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Pseudo Slang Pseudo-intellectual xtracts of slang From Ogallala to Buffalo, you can find Emcee Sick performing alongside Tone Atlas, as the group Pseudo Slang. The duo recently released the excellent 'We'll Keep Looking' on Fat Beats, an album on which boombap and jazz intertwine with sick flows. Thank God it's not another mediocre group! Keeping it real is what they represent; always looking for the perfect beat, putting their rhymes to the test.because quality must be guaranteed.

You've written some reviews yourself, what did you think of the reviews on your album that have been published yet?

I have written some reviews over the years, but there are some wayyyy better music writers than me out there so I figure I'll leave it to the pros. That cat Jason Reynolds over at Okayplayer is pretty slick. On top of giving Pseudo Slang 'We'll Keep Looking' quite the beaming appraisal, he seems to have a nice flow to his language in general. I must say however that outside the reputable mags and sites where there are some very talented music writers, the drop-off can often be a free-fall into the barely-literate and the narrow-minded.

'And cats blow up with some weak shit / off the strength of internet marketing': how hard must it be for the kids who start listening to hip-hop nowadays, right? How can they separate the real from the fake?

Ha, I guess there still are some natural-selection-type mechanisms still in place. Cats who sign with reputable labels based on their merit as recording artists and grind it out on the road with interesting performances are the ones who tend to have any longevity. There is a lot of crap to sift through, but I don't know if I ever recall there being a time where there wasn't.

What's the role of the independent (hip-hop) media in this, according to you?

Independent (hip-hop) media needs to hold themselves to the highest of standards so that they not only truly compete with the big boys, but so they can become a more attractive source for deeper insight and interesting taste.

You and Tone are also members of the groups Pseudo Intellectuals and Xtracts of Slang, so is this contraction more like a project name or the actual name of a new group, what's the idea behind that contraction?

I've always identified with the name Pseudo Slang in the sense that the material is not quite the usual serving of hip-hop slang, and at the same time a convenient merging of the two groups, but like so many names over time it has formed its own identity to my ears and others. I'd have to say it sounds smooth and informs the music in itself.

How would you compare Pseudo Intellectuals with Xtracts Of Slang?

I wouldn't really. They're two different groups with two distinctly different sounds, but I do think they have been complimentary.

What do you remember of the barbecue where you met Tone Atlas?

The notion that we met at a BBQ somehow got created in write-ups that are floating out there. Tone and I both love some BBQ'ing without a doubt, but we met at the Baby Steps event back in Buffalo and didn't get into the back porch- and BBQ-sessions till some time later. I remember seeing Tone perform at an emcee showcase and thinking his patterns and pauses were real dope, then we ran into each other sometime after that, he was driving around with some other cats and they pulled up like by a Wendy's parking lot or something random. He had some of his beats and songs playing which I really liked, I think we all drove around for a while peeping beats and kickin it. Tone and I have always had a great creative chemistry.

'It's always better to doubt and get your priorities straight', how often do you doubt yourselves?

Every day, there's always things to overcome and aspects of life to be improved upon.

What do you do in order to evaluate yourself and your music?

I guess I just monitor myself in different surroundings as well as through different speakers, whether vocally, musically, or just in everyday life and the way I interact with people. Sometimes when the vibe just isn't fresh you gotta take a step back, but there are also times when you need to push through lulls make it right.

Do you compare your music with other groups?

Not directly really, but you're constantly inspired by music you hear and like, and sometimes you're pushed by music you think is lacking in some way to achieve what you perceive it falls short of. I guess I'm less competitive because once I get in the studio I get so excited within the process itself that I could really care less about making a song to one-up anybody else.

How did your working process on this album differ from the rest of the music you made?

In the past I had gone into the studio with producers in a much more song-to-song-type-of-way, while on this project we went in with the MPC 2000XL running the 8-outs and treating every sound separately as it's own instrument which changed the process. I frequently wrote in the studio, so we molded the composing, sequencing and arranging around the vocals and everything was much more hands on than it had been in the past.

