featured interview

Branesparker (Freestyle Professors) Our pocket's been picked If you have an original copy of 'Your Pocket's Been Picked' EP in your crates, then you are a) lucky, b) a gifted cratedigger, or c) an eBay-user with his pockets fat not flat. For all those who don't have the record; it's just recently being released in an LP-format, including four extra unreleased tracks, two unreleased instrumentals, and two brand new songs! The Freestyle Professors are back, so time for us to pick front man/MC/producer Branesparker's brain about the long-awaited return.

First let's talk about the re-issue of ?Your Pocket?s Been Picked? as part of an LP; there are 500 copies pressed of the EP, did it sell a lot already?

About 200 copies left!

So will you do some more pressings?

No, this will never be repressed as an LP (with the 4 unreleased songs) in any format (vinyl or CD) again. However, we will reissue the original EP on CD and single vinyl with no re-mastering, but the exclusive tracks will not be put out again. A lot of collectors love what me and Ed did as far as cleaning up the dirt, but some also felt we should have left it dirty. So we gonna press it the same way from the master and not tweak it at all. Unlike what we did for ?Your Pocket's Been Picked? and everyone will be able to afford this.

Yeah, because the ?Your Pockets? LP is 100 bucks, don?t you think this will chase away potential buyers?

Not at all. We felt this was a fair price considering the bootleg of the original was selling for fifty and wasn?t from the original masters. We also gave a classic album cover. Until this dropped, the world never knew what I looked like. There are 4 unreleased songs, plus 2 unreleased instrumentals. All copies are hand numbered and autographed by original group members and we threw in 2 new songs from our new EP. Plus this album (thanks to my collectors, much love) is not gonna lose its value; the price can only go up if you choose to sell your copy years from now. My fans must understand this project was put out only for collectors. We have abundant material of the same quality that we plan to release that they will be able to afford; starting with the new ?Vintage? EP, which should be in stores worldwide in February, and The Geo and Ricochet unreleased album we?re trying to drop in late December or early January. We are aware that 100 bucks is a lot of money to some people, but we are getting ready to release over 60 tracks old and new which will be affordable, because we love all our fans and appreciate the support. But this project was needed in order to finance future projects and make them affordable.

A few years ago a Japanese bootleg of the ?Your Pocket?s Been Picked? EP was pressed, what was your reaction when you found out? Is that one of the reasons why you put out the record again?

Definitely, and they did it twice. I was like it?s time for me to capitalize off me.

What are some of the other reasons for re-issuing it?

To let the fans know Freestyle Professors are back and we ain?t going nowhere, our sound ain?t changing and you can talk directly with us at www.freestyleprofessors.com, so now your know; we ain?t going nowhere!

What do you think when you see the EP going for 500 dollars on eBay?

I felt honoured. Only my EP and a few other records can command that price. I was like; if they can buy my OG EP for 500 and I don?t get a dime, then they can support me for 100, get more music and help finance Freestyle Records so I can drop affordable albums every three months with that underground Bronx sound because a lot of producers don?t do it no more. Wait until you hear this instrumental album we dropping next year, it?s gonna be sick.

The track ?Get Put On? is re-named ?Get The Put On?, is that a mistake or on purpose?

That was a typo, an error that we overlooked when we proofread the cover. We would never rename that track and the original name is on the vinyl, I?m glad you asked me that, unlike other reporters who assumed we renamed the track.

The EP was recorded in the Jazzy Jay Studios, what do you remember of those sessions?

Those days were nice. Jazzy Jay is a legend fo? real. At that time his studio gave off that muffled dirty sound, unbeknown at that time which would help create a signature sound for the Bronx. Every well-known name from the Bronx from Diamond D, Fat Joe ,Show and AG, Masters of Ceremony, Lord Finesse....etc had to make that rite of passage through that studio on Allerton Ave .

Don Q and Grand Wizard Fox are not members of the group anymore, why?

Don Q and G.W.Foxx will always be down with the Freestyle Professors. It?s just for me coming back, I needed a certain energy that I felt Don Q couldn?t give the project (due to personal things going on in his life) and G.W.Foxx is more behind the scenes, helping with promotions and other things. When we start touring hopefully Don Q and G.W. Foxx will be with us.

What are they doing right now?

They chillin, working, everday shit.

So how did you get down with new member GEO, now known as GIFF, through Showbiz?

No, we all grew up in the same hood, Forest Projects, and we all was working on our projects and he heard a couple of my tracks. I knew he was nice because he was rhyming with Show and Ricochet when they used to DJ in the park with their equipment, the rest is history.

What can we expect from the GEO and Ricochet EP?

Crazy production mainly coming from me, Ricochet and a track by Show. GEO?s vintage flow was crazy back then and we feel like the world needs to hear these lost-and-found treasures. It will be another limited edition vinyl release, maybe 500 pressed but much more affordable than the ?Your Pocket?s Been Picked? 2xLP. He definitely got some of my finer production for his album. We will have snippets on the site when it?s ready.

Will it contain the tracks ?A Lil Sum Sum? and ?Don?t Sleep??

Yes sir.

Let?s go back in time a little further, how did the Freestyle Professors come together?

The original line-up (me and Don Q) hooked up from the same projects (Forest Houses) and I met G.W.Foxx when we both worked in the theatre. I found out he used to be down with Bambaataa and had 50,000 records (at that time). This was probably around ?88.

When did you start producing?

I?ll say, with official equipment, in 1992. Before that, I was using pause button tape off of a tape deck (laughing). I did the ?Hardcore Villain? from doing an original loop from a pause button tape and hooking up the rest of samples in my head, then I would take it to Jazzy Jay, then he engineered it and laid it down the way I wanted it. I used to do a lot of earlier work like this, when I was known as The Magnificent Shakeem. I was shopping that joint around same time Special Ed dropped ?I?m The Magnificent?. Since a lot of people don?t know this, I?m gonna put that song out, so my fans can hear me before Freestyle Professors.

