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Interview with Blockhead (Ninja Tune, Aesop Rock) Spring, 2001

I came across an interview I did with my homie, Blockhead in 2001 — right before Aesop Rock’s Definitive Jux debut, Labor Days dropped.

I’m going to re-post it here since it is no longer available online anywhere else. I’m also going to re-post the original images that were used for the interview since everyone is mad young and looks funny as fuck (Block is 24 in the interview).

(Photographs Courtesy CentralCali.com)

Yameen: WHATS UP BLUD???

Blockhead: Nuttin…Chillin like the internet villain that I am.

Y: So, yo. Aesop Rock’s, Float (Mush Records) was the shit. How much did you produce of it?

B: I did 8 joints and the three little instrumental interludes…

Y: And you’re doing some work on the next joint too?

B: Of course. I did 9 joints out of 16. Movin’ up in the world…

Y: Does the next one have a name yet?

B: Yup, Labor Days. Ironically enough, that’s about when it’ll be dropping too.

Y: Hot. How did the El-P / Definitive Jux team-up come about?

B: Well…Aesop’s publicist is also El-P’s. I think she gave him a CD and he liked it enough to what to put out his new record on Def Jux. Also, being down with Cannibal Ox and the Atoms Fam is a bonus.

Y: Do you wanna talk about the kind of equipment you use?

B: Sure…I use an ASR 10. No more, no less. What do you want to know about it?

Y: How long you been rockin it?

B: Hmmm…about 5 or 6 years now. I just paid my last installment a year ago though.

Y: Have you been able to perform live? Do you bring the ASR out with you to shows?

B: Nope…that would be hell. The ASR is like a big ass keyboard. It weighs about 80 pounds. I’m not trying to move it anywhere. I think DATs, records and CD’s work better for live shows anyway. I’d look like a dickhead on stage pressing buttons.

Y: Do you make a ton of beats and Aesop picks the ones he digs?

B: It’s different. Most of the time Aesop will come over and just listen to my new beats. If he likes something, he takes it. Sometimes he will actually write to the beat but most of the time he just picks a beat that suit whatever mood he’s written for. I got mad beats too so it’s not like he’s limited to just a few kind of tracks. He surprises me sometimes. Sometimes he’ll pick a beat I would never think he’d be into. Other times he’ll not be feeling a track that I would assume he’d be feeling…You never know with him…

Y: A little background history if you would please: Age, residence, preference in female anatomy?

B: 24 years old. Downtown NYC and and round ass with a flat smooth stomach connected to some nice titties

Y: A lot of cats may not know this, but you’re a sick freestyler and rhymer in your own right. Do you still get down?

B: Hah! Sick rhymer…that’s funny. Nope…I gave up emceeing a while ago. I realized that my voice just wasn’t there for emceeing. Too bad more mc’s don’t realize that…I will tell you this though: Me and my boy Jer (you know, from the Overground) are working on a parody album. We rap on that. We got a bunch of tracks so far but we just need to fine tune them. It should be dope. We did the illest R&B song ever. [This album became Party Fun Action Committee, released on Definitive Jux in 2003 – Ed.]

Y: What was it like working with Dub-L and the rest of the Overground crew. Do you guys still hang out?

B: Of course. We chill all the time. It’s just now we’ve seperated musically. Dubs is doing his own thing. I’m doing mine. Jer is doing instrumental work. And Niles is going to be a famous filmmaker. But we do shill on the regular. That’s my party crew. We get fucked up together.

Y: The thing that always struck me about your crew was the amount of creative talent and things ya’ll were into, like the public access show or making music together. How long have you known Aesop? And how has it been for you personally in the Do-It-Yourself age of indie hip hop?

B: I met Aesop in 94 at Boston University (where he graduated from and I dropped out). I think the Overground was a dope thing. I will always be a silly person. I’m not serious about much. Some heads take life too seriously. The Overground and the Baby Show public access TV show really put that in me.

As for indie hip hop business…man I have no clue. When it comes down to it, unless you’re the boss, you’re getting fucked one way or another. Indie or major.

Left to right: Murs, El-P, Blockhead, Cryptic, Aesop Rock

Y: So what’s up with your solo record, Let A Player Be A Player?

B: Well…it’s pretty stagnant right now. I got like 6 or 7 joints done (Aesop, Illogic, Slug, Percee P, Chase Pheonix, Beetlejuice) but the rest I’m just waiting on. I do all my recording at Aesop’s crib so with him being the busiest man alive (believe that!), I haven’t had a chance to record. It’s be a while…let’s just say that…

Y: You are, in fact, one of hip hop’s O.G.’s as far as the Internet and Usenet are concerned. Has feedback been good regarding your production and to the album as a whole online? Do you feel the internet serves any true advantage to the artist beyond promotion?

B: Well, as far a album feedback, it’s been mostly good. People’s biggest problem with me is that apparently I have weak drums. Who knew? It’s funny to me how people can go out of their way be like “He’s ai-ight but his drums suck.” I’m a pretty realistic person. My drums ain’t the illest but they’re good enough. Other then that, it’s been mostly positive. As for the Internet helping…oh yeah. Man, this whole shit wouldn’t have gone down if it were not for the net. But at the same time…sometimes I think the net is too much. Like, I never imagined Aesop or my fanbase would be what it is. For better or for worse. The net’s got it’s fair share of newjacks with opinions that just piss me off. Other than that, it’s all gravy.

Y: A lot of cats on the net, you have to remember though, keep to themselves and don’t express their opinions vocally. So, for as many people that are quick to talk shit, there’s just as many not saying anything at all, nahmeen? For better or for worse.

B: Of course…I just wish the vocal ones would pipe down once in a while and instead of talking shit, maybe learn the history of the music they think they know everything about. As much as I talk shit about the net I can’t deny what it’s done for me. Not just me but a lot of good music that would otherwise go unheard.

Y: And with that: your thoughts on MP3s? Aesoprock.com launched a successful promotional campaign targeted at MP3.com and shot “Obedience” to number 2 on their charts [At the time MP3.com was the largest MP3 portal -Ed.]. Do you feel MP3 technology empowers artists such as yourself and Aesop or does it detract from a larger potential?

B: Well…in the case of Aesop’s early shit, it did nothing but good. It’s because of shit like that we’re where we are now. But nowadays when some new Aesop joint leaks on to Napster, that’s money out the pocket.

Y: You’re entering new territory being signed to Def Jux, huh?

B: Oh yeah…Def Jux is real deal.

Y: Will you guys be touring?

B: Aesop will. I won’t. They asked him to go in June but he works a full time job, has a serious girl and has mad bills to pay. Hopefully it’ll work out for him. I’ll be chilling in the cut regardless. He-he.

Y: So next up for Blockhead: More ass, more videogames, solo joint and new Aesop joint?

B: Hmmm…hopefully more ass (as apposed to the same ass, ha!). I’ve been steady playing Nba2k1. That’s my shit. I’ll challenge anyone. My solo joint will come out but when I have no clue. Also keep an eye out for this breakbeat record I did for Mush Records, Blockhead’s Broke Beats. That should be out soon. And of course Aesop’s shizzle will be heard by all. I swear…heads ain’t ready for his new shit. Oh and I’m working with a bunch of different MC’s that will be named later…

Peace to Stinke! Aesop, the Overground…Anyone I’m down with.

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