MCs Advizer and Crescent Moon along with producers Anatomy and Deetalx form the group Oddjobs out of Minneapolis Minnesota. Though currently split between Ny and Minnesota they released the successful Absorbing Playtime EP which can be found here at ugsmag.com. Recently I had a discussion with these 4 cats about working together on music between states while attending school full time. Check it out.
Jbutters: Do you feel the fact that you are now split between Minneapolis and NY will have a profound effect on networking, future collaborations, and the overall popularity of the group?
Crescent Moon: I definitely look at it in a positive aspect. At first I didn’t think it was going to be good for the group to have us split between two separate places. We were able to come out with a fairly successful project in the midst of the separation so I think it is going to work out for the better.
Advizer: In New York we’ve already made a lot of connections, been able to network with a lot of East Coast artists, and get more shows. I think it is working to our advantage. The only drawback was it caused us to release an album with only 10 songs.
Anatomy: I agree that it’s positive because we’re still doing the same thing we were doing in Minnesota. We also have the rest of the people in CMI here so we can still do shows. That was one of the things I was worried about.
Deetalx: We can’t just sit around and record every night like we used to. We have to put in a lot more effort into getting everything across the states and working ideas back and forth so the focus is more on quality.
Right now Minnesota is one of my favorite spots for hiphop with Rhymesayers and your crew, among others. What do you feel the scene offers that allows a large portion of the artists to put out quality music?
D: In Minneapolis there aren’t as many major label groups around. People are a lot more open to new music and it’s a lot less of a competitive vibe.
AN: I think there are two reasons: Atmosphere made it work raised the bar and set a pretty high standard, the other reason being Minnesota has a good music and art scene in general so the people here have pretty good values already.
AD: The artists in Minneapolis aren’t restricted to one place. You have a mix of the Midwestern sound as well as both coasts. It’s a nice consolidation of all those influences and then you also get the Midwestern perspective.
C: Anywhere you go there is going to be a fair amount of raw talent. I think it has just taken a while for Minnesota’s voice to be heard. It’s a matter of hard work paying off.
What type of reception do outside Underground artists get from the Minnesota hiphop heads?
C: I think Minnesotans are opened minded for the most part. I think a lot of fans see it as a treat when they get to see new acts and new venues so they definitely get a lot of love.
AD: Cats in other higher populations are spoiled because they got a lot of shows so when outside artist come through everyone goes because its rare.
How are things going as far as getting a distribution deal?
AD: The distribution we do have is from these cats in Canada called “No Distribution” that basically approached us about doing distribution in Canada. As far as the process of looking for distribution its too stressful for me to answer.
AN: There seems to be a lot of distribution that’s either all mainstream or raw underground and I don’t think we fit easily into either category.
D: We did start emailing sites and sent a lot of promos and luckily a lot of them ended up liking it and now sell our stuff.
I’ve read a couple of interviews by Advizer and I kept seeing the Juggaknots as one of the influences. How hard was it to get your hands on NY underground music?
D: I think it has become easier the last couple of years as the scene has opened up but it used to be a struggle.
AN: I pretty much had an easy time getting underground music before local stores like the 5th Element, Cheapo, etc started carrying it. Before that there was still Sandboxautomatic. Mainstream was pretty easy, underground was tougher but I did get The Juggaknots when it first came out.
I’ve been talking to people about battling a lot and the response has been that they are over saturated now and no one battles for good reasons anymore. What’s the opinion on this?
C: It seems like I change my opinion on battling everyday. I see so many people who try to use it as a publicity stunt with pre-meditated sets that they want to vent onto someone just to get props. I don’t agree with that but on the positive side it is a creative outlet and an effective way to settle music disputes. People take it way too personal. I want to do it more but sometimes both people walk away from the battle like “I ate him up” even though they officially lost.
AD: I have a quick question for Crescent. How do you respond to all the people that gave you shit about not entering the last Scribble Jam?
