Interview by Marlon Regis.
HHS: I think with your production credentials being so overwhelming, most listeners fail to realize a great part of your focus has always been emceeing as well. How do you separate or find the time to tackle either successfully?
Extra P: “Ahm, not really ’cause it’s just a flow of energy that just comes about, and it’s like, yuhknow, you make a beat sometimes and you feel like you could just go the extra mile, and put the lyrics right to it, right there. Or, sometimes, I’ll just make a beat and it’ll be like, ‘alright that is cool by itself.’ So it’s all in just the energy of it all.”
HHS: Do you really feel that you have been given the props you truly deserve, despite all the strides you’ve made and the many milestones you’ve accomplished as a producer? How has this industry been to you?
Extra P: “Well, I understand things better, because looking at a lot of these older records, I’ve been able to study and look at the history of the music industry. And that’s what we dealing with, it’s the industry. So like to look at R&B, Rock n’ Roll and to see how it was, I would see how it’s diluted and just all this trickery and stuff. I understand how the industry can do that. I thought though, that just us being hip hop, that we were a new generation that will always check for the older heads. But it’s all going up the same alley like others before. Your Rock n’ Roll, R&Bâ€¦.For a while, these things was coming out in my sounds, and my music and I was talking about the industrial part of it, the business. Then after a while, I just had to step back and just get back into my love for the music.”
HHS: It seems that back in the day, and if you look at other genres as well, there were few mentions or lines that referred to anything to do with the music business side of life. Nowadays, everybody’s album has an entire song referencing his or her record label, whether it is positive or negative. It’s like these artists lost all artistry in delivering their craft.
Extra P: “There’s a lot of that now, yes. Years from now, we’ll look back at it. It’s like now when I have to go diggin’ and I still get my records as you know, the prices that I pay for some of the old records, some of those records weren’t as popular as they are now, as back then when they came out. I see the same thing happening where, a lot of the artists that are being true, like yours from now, will be the jewels. A lot of the stuff now, it’s mechanical. It’s like an assembly line, like a cookie-cutter, a cookie-cutter.
HHS: Sort of like comparing Fast Food to Gourmet food, right?
Extra P: “Yep, like home-cooked. Word!”
HHS: Amongst all the artists, from Q-Tip, Pete Rock, Nas, Slick Rick, Rakim, Kool G Rap and the list goes on, is there any moment or person in particular that remains within your thoughts, sort of has become a part of your future, musically or outside of music?
Extra P: “I would definitely say Pete Rock, throughout all these years, I’ve always stayed in contact with him. Nas also, I’ve always stayed in contact with him. Through this industry, one thing that’s good that came out of it, is that I met some cool brothers and we were just able to keep it rolling like, as far as just being brothers. And Akinyele also…
HHS: During the time when things were going sour with Geffen and a rumored deal with Loud fell through, there was talk circulating that you were hard to work with, or worse – you went through a difficult period with alcohol, is any of this true?
Extra P: “Nah, it was always a casual thing. Smoke a lil’ weed, drink a lil’ beer, but it wasn’tâ€¦Yuh see, what I like to do for the industry and for a lot of the kids that are coming into the industry now, I like to let them know, if you do anything, it’s considered as taking drugs! Like when you dealing with these lawyers, you might be thinking that you just puffin’ the L, or puffin’ on the blunt or drinking a beer, but when you dealing with these people in this corporate industry, you’re taking drugs! I thought I was more on the Bob Marley level, or I was just casual. But then for somebody like me, they’d put it under a scope. Then, you’d have another artist come out and that (the drug image) would be a big part of their whole campaign, and they will respect them. And this is from me and the one thing is for sure, and this lets everybody know is that The LP did get delivered. It’s not like I didn’t deliver it. As far as the business is concerned, I always take care of the business. What people have in their opinions is somethin’ different, and I can’t control that. And I feel bad that I can’t because, I can paint the picture better than anyone else.”
