With the release of his critically acclaimed album “Imaginarium”, L’Roneous Da Versifier should be steadily mentioned among the top artists coming out of the west. However with a lackluster push coinciding with Napster’s growing popularity the album didn’t make the splash it could have. With the Dreamweavers album available and a heavy release schedule planned, 2001 looks to be the year Da Versifier gains his rightful position among the elite. With several projects on the horizon, L’Roneous had plenty to say on adjusting to various producers and publishing his own book, “Outlook and Insights”.
Jbutters: Is your name a spin-off of the word “erroneous”?
L’Roneous Da Versifier: Nah, I was reading some ancient Roman stuff and my nickname is L-Ron, “Eous” of course means the nature of something. My name means the nature of L-Ron. That’s what my music has been all about. I was always reading about cats like Maximus, my friends starting joking around saying I was L’Roneous, and I decided to keep that.
JB: Starting from Last 2 Serve, how did you arrive at Imaginarium?
L: I started Last 2 Serve in like 1990 and then we went our separate ways in ’96. I also met Jennesey in ’96, but we didn’t really link up until ’97 and that’s when we did the Revolution single. We started the label and rolled for a lil bit (as Double Life). In the meantime I had begun writing songs for Imaginarium after I left Last 2 Serve, but I didn’t have any beats for it. When I hooked up with Zeph that’s when everything started to come together. Imaginarium pretty much came after the Double Life single.
JB: What adjustments did you have to make going from working with Zeph to Elusive?
L: Working with Elusive I don’t have to do anything but rhyme. Working with Zeph I had to hand pick the beats, have some samples, or make some drum beats. Its a lot easier working with Elusive, he just hits me off with a beat whether I like it or not and I can work on it. He has thousands of beats so there is always something I like.
JB: What are some things you have improved upon since your first album?
L: The delivery aspect, studio wise I know I’m going to have it first take all the time. On Imaginarium it was maybe like 10 takes each song, it makes the studio situation draining instead of fun. Even if I go into the studio the same day I wrote the verses, I’m more polished with my delivery because I think it out more now and how to say it cadence wise.
JB: With two albums under your belt what’s the next goal that you have set for yourself or Dreamweavers?
L: Actually I have a solo record coming out later this year. I got like 24 tracks, so I’m picking and choosing which songs I want to use. I got a bunch of cats saying they got beats for me, including a couple heavy hitters. I have to sit down and see if I want to do some more tracks with them or see if I want to make an album and an EP. Its called L’Ron 1: Purposely Powerful. It will be done in August.
JB: Any guest emcees appearing on the new solo LP?
L: Aceyalone will be on it, Abstract Rude, Jennesey will be on it and he made a few beats as well. I’m going up to Seattle next week to hook up with the Boom Bap Kids to check out that beat situation as well.
JB: To me it’s evident you put a lot of feeling into your music. Is it hard for you to accept criticism or negative feedback on what can be considered your honest expression?
L: It is, but that’s the nature of the game. Everyone has an opinion and some people feel they have to tell everybody if they don’t like something. I can’t trip on it as long as I keep true to myself. That’s what really matters, because the songs people diss are the songs I’ll listen to late at night and be like that was some cool shit.
JB: When did you and Elusive originally get together and decide on doing The Dreamweavers project and what was the main reason for putting it out?
L: When I broke up with Last 2 Serve I said I was going to get another band and call it The Dreamweavers. I kinda put it on hold because everybody chuckled and laughed at the name. Elusive and I hooked up in ’98 a month before “Deceive the Right Eye Confusion” came out. The first day I met him, Mikah 9, Elusive, and myself were chillin and we put the song together, One more hit. From there it was like “I got another beat for you want to check it out?” Then in ’99 we lived together in a warehouse spot so we were making songs on a daily basis. We just kept making songs, then Elements of Prototype came out, after that I was like we should do a record together. He was down, then he hit me with twenty beats.
JB: On the first album you touched upon some racial issues with songs like “The Rain”, “In The C.O.R.N”, and “A Place Called This”. You didn’t touch upon the same content on The Dreamweavers album; did you consciously deviate from the same topics?
