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Junk Science Nuclear family brew: a degustation Snafu and Baje One met in high school after Baje stole a handful of tapes out of Snafu?s backpack. And that was that, the beginning of the group Junk Science, whose breakthrough came in 2005 after winning a car company contest with the song ?Roads?, which landed them a deal with DJ Ese?s Embedded Records. Two years later the duo releases ?Gran?Dad?s Nerve Tonic? on the same label, in conjunction with Def Jux, the follow-up to ?Feeding Einstein?. An album accompanied with a limited-release beer, crafted by Brooklyn brewery Six Points, presumably settin a trend which will definitely keep fans from illegal downloading. Anyhow, we took the time with both members to discuss the album, the beer, their background and their crew Nuclear Family.

THE ALBUM.

First of all, Junk Science, where does the name come from and is it a reference to the term used in a political/law context?

Baje: It?s not really a reference to the law thing at all. One day we were together and we saw the phrase Junk Science written somewhere, and we knew immediately that it was a good way to describe our sound.

'Gran?dad's Nerve Tonic' is your sophomore album, is it harder to make a second album than it is to make a debut album?

Snafu: Easier. We know what our sound exactly sounds like now.

Baje: People say it?s harder to make a second album because it?s hard to live up to the expectations you created with the first one. That?s why we try to keep expectations low, because that way everybody wins!

How did the collaboration between you two go, was it different than on the first album?

S: It was a lot easier.

B: There were a lot less fights, both physical and emotional. I think we both eased up a bit, and fell into a rhythm with it. I also think Snafu has learned some important lessons in recent years, mainly to never ever question anything I say.

Does Def Jux has anything to say about the record?

S: Well, they're co-releasing it, so that pretty much means they think it's fresh to death.

In some beats one can hear the influence of MF Doom, you guys also made a song called Hey! just like MF Doom did, coincidence?

S: Not any more of a coincidence than the title being similar to Outkast's ?Hey-ya!? or anything else. We're big Doom fans, like any sensible person should be, but there was no intended reference to any of his tracks.

Daedelus made a remix of one of your songs, so obviously you?re also a fan of him?

S: I've been a big Daedelus fan for a minute now. The collabo came about after meeting him at an art-gallery show in Brooklyn. We just started talking about music and what his methods were and such, and it just kinda came about. I gave him the beat I made, he took some of the original pieces and flipped it and added his whole other dimension of sound to it, then Baje wrote some new hot bang bangs, and presto! A new jam for the ages. That remix is available on super-limited edition 45s if you can find 'em out there.

B: Daedelus is definitely a Junk Scientist.

?Jerry Maguire? is a song on how to get fired or to quit your job, when and why did you got fired the fastest?

B: It?s more a song on how to go out with a bang. But to answer your question I once got fired from a high-class restaurant pretty fast. I had no business being there. I just can?t bring myself to care whether or not assholes are enjoying their appetizers. Terrible work.

So which three job offers would you take (into consideration)?

S:
- marine biologist.
- snack tester/inventor.
- creative design for videogames.

B:
- professional rapper
- high class man-whore
- Batman

THE BEER.

Who came up with the idea of selling beer with the release of the album?

S: We both were sitting on the couch, drinking beer, listening to a mix of what we had of the album so far when we said aloud ?Man, that'd be cool if we had our own beer!?.

And how did you convince Six Point Craft Ales to brew your beer?

S: I showed them a duffel bag with one million dollars inside. I took it back of course, but I think just seeing that much money really let them know how we do business.

Do you think selling beer with records is the perfect solution to save the music industry or the beer industry?

S: Unlike the music industry, the beer industry has no plans of crumbling any time soon.

B: The music industry is going downhill in large part because people have become accustomed to getting music for free. I hope someday to become accustomed to getting beer for free.

What does Gran Dad Nerve Tonic beer taste like?

S: Mana from the gods! It tastes like the best rap song ever.

B: It?s an imperial red ale with a strong hop presence. A lot of people say it tastes like really good weed.

What's your favourite Belgian beer?

