featured interview

Vast Aire Headin' for the top of NY In 2001 something happened that even transcended Philip K Dick’s imagination. The mighty Twin Towers, the biggest symbols of American economy went down and the world would never be the same. An album that visionarily (it came out before 9/11) expressed that feeling of uncertainty and apocalyptic doom-thinking was Cannibal Ox’s (Vast Aire and Vordul Mega) ‘The Cold Vein’. A few projects and solo endeavours later, Vast Aire is now back with Karniege to release the Mighty Joseph album, inspired on the King Kong theme, Both artists are headin for the top of NY, like King Kong was headin for the top of another American symbol, the Empire State Building...

You're about to release 'Mighty Joseph' through Urchin Studios, please tell us more about that project…When is the release date?

It should be out by February 12th 2008, the project is on I.G.C. Rec/Urchin Studios. This is a dope LP, it’s just raw and fun hip-hop that needs to come to the forefront! Vast Aire is bringing that raw again!

So, the Mighty Joseph album is a collab with Karniege, please introduce him a little more to the readers who're not familiar with him and why you wanted to record a full album with him…

Karniege is a great person and a dope MC. He would spit raps with me in high-school, he has always been down with the movement. He has been all over the world with me, if I was on stage, Karny was there! This project is like a child of ours.

What's up with all the references to King Kong and gorillas on that Mighty Joseph Myspace page, there's also a 'Donkey Kong' game named 'Mighty Joseph'?

(laughs) Well for all those who don’t know, Mighty Joseph is a bigger ape than the normal, it’s a joke on our rap styles. It’s like our songs and style are beyond the norm and Mighty Jo is like a spin-off of King Kong. Also it’s like I’m King Kong, because I’m bigger. And Karniege is Mighty Jo young, so together we are Mighty Joseph. We are just some crazy big rap song-makers when you see us live, it all becomes clear. Our raps are big and so are the shows.

You've worked with different labels - from Def Jux and Chocolate Industries to Eastern Conference and now Urchin. What does a label need to make Vast Aire feel at home?

Well this is a joint label project so this is kinda my first project where I have all control. I.G.C. Records and Urchin Studios are bringing Mighty Jo to the people and it’s going to be dope. Labels are just sponsors, I don’t take them too seriously. I’m the one that made the music. I’m the artist! When you leave a movie, you don’t bring up the studio, you talk about the actor or the director. So it’s the same with music…I think labels get too much love and we forget about the artist, the person.

Except for ‘Look Ma Dukes...’ you haven't really released a second solo album yet, do you perhaps feel more attracted or challenged by making albums with peers Mighty Mi, Karniege, Vordul, Weathermen,...)?

No, I just create and I put out ‘The Best Damn Rap Show’ in 2005 after ‘Look Mom No Hands’. I just make the music I want with whomever I like. It’s all about the vibe.

You like to be surrounded, or is it rather them asking you for their projects to get one of the dopest in the game on it?

I’m only around my fam, these are the people I learned how to rap with. I didn’t know El-P when I was 14 years old. I met El-P at around 19 so there are mad people I have been making music with way before all the Def Jux shit. Can Ox is from the streets, we know mad heads that are nice and I’m going to be working with all of them.

So when's the ‘real’ next solo of Vast Aire due? Any news on that already? That should be 'Deuces Wild' right?

‘Dueces Wild’, I spell it with the u before the e, will be out soon, that will drop in the summer or late spring after ‘Mighty Jo’. It’s crazy dope….Camp Lo, Pete Rock, da Beatminerz, Oh No and more! That is going to be my best LP hands down! I worked hard on it and I love it!

I heard a track of that album produced by 'Falside' how did you get with him and do you rather work with less known producers?

I like to work with talented people, Falside is the shit! He’s got a dope ass sound and I will be working with him again. People forget that RZA was a nobody. I love putting dudes on. If you’re nice, you’re nice. Plus he had a sound I needed for this LP.

I recall seeing a fabulous TV-documentary on Cannibal Ox on Dutch Television (VPRO/Sarah Vos's Lola Da Musica in 2002)... Do you recall something about those shootings?

Yes, that’s a very big docu. I did that years ago when the building went down in New York City.

I remember you checking your lyric (scrap) book in that TV-show and you recited the "I just want to get my point across like Jesus / So I look the sky like 'Hey, Zeus!" lines like a poem. I later on heard those lines again in an actual track 'Whysdaskyblue?'. Do you still sometimes dig in those older writings or one-liners, to get inspiration for new tracks?

That’s how old the song is or was. I write all the time, and you never know when I’m going to pull out a secret gem.

What poets do you get inspired by?

