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The Peoples: Xcuse The Static + Equipto interview

Thursday May 23, 2013

Here's a real treat for y'all, a Bay Area rarity.
The are only a few dozen original copies of this in existence.
This is 4-track Bored Stiff tape recorded in the mid-90's, and I gotta say, this is a really dope one too!
Since there's not much info of this around, I interviewed Equipto, who was the mastermind behind this project. So let him reveal the facts...

What's up, Equipto? How are things?

Things have been good just trying to relax after the Stress Free tour. Figuring out my next moves as far as my label, Solidarity Records, and personal things that I’ve been wanting to do but never had the time.

Did I hear correctly that you did your retirement show?

Yes, I did my last show in San Francisco, which was my birthday slash retirement show. It went well, and people showed a lot of love and support. It was an emotional night for me but it went by as a blur.

So, lets go all the way back to The Peoples tape. Tell us about that. It's mostly you on it. Can it be considered a pre-BS album?

No, it wasn’t pre-Bored Stiff, but it was pre-Equipto, I was just “Equip”. It was recorded in 1994/95 after we dropped Explainin’ and before we dropped Timeless. I used to make beats on a Gemini Mixer and a 4-Track so I took the equipment and wanted to spearhead a project, a compilation with just me and my folks on it, which we called the crew “The Peoples” – and the project was called Xcuse The Static. It was mostly Priz, K-Dub (R.I.P.), Big Shawn, Villiak, Spank Pops,

And it was recorded in your mom's basement?

Yeah, it was recorded in my Mama’s basement, with a Gemini Mixer, a 4-Track, a turntable, and a cassette deck.

Was it the first tape you were on? What led up to recording it and what happened afterwards?

The first tape I was on was The Bomb Compilation, Bored Stiff had a song called “Therapy” on it, but before that me, TD and P-Whaley were 3 Shades of Rhythm and we made a lot of demo tapes that circulated throughout the Bay Area and beyond. So those were the first tapes I was on.

How relevant / important do you see the Peoples tape as a part that lead to the birth of BS and your own career?

I’m hella proud of Xcuse The Static because its my first and damn near only project where I produced almost everything on it. It helped me get more on the creative side and understanding how a project is put together. Learning my own sound on the microphone and experimenting with all types of stuff.

Was it ever properly released and if so, how many copies are there?

I wouldn’t say “properly released” but its definitely out there. Originally we probably pressed 30 copies and we did the cassettes at a Kinko’s me and TD, single-handedly, 4 in the morning 5 in the morning, all night long.

Thank you, sir! Much love!

And thanks to Chaz (of SFSM) for this cassette rip, and Kali Yuga for the tracklist which he contributed to!

Side Won
A1: Big & Equip - Intro
A2: Spanks - Pen 2 The Paper
A3: Kwanz & Priz - Wanna Come Up
A4: Equip - Same Problem 2
A5: Equip - Notta Show
A6: Finesse - Finesse
A7: Big & Equip - Was Up Wit That
A8: Equip -His Story
A9: Vill & Equip -On The Unda
A10: KFOF Enterview
A11: Priz - Peep B4 U
A12: Equip - Novacane
A13: Kwanz - Fuck Wit Your Brain
A14: Vill & Equip - Family
A15: Equip - Sacrifice
A16: Spanks - Spankstyle
A17: P. Whaley & Equip - A Liel Somethin'
Side Too
B1: Priz & Equip - Help Me
B2: Priz & Equip - Introductions
B3: Equip - All We Want
B4: Equip - 1 Of Those Days
B5: Equip - Fame To Me
B6: Big & Equip - Music
B7: Priz - Prizaz
B8: Priz, Finesse & Equip - Session
B9: T-Mor & Schwinn - Elements
B10: Equip - Screen Myself
B11: Jules - Plain And Simple
B12: The Peoples - Penis

Download here (NEW LINK: Mega)

posted by: Moonlit

Interview: Deeskee (La2thebay)

Monday May 20, 2013

This interview was conducted in September 2012 via email and is part of my mission to discover the current state of underground hiphop through the insight of long-term players.


