featured interview

L.i.f.e. Long Living In Full Effect 1997 was the year when Breez Evahlowin gathered some of NY Underground’s most promising emcees. Although still a collective, each member is focusing on a solo career too, there’s of course Breeze, there’s C Rayz Walz, but there’s also L.I.F.E. Long, who collaborated with a variety of artists from Scienz Of Life to Prince Po, and who’s now releasing ’Longevity 1.5’ on French label Ascetic.

‘Longevity’; how does the idea of living forever sound to you?

Longevity. I'm definitely striving to live forever! At least maybe not in the physical but in the spiritual form. I give thanks to Jah knowing that he has plans for me! That's why I chose the name Life. ‘Living In Full Effect’, which stands for the state I'm always in forever! L.I.F.E. Long like K.R.S. (Hip-Hop), we will be here forever!!

How do you want to be remembered?

As a legend in the game like Biggie, Tupac, JMJ. I definitely would love to be remembered for my contributions. I feel I record music that is timeless so even after my physical existence the music I leave behind will be treasures for the world!

Being so long in the game, what are some of the most crucial developments?

I feel every moment in the game is crucial! Recording music and having the love to do it is easy. However when the business side of things come into play you always see, to get tested! This game is just what it is, a game! You gotta play hard and just never look back! Always move forward! Learn from your mistakes and move forwards! I feel the most crucial moments are moments that I experience everyday! ‘Industry rule number 3080, record company people are shady’.

Your new album is finally out...

Finally! It’s been a long wait! ‘Longevity vol 1.5’ is here out for the people! Production by Spier 1200, Black Panther, Ste-lo Donan Links, Grand Fortune, Dysh with features like Iomos Marad, Apani, the legendary U.G. (Cella Dwellas), Mista Sinista, Poison pen, it’s a timeless classic boom-bap album that was created for all my true hip-hop heads!

Iomos Marad’s from Chicago, how did you get with him?

Yess Sir! I have Iomos Marad my brother from another mother on the album! Basically he had to be on the album. Not only am I a fan of his works, we are friends. We met around 2003. After hearing his album ‘Deep Rooted’, I had to collab with him! I got the chance to meet Iomos while he was touring in New York. We met and just connected after the first meeting. I got a chance to show Iomos around N.Y. and we kept in touch after he went back home to Chicago. We still keep in touch like every month or so! So when I was working on ‘Longevity’ I knew I had to get Iomos to feature! Big up to Iomos Marad a real dude!

How did you get to work with a French label?

I got a chance to meet up with a French label, well they were not a label when I met them only an idea, that idea grew into Ascetic music. Basically Amine and Lotfi, the owners of Ascetic music used to run a French magazine ‘Real’. I was touring with Mike Ladd at the time. I was featured on his album released on Big Dada entitled ‘Majesticons’. I was interviewed by Amine and Lotfi for the magazine. I learned that they were starting a label. We both agreed on the idea of me releasing a project and hence my relationship with Ascetic music was born! Big up to Mike Ladd for the Euro connect! Thanks Mike I owe you too much!

Some of the artists who’ve also released an album on the Ascetic label are Insight and Mr Live, are there perhaps any collabos with any of them coming up?

I definitely feel there will be something going down in the future as far as collabos! I never met Khondo or Insight but would love to colab, as I respect both of their music. I have known Mr. Live for years, we talked the other day about collaborating so you definitely will see a Mr. Live-L.I.F.E. Long collabo in the future! Mr. Live is a true legend in the game since the Fondle ‘Em days.

You're with Raptivism and Ascetic, what projects do you do for which label and why?

My deal with Raptivism was basically a one-time-thing! They put out ‘Cuts and Collabos Part 2’, my mixtape. I signed with Ascetic for one album so far, who knows what the future holds. I have alot of music that needs homes! I feel I have something for any label. Holla!

You’re about to release an album with Swedish producer Big Ape, it seems like a lot of US Mc’s are coming to work with overseas producers right now…

Hip-hop is worldwide! So building with European artists and labels was bound to happen. I feel that Europe has a huge appreciation for hip-hop and people in Europe respect the artform and respect where it came from. That is why I feel it is easy to work with European labels and artists, it’s different in Europe! Europe is not one- dimensional, you all appreciate all forms of music and are willing to work with us! I feel Europe is saving hip-hop right now! Big up all my overseas people worldwide!

How much of an influence does Internet have in this and what role did it play in your collabo with Big Ape?

No doubt the Internet plays a huge role on connecting with people over seas! I met Ape online. We recorded half of the album with him sending me beats on-line! Basically Ape got in touch with Stronghold! I responded to his call and after receiving his first beat CD. I knew me and him would be doing a lot of work to do. 14 songs later we got an album ‘Crossing The Globe’.

Why did you decide to work with Big Ape instead of with any other European producer?

