With the upcoming release of his first solo album Relax, Relate, Release El Da Sensei has been a busy man touring the country with J-Live and People Under the Stairs. The former Artifacts member came through The Ottobar and I had a chance to catch up with him and cover a variety of topics from Rawkus to Eminem to the current state of hip hop.
Jbutters: How’s the tour been going?
El Da Sensei: We did the west coast. That was like my first time deep deep in the west coast and I have to tell you that was a real totally different experience. Once we got out of LA, we did Arizona and Albuquerque. I saw real Indian cats straight off the reservation so for them to be on some hip hop shit I was like aiight I have a definite fan base. I had never been to Colorado, Seattle or Vancouver none of that. Me and J been doing a lot of shows and for the first time going there with no video to be doing it with People Under The Stairs it was kinda weird for me because a lot of these cats is young and they remember everything from seeing me on TV. It was cats coming up to me saying I was nine years old when I bought your first record. I was like damn. Not that I felt old, but I was like yo these cats is following me. One dude walked up to me in Colorado and he was like what was that shit you was doing earlier in the show that “Come On with the Come On” and the “Wrong Side of the Tracks”? I was like I was in a group. He was like I’m gonna tell you right now I never heard that before I have never heard any of those songs I only know El Da Sensei. That wasn’t bad for me that was the first cat that stepped to me out of body as far as my group. That’s what I wanted to accomplish, I wanted to let the world know that I was solo. Me and tame did what we did and I wish him mad love, but I know that I was destined for a mission. When I first started I kept working with different people, but I told myself if me and tame stopped I wasn’t getting with nobody else as far as another mc ever. I knew that was the ultimate group for me just to do what we did. To this day doing that show tonight and doing this whole tour I kinda know what to expect as far as people saying things to me on the old stuff, but half the shit they say to me is bugging me out because you never think people are really thinking about you till they say shit to you. I’m glad that I still get a chance to say what I have to say and to do another album and I thank Seven Heads for that because dude didn’t have to take a chance on me. I wouldn’t say it’s a gamble, but in these days doing these records I told him to just give me a chance and Ill show you what I can do.
JB: At the show tonight you gave a preview of one of the new joints that kinda chronicles your whole career did you make that for the new cats or for your older fans?
El: It’s for both. It’s for cats that be coming up to me asking what’s up with you I tell them go buy the album it’s a song on there that’s gonna explain everything to a T. I knew I was gonna have to do that song, I knew cats were gonna want me to do that song. There are people back home that’s really down for this shit and when they see me they see 94 or 95, they see all the shit that they remember listening to when the shit was music. They like El man when the album coming out you doing your shit cuz we waiting. And as long as they waiting that’s what I want to hear. A lot of the stuff on the album came from that. Plus to me I’m by myself so I have a lot more shit to say, but I had to figure out how I was going to do it without boring everybody or making them feel like they waiting for that next voice to come in.
JB: It’s been a long time coming, why do you feel now is the best time to release the album instead of a little bit earlier or even waiting a few months?
El: I’m gonna tell you the truth something’s gotta happen. There are a lot of people in this club right now that we did this show in and a lot of people don’t know that they are in that club. There are a lot of uneducated fans out there that are American idoled up or wannabe’d up like I wanna be Ja Rule or I wanna be this cat, you watch that shit on TV and your like damn be yourself. That’s what’s wrong with the game with music as a whole, so what I’m trying to bring there really is no explanation for it. I know I’m going away from the question, but I really just felt in my heart this is what everybody wants to hear. They can’t escape it. If you’re in a club and they play an old school record everybody starts wilding. Why are wilding? Because you remember that shit when you heard it the first time, you knew what you were doing, who you was wit, and where you were at, so now we have to force feed everybody back into that. Music is dead right now. Kaos and I were watching on TV if it ain’t Nelly, it ain’t Eminem and Bruce Springstein it ain’t nothing.
DJ Kaos: Them the top niggas on the charts right now. They know what’s going on oh y’all want to act a fool bet we are gonna sell a bunch of records on some bullshit that we been doing. Don’t get me wrong Eminem is a dope emcee. He knows how to take the media and use it right back against them.
El: That’s all he doing. Its like with the first “Fresh Fest” in New York a dude got stabbed and the first thing they say is hip hop causes violence. Hip hop is causing a billion dollar industry right now because of us and I feel right now people are stagnated and the world is like yo we waiting for something new to pop off. So in my own little way this is my two cents to put in, but not change it because we are never gonna change it. No matter how much we spit about underground, so it’s like you join the masses or stick to your guns and do it in a more advanced way.
JB: With commercialism of the music they are rhyming on lipstick commercials and all kinds of crap…
El: Everybody is in denial right now, it’s far past the ghetto influence, it’s so far gone that they can’t control it. There is no control over the laws of the game, so everyone is going all out. It’s like I’m gonna make this dough, milk it get as much as I can get and be out. Look how many people are gone that made loot. There is no discrimination to one MC to a pop MC or an underground MC its all about what people see on TV. We can spit all day, but if these cats don’t see our faces it’s almost a lost cause. If you not doing what we doing straight grinding this shit out like on some rock and roll shit. We not even jumping into a bus we on some regular shit. That’s another thing there are no regular niggas on the mic, for the regular cat that’s not a drug dealer that’s not a baller, that doesn’t have 23 inch rims, its like motherfuckers is chasing a dream.
JB: Why did you choose the title Relax, Relate, Release for the new album?
El: Lamonte (Seven Heads Dir. of Operations) came up with the title. I said relax because I think that’s what everybody needs to do right now. Shit is tight everybody got they ass cheeks tight as hell.
El: It’s like everybody got the hip hop wedgy, it’s like they scared to let hip hop go in they ass and open the shit up. Everybody is like I’m not trying to hear that on some girlie shit. I hate when I be in the club and the DJ is playing some early 90s shit and everybody is wildin’. Its like what the fuck are you dancing for now, but if you hear someone spit like that today you say he’s bores me he’s not spitting thug. It ain’t changed its just that everybody is ignorant to what we doing. So what I meant in relax was take it down. Everybody is pissed off making all this money, y’all are chillin’ I don’t want to hear that.
We have to make all these other motherfuckers get into the shit that we are doing. How do we do that, don’t change what you’re already doing because you’re gonna fuck up your shit. Every time we seen it happen its evident. How many people we seen stray away on the second album from what they did on the first album. People you will never do the first thing ever again. It’s like having sex. The first nut you bust you ain’t never going to have a nut like that again. For every album you get like that appreciate it, that’s the first heartfelt thought of an emcee that’s going to come out on his paper because that’s what he wants the world to hear. Second album is kinda him and the label. For me right now to say the shit that I’m saying I feel good in 2002 within all the bullshit that’s in this business today. I had to try and I knew I had to advance it because coming across all these people right now you gotta be on some therapy shit. It’s like potty training right now you have to go and tell everybody how to go listen to the music. Listen to how this beat sound, listen to how he rhyming on the beat, look how the flow is going, now we have re-educate everybody all over again.
JB: I peeped your release date and coincidentally it happens to be dropping right around the time Tame is releasing his album. You guys will basically be linked forever it seems, any competition there?
El: I really don’t care honestly. If people have been following me for the last three years and not asking about what we going to do as far as an Artifacts record it don’t matter to me. Tame it’s on record nigga good luck, fuck that. I ain’t say that shit but good luck. Do your thing cuz ima tell you nigga ima do me regardless what you do, your moms, Boom Skwad its on record quote me, on this fucking album I’m gonna do everything in my heart to do some ghetto gold shit.