There’s nothing new under the sun but it’s definitely a great thing when something you took for granted once upon a time gradually starts to fade away, almost completely disappears and then makes a return. Having the privilege of growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I got a chance to hear tons of joints from even more tons of rap crews. Every crew from the Juice Crew to Hobo Junction. It didn’t stop there though. As the mid to late ’90s approached, there were members of certain crews that collaborated with members of other crews or solo artists for a song or a two and made heads salivate for more. The Four Horsemen, The Crooklyn Dodgers and The Golden State Warriors are only a few of the many great examples I could give you.
After the conclusion of the ’90s, well into the 2000s and pushing towards 2010… we’ve heard trillions of collaborative efforts between billions of emcees but until Slaughterhouse surfaced a few years ago, most of those efforts seemed like a way to combine fan bases moreso than attempts to form supergroups. Due to the recent emergence of Slaughterhouse, we’ve witnessed more and more artists joining together in efforts to give us those crews we’ve been missing for oh so long. With the exception of Black Hippy and a few other cliques, many of these attempts haven’t made much noise above ground but heads like myself are still enjoying the resurrection of the trend itself.
Just a few days ago, I got a chance to hear a song called Black Hockey Players. Even though it’s only a song, it felt like a whole lot more. A single track with future legends Co$$ and Blu along with backpack icons Ras Kass and Planet Asia makes you want more than just one song because Black Hockey Players sounds like an actual crew. Straight up. But yeah, I heard the joint being mixed down by an engineer at the studio and I’m really hoping this goes further than just being a one song deal. It doesn’t seem likely that BHP will become anything more than just a track but I still remain hopeful about the situation . A great public reception can create a demand for more so we’ll see what happens when other heads get a chance to hear it.
During my brief visit to the city of Los(t) Angel(e)s, I got a chance to sit down with my brother from another mother Co$$ aka Cashus King and his boy Blu at Expo studios and find out how this BHP ‘maxi single’ all came together. Check it:
No-Buzz: It’s gonna be weird interviewing you like I don’t already know you but for journalism’s sake…I’m going to ask you some deeper questions than I normally would. Artistically there’s a lot I don’t know about you so hopefully this will be a good interview (laughs)
Co$$: Aight…let’s go (laughs and begins peeling his swisher)
No-Buzz: First and foremost, out of all of the concepts you could’ve thought of for a posse cut…how did the concept of Black Hockey Players come to mind? After birthing the concept, how’d you figure out which emcees you wanted to hop on the track with you?
Co$$: I have to give credit to the producer’s beat for inspiring the concept. The idea was totally mine but when I heard the beat, the first thing I thought was “black hockey players”. It was the vibe of the beat that inspired the idea. As far as the features, I wanted to combine the new school legends of the west coast with the old school legends. My real vision was to do two versions of the song… a new school and old school version. The new school version would have featured Fashawn, Blu, and Johaz and the old school version was going to feature Asia, Ras, and Kurupt. I couldn’t execute the two version idea though.
No-Buzz: Sometimes it seems like there’s pretty big of a divide between veteran emcees and the new blood that’s running the show…especially in the Golden State. It’s dope that the song was able to come together. You referred to Ras and Asia as legends so it’s obvious that the respect is there and reaching out to them was somewhat of a symbolic gesture. Were you extending some sort of olive branch to the older generation on the behalf of other up and coming west coast emcees?
Co$$: (lights joint and takes a hit) I think the answer to the first question kind of answers this one also. To answer directly though, yes. I wanted to combine the new and old school emcees. I always thought to myself “it would be crazy if Asia, Blu, and Ras” all rhymed on the same track. It was a honor to be the one who made it happen and I agree that the old and the new don’t come together enough here on the west coast. Down south? Psssh, they worship their OG rappers but here in the west… the young generation tends to stay separate from the older generation.
No-Buzz: Word. What do you think Blu?
Blu: Me and Co$$ pretty much share the same sentiments. He’s done a joint with Ras before and I’ve done some work with Asia, but the combination of all four of us is a big deal on the symbolic tip. This was a good situation to be a part of.
No-Buzz: Since your buzz began a few years ago, there have been lots of comparisons between your style and Ras’. Outside of the both you being pretty potent lyrically, why do you think heads compare the two of you so much? Do you think Ras showing up on BHP will show heads just how different your styles are?
Co$$: Voice. Plain and simple. Flow wise we’re totally different. Content wise… while there are some subtle similarities, we’re pretty much different in that category too. We both have the high pitch and raspy tone…hence the comparisons. That and the fact that both of us are considered more “lyrical” than “street”. I’d say my rhymes are more abstract, more poetic and Ras’ are more lyrical with more of a direct approach. I grew up listening to Ras and I’ve always admired his indepth lyricism but style wise… I was influenced by Yung Buc (of Chi-Town’s Psychodrama), Pac, Cube, and Common (Sense).
No-Buzz: It’s probably been like 20 years since I’ve listened to or purchased a ‘Maxi-Single’ (laughs). It’s most definitely an old-school approach. You typically drop full length projects when you are giving heads new music. Is this BHP Maxi-Single an appetizer of some kind until you are ready to release Genesis or just a re-introduction of an idea that hasn’t been used for a while? When is Genesis due out and what kind of sound can we expect?
