Perhaps one of the West-Coast’s most slept on emcees, Encore, first made his debut with a pre-Stones Throw era Peanut Butter Wolf, on the “Step On Our Egos” compilation. Once Stones Throw got off the ground, Encore popped up on two more releases, sharing one with Rasco, then label hopping and finally hooking up with The Automator. After reintroducing himself on the Handsome Boy Modeling School album, Encore really let us get a glimpse of his soul via his debut album, “Self Preservation”, on Automator’s newly formed 75 Ark label. Fully produced by longtime collaborator, G-Luv The Architect, the new album helped redefine Encore as more than just a twice-a-year 12″ emcee, ranking him right up with the rest of the West’s current allstars, such as Dilated Peoples, Cali Agents, and Jurassic 5.
How did you get your start, what was the main thing that got you into this whole industry?
A Tribe Called Quest’s “Low End Theory”, Main Source “Breakin Atoms”, Gang Starr “Step In The Arena”, any number of Rakim’s albums, N.W.A…. just being influenced by and living the music.
So, after you did stuff with Wolf, then you hooked up with Automator, how did that happen?
I either met him through Peanut Butter Wolf, or Architect, my producer. He liked my stuff and everything, and he actually wanted me to do something on the Dr. Octagon album, but I kinda slept.
So do you have another album planned with 75 Ark?
I am working on a number of different projects. I am working on another album, probably for 75 Ark. I am working on an EP with my man Joey Chavez out in L.A., and I am working on another project with my man Turbin, it’s called Official Thoroughbreds.
Who is that project coming out with?
Well, the only thing that is solidified right now is the next album for 75 Ark. Everything else is I am just working on. My whole thing about music is just make the project, and then see what comes after that.
So, on your album, one of the deepest songs is “.084″, you speak on drunk driving. Is this based on a true story?
Well first of all I am glad, and I appreciate the fact that you like that song. But yeah, that was a true to life experience, basically everything that was in there really happened. I used to drink and drive a lot, and I got a D.U.I., and I got in an accident and everything. Thankfully, I didn’t get hurt or kill anyone, or anything, but yeah, it was definitely a true to life experience.
How did that experience change your life?
It was one of those things, where you realize that you can’t take things for granted, you have to be appreciative of what you have. People tend to take youth for grantedâ€¦ It’s not a matter of being paranoid, I mean, live your life to the fullest, but don’t take it for granted.
Your relationship with Architect, he produced the whole album. When listening to it, the chemistry between the two of you almost reminds me kind of like a Guru / Premier type of thing, where the producer compliments the emcee, and the emcee compliments the producer. How would you define the relationship? Is it the sort of thing where it’s just a known fact that Encore rocks on Architect beats, or is it the type of thing that you would pretty much just rock over whatever beats were on your plate?
Our relationship goes beyond music, we grew up in the music business together, but before that, we went to high school together, I am one year older than him. The majority of my albums will probably have a large amount of his beats on there, but I like albums to have an identity, rather than a whole bunch of elements put together. I mean, your album can have a whole bunch of producers, but they all have to mesh, and keep the same identity.
So it’s not like a compilation….
Right. A lot of people have a lot of different producers and it sounds all the same, or it’s just way too different, and all over the place. I think Mos Def’s album is a great album, it has all different elements, but it was done correctly.
Let me ask you this, and I don’t mean to offend you by asking this question, but Blaze dissed the album. Speak on it….
I mean, I don’t really have any response to that. To me, it doesn’t really effect me, it’s not going to go make me…. I think they said something about the beats, or something? I bust over the beats that I feel. This album is called “Self Preservation”, I created this album, thinking that this could be the last piece of work I ever did. I am not saying it is, but I could die tommorrow. I wanted to make sure that I was happy with it. I didn’t give a damn what anyone else was talking about it.
I was reading The Source, and they kinda dissed Cali Agents and Zion I. I think a lot of it has to do with that it’s not really an underground thing, but I think because we are young in the game, they only respect artist‘s who carry a lot of weight in the industry.
I think the politics issue is definitely there. For instance, like let’s take ******. He’s a good emcee, and I respect him and all, but his album was disappointing, it just wasn’t a 3 and a half. Of course they give it a 3.5. I think what happens is that they are in a position where they have to give certain albums certain ratings. It’s just become a game of like “Well, we buy ads, so now you have to respect us and give this album a four.”
On top of that, when they do interviews with these artists on these particular labels, the label will fly the writer out to these nice spots in the Bahamas to take pictures and everything. That’s cool and it doesn’t really effect me, but I gotta do what I gotta do. People were dissing D’Angelo’s album, and to me that was one of the best albums out! I don’t know….
