Buckshot’s already made history. Since his entrance into the game as the frontman of groundbreaking group Black Moon with their classic LP Enta Da Stage, he’s consistently given quality hip-hop to anyone willing to listen. Black Moon has released three solid albums, and Duck Down Entaprizez-Buck’s label with fellow exec Dru Haâ€“houses the Boot Camp Clik, home of indie mainstays such as Smif-n-Wessun, Heltah Skeltah and Cocoa Brovaz. Still, Industry Rule #4080 has slowed Buck in getting the recognition he deserves.
But while Buckshot isn’t one to focus on the past, with the way that things are going, he may be returning to the early 90s glory. Duck Down has already made a buzz with the first installment of its “Triple Threat” campaign, Sean Price’s new album Monkey Barz. Additionally, Buck has teamed up with the new producer-of-the-moment, 9th Wonder, to produce an album that has received classic ratings, and given him recognition everywhere from ELEMENTAL to XXL-all in a week’s work.
HipHopSite: This year, Duck Down is having Triple Threat with the releases of albums from Sean Price, you and 9th Wonder, and Smif-N-Wessun. What made you decide to do it now?
Buckshot: We had to get ourselves on point, and claim what we had to come. It wasn’t like we decided a specific comeback time-we never stepped out of the game. We just got our weight up. I try to describe it as a car race, like the Indy 500. Our car represents a number. We may be car number 19 today, and then car number 20, or car number 12 tomorrow, or car number one the next day, but the point is, are we all on the track? We’re all cars on the Indy 500, and our car didn’t explode on the track, and totally take us out of the game, and that’s the bigger picture.
HipHopSite: You had a huge part in bringing New York hip-hop when the West Coast was at the height of their popularity. What’s it been like for you to be one of those pioneers, and then to see how east coast hip-hop has changed since then?
Buckshot: It depends on what your definition of change is. I think the east coast has always been what it’s been-I just think it was hard to recognize the east, and at some point in time, we kicked the door down. But it was always a way of how we did it, we had the east coast mindframe. I think that the south kept their recognition, but that we’re still here.
The east coast now is predominantly taken over by a lot of kinds of music. Southern music has taken over east coast radio, and east coast clubs. I think that music itself has changed, I think that styles have changed. And because of that, I just think that you’ve got to maintain your foundation. The east and the south is a merge-I’m from the east, and 9th Wonder is from North Carolina, and that’s a merge, whether people want to see it that way or not. That’s a merge, people haven’t done that before.
HipHopSite: So you think that hip-hop as a whole has changed, but east coast hip-hop hasn’t gone anywhere?
Buckshot: I think all of us have changed. We, as east coast artists, we’ll get our turn again. As far as what people see, as far as the east coast doing it, doing it, doing it-we’ll get that. Whenever it comes, it’ll come. Don’t worry, it’ll come. Because the south is doing it-(the east doing the same thing) can only happen. Anybody worried about that doesn’t believe in the natural order of life. The west coast will get their time, because the south is really doing it, because that’s how things are. The south will not continue to do it, do it, do it-that’s just not the natural order of anything.
I’m just concerned with making sure that what I continue to do is solid, and is something good for my fans, and is something good to give to the people listening to Buckshot. There’s so many ways to approach this: you’ve got creative power on one side, and money, power and respect on the other. You’ve got to have both, because life is about equilibrium.
HipHopSite: I’ve read up on you a little bit, but just for readers who may be unfamiliar, talk about your past label troubles.
Buckshot: The label problems, for the most part, were a product of not getting money. It’s really such an old situation, that I would say it’s not really a big thing. Our biggest dilemma with Black Moon right now is 5ft being in jail. The label back then didn’t pay us money with the first album, blah blah blah-same shit that everybody goes through. I’ve been through so many labels past them, I can’t really label bash.
HipHopSite: You made your entrance in 1993. How has Buckshot changed since then, personally and creatively?
Buckshot: Just maturity. Business-wise, label-wise, (I’ve changed) from the common way of thinking. How I do things, how I see things, I’ve grown a lot. I’ve definitely been through a lot, so I think each one of those things have played a part on my character. They definitely play a part on my growth, and as far as me holding down a corporation, I know the direction I want to go in with my future.
I’d just like to be a distributor-I’m don’t want to do management, I’m not into that. It’s funny how time changes you, because a few years ago, I would have said something different. I have a management company, and I only manage a few artists, and those are the few artists that are lucky. When I say lucky, I mean that because whatever comes with being managed with my team, we have a tight-knit family. I’m not really into managing anybody, that shit is crazy. I’m more into distribution now. I’m getting more opportunities to come out, new release dates, and getting promotion in the streets.
