HITSQUAD Special: Skoob (Das EFX) interview
HITSQUAD Special: Skoob (Das EFX) interview
Door: Karst Jaarsma
Fotografie: Jasper Struyk 28-07-2010
Samen met Dre vormt Skoob sinds 1988 de legendarische rapgroep Das EFX. Met hun authentieke ‘Iggedy’ stijl wisten ze een groot gedeelte van de rapwereld te inspireren. Vandaag de dag zijn de invloeden van deze kenmerkende wijze van rappen nog steeds terug te horen in het muzieklandschap. Naast een grote solo carrière is Das EFX ook onderdeel van de Hitsquad en de groep mag in onze Hitsquad special dus niet ontbreken. Check hier het interview dat we met Skoob hadden!
You created your own way of rapping when you started your career, the so called ‘Iggedy’ style. How did you come up with this?
People got their first taste of Das EFX only after we had been together for a while. We were far past that style on our first album when you heard it. We already were working on a new album, so it was not a new style.
And how did we get up with it? We just tried to be different. We tried to make dope music, write dope rhymes and start different things that you would not even think about. The whole style was a combination of Dre and I, we tried to be original.
How did people react when they first heard it?
A lot of people were confused, but if you would weight it on a scale it would end up balanced. Some people just reacted like; ‘Ehhh, I do not know what is that about’ . Then other people, real rap enthusiasms, were like: ‘Wuoo, these boys are really saying something’.
Did you witnessed many MCs duplicating your style?
Yeah, lots of people took a bit of our style. When you come up in the music industry there always are people you look upon to and sometimes you copy them without even knowing it. You do what they are doing, because that is what is familiar to you. That is the dopest thing around. It was a lot of groups coming up after us that sounded like us. A lot…
You had Kriss Kross and some people even say that Jay-Z imitated your style a little bit, did that annoy or flatter you?
Firstly, it was flattering. It started to become annoying when the whole industry started to do it. That was the point where we felt that these people should have more originality.
Your ‘Iggedy’ style is Ragga based, but you do not use much reggae or dancehall based samples. Why is that?
I do not know where that came from. It might be the media, I do not know who started it but our music is not reggae influenced. Our music obviously is more hip hop influenced, but I guess it sounded that way to some people. We never tried to combine hip hop with reggae. It does not annoy me. I really want the fans to understand that we never tried to combine the two styles.
You were adapted by EPMD in the early part of your career, how did that happen?
Dre and I were in Virginia. I am from New York and Dre is from New Jersey. So Virginia was a six hour drive from New York. EPMD were on a promotional tour for their latest album and doing a show some fifteen minutes driving from where we lived in Virginia. We heard on the radio that they were about to perform there and having a rap contest as well.
I wanted to see the show anyway, but the purge was the rap contest. We just finished recording some demos and decided to participate. There also was a chick I knew who knew Erick Sermon and she introduced us back stage to them. So we could shake hands and meet EPMD.
We then participated in the contest, but ended up at a second place. We had the chance to exchange phone numbers and keep in touch with the guys. So that is the start of the EPMD and Das EFX connection.
I heard that there were no Das EFX fans at the concert.
No, haha. We only had six or seven people driving to the show, everyone else was supporting the Virginia crews.
You were born in New York and moved to Virginia later on. Was there a big difference in atmosphere between the two cities?
Yeah, it was way different. The atmosphere in Virginia was different because they did not have an outlet for hiphop. You had Marley Marl, Mr. Magic and lots of people in New York playing hiphop music on the radio. You had nothing of that in Virginia. We only heard new music when someone went home and bought a mix tape. We were isolated, hip hop was not huge in Virginia at that time.
Was that a good thing?
I think it was good that we were sort off isolated. We did not get poisoned, if you know what I mean? It kept us real green, we were really able to formulate an own style. That definitely was a good thing.
Did you had the feeling that your show was successful right away?
The night was successful, because we had the chance to meet these guys. We had the chance to exchange information. They could have crumbled up our phone numbers and throw it away after we exchanged them. We had to wait after that show, they did not call right away. We did not had a phone, so we had to go to another girl’s house to call. It was successful but we first had to wait and hope that someone would call.
Did you concentrate on making music EPMD would like in the early days of your collaboration?
We did not try to make music specifically for EPMD, because we have such a different music style. We did not want to sound like anybody else than ourselves. It worked that way for both of us, there was no need for them to come to the studio. We already had everything in the house so we did not need no beats or anything else from EPMD. My man Chris Charity and Derek Lynch produced the entire album. We were the rappers and had our own producers.
But EPMD are on the cover of ‘Dead serious’ as the executive producers.
Basically they did not have any other role than guiding us and setting us a release date, telling us to what photo shoot we needed to go and when we had to perform. They musically did not do anything for Dead Serious.
What is the most special lesson you have learned from EPMD?
The biggest lesson that I as a person have learned from EPMD is that you can make a career out of this hip hop thing. When I started I just wanted to make a record and having it on the radio. I did not knew back then that you could be making hip hop music for twenty years and being successful with it.
EPMD has helped your career a lot, but on the other hand you have not been able to release anything when EPMD was split up. Did you never regret your relationship with EPMD?
I never regretted the relationship with EPMD. We were still working on another album when EPMD was split up. It just did not come out right away. I think that we were working on Parrish (PMD, red.) his solo album and started focusing on our album later on. We were still doing stuff but it just was not a Das EFX album right away.
You had the Hitsquad versus Defsquad period as well, did you never had the feeling that you were standing between those squads?
There was a time where there was a little bit of friction between the two groups. But it was just a little bit of friction! Obviously we had the two leaders of the crew who had troubles. So it is logic that the soldiers than ride with who they were riding with. We were the soldiers at that point. It never got serious. It never got to the point where we were shooting on each other.
You have been born in Brooklyn, how is the atmosphere in New York right now?
It’s crazy, there is so much good music out there. It is a bad thing that we cannot hear much New York based music on the radio. There sure is a lot of talent out there.
It has almost been a decade since any new big New York artist stood up, what happened to the New York rap stars?
It is a different industry. I was having this conversation with Scratch earlier. It goes back with what I learned from EPMD, artists do not have a long sustainability. Artists who are hot now are gone over six months. We have a new big star every half year and people then forget the last one. It is a very different game out there, but there certainly is some talent living in New York.
I also heard people saying that New York based legends turned their back to New York.
I am not too sure about that. I never turned my back to any upcoming rapper. If you have talent you have got talent and I do not care where you come from.
Are there any New York based artists you are working with right now?
I am more working with producers than artists. There definitely are some New York based artists I would like to work with. That is going to take some phone calls. I do not want to work with everyone from New York, they got to be people I look up to.
Will you be working on new material soon?
We are working on some new stuff right now! It really is going to be something, it is going to be special. I only can tell you that we are working on some real hip hop and it is going to be hard. We got Scratch on a couple of joints as well as a few other producers. We are still hoping to get a Premier beat on that one.
When can we expect the album?
Haha, we start leaking some stuff early. You will be one of the first to hear new music.
Are there any Hitsquad projects in the pipeline?
That is in the air. We are doing these Hitsquad shows right now and you never know what will happen. We might find ourselves recording some Hitsquad material, for sho!