Post Tagged with: "tribe called quest"

Lauryn Hill B+

Unsung Heroes in Hip-Hop Pt. 1

Unsung. Underrated. Whichever way we put it, it unfortunately sounds patronising. Though the people we’re about to feature in this article have no doubt been given the respect and acknowledgement they require from their peers. We just thought we’d take a minute to lend a little light to those who don’t necessarily dominate the column inches but yet consistently pull the stings in the background within this culture that we love. We called this Pt 1, anticipating the influx of further suggestions for Pt 2. Enjoy, and share this post if you want to give something back to others who have given us a lot.

B+ (Photographer/Director)

One of the finest photographers in Hip-Hop is Irish and hails from the aptly named town of Limerick. So how did he end up snapping Hip-Hop’s most elite artists including J Dilla, Q-Tip, Mos Def, Madlib and Eazy E to name but a few?

Well, after graduating from Dublin’s National College of Art and Design in 1989, he left behind the lush green of Europe and stopped in L.A to geek down at the California Institute of Arts in 1990.

After first project “Its Not about a Salary: Rap Race and Resistance in Los Angeles” was published in 1993, he became the go-to guy for album artwork. With his creativity in full flow, he went on to work on music video direction projects for DJ Shadow, Nitro Microphone and Control Machete.

His experience led him to form the production company ‘Mochilla’ with Eric Coleman. Mochilla have since gone on to carve our their niche in producing innovative music films including a personal favourite of ours, Timeless: Suite For Ma Dukes, the orchestrated tribute to J Dilla led by Miguel Atwood Ferguson.

B+ remains in L.A, working on projects through Mochilla as well as being a photo editor for Wax Poetics magazine and DJ’ing from time to time.

He recently directed the documentary ‘Distant Relatives’ which follows the  journey between Nas and Damien Marley.

The only guy in Hip-Hop that you’d want to be shot by.

James Poyser (Producer/Songwriter)

Mr Poyser could probably produce water from stone.James Poyser

As a founding member of the neo-soul collective ‘Soulquarians’, Poyser played a key role in contributing towards classic albums such as ‘Things Fall Apart’, ‘Like Water For Chocolate’, ‘Voodoo’ and ‘Mama’s Gun’ and won a Grammy for best R&B song in 2003 for co-writing  ‘Love of My Life’. Just check the sleeve notes on your favourite albums and count the number of times his name appears, you’ll get the picture.

Until around five minutes ago, we had no idea that he was actually born in Sheffield, U.K. Useless info, but it’s info all the same.

Currently he’s performing with The Roots as part of the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. They currently passed the 400 show mark in a move which we feel has proved significant for Hip-Hop and it’s development both socially and in business.

Though arguably he’s played his part in the ‘background’ of many Hip-Hop classic shows and albums, we’d advise you all to check out a rare moment in which he took centre stage. The 2009 album ‘James Poyser Presents The Rebel Yell, Love & War’. For whatever reason this flew under the radar (maybe because of the relatively unknown artists that feature) but it’s abstract dose of soulful RnB and switches in tempo/sounds will remind you every bit of some of the Soulquarian’s best work.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us if he’s one of the only guys aware of D’Angelo’s current whereabouts.

Trying to do research on this man proves to be very difficult. He rarely seems to give interviews. So if you’re out there Mr James Poyser, please can we get a few words with you?!

A man of few words, yet undoubtedly one of the finest songwriters in Hip-Hop.

Kevin Liles (Record Label Executive)

Kevin LilesIf there were ever an example that Hip-Hop is as much a state of mind as it is a genre if music, Kevin Liles is it.

To cover everything he’s been a part of we’d need to go all out a write a full biography, maybe another time. For now, we’ll try and do it the Liles way by getting to the point, quickly.

Growing up as a kid in Baltimore, one of Lile’s first lessons in business came when his group ‘Numarx’ successfully sued Milli Vanilli’s record label for taking their Grammy award winning song ‘Girl You Know It’s True’.

From 1992, Kevin Liles worked as an unpaid intern for two years at Def Jam before finally getting a paid position as their Mid-Atlantic promotions manager in 1994. The sacrifice more than paid off.

