When gangsta rap was ruling the airwaves and the charts, there were few from the west coast that didn’t follow the trend. The Alkoholiks were part of that few. With E-Swift on the boards and J-Ro and Tash on the mic, “Tha Liks” carved out a sound all their own in the early and mid-90′s They became west coast hip-hop legends. It’s 2006 and after numerous label difficulties and lots of red tape they are set to drop the group’s final album “Firewater” January 24th on Waxploitation/Koch Records. I got a chance to chat with E-Swift and Tash about the upcoming album, their future plans, and whole lot of other stuff. These guys were not only knowledgeable but funny as hell….read on.
What’s up fellas, “Firewater” is about to drop….how y’all feeling?
E-Swift: It’s been a minute since our last album so I’m feeling really great to be back out there and sharing it with the world. Letting everybody know what we have been doing, so it feels really good. I’m really confident about it; “Firewater” is a great album.
Tash: What up with it man, what’s popping?
Before we jump into all that, you guys are called the Alkaholiks….so if we saw you guys at the bar….what would you be drinking on?
E-Swift: If you saw me at the bar I would be drinking some chilled Petrone shots nowadays. I’m not really into the heavy dark liquor like I was back in the day; I’m not a huge beer fan any more. Petrone all night man.
Tash: Aah man, my drink of choice has got to be good ole’ Hennessey, I’m getting old now so you know that’s my preference.
It’s been a while since we have heard from you guys….what’s been going on? Why so long?
E-Swift: Well, when “XO Experience” dropped you know Loud got bought out, almost the exact time that we dropped the LP. So we had to get through all the red tape of getting out of the deal with Loud and then we signed with Artist Direct. But before our album even came out Artist Direct went under. Now we are with Koch Records and everything has been smooth from there. Koch was the best decision for us, it took time and we have been traveling and doing a lot of tours.
Exactly, as artists you make a lot more money from touring as opposed to album sales, correct?
E-Swift: As an artist, yes, but as a producer I make my money if I stay at home and don’t go anywhere (laughs). That’s for real; let it be told I can’t lie to you.
The west coast has been damn near invisible the last couple of years on the music map, why do you think that is?
E-Swift: I wouldn’t say we have been invisible, but definitely not in the Top 20. Unless your Snoop or from Dre’s camp, it’s really hard. I don’t know what the curse is. Game is from Compton and you can’t get more LA than Compton. Game really set a fire under and now everybody has to step it up and keep it going. I feel we are there and we at the door knocking. You’ve got us, Dilated Peoples coming out; Ice Cube is doing an album, so the west has a lot of stuff in the works.
Tash: I can’t really describe it, but I can say this….when gangsta rap first came out it shocked people. It really shocked people, and when you have NWA cussin on records and talking about police violence and what not. But then when it blew up like it did and the rappers got older, started talking more positive it’s like the magic wore off for the public. People are now looking at the west coast, like “what do you now?” West Coast always had that stigma of violence and nobody knew what to do after that, nobody was being creative
You guys have never really followed that stereotype, you guys have never been the gangster rappers, and your music is fun hip-hop music. The cats that were listening to Tribe were also listening to The Liks.
E-Swift: Yep, exactly.
Tash: Now all we hear is cats that we know are from the streets talking about the fake pimp shit, pimps with no hoe’s (laughs). You got cats talking like they are millionaires and such and that’s wearing off. You can’t top the people that are actually out there living that life. Not everybody is cut out to be a pimp or a hustler drug dealer so they need to migrate to what we are doing. We tell rappers nowadays to go pick up some Liks albums, have fun with it while it’s here.
So you think the west is coming back around? New York is in the same boat, they aren’t putting out hits either.
E-Swift: I know your not picking on us, I’m right there with you. I just feel its coming. We got this cat named Bishop Lamont that’s real hot and he just signed to Aftermath, so we have some guns in the barrel and we about to let it fly. It just takes a minute to get everybody on point. The real difference will be if we all drop our about the same time, that’s how we can really make an impact. Usually there are like 3 west coast albums a year that make any noise, so we just have to step it up and bring it back.
“Firewater” drops January 24th on Waxploitation/Koch records, you have had major deals in the past, why go with an independent now?
E-Swift: It was really the best thing for us. At this point we have millions of dollars already invested in our careers. A lot of groups don’t have an opportunity like that. It all came at the perfect time, we got to walk into a perfect situation and it all fell into place.