B: In the terrible hot New York summer I like to drink Belgian Wit beers. I love that whole style of brewing. For the colder nights, there?s a bar in the neighbourhood that serves Framboise mixed with Guinness. They call it a Black Velvet, it?s delicious. There are some great importers out here where you can get the doubles and saisons too. What we really need to do is come to Belgium and get the real stuff.

What?s the most classic beer rap song, 'Pass the 40' by Black Sheep, Alkaholiks' 'Last Call', Beatnuts' '40 oz',...?

S: ?40oz For Breakfast? by Blackalicious maybe? But it's not that fun to drink to. Hopefully not ?Tap The Bottle And Twist The Cap? by Young Black Teenagers.

THE CREW.

You?re part of the Nuclear Family, can we expect like a group release of them anytime soon?

S: I'm expecting a group release from us.

B: Me too.

You mostly guest feature on each other?s albums, do you on purposely try to keep the features within the crew?

S: Like any crew out there we think our family members are ill rappers that need to get heard, so it's only natural to want to feature our crew on our albums.

B: Everyone in Nuk Fam shares a certain understanding of music that we?ve all sort of created together just through years of being around each other. When it comes to collaborations I prefer to work with family cause that understanding is already there. On the other hand, we also featured some of our extended fam on this record, and they all made great contributions to the project. With these folks like Cool Calm Pete, Loer Velocity, K-Swift and Cavalier, we?ve been exposed to each other?s music for some time now, and even though we have different styles and approaches, not to mention backgrounds, I feel that there?s definitely an underlying thread that connects us all.

The Iller Than Theirs album was released only a few months before yours, in whose benefit will that turn out?

B: It works for all of us, especially since we all got a chance to tour together recently. It?s great to have two brand new Nuk Fam projects out in the wild at the same time.

How did you like the Iller Than Theirs record?

S: It's in my headphones right now. Definitely one of the dopest albums out in a long ass time. I'm really proud of them. It's a classic.

B: I?m proud of them on so many levels.

How was touring with Devin the Dude, A+ and Del The Funkee Homosapien?

S: Del and A+ are like the coolest dudes on the planet. A+ is definitely worthy of his moniker. Del gave me a bunch of beat-making software for me to fool around with. Devin and the Coughee Brothas were cool too, but they kinda rolled separately on their own shit. Good guys though.

B: I got Del and Plee to sign my first-pressing ?Mistadobalina? 12". Amazing.

Those artists are different from one and another, plus you guys, its different styles of hip-hop, how did the crowd react to that?

S: For a lot of the shows you could definitely spot who in the audience was there to see which act.

B: That?s true. But I also think most kids went home pretty happy. There was definitely something for everyone at the show.

THE BACKGROUND.

How was growing up in Brooklyn?

B: I mean it was great. I came up in a community of great folks that I?m still very much a part of. Krayo grew up down the block from me. J. Howells Werthman grew up on the next street. It also sucked in ways. I?ve spent years adjusting to the changes my neighbourhood has gone through. But no matter what, Brooklyn will always be where I want to live.

S: I actually grew up in Manhattan, but I went to school in Brooklyn, where I met Baje. You can't really grow up hating NYC. Sure, you'll go through phases of hating it to death, but the love's always there.

What Brooklyn artists did you look up to?

B: Mos Def, Jeru, El-P, Siah and Yeshua.

What was the first rap record you bought?

S: ?De La Soul Is Dead? and the Fat Boys. Before that I made tapes of videogame music to listen to.

B: Me and my brother put in 4 bucks each and bought De La?s ?Three Feet High and Rising?. I mostly used to just bootleg his tapes and make mixtapes with my friends.

What was the last rap record you uploaded on your iPod?

S: Blu & Exile ?Below The Heavens?.

B: The Project ?The Truth Today?.

So Baje, you stole a backpack with cassettes from Snafu in high school right. What was in it besides the beat tape?

B: ?Three Feet High and Rising?, and a Biz Markie tape.

How did you get to participate in a car company?s contest?