L: Actually I did. Since it was a group effort I didn’t want it to be only what I think about. I wanted something that would represent both of us. Elusive is a dope beat maker, I don’t want to just talk about how the world is fucked up. We’re dope together and that’s why the album kinda comes off braggadocio. There’s still some stuff in there but I’ll save all the personal feelings for my solo record, just so people know its not where Elusive is coming from all the time considering he’s not black.
JB: I’ve heard at your shows you play different snippets of some political activists. What message are you trying to convey to the crowd with these examples?
L: I play some Mumia snippets and things that have a vibe of extreme consciousness. I’m not trying to convey something we can see all the time. I want people to think about things, think about different aspects of life and just build off that. I take things from people who said these statements 50 or 60 years ago to show this hasn’t just been going on for a few minutes. You should think about the things that we do and the actions we take in order to make the world a better place. I’m not trying to be a martyr or grandstander, but there are a lot of bad things that go on in society.
JB: KRS-One dropped an album feeling that he needs to comeback because of the state hiphop is in. How do you feel about the idea that hiphop is in a position where it needs to be saved?
L: It doesn’t need to be saved by KRS-One. To be honest everyone can rap right now and if he is coming back saying he is better rapping he is way off balance. If he is talking about the indignation of hiphop where the things amplified on the radio are the worst things to be expressed to young kids, peoples ears and innocence need to be saved, then I agree with him on that point. It does need to be saved in that aspect, because every other song is about hoes or blasting somebody, which is how started. Take some of the dopest rappers in NY, all of them talked about carrying a gun. Rakim carried “a full pack” but it has escalated to something really bad where hiphop may need a savior. Then again since the underground’s been going there has always been heads who are conscious and saying dope things. Aceyalone, for instance, doesn’t get broadcast to the masses like he should, so hiphop doesn’t need a savior, it just needs to open its eyes to what’s in its backyard.
JB: Cali is home to a stronger underground hiphop community than NY and has a larger scene in general. Has the scene improved with groups like Dilated getting more notice or hurt more by shows like the Wakeup show getting taken off the air?
L: The underground world out here is always growing. As things grow it gets a little watered down. There is always gonna be your elite crews like The Legends, Hiero, Project Blowed, etc. and they will always bring something to the table making people want to strive and do more. I live in the bay, and hiphop in the bay is dead. Everyone is moving away. I’m one of the last few people. It’s like me, Pep Love, and the Anticon cats are the only underground artists still here. Even Elusive moved back to L.A. You can’t make a living here. This isn’t a college radio town so your not gonna hear all the good underground music unless you tweak the antenna on your stereo to hear a radio station 80 miles away. Underground is growing but its not getting amplified. Dilated is major now, so the opening acts have to be mainstream or on a major label and it kinda deadens our scene. Dilated’s an underground crew though so you can’t stop someone from coming up so it’s a good thing there.
JB: What has been your experience with East Coast crowds and why do you think crews like the Legends, Freestyle Fellowship, etc aren’t responded to as strongly in spots like NYC or Philly as they are in Cali?.
L: It’s more like a vibe thing. I’ve done a show in Pennsylvania and I got a very good response. Even though I got a good response at the show I can’t expect them to play my music all the time because they make their music differently and vibe to different things. Not saying they can’t vibe to my stuff or Acey’s stuff but its not there daily.
JB: What is your relationship with NC Clothing?
L: Adrian, the guy who owns NC Clothing used to come to my Last 2 Serve shows back in the day. It’s all family. Before he started making clothing he took photos at my shows and did drawings. The clothing started to jump off he was like I want do mixtapes. It went from him putting me on mixtapes to him asking me to wear some T-shirts. He has been upping the ante on the level of clothes with each order he is putting out. So Dreamweavers has a NC logo on it cuz he helps us with clothes and puts us on his website ncclothing.com, so we reciprocate that.
JB: I read you wrote a book. You and capital D are the only two artists in the underground writing books that I know of. What is your purpose for putting it out?
