Y'all probably wondering who Top is, and why he get interviewed by me? Simple, he was the member of the group ICP (where also DJ Premier was a member of before Gang Starr started in NY). You will find out more in this short but interesting interview I took with him for DJ Premier Blog. He's a very friendly man.
- Could you tell us something more about your background with DJ Premier?
Preem and I met in College...started DJing a lot of frat and Sorority parties together...we both DJ, but he couldn't even cut when we met, he could only mix. I showed him a little something on the scratching… but just a little.. he took it upon himself to study other DJ's scratching and got his shit tight. I was DJing but really focusing on being an MC... so during parties he'd mix and I'd keep the crowd hype... once the party was in full swing we'd go in on a few routines we had... I'd rock rhymes and he'd cut hooks and keep the beat knockin’...We were killing it all over the Texas college circuit and decided to take it to the next level.
- You told me some hooks and some lines on Gang Starr’s first album are from you and Premiers demo send to Wild Pitch, could you explain that?
The original Gang Starr was Guru, Smitty, Damo D, and DJ One Two Be Down... they had a fall out at the time we (Preem and I) got to Wild Pitch and the rest of the original members came back to Boston. The label had invested in the Gang Starr project and Guru stayed in New York and needed to get the album done… Since he didn't have a DJ the label asked Preem to step in... since our demo was blaze and heads were on a time schedule cats went with what was available... Guru was fam and that album was completed in 2 weeks...
- Who of the members were on the demo tape?
Just me and Preem... I wrote every line and came up with every hook
- The beats that DJ Premier did on the demo, were they different than those on the No More Mr. Nice Guy album?
Yeah, we were broke… Preem was spinning breaks back and forth for 4 minutes on our 4 track... another track we'd use for the cuts and the last two for vocals and adds... 45 King did a lot of work on the No More Mr Nice Guy album.
- What was the reason you didn’t become a Gang Starr member?
No, Preem and I moved to NY together with other ICP members. I wasn't in Gang Starr because my Crew was ICP (Inner Circle Posse) that’s what I was representing… that was MY shit... Gang Starr was Guru's... I didn't go to New York to sign a deal for someone else's crew… I went there to sign MY crew.
- You said DJ Premier still has those demos, any chance it will ever see the daylight?
LOL... probably not… that shit is old... I will say our shit was HOT for the time period... Maybe one day when Preem is feeling nostalgic we'll get together and drop a quick EP.
- In an old interview with vinyladdicts.net Premo told us that the crew ICP had other members like Sugar Pop and Styly-T, what happened to them?
Man, there were more than Just Suge and Stylee in ICP... There was Biggas Gord (who is the only member still working with Preem), El Cazel, Ray Rock, HL Rock the dancer from the early videos and our man Chase... Suge is in Dallas TX doing his thing, as well as, Stylee... but I don't know what Stylee is up to really, he did some fed time for some bullshit but he's out now, we kinda lost touch he and I but I talk to Suge all the time... Gord works for Preem's label Year Round... HL Rock is still in NY in the fashion industry, we still holla on a reg. Ray Rock is working for the NY school department and we still holla here and there... El Cazel is a family man now and holding it down, while Chase is who knows where, last I heard he had mad kids and was doing the family thing as well.... We were all fam back then... I was the only real MC in the crew, not that Suge and Cazel didn't grab the mic from time to time, but I was the main event on the mic... when we went to NY, Preem and I were trying to get the deal.
- Now more than 20 years later, what have you been up to? Are you still rhyming?
I can still eat a flow if need be but that’s not my real focus anymore... I'm more into production now and may get into some management at some point, so I can show some of these new heads how NOT to get fucked.... I also do a weekly internet underground hip hop mix show every week called SOUPKITCHEN EXCLUSIVES which you can hear at my blog page as well as on a couple of internet radio sites, SWURVRADIO.COM and FLAVOURRADIO.COM but if you want to download the show you have to go to the blog page... Getting a lot of action on the mix show, trying to get into the satellite radio thing... In all honesty, I thought Preem and I would hook back up at some point... I'm not bitter or anything like that I still love my dude, but I expected that after all the shit we had gone through he would open a door for me at some point, it's just human nature to expect some gratitude from those you've elevated along the way, but that hasn't happened... Heads are always too busy. But I'm a firm believer of remembering how you got there and who you came with... Don't get me wrong, I did some things along the way that caused my music career to take some detours, but when I got back on my bullshit I expected a little boost from my dude... it’s all good, you live and learn... hopefully one day we'll meet again at the TOP, no pun intended!
- Here’s my last question, what are your top 3 producers in hip-hop?
As far as my top 3 producers in Hip Hop I love me number 1 of course... but to be honest there are way too many nice producers in the game.... I mean, I like Endemik, Jake One, True Master, Snowgoons, Blue Sky Black Death and a gang of other obscure cats out there grinding... I've got some young protégé’s Avi & Reez who are just sick with it... Really when you look at what’s out there commercially, many of the so called "big named" producers... man, many of them have hit their ceiling, meaning that most of their shit sounds the same... You hear one Timbaland beat, you've heard ‘em all yah mean... or you got all these new corn ball, skinny jean wearing, fruity loop producers... who can play 3 keys and get a deal... LMAO, the game is fucked nowadays... I'm still a huge Primo fan of course... my dude stays consistent... but I like me... My cousin Jaysaun of Special Teamz has a project out now with DJ Revolution called Game of Breath... I did a joint that Rev remixed called One, Two... But Jay's using my original production of the song for the video, my shit is more street which really reflects the lyrics, so be on the look!
I would like to thank Top for his time and honest opinion. It was a great time talking to him. Peace to everybody. Maybe one day... one day, we will hear those demos!