The Last Poets.

How do you conceptualize your lyrics, like how do you start to write and compose your raps?

I just freestyle for a while and let the toughts come out, or a joke, or a movie, or just life experience can help me write out a song. I just go with my energy. I’m at the point where rapping is like breathing…I don’t have to think about it that much. I see what I want to write about…and just go!

Besides the Atoms Family, you're also a member of LXG (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), please tell us more about it...

This is one of the illest crews out, look out for us in 2008, go to the Myspace page and check it out. The music we are making is sick. That real rap is back! Vast Aire-LXG! Again, this is fam from high school. We’re rapping NY to the fullest!

Do you listen to contemporary hip-hop yourself these days? Which artists do you dig?

I love Ghostface, Wu-Tang, The Clipse, UGK, 8 Ball MJG, Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, Common, The Roots MF Doom, Redman, Fabulous, I like a lot of music, this is just some of my hip-hop.

About other music than hip-hop: I bet you're a Coldplay fan?

I love Coldplay, Joy Division, She Wants Revenge, My Chemical Romance, I like a lot of shit. Old, new, whatever…rock, jazz, soul, I know good music, if I don’t know nothing else.

If there's one album (of other hip-hop artists) you'd wish you had made it, what album would you say?

Portishead first LP! That LP is crazy, and I wish I had made ‘Criminal Minded’ by BDP.

What was the first rap record you owned?

Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – ‘He’s the DJ I’m the Rapper’.

How many rap records did it take for you to own before you discovered Audio Two and what do you like about Gizmo and Milk?

Maybe 2 or 3…I love MC Lyte and that’s her brother!

Now that Milk is finding his way through Myspace and the Internet it's easier to connect with him. Would you be interested in a collabo?

I would love that! (laughs) Milk and Vast will make the best song in the world!

I can't imagine Vast Aire spending much time on a computer connecting through myspace... or do you use it as much as the regular dude?

I check it every other day. Yeah, I’m kinda busy. But I check it when I check my e-mails.

What was the last movie you saw and was it any better than 'Kill Bill'?

’American Gangster’, this is one of the best flicks ever made about drugs. It showed the truth. I love that movie but it’s not better than Kill Bill, I love Kung-Fu.

Which part of 'Kill Bill' was the best?

The best part for me is when IS found Cotton Mouth and the Crazy 88..and Gogo! That one part makes the movie sick…and when she took out the other eyeball! (laughs)

Perhaps needless to ask, but were you a big Bruce Lee fan?

I am a Bruce Lee fan, the real Bruce and the movie-Bruce. I study Bushido (Aikido, Judo, Kempo, etc.) and I have combat ideas that are very close to Bruce Jeet Kune Do. I call my system Iron and Silk Budo. It’s all about mixing hard and soft into a basic complete union. I have a Myspace for this to check it out, I have been practicing Aikido for almost 7 years and I cross train in Sumo, Judo and Karate, Domo Arigato.

You weren't too happy with how the 'Transformers' movie turned out to be I guess?

I like it, but I feel it should have had more fighting with Megatron etc. I thought I was going to hate it, but it was good, it just needed more action.

Did you like The Simpsons movie?

I did not see it yet, but I will!

What was the last book you've read?

‘Kodo, the Old Ways Of Bushido’ and ‘The Historical Origins of Christianity’. The first book is about the old Samurai/Ninja/Sumo ways. The second is about how Christianity is a compilation of old spiritual ways from Africa…very deep!

How's your relationship with Vordul Mega, and is Cannibal Ox really over?

Can Ox is here. Me and Vordul Mega are good, we will always make music together. Vordul is on my solo LP and Mighty Jo and I am on his new solo album.

Can you briefly tell us how you became an emcee and what were your motivations to become one?

To be real, I wanted to be a DJ. But scratching was so hard, that I started rapping and it just worked out for me. My first rap was written at ten years old and I have been killin em ever since.

Where you always known as Vast Aire? Ever went under another moniker?

My old name was Tw The Eclipso, I was like 14 years old, then I became Vast, then Vast Heir, then Vast Air, then Vast Aire. Since 1999 I have been Vast Aire with an E at the end.

What's next for Vast Aire?

Look out for Mighty Joseph LP ‘Empire State’, we got Madlib, J-Zone, Cannibal Ox, Murs and more. Also look out for ‘Dueces Wild’ the new Vast Aire solo project with Oh No, Pete Rock, Camp Lo, da Beatminerz and more! L X G is dropping hard also…2008 is my year!


Peace to all the real hip-hop fans, holla at me on Myspace!


POSTED 01|01|2008
conducted by cpf

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