Big Ape is not only my friend but also a dope producer! I have worked with many other European producers as well! Dysh is from France and produced four songs on my album ‘Outside’, ‘Self Examination’, ‘Begintro’, and the ‘Intro’. I also worked with Full One from Geneva, Snowgoons from Germany, Dr. Singe from France, DJ Diaze from France, Kyo Itachi from France, Swordart from Germany, oh yeah, and Spier 1200 is originally from Japan! I'm down to work with anybody who is like-minded!

Do you have anymore plans with Writers Guild?

I asked Loer the same question the other day! (laughs) He's focused on his solo career right now! However the Writer's Guild album is half way done I guess when Loe is ready, we'll finish what we started. I'm down for whatever, it takes me nothing to write a rhyme! This is in my blood!

Could you briefly explain how you got with the Stronghold Crew…

Breez put out the call for the best emcees in N.Y. to build and get it popping. I felt the vibe of the movement and responded to Breez's call in ‘97! We been together since ‘97! STRONGHOLD forever!

I remember calling yourself the thumb of the Stronghold fist? Will you ever become the ring finger?

Each member of Stronghold has their own finger on the hand! My position will always be #1, the thumb, because I stand out and am on my own vibe! I'm the thumb because I don't have one style I have many. I can flip on a next level vibe, some street shit, some conscious vibe, you never know. The thumb just stands out! That's me!

You had lots of collabos on different kind of albums with a wide range of artists, from Anti-Pop Consortium to Zion I to Scienz Of Life, does that diversity has influenced your own music?

I'm influenced to hip-hop in a whole! I love hip-hop!! Especially real hip-hop! So I gravitate to anything that is like-minded! Whatever I feel has substance I relate to! New York is like a huge pot filled with emcees and I am in that pot! So while simmering in that pot I got a chance to blend in with all of the other emcees! Everyone whom I collaborated with, I am connected with in some sort of way, Anti- Pop are like my mentors! My first real recording was in Earle Blaize from Anti-Pop's studio!

Which recording sessions do you remember well?

I have many memorable sessions, too many. I mean I'm a member of Stronghold consisting of Poison Pen, Crayz, Breez Evahflowin, Swave Sevah , Immortal Technique, Static, Big Mike, Stelf Index, those are some of the illest personalities in the game so it’s hard to say! But I guess the song I did with Prince Po and U.G. off me and Ape's ‘Crossing The Globe’ album, I am a huge fan of both Prince Po and U.G. so recording with them was an honor!

You’re a sneaker addict, what was the latest pair of sneakers you bought?

Yes I'm a kickaholic! (laughs) I have a problem with the kicks man! I love kicks yo, I just copped the dunk trainers! Black and orange with a lil camo they’re sick yo!

Which ones you prefer; Air Force One or Air Jordan Classic?

Definitely Jordan Classic! Although there are some sick Air Force 1's, the Jordan Air Force 1's are crazy you seen those?

Yeah, the best of both sides. Your inspiration is your 9-to-5 you often quote, what job are you doing at the moment and what situations do you get your inspiration from?

I do Customer Service all day everyday; it sucks. The inspiration is I hate my 9-5 so I always have to refer to my struggle! Every moment is inspiration. I find so much peace when I'm not working that's the biggest inspiration, when I'm not workin! Fuck work!! (laughs)

So when do you mostly find the time to write and record?

You have to find the time or write at work! Like I said on ‘Move Get Up’; ‘On the low at the job craftin rhymes,’ I write on the train! Anytime all day anyday anytime!

What was the first rap album you bought?

Run DMC's ‘Raising Hell’! Wow that was a minute yeah I'm old! (laughs)

What was the last album(s) you uploaded unto your iPod, rap or non-rap?

Damn hmmm probably Pete Rock’s newest! That joint is the truth!

What’s the last book you’ve read?

‘The Alchemist’ for the second time! Dope book about following and conquering your destiny!

What’s the last movie(s) you saw?

‘Meet The Spartans’ (laughs), very stupid but funny!

You studied journalism, does this influence the way you look at things, like you report on life..?

I feel like I am the journalist of the hood reporting about my movements and my surroundings! I am L.I.F.E. so I report on life itself!

What’s your opinion on today’s hip-hop journalism?

I feel like it has come a long way! From newspaper to magazine to now Internet sites and blogs! I appreciate anyone who covers the truth and who is not afraid to promote the truth!

What’s next for LIFE Long?

Touring, catch me in your hood, town, country, city, providence or state real soon! I also got ‘Crossing The Globe’ with Big Ape of The Elite Fleet coming out next! Then after that ‘The Waiting Game’ with producer Black Sparx! So much more to come I just began my reign of terror! (laughs)

Shout-outs?

Big up to my girl Impress Tru I love you baby! My moms, my sister, my crew Stronghold, Creative Juices, Respect Tha God and the Team, Big Ape and The Elite Fleet, Black Sparx, Paradox, Iomos Marad, U.G., all my fans and people in the struggle everywhere! Bless Up Jah Guide and Protect Give thanks for this dope interview! Cop Longevity vol 1.5! Peace!

 

POSTED 03|01|2008
conducted by cpf

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