His ability to become a details man, spot trends, whilst managing to relate to the artists saw him contribute to Def Jam’s rapid growth. It could be argued that the structure and organisation he instilled in Def Jam gave inspiration or birth to the fact that Hip-Hop businesses could achieve longevity.

His ongoing commitment led to a promotion in 1996 to Vice President of Promotions before being made the first President of Def Jam in 1998. Under his leadership as president, Def Jam’s revenue doubled to almost $400 million and he guided them into areas of television, movies and video games.

He went on to become the Executive Vice President of the Island Def Jam Music Group from 1999 to 2004 before leaving to join former mentor Lyor Cohen as Executive Vice President of Warner Music Group until September 2009.

Speaking of Def Jam, Liles once said, ‘We want people looking to us as trendsetters. We don’t think of ourselves as a record company–we’re a lifestyle company, the pulse of urban youth’.

Liles has himself become a brand, trendsetter and pulse of urban business.

Hype Williams (Music Video and Film Director)

With the release of Kanye’s short film ‘Runaway’ and most recent music video for ‘All Of The Lights’ we expect Hype William’s profile to rocket.

But he’s been shooting music videos since a time when high definition meant you could pack more footage onto a ropey VHS.

In a career spanning 20 years, Hype has worked with the likes of LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, TLC, Aaliyah, Jay-Z. Nas, Will Smith… in fact we will just give you a link to his videography > …saves us all some time! As you’ll see that videography reads like a who’s who of Hip-Hop.

His career and significance has been synonymous with the rise in popularity of music television. As technology has advanced, boundaries have been smashed, taboos disregarded, Hype Williams has remained one of the most talented music video directors by carving out his own style and staying true to his own vision.

Today, we understand he’s the man who is going to direct the video to Kim Kardashian’s debut single ‘Turn It Up’.

Brave or stupid move? That remains to be seen, all we know is that you better believe the HYPE.

OK, now you’ve seen our Part 1, feel free to share and tell us who you think should feature in Part 2…


Team Prolific

Hoodlouse: Team Prolific Interview

We’ve been waiting for a great Hip-Hop group to come along. It seems that the idea of power in numbers has faded out of late. Whether it’s battling egos stifling creativity or simply unfashionable to be part of a collective, there’s a distinct lack of the sound of unity.

Step forth Florida based Team Prolific. Their name alone shows their commitment to work together to achieve something inspired.

These guys have got energy in abundance. We for one sincerely MISS that feeling of different perspectives rolling into eachother in one record. The quick boom-bap exchange between Q-Tip and Phife or the way Slum Village textured records with their mix of flows. It’s rejuvenating to finally hear this style of outfit again in 2011.

[audio:|titles=Team Prolific – Situations]

Team Prolific have been working together since 1997 in one form or another, so it’s safe to say they’re mixtape veterans whose time is not overdue, but instead impeccably timed.

We’ve caught up with them upon the eve of their first EP release, ‘The Movement’.

Check out more from our interview below with group members Neme, Flamez and Zin O.d.


WTBD: We like starting with this Twitter orientated question. Describe yourself to our readers in 140 characters?

FlamezWe are the golden age of the new era, original, wild, versatile real, bash, we the next up, the next step, the new standard. Haters can’t stand it but they got to live with it, or die listing to it.

Neme – To sum it up we’re Prolific.

WTBD: Now one word to describe each member…Team Prolific Clown

Zin O.d– (Describing Flamez) Swift.

Flamez (Describing Neme) Visual.

Neme (Describing Zin O.d) Overdose.

WTBD: You’ve been making music together since ’97. The 90’s was a golden decade for rap groups. Did any of the 90’s rap groups significantly influence your coming together and future direction?

N The direction we took from the 90’s was the realness that the music had, But off top the biggest influence for us coming up was Wu.

F – Plus groups like M.O.P, The Roots, Bone Thugs.

Z We respect how they all did their own thing, and keep it original and true to themselves, and all them niggaz could spit, we respect their work.

WTBD: You started out by performing in talent shows and freestyle battles. Do you think the art of freestyling is dying out? Ever battled eachother?