You also seem to have really paid attention to details - like the hiss of a record on 'Perfect Beat'.?

Yeah, spending an excessive amount of time on one little sound was something I often annoy people with, but Tone and Gangsta D were definitely game to get things right - not in a general sense of some 'right' way to do things- but you just know when you hear something if it feels right.

Pseudo Slang and Vinija Mojica go way back, she was also on your 2004 single, now she's on 'Broke & Copasetic', how did you get down with her?

We hooked up with Vinia through my old A&R at Fat Beats, and we were like 'mannnn, we need to get her on that 'Copasetic' track'. It seemed like the perfect fit and despite a real obstacle-laden studio session we were able to get it done. She is a really dope person.

What has 'being signed with Fat Beats for four years' done for Pseudo Slang yet?

Being signed to Fat Beats has not only enabled the music to reach many more ears, but it helped with everything across the board, from bookings made easier to promotions pushed harder. I can't say enough good things about the whole crew at FB, they stuck with this project through some turbulence, and have done a great job with pushing the album.

You also hosted a radio show right? In what way do you think that contributes to the musician in you?

I did about 5-6 years of hip-hop radio Sunday nights in Buffalo NY on 91.3FM WBNY. Hosting that as well as hosting events is great in that I always considered myself a fan first. I've always gotten crazy excitement from hearing great songs, there's maybe a hand-full every year that can change your life, it's just your job to find them. Good music spurs more good music, so it's best as a musician to keep searching and not get hung up on what you're doing too exclusively.

Can we take a guess at your underground fav groups?

Maspyke? Yes, for real!

Sound Providers? I wouldn't have them in my top five, but they're dope.

Wee Bee Foolish? Those are my peeps, cool cats.

All Natural? The old stuff is crazy dope.

People Under The Stairs? The beats are crazy!

My top 5 fave underground groups would have to be:

Siah & Yeshua
Organized Konfusion
Mass Influence

Please complete the following sentences:

If rappers would have more doubts then. we'd have albums with more substance.

If we weren't doing hip-hop than we. would be thrift storeowners.

If I hadn't met Tony Atlas then. I'd know a whole lot less about jazz music, and wouldn't have a real up-close knowledge about what being a good father is.

Our biggest jazz influence is. Bill Evans (Tone's) and Ahmad Jamal.

We'll keep looking for. new ways.

What was the first rap record you bought?

Run-D.M.C - 'Run-D.M.C'.

What were some of the latest (rap) albums you uploaded onto you iPod?

I only use my iPod -my friend just gave me one a couple months ago, my first one- for instrumentals and music I'm working on and writing to, but I've had a couple albums pumping recently: De La Soul 'Stakes Is High' and Eric B & Rakim 'Let The Rhythm Hit Em'.

If you could re-unite three hip-hop duo's from the annals of hip-hop, who would you choose?

Most reunion albums tend to fall short of the mark; however, I try to stay optimistic: Mass Influence, Siah & Yeshua, Organized Konfusion.

What are some of the latest 'rap revelations' in Buffalo?

I now live in Chicago, but I am constantly back in Buffalo for shows and friends, and anybody who has ever seen A.L. Third perform would probably categorize him as a 'rap revelation.'

What's next for Pseudo Slang?

A year or two of touring as much of the world as I can get to, and then finishing an album called 'Sick In Blue Minor' which we were working on before WKL became the focus. Keep an eye on http://www.pseudo-slang.com and http://www.fatbeats.com and http://www.myspace.com/pseudoslang for updates on PS stuff and right now you can check there for info on the 'We'll Keep Touring' Tour '09 I'm about to embark on plus the Euro-Tour '09 right after.


Thanks for asking some great questions here man, this is the best interview I've done yet.


POSTED 09|07|2009
conducted by cpf

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