featured interview

YZ Still in control of things Who knew YZ dropped an album in 2002? Who noticed YZ on recent Aim and Rae & Christian albums? It's the confronting truth but plenty of hip-hop fans forgot about the Crocodile Dundee MC, who vanished from the scene somewhere around 1994, after having pleased the masses with hits such as 'Thinking Of A Master Plan', 'In Control Of Things' and 'Tower Of The Power'. However, we heard it through the grapevine that 2006 would mark a new strategic move within the whole of YZ's master plan.

Wassup YZ. There?s a song with 9th Wonder on your Myspace, so we?re anxious to know.is this the forebode of new material dropping soon?

Yes, I am currently working on three projects. A YZ album entitled ?Muad? Dib?, a City Officials album called ?Well I'll be damned? with group members YZ and Architect, and a YZ and Hen Boogie collabo album ?Mineral?. Also expect extra features of me on the new X-Clan LP ?Return Of The X?, Visionaries? new album, Papa Rue LP, Big Moose LP and the new Zimbabwe Legit album.

So what's your master plan to get back in the game?

I never left the game. I am the game.

For example; you have a record company called 720 Ent.

720 Entertainment was established in 92' in NY. We started out as a management company and production house. Our roster consisted of artists like 8-Off the Assassin, UTD aka Urban Thermo Dynamics, Legion Of Dume, One Step Beyond, Terminata and YZ. We have since become a record company and we are now located in Atlanta, GA. Our roster of artist is now: Rozewood (Hip-Hop), Conroy (Rock), City Officials (Rap) and YZ (Real Shit).

You also started an organization The Dollar Project, tell us more.

The Dollar Project is a non-profit organization being formed to help working class people who are in trouble of losing their home. It was something I had been talking about for a few years.

What or who made you start this project?

It came to fuition this year when members of my family almost lost their home. My wife and I decided it was time to do something about this ongoing problem.

You say you never left the game but what have you been doing between 1994 and 2006?

I?ve been doing the same thing I always have been doing. I've been running my own business. I have a small construction company and I also buy, renovate and sell real estate. I have a family to love, house and feed. I also have released two LP's. One by YZ entitled ?The Legend of Floyd Jones? and the other by a rapper named Eldorado Red from Atlanta. I have toured all of Europe damn near with Tony D, Rae and Christian and Aim.

How did that come together?

Tony did an LP on the Grand Central label and asked me to tour with him to promote his record. I met Mark Rae and Steve Christian, and we recorded a couple of songs for their ?Northern Sulfuric Soul? LP. I toured with them for an entire summer. I recorded a couple more songs for an artist signed to them named Aim, for his ?Cold Water Music? LP. I did a few dates with him as well in Ireland, England and Scotland. It was boss.

Didn?t you ever have a moment when you felt it would be better to leave the rap game?

Like I said I never left the game but there was a time when I didn't want to record anymore. I think I became bored with the direction of the rap industry. I never lost contact with the culture of hip-hop because I am the culture, humbly speaking of course.

Like you mentioned earlier, you released a record called 'The Legend of Floyd Jones'. It wasn?t before a few weeks ago we got to know that album even existed. Is it just us or did the album come out quite silently?

To tell the truth, I had been looking for distribution for my label at the time, Reservoir Records. I found a company to distribute but they would only do it if I released a project on the label as well. I never intended to record ?TLFJ?. I was planning on writing a script about a pimp who went through great transition. The story was inspired by my honorary father Pee Wee Kirkland. It also focused on a small period in my life that most people don't know about or would, except from YZ. I didn't want people to know it was me for bias reasons. The LP got great reviews however I could tell that the writers thought it was some new rapper.

On that note, let?s take a dip in time. Your recording of 'Thinking Of A Master Plan? was under the name YZ G Rock, later the ?G Rock? was dropped.what exactly is the story behind that name change?

