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うちの食卓 Non so...
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脱原発デモ × ステディカム
*This interview was originally done on July 2011 for "bmr" magazine in Japan, right after the documentary film "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" premiered in the U.S.
Ali Shaheed Muhammad talks about the documentary
"Beats, Rhymes & Life" pt.1
text by Keiko Tsukada
– Have you seen the documentary already?
Yes, I saw the documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival and LA film festival premiered in NY & LA. Actually I bought 25 tickets and twittered about it, invited whoever online to come watch the movie with me. I thought it was fun to do.
– I felt like I fell in love with A Tribe Called Quest all over again after seeing this film on Friday. And I'm sure all the fans felt the same. How did you like this documentary?
I liked it. It was great moment to celebrate and nostalgia going back to the beginning and how we all met and how we're teamed to be A Tribe Called Quest during the time period when Jungle Brothers was pretty much the hottest thing out in NY at the time. And De La Soul was just of getting their start and they have made a huge impact and started a formation of Native Tongue and just the life of hip hop at that time.
That was captured and telling the story of how we all met and seeing it visually, I think, was really good. There was something I wish, I guess, if they talked more about music that we sampled and what was going on socially, you know, during that time period and come up with the stories and lyrics that those guys came up with. There was a little of it but not the same level of exposure so that was major disappointment. But overall I felt that was a good film.
– Do you think it was fairly portrayed who you really are and what A Tribe Called Quest is all about by Michael Rapaport? Or did you see any misrepresentation of who you really are?
I don't think there was any misrepresentation but the first part of the film was really light and made you feel like fuzzy good feeling. But the second half of the film was so much more on beef between Q-Tip and Phife that you kinda lost the essence of group and there was more to our life than just not getting along. Cos them not getting along was more, I think, surface. And what was beneath the surface was lot of love and respect for one or another. I think, unfortunately, they focused too much on the drama, the second half of the movie.
"You really don't have full idea of how your art, music and passion of your life impacting upon other people. That's surreal and just a little hard to get your head around. I guess coming from the places of humility..."
– How was it like to look back all of your memories of what you've been experienced as a member of A Tribe Called Quest in the process of making this film?
I've seen the film for a couple of times but still “Wow!”, you know. I think that “wow” factor waned off a bit. What I mean by “wow” factor is that it's so surreal the life was captured like that and placed in the big screen.
You know, you really don't have full idea of how your art, music and passion of your life impacting upon other people. That's surreal and just a little hard to get your head around. I guess coming from the places of humility but...like I said I've seen it a few times and now I'm just really looking at it and going, “wow, yeah we did a lot” and I am really proud of the work we did and integrity we maintained in the studio when we were trying to make something really special, dealing with promoters, setting up tours and things like that.
Other stuff wasn't really discussed and talked about, you know, we feel we leave the crowd work to help the next generation come through these years, dealing from business perspective. You remember the line, “Industry rule number four thousand and eighty, Record company people are shady”? But that was such a glimpse of really the struggle that we went through.
And so, looking at the film makes me feel “wow, we definitely helped paved the way for the people come thorough. And also made me feel motivated, I mean I have been stayed motivated and I always make music and more motivated, you know, stay on my path, keep doing what I'm doing.”
"Check The Rhyme"
- “Industry rule number four thousand and eighty,
Record company people are shady”
– I can't forget your worrying face when Tip was angry about Phife back in 2008 Rock The Bells Tour. How were you feeling at that moment?
Like, I don't want the camera to be there...there was lot to me obviously to have this kind of stoical and way of being. That's not to say that I don't flip out, I don't get upset, I don't show emotions but there's the time and place for it. I just feel like I understood what Kamaal was expressing in that moment. I was just standing there happened to be in front of the camera.
– I was surprised that the camera captured that moment.
