Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Madd Doc Interview: The Hip Hop Resurrection

Twenty-five years ago, hip-hop was barely coming into mainstream, and the masses were dying to get a taste of this new sensation of underground music and it was revolutionary and original. Today, there is little to no originality. We are forced to listen to the same song over and over again, because the industry forces us to listen to certain songs to maintain the trend. The record label’s with the most money, wins. Ultimately, the listeners lose the chance to listen to real talent.

While some may argue, true hip-hop is a dying breed to the growing trend of commercial music. Music seems cloned from the previous song, lyrics seem unoriginal, and the faces of hip-hop are all the same with little to no progress of new talent. With repetition after repetition of the same songs with reinforcement on television like MTV2 and YouTube, commercial music is washed into the brains of the viewers in turn spreads to others like an airborne infectious disease. If a person is detached from mainstream music, then tunes in to listen to the radio, there is sort of cringe-like on the look their faces, because it really isn’t good music at all.

One of the saving graces of hip-hop is a local talent from Chino Hills, Calif. and known in the local LA scene as Madd Doc. Doc recently released his first EP mixtape in July 2009 entitled, On Call. On Call is a collaboration of himself and his twin brother C-Kwence the Kid, and his cousin Salute tha Gawd with some cameos from New Money, O.S.Y.M., and DJ ExSample. Together they call themselves, The District aka Rough Neck Diztrict aka 92 Fam. Doc and C-Kwence started rapping at the age of eight and has been doing it for the last 15 years, but releasing CD’s and mixtapes and performing live didn’t start until 2003.

While in between performances, Madd Doc took some time to talk about today’s hip-hop and his music.
In today’s industry, it’s more difficult to make yourself stand out from the rest of the garbage. Rappers out there are a dime-a-dozen. I’ve previewed several artists in your genre, and you, C-Kwence, and your cousin, Salute tha Gawd are, in every sense of the phrase, “A needle in a hay stack”. In fact, I can’t call you a rapper, because it feels like an insult. I like to think of you guys as true hip-hop artists, because you guys have something that no one else out there has - true talent. I mean, you do talk about money, but it isn’t constant. You talk about success, but you aren’t arrogant. You will talk about women, but you don’t degrade them. And, you don’t talk about killing people, and you don’t talk about malt liquor, and you don’t talk about smoke’n weed. I honestly don’t know how you do it, but you have truly mastered the art of rap without falling into the stereo-type. That’s pretty commendable.
I thank you for seeing those qualities in our art. We pride ourselves on NOT being the norm. We constantly call ourselves "Hip Hops best kept secret", simply because we truly believe we are. We like to be different because why be the same? Why be a carbon copy of every thing else that is already out there? There is no longevity in not having your own identity. If you don't have an identity no one knows who you are. If no one knows who you are, no one will remember you. And I want to be remembered for being a great artist who was true and passionate about my career and brought great acclaim to the world of hip hop as well as faith and inspiration to the culture. We want to leave a legacy that future artists can treasure and appreciate as well as celebrate.
A lot of rap artists have created this stereotype of rapping the same tunes, “Women are bitches and hoes,” "I have so many bitches," “My gang is bigger than yours”, “Fuck the police,” “I gets paid,” “Driven in my Bentley or Caddy or Benzo,” “Drinkin' juice and I smoke'n weed”. Does your music have a common theme? How is your music different than the rest?
My common theme is being real, or as real as I truly can be on every single record. Don't get me wrong, you HAVE to make that radio friendly record to reach that demographic of fans who may only be keen to the Hip Hop of the "FM universe" (radio). But for the most part i keep it real. What makes it truly easy is that Salute gives me a lot of beats that are just salivated with pureness and raw emotion which immediately allows me to reflect on self experience just seconds after a first listen. I look at it like this, not everyone can make it rain, or buy out the bar, or buy a lambo for the fuck of it, you know? But people can hustle a 9 to 5 or people can fall in love or feel heartbreak or lose their job or drink or smoke the pain away or maybe people can have a bad relationship with a parent or both parents, and those are the kind of topics I touch on with my music; I want people to be able to relate to the music. I make real records with real emotions for real people.
