Back In The Day: Son Of Bazerk
Written by Todd Davis, Rap Pages Magazine.com
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
In the early '90s, a stylish, eclectic Hip-Hop group was on the rise and in the minds of music fans everywhere: Son of Bazerk. S.O.B. dropped their critically acclaimed breakout LP, Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk (MCA Records), back on May 14th, 1991. The remarkable thirteen-track collection, boasting the explosive production of the revered Bomb Squad and former Public Enemy turntablist Terminator X, spawned the James Brown-inspired hit lead offering "Change The Style." The track is considered one of Rap's greatest singles ever. Two additional songs, "Bang (Get Down, Get Down)!" and "What Could Be Better Bitch," didn't quite ignite the same type of reaction; nevertheless, there's no denying that Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk deserves to go down in history as a Hip-Hop classic.
Nearly two decades later (and two still-unreleased follow-up efforts later), Rap Pages Magazine.com has great news: Son of Bazerk are finally back and more than ready for action! For the first installment in our new "Back In The Day" series, we netted an exclusive interview with the band and the album's executive producer, DJ Johnny JUICE.
Rap Pages Magazine: Please introduce the members of Son of Bazerk.
Group: The members of Son of Bazerk & No Self Control are Son Of Bazerk, Almighty Jahwel, Daddy Rawe, and 1/2 Pint. Originally, there were two other members: Sandman and BAND, the DJ. These two members are no longer part of the group.
RPM: Let's jump right into this brand new DJ Johnny JUICE-laced lead single, "I Swear On A Stack Of Old Hits." Conceptually, how did this record come to fruition?
Juice: Bazerk came up with the idea to do a song similar to "Change the Style," although conceptually, it wasn't at that stage yet. Bazerk laid a basic guide track vocally, with spaces for the other group members. At this point, the group left the studio and I assembled the song pieces for the next session. The group returned and immediately began to come up with new ideas to fit the arrangement that was presented to them. After that, it was essentially a piece of cake. The members laid their vocals, and I finished by adding the scratches.
RPM: Now, with your long-overdue return to Hip-Hop after a nearly twenty-year hiatus, what are you all hoping to accomplish?
Almighty Jahwel: ***#-, and a whole bunch of illegitimate kids.
1/2 Pint: A body of work that leaves a legacy for Hip-Hop fans to enjoy.
Son of Bazerk: Respect, money, cars, and houses.
Daddy Rawe: Just to make music that you can have fun with. Enjoyable music, instead of angry music. Trying to create something unique in this world of same ol' same ol'.
RPM: Speaking of that lengthy time-off, why did you all decide to stay away for so long?
1/2 Pint: I decided to stay away to devote time to my education.
AJ: It seems like after our record deal went bad, it was difficult to adjust to my personal situation.
DR: I've continued to stay active in the music industry, albeit in a different capacity.
SOB: I was leery of re-entering the industry, due to shady business practices
RPM: And what have each of you been up to, both personally & professionally, for the past two decades?
SOB: I went to work. You don't work, you don't eat!
AJ: I started working with an Alternative Rock band called Zetty Twine [www.myspace.com/ztwine], and I got lost in the live music scene here on Long Island.
DR: I started singing for a wedding agency. After that, I started singing locally with my band, the Soul Explosion. We've actually developed a pretty good following.
1/2 Pint: I've been teaching for the past thirteen years, and now, I'm a principal of an alternative education program in Roosevelt, LI, home of Public Enemy.
RPM: I know there were rumors of a couple of albums that were recorded but unfortunately never actually saw the light of day. Why is that? And what ever became of those recordings?
Group: We were working on our second album, and it was rejected. We recorded another album, and that was rejected, too. Those albums were good albums, but it seemed like there was a personal vendetta against us at the time. Other labels seemed to show some interest, but we were unable to renegotiate our contract or be released from our contract to pursue other opportunities. This continued for five years. It ended up that we were shelved, and then eventually dropped from the label.
SOB: After that, the business left a bad taste in my mouth.
RPM: Have you all titled your anxiously awaited new magnum opus yet? If so, what does its name represent to you?
Juice: The album hasn't been named yet. We would like it to be reflective of the experience we've had over the past twenty-plus years in Hip-Hop, and the business as well.
RPM: How does this new collection differ from and/or compare to the previous Son Of Bazerk release?
1/2 Pint: It's vintage Son of Bazerk.
AJ: I think it has more of an edge to it than the previous material. It's grittier.
DR: I think it's more seasoned. It's a more seasoned product.
SOB: It's definitely different. I think it's better because we have more creative control than before.
RPM: Aside from JUICE, who else did you enlist in regards to the LP's production?
Juice: Actually, the process didn't work that way. The band didn't enlist anyone. In this case, the producer enlisted the band. Bazerk and I did an interview for Unkut.com a while back. We got a lot of responses on the site saying that they would love to hear a Son of Bazerk album. I called the guys and girl together and told them I would do a whole album for them. They responded immediately and were ready to start work on the album. I gave them tracks, most made explicitly for them, and assigned them homework. I asked for them to write titles and concepts that would be embellished to form a majority of the album. Over the course of a year, the album took shape.
RPM: Are there any special guest appearances that you would like to point out at this time?
Group: No guest appearances, other than Chuck D doing an intro on "Let Me Tell You Who I Am?"
RPM: Do you all have any personal favorite tracks on it? If so, why those particular ones?
AJ: "Let Me Tell You Who I Am?", because I feel like we finally got a chance to say what we always really wanted to say.
1/2 Pint: "Let Me Tell You Who I Am?", because it gives a good insight to who I really am as an artist. I also love "Ride With Me," because it took me back down memory lane.
