A month or so ago I visited the P Brothers Myspace page to hear some of the new tracks they had posted. While I was nodding to the heavy battery they are famous for, I noticed one of their top friends looked like they had a record coming out with former Iron Shiek QB MC Imam Thug. I clicked on the profile and "Karma 360" began booming through the speakers. This was my introduction to Ed209. Ed209's productions are hip hop in the purest form; never afraid to loop a breakbeat in favor of programming drums with a Just Blaze sample disc from eBay, nor is he afraid to rock the famous Dynamic Corvette's stab one more time just one more time to make sure we haven't all fallen asleep. For these small details I applaud Mr. 209.
What was the first record you heard or bought that got you hooked on this rap shit?
At school it was all about the Streetsounds Electro series of LPs ... that was the genesis - it just sounded unlike anything we'd heard - the idea of ELECTRO sync'd perfectly with being from the Star Wars generation. Robots. Electric. Those LPs just brought out so many artists to us - tunes like Bambaataa's Theme to things like Let the music play by Shannon - or The B-Boys, or or or, god ... so so many - 'Style' by Melle Mel & Furious was the first rap I learnt to battle in the playground. I remember buying the tape of 'Stepping off' - Melle Mel & Furious 5 as like my first 'original' hip hop tape ( we dubbed and shared so many tapes ) and getting some lino left over from my Mums kitchen floor and trying to break - School Daze!
How did you get into making beats? What gear did you originally start out with?
Around the 2000 timeframe Ivory (P Brothers) said I should come round and check out this machine he got that went B-B-B KAAA B B KAAA B-B-B KAAA KREEEN KREEEEEN KREEEENN ( or similar ) and it was an MPC2000XL and it was game over. He said I'd have to get one and he was dead right. My wife got the spec from Iv. and got me one for my 31st birthday and I jumped on the bed like a trout heading upstream. It was time to stop moaning that the golden 90s were over and start working on home grown science. I used to mess about with this app. called SoundEdit on my Mac to make beats but it was just all wrong. I worked on computers all day - the last thing I wanted was to be on them at night. The MPC was just made to make the sound I wanted. To me the MPC IS 'an instrument' because as it is limited - you explore within those limitations. Computers are tools with myriad possibilities - its different.
What equipment are you currently using?
That same Akai MPC Grey Pad science kit - its fading but still strong - 2 x Technics and never enough vinyl + a Mac Laptop to record. Thats all. Keep it simple.
When you start putting a track together, what the comes first? Drums? Loop? Or do you just say, "Fuck it!"
Either. Neither. Both. I have no science to this other than 'I'm playing the thing I have brought / found / been given / picked up and I'm hearing drums / samples and I'm away' Just listening to music is the start. I make loads of 'starts' but give up if its not doing it. The UN LP really set a level for me of how good something should be - I have said that if I had made Game of Death or What they want or Golden Grail I would have cut my hands off... they are just THAT good. That is how good I want to be. Scratchy emotional loops over the heaviest drums.
One thing I noticed when listening to your stuff is that you use a lot of drum loops instead of programming single hits. I love it, no one is really doing that anymore.
Its not conscious, as in 'I WILL use drum loops to be different' - I just have something in my mind that tells me if it sounds right and I try and arrive at that pretty fast when making a beat - so loops get there faster - it may be imperfect but if its got the right vibe I will spend time to perfect it - chop the beat and re-record it all or just leave it and knock off the roughness... whatever. I read a quote the other day that the problem today is that people have too much time to make beats - it might have been Hank Shocklee - it might have been on your myspace! I try and set a deadline both in 'time' and 'financially' with studio time. I've only had to go back to the studio twice to re-do a track 'cause it wasn't 'right'. If somethings worth doing then its worth not overdoing.
What inspired the creation of Voodoo Rhythm Devils Records and the Super Exstatic 12" triology?
The P Brothers. Ivory & Paul S. Everything that has happened with VRD and the Exstatic Trilogy was made possible by what they did with The Heavy Bronx Experience EPs. They joined the dots and I followed the line. Maximum Respect. Also I felt compelled to give something back to a world that has given me so much pleasure on many different levels. Thats Hip Hop by the way ... not food. But I do love food.
How did the Imam Thug project come about?