(laugh) That's the thing, you know, the part of having documentary and always having the cameras with you through this process, that's the part of it. But you know, one of the things that we always maintained as group is just keep the business, our business. He was saying something he needed to say so... But I couldn't allow myself to have that verbal input at that moment. So I was just like, ok, the camera is going, I'm just gonna reserve myself and wait till like we are not in this moment to address it.”
– You commented "There was a lot of deception that Michael played" on MTV after the Sun Dance film festival. What exactly were you talking about?
I felt I was very clear about what I said on MTV about specific comment Michael Rappaport made. Phife being OK with the film verses Q-Tip being not OK with the film. At that time he was doing press and saying that. It made seem that one or two of us are bugging out, which wasn't the case, you know. And that's the issue that we had kinda seem more not about getting to the greatest story of the film. Made it seem more like other little thing.
So that was the thing I was addressing specifically on MTV saying that in this article, he said this, but this is actually going on. When you are getting into public relations, some people are perspective of being strategic or being calculated. I don't think he was calculating but he was just being emotionally reactionary to certain things. I don't think he used better judgement. So when I said that, I was speaking towards the nature of what's going on. But you know, unfortunately it needed to be said to set things straight.
"You know, walking chill and cool doesn't seem so exciting and I know that because I am walking chill and cool person. People have not focused on that “me” cos I'm not like...Flavor Flav like, “look at me, look at me” type but that is unfortunately how the business play."
– Was it because Michael was so in hurry to make it to the Sun Dance film festival?
I think that was the goal and we always wanted from the beginning of making documentary making it to the Sun Dance. At the time we missed the first year we were trying cos we were not done. And the next year was coming up and no one wanted to go the third year and trying to secure. 2011 entry was something we needed to be done. And we felt that complete race to make that, instead of making the film great. That was one of our gripes. We always want it to be in San Dance film festival, we've never against that. We just wanted to make sure that we weren't rushing or missing something.
– You did not seem happy with this film until very recently. But I listened to Hot 97's Angie Martinez show recently, you and Tip sounded so happy about the film and encouraging everybody to go see the film. How did that situation change from like bitter moment to being happy about the movie?
We were never bitter about the movie, but more or so bitter about the process. And I think it just passed the Sun Dance, we sat down and worked out the edit, Q-Tip and I went it to work with Michael Rappaport. So we were satisfied from that moment on but public perception was not because of what happened in prior to that moment, you know. But we've been support not just being I guess so focal about it. More or so we wanted to be just quiet and let the film come out (laugh).
Obviously in life, controversial things get more focus and attention than something just chill and cool. You know, walking chill and cool doesn't seem so exciting and I know that because I am walking chill and cool person. People have not focused on that “me” cos I'm not like...Flavor Flav like, “look at me, look at me” type but that is unfortunately how the business play. And the film gave our appearance that we have not been cool.
We've been wanting this to come out and be behind and see fans come out and support that such a great celebration. Not only us but also the art form and culture. It's our story and we will definitely take our hat off to Michael Rappaport for taking time out of his life and reached sources to really point the spotlight on hip hop that no one else in 30 plus years history of hip hop has, to paint such a celebration for hip hop. So we definitely get behind that cos initially that I know Michael Rappaport's intention was and we were with him on that. We think that the final product was definitely the evidence of that intent. We've been wanting to cheer rally and see what our fans thinking, you know, just to see the feedback from the people. People who've lived it.
:::love, thx & joy:::
Ms. Iris Stevenson and her "Crenshaw High Elite Choir" was the model to inspire the heartfelt 1993 film "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" starring Whoopi Goldberg & Lauryn Hill. They have traveled all over the world, performed for more than 1,000 shows and given awards from World Choir Olympic many times. Featured by Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Whitney Huston, Paul Simon and Ray Charles.
*This interview was originally done in June 12, 2011 for "bmr" magazine in Japan, during the rehearsal for "Crenshaw High Elite Choir Gospel Concert for Eastern Japan Massive Earthquake Recovery Charity Event", sponsored by "Lighthouse" & "JERC". Special Thanks to TJ McDaddy, Ms. Iris Stevenson & the Crenshaw High Elite Choir.
interview: Ms. Iris Stevenson with Crenshaw High Elite Choir
~Gospel Music: affect upon your soul, uplift and encourage~
text & photo by Keiko Tsukada
-- When did you start teaching at Crenshaw High Elite Choir?