HipHopSite: Do you think you’ve changed a lot lyrically?
Buckshot: We’re always changing lyrically, all the time.
HipHopSite: You worked with Just Blaze on your solo album, BDI Thug. What’s it like to work with him in 1999, and see how huge he is now? Did you ever see anything in him back then that made you think he’d be that big?
Buckshot: I worked with Just Blaze before he got big. I worked with him because he was cool with my man Swan and Matt Fingaz-Swan was my man, Matt Fingaz was cool, I got on the track. He liked it, I liked it, it was dope, so I put it on my album, and that was really it. I didn’t really know Just Blaze like that personally.
HipHopSite: 9th Wonder has had a role in each of the new Duck Down projects. How did you guys initially hook up with him?
Buckshot: 9th has fire beats. We found out about 9th through Beatminerz, and 9th Wonder is Beatminerz favorite producer. Evil Dee was asked on the radio who his favorite producer right now, and he said 9th Wonder. That sparked the interest of me and Dru to go back and check with 9th, and send him some of our material.
Smif-n-Wessun were supposed to have some tracks with him. When I went down there to record those tracks, I got some beats from him that same night. I recorded it, it came out dope, and the next day we did the same thing, and it came out dope. We just decided to record an album. 9th asked Dru if he could do a whole album with me, and Dru asked me, and I said yeah. We needed a name, and decided that since our Chemistry is so well together, let’s just call it “Chemistry.” Next thing you know, we had an album.
HipHopSite: What are some differences between working with Da Beatminerz and working with 9th Wonder? How much did you have to adapt?
Buckshot: It’s not a big difference. There are different vibes as far as beat-wise, but it’s the same creatively. He just makes the music, and I make the lyrics, and we make magic together. It ain’t rocket science.
HipHopSite: You finished the new album in three days or six days?
Buckshot: Six days. We did the first set in three, then we came back and finished the last part of the album. When you’ve got good music, that’s what it’s about. It’s about good chemistry.
HipHopSite: Were there any tracks that you finished within that time that were cut, possibly leading to some type of cutting room floor type release?
Buckshot: Nope. Everything we did, we used. You know what’s crazy? It was a risk, but we were just like, “Let’s go for it. Let’s just do it!” And that’s it! We got the beats, and I rapped over it. We didn’t try to make this no “creative,” scientifical, mythical shit. We did it, we knocked it out, and the funny part is, it’s getting 4 mics, XL, the best fucking reviews, all types of shit. Like it’s the best album. I say it like that because it’s just funny that when you keep shit as simple as “eye” and “bye,” sometimes that’s all it takes.
HipHopSite: Let’s go back to Duck Down a little bit. Tell me about the Smif-N-Wessun album.
Buckshot: Smif-n-Wessun’s album is going to be hot. They’ve got the name, and the album is going to speak for itself. What can I say? When people hear it, they’re going to be amazed by the fact that we’re in a groove right now. We’re in a zone, to the point that even when we get beats from other people, they’re going to have the same criteria of what we’re fucking with right now.
I look at it like this: I’m going after my throne. All I want is my title, my specific throne. Niggas can try to put me wherever, like Roy Jones. I’m just trying to be in my category, and blast off from my title, and my position. Hip-hop is like boxing-I’m trying to be the champion that I am. The independent #1 champion. If you want to be the heavyweight champion, you’ve got to get up (to the heavyweight level), and that’s my goal. But for right now, I’m trying to be the #1 independent label out there.
Right now, when you really look at it, how many independent labels are doing it like me right now? There aren’t even a lot of majors doing it like me right now. Like Jay-Z said, “don’t mean to boast, but if I don’t brag/these crackers gon’ act like I ain’t on their ass.” If I don’t do it, they won’t recognize. We’re bustin’ ass right now; if this was basketball, we’d be earning our spot on that court. Everywhere you look right now, you’re starting to see us. That takes hard work, that’s what it’s all about. There’s no humbleness involved in that. We’re ready for it-we’ve got ten years and better under our belt, so any obstacles ahead, we’ve got it.
HipHopSite: How do you feel about the response to Sean Price’s album?
Buckshot: Sean Price’s album is looking good. I know some other artists right now-without calling their names out-but I’m getting calls from other labels and artists that are embarrassed. “How do you have Sean Price’s shipment so high in his first week? Our artists aren’t even doing that.” If you aren’t a major right now, I ain’t talking to you, you don’t count. That’s like a heavyweight coming up to welterweights and start talking shit-of course you’re going to be able to talk shit nigga, you’re a heavyweight.