I think you are right about the whole “weight” issue, you know? Are they rating the album or the artist? But eventually it will get to the point where Encore has built up such a following over, say, a ten year period of time, and at that point they will have no choice but to recognize that it’s dope. They’re like, “Well, we have to give something a two and half, so….”
Yeah, it’s a lot easier to give me a 2.5, than it would be to give ******.
Yeah, I mean because you don’t live a block away from their office to go up there and be like, “What the fuck?”
Exactly. But I think a lot of hip-hop heads understand that, so it’s really not that important for me to address it like that. I don’t really know any other places that have reviewed my album and dissed it like that, you know?
We gave it a good review, and I think Urb did too. I remember talking to a writer who I was going to have write an article for HipHopSite, and I told them I needed a review by Friday, and it didn’t show up that day, so I called them, and was like, “Yo, where is this review’, and they were like, “I’ll have it to you by tonight”. So I said, “Well what do you think of the album”, and they were like “I haven’t even listened to it yet, but don’t worry, I have written reviews in an hour before.” I’ve even heard magazine writers say they were on a deadline, and did a “fast forward review”, where they just skimmed through the tracks. I’m like, “Yo this is no way to review a record!’ If you begin to look at the album like it isn’t shit, you have already formed a bad opinion after one listen.
That’s a hard thing for me to accept. For music in general, not just hip-hop. I love music in general, and I really feel like you have to soak in music, you have to feel it. I don’t want to get on a corny level, but you actually have to be the music, before you can find a decent opinion of what you really think of the music. Unless a large amount of people dis an album, I don’t think heads really even care. I think they want to listen it themselves.
I think there is also the issue of who is the more credible source when listening to a “underground record”, Urb Magazine, or Blaze?
Yeah, and reading what they are talking about, like, “they didn’t have a club joint” or whatever. I mean the whole idea that you have to have a certain type of song is ridiculous. They didn’t just say that about me either, they said it about Cali Agents in The Source, like “they haven’t crossed the barrier”. The people that really create this little “underground” wall and this “pop” wall or whatever you want to call it, are the magazines themselves. It doesn’t even need to be that, because music is music. I read them, and am just like whatever, it doesn’t really bother me.
So let’s talk about the collaborations…. You hooked up with Pep Love on “Situation”….
That was like me and Pep running into each other like, “Yo we gotta do something”, so…. We are supposed to do something on his album too….
Then of course, you did that shit with Evidence of Dilated Peoples, “Filthy” …I was actually disappointed you left of the album, but at the same time I thought it was cool that you pretty much stuck with Architect for the whole album….
Yeah….I didn’t put “Waterworld” on there either, people were disappointed I didn’t put those songs on there. But I wanted I to do a whole new project, you know? I wanted it to be an album, I didn’t want to put stuff on there just because they were good songs, I wanted them to fit the album’s actual vibe.
So what albums do you have “in the deck”?
Right now I got, Common in there, Lucy Pearl, Dead Prez, some old Chaka Kahn, I listen to all kinds of shit. I think you have to be a little diverse to make quality music of any type.
Growing up on the West Coast, do you ever feel you have been neglected of the hip-hop culture that NYC breathes?
Not really, I mean, we lived it, we had our own spin on it. It originated out there, but we broke, popped and locked. We had a lot of emcees, Too Short, you know….. To me it is all hip-hop. Slick Rick could come out here, and do a show, and the kids would know all the words, just like they would in New York? We weren’t exposed to the historical battles or anything, but as far as music that was put down on wax, we got a large large does of it, not to mention our hometown heroes, Too Short, and down in L.A. Cube and Dre. I think overall, we have actually been exposed to even more hip-hop.
I feel you, you know when you are in New York, it’s like a whole other planet, and a lot of times, they just are not aware of what is going on outside of that planet.
Exactly. They just started to get more exposed to west coast hip-hop with the Death Row era, but we have been exposed to east coast hip-hop since the beginning.
How do you feel about the west coast scene right now and it’s future? I don’t know how your relationships with these artists like Rasco, Planet Asia, Dilated, Jurassic…..
Those are all my peoples. I love hip-hop, I love whatever we are doing out here. Of course you got wack emcees, but I would like to see us all succeed.
So as far as the scene on the west coast, do you think people will look back at groups like you and Jurassic like we look at artists like Marley Marl todayâ€¦
That’s crazy that you say that because I was talking to somebody, and I was telling them that this period we have on the west coast, is kind of like that period that New York had from ’89 to ’91, where all these creative artists are emerging. I think we just need a few more albums under our belt, me Jurassic, Rasco, Dilatedâ€¦ one or two albums after that, people will recognize it just takes time.
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