Any talks of regionalism in Hip-Hop meets eye-rolls wherever you’re at. At the same time there’s something great about hearing hometown sounds blast in the face of modern music. Necro and Kool G. Rap set out to do just that: stand firm on NY rap’s long lineage with the streets and hard beats. They go by The Godfathers and their collaborative effort, Once Upon A Crime, hit the streets this week. However, let’s rewind to a mixing session at Quad Studios as the duo finalized the album.
“For the record, G’s never done 16 records for the same producer, ever” exalted Necro. The rapper/producer is candid, funny and, most importantly, proud of his work throughout his presentation. “I don’t think he’s ever done two. Have you ever done two records with the same rapper, ever?” G took a moment and answered “RZA, and Wu members too.” Necro remained in rare company, though.
The set up in our booth played right to Necro’s production sensibilities. An array of monitors and subs straight up attacked our senses with every kick. Plus there’s a consistent edge to every record as Kool G Rap and Necro traded verses.
Then Necro expounded on his background in beatmaking and his current creative process. “A lot of beats I made, I probably first started making all my shit on the ASR-10 which is the same shit that Rza used and the same shit that DJ Muggs used, a lot of people. Then I [went to] Pro Tools. Now I just do everything on Pro Tools. You can manipulate more. The ASR-10 had very little memory. It forces you to be ill, actually.”
His last point segues into another discussion on producing in general these days. It’s easier than ever to produce rap music via multiple DAWs, a Maschine and reputable drum packs. Then again pros and amateurs alike pursue or cling on to yesterday’s hardware to keep a particular “sound.”
The producer touched upon the issue with a solid reply. “Here’s the thing. It’s not about the kitchen you got, it’s about the chef. So Pro Tools and ASR-10. I get a lot of kids that come up to me like, ‘I like to sample on the ASR-10 because it makes the sample more dirty.’ That don’t mean shit to me. You think your shit is gonna be hotter because your sample is dirtier? The shit is garbage if its garbage or hot if it’s hot.
In the end it’s true though…there are really no rules. The only rule, in the end, is it butter or is it garbage? At the end of the day it’s all the means to the end because nobody gives a shit what we went through to make this record. We fuckin’ walked through Egypt to make it and shit, [you wouldn’t] give a fuck. You’re just going to hear the record. If the shit was garbage and we were like, ‘Yo we fuckin’ climbed the Empire State to make this beat.’ You’d be like, ‘Yeah, it’s wack.’ So at the end of the day it’s the end result.” Necro’s frankness on the matter won him general agreement amongst the press in attendance.
Kool G. Rap’s a pretty reserved guy throughout our talk. Yet he started to open up once the discussion shifted to the album’s development. “Since [Necro’s] doing the production, he gets the vision before I get it because he’s actually constructing the beat. A lot of times he gets charged up for an actual vision for the production and that gives him advantage to go in and he’ll lay his verse first on the majority of things. And then I just fall in line.”
“There were some joints where G blessed it first…The “Crook Catastrophe” beat, the Western shit, I made the beat.” Necro remarked. “But G dropped his vocals first because he knew it was Western shit when I sent it to him. Or “Hustler” speaks for itself. It says “Hustler” on it.
At the end of the day I’m influenced by G. So it’s always me behind G regardless. G gets respect on that level where it’s always salute. Everything I did, G had to approve because I said he had to approve, meaning I let him know, ‘You got to approve this.’ I didn’t wait for him to be like, ‘Yo do you like it or not.’ I told G ahead of time, ‘If you don’t like anything, I’ll redo it because I believe in having respect.
I ain’t like a lot of these new kids, [like] Odd Future or whatever, they talk greasy like, ‘[You guys are like Wu-Tang]’ ‘Fuck no we’re not!’ Fuck no? You wish you could be. For you to be on the level of a Wu-Tang? Fuck out of here. I don’t care how creative you are. You’ll never be on the level of a Wu-Tang. If 30, 20 years from now if people are talking about these dudes, cool. You might be hot for two years or whatever. So was Kwame. Kwame was hot with polka dots for like three years. Where the fuck is he now? So like, with G-“
“Yeah, you won’t get another Wu-Tang like that.” Kool G. Rap added. “It’s like lightning striking. Is that going to strike in the same area anytime soon?”
The talks of paying proper homage got directed at G’s direction as he puffed his cigarette. This juncture saw the rapper open up more then at any other point in the presentation. Then again, with almost 30 years of service as a game-changing MC, he didn’t need to say much to anyone in the know.
There’s a feeling in the room that Kool G. Rap’s contributions to rap music, from his impressionable flows to introducing mafia culture, didn’t get proper accolades. G remained humble and put things in proper perspective. “The dudes that count to me, they pay homage to me. I rather get from six to seven to eight credible people than 800,000 people that mean nothing…All the greats, the Tupacs, the Biggies, the Nases the Jay Zs, like you mentioned earlier, Eminem, Wu-Tang, that’s just to name a few. We can keep going on and on, Big Pun. These are dudes where G. Rap will tip his hat like, ‘Yo, dude is nice. Cats is nice.” I appreciate them.'”
The session changed gears back to the album’s creation and sheds light on Necro’s journey towards collaborating with G. “We did a lot of recording in our own personal studios and then we’d meet up here. And G is literally with Elliot like “Yo I don’t like that part of my vocals…G is like an uncle to me right now. We’ve been working on this shit for two years and it’s more than just a bullshit collabo. My thing with G is I don’t want to work with G until it’s real, he respects me. I don’t want to do songs with rappers who think I’m some white herb or some kid they don’t know. Fuck all that shit. I don’t want to work with you then! Until you respect me and it’s real, I’d rather wait until that point.
It took me 13 years for him to start hearing my name ring bells. ‘Oh I know Necro now.’ I ran up on G in the street giving him dap in 2000 and I didn’t push myself on him as a rapper because my brain told me he ain’t trying to hear that shit…So I was thinking in my head, ‘If I don’t run up on G to give him dap, why would anyone do that for me?’ So I gave dap to G and kept it moving and I told myself one day [when the time is right, it’ll happen.
It’s crazy because a fan of mine reached out to me, who was kicking it with Domingo, you know who Domingo is? The producer from East New York. I mentioned it earlier, he did shit for Pun, “Dream Shatterer” he did shit for KRS, his whole album. Domingo did a lot. Domingo is very underrated. Domingo brought us together through that and I told Domingo ‘does G know who I am and is he aware?’ And at this point he finally had known not, like, as well as now, because G don’t really care about these new rappers. He’s busy with his own shit. When you do shit at that level, you don’t got shit to prove.”
Plenty of Necro’s industry tales filled the room with laughter but he dropped gems throughout. Nevertheless, one of his last points got right at the mission statement for Once Upon A Crime. “You gotta understand, the style that we’re doing, it’s brutal. This is the type of shit you would put on before you break someone’s face…It’s raucous rap. This is what we do best. This is not supposed to be fancy…We’re obviously covering topics, hustlin’ we did the Western shit, but we’re not trying to be outcasts. It’s Brooklyn and Queens, back-and-back, spitters and if you’re not into dudes that gun on a track then it might not be for you. You might want to hear French Montana.”
‘Once Upon A Crime’ released on Tuesday, November 19 courtesy of RBC/Psycho+Logical-Records. Stream the album in full below before purchasing at NecroProduct.com in any of four unique packages.