C: I went to Scribble Jam ’99 with the exact same mindset as I did in 2000 which was when I show up on the day of the battle if I feel like battling I would. I went in ’99 and I felt good but when I showed up there last summer it had some funny vibes. The other parts of Scribble Jam were dope but most of the hype revolves around the MC battle so there were like 200 heads that signed up and I wasn’t trying to take a number and wait in line.
AD: I’ve seen good and bad battles. The last Braggin’ Rights was really dope but I would rather battle someone without time limits or judges. I used to battle kids in high school and I got more immediate props doing that than what I do now.
New emcees come out everyday. Do you feel any pressure to put out several releases a year so you won’t get lost in the shuffle?
AN: I really prefer thoughtful albums that sound like people put a lot of time into them. I think people should take as much time as they need.
C: Sometimes I get pretty frustrated with the new MCs showing up everyday in the sense that it’s like “Oh he raps too now?” If they really want to pay dues and do it then that’s great but I think some people’s motives are wrong. As far as releases I agree with quality over quantity.
D: You can put out 5 crappy albums with 2 good songs on them or you can put out 1 classic album every four years that people are still going to listen to. Granted you want to try to have some consistency but it’s the artist’s responsibility to try to make the best album they can.
AD: I challenge every artist to make a dope album. Its something we haven’t achieved yet and hardly anyone has but if you can make that album in a week then do it but if it takes years then that’s the route you have to take. I’d rather not see a bunch of EPs or singles in a row instead we are striving for a dope solid album.
Do you think going to school full time will affect your ability to do shows or tours?
AD: That’s a definite issue. We just got an opportunity to open for the Micranots in Chicago next month but it’s on a Wednesday so I can’t miss class. That’s a huge opportunity that we cant partake in. Personally it’s the most frustrating situation in the world because my life is school right now and to succeed in hiphop music has to be your focus. We’ve managed to do shows all over the states but it’s a definite problem as far as setting up tours.
D: On the flip side of that one I’m dropping out of NYU so this is my last semester for sure. All this stuff I’m doing requires me not to be in school. Last year there were weeks I wouldn’t be able to work on beats.
C: I decided to go back to school because I want a steady paying job with a flexible schedule to work on my music. I’m trying to find that happy medium of working on music while still being able to pay bills.
AN: If your willing to sacrifice your social life you can usually find enough time to work on music. School doesn’t ever really take up more than half my day.
What’s the formula for shows, is it 2 turntables and 2 mics, DATS, or what? I’ve even heard you guys performed over strictly beat boxing.
AD: Usually we are only operating with one set of turntables but we bring out the MPC and play that live or perform with live bands. We did a show in Providence where we rhymed strictly over the beat box from my man MC Squared just to do something different. We perform under a lot of different circumstances to try to keep it as interesting as possible.
C: There are a lot of different mixing and matching we do for shows. We like to work with different heads if some of our crew isn’t present and we make it work. I got most of my stage experience backing up Eyedea and doing a lot of shows with Rhymesayers.
What is the process that Anatomy and Deetalx use when working together on production. Do you always collaborate, bring separate beats to the table, or start from the concept and create the beat from there?
D: All of the above
AN: Basically we work on stuff separately and if we are together in the same place we will start and finish something together. Over half of them we do on our own.
D: I’d say a third we each do individually, then a third of it we do it collaboratively, and the other third is concept. Sometimes we simply wake up with the sampler right there and start creating while other times we will sit down and plan to create a certain mood or take the production towards a certain direction. Whatever works.
You have got a lot of good press on the Absorbing Playtime EP have you sent it to a lot of different radio shows to build off the buzz?
D: Actually I have a radio show on WNYU. You can pick it up on http://www.wnyu.org. It’s the Gumbo Show on 89.1 FM on Tuesday nights from 1am-3am EST.
AD: We sent it to a few people who have asked for it specifically. Everyone will have a copy soon. I also do a show called “The “Night train” on WKCR 89.9 FM every other Tuesday from 1am-5am EST. It’s the best in rare groove, soul, afro beat, and funk from the late 60’s and early 70’s. I’ve also helped out on Bobbito’s show as well.