In your opinion, how do you think Hip-Hop is dead?
To be honest I never really bought into the "Hip-Hop is dead" fad mainly because I never believed in it. The reason being I wake up every day and listen to at least one album of my or my groups own catalog and realize something. I am Hip-Hop. My brother is Hip-Hop, my cousin is Hip-Hop, and you are Hip-Hop. Although there are hundreds of mainstream artists who are defeating the true meaning of Hip-Hop’s presence you can bet there are hundreds of more artists who are out there unsigned and off the radar who are doing what they can in order to preserve Hip-Hop’s good name. So I don't believe that Hip-Hop ever really died its just hiding somewhere sacred, waiting to be appreciated once again.
Before I found you guys, I didn’t listen to hip-hop at all, at least not for the last 10 years. Now, I find myself listening to you guys 50 percent of the time my iPod is on. Are you looking for the public to have the same reaction as I did?
The thing about being in the music industry is that the general public-force you to make a choice as to what kind of artist you are. You're either mainstream or you're underground, there’s no latter or in between. But, see this makes the path you choose turn into a fork in the road where both destinations end in catch 22s. If you are mainstream you get the fame, the girls, the radio play, the money BUT you're considered a “sell out”. If you are underground you get the pride, the glory, the respect, the honor BUT you remain the underdog. I most definitely enjoy making music for the people because it’s for the people by the people. I am just like the fans whom I trying to reach from ink to eardrum with every song I create. Yet I also want to be successful. I would love radio play. I would love having my video requested over and over but in this day and age our culture of music says you have to choose. So, I did choose. I chose to be the one whose music bridges the gap from mainstream to underground and makes it come full circle. Why choose when you can make everyone happy? I definitely want people all over the world from every aspect of life to hear and enjoy my art and I don't have to sacrifice my integrity as a musician to have that happen. Just be me.
Who was your idol growing up?
Jay-Z hands down has always been a great vessel for me to put faith in artistically. There's a few pinches of his style sprinkled throughout my work, I never had a positive male role model to help mold my talent so when Jay dropped "Ain't No" with Foxy Brown that was my crash course. His voice helped me find mine for the last 17 years. Growing up though I listened to a lot of Biggie as well but to be honest I am a huge old school head at heart. I love the early stuff like Rakim & Eric B., and most definitely was a fan of Big Daddy Kane. He was the Jay-Z of his time. And, I love Run DMC, there wasn't any record that they touched that wasn't epic.
Did Michael Jackson have an affect on you?
Most Definitely. My brother and I have mad love for Michael. He was always "that guy" in the music industry you know? His videos were always better than the last one and just kept you guessing and on your toes waiting for the next 4 to 5 minute spectacle of visual genius to grace your TV screens. A lot of people don't remember this but he actually had a video game and a movie called "Moonwalker" and Mannn…we would play those all day long. I have so much respect for that man. He truly changed the game as well as the genre and a whole culture just with the gift of his voice. It's crazy you asked me this question because my little brother just told me he wished I could have had the chance to work with him before he passed. He's incredible, saying he's an icon is truly an understatement to me.
I spoke to your brother C-Kwence, and he said you’ve been rapping for the last 15 years. You’re 23, right? So, you started rapping at the age of 8? Tell me how it all started.
