When we first heard "The CIA is Trying To Kill Me" in the Designer Magazine offices, it left the same impression as when we first heard Dead Prez's "Hip Hop" joint. Music with a message that was light-years away from the processed hip hop Nelly and the Neptune's hip-pop flavas. Straight out of New York City, "The Future Is Now" album is full of paranoid rhymes, tight beats and production from DJ Premier, Pete Rock and The Large Professor (the first time they have worked together on a project since Nas' Illmatic album) and collaborations with Fear Factory and the Deftones. Designer Magazine caught up with Gortex to find out about the truth behind hip-hops best keep secret.
Q: Non Phixion formed in '95', the album drops 2002.
A: The kind of thing we learned is you can't let the industry get you down. It's generalized and its actually true...just a music industry cliché story and it happens all the time. It just happens that we got stuck in the rut of it. There's nobody that can really take us down. There's no record label, no record industry insiders, nobody is going to take us down but us!!!
All we've had to keep focused on is the music, us, keeping
the group in tact. Not so and so at the label trying to alter our sound
- that's why we kind of had to take things into our own hands. Enough is
enough and our patience was definitely wearing thin.
Q: So what happened with the whole Geffen Hip hop label
A: Some of our label's had good intentions and some didn't. Were doing ourselves - it's Uncle Howie!!! We here and we proud of the fact that it's in tact. Were optimistic about the future.
Q: Taking it right back to the beginning in Brooklyn.
How did you guys hook up?
A: Me & Bill have been down since 12 or 13, we lived in the same housing development. We lived across from each other and we would contact each other by playing music out of the window - he would put his speakers out the window and play a Slayer record and I would put my speakers out the window and play a Rakim record. We would just communicate through the windows playing music.
Eclipse is down with Sabac. They worked at the same label
together. And we just decided to form a union. We wanted to create something
we weren't hearing and something we probably weren't going to hear if we
didn't try to create that.
Q: So back in the day who made you want to start rhyming.
From just being another kid on the streets who made you think I can do
really do this?
A: For me originally it was Rakim. When I was younger I was into the older stuff like Curtis Blow, LL Cool J and Run DMC. It wasn't until Rakim that I though in my head 'maybe I can do this'. There was nobody touching him lyrically...I mean, I don't know about now, but up until about 89 there was no one coming near him.
I probably decided to take it very seriously in about 89 / 90 and I was going to clubs just trying to politick with somebody and looking for beats. I was hooking up with kids and I had a bunch of groups that didn't really go anywhere, people who weren't dedicated. Back in the early 90s / late 80s it wasn't the same kind of environment that it is now. Now you go into New York and everybody rhymes. Everybody and their mother rhymes. Back in 89 there wasn't a lot of MC's, there wasn't a lot of ways to get into the industry.
You would have these guys who would stand on the corner of Broadway who would have a big tour bus and they were looking for rappers. It was like we have studio in Connecticut, just sign this paper and pay us $60 and we'll drive you to Connecticut and you'll be able to use the studio. There were all kinds of Scams going on. It was crazy. It was shocking how hard it was and what kind of things were going on because MC-ing was pretty big then, but it wasn't as exploited as much.
Q: You've been around back in the 80s. You're here
right now. What's the main differences between back in the day and now
as a young MC?
A: You really had be dedicated to get into it. You kind of had to prove yourself. MC-ing now is you see a battle on MTV, kids decide they want to rhyme and they pick up a Fabulous album or the latest Jayzee album and they're MC's... and it really doesn't work like that!!!
Q: You guys have been working away for years in the
underground even when the record label shit went down. You peeps and Necro
plugging away and keeping it real. How was it?
A: Necro is Bill's Brother so I remember seeing Necro at 11 years old running around the house like a mad man. We grew up with those guys and have seen how they got from A to B.
We sold 20,000 copies of our first 12" world wide and luckily we came out of the New York underground scene was still in tact, when there was still a camaraderie. And I don't see much of a scene now. I think 94 / 95 was a classic time and underground hip hop will always have a space in the books. I think the independent scene is diluted and most of it's shit. Anybody who can buy a Tascam and an MP3 2000 shouldn't be making records. Just because you have access to the equipment and you have something pressed up. There has to be quality control. I think Eclipse should A&R every single hip hop record that comes out. There needs to be quality control and there's not.
Were trying to surpass all that. We don't really feel
akin to too many groups. We don't have too many peers and now were just
doing our own thing, man. Were trying to see the world and if we make a
career out of it great. We've been doing this a long time and if it was
all about the money, we'd have quit a long time ago.
Q: I read in a interview before that you guys are providing
the alternative to Fast Food hip-hop. Explain further?
A: It's disposable, man. The Fabulous album comes out and 6 months later no-one gives a shit. The hip hop audience is so finicky right now and it's so picky that even a group like ours the audience is so finicky. Then you got people like Nelly who are Vampires and they're sucking the art dry. It can be a little discouraging, but that's why we do what we do. Were the defenders of the faith if you wanna call it that.
Q: Politics, drug culture, humour. It's not just this
one minded lyrical theme on vinyl. What are you trying to get across?
A: Life is a balance. We couldn't rhyme about taking drugs in the club and trying to f**k chicks. That's pretty fun and we probably enjoy doing that to, but it doesn't encompass life. Life is love. Life is hate. Life is death. Life is war. Life is pain. You have to go by the ying and yang and without darkness there's no light and vice versa. We try to shine that into our lyrics while at the same time I wouldn't really say were political. None of us are really into politics. I just think we try to encompass everything that life has to offer and sometimes you'll hear it and it's negative and sometimes you'll hear it and it's positive. That's our truth!!!
We have something for everybody in a sense if you're open minded. We feel like the audience are just sheep. They're just trained. They're basically brainwashed that if you're not rhyming over a Neptune's beat, people might not take you seriously.
Q: With the release of "The Future Is Now", it's taken
it up a level. Pete Rock, Premier, Large Professor. How did that come about?
A: Eclipse had a relationship with a lot of those guys and we knew a lot of them just from the scene. We just kind of felt is was a natural thing to do. These were the guys we grew up listening to and if we were driving around in our cars and wanted to listen to something from the mid 90s it's coming out of these guys. It's those beats. Who else would you really wanna work with!!!
Were not into these modern cats or whatever. We basically
wanted to make a record which could be considered a classic. They're classic
guys who have done classic stuff. I mean a lot of people have made comparisons
to "Illmatic", the 1st Nas album, and those producers haven't come together
to work on one project since.
Q: Last time I spoke to Necro he told me he was working
with a member of Slipknot. And then you guys come in with the Deftones
and Fear Factory on "The CIA is trying to Kill Me". How did these collabs
A: Well, Necro is cool with the DJ Sid Wilson. And DJ Sid has got a couple of projects coming out, I don't know whether his hip-hop album is coming out, but he's got a couple of other things coming out. We might work with him as well. Those guys as cool, personally I like some of their shit.
As far as the Deftones and Fear Factory. We met those
guys in LA, hung out and we just wanted to come together on something that
hasn't been done before. With our angle on it which is just a paranoid.
Those guys are into hip-hop, their music has grooves and it's danceable
- like our music - although I don't know whether our music is danceable.
Q: Finally, you're just in the UK for a couple of dates.
As Necro was saying last time, the UK is more open to you slant on hip
hop. Would you agree?
A: Generally I think the European are a little more serious as to being into our whole music, our whole message and our whole scene. We love coming to Europe because we fell the UK appreciates our music a lot more than the US at times. I don't know why that is, it's just the way it is. It's what we live for!!!
"The Future Is Now" is out on Uncle Howie
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