I started Crenshaw High Elite Choir in 1985. Great experiences for all these years, to be with young people and every semester we change. Maybe 1,000 students per semester, that's almost 2,000 per year. It's a huge program.
-- What is your number one motivation to keep teaching for these students?
That they must learn. They must learn. I'm going to teach all the days in my life and I'm going to learn all the days in my life. I'm a life long learner and life long teacher. As long as I have breath in my body, I'll always teach.
-- What is student's motivation or reason for singing in your Choir, you think?
Now that's the question you have to ask them because (laugh) they say they just love and want to be in it, and they have the security, they grow, so they motivated...you know they say those things.
-- How did these students change before & after joining this Choir?
Great Change. Because they've come out much more confident. They first came very nervous and afraid, not knowing what do to, if they're going to have friends, if people like them, would they say the right things, would they sing the right notes, would they dance to the right steps...and they found everything comes together! And they love it! They love it. And I love them.
-- How do you think singing gospel music affect children's life?
Unlike any other type of music, gospel music affect upon your soul and just is uplifting and encouraging music. And they leave there with solutions to their problems. And those things they can't fix, they feel God will fix it. It's a great ministry.
– Once they join the gospel choir, do they usually stay or they leave?
No (they don't leave). Because see, I really don't have “gospel choir” per say. My lead choir sings all types of music, which you will hear tonight. But we sing gospel music extremely well. And they remain because they have to mentor their next young people coming in.
-- What do you teach to kids, besides gospel music?
Life skills, to know how to live and they teach them business, about music business and about the life, the world. We have global education so we have global society and global class rooms. I have a classroom without walls. So they travel all around the world and learn that we are one people of one blood. We are one. I don't care, the color does not matter, the race does not matter. We are one people. And that's why we are doing concert tonight. Because when when Japan hurts, we hurt. So we believe that African philosophy that I am because we are. So therefore I can't sit on my side of the world and just be so happy because I'm safe. And another group of people on another side of the world are without food and they are dying, they are suffering...so I can't just sit and do nothing.
-- What kind of role does your Choir play in your community from your perspective?
We are the example for the community. Because if we learn how to get along, the our community learn how to get along with each other. Therefore they get to know one or another. You don't have a quarrel and a fight with people you know. You fight against people you don't know. So therefore we want them to know one or another, we leave our community and go to other communities so we can expose ourselves to different cultural experiences.
-- How do you think hop hop music and culture affect students' life?
See, we are part of the hip hop culture. So therefore we know not only hip hop culture using profanity and everybody's thuggin with their pants and like that...No. Hip hop is something new, meaning that I'm larger than life. I can do more things, you can't hold me down, you can't hold me back, and the first and not the last, I'm head not the tail, I'm upfront not behind. That's bases for hip hop. And that's the bases for the gospel. Lord says he will make us above not beneath, so.
"I Have the Victory: Crenshaw Elite Choir" HD Trailer New
:::love, thx & joy:::
*This interview was originally done in 2007 and published in in Japanese in "Sound & Recording" magazine in Japan.
interview : Robert “Waajeed” O’Bryant
[DJ, producer, composer, and arranger]
text by Keiko Tsukada
-- What first inspired you to get into music productions?
My parents used to collect records, like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan, Funkadelic, Parliament, Bootsy... I grew up with these music & that's how I started. When hip hop started in early 80s, it was so natural to start DJing. As I started DJing, I made a group called Slum Village with my friends. As I continue doing DJ, I always knew I've wanted to do production. An old good friend of mine, Jay Dee had this MPC2000 in basement he hasn't used for a long time. ?uestlove stuck his CD in there (LOL). So I asked Jay Dee, "What are you going to do with it?" and he goes "If you can take CD out, you can take it home with you". And I ended up taking it out so easy, I took it home, made beats for like 3 days and played it to Jay over the phone. He was surprised & said "Wow!" and that word encouraged me to go on. 6 songs I made then were used in "Trinity" by Slum Village. Jay was doing a solo at that time.
