featured interview

Substantial The first son of Hip-Hop After having slaughtered the lambs in 2006 (?Sacrificial Lambs?, Unlimited Vinyl Ink), Substantial?s ready for the ultimate ?Sacrifice? (a look at the cover will tell you more). Supposedly to come out on the 20th of November, fans of this Extended F@mm member will have to wait until after the New Year, for his third album to drop on QN5. In the meanwhile we had a chat with this lyrical terrorist, House Party rocker and first Son Of Hip-Hop?...

The new album is called ?Sacrifice?, have you sacrificed things for your rap career that you think you?d better not had sacrificed?

At times it has affected the relationship I?ve had with my family. One time right before my grandmother passed I told them I would come down to see her before it was too late and they told me not to worry about it if I had a show or something else to do because they know how busy I am. That really disturbed me. But it made me realize that I hadn't been putting my family first and that's probably why they said what they said.

Concerning the lyrics and rhyme techniques, have you tried to insert a lot of experimentation?

I?ve always believed that it is important to try and push yourself to try new things. I?m not looking to mimic what I?ve seen, I?m trying to take it to the next plateau.

And how do you try to achieve that?

I just try to experience new things and spend time looking within so that I can try to give my listeners a one of a kind experience. My inspirations are family, friends, the youth I work with and various genres of music I listen to.

What are some of your favourite songs of the new album, why?

?My Favorite Things?, ?Hood Hope?, ?The Wake Up Call? and ?QT?. ?My Favourite Things? because it took several years to finish it and I was so proud of it when I listened to it, it?s just a beautiful song. Definition and Steph did an amazing job on this song. Similar to ?MTF?, ?Hood Hope? was also a bit of a journey to complete. A lot went into this song. To me it feels like I?m experiencing an event of some sort. ?TWUC? for me is just that. It?s a constant reminder to myself that I can always be better than I am currently. And ?QT? is just a pretty song which I know sounds soft coming from a rapper. But I believe that if you?re gonna make a song for a woman then it needs to capture her essence. And this song truly captures the essence of the relationship I have with my woman.

When it comes down to self-sacrifice, it?s a disputed term, how would you interpret self-sacrifice for religion, faith?

Well when you think of it in terms of religion/faith, of course people are split. At the end of the day a person decides whether they are willing to sacrifice themselves for what they feel is a just cause. Personally I?d step in front of a bullet for someone I love. Is that suicide or sacrifice? I don?t think suicide and sacrifice are the same things. Jesus knew what was going to happen to him. Does that mean he committed suicide? Or did he sacrifice himself for what he believes was the greater good?

Uhm..??Resurrection of the House Party?, what are some of your earliest memories of the House Party movies?

I remember my first time going to see it with my sister. The theatre was so packed that people were sneaking in and standing in the isles to watch it. At the time it was the coolest thing I had seen on the big screen.

We wouldn?t wanna have dreamt it, but have you seen the last, horrible movie ?House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute?, which didn?t even feature Kid nor Play?

Hell No!

Did you know Kid N Play before ?House Party??

Yeah, I was always a fan of their music. They are one of hip-hop's most slept-on duos. Plus I used to dance back then so I studied their every movement. I've damn near broke my leg a million times trying to hop over it.

Before we wander of on memory lane, back to the album, how come Nujabes ain?t on it?

Well, we're still cool but I wanted to do this album on my own. When I was signed with Nujabes I didn't have the opportunity to work with a lot of other folks whose production I was feeling. This time around I wanted to call the shots. We discussed the possibility of putting out a Nujabes remix of ?Sacrifice? but it never panned out.

Is there any more material of Nujabes and you coming up?

Yeah, I recorded some new material with him while I toured Japan this summer. Folks can hear the new collabs on his new album.

How would you compare your first album ?To This Union?...? with ?Sacrifice??

Similarities: a wide range of topics. Differences: ?Sacrifice? features the following; there's one MC collabo with my group Extended Famm (Pack FM & Tonedeff), a lot more diversity (flow & production style), plenty of live instrumentation, and I have definitely grown as an artist, lyrically and flow.

What?s the difference between your first group Dominion and Extended F@mm and how did Dominion evolve into E Famm?

Well, Dominion is Pack FM, Mr. Mecca, & me. That was my original group in NYC. Extended F@mm is Tonedeff, Pack FM, me and Session who is no longer a member. Basically what happened was while Mecca was on tour with The Source Magazine, Pack and myself ventured out to Tone's crib to do a posse cut with him and Session, who we didn't know at the time. After we recorded the song ?The Evil That Pens Do?, we liked the chemistry and formed a group. Although Dominion was disbanded by then, Mecca always says that if he wasn't on tour at the time he probably would have been in E Famm too.

The first time we learned about Pack FM, Hydra and ?em was on Dutch TV actually, somewhere in 2000, do you remember that?

Yes I do. I was supposed to be in it but I was attending Pratt Institute at the time and missed 95% of the filming because of my responsibilities at the school. I think I'm in it for a millisecond and you hear my name pop up a couple of times.

If you?re down with Tonedeff for a while, why did it take until 2007 to join QN5 (Tonedeff?s label, ed) officially?

Well before I moved to NYC I had my own crew called UV (UltraViolet, ed). We eventually started Unlimited Vinyl Ink and have been working on various projects over the years so I didn't want to drop what was already in motion with that to sign with QN5. Although I've signed with QN5 now ?Sacrifice? is more of a collaborative effort. That's why the album carries both label names.

What was the reason for you to start Unlimited Vinyl Ink?