AN: As far as radio stations we tried to make sure everyone in the twin cities has it. I’d like to get it on some commercial stations but for god sakes haha.
In one of Advizer’s interviews he was quoted as saying you guys are not from the suburbs. So what else is there in Minnesota besides suburbs, Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and Prince?
AD: We have 10,000 lakes and the malls of America, Soul Asylum, Kevin Garnett, The Replacements, Kirby Puckett. Don’t front on Kirby Puckett. Women are also one of the main attractions.
C: It’s laid back. It’s a really simple city but it’s a good place to live because a lot of people are open-minded.
AN: One of the dopest things about the twin cities is there is a lot of culture here and people are looking for something to do besides just watch TV.
D: It’s small enough where there is a good community and you know a lot of the people who go to shows. At the same time it has shit bigger cities don’t as far as diversity in the types of restaurants, theater, music, etc.
Not to sound cliché but what are some of you non-hiphop music interests?
D: Personally I listen to older jazz and rock. I’m a metal head I love that shit. I’m also into 70’s soul Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, and the list goes on.
AN: Any groove-oriented music. I don’t listen to too much rock at all but I like older jazz, Radiohead, Portishead, anything with a groove to it. I listen to a lot of slow shit.
C: Probably the first musician I really got into was Jimi Hendrix. For the time being the stuff I really can relate to is like Portishead, but I like all types of music just not as much country.
AD: I listen to a lot of stuff I play on my radio show. I’ve been listening to a lot of Afro Beat lately, Fela Kuti, The Daktaris, and Antibalas. A lot of the modern soul groups that are really dope are on this label called DESCO Records like the Soul Providers, Sugarmen 3, and The Mighty Imperials. I’m also getting into Breakestra, a group off of Peanut Butter Wolf’s label. Moving out to NY and getting into radio has increased my knowledge of rare groove music.
What do each of you feel has been your most creative song or input into a song so far?
AN: The most creative thing I’ve done that’s been put out was “Sleepwalk” on the Oddjobs album. To me that was the most honest personal song.
D: Out of the stuff we have out the most challenging artistically was “Liberal Arts” just due to all the revisions and changes it went through before it came into being what it was on the album. I don’t know if it was my best stuff but it was my most challenging.
C: I felt the most satisfied after writing the lyrics for “Sleepwalk”. It felt like it was meant to be the way everything fell into place. I think it’s a piece I can look back on and appreciate. I definitely want to continue to be as versatile as possible and make things that will be innovative.
AD: We did a song with Eyedea called “PSP” (Philosopher Scientist Poet) which is the dopest song to me even though it had a lot of errors on it. It was a really original concept with a lot of symbolic meaning to it. That’s the one song I can always listen to and be satisfied with.
How about some Promotion
AD: You can get the Absorbing Playtime album all over the place especially at ugsmag.com. It’s 10 solid tracks. Our next release will be the Absorbing Playtime wax and the Cases of Mistaken Identity (CMI) project will be done when it’s perfect. We have collaborated with some other heads as well so hopefully those projects will be released at some point. I’m also going to try and record some songs with this cat MC Squared who beat boxes and put them out as free promo items. Its going to be rhymes over strictly beat boxes.
AN: Nomi from CMI is working on a solo album that will feature everyone from the crew and various other producers. Hopefully that will be out by next year if not before.
D: I’m selling beats. We both do freelance production. Anyone interested can email me at [email protected] Also check out the Oddjobs website at http://pulsate.org/oddjobs
Any lasting quotes for all the ugsmag.com heads?
AN: I’ve been listening to Latyrx all day and I want to thank them for that.
AD: Peace to Nomi and Naimless the other cats from CMI, Interlock, and everyone in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Everyone should be checking for the Absorbing Playtime CD and wax and calling my house asking for promos so I can tell them “No, I’m too large for that!”.
C: Peace to all the girls who thought that Sleepwalk was about them