Sean Price is doing it. His first shipment was over 25,000 copies, and that’s crazy for an independent. For a light nigga that just stepped up, his weight is coming up fast. Next thing you know, he’ll be up there with the light heavyweights, and that’s what the game is about. The whole Duck Down movement, as an indie, we’re going to be up there. Then we’ve got a lot of new artists coming soon. Joe Scudda, Justus League, Little Brother, new niggas. We’ve got a lot of new shit coming too, so we’ve just got to get the ball rolling. It ain’t no stopping us.
HipHopSite: You guys have been out for a long time, but you’ve never compromised your integrity. How important is that to you, especially after having so much label trouble?
Buckshot: We just remain to be who we are, and that’s not rocket science either. I don’t try to remain who I am, and it’s not important to me that I stay that way-it just is what it is. Niggas go to other labels and try to change, and that’s just ill, I feel sorry for them. I always have my own shit, I’ve had my own label from day one. I’ve been independent since I started in ’92. I’ve been Buckshot on my own, by myself. That shit’s crazy, son. I ain’t never had a daddy. I ain’t never had a Chris Lighty, or a Mike Lighty, or a Kevin Lyles, or a Russell Simmons, I ain’t never had none of that shit. But I made it, on my fucking own-how bout that one? And I’m in XXL, The Source, VIBE, BET, all that-on my own, straight off Franklin Avenue.
HipHopSite: What was it like to have an article in XXL, which mainly highlights more mainstream artists?
Buckshot: It’s funny-Buckshot isn’t a mainstream artist at this point? Don’t forget that I helped build what you consider mainstream. I’m like fucking Harriet Tubman at this point. I was that nigga that opened up the slave holes for you niggas back in the day. How could I not be considered mainstream? Why should it be a hand clap, just because Buckshot Shorty is in XXL and got a page? I was like, “Yo, you’ve got to give me that page, hold up! Fuck that!” A whole borough of niggas isn’t going to sit down now, none of these niggas is going to be nice no more. Each one of things niggas is going to shoot up in black now, because at the end of the day, they consider that shit disrespectful.
Listen: If I don’t take you down, I’m going to lose my command. So either get off that fuckin throne, or I’m going to get off mine. And I bet you this: I’m not losing mine, because I’m niggas ain’t gonna think I’m nutty. This is the last straw, niggas is like, “Look, it’s time to do this. Straight up and down.” Niggas ain’t gonna tell Buckshot Shorty that he can’t get in XXL and shine. Knowing that he’s a lot of the reasonâ€¦ Buckshot in ’92, east coast hip-hop? No, I mean half that work that he put in that y’all ain’t seeing on the screen. The work he’s been busting his chops behind the scenes, for half of these niggas that ain’t even looked at. Nobody’s been seeing it, but I’ve been there, and I haven’t been getting the credit. But it’s all good.
HipHopSite: But while some people would be surprised to see you in XXL, you also got a cover story in ELEMENTAL. Compare the processes of a more mainstream magazine and a more underground one.
Buckshot: Don’t get me wrong-I’m blessed to have both, to be in any one of those positions. It’s just funny to me. I can’t really compare, I can’t get into the politics between the two. They’re both very essential in hip-hop. I can’t say which one is more important. I’m on the cover of ELEMENTAL, and I have a spread in XXL, and they’re both important to me right now.
But you know what I think? I think they’re both there because I’ve got a good album, and that’s it. I think that when press heard the album, they said that we had a good album. And that’s it. That ain’t rocket science. If you don’t have a good album, you don’t get good press. I don’t’ care who you are, where you come from, what you do, how long you’ve been in the game, who you’ve got under your belt, what label, how much money, or who you know. Make an album that we all can decide to say is good, and you’ll get 4 mics in The Source, you’re going to get XL in XXL. You’ve got the cover of Elemental. I’ve got all these things right now because I’ve got a good album, and I honestly feel that in my heart. That doesn’t come every time. You’ve just got to try to stay in your zone.
HipHopSite: What’s up with another Black Moon album?
Buckshot: Like I said, 5ft is locked up, and that’s the main problem. If I can get around him being locked up, we’re going to go right into it. I’m going to record some songs, we’ve got some old and unheard vocals from 5ft, we’re going to try to work around him being locked up. The dilemma is that 5ft is doing four years. Hopefully, he’ll be home. If not, bottom line is, we will have another Black Moon album out, we just have to work around that.
HipHopSite: On “Stay Real,” you say, “It’s a key to longevity, so I’ma show y’all niggas why they gon’ remember me.” How would you like to be remembered?
Buckshot: That’s it, just staying real. Like I said, it’s not rocket science. Staying real is unconditional, and if you can define unconditional in your heart, then you know what unconditional is. If you can not, then you’re not an unconditional person, and that leaves no more to be said. That’s what staying real is to me.
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