featured interview

Lawless Element A vision of sound Welcome to Detroit aka the Motor City aka the D, yo! Mad talent is blowin up right now, and is it because of the enormous boom of Eminem in Commercial Land or because of the major recognition Jay Dee gets on the underground level, but the new generation is finally gettin the attention they deserve. One of those groups is Lawless Element, consisting of Magnif and Griot. And yes, Jay Dee is involved, as he produced their critically acclaimed 'The Shining' 12"?. Now is the time for a debut album on Babygrande/Material Rec. Most of the production is done by Magnif but also Madlib, Jay Dee, Diverse, Big Tone, Melanie Rutherford and Phat Kat contributed to the album. Both group members took some time from their busy schedule to talk with us...

You got the chance to work with two of today's greatest producers, Madlib and Jay Dee, tell us more about those experiences...

Magnif: It was great! I feel it's a blessing to work with two of my favorite artists this early in my carreer.

G: It is always a blessing to work with people as talented as Lib and Dilla. It's not much more you could ask for.

Being from Detroit, were you guys already down with Jay Dee and Phat Kat before makin music together?

Magnif: You know, we met both Dill and Kat through music. I been building with Kat for a while and as far as Jay, we just reached out to him and he was down. After the success of 'The Shining', we worked with Jay again and now it's all love.

G: We got respect for them. We didn't come from the same era, so we linked up through music.

How much does it help for you to have those household names on your record? Without Jay Dee you probably wouldn't be featured on Okayplayer.com...

Magnif: Having these names helps out a lot! It makes cats pay attention a lot faster, but the music still has to be great! As far as being Okayplayer's featured artist: it's not just because of Jay. Like I just stated; the music has to be great, ya know. The cats over at OKP wouldn't take an artist just because of who he works with. They are all about getting out great music over there, you can take Little Brother for example, they came out by themselves and became OKP feature artist also. Just look at Dilla's discography, if that were true there would be a ton of OKP feature artists, ya know.

G: Game recognize game. If we wasn't able to hold our own I don't think Madlib and Dilla would have ever worked with us.

What other Detroit acts do you like from now and in the past?

Magnif: Royce (da 5' 9", red.) is crazy! I like his shit most definitely. When him and Premier link up it's always ridiculous.

G: Royce and Dwele.

How do you feel about Eminem?

Magnif: Eminem has accomplished a lot in this business as an artist, producer and label executive. That's some big money right there, that's wassup.

They're playing the movie '8 Mile' on Belgian TV tonight, how does it represent Detroit's underground rap scene and society? WHat did you think about that movie?

Magnif: '8 Mile' was a very entertaining movie I can't really speak on how it represented the Detroit underground scene because it was set in the 94-96 era, before I hit the scene.

G: I can't really say it is anything like my experiences in Detroit.

How does a Detroit act get signed to a Californian label?

Magnif: We released three vinyls that was hot out here and it built us up a real good buzz. After the second vinyl, we were gettin offers from everywhere and then we decided that Babygrande was the best choice cause they understood what we were tryin to do and they've seen our vision and believed in us as artist.

How do you feel about your album?

Magnif: I love the album. I think it's classic material and I think all together, it's a new sound because it so many different influences in it.

G: Hot shit. I can't really compare it to anything else out there.

Probably hard to say but what is your favourite song/production on it?

Magnif: Yeah, it is kinda... I would have to go with 'Move' (feat. Melanie Rutherford) and 'Soundvision'. I produced those two tracks myself. I really love the 'Soundvision' joint cause it's one of the first joints I ever made that was all boards, no samples.

G: 'Represent/Motown' produced by Magnif

So Magnif, when did you start producin?

Magnif: As far back as I could remember. I think I got my first piece of equipment when I was like in the second grade. It was a bullshit drum machine, I thought it was hot back in the day though.

What equipment you use?

Magnif: I use the MPC 60, the first one, not the version 2, and a couple of different boards.

Why do you like to use those?

Magnif: I love the sound of the 60. It's very raw and gritty, it just has an excellent sound to me.

Have you done production for other groups/artists?

