On the eve of what will be their second and final album entitled “Second Nature” MC Capital D and DJ Tone B. Nimble are well prepared for life outside of hiphop. Below you will find a conversation I had with these two educated brothers and close friends. We had a chance to cover a lot of topics including what lies ahead in the future for All Natural Inc., Capital D’s conversion to Islam, and his retirement from music.
Jbutters: What motivated you to write “Fresh Air” and whose idea was it to package it with the album?
Capital D: I always wanted to be a writer. That’s one of the things that I liked about hiphop was that it was writing and music. The real motivation came when I was working in a bookstore and I saw these little books that were about the same size as a cassette tape. That’s when the idea struck me to put it together with a tape.
J: What’s the focus of the new book “Writer’s Block”?
C: Actually I’m not working on that anymore. That was going to be a collection of characters from the song “Writer’s Block”. It was going to be a little bit about each character, but I’m not really working on that right now instead I’m working on a book of poetry.
J: What’s the name of that going to be?
C: Its going to be called “African Americans and Other Oxymorons”.
J: On the first album you dropped “50 Years” talking about how certain periods in hiphop would be viewed in the future. Where do you feel All Natural’s place in hiphop will be and how do you plan on achieving that status?
Tone B. Nimble: I think we’ve basically achieved how we’re going to be looked at by what we have already done. People may like the next record we’re about to put out, but I think the foundation of how people look at us will be based on our first record. I don’t think its going to be anything major. They may mention Midwest hiphop and while talking about Chicago underground they may say All Natural. Nothing real in depth but it will be documented and they will say it was quality music between ’97-2002.
J: Capital D you mentioned you had converted to Islam and you aren’t going to be doing any more albums. Does that mean All Natural albums or music all together?
C: We have the All Natural album done right now. That’s Second Nature and that’s coming out and I may come out with a solo album that’s pretty much done too. Other than that I’m not going to be concentrating on music. I could see Tone and I working on something here and there but I don’t think it would amount to a full album.
J: How has the conversion caused that change?
C: Well Islam looks down upon music. Music is forbidden by the Prophet Mohammed, but not forbidden in the Holy Koran. There is a lot of debate as to whether or not one can do music. I believe it is possible to do music and still be a good Muslim and definitely a good person. At the same time I think there are a lot of other things I could be doing with myself. If I’m doing music in order to get a message out to speak about important things I could be doing it through better ways than hiphop.
J: Will both of you still be concentrating on All Natural Inc.?
C: Tone runs All Natural Inc.
J: What artists do you have coming off of All Natural Inc. and what can we look forward to this year?
T: Well we released the Iomos Marad 12″, there will be a Daily Planet 12″, Greenweedz is kind of in between those but he is working on a full album. Everyone is putting out 2 twelve inches and then an album. Collaboration wise we are going to have a Family Tree 12″. If there is enough material we will release more Family Tree records. Right now we are about to release a Family Tree CD with songs from everyone like All Natural, Iomos Marad, Daily Planet, etc. The next Family Tree record will be on vinyl and it will be everyone doing songs with each other. From there I don’t know there is talk of people doing individual projects but definitely everyone will be putting out two 12″s.
J: What business philosophy does the company follow? Is it more of just a platform to release music or more of a family since you mentioned Family Tree?
T: Well Family Tree and All Natural Inc. are two separate things. Family tree is a group D and Greenweedz started. With me being in All Natural I was included as were other people who were associated with Greenweedz. We added as time went on. All Natural Inc. is the label Dave and myself started for artists. You didn’t have to necessarily be in the Family Tree to be with All Natural Inc. We just wanted to put out dope hiphop with Chicago as the focal point but you didn’t have to be from Chicago. If you were dope and we had the funds or a way to put it out we would. I’m still trying to follow that philosophy. Right now I’m trying to deal with people I know on a personal level.
J: Is the success of the label more important than the individualized success of the artists?
T: Where I would like to be is where people buy All Natural Inc. because they recognize that whatever we drop is quality. They don’t necessarily have to read about Iomos Marad ten times, they can say I never heard of the artist but its probably dope.
J: Capital D what are you looking to do in your spare time to get your message out since you may only sporadically release music.
C: Well I’m writing. I’m writing a book of poetry. I have one book of poetry done. I’m working on another one right now. Both books are short stories and essays. I’m trying to get into grad school and see exactly what I want to pursue in school. Eventually I’ll probably want to teach and run some kind of publishing business.
