The three heads forming The Juggaknots are fam. Literally. The crew includes brothers Breeze Brewin and Buddy Slim, along with their younger sister Heroine (who recorded with the Indelible MC’s project and was always involved in Juggaknots, but too young to be an official member until recently). Now that their formerly out of print debut Clear Blue Skies has resurfaced for mass consumption, folks can nix the E-Bay searches and embrace the original, classic product spiced with several extra joints.
Though you might not catch the Juggaknots on a major tour just yet, you can vibe with Breeze in person at NYC’s Fat Beats, where he’s worked for the past four years. You can also hear Breeze rip on Prince Paul’s remix of the Avalanches’ “Since I Left You” and the entire Juggs crew is featured on the “WKRP In NYC” 12″ on their own Matic Records. HipHopSite hit them up with some questions from a cell outside the Boogie Down Bronx about rolling into the game at the tail end of hip-hop’s golden age, their old joints’ staying power and new material on deck.
Why the long delay in re-releasing Clear Blue Skies?
Buddy Slim: We put out the record with [Bobbito Garcia] and we just wasn’t trying to have it just on the shelf collecting dust. So we decided about our future plans, about what we’re gonna do, other things besides that album. You know, the Breeze solo album, Juggs new album–we’re about to put out an EP in about two, three months. So we said, “What’s the best way to let people know we’re coming back again?” Well, why don’t we put out the original album, so people have some kind of chronological thing to check out.
Why did you once tell Bobbito you didn’t want to print any more copies of the Clear Blue Skies EP?
Buddy Slim: Well, back when we were doing it, the demand really wasn’t there. We kind of put the record out, it sold well, got good write-ups. We were actually very surprised about the write ups that we did get, because it was like the first album that we put out with Bob was kind of like the demos of each song. In ’95, we was signed to East/West, so we really didn’t want East/West coming at us saying, “Hey, even though we shelved you guys and we didn’t put this out, you guys have no right to go and sell this on the underground. So really, that first compilation we put out was songs in their beginning stages and we purposely did that, to kind of protect ourselves. That if East/West did come back now and wanted to say something, we could be like, “Hey, these are our original recordings out of our house, not what you paid for. We’re not making money off what you paid for, we’re making money off our ideas.”
Is that why some of the tracks on the re-release are so short?
Buddy Slim: We had to keep everything basically under 60 minutes. We could have went over, but the sound quality really wouldn’t have been that good. We could have put a lot more… but we just kind of did that to keep the album fresh. One thing I kind of regret, I just wish we could have indicated, this song’s a skit. This song is a full-length song. But we kind of put it out and said, “Hey, this is a body of work, digest it as you want.”
How did the “Clear Blue Skies” track come about?
Buddy Slim: One day I was just basically reasoning, looking up at the sky, while I was young. Not on even on some dusted out, tripping out, looking in the sky. Just looking in the sky. Everything down here has all this assortment of colors that divides us. But you look up, everything’s blue. If you could kind of just like, flip it, turn the world upside down to have that kind of harmony that exists in the sky. It’s “Clear Blue Skies” because there’s nothing like a strictly clear blue-sky day. There’s nothing like it. So that’s how I was reasoning about it, then I told Breeze about it and he just went to a whole other planet with it.
How do you feel about people getting hip to you now, for the first time, when the stuff you recorded here is about seven or eight years old?
Buddy Slim: I just feel very grateful. I know me and Breeze, the work that we’ve done, we’ve always just took it very seriously and always tried to create timeless music. The subject matter that we deal with, from racism to pressures of dealing with life that are evident in songs like “Loosifa”, just out here in the struggle.
Do you ever look back and think you could have had a legacy on East/West like Brand Nubian, Das EFX or KMD, in the tail end of the golden age of hip-hop?
Buddy Slim: We kind of came in on the end of all of that. Pete Rock & CL had done two albums by the time we got signed, Brand Nubian, I don’t even know what was going on with that situation. They never understood KMD, or KMD was just too much for them. They were dealing with all the stereotypes. With us, we try to deal with all the issues, but we try to deal with it in a sweeter way. Like my mother would say, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” So we can dress up something a little bit sweeter and still try to sneak in the message, that’s kind of like what we do.
What’s up after the re-release?