Co$$: Black Hockey Players is neither an appetizer or an ode to an old idea. It was just the most practical way I saw of releasing the song. I wanted to release the record but also give heads a couple of more records featuring Blu and myself as well as some solo tracks. It’s just the kind of artist I am. I like to put out projects, not songs. The maxi-single seemed like the best way to showcase the song while also giving heads something else to chew on besides the main cut.
No-Buzz: Okay word.
Co$$: Genesis is similar to Sleepwalking sound wise but much more cohesive conceptually. It also puts on display how diverse my style of rhyme is. There are double time tracks, introspective tracks, uptempo joints, etc. I consider it a compilation of my styles, a reintroduction to my brand….being that I’m not the same emcee I was when Before I Awoke was released in the summer of 2011. (Before I Awoke/Tres Records).
No-Buzz: A few seconds ago, you kind of implied that you intentionally wanted Blu to have a big presence on this project and I’m sure that’s one thing a ton of heads out here in the blog world will be excited about. It won’t be the first time folks have heard you guys collaborate but it’s usually a pretty sporadic thing and it’s definitely something people would like to hear a lot more of. Is there any chance that you two will do a joint full-length album of some sort together?
Co$$: I hope to do something with Blu one day. A short EP of some sort. We’ve talked about doing something together for years but due to schedule conflicts we just haven’t been able to get it done.
No-Buzz: Sup Blu? (laughs)
Blu: I’m down to work (laughs). We just gotta buckle down and get it done. I think we could put together a really dope project. It’s just a matter of finding the time to work together. Seems like something heads really wanna hear though so maybe this year we can give folks what they’ve been asking for.
No-Buzz: One thing I notice about a lot of artists out here is that they stick with a winning formula. The first time a lot of us heard you spit was on Exile’s Dirty Science project. Being that he’s made acclaimed projects with Aloe Blacc, Blu, Fashawn, etc and has become one of the most sought after producers in hip-hop, what makes you reach out to work with so many other producers when Ex is pretty much within arm’s reach?
Co$$: I had a desire to establish my own sound outside of the Exile sphere. Fash and Blu really took Exile’s sound to a new level but I wanted to stand on my own sound wise. I still want to do a project Exile though. I’m hoping we can do it sometime in 2013 but I also take a lot of pride in the fact that I have built my sound without relying on Exile’s production to define me as an artist. Now that I have established myself outside of the Dirty Science realm, I think 2013 would be the perfect time to do a full length project with Ex. It all depends on his schedule and his desire to work with me. To be totally real, I do think my debut LP should have been produced entirely by Exile. Hindsight is 20/20. (puffs again and passes to Blu)
No-Buzz: After the success of BHP, do you think there’s the possibility of you two forming some sort of super group with Ras and Asia if the demand is there?
Co$$: I don’t know. I don’t know Ras or Asia personally so my logical guess would be probably not. We’d all have to be really motivated to do it and I honestly don’t think there is enough of a personal bond to form a group. Now if the single blows up and the demand is there, who knows. Money tends to inspire folks to come together. Look at Slaughterhouse (laughs)
Blu: Hell yeah I’d be down! (laughs) But yeah, we’d all have to be down to do it. We’d just all have to sit down and get the business part of it squared away. If it’s what people are asking for, we’d all probably be able to come together and draw up a plan that made sense to all four of us.
No-Buzz: Aight. This recorder is about to be completely full (laughs). Let me ask you one more question about the other joints and people on the project before this shit cuts off. (BHP remix, Heroin, Co$$ Is and Ninja). How’d you link up with Ryshon, Shag (producer), and Kemizt? Ryshon has a pretty strong buzz of his own but it’s dope how you give artists/producers without much of a reputation a chance to shine. With that being said, who do you think are some of the most promising producers and emcees out here without much of a name?
Co$$: I linked up with Kemizt when he reached out to me to feature on his yet to be released project with Dela. He was featured on my Sleep walking Mixtape also. As for Ryshon, I first heard him on 2dopeboyz when he leaked a song called “Heroin for breakfast”. I love how dude puts all of his life into the music. He’s very similar to Budden and Kendrick in that sense. He also has a fantastic production team that makes some of the dopest atmospheric beats. Shag participated in one of my remix contests that I had on my facebook ‘like’ page. I was very impressed with his skill level, especially with him only being 17. We’ve been collaborating ever since. As far as up and coming producers and emcees are concerned though…. a few come to mind. Rhyme wise I’m really digging Justpro, Chuuwee, Ryshon, Johaz, Open Mic Eagle, and Moe to name a few. On the production tip? Um… I’m a huge supporter of ReallyNathan (of The Late Bloomers) and BeatnickDee. Nathan is like a throwback to dilla/madlib/etc. BeatnickDee has an excellent ear for samples and drums and makes some of the cleanest boom bap shit around. J83, Insightful, and Psymun are three more names that come to mind when I think of dope producers. All of the producers I just named will be featured on GENESIS… minus Insightful. He’ll be producing my second full length release though.
No-Buzz: Aight man well ya’ll get back to recording. My clothes smell like dro now so I need to go and wash up (laughs). I will get at ya’ll in the future and don’t forget to slide me some exclusives for the site (laughs).
Co$$: Aight duke. Get at me later…
Blu: Aight G
The Black Hockey Players ‘Maxi Single’ will be dropping this winter