J: What process did you go into creating this album and did you know it was going to be the last album beforehand?
C: Not before any of it was actually done
T: However we weren’t sure there was going to be another album after this one. It’s a long time in between records.
C: It’s a big commitment and a serious process to do our album. There were never any guarantees there was going to be another one. I think on this album we weren’t looking ahead to the future we were looking back to what could have been better on the first album. We were looking at where hiphop was at right now and where we were. I think the second album is a lot better than the first album. We just analyzed what made the first album straight and how we could make the second one better.
J: How much production on the album is done by each of you and since you both produce how do your styles differ?
C: The range of beats was one of the things that limited the first album. I did most of the beats for the first album, we had Panik do two beats, Andy C. did two and No ID did one. Other than that I did the rest of them. On the new album Panik did 3 or 4…
T: He did 3 that we are using. I did two and D did three depending on what comes out.
C: Then we got Memo and he did like four. Then we collaborated with Lone catalyst. J. Rawls did a beat, G-(Riot) from the Family Tree did two beats, one instrumental and one song. We just got a wider range of styles. I think I have my way of doing beats which is good for me. I think I sound good over the beats I do, but putting together an entire album you don’t get a lot of variety. That was something we looked to do on the new album, we wanted to get more people’s input. Tone digs more than I do.
T: I just dig but I don’t dig to produce I just dig to buy stuff I could play. When I hear stuff that’s good I just use trial and error. There’s no real formula and it’s not something I’m trying to do hardcore. I’ll do it if I have time or if I hear something that I like that I think will sound fresh.
J: Are you doing a lot of Djin at a bunch of different spots?
T: I DJ a lot in Chicago. That’s how I pay my bills.
J: Capital D do you have a name for your solo project yet?
C: It will probably be called “One”
J: What type of things do you think you could accomplish on the solo album that you couldn’t on two All Natural albums?
C: The solo initially was going to be more experimental stuff and political rhymes. On the first album I had some allusions to political topics but it was more focused upon hiphop. Originally the solo was going to be focused on politics with hiphop beats but every rhyme had to be talking about something. Now the way I look at it it’s more spiritual than political. When it’s All Natural that’s Tone and my name. There are some things though as an individual that I may believe so strongly about that I need to do or say something but with my name on it because Tone may not feel the same way. The change from political to spiritual is basically the change in myself.
J: I already asked Cap D what he’s going to be doing outside hiphop. Tone how long do you see yourself continuing music and what ventures do you have planned outside of music?
T: Well I go to grad school now. What Dave plans to do is similar to what I plan to do. He plans to teach and run publishing. After a while unless I’m djin and working in a record store, which i’m not going to do forever, you cant stay up to date with what’s hitting on a music tip. I don’t want to put out stuff that’s dated. A lot of old cats put out stuff they think is hitting and it sounds mad dated because they don’t do the research and are too busy hating on what the new stuff sounds like. I’m current so I listen to everything whether I like it or not. I can pick and choose what I think is dope and what’s not and what I could add to the repertoire. As long as I’m current I’ll continue to do music or run the label, DJ, and go to school. Once I’m finished with school I want to run the label for a little while, teach and go into Sports Psychology.
J: Besides the variety of production what are some things you learned after the first album that made you approach the second album somewhat differently?
T: Sound Quality. A lot of different things as far as sound quality.
C: You always know the sound quality is important but when you are first trying to put something out you are trying to balance the importance of sound quality with your budget. I think a lot of people spend all their money in studios to get one or two songs done and they never put anything out. Other people might put out a lot of stuff that’s just half ass. I think we kinda walked the line between but we might have been slipping off to the half ass. Ha ha
T: <> But we were able to survive because I think people felt we had good songs whether they were clear or not. We know it don’t sound like Dre
C: or Mobb Deep but its fresh
T: That’s one thing about underground you can sacrifice a little sound quality and replace it with freshness.
C: you want to get away from that if you can though. One of the good things about us being able to finance ourselves without taking money from the budget we could get better equipment or spend money for a good mastering studio. There was also a label here in Chicago that led us in the right direction.
T: We can forecast how much money we can make so we can afford to spend a little bit more. Not a lot more but its money well spent.
C: One thing that changed was that we got to do some touring. We got to see what people are listening to overseas, how they’re living and what’s on their minds. We got to see stuff we would never have seen.
