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El da Sensei When the pen hits the pad Great things start happening. New Jersey's El Da Sensei is no stranger to rap. Since his partnership with Tame One in the group The Artifacts, he has built a celebrated and respected status as a wordsmith. Going solo didn't change that. Months ago, The Teacher signed with Fat Beats and in February his second solo album 'The Unusual' saw the light of day, a piece of pure, unadulterated hip-hop.

What's up, El?

What's good yo? I'm good, promoting the LP ?The Unusual?.

How did you hook up with Fat Beats for the new album?

Fat Beats was kind of an obvious choice, I have a long history with them. They were established the same year ?The Artifacts? came out. The music I put out is quality first, so that made it easier to do because I knew it would be no problem.

You're workin with some pretty unknown (producer) names (Fusion, Frequency, Money More). Tell us why you wanted to have those names on the album instead of household names...

Household names cost more. But it doesn't mean they got heat if you're paying a lot. I'd rather get the unknown dude, who is hungry like myself, who really wants it and got just as much heat as the big dogs.

You do have the legendary K-Def on the album, how did that go down?

Shit, me and K-Def go way back, man. We were label mates at one time, on Big Beat/Atlantic. I feel he's one of the most underrated producers in the game right now. I have mad respect for him, trust me, he has heat. He stays with his music 24/7, he's not at every industry party. We're working on an album together as we speak. He has all the tools and all from one person, we gonna kill it, ?Ghettoman Meets Mean Johnny Barrows?Theme Music?. Look out for that project.

Illmind stepped up to you personally. How did that go and did you know him before?

Illmind is from New Jersey, and I didn't even know. I met him at a radio station out here, he gave me two beat CD's and it was a wrap.

I heard you was afraid of Illmind?s beat ('Crowd Pleasa')?

Yo, when I heard the beat, I sat on it for like two months. I wanted to say the right shit to make it work, more than just rhyme you know. It worked out.

Why did you decide to put that song out as the first single?

Listen to it. The cuts, the beat. DOPE. That's what I wanted from the song when I completed it. A good way to come out the gate...charging.

There's only two guest emcees. Can you explain why there's only two, and why O.C. and Sean Price?

That's all I needed. Two of the best out there, that could help me, and these guys are my friends first and I feel we have the same history.

Give us three reasons why we should cop the new album...

One: you need it, there?s nothing else out there like it, just to get that feeling in your bones. Two: good quality music, a variety of flavas. Three: good for the crates and if you collect my joints, definitely the best work from me to date. Period.

You talked a lot about the Artifacts on your last album, you?re not doin that again with the new album?

Nope, not at all, no need to.

So 'Relaxe Relate Release' was really a kind of 'therapeutic' album?

No doubt, and to answer any questions anyone had about the group status and where I stood.

How does this album differ from your last one musically?

Wow, much faster, more hungry and aggressive, the producers on the project gave me a wider pallet of music to pick from, for me to create. The label situation at Fat Beats is cool.

Do you think Funkmaster Flex could play a joint from ?The Unusual??

Hell yeah, a couple of joints; ?That's How It Goes?, ?Up In The Spot?, ?Gun Blast?, ?Rock It Out?.

Then imagine that you get a breakthrough, are you up for a star-studded status?

My mission is much bigger than a ?breakthrough?. I broke through a long time ago. Now it?s time for me to rally the troops. As artists now, we have to take on our own fate. You will see some things in the future that will support this, trust me. I have a plan, a big one, it?s not just about El Da Sensei, we have to save hip-hop, not destroy it.

You spent the last three years touring overseas, what do you remember from the crowds over there?

They still love it like we do? hip-hop. Like it used to be, lyrics, they want to understand us, English or not. They appreciate us. I get genuine love every time I'm overseas.

So I can imagine you got more love than in the US?

Oh yeah, they don't see us all the time, like in the city or just a spotting, so when we get there, they're loving it.

Last year you featured on All Natural's 'Vintage' album, how did that collab come together?

They flew me out to do a show for their album release party, next day we hit up the studio, easy as that.

How's it goin with Sensei Scrolls, is that still in effect? Tell us more about it?

Well, Sensei Scolls is a project coming soon. I don't wanna have a label or management, more like a guidance counsellor. Help the young dudes out, that's trying to get up.

I heard you like to cook, what are some of your fav meals to cook?

Curry chicken, Beef stew with black beans and rice. Spaghetti. Mostly everything.

Do you ever listen to the Artifacts records anymore?

Yes, indeed man. I never get tired of it. I perform whatever, ?Wrong Side Of The Tracks?, ?What's Up Now?, all that. My history, yo, can't forget what got me here, and I'm still here.

Do you see Redman now and then?

Yeah, matter of fact last night, in the studio, I saw him at a Nets game too.

So how's life in Newark nowadays?

Cool, kinda quiet in some parts. But you know its still Newark, I live in East Orange right now...IllTown.

The hip-hop scene is tight over there?

So-So. Some cats, but not like it used to be. It?s harder to get a deal. And that goes for everybody. We're in the ?hip-pop era? right now, being a leader, or different is not what the labels are pushing right now.

It is often stated that the one responsible for Artifacts' breakthrough was actually KRS-One? Can you verify that?

Nah, I would say Brand Nubian and Redman. We didn't know KRS-One at all. I think when he heard ?Wrong Side of The Tracks? he was bugging cause we were from New Jersey. It took us to do a song like that to get respect, and it wasn't someone from NYC. I love that dude for it for real, much respect.

Are you still doin graffiti?

Just as much as the next writer my age, seldom. But on paper and shirts.

How did you get into rappin?

Just picking up all the skills, all the elements. Rapping stuck most, I do all elements; DJ, B-Boy, Beatbox, MC. Rhyming brought out my character and how I was. Bam, couple of talent shows and it was on, plus I wanted to be like Kane, G-Rap, Chuck-D. All of what I heard, I wanted to do the same.

What was the first rap record you bought?

Kurtis Blow - ?The Breaks?.

Do you still listen to rap music often?

Yeah man!

Which artists?

All my peeps, Sadat X, Sean Price, OC, AG, The UN, Phat Kat, Slum, The Liks. Anything close to me and my style.

Your brother was in Iraq, would you've gone to Iraq?

Maybe. I have to know what I'm fighting for, and when I will be done.

What's the future holdin for El Da Sensei?

More hot shit, the collaboration with El Da Sensei and K-Def ?Ghettoman Meets Mean Johnny Barrows? ?Theme Music?. Working on a tour with the most elite cats in the game. I mentioned them earlier. It's in the making right now, check for it soon.

And what if Artifacts still existed?

Who knows yo, we were there though. I'll never let it slip away ever again either. It was what it was, and it made me the artist I am today. ?Artifacts Till I Die?!


My man richdirection, Fat Beats, K-Def, Ghettoman Beats, Next Mill Ent., DJ Kaos. Oh and you, Platform 8470 for the interview. One.


POSTED 03|26|2006
conducted by Cpf

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