ZI don’t think the art of freeing is dying out, its just not put out their like that anymore were in different times, but it’s still there.

N And to answer the question of battling each other we all have sparred from time to time Me and this nigga Flamez went at it, and I know him and O.d had some epic battles before.

F Word, that’s how we stay sharp, we do it for the sport that right there is training. WTBD: Unless we’re sleeping on them, there don’t appear to be many mainstream rap groups on the come up at the moment. Why do you think that is?

N – Honestly I can’t speak much on new groups.

F – Word, a lot of these groups don’t seem real.

Z – Most of these groups is plastic because they put together, or plastic because there fake together.

N – Real talk and the people know that, that’s why a lot of these new groups’ don’t work. It’s not real.

WTBD: With your feet inside the door of the new decade, what changes do you think will occur in Hip-Hop in the next 10 years and what do you want to achieve individually and collectively?

N – One thing for sure is that Hip Hop will continue to grow, were will it be in the next ten years, I don’t know. Right now there has been a reemergence of Emcees that can actually spit so hopeful that last, but who knows. But speaking on the Pro, we are trying to spread our wings take this as far as it goes. Like the group’s we mentioned before, we are trying to build a legacy, so the next 10 years just know that you will be seeing the Pro… in one shape or another.

WTBD: You state that you didn’t come together for fame, money or comfort. Would you say there’s too much money to be made through Hip-Hop now? Maybe it’s been a victim of its own success…

N – Don’t get us wrong this is the music business, were in the business of selling music. I don’t think there is too much money to be made. The problem is i believe a lot of these niggaz just don’t respect the craft.

F – They just do it for the money, we do it cause we love to make music and the money happens to come with it.

WTBD: You’ve got several mixtapes under your belt, recently had your track ‘Getting Down’ licensed for a skate montage featuring Ryan Shackler and are on the cusp of the release of your first EP, ‘The Movement’. That’s some start to the New Year. How have your day to day lives changed over the years. The more successful you get, the busier you get, right?

F -You’re right about that the more success equals more work, but we have been preparing for that.

Z – The changes in our day to day is that we are seeing the benefit of all this work we been doing.

N – It might sound cliché but we been grinding, ya boys have been putting in work for a minute and now people are recognizing it and that’s a good feeling.

[audio:|titles=Team Prolific – Spell On You]

WTBD: Now we’ve heard, ‘Getting Down’, ‘Situations’ and ‘Spell On You’ (which by the way, includes one of the best uses of the Nina Simone sample we’ve ever heard. Brave move!), what should fans new and old expect from this EP?

N – Thanks for the love, that’s the homie Sutta Caine on the beat big ups to him. From “The Movement” except nothing but the best.

F – Hip hop like you remember it, music that you can deem classic, the joint “Spell On You” is classic. Every track on this project you’re going to feel there is no fillers.

Z – An EP might not be big, but every track off “The Movement” is big. You are going to experience something new on every track.

WTBD: When will the EP be available and where can people get it?

F – We shooting for early first quarter, and when it drops you can find it everywhere it will be a digital release. You know it will be at that’s always a best bet to find Pro music. But it will be on I tunes, amazon music and all that, just type in Team Prolific.

WTBD: You’ve previously hooked up with German DJ’s Decane and DJ Danny T on mixtape collabs. It’s obviously easier than ever to get your music spread worldwide. Is establishing a reputation in your home town as important as it once was?

Z – Not really but it’s always good to have that foundation cause that’s home. But to answer your question naw…


WTBD: You’ve produced your own music as well as enlisting the help of producers from outside the group. Is there anyone you’d like to work with, or any collaborations coming up that you can tell us about?

N – As of collaborations look out for some more Daywalker and Prolific joints in the Feature, and of course San Calo.

F – And we got something coming out with Dj Ten out of New York that shit is crazy. I am telling you to look out for that, And also another producer out of Florida Rayze.

Z – We also linked up with a couple emcees out of Germany, shout out to Nizza and Sais for showing the Pro love.

WTBD: Finally name one person we should be following on Twitter and why? You may choose yourselves, depends whether you mind being cliché…

N, T, Z@johnthatdude… he could tell you about the Pro.

Check more from Team Prolific at or

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