Too often, MCs claim to be incorporate that “nineties feel” into their music but rarely deliver on such promises. Thankfully for most older fans, Truck North doesn’t know any other way to bring it. In fact, the Philadelphia freestyler was so headstrong, his mixtape — the stellar Truck Jewels — almost didn’t happen because mixtapes have become “too flagrant” as he so eloquently put it.
Get inside the head of a traditional MC who hates ringtone rap and where he thinks he measures up with Black Thought in terms of bar for bar explosiveness. He’s appeared on the last three Roots’ albums come to think about it…
TSS: So you’ve established your own footing with Truck Jewels. How do you feel about that?
Truck North: I feel good about it! I was an anti-mixtape dude. For obvious reasons of course. The game just got fucked up. I was like “Man, fuck it. I’m not gonna do a mixtape. I’m not gonna be like everybody else.” But it was dope though cuz it was all based off of people actually wanting to hear something.
TSS: And it stayed true to the actual mixtape format with some songs clocking in a little over a minute…
Truck North: Oh definitely! In and out! I know how my attention span is and I can’t expect somebody to devote an hour and forty-five minutes to my ego (Laughs). Thirty songs and shit…c’mon man.
TSS: Backtracking a little bit, where did you get your first national spot on a record. You were on The Roots’ [The Tipping Point]. Was that the start of it all?
Truck North: Nah, that was my first Roots album. The first thing I ever did that ever came out was some joint called “Bang, Bang” that ended up getting used for OkayPlayer’s True Notes Vol. 1 and subsequently ended up getting used for NBA 2K5.
TSS: Roughly 5 years ago. Did you feel like Hip-Hop was worth making a living off of at that given moment and decide to do it full-time?
Truck North: I thought Hip-Hop was worth making a living off of when I was twelve!
Truck North: It was just all about finding a way to do it.
TSS: So what about the name Truck North? How did you start running with that tag?
Truck North: Actually it didn’t even come from any particular instance. “Truck” was always a nickname I had and I’m from the northern part of Philadelphia. That’s pretty much it.
TSS: Speaking of Philly, what’s the Hip-Hop scene like nowadays. Besides The Roots and now you, there’s not a whole lot of national waves.
Truck North: What you hear on Truck Jewels isn’t typically of what’s going on in the city right now. I’m kind of the anomaly and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of spitters in Philly but on the other side of the coin…there’s a lot of jingle, commercial…chasing…rappers. You have to have the attention span to sift through this city because it’s just full of motherfuckers who think they can rap.
TSS: (Laughs!!!) So how did you link up with The Roots originally? Given the city’s nature, that’s pretty good company to keep.
Truck North: Well I grew up with Kamal’s younger brother and we were always ended up being in rap group’s together from middle school on up. And right after high school, Kamal just started taking it more seriously and we recorded a bunch of stuff and soaked up the game to be soaked. And I’m guess I’m the one who rose out of it even though everybody’s still doing their thing. But I guess I just played my position to its maximum potential.
TSS: Tell me about the “Neverending Flip” visual. What was the message you wanted to portray?
Truck North: Well, I’m pretty much repping that 90’s era and I’ll do those street observational tales of shit you see growing up in the inner city. And that’s pretty much “The Neverending Flip.” Shit you see everyday. Wasn’t anything extra deep, just telling it how I saw it.
TSS: What’s the diamond on Truck Jewels?
Truck North: I stopped listening to it cuz I was hearing it so much but I think that “’09 Mentality” is pretty serious. I like “Hard Times” a lot as well.
TSS: How do you expect people to cling to those type of records given the climate of jingles as you put it?
Truck North: Hip-Hop has to do its part but the people who are the contributing factors are the ones who make the music! Maybe if the more cheesy stuff wasn’t an option because it didn’t exist, I don’t know. The artist has to play their part. Hip-Hop will pretty much do what you want it to do.
TSS: How would you describe Truck Jewels to anyone curious about downloading it?
Truck North: Honestly? Just some straight up, no-nonsense, low-talk…it’s not the bullshittin’ around “we-just-put-out-100-records.” Nah! Our songs be high quality so being that Truck Jewels really only has like 6 songs on it, its easy to digest.
TSS: What made you decide to link up with DJ Bear One?
Truck North: He’s the man! He’s had placements on Jim Jones’ projects among others. We linked up like 2-3 years ago in Philly and had similar tastes and personalities and his sound was what I was really fuckin’ with. Especially with the kind of rhymes I write. Bear got a lot of dope shit in the tuck. He’s official.
TSS: So you were convinced to put out this mixtape, what’s the next step?
Truck North: Shopping stuff, doing shows, still recording with The Roots. Pretty much doing what I’ve been doing. I’m humble and just recognize that there’s a group of people, however so big it may be, that care what I have to say. So I’d be a damn fool not to cater to them.
TSS: Would you advise all up-and-comers such as yourself to stay independent?
Truck North: I mean I say take it as it comes! (Laughs) Get it how ya live! However it goes down, I have to keep wanting to do it and people wanting to hear it.
TSS: So, you may be buzzing as an artist but you’re no newjack. You think in your finest hour you can take Black Thought in a battle?
Truck North: We talking H-O-R-S-E or something? We shooting jumpshots?
Truck North: I wouldn’t be an MC if I didn’t think I could be competitive with anybody but its just different classes ya know what I’m saying? It’s like asking Ralph Macchio [The Karate Kid] if he’s better than Pat Morita [Mr. Myiagi] in a kick to the face contest. I think I could hang…but I don’t know. I’m confident enough to know I can rap on a beat with him.
TSS: And you did on The Tipping Point, Game Theory and Rising Down.
Truck North: Oh yeah, I’m high right now. (Laughs)
TSS: (Laughs) So its upper class or bust for you?
Truck North: Definitely. That was always one of my aspirations as a kid starting out. These motherfuckers are dope — I wanna be dope too!
Download Truck Jewels by clicking the picture. Visit Truck North’s official MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/trucknorth for further information on the burgeoning artist.