My first rap group was Too Def. There were three group members: G-Rock who mostly danced for the group, Dee Jay Tink and YZ. We released a single called ?I Am Who I Am/ I'm Bad? in the late 80's. When I became part owner of Diversity Records we released our second single ?In Control of Things/Thinking of A Master Plan/In The Party? as YZ-G-Rock. G-Rock was featured on the song in the party. When Tuff City approached my partner Tim Baylor about signing, I was 17. We re-released the single on Tuff City. Aaron Fuchs (owner of Tuff City, ed.) convinced Tim that we should change the name to YZ because he thought G-Rock, as a dancer, was only a feature to the group. G-Rock didn't like the idea and neither did I but it caused trouble in our group. G-Rock ended up dancing for P.R.T. for a while.

How did you convince the guy in the yellow fluo mini pants to dance with the boombox in your video clip of ?In Control Of Things??

I didn't have to convince him. That was my man LC. He was at the shoot; the director asked me if I thought he would do it. I asked him. The rest is history.

That was the first clip you made, three more videos would come off your first LP. Why did you want to do so many video clips at a time when video killed the radio star not as much as nowadays, especially in hip-hop?

It was part of why I signed to Tuff City in the first place. I wanted to expose people to our sound. I didn't think we would ever get rich at the label so it was the next best thing. Besides early on in my career I was never a radio star. TV helped people find us.

In the video of ?Tower Of The Power? you wore a T saying ?Don?t Mess With Texas? what?s the meaning behind that statement?

Texas, Houston in particular broke my record ?Thinking of a Master Plan?. When we decided to shoot the video for ?Tower with the Power? I was touring all of Texas. The director asked me if I would be offended at wearing a ?Don't Mess With Texas? t-shirt. I didn't think much of it at all. I love the people of Texas. They helped me become part of the fabric of hip-hop. People for a long time thought I was from Texas. That wasn't on purpose.

There was some beef between you and some artists over the ?In Control Of Things? beat too, right?

Yes. Tony D made this instrumental LP called ?Music Makes You Move? (1988, ed.). He asked me to record a song dissin' people who used his beat ideas after him. There was a long list of people who did it. I recorded the record with him however he took it to another level by cursing some of the artist. When the shit hit the fan I was left holding the bag. For the record I always like BDK, Gang Starr, and Lakim Shabazz who was my label mate. I was young and very cocky and a little foolish. The song caused problems with Flavor Unit and me. I always loved Latifah. It caused more harm then it should have. I've been in fights due to the record. I was almost forced to shoot someone over that record. It wasn't a good time.

What was the impulse that got you rhymin and being part of the hip-hop culture?

I used to battle emcee's at malls. I would write rhymes for G-Rock and we would rock our routines and win battles. Breaking was big and G-Rock could dance his ass off. I never learned how to break well so I made up for it by rapping. The two songs that introduced me to rap were ?The Message? and ?Rapper's Delite?. My cousins knew all the words to the songs and I felt left out because I had never heard them before. I quickly changed that.

What?s the meaning behind the concept ?Crocodile Dundee??

I made a song called ?Dis Fe Liar? on the ?Sons of the Father? LP. It was aimed at PRT for taking a shot at me on one of their records. Tony D again behind the madness. He made music for both PRT and myself, yet we were going at each other over nonsense. ?Crocodile Dundee? was the remix of ?Dis Fe Liar?. Some of my crew used to say that Wise (Intelligent, ed.) reminded them of a lizard. It wasn't a nice thing to say but I ran with it. I wish we would have talked a little more instead. I have a great deal of respect for these brothers.

You and Tony D discovered the Poor Righteous Teachers right?

Yes, but our stories differ on how it actually happened though. My story is the way it really happened.

When and how did you meet Tony D?

Tony D was a local DJ in Trenton. I knew him from seeing him at parties in the late 80's. He knew me from rap battles. He told me he made beats so we hooked up and recorded a demo in his basement that would later become our first single.

How important has he been for your career?

Tony and I started each other?s career off. We started a company together called Two Tone Productions. It was a play on our names and the fact that we were different race. I was always the business minded person. I dragged him down to city hall in Trenton to register for our business licence. Then we opened up a PO Box and got to work. He was very important to my introduction to the rap world.

Shortly after you landed your deal with the Tuff City label.

Yes. Aaron called my label. Tim, my partner at the time, set up a meeting with Aaron. He offered me a contract. I said I would think about it but Tim had his mind made up. I told Aaron if I were to sign a deal that we would change his label. I think we did that.

Why didn?t you collaborate more with other artists of the label?s roster?

