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Topic: An Interview w/ Mr Lif, El-P and Aesop Rock of Def Jux

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    An Interview w/ Mr Lif, El-P and Aesop Rock of Def Jux -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- [b:7398a248b7]you will need windows media player to peep these interviews....[/b:7398a248b7] Some things to Ponder: Going Beyond Conventional Wisdom with Def Jux.. By Davey D Within Hip Hop’s underground are 4 rhyme collectives that have had major impact and left their mark all over the world. We’re talking about sold out shows, huge international followings, self contained entities and thriving businesses that are rivaled by none. One can not ignore the accomplishments of groups like Living Legends out of the Bay Area and LA, The Rhymesayers out of Minneapolis, MN, The Mighty Hieroglyphics out of Oakland and of course the Def Jux Family out of NY. When you look at all these aforementioned groups one thing you have to give them props for is filling a major void in the increasingly commercialized Hip Hop landscape. They create music for their fans minus the influence of radio and major label politics that usually pressure artists to create music that fits into some grandiose marketing program. These collectives have pushed the musical envelop and haven’t limited themselves to following the 3 verses and a hook format, or the sex and violence themes that so many major labels and commercial radio seemingly insists on. Despite conventional wisdom pushed forth by gurus within the recording industry these groups have discovered that they actually can move units and sell out shows by doing what they like best. Just talk to groups like Hiero who clear the million mark each year or Definitive Jux who we recently sat down with, who hit the two million mark last year. These underground rhyme collectives have done well for themselves by establishing their own tours and going to places other then the usual haunts of New York and LA. In fact one might say it was because of these groups that we now know there are vibrant Hip Hop markets in places like Boise, Idaho, Tempe, Arizona or Albuquerque, New Mexico. We won’t talk about the inroads these groups have made internationally. Nor will we talk about the online marketing and merchandising campaigns which are now being emulated by many of the major labels that once shunned them. It’s great to see such groups do well because their approach to making inroads is in such stark contrast to the conventional wisdom put forth by mainstream industry folks. These groups take time out to actually build and engage their fans. Their all about trying to make good music for the love of the art and not for the dictates of an expensive industry marketing campaign that’s designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I recall this heated conversation I had with one high ranking major label executive a couple of years ago. This particular executive was upset with me when he discovered that I was playing two songs off the then new Usher album in heavy rotation. He berated me for not getting behind the label’s campaign which had them pushing the song ‘Burn’. I tried to explain that my listeners were really felling songs like ‘Caught Up’ and ‘Throwback’ and that they were good follow ups to Usher’s hit song ‘Yeah’. Unfortunately dude would hear no parts of it. He told me that his company spends lots of money doing market research to determine the latest trends. They in turn take that information and craft a well healed campaign to get the most bangs for their buck behind an album for one of their artists. This means everything from the first photo shoots on down to the videos and subsequent concert dates are all planned out in advance. Their main job as label executives is to make sure all they key radio stations and video outlets that they service with product are on point in terms of following the game plan. In his mind I was not following the game plan and I was playing what I wanted. It didn’t really dawn on him that I was actually playing what my listeners wanted. At the end of the day I was told that I might get removed from their mailing list if I didn’t cooperate. I figured I share this experience so you can get a better idea of how and why you only hear the same 10 songs day in and day out. In the words of the great philosopher Al Gore; It’s the economy (money) stupid) its all about the money and for that crazy record executive-job security...Now onto The Def Jux Family. We recently caught up with members of the Def Jux Family including founder/producer El-P and rappers Mr. Lif and Aesop Rock while they were touring through LA and got the full scoop on who they are, what they’re about and what they have in store for the future. We chopped it up with El-P aka El Producto who started the label Definitive Jux back in 2000. He told us how he evolved from his early days of being a member of the group Company Flow in the early 90s to being one of the most sought out producers in Hip Hop today. He spoke to us about the void the commercial side of rap had left and how his Def Jux label went about filling it. Lastly El-P talked to us about the industry’s clamp down on sampling and how it will initially stifle creativity but ultimately backfire as producers will simply become more creative and find new ways to create music. We sat down with Def Jux’s premier rapper Mr. Lif who talked about the independent rap scene in his native Boston. He spoke about the trap so many artists fall into in terms of equating success with being signed to a major label or getting commercial airplay. Lif spoke to us about the challenges he has faced by speaking out against the War in Iraq and making other political statements within his music. He talked about how and why MTV banned one of his politically laced videos. Lastly Mr. Lif gave us some heartfelt insight to the struggle he and other artists of African Americans background face in terms of being able to reach their community. Mr. Lif was recently featured in a Village Voice article called ‘The Cotton Club’ that focused on the fact that many of Hip Hop’s African American political rappers are only able to reach large predominantly white audiences. Lif noted that was the reason he and fellow Boston artist Akrobatik formed the group The Perceptionists and released the LP ‘Black Dialogue’. Last but not least we sat down and chopped it up with Aesop Rock who just released a new album called ‘Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives”. We went Behind the Grind with him to speak about New York’s underground rap scene and whether or not he ever feels the urge to go the commercial route. He also talked about the over the top concepts behind his new album and explains why he no longer feels a need to battle other emcees. To hear these insightful interviews click on the link below.. Please note Mac users you will need Windows Media Player to listen in… Peep out what Mr Lif has to say about music, life and politics on Breakdown FM Mr. Lif Drops Science pt 1 easylink.playstream.com/d...nfmpt1.wax Mr. Lif Drops Science pt 2 easylink.playstream.com/d...nfmpt2.wax Mr Lif Drops Science pt 3 easylink.playstream.com/d...nfmpt3.wax ================================ EL-P: Def Jux.. Producer, Founder Breaks it Down and Lets Us Know Whats Up We caught up with El-P who is the chief producer and founder of Def Jux records. He speaks about how the label was started and his philosophy behind creating good music that fills a void within Hip Hop. We also talked about the new attacks on sampling and how the music industry pimps this concept of 'intellectual property' to the point that it stiffles creativity... El-P notes that industry greed and their collective lack of long term vision will result in their clamp downs backfiring on them.. EL-P-producer, Rapper-Founder of Def Jux gives a full breakdown and lets us know whats up... easylink.playstream.com/d...une_05.wax ======================================= AESOP ROCK TAKES US BEHIND THE GRIND... Aesop Rock is one of the most prolific and popular artists who rules Hip Hop's underground.. We caught up with him and his Def Jux family as he explained how he got put on and what defines NY's underground music scene. He speaks about why he doesn't battle anymore and the concepts behind his new album Fast cars, Dangers and Knives'. Lastly Aesop talks about whether or not he wants to go commercial and what that would mean if he suddenly started getting spins on Hot 97... Aesop Rock Breaks it down... easylink.playstream.com/d...mfinal.wax