Paul S & Ivory again. I played them the beat and their reaction amped me to take it fwd. They flowed the QB Connex. Like scientists they analyzed what I did and made suggestions to make it sound on point. Maximum Support from The Baron & Moe Brandy. The beat got hatched on my birthday last year - I'd had a night of wind, water and fire and then some burning trees and just before passing out brought out some Issac to end the evening. In that special place before sleep I heard the loop. Tried to make it work - lost the plot and ended up switching it off. Then tried again the next night and made it happen. When I got the beat at Imam his reply was a simple 'ITS BANGIN SON - LETS DO THIS' and it was on. The pattern is like some 5 bar / 2 bar loop and mixing it was hard. Gotta thank Mr Mark Gamble for not giving up. He's the wizard.
Any plans to do more records with MC's from the States?
Absolutely. Working with MC's I knew from the UK like Kon, Cappo and C-Mone it was a question of 'I'm trying to put out something to rep. me & you and I have a tight budget - what can I do for you in return?' - like with Cappo I did design work for him like the 'Spaz The World' cover + paid him what I could. With Kon I brought him Sushi. With Imam it was ( to me ) serious money to get him on the track - but the opportunity was something I could not let slide. It had to happen - I was addicted to Iron Shieks. I'd love to work with Imam again, Roc Marciano, Killa Sha, Tragedy and Ghostface. The Symphony 2010 with all them on - thats my goal.
Awhile back I sent an email to the P Brothers saying that they need better distribution in the US and they wrote back saying "it's kind of nice to stay under the radar". You're pressing 500 copies of the Imam joint. Are you subscribing to the same philosophy?
I'm doing what I can afford combined with what I think I can sell! The audience for vinyl is dwindling man and the audience for the sound I'm trying to get at is smaller, and tapping the avenues to get that heard by those people is another layer... so thats like filters on top of filters. To me I don't OWN music unless its on vinyl but people are happy with the new formats - CDs just die so fast and MP3s are a 'crash' away from the void. The way I used to get introduced to music actually focused you more on LOVING that track. Hearing it on some scratchy tape on some wack car stereo ... getting a copy of that tape ... playing it again and again ... hunting for that records within your physical travel limitations ( no internet / no ebay ) EVENTUALLY finding it and just feeling like you had achieved something through the act of searching because you had got OBSESSED with finding it. I remember living in a city called Coventry where I met Ivory - coming to Leicester to buy hip hop and literally running up the street trying to trip/kil/maim the other person to get to the shop first. Ivory gives no quarter in the battle for hip hop! I guess thats another reason to keep the vinyl runs small - thanks to the web its pretty straight forward to find a new record and buy it if you want - but the idea that theres only 500 makes it that bit more special in this era of MASS production. Thats why I designed and printed posters for the first 3 EPs - to make it something special on different levels. I'm not in this for Fame and Fortune - I work to pay my bills and feed my family. I make music I want to hear primarily for myself and a small group of people I have met who hear what I hear. I've said before that I'd rather give records away to those people that are really feeling what I'm trying to do than sell them to anyone. Getting a sincere shout from someone is worth more than your £5/$9 or whatever. Like Ryan Proctor's review for my last EP - I just buzzed off those words - the last line said 'HIP HOP LIVES!' thats golden. There's a UK group from the old school you must know... Hijack - they said it best... "Money ain't the matter, its the PRINCIPLE that makes us invincible" The principle to me is to keep 'that sound' alive.
When you're out digging in the field, what are some of the labels you keep an eye out for?
Well since having 2 kids my funds for vinyl missions are less - I've started going through the things I have a lot more, but, to be honest, these next two questions are getting into my comfort zone - I really can't say much - not for reasons of anal collector-ness but more for reasons of being schooled by people who have put in major work and passed that knowledge on. I don't want to go anywhere near betraying that trust - like stuff I have three copies of that I'd love to sell on e-bay or whatever - it can't be done. Sorry.
Your top 10 breakbeats:
Those that would tell don't know. Those that know aren't telling.
What's up next for Ed209?
Bed. Shouts to The P Brothers, Imam (for sick sick verses ), Ryan P, Luke, Ade, Disorda, Cro, Sarah Love (for rocking Black Thorn Rose on her show) and Mr Jago. Love to Ju-Tang, Iz the Wiz and Madz the Tihs Stayup Mr Eons.
Some joints from the Superexstatic series:
Welcome To The City (feat. eyesofman)
Bazzar Bomberz (feat A-Bomb, Konny Kon, Cappo & eyesofman)
88 Burner (feat eyesofman & A-Bomb)