What?s your production equipment now and back in the days?

GEO loaned me my first SP12 and Lord Finesse showed me how to work it. I'm currently using the MPC 2000XL, but I?m gonna buy another SP12 just for that grit, no other machine can give on your drums. I don?t care what anyone says.

What?s the first rap record you?ve bought?

Good question. (thinking and smiling). probably had to be Spoonie Gee or ?The Adventures Of Flash?.

What are the last five rap records you?ve bought?

Jay Dilla?s new joint, Jay Z ?Black Album?, Cormega ?Legal Hustle?, Tony Touch ?Peacemaker 2? and Big L (He was the REAL KING of N.Y, lyrically he made mad MC'S step they rap game up besides Big Pun who was a monster too) last joint. I really don?t buy too many new rap albums because too many are trying to sell records instead of preserving the art form (raw chopped-up breaks) too much keyboardish sound for me.

When and how did you meet Showbiz?

I grew up with Show, Diamond, Lord Finesse, and Fat Joe. We all from the same projects Forest Houses. I met Show when we was knee-high, maybe 10years old.

In what way are you influenced by Show?

Nobody's fuckin with Show in my opinion, his chop style is crazy. There?s a lot of ill producers out there (gave my favourites on shout out's on new VINTAGE EP outro) but he made a lot of them step up their production game when Show and AG came out. Plus he is the only one who stamped our original EP when his name was big, not caring if people thought we was wack or not. Now that's straight up love and I talk about that on my new joint ?Dear Hip Hop? which buyers of ?Your Pockets Been Picked? 2xLP get for free on CD. I got a lot of tracks for the new projects from him, which is straight up D.I.T.C.-sound.

The Soul Clown album.tell us more about that.

Soul Clowns is my production crew that I?m getting ready to bring out. My man named Fuji originally started the Soul Clowns in the late 80?s. Me, him and Diamond used to always trade breaks back then and the kid?s chop game was ill. If you listen to ?Get Put On?, Don Q gives Soul Clowns a shout out at the end. I just updated it for 2006. The album is gonna have crazy tracks produced by myself, Amed (formerly known as DJ Timbalan) and another ill producer from the Bronx, called J Supiria. Also some new joints with Don Q, our singer Kasha (she sings on new song Little Boy Blue from the VINTAGE EP) and some unreleased tracks.

What?s the meaning behind Soul Clown?

A ?Soul Clown? is anyone who can keep that raw sound, flip it, and have fun doing it. Too much pressure on quote-unquote the signed artist. Their label needs 1,000,000 records sold, so it?s very rare that type of sound is gonna maintain that rawness. The independent however, don?t have that pressure and can make music from the heart, sell 100,000 units, make more money than a platinum artist and keep his respect at the end of the day. Because rap music now is about programming your audience with video?s and record spins not being creative and courageous to go against the grain, unfortunately.

When?s the new FP album ?Vintage? droppin?

It was supposed to drop this month, but we?re working on getting it in stores worldwide as opposed to just selling it on our site. Based on all the numerous fans that e-mail us, myself and partner Ed Catto wanted to make sure all I'll fans get this. The new ?Vintage? EP snippets are on our website so you can hear what you?re getting in advance. No gimmicks, just pure hip-hop. It should be in stores in February and we might start sellin it from the website in January ?07.

So these are all new tracks?

All new, baby. This is just to let fans now I didn?t fall off. Good production from myself, 2 joints from Show (?FP'S Pledge?, ?One Night?) and a joint from Backtrack (?When Life Is Calling?) a Bronx beatmaker who?s ill and down with the Soul Clowns.

What else is coming?

Well, Freestyle Records is getting ready to bring that Bronx grimey sound back. Me and my partner Ed Catto is gonna be dropping projects every three months. After the ?Vintage? EP, we gonna drop Geo & Ricochet?s unreleased LP, the original Freestyle Professors ?94 EP on CD and on single vinyl, not the ?Your Pocket's Been Picked?, THIS WILL NEVER BE REPRESSED ON VINYL OR CD's! Then my instrumental album, which is gonna be bananas and then Branespark meets Show (collectors just wait till your hear the treats on this), the ?Vintage? album plus free raw freestyles (as downloads), special songs and remixes produced by Branesparker that will only be available through our website www.freestyleprofessors.com and most of these projects most of our fans will be able to afford. You brought me back, literally, and there wouldn?t be a Branesparker without you?re keeping my name alive for 12years (without a face) now THAT?S LOVE. Oh, also my solo album ?Grime Time?.

Last question: why did it take so long for you to make a comeback?

Timing. I?m more well-known now thanks to my fans and collectors (I?m gonna always give you that raw sound) then I was in ?94 thanks to the sites like yours and VinylAddicts, DJ Muro, my collector fan base all over the world. Much love to Japan the UK, Germany and all abroad. Plus it helped me to see my albums being sold on eBay for the price they was going for and none of that money was coming in my pocket. But, at the end of the day, fuck the money. I just love making music and my FANS NEVER LET ME DIE and I love you for that. You appreciate and respect what I do and that shit is PRICELESS. With your help, Freestyle Professors is gonna be a household name by the end of 07.

Shout-outs?

Show and AG, Giff, Don Q, G.W.Foxx, Kaviar, Amed, Mongo slade, J Supiria, The Mixolgist DJ Chris love, Ed Catto and all my fans who still love that diggin? sound peace.

Thanks!

 

POSTED 11|01|2006
conducted by cpf

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