Noel "Deeskee" DeMello is a long-term producer from the Bay Area and also oversees the legendary La2thebay -site. He has worked with hundreds of emcees (producing and recording). From my point of view he is sort of a central / key producer in underground hiphop in the Bay, like Fat Jack (L.A.), RZA (Shaolin) or Kali Yuga (Finland), bringing artists together and also distributing their music.

Sadly, he might be on the verge of ending his career.

The internet revolution turned record sales downwards making it even more harder for an independent artist to survive, especially for a veteran like Deeskee who still pays for original studio equipment etc. to make albums.

Deeskee sees that music has taken more a state of entertainment and is vanishing as an art form. Loyal fans are disappearing and music is becoming a quick consumable product. In his words I do hear bitterness, though not anger. But I understand. The rewards have never been shiny for those who've remained independent. The hurt becomes more and more real as years pass, and after a 20-year career in music, blue eyes have charred dark and back is aching, I'm sure.

Deeskee's love for music hasn't faded, but I guess in this game love doesn't make you a winner, no matter how hard you work. That same bitterness I hear in many if not most OG's in the States.

Mostly it's the rappers who get the credit for songs, but often it's the producers who create the vibe, have the vision, bring artists together, record and mix - and in Deeskee's case, even handle their distribution. Deeskee has put out dozens of solo releases and his production appears in hundreds of albums by other artists. Some of his albums are instrumentals but then again you have albums such as Audiobiograffiti that features about 60 different emcees, including the crew cut "How Many MC's '08"with 22 rappers on it. So you really can't deny Deeskee's central position in the West Coast underground scene.

Who is Noel DeMello?

born: 12/19/72
hometown: moss beach/ half moon bay, ca usa.
occupation: doormat
interests: music, movies, the great mysteries of the universe

Who is Deeskee?

Deeskee is an imaginary character whom when i was much younger i fancied a super hero of sorts, but it turns out he was just me in a baseball cap. the name came from an older dj cousin of one of the kids in my neighborhood. i thought he was fresh so i took the name but changed the spelling. i didn't know any better. i was like 14. my influences came primarily from my dad and my uncle who were musicians, but being a teenager in the 80's kind of brought the hip hop element to my influences.

I'm interested more in how you got into music and hiphop. What was the turning point when you decided to make music yourself?

i was always around music growing up, but when i was about 12 years old and started staying with my dad for summers he had a band. they played mostly covers of 60's bands like the stones, the beatles, the drifters, beach boys, nitty gritty dirt band, etc. and there were instruments around me at all times, so me and my cousin (who is also a musician and engineer) started picking them up and learning how to play them. that was around the same time i was interested in DJing. i worked with a few "rappers" here and there but didn't record anything of notable substance until '92 when i met maleko and raj. before that i was more interested in mixing and scratching.

"i think the world's love affair with music is over"

You run, tell us about it. How did you get into that? You also probably have a pretty good insight on the whole underground hip hop scene through La2thebay, on how many artists still put out cds, how much music gets sold and how that has changed, etc... give us some insight to the rap scene through your experiences in La2thebay.

yes, i "oversee", there's not much "running" to do anymore. i got into it because there wasn't an official outlet for information and physical distribution for my music and the music of my collaborators at the time. we had atak (Atak Distribution) and bts (Beneath The Surface), but there was no place for tour information, artist profiles, social networking, etc and i couldn't lock down proper distribution for home made tapes and cdrs so i put my resources together and launched the site. not much gets sold from the site anymore. there are a few people who buy new releases and as soon as they get them they'll put them on their blogs, but i usually bust them and they don't come back. i know that's not good for business but i don't think these kids understand what goes into making an album financially and emotionally. we don't make our albums on laptops with cracked software and a usb mic. our records actually cost money to make, which is why i can't make albums for myself anymore.