J: What spots did you get to tour?
C: We went to England three times, Scotland a couple times, Amsterdam, Sweden, Portugal…but never the West Coast haha.
J: Haha you performed all over Europe and never even made it to Cali?
T: We just got to NYC this year
C: Yea NY for the first real time
J: Where in NYC
T: CMJ. It was cool.
C: We went to Buffalo before we went to NYC. We hit Buffalo, Cleveland, St. Louis and of course Chicago.
J: You both seem well prepared for careers outside of hiphop. Was music more of a springboard into your next ventures?
C: When we did the first album I think it was both for the future and present. One of the reasons I put the book with the album is because I knew I wanted to write. I may not want to always tour, high school kids may not be feeling Capital D when he’s 40 years old. I always wanted to transition from the music into writing. Its was always going to be Tone and I running the label. Even if All Natural wasn’t hitting we would know who was. The struggles we went through to get on and seeing people change their styles to get on a major label helped us realize if you have an independent label with a good reputation and enough money to put in your pocket we could make it easier for a younger cat no matter what the style. I didn’t know about the whole music restriction even after I converted. That’s the biggest change to me. Otherwise we’d be concentrating on other artists. As far as my personal life I would definitely still be involved in music.
J: What were the first thoughts or feelings you had once you decided to stop doing music. Is it something you felt so strongly about that you didn’t have any second thoughts?
C: I still have second thoughts about it to be totally honest. It’s difficult because I love music. I did a song with J.U.I.C.E about a week ago. Just listening to him kick his rhyme it just reminded me about all the things I love about hiphop, then in the midst of actually listening to the rhyme it will remind me of the things I don’t like about hiphop. Most things are love hate. I think about all the time I spent trying to do music related business and it seems like a shame not to do it anymore. On the other hand it’s a shame I haven’t written a couple books or have a teaching certificate because I spent all this time on music. So it’s two ways to look at it. Its not like its no second thoughts that’s why I think we will probably do a song here and there. If I feel the urge to say something and it will also be a good All Natural song I don’t see why we wouldn’t do it. However being honest to Tone that may happen once in 2 years. As we both plan our lives out whereas he could rely on me before he cant rely on me for that now.
J: Tone did that change your outlook on future of your musical career and base it more on your education?
T: Well I was already in school. I didn’t start going to school because of that. It was harder for me to go to school because I don’t know how many incompletes I got because we would go out of town at the end of the year. It threw me for a loop but I was also kind of expecting it because of a conversation we had in Portugal. I even mentioned it to other people but we been together for a long time so obviously I was disappointed. I think David is a better person now than he was then. He has made significant changes in his life and it would be really selfish if I was like he played me. He did something he felt was right. I can still do my thing because talented brothers already surrounded us. I had to sit down and plan how I wanted to restructure things. Ask myself did I even want to continue but once it was all said and done I don’t have the reasons to stop music like he does so it would be even harder for me. I applaud what he has done. To me what he has done is much more difficult than anything we’ve done together and we been to hell and back. Nothing has been this difficult.
J: When will the album be released and how many tracks can heads expect?
T: Its called Second Nature. Its supposed to be released April 16th. It’s going to be between 14-17 songs depending. Certain songs will be on it overseas that won’t be on it here and some songs we may decide not to put on it. The CD is going to come out on Thrill Jockey and the vinyl will come out on Fat Beats. We have a single coming out the first week of February off of Fat Beats called “Elements of Style”. There’s also going to be a Family Tree album in mid March but it might be available in mid February. Check the website for more info at www.AllNaturalhiphop.com
J: Any Final Words capital D?
C: The second All Natural album is a good album. It’s better than the first without question. I haven’t heard anyone who has ever listened to it say otherwise. A lot of people don’t think its going to be better but I feel good about putting the album out. I haven’t listened to any music during Ramadan so it’s been like a month and a half. It’s been about 2 to 3 months since I had listened to All Natural stuff. We were in the studio mastering songs yesterday and to hear it again I feel it’s a real strong hiphop album. Tone and I still talk as much as we used to talk. We still will talk about music, I may not talk to him in the same setting but at the same time we weren’t going to clubs to be friends. Not doing music is a big change, not doing shows is a change but if I want I can listen to the stuff we’ve done. If I feel the urge to do a beat I can go ahead and make one. I still talk to the same people I did stuff with that’s one of the reasons it hasn’t been that hard and made it more bearable.