Buckshot’s new interview @ KN:
What defines a “backpack rapper?”
If you were all about consciousness, culture, caring about beats� Like, if you give a damn, then you belong to the backpack crowd. We wore those backpacks for a reason, you know? Not only did we wear them for a reason, but our style was our style. So what happened was, people wound up matching the style with the culture.
What’s the flipside to that? The people who didn’t fit the “backpack” mold?
You have backpackers and then you have trap music. And they’re both in two different worlds. Those in the middle don’t know which direction to take their music. I put this new music out to shed a little light on what backpack rap is. On the other side, yeah, you have those who do “trap” music or “bounce” music and call it Hip Hop. They still count though. You can’t shun someone away or tell them they’re not doing “real Hip Hop.” Hip Hop was more than just a sound. It has always been the vehicle for us to express ourselves.
Do you feel people always see “backpackers” as �conscious� emcees?
Man, if you’re going to call me a backpacker because I’m conscious then I guess that’s what “backpacker” means. So yeah, people equate backpack to the conscious, weirdo rap. You know, all that stuff over there, that’s gentrification rap.
Do you think the industry has a lot to do with that? As far as what Hip Hop is nowadays?
What is the industry? There is no more “big bad wolf” the way it used to be, to a certain degree. There was one point in time where backpackers couldn’t get no light. Underground artists couldn’t get no light. Look at our break points though: Dave Chappelle, The Roots, Common, Kanye. Kanye was a backpacker at first, but he chose to take it to a level that’s comfortable for him. And nothing is wrong with what’s he doing. We would all be stupid if we sat there and deny a whole culture of music just because it’s cool; meaning, if you like it, you dig it. Don’t start bashing it because you think Hip Hop says it’s not cool. Don’t turn Hip Hop into a musical bully. That’s not cool.
You make a good point there. Now, going back to the album – where P-Money did an amazing job by the way, as far as production goes – how was it working with him? What is your beat selection process like?
Working with P was incredible. P has a sound that’s just comparable to that whole Golden Era � people from my era � sound. The 90′s, he captured a style that had its own swing to it and brought it back. People miss that swing. If you listen to Mobb Deep’s “Eye For An Eye,” it had a certain swing to it. [If you match that with the lyrics, you’re just on another level. It’s crazy. A lot of people miss hearing that. So when they listen to the Buckshot and P Money album, they get it. It’s like “Wow! There’s nobody left around to do that, but they did it.” It’s almost like everybody left the building. Who’s still around to make mama’s famous apple pie? So, ok, we have a guy named Buckshot who’s still out there. He still got mama’s favorite pie for you.
And a lot of these new cats, they’ll never get a chance to taste mama’s pie. What happens is they only get a chance to taste the corporate, Little Debbie version. The version that’s like 3 apples and a whole bunch of crust. When mama used to make it, we put a whole bunch of apples in there. We had enough flavor so you could taste everything.
Yes! And it was made with REAL ingredients too.
Exactly. None of the fake stuff. And for the kids that never tasted mama’s apple pie, of course they don’t care cause they wasn’t around to taste the real thing. How would they know how to differentiate it from the fraudulent thing?
Speaking on the youth of today and Hip Hop, you feature Joey Bada$$ on the project. What’s your opinion of him and the whole Pro Era crew?
They represent the new Brooklyn while bringing the old Brooklyn sound back at the same time. They represent not only the new Brooklyn, but they’re the East Coast answer for us. They are the TDE of the East Coast. You know, Kendrick Lamar kicked down the door and really, really made it great. [He] made it acceptable for the underground rappers to get their love back. And these Pro Era kids are the Boot Camp Clik of today.
�So when you’re choosing these features for a project, what’s your criteria? What do you look for in an artist?
Whatever comes natural. Real talk, I don’t sit back and try to look for these guys. I don’t sit back and hire them on some record company tip. Whatever comes naturally, truthfully. Joey’s from Brooklyn, I’m from Brooklyn. He’s around the way, I’m around the way. It made sense. As for Ras Fresco, I was also looking for some international love so I got this kid from Toronto. That connection came naturally as well. David Dallas came from Australia and that was all natural too.
You mention Brooklyn a lot, which you like to call “Bucktown.” And I’ve been listening to your music for a while now and you never fail to proudly mention where you’re from. So in your eyes, how has Brooklyn evolved, culturally and musically – throughout the span of your career? I can only imagine that you’ve seen a lot in your life.
We, Duck Down, were the first East Coast record label to be independent. Think about it. We were independent, so we had to have the help of our whole borough behind us. We had to scream our borough because we needed the help of our borough and all the people. We really are the people’s champ. Fo’real, fo’real. We’re the small guys. We’re the David that battled Goliath. And we did it because nobody believed we could actually make a stand in a major label market. They laughed at us in the beginning. We proved them wrong and that wasn’t easy.
I could imagine. What would be a piece of advice you would give some of these newer cats who are trying to break into that market? Not necessarily mainstream, but still reach the masses by staying independent.