Magnif: Yeah. I produced three tracks on Diverse's upcoming album on Chocolate Industries which I'm like mad proud of because the production line-up on this album is a muthafucka! The cut tracks is fuckin ridiculous too. I got other projects in the works too, but it's on some hush, hush shit right now.

Are you a record collector? Rare pieces or strictly things to use for production?

Magnif: Most definitely! I love vinyl! All the rare shit. I'm a fuckin vinyl addict. I don't have like the biggest collection in the world though, about 95% of the records I got, I copped myself. I didn't get a collection passed down to me from my pops or grandparents or know shit like that, but I got some shit for real. Recently I been playing boards a lot, I love that shit too. I guess it's just a love and appreciation for music.

And do you have a lot of hip-hop records?

Magnif: No, not at all, just a couple of crates.

Can you name five albums that were a big inspiration for your production work?

Magnif:
A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders
Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Mecca and The Soul Brother
Gang Starr - Daily Operation
Dr.Dre - The Chronic
Group Home - Livin Proof.

So did you like ATCQ more with or without Jay Dee production?

Magnif: They were great in both times, it's hard to say but still 'Midnight Marauders' is my favorite Tribe album.

Which are your influences outside hip-hop?

Magnif: Roy Ayers, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Sly and the Family Stone, Erykah Badu, Jaguar Wright.

G: Gorillaz, d'Angelo, Raphael Saadiq, Goapele, Erykah Badu.

The video clip for 'Rules pt 2' is great...you enjoyed doin that?

Magnif: It was great shootin the video, a real great experience.

G: It was hot. We shot from 9 AM in the morning to 2 AM the next morning, but it was worth it, I had a great time. Everybody on the set came with a lot of energy.

The girls were as nice as they look?

Magnif: Oh, of course, the ladies love Magnif.

G: (laughs) Yeah, I would say so.

Who directed it?

Magnif: Carl Verna, the cat who directed the Purple City video. He's real dope with his.

Will it have airplay on BET or MTV?

Magnif: It should be out there, everywhere, real soon. The promo hasn't run for that yet.

A line in 'Rules pt 2' was (mis)understood by One Be Lo as a diss. 'Those cats ain't been in the game long enough to come around and start dissin folks' was Lo's reaction. Things have settled yet? What's the real deal behind all that?

Magnif: The whole thing was just a big misunderstanding, ya know, cats get to spreading rumors and talking all the bullshit that comes along with the business. The writer that got the quote from Lo stated the comment Lo had made, wasn't in a negative way at all. It was just made that way by the editor of the publication, so I never really payed attention to it, really. I see Lo around from time to time, we greet each other with a pound and the situation never came up once.

What are you guys doin besides makin music? College, work,...?

Magnif: Just music.

Association time! Please comment on the following:

Nick Speed

Magnif: Stay hustling.

G: He be on the grind.

Big Tone

Magnif: Much respect to Tone. It was great working with him.

G: Very professional. Business Savy.

Diverse

Magnif: One of the dopest cats I know, we got shit together that's gonna fuck niggas' heads up.

G: Damn good artist.

Stones Throw Records

Magnif: A great record label. Peace to Egon, Wolf, Lib and all the artists over there.

G: Powerhouse.

Raw Material Records

Magnif: Where it all began.

G: Bout to fuck shit up!

The Pistons

Magnif: Bad Boys.

G: Hell of a team. I'll rep pistons to the day I die.

Besides the album, What more can we expect from Lawless Element in the future?

Magnif: Good music. Look out for my man Vernon D. Hill! He's a world- reknown keyboardist for Slum and Dwele, he also played on one of our joints. L.E. is featured on his upcoming release and it's a ton of other shit in the works too!

G: We are working on the soundtrack to a big independent film release, music for new clothing lines and besides that the sky's the limit. All I can say is keep your eyes open.

Any shout-outs?

Magnif: Babygrande, Vernon Hill, Melanie, Kat, Chocolate Industries and OKP.

G: Chuck, Jesse, P., Corlione, Jay Dee, Madlib, Vernon, the whole Stones Throw camp, Okayplayer, Kat.

 

POSTED 11|01|2005
conducted by cpf

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