L: I’ve been reading and writing since I was 3 years old. Writing rhymes is cool and its my passion, but creative, literal writing was something I could do before I could run around and play. It’s something that I want my future career to be. In 10 years I want to be writing books. I still want to make music and by then I should be able to do it at my own discretion
JB: What topics are you approaching with your writing?
L: It spans from science fiction to reality based fiction. It all deals with emotions and different situations.
JB: Are you looking for publishing now or were you mainly concentrating on finishing it?
L: Adrian from NC Clothing is doing illustrations for it so as soon as he is done I’m gonna press up some copies and make it as professional as I want it to be. I want it to have a hard cover for a nice presentation just like CDs. I want it to be something people value and want to keep. I’m going to do it all myself.
JB: Independent publishing huh?
L: There are a bunch of pressing companies I can talk to but I’m more into doing things on my own and controlling my own destiny.
JB: What’s the title?
L: It’s called “Outlooks and Insights”
JB: Are you going to package it with your music or separate it completely so people don’t think its hiphop in a book?
L: It’s not hiphop in a book, it has no connotation to hiphop at all. The people who like my music however should like my book and vice versa. Its like Imaginarium, it touches some topics and tells a story.
JB: Why do you think other creative artists don’t approach putting out essays, short stories, etc.?
L: I’m not sure. It’s definitely a money thing when it comes to putting things out and making it fresh. If it’s not that fresh and people don’t like it then it’s a waste of money. The bottom line is you want to get your money’s worth out of the whole situation. Even if you don’t make any money you want it to be a good business venture for yourself if you’re doing it on your own.
JB: Any other literary things you’re producing?
L: No, but I want to do a spoken word record with all the homies doing some acapella stuff. I’d like to get Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, Eligh, The Grouch, and myself, maybe a track with Saul Williams. That’s in the deep future though.
JB: What’s up with this group you’re in called The Directors with DJ Wisdom?
L: Yea we are putting out an EP with NC Clothing. It’s one of those old school beats and rhymes kinds of things. Its not like we’re going to make hella beats. He is just going to juggle some beats back and forth, some old school and some new, and I’m just going to be dropping some rhymes. I wrote like seven songs, so it will be sort of a teaser EP, then in maybe a year and a half we will do a full length where we make all the beats.
JB: Tell me about the European EP called Dialectics
L: I recorded that 5 song EP last year and I sent it out to London to get it mixed down by these cats, Beyond There Crew. They’ve done a lot of re-mixes with Mr. Eon and Siah and Yeshua. They’ve been doing a lot on the underground level so I figured why not do something with them and keep the London thing going. It’s going to be released out there and come here on import.
JB: That’s a lot of projects on the horizon, do you simply link up and work with anyone your feeling?
L: As far as making music I try to only make music with my friends, so that even if there is a financial thing its not some asshole I don’t even know dicking me over. Since Imaginarium people kinda forgot about me. A lot of bad things happened around the time of that release, it not getting pushed like it should have, not getting to as many people, and next thing you know its all over Napster. It wasn’t artistically helpful or beneficial for my career.
JB: Well it seems Napster is going out of business so you may not have to worry about that in the future.
L: There’s only one bad thing that Napster did. It took for granted that people know who the artist is and where they are. They should have put contact information on there just in case heads in places like Germany or Switzerland decide they like it and want to get a hold of someone or book them for a show. With Napster in place we aren’t making as much money from records, its mostly from doing shows. That’s the most inconsiderate part of the whole equation. I don’t mind my stuff being out there because I want my music all over the world and to get to as many ears as possible. However on the business end I would like to make some money off of it. Even if it’s not directly from selling the music I would like to do shows. That’s my favorite part of this whole music thing.
JB: How many shows have you done in the past year or two?
L: In that time I’ve done maybe 100 shows and I took a few months off. I’ve been to Pennsylvania, London, and all over the west. I don’t play at home anymore though because its not really appreciated so I prefer to travel.
JB: Any thoughts on an album backed by all live instrumentation?
I definitely want to get back to the live band aspect. Maybe within my next two records I will have a completely live album. To do one of those it takes vibing with the instrumentalists and pretty much living together. In order for you to know how someone is musically you have to go back to the grassroots and that is something that’s definitely going to happen in the future.