When you put out a lot of work, you learn the business. You learn the machine. You learn how every single component in the machine works. You learn to love it. You learn to push buttons. You learn how to spin, how to jump. You learn everything. Then you’re on your way. And one last part – when you find yourself crying at the steering wheel of your car, that’s when you made it!
Are you speaking from a personal experience right there?
Yeah. I�ve been through a lot. All I can say is that when you�ve been through a lot, that�s when you find yourself and you�re ready to take it to the next level. That�s really where everything has come to for us as an independent label. As an independent label, we�ve gotten to the point where we show so much love to the people and so much dedication.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that you guys have a more direct contact with your fans. There is no middle man between you and your fans. You guys are pushing out your music and things like that.
We are. The difference between us and a lot of other artists� You know, again, for us to even have these opportunities to speak to the people with my album out right now is an incredible thing. For me to be in the position right now where I�m doing this, it�s a beautiful thing. People feel our label is on point because we�re independent. We�ve gotten straight to the people, you know? And putting out music that the people can respect. So when you listen to this P-Money album, nothing on that album is fluffy. Nothing on that album is phony or sugar-coated. There was no, �Oh, I�m going to record this type of song or do that type of song.� For me, it was more like go in and do the album from your heart. There shouldn�t be any problems when you do that. Everything should come out the way it�s supposed to come out. For me, accomplishing that, when I listen to the album, that�s a big thing for me. So many people have made albums today, from my era, and they try to make these new trap records to try and sound relevant. My thing is this, I love all styles of Hip Hop. I love bounce music, I love trap music, I love boom bap music. I love Hip Hop!
That’s definitely apparent in your music, especially your lyrics. The lyrics on this project in particular are extremely bold, to say the least. “Let’s get it started. Who rocks the hardest? Buck is the smartest.” Would you say that cocky delivery is a reflection of the whole Bucktown attitude?
Yes it is. When I say stuff like that, I’m conscious of it. I mean, if it comes off cocky, dope. But it’s really just confidence. In the rap world, people want to be known for how much money they got, how much dope they push, you know what I’m saying? And that’s all great and gravy but me, personally, I want to be known as the smartest. I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with that. You wanna be the dope boy, you wanna be the trap boy. I just wanna be the smartest emcee. I wanna be known as Business Buck. The guy who came in and stood for independent business in the game.
Speaking of the game or the industry, the track “Killuminati” on the new project has lyrics from you that pretty much calls a lot of dudes out by saying: �A bunch of clowns in a circus act who got the nerve to rap.” Do you feel like a lot of people are rapping to rap just because they can do it?
Of course. A lot of people are rapping for the money.
People seem to be really fascinated with the illuminati, especially when it comes to Hip Hop. Why is that?
Well, when it comes to that particular topic, everyone knows about that topic. They know it’s real. The song opened up more of the topic, but we’ll be doing it the right way. I think a lot of people know what we mean when we say “Killuminati,” because we’re killing the illumanti like Tupac. I lived with Tupac for a while, so we used to talk every night about how we were about to attack this subject matter.
I want to bring up another feature you have on “Backpack Travels” because I actually got a chance to interview him as well. While only Steele was on the project, I discussed with both him and Tek about their earlier influences in Hip Hop and they mentioned how influential Enta da Stage was for them. Could you ever have fathomed how much an impact that album would have on people to this day?
No. We were the first independent dudes at that time to have a gold record. No one knew we were kids and all we knew was that we wanted to be the best. We wanted to battle the beast. We wanted to battle the machine and we got the chance to do it. We came later and wanted to battle the machine even more as an indie label battling a major label like Def Jam and Universal. Now, I have my own sneaker company and we’re battling big companies like Nike. It’s almost like this is in my blood.
Now, there’s a difference between trying to stay relevant and just trying to jump the bandwagon. Thoughts?
All I gotta say is, respect your level. You gotta respect the level of shifts or else you fade out.
�In order to not fade out like you said, what can fans expect next from you?
I’m just enjoying the flow of thing right now. We’re actually officially bring Joey [Bada$$] out right now. He has a lot of things going on like mixtapes and what not. This is pretty much the first time people are seeing Joey on a playing field. This is the first time people are going to get an official single from him.
Through Duck Down?
Yeah. Between him, T’Nah and Chelsea, they all have dope projects coming out under our label.
Collaborative or separate projects?
Together. That project is going to be ill. When you are a fan of an artist, it’s different. T’Nah and Chelsea are the dopest female artists I’ve heard in a very long time. I kid you not, there’s a very few artists that I’m a fan of and I’m a fan of them.
Ok, so now that the project is done and released, and I’m sure you’ve listened to it numerous times – if you could go back and re-do the project, are there any tracks you’d want to do over?
Any tracks you want to add?
Nope. I’m not that type of person to regret anything that I do on that level. That’s phony to me. Do it, get it done and feel comfortable about it.
Okay, my final question is something I always end my interviews with when I speak with Hip Hop artists. If Hip Hop were a person, what would you say to H.E.R?
Watch how many people you fuck with. Watch how many people you sleep with. Eventually your body will change, ok? Eventually you will lose that nice shape!