K Sise aka Monsta X which appeared on the Zoo York Field Agent Report in April 2010) garnered almost 100,000 views on YouTube I’m getting the urge to start making beats again. Plus I don’t sample so i can make a beat within 15 minutes when I was focused back in 07. I gotta get back on that keyboard but I’m in writing mode right now…
Recently i read that your collaboration with Jazz Spastiks will be the first release for HipNott Records this year. Describe the album in a few sentences and the importance of making connections.
Huge shout to Jazz Spastiks for creating a masterpiece of jazzy, soulful, boom bap hiphop. The EP sounds like Souls Of Mischief meets Tribe Called Quest sonically. Shout to Kevin Nottingham for peeping the project and digging it enough to put it out in both physical and digital format. The EP is called Mode 7 and it’s basically a smoove, melodic flight thru the streets of Southside Jamaica Queens and the Greater New York City area in an invisible European spaceship that Jazz Spastiks found in they backyard one evening. The content is emotional, street wise, lyrical, hard body music for insomniacs. This shit will help you wake up for real.
What other projects are you working on?
Great question my brova P the Wyse. hmm…I am close to finishing my fifth album. Got my fifth album Better Than Fiction completely produced by Wunderkind from Germany that I am shopping for vinyl and cd (preferably digipak) pressing. The sound of this album is straight 1992 jazzy hiphop. I got an album worth of music with my man Husky that still needs a few songs and an album title. I’m halfway through an EP with my man Kid Hum but I been slacking on the last 3 songs. We were going to call it Hybrid until Danny Brown came out with his banger. Another EP, I Gotta Start features production from 2 Hungry Bros. and I have an EP in the works with my g Atari Blitzkrieg tentatively titled Classic Atari. Doing an EP with a more commercial sound with my man Cashman from Brownsville, Bk. Also working on 3 full lengths. One is with my man Iv The Polymath as the duo Undercurrent and the album is called Spectrum. We about to start that now. I want it to be a lyrical masterpiece man. I started on an album with my Chicago City connection J Slikk from Backpackers Anonymous Aka Bpa. J did half the production on my 3rd album Late Nites And Early Mournings. Cynergy did the other half of the beats on Late Nites and Early Mournings and he is starting to send me bangers too. Our new LP is gonna be called Backpacker Afterhours. It will be a project that is hard, lyrical, boom bap and hiphop. And finally I’m working on what i plan to be my magnum opus or my greatest musical triumph. After going through a hundred titles I’m now calling this Audacious Auditory Experiment Batteries. Wait till you hear the production line up on that one. And I got various collaborations in the works that I would rather you see than hear about. I live to keep the fans guessing.
Who would you like to collaborate with and why?
Damn there’s so many man. I’d love to make an EP with J Zone. That dude makes harmony out of discordant sounds. In other words, he turns oil and water into peanut butter and jelly. Puts together sounds that work so well together. Alchemist is a Problem!!! Just Blaze! Dj Premier Of course. Would love to do an album with Large Professor. That would be 6 mics. Beatminerz. Dj Toomp, Mannie Fresh, Juicy J, Dr. Dre, Cx Kidtronik, Jake One, El-P, Madlib, Focus, Moss, Tru Master, Roc Marciano, Swizz Beats, Neptunes, Mr. Green’s “Beautiful Shit”. I need that beat! love to do an album with Ty Fyffe. lyrically I’d love to collab wit Nas, Doom, Jadakiss, De La Soul, Tame One, Grafh, Redman, Buckshot, Mef, Breezly Brewin, Dre 3000, Joell Ortiz, Elzhi, Phonte, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, Lil Wayne, Styles P, Pacewon, Cool & Dre, Roc Marciano, Ill Bill, Mary J Blige, Marsha Ambroisia, Amerie, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Anthony Hamilton, Ghostface, Raekwon, Twista, Eminem, Ice Cube, T.I., Pastor Troy, Jill Scott, Maxwell, Raheem Devaughn, Snoop Dogg. Why? Because they dope as hell haha….
If your life could be shown as a movie which movie
would it mimic?
Hard to pick one. I think it would be a combination of Boyz N Da Hood, 5 Heartbeats, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…
How can the masses get in contact with you?
Any final words?
Hell yea p. Thanks for this interview once again. If there’s anything I want readers of this to know…I say this with the utmost humility? f*ck humility! I am nice as f*ck at this rap shit! Been doing it for 16 years seriously. Trust me, I got “more lines than Scarface on a bad day”. Probably lost more rap books than most cats have. And my ear is getting sharp. The beats I’m rocking over have been crazy lately and I intend to keep it that way. Plus, I can tell a story like we sitting by a campfire. And more than anything, what I think truly separates me from most spitters, is that I can bring a tear to the driest eye. I make emotional songs well! I put my heart and soul into certain songs and people can feel it. Please peep “Setbacks”, “Please Don’t Go Away” or “Zeezee’s Groove” as examples. I can take you where no one else can. Because I been there and ain’t afraid to go back. Holla at a hero…1 junmaf*ckn