Well it’s actually been 17 years now. I'll be 24 in November, but we both started at the age of 7 years old, or 1992 (which is where the 92 Family name stems from). What's funny is I actually wanted to be a rocker but back then I hadn't heard of Jimi Hendrix or Lenny Kravitz or Living Colour and I didn’t see a lot of people my race doing that so I ditched the idea early on. But, back then the West Coast was starting to come out of its shell, N.W.A. was out, Snoop and Dre were out, and the whole G Funk era had started. That's all my mom used to play, but not a lot because back then the tape singles (which are extinct now lol) would have an album version, a short version, a clean version and then an instrumental. But the versions that would come on first would be the ones with massive profanity and slurs of lifestyles filled with drug experimentation, violent past times and of course disrespecting females. It wasn't what my mother wanted to expose me, especially with having an estranged father who dabbed a bit in each category. That’s when Kris Kross came out and did the "Jump" record which was great for us because here were kids OUR age doing something entertaining and fun and it was clean enough for our mom to let us listen to. One birthday shortly after we told our mom to get us a karaoke machine and since then it’s been countless visits to the Wherehouse music store (old school) to buy lots of tapes to record numerous songs. At first there was four of us: C-Kwence, Salute, his brother and I but four became three over the years yet its always been a better fit. Gosh man, I remember my first rap name was B. Cool (ha-ha), sooo LAME! But, it quickly changed to Ace for a long time and then to Madd Hadda to now the infamous Madd Doc...along with some AKAs which us rap artists find so necessary to have (ha-ha). We didn't get into a professional studio until after we graduated high school back in 2003, we released our first mixtape shortly after and now here we are. Its been a very long journey but I would relive every single minute of it all over again because it was never about the money or cars or anything like that, it was just something fun to do with my family. Still is.
Where does your inspiration for lyrics come from?
My soul, my experiences, but most importantly my love. My love for the art itself as well as the love I have for myself, my peers, my family, and of course my fans. I listen to a lot of Common, Talib Kweli, Kanye, and of course Jay-Z, they give me a lot to feed off of when it comes to creating new material. I have more of a spoken word/poetic/food for thought style when I approach different records. There's a guy out now which lots of people have hopped on the bandwagon for; his name is Drake. I've been a fan BEFORE he got radio play, my brother and my show DJ, (DJ ExSample) both put me on him early on and i guess you can say we have similar styles and ethics in our music as well as our mission in this industry. People compare me to him a lot these days, (I hate it to be honest with you ha-ha) but we listen to a lot of the same artists which makes sense why people make the comparision. My method with lyrics is that I like to show people that I am an intelligent guy so I pride myself on showcasing my vocabulary while utilizing my wit with extraordinary wordplay. Whether it’s re-telling a life story or just getting your mental juices flowing, I always aim to not only please the listener but also have them learn something new from the songs; whether it’s about me or about life in general.
Your new full length EP, Madd Doc, On Call just dropped this month along with C-Kwence tha Kid’s “Mixtape Vol. 2” last month. Are you hoping you’ll get some solid recognition by a major label?
Well honestly the On Call mixtape dropped back in November of 2008, but due to lengthy restrictions on product stock a lot of people weren't fortunate to get a copy, so I made it available for free download on DatPiff.com to give people a chance to experience good music and expose them to an alternative to the "Turn My Swag On's", and "You're A Jerk" that seem to be selfishly flooding the airwaves. To be honest, I'm not expecting any recognition at all from the effort. It was never created to draw attention, but more so used as just something that could hold the fans over for a while. I dropped my first official album "Doctor's Orders" a year and a half before and hadn't had the chance to finish anything solid due to some conflicts of interests with an indie label. I honestly didn't enjoy the label thing. It really takes the fun out of the art. I never signed anything BUT they were constantly trying to transform me into the cookie cutter “cliché” West Coast artist who drinks 40s and rides lo-los and claims a gang when I'd much rather be Britton Washburn from Chino Hills who drinks cranberry juice, drives a Volvo wagon and makes music. I titled it On Call because I wanted people to know that the Doc was still clocked in. Just because you can't see him doesn't mean he's not working hard, thus I am "On Call". The last song on "Doctors Orders" was called “Vacation”, which actually flowed well given the time that lapsed in between the 2 projects and made it perfect to open On Call with the track "Hiatus". Overall, I am happy with the reception the mixtape has gotten so far.
You play in a lot of venues in and around LA. Where can people normally find you performing at?