Why do you think it is that "there's not much running anymore" in La2thebay? If business has become low, why do you think that is? Is it because the artists have faded or is because of the audience? 

i think the world's love affair with music is over. kind of like vaudville or theatre. it's run it's course. the love affair has shifted to a love affair for commerce. 

if you don't have your own tv show, perfume or clothing line, or a song on a commercial nobody's going to pay much attention. there aren't many "fans" anymore. there are still a few but not enough to be sustainable for indy artists as small time as myself. people will steal your music, put it on their ipod, hear it once and move on to the next stolen download. a real fan goes to shows, buys records and listens to them 1000 times. not many of those real fans left. the reasons behind this are pretty expect that all artists make a bunch of money and they don't have to support them. they think indy artists have the same opportunities as major artists so it's ok to steal from us. the truth is, we don't get paid $1,000,000 to play at the grammy awards. we don't get paid $500,000 to add our signature to a product. we don't get our music on every radio station, hell...we don't even get reviews on every blog we submit to. it's a tough living. 

i also think that social networking has taken a toll on the art. nowadays fans can see the intimate details of their favorite artists life on their twitter feed. it kind of demystifies everything. and also with internet piracy anyone with a little bit of resourcefullness can find cracked software and make their own music the next day...then go on facebook and find their favorite rappers for guest appearances. it's just not special anymore and it breaks my heart. 

i wish some young artists would just once know what we had to go through to make a record 10-20 years ago. they wouldn't do it! it was actually work! before e-mail we had to get on an airplane, a train, a bus, drive, or even hitchhike hundreds of miles with our reels or dats, find a studio, PAY for it, get the song recorded, fly home, PAY for another studio to get it mixed and do it all over again. 

i have a very deep love for music, and it hurts to watch a loved one die right in front of you. i don't mean to sound angry or negative here, i'm just telling it from my point of view. i am absolutely greatful for every experience in life that i've had because of music and i wouldn't have met some of the incredible people who have taught me so much.

"there are a lot of things in life that i missed by being a struggling artist for 20 years. i'd like to try something else."

Do you get a lot of orders from Finland? 

i used to get a lot of orders from finland...i loved it. all of my finnish friends would send me tapes and cds, hand written letters, post cards, photos, you name it. it was a cool feeling to get gifts from fans i never met. sadly they all dissapeared. i think i have had one order from finland since 2005.

You've lived in LA for 10 years now. How's that working out for you? 

LA is it's own animal. i can't say it's been "working out" lately, but i'm surviving. 

What do you feel is different to the Bay area, music-wise especially?

it's a lot different from the bay. the people are different, the music is different. but there are some unfortunate similarities as well.

the differences are mostly in attitude and the way people treat each other here. just different personality types in artists and fans. 

Do you ever feel like moving back to the Bay?

yes i do think of moving back sometimes, but not for the music.

Tell us a little bit about the groups you've been a member of and people who you've worked with? Who's your fav. emcee to work with?

i've been a member of abnormal, araknophobix, ex vandalz, the returners, knives and gasoline. i can't name everyone i've worked with...i've probably worked with over 200 MCs. not really any "favorites". if i have worked with someone it's because they were my favorite before we even worked. i've always only worked with my favorite artists.

You've also done a few vocals in your past. I remember a verse on Record Players "Two Thousand And One" tape... What made you rap all of a sudden?

i've done quite a bit, i usually make up a fake name to hide my identity. i don't know if any more can be expected. i've recently started to lose my voice so i think that chapter is closed.