HHS: Is it safe to say, that the climate around this time changed, and the powers-that-be needed you to change the way you delivered your style of hip hop?
Extra P: “R I I I GHT! That’s exactly what happened. They wanted me to kinda change with it and I didn’t.”
HHS: Well, maybe you are not the type to change, you just couldn’t.
Extra P: “Exactly, I needed to stick to my roots and give them what they signed me for.”
HHS: I really think that time was critical too, since it was a period I saw hip hop as a cult, being now suddenly adopting a whole other agenda geared towards the pop market in a big way. And you definitely wouldn’t have been a part of the latter switch over, would you?
Extra P: “Right, that wouldn’t have been good for me, or Hip Hop in general. But we stay strong through all of it, we stay strong.”
HHS: Don’t you think that with your sensibilities set in with a wicked foundation of hip hop, if you were to surround yourself and work alongside newer cats in the game, your sound will be better redefined with you teaching them something, and they being able to teach you as well?
Extra P: “Oh definitely, ‘Man sharp as Man’ – that’s a saying that’s been from day 1 – ‘Man sharp as Man’! Yeah, I definitely feel if I were to collaborate with some of the more current artists now coming out, people would see me different but I feel like everyone has their slot. I like to stay in a slot of just like ‘True-School Hip Hop’. I don’t really want to deviate from that. I might step up the technology, as far as what machines I’m using. But as far as the groove, or feel of it, I’ll always have that ‘Boom Bap’ feel to it. The traditional, is how I’m up on it.”
HHS: Q-Tip guests on 1st Class on a track, “In the Sun,” one of my favorite tracks for the year, but at one time there seemed to be a little strain between you two, around the recording of The LP. Could you explain the dynamic between you two then, as opposed to now. After all, he’s on your album now?
Extra P: “It’s just the industry. You got two brothers who are down with each other, that were making moves. A lot of the industry politics, tricks and things come into play. It’s all made out to be like something’s not going right. He came through for this album though, so you know that we saw in the world that all of that past nonsense, it don’t or shouldn’t come between brothers.”
HHS: On this album, is it safe to say you’re not really doing anything but defining yourself, and making up for all the years lost from that connection to the rest of the world? What else, if I’m unaware, are you trying to give us on 1st Class?
Extra P: “Really, I’m not trying to take hip hop into anywhere new, or trying to experiment with hip hop. I’m just trying to solidify that the true hip hop still exists and I’m still trying to keep the ROOT strong. I’m not trying new styles, any tricks, no skits. Just traditional, music you could zone out to. Really, I try to embody as much as I know about hip hop, from 1978-79, 80, 81, 82, back then ’til today. Keep it somewhat up-to-date, but still keep it traditional.”
HHS: If there were a picture in the dictionary next to the definition of the term, East Coast, your picture would be next to it! (Extra P laughs out loud) Define yourself in this light, and with hip hop branching out with a star from every city or country nowadays, why is Extra P a man who doesn’t seem to flinch from the source of it all – NYC?
Extra P: “I just really like to tap intoâ€¦.(pauses to settle his emotions). It’s so deep maaan, pardon me. I wanna tap in deeper than what I know. When I sit here, I’ll zone out to ‘Wild Style’ for days and days at a time.”
HHS: What comes to mind in those zones, do you think of the past, Breakdancing, Graffiti, Africa?
Extra P: “Definitely man, Yo! I think about all that, word. It’s the best thing to be in those zones. But one thing too is that, when you’re so strong in that zone, you’re often misunderstood.”
HHS: Most geniuses are misunderstood.
Extra P: “Thanks man. With hip hop, this is where it started. Hey man, I’ll go and drive through the Bronx to this day, I’ll look at the trains. Really, in New York the whole hip hop feelings is kinda diluted now. So, I just try to keep the tradition alive in some type of way, and spark that. And all of the people who might still live out here, or even if they went wherever else, I’d like to just spark that feeling, where it’s like, ‘WOW!’ Word. Definitely, that’s it. You know the deal maan, it’s wild!”
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