Custom Made, who hell are they? You might be asking yourself that question as you read this, but these emcees have been putting in work for the last 4 or 5 years and it’s finally paying off. September 19th they dropped their Babygrande introduction “Sidewalk Mindtalk: The Best of Custom Made Mixtapes”. Selling tape out of the trunk got the attention of Independent powerhouse Babygrande and they elected to sign them as their first west coast act. I got a chance to talk to Scoobs, one of the lead emcees of the crew about the past, present and future of this upcoming crew that have been compared to Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep due to their extensive family. You might not know who they are right now, but just remember years from now; we brought it to you first.
How are things out there in sunny California?
Yeah, man we are just living life pushing this Custom Made movement and pushing this “Sidewalk Mindtalk” album. Finally everything is ready and it dropped on Sept 19th, it’s a cd/dvd it’s going to be real hot.
Let’s get the people a little background, Custom Made is made up of 5 emcees, who are they and how did they become a part of the crew?
Custom Made is myself, Bluff, Aneek, Element and Six and we go way back. We have known each other since we were 14 years old, we have been rapping together since we were kids. Me, Six, Element and Bluff all went to High School together. We met Aneek through one of the homies that did graffiti. We liked respected his work ethic and his skill level and he got down with us. It’s been like 5 years when we first started we were all solo and decided to do the crew thing and haven’t looked back since.
So who is the main person behind the boards?
There are all sorts of producers on the album. I did some production and we have a lot of producers from overseas. We got our man K from Australia; he is like what Alchemist is to Mobb Deep for Custom Made. We’ve been working with a lot of guys from LA, a lot of young hungry dudes. They are on the same hunger level as us but on the production tip. We work with anybody who has heat.
So the Internet has really helped put you guys where you are right now?
The internet has been really good. It has allowed us to hit places that we couldn’t hit on our own. It has allowed us to hit overseas markets and some out of state markets. We do a lot of travel nationwide and try to hit it as much as we can on our own. The internet always allows you to reach people you couldn’t reach; I got mad love for the internet. Some people might diss and say that that’s not hip-hop, but it’s the new millennium homie, you have to use the outlets that you have. You have to take advantage of the technology that you have now, it’s the new millennium.
So now you guys have signed up with indie powerhouse Babygrande, its said that there was a mutual respect between Chuck Wilson and Custom Made, why would you say it’s a match made in heaven?
We have talked with A&Rs from other labels and they are on some just bullshit. They don’t understand hip-hop, it’s just a corporation. They hire A&R out of college who went to college to get an A&R job and they don’t really know hip-hop like that. Babygrande is hip-hop, they know hip-hop. Chuck understands hip-hop, Jesse and them they understand hip-hop, their whole staff understands hip-hop. They are hands on with the projects and they really understood our music and how to promoter our music. We aren’t trying to make club hits or album full of singles. We are doing this shit for the culture and for the streets. Babygrande understood what we were doing and it’s a perfect fit.
You know I have to ask, one of the emcees Aneek dissed a certain west coast rapper..I’ll say it, The Game…why?
Neek dissed Game in like ’04 and the reason he dissed Game is because at the time he was coming out we saw the XXL article and was he was like I know this guy and they are fabricating this story. Everything in the XXL article was fake, they were lying about his age, saying he was a gang banger; Game was just living his brothers story. They were saying that Game was going to bring LA back and bring the west coast back, but his whole story was false. They were just using dude as a puppet and that’s how Neek felt about it. So he came to us and was like “I’m going to do this” and so we were like, we support you whatever you want to do. We just felt that there were a lot of emcees out here really representing hip-hop and for Game to come out and fabricate his story like that was bullshit, just trying to sell units. People that know Game, know exactly what I’m talking about. It was just something that Neek thought had to be said.
The album “Sidewalk Mindtalk: The Best of Custom Made Mixtapes” came out on the 19th, what do you hope the public gets from the album.
We hope the public get a better understanding of Custom Made and what we are trying to do out here. We are trying to give a whole new perspective of LA hip-hop. It’s a way to introduce us to those who have never heard our music and a collection of stuff for the fans that we already had. They try to pigeon hole LA hip-hop and make into something that it’s not. We are trying to show people that there are real emcees out here and not every emcee is on a gang banging drug dealing vibe but everybody isn’t on some backpacker shit either, there is a middle area.
The album is actually a compilation of the best of your 7 mixtapes plus some new material. To get 7 mixtapes out in the streets is quite an accomplishment, when did you guys start?
We started putting out tapes in 2003. We actually did an album when we were in High School at 15 or 16 years old. Aneek had a solo tape and then we started doing all the “Street Cinema” tapes. We did “Street Cinema” number one, the Sin City, the Blackboard Jungle, Element did a solo tape and then we did the Pillow Talk tape. We are just trying to flood the market and do as much as we can. We take our time and make sure that we put quality over quantity.
Since you guys have so many people in the squad, there are no guests on the LP if I’m not mistaken, but coming from LA and the west who are your greatest influences?
We grew up in LA and we grew up listening to west coast music, but we really got our style from east coast lyricists. We grew up listening to the Wu, Nas, AZ. We were listening to Big L and that’s why we rap the way we rap. We were so influenced by lyrics, we are really lyricists. We were more influenced by that stuff then when we were by West Coast Hip-Hop.
I’ve heard comparisons with Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep…sort of the west coast Wu-Tang, is that who you want to be compared with or would you say there is something unique and different about Custom Made?
They try to compare us to Wu and Mobb but there will be another Wu. Wu is Wu and Custom Made is Custom Made. The comparisons are tight and is a real honor to be compared to the Wu, but at the end of the day there will never be another Wu. We have large extended camp and that’s where the comparisons come from because we are large and our music is somewhat similar. At the end of the day though, Custom Made is Custom Made, the Wu are legends and we have mad respect for what they did and they paved the way for us.
You are the first west coast act for Babygrande, so you guys moving out to NY?
Neek is actually from Queens, but we will be out there coming up. For the most part we are LA based, but you have to go to NY to be right.
If you could work with anybody in hip-hop right now, who would it be and why?
I would say right now we would like to work with Ghost, Rae, AZ, and Nas. On the production tip, we like to work with Ayatollah, Hi-Tek, Primo would be the illest. We have mad respect for those guys, we grew up listening to those dudes and they were huge influences of ours. We would love to work with a lot of cats on the Babygrande roster like Agallah, Alchemist, or Gza, we got mad respect for all them. We want to work with the veterans because we have respect for them.
So what’s next for Custom Made?
Right now we are concentrating on promoting the album “Sidewalk Mindtalk” and next up we are working on the official debut “Fresh Out”. We are still going to be putting out our mixtapes, we are going to be doing some tapes with some NY DJs. Paradox is part of our extended squad and he is working on his solo called “Blessed by the Gods” and that will have Custom Made all over it. Like I said, quality over quantity, if it takes time so be it. We are perfectionists, it won’t come out till it’s perfect.
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