What are you working on now? Self-promotion is allowed.

just finishing up a new album with existereo and a new one with die...i have a few albums that are unreleased so i might revamp them just to keep myself busy (not sure if i'll release them), then i don't know. there are a lot of things in life that i missed by being a struggling artist for 20 years. i'd like to try something else.


big shout out to my folks in finland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Update on La2TheBay

posted by: Moonlit

Interview: Prosperous (SWE)

Thursday August 23, 2012

Let's introduce a true and long-term underground hero, the sort of weird kid whose experiments with music and rap styles frighten regular folk, emcee and beat-maker Mattias Ekberg aka Prosperous (Outofthebluecrew, Assimilated, Plant Of Trails) from our neighbor country Sweden.

Who is Mattias? What's his story?

Prosperous 1981
I'm a 34-year-old lyricist, writer and beatmaker who lives in Gothenburg, Sweden. 

My parents got me into sports at a young age. My dad was a major in the army so I had a strict childhood until I started hanging out with skateboarders and broke free at the age of 11 and started skating, 'cause there were no rules, no teachers. There were different kinds of music in this enviroment, hiphop was one big element. This was back in 1989 and I found myself rhyming secretly, which soon developed into something more. I'm interested in most things, especially people and their stories, and life in general from distant point of views. I'm also a sucker for hot food, chop of my arms and legs but not my tongue, dammit, I got a big taste for life.

Who is Prosperous?

"I used to be angry a lot about how fucked up the world is at the moment, then I psyched out and realised that being a victim isn't the way to go"

Prosperous is a name I've been using since 1995. I figured if it's about calling things to existance, Prosperous would be the perfect name for me as a rapper. I'm prosperous when it comes to expanding my mind, my skills as a rapper and my struggle to enlighten people, it's not about the common definition of the word. 

I used to get picked at in school and couldn't form my big thoughts into sentences so that people could understand, which I guess is a clear reason why I started writing it down instead and put it on beats. I think wildstyle and jazz, I rap about everything, my music won't define your lifestyle, I'm sorry. I think that´s why some basic hiphoppers don't get my music, they get confused. 

I get inspired by the world and it's population in motion. Before I used to be angry a lot about how fucked up the world is at the moment, then I psyched out and realised that being a victim isn't the way to go. That's why I stopped writing about the end of the world from a bitter point of view, 'cause in general that puts me in the place of an artist being part of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that´s not so prosperous. I've been writing my own lyrics since 1993, started during a mathclass and was very inspired by The Pharcyde, Freestyle Fellowship, Hieroglyphics, Native Tounge etc..

And who's Comb?

Comb is my beat-making alterego that came naturally when I couldn't sit around and wait for other people to make beats as I want them. 

How did you get into music? What got you rapping?

I got into music 'cause I'm a creative person: I used to paint a lot but it morphed into this rapping thing when I realised the broadness of vocal communication and how fun it was to come up with new ways of rapping. 

At my school in late 80's a lot of people, including me, who were into NWA, Run DMC and Public Enemy. And I can only speak for my school, but you'd get beat up by some elder kids if you didn't listen to hiphop, haha! Maybe that threat back in 1987 got stuck in my brain and made way for this wild career.

"I guess that westcoast hip hop just fit our lifestyle. were either a straight up square asshole or a freak belonging to a subculture"

I know you are a fan of LA/Bay hiphop, the underground stuff, like us. How did you find out about that music?

I got into the California scene when I realised it wasn't all about gangster rap, and I wanna thank groups like The Pharcyde and the Fellowship for that. Them and others changed my life into something better as a teen, I could relate to their music, 'cause it was different, just like I was. 

2004 with DJ Confuze
The early 90's was a wonderful time to grow up. I'm originally from a small town in Southern Sweden called Karlskrona where there's a lot of beachlife. And when I went to the school discos as a 14-year-old kid, my friends were DJ's, and they played "Hot Potato" by the Fellowship and all those classics at the dancefloor. It wasn't something we thought about that much, I guess that westcoast hip hop just fit our lifestyle. I hung out with all kinds of people in that city, 'cause there you were either a straight up square asshole or a freak belonging to a subculture. And all of us outsiders partied together, everyone was in a band, a hip hop crew, a dj, skaters, what have you... This really effected the person I am being Prosperous.  