I really can't say. Collaborations weren't as big as they are today. I still don't like most of them personally.

Did you ever receive royalties from Tuff City?

I have never received any royalties from any LP that I did on Tuff City. I thought about suing Aaron at one point but what would be the point? I never thought to get rich there. I became rich anyway.

When you first came out, there was a flourishing, conscious stream in hip-hop. How do you feel now, as a member of the Black Watch Movement, when you compare that time to what hip-hop is nowadays? Is it really all vanishing?

I think most rap would have been considered conscious at that time. Rap was still new and it was a voice for the youth. I think that's what made it conscious. Not everything that came from our mouths was positive but we looked the part so people considered us conscious which only means we were aware so I guess we were just that. I don't think it's vanished at all. I just think there is a different demographic listening to that style of music. The difference now is people try to make that style of music. We didn't focus on one style or at least I didn't. I still don't.

How should fans look at the Black Watch Movement? Was it a crew, a vision, a belief? What was your role in the movement?

Black Watch in my opinion was Sonny Carson's vision. With the help of his son Lumumba and X-Clan he brought that vision to life. It became a way of life for many after that. I was just a voice of Black Watch.

You were in a crew named ESD Posse, who was down?

Chase D4, Pumis Sweet Love, B-Fine aka Bobbie Fine, B-chill aka #9(RIP), Young Star, Daddy Boo aka Plan B aka The Product and Cool Chuck. These are my ninjas till this day.

What are they up to nowadays?

Bobbie Fine is making music and rapping. Plan B and Young Star both rhyme and are recording. #9 has 2 LP?s done, yet he has gone back to the essence. Pumis is a manager for Fine.

So what?s up with Tony D?

Tony sells beats and vintage hip-hop vinyl on the net. I talk with him every now and then.

Talking about selling on the net; your debut album ?Sons Of The Father? is a real collector?s item, going on Ebay for like 30 up to 70 dollars. Is it somehow still rewarding, 17 years after it dropped?

I hope it's rewarding for the people buying the music. That's all that really matters.

You listen to groups like Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, in what way have these groups influenced you as an artist?

All these groups that you just mention all have one thing in common: they all have a dark sound. My music also is very dark.

Do you still buy a lot of hip-hop?

I buy a lot of vinyl just as a collector. I don't listen to much that's out. I don't want to be swayed one way or the other when I record. I listen to a great deal of beats from many producers. I also think that Rozewood is the next ninja.

If you we're set (or asked by a big label) to form a supergroup with emcees from your era who still in the game: which 3 emcees would you call first? Why?

Nas, the truth, Ice Cube, the voice, Jay Z, the power and Dr. Dre, the direction.

On a movie tip; you played in ?Above The Rim? how was that experience?

I had a small part in ?Above The Rim? that was cut out because I stayed up all night the night before shooting and I f123$# my lines. Terrible choices we make sometimes. I should have known better. I however think it was a blessing anyway. My brother and a few other friends make the final cut.

So would you ever act again if you possibly were to be asked again?

I would act again. I would be great in a film.

Please leave a comment on the following names:

Urban Thermo Dynamics

UTD should have been the original Fugees. Mos Def, Ces, and DCQ. Raw talent in its purist form. I loved working with them. They were not ready for the reality of the music business or each other at the time. Youth!

Zodiac Crew

More a gang or a crew in Paterson, NJ were I was born. I was the youngest member. I learned how to mix harmony and rap banging on stop signs with these dudes.

Diversity Records

An indie label started in Trenton NJ by Tim Baylor. I bought half the label. The only two groups that were signed to this label were Poor Righteous Teachers and YZ-G-Rock.

Professor X

Co-founder and overseer of Black Watch and member of X-Clan. Black activist. Past away recently. He will be missed. (RIP)

Maflobi Pimp Strut

That song was going to be on my second Tuff City release. Due to Aaron Fuchs business practices I decided it was better to not record for him any longer.

What's next for YZ?

?The world, papi, and everything in it.?

Shout-out?s?

Shouts to anyone who needs a shout. God Bless! Thank you to my ever loving family. I don't have many friends but the few I do have are my family. They know who they are. The Creator is truly merciful.... One!

 

POSTED 09|01|2006
conducted by cpf

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