-- What type of equipment did you first using? Where did you go from there?
I started making beats with MPC2000 I got from Jay Dee & my records and started using MPC3000 later on. I used all the money I got from "Trinity" and invested for Rhodes MK I Stage 73 and more. When I moved from Detroit to NY in 2004, I sold most of those equipments. To make really good sounds, I decided to focus on using only good minimal equipment I really needed.
-- How do you go about selecting (digging) the material you use? What are your favorite sources?
I got my own theory in digging. I've graduated digging soulful & jazzy records already and I am into digging rock music lately. Rock was more experimental. I am so excited especially about Queens and Yes! I am also into cinematic sounds like Vangelis from Greece. I sample from records, CDs, tapes, anything.
-- What's the most important thing that you pay attention in recording for you?
To recreate myself every time I get into my studio. I think my strength is my approach to music & wide range of interest in music. I listen to anything from Britney Spears to Jedi Mind Tricks. I listen to their music theory. If it's Roy Ayers, which codes does he chose? Why he didn't use strings here? 90% of the times, tracks talk to me. I've gained this skill by being music fans & DJ for a long time.
-- How do you do mix down & mastering?
I do most of the mix down by myself. I am so strict about my ideal target sound that I came to the conclusion that it's better for me to do it on my own rather than asking engineers in expensive studios. There's a something in common with DJing as well, like seamless flow from 1 song to the other. Like, if it's DJing, starting from M.O.P. to Anthony Hamilton edited by Theo Parish, connecting so smoothly.
Mastering is different depends on projects but I ask Dave Cooley if it's hip hop. Also Todd Fairal. He is from Detroit. He did all the mix down & mastering for Slum Village, he is known as an expert for so called "Detroit Sounds". By the way, my definition of "Detroit Sounds" is different from general ideas, cos I am from Detroit. Usually hard drums & sharp snares are known for it but my vision of "Detroit Sounds" has more techno characteristics.
-- About your solo album "The War LP"
Branched out from PPP. I came back from a year & half tour to hometown, unemployment rate was so high especially in Detroit, all the views & people's behavior there were just like looking at a war. At the very same time, Proof of D12 pass away, Jay Dee passed away, my best friend DJ Dust passed away in the same year... I felt like I needed to make music that reflected my feeling from that time. Difficulties I've experience when I came back from the tour and the loss of Jay Dee are way deeper than music. "The War LP" was very personal album that expressed my heart deep inside. That's why I had to do a solo.
-- Please give your advise to anyone who wants to be a track maker in the future.
Stop listening to what you like. I know so many Jay Dee fanatics but their sounds are like watered down Jay Dee. Apart from what you love & search for your original sounds. You can use your on experience but someday you will have to establish your original history that people would love. I am a HUGE fan of Pete Rock but Pete doesn't try to sound like Premo and vice versa. Finding your own niche is the only way to create extraordinary sounds and people would remember that music for rest of their lives.
-- 5 Self Selected Works (Production) by Waajeed
 'I Want U' from "Marvin vs WJK" by Waajeed & The Jazz Katz
 'Funk In The Hole' from "Virgin Ubiquity Remixed EP 2" by Roy Ayers
 'Act Like You Know' feat. Jay Dee from "Triple P" by Platinum Pied Pipers
 'O'Bloody Days O' Starry Night On The Bowery' feat. Tiombe Lockhart from "The War LP"
 'Starz' from "Fabric 26" by Waajeed (Global Communication)
:::love, thx & joy:::
Knowledge is Power!
でもそれぐらい、He was the FREAKEST artist I've ever interviewed!!!