Well, these days I am most likely to be at the Bakery in Pomona. I go there every second Sunday of the month to perform spoken word and poetry for an organization called Without Wax but they also host hip hop shows and I have done a few of my last shows there. It’s at 370 S. Thomas, Pomona CA 91766. There is a $5 cover but to those who are interested in the open mic part of the show it is only $3. Come show some love there is a lot of great talent over there.
Do you prefer to freestyle or do you like to write down your lyrics and then rap?
Both. Free-styling is a great exercise because you never know what to expect or what you are going to say. A lot of times freestyle sessions will inspire me to write something I had made up off the top of my head just with a little more polished logic. I don't know if you have seen any but we have quite a few videos on YouTube where we're just hangin out with friends, playing pool and free-styling, we're not bashful at all. We like showing people what we can do because we believe we are the best at what we do and we want them to believe it as well. Mannn, C-Kwence is REAL hot with the freestyle though man, he keeps me on my toes...don't tell him I said that (ha-ha).
On the “On Call” mixtape, what can people expect to hear?
Fun, real, and great music. There is something for everyone on there. I have something for the ones who only like punch-lines, the ones who like real Hip Hop, the ones who hustle in the streets, and even for the rock and roll heads out there. It was just a fun project to put together and I hope people can enjoy it.
From the On Call mixtape, my personal favorite track is “Head to Toe” because the bass doesn’t stop, it hits hard, and you guys sound dope! What was your favorite track?
(Laughs out loud) "Head To Toe" is actually an inside joke. I used to have this touchdown dance I did whenever I played Madden called the Head To Toe (named after a subpar beat I attempted to make a few years back). Its just this silly dance that I made up and thought it'd be funny to make a song to and POOF now almost every one of my friends do it now (ha-ha). It’s become this big phenomenon sweeping the dance floors from the I.E. to the OC ha-ha. As far as favorite tracks, let’s see... I have to go with "Hiatus" because of the creativity of actually painting a picture of what I had been doing since the last album while staying within one rhyme scheme. "Fall Beezy" is actually a very underrated record, but its a very real record about the negative vibes that I was receiving from some of my peers who claimed I had changed who I was when I took an opportunity to work with an indie label. A lot of people didn't want to see me succeed for some reason I don’t know why. "Paper Bag Money" was fun because my group is on it and we always try and outdo each other which always makes for a great record. "Red Carpet" is a definite favorite. I collaborated with a good friend of mine, Hawdwerk of the Cov Originals, shoutout to them and everyone in the 626 that be doing their thing. This record is a perfect example of pure creativity, its called 'Red Carpet' because these labels sign artists who aren't anything that they portray them to be but once the cameras are on they have to be in character. I turned the track into a setting where Werk and I were rapping as presenters at an awards show, which was assisted by the comedic outbursts of white washed broadcasters (my impersonations, by-the-way). It was a lot of fun doing that song. Oh, and of course I love, "Outta Here Baby" because the wordplay just laid the ground work for what will be my next full length album, Prescription Filled.
Do you want to add anything before we end this interview?
I am currently in the studio working on LOTS of projects. I have an EP coming out called, SO SOULFUL! with Salute, where he is producing all 11 tracks and collaborating on some as well. That one is just a huge movement waiting to happen. We have TONS of people screaming "SO SOULFUL!" at every show, ha-ha. I am working on another mixtape called the, Pre-fill which is just a prequel to the actually album I'm working on, Prescription Filled. I decided to go with that title because you know when there is something wrong with you doctors will prescribe medication to help suppress and correct that problem but when you run out of that medicine things slowly start to go wrong again and you know without that medicine nothing will change. Well that’s how I view the Hip-Hop industry right now, its literally going crazy right now and the reason being is Hip-Hop not taking its meds because it ran out, its medicine being real MCs/musicians. Hip-Hop has run out and now it’s getting sicker every day. Well, with my album I hope to refill that prescription and make every thing right again. Other than that just hope everyone will help support the 92 Fam movement, check out our Myspace page as well as our Youtube vids.

Be sure to check out the Madd Doc's 5-track music preview on the music/talk show, The Great Unknowns Podcast

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