So this album has no label influence?
E-Swift: The label has no influence; we are veterans in this game. They didn’t feel like they had to sit around and look over our shoulder. All they told us was “get it done and let’s go to work” Honestly man, just to set the record straight. Most artists that I know, the labels don’t dictate the records for them. The artists come with ideas for collabos and producers and such but the labels aren’t sitting there watching their every move. Those days are gone and that’s the producer’s job.
Swift….you did the majority of the production on this album and it does have a progressive sound, what equipment did you use in production?
E-Swift: I used the basic stuff, my MPC and my ASR-10. I had a lot of sounds that I had collected over the years and so I just went wild. Can’t forget my Technic 1200′s either.
Other producers such as The Rural, Keezo Kane, Beatmecanix, Evidence also make a contribution, but one producer stood out….Dangermouse, what intrigued you about Dangermouse to bring him on board with this album?
E-Swift: Basically we work in the same camp; we have the same manager and stuff. Dangermouse and I have become really good friends. He had this song that just sounded bananas, and he was like I want y’all to do a song over this. He played and we just did it.
Tash: I just liked his mouse costume (Laughs)
(Laughs) Tash is like comic relief huh?
Tash: This dude said I’m comic relief (Laughs)
E-Swift: What’s up “Comic Relief” (Laughs)
Is this your best album to date? What are each of your favorite tracks on the album?
E-Swift: All our albums that we put out are our best albums, for real. We say that every time we put out an album. I’ll put it like this; it’s the perfect album for us to go out with. This is an album, if you not a Liks fan and hear this album it will make you want to go buy “Likwidation” it will make you want to hear “Coast II Coast”
Tash: I haven’t even heard it yet (laughs), send me my own shit (laughs)
E-Swift: (To Tash) It comes out January 24th, go buy it (laughs) you recorded it, you know what it sounds like (laughs)
Tash: For real though, every song that we did lives up to The Alkoholiks. We just want to make good music. It falls in perfect with what we do, from the rap style to keeping the beats funky. It sounds like a good “Liks” album.
So what are your favorite tracks?
Tash: I’m going to have to say “Handle It” that’s my favorite just because.
E-Swift: I’ll tell you what my favorite is, it’s the joint with King T called “Over Here”
So you plan on working with T coming up?
Tash: Till the end of time man.
E-Swift: It’s been a long time coming, but he’s about to drop some shit. You’re going to hear a lot more from him in a minute.
You guys have been in the game for over a decade, where do you see hip-hop going in the next 10 years?
Tash: No telling for real, I never thought 10 years ago that hip-hop would be where it is now. You never would have thought people would come out selling 7 million albums and what not. Before that only Hammer was doing those kinds of numbers. If we can take radio back and bring the fun back, it can be bigger than it is now. It just takes the right artist to bring it to the forefront. We need more Common’s, Kweli’s, Alkoholiks and MF Dooms on the radio.
Exactly I just heard they cancelled the “Fantastic Four “show, what’s up with that?
E-Swift: Yeah man, they took them off the air on Friday. I don’t know the science behind it but that’s a huge blow to underground rap music.
Tash: That right there answers your question, taking show’s like that off the air sets hip-hop back instead of pushing it forward.
What’s on tap (pun intended) for The Liks?
Tash: (Laughs) He said pun intended..
E-Swift: Right now Tash is working on his next album.
Tash: I just got back from where J-Ro is at in Europe doing a bunch of tracks for my new shit that will be out shortly on Paladin Records. I’m doing some movies, this joint that Sticky Fingaz wrote called “A Day in the Life” coming out Lion Gates films. It supposed to have Paris Hilton in it and Samuel Jackson
Tash: It’s supposed to, but you know….(laughs)
How about you Swift, any artists you want to work with?
E-Swift: Rich ones….(laughs) but for real, I would like to hook up with Nas this year.
Tash: (Laughs) For real though Swift has a sound that nobody else has, so all you big name artists that read this interview call me at 213-…. (Laughs) I’m his manager.
This was a real honor for me, I’m a big Liks fan and I wish you guys all the success and keep doing good hip-hop music. Any last words?
E-Swift: Yep….go buy the album January 24th and make us happy.
Tash: Here’s my slogan, “don’t drink and drive, because you might spill your drink” (Laughs) Period.
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