B: We submitted our song, and a panel of ?music experts? thought it was good enough to be in the competition. Then they had a popular vote to decide the winner. Remember before when I said we have a strong community in Brooklyn? When the contest happened I felt like the whole neighbourhood got behind us. There were kids I didn?t even know coming up to me like ?Hey man, I voted for you seven times!?.

Winning the contest, was that the main reason for you to get in touch with DJ Ese?

B: We knew Ese already because we had done shows with Babbletron, a group that was on his label. I think we would have connected with him anyway, but when you?re out there hustling for yourself all the time it can be hard to get folks to respect you. As soon as somebody else puts some support behind you it makes others people take more notice. The good thing about Ese is that he just puts out music he likes. He really supports us as artists and gives us a space to put out the music we want to make. But when he saw what we were doing on our own, without the help of a label, I think he really respected it. But that feels like forever ago. He?s like family to us now.

You were both born on the 15th of March. Eva Longoria, Will I AM were also, do you feel related to them in one way or another?

B: I feel like they are famous and we are not.

S: Baje is really a dread-locked black man stuck in the body of a white? woman.

TRIVIA.

What is the last video game you bought?

S: We had to bring the X-box 360 on tour, and we had ?Halo 3? on ice, waiting for the tour to play it.

B: I?m about to buy ?Call of Duty 4?, or ?Assassin?s Creed?, or ?Bioshock?. I like games where you kill people. I?ve been told it?s a very American thing.

As we don't know nothing about video game consoles except for Nintendo GameBoy and we've only played Tetris or Donkey Kong, which console and assorted video games would you suggest us, beginners?

S: For beginners? The ?Wii?. It's easy to pick up and play. They're actually using it for exercise in some senior citizen homes.

Where were you when Company Flow released Funcrusher Plus?

S: In high school with Baje. Either that or at Fat Beats or Bobbito's store Footwork picking up the vinyl.

B: Shout out to Bobbito! I play basketball with that guy. He?s really good. I have the original double vinyl ?Funcrusher? EP. Our album release party for the new record was actually also the Company Flow reunion show. I felt like things kind of came full circle for us that night. Company Flow was one of those groups that I listened to all the time when I was in high school. I knew back then though that I would never really make songs that sounded like theirs, that wasn?t why I listened. I listened because I loved how they redefined the rules for what hip hop was. They were the first ones to take that b-boy New York aesthetic and push it all the way to left field. A lot of people tried to copy that, but those folks never had that real New York current running through their shit.

Can you please comment on the following groups:

UMC's

S: Gave me one to grow on.

Urban Thermo Dynamics

S: I found out about Mos Def's first group in a roundabout way. I had a crush on this girl in my high school. She was dating this rapper in this group Natural Resource - which was Jean Grae's old group when she was called What What- anyway she made me a copy of the urban thermo dynamics album off her boyfriend Ocean.

The B.U.M.S

S: I think my little brother still bumps their CD. Some tight production on this album. Brothas unda madness!

B: Bust a move with the L.I. groove!

Double X Posse

S: ?I'm not gonna be able to do!? I loved it when videos like this were still being shown on TV. - their name always drove me crazy cause the way it's spelled out in their logo is "double x x posse" - that's quadruple "x"!!

Blood Of Abraham

S: Shit. I actually played their first album all-the way through on the drive back from Vancouver. Hardcore political white Jewish rappers. And before non-fiction(sp?)!

What?s next for Junk Science?

B: We may or may not move to Hawaii to make a new record. If we don?t move to Hawaii I guess we will still make a new record. It just won?t be as much fun. But I?m definitely going to be releasing a solo EP that I?m in the process of finishing. It?s called ?The Weightless EP?.

Shout-outs?

B: Shouts to the whole Nuclear Family crew. DJ Ese and the Embedded team, everyone at Def Jux, The Project, The Dugout, Lu. Rreals, all our folks in Brooklyn and all the new friends we made out on tour.

Thanks!

 

POSTED 12|01|2007
conducted by cpf

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