I got tired of waiting for someone to put us on and made it happen ourselves. Other artists on the team include Gnormen Insanate Baites, Gods'Illa & Illumeenous. We've also worked with artists like Fresh Daily, Naturel and vocalist rnb but we've been trying to restructure things to prepare for a recent distribution opportunity in Japan. Big things soon come!

Your other project Brooklyn Zoo?...can you tell us more about that too?

European Producers Chew-Fu Phat and Estaw, along with myself, have worked together to create a new sound fusing electro-house and hip-hop. The Brooklyn Zoo compilation album will be dropping in the near future. It has me rhyming over production that ranges from 120 to 131 BPM. The album will feature at least 5 to 6 songs from me and it will also feature Doug E. Fresh. (Check it)

The busy man you are, you have also the Joe Brothers project coming out, right?

Yes indeed! Well, Oddisee just got back from Europe so we will begin to wrap up production in the next month or so. It's gonna be a really fresh project and I'm looking forward to trading verses back and forth with Odd and Trek Life. The best part about the CD now is that it went from being a compilation to an actual album. So stay tuned for that (http://www.myspace.com/thejoebrothers ).

You?ve got quite a few Japanese releases, how would you compare the Japanese hip-hop market to the US hip-hop market?

The Japanese underground hip-hop market is dominated by Jazzy Production and they also buy more vinyl. But the vinyl side of it is starting to shift because of the digital sales. A lot of vinyl shops are shutting down as vinyl and CD sales decline. For me it has been a little bit easier to move units in Japan but that was because I was signed to a Japanese record label, Hyde Out Productions, which catered my sound to that market.

Outselling Ja Rule or outselling Jermaine Dupri over in Japan, what enjoyed you the most?

I mean I was happy that my album was getting that type of support in one of the biggest cities in the world, Tokyo. I mean at the end of the day they still sold more units than me worldwide but it still was pretty damn cool.

On the side, what?s your vision on the European market, what are some of the characteristics of the European hip-hop fan/customer you think?

Overall they just seem hungrier for good music, a little less caught up in the hype that the US often gets caught up in. It just seems sometimes that everyone else sets their music standards a little higher than consumers here in the US. Not to mention, that they seem a little more willing to seek out better music instead of trying to kill it off and hop on the next thing. But what do I know? I'm American.

Your work and philosophy is quite influenced by Japanese culture, when and how did you get into that?

I was first introduced to it in Elementary school. Then eventually I grew a love for Anime when I was a teenager. Next thing you know I'm on a 14 hour-flight to Japan in a plane that was covered in Pokemon characters?...true story!

What are some of the most important values of martial art for you personally?

I think one of the most important things that anyone can take from it is discipline. That is truly something I struggle with from time to time and that I think a lot of us lack.

Like surfing on the Internet for instance. You?re very accessible through blogs, fora, Myspace,?... do you think that all rappers need to communicate more with their fans?

I think so but it can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes it's cool, other times it can be very awkward. A lot of MCs had advised me to step back some but it's hard because I see myself as a normal guy. I know I have talent but that doesn't make me better than anybody else. But I won't front though, I definitely don't respond to everyone.

What?s your opinion on Internet hip-hop press and how liable do they seem to you?

Honestly, most of the Internet press I have come across have been good to me so far (knocks on wood). But I have seen a lot of nonsense posted on sites about industry folks and it gets a little out of hand at times. I think people forget that the Internet is still apart of the real world. Yes people have the right to know but others have the ability to address issues with whatever means they see fit. Ultimately, everyone needs to try to be more professional and leave their personal agendas out of it.

The Source called you a ?lyrical problem? how would you interpreter that in your own words?

I took it as a compliment. In the context of the write-up they basically were saying I was a good lyricist. In the words of Rev. Run; ?Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good?.

Talking about good ol Run DMC, what was your first rap record?

LL Cool J's ?Bigger and Deffer?.

What was the last rap record you bought?

Kanye West's ?Graduation?.

What?s your favourite Common album?

A tie between ?Resurrection? and ?Like Water for Chocolate?, both are in the whip right now.

What were some of the last few books you?ve read?

?Survivor?, ?Lullaby? and ?Choke?, all by Chuck Palahniuk.

What book has left a big influence on you and your music?

Webster's Dictionary. If you don't know the meaning of words you use, then you cannot effectively communicate with others.

What?s your favourite Bruce Lee movie?

?Fist of Fury? or better known as the ?Chinese Connection? here in the US.

Who?s your favourite poet and which is your fav poem?

My boy Micah Lee better known as Blacklight. My favourite poem is ?Separation? by W. S. Merwin.

How underrated is beatboxing and why?

Extremely, because it takes an amazing amount of imagination and discipline to make something out of nothing.

What can be done about that?

If a beatbox artists put out a commercially successful album, concentrated around the art, it would receive even more attention. The closest we've come to that was Rahzel's album and look at how it catapulted his career.

Who are some of your fav beatboxers?

Doug E. Fresh, Rahzel, Kenny Mohammed and Baba Israel.

What?s next for Substantial?

Put out ?Sacrifice? finally, then you can look out for ?The Joe Brothers LP?, Substantial/Burns collab album, The Brooklyn Zoo Compilation, GodsiIlla's debut LP executive produced by me, a new Efamm LP and also I have a new video that will dropping in a month or two. That's only the half.


QN5 Music, UV Ink, Tamashie, Dylated Clothing, Up & Up, GoodBully, Eddie B. Tombs IV, Vital Films, the entire DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area, NYC, Japan, my family and friends and special shout to Covenant House Washington.

Stay in Peace.


POSTED 11|01|2007
conducted by cpf

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