You used to roll with Outofthebluecrew? Is that still an active crew? Tell us about it, it is quite well-recognized in Finland.

The Outofthebluecrew is partly active, but not as a crew in whole. It was a crew we formed around 2003 but all of us had side-projects meanwhile. Except for me, I think Peshi is the most active one, but she's part of the popular scene now and that's just not my thing. You'll probably hear more of us later though, we're all friends who still support eachother. 

Who else have you worked / are you working with? 

I've been working with so many artists that I don't even know where to start, but to make it simple let's just name those who may ring some bells, like Omid, Subtitle, Radioinactive, Paranorml, Existereo, Infinite Possibilities, Albane, Nadasdi, Peshi, Rodan Kairos, Smea, DJ Porter, DJ Confuse, Frak, Olonaise, Adamic, THMS, Smokey 131, Jehova, and all these other people. I got some collaborations coming out soon with different artists who I feel do something similar to what I do. I'm not that much into making music with the LA underground specifically, it was something I did, but I'm really a solo artist. I've even recorded some stuff with some graffer neighbours that is really dope, if they could just drop the dope and record on it, haha! 

"either you are in the BIG circus, or you don't exist, 'cause you don't stand no chance as an experimental hiphopper"

Now, what we Finns always want to know is if things are better or worse in Sweden... So how's hip hop there on the other end of Viking Line? What's the underground scene like? Has there been a change in the recent years?

I can't speak on differences between Finland and Sweden since I've never been to Finland. I can only say that there's so many things happening over here at different levels that I'm not able to generalise, but I do feel as if the scene over here was much much doper between like 1982-2006. 

Assimilated Species, 1999
I've seen so many artists come and go now, and I'm still here. The downfall for me was probably around 2007 when my crew kind of split up, Nadasdi quit rapping, others said fuck hip hop and wanted to do more experimental music, so I was left alone forced to be my own crew. Luckily Subtitle hooked me up on the Briefcaserockers crew a while later 'cause of my recordings with Pelpa Karnaval (FRA) when we started our group Ortho Acusto. So the split up made me reach out more and reconsider my journey. 

There's plenty of crews in the suburbs all over who claim their own style and do their own thing, inside that little circle. I live at Biskopsgården in Gothenburg which is assumed to be a dangerous place 'cause you only get to read about who got shot, raped or killed here, but beneath all that there's really a lot of creative and talented people here just like me. But it's like this new club hip hop thing has become like a boxed-in entity, or a castle if you will, that rules everything and won't let us take room. So we say fuck them and fuck that scene even though it leaves us outside as invisible artists. That's were we are in Sweden at the moment, either you are in the BIG circus, or you don't exist, 'cause you don't stand no chance as an experimental hiphopper, that's just it. 

I get some gigs and people know me and respect me for having the guts to do my own thing, some are even impressed, but most people recognise me for being Mattias. I've read about Prosperous in some Swedish hiphop communities where they say I quit making music when I became a dad in 2006, which is not true at all. Little do they know that I reach outside boarders on this constant journey that's about bigger things than becoming famous in Sweden. It's really quite funny and it's ok. 

Short piece for self-advertisement and shoutouts, here: 

I wanna say hello to all my friends and family in Sweden and everyone who helped me out. Keep creating with passion for the art of this music, the rest is just illusion in the end. I'm gonna host this local TV-show later this year with a close friend. It's called NATTSKOLAN (öppna kanalen) and we'll present oldschool cult/horror and b-movies every friday-night after 00.00. Stay posted and we'll see you on web tv also!

Get Prosperous - Brainchild cassette from our store (once we re-open), only a few copies remaining. Released by a Finnish cassette-label "Hiss Tapes"!

posted by: Moonlit


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