When even mentioning the Philadelphia hip-hop scene one crew (The Roots) seems to garner most of the attention, and very deservedly so. However, with the release of their critically acclaimed debut “Self: Vol.1″, the next best bet to blow up from the city of brotherly love is the Mountain Brothers (Chops, Peril-L & Styles). Granted, their much-delayed debut was a prolonged test of patience for the MB’s loyal allegiance of fans, but that did nothing too damper anyone’s enthusiasm about the final product. While, the material included on their debut is in some cases three years old, it has come nowhere close to nearing its expiration date. Shunning trends and nearly impossible to label, their highly innovative debut just runs amuck with originality, and injects some much-needed fun back into hip-hop’s veins.
HipHopSite.Com: Who were some of your influences?
Chops- I really dug stuff Stax Records, like Booker T & The MG’s, or Isaac Hayes, 60′s and 70′s soul, plus certain jazz-funk cats like Herbie Hancock, Roy Ayers, and Bob James.
Styles- Special Ed, Slick Rick in the beginning, those cats made complex lyrics flow so easily. Then Souls Of Mischief and early Nas.
With the growing pains you experienced at Ruffhouse what did it teach you, and what did you take away from it?
Styles- It taught me that we’re better off doing things ourselves in the long run. Labels make things easy for you, but exact a heavy price for it; it’s like going to 7-11 to buy groceries.
Was there ever a thought of packing it in after getting dropped from Ruffhouse?
Styles- Nah that thought never entered our minds. We have too much to say besides what else are we as good at that is this much fun.
What are some of the pros and cons of being Independent from your experience?
Styles- Definitely the biggest pro is control of your own shit. The con of course would be having to do all the extra work, calling all the stations, sending out promo packages, handling distributors, etc. On balance though it’s worth it to stay independent.
You have developed a very dynamic chemistry seldom seen for a group so early on in their career, what do you attribute that too?
Chops- We’ve been a group now for like 8 years, and we’ve all known each other longer then that. We’re not one of those groups that was like “discovered”, or packaged together.
Do you make it a conscious decision to differentiate your music, or is it more of we do what comes natural vibe?
Styles- It’s a more natural organic process, but I think we definitely try to stay away from trends. Not because their necessarily bad, but because if everyone is doing the same thing, it’s just boring. I think it’s more interesting to do something that has not been done before, then to follow everyone else.
Peril-L- I think since the three of us are unique individuals in general, in terms of our style, way of thinking, personality, etc. We don’t follow trends and we don’t have a certain view just because that’s what’s popular at the time, or what people want you to believe. That just comes out in the music.
What aspect do you need to refine as a group in your estimation (if anything)?
Styles- Everything is always evolving, it’s hard to predict really, just because most of the material on the album is like a year or two old, or in some cases three years old. The next MB album you’ll hear everything up a couple of notches, beats, lyrics, hooks, etc. One thing I’d like to try more is interplay between the three of us as emcees. Like more handing off the mic, before an entire verse is done.
Chops you concentrate on implementing live instruments on all of your tracks, is that your personal preference, or are you just against sampling?
Chops- I just have a lot of ideas in my head, and the best way for me too get my own ideas across is with instruments. If I just took some Curtis Mayfield and looped it, it’s dope because of Curtis Mayfield, not because of me. I’m not anti-sampling, but I like hearing something where the producer actually did some work, like dug a little for a break everybody does not have, or chopped up the sample and flipped it.
What excites you all about being in the industry right now?
Chops- What excites me is being a part of change.
On the other hand, what really annoys you all about being involved in the industry?
Chops- Change takes a long fucking time.
5 Years from now what do you hope to be doing, and to have accomplished?
Styles- I look back five years and remember listening to “93 Til Infinity”, and having my brain explode. I remember listening to “Illmatic” over and over, until I caught every single word, and understood why it was there. Those two albums, among a very few others, made me want to elevate myself immensely as an MC. If in five years heads said that about us, that would be the dopest thing imaginable for me.
When people are bumping the MBâ€™s debut what do you hope they come away with?
Chops- The urge to tell people about our music.
Styles- Just that they enjoy it, on whatever level.
Chops, with producers in such great demand have you ever considered branching out, and cooking up some tracks for anyone else?
Chops- Definitely, I’ve been working with a handful of other groups, Nuthouse, Bahamadia, L-Fudge, Name, Aphillyation. Hopefully you’ll get to hear some of that stuff soon.
Styles & Peril-L if you were blessed the opportunity to cipher with anyone who would be included in that cipher, and who would you try to take out first?
Styles- There’s a lot of emcees I’d like to rhyme with, Common & Black Thought are two. As far as emcees I’d like to take out, I’m not really gunning for anyone right now. Sometimes you get those one, or two cats that feel like they want to prove something, those are the ones I want to rhyme against most.
Peril-L- I’d like to rhyme with some of my current favorites, Andre from Outkast, Inspecktah Deck.
If you as a group were offered another major label deal what parameters have you set. What would it take for the MB’s to sign on the dotted line again?
Chops- I’d do it all again for a pack of Newport’s, and Puma sweats.
Styles- Ha ha! Actually, our deal with Ruffhouse wasn’t too bad, we got a dope ass lawyer. I’d do it for the same deal, plus creative control over our music, and release schedule. Also, hookers, lots of hookers.
How have your fellow Illadelph artists embraced you?
Chops- Right now I’m working on a compilation of mainly Philly artists. It’ll have some of the groups I mentioned before, plus assorted other artists that are pretty much known around the city, but might not have a lot of exposure as of yet. Bahamadia has given us support on her radio show, as well as some good advice in terms of the business.
Peril-L- The Philly underground scene has really come up in recent years, and pretty much all the artists show each other love. It’s a real positive vibe.
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