Buddy Slim: I really want to just get into the new stuff and get into that. I want people to get as excited about the new stuff as they are about the old. That’s really our plight right now. As much as we love the album, we really want to just crush it and bring something that’s gonna just blow it out of the water. It’s a challenge, but a challenge that we’re up to “Right now, everything’s really grass roots. We’re looking at another situation, hopefully to try and bring what we do to a major and basically have some visibility. I mean, nobody’s ever seen the Juggaknots. So even though I know that’s not like, whatever, the independent slogan or cause, but I gotta be realistic. We’re not gonna defeat the machine. The machine is always gonna be there. I just hear from so many people that “hip-hop is dead” and all that, but it ain’t. Because it still pumps in my blood. I know it pumps in my brother’s blood and I know it pumps in a lot of other cats too, because if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now.
Breeze Brewin: We got a single coming up real soon, with new music. My man DJ Eli did one side and that’s me rockin’ on some shit. And then on the flipside, my sister with Vinia Mojica. That’s gonna be out soon. There’s gonna be a CD component to that piece of vinyl which is gonna have more joints and the instrumentals as well and bonus joints. Like a maxi single/EP. We’re just gonna throw that out to tide cats over. That shit will be happening within the next two months and hopefully within the next couple months after that, either the Juggs full length will be out or I’ll be near completion with my shit.
What’s the situation with Heroine?
Buddy Slim: Heroine wasn’t always down with the squad, for no other reason that she was too young. When me and Breeze was doing our thing, she was like 13 & 14 and we was like, â€œYou know what? Why don’t you just concentrate on that school shit. You really don’t want to jump into this too quick.â€ She was always down, but she wasn’t an official member because she was too young.
Heroine, how do you fit in to Juggaknots?
Heroine: Everybody’s just trying to contribute to the group. I’m just trying to keep up and do as much as I can. Hopefully in time, we’ll put out more material.
What are your plans for the future?
Heroine: More music, taking things beyond music, in other creative realms.
What kind of creative realms aside from rhyming?
Heroine: I paint in acrylic mediums, similar to my rhyme style. A combination of different styles. I paint from the gut, kind of like how I rhyme.
It seems like the perfect home for you guys would be Def Jux. Has that been discussed?
Buddy Slim: We trying to basically create our own identity. A lot of people seem to separate Juggs from Matic Records. Matic is our label. We may not have a roster like Def Jux. I think Def Jux gets a lot of pub ’cause they grime. But at the same time, I don’t got Caroline [Distribution] giving me money to do what I need to do to with my talent. So, give me money and lets have a fair fight. I just can’t surrender just like that and be like, whatever, I’m gonna Def Jux it out. El’s my man, we’ve done stuff before, he’s peoples. There’s no animosity or nothing like that. It’s just that at the end of the day, Breeze’s got kids, I got kids. To be down with Def Jux, I’d be just a part of something. Not owning something.
Breeze, do kids recognize you at Fat Beats? What do they say to you?
Breeze Brewin: Yeah. We just talk about hip-hop. Same way we talking. They be like, “Yo, I dug this verse, this record. I be like, “Yo, cool.” People really hear that verse on the last Mr. Len album and I be like, “Yo, word? Good lookin’. I’m glad you dug it.” Or the last question is, “What did you mean by this?” And I’m like well, “I was trying to say this.” And I’ll like repeat the line or whatever. It’s always peace. It’s always just like cats talking about hip-hop. I wish more girls would recognize me, [laughing], but I guess I gotta work on that one.
Do people ever ask you to rhyme at the store or to kick a little something?
Breeze Brewin: Nah. Nobody asks me to rhyme and I appreciate that. Cause it’s a little weird. Like if I be rhyming and then I’m like, you know, “Anybody need help?” It don’t look good for business. I rhymed for in-stores before because the mood was right or whatever, but I try not to do that because to me, it’s kind of unprofessional. It gets weird with the re-release in the store. I would ring up somebody and they’d be like, “Yo, sign it for me.” And I’d be like, “Yo, cool.” So I’d ring it up and in the next motion, I’m signing the shit. I mean it’s cool. I think you gotta keep it in perspective. Some cats, whatever, they might say that’s weird, that’s some herb shit. But love is love. Cats gonna show love. You buying my shit. I appreciate it. That shit helps.
Any shout outs?
Buddy Slim: I’d like to send some love to those artists locked down, Chi Ali, ARL, who rhymed with NINE on the song “Ovaconfident,” he was a nasty one, and BORN Majestic aka Yogi Bear who was part of a group called the Microphone Terrorists from the Bronx neighborhood where we all grew up.
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