DR: "Bad Dreams and Hiccups," because I liked the groove. Plus, it's unexpected vocally.
SOB: I don't have a favorite. I like the whole shit.
RPM: As songwriters, do you all usually write individually or collectively? And what is the inspiration behind your lyrics?
AJ: We write both ways, actually.
1/2 Pint: The inspiration is the track, or many times, we have concepts that we expand upon and pick the tracks accordingly.
DR: Old school R&B tunes inspire me. I get great ideas from them.
RPM: Take it back to the very beginning... When did you all first become interested in music? And how did it all begin for Son Of Bazerk?'
AJ: We were deejaying and hanging out as far back as 1977.
SOB: In 1981, we formed the Townhouse 3. It was meâ€”T.A. the DJâ€”Jahwel was J.D. Rockwell, and Daddy Rawe was P.E.P.!
1/2 Pint: I was not part of that collective. I was too young. I was introduced to music by my grandfather. I became part of the crew in 1989, when I was in college. Hank [Shocklee] spoke to my grandparents about me being down with the group, and after giving the thumbs up, I was put down! They guys knew my family from the neighborhood, so my transition into the group was easy.
Juice: I should note that they were probably one of the first Rap groups on Long Island. Chuck D was actually inspired by T.A. the DJ [Son of Bazerk], and Flav was introduced to Chuck D by Bazerk way back in the '80s, when they were doing a radio show on WBAU at Adelphi University.
RPM: Where exactly do you all hail from? And who influenced both your sound and style?
Group: Everyone is from Freeport, Long Island, N.Y., [and] our sound is influenced by everyone who came before us.
SOB: I feed off of everything.
AJ: I listen to anything. If it sounds good...play it!
1/2 Pint: I dig Latifah, MC Lyte, Sha Rock. I like hardcore female rappers, too. I dig all of the female emcees who pioneered the way for us.
DR: I'm into all of the classic artists.
RPM: With that being said, describe for me your overall musical vibe.
1/2 Pint: Eclectic. We're not limited by anything.
AJ: Styles are forever changing. Whatever it is that day that we're feeling.
SOB: I don't really have a vibe. Whatever I'm feeling that day.
RPM: Initially, what particular string of events led to you all hooking up with Hank Shocklee and later signing to his S.O.U.L. imprint?
Group: Hank was familiar with all of us for years, so he came looking for us.
RPM: To date, what has been the ultimate key to your success so far?
AJ: I don't know. Once I figure that out, I lose. I just say what I say and do what I do.
1/2 Pint: Being true to ourselves. That fact that we maintained our integrity has allowed us to succeed.
DR: Staying on the musical forefront and perfecting my live musical performance.
RPM: Do you all have any other aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
1/2 Pint: I plan on creating my own consulting firm on how to educate minority students. I also plan on becoming Commissioner of Education and revamping and retooling the educational system in general.
AJ: I plan on being an entertainer to the day I die. Moving on to video, film, write a book, whatever.
DR: Staying in the music business, doing artist development. Critiquing artists and making them better at their craft.
RPM: How do you view the current climate of today's Hip-Hop artists? Are you all content with it?
AJ: I listen to Rock radio. Other than that, no comment!
1/2 Pint: I'm not content with the administration and exploitation of current Hip-Hop. I feel that it is more a problem with the content and the type of music that is given a voice that represents the culture, and not necessarily the artists themselves.
SOB: I listen to everything. I am just a broad-minded dude, you know what I'm saying?
RPM: Everyone either knows your music already or will become familiar with it soon enough, but on a personal note, who exactly are the members of Son Of Bazerk?
Group: Lead vocalist Son of Bazerk, wicked wing-man Almighty Jahwel, 1/2 Pint the little sister, and Daddy Rawe the Entertainer. Each one of us has our own personality, and it is reflected on the album.
RPM: And what do you all like to do in your spare time, completely away from this music?
Group: What free time? If we ain't working, we working.
RPM: What are your five to ten-year plans & goals in entertainment?
Group: Have fun, and contribute to the Hip-Hop culture. Making some money wouldn't be bad, either.
RPM: Your anticipated, new, still-untitled, years-in-the-making group effort is due out when exactly? Is there a video for "I Swear On A Stack Of Old Hits" in the works? And are there any current plans to tour behind it all?
Group: The new album will be released this summerâ€”July is the tentative month of releaseâ€”and there is a video in the works for "Stacks," as well as other songs on the album. We will be touring as an opening act for Public Enemy and are currently seeking promoters who are willing to book us.
RPM: What's that "live" show element [gonna be] like?
Group: Oh man, just wait! It is gonna be ridiculous! Picture the "Rat Pack of Hip-Hop"â€”classic, baby, classic!
RPM: Are there any future mixtapes or cameos on others works to look out for in the meantime?
DR: I plan on releasing a R&B album as Pep The Entertainer, with my band the Soul Explosion.
Juice: There is a song in the works I am producing with Son of Bazerk, Leaders of the New School, and Chuck D. It's a Strong Island cutâ€”nasty, y'all!
RPM: Sadly, nearly a-year-to-the-day ago, on Thursday, June 25th, 2009, the world lost the greatest entertainer who ever lived [Michael Jackson]. What was your first reaction upon hearing the tragic news?
1/2 Pint: Disbelief. I'm still mourning.
DR: I couldn't believe it.
Group: Michael meant so much to music that we couldn't possibly do justice to his memory in this small amount of space.
RPM: Do you all have any messages for the readers of Rap Pages Magazine.com?
Group: We would like to thank everyone for their support, and check for our new album dropping in July 2010!